Wouldn’t it be great if you could stop spinning your wheels and finally create a cost-effective (and time-efficient) Internet marketing plan to reach your target audience and do it with a successful coach and co-pilot right by your side? That’s the path I'll take you on in this series of free digital marketing videos and tips.
Business owners just like you waste time and money year after year on the same ineffective marketing and advertising that just doesn't work anymore. I've grown revenue for companies by more than $100 million and now I want to help you grow yours.
Let's go through this checklist for Creating a Digital Marketing Road Map together so you can finally start increasing the business you're getting from the Internet.
Taking a road trip without a map or navigation system
Why should your online marketing be any different?
Let's Start Here:
What is Your Online Objective?
Is this you?
"I want more traffic”
“I want more awareness to my brand"
"I want more online revenue"
In short, we all want "more." However, many small business owners only have vague idea of what "more" actually means, especially in the context of online marketing.
Let's dig deeper for a moment and focus on the example of "more" online traffic...
We all want "more" traffic" but how much more do we want? Do you have a number in your head?
Let's assume you have a number. Let's say you want to increase traffic by 200 sessions per month. That sounds like a fair goal. To begin to assess whether this is effective or not, there are going to be some additional questions to consider such as:
What is your starting point for traffic? Is it realistic to increase from your current amount to this targeted goal?
How quickly will you want to generate it?
What is the main source of this new traffic? Is this new traffic tapping into your target audience or simply driving those with a little interest?
There are more questions of course, but as you can see, if we can't address the most basic question, "What is your online objective," we cannot address the subsequent questions, which will ultimately drive our effectiveness.
So, how might we best address setting this objective?
Consider the following when addressing this question:
Source(s) of Traffic
Ensure Ability to Measure (tracking tool)
Perhaps after you've thought about the points above, your objective might look like this:
Here are some questions to help you build out your objective/ starting point
1. What do you want to achieve through the use of online or digital marketing?
Some typical concepts include: more traffic, more leads, more revenue, more engagement, attract more talent to you, etc. Focus on the big picture here.
One of the first things to determine before creating any marketing plan is who you want to target with your digital marketing. Depending on your business, potential clients can be any number of places online.
The simple fact is this. If you can pinpoint your target audience's online location and provide insight that directly addresses their pain, needs or interests, you will do very well!
Members of your target audience are doing searches on Google and other search engines looking for what you offer. Will you meet your prospect online or will your competition beat you there?
Let's help your audience find you!
How you might ask?
Create a one-page overview of your audience, so that you have a clear understanding of their pain, needs and interests. Once you have that, guess what? You can address these points with your content. So, you are really taking care of two significant issues at once - understanding your audience while more effectively using your content!
Let's highlight this through the use of an example.
In the graphic below, we are providing an example of a professional resume writer who specializes in helping Chief Information Officers articulate their knowledge and work experience as they seek a new job. The graphic highlights the persona of the resume writer's ideal prospect on one page to show how the "pain, needs and interest" of this audience might come together and then be effectively addressed.
The Virtual Persona
As you start to identify your target audience, answer these questions about their persona to really understand the type of person you want to have become a customer.
Highlight their demographic - M/F, Age range, Marital status, Income range
Name your persona (usually a fictitious name like "CIO Charlie") and try to find a picture that reflects this demographic. It makes it easier to keep them in mind as you go through this process
Then begin to address other points about this audience including:
What does a day in their life look like?
What are their wants, needs and pain points?
What are they interested in reading or learning about?
Why would they purchase from you?
Continue to build out your virtual persona by addressing elements such as:
Where can this audience be found online? In our example, this includes places like LinkedIn, Facebook, CIO,com and of course, search engines such as Google.
Address the search engines by noting keywords your audience might target.
Focus on your competition too. Highlight areas where they impact you in the market. (this is also addressed in more detail in the next topic)
Answering these questions gives you the information you need to connect with your audience.
Most importantly, you can take this information and convert each key point into a path of content that directly addresses the needs and interests of you target audience... which is exactly what they are online seeking!
Identify 3 Traits of Your Target Persona
1. What does a day in the life of your target persona look like?
Where Does Your Business Fit In With Your Competition?
