This is the time of year that many of us are thinking about what we didn’t do in 2010 and what we should do for 2011. Even professional online marketers have a long ‘to do’ list of things to improve their online marketing performance – made up of tasks to specifically improve ROI or something to save time and improve efficiency. For those of you that are doing your own online marketing, this sort of tasks may be way down on your list, way below items more specifically related to your business. These are the types of tasks that may not be ‘sexy’ and fun, which is why they are easily ‘put on the long finger’ (as they say in Ireland), but are critical to bring the best results from your online marketing activities.
Now is the time to get your online marketing ready for more success in 2011 and here are 4 things you should do this month — or first thing in January, if this is a busy month in your industry.
1. Complete your Online Marketing Plan
You may think you have a plan, maybe it’s in your head and you haven’t had time to put it down officially, but to get the most success from your online marketing efforts you need a proper online marketing plan. Be realistic and be flexible, but not so much so that you let it slip.
- Identify your Target Market – See my article “Get Focused for a More Effective Marketing Campaign” which gives specific steps to do this and a sample format.
- Determine your Goals – Be specific. You don’t just want ‘more sales’; set a specific target and identify what kind of sales you want – from which revenue streams, from which of your sales efforts, etc.
- Outline your Resources – Staff (in-house and out sourced), other colleagues (suppliers, network buddies), social media connections, other ‘experts’ that may help you out; as well as hardware, software and any online applications you are using.
- Set out your Day to Day and 12 Month Plans – See my article “Timing is EVERYTHING in Online Marketing” for specific Internet Marketing advice and a sample format.
- Establish an Online Marketing Policy – If you do have other people working with you it is important that you have agreed an online marketing policy to ensure that:
- the content on your site, social media channels and all other online marketing efforts has a consistent voice
- you have a plan for dealing with good and bad feedback (reviews, complaints, bad comments, etc.)
- you are best utilising your resources in your Day to Day and 12 Month Plans
- Establish an Internet & Social Media Usage Policy – Ensure that members of your staff are not doing anything online that may offend or bring legal troubles to you or your business, as well as ensure best use of time for specific job related activities online and any personal time you may allow.
See my presentation 7 Steps to Business Success with Social Media Marketing for things to consider when setting up your Online Marketing Plan.
2. Get Your Website in Shape
- Redevelop Your Site Using a Good Content Management System – Whether you use WordPress, Joomla, another open source application or a bespoke CMS from your web developer; make sure the system gives you the ability to:
- fully add/edit/manage main pages of your site, as well as daily/weekly items like news, special offers, upcoming events etc. (whether you call that your blog or not) so you can have up to date, relevant content.
- set unique Titles and Descriptions for each page/post of your website, which is critical for SEO, and also for feeding your site into Social Media channels.
- generate an RSS Feed so that visitors can subscribe for updates via a feed reader or email
- integrate with your Social Media Channels – Facebook ‘Like’ buttons, Tweet This, ShareIt, etc., as well as widgets showing your stream on your networks.
- Ping search engines – posts correctly set up on WordPress sites can get into Google within minutes.
- automatically create updated xml and html sitemaps.
- post via email and mobile devices for more flexibility.
- make sure you get properly trained in using the CMS so you can make best use of all these features.
- Ensure that your site is ‘speaking to’ your Target Market
- Is the content on your site relevant to them and addressing their needs?
- Would the design be attractive to them?
- Are you using the ‘language’ they are using? Target Keyphrase Research is not only good for SEO, it’s a great marketing exercise, telling you what people are looking for in their own language.
- Do you need to segment your site according to different segments of your target market? On the site I did for the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism we did a weddings mini-site on a subdomain and are just completing mini-sites for Conferences and Golf. WordPress networked sites are excellent for this as you can easily create new sites off the same installation and share posts, templates, etc.
- Do you need to Geo-Target your site? Show different versions to people from different locations or using different languages?
- Do your targets primarily view your site and interact online with you via desktop or mobile devices? Is your site fully functional and attractive via mobile phones, iPads, etc.
- Make your site more Search Engine Friendly If you haven’t already, do some studying up on SEO (using respected sources, please) and make sure:
- your site is crawl-able – so that search engines access your content and follow the navigation to all the pages on your site.
- you are using key phrases in all the important areas.
- your download speeds are as fast as possible – optimize images, limit calls to external files, while keeping the main file small, etc.
Google Webmaster Tools is a great resource for checking these areas.
3. Set up Google Analytics
(or another of your choice with similar features)
- Set ‘Goals’ to reflect the goals you’ve set in your Online Marketing Plan so that you can clearly see how you are progressing and what areas of your site are working for you and NOT working for you.
- If you have an E-Commerce site integrate it so that you can see your actual ROI for online activities. If you don’t have an E-commerce site then set values to your goals to give you an idea of your ROI.
- Create Custom Reports to clearly see your results from your specific online marketing activities (i.e. shopping cart, PPC ads, social media channels, etc.) so that you can see how well each is doing for you.
- Make sure you have time each week on your Day to Day plan to review your analytics and compare to your goals and adjust your Online Marketing Plan if needed.
4. Organise your Data
Whether you use a professional CRM (possibly Online Marketing specific) application or an open source spreadsheet, make sure you can easily look at and utilise all of your data in one place:
- Contact Details – Customers, prospects, suppliers and other important people (influencers in your industry, media, etc.) including the social media channels they are on.
- Customer and Prospect Inter-Activity – Proposals, sales, enquiries, site visits and other interactions online and off.
- Campaigns – PPC, Social Media, Email Marketing, Offline Marketing – who was targeted, who responded?
- Referrals – Who is giving you good and not so good referrals? Who can you give good referrals to – a great way to build relationships?
- Upselling and cross selling opportunities
- Results – Can you easily see where your sales come from? Website, PPC and online marketing statistics should be integrated here along with information gathered offline.
- Costs – How much did it cost you to make a sale? Which products/services bring the greatest/least ROI?
- Project/Time Management – How much time are you spending on a sale or project? Are you using your time efficiently?
- Team Management – Are you using all of your staff efficiently? When team members are bringing in the best results?
- Email Marketing Mailing List – Either run from your CRM or integrated with a third party provider.
So now you know what I will be doing between Christmas and New Year. One big task I tackled in 2010 was getting my website where I want it to be, using WordPress as a CMS and fully integrating my social media channels, but I have the more analytical tasks still to work on. I’ve written online marketing plans for loads of clients in the past couple of months, but mine is not quite complete. My Google Analytics and SugarCRM need more customisation and data included to be more effective for me.
It is really hard to find time for these things when you are so busy in the day to day activities of your business, whether you are an online marketing professional or not. So it’s important to find the time now and set up systems that will be easy to maintain throughout the year.
Do you have any tips on how to improve your Online Marketing results or recommendations for applications to best carry out these activities? Please add your comments here.