Ok, before I start, I need to make a few assumptions with this post:
First, what I talk about below assumes you already have a “good” web site in place and it’s optimized for mobile. These are topics in themselves, but if you want to read more on both, check out Ten Essentials Every Small Business Website Needs and The Mobile Web: Does Your Business’ Mobile Web Presence Measure Up?
Let’s also assume, for as much as you can do on your site for optimizing for search engines (SEO), you are doing (or trying) your best.
Thirdly, let's assume that a fair amount of people search the internet everyday for your industry.
Finally, let’s assume you are a small- or medium-sized business, whether it be B2C or a B2B, and your transactions take place for the most part offline, meaning you are trying to get the phone to ring or a contact form/application completed more than anything else.
So let’s now decide what’s next…
1. Identify your online challenges:
I work and speak with a lot of small- and medium-sized business owners and marketing directors who fall in the above criteria, and by far, the 3 most common challenges they face are:
- Not exactly sure what they should be doing on the web in general
- Don’t know how many customers come from their web site, let alone inbound contacts, like a phone call
- Unclear of how many leads are slipping through the cracks
2. Determine what’s more important:
Visits to your site -OR- a steady stream of qualified inbound contacts (phone calls, emails and/or web submission forms)?
Now this might seem like an obvious answer, but really ask yourself if you had the same amount of money to spend each month, which is more important to you. Even with endless Google Analytics reports at your fingertips, it can be challenging to clearly understand how many of your monthly visitors turn into customers/clients/students/or patients.
My experience has also shown that one (visits) doesn’t always correlate with the other (a qualified prospect). The key is to ensure your traffic is qualified and that you know the end result of those visits, otherwise you’re shooting darts in the dark with your online marketing budget.
3. Establish your baseline budget
Before you can specifically develop a targeted budget aimed at your precise audience, you first need to determine some general baselines.
Now I am not one for generalities because there are so many factors involved (location, industry, business size…), but data from the Small Business Administration suggests that the average SMB with revenue less than $5MM “should” dedicate 7-8% of their annual revenue to marketing, of which at least 30% gets put into online.
Let’s say your business earns $3MM in annual revenue. This suggests you are/should be spending between $210,000 - $240,000 in marketing annually, of which $63,000 - $72,000 is at least dedicated to online. To simplify further, here’s a breakout for a $1MM a year business:
$1MM annual revenue x 7.5% marketing budget = $75,000 x 30% online marketing = $22,500 / 12 = $1,875 per month spend on online marketing.
4. Set up your online marketing plan in phases (the stuff that happens off your site to get more qualified people to it and to get them to take a revenue-generating action):
Here’s a snapshot of how the best businesses approach their online marketing plan. They take things in phases. Even if you have deep pockets and can tackle it all at once, it’s still a wise move to crawl, walk then run, as there will be key data and insight gleaned from each stage.
Phase 1- The quickest and most efficient way to drum up inbound leads online is through an effective Search Engine Advertising campaign. This means pay-per-click and a pull marketing approach- you are literally pulling in qualified traffic (consumers actively searching online for your services).
Additional elements to consider adding in Phase 1 are Live Chat and Video to your website. Since you will be driving more visitors to your site, you want to ensure you can convert as many as possible into leads. 20% of your customers who visit your website prefer to chat, rather than call or fill out a contact form, so be sure to give these potential customers that option.
Additionally, adding a video to your website makes your site 6 times more likely to convert a browser to a paying customer. In today’s info-overloaded world, offering a professional and concise video in a prominent position on your site allows visitors an easy way to learn about your business.
Phase 2- A good industry standard click-thru rate (the # of times someone clicks on your sponsored link from the # of times it was shown) for a Search Campaign is 1 - 2%. To stay in front of the additional 98 – 99% of the audience who is showing buying intent, successful companies are rolling out Retargeting Display campaigns. A good Display campaign, when added to an effective Search campaign, ensures you keep your business top-of-mind with “missed opportunities” and retain them in your buying funnel. This is your “push” marketing strategy to compliment the “pull” marketing strategy of Phase 1.
Phase 3- Build out your complete off-site web presence. The rest of the web is not such a scary place if you tackle it strategically. At this stage, you have a steady stream of inbound leads and a system in place to ensure you stay in front of those who don’t connect with you on the “first pass."
At this point, you are starting to build some authority for your brand and potential consumers are starting to take notice and research your company online. You’ll want to now make sure your total web presence is showing a positive portrayal of your business. This means 4 main things:
- Good content that people will actually want to read and share (blogging)
- Consistent information and image across all the web directories, like Google+ Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor, SuperPages, Angie’s List and many more
- Positive reviews
- A non-neglected social media presence, particularly on the main social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ (and LinkedIn if you are B2B and Pinterest if you are in retail or your target audience is primarily female)
When you address these 4 initiatives in addition to the on-site SEO that you are doing, you will put your web marketing into overdrive and not only show up prominently in the paid portions of the search engine results page (which you initiated in Phase 1), but you will also start to rank higher in the organic portions (from Phase 3), helping you to command “more shelf space.”
5. Know your online customer acquisition costs and squeeze more ROI out of each month
The most successful small- and medium-sized businesses know this number by heart and constantly work hard to drive down their customer acquisition costs while always looking for ways to maximize ROI. This is where a valuable partner can help by providing your business with tools on the back end that not only report on these numbers, but actually optimizes your campaigns around them.
The smartest business owners also take it into account the lifetime value of a customer and know how to appropriately calculate this number into their ROI figures, because we know for the most part, businesses cannot thrive on one-time transactions only. They must also retain their new acquisitions.
6. Don’t let any leads slip through the cracks
We all know the cliché “early bird catches the worm,” and we know the first to reach a potential lead with timely and sought after info will ensure they win that customer, not just once, but hopefully for life.
According to Marketo, 75% of internet-based leads fall through the cracks. In today’s age, a sophisticated business does not have to rely solely on asking “how did you hear about us?” These top businesses, across all industries, are employing a simple and effective lead management system that ensures they move every inbound lead, no matter how that potential customer came to their website, all the way through the funnel to “closed/won!”
If you would like to learn more about applying an effective online marketing strategy for your $1MM+ annual revenue business, contact me or call (941) 735-3600.
Photo courtesy of commerce.idaho.gov