A marketing plan, not to be confused with a marketing strategy, is a document that outlines a company’s marketing and advertising strategy. It helps businesses identify their target market, value proposition and marketing channels, etc. Here’s how to write an ecommerce marketing plan for your business.
Table of contents: How to write an ecommerce marketing plan in 7 steps
- Define your business purpose
- Set your objectives and goals
- Conduct a SWOT analysis
- Identify your target market
- Meet customers in their journey
- Identify suitable marketing channels
- Measure your progress
How to write an ecommerce marketing plan in 7 steps
Understanding the direction your marketing will take is an essential step when starting a business. Take a look at these 7 steps to write a marketing plan:
1. Define your business purpose
The first step to creating a good marketing plan is spelling out your mission and vision statements. Your mission statement sums up your company’s ‘why’, while the vision statement describes your company’s future position.
When writing your mission statement, think about the following questions:
- What does your brand do?
- Why do you do it?
- Whom do you do it for?
- How do you do it?
To create a vision statement that resonates with your customers, find the human value in your work. Think about:
- What problem does your brand solve?
- How can your brand change people’s lives for the better?
- What impact do you want your brand to have on the world?
Lastly, identify the values that you, your customers, and other stakeholders should maintain. It could be integrity, teamwork, equality, honesty, originality and inclusivity, etc.
2. Set your objectives and goals
Establish what you want your marketing efforts to achieve from the very beginning. When running an ecommerce business, your goals could include building brand awareness, increasing traffic to your website, improving your conversion rate, or increasing customer loyalty. Home in on a few goals at a time and aim to do them exceptionally well.
Set your goals using the SMART goal framework to ensure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, if your ecommerce business is new and your main goal is to build awareness and increase traffic, your goals should look something like this:
- Increase first-time web visitors by X% by [Date]
- Have X amount of social media followers by [Date]
3. Conduct a SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis helps you determine your ecommerce store’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It also gives you insight into how your company ranks up against the competition. Try answering the following questions about every SWOT topic:
- What does your company do well?
- What do others see as your strengths?
- What unique resources can you draw on?
- What advantages do you have over your competition?
- What areas of your business need improvement?
- Is there anything that your store needs to be more competitive?
- What are others likely to see as weaknesses?
- What trends could you take advantage of?
- Can you offer something your competitors can’t?
- How can you turn your strengths into opportunities?
- Are there any market trends that could negatively affect your business?
- Is consumer behaviour moving away from your product or service?
- What kind of larger threats do your weaknesses expose you to?
4. Identify your target market
Once you better understand your business and what you want to achieve, it’s time to focus on your customer. Identifying who you want to sell to is the most important part of your marketing plan, so how do you do it?
Analyse your offerings
The first step in identifying your target market is understanding what your products or services offer customers. Write out a list of your product’s features and benefits and to whom they might appeal.
Create a buyer persona
A buyer persona is a research-based profile of your ideal customer. Buyer personas describe in detail your ideal customer’s demographic, behaviours, preferences, motivations and challenges. They are critical to the success of your marketing efforts because they help you create personalised campaigns that resonate with your customers.
5. Meet customers in their journey
Unlike brick-and-motor stores, online retailers do not have the luxury of sitting and waiting for customers to walk in. When selling online, you must be proactive in finding, converting and retaining customers. Before making a purchase, customers go through a journey, and your marketing plan should account for each stage in this process.
The five stages of the customer journey include:
• Awareness: A customer’s journey begins with awareness. It is at this stage that customers first learn about your brand.
• Consideration: Realising that they have a problem that needs to be solved, customers start researching and comparing different solutions. At this stage, your goal should be to wow them with targeted content that educates them without being too salesy. Show them your expertise, earn their trust and help them make an informed decision.
• Conversion: After evaluating all available options, the customer decides to purchase from your store.
• Loyalty: After converting a lead into a customer, you’ll need to continue nurturing the relationship to increase your chances of converting them into a returning customer.
• Advocacy: Impressed by your products and customer care experience, the customer spreads word about your brand to their friends and family.
Read more about what lead generation means in marketing.
6. Identify suitable marketing channels
Not all marketing channels will work for your business. An important part of creating a marketing plan is deciding which marketing channels you’re going to use. With so many options to choose from, zeroing in on a few can be a bit challenging, so here are a few factors to consider:
• Your goals: What do you want to accomplish out of marketing? Marketing channels work differently, and some are better at achieving some goals than others.
• Your target customer: To effectively market your brand, you need to know exactly where to find your target customers. For example, if your business caters to Gen Z, social media marketing, particularly Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, would be most effective.
• Scope out the competition: If you need a little guidance, identify your most successful competitors and note which marketing channels they use. What works for them will most likely work for you as well.
Read more about choosing your goals for content marketing.
7. Measure your progress
After identifying suitable marketing channels and implementing your marketing strategy, track your progress and monitor your results. Keep tabs on your website traffic, incoming sales, and customer responses and use that information to evaluate whether your marketing plan needs to be revised.
✏️ Now that you’ve learnt how to create a marketing plan, read our blog to learn more about how content marketing can support your digital marketing plan.
Header image: Bruno Kelzer