With the ascendancy of the web, business owners can find themselves left in the digital dust by the speed of change. Many don’t even know where to start aside from building a website. In fact, even that step was taken unwillingly by many at the time and look how important it has become today. It’s your digital storefront and plays just as important a role as your physical location – especially if you’re a service business. So, what does a business owner do to get the digital marketing ball rolling? How can they start without breaking the bank?
In an attempt to illuminate and enlighten, we’ve put together a roadmap we feel will help any business owner get the right start in their digital marketing efforts. These seven steps provide you with the key elements in any successful digital marketing program. They’re clearly explained and include links to tools and sites we think will benefit any business owner when thinking about what to do first, second, etc. If you stick to this outline you should see immediate online benefits and gain a working understanding of what you’re doing and why.
Here’s the outline we’ve put together to increase your online business. Click on any of the links to learn more about that specific step and its elements:
- Proper Installation of Analytical Tracking Software
- Define Goals with Conversion Events
- Call Tracking Installation with Lead Scoring Capabilities
- Analyze Webmaster Tools Data
- Testing Site Speed & Load Times
- Confirming Mobile-Friendly Compliance
- Enable & Apply Structured Data Segments
- User Experience (UX)
- Define Competitors
- Review Competitor Strategy
- Compare Current Market Share
- Cost Benefit Analysis
- Review Sales Funnel
- Conversion Optimization Techniques
- Sales Copy Review
- Define Your Market Spend
- Define In-House Capabilities
- Define Outsource Costs
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
- Social Media Channels
- Local SEO
- Email Marketing
- Project Management Responsibilities
- In-House Responsibilities
- Outsource Responsibilities
Step #1: Confirm Trackings & Methodology
As a digital marketing agency, we’re often asked what the first thing a business should do to find online success (aside from building a website) and our answer is always the same – track everything. If you’ve been tracking activity then confirm the tracking is functional and methodologies are in place which are logical, cost-effective, and meet all applicable guidelines, regulations, and laws.
To be sure you’re on the right path we’ll begin at the very beginning with the proper installation of analytics software. It’ll pay to check your installation to ensure it’s functioning properly.
Proper Installation of Analytical Tracking Software
As a Google Partner, we recommend using Google Analytics as your analytics software. Over the years, we’ve found it to be the most robust option available that’s readily usable by those without a background in technology. Today, it’s recommended you set up a Universal Analytics property to get all the benefits it offers over traditional. It’s just sound planning as eventually other options will be deprecated.
There are two simple steps for setting up a Universal Analytics property in your account:
- Step #1: The very first step is checking whether or not you have an existing Google Analytics account and, if so, are you using Universal Analytics in your account. There are slightly different considerations based on whether you’ll be starting a new account or upgrading an existing one, but, assuming you’ve installed and run analytics over the last 12-18 months you’re already using UA. You can follow this link to check. In any case, you need to set up your Google Analytics account. Already done? Then move on to Step #2.
- Step #2: Now that you’ve properly created a Universal Analytics property in your account (this property being your website) it’s time to install the proper Universal Analytics tracking code for your technical environment. Again, depending on whether or not you’re setting up analytics for the first time or upgrading an existing account to UA there will be slightly different instructions you’ll need to follow. But, for the vast majority UA will already be implemented. In any event, you need to ensure the new UA code is properly implemented on every page of your website to be tracked.
Define Goals with Conversion Events
Once you’ve properly set up your Google Analytics account and implemented the tracking code across the website you can begin to think about the goals you have for your website property. A goal in analytics measures how well the site fulfills a specific, defined objective. Those fulfillment actions are called conversions and are vital to your business’ overall success. So for example, every time your contact form is filled out (completed conversion action) your contact thank you page loads (goal). Analytics keeps track of these conversions using goals established in-system. Let’s take a look at what’s involved.
- Creating A New Goal: The first step is deciding what your website goal will be and creating it inside Google Analytics. Google has some templates you can use if you don’t want to create your own. Or, you can use Google Smart Goals to get even better results from your efforts. The Analytics Help files we’ve shared below can walk you through the process much faster than we can, so visit them to get past Step #1!
