Many of you are wondering how to tackle that misunderstood science that is web marketing.
Companies usually combine several strategies simultaneously. However, a strategy that works for one business can be a big dud to another.
Should you prioritize SEO, SEM, or SMM? After reading this article, you will be able to make more informed decisions.
How to properly plan your web marketing strategy
The digital marketing strategy is the foundation of all the actions you are going to take, and therefore also to ensure that it is as optimal as possible.
The first question to ask is:
What is my goal and what are my resources to achieve it?
Do you want to generate more e-commerce sales or more leads in your sales funnel?
These two goals have completely different strategies.
Then you should ask yourself:
What is my demographic market?
What is my budget?
Do I have internal resources that can handle the content?
Should I hire or outsource?
Do I have to convince my boss to invest more in the web?
The worst thing to do is to jump blindly and hope for the best, without having a clear plan.
Once you know where you are starting from and where you want to go, it will be much easier to strategize effectively!
Determine your digital marketing budget
There is no such thing as a good or a bad budget. However, the rule of thumb we see most often is between 5-10% of your web marketing sales. There are of course several exceptions, but with this budget you will be able to have constant growth in your sales.
How many times have I seen businesses spend their entire web budget on website design, but not save money to be able to promote it using web marketing.
Yes, you have a $ 50,000 website, but you don’t have a budget to attract traffic anymore!
The majority of web agencies are very good at making beautiful websites. However, most of the time, sites are highly SEO-deficient and focused on aesthetics – rather than conversion.
UX: why is it important?
Speaking of conversion oriented websites – One of the fundamental aspects of web marketing is conversion rate.
The vast majority of businesses that put the effort into the web, put their website online and leave it as is until a redesign a few years later.
This is by far the most common and most important business mistake.
Understanding the user experience (UX) of your website and continuously improving it is essential to ensure that you are investing your advertising dollars in the most effective way possible!
A website with a good UX allows the less Internet-savvy visitors to perform important actions like buying a product or filling out a contact form without having to look around for several seconds for the add to cart button, price or page to contact you.
There’s nothing more frustrating than not finding a particular product on an online store or not finding the phone number to contact a representative.
The vast majority of businesses that put the effort into the web get their website online and leave it as is until a redesign a few years later.
The most important point is to constantly improve your UX, which will save you huge amounts in your advertising budget.
Let’s say out of 100 visitors, only 1 (1%) of them decide to buy or fill out your contact form, you will need a huge amount of traffic to your website to achieve the same result as if you had a conversion rate of 5 users out of 100 (5%)!
For the same result, you could pay 5X less in traffic acquisition (Google Ads, Facebook ads, etc.), just by having a successful website with a good conversion rate.
Here is a concrete example:
1% conversion rate
1 in 100 visitors buy from the website
Pays an average of $2 the cost per click
To get 100 sales, you need to invest $20,000 in advertising budget on Google Ads.
5% conversion rate
5 out of 100 visitors buy from the website
Pays an average of $2 the cost per click
To get 100 sales, you need to invest $4000 in advertising budget on Google Ads.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that a 4% difference in conversion rate can make or break the success of your web marketing strategy!
This is why it is important to constantly improve the user experience of your website to always push the conversion rate to the maximum.
To do this, we use tools like Hotjar to find the different paths that lead to a conversion and try to make them as easily accessible as possible.
For instance, if you find that the last 5 conversions were made after the user went through a specific page, it would be wise to put that page forward on your home page (or put a button in the menu that leads to this said page).
Tracking your conversions
Please note that this article was written before the arrival of iOS14.
It’s all well and good to try to optimize the conversion, but you still need to measure users on your website properly! Each platform has its own tracking. Facebook has the Pixel, Google Ads has its own conversion scripts, add Google Analytics, Floodlight, the list is long.
The ideal is to have everything under one roof using Google Tag Manager.
It is essential that you tag all the important actions on your website with the tools you use. For instance, if you’re advertising on Facebook or Instagram, but you can’t figure out how many sales your ads are generating, it’s not very bright. You might as well give your credit card and PIN directly to Facebook!
