Online marketing is all about making sure you have a sensible plan for linking your activities together. There are lots of techniques and thousands of pages of advice out there to help you build traffic to your website and grow your business. But it all comes down to a single, simple strategy...give your online marketing activities a focal point - you can think of this as your marketing 'hub'....
Why are you launching a website?
It is important to be clear on what you are trying to achieve.
Having one clear objective is best…
- Is it to educate?
- To sell?
- Or something else?
If you have one main objective in mind, this will guide you in your content and website development. Clarity of your purpose will give your website a much better chance success.
Know your target audience
The first step in designing a successful website is to identify your key target audiences. This means understanding who your audiences are and what makes them tick.
The two key questions you must answer are:
- Who are your online stakeholders?
- What do they want to achieve online?
Whilst this will be slightly different for each project, the following stakeholder groups are the most common:
- Existing customers (segmented by types)
- Potential customers (segmented by types)
- Business partners (eg channel intermediaries, complimentary sectors, etc)
- Staff (within the organisation / partner organisations)
Adding value – content is still king
Once the key stakeholder groups have been identified, you need to identify what makes them tick and where you can add value. Anyone visiting your website or mobile app will be thinking WIFM – What’s in it for me?
In marketing terms, you must think about ‘pain points’ – what is the problem that you are solving? It is important to define this in terms of benefits not features – there is an old marketing saying – you are selling the warmth, not the firewood.
Before you can define individual benefits, you should create a list of your stakeholders and their requirements as this will help you to develop added value online services to meet the needs of these individual groups.
What will an individual be looking for or trying to achieve by visiting your website?
As well as providing information, it is helpful to think about what your visitors might be wanting to do when they visit your website; this ‘task analysis’ helps you understand what content and structure your site should have.
- An existing customer visiting a website will want to see account management, order tracking and related activities.
- A journalist visiting a website for research purposes will be looking for news articles or background information
- A potential customer will want to see specifications, guarantees, methods of working and other information that helps them understand why they should buy from you rather than your competitors.
Try to be creative and ‘empathic’ – put yourself in your customers’ shoes…
If you are an accountant, what will really help your existing customers and impress your potential customers? You will need to demonstrate your skills and expertise as an accountant at the same time as providing value. In this example, we would recommend the following added value content ideas:
- Accounting filing dates e-mail notification service
- Accounting guides, tips and tricks
- What to look for in an accounting software package
- How to choose a good accountant
These are just a few ideas – you have to think about ‘incentivising' potential customers to sign up…what ‘bait' can you offer potential customers?
In the 20 years that we have been building websites, this one fundamental principle of successful web marketing has not changed and is probably now more important than ever:
Content is King!
Adding value through ‘content marketing’ is at the heart of all successful online services.
You can demonstrate your expertise by providing guides, templates, cheat sheets industry trends and updates to legislation or regulations.
This is also critical to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategy as over the last few years, Google has moved away from backlinks and more towards Google Authorship, reputation and social interaction.
Content is now the defining factor in getting good search results and the sooner you start building your ‘library' of content and information, the better.
And last but not least, make sure you include a clear call to action so that is clear what you want your website visitors to do.
Integrate your marketing activities
The technical marketing term is to integrate your digital marketing activities into your marketing mix.
In reality, this simply means that the Internet is another communications tool in your marketing toolkit. Your website, your social media activity, your blogging and your online systems should all link together and work with your traditional marketing communications such as print, direct mail and advertising.
At the most basic level, make sure you promote your web address on any: Adverts, Press Releases, Direct Mail, Business stationery etc. You should also think about how your online and offline communications tools relate to each other and your marketing strategy in general.
For example, you could:
- Allow users to request or download printed materials or samples online
- Provide direct response pages for advertising campaigns
- Survey and conduct marketing research online
Integration of real-world activities and digital marketing and social media marketing will maximise engagement with your target audience.
An example of an integrated marketing campaign for an event might include:
- Invite people by direct mail, pay-per-click campaigns, face-to-face business networking, print advertising in the right publications and an e-mail campaign
- Use social media and e-mail campaigns to post information about the event, the agenda, the benefits of attending
- Use social media to post details of people who are booking on the event
- Use e-mail marketing follow up campaigns for invitations reminders and offers
- Use social media at the event itself to post pictures
- Use e-mail campaigns follow up campaigns after the event for cross-selling, up-selling, marketing research or simply to thank attendees
The level of integration of your online and offline marketing is only restricted by your imagination and willingness to invest time on implementation.
Calls to action
A ‘call to action' (sometimes referred to as CTA) is just what it sounds like – asking your website visitors to do something.
Usually, these will take the form of buttons, links or sign-up forms (or putting an item in your shopping cart on an e-commerce site).
A call to action should be included on every page – even it is just asking people to share the content. They should have visual impact (such as a big button) with persuasive, action-focused marketing copy to get the reader to act.
All too often, what are otherwise very good websites do not have adequate calls to action so make sure you make it clear what you want your website visitors to do by including one.
Promoting your site
You can launch a fantastic website but you still need to promote the site to generate traffic.
Typically, traffic generation can take the form of:
- Search engine submissions
- Promotion in online directories
- Pay per click advertising
- Link exchange programmes
- Video marketing
- Referral and affiliate marketing
- Social media marketing
Unfortunately, there is no ‘short-cut' for doing this – after submitting your site to the main search engines, try and spend half an hour per week on website promotional activities.
Related article: 13 ways to promote your website & generate traffic
Mark Woodroof is a qualified marketing coach who was awarded a BA(Hons) in Business and a Diploma in Marketing (from the Chartered Institute of Marketing) in the early 1990's and has spent the last 20 years working with private and public sector organisations.
During that time, Mark has worked with hundreds of business owners helping them to grow their businesses, launch new products and services, set up and manage their own marketing plans, websites and digital marketing strategies.
Today, he specialises in Digital Marketing, Social Media, WordPress Development and marketing automation systems such as ActiveCampaign & Infusionsoft.
Mark's areas of expertise include:
- Marketing Strategy & Planning
- Software Development Project Management (Microsoft.Net & Laravel)
- Customer Relationship Management Systems (Infusionsoft, Zoho & Insightly)
- Web Design & Development
- Digital Marketing Campaign Development
- Mailing List Services (eg AWeber, Mailchimp)
- Traffic Generation Strategies & Tactics
- Sales Funnels, Squeeze Pages & Online Conversion
- Customer Value Optimization
- BA(Hons) Business Studies (University of Portsmouth)
- Diploma in Marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing)
- Level 5 in Coaching and Mentoring (Chartered Management Institute)
- DigitalMarketer Certifications:
- Certified Content Marketing Specialist
- Certified Customer Acquisition Specialist
- Certified Customer Value Optimization Specialists