In the past, print and TV advertising were the only available options for most business owners and marketers when it came to promoting their products and services to the general public. Now, with the internet providing easy access to a vast audience, there are many more ways to reach a potential customer than ever before.
The key to making your online marketing plan successful is to develop a clear strategy and set of goals to align your efforts with. The process of brainstorming and prioritizing what to focus on first is called’market segmentation’ and it’s an essential step to any marketing plan. It helps identify the right target audience and determines which marketing channels to use to reach them. For example, if your product or service is targeting small businesses, you may decide blogging is the best way to go as it’s a style of writing that resonates with people in that niche. Your plan should also include the type of content you’ll create and how often you’ll post it. It’s also important to establish metrics for measuring the success of your plan.
There are four main steps to creating a successful marketing plan.
Step one: Set a benchmark for your plan
The first step in developing your plan is to set a benchmark and review why you’re there. What is the specific goal you’re trying to achieve with your marketing strategy and how will you measure it?
For example, if your benchmark is to grow your email list by 10,000 subscribers within the next year, your first task will be to establish what you need to do to achieve that goal. You can use email autoresponders, for example, to nurture and grow your list. You may also decide to run competitions or offer special deals to increase your engagement.
Step two: Determining the goal of your plan
Once you’ve set a benchmark for your plan, the next step is to establish the goal of your plan. What do you hope to see from your efforts? What results do you expect to achieve? The goal of your plan should be measurable and clearly defined as it will help you determine whether or not you’ve fulfilled your obligations to yourself and your business.
For example, if your goal is to double your sales from the previous year, you’ll need to set a benchmark for yourself of what that means. Do you expect to see an increase in the number of products sold? The number of leads generated?
Determining your goal at this stage will also dictate the metrics you use to measure the success of your plan. If you decide to track the number of leads generated, for example, you may decide on a lead generation metric like ‘the number of leads that convert into paying customers’.
Step three: Create key performance indicators (KPIs)
In addition to establishing a measurable goal, you also need to set key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the measurements you’ll use to determine whether you’ve reached the goal you set in Step one. KPIs give you a clear benchmark to track your progress towards your goal. They should be specific, measurable, accountable, and realistic.
You can use several methods to track your KPIs, including but not limited to:
- Analytics – Using tools like Google Analytics to track the performance of your website or blog. You can use this to identify areas of your site that are performing well and can be enhanced to increase traffic and generate leads. For example, you may decide the ‘Buyer’s Guide’ section of your site is doing well and you’d like to focus your efforts there. You can use this approach to establish several key performance indicators (KPIs).
- A/B testing – Split testing is a tool for determining the effectiveness of alternative marketing approaches. This technique randomly divides your audience into two groups and provides each group with a different version of a web page. After monitoring the engagement of these groups for a period of time, you can decide which approach proved to be the most effective. For example, if one group converted into paying customers at a higher rate than another, you may decide that test group received the best version of the page and you should use that for the whole group. A/B testing is a great way to quickly prove the effectiveness of new marketing approaches without having to spend a lot of money on pricey paid ads in order to generate traffic. Although this may be the case, you should still develop a paid marketing strategy to complement your A/B testing to generate more leads and make more sales. A/B testing is also great for establishing the baseline performance of your website or blog before and after you make changes. Using this tool, you can prove that specific changes you make increase or decrease your overall performance in generating Leads.
- Customer surveys – Giving your customers a voice is a great way to gather in-depth information on what they want and need. You can use this to determine the areas of your business that need to be improved upon and what your customers expect next year. For example, you may decide to conduct a customer survey and find out what they think about your website, your customer service, and the value they get from your business. This type of feedback is extremely valuable as it allows you to identify opportunities to make your business better. In addition to gathering information via customer surveys, you can also use tools like Google Analytics to track the behavior of your visitors to establish key performance indicators (KPIs). You can use this data to determine if there’s been any change in the way your customers behave online since your last survey.
- Video tutorials – Using video tutorials to teach your users how to use your product or service or to demonstrate its features is a great way to establish a connection with a potential customer. In addition, video tutorials allow you to explain your product or service in a way that is easily understood by a wide audience. Video tutorials are also extremely cost-effective ways to promote your business. You can produce a short video tutorial on any subject and use platforms like YouTube to drive traffic to your website.
- Case studies – An excellent way to convince a reader or viewer that your product or service is the best in your industry is by using case studies to prove it. A case study is a specific piece of content, often written in an academic setting, that examines a real-world problem and provides a solution to the same problem. When done well, case studies can be extremely effective marketing content. You can write a case study on virtually any industry, product, or service and include various benchmarks and metrics to establish your company’s credibility.
- Networks and associations – One of the best things about the internet is the ability to connect with people and organizations that can provide you with invaluable support and professional advice. Networks and associations are groups of people and businesses that come together to support a common cause. These are the types of groups that you can join to get the most out of your online marketing efforts. For example, if you’re a business that provides web design services, you may decide to join the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) to get the most out of your membership. You can use networks and associations to find other businesses that share your values and to get expert advice on how to run your business effectively. If you decide to join the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), you’ll have access to a network of over 300,000 businesses that can provide you with support and advice.
Step four: Review and iterate
Finally, it’s time to review your plan and make necessary adjustments. The last step in the process is to iterate. You’ll review your plan at least once every two weeks and make necessary adjustments as you go through your online marketing strategy.
After you’ve set your benchmark and determined the goal of your plan, it’s time for you to do some research. Start by taking into consideration what you learned from the previous step. Did you find that your proposed key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable? Have you established a clear link between what you’re trying to achieve and the methods you’ll use to measure your success?
From here, you can continue to develop a marketing plan that is perfect for your business.