- Goal Configuration Options: In Google Analytics you’re given multiple options for the type of goal you wish to create. These range from destination goals to screens per session goals and each track and record a specific kind of action. It’s important when using custom goals to ensure you choose the appropriate action type. That will guarantee you’re recording the correct activity and not skewing your conversion reporting.
- Value & Verify: Should your account meet the necessary prerequisites then you can use Smart Goals which require no setup whatsoever. We recommend using this only when you’re sure it could have no deleterious effects on your site reporting. In any case, you’ll need to assign a value to your goal that accurately reflects what that conversion action is worth to your business. Then verify goal setup using the system to generate a conversion rate. Take it with a grain of salt!
- Revising & Editing Goals: Once you have created a goal it’s yours to edit and revise at your discretion. Your Google Analytics dashboard will grant you unfettered access to your goals and allow you to modify them to your specifications. Make sure that your changes haven’t affected the functionality of your goal by verifying it again in-system. Remember, your goal will start recording data as soon as you create or edit it. This can be paused at your discretion as well.
- Google Analytics Help
- Google Analytics Conversion Reports Help
- About Google Analytics Goals
- Create, Edit & Share Goals
Call Tracking Installation with Lead Scoring Capabilities
One of the most cost-effective ways a business utilizing digital marketing can keep tabs on their results is through the installation and proper usage of call tracking software with lead scoring capabilities. It’s the ideal way to stay on top of exactly what your website is doing for your business each and every day. Plus, it provides you with all the information you need to continually optimize your site’s performance. There are a variety of options for handling this, but we prefer two solutions above all the rest – CallRail and Google Forwarding Numbers. Let’s take a look at each to see what makes them so effective as digital marketing solutions:
- CallRail Call Tracking: When it comes to understanding your inbound calls there’s nothing that compares to CallRail’s software. It allows you to track calls and conversions activity in all of your marketing endeavors – from search to display, both online and off. They use dynamic number insertion to switch your number for one of their own assigned to your specific effort. This allows you to track your customer’s journey from beginning to end. And, lest we forget the best reason to use CallRail, each call is recorded to allow you to listen and score them individually. If you’re looking for the perfect Quality Control tool then CallRail was built for you.
- Google Call Forwarding Numbers: If your business uses Google Ads then you may already be familiar with Google Forwarding Numbers. These are the numbers you assign to your Call-Only Ad campaigns and Call Extensions that the system uses to track conversion actions. You insert the numbers and set up your conversion action for Calls from Ads. Then set a specific duration for the call and assign a value. We recommend using a call length of at least 3-5 minutes to filter out the calls that fail to convert due to factors outside your control. The more refined your conversion action, the more legitimate your conversion reporting will be and that’s vital to getting the most from your efforts in Google Ads.
Step #2: Analyze Website Performance
Having a website was enough for many years because most devices sat on desktops and had robust processors allowing for full web browsing capability. Well, those days ended when mobile devices were born able to surf the web just as readily as their deskbound brethren. Now, your site needs to be fast on computers, tablets, and mobile devices running at vastly different speeds. That takes understanding your site’s performance and optimizing it continually to get the best possible results from your marketing efforts – especially your digital marketing efforts.
Thankfully, there are a range of excellent tools you can use to keep track of your site’s performance – many of which are free of charge! That’s great news for any business owner, but it comes with a downside, too. You’re going to need to learn some new skills or partner with an agency that can assist you with the tougher optimizations required to rank well in any vertical. So, let’s break down some of the tools you can use and why their use is vital to your continued success:
Analyze Webmaster Data
Webmaster Tools are a key element in getting the most from your web efforts as they assist your site in speaking to and dealing with the algorithms search engines use to categorize and rank sites for specific search terms. It’s also how you communicate with the robots that index the web via the XML sitemap you submit through Search Console – either Google’s or Bing’s. It’s your ally in so many ways including helping you manage and maintain your most important web property. Let’s take a look at the steps involved:
- Step #1: The first step is to get your site working on Search Console. This is where you will add your website property and verify your site ownership – two very important elements. You can also setup who will have access and manage their activity right from your Console. You can add a great many properties to your account, so we recommend using your primary Gmail address to create and manage this. In a perfect world, this is the Gmail tied to your Analytics property and Google My Business listing.
