In my first article on how to write a strategic online marketing plan, I discussed some basics of the areas of online marketing you may want to consider. See the list below. What I am saying is that you should not apply online marketing to every business in a cookie cutter fashion, and the other issue you need to consider is that online marketing is built on a foundation. If you don’t have the foundation pieces in place then you are going to have a faulty structure.
Online Marketing Foundation
When I say online marketing foundation, this goes even deeper than marketing, it typically revolves around technology. A lot of marketing executives will go for the jugular in their job and try to achieve, but achievement may not be possible if the basic infrastructure is not in place, and worse, a serious campaign can be completely a waste if a simple thing like collecting email addresses is not built correctly. One simple case in point, is one company I worked for collected customer names without separating the first and last names in the DB. This was a marketing foundation structural problem. We could not send out the emails in a personalized fashion, because we were not getting the information in the database correctly. Often executives want to tackle the marketing issue head on with a nuclear weapon that has no army structure behind it. If you invade a country and have no plans or ability to manage the situation, you will have chaos. So, this is what is recommended first:
1. Get a good website.
Believe it or not, there is a tiny percentage of companies who market without a good website. This has to be ready for any campaign. What I mean by good website, is one that can spell out your value proposition and contains the customer motivation [for arriving at the site].
2. Get a good, structured email collection method in place.
You need to be able to collect email addresses and segmenting them would be a good start.
3. Get the ability to allow customers to optout.
This is critical before sending your first email campaign. Without it, you may end up pissing off not just people. If you piss off the email providers such as gmail, yahoo, microsoft or aol, you will have bigger problems.
4. Landing Pages
If you are going to be running marketing campaigns, then specialized landing pages help even more in building out your foundation.
Now most companies allow customers to buy products online, but if you don’t have it in place and you are pushing customers to your site, you need to give them a place to buy.
6. Contact us
We mentioned email collection above, but customers “Don’t Need To Think”, so they need to be able to easily contact your company.
I am sure there are a lot more structural pieces, but these are a good start. Notice these are part of the online marketing plan, but they are more than that, they are the building blocks for success. You need to make sure these are ready for the high volume of traffic you are going to receive.
Online Marketing Plan Areas Explained
I am going to explain each of these areas of online marketing. Some may not have occurred to be online marketing places for your business, but you may find that they have a greater impact than you would have ever expected. This is where, in my final article, I will get into priorities, and why making certain decisions to go after low hanging fruit, is critical.
- Create A Website
No need to say more. You and I know what a website is. Maybe a few people out there think they have a website, because they have a Facebook page. It is close, but not exactly.
- Email Marketing
Once again very easy to understand. You get together a message and send it via email to potential or existing customers.
- Search Engine Optimization
While many have made this a business, it is simple enough. You make sure your site content, titles, urls and meta tags are optimized for the search engines, mainly Google today.
- Pay Per Click
Once again, everybody pretty much knows this. You pay for each click on a Google or others and it is a bid process based on the highest bidder paying for the click. Google focuses on the top 3.
A variation on pay per click, with the variation focused on words showing up on third party content sites, not on the search engines. This seems to be a big one through Google and it is a way to get traffic.
- Banner Ads
This is an old standby. It is basically an image that people pay for customers to view and get clicks through. I believe the days of banner ads are coming back.
- Video Marketing (Youtube)
A lot of companies don’t understand the power of video marketing. Thanks to the relationship between Youtube and Google, which are the same company, video can now be seen much higher in the search engines. The ability to push up video, convert it to flash, comment, tag and search engine optimize your video, this is a high growth marketing area your business may need to take advantage of. I believe its the future of marketing.
- Facebook Marketing
This is really a hot topic right now, as companies are trying to figure out a way to market through social networks. Best part of this type of marketing is the ability to analyze and understand exact keywords and affinity relationships (close relationships) that exist between your product/service and related search terms. Also facebook marketing harkens back to banner ads and is a rebirth of the banner ad.
- Linkedin Marketing
This is just starting and like Facebook will be on a growth area for a while. If your business is B2B then this is where you should be looking to spend your marketing dollars. If you are related to the human resources area, it is pay dirt time.
- Photo Marketing
Just like video on Youtube a lot of companies misunderstand the power of photo marketing. You can easily push up hundreds of photos to Picassa (once again a google property 🙂 and then name, tag, categorize, geotag and comment on these photos. This information will get indexed on the search engine. This is a low hanging fruit of online marketing and a place, if you have access to images, you need to be!
Killer webinars are coming to your town and if you don’t act now you will lose out. Apparently make products and services need to be shown through a demo. But there is something out there today that will prepare your webinar in advance so that it does not have to be live. It can be almost on demand. Ever notice that during a TV ad they are giving out a url to watch their webinar (especially pharmaceuticals). This is a great advertising medium for specialized products and services, like health related and that is where your business should be spending its dollars.
