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Digital marketing strategy: How to structure a plan?

An effective digital marketing strategy will help you take the right decisions to make a company successful online.  A strategy process model provides a framework that gives a logical sequence to follow to ensure inclusion of all key activities of strategy development and implementation. We recommend the SOSTAC planning approach.

What is SOSTAC?

SOSTAC is a planning model, originally developed in the 1990s to help with marketing planning by PR Smith, who is my co-author on Emarketing Excellence.

SOSTAC stands for:

  • Situation – where are we now?
  • Objectives – where do we want to be?
  • Strategy – how do we get there?
  • Tactics – how exactly do we get there?
  • Action – what is our plan?
  • Control – did we get there?

We’ve referenced this approach in creating our   marketing planning template and  also used it in applying it to the core aspects of digital marketing. You can see it gives a logical order for tackling your plan and you should also use it to critically assess your processes. Ask, for example, what you may be weak at? Ask… Do we fail to complete situation analysis? Are our goals unclear? Do we have a strategy? Do we control performance using analytics?

Here are some tips on how to use SOSTAC

  1. Use SOSTAC to review your process

Before looking at how you apply SOSTAC at each step to create a marketing plan, first tip is to use it to review your planning process and how you manage your marketing.

Ask yourself critically about the activities you personally and your organization are good at. Maybe you spend too much or too little time reviewing the situation. Perhaps you’re not so good at setting SMART objectives, or developing strategies to support them or the control stage of assessing how effective your strategies and tactics are and adjusting them?

  1. Get the balance right across SOSTAC

Oftentimes, there is too much time spent on analysis within a plan and not enough on setting the strategies.

So as a rule of thumb, this is how your balance of content could look:

S (20%) O (5%) S (45%) T (30%) = 100%

  1. Summarize your Situation in a form of SWOT

To give focus to your situation analysis we recommend SWOT analysis. This helps integrate SWOT with strategy.

  1. Make your goals SMART and link them to your analytics/control process

Since digital marketing is so measurable, it makes sense to be specific as possible about your goals by developing a funnel conversion model .

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