Building an Online Marketing Plan

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An introduction to the building blocks of an online marketing strategy. Begin by building a foundation of a robust website; add the three pillars of search marketing, e-mail marketing, and web analytics; and cap it off with a social media strategy.

Includes full presentation with links to online articles and full speaker's notes for easy understanding.

Online summary with links, plus Keynote and PDF versions, available at http://blog.hotdesign.com/building-an-online-marketing-plan/

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  • Kirsti Scott is Scott Design’s Creative Director and Founder. Since 1993, she has led the award-winning design team at Scott Design, ensuring high-quality work on all web, interactive, and integrated marketing campaigns. Kirsti and the experienced, talented group of professional designers, producers, programmers, and writers at Scott Design create outstanding design concepts, and follow through with marketing campaigns that get you the results you need. Kirsti serves on the Board at the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, on the Chamber’s Marketing and Membership committees, and is active with Santa Cruz Women in Business. Kirsti was previously an art director at CKS Partners, where she created logos, brochures, packaging, and more for Apple Computer, IBM, and other large corporate clients. Kirsti has degrees in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design and in Economics from Stanford University.More info: http://www.hotdesign.com
  • People search online before making every kind of decision. These decisions can be big or small: where to have dinner tonight, which computer to buy, where to go to school, how to invest wisely, where to live.Create content that gets found by search engines so that people looking to make these decisions can find you online.Search engines are designed to search the web for content and then deliver relevant links to those searching for content on the web.To make sure you’re found online, you need to create content for search engines to find, categorize, and serve up to visitors.
  • The building blocks of an online marketing strategy: build a foundation of a robust website; add the three pillars of search marketing, e-mail marketing, and web analytics; and cap it off with a social media strategy.Your website is the foundation of your online marketing strategy. More than 60% of people go to a company’s website before contacting the company. The first pillar to build is a search strategy. More than 90% of all purchasing decisions today start with online searches. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) provides the greatest impact on where you appear in search results,E-mail marketing is the second pillar, and it should be part of every marketing campaign you launch. Users overwhelmingly prefer e-mail to other means of contact, and well-designed e-mail can be the best way to keep customers informed about new products and solutions, or industry news.The third pillar of your marketing strategy is analysis of what is working and what is not working with your strategies. You should test and refine to determine the best way to convert your target audiences into customers.Social media is the final building block of your marketing strategy. Use social media to enhance all of your other efforts. More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2009/06/building-an-online-marketing-strategy/
  • Your website is the foundation of your online marketing strategy. More than 60% of people go to a company’s website before contacting the company. Your site should be the epicenter of your marketing, with valuable content, and it should be allocated the largest part of your marketing budget. You can think of the website as your company’s lobby and budget for developing the website like you would a capital expenditure.Be sure your website has the most current information on your company’s products or services and how to contact you. And, update the content on a regular basis so the search engines are encouraged to return often, scanning for new content.
  • Serious prospects will visit your website.If a person is truly interested, he or she will want to check out your website. A well-designed site with plenty of valuable information, including awards and reviews, validates your credibility instantly.Search engines direct visitors to your website.A typical visitor learns about your company, searches for your company name, and reviews the results. If your site is built with SEO in mind, your home page will be at or near the top of the search results.Your website might be your first introduction.A prospect’s first interaction with your company could very well involve a visit to your company’s home page. And if that first introduction is not a positive experience, no amount of communication from your sales force will undo those initial perceptions.Most serious prospects like a traditional website.Many visitors still use traditional online sources of information, the most important of those being the home page of a website. Some customers may never see your LinkedIn bio, your Facebook page, your Twitter profile, or read that killer blog posting, but almost all serious customers eventually will want to visit your website.The website is a unified, controlled presentation of your company.On your website, you determine the page layout, messaging, and hierarchy of content. You should create and maintain a website with an honest, accurate, and positive view of what you deliver.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2008/10/top-10-reasons-your-home-page-still-matters/
  • UsabilityYour site should be well organized and easy to use, allowing site visitors to quickly find the content for which they are looking. Make sure your top-level navigation is easy to locate and consistent throughout the site. It should be in the same place on every page. Establish a site architecture that makes sense to your audience, without duplication of content.ContentTake the time to hone your messaging so home-page visitors can quickly determine who you are, what you do, and how you are different from your competitors. Keep content on each page to a minimum. Make it easy to contact your organization, providing multiple options: e-mail, inquiry form, phone number, address, and a map to your location. For SEO, produce remarkable content to which people want to link.DesignYour site should be visually memorable and stand out from your competition, but still be appropriate for your audience. Establish two or three primary colors to use on the site. Include images, graphics, and animations that support your messaging and help site visitors understand the content, but do not include images simply as filler.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2010/03/how-to-improve-your-website-in-3-steps/
  • Home pageYour website home page should provide an introduction to your company, letting a visitor know right away what services or products you provide and how you’re different from your competition. The most important and most frequently performed tasks should be available from the home page.Products or ServicesInclude details about exactly what you do in a products or services section. About UsInclude information about your team, your company history, how you fit in the marketplace, and your mission statement or company philosophy.Contact UsInclude as many different ways for customers to contact you as possible, including phone and fax numbers, e-mail addresses, a contact form, the physical address of your business, and a map.Custom InformationYour company’s website might include information such as pages for support, developers, partners, an online store, an image gallery, or a reservations page.Dynamic ContentInclude content that changes often to encourage visitors (and search engines) to keep returning to your site. A blog, news page, videos, and a forum are great ways to keep your site fresh.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2010/04/6-main-website-sections/
  • The first pillar to build is a search strategy. More than 90% of all purchasing decisions today start with online searches. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) provides the greatest impact on where you appear in search results, so you should start with creating keyword-rich content for your site. Adding pay-per-click advertising multiplies the search business you’ll get from search results, so it should be the next part of your strategy that you implement.