- Chat Sessions
We were investigating chat sessions way back in 2001 when they came to market. Some online businesses I know live off the marketing capability of chat sessions and convert most of their traffic via chat sessions. Don’t under estimate the power of this technology and it is getting more sophisticated as time goes by. The day is coming when Skype enters this market and you will be able to video chat with any customer!
Just like video seminars, teleseminars are easy to put together, and unlike webinars, teleseminars can easily be accessed. So therefor the conversion rate of teleseminars will be much higher, because people can listen easily at work, on the road or anywhere they feel like it. Ignore this area and you will miss out on a lot of low hanging fruit.
- Landing Page Marketing
This is just a reminder that any website can go out and create a landing page separate from the site home page. Now, place that landing page on a separate domain name, with an optimized title and now you have a new way to gather traffic. Initially landing pages were for emails, but they are not that way anymore. They can be for search engines, seminars, events, webinars, teleseminars, even SMS. You keep it this way for many reasons, some of which is a specialized campaign for that medium. Either way, you control the medium and using landing pages is a great way to do it. Use a product out there like HiConversion.com and you are set!
- Affinity Marketing
Affinity Marketing is not a vertical technology, but rather a horizontal method of approaching online marketing. It refers to finding relationships with your current customer base. I like to use the free and cheap Quantcast.com to figure these relationships out, but you could go to Neilsens/Jupiter or Hitwise or others and buy the expensive demographic data. Either way, if you search at Quantcast.com you will find that people who visit your site or your competitors also visit sites X, Y and Z, and that’s how you figure out there is an “Affinity” between your site and theres. This is important in deciding where and how to advertise in the long tail [for longer pay per click phrases].
- Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing, which I now akin to adwords, was the old place we used to give out URLs with codes and pay out to sites and people who drive traffic. I personally don’t find it to be a very effective way to market for certain products. For dating products, like my old speed dating business, affiliate marketing was not just important, it was the life blood. So, this really depends on the type of business you are in! If it is more personal than commercial, sometimes it makes sense. Commission Junction is still one of the big players, but I am seeing this area slowly disappearing from the big sites out there.
- Lead Generation Marketing
When the old ad “Win A Free Ipod” came out a couple years ago, lead generation marketing had hit an apex. It is still quite a big field unto itself. You can buy leads from other people who will sell them to you, especially in businesses like Cruise Lines, Online Education, Mortgages and Online Car Buying. I mention these four, because all four are the hottest lead gen markets known on the web just about. Meanwhile, your lead generation yourself, needs to be taken care of first!
- Viral Marketing
This is an old area of marketing. Remember the ad, “And She Had Two Friends, And She Had Two Friends, And She Had Two Friends”. Viral marketing really can work if you enable people to do it. We used to have the old “Tell A Friend” page. That’s old hat. Now you have these Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Linkedin, Facebook login aps, that allow you tell your whole world about whatever you are doing. Viral marketing is the basis of social media marketing!
- Guerilla Marketing
Guerilla Marketing takes us in a whole new direction. It was really popular a few years ago, when the old had to be seen video got passed around or the famous cartoonists about George Bush came out. I see Guerilla marketing as a crazy, underground way of getting your product or service out and it is still possible online to do it. Things can grow like wildfire if they are funny or somehow are a “Got To Be Read or Seen Situation”. Seems like the only stuff I get like this these days are Tea Party crazy friends of mine sending me stupid diatribes about the world ending!
- Mobile/Smart Device Marketing
This area of marketing is just getting started. I am seeing newer and newer technologies showing up on my Ipad, and all are banner ad or video based. Sorry Google, text links are old technology on the Ipad, and it seems like people want the image or video ads. Just having an app to download is part of this marketing effort, and if you supposed to be in the cutting edge you should have an Ipad, Android and Windows Smart Device compatible app.
- Blog Marketing
Even though I do blog alot using WordPress, I think this area may be a little overblown. Do this area right and you will get a lot of visits, especially if you master tagging, categorization, titles, metas and get posted out to all the right RPC servers in the blogosphere… If your product/service requires a little more explaining or some leadership in your industry, this is a key area of your business. Remember though, it is not a foundation. You need to have a site and checkout and email collection to do this right!
- Twitter Marketing
If you have ever used TinyUrl.com, you know all about twitter marketing. We hear a lot about marketing through Twitter, but Twitter in some ways is really another form of viral marketing, where you can push out a product release or some other message to your customers or potential customers in a PUSH fashion. I say push, because things like blogging and tweeting are all about push. You push, instead of pull, which is the old search engine methodology. Therefor it is a bigger bang for your buck. But remember once again, no foundation, no orders, make no money…
There are more, and I will update this page when I find more… Thanks for taking time to read my blog today. There will be a third entry in this how to write a strategic online marketing plan series…
If you are reading this and want to check out the first article