A Marketing Plan for an Online Business | Inbound Marketing In Brief
Traditional outbound marketing is advertising on TV, radio or in print, cold calling, direct mail, etc., and people, your potential customers, have gotten very good at blocking out this type of marketing (check out the FTC’s “Don’t Even Think! about Calling Me” National Registry page).
Inbound website marketing is the opposite of outbound marketing. It’s doing a whole bunch of things to draw people, your potential customers, to your business. Things like: ranking well in search engines, blogging, using social media, using all the right techniques to convert visitors to your website into signups, leads, and buyers. It’s a broad marketing plan for online businesses that consists of a set of specific online marketing solutions designed to get you traffic and leads.
An inbound website marketing plan has three main parts:
Get Found – Get Traffic to Your Site
Create High Quality Content FOR you customers. Create content that your customers care about. Create content that’s interesting and useful to your customers, not to you – like a date: talk about him or her, not about you. This includes content on your site, a blog, podcasts, videos, photos, presentations, eBooks, and news releases.
Optimize Your Content to Help the Search Engines Understand It. This and inbound links will help you rank as high as possible.
Publish Everywhere. Don’t put content just on your site. Publish everywhere on the net, like a blog, social media sites, YouTube, etc., wherever your potential customers are likely to find you.
Note that companies that blog get more inbound links than those who don’t. Companies that blog get 55% more website visitors than those who don’t. The more you blog, the more likely you are to get customers and sales as a result of blogging – see Study Shows Small Businesses That Blog Get 55%
More Website Visitors.
Convert Your Website Traffic – Get Leads and Nurture Them
Visitors to your site can do one of three things: 1) they can leave, 2) they can read your content and then leave, or 3) they can give you their contact information, they can contact you, they can request more information, they can download useful information. What would you like your website visitors to do? The general rule is you want to offer your website visitors something in return for their contact information.
Analyze & Get Feedback
Ideally, you’d want to ask each person who came to your site what they thought of you: did they like you, get you, understand you? Did your site answer their questions? Did you effectively communicate what you have to offer? Of course – you can’t do that. So you need to use a tool, like Google Analytics, to try to get those types of answers, and based on those types of answers, you want to adjust your specific approach in the first two steps above.
A Website Marketing Plan | What To Expect | A Process For The First Six Months
The following process is an estimate based on 16 hours/month. If you purchase 32 hours/month, the process will go faster. These are just estimates – an actual schedule will depend on the size & needs of your site.
Month 1. SEO Audit & Keyword Research.
The very first thing I do is what’s called a comprehensive SEO diagnostic audit. I use Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics to see:
- How your site is currently positioned in the search engines for your main keywords.
- How well the search engines are able to index your website pages.
The goal of the seo audit is to answer the following questions:
- What keywords are already currently driving most of the traffic to your site and to which pages?
- How much of your traffic is performing some action on your site? Note that this requires conversion tracking through Google Analytics (or some other tracking software). An example of an action would be how many of your visitors are contacting you.
- Typically, 20% of your website pages will be getting 80% of your traffic. What are those pages?
- Are their any problems that would keep the search engines from “seeing” some or all of your pages? We want to make sure you have a search engine friendly web site.
- Are there any problems on your site that could hurt your ability to rank as well as possible? An example of this would be serious problems with broken links, missing and/or duplicate page title & description tags.
(By the way, if you don’t yet have Google Analytics installed on your site, do this as soon as possible as it can take up to a month to start getting enough data to draw conclusions).
Next, I’ll look at how well your site is optimized for the keywords you already have and I’ll start looking for more keywords. For details about how I work, see
How I Find Keywords & Use Copywriting to Create Page Titles & Descriptions
Finally, together, we’ll come up with a set of goals for your site and I’ll come up with a good solid plan to best move you forward. Such a plan prioritizes what you need and lays the foundation for critical longer-term work.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
~ Sun Tzu, Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher, author of The Art of War, c. 544 BC
Note that each week, at least at the beginning, I’ll be sending you progress reports and we’ll be using Google Analytics to tell us how your site is doing. The first month’s work is critical because it will benchmark your site in terms of its ranking and overall performance. Based on the feedback from your Google Analytics data, we’ll see what’s working and what’s not and we’ll continually make adjustments as we go along.
Month 2-4. Content and Meta Tag Optimization, Landing Pages, & Content Creation
The next step is to start optimizing your existing content. This simply entails creating the appropriate page and Meta tag data that help the search engines more easily understand the content of your web pages.
Second, about 20% of your existing website pages will be getting 80% of your traffic. This will be generally true no matter how long you have your site or how big it is. These pages will most likely generate most of your initial leads.
It’s important that you optimize these pages for lead conversion.
Finally, I’ll start taking the keywords I’ve found for you and I/we’ll start creating content for your site. This will include setting up and creating a blog if you don’t have one already.
Month 5. Link Building and Continued Content Creation
At this point, I’ll have much, if not all, of your existing site’s content optimized and I/we will have made significant headway in creating new content, optimizing your critical landing pages, and your rankings, traffic, and conversion should now be going up.
If your site already had significant content when we started to work together, I’ll have already started the link building process. Now however is the time that I’ll start putting link building on the front burner. This is because we want to make sure your site is in the best possible shape, that your home page and other critical landing pages are ranking well, and that you have high quality content on your site. We can’t really start link building until you have high quality content that shows who you are, what you’re about, and what you have to offer.
Month 6. At this point we do a comprehensive review about how far we’ve come and where we are now. At this point we revisit our initial goals and decide how best to proceed.
Additional Search Engine Optimization & Website Marketing Work
1. Local Search Factors
An effective online marketing solution requires that you pay attention to what is called local SEO. Throughout the first 6 months, I’ll be spending time making sure your business listing profiles are accurate, up to date, and complete in local listings and review sites like Google Places, Yahoo’s Business Center, Yelp, etc. Having both complete & accurate profiles will help directly promote your business in local search and, indirectly, it will influence rankings. A lot of this is one-time work: once the profiles are set up, that’s all you have to do aside from the ongoing task of getting good reviews and testimonials from your customers.
2. Social Media Profiles
An effective online marketing solution requires that you participate in social media. Throughout the first 6 months, I’ll make sure you have social media profiles on all the main social media sites, and I’ll be making sure your existing profiles are accurate, up to date, and complete. I’ll focus first on the most important of these and then I’ll tackle the smaller fish.
Again, setting things up is more or less a one-time task. Ongoing tasks are those that involve personally engaging with your customers, and, most likely, at least in the beginning, the engagement will focus on the main social media sites, like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn. Ideally you or someone on your staff will interact with the community on your social media sites as this tends to be personal (but public) communication between your business and your customers – it is not about directly marketing and promoting yourself (aside from promoting/pulling existing content into those channels).
P.S. Oh, yes, please see: How To Undercut Your Own SEO/Marketing Efforts.