New Year, New Plan – Update Your E-Marketing Plan

It’s that time of year. The TV overflows with ads designed to motivate you to be the best you, better foods, better cloths, better cleaning supplies, … better salads?

And it’s great to get introspective and think about the changes we all, individually, want to make. We want to be better, healthier, more successful. We know it can be done, the building blocks accessible.

As you go through these thoughts, take some time to examine your online marketing planning in the same light.

How can you be better, do more and see more success.

The obvious starting points still exist: understanding what people search for, knowing the best practices of SEO, etc.

But how are you with integrating different marketing efforts? Does your social media plan take cues from your search analytics? Is your email program taking insights from your conversion optimization work? Are you using psychographics to help understand why people take the actions they do? Is your SEO work blending with user experience testing?

Today’s online landscape requires a much more advanced approach to grow success and sustain it. The days of one-trick-pony-SEO-only success are behind us. If you’ve missed that memo, it’s time to catch up.

For years, successful websites have approached their online business with a dedicated plan. They’ve put resources in place to accomplish the goals and they’ve worked to make it happen. Some have taken shortcuts, and almost all have found any early successes reversed. Shortcuts don’t work, plain and simple.

Tools can help gather data and point to opportunities, but tools cannot build your plan. Tools can track results, but can also waste time. So many people spend way too much time looking at too much detail. If searchers seek content (answers to their questions), should you spend the next 4 hours looking through reports or creating content? The answer is it’s a balance. You need data to help make decisions, but sometimes you can get so caught up following thread sin data that you lose time needed to create unique, compelling content.

Last year I was listening to a guy talk about how much success he’s had with his new website. He said he didn’t understand what the problem was. He simply paid a service to create content for him (spending $60 – $75/week, he claimed). All that fresh, unique content was, he claimed, ranking well and driving increases in traffic in excess of 100% week on week. He’d been live for 2 months and said he didn’t get why so many people struggled.

I was curious, so I asked him what his traffic volume looked like at that point. He said he was seeing more than 1,000 visits per month. Which immediately explained why he was excited about his “more than 100% growth” pattern. Going from 10 visits to 100 visits is a massive jump percentage wise, yet wouldn’t really be considered success by most businesses today.

My next question was around rankings and keywords. He explained he “owned the long tail” and expected to begin ranking well for head queries shortly.

Which brought me to the ultimate key performance indicator (KPI) – revenue. He was, after all, trying to sell products. He explained that revenue should be expected to grow slowly as people need to learn to trust his site. Hmmm…? Really? Does this mean you see a lot of return visitors? No, he said, 95% of his visitors were new.

It’s obvious to anyone reading this that this is not going to be a story with a happy ending.

Several months after we first talked, I met this same gent at a different conference. He was struggling to understand why his site failed to generate any real money. Why rankings were non-existent and why he never saw traffic from head queries. He refused to believe his content was faulty. Even after he was shown how his content was simply copied from other locations (or his content had been copied to other locations), he refused to believe his shortcut (buying “unique” content) was a dead end.

For most businesses, the New Year marks a new fiscal year as well. Now is the time to figure out where your plans are in need of support. Now is the time to learn which areas you need more education in. Now is the time to review programs to see if they can support each other.

Smaller businesses can often cross support between programs easier than larger companies. The downside is smaller businesses with that flexibility (due to fewer people to keep looped) often lack the people to do all this work. Again, it comes down to balance.

Take a long hard look at each area you should invest time in. Put it down on paper and determine how much time you think you should be investing in each area. Then track things for one or two weeks to see how much time you’re actually investing I each area.

New Year? Time for a new plan. If you want more success, doing the same things as you have in the past often won’t help you make the leap. You need new ideas, new approaches and a new plan.

Duane Forrester
Sr. Product Manager

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