Tag Archives: Online Marketing

Creating A Digital Marketing Plan For 2016

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus from drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but use your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this question too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that there is no single tactic or strategy that gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels in order to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the 4 steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is defining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.

Specific

It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the business aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as specific as possible.

Measurable

You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.

Achievable

Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.

Relevant

Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goal should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.

Time-Bound

Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to achieving them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This is a possible SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is an important step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to eventually achieve your goal.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like: how many sales were necessary in December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, it is necessary to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month in order to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your own historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key question is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be fairly straightforward. This step involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Determining the Key Driver of New Sales

Picture, if you would, that you needed to simply keep an eye on only one number when you wanted to know how successful your marketing was. Wouldn’t this make marketing much simpler than it is right now?

Today, we live in an era where ‘big data’ is king, with marketers able to keep track of almost any parameter they can imagine; however, it is possible that tracking metrics in this way causes many businesses more harm than good.

Of course, being able to get all the data relating to your marketing efforts is often a good thing, but it is also possible for a digital marketer to be confused and overwhelmed by the incessant flow of different numbers.

For this reason, I recommend taking a completely different approach: Instead of trying to wrap your head around everything, it is important to find out what is the key driver for the success of your business. You can then concentrate on this number when developing your marketing strategy for 2016.

At this point, you are probably thinking…

Is It Possible For One Number To Drive The Success Of My Business?

Surely, this sounds too easy to be true. Could one number or metric really determine the success of my business?

As an example, let us examine something that almost everyone can understand – real estate. Right from the construction of a property to its final sale, it is obvious that real estate development is a complicated process. However, among all the data points involved, one number stands out as it determines the appearance of the building, how much it will be sold for, as well as how quickly the developer will be able to sell it.

This important number is the address!

Depending on the address of the property, the options available to the developer with regard to the size of their building and the décor they would like to incorporate into it may be limited. In addition to this, the developer or their realtor would need to carry out research on sales of comparable properties within the neighborhood to find out how much the building is worth and how quickly it is likely to be sold.

As a property developer, when you have just this one data point at hand, you will have an insight into the final sale way before you even begin construction. This is not to say that the other factors should be ignored, but is an illustration of the butterfly effect that one number could have on a business.

So, what effect does this have on your digital marketing campaigns?

Your Key Driver toward Business Success

It took me many painstaking hours of reviewing our sales and marketing data before I finally figured out what the key driver for the success of our company is. Much to my surprise, and contrary to what many would think, it was not the number of leads that our sales pipeline had generated…

Strangely enough, it was simply the email subscribers that we had in our database. If someone had told me that this was the case only a few months ago, I would have laughed them out of my office. Back then, it was inconceivable to me that a marketing agency’s business could be driven by email subscriptions.

However, I will show you how I came to this conclusion. By following the same method, you can analyze your own business and find the key driver for the success of your business.

How Do Your Sales Actually Come In?

When looking for the key driver of your business, the first question you must answer is: Where do my sales actually come from? This question is a tough one for many businesses, and getting the answer to it means that phone calls, in-person visits and web forms need to be meticulously tracked. The idea behind this is to have a way to determine the first point of contact between your business and your customers up until you make a sale and to gain an understanding of the steps in between.

In the case of our company, the majority of sales are generated through phone calls. But where do the phone calls come from in the first place? Many of the calls are scheduled after a prospective client fills out a form on our website. Aha! We are getting closer to the answer, but we are still not there… Where were the prospects before filling out the web form?

As it turns out, most were people who subscribed to our email newsletter. From this study, it is clear that email subscriptions are the key driver of our business, not form completions or phone calls.

See How It Works?

To find what drives the success of your business, start with the sales and work backwards to figure out what the source of your prospects is. Although this process takes a lot of hard work and patience before you can identify the patterns in your data, the rewards are worth it. Once you have identified what the key driver of your business it, you can now focus your energies and budget towards boosting that number.

3 Steps to Success in Social Media Marketing

One TV ad that has always been a favorite of mine is the commercial for the Banjo Minnow, which may be familiar to people who like fishing as a popular type of lure. Because I liked the ad so much, my father eventually decided to buy the Banjo Minnow kit for me.

During the commercial, there are constant references made to the ‘genetic response’ of the fish; this basically means that the design of the lure is such that it triggers a natural response mechanism in the fish that compels it to bite the lure. The ad is very convincing and utilizes plenty of strong direct-response triggers – little wonder then that the product’s sales have been so strong.

 

As the owner of a Banjo Minnow lure kit, one thing I can tell you is that all the hype is justified – it DOES work! I cannot forget the excitement of driving to my parents’ cabin after receiving the kit, using it for the first time and seeing it at work. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, the pond next to the cabin has lots of pickerel with very sharp teeth, so most of the day was spent getting the Banjo Minnow out of their mouths while being careful not to lose any fingers!

However, since then, I have come to one conclusion after using many other types of lures – the Banjo Minnow on its own wouldn’t be much more effective than any other lure available. What I forgot to mention from the start is that the kit is delivered along with a video tutorial that shows you how the lure can be used most effectively. In other words, the lure itself is only effective when paired with the information available in the Banjo Minnow kit.

This is the key point of this article – a system is only effective when all its component parts are working together. This is explained in more detail below in this walkthrough of the 3 main steps to success in Social Media Marketing. As you will see, one step in isolation will do little to enhance your business, but all three – when working together – create an extremely powerful strategy.

  1. Build Up An Audience

This may sound obvious, but selling your product or service using social media is heavily reliant on building up your audience. There will be no one to read any of your posts if you do not have an audience.