  • Write clear, descriptive copy that includes key phrasesWrite for your target audience, the people you hope will visit your site. Be descriptive and clear and be sure to answer as many questions as possible on your site. Don’t lose customers because they can’t figure out how you can help them.Use words customers search for, including negativesFocus on key phrases — combinations of words that a search engine user might type and/or a site visitor seeks when scanning your web pages. Don’t be afraid to use “negative” phrases. For example, a carpet cleaning service should have phrases such as “pet stains” and “wine spills” on their site, in addition to “clean carpets.”Search engines know how often you update your pagesIf a search engine returns to your site again and again and there is no fresh content, the search engine increases the time between searches and may not refresh search results when you update your site. Writing a blog or including other fresh content ensures that your search results will get updated when you update your site.Create compelling, link-worthy contentWrite and present content that is compelling enough to make others link to your site. “link-worthy” copy will produce better short-term and long-term search results than any SEO tricks. Create content that key players in your industry find compelling, and they will link to your site.
  • Be sure to complete all the information in your social network profiles, including URLs of your site and/or landing pages.Comment on blog articles relevant to your industry and in online forums where you customers participate, and always include your website URL in your signature.Web directories such as http://dmoz.org and http://dir.yahoo.com allow you to add your site’s URL to categorized lists of website links. When you create new quality content, tag it on social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Reddit, Delicious, and StumbleUpon, and ask colleagues to tag it for you, too.Share company or industry news and articles on PRWeb, PRLeap, EzineArticles, GoArticles, or iSnare. These sites often rank highly and provide quality links to your site.Ask or answer questions on Yahoo! Answers, Google Groups, LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn Answers, and Facebook Groups and provide links to relevant resources on your site and elsewhere on the web.Ask customers to review your company on relevant review sites such as Yelp, Amazon.com, Alexa , and ePinions to help build your authority. Ask an influential person in your customers’ industry for their feedback and/or link on relevant news that you share on your website or blog. Get links from your local Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, and other local or industry groups.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2010/06/getting-inbound-links-to-your-site/
  • Include keywords on your page, but write naturallyUse a key, relevant phrase two or three times on a page, or use close variations on the phrase, so your copy won’t be redundant. Using the same phrase more than five times on a page will not improve the search results.Properly name title tags, URLs, headlines, and navigation linksGive logical, accurate names to URLs, page titles, headlines, and links. This will make your content easily accessible to the search engines. Include the same key words in the page title, URL, meta description tag, headline, navigation link, and first paragraph of the copy.The meta description tag won’t enhance your results, but it often appears as the text snippet below your listing in the search results, so it should include the relevant keyword(s) and be written to encourage searchers to click on your listing.Make clean, organized coding a priorityUse CSS to make the content easier for search engines to categories, The content in Flash components probably will not be indexed by the search engines so use it only where it truly enhances your site.Give it timeFor most sites, it takes 2-3 months for SEO initiatives to have an impact.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2008/10/seo-dont-launch-your-website-without-it/
  • E-mail marketing is the second pillar, and it should be part of every marketing campaign you launch. Users prefer e-mail to other means of contact, and well-designed e-mail can be the best way to keep customers informed about new products and solutions, or industry news.
