What is an Online Marketing Strategy?

Basically, an online marketing strategy is determining how you will achieve your marketing goals.  People sometimes confuse strategy with tactics.  However, there is a clear difference.  The best way to understand that difference is to think of strategy as planning while tactics are the actions taken as dictated by a plan.

How to develop an online marketing strategy

Who is your target market?

Implementing a strategy requires understanding who your customers are.  This isn’t always difficult to work out, but it may require a bit of research.  Start by writing down a list of characteristics that the kind of people who would buy your product or service would have.  This can be such things as gender, education level, income level and any other relevant characteristic such as marital status, ethnicity or even geographic location or the number of children your ideal customer might have.  This list will vary based upon the kind of product or service your company offers. Fortunately, there are a number of tools, many of them free, for collecting demographic information. And you should also gather demographic information from the customer base you already have.

The next step is to engage in a bit of psychology.  This will require determining the preferences, attitudes and values of your ideal customers.  Blogs are a great way to do this. Start a blog that is open to comments, or visit blogs that are associated with the types of products or services you deliver.  Another way to research is to visit social media sites where potential customers hang out. You should have a pretty good idea where your customers are if you’ve done your demographic work well.

Which Marketing Channels should I use?

Now you’re ready to determine what online marketing channels to use.  The best way to do this is to look at what channels your competitors are using.  You’ll usually find that established companies are using a number of channels while startups are using only one or a few.  Don’t try to compete on every channel right away.  In fact, it’s a good idea to start with only one channel and then add more as your business develops.  It’s not a good idea to start with paid channels first, unless you have the luxury of good financing.  Even paid channels don’t always deliver right away.

By now, you should know who your customers are, where they are and what’s important to them.  You should also know what channel or channels you intend to reach them on. Your research should also show you what tools you will need.

The best way to develop a strategy is to think of your marketing efforts as a funnel which collects potential customers and directs them to conversion.  Knowing your customers and what they value and expect, will then enable you to develop an effective call to action. You can’t really go wrong if your online marketing strategy is dedicated to turning potential customers into loyal customers.

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