How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan

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  • 0:03 Digital Marketing Plan…
  • 1:28 Executive Summary
  • 2:08 Goals & Objectives
  • 3:30 Situation Analysis
  • 8:04 Other Sections in the Plan
  • 11:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kathleen Kennedy
In this lesson you'll learn how to write a full digital marketing plan, using a step-by-step process. You'll learn about creating marketing objectives that meet business goals.

Digital Marketing Plan Importance

A digital marketing plan is a detailed description of how a business or organization will develop and use owned digital assets, paid digital media, and earned digital media to achieve business goals. The process of creating a digital marketing plan starts with understanding the goals, objectives, and needs of customers, the competition, and the marketplace. A thorough planning process ensures that marketing objectives, promotional efforts, and messaging is aligned to and supports the business' goals. A carefully-crafted plan will reduce errors and help align internal and external resources to more efficiently and effectively acquire and retain customers.

Digital marketing plans vary in length and complexity based on a specific business' or organization's needs. It may be a standalone plan just focused on digital marketing and media or integrated with an overarching marketing plan. A digital marketing plan can cover a single campaign or a period of time.

Generally, a comprehensive digital marketing plan will contain a title page, table of contents, and 10 sections that we'll be describing here. The title page will include the title, the company or organization, the author's full name(s), and submission date. The table of contents contains all of the major section names and their associated page numbers. It concludes with a bibliography that shows used sources.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is often the only part of a plan that a senior executive reads. It's important that it provides a brief, high-level overview of the entire plan.

  • Business goals and marketing objectives
  • Overview of the market opportunity and competitive situation
  • Strategy highlights, or how you are going to achieve the marketing objectives
  • Action plan, or a summary of the most important tactical activities
  • Implementation schedule highlights, or important dates like a major campaign start date or new product launch date
  • Budget total

It is usually best and most efficient to write the executive summary after you have prepared the rest of your plan.

Goals and Objectives

The goals and objectives section should briefly and clearly describe the specific goals and objectives that are essential to creating a successful, efficient plan.

Business goals are a description of key areas where your digital marketing efforts will contribute to the business, such as growing sales or profits, communicating with customers, and reducing expenses. Business goals are shared by many functions within the company.

You may have one, two, or even three business goals. If you have more than three business goals, see if there is a way to combine minor goals into one larger goal. Or, if necessary, focus the digital marketing effort on only the most important goal or goals.

Marketing objectives must align to a business goal and define the desired outcomes of the digital marketing efforts; they typically use the SMART objectives system. The marketing team is the primary owner of the marketing objectives.

Let's look at an example:

Let's say the business goal is to increase sales revenue by 10% in 2019.

The marketing objectives include the following:

  • Acquire 15,000 new customers in 2019 at an average cost per acquisition (or CPA) of $18
  • Increase unique visitor traffic to by 14% in nine months
  • Improve organic traffic conversion rate by 25% by July 2019

Situation Analysis

The situation analysis is a detailed overview of the marketplace summarizing the key market and environmental factors in the business' marketplace based on research. It's always important to document sources and include specific information based on your research.

The situation analysis should include a 5 Cs analysis:

  • Company
  • Competitors
  • Customers
  • Collaborators
  • Climate

Start by conducting research about the business, industry sector, consumer trends, and other related topics. Then, organize your findings into five sections.


Describe the relevant facts about the company or organization and their products or services.


Write a summary of all direct and indirect competitors. This information is best displayed in a table with one column of direct competitors and one column of indirect competitors. A direct competitor offers an equivalent product or service, while an indirect competitor offers a substitute product or service. So if your company manufactures tortilla chips, a direct competitor would also sell tortilla chips, while an indirect competitor would sell potato chips and pretzels.

After identifying direct and indirect competitors, do a more detailed analysis of the top three competitors in a table that compares the following factors of each company: annual sales, positioning, brand strength/level of brand awareness, customer base, pricing, extent of product line, product promotion methods, primary sales channels, geographic markets, and any other differentiating factors.

This section concludes with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis) that explains how your company or organization compares to its main competitors. SWOT analysis is a framework for identifying and analyzing the internal and external factors that can have an impact on the viability of marketing initiative. The strengths and weaknesses are internal to the company, and the opportunities and threats are external to the company. For marketing planning, there are rarely more than three factors under each category that are important considerations. Typically, this information is displayed in a chart:

  • Point of leverage: Strength that aligns to an opportunity
  • Constraint: Weakness that aligns to an opportunity; prevents taking advantage of an opportunity
  • Vulnerability: Threat that aligns to a strength; this is an area of risk
  • Problem: Threat that aligns to a weakness; this is an area to avoid

This section concludes by summarizing this SWOT analysis, identifying any points of leverage as you develop your plan.


In this section, the digital marketing plan describes the company's customers. How is the market segmented? Age, pricing, quality, income, or product usage? It identifies the current target market for the company.


Collaborators are the external stakeholders who team up with the organization in a mutually beneficial partnership. Agencies, suppliers, distributors, associations, and business partners are typical collaborators. This section addresses who are the company's current collaborators and who are potential collaborators.


Climate analysis is the evaluation of the macro-environmental factors affecting the business. PESTLE analysis is an effective way to organize these details. PESTLE has six parts: political, economic, social (or cultural), technological, legal, and environmental factors. This analysis focuses on external factors and is based on research from different sources, considering the following:

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