  • In a survey by Crossview on how shoppers like to receive promotional messages from retailers:- 37% prefer e-mail 23 % prefer direct mail 18% prefer text messaging 9% prefer social mediaExactTarget found that more than 90% of adults internet users in every age group subscribed to emails from brands, while significantly fewer “liked” companies on Facebook or followed them on Twitter. DMA’s Power of Direct economic-impact study found that for every dollar spent in 2009 Commercial e-mail returned $43.62 Internet search advertising returned $21.85 Non-catalog direct mail returned $15.22 Catalogs returned $7.32
  • Build good, permission-based e-mail listsIn order for you to legally use an e-mail list, it must be filled with customers with whom you already have a relationship. Collect e-mail addresses at events, on your website and social networks, on the phone, and at a retail location. Include your business associates, and all past and current customersCreate and send targeted e-mail campaignsNewsletters—monthly or quarterly e-mails featuring educational contentPromotions—bi-weekly or monthly e-mails featuring promotional content, offers, couponsAnnouncements—periodical e-mails, depending on content, which usually includes targeted messages about invitations, new products, or special eventsSend well-designed, straightforward, compelling, brief e-mailsDesign or select a clean, well-designed template; write a straightforward, simple “subject” line; include 2 to 3 newsworthy topics onlyEvaluate results and refine the processUse e-mail service providers analyticsto find out which information interests your readers. If your readers are divided on what they like, consider splitting your list into two or more lists, each with e-mails targeted to that list.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2010/03/e-mail-best-practices/
  • Online ads – banner ads, PPC, sponsored contentUse part of your marketing budget to place banner ads on targeted sites, purchase keyword advertising, or pay to place content on a highly visible site.Video and podcastsSince there is less business content on YouTube and iTumes, it’s easier to rank higher in their search results.Flash demosFor complex solutions and products, or to create a compelling interactive experience, create an interactive demo or product tour using Flash. Flash is indexed by the major search engines, but does not work on all mobile devices, so use it only where appropriate.SMS text advertisingAn increasing number of shoppers prefer text messaging as a way to keep up with promotions. Consider using text messaging, especially if you have a retail location or customers in the 18-24 age group.Branded appsCreate a branded app for mobile devices or a widget that is related to your industry. For example, a laundry detergent company created an app to let you pick a fabric and a stain and the app recommended ways to remove the stain.
  • The third pillar of your marketing strategy is analysis of what is working and what is not working with your strategies. You should test and refine every part of your website, search strategy, and e-mail marketing to determine the best way to convert your target audiences into customers.
  • Before you do any more work on your online presence, set up Google Analytics. You can then use the data to refine your website, improve your search rankings, and refine your e-mail campaigns for maximum results.Use free tools to monitor your online presence, mentions, links, activity, competitors, and industry on the web and social networks.Test and refine – online marketing is an ongoing process.
  • Fine tune your website and SEOUsing analytics, you can find out what's appealing to your audience, pulling them into your site, and getting them to click. Use Google Analytics reports - Dashboard, Visitors Overview, Traffic Sources Overview, Keywords, and Top Content - to find out how your site is performing.Improve your e-mail campaignsAfter you send an e-mail blast, you should plan on analyzing the results: delivery results, interactions with the e-mail, design, and comparisons with previous mailings.Test and refineUpdate your content or make multiple versions of your content or e-mails and see how the results change. Look at analytics at least once a month, plus after every major website change or e-mail campaign.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2010/07/use-analytics-to-improve-your-online-marketing/
  • Setup an RSS readerAggregate Google Alerts, Twitter Searches, and LinkedIn Answers in one place and look at them once a day.Check your social media pagesOnce a day, check LinkedIn and Facebook status updates, profiles, pages, and groups. Use monitoring sites once a week to check the buzz across the internet.Assess the quality of your online presenceUse Twitter Grader, Facebook Grader, and Website Grader to get a free analysis of your pages once a month.Monitor in real timeUse software such as TweetDeck to monitor online conversations in real time on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Use the information you findSpot issues before they become problems, find opportunities in your marketplace to grow your business, and build a reputation as an expert in your industry by keeping on top of what’s happening online.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2010/07/monitoring-your-online-presence-for-free/
  • Social media is the final building block of your marketing strategy. Use social media to enhance all of your other efforts. Users who engage with your company online are more likely to buy, so you should provide them a means to do so through participation in social networks, blogs, and video.
