Why Do I Need an Online Marketing Plan?
Just about every company needs some sort of online marketing plan, no matter what the industry. Even if you’re happy with your sales and business growth, it’s still a good idea to keep marketing, if for no other reason than to maintain your positive online reputation. Online marketing encompasses a vast array of strategies and tactics. It can be challenging to know where to begin when you’re first starting out. This blog post is going to explain how to develop an online marketing plan that will work for your business and goals.
What is Online Marketing?
Online marketing is comprised of the marketing tactics that you practice while online. This type of marketing can take dozens, or even hundreds, of forms. Online marketing is everything you do to help increase your business’ sales, awareness, clients and more. Some common online marketing tactics include the use of social media, blogging, running ads on Facebook, email marketing and more. Let’s discuss the steps you should take when trying to decide how to develop an online marketing plan.
Step One: Determine Your Goals
The very first step to take when developing a marketing plan is set your marketing goals. Do you want to get more leads, gain brand awareness, or do you want a larger email list? There are many other marketing goals you may strive towards, but those are just a few examples. You will need to practice different marketing tactics to achieve different goals. No two marketing tactics cost the same, and they all take a different amount of time to show results. There isn’t much of a point to develop a marketing plan if you don’t know your goals.
Step Two: Look at Your Budget
Your budget is one of the most important factors to consider when developing your online marketing plan. If you have a smaller budget, you will need to invest your money in a way that will most quickly drive your revenue up. As your revenue grows, so should your marketing budget. So, make sure to invest a small budget wisely. If you have a larger budget, you will have more freedom over which tactics you can use in your marketing plan. But, with a larger budget, you will need to make sure the various marketing tactics you use are working in conjunction with each other. There needs to be cohesion to your marketing plan. Some online marketing tactics are inexpensive or even free. Those should be considered as part of a marketing plan by every business, despite budget size. You can read How to Set a Marketing Budget for Your Business to get a good idea as to what your budget should be.
Step Three: Figure Out Which Tactics You Want to Use
When figuring out how to develop an online marketing plan, you should look at which online marketing tactics you would like to use. As mentioned above, this step will vary greatly depending on your marketing budget. Below are a few online marketing tactics and information about their costs.
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Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social media marketing can be completely free to practice, if you have the time and energy to manage it yourself. Simply posting on your business’ Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is seen as SMM, so you certainly do not have to be spending a lot here. If you have some wiggle room in your budget, you can even spend a little money to run ads on social media. You have more than likely come across paid social media advertising when scrolling through Facebook. Your business can be shown as an advertisement as well, but this isn’t free.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
If you’ve done much research on online marketing, you have likely heard the term “search engine optimization,” or “SEO.” SEO is a type of SEM tactic that can vary in price, just like social media marketing. You can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to practice on-site SEO free of charge, or you can pay for more advanced tools which can become quite expensive. You can also pay search engines to place your website at the top of their results, which is another tactic of SEM. Search engine optimization is a practice that will improve the way your website rankings in Google and other search engines. If it’s important to you that people find your website, then this is something you should definitely consider focusing on.
This is another online marketing tactic that can be very inexpensive. A couple of very popular email marketing platforms are Constant Contact and MailChimp. Our personal favorite is called Campaign Monitor. However, you can find many other platforms if you simply do a quick search on Google. Email marketing is a great way to keep your clients in the loop about your business. You just have to grow an email list before using this tactic, so keep that in mind when creating your online marketing plan.
Almost every serious business should have a website. Not having a website can lower your credibility as a reputable company. There are many perks to having website, other than just your credibility. Websites give you a platform where you can share valuable information about your products or services. Websites also make it easier for people to find you through a Google search. You can even make sales through your website, assuming you sell a service or products through an online store. You can read more about the benefits of having a website by reading Do I Need a Website? Even if you don’t start with a website right away, this should definitely be included as part of a marketing plan of most businesses.
Starting a blog is a great online marketing tactic, but it can take a lot of time to properly maintain. To effectively blog, you should write some great content that will drive customers or clients to your website. From there, you can encourage them to go through your sales funnel. One of the best aspects about blogging is that it’s completely free! Of course, it will take your time, or you can pay someone to write the blog content for you. But there are some great blogging platforms available to you at no cost. Also, if you choose to build your own website, you will be able to migrate the blog posts from one of these free platforms over to your website. So, the blogging you have done will not be permanently lost.
Step Four: Develop a Timeline
Now that we have discussed several of the most common online marketing tactics, we will discuss when to start implementing them. It may be a good idea to start with just one or two of the tactics mentioned above, and then slowly move into practicing all of them. We recommend practicing the free, or least expensive tactics, first. This way you can see what works well. Then, invest more time and money in the tactics that generate the greatest results.
Which One Should I Start With?
The order in which you practice the above tactics will depend on your business’ goals. If you already have a website and are trying to gain awareness for your business, SMM or SEM may be your best bet. If you’re trying to get your existing customers to become regular clients, then email marketing is a great method. Examine your goals, look at the price of each tactic, then set up your timeline to better suit your business.
Examine Marketing Best Practices in Your Industry
We have presented several great tactics. What we have recommended is very common for most industries. However, it may be that your business and industry is unique. It’s not wise to use a cookie-cutter marketing approach for all businesses. For example, perhaps you should focus on actively using forums, which we didn’t talk about. Maybe you should really focus on traditional marketing methods, like billboards. There are are many options when it comes to marketing, and it’s a good idea for you to take a look at the national and local leaders in your industry. What are they doing and what seems to be working well for them? Consider including their marketing channels in your own marketing plan.
Step Five: Monitor Your Results
Results from your online marketing plan will vary depending on your audience. Your audience may not be very receptive to social media marketing, but they may respond well to email marketing. Gauge what works the best for you, then adjust your marketing plan and strategy. You can’t adapt your marketing approach if you don’t track and monitor your results. Google Analytics is a great and free tool to track the performance of your website. Most email marketing and social media platforms include analytical data as well. Just make sure you use the data collected and improve your marketing plan as time goes by.
We hope this blog post helped gives you an idea of how to develop an online marketing plan. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by filling out the form below. We would love to set up a time to speak with you and help you develop your marketing plan.