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Online marketing supports offline initiatives

By Marc L. Goldberg

SCORE certified mentor

Question: Is there a systematic approach I can use to create an online outreach marketing strategy?

Answer: First, what is a digital marketing strategy? It is a plan that helps your business achieve defined goals through specifically selected online marketing channels such as paid, earned or owned media.

The campaign is composed of the actions you plan and take to achieve your overarching goals and objectives. Before we look at a solution, let’s step back and review online/social media marketing parameters: It starts with SEO – search engine optimization – to ensure you are visible online, then moves to online public relations that includes outreach, community participation, media alerts to brand activity and brand enhancement.

Online partnerships via affiliate marketing, sponsorships and co-branding builds the links between you and your constituents. We cannot forget offline marketing initiatives such as direct mail, trade shows and events, merchandising, packaging and word-of-mouth. Email, social media blogging and interactive ads complement offline communications of advertising, personal selling, sales promotions, PR and sponsorships.

In creating a digital marketing strategy, Hubspot (hubspot.com) suggests you think about these steps: Build your buyer personas. To whom are you directing your messages?

Identify your goals and the tools you will need. These goals should be integrated with your overall business goals and objectives. Analyze your existing channels and evaluate whether they are working to support your goals and objectives. You might lay out all your tools on a spreadsheet to identify what, how and results. Those channels you have complete control over, such as your brand, website, social media profiles, blog content and imagery are your owned media. You can manage it most effectively to maximize your digital results.

Remember, setting your goals and objectives is only step one. Auditing and measuring the impact of the tactics is step two. Without the second, step one is merely words on a page.

SmartInsights (smartinsights. com) has created an acronym to define its approach. RACE consists of four steps, or online marketing activities, designed to help brands engage their customers throughout the customer lifecycle.

Reach

Reach involves building awareness and visibility of your brand, products and services on other websites and in offline media in order to build traffic by driving visits to different web presences such as your main site, microsites or social media pages. It involves maximizing reach over time to create multiple interactions using different paid, owned and earned media touchpoints. For example: Objective: Increase monthly visits by 30% over 12 months.

How: Create a YouTube channel. K Key performance indicator: Number of visits through organic traffic.

Act

Act is short for Interact. It’s a separate stage from conversion, encouraging interactions on websites and in social media. For most businesses, the main aim of Act is to generate online leads. So, it’s about persuading

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site visitors or prospects to take the next step, the next action on their customer journey when they initially reach your site or social network presence. It may mean finding out more about a company or its products, searching to find a product or reading a blog post.

You should define these actions as top-level goals of the funnel in analytics. Goals can include “viewed Product”, “Added to Basket”, “Registered as a Member” or “Signed Up for an e-Newsletter.”

Act is also about encouraging participation. This can be the sharing of content via social media or customer reviews (strictly, part of Engage). For example: Objective: Reduce customer cost of acquisition by 10% over a 12-month period.

How: Social media tutorials that worked in other media. Measure acquisition costs along the funnel.

Convert

This is simply conversion to sale, online or offline. It involves getting your audience to take that vital next step that turns them into paying customers, whether the payment is taken through online e-commerce transactions or offline channels.

For example: Increase conversion rate from 1%-2% in a year.

How: Add steps in the tutorials to get additional interaction/conversion.

Engage

This is long-term customer engagement and communication, that is, developing a long-term relationship with first-time buyers to build customer loyalty as repeat purchasers using communications on your site, social presence, email and direct interactions to boost customer lifetime value.

It can be measured by repeat actions such as repeat sales and sharing content through social media. We also need to measure the percentage of active customers (or email subscribers) and customer satisfaction and recommendation using other systems. For example: Use technology and blogging to personalize content.

A marketing campaign plan does not need to be lengthy or complicated. Creating a simple campaign plan with clear actions can ensure that both small and larger organizations are focusing on their goals and the overall success of the business.

To get more granular, consider these tactics for marketing your business online: Invest in Web design. A welldesigned website influences the amount of time and attention visitors give you. Who can you connect with to create an affiliate or associates program where others can help you spread the word about you, your brand, your company?

Create an email newsletter, then link it to an opt-in button on your website. Drive traffic to the website and get them to opt-in for a complimentary “white paper” or “tips” offering. Create articles and blogs that create awareness and drive traffic. Sometimes online contests and giveaways work to increase traffic and awareness.

Set short-term objectives and constantly measure your tactics to assess whether they are working. If not, adjust and drive on. Take a lesson from Lean Planning concepts. Create a strategy, design tactics and try them. Measure their impact. If they aren’t working, find out why and adjust. Try again.

Unless you put yourself out there in the market, you will never know if your messages are reaching your target audience. And your message delivery methods will change as macro- and micro-environmental factors change. Be flexible. Be adaptable. Be willing to change. Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, certified mentor. Source: Sarah Cowman, managing director, The Yorkshire Marketing Agency; Laura Lake, 11/29, 2019, “10 Strategies for Marketing Your Business Online,” Hubspot, Digital Marketing Strategy. For FREE and confidential mentoring contact SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands, capecod.score.org, capecodscore@verizon.net, 508-775-4884. We go where you are!

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