digital-marketingWhether you’ve been engaged in digital marketing for years or 2014 is the first year you’re exploring this opportunity, you’ll need a digital marketing strategy.

Now more than ever is a great opportunity to look at what worked and what didn’t in the previous year and set new goals for the year ahead. Here are some steps you can take for planning your digital marketing strategy.

Review History

If you did some digital marketing in 2013, what worked and what didn’t? Try to look at both qualitative and quantitative data as much as possible as opposed to relying on your own personal feelings about a strategy; your favorite approach may not have been the one that connected with customers.

If this is your first year of digital marketing, examine what did and didn’t work in your offline marketing.

Define Goals

What are your business goals for 2014? This is the most important aspect of digital marketing: your strategy and goals must align with your business goals. As obvious as this may seem, it can be all too easy to get caught up in an exciting marketing plan that looks flashy but does little to actually grow your business.

As you set your goals, be specific. Use numbers, dates, percentages and monetary signs to map out the growth you want to see.

Understand your Audience

Understand your demographics and whether you are largely marketing to a homogenous group or if your customers can be divided into several different homogenous groups. You can gather demographic information through surveys and tracking tools.

Don’t assume your customers are unchanging; keep tabs on them throughout the year so that you are always working with current information.

Plan your Content

Start with brainstorming. See what the competition is up to. Don’t reject anything at the stage of generating ideas. Some experts advise using an editorial calendar like journalists do in order to take advantage of important dates although it’s best to plan your content only a few months ahead.

Consider your Channels

You will deliver content differently and to different audiences depending on the platforms that you choose although most businesses will benefit from using a mix of digital media.

Photographs, podcasts, videos and infographics are just a few ways to keep variety in your content. Don’t forget tried and tested techniques like email newsletters as well.

Plan for Mobile

Looking ahead, a strong mobile strategy is essential. Be sure your website is optimized for viewing on screens of different sizes. Consider whether you can develop any apps that will be helpful for your business. Explore opt-in SMS and text message marketing.

Set up a Google+ Business Account

This has also become essential for businesses because it is so important to your search rankings. Even if you are not very active on the platform, post updates there so they will appear instantly in Google searches.

Measuring with Analytics

Learn your way around Google analytics and other analytics tools that show you how you are doing relative to the goals that you have set. Set up a custom dashboard of metrics and KPI’s. Keep a close watch on results in connection with weekly and monthly goals and make adjustments accordingly.

Digital marketing brings unique challenges and opportunities to businesses. Effective planning is key. With an understanding of the audience and a consistent message, your digital marketing strategy can align with your company’s goals to make 2014 your most profitable year yet.

(original article)