How To Write A Strategic Online Marketing Plan – Part 1

I was working with a client recently who had brought me in to discuss several aspects of their online marketing program. The big issues when I arrived to chat with their team was what are you doing currently and what is your plan of attack? This company had not actually formally created a plan, and more specifically a strategic plan, for online, so I found it interesting when they admitted that they did not have a plan they could show me. So, over the next couple of weeks I put one together for them. They are not a typical online company, but they are typical of an offline company, a company that has not yet hit the ground running and developed a specific and prioritized online marketing plan.

My Credentials

Actually, other than my recent MBA (FAU 2006) and 13 years of web dev and online marketing experience, I have no executive credentials in the online marketing area. What I do have is battle scars of carrying out online marketing objectives for marketing executives, and few if any marketing executives I will say I have that much respect for. Not sure if that is because they were not the right people for the jobs, or the typical marketing executive in the online world in the last 13 years was an offline toadie, who had moved online and was still not ready for the task at hand. I guess if I had worked for a 20 something exec conquering the world, I may have a different story to tell. Either way, I did work on a site that got 30 million visits a month and 25,000 orders a day and was involved with all aspects of online marketing for that firm for 6 years and I have worked for companies like abcdistributing, Victoriassecret.com and Verio/NTT corp. So I have seen a few things here and there. But what probably makes me experienced enough is the fact that I have been involved with start-ups over the past 10 years like Pre-Dating.com and my recent Take It National, and I run into online marketing initiatives head on all the time.

Strategic vs. Tactical Plan

I did a little bit of research and found out that I was going to be writing a tactical plan not a strategic plan. I had mixed these up, but either way, I was going to give them an idea of what to do online and what priorities to do online. Does not matter what you call it. The online strategic plan, none the less, is a higher level plan that determines what you are actually going to sell and to whom. The online tactical plan is the actual detailed areas that the online marketing will cover in order to capture and convert online visitors. Doesn’t matter in the end, because what is needed is the tactical plan to do be able to make a decision on what to do.

Not All Plans Are Alike

One thing I realized is this particular business, which I am not going to mention by name, needed a special plan for their needs and not a cookie cutter approach. I think this is one of the mistakes many companies make. By cookie cutter, the marketing department tries to cover every part of their plan equally and applies every recommended standard industry method. Problem is there are now many, many potential online marketing initiatives that I can think of. Some are standard parts of marketing, some are new and some are just a form of technology you can exploit. I am going to list as many as I can here, but the point is, that some of these methods are better for certain businesses than others. So you can’t say for certainty that email marketing, for instance, is going to be the most important activity for all businesses (but it is darn close to the top or almost always at the top). A marketing book may tell you that, but you have see each business in a holistic approach, where you break down all the facts and ways to market online and then come up with a plan that makes sense, for THAT PARTICULAR business. If you try to do everything just about, and therefor nothing in a superior way, you may end up with a mediocre outcome and even a misguided outcome, mainly because you want to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s of marketing and not really do things strategic justice. Just showing up to work in marketing is not enough these days to do online well. And just reading a list of what to do on this website is still not enough to make the right decisions.

All The Online Marketing Methods I Can Think Of

I have broken down all the online marketing methods I can think of, and explain them. Some are what I refer to as vertical methods and some are horizontal, meaning they are methods that span across all the other methods…

  1. Create A Website
  2. Email Marketing
  3. Search Engine Optimization
  4. Pay Per Click
  5. Adwords
  6. Banner Ads
  7. Video Marketing (Youtube)
  8. Facebook Marketing
  9. Linkedin Marketing
  10. Photo Marketing
  11. Webinars
  12. Chat Sessions
  13. Teleseminars
  14. Landing Page Marketing
  15. Affinity Marketing
  16. Affiliate Marketing
  17. Lead Generation Marketing
  18. Viral Marketing
  19. Guerilla Marketing

Well, that’s it for now. In the second part of this discussion I am going to explain each of these areas of the plan and why your business should think about focusing on a specific one. I am also planning on discussing how to prioritize and make the right strategic decisions and finally how to not get burned by online marketing agencies!

Click Here to read the second article in this series

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