Internet marketing. If you’re a business owner you’ve probably heard this term so many times you’re ready to kill someone over it. But the reality is that in today’s digital world you absolutely must have an internet marketing plan for your small business. So it’s a subject we have to talk about. First things first.
Shotguns, Internet Marketing, and You
Before we even start talking about internet marketing we have one caveat we must make perfectly clear. You can not make the same mistake we see other business owners making over and over again, ad nauseum. Simply stated, you can not take a “shotgun” approach to your internet marketing. This is also known as the “spray and pray” plan. You know, the plan where you throw a ton of money at your internet marketing and hope you hit something.
Look, it’s not your fault. There are so many companies out there hyping up the next big thing in internet marketing, and trying to sell you on it that you’ve become almost numb to it. In short, you’ve become overwhelmed by the cacophony of people telling you you need to market your company on the internet, that you simply throw money at the problem.
Most business owners are just like you. Deep down inside they know they need internet marketing, they just don’t know what it really is or how to do it… the right way. So they “spray” money at the problem and “pray” that something will work.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. So please, put your shotguns down, and keep reading.
The No.1 Secret of Internet Marketing That No One Is Telling You
Ok, so now you know the one thing you’re not supposed to do when marketing your business online. So now we are going to tell you the things you must do.
While most internet marketing companies out there what to sell you an expensive suite of services. So they will never, ever tell you to “start small.” And that is the secret to your success. Why have you never heard this secret before? Because it’s not in their best interest.
Look, internet marketing isn’t rocket science. It’s just overwhelming… if you let it be. That is why you simply must start small. Don’t try to do everything at once. The reality is you probably don’t have the marketing budget that these larger companies have and quite frankly, by our estimation, they are wasting thousands of dollars anyway. So instead, be smart, be savvy, and start small.
How do you start small?
Simple. Just pick one internet marketing channel and do that and only that until you have mastered it. Our recommendation is to start with pay-per-click advertising and forget all the hype about social media marketing and the rest.
So why pay-per-click? Simple. It has a built in audience (so you don’t have to build one like with social media), it’s affordable (if done correctly) and you have all the data points you need to effectively manage and improve the program until you’ve mastered it. Everything is sort of built for you. All you need to do is use the tools at your disposal. Or at the very least, pay someone who knows what they are doing to run the program for you.
Oh and before we forget, you want to “keep it small” so you can track and measure the data. We like to call them “data points” because the point you in the right direction. The data will tell you what to do.
Ideally it should work like this. You and your marketing manager (or consultant, etc.) sit down and establish what key metrics you want to measure. Then you have them provide you those key metrics each and every week.
Those metrics should be improving weekly or at the very least monthly – depending on your preferences. If those metrics are not improving, then you know you have to make changes.
One key element to this is split testing. This is where you run a PPC advertisement (ad #1) and then run a second PPC advertisement (ad #2) and then compare results. Take the winning ad and this becomes ad #1 and run it against another ad #2 and repeat the process. You repeat this process until you have a winning ad that continues to beat all others and provides you the results you are looking for. You’ll read more about this below in “how to win the war.”
Bottom line, you simply can’t do this effectively if you are going all out with multiple channels. You would need a whole team of people to do it. So remember, keep it small.
Guerrilla Marketing & Your Survival
Look, as small business owners, we simply don’t have the deep pockets that larger companies have. So we need to be a little smarter than the average bear. As we already discussed, some companies can afford to simply throw money at the problem. Of course, if you throw enough money at a problem, eventually something will work. But we don’t have that kind of budget or time. This is where guerilla marketing comes in.
You have to think of internet marketing like a war. For a minute, just imagine that you’re behind enemy lines, fighting a nation with what seems unlimited resources and a huge, established military. There is simply no way you are going to win this war with conventional tactics. You need to be lean, mean, and ready to move at a moment’s notice. This is exactly what you need to be doing with your internet marketing.
You don’t have an established marketing department or the resources needed to pay for an all-out marketing campaign. But you do have some very big advantages. First, you can make a decision quickly, where other companies are forced to manage by committee.
Second, your company is nimble enough, that when needed, you can adjust and adapt your marketing message as quickly as the data is coming in. Most companies are simply not that adaptable. To win this war you need to go where your audience is – and trust us – as a small business owner, you can get there quicker and faster than your competition.
But how do you win the war?
It’s simple, measure and track your key metrics, right down to the last penny. In this internet marketing war, data is your ammunition. The faster you can get high-quality data and respond to any given situation, the faster you win. In short, this is the key to your success. For example, let’s say you run a pay-per-click Facebook ad that says something like this:
Home Siding Contractor
Local Company – Free Estimates
Well, quite frankly, that’s a crappy ad to be throwing money at. Unfortunately, it’s a mistake that we see over and over again in the home improvement industry.
Data proves that while you may have put this ad in front of over 10,000 people, only 2 people clicked for more information. That is a horrible, horrible conversion rate a.k.a. “click-through-rate”.
Most contractors keep running this ad over and over again because they are not monitoring the data. You, on the other hand, take immediate action and change the ad. You now run this one:
Don’t Get Suckered
New Siding Is Expensive
FACT: You many not need new home siding at all.
Get A Free Second Opinion.
While your data tells you that just over 2,500 people saw your ad in just one week, there is no cause for alarm. Your data suggests that while only a ¼ of the number of people saw this ad compared to the first one, you see that 49 people actually clicked on the ad (as opposed to just two from before.)
That’s a 1.9% click through rate. And anyone in marketing will tell you that’s a pretty good “click-through rate” for any ad. FYI, this is an actual ad campaign we ran for one of our clients. This illustrates just how important it is to monitor and track your key metrics and adjust to the data. The data will show you what to do.
Bottom line: get quality data, fast. Analyze the data, and then move quick and strike like lightning. Do this and you will win.
So, you now have the basic do’s and don’ts of an effective internet marketing plan. You refuse to throw good money after bad. You will pick one, and only one, internet marketing channel to start using. You will monitor and track your key metrics. You will adjust quickly to this data because numbers don’t lie and they will tell you where to go and what to do. You will repeat this process until you have mastered the chosen marketing channel. Then and only then will you move on to the next marketing channel.