- Step #2: Now you will need to refine your personal settings and those of your web property. You’ll set your preferred domain (www or non-www) and adjust the Googlebot crawl rate to match your preferences. It sounds complicated, but it’s clear and easy to follow once you’re in the Search Console. You’ll want to set email notifications to ensure you’re always on top of what’s happening with the engines and your site. You’ll also be able to link Google Analytics to your Search Console during this step.
- Step #3: Okay, so you’re almost a seasoned Webmaster Tools pro. All you need to do now is use Search Console to properly manage and maintain your site and sitemap going forward. It’s not as daunting a prospect as it sounds, trust us. You can do it if you put in the time to properly understand what you’re doing. We’ve provided links to all of the help files you’ll need to inform your actions where Google’s Search Console is concerned, so refer to them often when you’re uncertain. Or, call the experts at Lift Conversions for the answers you’re after!
- Step #4: So, you’re up and running with Search Console as your ally. But, you’re going to need to familiarize yourself with the reporting features to truly get the most from your activity. Thankfully, you have access to reports at a glance in Search Console, so you can get the information you need quickly without sacrificing accuracy or depth.
- Step #5: The last thing to do in Search Console is to benefit from the information available regarding the best content approaches to achieve the rankings you’re looking for. You can find exceptional insights into best practices where search-friendly content is concerned that can only help you to better your site’s organic rankings. Who isn’t interested in that?
- Google’s SEO Starter Guide
- Getting Started with Google Webmaster Tools
- Getting Started with Bing Webmaster Tools
- More Support Resources
Analyze Site Speed & Load Times
After you’ve established your website with Webmaster Tools you’re going to want to test your site’s performance in terms of its speed and load times. These metrics are huge in the experience your visitors have. That means you can have the formula for turning lead into gold on your page, but no one will ever see it because they wouldn’t wait longer than three seconds for your pages to load. If the whole world is hurtling by faster and faster you’re risking being left behind with a site that’s even a little slow. You can be sure one of your competitors is fast and they’re the one in the lead.
Below we have provided you with a bevy of tools you can use to test your site for free. Some will produce only datasets you’ll have to decipher and put to use on your own while others give insight and next steps. All have value and should have a place in your toolkit.
- Google’s PageSpeed Insights: This test produces results for both desktop and mobile devices which include breakdowns of key elements on your site. Find out how long it takes for the first meaningful paint with this amazing tool!
- Google’s Mobile-Friendliness: This test is exactly what its name suggests. It tests your URL to ensure it’s easily accessible on mobile devices. With the rise of mobile’s importance, this is one test you can’t ignore.
Analyze Search Appearance
Structured data is the standard way that websites communicate with the machines that power search engines. This data included on your site in the correct manner helps to inform the robots that index your website, so they do a better job of properly cataloging and presenting your data to relevant queries. In short, it’s the language your site uses to educate the machines that are responsible for displaying your site in search results. Without it, you’re never going to rank well for any single term – let alone those of importance in your vertical.
Below, we’ve included tools and links to resources that can assist you in getting more from your website’s structured data opportunities. Let’s take a look:
- Structured Data testing Tool: Google has provided a free structured data testing tool you can use to verify that your site is up to par where this vital element is concerned. You cannot go without it – no matter what!
- Robots Validator & Tester: Robots are big players in ensuring websites are indexed properly. That means you need to be certain your site is setup to allow this. Use this Technical SEO tool to check!
Step #3: Competitive Analysis
No matter what industry you’re competing in, and if you’re in business you’re most definitely competing, it pays dividends to understand your competition – what they’re doing, where they’re succeeding, and where your efforts overlap. Understanding who they are and what they offer will help you to define how your customers define “superior”. That word is all that matters in competition. Whoever is described as superior wins. It’s that easy. Getting insight into where they’re winning, where they’re considered “superior” can help you overtake them where it matters most.
There are several steps you can follow to get the most from your efforts into competitive analysis – not to mention some tools that may make it even easier for you to get what you need.
