Date: Aug 25, 2010
Web marketing can involve a number of different tools, channels, and approaches, from search engine marketing to social media marketing. With all these online marketing activities to choose from, how do you determine where to spend your time and money? Which activities will deliver the most bang for your marketing buck? And which will help you best achieve your overall marketing goals? These are challenging questions to answer, even more so if you’re new to the whole web marketing business. After all, web marketing isn’t at all like traditional marketing — or is it? You might be surprised. In this article, Michael Miller, author of The Ultimate Web Marketing Guide, discusses how to select the proper components for your web marketing strategy.
Web marketing involves all your marketing activities that take place online. That can be a lot of different activities: Email marketing, blog marketing, search engine marketing, social media marketing, mobile marketing, and more.
With all these online marketing activities to choose from, how do you determine where to spend your time and money? Which activities will deliver the most bang for your marketing buck? And which will help you best achieve your overall marketing goals?
These are challenging questions to answer, even more so if you’re new to the whole web marketing business. After all, web marketing isn’t at all like traditional marketingor is it? You might be surprised.
Determining What You Want to Achieve
The first step in defining your web marketing strategy is to determine exactly what it is you want to achieve from all these efforts. These are your goals, which should be both realistic and measurable.
It’s important to set realistic goals, of course; there’s no point even trying if your goals can’t be achieved. But it’s also important for goals to be numerically quantifiable and pegged to a specific time frame. This lets you objectively determine whether or not they’ve been achieved. When you’re measuring numerical goals, you either hit your numbers or you don’t; there’s no waffling about it.
As an example of the type of goal you want to shy away from, consider “having the best website in the industry.” That’s a bad goal because it’s unquantifiablewhat exactly do you mean by “best website?” There’s no way to measure success.
On the other hand, if you set as a goal that you want to attract an average of 50,000 unique visitors per day to your website by then end of the calendar year, it will be easy to see whether or not you've achieved that goal. When December 31st rolls around, either you're averaging 50,000 visitors per day or you're not. It's a goal that's easy to measure.
The goals you set will then determine the marketing activities in which you engage. A more traffic-oriented goal will argue for more traffic-building activities; a more interaction-based goal will argue for more activities that involve conversations with your customers.
Understanding the Components of Your Web Marketing Plan
Web marketing is a series of activities that present your product, company, or message to potential customers online. What kinds of activities are we talking about? There are a lot of them, some of which are analogues to traditional marketing activities, some of which are totally new for the web.
The most important components of online marketing include the following:
- Web presence. This is your website, and the hub of all your web marketing activities. Everything else you doyour blog, your email campaigns, your Facebook page, your Twitter feedbuilds on what you do on your website; they are all subsidiary components to your website presence.
- Search engine marketing. For most websites, the majority of new visitors come directly from Google and other search engines; the higher you rank in the results when someone searches for a given topic, the more traffic you receive. As such, you need to optimize your site for Google and other search engines, which you do via search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
- Online advertising. Advertising, is another effective way to drive new traffic to your website. This can be pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, as with Google AdWords, or traditional cost per thousand (CPM) display ads.
- Email marketing. This is the online equivalent of traditional direct marketing, where you push your message directly to customers’ email inboxes. (Don’t confuse email marketing with spam or junk email; legitimate email marketing is opt-in marketing.)
- Blog marketing. You can get your message out to loyal customers via a frequently updated company blog. You can also use PR techniques to influence third-party bloggers to write about your company and products.
- Social media marketing. This is the latest thing, taking advantage of online communities to engage in direct conversations with your customers. Social media marketing includes maintaining Facebook and MySpace pages, generating a constant Twitter feed, and encouraging mentions on Digg, Delicious, and other social bookmarking services.
- Online public relations. The web offers many new opportunities to reach influential media online. In fact, social media marketing and reaching out to bloggers are both aspects of online PR. What’s really different about online PR is that results are fully measurable; put a coded link in an online press release and you can track sales that result from your PR efforts.
- Multimedia marketing. This includes audio marketing via podcasts, video marketing via YouTube, and image marketing via Flickr and other photo sharing sites. Getting people to share your media results in more exposure for you online.
- Mobile marketing. More and more people are accessing the web via the iPhone and other smartphones and mobile devices. You need to incorporate mobile marketing into your strategy, especially if you run a local business. (Consumers look for local businesses on their mobile phones when they’re on the go.)
That’s a lot of activities you canand perhaps shouldbe embracing online. What particular activities you include in your marketing mix depends on what you hope to achieve, the nature of your particular products and customer base, and your own internal skillset and budget.
Allocating Your Online Marketing Budget
How much money and effort should you expend on each of these marketing activities? That’s naturally going to vary from company to company, and be influenced by the goals that you set for your web marketing activities. But there are some general guidelines that you can use.
To start, you should organize your web marketing activities into three categories:
- Home base, the central hub of all your online activities. This includes your website and blog, including search engine marketing and optimization.
- Outbound communication, activities designed to attract new customers. This includes PPC and display advertising, email marketing, and online PR activities.
- Two-way communication, activities that encourage communication between you and existing customers. This includes social networking, podcasts, videos, and other such community-building activities.
With your activities thus categorized, you can pretty safely allocate a third of your web marketing budget to each category. That's a rough guideline but one that most often worksand ensures an equal focus on your home base, new customer acquisition, and customer networking.
Coordinating Your Web Marketing Activities
Whatever web marketing strategy you employ, you need to ensure that you’re sending the same message and image to all your potential customers. You don’t want to present one image on your web page, another in your advertising, and yet another on your Facebook page. Your message and image should be consistent, no matter where customers encounter that message; all the components of your web marketing mix should mesh with one another in a holistic fashion.
This starts by defining your business in a consistent fashion. For example, the keywords you choose as part of your search engine optimization should also be the keywords you purchase for your PPC advertisingand should also form the basis of the copy for your online ads and press releases and Twitter feed.
That extends to using the same images and themes in all your online media. Your display advertising should look and feel like your website and blog; your YouTube videos should carry the same graphics and color scheme as your email newsletters. It’s all about being consistent.
That doesn't mean, however, that you can't adapt your message for the medium. PPC ads and tweets, for example, demand much less copy than do promotional emails and web pages. Your message and image have to reflect how they're being delivered; given the unique qualities of each online medium, you can't be a slave to consistency.
You should also strive to exploit the unique features of each medium. For example, you can put together a contest on YouTube that encourages viewers to submit their own videos for your newest product; this is not a campaign that is easily mirrored in other online media.
The point is, all of your online media need to work together. They have to convey a consistent message and image, and should not send conflicting messages to your customer base. Your online marketing strategy should be a consistent whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.