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A SOSTAC® PLAN EXAMPLE |


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 January 29, 2018  Digital marketing strategy, SEO BLOG, SOSTAC  0


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How to create a digital marketing plan
using PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning model
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In this post, I give an example of how I have applied PR Smith’s
SOSTAC® Planning Model – which is my interpretation of SOSTAC®.
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Further guidance and examples are available in the Smart Insights
guide for Expert members by PR Smith and this post by Dave Chaffey     
giving an overview of the SOSTAC® model.

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SOSTAC®

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A guide for Expert members to creating a digital marketing plan using ND
SOSTAC® by PR Smith, the creator of the method.

Access the SOSTAC® Digital Marketing Planning Guide goldenas WebpalsG News_Aro shohidde

Originally created in the 1990s by writer and speaker PR Smith, the


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SOSTAC® framework has built an authoritative reputation as the Widget By Timersys

framework of choice for different scales of business including


multinational and start-up organizations across the world.

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The SOSTAC® process covers six key areas which I’ll explain in this
post:

Situation Analysis
Objectives
CATEGORIES
Strategy
Tactics
Action Categories
Control Select Category

If you’re looking for a visual example, the process for creating a


digital marketing plan has also been summarised in this Multichannel
Marketing Plan infographic. My recommendations cover many of
these planning and management activities, but not all, due to space.

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Stage 1. Situation Analysis

Stage 1 of implementing this digital marketing planning framework is


setting out the situation analysis. The situation should provide an
overview of your organization – who you are, what you do and how
you interact and trade online by addressing internal and external
factors impacting the business.

This section should be painting a picture of your organization and to


do this, consider using some of the following methods to bring this
section to life:

1. Who your digital customers currently are (how do they interact


with the brand, the platform/s used, demographic breakdown.
2. SWOT analysis – what are the strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities, and threats to the whole organization.
3. Competitor analysis – who are your competitors? How do they
compete? e.g. price, product, customer service, reputation, what
are their key differentiators?.
4. Digital channels landscape. list out all the various digital
channels used and success of each for your organization –
what’s performing well or not?.

Below I’ve gone into a bit more detail for a few of these areas:

Digital Customers

An analysis of who your digital audience is should be defined in a


section. This is essential to ensure you’re providing a clear picture of
existing customers and who you are looking to also target. If you’re
operating in a competitive environment, consider including what your
online value proposition (OVP) is should you have one?

For example, how do you envision your organization to differentiate


itself from the competition? To help define your organizations OVP,
David Chaffey recommends the 6Cs of customer motivation
framework.

Customers Personas

Creating customer personas helps brings to life who your existing


customers are and what their motivations are. Persona creation also
helps to get buy-in across your organization in helping to paint a
picture and bring to life your customer profiles. To create a series of
personas, a majority of this work can be completed by extracting
existing data through your CRM system and analytics and then build
on this to create a profile picture of your existing customers.

For an e-commerce retailer, information you could consider


extracting from your CRM could include:

Male/Female Split – What is the percentage split?


Age profiling – Average age as well as being able to develop
categories of age groupings
Location/Address details – Percentage of customers who
reside in the UK as well as overseas
Purchase history – Build up a clearer picture on historical
purchases, average order value, trends in brand loyalty,
products ordered by size
Method of purchase (e.g. credit card, debit card, cheque)
Route to purchase – Were purchases made through a search
engine, email newsletter, affiliate website, direct from site or
through the call centre, i.e. Mixed-mode
Frequency/Recency – Frequency of purchase?

Fictional Online Retailer to show how personas work

Based on this data, the next stage is to turn this data into more of a
personality that your organization can relate to. For example, I’ve
created 2 x personas for a fictional online retailer:

Persona A:

Steve is a 28 yr old professional, renting in London, single and with a


high disposable income. He has a keen interest in football and
supports a premiership football team. He likes to display his support
for his football club every year, buying the clubs latest replica shirt
online.

Steve is comfortable in ordering online and engaging with social


media to keep up to date with the latest football news and football
product launches. As the World Cup provides the chance to showcase
international replica shirts, this provides Company X with the chance
to engage with Steve to make an additional purchase of an
international replica shirt as well as purchasing his favourite club
shirt.