We’ve shared them all below to give you the tools to undertake your own analysis of your local, regional, national, or international competitors. We’re available to help should you need more than what’s available here:
- Defining the Competition: Before any analysis can take place you need to identify who your biggest competitors are, or any rival that has taken a bite out of your business in a specific service or product category, then you’ll have a list to work from going forward. This will allow you to begin profiling each of them to better understand their strategies and any potential responses to your own initiatives. That’s key as it will allow you to prepare for any “retaliatory” moves they make after your own have been implemented – especially undercut attempts at defusing your promotions. They whole exercise should be aimed at identifying their strengths and weaknesses where your own efforts are concerned.
- Build A Market Share Array: This may be something you’ve never even heard of, but it’s not difficult to understand when you have it laid out for you. A market share array is actually just your own thoughts on your competition given meaning through weighted number ratings of 1-5. We’ve broken the individual steps out below:
- Determine the competitors: Choose the companies you wish to include in your array. You may include as many as you wish, but each will need to be rated from your own experience, so we recommend using your top 3-5.
- Identify benefits common customers expect: In order to properly rate each company in your array, including your own, you’ll need to imagine your ideal common customer and their specific expectations. These will be your key success factors.
- Identify key success factors: As stated above, your customer expectations will be your key success factors. These should include everything you believe is important to your customers. For example, innovation, advertising, branding, customer service, reputation, industry competence, etc.
- Rank factors: With your factors in hand you need to give them each a weight rating. When added together, all of the weight ratings should equal 1.0. So, one factor may be weighted .10 while another is .25. However, all added together must equal 1.0 exactly for your array to hold value.
- Rate each company: Now you just have to give each company in your array a value for each weighted factor. These values should be from 1-4 with 1 being the worst and 4 the best. When ratings have been given to each factor just multiply it by the weighted rating to get the weighted score. Add these weighted scores for each factor together and you’ll have a total combined score for each company. Use this to compare your efforts in key areas!
- Understand Their Strategies: This is where your instincts, experience, and creativity will serve you well. After all, knowing what a company is doing online doesn’t necessarily translate to seeing the big picture – particularly if you’re not informed about how individual initiatives mesh with others. If you get it, you can use it to your benefit. Imagine knowing the keywords your site is sharing with your three biggest competitors. If you knew their value you could adjust your approach to take advantage of areas they’re missing. You could allocate more budget to areas they’re winning and try to unseat them from their position. There’s no limit to what you can do once you know how they’re spending their own budgets – where, how much, and with what success. That’s pure gold in the right hands!
Cost-Benefit Analysis: So, your competitive analysis is complete. You have all your rated competitors neatly arranged. You know their efforts and have seen their impacts on your own bottom line. There has to be more, right? There is – cost-benefit analysis. CBA allows you to gauge the relative risk in moves you’re considering making. And, because you have the insights you’ve garnered through study of the competitors in your vertical you can be confident your estimates of project benefits will be as accurate as possible. Having real, actionable data on the potential risk/reward in any endeavor is going to prove useful – priceless even.
Competitive Analysis Tools:
Step #4: Site Flow & Objectives
When you think about digital marketing to increasing online business, all of the technology and flashy content really boil down to one just thing – trying to improve user experience. Everything you do online is geared toward providing your site visitors with an exceptional experience – significantly better than your competitors’ own efforts. You’ve done all of the technical backend work to get your site up to speed and you’ve checked your competitors’ efforts to see where your own are lagging behind. Now it’s time to put that information to good use by reviewing our sales funnel and optimizing our conversion pathways across our digital marketing efforts. This will include a thorough review of all your brand messaging, any ad copy, site content, and email marketing materials used to facilitate sales of your goods and services.
We’ve broken this section out into three main areas of focus. Each of these steps is vital to your getting the most from your digital marketing efforts and should be give adequate attention regularly to maintain your position within your vertical. After all, setting it and forgetting it no longer works. You have to actively manage your digital processes to keep them profitable. Let’s get started:
- Review Sales Funnel: If you are in business then you know what a sales funnel is and we need not take time to explain it in detail. However, we will point out that you should review your sales funnel regularly to ascertain performance and any drop-offs that could prove to be more than blips on the radar. Blips can become trends before you know it, so staying ahead of the data is vital to getting the most from your planning and implementations. Now, the six stages you should identify in your sales funnel are:
- Awareness: This is where your business is discovered – whether through paid ads, organic queries, listing sites, etc. And, this is where most of your advertising budget is spent.