As you plan your own digital marketing strategy, it helps to know what you're up against in terms on online competition. Do you see competitor companies engaging with your potential customers online? Take note of what they are doing. Consider this... if your competition is already effective reaching your audience online, then they may actually be providing you with a road map to reach your audience too!
It all comes down to understanding how to "read the tea leaves" so to speak. Below, we provide our path to help you read these tea leaves. This process will enable you to identify gaps in your online approach while highlighting opportunities online vs your competition.
How Can I See What My Competitors Are Doing Online?
The first step is to identify your competition. While this may be easy many people find this challenging.
Here are some tips to help you identify your competition:
Big name players that everyone is familiar with
People and firms that you see a lot in your business vertical. Perhaps they are always talking at industry events, featured in industry newsletters or even publish their own industry content that sparks discussion.
The people and business names that rank higher than you on keyword searches. If you rank in position # 9 on page 1 of a search on Google, everyone who is above you can be considered a competitor of yours.
What Should I Focus On?
There is a lot of available data and multiple tools that provide it.
Focus on the following elements to track with your competitors:
Sources of traffic
Keywords / Search Rankings
Use of content
Use of social media
Use of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and other paid ads
Evaluate their website
Evaluate their online lead generation
There are several good websites available that offer competitive data. Wouldn't it be great to learn the number of visitors your competitors' websites are getting. Two of my favorites that we often use at my digital marketing agency The Social Fusion Group to gather data on competitors are www.semrush.com and www.similarweb.com.
How Do I Analyze the Data?
To keep with our theme of one-page insight, we suggest following the layout in our template below. Create a grid of with the 8 key elements in the bullets on the left side and then add 4 columns into this table. One column will be for your company and the other 3 for your 3 main competitors. Once you fill in the table with your data, you will be able to see at a glance how you stand in the online market versus your competition. This can offer tremendous insight to you and help you immediately identify areas for refinement and improvement.
One significant key to being found online is to show up in searches on Google and other search engines around specific keywords.
How do we find the right keywords? Check out our graphic below which highlights the various sub-processes within the overall process to rank for keywords.
It all starts with the keyword brainstorming process. We could brainstorm potential keywords individually, talk to our peers, and ask our customers what keywords they used to find us. There are also simple keyword brainstorming tools such as www.soovle.com.
Once you gather your brainstormed keywords, you need to determine if they are something that you can win. Thus, begins the evaluation phase. You will need to use a tool to evaluate your keywords. The good news is that many other online tools exist to evaluate keywords for your business. The not-so-good news is that most of them cost money.
The goal of this part of the process is to evaluate each of the keywords from your brainstorm. You should be seeking those that are potentially "winnable," meaning they are not too competitive and they generate at least 100 searches per month. This is just a top level description for the sake of brevity. I go deeper into this in my online course Online Growth Blueprint.
These processes are laid out sequentially in our graphic below, but the practical matter is that most of us will need to go through the brainstorm and evaluation process multiple times before we can generate enough keywords to use for our optimization approach.
Following is a short list of my favorite keyword planning tools to find winnable keywords that are relevant to your business and match what your virtual persona is searching for. Tools for finding and evaluating keywords can be free or paid.
There are numerous tools available here. Perhaps the best free one is provided by Google in their AdWords planner. Other paid tools I've used include are SEMRush.com, Hubspot and Upcity.com. There are others such as Raven, Moz and many more. I suggest making a small investment in a keyword evaluation tool. It will help you find the keywords that are winnable for your business. Plan to spend somewhere between $50 and $100 a month for an online evaluation tool.
Be sure to evaluate the keywords you've just brainstormed. You need to find the ones that fit the requirements for "winnable" as these will be the ones that drive the traffic to you.
What's Next? Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Once you've discovered the best keywords to use, they should be optimized on your webpages and its content to attract both traffic and links to your site. There are many elements to consider here, but the most important is also the simplest. Provide quality content to your target audience on a sustained basis!
We'll touch on how to plan your content around your high quality, winnable keywords in our online digital marketing course.
Keyword Planning Action Plan
1. Brainstorm a list of at 40 keywords that can be relevant to your website. Use a tool or one of the processes highlighted above.
Website visitors, or "traffic", comes to your website from a number of directions and sources. A few of these sources are search engine optimization (SEO), referrals from social media and other websites, your content published on the Internet, and through other online marketing tactics. Recall what we discussed in topic 3, Target Audience. Your target audience is actively seeking out content to address their pain, needs and interest. If you can provide quality content and deliver it to where they are seeking it online, you will be very successful!
