All the Marketings and How to Choose Your Strategy
As a small business owner, an author, or the ED of a not-for-profit, or just someone who wants to be noticed on the internet, marketing is about gathering more of what you want. What you want leads, customers, readers, donors, volunteers, members, or attention.
The aim of marketing is to get people from not knowing you to contributing, that is giving you something in return for something else (conversion), and then doing it again. Marketing nurtures people through this journey.
This customer journey is also known as your conversion funnel.
Unless you have a big budget, or a special project, your marketing effort focus on gathering, nurturing and converting people.
Your website is a useful tool at many stages of your conversion funnel. It’s almost necessary. I say “almost” because you can run a successful business or not-for-profit with just Facebook, Udemy, or Ebay or other online services. Your entire business will be dependent on another party. If you understand these risks and make an intentional decisions about this then go for it. The marketing discussions in this blog will still apply.
The marketing strategies I describe are not all of marketing. There is a lot of “analog” or not-online marketing that you may also need to consider. Branding, local advertising, product packaging, networking, direct mail, media advertising are just some examples. In this post we are talking about the marketing that centres on your online presence.
Your website is often how people find your and your business. You have to make that first impression count, and you have only one opportunity to capture the attention of site visitors. The first action you want them to take is to stay and look further.
Online marketing convinces people to act.
Before you start on a marketing strategy, or hire a marketing professional, you must be clear on these three things:
- What strategies you have an appetite for.
- Who you are marketing to.
- What you are marketing.
Marketing is a process of what works for your market. A successful marketing and sales strategy will combine aspects of all of these strategies, and by being open to experimentation you are likely to find marketing tactics that works better than your competitors.
Select the direction that appeals to you most, based on your products and what you know of your audience.
This gives you a starting place and helps avoid being overwhelmed by ideas, tactics, strategies and blog posts that tell you what works.
For example: Suppose you sell urban style backpacks your audience will be hip inner-city millennials. They will be on social media a lot. A good place to start might be a content marketing strategy with high value information on the art of using a backpack. What to pack, how to pack, what accessories work etc.
Perhaps you are a not-for-profit seeking donations for natural disasters, a paid traffic digital marketing strategy when disaster strikes, and an email campaign in between might work best for you.
How to choose your preferred strategy
You don’t actually have to choose, but it is a good idea to set a direction. Focussing on one strategy to dramatically reduce your workload.
Your marketing plan should be based on what you need to achieve, and how your conversion funnel works, and the resources you have available.
As you scale you will be able to do more and get more sophisticated.
The two important constraints to your marketing plan are:
- Your budget
- Your capacity (knowledge, time, experience)
The two important drivers for your marketing plan are:
- Your audience (to whom you aim your marketing).
- Your conversion funnel (what you want them to do).
Target your audience. Driving them through your conversion funnel. Grow your income and increase your capacity. Then rinse and repeat.
Here are 8 tips for getting your website marketing plan really rocking.
- Start simply.
- Choose the model that you feel most comfortable with.
- Follow that model to start with.
- Find the two or three sources of information you think you can trust.
- Keep it simple. Reject complexity.
- Measure and improve in increments. Use data to make decisions.
- Pay for experts when you can.
- Iterate. Try, improve, repeat.
When I launched of Website Success Lab I used the above process. I knew enough about Digital Marketing to prefer that approach. I knew that I would need a budget, certain tools, great content and high value offers. I found resources that I could trust and launched with simple strategies and tactics.
I have a few other sources of information such as content marketing specialists and design, but I have my go-to resources that I trust and I don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of advice that the internet has to offer.
All of these marketing strategies rely on a clear ‘customer avatar’, sometimes known as a ‘persona’. It describes your ideal customer, the person you are targeting with your offer, your content and your social media activity. I’ll go into creating an avatar in a later post.
Let's take a brief look at the different marketing strategies that are centred on your website.
Digital Marketing takes advantage of digital channels to reach and engage your customers and move them through your funnel. This will most often involve websites, social media, email, and sometimes content and advertising syndication. It is focused on paid advertising into social channels, and re-targeting strategies (or identifying who has performed specific actions, such as visiting a web page, and directing highly targeted paid advertisements to them).
Digital Marketing makes use of a paid customer acquisition strategy, a digital conversion funnel, nurture sequences and email automation.
What you will need:
- A paid traffic budget (for social media advertising, google adwords etc)
- A targeted and structured marketing funnel.
- Marketing Automation Systems such as Email Automation and a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
- Advertising accounts with the social media platforms you use.
You can do this without a website, but it will be much more effective with a good website, and you won’t be dependent on other services. Your website will house your landing pages, calls to action, conversion mechanisms (sales, signups, downloads etc) and high value content.
Digital marketing is an powerful way to move people through your sales funnel to conversion. Continued targeting of people through social channels keeps your business in their minds and creates return customers.
If don’t have a website you must have an email list that you own. This will mean that you have some independence from the services that you use (Facebook, Ebay, Tumblr etc) and when they change their rules you are not left stranded with no way to contact your constituents.
Even if you have a website, your email list is a valuable asset.
Email marketing leverages the people who have given you permission to email to them. It is still an effective and cost effective strategy. Like every online marketing strategy it changes as technology changes.
Email Marketing depends on having a good list, and an ongoing list building strategy.
It works for local businesses, community organisations, schools and other organisations that can collect a list slowly and depend on non-digital traffic to generate business.
The simplest approach is a regular newsletter with information and calls to action. If you need to get more sophisticated, and you are using digital engagement tactics or want to segment your list, you will need a list and email management system. If you have a large list, be prepared to pay for this. Mail chimp has a limit of 2500 email addresses on a list before it requires payment.
When you have outgrown the email newsletter you will probably want to start automating your emails.
