Some Tools you may use:
- Your existing business plan or marketing plan
- Social Media Networks (any of: Google plus, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Reddit, Foursquare and a social media management tool like HootSuite)
- A CMS such as WordPress or Drupal, with social media and content analysis plugins
- Email Marketing platform such as MailChimp
- Analytics tools: web analytics such as google analytics, email marketing platform analytics, facebook analytics, pinterest analytics, call tracking analytics or other sales analytics such as Salesforce
Step 1: Gather Data for your Action Plan
Using your business plan, create your marketing plan, or if you already have your marketing plan, use this guide to review or revise it. Your marketing plan should define your customers and competitors and identify a plan to overcome business weaknesses or challenges in the Situation Analysis. Your Marketing Strategy should identify at least an annual, measurable business goal and the 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place and Promotion), to identify the 5 W’s of targeted marketing (Who, What, When, Where, How). You may ask, what about ‘Why?’. The Situation Analysis already addressed this. Using the 4P/5W, your action plain contains your Marketing Tactics.
Example: You identified your target customers as educated middle class working couples in the tri-county area who value longevity, family and simplicity. These target customers are on Google Plus because they are experts in their fields, perhaps engineering or technology, and/or they are on Facebook to maintain family connections. Your product or service can be expensive in the home upgrade and remodeling industry, which requires thought and reflection from consumers during the decision making process. Your best marketing approach is through brand awareness with information, focusing on value and quality to appeal to your potential customers’ intelligence and values. Now we are going to plan the message and the method.
Step 2: Connect
First, you will need to be where the customers are. Recent research shows that consumers expect businesses to have a social presence for providing customer service, information, and connecting with the customer on their grounds. You will need to establish a social presence, a social media policy, engage with your customers and monitor your social metrics. Many small businesses may prefer to hire a social media manager to ensure that the social messages and content are appropriately formatted and support business marketing, sales and customer service initiatives, as well as having the responsibility for monitoring, engaging, responding and reporting to the business owner.
Second, you will need multimedia to quickly gain attention and deliver the main part of your message in a matter of seconds. This means to write headlines or titles that answer search queries creatively, meaningfully and sensibly. You will need to provide more content types than just text; information can be quickly absorbed through images as well as video. Create sharable content to develop your reputation.
Third, your message must be cohesive – you are not selling a product, you are forming an emotional connection by developing a company identity and sharing your passion. Your tone and message should deliver your company story through content and interaction, after all, you are a human with a personality, and you run your business; your goal is to gain trust. You will be building awareness and reinforcing brand loyalty as well as maintaining reputation.
Establish message cohesion through planning:
- daily social messages should support your current business initiatives,
- weekly website updates should be posted to your social platforms,
- monthly newsletter should lead to your website and your popular social content,
- seasonal or annual traditional marketing methods (print, radio, trade show) should be measurable and lead to your website or otherwise broadcast on social media platforms,
- videos should be cross linked and broadcast on your social media platforms
- search and online/website marketing campaigns should also follow all of the above.
Step 3: Follow a Timeline
Establish a plan and use a calendar of events according to your budget. Many marketing campaigns often run in 90-day cycles, but to build your increasingly important brand reputation and business personality, you must monitor your online reputation and social data and your messages must have meaning. Brands gain their power through users (online) and customers (offline) who share their passion for your product or service with others; and you gain advocates through interaction. Your messages will reach farther and wider through identity optimization – online, this digital personality trail particularly effects Google ranking and the future semantic web.
Once you establish your marketing timeline and launch the campaign, your analysis should focus on the conversions from each lead source. Measuring ROI from social media messages may not be clearly identifiable in an old-fashioned, reportable manner, but new social metric tools can identify which messages are the most engaging, or garnish the highest click-through rates.
The most important part of marketing is measuring: metrics reveal whether marketing tactics are successful in reaching goals. Monitoring the digital analytics weekly and monthly determine whether the campaign is on track toward success.
Studies show that optimizing your website and online marketing campaign are increasingly important, especially where your location matters. In a Nielsen study in 2006, 73% of consumers preferred to find products and services using search engines because they felt they were over-exposed to advertising. Yet, 76% of consumers feel their shopping habits are influenced by advertising that they encounter once a year. The point is to have a balanced marketing strategy that ensures your potential customers will find you. Local SEO includes both organic and paid SEO practices. Some important points below are also made in The definitive guide to local seo by the Search Engine Journal:
- Maintain Consistent Local Profile Listings. Specifically, your local listings should all match exactly the form of your Name, Address and Phone (NAP) in the footer of every page of your website, preferably address information consistent with your Google Local information.
