In today’s world, almost every sphere of life is connected to the internet. From social media to email marketing and SEO, online marketing has become absolutely critical to successfully running a business. In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 87% of businesses use online marketing to gain customers, and 79% use it to gain revenue.
As your business grows and evolves, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and technologies to ensure that you’re maximizing your effectiveness and ROI (return on investment). One of the biggest mistakes that new businesses make is focusing on short-term gains without a long-term plan in place.
In the digital marketing world, this is known as ‘penny pinching’ – focusing on the most cost-effective methods of marketing without considering the big picture.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your online marketing strategy, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss how to build a marketing strategy for your online business and how to make it work harder.
Create A Marketing Plan
The first step in building a solid marketing strategy is to create a plan. You want to lay down the foundation for your campaign and map out the steps you’ll take to achieve your goals. Your plan should include the following:
- Audience analysis: Who are your target audiences? What are their demographics and interests?
- Product/service analysis: What are you offering and how are you offering it?
- Campaign objectives: What do you want to achieve by implementing this plan?
- Metrics: How will you measure the success of your campaign (e.g. increased web traffic, sales, etc.)?
You can also include additional sections to your plan, such as assumptions you’re making about your target audiences, competitors, etc. Having a written plan makes it much easier to follow-through and ensure that you don’t deviate from the strategy you’ve laid out.
Determine Key Performance Metrics
Once you have a clear idea of the metrics you’ll use to measure the success of your plan, you can move on to the next step – determining which ones are the most important to you at this point in time.
This is more than just a ‘top of the funnel’ thinking; you also need to consider how you’ll measure the success of your plan at the ‘bottom of the funnel’ (i.e. getting a lead to make a purchase or engaged with your content etc.). Your top of the funnel metrics will tell you how effective your plan is at getting people to enter your website or make a purchase from you. Your bottom of the funnel metrics will show you how effective your plan is at getting people to follow-through (i.e. visiting the frequently asked questions page on your site, subscribing to your email list, etc.).
Determine Key Performance Indicators
Each key performance indicator is a measurable piece of information that you can use to assess the success of your plan. For example, you might want to track the number of new leads that come in per week, the average order value of all the sales you make per month, etc. Data from free research tools like Google Analytics can help you determine the effectiveness of your plan at reaching your target audiences – without the need for paid marketing campaigns.
Outline Key Phases
The next step is to outline the key phases of your plan. Simply put, a key phase is a specific period of time when you’ll be implementing a certain tactic or strategy within the plan. For example, you might want to launch a paid advertising campaign in the next two months or introduce a new product in the next six months. You can also break down your plan into distinct chunks, similar to the key phases described above.
To launch a new product, you might want to do the following:
- Develop a marketing strategy (i.e. create a plan) – this includes developing key performance indicators as well as determining your target audience and product/service offering
- Conduct market research to identify unmet needs and gaps in the market for your product
- Design and produce the product
- Launch the product with a bang – using online marketing tools to promote your product in a cost-effective manner
- Measure the results of your marketing efforts and adjust as needed
- Repeat as necessary
Along with the key phases, you want to include the specific dates by which you’ll implement them.
Make A List Of All The Tactics You’ll Need To Advertise
To create a marketing plan that’s effective, you’ll need a variety of tactics – not just one silver bullet strategy. This section will help you make a list of all the tactics you’ll need to advertise to become a successful online business. You don’t want to include all the tactics you’ll need in one place, as this could overwhelm you – especially if you’re not used to thinking this way. Instead, create a separate list for each phase of your plan. The following are some suggestions for tactics you might want to include in your plan:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing (such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click advertising (also known as ‘cost-per-acquisition’ or ‘CPA’)
- Online classified ads (i.e. Craigslist)
- Display advertising
- Video marketing
- Paid media placement (such as sponsored posts on social media)
- Word of mouth marketing (i.e. recommending your product to friends and family)
Why All The Details?
With every business, not all the details matter. However, in the case of a marketing plan for an online business, much more detail is needed. The following sections will go into more detail about why all the planning is necessary.
The Importance Of Audience Analysis
Every business is different and has different goals – this is especially true when it comes to marketing. One size does not fit all when it comes to marketing a product. This is why you need to focus on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of marketing – not just what worked for someone else.
To effectively market your product, you need to know exactly who you’re marketing to – what are their needs and interests? Without a clear idea of your target audiences’ demographics and interests, it’s nearly impossible to develop a strategic marketing plan. Once you have this clear idea of who your target audiences are, you can then determine what strategies will be most effective for them.
The product/service analysis section of your marketing plan is where you’ll lay out everything you know about your product or service. This includes the following:
- The advantages of your product/service (i.e. Why should consumers buy your product/service)
- The disadvantages of your product/service (i.e. What are the downsides to buying this product/service)
- The competitive analysis section (i.e. Who your competitors are and how you’re going to handle them)
- The marketing strategy for your product/service
- The manufacturing process (if applicable)
- Who your target audiences are (i.e. Demographics, psychographics, etc.)
- The primary purpose of your product/service (i.e. To solve a problem, provide a service, etc.)
You want to make sure that you cover all the key details about your product/service – including the manufacturing process, pricing, etc. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned in relation to your product/service since it could potentially affect its success. Also, keeping all the details of your product/service in writing ensures that everyone from top to bottom knows exactly what your product is and how it works. This improves the overall quality and effectiveness of your marketing strategy.