Scenario:

Steve has been reading the latest new stories regarding the World
Cup through his favourite football blog site. Steve notices the blog
has an exclusive promotion to order any World Cup football shirt of
your choice from Company X and save 10% by clicking on a link to
www.companyx.co.uk/worldcup. Steve clicks on the link and arrives
at Company X which brings up a list of World Cup shirts available to
order displaying the exclusive 10% discount promotion. Steve
chooses the shirt of his choice in his preferred shirt size and
completes a transaction using his credit card.

Persona B:

Clare is a 33 yr old professional who is in a relationship. She likes to


keep up with the latest fashion trends and is comfortable in ordering
at her favourite online shop. Her boyfriend is a keen football fan who
likes to keep up with football fashion by purchasing the latest football
replica shirts of his favourite team. Clare may engage with the hype
of the World Cup and this could provide an opportunity to for her to
make and purchase at Company X for her boyfriend and the
International team they choose to support during the tournament.

Scenario:

Clare has received an email from one of her preferred online retailers
which includes a cross-marketing promotion to Company X, where
you can order your World cup shirt by quoting a promotional code.
Clare thinks this would make a great gift for her partner and decides
to click through to www.companyx.co.uk. She is unsure of the team
and shirt to order so decides to phone the order helpline and take
advantage of mixed-mode buying. Clare explains her situation over
the phone to the sales consultant and places her order over the
phone for the football shirt.

You can see more examples and guidance in the Smart Insights


Persona Toolkit.

SWOT analysis

It’s worth considering creating a SWOT analysis of your organization,


thinking laterally by embracing all your internal departments rather
than just focusing on the digital marketing department and gathering
evidence and interviews on your colleagues, suppliers, customers
thoughts.

Not only will it provide a better picture to lay out a strategy for your
organisation as a whole but it also provides you with the opportunity to
interview and build relationships across the organisation.

Dave Chaffey has examples of a marketing SWOT examples in his


post where he recommends the TOWs matrix method to link the
SWOT forward to strategies.

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Insights

Stage 2. Objectives

Stage 2 of your digital marketing planning framework should focus


on the Objective/s of your strategy. Stage 1 looked at the situation
analysis which provided an overview for your organization,
specifically: who you are, what you do and how you interact and trade
online by addressing internal and external factors impacting your
business.

To help create your objectives, I recommend you use two guides to help
to create both measurable and realistic goals to achieve for your digital
marketing strategy, focusing on the 5 S’s and ensuring you make each
objective SMART.

The 5 Ss goals refer to: Sell, Serve,


Speak, Save and Sizzle which were
created by PR Smith and the
concept first published it in various
online elearning packages and
reference can also be found in the
book, Emarketing Excellence. From
defining your objectives relating to
the 5 S’s to make it measurable, it
is important to turn each objective
into SMART objectives, which
stands for:

Specific – Are you focusing enough on a specific issue or


challenge within the organization?
Measureable – How do you plan to assess the performance?
Will it be monitored through quantitative or qualitative analysis
for example?
Actionable – Will it assist in improving performance if achieved?
Relevant – Is the issue to be addressed within the domain of
the digital marketing team?
Time-related – Have you set a specific time period?.

There are a number of different SMART objectives that can be set for
example, lead generation, acquisition or engagement or retention.
For example, if we revisit the fictional online retailer, we can create
the following objectives that have been created to follow the SMART
formula:

Objective 1. Engagement: Achieve 50% of existing customers


to service their online account by July 2015.
Objective 2. Acquisition: Increase brand visibility from April
2015 through to July 2015. To be measured through Google
analytics.
Objective 3. Engagement: Increase email frequency from one
email per quarter to one email per week from May 2015
through to July 2015.

Stage 3. Strategy

Strategy means how do you plan to get there in terms of fulfilling the
objectives set. The strategy section should also identify which
segments of the market you aim to target with your plan.

We have already identified Company X will be focusing on its key


strengths: product range, organizational structure and global
operations (as detailed in the SWOT analysis) whilst remaining
realistic to its lack of financial resources in comparison to the
competition.

It is recommended Company X to develop a site geared for the World


Cup which will provide a dedicated section used to service the
customer base and to meet and service the objectives set for the
strategy. The site will act as a key differentiator from the competition
and a reason to visit and carry out a transaction. The strategy will be
to outflank competitors in order to grab market share for world cup
online traffic.

