How to create an online marketing plan for your business

Online Marketing is always changing. Having a plan will enable you to stay on track and hopefully lead you to a successful increase in website leads.

Analyze Your Audience

Begin with a thorough analysis of your audience. We as web designers often tend to forget about who will be reading our work. Being on the inside of a company, you are much more familiar with common terms describing your product than someone from the web might be. Study other websites in your industry as though you would be a prospective customer, and document the website components that stand out to you. Was it easy to learn about the product’s features? Were you able to quickly find a phone number?

The harder you make it for your customer to find the information they want, the less chance they have of doing business with you.

Develop a set of areas that you want to target with your online campaign. You will later use this information for Search Engine Optimization, directory submission, local business chambers, and website content. The tendency for small businesses is to hammer the local area with marketing, and forget about outlying areas. It isn’t too hard to capture these outlying areas in addition to your local campaign. Investing in online ads such as Google Adwords will help you establish these targeted areas.

While planning, don’t forget about the basic needs of your customer. Visitors to your website will only stay if they are either looking for something specific, or are given an incentive. This means that you need to design with both of these common goals in mind.

Assess your Current Website

Is your website relevant? Web standards change often. Web trends change even faster. Here are a few suggestions that will help you stay up-to-date:

It’s hard to make changes to your website without knowing what to change. Study visitor statistics to find out what people are looking for on your website. Using Google Analytics, you will be able to see what pages are visited most often, as well as how much time they spent on each page. This important information will show you which content has been well-optimized and which could use improvement.

Develop Online Relationships with Potential Customers

One of the ways to keep a visitor on your website is to regular update it with quality content. Knowing what you know about your industry, you should be overflowing with good, free resources for your visitors. When they see a reason to stick around, they might return to your site later. Regular exposure to your brand will give them a greater chance of spreading your name within their sphere of influence. If done properly, this can be an exponential effect produced simply by writing what you already know.

“Download our free guide”, “Print our free reference sheet”, “Get our free e-book”… These common phrases usually mean that good material is just around the corner. Don’t plague your visitor by forcing them to “register” or enter their email address in order to get it. Visitors will leave your site in a heartbeat if that’s the case.

If you are regularly publishing content, make sure you offer ways for your visitors to share it with their friends / colleagues. Most blogs include several popular social media options in addition to a handy “Print” button.

Lastly, connect with your customers on a personal level using Facebook. It is one of the most valuable, free tools available to develop your business’s public relations. If you happen to receive a bad review on your Facebook wall, address the issue honestly instead of deleting the post – other visitors will see that your customer service is doing a great job, and you’ll have a chance at even more visitor conversions.

Repeat

If you have finished your online marketing campaign, don’t get too comfortable. With constantly changing trends and ongoing online customer relations, it would be foolish for you to let your campaign alone. Continue analyzing the competition, studying statistics, and publishing content regularly, and you will be well on your way to a successful online presence.

Summary

Analyze Audience

  • Industry
  • Frustrations
  • Locale
  • Needs
  • Assess Website

Compare with current design standards

  • Study visitor statistics
  • Act on your findings
  • Develop online relationships

Publish quality content – become an industry leader

  • Product specials, sweepstakes, free stuff
  • Syndicate your content
  • Connect and Maintain via Social Media Repeat