Starting a social media marketing campaign without an audience can be compared to trying to fish in a pond which has no fish. Regardless of how experienced or skilled you are, or how great your fishing gear is, you will leave empty handed!

If you are starting from scratch, you must be ready to adjust your goals as you begin to implement your social media marketing strategy. Anyone who expects to be able to drive massive sales numbers right away is going to be very disappointed. You must first focus your strategy on ways to build your audience.

  1. Find Ways To Keep Your Audience Engaged

Engagement is the real secret behind the success of the Banjo Minnow. Watching the training video that comes along with the kit, you get to learn how the line is cast correctly and how the lure is reeled in to produce the lifelike action that is advertised in the TV commercial. If you cast the line and reel it in normally, the lure does not work! I have tested both ways and concluded that it is best to use the technique provided in the training video.

The Banjo Minnow works because the reeling action that results in the lifelike movement of the lure catches the attention of the fish and keeps it engaged. This is the simple secret to success in fishing – you must use a lure and combine it with the correct action so that the fish will bite.

This simple principle also holds true when marketing on social media. You should always ensure you provide a stream of the best content at the right intervals in order to gain the attention of your audience and to keep them constantly engaged.

  1. Convert Your Target Market

Finally, we look at the step most social media marketers focus on – conversion. I mentioned in the first step that it would be highly unrealistic for you to expect to convert your audience through social media marketing when you are just starting out because you do not have an audience yet.

You should also not expect much in the way of conversions if you do not yet have ways to gain your audience’s attention and hold it as I have explained in step 2. As it is clear to see, each of these steps follow a certain order and are dependent on each other.

To return to my fishing analogy, when you are first starting out, you must select a spot that is known to have plenty of fish – this is step 1. Step 2 involves finding the best type of lure and the appropriate action to ensure you keep whatever fish you are targeting engaged. In my example, the Banjo Minnow proved perfect for catching my fish! Finally, after the fish bites, the next step is to reel them in: This is step 3 – conversion. This is also the most fun part of fishing.

Everything that you do until reeling in / conversion is a matter of putting in hard work and has an element of trial and error until you find what works best. In social media marketing terms, you must first focus on building up your audience and engaging them through the right content which could be inspirational, informative, entertaining or educational. Once you are able to do this, conversion will be much easier and more fun.

Duplicate Content Will Kill Your Online Marketing

Many webmasters wonder why duplicate content is such a huge problem when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). While all the information available on the internet regarding duplicate content can seem overwhelming, it makes perfect sense when seen from Google’s point of view.

To illustrate this, let us look at an example that most people can relate to. You may have just watched a good movie and would like to find another similar movie. One way to do this would be to tweet or to send an email to some of your friends, asking them to recommend a film that they liked.

In this case, the result you expect is that your friends will reply with a number of different titles that they think you would enjoy watching. What you definitely do not want is for all of your friends to recommend the exact same movie, which you then decide is not what you are looking for. What you expect to get is a wide variety of movie titles, which increases the likelihood that you will find something you will like.

This is very similar to how Google’s search results work; the people at Google know that if a user keys in a search term and gets 10 web pages full of almost identical results, the chances of the searcher finding the information they require, are drastically reduced. The user experience also suffers, because it is extremely frustrating to click on different search results only to get the exact same information.

In order to get round this problem, Google has developed advanced search algorithms that prevent duplicate pages from being displayed for a particular search phrase. The result is, if you have a page on your website that has the same (or very similar) content to another page online, Google will only rank one of them.

How to Find Out If You Have Duplicate Content on Your Web Pages

There are plenty of tools available online that can help you find out if your web pages contain duplicate content. However, two of the most popular with webmasters and content developers are:

Both of these tools only require you to paste the URL of your webpage into the search box and click the ‘Go’ button to start checking your content. In many cases, some duplicate content will be found, so let us look at ways to fix your content in order to avoid penalties by Google.

Fixing Duplicate Content

Many webmasters and online content developers often try in vain to find the one ‘magic bullet’ solution that will easily solve the problem of duplicate content. Unfortunately, there is no simple, ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that will work for everyone; how you fix duplicate content on your website depends on your own situation. However, there are 3 solutions that are common, and every webmaster should find at least one that would be a good fit for their website. These are:

  1. 301 Redirect: This works by automatically forwarding visitors to your website from one page to the other if they are duplicates. For all intents and purposes, a 301 Redirect effectively eliminates duplicate content on the website because only one of the 2 pages is accessible online.
  2. Rel=canonical: A second option is to place the rel=canonical tag on the duplicate web pages. By using this tag, it tells Google which URL among the duplicate pages should be displayed among the search results. The tag’s format would look like this: <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.mydomain.com/the-url-you-want-listed-in-Google.html” />.
  3. No Index: When you would like to tell Google not to add a URL to its indexed search results, the No Index tag comes in handy. This is different from the previous methods because it removes a page from consideration as a search result instead of redirecting traffic. The tag is added to your web page HTML as <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />.

It is clear that all the above methods of dealing with duplicate content are fairly technical. It is therefore necessary for you to discuss the one that would fit your website best with your web developer.

Are Other Issues Preventing Your Site From Ranking In Google?

Besides duplicate content, there are many other issues that could hurt your website’s Google rankings. If you suspect that there are problems, the best action to take is to carry out an SEO audit. We have an affordable and comprehensive SEO audit service which offers:

  • An in-depth SEO analysis that includes both on-page and off-page factors, as well as mobile, social and analytics that affect your Google rankings.
  • A comprehensive SEO report that grades each factor, allowing you to see areas where your SEO needs improvement.
  • Consultation with one of our SEO experts, who will answer all your questions on optimizing your web pages.

Duplicate content can hurt your rankings with Google so take the time to make your site content stand out from the rest.