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Online Marketing Strategy: 3 Goals, 8 Tactics and 1 Solid Plan

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“Online marketing strategy” is a popular phrase that is used to describe ways of generating large amounts of traffic to a website.

In the business world, the words strategy and tactics are often mixed together. Sometimes they are mixed together so tightly that the meaning of one is almost the same as the other.

What does online marketing strategy really mean? How can a website owner use it to grow an online business?

A strategy is a plan. A plan has goals, objectives and tactics. Tactics are methods for achieving the goals and objectives.

A goal is broad, general and often subjective. An objective is fact-based and measurable.

The 3 Goals

Many media businesses have three goals in common, and websites are no different. The three basic goals are:

  1. Profit
  2. Revenue
  3. Audience (likewise, clients or customers)

An online marketing strategy serves at least the third item on the above list. If audience reach is successful, the odds go up for success with profit and revenue.

After all, many sites seek an audience in order to generate revenue from advertising, purchases or other transactions.

Website owners can subdivide the audience goal into important objectives in site analytics such as:

  1. Unique visitors
  2. Visits
  3. Page views
  4. Bounce rate

The strategy and therefore the plan requires figuring out the goals and objectives, how much effort to put into each one, how to prioritize them, etc.

This thinking then makes it easier to determine what happens next.

The 8 Tactics

Every online marketing tactic takes different amounts of time, energy and even money to implement.

Each one delivers different results based on the skills of the person pursuing them, the effectiveness of the tactic and the site being targeted.

Plenty of evidence supports the following eight tactics in order of priority.

1) Brand / direct traffic

The highest quality traffic is direct. It means that people who have visited a site have come back again because they remember its name or have put it in their favorites.

They might also return because of a search engine visit that displayed the site’s name, which triggered a positive response.

Return visitors don’t rarely cost time or money. The higher the direct traffic, the better the brand and the more valuable the audience.

Offline businesses with an online presence have an automatic advantage with brand awareness and loyalty. They also have an advantage in promoting their online business with offline marketing tactics.

2) Search engine optimization

Some sites received 90 percent or more of their total traffic from search engines, with Google still the dominant source.

SEO is the most valuable tactic and should receive the most time and attention in online marketing efforts.

At the same time, one of the most important measurements in an online marketing plan is tracking the growth of search engine traffic over time.

3) Link building

Site analytic software such as Google Analytics often includes “Referring Sites” as a source of traffic. A referring site usually has a link on it that someone has clicked.

Link building is either natural or manual. It is natural when the other site puts up the link on their own. It is manual when the receiving site has asked for the link, made a comment on another site, etc.

Linking building is related to SEO because the links on the external sites serve as “votes” for the landing page on the receiving site.

Think of the link as one vote, someone clicking on the link as a second vote and highly relevant anchor text that displays the link as the third vote.

4) Social media

Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media receive a great deal of attention in online marketing, but do they really deliver?

The answer is sometimes, depending on the site and the brand.

Facebook fan page likes, comments and shares help build a product’s brand, but the response in the form of purchases or visits to the related website is spotty depending on the business or industry.

Twitter is less oriented toward brand and more toward response — in the form of mobile.

Smart players test each social media platform to see what works and what doesn’t. In some cases, none of them work, so those businesses focus their time and energy on other marketing tactics.

5) Advertising

Targeted AdvertisingAll advertising is some combination of branding and response. Television, radio and print advertising emphasize branding. Online advertising emphasizes response.

Many offline businesses use all of the above to promote their websites. Return on investment guides them into balancing each option for the best possible results.

Which type of advertising to use depends again on the site and the business.

6) Blogging

Blogging describes the method of posting content on a regular basis to a website. Search engines like new content and will boost a site that has it in search engine results.

Some sites have low potential for blogging because of what they are selling and promoting. For example, a furniture store has low potential for blogging while an opinion site has high potential.

Sites that post content more often get more meaningful traffic and SEO. Longer articles do better than shorter ones.

Knowing how much time and effort a blog requires will determine the place of blogging in the online marketing strategy.

7) Content marketing

Anyone reading this article is directly experiencing the tactic known as content marketing.

Content marketing takes place when website writers post articles on other websites and refer back to their own sites. The reference can be as valuable as a link or as simple as a name reference that gives branding value.

8) Email marketing

Yes, email has fallen as an important tactic because of spammers and the rise of text messaging and social media. But email marketing is far from dead.

Many sites have email newsletters with hundreds, thousands and even tens of thousands of subscribers.

People still read email. But will they read email from the site that is central to the online marketing strategy?

One Solid Plan

Only when the goals, objectives and tactics are thoroughly considered is a strategy ready to come together in the form of a plan.

The online marketing strategy determines which goals and objectives are most important, which numbers matter, whether the resources are available to pursue them all and how much time is needed to get things done.

The strategy also examines each tactic carefully to see whether they all fit, some of them fit or — in the case of smaller sites with few people — it makes sense for the time being to focus on just one tactic.

Yes, building a strategy and a plan can take a great deal of time and effort.

But that’s what a strategy is — not a simple list of tactics, but a thorough and methodical way of achieving the most important business results.

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