If a 2018 digital refresh is on your new year’s resolutions list, you’re in luck.

Below is a 5-step process to guide you and your digital marketing team to establish a vision, supporting goals and the tactics to achieve them over the next 12 months. The best part is you can complete this exercise in just an afternoon and walk away with a relevant blueprint to make big moves in 2018.

Before jumping into these 5 steps, make sure you bring the right people to the room: the decision-makers, the approvers, and the doers. In today’s connected world, new technologies emerge each day, so improving the customer experience and how you engage with customers is critical.


1. Reflect on the Successes and Shortcomings of 2017

In order to plan for the future, it’s important to know your current benchmarks. What were the wins of 2017? Answering the following questions will help you identify the current status of your digital maturity and may give you inspiration for a 2018 vision:

  • How do you differentiate yourselves from the competition?
  • Does your team work from one content calendar?
  • How do you manage digital content and assets and what are your operational pain points?
  • How do you personalize your message to make it relevant?
  • Are your digital channels siloed, coordinated, or cross-channel?
  • What data do you have on your customers and how do you measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns?

By establishing the current state of your marketing program, you set the foundation to measure future progress.


2. Set a Vision

Identifying an ideal future state allows for key stakeholders to align under a unified vision. How broad or specific this vision is can vary. Perhaps it’s a vision shared by the entire company, or maybe it’s fitting to create a vision that’s more specific to the digital experience. Marketers, here are some examples:

  • To create an unparalleled customer service experience.
  • For every email subscriber to be engaged with at least one additional channel.
  • To provide customers with a compelling shopping experience across all channels

Agreeing upon and setting this vision allows for the coordination of proceeding goals and tactics.


3. Determine the Goals

Next, there is a need to provide concrete goals that help move you towards your vision.

Depending on the resources, begin with 3 goals and expand as needed. Like any advisor will tell you, setting SMART goals is key. For instance, instead of “Improve click-through rate,” try, “Increase click-through rate on promotional emails from 2% to 2.5%.”

In using this exercise with clients, we will often break out goals by lifecycle stages: Acquisition, Onboarding, Engagement, Retention.

So, that might look like the following:

Goal #1: Grow sendable email list by 10% by Q4

Goal #2: Refresh Welcome email series to increase open rate to 35%

Goal #3: Increase click-through rate by 2.5%

Goal #4: Increase second-time purchasers from 20% to 30%

For more inspiration, take a look at what top-performing marketers identify as the keys to marketing success. Remember, set goals that align to your vision so that all efforts are relevant.


4. List the Tactics that will Support the Goals

Now that you’ve identified 3 or more goals, what tactics and corresponding projects will help you achieve those? Use this time to outline the true strategies that will move your digital maturity to the next level in 2018.

Referring back to the goal of increasing email click-through rate to 2.5%, some tactics to focus on may include:

  1. Make emails mobile responsive
  2. Test call-to-action copy and assess conversion
  3. Test offer placement and wording to optimize click performance
  4. Run a Re-engagement campaign to those who have not clicked in 6 months or more

For each goal, establish 3-5 tactics that support that goal.


5. Set the Timeline and Check-ins

Now that the current state, vision, goals and tactics have been declared, set up your roadmap with the timing of said efforts. For some who conduct this workshop, a quarterly breakout of projects may be best, while others may find more value in tracking against monthly assignments. What’s most important is to keep the team accountable to the dates agreed upon and to be open to adjustments as needed. Set up check-ins to discuss current progress against the goals and their KPIs. At the end of the year, take a look at how far you’ve come since the start of 2018.

Happy planning!