James Parnwell

James Parnwell

The Digital Marketing Playbook

Your Marketing Plan.

Have you got an actual plan for your marketing? Or are you just giving a few different things “a go?” Successful businesses spend time thinking and planning about what the following year of marketing will look like, before commencing.

Every time you see a big brand advertising something you can be sure that plenty of thought has gone into who that content is speaking to, what it is intended to communicate, which channels will be used to communicate it and what the outcomes need to be in order to define success.

Whether you are a small, medium or large business, you need a plan in place. This is where our Digital Marketing Playbook comes into place.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”

What is a Digital Marketing Playbook?

The Digital Marketing Playbook is a comprehensive marketing strategy and roll-out plan tailored to your business and industry. Whether you’re a small, medium or large business, you need a plan in place. In this blog article, The Online Co. team will explain what a Digital Marketing Playbook is, and why it works!

We will take you through the Eleven steps of our Digital Marketing Playbook Strategy:

  1. Competition Analysis
  2. Brand Voice
  3. Path to Purchase
  4. SEO Strategy
  5. Google Ads Strategy
  6. Paid Social Strategy
  7. Organic Social Strategy
  8. LinkedIn Strategy
  9. Email Strategy
  10. 12-Month Roll-Out Plan
  11. Investment
TheOnlineCo - Digital Marketing Playbook

What is the Most Common Reason Campaigns Fail?

Often, we have clients who come in and know exactly what they want to do. They might say, “I want to run Facebook ads because ‘Joe’ down the street told me that that was the way to go.” However, this may not be the best tactic for their brand. They almost set themselves up for failure because they have not taken the time to analyse what is the best channel for them, or considered what their competitors are doing in that space. This can happen for Facebook, Google Ads or SEO, where clients don’t take time to consider the bigger picture and are left wondering why their digital marketing didn’t work for them. In other words, they have picked a tactic before doing any strategic work, however, that tactic may not be the right one for them.

Here is an example.

We had one particular client come to The OnlineCo. Team from the consulting space. She had a great reputation in the industry, but she had set her brand up thinking about what she liked, and not necessarily what her customers were going to respond to. All of her branding, her colours, and everything selected wasn’t in that ‘sweet spot’. This is a classic example of an expert in her field, very good at what she did, but not in marketing. Our team redid everything for her and when she did the re-launch, she got multiple comments and compliments on how beautifully everything had been done. This is because it had been done with that particular target market in mind. Creating a Digital Marketing Playbook provides a clear place to start.

1. Competitive Analysis.

One of the first things we do when we start with a new client is something called a “Competitive Landscape Analysis.” Usually, a client will have an idea of what their competitors are and using Google and other tools we have access to, we are able to see who their competition is. We then look at what they are doing across all channels: their organic and paid search, their organic and paid social, etc. This helps us to understand who the competition is in the landscape so that we can better tailor our strategies for our clients.

Industry Heros

During this process, you may look into seven to ten competitors. What you will find is what we call ‘Industry Heros’: businesses that are doing great marketing. These businesses have the old “80/20 rule” in place. They might be getting 80% of their leads from 20% of the business. We focus on these businesses, analysing what they are doing. Because if it’s working in your industry, maybe we don’t need to completely reinvent the wheel.

Gaps in the Market

The other thing we find is that industries may be quite underdeveloped with digital marketing, creating big gaps. In our competitive analysis, for example, we can tell a client that their competitors are not utilising paid socials in their industry, providing a real opportunity there. We’ve had instances where the competitors are not on LinkedIn, and we see the gap and the opportunity for our client to be there.

