Most business owners these days know they need to establish a strong online presence to truly succeed. For this reason, they build a business website, start an official blog, and set up accounts in a number of social networking sites. Why, then, are many businesses still struggling to achieve their online marketing goals? Why are their websites not getting the kind of traffic they want? Why is their blog not getting the readership they aim for? Why are they not getting as many followers on their social media accounts as they hope for?
The simple answer to these questions is that many businesses have online strategies that aren’t properly organized. They are simply dabbling in the things they know are important for establishing online presence—SEO, content marketing, social media marketing (SMM). They approach each campaign separately, instead of as different parts of a single campaign. Simply put, they do not have an integrated online marketing plan.
Here are some of the best reasons why you should develop a solid, integrated online marketing plan:
- A good plan will serve as your guide as to how you will position your business in the market.
- A good plan defines your specific goals for each component of online marketing.
- A good plan outlines how you intend to set your business apart from the competition.
- A good plan details the strategies you will use to reach your target market.
- A good plan defines where and how you intend to promote your brand.
- A good plan helps ensure your resources are being used in the most effective way possible.
- An integrated online marketing plan helps align your online efforts with your overall business goals.
So, what are the things your integrated online marketing plan should include? Read on to find out.
This part of the plan describes the current situation of your business. What is your current place in the market? How do you want it to change? What are the current market trends? How do you expect to take advantage of these trends? Who are your direct competitors? How do you plan to set your brand apart? The situation analysis will serve as your reminder as to why you’re making an integrated online marketing plan in the first place.
Target Market Description
This helps focus your marketing efforts to a specific group of people. What age group will you be marketing your brand to? Will you be marketing to single or married people? Is your product meant for men, women, or both? Remember that the more you know about your target market, the better your chances are of being able to connect with them and turn them into loyal patrons of your brand.
Online Marketing Strategy
This part of the plan defines what your product is, how you plan to price it, what sets it apart from other products, how plan to promote it to your target market, and where you plan to sell it. You need to specify which particular online tools and platforms you’ll be using to market your brand. This will serve as your basic guide and keep you from being sidetracked by any new online trend that may arise. This will keep you from simply dabbling and ensure that you truly focus on your online marketing strategies.
Objectives and Tactics
This is a more detailed version of your online marketing strategy. It clearly defines how you plan to implement your strategy. This is where you enumerate the platforms you’ll be using and what you expect to achieve on each platform. This is also where you outline such things as content calendars and schedules for promotional offers.
As a businessman, you naturally wouldn’t want to spend too much on anything. This part of your plan will specify how much you intend to spend on each component of your online strategy. You may also want to include a sales forecast in this part of the plan, so you’ll have a ROI to look forward to. The sales forecast can also serve as a concrete goal for your online marketing efforts.
Okay, now you know why you need an integrated online marketing plan and what it should contain. You’d likely appreciate some tips on how to go about developing your plan. Here goes…
1. Define Your Ideal Customers’ Personas
In the Target Market Description part of your plan, you would do well to describe the persona of each type of buyer you want your brand to connect with. Remember that the buyer personas need to be based on actual customers, and this is very important because it provides you with a quick reference as to the kind of people whose attention you want your content and marketing efforts to catch. If your business has to do with apparel, for example, you could have “Miss Prim-and-Proper,” “Mr. Cool,” and “The Teen Queen” as your customer personas. Be sure to provide a detailed description of each persona in your plan.
Outlining buyer personas allows you to focus your online marketing efforts on exactly the kind of people you want your brand to connect with.
2. Devise a Method to Identify the Most Appropriate Online Marketing Channels
You want to make sure your online marketing efforts don’t go to waste. One way of ensuring this is to use only the most appropriate marketing channels and engage in the most appropriate online activities based on your specific goals and objectives. If your goal, for example, is to get more people to visit your website, then you may want to place more focus on your social media activities, where you can hold contests and promotions that encourage people to click through to your site.
3. Develop an Integrated Workflow Process for Your Online Marketing Activities
Your SEO, SMM, and Content Marketing teams need to know exactly how you expect them to work together or complement each other’s efforts. They need to know where one team’s responsibilities end and another team’s work begins. This helps minimize mistakes and will ultimately save you a considerable amount of time and money. In the event that you fail to achieve your objectives and goals, the clear-cut workflow will also help you determine where you faltered and help you come up with the appropriate solution.
4. Conduct a Channel Audit
In case you’ve already started using online marketing channels and the idea of creating an integrated online marketing plan just occurred to you because your online efforts don’t seem to be getting anywhere, you’ll have to review all the channels you’re currently using.
It’s best to begin, of course, with the channels you own – your business website, your official blog, your online newsletter, etc. In most cases, business-owned online channels are designed to be nothing but generic online brochures extolling the virtues of the company and their products. What you need to do is design your website, blog, and newsletter with each of your customer personas in mind. What do they want to see or read online? That’s what you should provide on your channels.
What about your social channels? Did you set up accounts on the right social networking sites? Have you chosen the sites where your customer personas spend most of their time on? If not, then start doing so! If your target customers are those in their late teens and early twenties, for example, should you really be spending more time on LinkedIn than Facebook and Twitter?
5. Conduct a Content Audit
Just as you need to check the online channels you’re currently using, you should also make an inventory of your existing content. You need to know what you’ve offered so far and if you need to just add fresh content, make a few tweaks to the kind of content you put out, or change your approach to content marketing altogether. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are your existing content pieces of high quality?
- Do they directly address the concerns of any or all of your customer personas?
- Is there enough variety in terms of the forms of content you have published so far?
- Do your existing content pieces help exhibit your expertise in the field?
- Can they help you build a reputation of being an authority in your niche?
If you answered YES to all those questions, then you’re off to a good start and you simply need to add fresh content to your arsenal. If, however, you answered YES to some questions and NO to others, then you probably need to make some adjustments in your content marketing strategy. If you unfortunately answered NO to all questions, then you definitely need to start a new content marketing campaign from scratch.
Online marketing is something you can’t just take for granted, and if you truly want to build a strong presence online, it also isn’t something you can just dabble in. Rather, it is a science and a discipline you need to spend a good deal of time and effort on. And the journey to success in online marketing starts with a solid plan.