- Discovery: Okay, you’ve got their interest and now they’ve found you. This portion of the funnel is dedicated to delivering quality, informative content that leads to the next stage in the funnel.
- Evaluation: This is where comparisons to your competitors come in and it’s where your competitive analysis can really pay dividends. Understanding where they fail allowed you to bolster efforts in those areas. It gave you the content pathways you needed to speak your customer’s language.
- Intent: The visitor is ready to convert, but they may need a bit more convincing from your sales team, or from additional communication via the website and its contact forms. This is where your phone number displayed on your site, your ad copy, and/or your website turns a visitor into a customer.
- Purchase: It’s time to close the deal with your customer and that means the sales funnel and all your associated processes worked. This is a cause to celebrate, but it’s also a learning opportunity. Remember, the funnel is an open-ended creation and never truly closes. The best funnels have taken that into consideration and plan for ways to re-approach past customers.
- Loyalty: When your funnel is successful in its mission of informing and converting site visitors then you have data you can use to further better performance. using what worked with them allows you to continually optimize your site and associated digital marketing to what’s working. Optimize, optimize, optimize!
- Conversion Optimization: There are as many conversion optimization techniques as there are marketers worldwide. That means you’ll have to find the ones you feel offer your specific efforts the best opportunities at success. We recommend five steps to every client we work with that focus on areas we think are vital to effective digital strategy. These steps have been outlined briefly below and you can find additional information about any of them with a simple Google search. These aren’t well-guarded secrets, but steps each and every business owner should take to ensure they stay headed in the right direction. After all, conversions are the goal of everything you do!
- Don’t overreach: Search engines prefer websites that answer user queries quickly, so the first page is given to those sites that do the best job of delivering. It would seem that optimizing for every possible term is the way to go, but that’s a bad idea. A jack-of-all-trades approach will never work to get your site to rank effectively. Limit your reach to what you think you can own and go from there.
- Content is King: This is the single most powerful tool in your toolkit for getting the results you’re after. You can control it directly and you should know your customers better than anyone. Find what scratches their itches and give it to them. That’s the surest way to win in digital marketing on any platform. Content is user experience!
- Imagery & Video: You’re a web surfer, just as all of us are today, so you know what catches the eyes of your customers. They stay for imagery and video and absorb more information when they’re given a choice of how to digest it. User experience is all about choice and if you give them the ones they want your customers will keep coming back forever!
- HTML 5: Sites that use Flash are going to be left behind by leaps and bounds in the very near future. It’s unnecessary today and slows load times considerably – especially when there are many elements to load on-page. Consider moving away from Flash completely and embracing HTML 5 for the obviously better solution it is.
- Test & Test Again: The only way you’re going to get anywhere with your conversion rates is through constantly refining your approach using testing, repeated and never-ending testing, to find the pain points and iron them out to deliver a smooth, enjoyable experience to every one of your site’s visitors. test everything you can as often as you’re able for the best possible returns!
- Sales Copy Review: Though it can be considered a part of optimizing for conversions, we feel that your sales copy is so important it deserved to be approached independently of the other steps outlined above. Every piece of copy you have should be reviewed regularly to gauge its performance over a given timeframe. Use what you’ve learned about your competitors’ efforts to inform your decisions and constantly strive to be better for your users – in your promotional materials, your ad copy, and your website service/product pages. These are where your sales take place and where your attention should be at all times.
Nothing you do for your business is more important from a digital marketing perspective than the sales copy you present to your customers. It’s your voice in their digital ears and it should be as sweet as you can make it – no matter the venue!
Step #5: Budget Planning
Before you can begin any successful marketing operation, you have to take the time to properly forecast the costs for your hoped-for results. These costs are your marketing budget for a particular campaign and must be determined prior to your getting anything real underway. So, as with anything in life, it pays to understand the costs associated with everything you may require to be successful, or to even get started, long before you need it. That kind of budget planning will ensure you’re never left without the funds you need to deliver optimal results.
Define Your Market Spend
Your market spend is the forecasted costs required to market your business’ goods or services. This includes all your project’s staffing requirements, a physical location for work to take place, web development for all associated properties, and any and all advertising and promotion related to the project. Every minute you spend during this step will benefit you tremendously as your project gets underway. The more you forecast, the more you foresee, the more you can overcome as challenges are presented and the better off everyone involved will be. It’s the budget and the planning that go into it which fuels everything that happens once the project begins, so understanding every possibility, and planning for its eventuality, will serve you and your team well throughout your work.
