How to Build a Digital Marketing Plan

A step-by-step guide to growing your business

Why do you need a digital marketing plan?

If you’re brand new to digital marketing, we recommend you start with our digital marketing glossary to learn the basics before reading this guide.

Digital marketing isn’t just about having a Facebook account for your business. It’s more than just email campaigns and social media marketing. Your digital marketing plan needs to have clearly defined goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Common goals include growing your social media followers, increasing clicks to your website, building an email list, and ultimately convincing your audience to buy your product or service. When you have clear goals, you can measure and analyze your marketing efforts to see what’s generating a profit for your business.

Develop your digital marketing plan around your website.

As mentioned above, your plan should define multiple goals, but all the goals should work together. Ultimately, your plan should funnel your audience toward conversion (becoming customers). The funnel should involve four high level steps and multiple marketing channels, but the general process involves finding users who are interested in your business/niche and driving them toward your website. Your website is designed to flow toward valuable content and, complemented with sophisticated remarketing, ultimately convert a sale. Here’s how it typically looks:

Step #1: drive traffic to your website with Google and social media.

There are multiple ways users can find you on Google.

If you operate a physical location/storefront, the easiest way is through local searches. For example, if you operate a gym in the Boston area, you can target users searching terms like “gym Boston” or something like that. It doesn’t have to be location-specific either; maybe you operate multiple gyms across the country. Or maybe you sell supplements and diet programs online without a physical location, so you target broader keywords like “fitness advice” or “workout supplements” instead.

With strong SEO, you can rank near the top of the page organically, attracting any user who searches your target keywords. Alternatively, depending on your niche, you could run a paid ad tailored to those kinds of keywords to guarantee your spot at the top of the search results without needing perfect SEO. Either way, users search terms related to your business, they find your business, and they click through to your website.

Digital Marketing Plan - Google Local SEO
Digital Marketing Plan - Facebook Ad

There are also multiple ways you can find users on social media.

Unlike SEO and Google ads – where you wait for users to search businesses/niches like yours – social media advertising requires you to target users proactively. But your offering doesn’t change. Following the example above, you’re still offering them a gym membership, fitness advice, or supplements – and you’re still trying to get clicks – just on a different platform. Choosing your ideal platform (Facebook vs. Twitter, LinkedIn for B2B businesses, etc.) is a topic for another day. For most businesses, Facebook generally reigns supreme.

Facebook lets you target users (new users, users in your email list, or new users like the users in your email list) beyond simple demographics. There’s a wide range of psychographics like interests, job status, social media activity, purchasing behavior, etc. The possibilities are endless. And when you run an ad, it drops directly into your target’s feed. The general goal is to expose users to your brand – casually building your followers – to establish familiarity before running ads (or posting organic content on your social media) to push users toward your website.

Step #2: cultivate relationships by giving free content for email signups.

If you’ve done everything right, the users clicking through to your website either (1) searched for your business/niche directly on Google or (2) are fans/followers of yours on social media interested in what you’re offering. Either way, these are warm leads with legitimate interest in your business – you want to take care of them.

Your website should casually channel users toward your lead magnets.

A lead magnet is something you offer to your users in exchange for their email address. This is a critical step in your digital marketing plan. Building a strong email list is paramount to a successful digital marketing campaign. Not only can we retarget hot leads with email marketing, but we can also use our email list to refine our audiences for social media ads. Make sure your lead magnet offers your users serious value. If it doesn’t, they either won’t subscribe, or you’ll lose credibility and trust if they do subscribe.

In general, you want to design your website (your menu, how you link from page to page, etc.) to flow toward your lead magnets (and ultimately sales) no matter where your user starts. This is good practice. But when warm leads enter your website through Google or social media, they are ideally a few levels downstream and only a click away from a highly relevant lead magnet. This is typically a landing page, “master guide” of sorts, or an in-depth blog post which ends with a signup box. Just remember: give value.

Digital Marketing Plan - Lead Magnet

Potential ideas for lead magnets:

  • Sign up now and your first trial of our __________ is free!
  • Enter your email and we will send you our free __________ guide!
  • Join our mailing list for special members-only discounts!
  • Subscribe to access our exclusive videos and courses!
  • Become a member and get free shipping on your first order!

Depending on your business, your digital marketing plan can include multiple lead magnets.

