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Perfect Your Online Marketing Plan in 5 Easy Steps

In today’s technology-based environment, online marketing can prove to be one of the most cost effective methods of reaching your target population. With tons of opportunities in multiple avenues, online marketing offers a lot of options. The most important element of any marketing campaign is the plan behind it. Take a look at these 5 steps to help your perfect your online marketing plan and ensure its success.

Define what your most important goals are for the year, as well as challenges in reaching them.

Before you even consider your online marketing plan, you must take the time to identify what your goals for the upcoming month, quarter, year, etc. look like. Who are you trying to reach and in what areas are you trying to build your business. What are you hoping to accomplish and in what time frame. You need to have some ideas in mind about what you’re trying to achieve before you create a plan to achieve it.

In addition to identifying goals, it’s also important to consider what challenges you may face in achieving your goals. What might get in the way? What can you do ahead of time to work through the challenges you may encounter. How are you going to approach unexpected challenges? Being as prepared as possible can help you offset some of the difficulties you may face.

While you’re looking at your goals and the challenges you may face, you should take the time to evaluate what you’re currently doing on the marketing front. Maybe you already have a website; take a look at your website traffic trends or how many referrals you’re getting from your site alone. Analyze the effectiveness of what you’re currently doing and identify ways to improve.

Make sure your website meets the needs of your audience.

Your website is really the center of your online marketing plan. It needs to be awesome. The most important question to ask yourself when designing your website is, “How is this site going to help my audience”. The web is a great resource and a large percentage of people using it do so to gain information. What on your website is going to help them? What on your website is going to gain their interest in you and your business? You need to design your website based on the needs of your audience.

Your website should not only provide information about what you do, but it should provide information about who you are. Websites provide a great opportunity to build a relationship with consumers and potential consumers. People can get to know you and it initiates the process of building trust.

Keep the SEO (search engine optimization) concepts in mind when designing your site. Take a look at Google’s SEO info here. Make sure you have great site content, have chosen appropriate key words, and

Remember that your website is going to bring you leads and opportunities. Make sure that it is set up to support this (visitors can enter information, can subscribe to e-mail newsletters, can subscribe to blog, etc.). Also recognize the importance of mobile compatibility. More and more internet users are accessing sites from their phones or tablets. A mobile-compatible site is an absolute must.

Continuously build your e-mail list and send out regular newsletters.

An e-mail list is a very valuable resource for online marketing. It provides you with the opportunity to reach out to and build a relationship with your audience. E-mail newsletters are surprisingly easy to generate with websites like Mailchimp.com and don’t take a whole lot of time. Sending out bulk e-mails to your entire list, on a consistent basis is one way to ensure that your name is kept fresh in their minds.

Don’t be alarmed if you get some unsubscribes or have a lot of un-opened e-mails. The important thing is that you keep at it, and do so on a consistent basis. Your newsletter can be as simple or complex as you desire. But try to be unique and original. People love pictures, they’re easy to view and connect with. Be sure to include great images in addition to great content.

Get a jump on social media.

If you’re not already on social media, it needs to be a part of your online marketing strategy. If you are on social media, consider some ways to better engage your audience and promote communication on your page.

Social media is a fabulous outlet for online marketing. And, the great thing about it…it’s free! Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are all currently free and offer the potential to reach a large audience! Each site differs in post type as well as audience type. Instagram and YouTube are very visual sites featuring images and videos. Facebook also features images as well as content and Twitter is just quick “tweets” of short content.

You should identify a social media marketing strategy within your overall online marketing strategy. You won’t be posting the same things to each site so you will need different ideas for content. If all four websites above are too much, narrow it down to two. Whichever sites you decide on, be strategic in your posting.

Don’t post long status updates. Keep in brief. Social media marketing thrives on engagement. Prompt users with questions. For example, “What do you think about ______ (related to business)”? You want to engage your audience, prompting them to comment. When they do comment, be sure to respond promptly. Your social media marketing is another way to build a relationship and trust with consumers and potential consumers.

Post on social media frequently, but not excessively. Ten posts per day is likely too much and people will get sick of you blowing up their newsfeed. Three to four posts per day is ideal. Remember these concepts: keep the content brief, people like pictures, and drive engagement.  Don’t use social media as a constant sales pitch, that will get old quick. Post content that is interesting, and/or helpful to others.  Be unique and original.

Become a blogger.

Content marketing it on the rise, and has been for the last couple of years. If you’re not already blogging, it’s time to step up to the plate. Publishing quality content on a regular basis is a great way to build trust with your audience as well as gain a following.  Forbes further elaborates that content marketing helps businesses build rapport and establish authority. Quality content also promotes SEO.

Blogging is much easier than it sounds and can be incorporated into your current website. When creating your own blog it is important again to ask yourself, “What can I publish that will help others”. Your blog subscribers will be those who find your content interesting and/or helpful. You’re not blogging for you, you’re blogging to meet the needs of your audience.

There are tons of topics related to your business that you can blog about. When you actually sit down and begin to brain storm, you will be surprised at how many ideas you can come up with in one sitting. Once you have got great ideas, start putting together some catchy titles, like “5 things you didn’t know about ______(related to business)”. Once you have got some great content with some creative and catchy titles, you will gain some followers. You can also post links to your blog on your social media sites.

Consider guest blogging for other sites. There are tons of sites that feature guest bloggers. Writing for other sites is a great way to gain exposure as well as supports your experience in the area you are writing about.

Wrap up.

An online marketing plan is extremely important in today’s business environment. Before you can consider your marketing plan, you must evaluate your business goals. Keep these goals in mind when you’re developing and making adjustments to your online marketing strategy. A great website is the first step to an effective online marketing plan. A great website is one that focuses on meeting the needs of the audience. A growing e-mail list and a regular schedule of e-mail newsletters is another must have. Social media pages with regular updates will help you build engagement, establish relationships as well as build trust with your audience. And finally, content marketing needs to be a part of your plan. Blogging is a great way to build rapport and further establish yourself as an expert in your field.

All of these methods will help you drive traffic to your website bringing you leads that hopefully turn into consumers. Your online marketing plan is the key to growing your business into the future.