Planning and building the right online marketing strategy for your business must consist of a layered approach – very much like a baking cake!
Get your mix perfect and your customers will be coming back for another slice.
But fail or use the wrong approach, and it might turn out being a sloppy mess.
There are a huge selection of cakes out there and like any recipe, there are usually a few essential steps to follow. To begin with, it would be worth:
- Assessing where you are as a company
- Setting realistic goals of what you want to achieve
- Thinking how you can achieve these goals
Back to the cake idea, the base usually starts with the same basic ingredients. Having an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly website is the starting point to a successful online marketing strategy. The majority of individuals looking for a product/service now use search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo to find information and answer questions. Previous methods such as print and radio are on a steady decline and are unlikely to recover to pre-internet boom levels.
The design of a website is great, but should you leave it there? No. Even if your website looks better than your competitors’, have you ever asked yourself, ‘How are they ranking above me?’ Look is one thing but driving traffic to your website is also an important factor that shouldn’t be forgotten. Just because your website is now accessible on the internet through search engines, it doesn’t mean your target audience will be able to find you.
After the base, this is where your online marketing strategy can really start to take its own shape. If you were making a cake for a child’s birthday or your lactose intolerant best friend, like your marketing strategy, the ingredients requires a thought process. Not every business plan is the same. The icing, buttercream, candles and sprinkles etc. are all added extras to any online marketing strategy.
Whether you’re trying to increase annual revenue, expand your online presence or generate more organic traffic, you need to determine which extras are best for your company. The pros and cons for each are discussed below.
Icing, Piping and Sprinkles – SEO
Online presence is essential for any business and there are a number of search engine optimisation steps that can be taken to improve the current visibility of your website’s organic search results. Some websites might naturally rank better than others but there will always be room for improvement.
The pros – key areas such as content, backlinks, keywords and site usability can be improved across a website ultimately helping to increase traffic, improve sales and gain higher rankings. If SEO is done correctly your site might be considered an authority site by customers and search engines.
The cons – have you ever tried searching through Google’s endless organic page results but couldn’t find your website anywhere? You might have a visually appealing and user friendly website but if no one can find it, is there any point in having one? SEO takes time, so be patient. Don’t be tricked into using quick-win black hat tactics – you could ultimately land yourself with a Google penalty.
Ready-made Decorations – PPC
Pay per click is essentially a way of buying visits to a website, allowing you to target the keywords that are relevant to your business.
The pros – paid advertisements can help to increase your brand identity and ensures your website is seen in the search engines. This could potentially get you edging ahead of your competitors. You also get to set your own budget, target keywords that are relevant to your business and direct customers to pages of your choice.
The cons – PPC advertising takes time and unfortunately an increased number of clicks through to a website doesn’t guarantee a paying customer. In addition, industry competitiveness might result in targeted keywords being expensive, which isn’t ideal long term.
Candles – Social Media
Think Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Or the handful of other addictive social networks that have you procrastinating for hours.
The pros – social media marketing has the potential to help businesses reach a huge number of new and existing customers. Through paid ads, sparking conversations or simply sharing information, social media helps a business research and network with its customers, ultimately improving the brand and the overall service they provide.
The cons – unfortunately not everything is quite so simple and with all pros come the cons. You need to be patient and nurture your online presence. Without a clear strategy you might not see your desired results. Lastly, not every customer will rate your business as highly as you do, so there’s always the risk of negative feedback.
According to the ‘10 Social Media Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2015’ infographic found on business2community.com:
97% of marketers use social media, with up to 92% acknowledging the importance of this tool for their businesses.
Buttercream – Mobile
Smartphones now play a vital role in almost everyone’s daily lives. From counting calories to booking holidays, phones have become our companions.
The pros – mobile marketing is essentially a simpler and cheaper version of your website and is extremely convenient for the ‘on the go culture’ we now live in. Built-in payment systems allow purchases to be made conveniently at any time of the day. With the huge amount of apps available on phones, content can be shared quickly, which creates more exposure for businesses without them having to lift a finger.
The cons – if only mobiles came in one standard size and shape. Unfortunately they don’t, so screen sizes will never be consistent. If you suffer from fat finger syndrome, this makes navigation difficult and locating information a tedious task. Without a mobile website or with a poorly designed version, as a business, you could be turning away a large percentage of your customers without even realising it.
According to the blog ‘15 captivating stats from around the digital world’ found on econsultancy.com:
Somo has analysed the mobile capabilities of the top 50 high street retailers, finding that:
40% do not have a mobile optimised store locator.
20% don’t have a transactional mobile site.
30% don’t have an iOS app.
28% don’t have an Android app.
44% do not have a tablet optimised site.
46% don’t support responsive web design.
Changing the Recipe
There is a constant flow of changes in the marketing world. Getting the mix right for an online marketing strategy hasn’t always been easy and algorithm updates, new trends and technology has definitely made it more of a challenge. As a company you need to be on the ball. Nobody likes change, but sometimes we don’t have a choice. To be at the top of your game and ahead of your competitors you have to be prepared to change the recipe at a moment’s notice.
The End Results
So, although there’s a basic recipe to follow, whether you choose to make a chocolate cake or Victoria sponge, the choice of which one you make comes down to the individual’s preferred tastes and the occasion.
Unfortunately there isn’t one perfect marketing mix and sometimes you need to try things to find out if they’re right for your business. Obviously some mixes are better than others, so it’s a case of finding the best one for you.
Have you thought about re-identifying your target audience? If you’re targeting the wrong customers or if your products/services are overpriced compared to your competitors, your mix could probably do with a few necessary tweaks. As they say, practice makes perfect!