Opportunities and Threats

Finally, in the Competitive Analysis, we look at what opportunities and threats are there for the client. We use the SWOT analysis. We find opportunities that are presented by looking at the client’s competitors, and what threats there are by looking at the client’s competitors. If a client has initially had the wrong tactic, it often is flushed out at this stage, as we discover their competitors are either doing it or not doing it and it becomes clear.

brand voice

2. Brand Voice

Our second step in the Digital Marketing Playbook Strategy is helping our clients to understand their brand voice. Understanding their company’s voice and what makes them sound unique in their market. This is often about how you present yourself online, including everything from knowing your target customer, how they are interacting in this space, and your clarity statement.


In working to discover a client’s brand voice’ we will do a deep dive into the ‘persona’ of the client’s target customer. We consider what their motivations are, their barriers, their journey, their personhood and what will help get them across the line to becoming a customer with our client. To achieve this, we will often put together a comprehensive story, documenting the ‘persona’ of their target customer.

Unique Points of Difference

This can be quite hard for some clients, but it is important to understand what your unique point of difference is. Often clients don’t have a full understanding of what makes them unique. Completing the Competitive Analysis is helpful because we often discover the thing our clients are doing that no one else is doing. This unique difference is what we want to bring attention to in what we are presenting online.

Brand Voicing

Furthermore, when looking at your ‘brand voice’ we consider your brand ‘voicing’. This means we look at how your language is really setting up your brand. Here we consider whether you’re speaking with empathetic tones of voice or whether you’re having a commanding presence in your tone. This is important to know as it makes a difference in how you are writing your ads, and how you may be presenting yourself on your website.

Brand Archetypes

This is how you present your brand in a way that meets your target market well. Big Brands like Disney for example do this successfully. They know that they’re in that magical space and in order to appeal to their target customer and what they want from the brand. Disney must create an essence of beauty, magic and imagination.

Clarity Statement

The first thing people want when they come to your website isn’t to see you have a grand imagination with your beautiful statement. We work with our clients to ensure they have a strong, clear statement that shows their customers they have landed in the right space. This is called the “Clarity Statement”. Is it clear that your website is in the Health space? Or the financial space?

When you are creating ads on Facebook, what are you going to say? Are you saying the right things or the wrong things? It’s important to establish these things first.

3. Path To Purchase

When creating the Digital Marketing Playbook, we need to consider the processes and steps that people will go through to become a customer. It’s important that all your efforts are working towards a common goal. We want all your marketing strategies working together, and not isolated stand-a-lone strategies.

Nurture Strategy

We call the process of working towards a common goal in digital marketing the “nurture strategy.” When it comes to our marketing strategy we want to think linear – ensuring all we do feeds into and compliments each other. For example, SEO will point to the website. But if we are also running Facebook ads, having these ads point towards the same page will build that authority. This continues potential clients on a path to purchase.


One area in marketing that can be problematic is attribution: how do we know where the lead is coming from? A potential client may have seen something on social media followed by a Google Ad. They may be retargeted for an ad later, but by the time they come and look for you, they’ve come through Google Organic. It’s important you have an understanding of how these different areas work together, otherwise in this scenario, you may think Google is the winner, and turn all your other marketing off. And then you wonder why your leads have stopped! When you are considering your potential customer’s path to purchase, you need to understand the whole journey. The Digital Marketing Playbook helps our clients understand this journey.

4. SEO Strategy

Now we arrive at SEO Strategy which stands for “Search Engine Optimisation”. Also known as the “Google Organic” side of things, this involves ensuring Google knows how to find you and what it is looking for. We ensure there is a strong plan in place for the year, as you don’t want to be doing a bit of SEO this month and figuring out what we might do next. You need to have a clear plan. At the core of this is your Keyword Strategy.

What are the big keywords (“A Class”) that you are going to rank for, followed by the medium size keywords (“B Class”)? It’s just as important to know your “B Class” words, as these often have strong intent so people are looking for the thing you are selling. However, the “B Class” words won’t have as many search queries as the “A Class” words. We will make a business case for all these words to help with your SEO and use these to create content to put across your website. Then it begins to get a bit more technical.

