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The Importance of a Digital Marketing Plan: A Digital North Star

January 4, 2024

Five hundred and two years ago, the spirit of adventure and discovery in Ferdinand Magellan1 led him and his crew of 270 men aboard five boats to circumnavigate the globe. Like all successful sailors, Magellan used celestial navigation to determine his position and direction. Magellan and his crew used the Southern Cross for navigation, while those of us in the northern hemisphere would use the North Star. Since the North Star is located almost directly above the North Pole, it remains stationary in the sky while other stars appear to rotate around it. This immovability makes Polaris a reliable point of reference for determining direction. Magellan’s fame and accomplishments are a testament to their vision and leadership and his understanding of a reliable points of reference to measure progress and direction.

Remembering the immovability of Polaris, which makes it a reliable point of reference for determining direction, translates well as we consider the value of digital marketing and the digital marketing plan that determines direction.

What is digital marketing?

Any marketing that occurs online is digital marketing. When your policyholders or insurance shoppers come across your agency’s content in any search engine, social media platform, email, or website, they engage with your agency’s digital marketing.

Google’s research reveals that, on average, consumers engage with 7 hours of content across 11 touchpoints in 4 different areas to get comfortable making a purchase decision. This 7-11-4 Rule2 is the digital touchpoint experience consumers need to assess brand credibility, understand products, and determine who will earn their business.

Understanding the customer’s online journey and how they interact with digital media gives marketers the opportunity to position their brand and effectively manage their agency’s online presence and reputation through paid and organic digital marketing strategies.

What is a digital marketing plan?

Successful digital marketers, like celestial navigators, also need a North Star. That digital Polaris is a digital marketing plan.

Simply put, a digital marketing plan encompasses the brand, the target audience, and the marketing and business goals. Taking the time to develop a digital marketing strategy and document a tactical roadmap to achieve the marketing and business goals is time well invested. A well-crafted plan can help an insurance agency reach and engage with more customers and future customers, improve their online presence, and deliver more value by sharing their first-hand insurance expertise. Let’s dive a little deeper.

What are the benefits of a digital marketing plan?

There are several benefits to having a digital marketing plan in place for an insurance agency. First and foremost, a digital marketing plan can help an agency reach and engage with more policyholders and insurance shoppers. By using digital channels, an agency can target specific audiences and demographics, making it easier to connect with future customers interested in getting an insurance policy or two.

Additionally, a digital marketing plan can help an agency improve its online presence and search engine rankings. By regularly publishing high-quality content and using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, an agency can improve its visibility on search engines, making it easier for customers to find them when searching for insurance products and services.

A digital marketing plan can also help an agency deliver more value to its customers. By using digital channels to provide helpful information and resources, an agency can demonstrate its expertise and build customer trust – improving customer loyalty and retention.

How to create a digital marketing plan?

Here’s a high-level overview of creating a digital marketing plan.

  1. Define the target audiences: What are the traits of your target future customers? What are their needs and pain points? Understanding your target audiences will help you create a plan that effectively reaches and engages with them. Tip: develop a persona of your future customers, one for each target audience, to bring the audience traits to life.
  2. Set marketing goals: Next, set your goals for your digital marketing plan. What do you want to achieve? Keep the goals measurable, like increasing website traffic, generating more leads, or improving customer engagement. Make sure the marketing
    goals map to the larger business goals at the agency. Tip: Set measurable goals for each digital channel and know the current benchmark for each performance metric.
  3. Choose the digital channels: There are many digital channels available, and it’s essential to choose the ones that will be most effective for reaching your target audience. When planning media, consider using search engines, social media, email, and content marketing as part of your digital marketing plan. Tip: Insights within the persona will inform digital media selection and influence the weight allocated to the marketing efforts across the digital channels.
  4. Create a content plan: Content is King remains a truism. It is a critical component of any digital marketing plan. Create a content plan that outlines the types of content to create, the topics to cover to meet the needs of policyholders and insurance shoppers, and the channels you will use to distribute your content. Tip: The effectiveness of social media content can be exhausted more quickly in other channels. Plan for a robust volume of creative content on social media and remember that consumers are increasingly interested in videos.
  5. Monitor and measure marketing results: Finally, to evaluate the performance of the digital marketing program, it’s essential to monitor and measure the performance results. Use analytics tools to track your goals for each channel, including the typical metrics of website traffic, engagement, and conversions. Tip: Setting up an optimization process to understand what is working and what can be improved will allow your agency to make data-driven decisions and continuously improve digital marketing effectiveness.

Like celestial navigators, checking position against the North Star is required to arrive at the intended location. Have a marketing process in place to reference your goals, progress against the goal, and use the data to inform your next steps to improve marketing performance. This marketing operations best practice will deliver a marketing program optimized against the North Star of your marketing program, your marketing plan.

Reviewing and refining your digital marketing plan annually is a great place to start. And unlike Polaris, the digital marketing plan can and should change over time. Digital trends and platforms change rapidly, so stay current on the trends. When you notice your policyholders’ and insurance shoppers’ behaviors are changing or the performance metrics for a digital channel start to dip, it’s an excellent time to evaluate and optimize your digital marketing plan. Remember, the digital customer journey is complex, and it deserves careful consideration as you develop and continually optimize your marketing plan – to circumnavigate the digital ecosystem and bring value to your high-value audiences.