Now, there are as many ways of finding the right budget for your effort as there are efforts to be undertaken. And, people to undertake them. However, the following two methods should assist you in getting the figures you need for your marketing operation. You’ll just have to do the legwork to find which works best for your specific circumstances.
The two methods are:
- Percentage of Sales Budgeting: Many businesses allocate a specific percentage of their overall sales to their marketing initiatives. This method will provide you with a clear figure for your particular marketing operation that balances your needs with those of all other efforts in action.
- Goal-Based Budgeting: While not as common as the percentage of sales route, goal-based budgeting allows a business to define specific goals for an effort, develop a proven course of action, and allocate budget based strictly on achieving those goals. This is the best option for running multiple, concurrent marketing operations.
Define In-House Capabilities
Understanding what your team is capable of, and what amount of your marketing projects workload they’re capable of delivering, is vital to achieving even modest online success. It will allow you to properly identify and procure additional services you’ll need to get the best possible returns from your online efforts. That knowledge is key to producing a worthwhile budget and will serve you well going forward. After all, many of the skills you identify in your team will be required for many different marketing endeavors, so understanding who brings what to the table will help you better assign tasks to get the most from each of your team members.
The cataloguing of your in-house capabilities is necessary to finding the right strategic outsourcing partner. Your team’s strengths will not be a focus, but their weaknesses – these can inform your decisions about which vendor brings the best mix of what you need to your project. This can do more than match the right team with a task. It can help you to maximize your online profits by ensuring everything you can do in-house is being done and not being outsourced at a potentially wasteful cost.
Define Outsource Costs
You’ve properly catalogued your own teams’ skillsets, and tied them to your initiatives, so now you have what you need to determine the costs for outsourcing required for your project(s). This is especially important when you’re considering using one single full-service solution versus a unique vendor for every need. In either case, you can find the costs associated with the roles you’ll need filled and shop around for what you feel is the best fit of price and capability. Your final choice’s price tag(s) will be a large part of your overall budget. Finding the best fits and pricing can lower your costs considerably – no matter the initiative in mind.
You can find the outsourced skills you need in any industry and at almost any price point. This makes it extremely important that you do your homework before making any final decisions about vendor assistance. Once you’re working with a vendor it can cause quite a disruption to change in the middle of an initiative. So, do your research and choose based on ability, flexibility, and cost. That will provide you with the final piece of your marketing budget and allow you to begin allocating portions to specific areas of interest.
Step #6: Strategic Marketing Plan
All of our steps have led us to this point. We’ve diagnosed our digital deficiencies, arranged to track all of our online activity, checked our competition and their own efforts, and organized our teams to best tackle each marketing challenge we’ll face. Now, we have to put a strategy in place to address all of our various needs and use all available tools in our efforts – both in-house and outsourced. While the specifics of any industry’s planning may be a bit different, the elements listed below should play a significant role in any business’ online efforts if they wish to see any real, lasting success.
We’ve listed each of the elements individually below and provided descriptions of how they work together to deliver optimal results in any online business venture. There may be elements described that you’ve already invested in and that’s all to the good. Your focus now should be on tying them all together in a cohesive marketing strategy and ensuring your team is structured to get the most from your efforts.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is defined as any and all steps taken to better the search results of a particular URL. This can be any number of technical steps taken in the code of a web property, or the content used across the site’s pages. This value is based on keyword usage, link profiles, and the general health of a URL string. However, there are no “hard and fast” rules for SEO. It comes in as many flavors as ice cream and some can be better for you than others. In fact, some are terrible for you, but they’re too hard to pass up. So, when considering SEO, it’s important to consider the long-term well-being of your website. Penalties can destroy everything you’ve worked so hard to build, so be cautious with SEO – especially when it sounds too good to be true.
