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How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan: Top Strategies for SMEs 

Web Design, SEO and PPC – Unlocking the Digital Marketing Mix

So, you’ve just started a new marketing role in an SME, and you’re eager to make your mark with a digital growth strategy that will transform the business. To do that, you need to put together a digital marketing plan.

Website design, SEO, PPC – where will you choose to invest your budget? What digital marketing initiatives can you use to get signoff on from your directors?

One of the biggest challenges as a marketer in an SME is in determining how to create a digital marketing mix that fits the business’s needs. The big, shiny, obvious options are in front of you: maybe it’s a new WordPress website build, maybe the current website is in desperate need of SEO, or maybe your business needs a revenue injection through some PPC. Or maybe it’s something else entirely.

The answer is: well, it often depends on the business and on your situation. In this guide we’ve laid out a few stages of growth with practical actions you can take to start your marketing plan on the right track, depending on the business you’ve joined.



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The starting point: how to hit the ground running with a digital marketing plan that will wow your directors

When you start in a new role either as a sole marketer, or within a team of 2-5 in an SME, it can feel daunting. You might find that documentation and strategy is limited. Data can be patchy, and often you’ll be entering a role with a new remit compared to your predecessor. If your skillset has a different focus from your predecessor, you may also find yourself faced with resources that you aren’t equipped to use. But that won’t stop there being pressure from the business to maintain them!

Studies have shown that pressure from the top level in business is forcing marketers to focus on performance. Your reputation, your career and your growth within the company depends on you taking action to help your business grow. So where do you start?

The first and most important question is this: where are you starting from? You might need to perform a digital marketing audit of your current business’s infrastructure to determine this.

Types of audit

  • A website design & build audit, including looking at data analytics to try to determine the strong and weak points of the current website
  • Put together a content audit. Look at the strength and diversity of the content that the business has produced. Find out how successful it has been.
  • An advertising audit, looking at the reach and impact of the advertising the business has produced, how the audience has responded, and where to develop this next.
  • A martech audit, looking at the extent of the marketing technology you are using – whether that’s just a CRM, or a more sophisticated set of platforms.

The focus and type of audit you work towards will depend on the size and type of business you’re in, and the extent of documentation you have available. If you’re managing a team of five marketers some of this information may already be available to you to use. If you’re coming into a new business as a sole marketer or part of a small team, it might be up to you to create it from scratch. Both performing this audit but also updating it once a year will help protect marketing investment, for both yourself and your successors in the role.

You might want to produce a document that combines more than one of the above into a broad growth strategy audit. Crucible actually provides an introductory audit for free, use the form below if you need one. Or, skip to the below section to read on.



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After the audit: transforming digital growth data into digital growth strategy

With your audits in hand, you will have highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the business’s growth infrastructure as it stands. Great! But what next?

The temptation can be to be reactionary. There’s a weakness in the website design? Build a new website. Is the brand received poorly by the market? Do a rebrand. But to react in this way can be missing the bigger picture.

Either way, you will be wanting to act decisively to prove your mettle to your managers; relatively quick, low-risk action to back up your strategic goals is key.


Building a Digital Marketing Plan Strategically


What Digital Marketing Mix does my SME need? Where should I focus my digital marketing budget and spend for best growth? What types of agencies should I hire and how do I measure their success?

You need to develop a strategic digital marketing mix which is tied to your SME’s goals. Different components of the marketing mix are likely to feel right based on the objectives and KPIs set by senior management.

Let’s say lead generation is the top priority, and it needs to happen quickly. Then Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising makes sense. If long-term awareness and pipeline building is the goal, then Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help to achieve that. Maybe your brand is outdated, or no longer represents your business: then you need to carry out a rebrand.

But we’re still being reactive, here: we’re reacting to the requirements of senior management, and immediate commercial imperatives. This isn’t quite strategic.

Building your strategic digital marketing plan

You know, as a marketer, that none of these techniques constitutes an effective digital marketing plan on its own. If you put all of your money into SEO, then short-term leads might drop off. If you take all of the SEO spend and put it into PPC, then you might see some quick wins – but they may drop off in the longer term. A new website might transform the brand, but if no money is left for PPC and SEO, it might not see the traffic and conversions you need.

You need to build a marketing mix which properly serves your business, taking elements of longer- and shorter-term strategies. You need to plan for the future and deliver in the present. Your budget will need to incorporate SEO, PPC, and potentially other forms of marketing like referral campaigns. You may need a new WordPress website, because your current one isn’t fit for purpose.

In order to get the budget you need, you need to be strategic about your focus. You need to prove yourself, in order to be trusted with the larger budgets.

Navigating KPIs and generating trust

If you’ve recently joined a business, you’ve joined because you were the right person for the role. However, it might take some time before senior management trusts you with the budgets you need to execute your digital marketing plan.

With that in mind, while you know you need to be strategic, you might need to demonstrate some quick Return on Investment (RoI).

If there are specific goals which your senior management has suggested need to be met, think about ways in which you can show progress towards them quickly. It’s likely that there are issues with the way the marketing or website works at present: that’s why they’ve hired you.

Finding quick wins

Look through the website, and see if there are quick wins that can be made there. Are there barriers to conversion? Are there obvious absences which can be fixed quickly, like adding contact forms, or related content to the bottom of articles?

Examine the way digital campaigns are set up at the moment. Is there any PPC? Are the campaigns configured properly? Are there any mistakes being made, which you know are affecting conversions? Start here, and demonstrate your value.

Make sure to secure extra budget quickly. It’s important not to appear as though you can magic more leads or conversions out of the air, at no extra cost.

If you’re demonstrating RoI to your directors, then when it comes to budget allocation you’re more likely to get what you need. Make sure that your budget is calibrated according to your priorities, and doesn’t prioritise the short-term at the expense of long-term stability. And when you’re asking for budget, make sure that you’re thinking about the RoI. Do (sensible!) forecasts, and make sure that your previous successes are factored in.

Looking at a digital marketing plan on an interactive whiteboard

Working With Partners

Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether you’re ready to work with outside partners: this article can help you. If you are ready to supercharge your marketing, though, it’s likely that you’re going to need to enlist help.

You’ll need to think about the type of digital marketing agency that you want to work with. If you need help with the website alone, then a website design and development agency could do the trick. But it’s worth bearing in mind that they might not be considering the long-term goals of the marketing mix.

Types of Digital Marketing Partners

If you’re looking for support with existing campaigns, for example, then a marketing agency could feel right. Bear in mind, though, that they might not understand the limitations of the existing website, and there are several different specialisms – from PPC to Account-Based Marketing. They’re likely to want to see changes and have access that you can’t provide.

You want to find an agency which can do everything that you need, and think about the long-term growth of your business alongside their explicit deliverables. Perhaps you need need to look at a digital transformation agency, who will work with you to develop your business as well as its marketing. You may want to find an agency which can deliver growth on marketing channels alongside increasing conversion rate on the website.

Your position within your business is crucial here. If you’ve proven yourself already, you’ll find you have a lot more say when selecting a digital agency partner.

So make sure you know what you want from an agency before you reach out. Think about what they could offer in the long term, as well as what you want them to do now. Think about the type of relationship you want. Is this agency simply delivering against a brief, or are they strategic partners for long-term growth?

Digital Marketing Strategy: Next Steps

In this article we’ve gone from getting your feet under the table to proving yourself as a digital marketer. We’ve shown you how to work out what the situation you’re entering into looks like. And we’ve shown you how to generate trust within the business, and to build a strategic digital marketing plan. 

If you need help taking your marketing to the next level, or help with any of these steps, please get in touch

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