I’ve been in business long enough to remember the days when you could put an advert in Yellow Pages and the phone started ringing. Marketing has changed a lot since then!
Just a few years ago it was complicated enough to get your head around organic search, pay-per-click and email marketing. Now throw social media – facebook, twitter, blogging etc – into the mix and it’s harder than ever to decide which will be right for you.
I see many businesses just dabble with twitter, or create a Facebook page because everyone else has one. Or start a blog in a rush of enthusiasm and then abandon it after 2 months. Your time is precious, so it’s vital to have a strategy for your online marketing. Here’s my 5 step plan for creating yours.
1. Set the foundations for your online marketing strategy
Marketing online may be relatively new, but traditional marketing principles still apply.
So firstly you need to be clear about the message you want to communicate and your target audience.
2. Make sure your website is up to scratch
Firstly, take a look at your website and ask yourself a seemingly simple question. What is your website for?
Now if you’re selling products online, that’s really easy to answer. But if not, for example if you provide a service, or have a retail shop, then it can be more difficult. Do you expect your website to generate leads for you or is it more an online brochure to back up your other marketing activities like telesales or networking?
Your website provides the centre for your online marketing so it’s important that it does the right job – and does it well. Is it easy to use? Does it convey the right messages – like what benefits you can bring your customers? Does it have a clear “Call to Action”?
There’s no point in attracting lots of new visitors to a website which isn’t performing.
3. Plan your activities
Now look at the many online marketing options available and decide which are the most appropriate for your objectives.
How do people look for your product or service? Where can you connect with your target audience via social media?
Accept that you’re not going to be able to do everything, so you will need to target your efforts where you expect to get most return
4. Set a budget
With online marketing it’s important to budget for time as well as money. So many of the options available are “free” like Twitter and blogging, but need a real investment of hours. So when setting your budget put a value on your (or your team’s time) so that you can make informed decisions for the best return.
Remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself – as with other areas of business, outsourcing some of your online marketing activity can free you up to concentrate on the areas you do best. Some activities, SEO for example, require considerable knowledge to do well. Yes, there are plenty of resources on the internet to help you learn, but this takes time.
Make use of the abundance of tools out there to help your productivity, but beware of over-automating things like social media.
5. Measure results
As with any marketing you need to measure and review your activities. Test new things, drop those things that don’t bring results, do more of the things that work.
Remember that many, such as SEO and social media, will take time. If you are looking for quick results then look at Pay per Click advertising.
And make sure you are measuring the right things. There is no point in having 20,000 twitter followers if none of them ever become customers.
Need help creating an online strategy for your business? I can guide you through the steps and help you choose the right options. Call me on 01904 215055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org