No matter what your industry, SEO has a place in your marketing plan. Good SEO, or white hat as it’s known, poses no risk to your business and lasts for as long as your site exists. This is what we call “evergreen” SEO and includes everything from logical URL structure to keyword-rich content that speaks directly to users’ queries. That’s the most important element in onsite SEO – content that has value to your customers. Along with an effective link strategy and meta, content that answers the questions your customers have will always win out with the algorithms. In the end, their only job is matching queries to great content, so fulfilling the business half of the equation will serve you well for years to come.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
In digital marketing, pay-per-click advertising is the only pathway to instant gratification. Platforms like Google Ads, Bing Ads, and Yelp Ads can put your business in front of the customers you need to reach your goals. Unlike SEO, which relies on the search engine to properly deliver your site to a user’s query, PPC allows you to have your business listed, along with your chosen messaging, on the search engine results pages for the queries and keywords you choose. That means if you need lead generation today then you need PPC advertising.
While each of the platforms is somewhat different, they all use an auction system to decide whose ad will show for a given query. You bid on the keywords you wish to showcase ads for and provide the system with the best possible ad copy you can devise. This presents your business with the surest pathway to the customers you want to find and gives you the control over what you’ll spend to find them. In essence, it’s the ideal digital way to find the online success you’re looking for. And, best of all, any business can get in the game at a budget they’re comfortable spending. As long as ROI is proven each month you can continue to refine your efforts on any of the platforms you choose.
No matter what type of business you’re in, you’re going to want to take full advantage of your local online results to ensure you get as much coverage for your online business as possible. Think of this as reach. You never want to limit your reach – even when it seems the best idea. For example, you’re a mattress manufacturer that doesn’t have any local customers. All your products are shipped far away, so you don’t need to worry about local listings and search results, right? Wrong. Those results, those listings, are free real estate given to your business by the big search engines. You’re not going to use it to the best of your ability?
The Map Pack in Google search results, in Bing’s, in Apple’s, should include your business – even if you don’t accept visitors. You can use a service area instead of an address. You can do a million things to benefit your business, but not doing something is never going to produce results. You know that already. Local SEO is what every business should do to dominate their local results and it has a place in your arsenal – no matter what your goal. When you’re thinking of online success, you need to think about discoverability. That’s the power in search and it’s what Local SEO can help you to achieve. Starting small isn’t a bad thing when you’re trying to conquer the world.
Social Media Channels
Everyone has their own feelings about social media and the influence it has over modern society. However, no one can dispute that it does have power and influence and therefore should be utilized in some way to better your chances at finding online success. This can be tricky as there are no real rules for using social media effectively. In fact, it seems to depend on the industry, the social media persona, and the consistency of the messaging just as much as it does the real value present in the offering itself. This can make social media planning and execution difficult if not accustomed to the vagaries of the medium. An experienced social media manager is an asset that will only grow as time goes by – at least if trends continue.
In any case, you should fully investigate the effectiveness and potential inherent in each social media channel – its benefits to your vertical, the current size of your followings on individual channels, etc. Due to the fact that these profiles are free to setup and manage yourself, there’s no real reason you shouldn’t have them all claimed and ready to be put to use. This proactive planning will allow you to interlink where possible and take ownership of the specific URLs you want for your social portfolio. Remember – once you begin a posting schedule, or content calendar, you must stick with it. Your users will develop expectations and you have to live up to them. Once you’ve begun, you’re on a journey that never ends and you have to be prepared for that dedication.
The final element to discuss is a robust email marketing strategy for your specific business needs. Email marketing isn’t equal in all industries, but it should have a place in your marketing toolkit as it could potentially benefit your operations in a number of ways. First, your newsletter signup on your website is email marketing at its finest. These users have voluntarily agreed to receive promotional materials from your business which means you offered an exceptional enticement, or you have a dedicated following due to your products, services, and messaging being superior to your competition. Second, you can drum up business from an existing email list much easier than you can from a list of “cold leads”, so capturing your customers’ information is vital to developing meaningful, profitable, ongoing relationships with them.
Businesses can also use email marketing to reach an even wider audience if they’re willing to spend budget for marketing lists screened by third-party vendors. These campaigns have tremendous value in specific verticals and have historically converted at rates equal to or greater than print and TV ads – at a fraction of the cost. It’s all about creating an emailer that hits all the right spots with your customer base and this has as much to do with your knowledge of your customer as the words and font you choose to deliver it. In the end, the costs are low and the potential returns are high making email marketing a good move for any marketing team to make.
