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Most people don’t create a digital marketing plan at all. They just come up with a marketing idea, pursue it blindly, and hope for the best. What happens is, they inevitably run into roadblocks and when they do, they’ve already spent so much time and money that they’re hesitant to change anything — and that’s where they get into big trouble.
Before moving forward with any of the strategies in this guide, decide WHY you’re marketing and WHO you’re marketing to.
I've laid it all out for you in this five-step digital marketing plan:
WARNING: DO NOT skip these first steps. I call this “The Shrug Effect.” When you say “know your market” everyone nods and shrugs — “Yeah yeah, Ramit, I got it” — but nobody actually does it.
A huge mistake is “trying out” digital marketing (running “just a few” Facebook ads, writing blog posts, or creating social media profiles) without first being crystal clear on WHO you’re trying to reach.
In my flagship course on starting an online business, Zero to Launch, I talk about the Immersion Strategy, which is a way to understand your customer better than they know themselves through deep research.
It’s easier to set up a bunch of websites and landing pages and Google Analytics than to actually understand people. But when you create a digital marketing plan and understand your customer up front, everything becomes easier:
There are three ways I teach my students to get inside their customer's heads.
This sounds easy, but it's not. However, the longer you practice the Immersion Strategy, the faster you'll be able to speak to your customers in exactly the language they understand.
But how do you make sure your market will pay? Take the Immersion Strategy a step further with this exclusive video from Zero to Launch.
In this video, I dive deep into the strategies, systems, and secrets you can use to check if your idea will make you money.
In this 13-minute Immersion Strategy video, we’ll talk about:
When I was an undergrad at Stanford, my plan was to teach my friends about personal finance.
I printed up all these agendas (double-sided, to save money), reserved spots, even got a bunch of my friends to say they would come.
It took me years to figure out why. Do you know?
First, I talked about financial literacy. Big mistake. People want more money, freedom, options. Nobody wants to be “financially literate.” It’s naggy!
Second, I focused on a group of people (college kids) who NOTORIOUSLY hate being nagged about money. It’s irrelevant, since they’re not earning it yet!
But like a delusional entrepreneur, I told myself that people “should” listen. Once you use the word “should,” you’ve already lost.
It didn’t matter how technically accurate my talk was. It didn’t matter what my friends logically stood to gain. I chose the wrong audience, and that was it.
It’s like you telling your friend she “should” break up with her horrible, no-job-having boyfriend. Yeah, she should…but she’s not going to. Not until she’s ready.
Same thing with digital marketing planning. You’ll see a bunch of people giving you tactical tips like “14 Ways to Make Money with PPC,” but one of the most important lessons you can actually learn is…
…GO TO THE BUYERS.
There are tons of looky-loos, especially online — which means it’s easy to waste your time and resources marketing to people that will never buy.
If you take away one thing about running a profitable online business from this guide, make it this:
You have to find people who will pay.
When you learn how to find the buyers, you’ll get these kinds of results:
This is not random. A huge part of your success in starting an online business comes from consciously choosing who you’re attracting and who you’re repelling.
What if you could find the people who already “get it?” People who are all-in, paying attention, and dying for you to share your special something?
Let me show you how in this video:
In this 6-minute video, we talk about:
When it comes to digital marketing, people tend to jump from one shiny object to the next — Twitter! Facebook ads! Blogging daily! All of these can make money, but only when done with intention. Most people never focus on a plan long enough to see any results. In fact, they often don’t even know the result they are looking for! (For example “Twitter followers” is not a result unless you’ve found a landlord that takes that as payment.)
The way to grow is to focus on the ONE result you want from your marketing plan. Do you want:
Once you laser in on ONE goal, what you need to do to get there becomes much easier to figure out. Then, when you reach one goal, you can apply what you learned (planning, timing, and focus) to checking off the next from your list.
In this 6-minute video, listen to Noah:
Now, I want to challenge you to do what Noah said.
Pick the biggest goal that you want to accomplish with your digital marketing plan. Maybe it’s to get 10,000 people on your list, make $25,000 in revenue, or get featured in a major publication like Forbes or the New York Times.
Whatever that goal is for you, declare it. And then mark your calendar for one year from today.
I work with a lot of people who want to start an online business. It’s a very exciting time for them — but it’s also challenging to know what to focus on, who to listen to, and what bright and shiny objects are worth their time.
So I ask them, “What’s your number one goal?” If they say, “I want to get 5,000 people on my list in one year,” then we have something very concrete to work with.
When they come to the group and say, “I was doing such and such on Twitter the other day,” the group will immediately call them out and say, “Is Twitter going to help you get to 5,000 people on your email list?”
In 95% of the cases, the answer is no. Twitter might be more fun than doing what it takes to get 5,000 email subscribers, but it’s not going to be a real win for the business.
Having that kind of focus is what has enabled me to grow my business from nothing 12 years ago to now being a million-dollar business with 30,000 students all over the world.
Limiting your options may seem scary, but if you do it, your chances of accomplishing your goal increase exponentially.
When you open the Maps app on your phone, what’s the first thing that happens? Before the route is laid out, before you even plug in your destination, the app pinpoints your current location. It’s impossible to map out your path before you know where you’re starting.
At GrowthLab, we approach online business as a SYSTEM.
That’s why we’re not digging right into marketing tactics and instead looking at high-level strategy. We figure out where we are. Map out the route. And then execute.
Every day, people come to me frantic and frazzled by all the details of their businesses.
Facebook algorithms, AdWords click-rates, Mailchimp delivery rates! No wonder they're overwhelmed! In this video, I'm sharing the secret to successfully operating your business — and your life — without getting overwhelmed.
In this short video, we learn:
Throughout this guide, I mainly share free ways to market your site. However, some of the more advanced strategies like Pay Per Click advertising cost money. It’s important when deciding which strategies to focus on to understand how (or if) you’ll make that money back.
That’s why I encourage you to focus on the fundamentals first. Get a good idea of your market, your audience, and your numbers. Then, as you grow, you can invest back into your business.
Every dollar that goes out of your business (including for digital marketing) should result in more than a dollar coming in. That’s a positive ROI. If you spend more on an activity than you make, that’s a negative ROI and you should stop doing it. It’s that simple. You need to know if a promotion is making or losing money so you can adjust accordingly.
Once you know your market, know your goal, and know what to focus on, it’s just a matter of simple math to create your digital marketing plan.
Here's how quant-based marketing works…
Let’s say the following two facts are true:
At the current rate, you’ll get 520 subscribers if you continue doing what you’re doing now. (10 subscribers/week x 52 weeks per year).
So to reach your goal, you need to essentially double your current subscriber rate.
To do that you have 2 options:
Do you see how now you have a solid plan to work from?
If you look at your numbers and decide that you want to double your conversion, you can ignore all the other shiny tactics and just work on getting more opt-ins.
If you decide to focus on traffic, you can use the digital marketing strategies that I detail in rest of this guide.
If more subscribers is your goal, I have an in-depth ebook on getting more email subscribers. Get the exact list-building strategies I’ve used to grow my list to over 500,000 readers here: