How To Plan And Execute A Well-Balanced Online Marketing Strategy
It doesn’t matter what type of business you own or whether you sell cheap, drop shipped products or professional high-ticket consulting services.
The fact is, if you own a business in 2021, you need an online presence.
And that’s precisely why we’ve decided to create the following quick guide on planning and executing a well-balanced online marketing strategy.
Before You Get Started
As with almost everything, the more effort you put into learning, understanding, and planning, the more likely you are to be successful.
The first step is to figure out who you’re targeting and how your competitors are targeting those people.
To determine who your target market is – ask yourself: who drives revenue? If you own an ecomm company this is fairly straightforward – the people that add my products to their carts and check out. For service-based businesses the answer may not be as clear as you think. For example: an educational company that sells courses may think that students are the primary revenue driver. They are after all the consumers of the product. They may market to individual students, and find themselves driving low-performing campaigns because they overlooked the fact that recruiters drive a bulk of student sign ups. In that case, the recruiters are the revenue driver and should be the primary target market of future campaigns.
At the same time, competitive research is essential for helping you understand your market positioning and what you should and shouldn’t be doing to connect your business with your target audience. Remember the advice of your sweet mother, just because other kids are doing it doesn’t mean you should. Just because a competitor is convinced that filming themselves, ranting about “crushing it” and “hustling” with an unflattering smartphone angle in their mom’s car, doesn’t mean it works. Don’t follow them off that motivational cliff.
Today, more people than ever use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Linked In.
Therefore, social media marketing can be highly effective if done correctly.
Understand that your business won’t need to be active on all social media platforms out there, in fact, your business may not even need to be active on social media. As a general rule of thumb, treat social media like a neighborhood block party. You don’t want to be the life insurance sales rep at the party who goes from person-to-person aggressively forcing them to consider their own mortality in a space where they just wanted to relax and have fun. That’ll quickly get you a ticket to the loner-train and odds are you probably won’t be invited to future parties no matter how good your jell-o salad is.
If your target market uses social media make note of how active they are on that platform. What kind of content engages them? Is that content something you could create well? Would that content fit within your brand? Remember the rule that editors use when it comes to special effects in movies – if you can’t do it well don’t do it. Moving forward with crappy effects would do more damage than good – I’m looking at you Troll 2. If you don’t have the time or resources to keep up a good social media presence, don’t burn all your bridges and damage your brand by doing it the wrong way – it’s harder to come back from that than it is to wait to start posting when you can do it well.
So, for instance, if you find out that most of your target audience is active on Linked In, rather than spreading yourself thin, trying to be active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you should spend most of your time promoting your business solely on Linked In.
Search Engine Marketing
Also referred to as SEO or Search Engine Optimization, search engine marketing is the act of making your business’ website more visible to search engines like Google or Bing.
SEO on your site consists of making sure search engines can easily understand what your site is all about and then building up trust to your site by getting the cool kid sites to link to you – ergo de facto making you a cool kid.
The job of the search engine is to provide helpful results to the users, so as they see users search for content, they’re going to do their best to send them to a website that they know the user would like. This process takes time, so don’t be fooled by the spammers out there claiming they can make you number one in search in just a handful of weeks.
Another major element of SEO is what’s known as user experience. Does your site flow well and provide an intuitive way for customers to shop? You should view and create your site with as much care as you would put into the layout of your physical retail location. Would you allow a pile of boxes to clutter up the front door, or leave broken lights flickering across your aisles? Look at supermarkets for a great example of user flow – they place seasonal items near the front because they need to sell those ASAP – food is grouped together in cohesive aisles, not scattered across the store or mingled in with cosmetics or home care. Their goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they’re looking for and check out.
Search engines are a high-intent platform. People are actively using them every day to buy the products or services you’re offering. Making sure you have a well-functioning site that’s set up properly should be foundational to every marketing plan.
Both social media and search engine marketing can be thought of as free or organic forms of marketing, similar to how retailers receive foot traffic from people in a mall.
You’ll most often hear of PPC or Pay Per Click advertising, which is when you create an ad campaign through one of the platforms your target market frequently uses. Your ads are then digitally launched in front of the eyes of your target market and your account is billed when someone clicks on your ad.
Although PPC ads incur costs they should be measured by how much revenue they generate to your company. This is straightforward for ecommerce businesses since they can directly see revenue tied to campaign clicks. For service businesses it’s crucial that you set up tracking on your website so anytime someone calls, emails, or submits a contact form from your website you know which traffic source was responsible for it.
To calculate return on investment for services businesses you need to know the value of a lead. A simple calculation can reveal that to you:
Avg. revenue generated through a customer x conversion rate = conversion value.
For example if your avg. revenue generated is $1500 and the conversion rate is 30% (3 out of every 10 leads close) your lead value would be $450. So every time a campaign generates a lead to your business they’re actually generating $450.
You can then use that lead value to figure out what kind of return each campaign is generating. If you spent $500 on your campaign that month and it generated 5 leads your return, often expressed as Return on Ad Spend or ROAS would be calculated as follows:
Lead # * Lead Value / Costs of ad spend
(5 leads x $450) / 500 = 4.5
Your campaign ROAS is then 4.5 which means for every dollar spent in advertising it generated a return of $4.50 to your company. That’s a healthy campaign!
Word Of Mouth
Lastly, never underestimate the power of customer testimonials and word-of-mouth marketing. A classic strategy includes printing out some fresh business cards so you’re ready anytime someone approaches irl. In the digital realm, word of mouth focuses more on customer experience, user generated content, and reviews.
User-generated content and customer reviews are said to be roughly ten times more effective than brand-generated promotional content. The reason being companies are incentivized to talk themselves up. Of course they’re going to say they’re the best because they’re trying to make money. We’ve all seen stores that say they’re “THE ABSOLUTE BEST [Insert product or service here ]!!!!!” It doesn’t matter how bold you make the letters or how many exclamation marks you throw in at the end – the reason that kind marketing is ineffective is because the claim that they’re the best isn’t theirs to make – it should come from the mouths of customers. That’s why reviews are so powerful, if you see a company that claims to sell “The best spandex sweater vests ever!!!!!” you’ll be less likely to purchase than if you saw over 200 verified customer reviews raving about their new fashion piece.
So if you want to create a well-balanced marketing strategy, don’t forget that your current customers and clients are some of your best advertisers.
Don’t be scared to ask your customers to share feedback and reviews of their experience with you. Also don’t be afraid of bad reviews – studies show that people are less likely to purchase from a company that has 100% 5 star reviews than a company that had a majority of 5 star reviews with a smattering of other reviews. You can also use those unsavory reviews to your advantage by responding with amazing customer support – showing potential customers that you care about their experience.
Well-Balanced Marketing 2021
Effective marketing is about so much more than simply promoting your products or services and hoping that people will hand you their hard-earned money.
A well-balanced marketing strategy aims to connect a brand with its audience in a way where the business will be seen as reliable and trustworthy.
So make sure to do your research, decide where your target market spends their time and how they find your competitors, decide if social media is right for your company, get your website shipshape, and as time goes by, put some thought into using PPC advertising to boost your organic efforts.
Before you know it, you’ll have potential customers lined up, waiting to get their hands on your products!