Many businesses and marketers haven’t realised the full benefits of an online marketing plan. They may have a business plan in place which also includes a traditional marketing plan, but they will not have an online marketing plan to help them make their online strategies effective.
Planning has many benefits and especially in an online context where competition is high, barriers to entry are low, customers are fickle and creating a competitive advantage is difficult.
So here are 13 reasons why you need one for your business:
1. For Marketers
Marketers are the primary users and creators of online marketing plans. Their role is to carry out the research into the markets, competitors and business environment and this will form the base of the marketing plan. This information helps them to create the online marketing objectives and the strategy and tactics to achieve the business’s goals and mission. The marketing plan will help guide all actions and it’s the responsibility of the marketer to ensure that it aligns with the business mission and business plan.
2. For Superiors
Senior managers will be most interested in the executive summary of the marketing plan, which describes the marketing environment and summarises the main points of the plan. It’s important that they understand the objectives and the strategies that are to be undertaken and that they approve all tactics to ensure that all resources are available to implement it.
3. Non-marketing functions
For other departments in the company, the marketing plan will inform what tactics and strategies will be undertaken and what resources, in time, labour and money will be required. The finance department for example will need to know what the costs for each tactic are and what the budget will be.
4. For Subordinates
For staff working in the marketing department or other departments in your organisation, understanding the business mission is essential in helping them carry out their work effectively. They should understand and know what the business wants to achieve in the online context and how they play a part in meeting target market needs. They should have a firm knowledge of the segments that are being targeted and what tactics will be use for customer acquisition, conversion and retention – and this will all be detailed in the online marketing plan.
5. To identify sources of competitive advantage
The plan includes research into competitors and details about the markets they are targeting and what online marketing strategies they are implementing. This then helps to assess the competitor landscape to find a position that the business can occupy in the market. Having identified the positioning for the business, the tactics like online promotion and price are implemented to reinforce that position and the brand.
6. To force an organised approach
All staff members and managers should know what direction the business is going in and this should be regularly impressed on all members through training and newsletters that will be part of the marketing plan’s tactics. Employees will then know what to do and when and what is expected from them – in terms of marketing strategy.
7. To develop speciality
It helps to focus the business on areas that will help it build a competitive advantage and specialise in areas where it can build strengths. The plan might identify for example that a segment of the market has a requirement of a particular service or product and that the segment is large enough for the business to make a good return. It can then focus its strategy and budgets on those segments to increase profitability.
8. Ensure consistent relationships
A marketing plan brings teams together and builds relationships that are focused on the same goals.
9. To inform
The plan informs how target markets use the web to acquire, research and purchase the kind of products or services that the business sells. So whether it’s B2C or B2B, the plan will explain how this happens and how the business will meet these needs while making a profit.
10. To acquire resources
To acquire financial and staff resources, an online marketing plan is useful because it shows how these will be used to achieve the goals and mission of the business.
11. Gain support
It helps to gain support from all stakeholders including investors, banks, suppliers and even customers. These stakeholders will often want to see a plan that describes how the business will use the resources that are provided to it to achieve goals and make a profit.
12. Gain commitment
This is to gain commitment from all departments, employees and managers and that helps the business move closer to its mission and vision.
13. Set objectives and strategies
These are some of the most important features of the online marketing plan and they help to guide the online market campaigns and communications that are implemented