Theoretically, content marketing could follow a simple linear flow. Come up with an idea, create a piece of content, optimize it and distribute it.
The reality is much different. See the graphic below (courtesy of Curata.com)
The world of content marketing is quite challenging. There are many required elements that do not necessarily following an orderly path.
We'll streamline this for you into 6 key elements to focus on. These include making your content:
The Streamlined Approach To Content
As we learned in the beginning of this Digital Marketing Road Map, we need to start with a strategy focused on achieving specific goals. Ditto for content. Here we need to focus on planning and researching the type of content our audience is seeking. We build that part of the process in a strategic content calendar which would focus on all the key elements highlighted above. This will provide us with our path to measuring the success of the approach to content.
Here's where we need to focus on optimizing the content so that it is findable by our target audience.
Let's review an example of an optimized piece of content published by the resume writer we introduced in the Target Audience section. I love this example because almost everyone has created a resume and looked for a job at some point in their career.
Assume the winnable keyword phrase you will be targeting is "executive resume writing help".
The first thing you'll create is a piece of quality content. Then to highlight your keyword phrase "executive resume writing help“ to the search engines, you will include it in the title. For example, "Executive Resume Writing Helps Raise Starting Salaries by 30%". At a glance can you tell what this article is about? I can.
The keyword phrase should also be included in the page URL. You will build your meta-description, which is the description that shows up on a search, around this keyword phrase. In addition, you will use this keyword phrase as the "alt-text" for your images, in your header and of course, appropriately sprinkled throughout the text of your piece of quality content.
We're not just putting bland text out there. We're creating something that offers a great user experience. While we are optimizing for a search engine crawler, we are providing a piece of content that a human would enjoy reading! For example, your content can reside on your blog, and you can send viewers to it with hyperlinks. We publish a blog for people who want to learn more about digital marketing. You’ll find that great content on The Social Fusion Group Blog.
Creatable and Readable Content
When it comes to creating content, one of the crucial parts is coming up with a topic that fits with your target audience. It should be easy to build around AND provide the ability to use winnable keywords. Metaphorically, this is akin to planting your stake in the ground. Now you can focus on making it readable.
Readable content is just that. It is content built for the human. Part of making the user experience as powerful as possible is using nice imagery. It is pleasing to the eye, easy to understand and engages the viewer. This includes having an engaging headline, building a piece of content that is much more than simply text, while addressing a key pain, need or interest of your target audience.
Actionable and Distributable Content
Having a great piece of content that attracts your audience is only part of the battle. You also need to make it actionable, meaning that people can share it, comment on it, or perform some other action with it.
In terms of making your content actionable, there are a couple of more main things to be cognizant of. Add a couple of links to other relevant content. Google loves this. This is called your anchor text and this is merely another link to another piece of content. So, in the context of your article, maybe you link to someone else who is also talking about resume writing or executives searching for jobs. It's another way to increase your credibility around the keyword phrase. The last thing I would suggest is to include a call to action or CTA. The CTA should be something strong that compels the viewer to do something. Something brought the person this far, and they want to learn more. Maybe an offer to "sign up for a free resume review".
Ultimately though, content needs to be distributable. If your audience can't find your content, they won't be able to act upon it. Here's a simple rule of thumb for you to keep in mind. There should be a one-to-one ratio in terms of the amount of time you put into creating and distributing your content. If you spend 2 hours creating your content, plan to spend about 2 hours on distributing it as well. We will go into more of a tactical approach to this in further lessons as well as in our online digital marketing training program.
Below is a summary for optimizing content. We want our content viewers to:
Convert (take action)
Content Planning Exercise
1. Plan 3-5 pieces of content that address your target audience's needs and wants.
Using Social Media To Distribute Content & Communicate With Prospects
Social media is more than keeping up with friends and family on Facebook. It is a powerful medium to communicate with your target audience once you've done your research to find which social sites they use. Once you've found them, engage them with relevant value. Don't simply post a picture of the bowl of cereal you had for breakfast. Publish items of interest that your audience values. Engage your audience on what they post. Build up your following by building your brand on each relevant social channel. You will be building your brand one post at a time. Keep this thought at the forefront of what you are doing - post the value your audience is seeking!
