The first step in creating any kind of marketing plan is focusing on the end goal. It’s easy these days, with all the hysteria around internet marketing, to lose sight of what’s actually important: sales and revenue. There’s no point thrashing out tonnes of content and chasing your own tail if those efforts aren’t achieving real results in selling your product or service.
The hundreds of social media outlets and SEO techniques which you “HAVE” to be on, or “HAVE” to implement, can be confusing at best, and terrifying at worst. It truly is a jungle out there. Which is why it’s critically important, now more than ever, to have a game plan which is honed, focused, and gets results.
1) Start at the beginning – Know Where You’re At
This requires frank assessment and detailed analysis. Are you seeing any return in terms of traffic for your current internet marketing efforts? Are you seeing traffic which actually converts? Are your connections driving people to your site who actually buy? Are you getting end results from visitors to your site ie. Leads or sales?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you need to find ways to up your game. The number one way to do this is by analysis. If you can look at everything you’re doing now and analyse which of your internet marketing efforts is actually effective, which strategy is seeing a return, then you’re already ahead of the field. I see so many people time and time again flinging their energies all over the internet and never actually seeing results for their efforts, then moaning that all the strategies don’t work for them. Often it is merely a case of getting good analysis and then tight focus.
There are several great resources available that you can take a really accurate picture of your situation now. Here are some tools I personally recommend:
Kissmetrics helps you track every single person who interacts with your business and every single interaction they have with your site. Their simple user interface provides highly complex data in a great format. They can tell you who is coming to your site, what they’re viewing and more importantly, why.
Google Analytics is the industry standard. Recently Google has improved their analytics so now the tracking gives you more in depth analysis and user data. The free metrics can give you a clear idea of demographics, keywords, traffic and page views, enabling you to build a good picture of where your traffic is coming from and how your customers are behaving.
Part of the new generation of web metrics, Crazy Egg harnesses eye-tracking technology to determine how users are interacting with your site. They also provide the information in a heat map, showing you the hot and cold interactive areas of your site. Fascinating and powerful data which is trusted by powerhouses such as Ebay, Dell, Zappos and Amazon.
2) The Fun Part – Goal Setting
Then comes the fun part: deciding where you want to be in the next six to twelve months with your business. When it comes to goal-setting I think there’s no harm in long term goals being large and audacious. Whatever tickles your fancy in terms of your future dream is the feeling you want to apply when creating your long term online business and marketing goals.
Start by visualising your end goal. What would be your dream in terms of revenue? What lifestyle would that give you? How would you feel? The more you can feel this goal tangibly, the more successful you’ll be, and the more effective in making it happen.
If you can go as far as to imagine exactly how you’ll feel and how your lifestyle will look when your dream goal is achieved you’ll be a step closer to making it a reality. Then simply work backwards from there to establish your shorter term goals. If that blue-sky thinking is five years away, what amount of traffic, leads and revenue do you need in the next three years to make this happen? Two years from now? Next year?
As the old adage goes, if you aim for the moon, if you fail you’ll fall amongst the stars. The further into the future you’re able to imagine, the more limitless your thinking which is a great way of firing your mindset for success. This process also helps you focus again on what the end goal of your internet marketing plan is.
3) Get Really Cozy with your Target Customers
Seriously cozy. Snuggle-on-the-sofa cozy. Intimate-dinner-for-two cozy. You know what I mean! Know what your customer reads, what their internet habits are, what they wear, which brands they buy. As far as is appropriately possible, getting truly intimate with your target market is the number one way to predict their behaviour and tailor your internet marketing to be highly effective in reaching those exact people. Click here to watch video episode 15 that I created, which talks about how to get ahead of your competition.
To help create your customer profile ask yourself these questions about your ideal customer:
- How old are they?
- What gender are they?
- What do they earn?
- Where do they live?
- What do they do for work?
- What drives their buying choices? Price? Quality? Locality?
This great presentation from Convergence Readiness can help you create a really detailed and effective target audience description.
