Written by Raúl Carrión
Table of contents
- 1 Initial situation analysis
- 2 Promotion strategies
- 3 Analysis of results
Defining an online marketing plan is very useful if we’re going to start selling something on the Internet, or if we already have an e-commerce store and we want to improve its results. This article will help you to establish the guidelines to follow, and how to best avoid digressing from your goals.
At Human Level we develop online marketing plans for e-commerce stores keeping in mind the following structure:
Initial situation analysis
During phase one of an online marketing plan we work on gathering and analysing relevant information about the business that wishes to begin selling online, who are its potential customers, and look at the overall picture of the scenario we are dealing with.
Latin translation of a Greek inscription found on the Temple of Delphos, and in the kitchen of the Oracle in The Matrix (1999) film. It means “Know thyself”. Any self-improvement task starts with an inner reflection, thanks to which we become more aware of our abilities and limitations.
We will begin this phase by defining in a few lines who we are, what we do better than others, and what we need to improve to match our competitors’ level.
These premises will serve as a basis for our online marketing plan, so we better not confuse what we are now with what we aspire to become.
A marketing plan is a roadmap towards achievement of one or several goals. For that reason it is indispensable to define which aspects we want to improve, as well as to what degree we want to improve them. It is obvious that one of our basic goals is to increase sales; but it is important to establish secondary goals as well, for example: to increase returning clients by 10%, or to increase the average shopping cart value by 10 Euro.
Not all customers shopping in our store are looking to satisfy the same needs. If we want them to become aware of how much we’ve improved, we must start by classifying them into groups, based on a specific trait they share: acquisition value, location, socio-cultural factors, job position, etc.
For example, if we have an online store specialising in decor, we will have customers who wish to decorate their house, or customers who are professional interior designers or decorators. Both types of clientele will purchase our products, but each will require a different treatment.
Analysis of the environment
During this phase we will study the current state and evolution of the market our business belongs to. To this end, we will research industry reports and analyse the evolution of key terms related to our business activity.
Secondly, we will look for and classify our main online competitors. We will begin by defining a list of keywords for which we would like to get good rankings in search engines, and we will check which online stores are well-positioned for these terms. We can check this information very easily using tools like SEMRush. Besides helping us to find out who are our competitors, it will also show us for which keywords they are getting good rankings, and provide a chart displaying an estimated amount of traffic they are getting. All this data will enable us to get a rough idea of how much traffic we could attain, and to become more aware of the seasonality within our industry. You will find more information about SEMRush in other articles published at Human Level.
Additionally, we recommend following competitors on social media, subscribing to their newsletters and visiting their websites to see what they are doing and whether it’s working for them.
During this stage of our online marketing plan, we will begin by outlining promotional actions that we will carry out to achieve our goals.
Taking good care of our online store is the first and foremost concern of our online marketing plan, because here is where conversions happen. Our e-commerce store must follow all guidelines that we’ve previously talked about on our blog: it must be easy to use, compatible with mobile devices –thus follow responsive design principles–, provide appropriate payment methods, low shipping costs, etc.
Organic positioning in search engines
We will define the strategy we want to follow, so that our website gradually begins earning visibility, for keywords that we’ve selected previously. One of the greatest advantages of search engine optimization is that, once we stop working on it, we will continue profiting from the results for a long time. However, we must keep in mind that traffic growth will be gradual, so it may be necessary to complement SEO with some other techniques, in order to start receiving traffic and sales from the very outset.
This discipline is good both for branding purposes and positioning in search engines. If we continually put our efforts into creation of quality content, we will become a reference within our industry and boost traffic coming to our e-commerce store through search queries related to our products.
One great method of content marketing is to build and develop a blog for our shop. Our strategy must have clearly defined writing guidelines, and we will also detail topics we want to address, our style, and update frequency.
If we want to start selling from the very beginning, it is highly recommended to set up a Google AdWords campaign. We will design custom ads using previously defined keywords. It’s also important to review our campaigns regularly, to obtain the lowest possible CPC (Cost-Per-Click) and to see which products out of our catalogue our potential customers are most interested in.
Newsletters and promo e-mails
Monthly newsletters are the perfect complement to content marketing. If we generate quality content, our list of subscribers –and thus, potential customers– will grow.
In addition to newsletters, we will occasionally –so as to avoid annoying our customers– send promotional e-mails informing subscribers about our store’s current special offers.
If our product line is susceptible to generating excess stock, we must establish the best way to provide an outlet for it. To deal with this, we can contact online coupon websites or those that sell surplus inventory.
Social media presence
Depending on the profiles of our customers, we will identify social networking services where it would be good to develop an active presence. During this stage we will also establish a temporary investment to make in each of the selected networks, as well as an independent communication strategy.
Analysis of results
We will monthly evaluate our marketing actions, investments, and up to what percentage we have managed to fulfil our goals. This way we will be able to make the appropriate decisions to reach our objective. Here web analytics will be immensely helpful, in conjunction with tools that will allow us to see our evolution with regards to our competition.
As you can see, e-commerce is not that different from a traditional, physical store. The less decisions you leave to fate, the greater your success. It’s important to persevere, and to never stop learning through your business. Only this way you will become truly successful.