Online marketing: step by step to strategy
SEO, retargeting, campaign planning, website tracking – if you are dealing with online marketing for the first time, you can quickly lose track of the jungle of possibilities. But everyone who wants to successfully market products or services on the Internet in the long term should consider targeted online marketing planning – the earlier, the smarter.
(Photo: © BrianAJackson, depositphotos.com)
Those who address their potential customers with the right offer will be successful in the long term. Therefore, the first look when entering online marketing is your offer and your brand. It should be analyzed as carefully as target groups and competitors.
It also makes sense to identify learnings from marketing measures that have already been completed. There have already been first successes and perhaps even failures? Whoever scrutinizes thoroughly can better start planning in the future. The results of the analysis form a solid basis on which the appropriate marketing strategy can be developed with specific measures.
In addition to the most important key figures, you should also clearly define critical data such as budget and time frame. This will make controlling easier later.
To keep an eye on what interests visitors to the website and where there is a need for optimization, tracking the website is essential. Among other things, it shows where the users come from, i.e. which campaigns and online marketing channels have initiated the brand contact point. A look at the data received helps to set realistic values for quantitative goals. Qualitative goals, such as brand and image building, complete the planning.
When implementing the online marketing strategy, planning documents such as campaign and editorial plans provide structure and orientation. They show how the defined online marketing channels are to be used: Whether e-mail, Facebook advertising or advertising on YouTube – the options are varied and mostly cost-intensive.
Measures in retargeting and search engine optimization for Google can be particularly sustainable and effective.
Now let’s take a look at all of this in detail.
1. Create the basics: questions after questions
The preoccupation with the own offer as well as the accurate analysis of the target group is the basis for successful marketing strategies.
The first step is, therefore, to question your offer in detail. A questionnaire helps to analyze the product and brand. Classic W questions are helpful here, for example:
- What distinguishes my products or services?
- What are your unique selling points?
- What are the benefits of my offer?
- Where do my products have weaknesses?
- Who are my competitors?
- Who are my products relevant for?
For marketing budgets to be used in a targeted manner and wastage to be minimized, it is also essential to define the target group and form clusters. It helps to develop detailed customer profiles and to fill them with life. What is my customer’s name, what does his daily routine look like, how old is he, what hobbies does he have, etc.
When it comes to the questions “What makes my brand special?” “Why is there a company at all?”, “What is the meaning and purpose behind it?” Because if buying decisions are made based on brand identity instead of on the product level, the basis for the sustainable and long-term success of the entire brand and all associated products is created.
What has happened so far: evaluate key figures
A questionnaire also helps with the definition and analysis of the most important key data. Because only those who know their sales development and market share can continue to develop both. You should, therefore, analyze marketing measures and campaigns carefully. The better your website, actions and campaigns have already been measured, the clearer you can make a forecast for the future. With the right analysis tools, you can track websites and campaigns.
Web analysis means collecting, measuring and evaluating the website and online marketing data. This helps to minimize wastage in the future and to target budgets. The collected data gives beginners in online marketing more security and makes strategies more predictable – more on that later.
2. Develop an online marketing strategy
First of all, it is about defining overarching goals – for a fixed period. For example, that could be a 30% increase in sales over the next eight months.
What measures can you take to achieve these goals? About search engine optimization? Retargeting? E-mail marketing? Influencer marketing? Ads on the Google Display Network? There are numerous ways to meet the target group and draw attention to the offer and brand.
Besides, there is the planning of campaigns: How do I want to address my target group? Is there a new product in the portfolio that should be communicated? Is there a new target group to tap? Or is Christmas coming up?
The budget is closely linked to the planning of online marketing measures and campaigns. How much do I want to use to achieve the goals? What proportion goes into advertising material, which part into marketing tools, which part into costs for personnel or service providers?
In addition to deciding on the right online marketing mix, you should also set goals and define strategic measures for the individual marketing channels.
Planning documents, such as key figures, campaigns and editorial plans, help to implement the strategy. The KPI plan with the most important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) per channel is also a solid basis for reporting. In turn, the campaign plan contains data on the campaign, such as duration, goal, marketing mix and creative guiding principle. Finally, editorial policy is particularly helpful: Here you fix the channels with planned publication dates of the content.
In summary, the following applies to the online marketing strategy:
- Define overarching goals
- Define a comprehensive channel mix for the planning period, for example, display banners to generate reach and for brand building
- Plan campaigns with which you target channels
- Set media budgets that you want to use per channel and per campaign
- Channel and across campaigns target key figures set
3. Set up the campaign plan
A campaign plan brings structure to marketing planning: budgets, terms, responsibilities and processes for the specified schedule, e.g. the coming fiscal year, are listed in a simple tool.
