Online Marketing The End Of The Beginning

Online Marketing The End Of The Beginning



The first two steps to​ successfully marketing online and through your website have little to​ do with online marketing itself. However,​ it’s critical to​ complete them before your campaigns begin. These two steps are Setting your Website Objective and Defining Your Online Target Market

Setting Your Website Objective:

Whenever a​ client is​ looking to​ drive more traffic to​ their website or​ is​ trying to​ raise their conversion rates,​ I always take them back to​ the​ beginning and ask them what the​ objective of​ their site is. This is​ always more insightful (and entertaining),​ when I’m meeting with more than one person from the​ company.

… “drive more sales”,​ “get more leads”,​ “reduce product support demands”,​ “gain access to​ new markets”,​ are a​ few of​ the​ more common responses. We then take a​ look at​ their site. it​ will often focus on​ who they are,​ their history,​ their commitment to​ customer service; all noble things,​ and usually all without a​ strong call to​ action that matches their now stated objective.

Setting an​ overall website objective is​ not easy but the​ benefits are huge.

Not easy: Real estate on​ the​ web is​ cheap. Add a​ page,​ add 100 pages,​ there is​ still plenty of​ room to​ expand. So it’s easy to​ quickly develop multiple objectives for your site.

Additionally,​ many people in​ the​ company will have different views on​ what the​ site objective should be. Human resources wants the​ Career section to​ stand out. Customer Service wants the​ Support area to​ be highlighted. Sales,​ of​ course,​ wants to​ highlight Product or​ Solution areas,​ and so on.

If you’re ruling by committee you’ll have a​ well balanced,​ but underperforming site. the​ winning play is​ to​ have one objective that rules all others. if​ that objective is​ to​ drive more sales,​ then the​ Home page must be geared to​ that. it​ will need to​ highlight and focus on​ information and calls to​ action to​ take web visitors down that path.

Now,​ this doesn’t mean that you​ won’t still link to​ support and careers sections. you​ just won’t focus on​ them on​ your Home and other main section pages.

Get Specific: Now if​ “Drive more sales.”,​ is​ your first-cut objective,​ you​ need to​ get a​ little deeper,​ more specific. Will you​ actually be closing sales over the​ internet (a la eCommerce),​ or​ are you​ driving the​ new prospect to​ call you​ or​ email you. What level of​ knowledge should the​ prospect have before they contact you. Should they know the​ part number or​ should they just know that your company is​ one they need to​ call.

Thus,​ your objective may evolve to​ “Drive qualified prospects to​ contact us to​ get detailed information on​ which of​ our products best suits them.”

So what made them a​ qualified prospect. Were they qualified before they came to​ your site (maybe they were driven to​ your site from a​ trade show),​ or​ did they get to​ you​ through a​ search engine and know very little about what you​ do.

Your objective may ultimately evolve to​ “Visitors should find the​ information to​ qualify themselves as​ good potential prospects and contact us to​ get detailed information on​ which of​ our products best suits them.”

Huge Benefits: Once you’ve set your objective,​ everything becomes easier. Writing content (often the​ biggest challenge a​ company has),​ becomes clear. the​ path with which you​ lead visitors through your website becomes clear (e.g. entice,​ inform,​ qualify,​ call-to-action). Site architecture and layout become clear.

You now focus your efforts and resources around fulfilling that main objective. the​ sections that are not directly relevant to​ your main objective still support that main objective.

Now that you’ve clearly set your website objective,​ the​ next step is​ to​ know who your target audience is​ – and it​ may not be who you​ think.

Identifying Your Target Audience

Who do you​ want to​ visit your site. Are they researchers or​ decision makers. Are they likely to​ “convert” on​ their first visit. Do they know anything about your company already. if​ yes,​ how much do they know. Are they internet savvy. Are they over 40 and likely would appreciate larger type. Are they visual. Are they detailed. Are they a​ “people person” or​ do they prefer dealing with things or​ words. Are they likely to​ be highly educated. Do they like to​ have lots of​ options or​ lots of​ direction.

All these questions and a​ lot more need to​ be asked and answered. Initially,​ you’ll use this information to​ help in​ the​ design of​ your overall site. You’ll want the​ proper balance of​ image to​ text. You’ll want to​ set the​ text level at​ the​ appropriate level of​ detail. You’ll want to​ write to​ their probable education level.

Ultimately,​ the​ answers will drive the​ theme of​ your site. They’ll drive the​ type of​ online advertising you’ll use. They’ll drive the​ design of​ advertising landing pages. They’ll drive the​ keyword phrases you’ll target in​ search engine optimization. They’ll drive your call-to-action.

Now you’re ready to​ start your marketing. Knowing what you​ want to​ accomplish and to​ whom you​ want to​ accomplish it​ with,​ you’ll be able to​ structure the​ right ads,​ emails,​ keyword phrase targeting,​ etc. You’ll be able to​ focus resources on​ the​ proper additional web media (e.g. blogs,​ podcasts,​ more web pages,​ Flash demonstrations,​ etc.).

To paraphrase Winston Churchill,​ this will be the​ end of​ the​ beginning of​ your online marketing strategy,​ and you'll be ready to​ begin a​ productive and effective online marketing campaign.




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