Everybody wants to win. And there is almost no stiffer competition than for those 10 (or so) first page rankings on the search engines, particularly Google. Every business engaged in web marketing wants to be on that first page. And while there are millions of competitions to enter (in the form of keywords) not every competition has the audience to make it worth the effort.
In the Olympics, it doesn’t matter if anyone is watching. A gold medal is a gold medal. But online, a gold medal for obscure keywords has no merit or value. What you want is the championship ring, not some participation trophy!
The success of any web marketing campaign is reliant on many things, but there are five primary aspects you have to consider if you truly want to be successful online. In fact, failure to keep these five considerations front of mind will very likely lead to “failure” in your web marketing efforts, regardless of who is overseeing them for you.
1) The Definition of Success
What is your definition of online success? Are you looking for rankings, traffic, downloads, sales, all of the above, or something else? You may not have really thought about it, or maybe you never really thought you had to think about it because, you know, we all know what successful web marketing means, right? Or do we?
In sports, the rules are clear and the goals are well defined. Get the ball through the hoop, bring runners home, or score a touchdown to put points on the board. If there is a violation, the refs call it and penalties are handed out. Web marketing doesn’t have a rule book and the penalties are inconsistent at best.
The closest thing we have to any kind of rules of the game are “best practices,” which can vary depending on who’s saying them and what studies are performed. And the goals? Those are often fluid, depending on the business and what site visitors want.
In fact, what you may think is obvious about your success may not be obvious to your marketing team at all. And the same goes for them—what they may think is a clear indicator of success isn’t necessarily what you’re looking for either.
Which means, success has to be defined in advance.
Both you and your marketing team need to be on board with what your web marketing goals are and what metrics you’ll be using to measure those goals. It does no good to point out how much engagement you’re getting on social media if that’s not what you’re most interested in. By establishing your definitions and metrics for success, you can make sure that everyone is on board and everything being done is working toward achieving those goals.
2) The Baseline Authority of the Website
Every website has at a certain level of authority from which it must work. New websites and unknown brands have an inherent disadvantage when competing against well-established sites and known brands. And that can make all the difference in the world.
You may never know exactly what your site’s “authority level” is, though there are many tools that will give you some kind of indication as to where you stand against a competitor. And while these are not perfect metrics, they help you see the road ahead.
If you’re starting out on the low end of the authority spectrum, you’ve got a lot of building to do. You can optimize your site for keywords and make it search engine-friendly but, without building authority, it just isn’t going to take off.
Keep in mind, authority isn’t something you can just “do”, like keyword optimization. It’s an ongoing process of marketing, link building, social media engagement, and providing a good customer experience.
Ultimately, building up that authority takes time and a lot of work. If your site is in a strong position, less work will be required to put you over the top. However, if you’re starting at the bottom of the pile, you’ve got a lot of work ahead to dig your way out and up.
3) The Aggressiveness of Your Web Marketing Campaign
The baseline authority of your site says a lot about how much work needs to be done to make your web marketing campaign successful. But the aggressiveness of your campaign has everything to do with how quickly you’ll be tackling those tasks ahead.
I always find it interesting that—on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being most aggressive—a business that is operating on a level three aggressiveness expects results as if they were operating at a 10. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.
Let’s say you have 100 web marketing items that need to be addressed. It may be impossible to do all 100 all at once, but if you’re only able to hit one or two items each month, you can see that you have a much longer road ahead than if you were tackling those tasks at a more aggressive 6 or 10 tasks per month.
The rate at which you are able to focus on any given area will play a significant role in how quickly you see the success you’re looking for. If you spread yourself too thin, you’re doing little bits of many things and never taking the time to be great with any of them. But if you focus too much on one area and not the other, then that other can drag down the success of the one thing you’re actually doing well. Sometimes it’s just hard to get ahead!
Obviously, it would be great to operate at a 10 aggressiveness level, but for most businesses, time and budget makes that impossible. This means you have to accept the level at which you can operate, understanding that success may not come as quickly as you hoped.
4) The Authority and Aggressiveness of Your Competition
Your competition is always just that, your competition. If they aren’t doing any web marketing, then you have a very good chance of beating them with any web marketing efforts you start doing. However, if your competition is doing anything at all to bolster their own web marketing efforts, you’re up against a moving target.
Straying a bit from the football metaphor, it seems that many people think of web marketing as a race where the other cars on the track are not moving. Fire up your engine, put it in gear, and you’ll be in first place in no time at all. But the other cars are moving. Some will be moving slowly, but some are already moving at high speeds. Not only do you need to get up to their speed, but you have to be moving faster than they are if you want to catch up to them, let alone pass them on the track of success.
Ok, let’s say you are moving faster than your competition—that doesn’t mean you’re going to pass them right away, especially if they had a significant head start. So now you have to consider just how far ahead they are. Not only that, but you also have to compare your rate of speed to theirs before you can determine when you’ll be able to overtake them.
Of course, that expectation changes the moment they see you coming in their rear view mirror and decide to kick it into a higher gear. And also don’t forget about the guys behind you that also push the accelerator once they saw you pass. Not only are you struggling to get ahead, you’re struggling to stay ahead as well.
That was quite a long metaphor, but I think you get the point. It would be nice if web marketing was like painting a house. Throw on a couple of coats and you’re good for a few years. Unfortunately, we have competitors in this race that are also looking to win and they are, essentially, standing in the way of your own success.
5) Your Own Expectations
I’ve seen it so many times before. A web marketing campaign is, by all measures, successful based on the starting authority level of the site, the level of aggressiveness of their campaign, and how their current competitors stack up against them, but the client feels like they are losing. The data shows strong, consistent growth, but the client doesn’t feel like it’s “working”. How does this happen?
For starters, it’s usually due to a lack of defining what success means at the start. But, on top of that, it’s because the client has expectations that don’t line up with the reality of the situation. Whatever expectations you have for the success of your web marketing campaign, you need to make sure those are adjusted to align with each of the considerations above.
Yes, we all want results (and now!), but we what we want and what is truly possible need to be in cahoots together.
It does no good for you or your web marketing team to have false expectations of when “success” will be achieved. You’re just setting yourselves up for disappointment—and possibly pulling the plug on a campaign that is in fact succeeding based on the realities of the situation. Inevitably, bad expectations lead to even worse decisions that do more harm than good.
Assess Your Battlefield
Everyone wants to have a successful web marketing campaign, but only an honest assessment of the battlefield is truly going to help you get from where you are to where you want to be.
The next time you feel like your web marketing campaign is failing, come back to this post and give yourself an assessment.
- Are you and your web marketing team operating on the same goals?
- Did you have a clear understanding of where you were starting from?
- Are you operating at an aggressiveness level that will achieve the success you want? In the time you want? Or were you just setting expectations on budget alone?
- Are you keeping an eye on your competitors? And do you have an understanding of how much they are investing in web marketing?
- Are you regularly reassessing your expectations?
If you can’t answer yes to those questions on a regular basis, you will ultimately have a “success problem”. To win the web marketing championship, you have to be prepared mentally for how, when, and where it will be achieved. Without that, you’ll likely lose the game before the season has even started.
Let me know below what considerations you think are critical to web marketing success.
Featured Image: Image by Stoney deGeyter
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