You’ve just launched an online store for your business.
Whether you’re someone who took their offline business online, or someone who took the new opportunity of ecommerce to follow their passion, your job is not done yet.
It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get ready to be acquainted with new-age marketing.
While everyone talks about being present on social media to reach their audience, we believe that being on the right channel is much more important.
That’s where having a marketing plan for your online store comes into play.
- What is a marketing plan?
- How do you write an ecommerce marketing plan?
- Why do you need to a marketing plan?
- Frequently asked questions about marketing plan
What is a marketing plan?
Marketing plan refers to creating a well-defined roadmap to reach your target audience, and hence, your potential customers.
It helps you deep-dive into market research to determine who your target audience is, the channels and platforms they are active on the most, how to reach them, at what price point you should be selling the product or service, and how you intend to measure the impact of the marketing efforts you make.
What is the difference between a marketing plan and marketing strategy?
A marketing plan is like a blueprint for your marketing strategy. It lays the foundation of how you’re going to take your business to your target audience.
It lays out the marketing tactics and strategies you intend to use to establish your brand and promote your business.
On the other hand, a marketing strategy details out how you’re going to promote your plan under each of the tactics you’ve listed in the plan. This includes creating a strategy for social media, email, advertisements and so on.
Now if you’re wondering why you need a marketing plan when you’re eventually going to create strategies for each tactic, let us explain.
How do you write an ecommerce marketing plan?
Step 1: Define your brand
First things first, you need to clearly document what your brand is all about. This includes everything from your logo, value proposition, vision, mission and business story. You will need this ready to be able to use effective storytelling in your marketing plan and ensure consistency around how your brand is positioned across various strategies.
Here are some resources to help with the same:
- Can you really do without branding?
- How to build a personal brand that stands out
- How to design your online store logo to nail your branding
- How to DIY a stunning visual brand for all your online platforms
- How to create minimal viable brand guidelines
- Best vision and mission statement examples
Step 2: Define your target audience
The next thing your marketing plan needs to define is your target audience - the consumers your marketing strategies will be targeting.
This includes identifying your target audience (general demographics of all the people you can sell to) and ideal customer profile (ICP - the definition of the very specific person from that target audience who you want to buy from you).
Here are some resources to get you started:
Step 3: Conduct a competitor and SWOT analysis
Before you even list out the marketing tactics you’d like to use to reach your target audience, you need to do a situational analysis. This includes doing a thorough competitor and SWOT analysis.
This will give you insights on where you currently stand, how your competitors have been marketing their products to a similar audience, and the tactics you may have to use as well.
Here are some resources to help you with this step:
- Free competitive analysis template
- A simple way to find your competitive analysis (SWOT analysis)
- How to conduct a SWOT analysis (examples, strategies and templates)
Step 4: Identify your value proposition
The analysis you conduct above will give you insights on what makes your brand stand out. Right from the characteristics of your product/ service, the discounts and offers you can create, added benefits you can offer (free or discounted shipping), product pricing and similar.
Here are some resources to help you:
- What is a unique selling proposition
- What you need to know about pricing before your launch
- 10 ways to find the perfect price for your products
Step 5: Identify your marketing budget
Once you know your unique selling point and how you’re going to price your products, the next step is to calculate the budget you can set aside for marketing.
Remember, your marketing budget should be separate from the cost of product making/ outsourcing, shipping, discounts and your profits.
Here are some resources to help you:
- How to plan a marketing budget in 6 simple steps
- How to manage your entire marketing budget (free template)
Step 6: Choose your marketing tactics
The digital landscape is increasing by the day and it’s becoming important for businesses to keep up with consumers.
But the channels you choose to market your business on, will vary based on who your target audience is and what your budget looks like.
For example, if you’re targeting a younger generation, using platforms like Instagram can help you grow organically. But if your audience is more mature and you need to sell on LinkedIn, you might require setting aside more budget for well-targeted ads and networking.
This includes choosing from the following marketing tactics:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Facebook marketing
- Instagram marketing
Here are some resources to help you choose the right marketing tactics:
- Digital marketing essentials: An overview of 6 important channels
- 11 best marketing strategies any small business can execute
- Choosing the right social media channels for your business
Step 7: Take account of your resources
Once you have a clear marketing budget set aside and the tactics shortlisted, the next step is to identify who or how you’re going to execute them.
This includes looking into the resources available to you - both in terms of human resources and the time each tactic will take.
Remember, it is not important to kickstart all the marketing tactics in one go. You can start slow with what is more likely to help you reach your target consumers, so you can streamline the time, effort and human resources allocated for the same.
Here are some helpful resources:
Step 8: Define your success metrics
The next step is to look into what you want to achieve from the marketing tactics you choose.
When you get started with marketing, you need to be able to measure the impact every tactic has on your business.
For instance, social media in the initial few months may be great to generate some brand awareness. But paid ads on the same can help you generate actual leads and sales.
