Last month, I – as well as countless other social media enthusiastic sources across the web – stumbled upon what has largely been received as one of the best infographics ever created: The Noob‘s Guide to Online Marketing. Now, this lofty and entirely erroneous endorsement certainly needs to be qualified, as the “best” title is purely based on the graphic’s unprecedented robustness and informative ambition. As a digital marketer for hospitality brands, this infographic, coming to us from the good folks at Unbounce.com, specifically points to each and every vital component of creating an integrated, wholistic online marketing strategic plan for your business. While the visual is just a tad bit intense for those that are just starting off – and regardless will require you to reach for that handy magnifying glass by your dresser to consume eyes-unstrained – the tactics presented are spot on and deserve reiteration. Therefore, I’m here to breakdown this vastly detailed visual into more consumable (and, quite literally, readable) portions, and offer some additional color commentary to boot. So, without further delay…
The Vital Components of an Online Marketing Plan:
Over the past two years or so, every marketer and their mother has been buzzing around all the excitement that was this “shiny new object” called social media and the emergence of web 2.0. So much breath was spent on this emergent means of communicating that the phrase “social media” eventually became this omnipresent, top-of-mind topic matter for marketers to chatter incessantly about, yet few and far between knew how to effectively harness its power or, better yet, integrate it into their current online marketing strategies. Too often was the anecdotal case (now channelling my previous experiences doing social media consulting for hotels) that the resident Directors of Sales & Marketing silo-ed “social media” or, in the most dire of circumstances, multiple digital slices of the marketing plan pie, never realizing the imperative synergies that each component of your online marketing strategy should share with the traditional.
While fortunately many savvy marketers have now realized this best practice as we head into 2012, there are still numerous left wondering how exactly to devise, implement, and execute these kinds of integrated, online marketing plans. The reality – as this infographic astutely points out – is that, for any business (especially hotels), your number one priority is optimizing your standalone (or branded subdomain) dot.com website. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as your dot.com site clearly has the greatest e-commerce revenue generation potential, ranks highest in search engines, and essentially serves as your brand’s content hub for everything relevant about your business. Couple these hard-and-true empirical facts with the increasingly mobile way consumers make their purchase decisions, and you best be sure that your dot.com landing pages – here referred to as your “marketing glue” – are fully optimized for the various spokes in the online marketing wheel below:
Social Media: As the relatively newest, however now established, component of the online marketing toolkit, leveraging social media’s potential for your brand has never been more imperative. Establishing yourself as a thought leader will eventually enable you to build a loyal following and secure brand advocates, but the most tactical first step is to create a conversion-oriented Facebook page. In the most basic terms, this simply means “getting more people to ‘Like’ you”, but the implications of this are far more important than simply ratcheting up fan count for the sake of your ego: the more visitors you can convert into fans, the more website traffic your Facebook page will generate when you make announcements. As far as content integration in your social conversation schedule, blog posts are an equally integral component, and should be pushed through the page to extend their own reach and further create a forum for dialogue on the page. From a B2B perspective, start leveraging your LinkedIn network to acquire additional brand reach and enhance your thought leadership. When day-to-day managing your social media program, leave your social media dashboard client (i.e. HootSuite, TweetDeck) open throughout the day to encourage “live” social interaction with your customer. The final social feather in your cap will be to create a socially viral landing page for a contest which, by using the appropriate social media widgets, can vastly increase your social reach. To encourage viral spread, require sharing as a best practice rule for entry.
Action Items: Claim brand name on popular social networks; Set up Twitter account; Create a conversation oriented Facebook page; Seed some Facebook fans; Time/schedule your tweets to match your audience’s hours (i.e. 9 AM PST); Connect your blog to Facebook; Build a following on Twitter; Have something to say: creator, curator or commentor (unique content and catchy titles are paramount); Start networking on LinkedIn; Leave Twitter open in live tabs; Create a viral social media contest page.
E–Mail Marketing: When executing your e-mail marketing campaigns, the imperative first step is to create a branded, adaptable e-mail template that can be used multi-purposefully for content and visually appeals to your audience. As this is not a scientific practice, A/B testing your e-mails and messaging is the second part of the equation; testing will improve both your open rates and click through rates, bringing more people to your site.
Action Items: Choose an online e-mail provider; Create a branded adaptable e-mail template; Use drip campaigns for acquisition education and retention; A/B test your e-mails; Segment your customers by creating lists.
Lead Generation: The practice of lead generation is an often overlooked practice when developing your push marketing tactics. That said, it is an art form that can quite comfortably sit amidst your other marketing tactics; for example, strategically giving away something valuable will earn you word of mouth buzz and, more importantly, viral traffic to your site. A giveaway as a form of lead gen doesn’t have to be B2C-focused either; as the infographic points out, a free copy of a sought-after ebook in exchange for entrants’ e-mail addresses can be equally valuable. Similarly, mining your LinkedIn network for potential new business leads can also yield fruitful business-to-business results.
Action Items: Use feedburner to track and capture RSS feeds; Start gathering e-mails/leads for a product/service launch; Give something away in exchange for customer data; Answer expert questions on LinkedIn and Quora.