To summarise the Objectives set, specific questions have also


been raised below to be considered within the strategy:

Increase brand visibility from April 2015 through to July 2015. To be


measured through Google analytics. Increase the brand presence
within identified online channels that target the football fan
audience. What is the most cost-effective route to market? Are we
reaching our key customer segments? Where can the brand name get
increased exposure? Research our competitors and understand what
online marketing tools they are using as well as not utilising and take
a first mover advantage.

Achieve 50% of existing customers to service their online account by


July 2015. Understand our existing customer database and how they
interact with the website.

Increase email frequency from one email per quarter to one email
per week from May 2015 through to July 2015. How is the company
currently communicating with its existing customer database? Who of
our competitors have implemented a communication with their
customers?

Dave Chaffey recommends you use this type of table to summarise


how you link or align strategy with objectives.

Stage 4. Tactics

Tactics cover the specific tools of the digital mix that you plan to use
to realize the objectives of your digital marketing plan. The strategy
section should also identify which segments of the market you aim to
target with your plan.

We have already identified Company X will be focusing on its key


strengths: product range, organizational structure and global
operations (as detailed in the SWOT analysis) whilst remaining
realistic to its lack of financial resources in comparison to the
competition.

It is recommended Company X develop a microsite geared for the


World Cup which will provide a dedicated section used to service the
customer base and to meet and service the objectives set for the
strategy. Competitor research was completed in stage 1, situation
analysis, and a microsite will act as a key differentiator from the
competition and provide the foundation to meeting the objectives of
the strategy.

To summarise the Objectives set, specific questions have also been


raised below to be considered within the strategy:

Objective 1. Engagement: Achieve 50% of existing customers to


service their online account by July 2015.
Objective 2 Acquisition: Increase brand visibility from April 2015
through to July 2015. To be measured through Google analytics.
Objective 3. Engagement: Increase email frequency from one
email per quarter to one email per week from May 2015
through to July 2015.

Marketing mix to focus on your objectives

To help achieve the objectives above, use the 7PS of the Marketing


Mix to focus on the key attributes to be considered by Company X in
order to meet your objectives. The marketing mix also provides a
checklist of key areas to focus on:

Product – Company X enjoys global accreditation with the leading


sports manufacturers. It therefore needs to ensure sufficient stock
levels have been secured for each team playing at the World Cup
finals.

Price – Review pricing of World Cup products and to ensure it is


consistent to online competitors.

Place – Operating as an online retailer, this provides the main hub


for all stock movements utilizing courier companies to increase
efficiency in delivering stock to the customer in the quickest time
possible.

Promotion – Can utilize many of its online marketing tools available


to utilize its effectiveness in promoting the product range to create a
unique selling point (USP):

Email marketing: Through past purchase history, set up targeted


emails to send to existing customers based on team they
support. Drive team specific promotions within each email e.g.
Buy One Get One Free products, unique discounts on product
lines. Also push refer a friend emails with incentive e.g. Send
this email to five of your friends and if they register you get a
15% discount off your next order.
Online voucher codes: Set up voucher codes that offer a 10%
discount which are time specific to provide reporting (e.g. does
the voucher include an expiry date).
Social Media: Utilise the company accounts to engage with other
football news accounts and provide information on latest World
Cup products and promotions.

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People – Utilise the customer service team to engage with customers


should it be needed to provide support for customers who would like
to answer questions on delivery of their order, tracking their order.
Introduce Live Chat to allow existing and new customers to engage
with staff.

Process – The customer would be directed to the website through a


referral or recommendation. Locate the product of interest and add
to shopping basket. Register your details online and add your credit
card details to complete purchase. The customer will then receive an
automated email response to confirm their registration along with an
email to confirm order. A separate email will be sent to notify the
customer when the order has been despatched.

Partnerships – List important strategic relationships with other


companies that operate in non-competing sectors that have become
an important selling point to differentiate itself from other online
competitors.

Marketing tactics

When completing your own strategy, you would be going into a lot
more detail for each tactic along with specific KPIs for each tactic

Tactic 1: SEO

From the competitor analysis, one of the key weaknesses of


Company X over its competitors was a lack of financial muscle.
However, SEO does provide the company with a platform to compete
head on, specifically, Search Engine Optimisation.

