We’ve met more than a few business owners who look at digital marketing tools as aliens from foreign planets. What’s even more common is for them to look at each of these “UFOs” as all from a separate planet (or galaxy!), without putting all the pieces together and recognizing the potential of well-coordinated online marketing plan.
We’ve written about the ‘what’ of these online marketing tools: search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, and how they are a must of any business marketing plan. Now we’re going to give you a general idea of how you can make them work together as an integrated marketing plan (think of it as a coordinated universe if we want to stick with space analogy), saving you time and effort in the process—and increasing your business bottom line, if executed correctly.
Start with a solid foundation: your website
What good is a stellar email marketing campaign if you don’t have solid website pages to send your audience back to? What kind of sales numbers are you going to achieve if you entertain your audience on social media, but don’t have any more business info to give them? Start with a well-built website (or hire experts to do it for you) with all the ‘must haves:’ optimized information about all your products or services, your business, and a way for people to reach you. Optimize the content on your pages for search engines and your audience (use these tips), and use SEO to attract local customers searching for products and services pertinent to your business (see how this is all starting to come together?).
Use your sales cycle to plan
Your efforts to market your website should follow your sales cycle. For example, if you are a caterer, look back at your sales for the past year to dictate your marketing plan for next year. Your sales team or customer service representatives would be an excellent source for this information; after all, they are interacting with your potential and existing customers on a regular basis. An example would look like:
December-March Booking weddings (because of high engagement rate)
April-June Booking company picnics
July-August Booking weddings
September-November Booking holiday parties
This calendar is very simplified, but you can see how your sales cycle would drive your online marketing calendar. Based on this basic example, the content you produce would match what your sales team is seeing from customers so your entire team can use the materials you produce to reach your targeted audience.
Use strategy to dictate content creation
Remember just because you’re following your sales calendar doesn’t mean you need to produce content that is entirely about selling your business. You are trying to provide value to your customer, and you’re not going to attract new customers if you’re screaming “buy, buy, buy!” in their face. It’s the wrong first impression.
What you should do is compile a list of subjects related to your calendar. These subjects can stem from customers’ frequently asked questions or topics that your sales team feels would entertain your customers and draw potential customers (more ideas for content topics here). If you outsource your content creation, make sure you connect with your marketing team on a regular basis. Make sure you integrate big events into your calendar as well, such as a trade show or open house. Use video, quality images, and other media as part of your plan—remember not everyone is driven to text alone. Make sure you post content to a blog (this is a very common and effective content marketing tool, more info here) on a regular basis (this is very important), both to keep your audience’s and search engine’s attention (search engine optimization).
Don’t forget that your content is being produced to convert your customers; include links back to your website, search-optimized pages, and social media channels so your customers have an easy way to buy and ask questions.
Draft a strategic distribution plan (and stick to it)
Quality content without a distribution plan is like a really good secret no one hears. Add another dimension to your content calendar with ways you are going to share your content, such as social media and email marketing. When adding this layer to your online marketing, keep the word ‘manageable’ in mind. A good distribution plan is no good if you can’t execute it. Remember, you don’t have to be on every social media channel out there, only the social media sites that fit your audience (we found a useful information on social media channels and demographics here).
Share your content as much as possible and make your content shareable so your customers can share it. Make sure your sales team pushes it out as well. Ask them to share it on their professional social media channels (if applicable) and via email. Start building an email list of customers and potential customers, with the customers’ permission. Use your content in emails, and drive the customer back to your blog, website, and social media channels so they have a variety of ways to contact you and buy your product or get a quote.
In addition to sharing content, don’t be afraid to share interesting articles and videos, notices with upcoming events (i.e. grand openings, trade shows, open houses, etc.), faces of your business, and interesting things you see on the job. Keep everything you share somewhat professional; you don’t want to give your business a black eye by making one of these social media marketing mistakes.
How to make it ALL work for you
We wish we could give you a hard-and-fast plan with every online marketing tool integrated into an effective plan for your business (and we haven’t even touched out to add traditional marketing to the mix), but the truth is that every business and industry is different. Plan accordingly, and be flexible. Test out what works and doesn’t work, and outsource to the experts if you feel overwhelmed by “space age” online marketing.