In the simplest case, this can be an Excel sheet or a Google spreadsheet. With these simple tools, marketing planners can use their resources in a targeted manner and counteract them early if necessary. Trello boards are also suitable for this.
You should formulate the goals for a campaign as accurately as possible and make sure that they are measurable: for example, to sell 200 pieces of the new product within four weeks.
Also, each campaign plan should include:
- The timeline (quarters, months, calendar weeks)
- Campaign focus (e.g. long-term campaigns, limited-time topic campaigns or product campaigns)
- Online marketing channels to be used
- Primary responsibilities for the campaigns
- Campaign status (e.g. planned, completed)
- Campaign master sheets with guiding principle and milestones
Thanks to the detailed planning, the marketing planner and team have goals and target groups as well as all completed and upcoming tasks, responsibilities and media budgets at a glance – this saves time and helps to increase the quality of individual measures. Another advantage in addition to clarity, bundling and transparency is flexibility: the plan can be adjusted at any time if necessary. It also makes controlling easier. All team members and the tasks can be easily coordinated in the overview, and thus the feasibility of the planned marketing measures is ensured.
4. Set the top KPIs
The effectiveness of the campaigns can be derived from the data collected from campaigns and actions. It is, therefore, a critical success factor in online marketing to determine suitable vital figures and to record the associated data.
The basis for the determination of relevant KPIs is the objectives of the website and the marketing channels used to achieve them. KPIs can include sales, reach, impressions, visits or contact requests. Which key figures are to be measured differs individually and depends on the company’s goal and offer.
For example, the following KPIs are particularly meaningful for a webshop:
- Sales and profits
- Average shopping cart value: This value is obtained when sales are divided by the number of orders.
- Return rate and cancellation rate: This shows whether there is room for improvement in product quality and service and whether the product information in the online shop is appropriate – i.e. the expectations of the customer have been met, or false promises have been made.
- Cart abandonment rate: Complicated checkouts, hidden costs, limited delivery or payment options: There are many reasons why a potential buyer quits shortly before the end. Studies show that up to 80% of shopping baskets are left behind. It is essential to find the reasons and take countermeasures, for example, to simplify the usability of the checkout.
- Conversion Rate: How Many Actual Purchases Are Compared With How Many Website Visits? This shows whether the target group could be reached with the marketing measures and how effective the criteria used in digital marketing are. Read also:
- The five core elements of a successful landing page …
- Three phases of conversion: Finding levers for optimizing web metrics …
- CPO (Cost per Order): How much money must be spent on marketing measures to generate an order? The CPO shows the effectiveness and thus helps to optimize campaigns.
- COURSE (cost-revenue ratio): It becomes even more detailed if costs and revenue are compared. Then you can see how high the percentage of advertising costs is in net sales – a reasonable basis for recognizing the most effective measures and focusing on them.
- One-time buyers vs. Multiple buyers: The cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to seven times higher than reactivating an existing customer. Read also:
- Retention marketing: customer loyalty strategies that work …
- The automated customer: subscriptions as a business model …
- Successful websites: tools for customer loyalty… (exclusively for UPLOAD subscribers)
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Loyal regular customers are a solid foundation. The CLV shows how much revenue a customer-generated on average in the course of the business relationship. Special offers, cross-selling and upselling can help to increase the CLV.
- ROI (Return on Investment): The ROI shows the ratio of the profit to the investments made and thus, how effective the online marketing measures are.
The key figures are provided with actual target values, such as increasing the range by 30% per month. Whether this goal has been achieved must be measured accordingly. If the goal was missed, other or additional measures have to be worked out, possibly more budget for the purchase of advertising space should be planned.
5. Bring light into the dark with website tracking
Success can only be measured by tracking the website and campaigns. The measurement shows what interests visitors and where there is a need for optimization. A not inconsiderable basis for the success of your website is customer satisfaction. Can you quickly find what you’re looking for on the site? And how long is the length of stay? What is particularly attractive there – and what is less? Precise analysis and interpretation of the data that each visitor leaves on a website provide the answer to these questions.
Note: Of course, you must comply with the relevant data protection regulations for all these measures. At this point, however, it would go too far to explain them in detail.
In any case, the basis is website tracking, which can be easily implemented with web analysis tools. The analysis also reliably shows which online marketing measures work particularly well and which should be improved.
The appropriate tracking is then set up based on the selected KPIs. You can choose from page view tracking, advanced e-commerce tracking and event tracking:
- The Page View Tracking is the basis for the extensive collection of user and behavioural data. The sessions and page views of website users are measured. Among other things, it enables a picture of the devices and browsers that users use. Also, the top pages can be found, i.e. the pages that visitors like best. Also, the user flow becomes clear and thus, the knowledge of how visitors move about the website – the starting point for optimizing the user journey.
