Internet Marketing Strategy: Developing a Website Marketing Plan by Bobette Kyle
For many of us, finding the time and commitment to develop an Internet marketing strategy is difficult. There are so many other obligations vying for our attention it is tempting to push strategies to the back burner. Giving into that temptation, however, means putting your business at a disadvantage.
This is because an overall marketing strategy is the compass by which you navigate. As opportunities arise or your business environment changes, the objective and marketing strategies in your plan will point you toward the best action. Without a strategic plan, you risk becoming unfocused in your marketing efforts, resulting in guesses about what might be best for your business.
To be most effective, your Website (as well as other) marketing strategies should be a part of your overall business marketing plan. By aligning online marketing with your offline efforts, you can better achieve overall company objectives. Additionally, you will present a consistent style and message across all points of contact with your target audience.
Your strategic focus will in part be determined by your site’s status. If you already have a site in place, your plan can focus strictly on marketing issues. In other words, how to most effectively market using your existing site.
If you have a site that needs improvement, however, your marketing efforts will be more effective if you incorporate Website enhancements in with your strategies.
Finally, if you do not yet have a site, you can create one as you develop a marketing strategy, with your plan focused on launching the site. In any case, remember that your objective, strategies, and tactics will change over time as your situation and focus change.
Parts of a Marketing Plan
A strategic Website marketing plan is similar to a strategic business marketing plan, but with a narrower focus (i.e. the Website plan focuses on Internet marketing strategy and programs while the overall marketing plan encompasses the entire business).
As with any marketing plan, the online plan includes developing strategies and tactics (also called action plans) that, when implemented, will help you reach your marketing goals. An objective, strategy, and tactic are each progressively narrower in scope:
The objective addresses the “big picture”. In general terms, your objective answers the question “How will I overcome my main marketing challenge(s)?” If your company’s main site-related challenge is figuring out how to use your Website to help build client business, for example, an objective for your online marketing plan could be “To enhance online client service as well as build site awareness and interest with clients.”
A marketing strategy supports your objective. The strategy defines general approaches you will take to meet your objective. For example, strategies to support the above objective could include 1) improve online communication, information, and education, 2) build awareness of and interest in your company on the Internet, and 3) communicate the Website’s existence and advantages to existing clients.
A marketing tactic is where the action takes place. Also called marketing programs or action plans, they are the things you will do to bring each marketing strategy to life. Tactics for strategy 2 in the above example (improve online communication, information, and education) could include 1) sharing experience and observations in your industry through participation in discussion boards, 2) offering an email newsletter, and 3) listing/submitting your site to targeted search engines and directories.
By implementing marketing programs that are consistent with your site objective(s) and marketing strategies you improve your chance of business success.