The world of online marketing, websites and digital advertising can seem complicated and almost impossible to implement without expert resource. When developing an online marketing strategy, we work with our clients, helping them understand their own digital landscape, strengths and weaknesses – educating throughout the process to promote honesty, trust and transparency on both sides.
If you’re looking to develop an online marketing strategy for your business, we want to help. We’ve put together this simple guide that provides a step-by-step walk through of the process we take with our clients, and one that you can follow for your own business.
If you’d like to discuss your specific online marketing requirements – whether you need a strategy, new website, CRM or digital advertising advice – we’re here to help. Get in touch for a free consultation.
Step 1: Current Position
Similar to the approach of building a new house, the first step to defining an online marketing strategy is to analyse your businesses’ digital foundation and current position. Audit current activity to determine what channels are (or not) activated, and whether digital foundations in place.
The starting point of any digital foundation is super simple: it’s a website.
Websites act as a shop front. Rather than walking down the high street to visit a shop, prospective customers will visit online. For them to find you – and not your competitor – your website should have basic optimisation in place. This includes:
- organic keyword strategy
- unique and relevant content
- easy to navigate user journey; and,
- technical (back-end) optimisation
Performing an audit of digital foundations and current position will help to prioritise what is required prior to launching an online marketing strategy.
Step 2: Setting Objectives
What is your primary business objective for the short and long term, and how can online marketing help you achieve it?
Is your website a selling tool that is driving visitors to purchase products? Or is it a brand building tool used to tell customers who you are and why they should care? Is there a specific message you’re trying to convey?
Thinking critically about what your website can help your business achieve is a crucial step to defining an overall marketing strategy. It’s also the starting point to define which digital channels should be activated as part of your businesses online marketing strategy.
Step 3: The Digital Sales Process
If your business sells directly to consumers offline then it’s a missed opportunity not to recreate that sales environment online.
In order to sell online you need two things:
- An e-commerce website
- A digital marketing and sales funnel
If your business is service rather than product focused, or B2B rather than B2C, the digital marketing sales funnel is still relevant (and required) as part of a successful online marketing strategy. If activated effectively, the funnel model is proven to successfully increase awareness of your business and help people find you online. It can also generate leads through the capture of customer data.
The original Marketing Funnel was developed in 1898 but and is still used today. It consists of three simple components:
Each of the three components can be activated online just as easily (if not easier) than offline. And the beauty of online – the real advantage – is that it can be completely tracked. Totally transparent with little room for doubt.
Step 4: The Digital Funnel
Top of the funnel: brand awareness
The purpose of the top section of the funnel is to do what it says on the tin: raise awareness.
Raising awareness is one of the most important sections of the funnel because it can have the greatest level of impact by attracting the most attention (views) of a brand.
This can be done in several ways:
- Digital advertising: ads on digital platforms like Google, Bing, and in news publications like BBC, The Daily Mail, etc.
- Organic digital marketing: content creation and distribution such as blog posts and editorial content
- Social advertising: ad placement across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – you name it.
- Influencer marketing: posts and imagery from relevant industry and thought leaders
The list goes on.
What all of these awareness driving tactics have in common is that they’re underpinned by content.
Content is the most important aspect to successfully activating awareness raising at the top of the funnel. It should be written based on a keyword strategy and understanding of what your customers want to hear about from your brand.
Targeted advertising to raise brand awareness
When using digital channels for awareness raising it’s important that all content distributed is complete with a link – a URL. The objective of the link is to direct users to a secondary location. Typically, a location that is owned by the brand, like a website.
Top tip: people will often not click on an ad unless that ad speaks specifically to them. Ads need to be tailored to the audience they’re trying to capture, which means not taking a one-size-fits-all approach to creating ads.
Assuming your brand has a ranging target audience, personas should be developed for each segment with individual ads that speak directly to each persona. Some advertisements will be optimised based on the channel they’re distributed in – others based on engagement and action factors like call to action.
Middle of the funnel: engagement
After raising brand awareness and capturing consumer attention via targeted ads and channel activation tactics, the focus shifts to the middle of the marketing funnel.
Rather than attracting as much attention to the brand as possible, the objective is to engage consumers.
In this context to engage a consumer simply means getting them to perform an action.
Actions don’t just have to be e-commerce or purchase related – they’re unique and individual for every business. Actions can include:
- Email newsletter subscription
- Competition entry
- PDF or brochure download
- Survey or contact form completion
Since actions are taken in exchange for consumer data they should be accompanied by an incentive when possible. Whilst the incentive will not always be effective and users will often leave a website without taking any actions, just having them visit the site allows re-marketing to be activated and the user to be followed with display ads as they continue to browse.
Bottom of the funnel: conversion
The bottom of the funnel objective is as obvious as it sounds: convert prospective customers into paying customers.
It seems so simple yet hardly happens – in numerical terms. It is simple maths: standard conversion rates are typically a very low (point zero) percentages of awareness rates. If 100 people are reached with ads in the awareness stage, it’s likely that 0.1% will reach the bottom of the funnel and convert.
Volume of brand reach at the top of the funnel increases the chances of brand engagement at the middle and conversion at the bottom.
Step 5: Consumer Decision Making Journey
Objectives, sales process and funnel set-up with individual channel tactics defined leads to step five: the consumer decision making journey (CDJ).
The CDJ is the defined process that leads consumers from brand awareness to engagement and conversion. It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week and even years depending on business, industry and what’s being sold.
Purchasing a new house (for example) will be a decision that takes consumers a lot longer to make than buying a £5 t-shirt.
Effective online marketing continues to capture consumers attention throughout their entire decision-making process, often using display advertising and re-targeting as a mechanism to re-engage.
More sophisticated methods like audience segmented email and text messages can be used to remind e-commerce consumers that they left a website before completing the checkout process.
The Marketing Funnel whilst basic to grasp requires adequate digital foundations to be set. Websites must be optimised both from a user and search engine perspective, with analytics applied and relevant tracking set-up. Organic online marketing and paid online advertising tactics need to be defined with specific messaging for each channel and audience persona.
If you need help defining your online marketing strategy get in touch for a free consultation.