How to design a successful digital channel plan

The digital landscape is so expansive, it can be tricky to determine the best channels to reach your target market.

Today, will outline a conversion funnel model and tips on how to match each decision making stage to a digital channel based on the objective, whether that is increasing awareness and reaching a new audience, or converting a prospective customer to a sale.

Here’s the deal…

The days of pushing all of your advertising spend solely into Search and watching the sales roll in are effectively over for most businesses. In order to achieve growth and compete with other brands you need to;

  1. Identify your unique value proposition and brand, and effectively convey it in a way that resonates with your particular target market.
  2. Ensure that your brand is reaching your target market where they are spending time and when they are most receptive to your message.

Assuming that you have sussed point 1, let’s dive in to how to develop an effective digital marketing channel plan.

Outline the consideration pathway

Research (and personal experience) tells us that people are spending more time than ever investigating a product or service before ever submitting their details or completing a purchase. This is even more pronounced for large ticket items where people are committing a lot of money (or time), and want to be confident in their decision. It’s not only the financial implications, but also the emotional driver of being proud of the outcome (or on the flipside, avoiding the embarrassment of being ‘ripped off’ or not ending up with the desired outcome). This means that often a prospect is aware of you before you have any of their details, and has already come to a conclusion about your product or service. 

While not every customer journey will be the same, most touchpoints can be categorised into one of the following;

Awareness – Realisation that there is a problem that needs to be solved

Research – Determining the product or service that will solve the problem

Consideration – Comparing the options identified as offering the solution

Acquisition – The decision and purchase of the preferred solution

Retention / Advocacy – Loyalty to the solution that leads to either repeat purchases (if applicable) or recommendations to friends and family. 

It’s important to note here that the above journey is simplified, and more often than not will zig zag around rather than following a linear path – However it is a useful model when designing a channel plan to ensure that your brand is visible and engaging at each touchpoint or interaction of the customer journey

Another note: The above model is also useful when designing your content plan, and ensuring that you are answering the needs and questions likely to come up at each phase.

How can you actually use this?

Choosing the right channel for each stage then becomes a case of analysing the strengths and targeting capabilities of each platform, and identifying what the target market are looking for when on there. This information can then be overlaid across the customer consideration model. 

Of course, the platform user demographic needs to be considered. If you are selling a product aimed at retirees, Snapchat is not for you.  

Some targeting examples for the awareness stage specifically could include;

  • Interest and demographic targeting on social
  • Affinity audiences and topics targeting on Display and YouTube
  • Lookalike / similar audiences across both social and Google products

Each channel has a number of different targeting options available that can be used to reach people at different stages of their journey; Custom Intent audiences across Display and YouTube allow you to target those actively researching and identified as being currently in-market for a product or service. These audiences are built by inputting keywords and URLs that Google then uses to build out the target list, so for example if a number of competitors have a promo page running then you could use these URLs as a guide for Google to find those people most likely to be interested in the promo (and therefore, your offer). 

Yes, another note: For this post the focus is on paid channels, however when looking at the full journey holistically it’s important to include owned channels and take into account every potential interaction that a prospect may have with your brand (from your Facebook cover image through to your invoice). Ensuring consistency across the brand voice and messaging is comforting as it appears more authentic, and promotes an overall more positive experience.

When designing a digital channel plan, the audience segmentation is just as important as the platform. By harnessing the targeting and machine learning capabilities of the channel, your target market can be divided into sub-groups according to their previous browsing behaviour, similarity to previous customers, and remarketing lists, that can all be served specific campaign messaging according to which decision making stage they are at and what they are currently doing online. This results in a cohesive, thoughtful conversion path to becoming a customer.

Want to discuss your digital strategy? Get in touch with the Bang Digital team today.