How to plan a successful digital marketing campaign in 2018

The term planning doesn’t usually bring with it any butterflies of excitement, often quite the opposite. However, an increasingly digital world means we need to be increasingly concerned with the plans we have in place to come out on top in the cluttered and chaotic digital battleground.

In 2018, a digital marketing campaign will need a rigorous plan behind it in order to make a real impact on your desired audience. If you don’t normally base your marketing campaigns on a thorough plan, it really is time to change it up and put a digital marketing campaign plan in action (especially with GDPR fast approaching).

We’ll cover questions such as what is a marketing plan? What is digital marketing strategy? Why do you need a marketing plan? And how to get the most out of your digital marketing campaigns.

Download your digital marketing strategy template here!

What does a marketing plan look like

A good digital marketing plan will lead you through the necessary steps to arrive at a digital campaign strategy that is made-to-measure for your target audience, this can be done in-house or externally with a digital marketing agency.

Followed properly, and every aspect of your campaign will be aligned with your digital marketing goals and your revenue goals, reaching your audience personas where they exist online, with relevant, impactful internet marketing communications.

Without such a plan at the foundation, your digital marketing campaigns will struggle to drive business growth and will fail to achieve a return on investment.

In preparation for 2018, you need to learn how to develop an effective marketing strategy. Digital marketing is a science… and we’ve done the hypothesising, the research, and the testing so you don’t have to.

The result – an actionable plan that will leave you with impactful internet marketing campaigns every time. in 2018, this is how to do digital marketing effectively.

The 6 crucial steps behind an effective digital marketing campaign

  1. Define your business brief
    • Analyse your market
    • Research your competitors
    • Define your goals & objectives
  2. Define your budget
    • Resource allocation
    • What assets will you need?
    • Consider distribution strategy (PPC?)
  3. Define buyer personas
    • Understand their challenges & goals
    • Identify themes & keywords
    • Select the appropriate marketing tools/channels
  4. Content Development
    • Awareness
    • Convert
    • Nurture
  5. Implementation
    • Time plan
    • Asset Creation
    • Distribution plan
  6. Reporting
    • Track
    • Measure
    • Adapt

To help you act out your digital marketing campaign correctly, here’s a handy digital marketing strategy template. This will make it really straightforward for your team to track the progress of each digital marketing campaign and stay on the same page as you work through the necessary steps of your strategic marketing plan template.

Download your digital marketing strategy template here!

How to create a marketing plan for digital campaigns

1. Define your business brief

Analyse your market

Always start with market analysis. Before progressing, you should have a clear and realistic understanding of the performance of your products or services within your industry. One way to do this is to reach out to clients for honest feedback. Alternatively, you can turn to data / KPIs for this kind of info.

Research your competitors

Understanding where your competitors are succeeding (and failing) offers great insight. It helps you understand the right (and wrong) areas you should be targeting to reach your desired audience.

There are great online tools to help you do this. Paid tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs offer highly insightful breakdowns of digital performance, letting you easily compare your standing in the online world. Most offer free trial periods (from 14 days to a month) so you can try them out before you commit. Follow the links above to get started.

Define your goals & objectives

You should be looking for around 3-5 clear objectives for each campaign. Ask yourself…

  • What is your overall aim?
  • What (specifically) are you hoping to achieve?

And consider…

  • Who (specifically) the campaign will target
  • How long the campaign will run
  • How you will determine the campaign’s success

The more specific you can be at this stage the better. Digital marketing strategy is a detailed process, so try to hone in on exactly who you’re targeting and what exactly you want to get out of it.

To properly measure the success of a campaign, you should settle on at least 5-10 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you can use to track its impact.

For example, if one of your goals is to increase lead sign-ups from a given piece of content, you can track KPI’s following bounce rates from the assigned landing page. Successful or not, this type of data will allow you to get better and better over time.

Ultimately, these KPI’s should map the goals of your digital marketing approach and by the end of the process should give you a clear indication of whether the campaign has been a success, and whether your digital marketing ideas are working the way you want them to be.

2. Define your budget

Budget is often a difficult subject. It’s important not to restrict a campaign’s potential by being too tight with your marketing budget plan and cost allocation. However, every decision should be made with marketing ROI firmly in mind.

