According to Fleishman-Hillard’s Digital Influence Index, 89 per cent of consumers use search engines like Yahoo or Google to find information on products or services. This simple fact suggests why it is important to make an online strategy part of your business plan. After all, there is no point in having a website unless your clients can find it. To help you get started, here are six tips to help start building your strategy.
1. Find Your Story and Tell It
Like any business plan, it’s important to spell out what your business is and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Remember, what seems obvious to you may not be to your customer. Refine your products or services down to one sentence, for example: The Little Black Dress sells black dresses for all occasions.
With this in mind, every advertisement, social media post, web app and contest should convey that message in some way.
2. Define Your Objectives
It’s good to have specific achievable goals when writing a marketing plan. Don’t get lazy and say something like I want to grow my business. Everybody wants to grow.
Be specific. “I want to sell 800 more little black dresses, by doing X, so I can increase my revenue by 15% over last year.”
Having these goals will make it easier to track your progress. Plus, in the digital world, it’s far easier to track new customers through social networks or other organized sources of lead generation.
3. Respect the Purchase Funnel
Put yourself in the shoes of a new customer. Start from the beginning. Imagine yourself as a customer. You jump online to research little black dresses for a Christmas party. How will you drive them to The Little Black Dress Shop’s website?
And once you get there, stay and look around for a bit, then leave to do some comparison shopping; will you ever come back? Chart the marketing and sales funnel from start to finish. Find out how you want to attract and eventually retain customers by mapping out your website.
4. Tell Customers What to Do
It’s amazing how many businesses forget that the most important part of closing a sale is asking for it. Providing a call to action helps you generate more sales and it makes life easier for the customer because they’re pointed in the right direction.
Online consumers are always a few keystrokes away from leaving your site. It is important to engage them and lead them through the buying process. If you sell products or services online, make sure you have a button that says something like, Buy Now. Or, if you want customers to phone you, tell them and provide a button saying, Call This Number. It’s incredible what people will do when you tell them to do it.
5. Optimized Content
The majority of consumers use the Internet as a research tool for products and services. So ask yourself: Is my website optimized? Can items be found when I search for them? If the answers are yes, then you’re on the right track.
For example, you’re a mechanic in Kamploops who specializes in import car repairs. Will your shop appear in the results when someone uses Google to search for “Volkswagen repair Kamloops?”
Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to make sure you’re using relevant keywords so potential customers can find you when they search for what you sell. If search engine optimization (SEO) is not your forte, hire a consultant. It’s worth it. Lastly, search engines are designed to look for new content. So, be sure your website is up-to-date and is constantly being fed newly posted content. Blogs are an easy solution to this.
6. Social Networks
There are many different social networks out there today with millions of people interacting every day. Figure out which ones best suit your business. If you run a boutique cake shop, you may want to look at focusing on Facebook and Pinterest to show off your products with photos. Or, perhaps the brevity and timeliness of Twitter is better suited to the way you do things. By finding the right combination, you will be able to reach a wealth of customers and for a relatively low cost for the amount of exposure you can receive.
Many people think creating a website is your own type of directory listing. Create it and it will magically appear in a search listing on Google. The truth is, it takes time, and a lot of work. But, once you understand what it is you need to do, and you make the time to do it, you can sit back and watch your website visitors grow. Then you just need to convert them!