To understand what a positive impact SEO would offer in terms of


increasing brand visibility for this target market, a keyword analysis
should be performed, specifically on the Google UK
marketsince ~90% of all searches in many markets are conducted
through Google

Tactic 2: Pay-Per Click

As with SEO, the keyword research will provide a foundation on what


keywords to target with a budget. Much of the competition do not
operate a PPC campaign, therefore this is an area to capitalize on, by
building traffic to the World Cup site as well as to increase brand
visibility.

As with SEO, there will be an ongoing refinement of keywords to


target as well as budget to allocate per keyword. Due to stock
fluctuations, keyword budgets will need to be paused or activated
based on stock volumes and demand for the product.

Tactic 3: Affiliate Marketing

A cost-effective vehicle in driving brand visibility for Company X is the


launch of a program. Building your affiliate marketing network is a
central component to ensure you’re maximizing opportunities in
generating incremental revenue streams through a network of
publishers that are active within your program either through lead
generation, display, search or voucher codes.

Tactic 4: Email Marketing

An email strategy needs to be implemented in order to ensure our


existing customer base is receiving regular newsletters. Tactics to be
employed include a variation on what should be included within the
content of the newsletters to ensure we retain a good click-through
rate, open rate, and conversion to sale. This tactic would be to utilize
the existing customer database and incentivize them to recruit
friends and colleagues to join the mailing list through weekly
campaigns.

Stage 5. Action

Stage 5 of your digital marketing planning framework is focused on


how to bring your plan to life, to make actionable measures.

The action section covers what needs to be achieved for each of the
tactics listed in the previous section of the SOSTAC® plan to realize
the objectives of your digital marketing plan.

Case Study to show tactics used

Continuing with the theme of the football World Cup, we have


identified Company X will be focusing on its key strengths: product
range, organizational structure and global operations (as detailed in
the SWOT analysis) whilst remaining realistic to its lack of financial
resources in comparison to the competition.

For the purpose of this case study, the following tactics were listed
and below each tactic, actions have been included to ensure each has
been considered before launch. This is not an exhaustive list but
provides an outline to what should be considered:

Keyword analysis – What keywords are we targeting?

On page optimization – Of the targeted keywords, we need to


optimize the website pages of the microsite to ensure best rankings
within Google.

Content – Identifying and reaching out to industry leading bloggers,


forums and websites prepared to create guest content and build a
relationship to propel your brand’s proposition around the World
Cup.

Link building – Bring together a targeted group of websites to target


with similar keywords and are seen as high authority sites.

Keyword analysis – What keywords are we targeting?

Budget – What budget has been ring-fenced for PPC?

Landing pages – Do the keywords we are targeting direct customers


to the correct webpage.

Product Availability – Are we communicating with our buyers to


ensure we are bidding on keywords associated with products
available to purchase?

Tactic 3: Affiliate Networks

Affiliate Program – What is the competition doing? e.g. commission


tiers, online marketing tools made available to publishers, volume of
affiliates.

Business Development – Have we built up a working relationship


with the affiliate program and will they assist in identifying and
recruiting key affiliates to the program.

Tactic 4: Email Marketing

Tracking/Software – Is the email software tool being used


effectively? Are we tracking performance of email delivery and
tracking email effectiveness such as click-through rates, open rates,
conversion to sale?

Stage 6. Control

The final stage is to layout how you plan to monitor and measure
your performance based on the objectives set at stage 2. The tactics
have been considered and your control section is providing you with
a series of dashboards tailored for each tactic.

Look to set the KPI’s per tactic that tie back into the objectives set and
set up a weekly/monthly set of monitoring dashboards to ensure you
are on track to meet the objectives set.

It’s important to also communicate your concerns with the wider


team to ensure there is buy-in to the company plan

For further information on PR Smith SOSTAC® planning guide, I


recommend you purchase the book, The SOSTAC® Guide To Writing
Your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan or Smart Insights Expert
members can access it as part of their resources.

Note from PR Smith: Simon Swan is not yet a registered SOSTAC®


 trainer/consultant but has been granted permission to use SOSTAC®
from the registered trademark owner, PR Smith. Further information
regarding registered SOSTAC ® trainers & consultants is available
from www.PRSmith.org/SOSTAC.

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