The best plan for an online marketing strategy is simple — but it takes 800 details to develop it.
The actual total might not be 800, but it sure seems like it. The reason why is that online marketing is so much more complicated than offline marketing.
The word strategy gets used a lot when it is being applied to a tactic.
An online marketing strategy is:
- Subjective rather than objective
- Visionary versus actionable
- Preparatory rather than executable
- General versus specific
So the strategy should be subjective, visionary, preparatory and general.
The tactics are objective, actionable, executable and specific.
It begins with an idea or a small group of related ideas on how to build a great Web site, the audience it is trying to attract and the ways in which it will achieve business success in the form of profit, revenue, audience, branding, etcetera.
Strategy in Brief
A strategy begins with a plan that is the result of some careful thinking. The example below is just a starting point.
- Summarize the status of your site
- Visualize where you want your site to be in one year
- Establish your audience goals:
- Unique visitors
- Page views
- Describe your product
- Determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- Identify and describe your market
- Describe and prioritize your promotional channels
- Create an expense budget
Crossing the Line into Tactics
The line between strategy and tactics is reached at the point of describing and prioritizing the promotional channels.
The point is arguable, but for the purpose of this article, the promotional channels become tactics when the conversation turns to the details, i.e., what are the most important factors in search engine optimization.
Simply defining and prioritizing the channels has a strategic purpose — understanding which channels are most important, require the most resources and deliver the best results for the site.
The process of prioritizing leads one to decide if certain channels should be abandoned or minimized, or if other channels should be strengthened.
The ebb and flow of data about site performance is essential for the site owner to modify strategy and tactics. This ebb and flow that produces such detailed information makes online sites remarkably fluid.
Refining the Strategy
The best online marketing strategy can be as simple as one page. Simple often is good. Complex often is not.
A lengthy, in-depth strategic plan forces the writer to think deeply and make the various elements of the plan integral to other elements.
But a detailed plan also can become rigid and easily disrupted. It also can take quite a bit of time to write and modify in the face of new information.
A plan should contain only the most essential information that is necessary to carry out the strategy, communicate that strategy and deliver results with the tactics. Anyone beyond essential information is fluff.
To Goal or Not to Goal
Some experts would debate whether goals should be part of a strategy or part of tactics.
A goal should be part of the strategy if it is subjective or directional, such as, “Grow pages per visit in order to increase ad inventory.”
It is a tactic, and objective, when it says, “Grow pages per visit to 4.2 by the third quarter of this year.”
A strategy should be reviewed at least annually if not quarterly. The purpose of the review is to determine if you have veered off course with your tactics or if the original strategy is no longer valid because of a changing online environment.
It is a reminder of how to stay focused on achieving the most important ways of growing the business.
Otherwise, the 800 possible ways of marketing a Web site will become overwhelming.