Creating an online marketing plan
The first online marketing mistake – relying on one route
Every person who has some grounding in marketing knows that you should create more than one route to market. But not every person who owns a website has some grounding in marketing!
Put simply – don't reply on one method alone for the survival of your website.
I've read (and heard) time and time again people cry out that they are “ruined” because they lost some rankings in Google. But what were they doing relying solely on a handful of keywords in Google without which they feel they have lost it all?
An online marketing plan is a way of considering all the options and something to refer back to when you get stuck in a rut.
You may also want to create an offline marketing plan depending on your site and its purpose and then make sure both your online and offline goals match. I find people like book authors are an ideal example of this category. There is plenty they can be doing on the net and plenty they can be doing in the real world to drive up sales.
This site is dedicated to the virtual world and so to online marketing only.
The second online marketing mistake – forgetting your goal
This would be forgetting to define your goal and it is suprisingly common. An e-commerce site might want to sell, an author may want to become famous, a blogger might just want the warm feeling of popularity, a webmaster may want to create a second income by selling advertising space, and so on.
Although many coaches will tell you to quantify your goal – for example, “I'll sell 1,000 books next year” - I'm not talking about that. I'm just talking about what you want out of your website so you can make sure you are always working towards that goal.
It doesn't matter what it is, it matters that you remember it and don't get diverted. As an example someone recently approached me because they wanted to rank for a particular keyword.
I asked him why and he said it was so he could get more visitors. I asked him what was wrong with the 5,000 visitors he was already getting. “Nothing” he replied. “They just don't buy very often”.
It turned out that changes to his website increased his sales four fold and increased his rankings across a whole range of keywords and phrases.
His true issue was that he had become obsessed with the goal of ranking for a particular keyword and forgotten what his base goal actually was … to sell more products!
Once you have defined your goal put it somewhere prominent (stick it to the wall, put it on the front of your diary, etc) so you don't get lead astray by others … or yourself!
Brainstorming your options
The first move is to step back and consider all the options you have at your disposal for promoting your web presence. What you come up with in this exercise should be pinned to your wall so you don't end up blinkered on one activity. Here are a few examples:
- SEO – get your website to rank highly in the organic results of search engines for some keywords that internet users regularly search.
- SEM – if you have a budget use PPC advertising in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. If you know what you are doing you don't need to pay much more than a couple of cents per click and get good traffic for a dollar a day. For more on this see my book “Making the most of Google Adwords”.
- PPC and PPI – as SEM (above) but advertising on other people's websites. This can take the form of standard adverts but don't forget services like Outbrain who will advertise your content for you and similar sites.
- Affiliate programmes – pay others a percentage of each sale they generate or a flat fee for every visitor they send who completes a certain task (e.g. fills out a quote request form) through services such as clickbank.
- Referral partners – who could you partner with on the web where you would both benefit from promoting each other. Who complements your business. As a wedding photographer could you join forces with a baker and create a win-win for you both?
- Become a public expert – what forums or services could you join to share some knowledge and become known as an “expert” in your field.
- Get listed – which respected directories could you be listed in (perhaps you are already listed but without the full details you could provide). When once it was almost essential for a business to be in that hefty Yellow Pages book, now there are many online options to weigh up and consider.
- Local online media – what media (newspapers, magazines, websites, online radio stations) in your local area might be interested in your story?
- Where is the market? - if you sell a product from your site consider also selling it from other established sites as well be they ebay, Amazon or niche online shops.
- Group selling – another one for sellers is websites like Groupon. Selling 100 or 1,000 items at a rock bottom price can create a “buzz” on the web.
- How can you help? - what knowledge could you share on services like YouTube that would be genuinely useful and increase your popularity because you gave a little of what you know away for free? Can you get free publicity on services like Help a Reporter Out?
- Optimizing your visitors behaviour – if you're already getting visitors to your website what are you doing to improve the rate at which they convert (reach your goal)?
- Get social – how are you using social media to build relationships with your visitors which will not only keep them coming back time and time again, but will have them recommending you to others.
- Sell the detail elsewhere - if you have indepth knowledge consider other ways to sell it beyond a website. I, for example, sell the book Making the Most of Google Adwords on Amazon.
There are often multiple overlaps with options in that one might give you good publicity and at the same time help your SEO. But put any obsession you have with search engine optimization aside while you brainstorm the possibilities.
All the options above are ways to ensure you don't solely rely on one way to get visitors or achieve your goals. It is unlikely that you will have the time, budget or resource to do them all so you need to put them in a framework such as a SWOT analysis.
Write down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats when it comes to your website. Are there weaknesses you can address? Are there potential threats you can reduce?