William E. Deming once said; “what can be measured can be managed.” Thankfully, in today’s new online marketing world, just about everything can be measured. Even better? The data is at your fingertips in a matter of seconds. But most small to medium sized businesses don’t have an effective marketing platform that allows them to capture, measure or use all of this data. As a result, the management of their online marketing efforts provides a very low ROI. If you are ready to amp up your ROI, then you need the right marketing platform to launch you to the next level.
If you recall, in a previous article we talked about the new marketing strategy paradigm and how your digital foundation was absolutely critical to your success. An effective marketing platform was at the forefront of that winning strategy and your “digital foundation” is what everything else is built on.
So what are the four pillars of an effective marketing plan? They are: website, search engines, social media, and call to action paths.
Pillar One: Your Website Is The Foundation Of Your Marketing Platform
Your website is more than likely going to be the very first thing people see about your business. Like in the old days of retail, you wanted your “floorplan” to look inviting and easy to navigate so that shoppers would enter your store, stay, and shop. The same is true for your website.
You must make sure that visitors to your website know exactly what you do, exactly what you stand for, and you have to do this in under 10 seconds. In fact, according to national surveys conducted by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of all web users expect a site to load in under two seconds. These same users will actually abandon your website and look to your competitors if it takes longer than three seconds.
So when is the last time you ran a load-speed test on your site?
Don’t Forget Security
Anyone who has been paying attention to the news knows that computers all over the world were cyber-attacked with a malware worm virus dubbed “WannaCry.” This vicious style of attack is known as ransomware and is become more and more prevalent. So protect yourself and your data.
In fact, Google is now using SSL (secure socket layer) certification as a ranking element to determine first page search results. So make sure your site is secure. It protects you and it helps your rankings.
Additionally, make sure you install Google analytics on your website. Remember what we said: “that which can be measured can be managed.” If you don’t have the data, how can you manage your site?
But be forewarned. Google analytics can overwhelm you with data. Don’t wind up in analysis paralysis. Focus on just one or two key elements that you want to improve (like visitors or bounce rate) and then just work on improving them. Don’t get overwhelmed. As my friend’s daughter (who is four) likes to say: “how do you eat an elephant… one bite at a time.”
Your goal is to establish a web presence that works. To do that you need to establish controls that give you a marketing platform you can manage. Establish those processes slowly and “one bite at a time.”
Pillar Two: Search Engine Marketing
It does absolutely nothing for your profitability or ROI if your website can’t be found. That is why it is imperative that you constantly monitor your website and changes to Google’s search engine.
Look, the reality is that Google dominates 80% of the search engine market. As such, you have to make adjustments to your website every time Google makes a change. Like when Google updated the search engine algorithm from Panda to Penguin. If you didn’t keep up with the changes, chances are your website dropped in rankings. Or in some cases blacklisted.
Here are a few things you must do: identify keywords and optimize your homepage to those keywords, submit a site map, and keep your site fresh with new and relevant content.
Again, when’s the last time you ran a test?
Pillar Three: Social Media As An Element In Your Marketing Platform
Social media can be used in one of two ways. First, as a means of staying in touch with friends and family, as it was originally designed. Secondly, as a means of marketing. For most of us business owners, it’s option two that is most important. Why? Because social media has become the defacto “word of mouth advertising” platform of the digital age.
So you absolutely must use social media to promote your business. But more importantly, you must monitor social media to see what your clients and customers are saying about you and your business. This is where a reputation management system is absolutely critical to your business. Remember, if you can measure it, you can manage it. Far too many business owners have little to no idea what their customers are saying about them online. Do you?
Have you ever run a test on your business reputation?
Pillar Four: Call To Action
You would be surprised at how many business owners who spent thousands of dollars on a great looking site. But they still don’t convert visitors to customers. Why? Because they don’t have a clearly defined “call-to-action.”
In simple marketing terms a call-to-action (CTA) is an instruction to your website visitors to do something. Most often it is used to provoke an immediate response, usually using a verb such as “call now”, “find out more” or “visit a store today” to create a sense of urgency. A CTA can be a simple, non-demanding request like “read this” or “watch this video”.
In short, you have to get your visitors to engage. Otherwise, they just move on to the next site. Think about it this way. If you were to analyze your customer data you could probably come up with two or three types of personas who visit your website. These are the types of people you need to be marketing to.
Let me give you an oversimplification of what we are talking about and why a great call to action can be the launch point of your marketing platform.
Assume you sell gourmet dog food. Why in the world would you then be marketing or trying to get cat owners to visit your site or take action? Wouldn’t it just be smarter to market to dog owners?
Now take it a step further. Once the “dog owner” is on your website you wouldn’t want to offer them a free week’s worth of cat food, would you? Offering your customer a sample of the product they want practically guarantees they will “take action”. The action could be as simple as leaving their contact information so you can send them the free dog food.
Heck, you could take this idea further and set it up for two free weeks of dog food in exchange for their billing information. Now you’ve secured a recurring customer. In fact, the typical renewal rate for monthly automatic subscriptions are in the 90+ percent range.
So doesn’t it just make sense that you should have a great call-to-action plan in your marketing platform?
It’s simple. They key to marketing is to measure your visitors, leads, and conversions. Then simply pick one of those metrics and improve it. By building a solid marketing platform you give yourself the tools and management controls to measure and manage. Once you can measure and manage, you can improve. Improve the four pillars of your marketing platform and you have a recipe for success.