Have you considered your strategic Internet marketing plan as you build a business for yourself? You have been using tried and true marketing techniques of advertising, referrals, slide presentations at the local Chamber of Commerce, and you have achieved a modicum of success. You know that you are tapping out your local market – the face-to-face market – and you know that a lot of businesses have found national and international success using some form of strategic internet marketing. So now it is time to dive in and understand what that really means.
The following article is a summary of some of the components necessary to create an effective strategic internet marketing campaign. While much of this is work that you will do, it is important to identify what are your strengths and weaknesses, and to build a team of two or three people who are strong in areas that you are not, like graphic layout, copy writing, and research. Since you are the force behind the success of your business, you need to concentrate on what you do best.
Strategic Internet Marketing Requires An Effective Website Design
A successful strategic internet marketing campaign begins with your website. Do you have a website for your business? Does it look nice? Is it simple and easy to navigate? Is it gaudy or complex and crammed full of copy? Your business website is your portal to the world. You cannot assume anything when it comes to presenting your business, and your face, to the public. What may seem obvious or pretty to you may not fly in the public eye. Get the opinion of others. Attend seminars that are hosted by the local Chambers and schools. Unless you really understand the essence of what makes a great website, find someone with graphic layout experience and work with them. Be sure to have a great photograph of yourself – a head shot that is in focus with no distracting background – along with a short bio. People want to know who you are.
…And A Blog
You will hear this said a lot, and it couldn’t be more true, that people do business with you because of who you are, not what you are selling. True, some just want what you offer and don’t really care where they get it from, but that is not the definition of a loyal customer. So for people to want to do business with you they have to know who you really are. In a face-to-face situation, they can get a real sense of who you are, but online is totally different. For a successful strategic internet marketing campaign to work you have to attract the right kind of people and let them get to know you. This is primarily done through a blog.
A blog, if you are unsure of what is meant here, is a term used for the continued posting of a web-log (a joking comment made of “we blog” is where the word came from), a sort of online diary. It is a place where you communicate your thoughts to the world. It is not necessarily a place where you write a personal diary entry each day, unless that is the basis for your business, but it is a place where you share your insights on your business. It is a place to show the world what kind of person you are and why you are a great person to do your kind of business with. Through regular blog entries you can communicate to your readers and potential business customers and partners a personal side of you, which is what people are attracted to and why people would want to do business with you. It is because they feel some kind of personal affiliation with them. Remember, a core element of your strategic internet marketing plan is to build relationships, and that starts right here with your blog.
…And A Capture Form
Perhaps the most important aspect of your website is a Capture Form. This is simply an area where you can capture the name, address and phone number of potential customers and followers. There are many methods for putting up capture forms, whether they pop up during the session or are always displayed prominently on the page.
There are also several strategies for actions taken which can motivate people to enter their personal information, which is the most highly qualified lead source that you can get. One of these methods is to offer something of value in return. Have you written a book or series of articles on the subject of your business that you can give to them in electronic format in return for their info? Do you have a presentation that you can send them? Will they get access to a more informative and private section of your website? Will they get a discount for your services? Give them an incentive with a time frame associated with it to motivate them to act now. It works!
Behind this capture form you will need a list management system, such as aWeber or GetResponse. This will be discussed at another time.
Your Strategic Internet Marketing Plan Requires Keywords
Now that you have a compelling and informative website and a capture form, you are ready to target a market, just like any other marketing campaign, which is the basis of your strategic internet marketing campaign. This is done through the use of keywords.
A keyword is a word or phrase that is used when searching in Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. Anytime that you go to Google and type in words to see what sites pop up you are entering keywords. The sites that do pop up ‘above the fold’ (at the top of the list) are the ones that are ranked highest by the search engine for the value of their content and relevance of the ‘keywords’ that you entered. Your goal is to raise your ranking to the point of your website showing up on page one, especially ‘above the fold’. (Above the fold is an old marketing term referring to what articles appeared on the top of a newspaper page, thus they would be most likely to be seen as they are on the top half of the folded page. In terms of the internet, it is what appears on the screen without having to scroll down the page)
The most critical point of a successful strategic internet marketing campaign is to target your audience through relevant keywords that are not already saturated with websites and content throughout the internet. By the same token, the content that you bring to the table must have value for the search engines to rank you highly.