  • Social media marketing amplifies your marketing messagesWith each e-mail blast, banner ad, direct mail, PR, or advertising campaign, include a social media component: tweet links to your campaign, post onFacebook, update your status on LinkedIn, and share links on social bookmarking sites.Engaged customers are more likely to buyThose who “like” brands on Facebook or follow brands on twitter are more likely to buy and recommend those brands.Social media marketing improves your search engine rankingsLinks to your site improve your ranking in most search engines. These links can come from the social media sites you use to promote your brand, plus the links that others post who are interested in your company or solutions.Social media marketing drives traffic to your websitePosting links online and getting those links forwarded can generate traffic to your website.Social media marketing lets you join the conversationYour customers are probably already talking about you online, and if they’re not, you should make a place for them to do so. Participating in an online community lets you be in the conversation, promoting your company, answering questions about your solutions, and promoting quality conversations.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2009/03/5-reasons-for-social-media-marketing/
  • Every day, business owners and advertisers hear about how they must keep up with the latest social media networks in order to have conversations with customers. There are now hundreds of options to consider, but with limited time, where is your time best spent? Whether building your company’s brand or your personal brand, the best place to start is with free online social media tools.Getting online doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort, as long as you narrow down your options to the sites that give you the best results for your time. If you get yourself set up on these major social media sites, and devote an hour or so per week, you’ll have a great start on your social media marketing strategy.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2009/06/social-media-quickstart-guide/
  • Sign up for membership on targeted sitesLinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, local search, and review sites.Fill out the basic information (you can add more later)Make sure all of your company information, including keyword-rich descriptions and photos are complete and correct. Copy and paste freely between groups!Find groups of peers and/or customersFind sites, forums, and blogs where your customers participate and your industry shares helpful information and join those sites.Listen and get a feel for discussion etiquetteWatch conversations in a group for a few weeks to get a feel for which types of discussions get the most activity, what kinds of questions and advice people share, and whether or not self-promotion is welcome.Add value to conversationsWhen you comment or add to a discussion or begin a new discussion, be sure to add valuable information, your business insights, or post relevant questions.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2009/10/who-what-where-when-why-how-of-social-media/
  • Make sure your company has a strong, cohesive brand no matter where your company appears: your website, e-mails, landing pages, social media sites, online communities, trade show presentations, news releases, sales presentations, and corporate collateral. Every piece of your marketing must be coordinated to make sure you present your company’s best face to the world.You can help everyone create marketing pieces that are great-looking while staying on brand by providing the following: A comprehensive set of style guidelines A library of imagery and approved copy assets available Ongoing, hands-on feedback on all marketing communications pieces created for your company.More info: http://blog.hotdesign.com/2009/11/celebrity-styling-for-your-company/
  • When you develop online sites, pages, and profiles, be sure to use consistent graphics and messaging.Develop a set of images you can use for each platform that are optimized for each useDevelop a set of copy blocks you can use in a variety of lengthsKeep a list of sites to update when you make a change in messaging or imagery, when you launch a new product, or when you have news to share.Keep things consistent everywhere!
  • Building an Online Marketing Plan

    1. 1. Building an Online Marketing Plan<br />Kirsti Scott<br />Creative Director<br />
    2. 2. Quick introduction <br />Kirsti Scott, Founder and Creative Director<br />20+ years of experience in design and marketing<br />We create websites, e-mails, web banners, online applications, and integrated marketing campaigns <br />Our clients are technology, VC, and B2B companies<br />
    3. 3. What’s the big deal about online marketing?<br />90%+ of people search online before making decisions, big and small<br />Search engines find content, categorize it, and connect people with what they need<br />To get found, you need online content that’s relevant and fresh<br />
    4. 4. About this presentation<br />This is an overview of the steps to creating and maintaining an online marketing presence<br />For more detailed information on the topics covered on a slide, click on the link and you’ll go to an online article with detailed or complementary information.<br />Some of the steps in building your online presence are “do-it-yourself” and some are “do-not-try-this-at-home” so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it<br />
    5. 5. How do you create a strong online presence?<br />An introduction to the building blocks<br />
