Online Marketing Directive – How to Use It to Your Advantage

You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “to be in accordance with.” That’s what marketers use when they’re following strict guidelines or using a proven formula in order to achieve a particular goal. More and more often these days, marketers are using a combination of both formulaic and data-driven approaches to achieve their goals. That’s because while data may be readily available, it’s rarely easy to implement into the decision-making process.

You may be wondering how you can use that knowledge for your own benefit. Developing an online marketing directive (also known as a marketing roadmap) can help you do just that. An online marketing directive is a written document that provides clear, concise direction on how to approach marketing activities online. When developing an online marketing directive, you must consider four areas:

Product

Just as there are multiple products in your offline store, there are multiple products – typically dozens – available online. That’s a lot of choices and it can be tricky to decide which one(s) to promote.

To make your life easier, you need to establish a clear focus on what you’re trying to sell. You do that by considering the product’s attributes and comparing them to the characteristics of your ideal buyer. Doing so can help you distill your product line down to a few select products.

Channel

Just as you wouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket, you shouldn’t do the same with your marketing efforts. The term “basket” may be slightly misleading in this case, as you aren’t actually putting all of your eggs in one channel. There are many different channels that you can use to promote your product, including but not limited to:

  • Social media
  • Search engines
  • Display advertising
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Email marketing

The important thing to keep in mind is that all of these channels have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, social media is great for engaging with your customers, but you’ll need to focus a lot of time on it. Search engines are great for driving traffic to your site, but you’ll need to make sure that your website is optimized for search to achieve the best results.

Strategy

You’ve got a product to sell and you’ve decided on a few channels to use to do so. Now it’s time to put a strategy in place to make sure that you communicate the right messages to the right people at the right time. That’s what strategy is.

There are many different approaches that you can take, but you need to decide which one is going to work best for you.

Tactics

So you’ve got a product, you’ve decided on a few channels to use to sell it, and you’ve got a strategy in place. What’s next? Well, now you need to put a plan in place to execute that strategy. That’s what tactics are.

You need to decide which of the channels you’ve chosen are going to be the most effective in executing your strategy. After all, you can’t expect your brand to reach all of your target audience on social media alone. Likewise, if your target audience is mainly located in Canada, you may not want to rely solely on search engines for driving traffic to your site.

Importance

Finally, you need to set the scope of your directive. Are you focusing just on one area – e.g., SEO, or are you trying to encompass a few industries – e.g., B2B and B2C? There are certainly areas that you may want to avoid such as PPC, as it can be difficult to measure the return on investment for those strategies. That said, if you’re just getting started you may want to focus on one area at first, and then expand to other areas as you learn more.

Goal/metrics

Your marketing strategy should be driven by a clear vision – e.g., generating $1 million in annual revenue or doubling our market share – something along those lines. When developing your strategy, think about what you’re going to measure to determine if you’ve been successful.

The goal shouldn’t be to simply fill your online store with as many products as possible, although this may be a by-product of your efforts. Instead, set a goal that’s challenging yet achievable; something along the lines of expanding your online store into a digital hub for a niche industry. Once you’ve set this goal, you can use the metrics that you’ve chosen to measure your progress toward reaching it.

Deadline

You need to set a deadline for yourself. You can start by setting the date that you’re going to finish your marketing strategy and follow up with a formal review at the end. That way you have time to review and edit your strategy before you hit the streets or the keyboards of your employees to start marketing. Setting a deadline will also help you avoid the tendency to delay decisions until the last minute.

Revision

Whether you’re writing a business plan or developing a marketing strategy, it’s inevitable that things change. That’s why you must be prepared to revisit your plan periodically and reassess its effectiveness. Remember, your plan is only as good as you make it – you cannot expect it to be exactly the same six months from now. That’s why it’s so important to set aside time to revisit your plan and improve it where needed.

For example, if you find that your plan is not effective in reaching your goal, you may decide to reassess your strategy. Maybe you need to narrow your channels or you need to consider alternative approaches. Whatever the case may be, it’s vital that you continue to improve your plan to stay on top of the game.

Redlining

One of the risks that you need to be aware of is redlining. In the traditional banking world, redlining is the practice of denying a customer access to higher-interest-rate credit cards due to bad credit. These days it can mean that you’re systematically blocking credit for an entire industry or niche based on the creditworthiness of those within that industry or niche. It’s a form of credit discrimination and it’s illegal under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA).

As a consumer-oriented business owner, you need to be aware of this and make sure that you don’t engage in any form of redlining with respect to your customers. In the event that you discover that one of your customers has been denied access to credit based on their credit score, you have the option of taking them back into your fold by correcting the error.

Summary

To wrap up, here’s a quick summary of the information covered in this article:

  • Get in the right mindset – thinking of your marketing efforts as a top-down directive rather than a bottom-up approach
  • Make a list of your current online marketing channels
  • Select one channel to pursue at first, then expand from there
  • Prioritise your chosen channel
  • Establish a marketing strategy
  • Set a goal and measure your progress
  • Avoid the pitfalls of redlining
  • Review your plan periodically and improve as needed
  • Set a deadline for yourself

If you found this article valuable, be sure to check out our guide to SEO for eCommerce or our guide to mobile marketing for eCommerce. Both of those guides will help you effectively market your eCommerce store.