- Extended e-commerce tracking is particularly interesting for webshop operators. Above all, it measures orders and sales and provides a link to the origin of these sales (a responsible channel that drew the user’s attention to the product). It also shows how good the checkout process is and which products are sold the most.
- In turn, event tracking measures all user actions with call-to-action elements. For example, clicks on buttons can be evaluated, and downloads can be traced. The analysis of this data helps in the user-friendly structure of the website.
With website tracking, the progress of online marketing remains in view at all times. For example, you can use the Google Data Studio to visualize the data. Website operators should check and optimize developments at regular intervals.
6. You see each other twice: retargeting
In retargeting, the visitor to a website is identified with a unique user ID that was saved locally in a browser cookie. His behaviour on the website and all visited subpages are linked with this ID. If he leaves the site, he can then be targeted with ads on other pages, for example, about the product he has viewed.
Google, Facebook and Co. cannot and may not save all activities on the Internet. It is, therefore, necessary to provide your website with a snippet of code to integrate the most common platforms. The Google Tag Manager helps with administration and tracking so that the whole thing remains bright with the abundance of events and script tags that users can trigger on the website.
Potential target customers are addressed with customized ads during retargeting. A multi-stage model is recommended. It could look like this:
- Users are initially directed to the website and thus come into contact with the brand and the product.
- In the second step, the interested party is introduced to the product or service.
- In a third ad, real advantages are advertised, such as discounts or free shipping.
- If this also does not lead to success, the potential customer will be addressed again at a later date with re-engagement measures.
Here, too, the note from above applies that you must comply with the relevant data protection regulations when taking such measures. If in doubt, get advice from a specialist lawyer.
7. Tips for search engine optimization
Google is a discerning reader: only if the search engine understands precisely what a website is about, will it guide the right visitors there. This is why the keywords used are so relevant. Anyone who clearly defines and skilfully uses keywords also attracts a lot of attention from the right target group.
Measures with which providers improve the presence of their website in search engines include both organic search engine optimization (SEO) and SEA, i.e. advertising in the form of paid search ads.
A creative process with topic mind maps
Creativity is particularly relevant here. Exciting topics and top search terms that match the products and services offered are initially collected. Questions like this help: What are customers looking for online? What phrases or phrases do you enter into the search engines? In an atopic mind map, relevant keywords sorted by topic can be put together for an inspiring overview.
Keyword matrix: research and analysis
With the Mindmap, you have a creative basis. Now it’s time for detailed study. Tools such as the Google Keyword Planner help with this. The results are displayed in a keyword matrix. It is the basis for decisions on how to proceed in search engine marketing. In addition to the average search volume, you should also document competitive metrics and average bids for search ads.
Choosing the best keywords
In the next step, the key terms will be screened further. Only those that fit the offer, the brand and the image and meet the expectations of the users are considered a particular keyword. Keywords that are not only high in terms of search volume but also have as little competition as possible are optimal since high levels of competition make organic search engine ranking and placement in the ads more difficult.
Prioritization using focus keywords
Focus keywords are not necessarily the ones with the highest search volume, but those that describe the offer particularly well. For example, the term “backpack” is often searched but is very general. A long-tail keyword, on the other hand, i.e. strings of words such as “backpack with hydration system”, is searched less frequently, but fulfils the expectations of the users to a high degree and is, therefore, a focus keyword in this case.
Skillfully use keywords
What data should the user see in his search result? The maintenance of meta information is crucial here so that deliberately placed product advantages are immediately visible. The description and title of the pictures are also relevant for the interpretation of the content and should therefore not be neglected. Above all, the entire content of a website should be optimized in the context of content marketing so that it answers users’ questions and fulfils their expectations. The more specific the keywords are integrated on the website, the easier it is for the search engine to interpret the content and to present the most relevant result to the user.
The intelligence of search engines has been and is continually being improved. A lot helps a lot – this has long ceased to apply to search engine optimization. In the past, it was said that the keyword should only be used as often as possible to improve visibility, but today the smart reader Google is asking for other incentives. Longer search queries are also becoming increasingly important, not least thanks to Siri, Alexa and Cortana. The possibilities that keyword research offers are, therefore, decisive factors to be found by the relevant target group without detours – and thus for the success of a website.
Anyone familiarizing themselves with the basics of online marketing is well-positioned to implement the online marketing strategy. Because even if many paths lead to the goal – not all lead to success. With a policy, there is a clear plan that can be objectively assessed. In the years that followed, the results formed a solid basis for establishing sustainable online marketing.