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How to create an online marketing strategy

How to create an online marketing strategy

Hardly anyone can grow a business without a proper online marketing strategy in dynamic conditions of the market. Learn how to build the proper marketing strategy plan to provide successful market entry, fast sales growth and increase brand awareness.

Glossary of the marketing terms

Before we plunge into marketing plans, let’s start with the online marketing strategy definition first. Marketing strategy is a range of project activities aimed at developing the business and making it competitive.

Here are some more terms that are often used by marketers today.

  • Target audience is a group of people most likely to be interested in your offer.
  • Brand awareness is the level of customer recognition of a company/project by its name.
  • A/B testing is a type of marketing research comparing the efficiency of two alternative choices.
  • Competitor analysis is a thoughtful evaluation of your rivals’ business strategies which helps to reveal their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Conversion rate is the percentage of users who completed the desired action (e.g. subscribed to your newsletter) out of the total number of website visitors.
  • Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that left the website without viewing more than one page.
  • ROI (Return on Investment) helps you understand how efficient your investment was. To calculate it, divide the benefit by the investment cost and multiply the outcome by 100 to know the result as a percentage.
  • CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) is an estimated profit that each client could generate for you during a certain period.
  • Marketing channel is the way your product gets to the customer. It can be a website, YouTube channel, TV commercial, email marketing, etc.
  • Sales funnel is the journey your website visitor takes towards purchase. We’ll discuss this term in detail later on.

Smart marketing goals

Building an online marketing strategy starts with setting targets, including short-term and long-term objectives. After you prioritize goals, it will be easier to decide what to tackle first. Here is a list of some more typical marketing objectives:

  • Enhance market share
  • Release goods/services
  • Attract new clients
  • Cover new market (either local or international)
  • Increase LTV

All the objectives should be smart, meaning they should match your niche, business goals and opportunities. Set realistic, specific and time-bound goals. Each should be measurable. Objectively assess progress so far and identify any implementation gaps.

Know your target customer

Each marketing strategy template should be relevant to your target audience. First, identify your core offering—the main reason why customers use your product. For example, you own a price comparison website and most visitors use it to find the cheapest hostels around Europe. So, your core offering is the ability to help people save money on accommodation.

Next, try to reveal what kind of user could benefit the most from your offer. In the case of a price comparison website, it can be useful for tourists on a budget—most likely students or people early in their careers. Their biggest issue might be to avoid overpaying for the hotel stay and save money for cultural activities.

Finally, focus on features that make your offer unique. For instance, your price comparison website might have the widest range of filters that help people select the most suitable place to stay. To understand your target audience better, take advantage of the User Persona approach.

Research your competitors

Researching competitors is very important to creating an online marketing strategy for small businesses. Once you see what features make them strong and which, on the flip side, repel customers, it will be much easier to grow your business. Besides, deep analysis helps avoid the resource-intensive A/B testing. Here are points to analyze:

  • Website (design, usability, optimization)
  • Content types (posts, case studies, press releases, visuals, etc.)
  • SEO (keywords, tags, domain authority, backlink strategy, etc.)
  • Profiles on social media platforms and engagement (comments, number of shares, likes)
  • Online and offline presence (mass media, references, aggregator)
  • Product
  • Customers (demographics, interests, etc.)

To be fast and productive, analyze competitors with one of the following tools:

SEO Social media marketing Email marketing, advertising and more

Now, we’ll show you how to analyze a competitor’s blog in practice. Let’s take, for example, the travel blog Adventurous Kate.

Adventurouskate.com

The blog author teaches women how to travel safely on their own. First, we’ll reveal the blog’s strengths and weaknesses that result in our opportunities and threats. Then, we’ll continue with SEO and social media presence analysis.

Strengths

  • The blog’s tagline “Travel for independent women” clearly demonstrates the author’s mission.
  • The latest and most popular posts are one click away from the home page.
  • The most recent articles are placed in the sidebar so you can check them out anytime.
  • Blog posts are categorized by destination and type, so they are easy to navigate.
  • Kate shares an extensive list of travel resources that will help any traveler organize their trip.
  • Naturally, the blog offers plenty of content.
  • The author demonstrates authority and expertise by sharing links to her publications in online magazines, on news, etc.
  • The subscription form is placed on the home page and in the sidebar so users can subscribe anytime.
  • Kate shares acknowledgments from readers right on the home page.
  • Each post has social media share buttons.
  • The blog is mobile-friendly.

Things to improve

  • Kate rarely engages in conversation with readers and doesn’t reply to comments.
  • A few large ad banners are present on each page.
  • Articles don’t have any links which could have been useful for readers.
  • There is no special thank you page for if you subscribe to the newsletter, just a small thank-you note.
  • Blog posts are rather long and adding a table of contents or a short overview could be nice.

Opportunities

  • Engaging in conversation with readers would make them feel like a part of the community and increase the number of followers faster.
  • Taking on guest posts would offer Kate’s subscribers a fresh perspective periodically.
  • You can see that too many ads are annoying, so it’s important to correlate your blog’s length and the number and size of banners.
  • Offering a free guide or another gift to reward new subscribers could help build a loyal community.

Threats

If you take on the same topic, it could be a challenge to surpass the author considering her presence on mass media and social platforms.

SEO

Let’s check the website traffic and other parameters. As you can see on the screen below, the blog features a considerable amount of visitors but the average visit duration is very short: just 46 seconds. Readers usually check up to two pages per visit. The bounce rate is also pretty high — almost 78%. So, we might conclude that while the traffic is decent, the conversion rate should be improved.

SEO

Choose your channels

When developing a marketing strategy, you need to choose a proper channel. Here are channel examples that you can use for your brand promotion:

  • Website
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing and SEO
  • Advertising
  • Affiliate marketing

It’s necessary to use channels that match your business, whether it will be one or several gateways. The key point is to select those with the highest ROI. That’s why you need to check this metric for the currently used channels and calculate a possible ROI for others. Then, make a win-win mix to engage it during the promotion.

What are the marketing plan steps in this case?

  • Start by building a niche website to diligently present your offer.
  • Then, develop the content strategy and fill your blog with valuable, interesting and unique content, including both textual information and visuals.
  • Use a relevant list of keywords to optimize your content for getting organic traffic.
  • Add subscription forms, build an email list and use email marketing techniques.
  • Once the website is ready and full of content, it’s time to launch advertising by means of Google Ads.
  • Another move can be joining affiliate marketing and earning commissions in exchange for promoting other merchants’ products.

Certainly, to write a marketing strategy, it’s important to consider all the available channels. To choose the right solutions, take into account the segment of the market (whether you target B2B or B2C), niche, your sketch of the ideal customer (User Persona), and the competitors’ analysis results.

Sales funnel

The sales funnel is the journey a new website visitor takes towards becoming a client. The funnel has various cycles, and each one of them influences the customer’s behavior and displays the steps that the website visitors take before making a purchase/subscription/click, etc.

Sales funnel

It’s crucial to track the conversion rate in order to measure the effectiveness of each stage of the funnel. Then, don’t forget to optimize it with A/B testing for blog design, marketing techniques and more.

How to implement a killer marketing strategy

To succeed in building a marketing plan, you should focus on both trends within your niche and your project. Each stage of your strategy must be logical, consistent, measurable and based on the well-articulated goal. No solutions can be static since it’s a flexible marketing strategy process that needs permanent optimization.

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