10 Steps to Creating Your Digital Marketing Plan
The Internet has officially changed the face of business and marketing permanently.
The Internet is simply not a fad or a flavor of the week. It is the real deal and it is here to stay. It may morph in one way or another and has in fact changed in even its short life span going from a Government and Education network, to a business network, to a primarily personal e-mail use network to an information network that can be carried around in your pocket or worn on your wrist.
So why exactly should you take your business online? If you haven’t done so already there is still time. Here are 5 reasons to take your business online::
1. It is expected. Quite simply, the Internet is the first place people look to find out more about you, your business, and/or your product. They look for your website as well as information they can find out about you from other websites. Yes, I dare say it, in 99.999% of the cases, it will damage your credibility to some degree with a prospect if you cannot be found online.
2. It is immediate. Face it. We live in a world of instant gratification. We want everything 5 minutes ago. If something is not immediately available, we just may lose interest or worse yet get it from somewhere else like your competition.
3. It is cheap. Never in history has a marketing medium been available to all businesses, no matter the size of their company or bank account that afforded them so much possibility for success.
PPC advertisng allows you to set your own budget and place a bid value on each lead you receive.
4. It is 24/7/365 days a week. The Internet never sleeps (unless your server goes down). Having and implementing an effective digital marketing strategy can be like having a well tuned marketing and sales team that continues to do your bidding around the clock.
5. It is global. Why limit your business to the 30 minute radius surrounding your business? Your current competition certainly isn’t and new competitors are seemingly coming out of nowhere every day.
Look at the Internet as a means to allow you to share your products or services with prospective customers who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to experience what you have to offer.
Create a digital marketing plan of attack and get in the game.
If you’re the owner of a small local business, having a solid digital marketing plan in place can both increase your name and brand recognition locally in your geographic area, as well as expose you to a whole new set of potential clients throughout the world.
Here are ten things to consider as you create your digital marketing plan:
1. Objective of Your Digital Marketing Plan and budgeting: What do you want to accomplish by using the Internet? To find new clients? Provide services and info to existing clients? Sell services or products? Educate your target market or your staff about your product or service? Create an online community for your target market?
How much money will you spend each month on your digital marketing plan? Having a goal and budget in mind will make your marketing more effective.
2. Digital Marketing Funnel: The most successful online business owners have a marketing funnel (think of it as an upside down triangle) through which they “funnel” clients. The process begins from the wide top of the funnel, representing low-cost products and moving clients down through the funnel to the narrower portions which represent gradually increasing investments from the clients from your higher-priced products and services. What products and services do you currently offer? What plans do you have to increase your product or service line? Will those new offerings plug gaps in your marketing funnel?
3. Target Market: Instead of trying to marketing to everyone (the shotgun marketing approach), find a clearly definable target market that you can easily describe and locate. What are the demographics? Are they male or female? What age group? What industry? Where do they hang out online? To what groups and associations (real and virtual, personal and professional) do they belong? How much money do they make? Can they easily afford your product or service? What keywords are they using to search for businesses like yours online? The better you can narrow down your target market the better your advertising methods can convert.
4. Your Competition: Knowing and understanding where you stand among your competitors can you help you strengthen your marketing message. A good competition analysis of the top ranked sites will provide you a list of the keywords they are ranking for. Do a keyword search for the terms someone might use to find your business online. Write down the URL’s of your top 5 competitors. How popular and relevant are their sites? Does your competition offer something unique? Where are the gaps in the service or product offerings that you can exploit?
5. Solution to a Problem: The reason that someone will buy your product or service is to solve a particular problem that they have. What problems and issues plague your target market? How does your product or service solve that problem? How does your solution differ from that of your competitors? What makes you uniquely qualified to provide the solution to their problem? Don’t get hung up in the details. Talk about the benefits they will receive.
6. Analyze your website. Your web site should be visually appealing, with one primary font for the text and a simple primary color scheme, along with an easy-to-navigate layout with a sitemap provided, and readily identifiable buttons to link to other pages in the site. Your content should focus on and address the problems of your visitors and how your service or product can help solve their problems. Rather than listing the features of your product or service, detail the benefits they’ll gain from purchasing your product or service. People rarely buy features — they buy benefits. I can’t emphasize that enough.
Present a clear call to action that is clearly shown on every page of your site. Let the customers know what you want them to do. In an digital business, your primary call to action could be as simple as getting the visitor’s name and primary email address by asking him subscribe to your newsletter. Lastly, provide an abundance of readily available information to demonstrate your expertise (articles, blog posts, free downloads). Your visitor is always asking WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) — make your web site about your visitor, not about you.
7. Branding Your Business: Your domain name can either help you be memorable or cast you into a sea of “brandless” solutions. At a minimum, you’ll want to buy both your personal name as well as the name of your business in the .com version, if it’s available. Then buy the .com versions of your product names and program names if available. If you use a full-service domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap, you’ll be able to point and mask these domains to internal pages of your web site, or use them as stand-alone sales letter pages.
You may also think of problems faced by your target market or solutions that you provide and buy domain names in the .com version of those as well.
8. Online Business Management: Do you have access to the appropriate services and technology that will help you sell your product or service online? At a minimum you’ll need a merchant account (permits you to take credit card payments) that includes a virtual gateway (enables you to process transactions online) and a full-featured shopping cart that will permit you to sell both physical and electronic products and create a series of autoresponders to follow up with buyers and non-buyers alike. Your credit card processing company probably ffers this but there are also sources like Paypal and Stripe available for online businesses. Depending on your digital marketing plan, you may also want to investigate email newsletter distribution services, online appointment setting services, autoresponders, article submission sites, online press release distribution services, website content management services, and backlinks exchange management services and software.
9. Digital Marketing Strategies: How will you create traffic to your website? There are numerous ways to do this, including: PPC Advertising (in which you create an ad that includes keywords at a search engine and pay for placement on that search engine for that keyword and pay for each visitor who clicks on that link and is sent to your site); organic search engine listing ranking in which your site comes up at the top of the non-sponsored listings on a search engine by having keyword rich descriptions in the page title and page description meta tags and then optimizing each page keywords on a page; well-written email newsletter or blog posts that are published on a regular basis; submission of articles on topics related to your target market to article submission directories; regularly post entries to a blog aimed at your target market, full of content discussing issues related to that target market; series of podcasts containing interview with experts of interest to your target market; ongoing series of teleconferences containing value-added content for your target market; submission of online press releases with new tips information for your target market; exchange relevant links with others in different industries with the same target market.
10. Building a Digital Marketing Team: You’ll never be able to do this all alone. It is a full time job. The most successful business owners don’t even try to do it on their own. You need to add SEO experts to your team who are great at what they do so that you’ve got the time and energy to go out and do what you do best — selling your products and services to your target market. Some great experts like us at Digital Papercuts can add to your marketing team include a virtual assistant or online business manager, an online business coach, a website designer and developer, a graphic designer, a content writing expert (editor, ghost writer, proof reader or copy writer), to name a few.
To conduct a successful Digital marketing campaign, you need to integrate your plan into the overall marketing plan/business vision that you have for your business. Some businesses will thrive off digital marketing alone; however, for most, digital marketing simply complements and enhances your offline marketing strategies even as they shrink in relevance.
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