Making a Quarterly Marketing Plan: 5 Steps to a Winning Digital Strategy

08.29.2023 Sara Brasfield4 min

If you’ve read through our guide to planning an annual ad buy, you’re well aware that there’s value in planning ahead. For some businesses, though, annual campaign planning and media buys isn’t always feasible or practical.

Cash flow constraints can prevent you from making financial commitments too far into the future. If you’re relatively new to advertising and marketing, you may also want to test out digital marketing strategies on a more condensed timeline, giving your business more flexibility to test and refine your strategic marketing plan over time.

If this describes your business, a quarterly marketing plan may be the right balance of strategic planning and financial flexibility. Here’s how we recommend approaching this planning process.

Before You Begin: Review Past Marketing Performance

If you’ve run any marketing campaigns in the past, your quarterly planning process should start with looking at past results to see if any trends or performance metrics could inform your strategy going forward.

The digital marketing process is one of constant refinement and optimization. When looking back at past campaign performance, ask the following questions:

  • Which campaigns and/or channels delivered the best results? Which channels and campaigns delivered the worst ROI?
  • Which performance metrics seem to have the strongest correlation with revenue generation and achieving business goals?
  • Which results and/or performance metrics were most disappointing?
  • Where did your business receive the most engagement from your audience?
  • What criteria for your audience targeting seem less relevant or useful to your strategy?
  • Which target audiences and lookalike audiences delivered the highest engagement and ROI?
  • What successes surprised you most? Which channels, if any, exceeded your expectations?
  • If you could redo last year’s ad campaigns, which ones would you eliminate? Which ones would you increase your spending budgets for?

4 Steps to Creating a Quarterly Marketing Action Plan

Ready to put together your marketing strategy for the next quarter? These four marketing plan steps make it easy to design and implement a strategy that will deliver ROI for your business.

1. Identify Your Target Audience.

Who is your target audience? Some businesses can account for all of their customers through a single persona, while others will need to segment their audiences to improve relevance and personalization of their ad campaigns. Regardless of how many audiences you want to target in your marketing strategy, you need to identify the criteria that represents these consumers.

Define this target audience using four key types of data: demographic, behavioral, psychographic, and location. Focus your audience targeting on the data points that are most reflective of your customers and their needs. Once this targeting strategy is finalized, you can focus your marketing efforts on your most high-value prospects.

2. Establish Your Marketing Objectives.

Your marketing goals dictate the design of your campaigns. Want to build local brand awareness for a new business? Top-of-funnel strategies such as display, search and cable TV might be a good fit. Want to convert customers for a new service? Your campaign messaging will need to be more focused on pain point messaging and product positioning.

By establishing these goals, you can then nail down the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you evaluate success. In collaboration with a digital advertising partner, you can also explore the different ways a multi-channel marketing strategy can increase your campaign performance and ROI—especially when you invest in full-funnel marketing.

3. Determine Your Marketing Mix.

Digital marketing campaigns work better when managed across more than one channel. According to a recent survey of marketing professionals, 47 percent of respondents said their campaign ROI was higher when they took a multi-channel approach.

Once you identify best-fit channels that suit your marketing objectives, determine how you will divide your quarterly budget across these outlets. In general, higher-performing channels should receive a larger share of your marketing budget, but if you’re new to marketing you can make an educated guess or divide this budget evenly until you have performance data to refine your spend allocation.

4. Finalize Your Budget.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends dedicating seven to eight percent of gross sales to small business marketing campaigns, but this number may need to be higher in certain cases, such as for new businesses starting from scratch. If your campaign performance has demonstrated revenue generation for your business, you might also justify a larger budget thanks to the revenue it will deliver.

Quarterly media buys on cable TV and other ad platforms can lock in better rates and long-term value than if you’re making ad-hoc media buys on a monthly or even weekly basis. Investing on at least a quarterly basis also ensures that you’ll have a solid sample size when evaluating campaign performance.


Put Your Digital Marketing Plan Into Action

Planning and execution are key to achieving consistent marketing ROI. Once your digital marketing strategy plan is set, your business can raise the ceiling for campaign performance by collaborating with a trusted media partner.

Cox Media’s industry-specific research tools and detailed analytics to help you make informed decisions and maximize the value potential of your quarterly marketing efforts. At the same time, our portfolio of ad inventories and powerful marketing solutions can unlock new capabilities and opportunities that small businesses can’t access on their own.

As you plan for the future, Cox Media can help you lay a foundation for sustainable marketing success. Contact us today to get started.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is a Marketing Manager on Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than nine years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite sports teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

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