- Having a plan for maintianing your online reputation is paramount to local businesses success. In the 2006 Nielsen Group study, 93% of consumers report that an online consumer review could influence their purchasing decision.
- Include location information in digital form via meta tags, microdata markup and kml files.
- A quality website earns consumer trust. In the Nielsen Group study in 2006, 77% of people were more likely to make a puchase from a quality website of an unknown business than a poor website from a familiar business.
- Check up on your status monthly. You should aim to acheive new citations, socal referrals and reviews regularly.
The term may sound ridiculously trendy, but it is a short and simple way of describing the convergence of Social, Local and Mobile marketing and the technology involved. Consumers are SOcial, LOcal and MObile: devices, apps and services collect and compile consumer geo-location data to deliver highly accurate results and relative content. Local search has evolved and shares elements of Social Media marketing tactics and results. Primarily for brick and mortar businesses, social-local-mobile marketing includes registering with location-based services such as yelp and foursquare, which rely on your physical business address to drive traffic (almost literally) to your door or digital page. Many business services can still focus on the points of Local Search Optimization, and complement their marketing efforts with a mixture of mobile capability and social media skill, even without a storefront.
Master Web Creations can help manage your local search optimization campaign and guide you towards maintaining your online reputation. We are a widely local SEO and website service company serving many different types of client needs.
Website analytic software tells you how your site is performing through important user metrics. These are quantifiable data that measure website marketing success. There are many analytic programs available that offer most of these statistics but for brevity, we will demonstrate using the Google Analytics user interface.
The first metric to familiarize yourself with is BOUNCE RATE. This is the statistical measurement for customer retention and indicates where website and marketing problems need addressing. It is the percentage of visitors that land on your site and leave your site from the same page and indicates that the information on the page does not meet their needs. You should view the traffic sources from Non Paid search results, Audience demographics, Mobile, Referrals and Content to determine which part of your website has the biggest problem.
The second metric that is a good indicator for website success is Average Time on Site. This is not a reliable independent measurement of user activity because there may be users with attention issues that iwll leave your page open while doing other things. This also depend supon the amount of information you have available and the types of media you serve up to your website customers.
The third metric to monitor is Pages Per Visit, which is a good measure for visit quality as it indicates targeted traffic and quality content. You can check your traffic sources, and bounce rates to determine website or marketing element to optimize.
Website performance goals in Google Analytics
Setting up goals that track visitor activity provides better measurements for potential customer conversions. Strong conversions could include the ordering process for your ecommerce site, or page visits in a particular order, for example, from your service page to your contact form, for service businesses. You can set goals for website or marketing improvements based on current metrics, for example, if part of the problem is that your are unable to keep the visitors attention after 5 – 10 seconds, you can create a goal to set a minimum requirement for what you believe makes a solid lead or conversion. You can put yourself in the customers shoes, develop a scenario, such as:
- you are researching a particular product or service and want to know price, procedure or place
- you heard about this company or website and you’d like to know who runs it, how it operates (or how long) and where they are located
How long does it take you to accomplish those tasks? That is how long you have to convert a dormant browser in to an active client/purchaser, and that is the time you should set when you create your goals. You can also hire a usability firm to conduct user testing which will aid in goal setting.
Finally, it goes without saying, that the number of unique visits provides all other data. If you run ad campaigns online such as on industry websites, local ad space or search marketing, you should familiarize yourself with other metrics such as referrals, and campaigns. Your ad campaigns should also provide important metrics such as click through rates and conversion rates to measure the success of your search marketing.
We’ll cover mobile, social and paid marketing measurements in future articles. In the meantime, if you’d like more information or a consultation feel free to contact MWC or we will answer your questions directly.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization is a marketing tool used to promote your website. Traditionally, SEO could be broken down to 2 parts – organic SEO and paid SEO.
Organic SEO refers to the non-sponsored search results – the organic search engine results pages that rank your website’s content, structure and relevance against the search query (the search query being the keyword phrase typed into the search box).
