Is your online marketing worth it?

Gurev
Greg Gurev, Guest Columnist

Online marketing is an affordable, manageable way to keep your business shining in the marketplace. But how do you know what’s working for you and how much return on investment you’re getting from the effort?

Now is a great time to tweak your marketing plan, so go sharpen your pencil.

By reviewing last year’s online marketing you can leverage what worked, strengthen your message and deliver it more frequently to the right contacts in 2015. These tools might include: website, e-mail, social media, blog, banner advertising, paid search, landing pages, or online forums.

Compare your goals with last year’s marketing activity. What did it cost you and what business did you gain from it? Start by reviewing your written marketing plan.

(Get a basic marketing plan worksheet from Business Know-How at http://bit.ly/mkt_plan15.) Your marketing plan should have these key components: target market, key offerings, most valuable messaging, budget, communication channels and – very important – measurable goals.

Then determine the value of new business you secured in 2014 from online marketing. You can use your accounting system to generate financial data on this. Who are your most valuable clients? How did they find your company, and why did they purchase from you? If you’re unsure, ask them! The total revenue from clients you obtained through online marketing is your online marketing gain. Subtract the online marketing costs (including employee time), and the balance is your online marketing ROI.

Which tools will give you the best ROI? This will vary with the quality and appeal of your content, the tools your audience uses, online traffic, and how well you use various tools together. Let’s consider the three most common online media: website, social media and e-mail.

Your website home page should be highly navigable so that users can easily find information and know how they can contact you. It should clearly convey your offering and be searchable with Google or Bing using keywords that match the visible text on the page. The higher the correlation, the better you will rank in searches.

MozBar (http://moz.com/tools/seo-toolbar) is a free Search Engine Optimization toolbar for Chrome and FireFox that will instantly review and grade your home page for searchability, and its tutorial videos can provide insight to correct your own website’s deficiencies.

Social media keeps your brand out front. The only cost is the time it takes to post a message. Designating several employees to post on behalf of your company keeps it fresh, but you should have a policy in place for best practices and accountability. Social media now allows you to publish a single post across multiple social media sites at once. Explore these sites for guidance: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Drip e-mail can be highly effective for campaigns. If you have a sales force, drip marketing keeps them engaged with appointments that generate new business. If you are not currently using a marketing automation engine, check out these tools to help you speed up your sales engine: outmarket.com, pardot.com or infusionsoft.com.  n

(Gurev is founder and president of business IT company, MySherpa, can be reached at gurev@mysherpa.com)

Next: His Feb. 17 column will show how to save big by actively managing your vendor contract renewals.

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