The better you can answer these questions and the more detail you can provide, the easier the next steps of creating an online marketing plan will be. Being super-detailed at this stage has the added benefit of helping you be in tune with your customers. Not only does this help you to know their behaviour and tailor your marketing efforts to them but on some intuitive level helps draw them to you more effectively.
4) Let’s Talk Strategy and Tactics
Now you know everything about your current situation, where you want to be, and who your customers are, it’s time to talk serious tactics. There are literally thousands of options to choose from when it comes to spreading your message on the web, and as discussed before, without the previous steps of analysis, goals, and customer knowledge it can be hard to identify which ones work for you.
Once you’ve identified your target market, customer and long term goals you can best choose which tactics of internet marketing will work for your product or service. I’ve divided the most common ones up into those which are optional depending on your business, and those which are absolutely critical to every business.
A) Writing Awesome Content.
With the recent introduction of Google’s Penguin updates to it’s algorithms, now more than ever Content Marketing is overtaking almost every other kind of Internet Marketing Strategy. Great content is quite simply gold dust – if you have it you’re almost guaranteed surefire success. The magic with awesome content is that it works organically, building you an audience, a goldmine of interested and engaged customers, creating your authority and driving traffic all at the same time. As Sherlock Holmes once said: “It’s elementary my dear Watson.”
“90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them.” – TMG Custom Media
This is a huge fail point for a lot of online businesses. When people come to your site and interact with it and then that fails to translate into a lead, a sale, or a contact point, your site is failing to do its job and that departing visitor is ultimately revenue trickling away.
If a visitor leaves a comment, asks a question or takes any other action, make sure you’re there with the right response, communication or conversation to convert them from interested visitor into customer. If you don’t have analysis set up to monitor this process and why people leave your site, then make sure you change that immediately.
C) Social Media Presence
This one’s non-negotiable. Social media continues to grow year on year, and is now the number one tool for marketers. A couple of little statistics that illustrate just how central social media is to internet marketing:
“Social media sites and blogs reach 8 out of 10 of all U.S. Internet users and account for 23% of all time spent online.” – Content Marketing Institute
“77% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media. 94% said C-suite social media participation enhances a brand image. And 82% of employees say they trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate via social media.” – eMarketer
If you add to that the fact that 91% of experienced marketers credit social media with helping them achiever higher traffic, 79% say social media helped them generate more quality leads and 72% achieved improved sales with social media, then you will see how critical this will be to your mission.
In addition to the above non-negotiable internet marketing strategies, here are some more which may help your business rock its internet marketing.
- Pay Per Click and Online Ads – Depending on budget, goals and your specific customer niche, PPC can be an effective way of driving traffic and getting your services and products in front of search users. An example would be Google Adwords.
- Discount and Deal Sites – Depending on your type of business these may drive customers to your site with incentives and group discounts.
- Review Sites – Again depending on your product these are a great way of hugely increasing trust and confidence in customers.
- Affiliate Marketing – Not suitable for every business, but an important tool in the internet marketer’s toolbox. Useful for maximising exposure via extended networks.
- Video Marketing – One of the most effective methods of getting your message and brand across, and with huge impact in the search engines. It’s often easier to rank for your keywords in video than in other content.
- Webinars and Podcasts – Great ways of creating authority, and of spreading user awareness, brand message and effective calls to action. Also good for establishing a high level of trust.
- Free Content – Great for establishing trust and generating leads. Engages users in your brand message…just make sure the free content is top notch and effective.
- Online PR – Again, not suitable for all businesses, but great for getting the word out and generating traffic.
5) Take Action
Now you’ve got your customer profile nailed, you’ve identified techniques which are working for your business already, and potential future strategies which will work in your niche and which your budget allows, you’re ready to go.
Just make sure that for each strategy you pick you have tracking and analysis in place to measure effectiveness, and that you’re applying your knowledge of your niche to make sure you spend your budget on the strategies most likely to create success. Once you’ve identified strategies which will work for you, put together a spreadsheet to track them all so you are consistent, up to date, and optimised across all your internet marketing endeavours.
Once you have all that in place, you’re ready to start all over again by analysing how well it all worked. Lather, rinse, repeat.