Each new year is an opportunity for you to reflect on and refresh your online presence for the months ahead.
Your business has likely changed over the past year. Your offerings might look slightly different, your ideal target audience may have shifted, or you might have changed your brand colours, and your marketing plan for the year ahead needs to reflect these changes.
It’s not enough though, to brainstorm your marketing ideas and then tuck that notebook away for the year.
Your marketing plan needs strategy built into it. And, it needs to be an ongoing initiative.
Here’s how to create your online marketing plan for the new year so that you have clear direction, actionable steps, and can track your progress along the way.
Begin with an audit
When I’m working with clients on building their marketing plan, I like to start with an audit of their current digital marketing platforms, including their website, email, social media, paid campaigns, and any other way they are showing up online.
When you’re conducting this audit for social media platforms, take note of:
- How many people have liked or followed your account
- What the reach of your posts has been, on average each quarter
- How often have you posted
- The kinds of posts you created (video, photo, carousel, text, etc.), as well as the topic and/or theme of those posts
- What types of posts were most popular (consider the reach, number of likes, engagement, etc.)
When looking at your website, consider:
- Who is currently visiting your website? Where is your traffic coming from?
- Is your website mobile-friendly?
- How does your online presence compare to your competitors?
- Does your website reflect your current business values and offerings well?
- Is your website easy to navigate and user-friendly?
- How long are people staying on your website?
All of these statistics can help you to find trends in your online presence, allowing you to see what is performing well and what changes need to be made moving forward.
For example, if your Instagram reach has dropped a significant percentage in recent months with the prevalence of Reels increasing, and you have continued to simply post static images, incorporating Reels into your new year marketing plan will likely be an effective strategic move for your business.
Reflect on the year
In addition to the more technical side of auditing and analyzing last year’s online presence, it’s also important to reflect on what did and didn’t work in your business this past year so you can learn from it and expand throughout the new year.
What did you intend to do for your business marketing that didn’t get done? Why didn’t it happen? Would different systems, structures, or a new hire support you in ensuring these plans are able to be executed this year?
What parts of your marketing plan worked well? What did you enjoy doing? On the other hand, what did you find wasted a lot of your time or drained a lot of your energy trying to stay on top of?
While hard data is generally a better indicator of marketing performance, softer data like this can help you to craft a plan that you’re more likely to follow through with.
Review your business marketing position
Before you start setting goals for the new year, make time to review and reestablish your key marketing messages and positioning.
- What is your company’s mission statement?
- What are you trying to achieve by using online marketing?
- What are your key marketing messages?
- Who is your target audience? What are their characteristics? Where do they spend their time online?
- What makes you different from your competition?
- What should everyone know about your business?
Understanding these answers will help you to guide your goals and content.
Clarify your business’ digital marketing goals
All business planning should start with clearly defined goals, and your online marketing is no exception.
Without a clear idea of what you want to accomplish online you’re unlikely to achieve anything because your efforts will be scattered and aimless.
List your top 3 business goals for the new year. Are you focusing on revenue? Audience growth? Publicity or exposure? Streamlining your processes?
Your goals should be specific, actionable, realistic, and have a time frame within which you hope to accomplish them.
From here, you can start to assess how digital marketing will play a role in helping you achieve these bigger business goals.
- For example, if you have goals of audience growth, you might want to focus on building a positive online community/following on social media.
- If you’re looking for publicity, you may want to focus on the accumulation of positive reviews and press to increase brand recognition in the online space.
- Looking for a boost of revenue? Ensure your website is user-friendly, and focus on SEO to increase how frequently you appear in Google Search results.
Again, write down these goals and objectives in a specific and actionable way so that you can work backwards and build out a plan to achieve them.
If you want to focus on building a positive online community, you might want to prioritize objectives like maintaining an engagement level averaging 20% for the quarter or achieving a consistent 24-hour or less turnaround time on responding to comments or messages on your social platforms.
Develop your content strategy and plan
Once you have your goals and have started to break down subsequent objectives, it’s time to work backwards to develop a concise, customized plan correlated to your goals so that your steps for hitting them are clear and guaranteed.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much at once. You don’t have to be everywhere, and in fact, you can’t be everywhere and still do it well.
Prioritize your actions based on your target audience, your goals, and your strengths as a business.
Instead of trying to be everywhere, take all the things you “should” be doing and boil them down to exactly what you NEED to do in order to move the needle in your business.
- What platforms will be most effective for speaking to your target audience? Which ones will you be more likely to be consistent on?
- Blogging is a great way for prospects to find you; engaging website visitors and bringing more traffic to your site. Google also likes blogs because the content is updated frequently, meaning it’s great for SEO.
- Facebook offers the ability to share articles, blog posts, and videos in a way that encourages interaction. You can use Messenger to connect with people, share your hours and location, people can write reviews, and you can create a Facebook Group to engage your community in a more intimate way.
- LinkedIn allows you to create a polished and personally branded profile, to make connections, and to post articles or answer questions to be seen as a thought leader in your industry. You can also create a company page to share professional resources, hire, and connect with your team.
- Instagram is a great way to reach a younger and wider audience. Share great photos and videos (Reels especially), use hashtags to be discovered, engage with others, and use insights to connect with your audience.
- What type(s) of content do you intend to post and promote?
- Consider what makes sense for your business, and what content types are being consumed most by your ideal audience. Video is popular across the board right now, and is being prioritized on almost every platform!
- How often will you post content?
- Who will create the content? Do you need to hire support?
- How will you promote your content?
- Do you want to add paid advertising into the mix?
Make a daily and weekly plan for your strategy so you can stay on track, pairing concrete actions with the goals you outlined so you can measure your progress.
For example, writing one new blog a week and sharing it on Facebook and LinkedIn is a great tangible action to pair with your larger goal of becoming a thought leader online.
As you build out your content, ensure you are sharing topics and posts that are valuable to your client. Otherwise, they’re unlikely to continue to engage with it.
People are overwhelmed with content, now more than ever, and will only interact with what’s relevant to them. So, make it conversational, show your brand personality, make it easy to read, and provide value.
The topic of budget
While it can be fun to think of great big marketing plans and campaigns for your business, an important part of the planning process is ensuring you can actually execute on these plans.
Especially as a growing business, you have limited resources including time and money to dedicate to marketing.
So, ensure that your plans for the new year fit nicely into those parameters.
Consider the time it takes to create the content you’re planning, the costs of any paid ads you plan on running, and any expenses for software, tools, and /or hires you want to make to streamline your marketing.
Use analytics to track progress
Again, marketing is meant to be an ongoing initiative. Rather than “setting and forgetting” it, make a point to check your analytics frequently to see how your campaigns are performing.
Utilize tools like Facebook Insights, Instagram Analytics, and Google Analytics to see who is engaging with your content and/ or website.
If the insights are matching up with your goals, that’s a great sign your plan is working. If not, you might need to make some changes if you want to see more progress on your objectives.
I know it can seem overwhelming to plan an entire year’s marketing strategy, but taking the time to set aligned goals, and working backwards to begin to lay out how you’ll achieve these goals is going to set you and your business up for success.
Otherwise, chances are you’ll get to the end of another year without achieving what you desire in terms of business and online growth.
Prioritize planning and strategizing, and everything else will fall into place.
If you need support with this process, I offer a number of digital marketing services including auditing your online presence, content planning, and coaching to work with you through how to set and achieve your goals.