Online Marketing Consultants help their clients think through an online marketing situation such as Lead Generation, Conversion, Brand and Awareness. Having tackled the same challenges before, they bring experience and insight to the problem allowing the client to make fewer mistakes and achieve better results quicker. Marketing Consultants usually produce:
• a Marketing Strategy, or
• a Marketing Plan
A Marketing Strategy takes the ideal view of the world, reviews the market and the competition, and identifies the various types of customers (segments) and the potential value of each. Having understood the Market, the Strategy then looks at ways to reach the customer (channels to market) and considers the strengths and weaknesses of the strategist’s organisation in putting that Strategy into effect. Finally, it will have some goals about income targets, entering new segments, gaining market share, and building awareness or brand. A big company’s marketing strategy team will do this full time and will have the resources to do a thorough job, but most small companies don’t have that resource available. Nevertheless, writing a marketing strategy is a valuable way of clearing your thoughts. An Online Marketing Consultant will help you to develop this Strategy and show you how online marketing strategies can be applied in your organisation.
The Marketing Plan is a more practical document, which talks about how to use the organisation’s resources to achieve the goals in the Strategy. It useful as a management tool – achieving goals is about many little steps and consistent progress and not about heroic efforts at the end of the plan period. The Plan will therefor include monthly and quarterly targets and possible contingency plans if targets aren’t achieved. There will be a range of measures in the Plan measuring progress towards the goals defined in the Strategy, including
- Conversion Rate
The numbers should be counted by market segment and channel because they will trigger the adoption of the contingency plans or other adjustments. An Online Marketing Plan is no different, but using Analytics, monitoring progress and performance can be much easier. In a smaller business online marketing can give you disproportionate leverage in your market whether it is a product niche or a local geographic market.
Online Marketing in practice
Most Business Owner/Managers have an instinctive understanding of their customers, but many find it difficult to translate that into a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. The main benefit of doing so is that it helps colleagues to understand and work together.
Lead Generation online can be done in a number of ways:
- Paid Traffic – Google Ads (or PPC), Facebook Ads, Mobile Ads and other Media Buying. Some would also count coupon campaigns in this area.
- Organic Traffic – an Authority Site gets traffic from search engines
- Social Media Traffic – your audience will find you via social media if you know what they like and post it regularly. Making them share it before they can download it spreads your message further
- Email Traffic – when you tell your subscribers that you’ve just written a post, many of them will read it on your website
- Viral Traffic – your wonderfully engaging content with a link to your site is shared around the Internet causing a surge in traffic and a continuing stream of new leads
- Content Marketing – posting high quality relevant content can be very effective for high tech companies or those with a complex product or service such as financial advice or medical treatment. Content needs to be tailored to the audience and needs to be directed to a particular purpose – titles such as Executive Briefing, Buying Guide and Implementation Guide will attract searchers who have a particular problem to solve.
Each of these traffic sources has its pros and cons and must be fitted into your Strategy and Plan
Conversion online is easy to measure and can mean anything from “Did the visitor subscribe to the newsletter?” to “Did he buy?”. Page design strongly influences conversion, but perhaps most important is the presence of positive reviews or other sharers. Collecting reviews is very important to increasing conversion. Loyalty schemes also help to promote conversion; seeing that others have bought encourages site visitors to do the same.
Brand building online is slightly different; it is much about persuading search engines who you are and what you stand for, as customers. This means having a consistent visual identity and content that is
- consistently about your business and its products,
- published in a way that makes it easy for Google to recognised what your content is about. This means publishing your pages in silos – that’s another article – or using Google’s Schema.org / Facebook’s Open Graph markup on your pages and posts which saves Google the problem of mashing through your website’s text, and
- published in places which Google recognises as yours – YouTube, Twitter Google Plus and Facebook Pages for example
The Online Marketing Consultant’s job is to help the Business Owner to define the “Online Marketing Strategy” and advise on selecting the techniques that can most effectively deliver the “Online Marketing Plan”. After the Plan is done, the Online Marketing Consultant will advise on implementation, but a marketing agency may provide a better (cheaper) service once marketing operations commence.