Generally speaking, the events that are measured and tracked for an e-commerce are:
– The products viewed;
– Add to carts;
– The number of purchases;
– Subscriptions to the mailing list
For lead generation websites, it’s usually easier:
– The number of completed forms;
– Calls, with a software like Callrail;
– Subscriptions to the mailing list;
– The number of people who started a chat, if applicable.
With the right “tracking”, not only will you be able to know your conversion rate, but you will also be able to create specific audiences from the pages visited on your website and set up an effective “remarketing” strategy!
Do you have a CRM?
There’s nothing wrong with measuring a website’s users and events, but a big part of effective tracking is also done offline. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) such as Hubspot or Pipedrive, allows you to follow the progress of your prospects or your customers. Whether it is for a professional service sales cycle or for your online sales, a CRM is essential for knowing the total value of a customer (Lifetime Value).
Without CRM, it’s impossible to know the return on investment (ROI) of your online efforts when you sell your services. The CRM makes it possible to keep a close eye on the sales stage of a prospect (1st contact, proposal sent, contract signed, etc.) and to relaunch the prospect at specific times automatically.
The CRM is arguably the most powerful tool for your sales force when it comes to a service business. Especially when you have specific sales processes.
When it comes to online commerce, CRM allows you to segment your customers effectively. Ex: by region, classified by Lifetime Value or by type of buyer (discount buyer, Big Spenders, frequent buyers, etc.).
You can stay in touch with them on a recurring (and automated) basis while personalizing your message according to the type of buyer.
Acquiring web traffic
Now that we are tracking traffic and have a website that is all about conversion, now we have to think about acquiring traffic. There are many ways to do this and the reality of your market will directly dictate your strategy.
There is a fairly simple question that will guide you in prioritizing your strategy:
Are you meeting a need that people are actively seeking? Or on the contrary, should you rather create a need and make your product or brand known?
This question is very important because the answer will tell you whether you should use a push marketing or pull marketing strategy.
Pull marketing: If you have a need that people are actively looking for, you want to focus your efforts on Google!
Pull marketing example: You are a plumber and your target customer is actively seeking the emergency services of a plumber because their sink is leaking all over the house.
You don’t want to focus your efforts on social media hoping that someone in need of a plumber comes across your ad. On the contrary, you want to be in a good position in Google search results to be there when your target audience needs you!
Push Marketing: If otherwise people are not actively looking for your product or service, you should focus your efforts on awareness platforms like Facebook, Instagram or banner ads on the web.
Push Marketing example: You’ve just invented a pair of shoes that molds directly to the user’s feet and never gets dirty. First off, well done! Second, no one is going to Google it. You will need to market the product through channels like Facebook, Instagram to create a new need that people don’t necessarily have.
These two examples are at completely different extremes and most companies fall in between. You just have to understand where you stand!
Ah SEO! Sometimes referred to as CEO by people who have no idea what it is. If you have a website, you’ve probably heard of it.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is relatively simple for people who know it, and a mystical tale for others!
Basically, it consists of optimizing a website to communicate effectively with Google’s robots (or crawlers) in order to rank better in organic search results on Google or other search engine.
The beauty of SEO is that when your website ranks well organically, the traffic is free. For instance, if you rank 1st organically for a keyword that costs $5 per click, you can save huge amounts of money on your traffic acquisition and send your resources across other channels.
However, the big problem is that there is no official method and that Google does not openly give the exact ways to position itself well. So anyone can mention doing SEO. There are a ton of web design agencies that say they do SEO, but only a handful of them actually do it well.
To choose your SEO agency well, I advise you to search for the terms SEO agency on Google and choose from those that have managed to position themselves on the first page without paying. 😉
Should you be doing SEO or not?
As Michael Scott once wrote on his whiteboard: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky” – Nicolas
There are a number of reasons for not making a sustained effort in SEO. If your industry is ultra competitive, it is much more difficult to stand out in SEO, and it makes more sense to put your resources into Google Ads campaigns or another marketing channel.
For example, if you have a limited budget, and you are an insurance broker, it will take you several years to compete in organic results against Desjardins, Intact Insurance and other insurers who spend millions a year on marketing.
