Happy New Year! I’m kicking off 2012 in true New Year’s fashion. Lots of changes to be announced soon. To get us started, let’s look at actionable tactics you can begin using to improve your digital marketing efforts THIS MONTH.
Here’s a sample 12 Month Plan for improving your small business digital marketing efforts in 2012.
January: What Do You Want to Rank for?
This is PurposeWeb, after all, so let’s start by knowing what we’re about in 2012. Ask yourself some questions before you make your plans.
Q: What Do You Want to Rank For?
You know your website needs SEO and Linkbuilding to be competitive. But “doing SEO” isn’t good enough. You need an objective. What are your goals? Which terms, when a customer searches Google, should they find one of your pages? (Action: Strategic Thinking + Keyword Research)
Q: Do You Have Individual, Unique Pages Written for Those Phrases?
Once you know what phrases SHOULD help people find your product or service, ask yourself whether your existing pages target those phrases. (Action: Content Strategy + Information Architecture)
February: Is Your Content Ho Hum or Awe-sum?
Once you’ve pinpointed the weak points in your website copy / content structure, it’s time to write or rewrite.
Q: Does Your Content Speak to Target Users in a Compelling Way?
Small business owners often find it difficult to answer this question objectively. Find someone you know who qualifies as your target audience. Ask them to imagine having landed on Page X of your website after searching one of your target keyword phrases. Does that page speak to their interest? Does it answer their questions? But most importantly, is it compelling enough to keep them engaged and move them a step closer toward becoming a customer.
You need brutal honesty. In order to succeed in SEO, there’s no room for ego. Either you’re converting traffic or you’re disappointing traffic. And the quality of your page content determines the result. (Action: Review Pages and Rewrite Content That Isn’t Extraordinary.)
March: Is Your Website Worth Visiting Twice?
If you threw up a static website that never changes, never updates, and always offers the same 6-10 pages, there’s no reason for anyone to ever share your information. In the digital age, links = love. You want links from everywhere, but especially websites related to your industry, products, city, and specialty.
Q: What Makes Your Website Worth Visiting Twice?
You may not yet care whether someone visits your website twice. If you’re a B2B or a service provider, you may only care that people find your site, grab your contact info, and make the call.
But other competing websites ARE more interesting. They provide insights, tips, humor, photos, news, and they showcase expertise. You can capture the user’s attention and respect by showcasing your own expertise, and you do this most effectively by blogging. (Action: Plan 52 Weekly Blog Posts to Intrigue, Interest, and Assist Your Customer Base.)
April: Is It Easy to Purchase or Contact?
If I do find your website through Google, how easy is it for me to make a purchase or fill out a form from the point of entry? Do I have to wade through half a dozen pages to find the precise product I’m looking for? Do I have to fill out six thousand fields in order to get you to contact me?
The purpose of having a website is to turn visitors into customers. If your website makes the conversion process difficult, technology is working against you rather than for you. (Action: Upgrade Contact Forms or Ecommerce Usability)
May: Have You Settled for One Kind of Search Traffic?
The greatest misconception in SEO / PPC is the idea that you only need to be visible in one place or the other. The problem with that line of thinking is that most people don’t look at both ads and organic results in the same search. Their purpose defines where they look.
Studies show that a person in the research phase is more likely to look at and click organic listings, while a person ready to make a purchase or looking for the best deal is more likely to click a paid search ad. So you target the full target audience by being visible at the top of both left and righthand columns in search results. (Action: Target the Missing Piece to Drive Fresh New Traffic)
June: Are You Capturing Newsletter Subscribers?
The lesson bloggers and business owners alike seem to learn 3-4 years in is that newsletters are like gold. You can double or triple sales by building a quality email list from people visiting your site. This is the #1 relationship driven / sales building technique you absolutely MUST employ in 2012.
If your current web visitors make a purchase today, it saves you more money to retain their business on an ongoing basis than it costs to replace that lost customer with a new one. Customer retention is key. And any major chain will tell you that implementing upselling strategies is how CEOs make their millions. (Action: Upgrade/Create Newsletter Call-to-Action)
This was one of my priorities for 2012, as you can see by visiting my home page or the top of my sidebar.
July: Are Your Profiles a Ghost Town?
Back in 2008, there was a mad dash to register all of a brand’s potential profiles in every social media site under the sun. You can still do this using a service like KnowEm. But in the paranoia driven race to register, most brands failed to answer the question:
Q: What Are You Going to Do With All Those Social Profiles?
The defacto answer is typically NOTHING. At best, a brand will use each possible profile to push an RSS feed of their latest blog posts or tweets.
Tip: If your profile is a Ghost Town, your first impression is that your brand doesn’t have its sh$! together. Better to not have a profile than to look irrelevant. (Action: Establish a Purpose for Each Social Network or Kill It.)
August: Are You Answering Questions Online?
Every day, people are volleying questions out into the virtual void, hoping someone will come back with an intelligent answer. You could be that someone.
Be the intentional, active voice in your industry, helping individuals and building rapport long before your services are even needed. Build trust = build your brand. (Action: Answer Questions on Twitter, Quora, and Forums)
September: Are You Gaining New Links?
You’re not just competing with your digitally challenged direct competitors for top billing in Google search results. You’re competing with every college, forum, blog, directory, and article that references the same keywords you do business with. Someone you’re competing with is building links, whether actual competitor or search competitor. To remain static with the same number of links of an extended period of time is to lose the battle. (Action: Develop a Link Building Plan)
October: Are Your Blog Posts Compelling?
Posts that almost never go viral have nonsensical three word phrases that are so general nobody knows what they’d get if they actually clicked to read. Get specific. Be adventurous. (Action: Read 3 “How to Write Titles” Posts and Practice with Your 52 Plan)
November: Do Your Commenters Feel Appreciated?
Approve comments within an hour. You can’t build steam on a blog post if everyone’s comments fall into a black hole that you only get to when you feel like it. Approve comments. Respond to each one. And once a month, thank your commenters for taking the time. (Action: Create an Email Template to Thank Commenters Individually)
December: Do Your Landing Pages Convert PPC Traffic?
The biggest mistake people make with PPC is to send their newly acquired visitors to regular internal pages of the website. These pages are often formatted to be informational in a “Get to Know Us” format, whereas paid ad clickers are looking for actionable material. It’s time to test landing pages specifically designed to target paid search visitors. (Action: Test 2-3 Landing Page Versions Monthly)
Bonus: How Do Visitors Remember You?
One visit may not be enough. But if your visitors are still thinking it over, or looking at alternatives, stay top of mind by remarketing to them every chance you get. When they visit ESPN or Better Homes and Gardens, be the ad they see that reminds them of the great opportunity still waiting for them. (Action: Create a Remarketing Initiative with Creative Banners)
So that’s where you start. You have 13 months worth of initiatives here to help you plan your small business marketing initiatives for 2012.