How to develop an online marketing strategy in 8 steps

Anyone who runs an online store certainly knows the problem that the ToDo list is getting longer and you can hardly keep up with the work. Our time is precious, and therefore every task should be a clear strategy. 

Misdirected to-dos and investments are stopping growth.

Quite similar to the seemingly endless ToDo list, it also behaves with its employees.

Occasionally, the list also includes trend-setting tasks and questions concerning online marketing:

Do we invest in a chatbot? Which blog articles are we writing this month? On which topics or products do we shoot videos? Etc.

So how can shop owners efficiently create an online marketing strategy that promises not only short-term but also the long-awaited success for the years to come?

The result of a detailed analysis of this question is the online marketing cockpit. With which the managing director and marketing decision-maker can create their own online marketing strategy step by step.

This cockpit includes critical areas that have a significant impact on online success. Overall, the cockpit contains 8 phases, which, in my view, are essential for online success.

Online Marketing Strategy Phase 1: Positioning

Do you know the elevator pitch?

He is a popular tool in the founding scene to pin-point the founder: explain in 60 seconds why I should buy from you.

But now we do not use the elevator, but surf the internet – and usually, there is not much time left.

Therefore, you should convince the visitor with your online store within a few seconds. Just do the following exercise and answer the next question:

Why should a shopper buy from you and not from your competitors?

In the best possible way, you argue less with the price. Because in most cases, the margin is not significant.

The best-selling author and Harvard lecturer Michael E. Porter call the mediocre “stucco in the middle”: A company has no real differentiation to the competition, and the prices are in mediocrity.

If you have your positioning right at hand, you can enter them in your online marketing cockpit.

Online Marketing Strategy Phase 2: Targeting

This phase is much easier for shop owners than for non-shop operators. They use your tracking system (such as Google Analytics) to identify which audience with what features they’re more likely to buy than others.

If you group them into a group, you have defined your target group. This is then called Persona. You can also set several of them, but the only important thing is that they represent them for themselves.

But do not just leave them with the standard features. For simply defining that these are, for example, Englishmen over 60 years old and wealthy would not be useful: they would reach both Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne.

Extremely different types, which you would have to address differently. That’s why the personal definition is so critical! Specify your Persona as well as possible.

Online Marketing Strategy Phase 3: Goal Definition

In 1979, at Harvard University, a ten-year study was conducted on the careers of graduates.

This results in very startling results that make the setting of goals indispensable (see Brian Tracy 2018):

  • 83% of Harvard graduates set no goals for their careers
  • 14% of the graduates set goals but did not fix these in writing. Ten years after graduation, this 14 % earned, on average, three times the number of graduates who did not define goals.
  • Only three per cent of Harvard graduates had defined very concrete (!) Goals for their careers and had fixed them in writing. The fantastic thing is that they earned more than the remaining 97%!

Goals set a direction for people, and all resources are designed to achieve the goals.

You can see that in the study of Harvard University. In particular, when several people, as in a company, work together, they need a common goal to bundle all forces.

So set goals for your online marketing goals.

How much revenue do you want to generate in 2019 and 2020? How much traffic do you need for this in your online shop? Should the conversion rate be increased? With this assumed growth: When do you need new employees?

Define these using the usual SMART formula. I have modified these for myself a bit, and I invite you to use them for yourself – the TEAM formula:

T = Terminated

E = ambitious

A = Accurate

M = measurable

In my opinion, ambitious, big goals are motivating. What are your goals? Enter these into your online marketing cockpit

Online Marketing Strategy Phase 4: Channel and Instrument Selection

Surely Amazon is curse and blessing at the same time: With the help of Amazon can be the range and increase sales.

But the potential dependency can be severe. For shop operators, it is important to remain independent and to put the turnover on several legs.

You can do this by adding other channels or instruments of online marketing in addition to Amazon.

The answer to the question of where you should be active is quickly resolved:

In phase 2, you have defined your Persona. Ask them in a survey and in-person on which portals they surf.

You can also use the following table to select the social media channels (the table is grouped by age):

Online Marketing Strategy Phase 5: Content Selection and Creation

After you have defined the channels and tools for your online marketing, you should tackle the content strategy.

What content is published, when, where and how? Your audience is flooded with information, so it’s not time to create “08/15 content.”

They need to get attention. You have to introduce your positioning selectively in your content. And this content can be found at any point on your website :

  • product page
  • Job description page
  • About us page
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Banner Advertising
  • Facebook Ad

Wherever you produce content, you must use your positioning.

Online Marketing Strategy Phase 6: Conversion Optimization

Soon your online marketing cockpit will be complete. The sixth phase is about getting the most out of your traffic.

For there are always two levers to reach or exceed the sales targets: First, you can generate more traffic and on the other hand, increase the conversion rate.

Even better: you optimize both areas.

We are continually developing new ideas, see exciting inspirations on foreign websites, and ultimately it will not be tried. It takes a new way of thinking in online marketing. We have to offer something unique to our customers to stay in memory.

A Microsoft study proved that even a goldfish has a higher attention span than we humans.

Therefore: Testing, testing, testing.

We must stay in memory and lead the shop visitors to a positive experience with our brand. You should, therefore, create new hypotheses in creative meetings or your research:

  • Mobile Shop version: Trim text deserts by accordion effect,
  • Use of scarcity through coupons,
  • Create landing pages for Google Ads with dynamically customized content
  • Remove the navigation bar on the landing page.

These hypotheses should be tested continuously and implemented if successful. A continuous improvement process is essential for this.

You immediately come up with some ideas for your online shop? Wonderful! Enter these into your online marketing cockpit.

Online Marketing Strategy Phase 7: Controlling

Controlling is just as crucial for the online marketing strategy as it is the objective. Capture all actions on your shop – both the sales as well as the exits in the ordering process or the completion of the contact form or the use of the chat.

Which traffic provides a positive return on investment (ROI) and which is not profitable? Note for your online marketing cockpit which tools you are using and which ones should be added.

Tooltip: To better understand the behaviour of shop visitors, we recommend using a tool such as overheat.io.

The German tool records every visit to the website as a video, which, for example, reveals which areas of the shop are being perceived and which are not.

Online Marketing Strategy Phase 8: Automation

With automation, shop owners can automate specific online marketing tasks.

Yes, you have already automated many things – the most straightforward example: Sending the order confirmation. This happens fully automatically.

But it should not stay that way. In particular, online shops with products in need of explanation should exploit the new possibilities of online marketing as quickly as possible.

A product in need of explanation is often not ordered immediately but is subject to a longer process. The surfers want to inform themselves extensively.

You can do this either by calling the hotline and animating the visitors – or you can offer the surfer various digital content with rich information.

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I am an online marketer and web developer who writes reviews and tutorials on web hosting, WordPress, online marketing and web development because I want to help people better manage their own websites.

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