However, that’s no reason not to at least do the minimum to send good signals to Google bots. It often happens that 2 or 3 key phrases can stand out with nested searches and come up with interesting results despite the fierce competition.
Otherwise, there are several niche markets that have high research demand, but little competition.
SEO isn’t like building a house, it’s a job that has no end. There is always a way to optimize SEO by creating new pages on the website or by optimizing current pages.
This is why I love the Pareto principle of putting in 20% of the effort to get 80% of the results.
Even on a smaller budget, it’s possible to do great things with SEO by building a solid foundation and putting in little efforts over several months to eventually get good results in the long run.
It’s all well and good, but how do you actually do it?
Theoretically, it’s pretty simple, just insert the keywords you want to rank for in different places on your pages.
For example, if you are a criminal lawyer, at a minimum you want to have the words lawyer and criminal in the following places on your home page:
– The meta Title
– The meta Description
– The H1 on your page
– In a H2 on your page
– In a H3 on your page
– In the first paragraph of your page
– In the body of your page in at least 2-3 places
All while ensuring that the content is coherent.
Now, that’s a very simplistic example, because it’s about the base – the base. The on-page does not end on the home page. You have to optimize each page of the site to make sure you rank for as many keywords as possible.
If you are paying someone to improve your organic SEO, and it isn’t done on your pages, you might as well be donating your money to charity…
Once this base is done, there is a panoply of technical elements to check with specialized tools like SEMrush, Screaming Frog and the Google Search Console which allow you to quickly check for technical errors (404 errors, duplicate content, Hreflang, etc. ) that send the wrong signals to Google robots and correct them for better results.
You now know the theory of on-page SEO, but there is a very common trap: putting all that effort on unnecessary keywords.
Let’s say you are a residential architect, and you have optimized your homepage 100% for the search term contemporary architect, and you are first on Google for that search.
Your specialist will be proud to tell you: write contemporary architect on Google, you will see, you are first! ’’.
What he doesn’t tell you (and maybe doesn’t know), however, is that almost no one searches “contemporary architect” on Google.
With a well-done keyword research, we would have identified that the best phrase to optimize would have been home architect, who has 210 monthly searches on Google compared to 0 monthly searches for contemporary architect.
The moral of the story: better to be 8th on Google for a searched keyword than to be 1st for an unnecessary keyword!
Acquire your traffic with Google Ads (SEM)
Let’s talk about Google Ads now. At Rablab, this portion is called SEM (Search Engine Marketing), but others prefer to call it SEA (Search Engine Advertising).
Basically, it’s paying Google to display us on different platforms, by betting on keyword auctions for example. Whether on the search engine, on YouTube or on banner ads, SEM allows you to get results quickly as long as you have an attractive budget to devote to it.
The search network (Google Search Ads)
Is Search For You?
Google Search Ads allows us to build cost-per-click (CPC) keyword buying advertising campaigns in the Google search network.
The research network is not for every type of business, on the contrary.
It is important to ask yourself the following question:
Will people search for my product or service on Google?
If the answer is no, no need to put your resources in the research network.
The search network is especially powerful when your product or service is in a market where potential customers are actively looking for a particular supplier or product. (professional firms, construction, furniture, mattresses, cars, etc.)
If you meet a concrete need, Google will be a great ally.
On the contrary, if you are launching a new little-known product and you need to sell the need to your target audience, your efforts may be much better invested on social media with a push strategy!
The theory behind ‘Google Search Ads’
Search and SEO are the same, but they are completely different. In SEO, we are limited to ranking ourselves on only a few keywords per page. With Google Ads, we have no limit on what keywords we can “bet” on as well as a multitude of ad types.
In an SEO campaign, we will limit ourselves to a few dozen keywords on which we will optimize the content and want to position ourselves.
In Google Ads, it’s not uncommon for us to have between 800 and 2000 keywords in our search network campaigns.
Everything is based on an auction model.
The more popular the keyword and the more lucrative the sale, the more expensive the keyword will be.
Let us take two examples:
A criminal lawyer specializing in drinking and driving cases.
A typical client brings between $6,000 and $15,000 in income to the firm.
The lawyer is willing to pay up to $1,000 to get a new client.