Your strategic Internet marketing keyword architecture is only as good as the tools you use for keyword research. After all, picking keywords out of this air would be a blatant waste of time!
There are many tools on the market today that offer ways of researching the relevance and efficacy of keywords. It is vital that you research the combination of words that you are using as your keywords within your blogs and articles for them to rank highly against your competition. Two of these tools are Google AdWords and Google Insight.
Google AdWords is a site that offers you statistics on whatever phrase that you can think of. If you simply enter Google Keywords in a search engine you will find the Keyword External Tool pop up in the list. Once you arrive at the site you can enter your keyword phrase(s) and do a quick analytical search. The resulting list will give you a sense of how often this combination is used and whether you will have competition for it. Also, if you turn on the Estimated Avg. CPC (cost per click) column you will see what the charge is if you were to use this combination in an AdWords Pay Per Click campaign (to be discussed later).
Perhaps a more effective site for keyword trending and research is Google Insight. By entering one or more keyword phrases you can do a contrasting search of the last six years or more, targeted to specific countries and media, and see the indexed trend of usage. This is helpful to determine the relevancy of the keywords that you are using and whether there is activity in recent months. Also, you can see what part of the country that the keywords are being most utilized in searches, which may or may not be of service to you. However, just knowing the relevancy of your keywords can help the effectiveness of your strategic internet marketing campaign.
There are quite a few other tools for researching keywords, but Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Google Insight are strong and free of charge and a great place to begin.
Pay Per Click
I often get asked if a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign is a strategic Internet marketing component for getting new business. The answer is really quite simple. How deep are your marketing budget pockets? Yes, you will get qualified leads, and maybe a lot of them, but you will also get a lot of tire kickers that just up the bill with no return. I recently talked with one small business owner of a construction company that was told to use PPC. He was spending upward of $500-600 per month on PPC click-throughs. All of them so far have been people who are out of work and are looking to be hired by a company. In other words, he was paying for people to seek out his business for jobs, not for business.
This type of story is more often the case than not. Where a PPC campaign may be the edge that your company needs to beat out the competition, you can be very effective by proper keywording and offering valuable content in driving your site to the top of page one in the search engines, which costs you only your time and energy. PPC is not for most people until they are generating a nice passive income from their efforts to make it affordable.
Strategic Internet Marketing Through Articles
One of the strongest ways of increasing your overall score with the search engines is to publish high quality content in a lot of places, each of them referencing back to your website. After all, search engines revolve around character content – words – to determine search relevance. Also, the search engines love to find unique content at multiple sites with relevant backlinks. Therefore, one strategic Internet marketing component that could form the foundation of your plan is to write and publish articles offering in-depth content, and then publishing them to the hundreds of sites hosting articles.
Once again, there are tools for doing this, and in this case, the tools are a huge necessity, since there are literally hundreds of sites. However, publishing the same article to all of these sites will trigger the search engine algorithms to devalue your content as being redundant. As such, it is paramount to ensure that distributed article content is unique in order for the search engines to rank you highly. It can be a lot of work, so I think that you can see why having a team is a big part of a successful strategic internet marketing campaign.
Strategic Internet Marketing: Conclusion
This article is a high level discussion on many of the strategic internet marketing techniques that are being used today by the most successful businesses in their strategic internet marketing campaigns. As you can gather from the skimming over of several of the effective techniques that we employ in our own approach to strategic internet marketing there is a lot to know and a lot to learn about. Sure, there are others – social media marketing, for example. Just trying to start you off simply. If you want to discuss this or any other topic about using the internet for your business please contact us at DrewBerman.com. We are always open to having discussions on what is working for you and what you can be doing to be more effective in your own business.
Remember, in the end, it is you on the phone or in person that will usually be the one who closes the deal. You have to make sure that you keep the contact and follow up as your number one activity to keep growing your business. Time is our only true asset that we can control.
About the Author
Seth Lefferts is an entrepreneur and internet marketer and is part of the team at DrewBerman.com. He also has his own site at DareToDreamNow.Us. Please feel free to contact Drew or Seth during regular business hours, Eastern Time.
From the office of Drew Berman, contributed by Seth Lefferts.
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