5 Steps to a Winning Online Marketing Plan

The most successful approach to online marketing is one that starts with the customer. Here is our five-step strategy for creating a winning online marketing plan that will bring in more leads and sales.

Step 1: Identify Personas

Every marketing plan has to have a focus. If you want to market your products and services successfully, you need to understand the pain points of your typical customer. While you may have hundreds or even thousands of customers, effective messaging must be focused on a single individual for maximum impact.

Building out one or more specific personas allows you to balance the concerns of authentic messaging that appeals to a large group, while still speaking directly to your consumers based on their individual needs. Go beyond demographics and think about:

  • How your product/service fits within a typical workflow
  • Major pain points your product/service addresses
  • Secondary/Tertiary benefits specific to each persona
  • How your UVP directly benefits each persona

Creating distinctive personas is an essential part of any online marketing plan, and we will be delving more into this topic with later posts.

Step 2: Evaluate Customer Needs

As you build out your personas, you will likely develop a list of challenges that each persona faces and how these challenges can be solved by your product or service. At this stage, it’s important to realize that your intended customers have any number of options to solve these challenges.

It’s not enough to explain how your product can help; you must also explain why they should choose you over the competition.

To do this, create a hierarchy of problems. Which challenges are the most pressing? Which problems are most likely to drive your individual personas to take action?

For each problem, build out a statement that encompasses not only your solution, but why your solution is the best option for that persona. Take for example a cleaning product targeting new mothers. There are many challenges a new mother may face with regards to this product:

  • Concerns about product safety
  • Concerns about allergies in infants
  • Concerns about how long it takes to clean

As you work on your messaging for your new mom personas, you want to address these concerns, while also placing your product as the optimal solution. For example, you might mention that your product is the only environmentally safe cleanser that is 100% hypoallergenic and works in less than five minutes.

Step 3: Action Tie-Ins

There are many moving parts to any online messaging strategy, and while the ultimate goal is to gain a sale, there are many other “mini” conversions along the way. As you plan your marketing strategy for each section of the conversion funnel, plan deliberate action tie-ins that move your prospects down the path to a sale.

Each piece of marketing collateral you create should provide your target audience with next steps to take. Base your call to action on the area of the conversion funnel that the marketing piece targets. For example:

  • Discovery/Research Phase – CTAs should focus on building trust, getting users to sign up for newsletter and social media updates, etc.
  • Evaluation Phase – CTAs should focus on differentiating your product/service from the competition, including case studies, whitepapers, webinars and live demonstrations
  • Closing/Sales Phase – CTAs should focus on initiating a sales contact if the lead has been qualified
  • Follow-up/Customer Nurturing – CTAs here should focus on gaining relevant feedback, and addressing any customers or concerns. Surveys can be useful, but follow-up emails can also be used to solicit feedback.

Step 4: Timing and Reach

After you have created your messaging, the next challenge is finding your target audience at the right times during the sales cycle. This can be accomplished in many ways:

  • Email newsletters
  • PPC & Retargeting
  • Social Media
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Webinars and Online Conventions

No single approach will work in all cases. You will need to consider where your audience “lives” online and come up with ways to reach them in the places they most often frequent. This may mean PPC advertising, or sponsored blog posts on various websites. It may also mean conducting demonstrations at online conventions and webinars.

Your outreach will most likely be a mix of various efforts, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Newsletters
  • Brochures, whitepapers and other marketing collateral
  • Prospecting emails and calls

Step 5: Execution and Evaluation

Putting your marketing plan into action will require both time and resources. As people respond to your messaging, you will likely find that marketing based on certain personas has better results than others in terms of leads, conversions and sales.

This is the time to make adjustments to your messaging strategy based on what your target audience is telling you. Areas where there are high conversions should be allotted a greater share of the marketing budget. Areas that do not perform well should be evaluated to determine if the problem is the messaging, the design, or some other factor.

Incorporating elements of campaigns that were successful in the past may boost these underperforming areas. In general, it’s best to test to improve engagement before you eliminate underperforming areas of the marketing plan. Of course, if a particular piece of marketing has almost no traction you may decide to conserve resources and move on.

While there is no magic formula that guarantees success, taking a structured approach to your online marketing can help you to create marketing campaigns that fully address the needs of your customers. This in turn will create additional opportunities for conversions and sales.

If you need assistance with your online marketing plan at any stage – whether planning, execution or evaluation – we can help. Get in touch with us today and speak with one of our online marketing experts to learn more about how we can help you to increase conversions and sales.

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