By Li Evans
Whether you are doing a PPC campaign, an SEO initiative or even social media outreach you have have to have a plan. Without an online marketing strategy in place, how will you every know where to go, how to get there and what to do once your get there? If you don’t have a strategy, it’s kind of like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if its sticks (and is done). That’s not good for the cook – you waste spaghetti, time and have to clean the wall, and it’s certainly not good in online marketing – you waste resources, time and are left scratching your head in bewilderment.
When you are looking at starting an online marketing strategy, there’s some basic things you should take into account. Making sure all your bases are covered, will save you a lot of hassle and a lot of headaches in the long run. Sure, it may take a few more hours in planning, but it can gain you so much more in the end.
Research is probably the single most, foundational thing any marketer can do. Know your industry inside and out. Know your industry and how it relates in both an online and an offline marketing environment. Who’s your competition? Nine times out of ten, your competition is different offline than it is online.
How are people searching for you, the products or services you provide and is it different than the jargon you use? Do you want to focus on brand building or focus on the services / products? Can you do something totally different online than you do offline? By doing your research first, you can be prepared to make the right decisions and most likely get a leg up on the competition.
Decide What Online Marketing Facets To Utilize
Do I need to do PPC first? How about starting an online forum? What low hanging fruit can I pick from in the SEO world? Do I need to re-energerize my email marketing campaign? Maybe I need to do some videos & and images? Maybe, you need a piece of everything?
Knowing what approach you are going to utilize, SEO, PPC, Social Media, Email, Multimedia, Online PR or any other segments of online marketing is key to making a strategy work. Doing the research first will help you to determine what segments you really need to hone in on. If it’s a brand new site, you’ll likely need to boost that PPC campaign first, then bring in the SEO. If its an established site, maybe a little bit of social media is needed. Make sure your plan spells out what exactly you will need to use so that all the players on your team know where to put their time & resources.
Coordinate Offline & Online Marketing Initiatives
One of the biggest blunders large brands make is not coordinating their offline marketing with their online efforts. What happens when a commerical hits really big on TV? Most people head to YouTube looking for it, or they head to the company’s site. If offline and online don’t mesh, someone else can take advantage of that company’s “miss”.
It’s not enough to just put up a video or a photo, or even a blog post these days. Coordinating offline, with all facets of online marketing is needed. More often these days, people do not use just one source to find what they are looking for. They may start at a search engine, but then the go off to social sites looking for information, too. Planning and strategizing for this is essential to your marketing success.
Decide What To Measure
One of the most important things to do from the very beginning of any online marketing effort is to decide what is going to be measured. Is it incoming traffic, is it time on site, is it number of pages in a visit or maybe its conversions? Not only is this important, but it’s important to segment that measurement.
By segmenting the measurements, you are going to know where and how these items are succeeding or failing. You can know whether its a landing page or the home page that’s driving the bounce rate up. Is that particular keyword really focused on what it needs to be? Is there a problem with your shopping cart? All of these can be seen if you decide what to measure and what segments to look at before you implement that online marketing initiative.
What Are Your Success Factors?
So you’ve got an idea of what you want to do online marketing wise, right? Well how are you going to determine whether or not that initiative is successful? Traffic & hits alone can’t give you a whole picture. Just because your traffic went up, doesn’t mean that your plan was a success.
Did you get new subscribers? Did anyone buy the product or service you were promoting? Did you get new links pointing into the marketing piece you launched? Did that email get opened more and did the receivers click through? Without setting goals and deciding on what is deemed a success, you are never going to know whether or not that marketing strategy was truly a success or a colossal blunder that shouldn’t be repeated again.
What Happens Next?
It’s not enough to just plan for “right now”, you need to also plan for “what’s next”. Is your marketing strategy agile enough to be able to capitalize on a successful viral marketing piece? Is your online marketing plan taking into account that PPC effort is tanking and costing too much? What are the contingencies you’ve set in place?
If you don’t plan for what’s next, you could miss out on some great opportunities that come your way from both successes and failures. Also planning for what comes next gives your team something to strive for an attain – the next milestone in the online marketing plan. Knowing what you’d like to do next, also helps you to keep an eye out both budget and resource wise before you actually implement. If your team also knows what is coming next, you have multiple eyes looking out to make the next action in your online marketing strategy a success.