At a Glance
The thought of putting together a comprehensive online marketing strategy can be intimidating. In this article, we provide you with a short- and long-term strategy to help you get started:
- Knowing Your Online Marketing Options
- Short Term Online Marketing Strategy
- Step1: Manage Your Online Reputation
- Step2: Take Control of Your Nap
- Step3: Invest in Paid Search / Online Ads
- Long Range Online Marketing Strategy
- Step1: Produce High Quality Content
- Step2: Use Social Media to Your Advantage
- Step3: Focus on SEO
- Step4: Build Your Contacts List
Knowing Your Online Marketing Strategy Options
The standard elements of online marketing strategy include:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Online Reputation Management (Ratings and reviews on sites like Facebook, Google, and Yelp)
- Paid Search (think Google and Facebook Ads)
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Engagement
A comprehensive, and highly profitable, online marketing strategy should include each of those elements
- You should be creating high quality Content
- You should then use Paid Search and Social Media Engagement to draw users to that content on your site.
- Your landing page(s) should include sign-up forms that allow you to build your contact database, so that you can follow up via Email Marketing.
- Your Online Reputation should be constantly managed, so that users can feel confident in working with you (only 53% of people are willing to do business with a company that has less than 4 stars).
- And all of these efforts (when done correctly) will drive Search Engine Optimization.
“Well that’s all well and good,” you may say. “but how do I actually get started?”
The uncomfortable truth is that the answer to that question is going to be different for each business and each business type. Being intimately familiar with your business and your customers should provide some insight into the best way for you to reach them.
However, there are some commonalities and basic online marketing strategies that you can employ when first getting started.
Short-Term Online Marketing Strategy
A short-term strategy should be enough to get the gears in motion and create an initial stream of online customers. These tactics will also help your SEO (but should be accompanied by a solid SEO strategy for optimal results).
As you grow, this strategy should be transformed into a longer range strategy so that initial stream can turn into a flood.
Step1: Manage Your Online Reputation
This is, perhaps, the most important. 82% of consumers read online reviews and 85% of those consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. That’s huge. To help you increase the number and quality of your online ratings and reviews, we created this free downloadable guide. Please check it out, and let us know if you have any questions. This is not an area that you want to ignore.
Step2: Take Control of Your NAP
Your NAP is your Name, Address, and Phone number. Ensuring that your NAP is consistent and present on both the major platforms (Google, Facebook, etc) and smaller local, and industry-based directories will greatly increase your SEO (see 5 Steps to Search Engine Optimization For Local Businesses, step 5). Also be sure to include your NAP in the footer of your website and ensure that it appears on each and every page.
Step3: Invest in Paid Search / Online Ads
This step is where the uniqueness of your business and industry most come into play. You will want to advertise with Paid Search or Online Ads. However, the venue that you choose will vary based on your intended audience.
- Facebook and Google Ads are ideal for reaching a wider range of the general public
- Instagram is much better for reaching younger, trend-setting and -seeking customers
- Twitter and LinkedIn useful for business-to-business
- Pinterest is great for “lifestyle” products and services
- Reddit allows you to target specific user communities.
Knowing your customers, their habits, their needs and desires, their hobbies, and their lifestyle will help you determine which avenues are best.
Whichever avenue(s) you choose, the purpose of this campaign is to increase brand awareness, and drive traffic to a landing page that has a clear call to action.
Long Term Online Marketing Strategy
Step1: Produce High Quality Content
Don’t be fooled into thinking that creating original content is only useful for online or information-based businesses. Whether you’re a dentist, shop keeper, restaurateur, florist, pharmacist, plumber, etc. you can benefit greatly from producing high-quality content.
In my post Start Content Marketing the Right Way I provide some guidelines that can be summarized as:
- Don’t try to appeal to everyone – doing so is both expensive and ineffective
- Instead, create your content for your ideal customer
- Each piece of content should have a call to action. Make yours crystal clear
As you follow these guidelines, you should be producing content that is relevant, useful, and timely to your customers and prospects.
You should then publish your content on relevant sites – social media, industry editorials, relevant consumer groups, local business groups, etc.
Step2: Use Social Media to Your Advantage
From a marketing perspective, Social Media is great for 4 things:
- It is a publishing platform for your content and ads
- As a way to gauge public sentiment towards your business, product, or service
- It’s a platform to respond to questions, reviews, complaints, etc.
- As an avenue to engage and recruit your customers as advocates
Social Media has the added benefit that it allows you to extend your reach with the potential of extending your network as your current customers’ engagements are seen by their network.
A solid Social Media strategy can be broken down into 3 tasks:
- Establish your business goals – determine what you want to say and how you want to say it
- Monitor social media for mentions of your brand – just listen and learn
- Participate and engage your customers – conversations, contests, promotions, announcements, etc.
Step3: Focus on SEO
Now, you should not have been neglecting SEO up to this point. You ought to have been adhering to basic SEO principles, but now is the time to begin making it more of a focus.
Although Paid Search campaigns are an invaluable part of your online marketing toolbox, the truth is that online information-seekers will choose an organic result about 90% of the time. As such, it’s important that you are engaged in meaningful SEO activities, such as:
- Optimize your website. This includes having a site.xml and lightning-fast loading times
- Controlling your NAP (which, per the Short Term Strategy you should already be doing)
- Building your Back Links – publishing high quality content will go a long way to helping you here
- Don’t engage in anything questionable, such as paid link-building schemes or attempting to fool the search engine. Doing so can result in a search engine penalty which can negate (at least temporarily) all the SEO efforts you’ve made
Step4: Build Your Contacts List
As users visit your site, you should be attempting to capture their contact information for one very specific reason: to give them additional value.
If you build an email list purely to sell, you will soon find it empty.
Instead focus on providing your subscribers and contacts with continuous, valuable content for free. This will allow you to build a genuine relationship with your leads and customers as you share your expertise. It also gives you the opportunity to establish a virtual community and provide access to exclusive content and promotions.
Contacts will continue to qualify themselves, if your business is a good fit for them. They’ll do so by opening your emails, clicking on your links, and taking advantage of your promotions. This will lead to the point that your asking for the sale is almost a formality.
If you’ve made it this far, Congratulations! We’ve provided quite a lot of information in this article, but I hope that you will study it, apply it, and profit by it.
If you need help starting your Online Marketing, or in optimizing a strategy that’s not quite working for you, please reach out and see how we can help!
You can also subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to receive continuous, valuable content right to your inbox!