To get a new customer, it will take an average of 50 clicks.
The firm is therefore prepared to pay up to $20 per click (CPC) to obtain new customers.
A business lawyer who specializes in creating new incorporations.
Their typical client brings $1,500 in income to the firm
The lawyer is willing to pay up to $100 for a new client.
To get a new customer, it will take an average of 50 clicks.
The firm is therefore prepared to pay up to $2 per click (CPC) to obtain new customers.
Even though the two are lawyers, they do not have the same target clients and therefore do not have the same acquisition strategies.
This is why the campaign structure is essential to make sure to bet on several hundred keywords which are more or less competitive and allow in obtaining better results, at lower cost.
It is sometimes more efficient to bet on 100 keywords at $ 1 per CPC rather than investing your budget mostly on 10 better performing keywords at $ 10 per CPC.
It all depends on the industry and the reality of the business. This is why it is essential to optimize campaigns on an ongoing basis.
Shopping ads are only of interest to online businesses. You can upload your full inventory to the Google Merchant Center and feature your products directly in Google search results.
Shopping Ads perform particularly well because Google’s artificial intelligence enables ads to be shown to users who are shopping.
Google knows if you are shopping for a particular product based on your browsing habits. It is based on user behavior to present products on the search network or directly in banner ads on various websites.
This is an absolutely necessary sales channel for all online businesses!
Display and programmatic
Display networking and programmatic are two ways to display banner ads on popular websites.
The main goal is to build brand awareness and stay in the minds of your target audience.
Many websites make a living from the advertising revenue generated by the banners displayed through their content.
Google has agreements with these websites which, in exchange for space on their site, pay them each time the advertisement is displayed 1000 times on their site. This is called a cost per thousand impressions (CPM).
The interesting thing about display and programmatic is that we can target the type of people who will see our ads.
There are several targeting methods.
For instance, you have a women’s shoe store.
– You can target people who visited your website in the last 3 days and display your ads on almost any website.
– You can display your advertisements on specialized fashion websites
– You can display your banners to people who are currently looking for a new shoe, what is called in-market
The difference between display network and programmatic
The big difference between the two is the quality of the ad placements and audiences you’re going to target.
With programmatic, you’ll pay a much higher amount for your CPM, but in return you’ll have premium placements at more desirable times.
For example, instead of appearing on the La Presse site at 10:45 PM, with the programmatic, you will be able to appear at Prime Time at 7:30 in the morning, in the top banner, targeting only people who have an extra income. of $ 60,000 and who visited your competitor the day before.
The cost of CPM to have such precise targeting and appear on a prime spot may be 5 to 10x more expensive than staying on the regular display network, but is significantly more efficient in most cases!
If you are advertising on TV, strongly consider setting up an advertising budget for YouTube. Big brands like McDonald’s, Walmart, Mastercard to name a few spend millions of dollars on YouTube advertising every year.
It’s not for nothing. Not only is it much cheaper to reach the same number of people on YouTube as it is on TV, but you can segment your target with a ton of metrics, and measure and optimize the direct impact of your efforts on your sales. What you can’t do with TV advertising.
With YouTube, it is possible to target particular channels, particular keywords, retarget your website visitors and so on.
Social media marketing (SMM)
Social Media Marketing is complex, and I’m going to focus on paid advertising campaigns rather than content and community management, because that’s not really my cup of tea.
Unlike Google, advertising on social networks is mainly used to create a need and make your brand known (push marketing). The strength of social media is the power of interest targeting!
Facebook and Instagram
Facebook and Instagram ads are done through the same platform as they are both owned by Facebook.
The power of FB and IG is that you can target a very niche audience with special interests.
PLEASE NOTE: The performance of your ads on social networks will be directly linked to the quality of your creatives (videos and images that you will use for your ads). You need to have beautiful, attractive photos and ideally professional videos.
Let’s say you sell reusable baby diapers.
You can still do SEO and Google Ads, however, you are going to be fighting Huggies, Amazon, and Walmart. Good luck !
With Facebook and Instagram, you can directly target parents of newborns, with online shopping habits, between the ages of 18 and 35 in Quebec.
Which is (probably) significantly more efficient than buying the reusable diaper keyword layer on Google!
