An effective web marketing plan needs to be comprehensive, logically organized and efficient. It needs to cover the basic essentials, Internet advertising opportunities, advanced features, and interactive PR in order to effectively generate leads and raise your online visibility.
Get a Professional Website
Your first step is to create a professional website. Your website is the starting point, and focal point, for all online marketing and PR efforts. This includes website strategy, graphic design, content writing, navigation and usability, as well as developing clean code. A Full Blown Website covers all this and more.
Perform Search Engine Optimization
This includes researching your competition, deciding on keywords, generating title tags and image alt tags and registering your site with the major search engines. Once internal SEO activities are complete, you can turn your attention to external SEO (obtaining relevant links), which leads into the next step...
Identify External Link Candidates
This is a tedious but important effort: run the top 12 search phrases most relevant to your website through Google. Use a spreadsheet to identify every site that appears in the top 20 positions for each term. Capture just the main URL, not individual pages; for sites that appear repeatedly, note how many times they appear. The resulting list will contain (in addition to your competitors, obviously), publications, blogs, portals and directory sites. These are the key sites to target for reciprocal or non-reciprocal links, listings, and online advertising opportunities, as well as interactive PR activities.
Develop an Online Lead-Generation Program
Internet marketing and advertising can take many forms, from search engine ads to ad networks, white paper promotion, sponsorships and newsletter ads, which leads into...
Design an Email Advertising Program
This may include email blasts to a rented list or your own internal house list for lead generation. For nurturing long-term leads, a well-written internal newsletter is a productive way to stay in touch.
Utilize Blogs, Podcasts and Webcasts
A blog is a powerful (and free) way to create and foster a dialog with your prospects and customers, but it requires a fairly substantial investment of time and intellectual effort to keep it fresh. To be effective, new posts must be added every 3-7 days. If you aren't able to make that commitment, consider developing relationships with influential bloggers in your industry as part of your interactive PR efforts, or periodically "guest blogging" on one or more of these blogs. Podcasts and webcasts are alternative presentation methods for white paper-like content; help the audience solve a problem or better understand an industry issue, "sponsored" by your company.
Post Interactive Product Demos
For software products, tools such as Camtasia and Captivate enable you to capture screen shots and actions, control the timing, add voice-over narration, and convert the finished product for use on the web. For other types of products, shoot a video, or (if your budget is more limited), an interactive PowerPoint presentation converted to Flash.
Develop an Interactive PR Program
Use tactics such as online press room, blogs, social tagging and a web-based PR distribution service such as PRWeb or MarketWire to disseminate your press releases.
Test, Modify, Retest
Get your content, landing pages, contact forms, online ads finely tuned by using actionable web analytics.
Improve your Rank on Google
While there are 5 major search engines, it behooves one to concentrate on pleasing the more demanding Google first. If you adhere to Google's guidelines you will be more than qualified for good placement in the other major search engines. Sixty two percent of the nation uses Google as their primary search engine. Of the 137 billion estimated total searches performed in the U.S. last year, 85 billion were done on Google, followed by a distant second with Yahoo, MSN, ASK and AOL. Learn more about Full Blown Search Engine Optimization.
Free Web Marketing Techniques
Below are several free techniques to increase traffic to your website or blog that have nothing to do with Google, search engines or SEO. But the bonus is that all of these things will indeed help you rank better in the search engines too.
(Digg, Mixx, SU, Sk-rt, Sphinn, etc.)
(LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
(I shouldn't have to say that you go there to add value, not just get traffic!!)
(If you aren't doing this already this should be priority #1)
(What goes around, comes around – & referral traffic generally sends the best and most qualified visitors to a site)
(All those email addresses you have collected over the years, put them to good use and get the word out.)
(There are lots of free niche directories, and some good paid ones, like BOTW)
(Get local and make flyers to post at local cafes and other community bulletin boards)
(We've had long-term success building communities through email discussion groups – really highly recommended if you have the stomach to be a good moderator.)
(Hosting your own email discussion groups is a little more involved, but if you need a branded option to Yahoo groups, it is worth it)
(Really important to raise the visibility of your site – it's a high priority for us as well.)
(Video is a very strong marketing tool if you have the equipment on hand.)
(Twitter is a huge traffic driver!)
(Real-life networking is crucial to your long-term success)
(Leave them, respond to them, encourage them – love them!)
(Being involved with my local internet advertising community has been critical to my professional success)
(Some of my potential advertisers have done extremely well on Craigslist – not just getting traffic, but traffic that converts)
(Contests can bring in tremendous amounts of targeted traffic very quickly.)
(Get an editor to write an article about your product or service.)
Use Email Signatures
(Once you get them hooked on your content, you've got a subscriber for life! A large, prominent RSS button will increase subscriber numbers.)