Planning your campaign: Your first steps in digital marketing

15th August 2014

The internet plays an important part in almost every type of business today, and any business that wants to succeed needs to dedicate some time and energy to the planning and executing of an effective online marketing campaign. It can be extremely difficult for new businesses to compete against well established players in their niche; however, a good digital marketing plan combined with an experienced marketing manager can help both new and established businesses stand out even in over-saturated business sectors.

Online marketing is essentially a way to get potential customers to discover and connect with your brand. It is especially useful for small and fledgling companies because it allows a business to form a direct relationship with consumers, something that is extremely difficult to do with more traditional marketing methods such as radio, television, and print advertising. Companies such as Sweet Spot MD are experts in developing strong online brands for businesses that help to attract both consumers and new business-to-business relationships.

Six keys to digital marketing

The Internet provides businesses with many new avenues for networking and marketing. Social media websites – especially LinkedIn and Twitter, which are favored by businesses – provide a free platform on which to connect with other companies and individuals. Web development, email marketing, social media, and search engine optimization all play an important role in developing a business brand online.

There are essentially six steps to developing an online campaign that should be incorporated into a marketing strategy.

1. Determine your goals

Every marketing strategy should be closely linked to business goals; effective business marketing is the only way to ensure that the objectives set out in a business plan are met. A business plan should include both short term and long-term goals, and these should be used to develop the marketing plan.

Every marketing strategy should be reviewed on a regular basis, and each marketing channel should be optimized for best results. Also, there is no shame in totally abandoning a specific social media or email marketing strategy if it is not working. A small strategic online presence is always more powerful than a large, unfocused one.

2. Develop a robust platform

The platform for online marketing should include all the tools that are used to promote a business. At the center of this platform is the business website, and this is supported by the various social networking platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest) and email marketing.

All online marketing activities should be designed to help improve the exposure of a part of the platform. At the same time, the platform is used to help promote new interest in the business. The platform can also be extended to include other websites that support your brand such as ecommerce sites (Amazon, eBay), forums, and blogs.

3. Build the best website in your industry

This is certainly not an easy goal to achieve, but if a business operates what is considered to be the most attractive and easiest to use website it will generate a lot of activity and attract new visitors.

Unfortunately, in most cases new visitors have notoriously short attention spans, so it is vital to hook new leads quickly. Fast, responsive websites that have great visuals and an enticing call to action will help convert new visitors into new customers. Although this is not marketing in the strictest sense of the word, all online marketing efforts will be in vain if the website fails to deliver.

4. Give something away

People like to be able to take something from a website. This can be excellent information in a blog, a chance to win a prize, or some personal advice. Impressed visitors will tell their friends and colleagues about the great experience.

5. Be social and be yourself

Social media accounts that are impersonal and only promote business products and services turn people off fast. Internet marketing is about developing a voice and a personality that people can relate to, trust and converse with easily.

Being social is ultimately the main purpose of joining any of the social networking platforms. Many businesses do well when they are represented by the CEO or founder rather than just an impersonal corporate brand. People like to talk to other people, not corporations.

6. Analyze and react

To allow a strategy to evolve, marketers need to analyze performance and determine what actions and platforms are helping to develop new leads and increase sales. One simple metric to monitor is website page views. If page views are increasing each month it is a good sign that the marketing plan is working. Analyze where people are coming from, work on improving the strongest areas, and consider abandoning any failures.

Search engine traffic should also be closely monitored to determine if the marketing plan has helped to improve the website PageRank in Google. When this starts to happen even a small business can start to compete effectively with well-established brands.

A digital marketing campaign does not need to be extremely complex. However, it does need to have specific goals that can be objectively assessed. No strategy should ever be considered finalized; a business should always evolve and test new ideas to stay ahead of their niche market competitors.

Corey is an all round tech guru who has worked at some major blue chip companies. He started Poweronemedia to share his views and knowledge with the rest of the blogging world.