The basis for any good online marketing plan is an awesome landing page. But regardless of how incredible your landing page is, you still need to get people there. That’s often the part that breaks down when a company actually starts marketing a new product or service online. They’ve got the landing page that’s been expertly designed and follows all the best practices, but they’re not getting conversions because they’re not getting traffic.
There’s tons of information out there for crafting an online marketing program that won’t cost you much more than time. One little problem: there’s so much information available that it’s often overwhelming. Even things like infographics that try to break it down can be too much.
So we’ve crafted the ultimate online marketing recipe. One that’s easy to follow and breaks everything down into steps. We’ve linked more information about most steps throughout the article so you can easily access more in-depth information if you need it.
Stage One: Gather Your Ingredients
The first stage of your marketing recipe consists of gathering up your ingredients. You’re laying the groundwork here for the rest of your marketing efforts, so make sure you don’t skip anything. Think about what happens when you leave out an ingredient in a recipe for a cake. Leave out the flour, and you get a soupy mess. Leave out the sugar and the taste is horrible. Leave out your eggs and the whole thing crumbles. The same thing happens if you leave out a key ingredient of your online marketing plan.
So let’s start by claiming your brand on the major social networks: Google+ (as soon as brand pages are available), Facebook, and Twitter. Depending on your industry, there might be niche social networks where you also want accounts (for example, an author might want to set up an account on Goodreads and LibraryThing as well). Make sure you customize your Twitter background. This can serve as your social landing page until your website and other landing pages are ready.
At this point you also want to set up your corporate blog and start posting right away. Make sure you submit your content to social sharing services (like StumbleUpon) and bookmark it on sites like Delicious. Research popular keywords related to your content and make sure you tag your posts with those words, and include them naturally within the content itself.
On the technical end of things, you’ll want to set up a Google Analytics account, a Google Webmaster Tools account, and a Feedburner account for managing and monitoring your RSS feeds. Analytics will help you monitor exactly what’s happening on your website, where your traffic is coming from, etc. Make sure you set up some goals and conversion funnels there, and annotate any important events (like a mention on a big blog) so you can remember six months from now why you saw a spike or a dip in traffic at a particular time.
At the same time, you should be gathering up leads for your product or service launch. Make sure you use a hosted email provider like Gmail, not a program like Outlook. Create your email template at this time, too.
- Set Up Your Website Correctly.
- Build a website. Chances are your company already has one. But if they don’t you can’t go any farther. Your website is the central hub of your entire online marketing strategy.
- Install Google Analytics. Make sure the analytics code is on every page of your website.
- Set up a Google Webmaster Tools account. Create a sitemap XML file and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools. Be sure to have your web designers or developers fix any errors that Google Webmaster Tools may alert you to. We have a pretty comprehensive guide to Google Webmaster Tools here.
- Sign up for a Twitter account. Think about your Twitter name because people will naturally “mention you” on Twitter by typing @yourcompanyname. Therefore you’ll most likely pick a Twitter name and URL like: http://twitter.com/yourcompanyname. Be sure to link back to your website in your profile.
- Have a professional designer create your Twitter background. Your Twitter background should be consistent with your website branding and offer some basic contact information. Consider communicating your value proposition on the background or in your profile description.
- Create a Facebook page (not a profile). Like Twitter, create a Facebook page and claim your Facebook URL to be something like: http://facebook.com/yourcompanyname.
- Keep your blog on your company domain name. The whole point of blogging is to attract relevant traffic back to your website. Blogging on another domain other than your company domain, defeats this purpose. This is the fundamental reason why blogging is good for SEO. For example, your blog should be located somewhere like: http://www.yourcompanyname.com/blog or http://blog.yourcompanyname.com.
- Keep your blog design consistent with your website design. They don’t have to look identical, but for the same reason you keep your Twitter profile in alignment with your company branding and design style, you should do the same for your company blog.
- Choose an email distribution service. Sending mass emails from your personal computer email client or web based email account is a sure fire way to shoot your email marketing campaign in the foot. Choose an email distribution service like Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Aweber to send out your company newsletter. Each of these services are great for making sure your emails get through to your email base while minimizing the dreaded spam folder. On top of that, they make adding new emails to your marketing list a snap.
- Create an Email Template. Again keep your email template consistent with your website branding and design style.
Stage Two: Initial Prep Work
By this point you’ve got all the basics gathered. You’ve got your social media accounts, you’ve set up your blog, and you’re tracking your efforts. Now it’s time to start building up more content and reinforcing your first efforts.
