As business leaders, we’re all working to increase sales. Given the confidence and a practical approach, we’ll invest the time and resources on those activites which will provide us with the best return-on-investment for our marketing dollars.
For most of us, the hardest part is getting started and trusting that you have the information and tools you need to make the right decision for your business.
For businesses looking to launch and manage a successful Online Marketing campaign, we’ve put together this overview:
Step One: Planning, Planning, Planning
Before you build a house, you have a plan. There will be the blueprint that describes in great detail the finished house by size, by shape and where it will be placed on the lot. There will be surveys done to make sure that the house will fit on the lot and that the ground on that lot will actually be able to handle a house of this kind. There will be planning that takes into account the laws and regulations of the area where you are building and a million other details to attend to before the first shovel of dirt is lifted.
It is the same with your marketing efforts. Before you do a single thing, before you come up with the first idea, you have to plan. These are the considerations to keep in mind during the planning stage:
- Who are you selling to? Your demographic breakdown will have a lot to do with how your marketing campaign is built.
- What are you selling? The same goes for your product or service- it will have a lot to do with how your campaign is built.
- What is your main focal point for this campaign? Of course you want to increase sales, but are you looking to increase sales in your brick and mortar stores or do you want to boost online sales? (Or a blend of both, of course.) Keep the end in sight, always. If you are focusing on increasing traffic to your website, what do you want people to do when they get there? Do you want them to order from there, sign up for a mailing list or do you want to drive them to your store for an in person visit?
- What is your budget for an ad campaign?
- How long will you keep each segment of the campaign going? Will you plan ahead and then just keep riding an idea until its wheels fall off, or will you change it up on the fly, keeping the people on their toes and keeping things fresh and exciting?
- How will you determine the success or failure of an online marketing campaign? What will you set as the benchmarks?
BONUS: Download Our ROI Planning Sheet for Online Marketing
Step Two: Timelines, Deadlines and Other Timely Considerations
Just as you can’t plop the roof on the lot before the foundation is built, your ad campaign has to follow some semblance of order to work. There has to be a marketing timeline for the campaign or there will be no order and no functionality to all of the planning and effort you put forth in step number one.
Know ahead of time that you will be having an end of season sale or a sale that comes just in time for Black Friday or Cyber Monday- whatever you are going to do, you have to know it beforehand and plan your marketing campaign for that event.
Say your campaign starts in October with an introductory email. Maybe you could include discounts for your fall clearance sale and special reductions that are exclusive to valued customers. You can also start dropping hints about your plans for the following month including Black Friday, arguably the biggest day in a retailer’s year.
Step Three: Give the People What They Want, Tell the People What They Want
Customers, bless them, can be divided into three little categories: the sheep, the trend setters and the hybrids. The trendsetters already know what they are looking for, now they are looking for the best place to find it. They are the comparison shoppers, the people who are looking for the best deal on every item that they buy. You actually have to sell and sell well with these people.
The sheep category of people is made up of people who really have no idea of what they want or need nor do they know where to look for it. Catch these people’s eye with a great marketing campaign and you have an almost sure thing.
Hybrids can sometimes know what they want but not where to find it or they might know where they are looking but not what they are hoping to find. They are the ones who tend to develop great loyalty to a store or website so they are very good customers to hook with that first sale.
No matter which group you are trying to sell to, you have to give them the right kind of message in the right venue. There is no sense in trying to put a flashy ad on a website if they are rarely online, and there is no sense in mailing them a coupon for a store that is two hours away from them. (See why planning and knowing demographics is so important?)
If your most likely customers are spending the majority of their online time on Facebook, then there is your answer. If they have never even heard of Facebook, why waste your time and your marketing budget?
Step Four: Keeping Your Name Dripping into Their Minds
A drip marketing campaign or one that will keep preset messages coming at regularly spaced intervals can be time and cost effective. Email marketing is the most common form of this type and often is used with the auto responder. The person who receives the email can either opt in by responding to the message or may opt out by sending an email request to have his name removed from the list.
Drip marketing campaigns can also utilize direct mailing and social media sites as well. For instance, the campaign can be set up to send out tweets or give Facebook updates at specific times.
Step Five: Make Them Want to Be More Than Just Browsers
A customer may come to your website or your physical store looking for an idea or on a price comparison mission. The trick though, is to get them to come back that second time when they will actually be ready to buy.
When the customers come to your website, make sure that it is appealing to them and interesting or they will not stay very long and they will certainly never come back. Offer something, anything that they have to give their contact information for and you have generated a lead. Examples include:
- A guide or articles related to purchasing your main product
- An email newsletter that can give information about sales and other discounts
- Contests and other events
The same thing goes for the physical store – they have to feel welcome there or they may never want to come back. You want to have their information, even in a physical store, so that you can include them in the mailings from step four but also to inform them about sales and other events as well. You can do that with:
- Contests, giveaways and raffles
- Comment and suggestion boxes
Step Six: Bringing It All Together
There should be a central theme to your entire marketing campaign. You should be able to repurpose copy and content from the onsite ads to the online campaign. The most valid points can be used on Twitter as tweets and you can also do updating with Facebook or other social networking outlets. Here is how that works through the six steps with one single theme:
You are marketing your top selling, high end makeup kit to women in their 30s and 40s. Your first email is the release of this kit with the details and the “special introductory price” plus the hint that it will be a changed product by the end of the season. You make sure that the trend setters now how special this product is; the sheep should know how many of the trendsetters are using it, etc.
Emails and other information should start coming about a sale on this makeup kit with perhaps a bonus gift or a contest to generate more interest in the campaign. At this point, you should be offering a report or articles about the benefits of the makeup, how it makes your skin feel, easy to use, easy to remove and all the other details that would be important.
Repeat the cycle as needed, adjusting the campaign for the changing seasons, any changes in the product and to get a bigger market share with each adjustment.