    6. 6. Building blocks of an online marketing strategy<br />
    7. 7. Building blocks: Your website<br />
    8. 8. Top 5 reasons your website is the foundation<br />60% of prospects will visit your website<br />Search engines direct visitors to your site<br />First introduction might be online<br />Prospects use traditional websites<br />You control the information<br />
    9. 9. 3 important things to consider<br />Usability – architecture, navigation, and analytics<br />Content – clear, simple, easy to contact you<br />Design – stand out but be appropriate, use only graphics that support your messaging<br />
    10. 10. 6 main sections your site should have<br />Home page<br />Products or Services<br />About Us<br />Contact Us<br />Custom Information<br />Dynamic Content<br />
    11. 11. Building blocks: Search<br />
    12. 12. A search strategy is the first pillar of your plan<br />Create content that targets your customers’ needs<br />Use words customers search for, including negatives<br />Long-tail keywords improve results and target your audiences<br />Update content often<br />Create compelling, link-worthy content<br />
    13. 13. SEO: Getting links to your site<br />Link to your site from social networks<br />Comment on blogs and online communities<br />Add yourself to online directories<br />Use social bookmarking<br />Submit online press releases<br />Answer questions online<br />Ask for customer reviews<br />Ask for links from influencers<br />
    14. 14. SEO: Technical recommendations<br />Find keywords relevant to your business, include keywords in the page content, write naturally<br />Properly name pages, meta data, headlines, URLs, and links<br />Make clean, organized coding a priority<br />Give it time<br />
    15. 15. Building blocks: E-mail<br />
    16. 16. E-mail is the second pillar of your plan<br />Users overwhelmingly prefer e-mail as a contact<br />E-mail keeps customers informed about new products and solutions, or industry news.<br />E-mail offers a great return on your investment<br />
    17. 17. Build your list with customers, colleagues, people you meet, and online signups<br />Create a master calendar and send a combination of newsletters, promotions, announcements<br />Get results with well-designed, straightforward, compelling, brief e-mails<br />Use analytics, testing, and segmenting to target e-mails<br />E-mail best practices<br />
    18. 18. Other online marketing tactics to consider<br />Online ads – banner ads, PPC, sponsored content<br />Video and podcasts<br />Flash demos<br />SMS text advertising<br />Branded apps<br />
    19. 19. Building blocks: Analysis<br />
    20. 20. Analysis is the third pillar of your plan<br />Set up tools to get the most accurate analytics<br />Web analytics<br />SEO analytics<br />E-mail analytics<br />Monitor your online presence, mentions, links, activity, competitors, industry<br />Test and refine<br />
    21. 21. Use analytics to refine your site, SEO, and e-mails<br />Fine tune your website and SEO<br />Dashboard, Visitors Overview, Traffic Sources Overview, Keywords, Top Content<br />Improve your e-mail campaigns<br />How many were sent, received, and bounced<br />How many people opened, clicked, forwarded, opted out, signed up<br />What was clicked<br />Compare to past campaigns<br />Test and refine<br />
    22. 22. Monitoring your online presence for free<br />Setup an RSS reader to watch keywords, companies, people, Twitter #hashtags, LinkedIn answers<br />Check LinkedIn and Facebook pages and groups<br />Search for terms on Addict-o-matic<br />Use grader.com to rank yourself<br />Use Tweetdeck for real time info<br />Respond to issues before they’re problems, find new customers, build your reputation<br />
    23. 23. Building blocks: Social Media<br />
    24. 24. Social media is the capstone of your plan<br />Social media enhances all of your other efforts.<br />Engaged customers are more likely to buy<br />Social media influences search results<br />Links drive traffic to your website<br />Conversations about you are already going on online<br />
    25. 25. Top social media tools<br />LinkedIn – Profiles, Companies, Groups, Answers<br />FacebookProfiles, Pages, Groups<br />Twitter Profiles, Companies<br /> Blogs RSS reader<br />Local search – Google, Yahoo!, bing, getlisted. org<br />Review sites – Yelp, TripAdvisor, industry sites<br />Social bookmarking – StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit<br />Other – forums, wikis, industry or interest group websites, local websites, local organizations<br />
    26. 26. 5 Quick steps to get online<br />Sign up for membership on targeted sites<br />Fill out the basic information (you can add more later)<br />Find groups of peers and/or customers<br />Listen and get a feel for discussion etiquette<br />Add value to conversations<br />
    27. 27. Maintaining your online brand<br />Branding 101<br />
    28. 28. Keep your design and content consistent<br />Maintain a unified designon your website, e-mails, social media sites, and presentations<br />Make sure you develop guidelines, image and copy assets, instructions, written strategy<br />Provide feedback on all marketing pieces anddon’t allow anything off-brand.<br />
    29. 29. Branding and messaging across multiple media<br />• Facebook page<br />• Website<br />• Blog<br />• LinkedIn page<br />• Twitter profile<br />• Online forms<br />• Everywhere!<br />
    30. 30. Questions?<br />Thanks! For more info:<br />www.hotdesign.com<br />“Building an Online Marketing Plan” kirsti@hotdesign.com<br />©2010 Scott Design Inc. All rights reserved.<br />

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