You should be working to build a Twitter following on a daily basis. There are a number of ways to do this, including following other users who might be interested in what you’re offering, and posting useful tweets. You should also be starting your drip marketing campaign with the leads you’ve gathered, to build up awareness and educate your potential customers.
Continue to refine your SEO based on the keyword research you’ve done. The goal is to maximize your placement for both primary keywords and longtail search results (which is where you’ll probably gain the most traction initially). Make sure you’ve set up custom reports in Analytics for both search optimization and other important metrics.
Finally, it’s a good idea to set up an editorial calendar for your blog and stick to it. If you know what you’re going to post ahead of time, it helps ensure that you’re updating regularly. Forming the habit of regular blog posts can be a difficult thing to do for new bloggers, but is essential if you want to be successful. And while we’re on the topic of blogs, make sure you’ve set up social sharing buttons on your blog posts to make it easy for others to share your content.
- Build a Twitter Following
- Start tweeting gently. Get your feet wet and get comfortable with the “Twittersphere”. Tweet a few times a day at first, retweet other people’s posts you find valuable. Follow people you know really well to start instant and meaningful Twitter relationships.
- Follow people who might be interested in what you offer. You can search twitter to find people who are talking about what you have to offer. See what kind of interactions you get from this. However, sometimes it’s best just to follow people related to your industry (like experts and gurus) than to bother potential customers. Figure out what’s right for you.
- Be personable. Don’t just spam your twitter account with your own blog content. Interact with your followers and share other people’s content when it makes sense.
- Download our Twitter Marketing Guide. Read this guide a little bit every day and you’ll be a Twitter expert in no time.
- Conduct keyword research. Use keyword research tools to figure out what key phrases attract the most relevant traffic to your website. It’s very important at this step to determine what language attracts the right kind of customers to your website. Don’t just aim for the keywords with the highest search volume.
- Create keyword rich title tags and H1 headings. The most basic and powerful SEO you can do is simply place the top key phrases you have selected from your keyword analysis and place them in the title tags and H1 heading tags of your webpages. DO NOT REPEAT KEYWORDS ON MULTIPLE WEBPAGES. This will cause keyword cannibalization and ruin your SEO efforts. Also, be sure you have only one H1 heading per webpage which can be easily detected by viewing the webpage source code and searching for “h1″.
- Don’t forget about videos and image content. Images are really important for SEO. Be sure every webpage has a couple unique images with the appropriate alt tag information filled out (alt tags contain keywords related to the image). If you have videos, be sure to upload them to a branded Youtube channel and think about the title of your videos. They are important keywords for search as well.
- Prepare a list of topics you want to publish. This is an excellent process to make sure you have enough content to publish for months to come. It’s also a great time to think about what content will attract the audience you’re are trying to market to. Spend a lot of time on this part!
- Schedule your posts. After you have determined what content you want to create, it’s important you have a plan to ensure you can execute the content delivery. Determine who will write what content, what the due date is for each post, and allow time for content review.
Stage Three: Mix Your Ingredients
It’s time to really start pushing your online marketing campaign. You’ve got all the basics down, you’ve settled into a bit of a routine in terms of blog updates and other efforts, and now you want results. All too often, people falter at this stage, thinking they’re not going to see results, when in fact this is just the point where they should really be stepping up their efforts.
Up to this point, you’ve probably just been tweeting whenever it was convenient. That’s great, except that there are optimal times for sending out tweets, depending on what you want your followers to do. Rather than sending out tweets randomly, use an app that lets you schedule your tweets (like HootSuite or Seesmic).
Up until now, you haven’t done too much with your social media accounts other than Twitter. It’s time to set up a Facebook page. You want to create a page that focuses on gaining more “likes” (followers), so that your updates are being broadcast to those interested in what you’re offering. Make sure your Facebook page is connected to your blog so that news items are posted whenever you publish a new post.
You should also, at this point, consider segmenting your email lists so you can better target your email newsletter. If your mailing list isn’t growing as fast as you’d like, there are a couple of ways you can add new leads. The first is to answer questions on sites like LinkedIn or Quora (make sure your profile is filled out completely on both sites) to establish yourself as an expert. The other way is to offer some kind of giveaway in exchange for signing up for your mailing list. Make sure it’s something of value, so that your visitors will be happy to turn over their email address or other information in exchange.
Directly tied into the second part of that is creating an ebook or whitepaper that solves a need your prospective customers will likely have. Giving that away only to newsletter or feed subscribers is a great way to get more people to sign up.
This is also a good time to start advertising with Google AdWords. There are plenty of coupons out there that give you a credit (sometimes upwards of $100) to try AdWords. Find these and use one to set up a test campaign using landing pages. Figure out which ad and landing page combinations work best (using your Quality Score), and then start spending your own money on further AdWords advertising.
