February 28, 2012
Just like there are reckless and foolhardy methods you can use that will absolutely assure marketing failure, conversely, there are sound, proven, time-tested techniques that will greatly enhance your chance for marketing success.
Following are The 10 Commandments For Online Marketing Success…
1. Thou Shall Have a Clear Vision and Goal
There’s an age old proverb by Thomas Edison that famously states:
“He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”
Truer words have never been spoken. You need to have a plan before you start a business. Why is a business plan so important? Because a properly constructed business plan is like a roadmap to your goals – a GPS if you will.
Having a business plan will give you a much clearer vision of your goals and objectives, and will keep you on track and enable you to operate more efficiently, and achieve your goals more expeditiously.
One important caveat about business plans: They aren’t written in stone, and more than likely, you will have to change or adjust your plan multiple times along the way to keep yourself on track. That’s just part of the process.
If you need help writing a business plan, you can obtain a free business plan template from BPlans.com.
2. Thou Shall Educate Thyself on the Fundamentals of Marketing
Take time to educate yourself. Does it really matter if you build that website now, or a few months from now when you’re more prepared? Of course it doesn’t.
Starting a business is like building a house. You start with a strong foundation, and then you build on it. Well, in business, being knowledgeable about basic marketing fundamentals is your strong foundation. You just have to build on it.
That means taking the time to learn how to do things the right way. Be patient, and prepare yourself for success. By “failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Study and apply basic marketing fundamentals.
Slow down, and read a few marketing books. To get started, I highly recommend Web Marketing All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies. It’s actually eight books in one, and is written by multiple authors. It’s perfect for newbies, and touches all the bases including…
* Establishing a Web Presence
* Search Engine Optimization
* Web Analytics
* E-Mail Marketing
* Blogging and Podcasting
* Social Media Marketing
* Online Advertising & Pay-Per-Click
* Mobile Web Marketing
3. Thou Shall Learn and Implement Basic SEO Techniques
I don’t consider myself an SEO expert by any means, but I’ve taught myself enough basic SEO, so that I can at least optimize my own website well enough to generate a decent amount of organic (free) traffic. Learning how to optimize your website should be one of the very first things you do. You don’t need to become an expert. Simply focus your attention on basic SEO techniques. For example, make sure your title tags contain your primary keywords.
Also, make sure your description tags are properly optimized. And don’t cram your web pages with keywords. Sprinkle them in intermittently… naturally. A web page stuffed with keywords will be interpreted as spamming by the search engines, and your pages WILL be penalized as a result. And don’t keep using the same keywords over and over again. Using different variations of your keywords is the best approach. It looks more natural to the search engines and will give you a much larger keyword footprint.
Believe it or not, these simple but basic steps really do make a difference. One of my favorite resources for learning basic search engine optimization techniques is Jill Whalen’s, HighRankings.com.
4. Thou Shall Advertise and Promote Thy Business Consistently
Free advertising methods such as article marketing, forum marketing, social media marketing, etc., are all proven traffic generators – provided they’re properly executed. But it’s also important to have a sufficient amount of money set aside for paid advertising. You will have much better sales conversions if you combine proven, free advertising methods like the aforementioned, with laser-targeted, paid advertising, such as pay-per-click, ezine advertising, text link advertising, etc.
And don’t overlook offline advertising methods either. For example, college newspapers, community shopper newspapers, car magnets, local business journals, and flyers. The most important thing is to advertise and promote your business consistently.
5. Thou Shall Give Customers Easy and Convenient Payment Options
Believe it or not, as popular as it may be, not everyone likes PayPal. So be sure to give your customers alternative payment options.
In addition, make it easy for customers to get from the product page to the checkout page. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops, clicking thru page after page after page to give you their money. If you do, they will become frustrated and abandon your shopping cart. It’s estimated that 71% of shoppers abandon shopping carts in the middle of a purchase.
How easy is the buying process on your site? How easy is it for customers to quickly find what they need and checkout? More importantly, could you make the process even easier?