Paid SEO is the sponsored search results, more clearly indicate at Google, for example, by the boxed top and right sections. These are advertising spaces that you pay for, through paid SEO, which is more commonly Search Engine Marketing.
Through Search Engine Marketing, such as Google’s AdWords program, you can:
- run advertising campaigns in text, graphic or video mediums;
- build a relevant keyword list, set a bid for each keyword (because search marketing is an auction), and select your target market by geographic location and/or other demographic such as age range;
- run your ads on the search engine results pages, other Google properties, such as YouTube, or other website that are not Google properties, but participate in their Display Network through AdSense.
Your paid SEO campaigns are designed around a purpose, much like any other marketing plan or advertising campaign – you set your ad schedule and your budget, or you can build your brand by increased exposure. For most small businesses, a regular monthly advertising campaign can bring new visits and increase sales using a pay-per-click model. But for new businesses, industry leaders, innovators or new business goals and products, the pay-per-impression campaign model will produce the brand exposure goal of the advertising campaign, which should align with organic search engine optimization goals, and be accompanied by other traditional and innovative marketing techniques.
- increasing and modifying website content and markup to match or exceed the leading competitions efforts,
- build online credibility through a vertical SEO campaign,
- increase website exposure with a local search campaign and
- implement monitoring tools to measure your campaign’s success.
It might sound easy, but businesses have built entire marketing divisions to fulfill these requirements and employ information technology personnel to ensure that their website technology makes the marketing campaign possible. This view of large corporations structure, status and success leads to the argument that marketing should be managed by advertising/marketing professionals and website technology should be handled by technology professionals, which has already been covered by countless blog entries and the ensuing and unending opinionated comments.
Attempting an organic SEO campaign on your own can be done, provided you have the knowledge, dedication and capability to perform the work and understand the results because organic SEO doesn’t cost anything but your $time, $patience and sometimes $frustration. Often small business owners are frustrated and dissatisfied because SEO is an entirely separate business from their own.
Business owners should be available to run their business and be professionals in their industry, investing their time and efforts in other integral parts of their business that others cannot do. Additionally, if the business runs it self well, business owners can be responsible for building a following and building credibility through advisement, consulting, customer support, becoming a resource in a forum, managing social updates, feeds and website or blog content.
As the business owner, you know more about your company, industry and services than anyone – make sure your company’s marketing goals align with business goals by sharing information and generating ideas with your small businesses services’ teams and representatives.
Social media marketing is a method for promoting your business and connecting with customers on their terms through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the Google + network. Each platform’s functionality may affect your social media marketing strategy differently but each will require long-term dedication.
Facebook is still the top social media platform with more than 750 million active users (30% of users are in the U.S.) – 50% of those users log on every day. The average user has 130 friends with 80 connections to community pages, groups and events and creates 90 pieces of content each month. There are more than 30 billion pieces of content shared monthly.
What this means for you: each average user that shares your content or connects to your page shares it with 130 people. Of each of those average users that share your content or connect to your page, shares it with 130 people. There are phenomenal success stories for businesses that connect with Facebook. However, such a campaign requires long-term dedication – perhaps an hour a day, five days a week, in the afternoon and early evening hours.
For example, when you connect your website to Facebook through social plugins, it makes it easy for a Facebook user to like a piece of content on your site when they come across it and find it helpful, inspiring or informative.
- Don’t rely on users alone to share your content. Create a Facebook page, invite friends to like your page, provide additional interactive tools as incentive for liking your page and provide regular shares, content and other interaction at peak traffic hours to ensure your Facebook friends see your posts in their news feeds.
- You don’t always have to write an article a day. Find other valuable content that you can share through your business page, which still encourages interaction.
- Your Facebook page is your business’s social front and serves as another customer service medium.
- You can authorize other people specific access to your business Facebook page to assist with maintaining customer contacts as well as providing content updates or posts on the marketing and interaction tasks.
- It is very important in today’s world of instant gratification to respond as immediately and often as possible. This is another part of the long-term investment, but with practice, checking and responding can become a part of your regular business activity, such as checking email.
- In order to create a Facebook business page, you need to have an individual Facebook account.
Your Facebook business page and marketing strategy can increase traffic and sales, build relationships and customer loyalty and amplify your marketing messages. It can be used to create an ecosystem of complementary businesses, services and information. Now that you have an introduction to social media marketing, read more about building and measuring a marketing campaign.