Make sure that the landing pages you use are designed with a single purpose in mind and with a single call to action on each page. Cluttering up your pages with too many options or too much information only serves to lower your conversion rates. To make sure your landing pages are the best they can be, make sure you use the Unbounce.com scorecard. Generate a to-do list for improvements from your score there.
Use your Analytics reports to look for areas on your website that are underperforming and find ways to fix them. This step becomes even more important if the underperforming pages are vital parts of your conversion funnel.
Another great way to drive more traffic to your site is to write guest posts for other blogs with similar visitor demographics. Look for sites in related niches and get in touch with the blog owners about guest posting. For example, if you’re selling a financial product to small business owners, look for blogs that address marketing for small business, or something similar. Same demographic, but not a direct competitor.
- Schedule Your Tweets.
- Pick a Tweet scheduling tool. Use a service like Bufferapp to schedule your tweets throughout the day. Write compelling tweets that should entice click throughs and seed some of your previously written blog content for future delivery.
- Don’t leave your Twitter account on auto-pilot. Remember to interact and be personable throughout the day. If your company Twitter account is only spitting out content from the company blog and there isn’t any real human interaction visible on the profile, the more “spammy” your company profile will look.
- Fill out your information. Include your company contact information, year founded, links to your website and blog.
- Upload images. Upload images such as advertisements, pictures of your team and company events. Show the world that your company is a living, breathing, and exciting entity.
- Connect your blog to your company Facebook page. Use a tool like Hootsuite to use your blog RSS feed as a way to update your Facebook page automatically.
- Download our Facebook Marketing Guide. This comprehensive guide will help you get the most out of your Facebook marketing efforts.
- Design your email segments. Since every person on your email list isn’t meant to receive every email you’re going to send out, design the appropriate segments (i.e. product updates, press releases, gender, region etc.).
- Let your customers choose which emails they would like to receive. Wherever you have an email sign up form, be sure to ask your subscribers what kind of emails they want to receive. This will put your subscribers in the appropriate buckets and should improve your email marketing metrics.
- Google Adwords. If you want instant website traffic and new business, Google Adwords is the place to be. But watch out, it can be very expensive and highly competitive.
- Yahoo / Bing. Google might be the largest pay-per-click advertising network, but Yahoo and Bing tend to have a better return on investment.
- Facebook. Facebook Advertising allows you to target potential customers by interest, age and gender demographics which gives it a completely unique advantage over Google and Yahoo/Bing.
- Consider hiring a professional. Online advertising is an extremely competitive, expensive and time consuming task. Unless you have someone in-house that can be dedicated to this activity full time, it’s wise to hire a reputable firm or PPC marketer to manage your internet advertising campaigns. Done right, this can be one of the most lucrative ways to generate new business.
- Doing it yourself. If your don’t have the budget to hire a professional and insist on doing internet advertising in-house or yourself, be sure to read this guide.
Stage Four: Bake
We’re getting to the stage where everything is about refining and reinforcing what you’re already doing. There aren’t a lot of new steps at this point, but if you really want to get the most out of your efforts, you need to continuously refine and test what you’re doing.
On that note, try some A/B testing with your landing page ideas to see whether there are better ways to do what you’ve been doing. You might even try some “live” tests with real visitors to see what they’re drawn to on your pages, and if they respond to your call to action.
You should also be A/B testing your emails to make sure that you’re getting the best response possible. Don’t just monitor open rates, though, make sure you’re measuring overall conversions. Who cares if people open your email if it ends up in their trash two seconds later? What you want are emails that are converting in high numbers, regardless of their open rates. Of course, the ultimate goal is to find an email with a high open rate and a high conversion rate.
Link building at this point becomes much more organic. You’re getting some traffic at this point, and the best way to capitalize on that is to create great content that people want to link to. Monitor these incoming links to see where your traffic is coming from, and to see if your content is reaching the right demographics. One great way to get more incoming links is to write about influential people your visitors would be interested in reading about. In the best case scenario, this can get you attention from the actual influencer.
You should be using LinkedIn more at this point to extend your reach. This is particularly important for anyone selling a B2B service or product, but even B2C companies can benefit from using LinkedIn. Just look for people or groups who are likely interested in what you’re selling. Don’t overlook the power of recommendations, either. Make sure you’re not neglecting any one social media platform; balance your time so you can manage them all.
