Online Marketing: Getting Started

Online marketing has become foundational to all business development activities. Going forward, all effective marketing initiatives will have an online component. It’s the “new normal”.

Simply put, online marketing is the use of appropriate, available electronic tools to get found, build credibility, develop qualified prospects, and generate sales. Tools include search optimized web sites, blogs, social media sites (YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc), e-mail distribution and marketing automation systems, landing pages, forums and analytics.

There are some basic tenets to consider when developing your online strategy:

  • The starting point is your overall marketing plan and your “end to end” business development process. Your online activities must support lead generation and lead nurturing, converting leads and optimizing close rates, and your post-sale activities.
  • It’s all about content. Prospects will not read your emails or blogs, view your videos, or spend time on your web site if you don’t offer relevant, up to date content. You have two audiences; your target prospects and search engines. You must balance the content needs of both without the pendulum swinging too far one way or the other.
  • The real leverage comes from doing multiple things that work together. Your online activities must complement each other to have maximum impact. It’s about one plus one equaling three.
  • To become and remain relevant online, you must constantly be analyzing, evaluating, and fine-tuning. The market doesn’t stand still and neither do your competitors.

Once you decide it’s time to significantly enhance your online presence, you must proceed in a planned and pragmatic way. You can’t do everything at once – it’s too overwhelming.

The first step is to assess how well your current online marketing activities support your end to end business development process. Is your site optimized for the right searches and does it do a good job of educating and telling your story?  Are you using the right mediums (articles, videos or webinars, etc.) to move prospects through the decision making process? Are you capturing and nurturing leads through an opt-in email list or a social media following? Are you selling online and, if not, should you be? Are you maintaining regular contact after the sale?

Next, build an online roadmap that guides your development efforts in priority sequence. You may start by optimizing your web site, committing to a blog, building a Facebook company page, then instituting a paid search campaign. A roadmap helps you implement your strategy in a practical way, and forces you to think about how all the mechanisms will work together.

Once the road map is in place, you must develop an execution budget. Budget items may include paying someone to revamp your web site, the cost of an email distribution system, executing an Adwords campaign, or developing blog content.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, identify who will be responsible for managing online activities day to day, and how relevant content will be continually developed. Remember, it’s all about the content.

Online marketing offers a path to consistent revenue growth. However, like anything in business, it requires sound planning and hard work. It may seem daunting, but the results are worth it. Just don’t ignore it – the risk of doing nothing is too high!

Ben Molfetta
Latest posts by Ben Molfetta (see all)