From SMART to SMARTER marketing objectives: Discover how to define marketing objectives, measure your digital marketing goals, and use data to inform your marketing strategy

When identifying specific marketing objectives to support your long-term goals, it is common practice to apply the widely used SMART mnemonic. You will know that SMART is used to assess the suitability of objectives set to drive different strategies or the improvement of the full range of business processes. By its simplest definition, an effective SMART marketing objective is: Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. But you will learn in this article that beyond this well-known acronym, there are different variations and nuances which you can apply to practice Smarter Marketing.

What is Smarter Marketing?

The SMART acronym is much more than a mnemonic since it defines a way of thinking about getting better results within business and marketing. This mindset is based…

Use our digital marketing strategy template integrated across the RACE Framework to plan and get ahead in your digital marketing

We all know the old saying “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”, but when it comes to digital marketing, this really is the case. It has never been more important than it is now to create a digital marketing strategy template so you can plan, manage and optimize your online activities. Today, digital media is vital when it comes to driving leads and sales, meaning marketers need to understand how best to engage and convert online audiences. Despite this, our research shows that many businesses still don’t have a digital marketing plan. As a result, companies are missing out on the benefits of having a digital marketing plan integrated into their overall marketing plan or as a separate roadmap for digital transformation. At a time when marketers are increasingly…

7 steps to creating an effective marketing plan for businesses of all sizes

A marketing plan is a bit like a job description for your company. Everyone should have one, but they’re often not fit for purpose, out of date, and reviewed infrequently... Research has shown that businesses with plans succeed, outperform competitors, and retain staff, more than those with no plan. Without a plan there’s no direction for the company or its employees, decisions can be uninformed, opportunities can be missed and threats can damage or destroy the business. Whether you are looking at creating a traditional marketing plan or a multichannel digital marketing plan, we've got resources to help you.

Free marketing plan template aimed at small businesses

In this article, Annmarie Hanlon recommends 7 simple steps for structuring a classic marketing plan. But for an SME or SMB, you need a little more detail about prioritizing your investment of time and…

Digital marketing is more important now than ever. My recommendations on the challenges and opportunities for growth

Digital marketing is deceptively easy if you take the deliberately simple definition from my book Digital Marketing:Strategy, Implementation and Practice where I define Digital Marketing as: "Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital media, data and technology". But in reality, digital marketing is a tough challenge since many businesses know how vital digital and mobile channels are today for acquiring and retaining customers. Yet the research shared below shows that many businesses don't have an integrated plan to support digital transformation and business growth based on engaging their audiences effectively online. In this article, I will explain why a digital marketing strategy is essential for all businesses. If you're looking for an introduction to the scope of digital marketing and what should be included in a plan, see my post explaining What is Digital Marketing. Regardless of the type…

How to strategically manage your marketing spend with 8 integrated simple marketing budget templates

Setting strategic and channel direction, working toward commercial objectives and KPIs, and monitoring your success is great. But if you're not tracking your ROI per channel it's hard to understand how much money you've had to spend to see a return. That's why you need a practical, accessible marketing budget.

How much budget is allocated to marketing?

Did you know, as of Fall 2023, marketing accounts for 10.6% of overall budgets, and 9.2% of company revenues? In small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, this rises to 18.1% of the budget, but 19.5% of the revenue. Whereas those with over 10,000 employees allocate just 8.1% to marketing, to achieve 4.8% of revenue. The latest CMO survey found that yearly growth in marketing spending is predicted to rise 7.2% in 2024. Within this growing budget, digital marketing spending…

A content marketing planning tool to help marketers generate ideas for the most engaging content types for their audiences

We created our Content Marketing Matrix to help our members audit their content marketing assets as part of creating a content marketing strategy. It can also be used for content ideation, i.e. to brainstorm future content ideas to generate leads, nurture prospects, encourage sharing and generate backlinks for SEO. Since we created it eight years ago it's been shared many times and has inspired many 'mashups' in different formats as this Google search shows; great to see it's been useful! I think our Content Marketing Matrix is a powerful mindtool for marketers since it's a content mapping tool, structured to help you think through two key dimensions of which types of content will best support the path to purchase for your target audience. The two dimensions…

Set the right goals for digital marketing using the 5Ss

Do your set of goals for online marketing cover all the bases? A good set of digital marketing goals covers a range of different measures to help set, review, and control performance across all digital marketing activities. In this article, we cover the 5S framework which are a simple method to gain more focus on how digital marketing can support a business. The 5Ss are a great simple framework, as the examples show. It's worth bearing in mind that goals are broader than objectives which we recommend as essential for setting targets and reviewing performance using digital marketing dashboards. If you need to use a more data-driven approach to digital marketing, see these primers or our free template for more examples: Setting SMART objectives for…

9 key differences between strategy vs tactics

‘What is the difference between strategy vs tactics?’ is one of the most common questions that 'crops up' when I’m running training workshops or discussing creating marketing plans with businesses. It’s no surprise since the difference between these two activities often isn’t distinct. Yet, it’s an important question to answer since our research shows that so many businesses don’t have a clear marketing strategy or plan. Without a clear strategy, it’s likely some of your tactics may be poorly directed, so may not be propelling the business in the direction needed.

9 key features that distinguish marketing strategy vs tactics

In this article, I will show the difference between strategy and tactics by looking at the characteristics of marketing strategy, which distinguish it from tactics. I’ll give examples that help show the difference between the two based on essential strategic activities.

What's the difference between strategy vs tactics?

Strategy dictates…

It’s not enough to create buyer personas and leave them getting dusty on the shelf. Find out how to apply customer personas to inform each stage of your marketing strategy

What are marketing personas?

Customer or buyer personas are fictional people who represent target customer segments. Personas are used by marketing teams to segment and target key demographic, psychographic, and behavioural traits of their target audiences. The term ‘user personas’ is also commonly applied when analyzing particular online users’ behaviours, such as website experience (CX, UX) or in response to marketing automation (e.g. email or mobile campaigns).

Why create customer personas?

By researching and creating customer personas, we as marketers, managers, and business owners can gain valuable insights into our buyers’ preferences, motivations, pain points, and online behaviours. Persona-based marketing techniques enable businesses to tailor their digital marketing campaigns and always-on…

What goes into the Amazon marketing strategy secret sauce? Our business case study explores Amazon's revenue model and culture of customer metrics, history of Amazon.com and marketing objectives

In the final quarter of 2022, Amazon reported net sales of over $149.2 billion. This seasonal spike is typical of Amazon's quarterly reporting, but the growth is undeniable as this was the company's highest quarter ever. There is no doubt that the e-commerce retail giant continues to lead the way in e-commerce growth. The Amazon marketing strategy we are familiar with today has evolved since it was founded in 1994. I've highlighted the Amazon marketing strategy case study in my books for nearly 20 years now since I think all types of businesses can learn from their digital business strategy. Their response to the pandemic is impressive but not entirely surprising…