The True Value of Planning Your Internet Marketing Approach

To win the high-stakes internet marketing battle with bigger competitors, you need to first get your online marketing approach right. Without a proper approach, you’re literally like a child lost in the woods.

• You won’t know what to focus on and as a result, lose out on rewarding opportunities
• A lack of approach means you’re directionless. This in turn means, you may end up wasting time and money
• Your resources will not work in cohesion to deliver the best results
• You face the risk of short-changing your target audience
• You’re making it easier for competitors to overtake you in the internet marketing contest

The criticality of planning your approach: A case study

XYZ is a medium-sized business that sells outdoor furniture and outdoor kitchen appliances. It hopes to leverage internet marketing to primarily increase B2B sales. While XYZ is clear about what it wants to achieve through online marketing, it has not yet planned its approach. Despite this, it proceeds to implement the following:

1. A social media plan targeted at Facebook and Twitter
2. On-site optimization through tactics like adding a contact form, improving website content, conducting keyword research and adding targeted keywords to copy, titles, image tags, and revising sitemap
3. A blog
4. An email marketing campaign

The investment required for these initial implementations won’t be high. 1, 2 and 3 can be accomplished in-house with little effort. 4 will need a dedicated manager overseeing the process.

Let’s assign a numerical value to the sales potential of each online marketing strategy.

‘1’ corresponds to ‘not likely’ to generate sales
‘2’ corresponds to ‘quite likely’ to generate sales
‘3’ corresponds to ‘very likely’ to generate sales

Will XYZ’s efforts bear the right fruit? Let’s see.

1. Social media sites function better as ‘awareness tools’ than ‘sales tools’. XYZ cannot rely on Twitter and Facebook – which are primarily B2C channels – to give sales a boost. Value: 1

2. If XYZ wants to catch the attention of its target audience, it must figure in at least the first four pages of a search engine results page. It’s on the right track with on-site optimization, but has ignored key off-site strategies like article directory submissions, forum commenting and back-linking. SEO is also a continuous process, so unless XYZ has a robust, medium-term SEO plan, it cannot expect to win sales. Value: 2

3. A quality blog is viewed favorably by search engines. It also helps establish brand authority and credibility. But on its own, it may not directly impact B2B sales. Value: 2

4. An email marketing campaign that delivers product/service information or industry/market newsletters directly to potential clients is a good way to incentivize and nurture them. So, XYZ may see some results from this strategy. Value: 3 (Note: It is also a cost-efficient B2B marketing technique, with investment required mainly towards maintaining email lists)

Total value derived: 8

What could XYZ have done differently to maximize the sales potential of its B2B internet marketing plan? A well-thought out approach would have seen the following being implemented

1.A content marketing campaign, which has become essential to any B2B sales and marketing effort. XYZ – as part of its content marketing plan – can leverage both social media and email. Here are some pointers

(a) Do the research necessary to identify industry trends and popular conversations. XYZ can then create content that helps position it as a thought leader. The goal is not just to engage but also get the target audience involved by encouraging their participation through share-worthy information and compelling calls-to-action.
(b) After content creation comes broadcasting; here’s where social media like LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ come in. XYZ should not just focus on marketing/sales but also communicate its company culture and product innovations/improvements, to build credibility.
(c) Case studies, white papers and video demos are some ways to demonstrate product/service/organizational capabilities. They can be delivered through email or via XYZ’s website. They will help potential clients understand XYZ better before engaging in the sales cycle. Value: 3

2. An affiliate marketing program can pay big dividends on the sales front. Partnering with other websites through a referral campaign can bring more visitors to XYZ’s site. The company can involve clients by giving them discount cards in return for referrals. There are several referral systems that XYZ can choose from and integrate into its site. Value: 3

3. Improving local search visibility makes sense given that approximately 30% of all searches include a city term. Getting listed on local directories and optimizing its website for local search are some ways to catch the attention of local businesses. Value: 3

4. An extended-period drip campaign can push clients towards the final sale. The process can start through email notifications of XYZ’s offers to clients. Further on in the engagement cycle, they may request for more information, followed by more specific email/phone communication. This form of closed-loop marketing can close sales in a structured manner and build better client relationships. Value: 3

Total value derived: 12

Much investment and effort may be required for 1,2,3 and 4. But the value generated will make the task worthwhile.

Bottom line

After goal setting, you must pay attention to your internet marketing approach. Brainstorm on the techniques and campaigns that have the greatest likelihood of delivering the desired output. Factor in your budget, resources and capabilities. Based on this assessment, draw out your plan and execute it for assured success!

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