Each lead magnet serves a different purpose – either a different user persona, a different sub-niche, or a different final product. Let’s go back to our gym example. You can target all local users with something like offering a free workout session in exchange for joining their email list. The ultimate goal is to convert these leads into gym memberships, and this lead magnet gets them through the door.

For non-local users, maybe the goal shifts from gym memberships to selling supplements. Instead of a free workout session, maybe you offer a complete 3-month diet and exercise plan. You can even use this guide to promote some of your supplements (or supplements like them) as part of the diet requirements, which opens the door for you to follow up through email later. There’s virtually no business that can’t offer some kind of lead magnet, and knowing which users subscribed for which lead magnets gives you richer analytics to play with.

Step #3: retarget your email list with special deals and promotions.

Establish communication with your subscribers before promoting your product.

Start by following up on the lead magnet you offered them. Be genuine. Your lead magnet is a critical component of your digital marketing plan, so take the opportunity to improve it. Find out if they used or read it. If it’s something like the free workout session, check your records if they used it. If it was a digital product you emailed to them, find out if that email was opened. Assuming your leads did indeed try your lead magnet, ask them for feedback. Offer additional tips or information.

Depending on your email marketing software, you can typically see if they’re opening your emails. Depending how you structure your links, you can see if they’re clicking the links in your emails. Ideally, they liked your lead magnet and they’re opening your emails, clicking through to your website and consuming additional content. When your leads are red hot like this, casually offer them a discount or deal on your product.

Digital Marketing Plan - Email Marketing

Step #4: convert leads into paying customers (and repeat customers).

E-commerce can be a critical component of your digital marketing plan. Not every business requires e-commerce, but more businesses can utilize it than you’d expect. If you can close the sale online, you should capitalize. In the time between a customer deciding to buy a product and actually making the purchase, a lot can change. So it’s important to entice your customers to buy immediately.

If possible, close the sale through your e-commerce platform.

Going back to our gym example, selling supplements is an obvious e-commerce opportunity. You don’t need a physical store to sell anything nowadays – just sell online and manage the logistics/fulfillment after. But let’s say your lead leaves your gym after a free workout without becoming a member. You can retarget them through email and, if you convert the sale, push them through online registration, waiver/terms, and payment. Their identity was already verified when they used your free trial. Everyone saves time in the long run.

Virtually every physical product, digital product, and subscription/membership can be sold through e-commerce and online checkout. Even services – salons, maids, catering, and many others – can be sold through e-commerce and online booking systems. Refunding online payments is simple, so there’s little downside to expediting the sale. If e-commerce isn’t possible, you can expedite physical payments by creating scarcity, such as imposing deadlines on certain offers. So get creative and close the deal.

Digital Marketing Plan - eCommerce Checkout

Step #5: nurture your customers and maximize post-sale opportunities.

Always make sure you take care of your customers.

Don’t take them for granted or commodify them. If you don’t genuinely appreciate good customers, your digital marketing plan won’t work. Your business will not be sustainable. Maintain an open communication loop to learn from them and offer further support and services. Happy customers become loyal (repeat) customers and they create good referrals for your business.

Plus their support is more than just financial – it provides you invaluable data and insights you can leverage to refine future lead generation. Not to mention that a growing customer base (email list) makes the algorithms used by Google and social media more efficient at finding leads.

Digital Marketing Plan - Nurture Customer Relationships
Digital Marketing Plan - Analytics

Leverage your analytics to improve your digital marketing plan.

Analytics are your best friend. Every aspect of your digital marketing is trackable – from the entire marketing funnel itself to each individual step down to each individual keyword, ad, email, and lead magnet. This kind of data allows you to assess which keywords, ads, emails, and lead magnets are outperforming others – in terms of cost and conversions – so you can prioritize top performers while optimizing (or canceling) underperformers.

You’re also able to see which channels and content are most successful from a high level. If your gym is more successful converting Google leads with free workout sessions than Facebook leads with diet/exercise guides, you’re better off allocating more resources and funds toward your Google funnel while simultaneously optimizing your Facebook funnel for better performance. The power of digital marketing analytics is limitless – it makes success a game of numbers. Never stop improving your numbers.

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If you don’t have a digital marketing plan in place, it’s time to build one.

Check out our blog for more resources. If you’re not sure where to start, send us a message. We would be happy to point you in the right direction.