How to Create a Successful Online Marketing Strategy

With so many tools and techniques available for online marketing, it’s tough to know where to start. And that's the thing: In the rush to get going with online marketing, people often skip over many of the steps they would follow for an offline marketing plan -- and that way lays assured failure. So, before you jump in to any online marketing campaign, ponder the following:

Know Your Why.

People buy from people they know, like and trust. Your passion and excitement for your products and services help others understand your value.  Motivational speaker Simon Sinek is a great resource on this topic, and can help you avoid a common pitfall -- focus more on how you work, rather than why. Knowing why you do what you do every day, and why it matters, will help guide your conversations across multiple marketing mediums.

Establish Your Goals.

What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Promote brand awareness? Increase leads and sales? By how much? Setting up your goals can be one of the most difficult pieces to starting a marketing plan, but also the most important. Set realistic expectations and strategies to get there.

Know Thine Enemy.

You don’t need to master "The Art of War" to run a successful marketing campaign, but you do need to know what your competitors are doing. What marketing tactics and tools do they use? If you’re considering a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign, research your keywords first -- how often are they searched for, and how competitive are they? When looking at SEO, take a look at Open Site Explorer to review your competitors’ domain authority and back link profile to see what you’re competing against.

Know Thyself.

Even more important than understanding your competitors, you need to understand yourself. What is your differentiator in the marketplace? What makes you stand out from others? Identify your voice. Is it friendly or informative? Is it casual or more professional? Who will be responsible for monitoring and engaging your audiences on social media platforms?

Know Your Audience.

Who is your ideal client? Are they male or female? How old are they? Where do they live? Where do they spend their time online? If they read certain newspapers or blogs, this would be an ideal place to advertise. If they spend the majority of their time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, engaging with them there can be the right approach to building awareness around your product or service offerings.

Lyndsey Kramer is the director of business development at Digital Third Coast, a search engine marketing company based in Chicago. You can find Lyndsey on Google+ and also connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.

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