Search (SEO / SEM): There is a strong likelihood that, by the end of next year, the conversation around search marketing best practices will take another turn, as the space continues to evolve and shift as consumers increasingly seek answers via their mobile devices. The good news for marketers is that, when considering mobile search optimization for your business, many of the same desktop best practices apply. A specific search priority that is often left on the back burner is link building, an essential, albeit time-intensive, practice that – when combined with great content – will entice people to link back to your site and, in turn, bring you new visitors in droves. A follow-up with link authors to suggest better anchor text will further your success with this search action item.
Action Items: Set up webmaster tools; Architect your site for SEO by choosing targeted categories; Use SEOMoz campaigns to track search progress; Implement recommendations that you campaign reports identify and you’ll see a lift in organic traffic; Do lots of link building; Research and define your core organic keywords.
Conversion Rate Optimization: When considering your search marketing efforts, too often marketers get caught up focusing solely on bringing new visitors to their site, and fail to realize that qualified traffic that converts is the most imperative metric to pay attention to. In order to optimize your conversion frequency – which can signify a number of things depending on what your site’s goal completion(s) are – first rate your various landing pages with a scorecard, which will give you a priority list of page optimizations to action. Similar to e-mail marketing, A/B testing your landing pages with an appropriate testing tool is also a best practice; trying some “live testing” with people is a great way to gain additional insight. Moreover, acquiring user feedback vis a vie survey and live chat widgets is not only a terrific means to crowdsource site visitor sentiment, but nets new data that you can eventually feed back into your page designs.
Action Items: A/B test your landing pages; Have a single purpose and CTA for every page by focusing your pages on conversion; Use feedback widgets and live chat for user feedbacks; Segment inbound traffic sources; Try a 5 second test; Rate your pages with the conversion scorecard.
Analytics: Web analytics are probably the least “sexy” topic in this, already uber tech-geeky discussion, so I’ll keep this section self-explanatory brief. Without analytics, none of the strategies and tactics mentioned earlier could be actioned effectively, as a proactive monitoring of your site data informs nearly online marketing decision, from social to search. Pay close attention to your under-performing pages and conversion goals, and take the corrective measures to optimize your digital presence.
Action Items: Set up Google Analytics; Establish conversion goals and funnels; Annotate important events in Google Analytics; Create custom dashboard reports; Discover under-performing areas of your site.
Content Marketing: Another umbrella term that overlaps many of the points asserted above, content marketing is all about re-purposing and distributing your content across multiple platforms, as being where the searchers are will lead to increased site visits and repeat traffic. Well-written guest blog posts on prominent sites likewise can spark huge traffic spikes and interest in your brand, but be sure to also engage your post’s commenters; this extra brand reach generated will help maintain traffic levels after the post. That said, be sure that your guest posts are on sites with similar visitors; otherwise, your time and effort will not yield the traffic increases you aimed for. Reciprocally, writing blog posts that mention other relevant tools and companies will assist with relationship building and, in turn, generate you future inbound links. Finally, infographics (case in point!) are terrific link bait and are often bookmarked for constant drip traffic.
Action Items: Start a corporate blog and give away free knowledge; Submit content to social sharing sites/hubs (Reddit, Digg, Sphinn); Bookmark your content on Delicious; Enable social sharing mechanisms (resulting in social proof return gains); Write an ebook or white paper that solves a customer need; Create an infographic; Set up an editorial calendar and stick to it; Write guest posts for other blogs; Write about others to build relationships.
Pay Per Click (PPC): Last but certainly not least, pay per click campaigns – while sometimes cost-prohibitive – are hugely effective ways to garner immediate spikes in site traffic. To make your budget last longer, try targeting cheaper long tail keywords; moreover, utilizing only one landing page per ad group – coupled with making your on-page content extremely focused – will have a tremendous impact on your conversion goal performance. Another practice to follow is matching your page content with relevant ad copy to improve your click through rate (CTR) quality score – augmenting your message match will drive more conversions. In addition, utilizing pro PPC services, provided there is ancillary budget, can guarantee that your ads work better and yield more traffic.
Action Items: Create Google AdWords account with a free coupon; Run a test PPC campaign using landing pages, which convert better than home pages; Use one landing page per ad group; Improve message match for high quality score; Get some help from a PPC expert.
● Epic: The Noob‘s Complete Guide to Online Marketing [Infographic] (socialtimes.com)
● Should Local Small Business Give Social Media the Cold Shoulder? (webimax.com)
● Are You a Brand or a Business? (jeffkorhan.com)
● Marketers Look to Integrate Email, Social, Mobile – eMarketer (huguesrey.wordpress.com)
● Need help to approach marketing online? (theresabloginmysoup.com)
● Online Marketing: PR and Articles Publicity Are Not Dirty Words Done Correctly! (syndicatedarticlespublicityblog.p-o-p-s.com)
● The 25 Best Social Media Books of 2011 (customerthink.com)
● Social Media In 2010 (socialpeel.com)
● Should Press Releases Be Shared on Social Media Platforms? (webmarketingtherapy.com)
● Email marketing on the rise for small business (infographic) (zdnet.com)