So you have decided that you need a better online marketing plan to enhance your brand and maximize the return you get from your marketing budget. Great idea! Now its time to create that plan and execute! The following suggestions can help you create and implement a plan the is suited specifically to your business.
Research: Just because you have heard that Internet marketing and online media is much more cost effective and measurable than traditional media doen’t mean you can’t waste money using it. You first need to understand your industry, understand how others are using online marketing within your industry, assess the competitive landscape, and discover what interactive online marketing channels are best suited to your industry. Take a look at your industry trade journals and do extensive online research so you can position your company ahead of the curve rather than behind it.
More Research: Now that you have a better understanding of your online competition and how companies like yours are using Internet marketing to gain market share and improve brand exposure you can start looking at the specific marketing channels (i.e. improved website design and function, conversion optimization, search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, landing page strategies, social media, email marketing, online reputation management, etc.).
Look at how companies like yours are using these channels and gain a better understanding of which components are best suited to your company. Doing a little of everything may not be the best idea nor cost effective. The next step will help you assess what channels are the most feasible and then you can work from there.
Budget Discovery: Review your budget and see what funds can be allocated (or reallocated) to your online marketing plan. Chances are you have dollars that you can pull from traditional media. Just because you have been doing the same print adds for 10 years doesn’t mean you should still be using that strategy. One $30,000 print add budget could be used to put together a great 6 to 12 month online marketing plan! And guess what…its measurable, targeted, and more cost effective!
Choose Your Channels: Based on your budget, you can then start putting together your plan by first deciding which aspects of Internet marketing will give you the best ROI. You may have used some of these before and not received a good ROI…don’t be gun shy. Make sure you understand if you were using that channel correctly and measuring your success. For example, maybe you have used PPC advertising before but you don’t think you got a great return. A little research might show that your budget wasn’t appropriate, your ads were not targeted, your titles not compelling, you did not use proper landing pages, etc (i.e. the campaign was not properly managed). Well, without all this you most certainly won’t get a great ROI so don’t be afriad to try again…but do it right!
In-house or Outsourced? I will try to answer this in a non-biased way. Most of the time companies will not have the in-house resources or expertise to handle a full Internet marketing plan. Hiring people in-house to do this for you can be exptremely expensive especially if you are using many different channels. For example if you are using SEO, PPC, and social media you will most likely need a good web designer (for conversion optimization and landing pages), an SEO expert and someone skilled in managing paid search. If any of these people are not skilled in social media marketing then that is another person you may need to hire. Just bringing on interns to handle these strategies will most likely not cut it. It is much more cost effective to have an Internet marketing company help you with ALL of these steps to help you understand your budget needs, what channels to use, and how to implement it.
How to Choose and Internet Marketing Company: Get ready for more research! Look online for some Internet marketing companies and develop a list. Ask people you know that have used firms they liked and trust. Once you have a list you can send out a Request for Proposal. This can be a good place to start but not necessarily recommended. This is a very impersonal way to “interview” companies. I suggest contacting them and setting up face to face meetings. Give them some information about what your goals are and what Internet marketing options you might be interested in. Let them present to you in person so you can meet them, see how they present, and see how much research and time they put into their presentation. If the presentation is “vanilla” and not specific to your company, you may want to think twice. If they do not want to go the extra mile BEFORE signing you as a client they most likely will not once you are a client.
Choose the company that:
- Gives you a great presentation
- Makes you feel a connection and trust
- Has a good client list with testimonials
- Understands your industry and has done their homework
Now you are ready…get adter it!