Once we have your keyword strategy in place, we will also work on your website to make it as friendly to Google as possible. The technical side includes the load speed of your website, ensuring there are no broken images or pages and focusing on your meta titles and meta descriptions. Having the technical side of your website in order means Google can come to your website, read your code and know exactly what you are about.

Once we have the technical side of things in order, we will optimise your website for local. If someone types in your suburb or an area near you, this ensures they will find you in their search. When we work on backlinking, we create links from other websites to your website, which provides more authority with Google. Finally, we focus on the user experience. How do your customers experience your website and does it work how it should?

google ads strategy

5. Google Ads Strategy

Google Ads is the paid side and used to be called Google Ads. There are a few different Google Ads strategies. This could be in Google Search; when you do a Google Search, you will see the search results at the top of the search. Then there is Display. There’s video through YouTube and there’s shopping. Finally, there is one called Performance Max, which is where Google uses its AI to put your ads all over the place in a mixture of the above areas in an attempt to find the right people at the right time.

Audits and Media Budgets

In order to determine what strategy is your best approach for Google Ads, if you’re running a campaign, we will do an audit. This will show a score out of 100 for what is happening currently in your campaign, giving us a clear view of what needs to be improved. If you are not running a campaign, we will do a media budget. We will determine the amount of money you can spend to dominate your industry and area, and then work out how much of that you actually want or have to spend. There is a lot of detail to this, but simply put, we would figure out your budget, offer small recommendations, and give you options about where you could invest. Google Ads, when it works, is one of the best lead-generation tactics. However, it isn’t always right for everybody, so using the Digital Marketing Strategy Playbook process allows us to determine if this is right for you.

6. Paid Social Strategy

The Digital Marketing Playbook goes in-depth regarding your Paid Google Ad strategy options, but it also covers Paid Social Strategy options. Social Media can encompass a wide range of things. It can be anything from Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tik Tok, Snapchat, and Facebook! Not every platform could be right for you and it will depend on your target market and your goals. For example, if you want to target business-to-business, you may think LinkedIn is your best option. However, you need to think about where the people that you want to target are and what they are doing. LinkedIn may not be what you need. You must also be willing to create assets, such as videos, client stories and other information for Social Media to work well for you.

The Marketing Funnel

When discussing your Paid Social Media Strategy options, consider your marketing funnel. Social Media is fantastic for people who don’t know that they need your product or don’t know that they need to be looking for you. A video viewed on Social Media, for example, can allow us to retarget the customer, send them to your website, collect leads or start a chat. With Google Ads, there’s a certain amount of intent that’s required for that to work well. With Social Media, there’s not. They just need to be the right person in the right space.

What are Your Objectives?

In our playbook research, we want to determine what your objectives will be for your Paid Social Media strategy. If you are using Facebook, there are nine different objectives you can choose from, so it’s important to think through what you want. The landscape in running paid ads in Social Media has changed significantly over the last few years, and you need to know what you are doing in order to get leads. But once you do, it can work well (especially in the Education component).

7. Organic Social Strategy

The Organic Social Strategy is your unpaid Social Media. This is integral to building trust. Have you ever seen a product in your Social Media feed, and wondered if it’s any good? Most people will go to that product’s organic Social Media feed to see what they have been posting and determine what this company is about. They might follow that page to keep track and see if they can trust this company’s product.

This can lead to clients wanting to stay focused on an organic social media strategy, aiming to grow their product this way. However, it’s important to note you still need to “feed it” by also utilising paid social strategy. The two work hand in hand. Paid feeds the organic, but organic builds that trust which pushes people over the line.

It’s also important to establish a rhythm to your organic social media posts. Some people will ‘hammer’ the business all the time in every post, which can lead to disengagement as followers stop liking the posts or interacting with them. For our clients, we put together a sample rhythm of the different types of content that should go up. Content that adds value and connection, through a social or inspiring post, or a video. This allows followers to interact with different things and when you do a business post, your followers will see it in their feed since they have already been interacting. There is a subtle art to making sure it works well, and the Digital Marketing Playbook allows for this to happen.