With ecommerce analytics tools and your store dashboard, you will get access to a lot of data. But mapping the right numbers is important.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
- What are the basic ecommerce metrics I need to focus on
- Google analytics for ecommerce
- Marketing analytics for absolute beginners
- How to track your marketing campaigns in Google analytics
- The beginner’s guide to analyzing Shopify reports and analytics
Step 9: Set a clear timeframe and timelines
The next thing your marketing plan needs to define is the timeframe you’re looking at to accomplish your goals.
You could create a marketing plan for anywhere between three to six months, upto an year. But make sure you set clear timeframes and timelines for each marketing tactic you take up.
For example, if you plan on using Instagram for marketing, set a goal and a timeframe that you’d want to achieve it in.
This way, you get a better hold over your marketing budgets and resource allocation.
Step 10: Set up an audit cycle
The last step of your marketing plan is an important one.
Creating a marketing plan should not be a one-off project.
You need to continually look into how well you’re keeping up with the plan, how different marketing strategies impact your business growth and what you need to improve.
To be able to pick up on opportunities and what may be draining your resources, set up a clear review/ audit cycle.
You can set up a quarterly, half-yearly or an yearly audit based on what your business sells and the increase in competition.
Here are some questions an audit should answer:
- Are we keeping up with the marketing plan?
- Are the budgets enough or falling short?
- What is the impact of different marketing tactics on your business?
- Which marketing tactics are working?
- Which marketing tactics do you need to retire?
- Are there any additional resources you need?
BONUS: Keep an entire customer cycle in mind
Remember, a marketing plan isn’t just about taking your brand to the market and acquiring customers.
It’s also about clearly defining how this acquired customer progresses with your brand over a period of time and how you intend to keep them engaged despite the increasing competition in the market.
From the first time your brand gets noticed to the consideration stage, purchase, retention up until advocacy, make sure your marketing plan covers it all.
Here’s what a typical customer lifecycle looks like:
Seems like a lot of work?
Well, let’s tell you briefly about why successful companies focus on creating a well-documented marketing plan.
Why do you need a marketing plan?
1. Provides focus
The ecommerce industry is rapidly growing and evolving. There will be a number of channels that come into the digital space, various ideas that strike as relatable and a gazillion trends you’d like to keep up with.
Although having this flexibility is important and can be beneficial, it also causes a lack of focus on things that can actually drive business.
A marketing plan ensures that all the strategies you create, implement or change, are in line with the overall direction a business is headed in.
2. Better resource management
Having a marketing plan will help you set aside a clear budget to execute your marketing strategy. It also helps you plan out the resources you may require to execute the marketing strategies to reach your audience.
For example, budgeting to hire a marketing agency, setting aside a separate amount for running ad campaigns on social media and search engines, and similar.
3. Provides transparency
A marketing plan lays out the what and why behind the marketing tactics you will be using to promote your business.
As you start marketing, you may see different results from different tactics which may impact your decision to either stop or double down on something.
A marketing plan acts as a rain check that you can go back to. It lets everyone on the team understand ‘why’ a certain marketing tactic was chosen in the first place.
4. Ensures consistency
In times when the competition is increasing, it may take longer for a marketing tactic to show results. This often leads to businesses becoming inconsistent in their execution.
But with a marketing plan in place, you have already gauged how long it can take for a marketing tactic to show results, and have clear metrics to measure the success as well. That keeps your efforts aligned and consistent, nudging you to optimize the strategy instead of stopping it.
5. Makes efforts measurable
Every part of your business plan addresses a certain function that impacts the overall growth of your brand.
With a marketing plan in place, you set clear objectives and goals for each tactic and strategy you will be using. This helps teams stay aligned and measure the right performance metrics, to make data-driven marketing decisions.
Similar to how you have an ecommerce business blueprint before starting your business, it’s important to have a marketing plan before you actually take your brand to your target audience.
Having a marketing plan can help you strategize better, keeping your efforts aligned in the times when trends tend to change every day!
Don’t have a marketing plan in place?
You can reach out to marketing and sales Shopify experts for a consultation.
People also asked
What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a part of the overall business plan. It lists down the details of a business that make it market-ready and the list of activities one needs to take up to reach their target audience, and convert them into customers.
Is a marketing plan necessary?
If you want to keep a close watch on your resource allocation, investments and spends, you need a marketing plan. As a growing business, your expenses can increase owing to the different types of marketing and advertising campaigns you run. A marketing plan helps you stay aligned and keep your expenses realistic.
Why do marketing plans fail?
Most marketing plans fail due to lack of market research and setting unrealistic expectations. When creating a marketing plan, it’s important to do a situational analysis to know the resources that are available to you and how you intend to recover them through marketing.
Can you live without marketing?
You could have the best of products, deals and discounts available on your store. But unless you introduce them to your target audience by promoting them on the platforms they are active on, you don’t exist. That’s why you need marketing!