Most people today know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to having a successful on-line business. What they may not know is exactly how to use it in their marketing plan. Incorporating strategically chosen keywords, with valuable content, can dramatically increase your world-wide-web presence, and ultimately, your bottom line. Even more important, knowing how your customers find you is invaluable information.
But this is just the first layer, of many, to creating a consistent revenue stream. Implementing a data driven marketing plan, to create repeat business, is necessary for growth and longevity. Once complete, you must re-evaluate your data and re-engineer your plan, to attract new customers and retain your existing business. With time, you can create a recycling funnel system that will continually produce revenues. This is known as data driven marketing.
First, what is SEO?
We know what SEO stands for, but what does it really mean in the marketing world? When building, or updating, the website for your business, using SEO and keywords is critical to being discovered organically online. You can certainly pay for placement, but this is an expensive option and must be on-going to maintain good ranking. It also does not guarantee top placement. Organic leads are what you want to strive for, as these people found you through a search engine or other free avenue.
When search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, crawl your site, they want to find words that are relevant to what people are searching for most. Big corporations know the importance of key word searches. Consider this: when you enter “the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin,” you will find all blogs on the first page, however when you use keywords such as “laundry detergent” and “detergent for sensitive skin” you start to see more name brand companies in the search results.
Quality content is a must
You want people to go to your website and stay there long enough to see what you do and offer. The average person spends only 15 seconds on a web page and less than one minute on a site before moving on. With quality content, you can engage your users and ultimately convert them from a customer into a client. Think about it like a retail store. Customers walk in and out all day long, but clients are those who purchase things and come back repeatedly.
Optimizing your content
There is no way to guarantee that you will rank number one on the major search engines with the number of services available to boost your placement, but your goal should be to land in the top 30. If you are searching for your own website on pages 10 or 15, you need to tweak your content and get it working better for you. Be sure you have a title and description that contains keywords for each page of your website. Also, add text to your images via alt text. Pictures on a website are great, but search engines cannot screen photos. Add your website name or a short blurb about what you do to your image files.
Pay attention to technology trends
In recent surveys, 64% of respondents felt that having a data driven marketing strategy was the key to on-line business success. Everyday technology improves and new services are available. Knowing what is out there and how it could benefit you can be critical to your on-line business. If you are not changing with technology, you will find yourself with less internet customers and a weak bottom line. Stay on top of how Google ranks sites and use their Analytics tools. This will guide you to a more successful website.
Test your Website
Many websites provide great tools that allow you to see how your website is performing. They track, for you, what words are being searched, where your traffic is coming from, how long people stay on a page, etc. Again, Google Analytics is a great tool to know how to use, as well.
Know What Your Competition is Doing
Competition is good for business. It forces you to be on your game and be more creative. But you don‘t have to do it blindly. Knowing what keywords are used to drive traffic to your competitors site can be invaluable marketing information for your business.
Website Optimization and Marketing Strategies
There are a plethora of avenues for collecting data. How you use it will determine your business success. As stated by Kate Cooper, CEO of Bloom Worldwide, digital marketing has tracking capabilities that generates data, whereas traditional marketing mediums such as direct mail and print couldn’t be tracked accurately. The main challenge is choosing the most important data to analyze. You can easily get overwhelmed with all the information available.
As discussed above, researching your competition is a good place to start when creating a website that captures customers and keeps them engaged. By using the keywords that bring customers to your website you can determine what may or may not be beneficial to your marketing strategy. Also, make sure that you are optimizing all aspects of your site; add alt text to images; use at least two headers on each page or with each post, if you have a blog; and use external links. Don’t forget to keep on testing, as well. Strategies and plans need to have a fluid component. Business moves fast online, and so does the way search engines rank. When your competitors change the construction of their web presence, it will affect you. It’s important to avoid working with a reactive approach. Stay proactive and do your own research to determine the best way to stay at the top. Additionally, make sure that the rest of your company is in prime condition. As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. A balanced company is a successful one.
Using alt text is a simple way to increase your SEO ranking. Images do not get ranked, text does. Incorporate short, descriptive language and keywords into your alt text. If you are selling hand-woven baskets, then you should add this tag to your images. This will not only help your site ranking, but will also help when people are searching for images, as the alt text is what is picked up in searches, not the actual image itself.
