Creating a successful digital marketing campaign plan

It’s been a few years since I studied for my IDM Digital Diploma but, by far the most valuable thing I learned was how to structure a digital marketing campaign plan using the SOSTAC framework.

The brainchild of PR Smith, applying SOSTAC makes it simple to create a well researched, thought out, measurable digital marketing campaign plan. Crucially SOSTAC (Situation, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions, Control)  is memorable and easy to apply.

It logically flows from where you are now, where you want to go, how you get there, the individual steps needed to get there, who’s does what and when, and how can tell if you’ve got there.

Using SOSTAC to create your digital marketing campaign plan

I’ve seen the SOSTAC framework interpreted and used slightly differently depending on circumstance. This often occurs in the Tactics and Action stages, where it’s easy to overlap activities. You may even find it easier to group these together in your plan.   

The beauty of this framework is you can adapt it for use for fully fledged long-term planning or a smaller individual campaign. The most important thing is that the plan ties together to achieve the objectives you’ve set.

Below is how I’ve found it best to organise activities but you may wish to tweak it to your own situation. I’ve included some examples for illustration purposes only.

Situation

The research and assessment stage. It covers where you are as a business, your product/service, customers, market trends, target audience, competitors, and USPs. This stage is highly valuable as the information gathered here will help set the rest of the plan. Techniques you can use include:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Customer data
  • Personas     

Example:

SWOT - Digital marketing campaign plan

Objectives

What you’re looking to achieve from your digital marketing campaign. Each objective should be SMART and fit with your overall business objectives.

Smith recommends setting objectives using the 5 S’s:

  • Sell – acquisition and retention targets
  • Serve – customer satisfaction targets
  • Sizzle – wow factor
  • Speak – engaging customers
  • Save – efficiency gains

You can use also use RACE to make sure that your objectives cover each stage of the sales cycle.

  • Reach
  • Act
  • Convert
  • Engage

Reaching these objectives will ultimately be how you measure the success of your digital marketing campaign.

Example: Objective 1  Acquire 1,000 new online customers this quarter at an average CPA (cost per acquisition) of £25.

Strategy

Use the results of your research, personas and SWOT analysis to identify the customer/market segments that you’re going to target.

Layout how you’re going to target them to achieve each objective. And set KPI’s that’ll help you track performance against your objectives.

Example. To acquire 1,000 new online customers this quarter we’re going to:

  • Increase our unique website visitors to from 80,000 per month to 90,000 and increase our conversion rate from 4% to 5% by:
    • Improving our organic search rankings for products
    • Running a paid search campaign
    • Introduce a new affiliate programme
    • Targeting existing customers with “recommend a friend” offers
    • Build early engagement through social channels
    • Optimising our product landing pages and reducing clicks to order
    • Retargeting ads for visitors that leave without purchasing

Tactics

The granularity on how you’ll execute your strategy including:

  • The Marketing Mix. 7 P’s.
  • Digital marketing tactics. How you’ll use the digital channels outlined in your strategy (e.g. SEO, PPC, affiliate, email, social) to engage your target audience through the sales funnel covering awareness, consideration, decision, purchase and customer retention.   
  • Content plan.

Example: We’ll improve our organic search rankings for products by:

  • Carrying out an SEO audit to identify where meta and technical improvements need to be made
  • Identifying the best keywords to target based on our user’s search intent
  • Creating a content marketing calendar for optimising existing content and producing new content
  • Use our site blog to produce quality content to complement our product pages
  • Amplifying content on social media channels
  • Building quality authoritative links through:
    • Relevant directories
    • PR Syndication

Actions

This covers who’ll be doing what and when. I find it useful to create a marketing activity calendar. And detail any internal or external resources that’ll be used.

Example:

When Task Who
Week 1 SEO audit Tom – Marketing Exec
Week 1 Keyword research Tom – Marketing Exec
Week 2 Create content marketing calendar Dan – Marketing Manager

Control

How you’re going to measure and monitor the campaign’s performance based on the objectives set.

  • Analytics
  • Reporting – including dashboards to accurately measure your KPI’s
  • Budget – Include your overall budget and target cost per acquisition.

Example:

  • We’ll set up a dashboard in Power BI that pulls data from Google Analytics, AdWords, and our CRM to track the KPIs for each of our objectives. This’ll be used for reporting results to all stakeholders
  • Weekly campaign performance review meeting

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at how I use SOSTAC to create a digital marketing campaign plan. You can find more at PR Smith and Smart Insights.