Planning your online communications

When taking your practice online, it’s important that you have a plan. Taking some time at the start to map out your efforts will help you know what you’re trying to achieve, provide enough to maintain your presence and measure its effectiveness. This template will help you target your communications to specific audiences and also tie your activities back to your organisation’s goals. It’s a useful way to map out your tasks and actions as well as seeing how they relate back to the final result.

Target Audiences

First, we need to identify who we’re communicating with. For most practices, the key audiences will be:

  • Existing patients
  • Potential new patients

You can also take it further by specifying demographics or types of patients. For example, patients with type 2 diabetes, parents with children under 5 years old or male over the age of 40 who haven’t had a prostate exam on record.

For each of your target audiences, it’s important to understand what you’re trying to communicate to them. One way to do this is to identify:

  • What your goals are for each audience
    (e.g. improved communication, higher retention for existing patients and increasing the intake of new patients)
  • What their needs are and how you will meet them
  • Your key messages relating to each goal

Here’s an example:


Our goals

What we offer them that they want

Key message

Male patients over 40 who have not had a prostate exam on record

To consult with up  to 80% of audience to raise awareness and understanding of prostate cancer

Clear, concise information regarding benefits or uncertainties of taking a prostate examination

We offer a safe, friendly space to discuss prostate cancer and the process of undergoing an exam

Communications Plan

Once you have defined your audiences and your goals for them, it’s time to start planning how you’re going to achieve those goals. We can do this by using a framework with:

  • Goals – identified in our previous step, our overarching campaign goals
  • Objectives – these are measurable milestones that we need to achieve to reach our goal
  • Strategies – identifying different components needed to hit those milestones (objectives)
  • Tactics – specific tasks that could also be allocated to team members that need completion

As you can see, for each goal, you may have multiple objectives which in turn have multiple strategies and so on.

Creating SMART objectives

Measurement is important. It means that you’ll be able to refine and adapt your efforts and know if you’re on par with where you need to be. One common way of doing this is by using the “SMART” system which stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely” – SMART.

It’s important that your objectives are clear (specific), able to be measured, that you have the skills and time to achieve them, that they’re relevant to your goals and that you have a time by which you want to achieve them.

An example may be: “A 30% increase in new clients from surrounding suburbs within 3 months.”

Strategies and tactics

Your strategies are the different components needed to achieve your objective. When it comes to communication, you could also look at strategies as the communications channel you are going to use (e.g. blog, newsletter, social media etc).

From our example, we’ll look at one target audience and show how we map out our objectives, strategies and tactics. We’ll also include a due date for our tactics to help us understand what needs to be done.

Pulling it all together

Here’s an example of how your goals, objectives, strategies and tactics can be planned out to support your online communications.

Target Audience: Adults aged over 50





Inform adults about the risks of bowel cancer

50 appointments discussing bowel cancer over 6 months

Send email to target audience with information and link to book appointment

Create mail campaign in Mailchimp




Create tracking on link to count number of clicks


2000 visits to bowel cancer information on website

Highlight bowel cancer content on website homepage

Create website sliding image for bowel cancer awareness



Create targeted Facebook Ad with bowel cancer information

Create Facebook Ad




Confirm budget and adjust time lines

This process would then be repeated for every target audience until a full communications plan is laid out. Tasks could also be assigned dates and allocated to team members to perform. Depending on how your team is managing the whole project or campaign, the tasks and due dates could be entered into a separate project management tool for collaboration.

What’s next?

If you haven’t already established your website, it’s a good place to start . If you already have a website, it’s a chance to review how you’re using it and to make any changes you need so you can achieve your goals.