How to write and execute an ecommerce marketing plan

A goal without a plan is just a wish. A company without a goal or a plan is just a concept.

Behind every company that dreams of making it big, is a step-by-step marketing manual that opens the way to a brand's success and progress. A marketing plan gives life to your goals.

We earlier talked about constructing marketing strategies for your online store and ecommerce marketing, specifically to promote your Zoho ecommerce website. We'll now take a look at marketing plans in this blog.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan mentions the tactics your brand will employ to attain an objective, which could be time-specific such as a quarterly target, or location-based to gain traction in a particular geography like the Middle East, among other things. It is used to make headway towards the goals laid out in the marketing strategy, which is framed in accordance to the business vision.

You can assume a marketing strategy is the overarching structure while the marketing plan is the smaller components, each fulfilling a distinct purpose. If the overall marketing strategy is to create brand awareness and elicit the interest of your audience, your marketing plan could be the granular details such as the number of campaigns for a particular quarter, marketing tools to be used, and the details and budget of each campaign or plan.

An ecommerce marketing plan lays out tactics that can be both online (online ads, content marketing, etc.) and offline (trade shows, events, pop-up or flea markets, etc.), but both directed towards executing the larger marketing strategy.

Understanding the difference between a marketing strategy and marketing plan

We couldn't help but mention strategy when we defined the plan and that is because these terms are often used interchangeably. While that may not have significant ramifications for marketing, it is still important to identify why one must not confuse the two.

A marketing strategy embodies your company's vision and goals. A marketing plan enables you to visualize this strategy (or strategies). Strategy does not get into the nitty-gritty of each aspect of an action that's meant to aid the company in achieving its goals. Whereas, a plan dives into the details; it clearly states the action plan. In other words, a strategy tells you what needs to be done, but not how; a marketing plan delves into the "how," which includes tailoring messages for niche audience segments through specific channels at a given budget within a time frame. Overall, strategy is vast and comprehensive, and your marketing plan is not.

Types of marketing plans

Several articles online mention a variety of marketing plans, some of which tend to be narrowly defined and can overlap with one another. We have broadly defined it, combining important points under each type pf marketing plan. This will allow you to understand marketing plan better and come up with your own.

Medium-based marketing plan: At the core of every marketing plan is the medium of your choice to get to your destination. The platform or medium that you select is crucial to the end result. You can pick any of these—broadcast media (radio and television), print media (magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.), outdoor media (billboards, wallscapes, posters, etc.), digital (mobile marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, content marketing, etc.), and social media (paid ads and engagement with audience on various platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.). Choose a mix of these to implement your marketing strategies.

Regional marketing plan: When you tailor your campaigns to woo customers belonging to a particular geography, you are essentially resorting to regional marketing. A regional marketing plan is especially useful if you run a multi-location business. Search engines often list local brands in search results, so every business must consider having a regional marketing plan in place. It helps in making yourself discoverable, creating brand awareness, and boosting the business' sales and revenue. You must geographically profile your customers, and then include messaging that'll suit their culture, likes and dislikes, and appeal to their sensibilities.

Goal-oriented marketing plan: The very definition of a marketing plan is to achieve goals set within the purview of a marketing strategy. Every goal is usually linked to each stage of your marketing funnel and is broadly defined under strategy. Here, you break them into smaller, achievable chunks, and then conceive a series of well-structured campaigns to tackle the goal, and its intricate aspects.

For instance, your larger goal might be to address competition and highlight features that set your product apart from the rest. Your goal-oriented marketing plan may include a short video series involving the manufacturers to talk about each of your USP. You may invite users to share what they thought was different about your product on social media with a hashtag like #CutAboveTheRest.

When HP wanted to raise awareness about security and privacy concerns, it made a series called The Wolf, in which actor Christian Slater stars as an evil hacker who plans on stealing data and information. Not only was this well received, but the B2B printer sales for HP shot up by 6 percent.

You can choose to devise specific campaigns when you plan a new product launch, to promote a line of products, to combat the impact of negative news or reviews, or to generate a specific number of leads or views, among other things.

Time-specific marketing plan: You will have to carry out your marketing plan within a given time to enable a marketer to analyze the performance of campaigns to see what stuck and what did not. This method will help you fine-tune your plan. Time-specific marketing plans are typically executed monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or annually.

Why do you need a marketing plan?

Marketing plans are necessary for several reasons. Here are a few:

  • A plan gives a sense of direction to your marketing strategy, without which executing the strategy can be a relentless quest.

  • A plan ensures you are aligned with the marketing strategy and thereby the company's goals. If things go astray here, you can take the right measures to get back on track.

  • It definitely makes it easier for you to distribute work, ensure accountability, and coordinate campaigns. Everyone will be on the same page, working towards a common goal.

  • Marketing plans will help you stay focused on the main task because you would have given it a clear definition and structure. Without that, you may be wasting your resources.