Many guides will suggest for consumer businesses to budget 15% of revenue to online marketing, and for B2B to budget 5% of revenue, which is a good starting point, however, for B2B, I beg to differ. For B2C, this is a good starting point to set a monthly budget based on your target market and industry. Network Solutions has a beautiful Marketing Calculator that will give you a good idea of where to invest depending upon whether you want to get leads fast or invest in long-term results.
For small businesses, it is important to diversify your investment and recommendations should be based on current market competitiveness. Online marketing calculators can give you a good idea of what you should investigate in terms of service quotes and discussion with your marketing servicer. They’ll be able to provide services to meet your budget and objective, within reason. You can’t win a race if you don’t have an equivalent investment in the vehicle performance. If you find you have big-time competition, it will be a struggle.
The online marketing calculators may suggest the following options:
- E-mail marketing
- Social/Content Marketing
Depending upon your industry, these options and the amount of investment will vary, but the following rules will apply: for long-term ROI, invest in SEO; for instant gratification, invest in PPC; to develop customer loyalty, invest in social; for online reputation management, invest in local; to maintain customer relationships, invest in email. Many of these services will go hand-in-hand, for example, your email marketing should include social content, your local marketing is usually a part of organic SEO (here at MWC), your content marketing is a natural next-step up from SEO.
We can help you assess your business goals and build a marketing campaign around your budget, contact us to discuss your business growth.
How do you gain repeat customers? You build customer loyalty through customer satisfaction by exceeding customers’ expectations. Happy customers are more likely to buy more, buy repeatedly, and lead to more customers through referrals.
You can take simple steps to building customer loyalty by keeping in touch, following up and building a reward system. It is also important to note that when you really care, it shows. Here are some great ideas for building customer loyalty:
- Build a referral system, by issuing a discount to the referring customer, or giving them a free service for multiple referrals
- Send out thank you notes, birthday cards or customer anniversary cards to let them know they are appreciated – include lottery tickets, scratch offs or other call to action
- Use social media to communicate current promotions and keep your company name on their social radar
- Send out email newsletters to educate, inspire and call your customers to action
- Gather feedback and respond promptly through comment cards, online reputation management and social media
Many business to business and some business to consumer online marketing plans falter, they miss the mark because they’re missing steps. First, to gather a following, you must have something to follow – worthwhile content, fresh ideas and deals for your social consumers. If you already have an engaging website that is bringing in new clients, and has a steady flow of return visits, you can assess your valuable content and start to build your social marketing strategy. Next, you should determine whether your target audience can be drawn in by online social engagements. Small businesses should move to social media marketing when their client base exists there – if you don’t build your contacts in interactive environments, chances are your social marketing campaign will be difficult to produce fruit. When you have determined that your industry can significantly benefit from the move to social media, it is then important to determine your plan based on your marketing goals. having a few simple goals to start with are sufficient, such as, I’d like to gain 250 fans by the end of the year, or I’d like to improve customer service by offering instant contact through our facebook page. Know what your customers are talking about, and the language that they are using, for example, would they look for services in ‘great landscaping’ or would they want their home to have better ‘curb appeal’? The most successful marketing campaigns have a Vision, are driven by Passion, have an existing Brand with complementary Marketing, and continually engage their customers. When you are passionate about your business, your customers and your industry, then it should be a breeze to create daily connections via your social media marketing campaign. The Social Media Examiner offers these 6 get started steps:
- Objective: be clear on your primary focus, such as prioritized objectives, and establish an editorial guide (will you have a self-promo day for your followers, or delete every self-promotional post?)
- Design Strategy: ensure your facebook page offers supporting functionality, for example, to grow your email newsletter list, offer a newsletter sign up
- Content Strategy: have a mixture of content types and set a schedule for updating, including OPC (other people’s content) that is relevant and interesting to your audience
- Promotion Stragegy: if you build it, they will come… is not a promotion strategy – it doesn’t work for your website, and it won’t work for your Facebook page.Add social plugins to your website, invite your email base, include a link to your Facebook page in your email signature – advertise and link.
- Engagement Strategy: be prompt and personal – Offer interactive contests where possible, offer rewards, ask questions, create polls, and look at what others are doing that generates activity.
Conversion Strategy: get your fans to become clients where possible – advertise any specials you have for new orders or seasonal services, and monitor your Facebook Insights