Step #7: Execute Marketing Objectives
All of our steps leading to this point have been concerned with preparing your business for its online endeavors. Now, we’re ready to implement our marketing efforts to achieve our objectives. First, we need to identify the key players and their roles and ensure we have clear and attainable objectives in place. This is where a project manager makes all the difference.
A project manager is exactly what the title suggests. They’re the person responsible for a project, the team working on it, and the pathway to meeting both timelines and budget requirements. While project management is a job title, you don’t have to hire one specifically for your marketing projects. You can assign one of your team to fill this role for each project relying on your knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses to assist you.
All you need to be sure of is that the person you name has a working knowledge of your industry and that of the client (should there be one). After all, they’ll be working directly with your team and the client, or vendors, so ensuring they understand your business and the goals you have for the project are vital to achieving the results you’re after. No matter who it is, they must have the authority to make the big decisions your initiative will require.
In House Responsibilities
Your project manager’s first duty will be to decide which responsibilities tied to your marketing effort will be handled in-house by your own team and what will be outsourced to outside teams for completion. This is where your project manager’s knowledge of your industry and team will pay real dividends. They’ll know who to pair with what tasks, whose skillsets mesh best with others, and who can be relied on to come through in a pinch. This is inside information only someone on your team would know, so there are benefits to naming a member of your team as project manager – above and beyond the cost-savings.
Depending on your business model, you may already be familiar with in-house and outsourcing division of labor. It’s common in a great many industries and has been for longer than digital marketing has been in the picture. Imagine a roofing contractor who uses an accounting firm to handle its books. That’s outsourcing of a division of the business. The roofing teams handle the roofing while the accountants handle the taxes. It’s the same with any digital marketing operation. You may have a tech team in-house and you may not. Your project manager will be responsible for assigning tasks to both your in-house team and the vendors who handle the outsourced workload.
For the purposes of this outline, we’ll assume that outsourcing will be a part of your efforts as it may be impossible for your business to afford a full-time IT professional on-staff, a web developer in-house, and a team of marketing experts in a range of digital fields. So, your project manager’s task will be to find the right fit for your available team members in your marketing operation’s planning. Many companies will attempt to save money here by assigning tasks to in-house personnel that are outside of their skillset or comfort level. It’s important to remember that savings during planning can often turn into costs in the long run. Be sure that every assignment is within the team member’s realm of expertise. Or, barring that, they’re at least comfortable in the role they’re given. As project manager, this is your #1 responsibility.
Once your in-house team is in place, you’ll need to find the right outsourcing partners for all of the remaining work. Again, this is where the project manager’s familiarity with the industry will come in handy. They should understand the requirements remaining and see the best fit for each – especially given time and resources for researching potential vendors. Time spent in planning will always pay off in results.
Having your team’s roles defined and all in-house responsibilities assigned, it’s time for the project manager to procure the necessary outsourcing to make the project possible. 90% of companies will require outside assistance to get any marketing operation underway, so this is by no means admitting you cannot do it alone. On the contrary, it’s realizing that the best results come from the best planning and implementation – no matter the endeavor. And, that means bringing in additional help to shore up any weaknesses found in your team. Outsourcing partners can do that admirably and at a fraction of the cost of hiring in-house long-term.
One important factor to consider is whether or not it’s best to find one outsourcing partner to handle all of the additional work – a full service agency like Lift Conversions. This will help to eliminate much of the interagency communication required to deliver optimal results and cut down on the waiting times associated with that kind of spider-webbed communication. Having only one outsourcing vendor means you only have one team to communicate with, one team to coordinate with, and one team to rely on for what you need to make your operation a success. It pays to lessen red tape – no matter the industry.
Getting the right vendor to partner with you on your project is vital to your success – both in the short and long-term. As project manager you’ll be in charge of this outside assistance and will be in constant communication with all divisions involved in your effort. How much time can you conceivably dedicate to tracking down vendors to get the answers you need? Or, to facilitate the all-important changes in direction every successful marketing operation depends on to bring in the best possible results? Don’t make it too hard on yourself or your team if you can avoid it. That means outsourcing from only the most reliable and dependable teams.