8. LinkedIn Strategy

One component of your Social Media strategy could be the use of LinkedIn. The thing to understand about LinkedIn is that it can be its own beast. It’s like the other social platforms, but it also isn’t. Through our Digital Marketing Playbook, we have a strategy in which we can really utilise LinkedIn, through both an organic and paid approach.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is our primary approach. It is specifically for Business to Business (B2B), as it pretty much has the entire Western world on its database. When you subscribe to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you gain access to that database, enabling you to reach out to these people in your specific industry. You can create new connections and generate leads in all kinds of industry areas.

9. Email Strategy

You may think that email is not quite what it used to be. But it is still a huge component of digital marketing. There are lots of tools now that enable you to use automation to your advantage and take a lot of the legwork out of what you could be doing. If you’re feeding people into your email database, you can have consistent touchpoints with them, asking them for reviews or for referrals. In our playbook, we offer monthly and fortnightly emails, we can work with you to build out email automation, and recommend exactly what could work well for you.

10. Twelve-Month Roll-out Plan

We have our competitor analysis with the opportunities and our threats, we’ve got our brand voice, we figured out our path to purchase, we have an SEO plan, Google ads, paid socials, organic social, LinkedIn, and email (what a list!)

You might be thinking “how is this all going to play out?”

We need to put them into a 12-month rollout plan.

Having a rollout plan tells you what’s going to be accomplished in quarter one, quarter two, quarter three, and quarter four. You need a plan for how all of that is going to roll out and when you’re expected to meet certain deadlines. Marketing is one of those things that can fall by the wayside easily if you’re not on top of it. Marketing is of high importance, but low urgency. This tends to get bumped, which can lead to running out of leads. Having a rollout plan that you’re accountable for ensures your marketing happens.

11. Investment

You now have your Digital Marketing Playbook detailing a comprehensive marketing strategy just for you, so what does it mean for your bottom dollar? Let’s face it – people want to know where the ‘rubber hits the road’.

Getting Started

We understand people are going to make investment decisions around what they can afford, and then what their growth objectives are, and there is often a tension between these two. While you may want to see growth fast, The Online.Co always recommends that people should invest at a level that is affordable for them. You shouldn’t be losing sleep because you’ve over-invested, taking a big risk in the hope that it all turns out. It’s important to understand marketing plans work consistently, however, it may not all work out in the first three months!

Different levels

We offer our clients three different levels: for those looking to get started, those who have been doing some marketing and are looking to grow, and those who are looking to accelerate, invest hard and really get into it.

When we do a Digital Marketing Playbook, we will tailor something to your budget and give you some options. You can choose which services you want and customise between them quite easily. So the budget is an important question, how much is this going to cost over the course of the year? So then you can look at returns on investment? What’s it going to bring in the front door, and how’s my business going to grow as a result?

We answer all these questions as a component of a Digital Marketing Playbook.

different level

How long does a Digital Marketing Playbook Take?

When we do this for clients, we take up to a month. As you can see, there is a lot of detail but we have the people in our team who can do all this research and put it all together without too much fuss because we do it every day!

We hope you found this helpful. If you would like to discuss how we can put together one of these playbooks for you, book a quick chat with us through our website.

This article was created from an episode of Digital Marketing that Puts People First, our podcast. To listen to the episode, stream now on your favourite platform or contact us today and our friendly team would love to have a conversation with you.

Hopefully you find this article useful, but as always if you need anytthing, we are ready and able to help.

James Parnwell
James Parnwell

James is the Managing Director and resident strategist at TheOnlineCo. He is clever and creative with a flair for making complex things sound simple. He has been in the marketing game for over 2 decades and has watched the landscape slowly shift. James has his finger on the pulse of every aspect within TheOnlineCo, meeting with all clients as well as every core team member and strategising a specific plan tailored to each client.

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