You need to consider where your budget will be going, and it’s vital that you’re realistic from the outset.


  • Resource allocation
  • Amount/type of assets
  • Distribution strategy

For example, if you plan to use Pay Per Click advertising to get seen for a specific Google search, the funds for this need to be considered at this stage in the campaign development process.

3. Define Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a breakdown of an ideal customer, which then serves as a representative for a specific section of your target audience.

Built on very real characteristics and attributes – starting with age, job role, income, etc. – a good buyer persona should get to the heart of this type of buyer’s central challenges and goals and will serve as the core of your digital strategy for the campaign.

With an understanding of their goals and the types of challenges they face, you can begin to draw out…

  • Themes  – that you can use as the foundation for your content creation
  • Keywords – that will enhance the impact of your content with this audience segment
  • Channel strategy – an understanding of where this audience exists in the digital space (LinkedIn, Twitter, publication X, etc.)

It’s a common mistake to completely mute a good campaign idea by choosing the wrong marketing channel. This is simply bad digital marketing tactics. However, with a strong understanding of your audience and your objectives, this shouldn’t be a problem.

The central concern is this: which channel(s) will allow you to deliver your key messages to your target audience? (PPC, email marketing, display, content marketing, SEO, social media, affiliate, etc.) Crack this nut and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your digital marketing goals.

Download your buyer persona template here!

4. Content Development

When writing a digital strategy for a campaign, it needs to be geared towards a specific audience segment. To make this distinction clear, your digital marketing campaigns should be split across 3 distinct categories:

  • Awareness
  • Conversion
  • and Nurture

Each type of content will target audiences at different stages of the buyer’s journey, with each stage requiring a different type of interaction to connect and engage that specific audience.

  • Awareness Content should be developed on the basis of who will share it. It needs broad appeal and mass shareability. Which influencers would be good to get on board? Could you interview someone who has a large following? These are the types of questions you should be asking.
  • Conversion Content must respond to the challenges that your buyer personas are facing.  If it doesn’t add value, don’t make it a part of your digital promotion strategy.
  • Nurture Content is designed to be helpful, useful, educational, anything that is suited to your audience and will keep them engaged with your brand. Done well, nurture content will transform the success of your digital branding.

5. Implementation

At this stage, you’ll have ideas prepared for your awareness, conversion and nurture content based on your audience insight and keywords. The rest of the implementation phase can be roughly broken down into 3 key areas:

Time planning

Before producing the digital content, you need a firm grasp of the time frame for your campaign. This will help you divide time and plan resources efficiently and effectively throughout the entire digital media campaign.

Asset Creation

Now’s the time to start turning your amazing digital content ideas into real life assets ready for distribution.

Distribution planning

Here you should determine exactly where and how each piece of digital content will go out, and who’s responsible for the various aspects of that process. You should also consider how your content fits together as a larger body of content. For example, if you have a blog post that will link to a conversion download piece, you’ll need the downloadable content set up and ready to go when the blog post goes live.

6. Reporting

Measuring digital marketing campaigns is vital. If you’re not measuring your campaigns there’s no effective, reliable way to improve them.

Depending on the length of your digital campaign, you should set up a system of closed loop reporting that allows you to track and measure the progress of your campaign via key statistics and performance indicators. If your campaign is short, there may be no time to use the results of a given campaign to improve itself, but they can be used to influence future digital marketing campaigns.

The more you can measure (the more data you can collect, the more KPIs you can track, the more graphs, stats, metrics you can use to understand your online audience) the more you can track the success of your digital marketing campaigns, and the more you can adapt when you see something working exceptionally well, or when something isn’t quite right.

This can be done in real time. Something not working? No problem… Understand it. Fix it. Improve it. Learn from it.

In no time at all, you’ll see your digital marketing success evolve through natural selection. If it fails, it dies. If it works, it lives on to give rise to and influence whatever comes next.

That’s the magic of doing digital marketing the right way. It’s responsive to the digital environment in which it exists. A good digital marketing plan is the best way to give your digital marketing campaigns everything they need to survive and thrive in the digital world. Now it’s time to put it into action for your business. If you have any questions or queries about online digital strategy, using our marketing strategy template, or any of the digital strategy steps we have covered in this article, you can get in touch via our website, or give us a call to speak with a digital marketing specialist.