- A/B Test
- A/B test Pay-Per-Click landing pages. You’re most likely going to be sending traffic from your Pay-Per-Click marketing, social media marketing and sometimes even email marketing to special landing pages (instead of your website home page). Therefore you should A/B test these landing pages to see which variations perform better. This is the surest way to see instant marketing improvements.
- A/B test your website webpages. A lot of people forget that their website pages are landing pages. These should also be A/B tested (whether it for lead generation, sign ups or sales).
- A/B test your email campaigns. Finally, you can A/B test your email campaigns to see which headlines, layouts, and copy performs best.
- Write great blog content. The key to ranking well on the search engines is to provide your customers and audience with great content. Think of creative articles you can publish on your blog that will attract other bloggers and industry people to link to your posts.
- Ask for links. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking the right people to link to you. Perhaps someone has written a blog post about your site and forgot to link to you. In other cases you can ask vendors to and business partners to link to your website. Be sure to have them include the key phrases you picked during your keyword analysis in the link text that points back to your website.
- Create infographics. Infographics are a great way to communicate ideas in a very creative way. They generally get linked to a lot. However this activity should most likely be outsourced to a professional design firm. Here are some examples of infographics created for KISSmetrics.
- Connect with people or groups who are likely interested in what you’re selling. Similar to Twitter, nurturing these relationships correctly will help spread the good word of your brand.
- Give recommendations. This is somewhat like social networking karma. Recommend people who have helped your business or company and see what happens in return!
Stage Five: Serve and Enjoy
At this point, it’s all about maintenance. You need to make sure you don’t lose any of the ground you’ve gained, while continuing to build your platform and reputation.
Try being more interactive on social media. Leaving Twitter open throughout the day so that you can interact “live” with your followers or those talking about your brand is a great way to improve your reputation. Make sure that Twitter is being monitored throughout the day and interact whenever possible. You might make a schedule so that different employees can manage Twitter at different times throughout the day, so that a single person doesn’t get overwhelmed.
You should try creating a viral landing page for a contest to get more attention. Make sharing the page (either by liking or sharing it on Facebook, or retweeting on Twitter) a requirement for contest entry for the best results.
Start using surveys and feedback widgets to get real-time data from those visitors coming to your website to make sure you’re not losing any leads due to technical or usability problems. This is vital at this stage if you want to continue growing. You should also make sure that your incoming marketing traffic is being segmented so that you can better monitor the effects of your efforts (Analytics has great tools for this).
You’ve already done a whitepaper or ebook to get more visitors, so now why not try an infographic related to your industry? Infographics are a great way to share data. Make sure your logo and website address are highly visible on the graphic for the best results.
And finally at this stage, you may want to consider using expert services (like KISSmetrics) to get even more out of your efforts.
- Monitor Your Social Network.
- Assign or hire someone to actively monitor. Great opportunities can be gained by actively monitoring your social networks. However this task can be 100% time consuming, so it wise to hire a support person to perform this task or assign “on guard times” for certain employees. If cost is an issue when it comes to hiring someone for this task, consider using Odesk.com
- Determine how to handle complaints and reputation issues. Having a game plan on how to handle people complaining about your brand can be very crucial to your online success. Devise a process and protocol to handle complaints and cries for help.
- Sign up for website monitoring. You should sign up for a website monitoring service that will alert you if your website goes down for any reason.
- Sign up for KISSinsights. One of the bests way to provide content, products or services that your customers want is to ask them by using a survey tool like KISSinsights.
- Track everything with UTM tracking. Get in the habit of tracking all your online marketing activities by using UTM tracking on all links. This is the reason why internet marketing is so awesome, nearly everything is trackable and measurable! Using analytics like Google Analytics or KISSmetrics, you can see the effects of all your internet marketing activities.
- Sign up for a KISSmetrics account. If you really want to take your internet marketing to the next level, KISSmetrics allows you to A/B test every marketing activity, calculate ROI of each online marketing activity, provides segmentation analytics, event tracking and more.
- Talk to us anytime and ask us for help.. Trying to do every possible online marketing activity is really hard to accomplish. This is why KISSmetrics is such a useful tool. With KISSmetrics you can determine which online marketing activities are helping you achieve your goals, therefore allowing you to focus on the marketing tasks that are actually making a difference to your bottom line. Click here to try KISSmetrics and you’ll be surprised at how much more you can get out of your online marketing efforts with our tool. We’re more than happy to discuss the ways in which we can improve your business. Feel free to talk to us!
About the Authors:
Cameron Chapman is a freelance designer, blogger, and the author of Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Online Celebrity.
Sean Work is the Marketing Director at KISSmetrics. You can follow him on Twitter right here :)