If you’re looking to build success in your business in 2018 (and who isn’t?!), some digital marketing planning for the year will help make sure you start the year off in the right way and meet your goals.

We believe the Hubspot Inbound Marketing Methodology applies to most businesses looking to attract, convert and retain customers. We therefore recommend prioritising the three main pillars of the attraction stage; content strategy, social media and blogging.

We’ve created the below checklist for you to help you prioritise your digital marketing channels and create a content strategy that works for your business.

1. Review the previous year

As we discussed in our advent calendar tip, ‘Work out your ROI’s‘, reviewing the results of your year to date is the perfect place to start. The insights from this research will help inform your strategy moving forward and avoid you unnecessarily spending time on work which has little payoff, and allow you to focus on what works best for your audience. You may also discover in this process some areas which need improvement or opportunities you would have otherwise missed.

The main areas you will need to review include:

  • The sales for the year, including any attribution reports you may have, summarising ROI where possible
  • The Google Analytics account for your website/s (or other web analytics tool)
  • Social media analytics (either within the native platform like Twitter or social media tool like Hootsuite)
  • Email analytics
  • Any other and anecdotal evidence (e.g. customer and salesperson feedback)

2. Define your goals for the year

You will have ongoing business goals, but consider in particular what you would like to achieve this year. If you can set timescales on these objectives and make them SMART, it will help ensure they are achievable. Set a range of goals, from the far-reaching top level goals, to shorter term goals, and include a mix of financial, people and strategy-based goals.

Look back at step 1 and consider whether having a particular goal in place would have helped you achieve it quicker, better or faster. Ensure that you are up to speed on important customer trends and developments for the coming year and build these into your thinking (2018 trends post coming soon!)

3. Create your action plan

Each goal will need actions flowing out from it to bring it to reality. Create a robust plan with allocated responsibilities, specific actions and timings. Consider dependencies and timings of other activities which might be occurring within the business.

4. Create your content strategy

Once you have your business-level plans in place and are clear on your objectives, your content strategy will naturally develop. Consider key messages and plans that need to be carried out throughout the year, and how this will fit into your inbound marketing plan. If you are clear on who your customers are and how they will engage and buy from you, your digital marketing channel selection process will be straightforward. Plan top-level content under key strategic content pillars.

The key is not to be too specific on the detail at this stage – loose themes work well for long-term planning, and more detailed posts work well month-to-month as part of your content plan. When creating your content schedule, use annual events planners to plan dates relevant to your business, such as the Sprout Social Hashtag Holidays calendar and calendars specific to your industry.

5. Measure, rinse repeat!

Finally, as your plans develop and launch throughout the year, don’t forget to keep a close eye on your analytics and results, to allow you to be proactive and make any adjustments needed to gain the best results. Being able to jump on any live and emerging trends and activities, as well as adjusting your plans as necessary is essential to achieving your goals.

Good luck, and if you have any questions you can ask us for free here!

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