Show me the money! That’s what everyone wants, right? If you want to make money online, you need to have an effective Internet marketing plan in place. The operative word here is “effective”. You can find lots of sample marketing plans online that you can use but more than likely they will fail to produce the results you want.
To actually make money, your plan must successfully drive traffic to your site. To achieve this you need clearly defined steps that will help you develop your plan. Following are the steps you can take to create an Internet marketing plan that will make money for you.
Step #1: Establish a Long-Term Vision for Your Site
Before you actually start, you need to decide what you want to accomplish. Where do you see your business in three years? Five years? Ten years? Defining a vision for your website is essential so you at least have a starting point and some direction. Write down your vision and make sure your entire team understands it. You can always make changes to your vision as you move forward. A vision brings cohesiveness to a marketing plan. You will weigh every proposed activity against your vision. If it does not in some way further or support your vision, you should not include it in your plan.
Step #2: Identify Target Market
You cannot create your marketing plan in a vacuum. It is not just an internal document. The success of your marketing plan depends on your ability to drive the right type of traffic to your site. You need traffic that will convert. This is the only way you will make money. So after finalizing your vision, consider your audience. Who is your ideal customer? Why will they be interested in your product or service? Where are they? How can you find them? This is step is essential and will take time on your part to complete. Knowing your target market and the opportunities they present will help you develop appropriate goals.
Step#3: Create Long-Term S.M.A.R.T. Goals that Support Your Vision
Now you are going to start adding goals to your marketing plan. Begin with your long-term goals. Goals are how you measure success in achieving your vision. S.M.A.R.T. goals are ideal at this juncture because they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Use this formula to develop real goals that will help you move toward your vision. An example of a long-term goal is to “have $1 million net profit within three years of launching our website.” Remember that goals define what you plan to do, not how you plan to do it.
Step #4: Break Long-Term Goals Down into Short-Term Goals
Short-term goals are more immediate and drive the actionable tasks of your Internet marketing plan. Your short-term goals should also be S.M.A.R.T. with much shorter time frames. An example of a short-term goal is to “attain a conversion rate of 2.5% within three months of launching our website.” Notice how this particular short-term goal is related to the previously stated long-term goal. It is likely you will have more short-term goals than long-term ones. And you will probably alter these goals somewhat on a quarterly basis as new opportunities present themselves to you. You can only develop goals based on what you know at the present time – allow for flexibility so you can incorporate fresh ideas along the way.
Step #5: Develop Key Performance Indicators
Since you have already established that your goals need to be measurable, you need to establish how and when the measuring will take place. It is good practice to create your reporting mechanism in conjunction with your marketing plan. Once you launch your plan, you may not have the time to come up something. Your performance indicators should relate directly to your short-term goals. You need to decide what the best way to measure your accomplishment for each goal as well as the reporting method. For example, you may decide that web analytics can help you measure your conversion rates. The reporting mechanism should be built-in to the analytics tool or program.
Step #6: Research Marketing Options
This is where you start adding the meat to your marketing plan. You need to research all online marketing opportunities to see which best support your goals. Should you join affiliate programs? Are Pay-Per-Click campaigns the right approach? Do you need a sales letter? Is your landing page effective? How will you incorporate social media into your plan? Where does SEO come into play? Is your site appropriately designed? Will a blog help drive traffic to your site? Once you have thoroughly researched and reviewed your marketing options, you will need to decide which ones to include in your marketing plan. You can also look at outsourcing opportunities if you don’t have in-house resources to implement a comprehensive online marketing plan.
Step #7: Build Actionable To-Do List
Now we are getting to the nitty gritty. Not only do you need to identify the tasks or action steps that will help you obtain your short-term goals, you will need to prioritize them. Create tasks for each goal you have set. More than likely you will have mini-tasks as subsets to the larger tasks. The more detailed you can be, the more successful you will be in achieving your goals. As you get very specific, you ensure important steps are not overlooked. For example, you may have a task to “gain backlinks for your site”. This is a very broad task. So in addition to that broad task, you will need to identify more defined tasks that may include “hire an SEO firm to help with linkbait.” The best way to manage these tasks is by using project management software or Excel schedule. Each task should have a preset deadline as well as an assigned responsible party. Even if a team is in charge of a particular task, appoint someone to be the leader of the group.
Step #8: Identify Costs and Resources
Up to this point, we have placed no limitations on your planning. Now that you have your plan done, you need to identify the costs associated with implementing each activity of the plan. Obviously you do not have unlimited resources. So your next step is to identify your exact resources which can include money and human capital. Determine the maximum amount of both you can set aside for your marketing plan. You will then need to figure out what parts of your marketing plan you can put on hold until more resources become available. Don’t skimp on the important areas like copywriting and SEO. Look where your in-house strengths are and determine if outsourcing certain marketing components is best for your company. Keep those activities that cost little but have high returns on your investment. The sooner you begin to see results, the faster you will achieve your goals.
Step #9: Finalize and Implement To-Do List
Once you finalize your to-do list to only include tasks that you will be presently working on, you are ready to get started. This will include reviewing your website and making adjustments where needed. You will want to make sure your content is properly optimized. When you are ready, you can officially launch your marketing plan. If you have a team working on implementing your marketing plan, they should work seamlessly together to provide a cohesive approach.
Step #10: Measure Results and Adjust Marketing Plan
As you review your performance indicators and subsequent outcome reports, you will be able to use that data to improve your marketing plan. Analytics will help identify flaws and barriers that prevent you from increasing your revenue. Use this information to fine tune your marketing methods on a regular basis. You will find that marketing is a fluid process that requires constant evaluation and adjustments. Take advantage of the resources at your disposal – don’t leave money on the table! As you begin to realize profits, go back and look at the marketing options you set aside because of budget constraints. Integrate those back into your plan as you can afford them. Begin with those that complement or enhance what you are already doing.
Step #11: Bring it All Together
Online marketing is a perpetual activity. As long as you want a web presence, you will need to participate in some type of marketing effort. Without it, your site will fall on SERPs and you will never be noticed. After you have developed and implemented your first Internet marketing plan, the process becomes easier and becomes a natural part of your business operations. You will be able to effortlessly integrate new methods as needed and test different approaches in a manageable way. Research and monitoring will always be required but it becomes easier the longer you do it.
A solid Internet marketing plan can help you launch a new website or make an existing more profitable. Begin with research on your industry and competitors. Learn where the gaps are and figure out how you can fill them. Be creative with your marketing. Look for ways to stand out from your competition.