It’s a given that businesses engage in online marketing. Some focus on social media marketing. Others favor email marketing. There’s no one-size-fits-all marketing plan. However, it’s surprisingly common for businesses to not have a good, effective marketing strategy that’s well-documented.
If you’re a small business, it’s understandable that you might not have your strategy written down. After all, it’s just one employee or two at the helm. However, it’s the goal of any business to grow. Over time, marketing strategies can get complicated as you expand to new channels and platforms and your budget grows. Your employees may leave or change roles.
A good strategy will be more comprehensive than a simple to-do checklist.
Common Gaps in a Marketing Strategy
1. Linear strategy
Some businesses choose to put all their eggs in one basket, rather than diversify. Audiences are not found in one place. Some are on Twitter while others are on Instagram. It’s not enough to, say, blast a link to your business’ latest blog entry on all social media channels five times a day via Hootsuite and call it good.
Your strategy ideally has a multi-pronged approach to achieve your goals, whether it’s to build brand awareness, authority, or create organic traffic. It should be designed to attain your short-term goals as well as move you along the stepping stones toward your long-term goal.
To continue the above example: if your short-term goal is to build readers and brand loyalty for your site’s blog, your strategy could include sharing the content on social media, engaging with people online, hiring influencers, getting involved with local conferences or trade-shows, contacting reporters, syndicating your blog articles…
The possibilities are endless. The point remains: the old, absurdly simple “build it and they’ll come” blog strategy is long gone. All business strategies should be sophisticated and multi-pronged. One of the marketing trends for 2020 indicates that managing “omnichannel content strategies” will be a necessary skill for many marketers.
2. Stagnant content
Once the content is posted, you can’t do anything more with it months later, right?
Old content is gold. There are ways to maximize old content, and these tactics should be included in a marketing strategy. For example:
- Rewrite. Those articles you posted when your business was new? If it’s evergreen and there’s good, valuable information in there, it can be rewritten/updated and then reposted. Many website visitors read only 3-5 articles before moving along their buying journey. They certainly won’t go back to the beginning of a business’ blog to read the old content.
- Repurpose old content. If you’ve thought about writing an ebook for lead-gen campaigns, making Youtube videos, or podcasts, old articles’ content can be reused and repackaged.
Bonus? If you (or your writer) have a writer’s block, repurposing content is a great way to keep the ball rolling. (5 types of business marketing content you need)
3. You haven’t changed your SEO approach | You don’t understand your audience
Back in the old days, SEO was about talking to Google and taking advantage of its rules and loopholes to rank high on search engine results. Now? Google is a little smarter. Keyword-pumping doesn’t work. It can hurt. Finding and using high-volume keywords used to work. Now? If it’s not relevant to what’s your site is about, it can actually you.
Google’s algorithm is far more sophisticated.
Now, I’m not saying to chuck SEO marketing out the door. Rather, your strategy should be about reaching your target audience. To do that, you need to put yourselves in their shoes. What problem do they have? What information do they need?
The better you understand your audience, the better you can use SEO to reach them.
Also, ask questions like: how are they using your website? Are they moving along the marketing/sales funnel the way you expect? If not, what’s the pinch point? Using data, audience research, and intuition, we need to be analytical and predictive about the intent behind each search, each click, and each engagement.
4. You’re not optimizing.
Optimizing is marketing-speak for comparing results to understand which options will perform the best and give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Let’s say you have two versions of an email with different opening lines. You’re not sure which one will be more effective in getting your audience to open the email and click through. Rather than flip a coin, you can send version A to a small percentage of your email list and version B to a different set of people on your email list. Whichever version has the highest open rate will be sent to your full email list.
You can optimize nearly everything on your website from layout to blog content to shopping cart page.
Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing by Lee Odden is an excellent read.
5. Your KPI goals are static or inflexible
Key Point Indicators are a set of metrics that businesses track to see how well their marketing campaigns are doing. Examples of KPIs are:
- Sales revenue
- Inbound marketing ROI
- Traffic-to-lead ratio (web traffic vs sales leads or conversions)
- Landing page conversion rate
Setting KPIs help marketers and business owners keep their eye on the ball and get it over the goal line. The problem occurs when marketers habitually use only one metric for all of the campaigns. Or they develop a tunnel vision for that one metric and they fail to look at the big picture.
KPIs are a tool. They’re not meant to be used as a hard pass/fail.
6. No documented marketing strategy
Studies show that marketers and businesses with a documented strategy are “313% more likely to report success” (source). Having the strategy not only helps your marketing team as it grows, it also helps everyone stay in your company on the same page. It’s your roadmap.
A good strategy:
- Defines your target audience
- Describes what success looks like
- Specifies your services and products so that you can more clearly communicate the value to your audience
- Decides the type of campaigns
- Decides how you engage with your audience
- Sets a big-picture budget
There are no shortcuts. You spent a lot of time into creating and growing your business. Your online marketing deserves the same attention. The return on that time investment is well worth it in the long run. If your current marketing campaigns are not getting the results you’re hoping for, start at the beginning: create a marketing strategy. It’ll help you identify the gaps and fix them.
If you want to nail your marketing goals and don’t have the time or are struggling, shoot me an email.