9 Tips For Creating A Workable Online Marketing Plan
It’s easy to decide you want to put together an online marketing campaign that will boost your sales for years to come. Figuring out which strategies you’ll use – and then creating a plan that’s actionable – is quite a bit tougher. Maybe that’s why so many business owners and executives give up after the outlining stage.
We have worked with hundreds of companies on their web design and online marketing projects over the years. Along the way, we’ve seen that the most successful clients are the ones who commit to a workable plan for the future. They don’t just create a wish list of ideas, but a set of realistic steps they can follow through with after their new websites have been launched.
How do you go from basic ideas to a web strategy that can succeed in real life once budgets, schedules, and other priorities have been factored into the mix? Here are nine solid tips for creating a workable online marketing plan…
#1 Know What You’re Trying to Accomplish
Online marketing “success” is something of a vague term. It can mean different things to different people. Do you want your website to generate online sales, new leads, or walk-in visits? Would you rather have lots of potential customers calling you every day, or just a few who are a perfect fit for what you have to offer?
One of the best ways to ensure your internet marketing efforts will be fruitful is to carefully define your success at the start. Name your preferred outcomes in specific, measurable terms. Having those firm goals will help guide your decisions later, push your creative team in the right direction, and make it easier for you to make any necessary course corrections as you go along.
#2 Pick Out Your Very Best Customer
Because there is so much competition online, it’s almost always a smart strategy to think in terms of quality over quantity when you’re trying to find customers. In other words, look for the buyers who are a near-perfect match for what you have to offer, not just anyone who might have a slight interest.
We always encourage our clients to think in terms of customer profiles. We want them to pick out the people who will buy from them in very individual terms. We encourage them to ask about demographics and buying motivations. Where do the decision makers live? What do they want? Why would they choose one product or service over another? With those answers you can make online marketing simpler and more effective.
#3 Work from a Roadmap
It’s going to be hard to generate any momentum or consistency if it feels like you’re making up your online marketing plan as you go along. Not only will writer’s block and creative fatigue be issues, but normal day-to-day distractions will likely take priority over things like blog posts and social posts. Each day will bring a new set of challenges or roadblocks that are difficult to overcome.
That’s why the best marketers work from a solid roadmap that tells them which goals and activities to prioritize at any given time. They always know what they should be working on, why it’s the most important task, and how they can follow up on those efforts in the future.
#4 Don’t Overcommit or Underfund Your Campaigns
A lot of web designers would tell you that underfunding your campaigns is the quickest way to ensure you won’t get any results and there is certainly an element of truth there. If you don’t budget enough for search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), for example, you can’t be surprised when you don’t get results.
However, we would add that it’s just as important to avoid overcommitting. When you make plans that are completely unrealistic (in terms of your budget or schedule), you just set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Once you find you can’t keep up with your plans, it’s easy to abandon them altogether. Make sure you don’t think too big or too small when looking ahead to the future.
#5 Mix and Match Strategies
It’s a good idea to mix and match different strategies and tactics, even if you have a good idea about how you plan to market your website to customers. For one thing, trying new ideas will keep your campaigns from getting stale – a real threat in today’s ever-moving digital marketing world. And for another, there is always the chance you’ll find an even better or more cost-effective way to reach buyers.
Typically, we advise our clients to devote about three-quarters of their time and budget to proven, low-risk strategies. The rest should be spent on marketing ideas or activities that are new, fun, or speculative. Some of them might not work out as planned, but you never know when you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Either way, you’ll keep growing and finding what does and doesn’t work in your business.
#6 Divide and Conquer
It’s hard to find the time to do everything it takes to promote a website, even for those of us who work in the online marketing industry. Between generating content, watching social feeds, and monitoring web analytics, getting customers over the web can feel like a full-time job. Unfortunately, you probably already have a number of responsibilities (or maybe too many) as it is.
The answer is to turn to others for help. You could delegate tasks to employees, turn some of the duties over to your web design team, or even hire freelancers who can help. This can be a particularly good idea if there are certain tasks (like writing, or studying web statistics) you don’t enjoy or excel at.
#7 Watch the Results
Speaking of web statistics, it would be hard to overstate the importance of looking at your analytics package on a regular basis. By seeing what visitors are doing on your website you can come to conclusions about your messaging and budgets going forward. You will know exactly what is and isn’t working because you can monitor the results in real-time right from your hosting dashboard.
Another often-overlooked benefit of digging into your web analytics is that it can be motivating. As you see the visits and conversions pile up, you’ll be encouraged to keep going forward, creating new content and campaigns. The hardest part of any online marketing effort comes in the beginning. Once you start to see what you’re doing pay off, it’s easier to keep going.
#8 Set Short Term Goals
Most business owners and executives come to us with very big visions of what they want to see happen in the future. These plans are useful and instructive, but we also ask them to create short-term goals we can work from. These are crucial for focus and benchmarking, giving us targets to hit on the way to their bigger aspirations.
Sometimes, having huge goals can be overwhelming or even distracting. They might seem so far away that it’s impossible to reach them. With some closer targets to zero in on, things like planning and budgeting become much more straightforward. It’s good to know what you want your website to do for your company two years from now, but be sure you know exactly what you’re hoping to get from it in two months, as well.
#9 Move Forward With Confidence
At a certain point, your plan has to turn into definite action. Otherwise, you’ll always thinking about what could be in the future. If you aren’t confident about your strategy, though, you might not have enough enthusiasm to get started.
This is an area where the right web design team can be enormously helpful. A good vendor will take the time to learn about your company, the challenges you are facing, and the goals you have set. Then they’ll help you translate those into a strategy that makes the most of your resources and has a very high probability of success. Then, when you start to actually write checks or block off pieces of your schedule, you’ll feel confident you’re taking the steps needed to make your company grow.
Ready to Put Your Website to Work?
If you’re prepared to get past the stumbling blocks that hold so many businesses back and start getting real results from your website, it’s time to talk to the creative minds at WebWize in Houston. Contact us today to set up a free consultation and see what we can do to help your company grow.
About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.