To find out, have a few of your friends test your website for shopping user-friendliness. Have them make a small purchase as a simple test. (Don’t worry, you can cancel the transaction on your end later).
Getting some honest feedback on the user-friendliness of your website’s buying process is a win-win situation for everyone. You make shopping on your website easier and more pleasant for your customers. And improvements you make in that regard will increase your sales conversions.
Like I said, it’s a win-win situation for everyone!
6. Thou Shall Have a Clean, Easy to Navigate Website
Have a clean, user-friendly site that makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Don’t be afraid of a little white space… it’s a good thing. Also, if your website has a lot of content and/or pages, add a search box to make it easier for your visitors to find what they’re looking for.
In addition, if you don’t already have one, install a sitemap. A sitemap is collection of hyperlinks that outlines a website’s structure. These links allow visitors to quickly navigate to any section of a website listed in the sitemap. If you don’t have a sitemap, the easiest way to create one is with XML Sitemaps Generator.
By the way, in addition to making it easier for your visitors to navigate their way around your site, sitemaps make it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your site as well.
7. Thou Shall Monitor and Track All Advertising
In order to ensure that you’re not throwing your money down the drain when it comes to your marketing campaigns, it’s important to track your advertising. Always make sure to carefully track all of your direct mail, pay-per-click, ezine, banner ads, etc.
These are measurable by the amount of responses you get per dollar spent, and you can quickly analyze results to determine whether or not to continue using a particular method of advertising, or if you need to make any adjustments.
Google Analytics allows you to accurately track your advertising for free.
8. Thou Shall Adapt to Changing Marketplace Environment and/or Trends
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying…
“Adapt or fail.”
Its meaning is self-explanatory. Either adapt to your current surroundings or perish! Not only is this true in life, it’s true in business as well. Events and circumstances change at warp in the business world. That’s even more true today with the advent of the Internet. And businesses that recognize and adapt to changes the quickest are like the proverbial early bird that gets the worm.
Keep a sharp eye on the media for changes and trends in the marketplace. In addition, tools like Google Trends and Yahoo’s Buzz Index help make identifying trends a snap.
9. Thou Shall Listen to Customer Complaints, Suggestions, and/or Feedback
Does your business have procedures in place to listen to and follow-up on customer complaints, suggestions and/or feedback? If not, why? Here are 4 good reasons why you should have effective customer follow-up procedures in place:
1. Respect. They’re your customers for Pete’s sake! It’s the right thing to do.
2. Repeat Business. Your best customers can save you money on advertising with repeat business. The money you save on advertising can be used in other areas to help grow and strengthen your business. Always reward your best customers with “special” deals that aren’t available to anyone else.
3. Word-of-Mouth Advertising. If you keep your customers happy, they can help grow your business with critical word-of-mouth-advertising (referrals) to friends and family, as well as complete strangers. Word-of-mouth advertising is critical to any business.
4. Market Research. Your customers can help you with market research by giving you valuable feedback on ways you can improve your products and services. All you have to do is give them the opportunity to do so. Ask them questions via surveys and questionnaires.
10. Thou Shall Follow-Up With Customers
When was the last time you communicated with your customers without asking them to buy something? If you have to search your memory banks for the answer, then “Houston we have a problem!”
You see, as human beings, we all like to feel wanted and appreciated. It’s in our DNA, and when we don’t feel wanted and appreciated it upsets us.
Think about it. Doesn’t it upset you when you don’t feel appreciated?
Of course it does. Well, your customers feel the same way. And here’s something very important you need to keep in mind:
The only reason your business even exists is because of YOUR customers. Don’t ever forget that. Without them, you have no business. So take them for granted and risk losing them to your competition at your own peril.
Remember, you’re not the only game in town. And if your customers feel unloved by you and decide to run away from home, there will always be another company waiting with open arms to take them in.
That’s why, instead of always sending your customers a sales pitch, every once in a while, you should reach out and send your customers a “thank you” note, thanking them for their business, and telling them how much you appreciate them.
It will pay huge dividends…I promise you!