Online Strategy Can Build Brand, Bottom Line
It doesn’t matter if you represent a small advocacy organization or a large corporation, your online profile and influence matters. Total Internet traffic and online commerce continues to surge, but the tide isn’t lifting all boats. Those who understand the art and science of incorporating blogging, social media, and search into their marketing plans are much more productive than those who don’t. Those who are disciplined enough to put it in writing, stick to the plan, and stay on message are following branding best practices and positioning themselves as leaders in their industries. Those who don’t are flirting with disaster.
We still encounter too many organizations of all sizes who think that a web presence is a web strategy. It’s still one of the most neglected planning documents in corporations, SMEs and nonprofits alike. Even where they exist, web strategies are rarely implemented with optimum coordination and participation from the C suite down to the customer and client levels. We all have room for improvement and the game continues to evolve.
Depending on the industry, business maturity, target market, immediate needs, and long-term goals, the planning process should yield different results for every organization. Your web strategy outlines goals, budgets, and deadlines. It determines how the business should position itself online, what messages to reinforce, what elements to borrow from the core brand and which ones to create specially for digital media. The web strategy defines what online channels to use, the tone, the messengers, what services and products to provide online, and what supporting infrastructure is required.
Digital Planning Process
- Audit Current Website To Establish A Baseline. How many websites do you have? How much traffic is generated daily? Which pages and posts are the most popular? Where is the traffic coming from? How much time do visitors spend on the site and do they bounce to new pages or leave? Do visits convert to action? What are the traffic trends over the past two years?
- Audit Social Media Metrics. Do you have personal and corporate social accounts and pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? How active are the accounts? How many followers, friends and connections? How often do you post? What do you post?
- Establish Online Budget and Goals. Clearly define whether the outcome is sales, donations, votes, volunteers, etc.
- Verify Branding, Positioning and Messaging Strategy. The online strategy is a critical extension of overall marketing strategy. All leaders must demonstrate leadership online, including social media. Failure to do so is a critical branding and positioning mistake. You must defend your market share and mindshare like a leader in your industry.
- Personalize Site For Top Market Segments. As with all advertisements, clearly define your online prospects and speak to them. Do you have translation available? Targeting also includes the graphics, words, and functionality. If our target market is senior citizens, for example, it’s advisable to avoid small type (just like the old-school rule).
- Search Engine Optimization and Page Optimization. Make sure that prospective customers who are looking for your solutions find you through searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other top search engines. If your website does not have a section for a blog, you are missing a critical opportunity to build your brand, relationships and heightened visibility.
- Develop Social Goals, Strategy and Teams. Who says what, where and when? Social media takes consistent work and a dynamic web presence that involves top brass, employees and various stakeholders. Our goal is measured initially with reach, frequency, and relationships. Revenue is rarely the first step on social media. However, foolish mistakes can prove very costly.
- Measure, Analyze and Adjust. We built a baseline in step one. We tightened up the web strategy and turbocharged our social media tactics. What is working the best and what needs refinement? It’s critical to have analytics available to dissect your web activity daily. Where is the traffic coming from? What information brought them to the site–search, promotions, social media activity? Are we gaining connections and interactions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms? What posts are the most popular?
Are you earning your share of the conversation on social media? Does your competition come up ahead of your organization on the search engines? Can you gain even more traction online based on the above checklist? If so, we would like to help you raise your online profile and influence as part of an overall marketing and outreach strategy. We help clients around the world. Please contact Gary Chandler firstname.lastname@example.org