Building Your Strategic Social Plan
Effective Social Media
Every social media site makes it relatively simple to use their site. They have to. We live in a world of instant gratification. Anything difficult or frustrating makes is likely they will lose their audience.
Given that social is so easy, we all do it. The challenge is to determine if we doing it effectively.
If you want to gauge your opportunity for success with a particular site, consider the following:
Is your target audience using that particular site and are they reachable?
How many followers do you currently have on that site and are they part of your target audience or simply friends and family?
Do you have some recognized credibility on a site or in a group? Are you connected to recognized authorities or influencers?
Do you communicate on a sustained basis? Is your target audience engaging with your communication?
Recently I was approached by an old acquaintance from back when I was in grade school. He had heard I co-wrote a book on LinkedIn and he was looking for a job. He also heard that you can get a job by using LinkedIn. So he reached out to me. He had never used LinkedIn with any regularity. He had collected 20 connections on LinkedIn and had built a less than robust profile. He had simply jumped in and nothing was happening. Take me out of the equation for a moment. If he were reaching out to you, given the above questions and given his "jumping in approach," would you think he can generate immediate success on LinkedIn? Probably not unless serendipity struck and as we all know, serendipity is not a reliable growth strategy!
The key is to understand what is required so you can build a path to success on the sites you want to focus on. If you are starting from scratch, realize this will take more time. Avoid simply jumping in. Strategize before you begin.
Social media can provide significant awareness and exposure, which can drive lead generation. Here are some simple questions to focus on as you build out your social strategy.
Are you providing the value your audience is seeking? Think about the old Miller Lite commercial. Are you providing information that "tastes great," while your audience is seeking information that is "less filling?"
Focus on making it simple for people to comment, email you or otherwise engage with you. If possible, track your communication and progress. This process will also provide you feedback for refining your communication.
Quality and Quantity
At this point, the assumption is that you are able to drive traffic from your social participation. Now you need to vet it for effectiveness. Did you know that traffic sourced from a search is one of the strongest types to generate while social traffic is among the weakest in terms of quality?
In the social world, people are used to jumping and bouncing around as something catches their attention. Conversely with a search, someone is specifically looking to get something addressed and they achieve that by following a link.
So what can you do to vet your activity? Address these points:
Do you have a specific action that you want someone on social media to take? Perhaps you want them to click on a link.
Can you measure that action?
Does that action need to take place online? Perhaps you want them to learn about you and pick up a phone to call you?
What is your process to address those that take the action to connect with you?
Make sure when you post you focus on receiving valuable activity. You'll want to generate clicks, likes and shares at appropriate rates. If you find that you are getting limited clicks but a lot of engagement, well it may be time to alter your posting strategy.
Social Media Action Plan
1. List the top 2 social media sites your target audience frequents.
Chris Muccio and his team at The Social Fusion Group have a simple focus. They help small to mid-size businesses drive SUSTAINABLE digital growth. Chris is an authority on digital marketing strategy and education who has grown revenue for companies large and small by more than $100 million.
Several years ago, one of largest universities in Florida wanted to start a Digital Marketing program for business professionals. They reached out to Chris to create and teach multiple courses from beginner to advanced levels with each resulting in a certification. His classes and style of teaching led students to call him “The Profit Professor” and the name was born!
Soon Chris and The Social Fusion Group will bring his digital marketing training programs online to a world-wide audience. The first program is Online Growth Blueprint. Watch for news!
Chris Muccio, The Profit Professor
For more than 25 years, Chris Muccio has successfully lead teams, projects and functions across 28 countries on five continents and is well versed on the requirements of business success. He has the unique ability to understand complex business challenges and turn them into manageable plans that help small businesses achieve success.
Back in 2008, Chris co-wrote 42 Rules For 24-Hour Success on LinkedIn, one of the very first books on LinkedIn which became an Amazon best seller. He’s been named one of the Top 40 Digital Marketing Strategists by Online Marketing Institute, and he’s of the Top 100 Small Business Experts to follow on Twitter.
Chris also created the entire digital marketing program that he teaches to business professionals at one of Florida’s largest universities.
Chris is currently creating Online Growth Blueprint, an online digital marketing training program designed for entrepreneurs who are serious about growing their businesses and getting new customers from the Internet.