Step-By-Step Guide To Creating a B2B Digital Marketing Plan in 2020

Developing a digital marketing plan can be a really complicated and time-consuming task, but that doesn’t need to always be the case. Most of the time, the difficulty lies in the fact that we are focusing on the wrong this, making the process longer than required.

So, in this guide, we will break down the process of developing a digital marketing plan into just six easy to follow steps. By following these key steps, you can have a solid foundation before adding other tactics or strategies if necessary, according to your business or niche.

Let us begin with the first one.

Step 1: Develop The Right Foundations For Your Strategy

You can’t have an effective digital marketing plan without having the right foundations. There can be countless things to think about when first developing a strategy, and the key here is to be as specific as possible. Here are the main areas you should focus on:

1. Establishing Specific And Realistic Goals

You can’t have a sound plan if you don’t know what your goals are. On the other hand, if your goals are not realistic, they might affect the morale of your team. Ultimately, your goal should be about revenue, but it’s how to achieve that revenue growth that will make or break your business. Here are some examples of proper goals.

  • Generate and nurture leads

You won’t have any customers without first having a prospect or lead. Depending on your product, your sales cycle might be lengthy, and you will need to develop a strategy to nurture qualified leads.

  • Increasing customer retention

In some B2B business models such as SAAS, the growth is highly reliant on customer retention. In this case, building lasting relationships and focusing more on bringing more value to your existing customers should be your goal.

  • Raise Awareness

Pretty self-explanatory, your company needs to be visible to your prospects and customers.

  • Cross-sell and up-sell

If your goal is increasing customer retention, you might as well try to sell more products.

  • Testing New Tactics and Channels

This is also a very important goal in this fast-paced digital age. Everything is changing so fast, and you should prepare your business by testing new channels, tactics, and tools.

Depending on your niche or industry, you can have other goals to focus on. If necessary, break down your goals into smaller milestones to make them more realistic.

2. Know Your Audience

Develop a buyer persona, do your homework of market research, utilize social sentiment tools, and any other methods and tools you can use to truly understand your audience.

3. Think Long Term, Develop LTV Models

With LTV models, we can better predict the outcome of our marketing activities, and so we can evaluate our marketing investments on a long-term basis. The idea is, we should build business models that can maximize the number of purchases on a single customer during their relationship with our business, and not solely be focusing on their conversion. This guide by Smart Insights on LTV models might help you further.

Step 2: Planning Your Online Presence

The most important part of digital marketing is how your customers perceive you according to your online presence. You can have a perfect product and you can publish all the relevant, valuable contents, but you won’t gain the buyer’s trust when your website resembling a shoddy website from a scam company, or your social media channels are not maintained professionally. We call this ‘digital branding’, and although this is a pretty broad subject, here are the key areas you should focus on:

  • Your brand itself,design  is an important factor in any businesses nowadays, and you should put extra attention with your branding
  • Build a customer-centric website focusing on optimizing customer journeys
  • All your landing pages should align with your digital branding.This guide by Venture Harbour might help you
  • Utilize your social media channels well, and have an authentic voice.
  • Get the right balance between information, selling, and entertaining your prospects/customers

Step 3: Inbound and Content Marketing

We can’t neglect the importance of inbound marketing (and content marketing as a huge part of it) any longer. With the saturation of the digital world, it’s getting really hard to get your voice heard. With inbound marketing, instead of forcing your messages to be heard with advertising, hard-selling social media broadcasts, or any other methods, we attract our prospects to come to us by publishing informative, valuable contents they seek for.

Most of your B2B buyers are professionals and executives who are always looking for new information related to their industry, and this is why planning your content marketing is a very important step.

First, your contents can come in many different forms such as:

  • Blogs
  • Social media contents (outside blogs)
  • Illustration, images, and photos
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Microsites
  • Mobile Apps
  • Etc.

Choosing the right type of contents can be highly relevant to your success. If you’ve done your market research homework, you might have found out which content types are preferred by your target buyers.

Next is to develop a content calendar. Ideally, aim to have a 12-months worth of content calendar, although you can start with a 3-month calendar as the bare minimum.

Check out our previous guide on content marketing here (link) to help you further.

Step 4: Plan Your SEO and SEM

Since inbound marketing will be a huge part of your marketing strategy, you will need to invest in SEO for B2B companies and Pay-Per-Click search marketing to let your content be found. While it’s true that search volumes are generally lower in the B2B environment, you also have fewer competitions. SEO and SEM are still underutilized by B2B marketers, so this is a great potential to tap on.

SEO and SEM are pretty broad subjects by themselves, and so check out previous guides on those subject here. (link) Yet, here are some key principles to consider:

Different decision makers might use different search phrases. Define the specific target keywords for each decision maker and group them.

Check out how your competitors are doing with their search marketing, and use the gathered data to define your strategy.

Build quality backlinks. Check out this guide by WordStream for effective B2B link building tactics.

Step 5. Lead Generation, Lead Qualifying, and Lead Nurturing

Content marketing, which we have discussed before, is a large part of the B2B lead generation process. Also, check out our previous guide on B2B lead generation here for more ideas.

The thing is, only less than 30% of B2B leads are qualified and ready to convert. So, qualifying your leads and nurturing them until they are ready is very important.

Qualifying your leads can be a really lengthy and complicated process, and we won’t give it much justice discussing it here.So, check out this wonderful guide by HubSpot on sales qualification.

What about lead nurturing? First, decide on a CRM tool. There are many different CRM software available with various price ranges. Check out this guide by Business News Daily listing some of the popular CRM tools out there.

Here are some of the effective B2B lead nurturing strategies you can try:

  • Improve Sales and Marketing Team Alignment

As we have mentioned, the B2B sales cycle can be a lengthy (and expensive) process. This is why lead nurturing is really important, and to do that effectively, you will need both your marketing and sales teams to work together. Encourage sales and marketing teams to involve each other, and let them work together in qualifying leads. Your sales team typically is the one directly deals with customers and prospects, and they might have some insights you’ll otherwise miss.

  • Implement ABM

Account-Based Marketing is a strategy where you focus on several high-profile accounts, and tailor your contents and messages for each of them. Many B2B businesses are now utilizing ABM to great success because it is simply one of the best ways to nurture leads effectively. Check out this ABM guide by Marketo to help you.

Step 6: Measure, Analyze, Adapt

A key part of your digital marketing plan is planning how you will measure KPIs related to your goals. The thing is, even after you’ve planned (and execute) the perfect strategy, there’s no guarantee it will succeed. If you are not able to measure your progress, you won’t be able to adjust your strategy when something is amiss.

Although analytics by itself is a pretty deep subject and the proper metrics to measure will be highly dependent on your specific goals and strategies, here are some key principles you can follow:

  • Determine the right KPIs according to your goals and funnels
  • Analyze your most effective contents, and track their performance
  • Use event tracking to see the performance of your CTAs and contents
  • Use Content Experiment to maximize conversion

End Words

While developing a clear and working digital marketing plan can be difficult, you can make things easier by focusing on the right things. After you’ve finished developing the plan, don’t forget to consider another important side: budget. Analyze your plan by measuring ROI, allocating budget, and test everything before committing.

About the author

Mike is a lead SEO strategist at Nine Peaks Media. With over 10+ years of experience in SEO and Inbound Marketing, he helped hundreds of B2B and SaaS businesses rank on the first page of Google.