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Creating A Digital Marketing Plan For 2016

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus from drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but use your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this question too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that there is no single tactic or strategy that gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels in order to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the 4 steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is defining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.


It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the business aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as specific as possible.


You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.


Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.


Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goal should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.


Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to achieving them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This is a possible SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is an important step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to eventually achieve your goal.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like: how many sales were necessary in December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, it is necessary to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month in order to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your own historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key question is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be fairly straightforward. This step involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Duplicate Content Will Kill Your Online Marketing

Many webmasters wonder why duplicate content is such a huge problem when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). While all the information available on the internet regarding duplicate content can seem overwhelming, it makes perfect sense when seen from Google’s point of view.

To illustrate this, let us look at an example that most people can relate to. You may have just watched a good movie and would like to find another similar movie. One way to do this would be to tweet or to send an email to some of your friends, asking them to recommend a film that they liked.

In this case, the result you expect is that your friends will reply with a number of different titles that they think you would enjoy watching. What you definitely do not want is for all of your friends to recommend the exact same movie, which you then decide is not what you are looking for. What you expect to get is a wide variety of movie titles, which increases the likelihood that you will find something you will like.

This is very similar to how Google’s search results work; the people at Google know that if a user keys in a search term and gets 10 web pages full of almost identical results, the chances of the searcher finding the information they require, are drastically reduced. The user experience also suffers, because it is extremely frustrating to click on different search results only to get the exact same information.

In order to get round this problem, Google has developed advanced search algorithms that prevent duplicate pages from being displayed for a particular search phrase. The result is, if you have a page on your website that has the same (or very similar) content to another page online, Google will only rank one of them.

How to Find Out If You Have Duplicate Content on Your Web Pages

There are plenty of tools available online that can help you find out if your web pages contain duplicate content. However, two of the most popular with webmasters and content developers are:

Both of these tools only require you to paste the URL of your webpage into the search box and click the ‘Go’ button to start checking your content. In many cases, some duplicate content will be found, so let us look at ways to fix your content in order to avoid penalties by Google.

Fixing Duplicate Content

Many webmasters and online content developers often try in vain to find the one ‘magic bullet’ solution that will easily solve the problem of duplicate content. Unfortunately, there is no simple, ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that will work for everyone; how you fix duplicate content on your website depends on your own situation. However, there are 3 solutions that are common, and every webmaster should find at least one that would be a good fit for their website. These are:

  1. 301 Redirect: This works by automatically forwarding visitors to your website from one page to the other if they are duplicates. For all intents and purposes, a 301 Redirect effectively eliminates duplicate content on the website because only one of the 2 pages is accessible online.
  2. Rel=canonical: A second option is to place the rel=canonical tag on the duplicate web pages. By using this tag, it tells Google which URL among the duplicate pages should be displayed among the search results. The tag’s format would look like this: <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.mydomain.com/the-url-you-want-listed-in-Google.html” />.
  3. No Index: When you would like to tell Google not to add a URL to its indexed search results, the No Index tag comes in handy. This is different from the previous methods because it removes a page from consideration as a search result instead of redirecting traffic. The tag is added to your web page HTML as <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />.

It is clear that all the above methods of dealing with duplicate content are fairly technical. It is therefore necessary for you to discuss the one that would fit your website best with your web developer.

Are Other Issues Preventing Your Site From Ranking In Google?

Besides duplicate content, there are many other issues that could hurt your website’s Google rankings. If you suspect that there are problems, the best action to take is to carry out an SEO audit. We have an affordable and comprehensive SEO audit service which offers:

  • An in-depth SEO analysis that includes both on-page and off-page factors, as well as mobile, social and analytics that affect your Google rankings.
  • A comprehensive SEO report that grades each factor, allowing you to see areas where your SEO needs improvement.
  • Consultation with one of our SEO experts, who will answer all your questions on optimizing your web pages.

Duplicate content can hurt your rankings with Google so take the time to make your site content stand out from the rest.