When we were coming up with a title for this post, the logical choice was ‘5 essential elements of an internet marketing plan.’ Though logical, that title didn’t strike us as strong enough—not nearly strong enough to emphasize how much owners and managers need these must-haves to achieve online marketing results. No one is going to find out about your website just from its mere existence (called the ‘if we build it, they will come’ phenomena). Your business MUST have a solid internet marketing plan with all the essential elements that drives customers to your online presence—and converts them to paying customers.
A solid website seems like a given; after visiting thousands of sub-par websites, we’re here to tell you that isn’t true. Your online marketing efforts should revolve around your customers (not what you want them to know, but what they want to know) to drive traffic to your website. Without a solid website for customers to land on and use, all your online marketing efforts are going to result in a big goose egg. A solid website includes:
- Text your English teacher would approve (i.e. no spelling errors, typos, grammatically correct),
- Excellent user experience (clear call-to-actions, user-friendly navigation, etc.),
- Design targeted toward your primary audience,
- Mobile-friendly features and option,
- Easy-to-read content written specifically for your audience,
- Loading speed,
- Quality images,
- Contact information.
It’s important to note that you need all of these elements when building a solid website. We’ve all seen websites that have some of these elements but not other key parts; we’d strongly recommend you go down this checklist and make sure your website checks off all the boxes. If it doesn’t, find a company that can build a solid, customized website for your company—and provide all the services that go into a high-quality website (professional writing, design, security, etc.)
Search engine optimization is creating an optimal website and content for search engines to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are many different ways to optimize your website, but here are some of general, basic ways:
- Adding regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content targeted for your primary audience
- Using search engine optimization tactics such as writing strong, accurate headlines and building an optimized website structure
- Hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.
Local search engine optimization technology can get you at the top of organic search engine listings in local towns and cities. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization technology is an essential part of reaching local customers searching for information and services. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website at the top of local organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.
Content marketing is creating and sharing content relevant to your customers. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless.
The goal of content marketing is to build trust. In the past, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. Excellent content marketing delivers the information your customers are searching for on the internet (on search engines and on social media), and gives them links to find more out about products, and to contact your business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with search engines. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users. If you don’t have time to maintain a regular content marketing schedule, contact a company that can produce professional content specific to your business and targeted at your customers. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Remember that you still need to allocate time to give input.
Content should be shared via social media, email marketing, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. Social media marketing gives your business these benefits:
- Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service. Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
- Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
- Chance to sell your products and services. We’ve seen businesses where customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.
When choosing what social media network to join, determine what networks your customers are on. Factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for social media. Automation tools can help with this process, but don’t overuse social media automation. Be real on social media and avoid the common social media marketing ‘traps’ that some businesses fall in. A solid social media presence consists of regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network), relevant resources, and prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service). To check all those criteria off your list, designate a staff member (or company) adequate time to devote to your efforts.
Statistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers and good email marketing program. Don’t send out thousands of emails from your company server.
To get the best results out of your email marketing, don’t buy random email lists. Spam emails are a sure turn-off for customers and potential customers. Instead, compile a strong email list by:
- Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
- Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch in-store or at tradeshows.
- Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases.
- Create a social media contest, and include an honest request for their email in the contest.
Craft emails with all the elements of a essential email marketing piece:
- Truthful, eye-catching email subject line.
- Strong media, videos, and visuals.
- Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA).
For optimal results, integrate all your online marketing efforts into a regular, coordinated internet marketing plan. Start with a strong, optimized website with search engine optimization, and create a blog with topics that drive traffic back to your website. Finally, create a schedule in-line with your business cycle that promotes your content (email marketing, social media marketing) and your website. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.