  • A plan will enable marketers to measure its impact afterwards. Since it is designed as smaller units, the effectiveness can be easily appraised afterwards. That can be useful in sharpening your ideas and making better decisions.

Steps to build an ecommerce marketing plan

Step 1: Draft your summary

Make a brief document containing an overview of your company to provide information to the top executives, marketing professionals, and anyone else at a glance. It needs to contain information about the company, its mission and vision statements, and specific and measurable marketing plan goals. This is absolutely necessary so your marketing efforts point in the same direction as your vision, values, and brand promise. As a business that's starting out, you simply can't have a nonplussed audience trying to make sense of confusing campaigns.

Nike is a good example of using consistent messaging across mediums. The brand promises “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” This is at the heart of every marketing activity they do like Super Bowl commercials (which mentions the brand promise in their description, evoking sentiments which is evident in the comment section), their Instagram feed, and their What Are You Working On video series on their YouTube channel.

"Nike is a good example of using consistent messaging across mediums"

Before we move to the next point, here are brief explanations of two important terms we mentioned:

Mission statement: A mission statement defines the organization's primary focus and its purpose and describes the current activities of the company. A mission statement answers "Who are we?" and "What do we do?" Here's an example of Disney's

"Disney's mission statement"

You have the answers to "Who are we?" in the form of, "world's premier entertainment company," and "what do we do?" in the words, "to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe [...]."

Vision statement: A vision statement is the aspirational goal everyone must remember to achieve, not immediately but, in the future. It serves to answer, "Why do we do what we do?" or "What do we wish to see in the future for ourselves and our customers?" This is IKEA's vision

"IKEA's vision statement"

They have eloquently summed up the answer to what they want to see in the future with, "To create a better everyday life for the many people... We want to have a positive impact on the world—from the communities where we source our raw materials to the way our products help our customers live a more sustainable life at home."

When drafting your summary, your summary template can include the following details:

  • Company name:

  • Headquartered in:

  • Catering to [Your target audience]:

  • About the brand:

  • Mission:

  • Vision:

  • SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals: For example, have 100 reposts with hashtags of a specific product, or drive 1,500 -2,000 website visitors every week.

You can download our summary template to fill in your details.

Step 2: Set KPI (key performance indicator) metrics

We did say that you have to spell out your SMART goals in the first step, when you are drafting your executive summary. However, remember it is supposed to be brief. In this second step, you take a plunge into the metrics of your plan. Quantify the target in terms of numbers and percentages and list them against each campaign and channel. For example, watch time, views, likes and comments, average view duration, and traffic source could be some of your KPIs for your videos. Follower count, impressions on your posts, shares, comments, saves, mentions, click-through rate, and lead conversion rate can be some of your social media KPIs. These should be trackable so you can later analyze if they matched the goals you set earlier. Ensure you have the right reporting software required to accurately measure KPIs.

Step 3: Prioritize and set deadlines

With your summary and specific KPIs in place, you need to focus on prioritizing them in this next stage. There's no point in mindlessly setting all the campaigns in motion, only to realize midway that a particular campaign must have preceded to ensure the success of another. For instance, you can't be taking initiatives to drive traffic when you are redesigning your website as a part of your marketing efforts. Look at the problems you need to solve first (brand awareness or customer retention) and then devise the execution of your campaigns accordingly.

Here's a simple way of doing it:

You can elaborate on this as you scale up your marketing operations. You can include channels, KPIs for the subtasks, and more.

Step 4: Set the budget

You can certainly add this as a separate column in the table above, but writing down expenses as a separate section provides more clarity. Include channel-wise budget estimations such as event marketing, digital marketing, and content marketing. Get granular with each aspect and make sure it tallies with the overall budget allocated for the marketing team, with some reserve money, of course. We need to be cautious when we are just beginning. After testing waters, you can always reallocate money. 

Do this according to the time-specific marketing plan you draw (which we discussed above). You can do this for every month or quarter.

Step 5: Calculate the ROI of your plan and fine-tune it

You already listed your KPIs and SMART goals, down to the last detail, including those managing the tasks. You can go back to your tracker and, at the end of each month, specify the figures you reached. At the end of every month or quarter, put together all the numbers and see how it stands against the target you set in the beginning. It will give you insights about the effectiveness of your marketing plan, and will indicate if you are inching closer to your marketing strategy.

Fine-tune your plan based on how well or not your plan has worked. Since you will have channel-wise and campaign-wise data, you will be able to place the best bet on whatever has yielded the best results for you. See where you want to focus your efforts and set the expectations for them as well. Once you establish a fairly successful plan, you can try experimenting a little with new plans to see how those will work. If your goals change, so will your plans.

You can put together all of these to form a marketing plan template.

Here are some pointers on how businesses should be spending at each marketing stage (recall the AIDA model we discussed previously). 

In conclusion

With knowledge of ecommerce marketing channels, the marketing funnel, and the process of constructing your marketing plan, you should now have a better idea of how the marketing world works.

If you think we can help you with your marketing or still have lingering questions, write to us at

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