Nurture sequences are a good place to start, or welcome sequences. These sequences move people through your funnel to conversion.
Email Marketing is a component of all other marketing systems I mention here. It makes sense to understand the concepts and the strategies. There are four tactics to keep in mind:
- Don’t spam. Understand the SPAM rules in your country and obey them. Respect unsubscribes.
- Get personal. Address people with their name, speak to them with a voice they respond to (this is why your avatar is critical), and respect their inbox. Segment your list and send targeted content based on interest.
- Give value and ask for action. People don’t have time to read boring essays or lots of sales copy. Give them value, tell them stories, feed their curiosity. When you have given them value, ask them to take the action you want. Ask them kindly and respect their choice to ignore you.
Content marketing depends on creating high value content, gaining attention, credibility and a reputation for great content. People come back for more, and you have opportunities to present your calls to action.
Distribution of content uses all channels, including email.
Content Marketing focuses on the value of the content rather than paying for audience reach - earned and owned audiences.
Paid traffic is also part of the strategy, but not the primary source of lead traffic.
A content marketing strategy most often works with a Blog as it is an easy place to publish and maintain content, and uses social media for content distribution. Podcasts, video channels, webinars, infographics, and a long list of other content options can be included in your content marketing strategy. Variety is good.
The most difficult part of your content marketing strategy is maintaining the constant flow of content. Keep it high quality, high value and constantly compelling. Building a reputation based on your content is hard work.
A good approach is to create a content calendar. This way you can create timely and useful posts, and think of the subject matter in one sitting, rather than trying each week to come up with something new.
Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing is all about making sure your site appears at the top of a search in Google and other places people find content by searching, and using paid advertising to capture people’s attention.
It’s important because when people are searching for your thing, they are ready to buy, they are ready to act and you have a much easier job of convincing them to take your offer.
Search engine marketing relies on how search engines interpret your content, how well your keywords are represented in your content and how well they represent your offering.
Keywords are critical, and the placement of them is critical. If you get this wrong the search engine will rate your content lower and you will not appear on the first page. If you over do keywords you will be penalised.
Search Engine Marketing continues to get more sophisticated. Algorithms get more complex there is a lot more than just keywords to worry about.
Remember that Google is not the only search engine. Youtube, and Google Maps are also massive search engines. You want your content to be found on other social platforms as well as other search engines like Bing.
If you work in an area that has very strong keyword competition you might probably should seek assistance to get your site ranking well. Keywords in competitive fields can be complex.
There are some things you can do to improve your position.
- Add HTTPS to all your pages. Google is now rewarding sites with secure sessions.
- Make your site mobile friendly. This may not be as simple as it sounds and depends on how your site was originally designed, but every new site should be mobile friendly. Google cares.
- Create content with links to credible sources. If your content is relevant to other content then link to it.
- Create good content with good keyword positioning. Add your keywords to the top of your content.
Most importantly you should write for your reader not for Google. Ultimately you don’t want people to simply find your site, you want them to buy from you. The only way to do that is to create compelling, consistent and readable content.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing will form a part of most marketing strategies, and for some organisations a purely social strategy will work. For small organisations with no budget for a website it may be a good place to start.
Using social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and any of the dozens of other platforms, a social strategy will aim to engage constituents on these platforms and use the features of the platform as the conversion goals.
Social platforms will provide you with analytics on how your social engagement is performing. Systems are available to help you to continually post and engage with your constituents.
A Social Media strategy requires constant attention. Posting, responding to posts, replying to comments, and finding the right balance of posts to each social platform is time consuming. There is plenty of help out there on the internet. The hard part is being consistent, structured and compelling.
Your content platform, ie your website, enhances your social strategy if you give visitors the capacity to like your pages, or share your posts.
Have a goal for your Social Media Strategy. It may be to get likes, or reach a particular audience, or get engagement with your cause, product or interest. Consider what you will do when you have reached this target. Social Media strategies alone may bring followers, but are convert people to customers, donors or members may require additional strategies and tactics.
Account Based Marketing
ABM is the new kid on the digital block, with a lot of buzz about it. It is designed for B2B audiences, and focuses on accounts rather than contacts. It's been a long standing strategy for sales professionals, now new technology can automate ABM in digital channels.
Think of it as marketing targeted at each strategic buyers account and personalised just for them.
You identify a business you want to market to, and you target people who work there, presenting them with content on your website, social platforms and in emails, that relate to how your business can very specifically help their business. Not general help, but personalised and highly targeted.
There are technologies that support it, top tier CRM’s such as Salesforce; re-targeting and zero-click websites.
Automation and good data are required. Ironically, automation can create a much more personal experience for your site customers and prospects. Delivering personalised digital content to all of the contacts at one account increases your brand recognition and conversion chances.
These factors mean that it is a strategy more within the reach of larger businesses. Any sized business can apply the concepts within their capabilities.
Your marketing strategy should meet the following guidelines:
- Fit the strategy to your resources, both human and financial.
- Be comfortable with executing a strategy.
- Use the strategy that is the best fit with your audience.
Three tips to get you started:
- Focus on one strategy. Choose one and ignore the rest until you are ready.
- Aim for consistency and value.
- Measure, improve, repeat.
Hubspot: Marketing Acronyms
Digital Marketer: Best Digital Marketing Articles of 2015
Hubspot: 25 ways to build your email list
Hubspot: Content Marketing
Convince and Convert: 105 Content Ideas
Salesforce: Are you an account based or list based marketer?
Content Sells Podast: The "can't get it wrong" content plan.
Pardot Blog: SEM and SEO Tips for 2016. Webinar.
Content Factory: 7 Secrets of Professional SEO Writers
Buffer Blog: How often to post on social media.