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Website Marketing Plan Increases Odds of Success

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A website marketing plan can range from one page to dozens or even of pages. What matters most is the meat of it and the focus and execution of the most important elements.

What also matters is fulfillment of the important site promotion goals. The process begins with a clear outline.

The complexity of the plan depends on whether the person executing it is a one-person publisher or the online marketing manager at a large company. The following plan outline assumes that one person is responsible for the entire marketing program of a single website.

Summary

The plan summary, also called an executive summary when written for a larger organization, is a synopsis of the main elements of the plan. Although it is displayed first in the final document, it is written last because it must represent the content of the entire plan.

In these days of information overload, one paragraph for each of the five sections below with no more than two or three sentences per paragraph is enough.

Situation Analysis

Product
Does the site fully explore all possible subjects related to its mission? Do unimportant pages get ranked higher in search engines than the important ones? Is the site graphically pleasing, too graphically intensive or not graphical enough?

How many pages of content have been indexed by search engines? Are deeper level pages easy to find? Does the site load quickly or slowly? Are all of the important pages optimized properly for search engines?

Audience
Is the audience growing year over year? Does one site section get more audience than the others? Does the site have low pages per visit, which indicates a poor user experience? What about low visits per unique visitor (frequency / loyalty), which also indicates a bad experience?

Competitors
Competitors can be geographic (city, state or nation) or categorical (i.e., travel). Does one section of the site perform poorly because the competitor has built a better section with a loyal user base?

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis flows naturally from the situation analysis, but looks at the product from a different perspective.

Strengths
Strengths may include high growth rates for audience, user experience, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, etc. The site may have strong rankings in search engines. Profit growth that means spending money on promotions.

Weaknesses
A common weakness is too much emphasis on profit at the expense of growth. The site may have a small promotional budget or even none at all, low frequency of visitors or limited social media engagement.

Opportunities
Are competitors weak on a particular type of content? The arrival of new technology can enhance the product.  A site page suddenly jumps to the No. 1 position in search engines, which creates an important gateway into the overall site.

Threats
A new competitor has entered the market. Google changes its algorithm in a way that decreases search engine traffic or content marketing efforts. Other possible threats are declining open rates, high churn rates or low opt-in rates for email marketing.

Goals and Objectives

We will define a goal as a broad and subjective desire and an objective as specific and measurable.

Four common goals are growing audience, revenue and profit. An example outline of goals and objectives looks like this:

  • Grow Audience
    • Unique visitors: 25 percent growth over previous year
    • Visits and frequency: increase frequency of visits from 1.8 per month to 2.0
    • Page views: increase pages per visit from 3.3 to 3.7
    • Brand engagement: add 1,000 Facebook likes by third quarter
  • Grow Revenue
    • Targets for total monthly, quarterly or annual revenue
    • RPM or revenue per thousand impressions
  • Grow Profit
    • Total profit in dollars
    • Profit growth in percentage
    • Profit margin in percentage

Strategies and Tactics

Think of strategies as abstract and tactics as concrete.

Strategies develop from situation and SWOT analyses. They require decisions such as whether to pursue dominance of a certain niche, how much if any money should be spent, what kind of promotional mix should be used (see tactics below) or where to focus limited resources.

Define, prioritize and focus to achieve success. Even one online marketing tactic that is consistently executed will deliver results. But what if that one runs into a problem, such as a content marketing partner who goes away?

A good marketing effort relies on at least three to five tactics to minimize risk and find the best return on investment. In an online marketing plan, they include:

  1. Search engine optimization
  2. Search engine marketing
  3. Blogging
  4. Content marketing
  5. Email marketing

Budget

Every website has a budget. It just might not involve money spent directly on promotion. But every website indirectly spends money on marketing / promotion if even one person spends one hour a week promoting the site. That effort is an indirect labor cost.

Marketing budgets start with labor and promotion. They may also include other expense categories such as research, but labor and promotion are the two important ones.

Define the amount of time per week that will be spent on promotional tactics. Track the results and calculate a return on investment. If your rate of pay is $20 an hour and the return is $10 an hour, either the plan is ineffective or the execution is flawed. The ROI must exceed the labor rate.

Determine a promotional budget. Again, track the results and identify the ROI.

A website marketing plan that is thoughtfully crafted and tracked consistently will create a greater focus on priorities and results.

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