When starting an online marketing campaign it’s important you take the time to plan carefully. Mistakes made early on in a campaign tend to scale up as your business grows, in other words – build on strong foundations, that way, regardless of how much your business grows your online marketing efforts will continue to be effective.
What are the Possibilities?
If you are new to online marketing, the first place to start is understanding just how powerful the internet is as a channel to market your business. With localised search results, social media and more emphasis being placed on authority and relevance by search engines, there are plenty of opportunities for you to position your business in front of the right people e.g. your ideal customers. There are costs involved sure, but effective marketing should be considered an investment rather than a cost.
Let’s break down the three stages of a successful online marketing plan for a small business.
- Define your market, build your website
- Attract Traffic to your site
- Test and refine to increase results
It’s pretty simple when we break it down this way. Let’s look at each stage in more depth.
First we need a website, one that’s built with your customers (and search engines) in mind. Don’t think that having a presence on Facebook is near as powerful as having a website on your own domain. Facebook could shut down tomorrow and where would that leave you? Every business should have a website hosted on their own domain that they are in complete control of.
What about Google?
You should keep search engines in mind, but you shouldn’t put this ahead of your customers especially in 2018 when search engines attempt to place a value on user experience and how relevant your content is, as opposed to over optimising for a particular search term.
Optimising your site merely refers to making sure the website is simple for search engines such as Google to crawl, determine how relevant it is to a specific search term and add to it’s index. A good rule of thumb is if your website is simple for people to understand, it will be simple for the search engines as well.
Your website’s content should focus on the benefits your business delivers to customers and provide the means for your customers to easily contact you or purchase your product or service. Your site should also increase trust in your brand by taking advantage of testimonials and case studies where available.
Once our website has been built it’s logical to start thinking about generating traffic, but not just any traffic, we need traffic that consists of potential customers. Most people focus too much on volume and not enough on getting their website seen by the right people. There’s no point aiming for 1000 visitors a month if none of them are interested in what you offer. Give me 20 visitors a day that suits my ideal customer profile as opposed to 1000 people per day who don’t every day of the week!
There are plenty of ways to draw traffic to your site and I will touch on all of these in future posts, but for now here are a few traffic sources you can start thinking about:
- Search Engine Optimisation (ranking in Search Engines)
- Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Content Marketing/Blogging (Publishing content on your website on a regular basis will strengthen your SEO efforts)
- Paid Advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook Advertising)
- Referrals (Partner websites, build relationships in your industry)
- Traditional forms of advertising (Brochures and print advertising for example)
There’s plenty more but for now, we will focus on those listed above as they are the most commonly discussed ways to get traffic to your site.
Testing and Refining
Lastly, arguably the most important part of the entire process is testing and refinement. What this refers to is measuring your current results, making changes and then testing against your previous results. In a nutshell, we are talking about conversions e.g. how many sales or inquiries per 100 visitors to your site. The metrics you will be most interested in will be determined by the main objective of your website which may be sales, engagement e.g. comments under your posts, email signups that you can market to later or even social shares.
Clearly, the first place to start is by knowing how many visitors you are getting to your site. When it comes to testing, the web leaves all other forms of media for dead. The real power of the internet is having the ability to track everything, unlike more traditional forms of media. For instance, you will have no idea how many people see your billboard and get in touch with you but online we can understand metrics such as how many people came to your site and how many converted into a sale or phone call, the specific terms that brought them to your site and the pages they leave on. It’s powerful stuff and you would be crazy not to take advantage of it.