Using headers is an easy and often neglected way to increased site rankings in search engines. Web crawlers first look for header 1 and header 2 on websites, and will go on to search lesser headers, 3, 4, and so on. Neglecting to add the initial headers will substantially hurt your SEO and ranks. Never leave off headers.
You would think that linking to another site to yours would hurt your ranks. Why would you want to bring attention to another website? But having at least two external links boosts your SEO. Make sure that you link to meaningful articles, but not your competition, and that you link through keywords. If your company sells skylights in Maine and Vermont, link to a website that perhaps discusses the top five ways skylights benefit homes in the northeast. If you can google the topic to find the article, linking to the article through the keywords you used to search for it will help your website.
Test and Retest
Think of testing your marketing plan the way you would any other theories: with the scientific method. First, start with the data you have collected. Then ask a question about the information you have assembled. Determine your hypothesis or theory about this data and test it with an experiment. Next, analyze your results and formulate a conclusion. Finally, use this information in your fluid marketing plan. Take these steps often to ensure that your strategy keeps you at the forefront of the market.
Balance Within Your Company
Be sure that you have not only marketing goals, but company-wide goals. It’s one thing to have a solid marketing plan, but if the rest of your company is a disaster, you will ultimately fail anyways. Don’t spend money on marketing until you have all other sectors of your business in order, from your company finances to your POS systems.
Set SMART and RACE objectives
To win in business you need to run a SMART RACE. Yes, it’s true that success is a marathon, but not a sprint. You can’t take off fast and maintain success with a plan. Consider your marketing strategy more of a marathon; moving forward at a steady pace to gain success over time. Using the SMART RACE acronyms will help get you there.
The acronym SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Specific: Have a specific goal and audience in mind.
Measurable: Make sure that your strategy includes measurable data. Can you track where your audience is coming from? How you gained your customers? What your rate of conversions are and returning users?
Achievable: Making a billion dollars your first year is not an achievable goal for any business, nor is gaining a million new followers to your blog. Make sure that your plans are achievable ones and that your growth plan includes recruitment and retention. It’s great to get a client, but if you can’t keep them then what is the point?
Realistic: Can you accomplish your goals set forth in your marketing strategy? Are the time-lines you set to hit your goals even capable of being reach in the current economy? Make sure that your marketing strategy is a realistic one.
Timely: Timing is everything. You don’t want to miss the boat nor do you want to be ahead of your time in business. Make sure that your plans include data from the current economy. Do not use outdated research when planning for future growth. Yes, you can use old data to formulate new plans, but make sure you test your theories before putting them into action.
RACE stands for: Reach, Action, Convert, and Engage
Reach: There are many ways to reach your customers. The Seven Touches marketing principle suggestions that in order to gain a new customer you must get their attention, through various techniques, at least seven times. This may include: social media posts, emails, and even offline contact, such as print media and person-to-person. You can increase traffic to your website by creating multiple avenues, such as ads and social media. You can also utilize other websites to help promote your business, whether it be smaller blogs or larger discount pages. Using different paid, owned and earned media can help you grow and thrive.
Action: Action comes in many forms. It can range from user interaction to a call to action. Either way, the idea is to interact with your prospective audience and give them the steps to becoming your customer. Phrases such as “limited time offer,” “this week only,” and “join our mailing list and get 25% of now” are great examples. They all tells prospective consumers that if they act now, they can get a great deal or that they can get something they may not be able to get once a certain amount of time passes. Utilizing various forms of media to convey this message will meet your seven touches strategy and direct them to do a specific task.
Convert: Reaching your prospective customers is one thing, but converting them to actually make a sale is entirely different. If you have 100,000 visitors to your site weekly, but are only selling 10 items, your conversation rate is horrible! Be sure to include realistic conversion goals into your marketing strategy and develop ways to increase them over time.
Engage: You reached your target audience, encouraged them to take timely action, and make the sale. Now you need to ensure that they keep coming back. Engaging your customers will ensure that you have a revenue stream for life. Provide “value-added” services, by letting them know about new products, and encouraging them to take advantage of future promotions. The best marketing strategies include maintaining your current clientele. It is easier to sell to a customer who already knows your product than to get someone onboard who you have never interacted with; remember the seven touches.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will a successful marketing strategy to grow your business. Do your research, create a website that will increase your SEO rankings, test what you implemented, and use the data collected to rejuvenate your marketing strategy, use SMART RACE techniques, and work all sectors of your company collectively to maximize your success.