Have the right strategy
It’s not enough to just do boost post and put in a few hundred dollars to get results on Facebook and Instagram.
You need a good strategy!
The key lies in the campaign structure and the segmentation of your audiences.
Basically, you need to target a cold audience. That is, targeting people who don’t know you at all, but who are part of your target audience.
Once this so-called cold audience has been targeted, you need to look at their behavior and retarget those who have interacted with your content. These people consist of what is called a warm audience.
Hot audience is about targeting those who have taken particular actions, for example, adding to cart or people who have visited several important pages without purchasing or filling out a contact form.
Back to our reusable baby diaper business.
A campaign that targets new parents who have a penchant for a greener world.
They are shown a video of a baby in a reusable diaper and a cleaner planet message for our children as well as a link to the website.
Several of the people we targeted didn’t go to the website, but commented / liked the post and started following the page.
So we’re going to target them with a bit more specific message, for example: the fact that reusable diapers save an average of $ 4,000 per child, with a link to a particular product on the website.
The hot audience is the most interesting, as these are people who have seen multiple products on the website or added products to the cart without purchasing. The goal with this audience is to be as aggressive as possible by showing them directly the products they have viewed, a promo code, and interesting sales arguments.
The overall idea is to properly distribute budgets among audiences and to optimize the different targeting within said audiences.
LinkedIn is similar to Facebook and Instagram, but for a different type of target audience.
Linkedn is particularly good for “B2B” (Business to business) advertising.
Like Facebook and Instagram, you can target a specific demographic, but add an interesting element: the type of business the person works for, the position held, and several other parameters.
Let’s say you have a business that sells bolts.
LinkedIn will allow you to show your products and your competitive advantage to the various people who have a buying role in factories across Canada.
LinkedIn is pretty much the only way to contact these specific employees in almost any industry, making it a very interesting tool for B2B.
Email Marketing (EMM)
No matter your industry, email marketing is a must in your marketing strategy. This is an inexpensive and highly effective solution to generating sales with very little effort.
Whether you use MailChimp, Klaviyo, or Active Campaigns, the idea behind email marketing is to get as many emails from active customers and prospects as possible (and of best quality as possible) to share information relevant to your business with them.
Each email must have a specific purpose, whether it is automated or sent manually.
The strength of “mass mailing” lies in the automation of email sending. Whether for e-commerce or for converting leads into active customers, automations will save you invaluable time to generate income completely passively.
Automation for E-commerce
You must be familiar with the infamous “Forgot an item in your cart” email.
According to Moosend, 69% of add to carts are abandoned. The open rate for abandoned cart emails is 45%. 21% of these have a click that takes the user to the e-commerce.
Also, according to Moosend, 50% of clicks following an abandoned cart email lead to a conversion!
We are talking about a great impact on the conversion rate of an online business, and this, completely automatically.
Once your automations are in place, 1 to 2 months after the initial sale, you can send an automated email to your customers to suggest products that they might be interested in, based on the category or product you’ve already sold to them.
For example, if you sold a coffee machine that used “cups”, you might, 2-3 days after the sale, automatically offer them a discount on a tasting set of 50 “cups” for $50.
Then, 6 months later, send a promotion on a set of decalcifying tablets.
The customer who normally would only have bought a machine for $150, now just spent $230, without you having to lift a finger!
Here is a concrete example of results that speak for themselves.
For this client with a list of approximately 10,000 emails collected over the years, over 30 days, email marketing campaigns generated $16,706 out of a total of $108,313! That’s 15% of revenue generated completely passively, without a penny in advertising!
Automations for lead and prospect generation
Let’s say you are an investment broker and a visitor to your website has filled out a contact form. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to reach the person 3-4 times before you can finally find a convenient time to chat.
Here’s how email marketing can help:
Automatic appointment scheduling:
Once the form is completed, the prospect receives an automated email with a Calendly link. Calendly is connected to your calendar and the prospect just has to find a time slot that suits them and that is free for you!
If the prospect doesn’t send you a Calendly request right away, you can always follow up later!
Follow-up after an appointment::
You’ve been had a meeting with the prospect and think you have a good chance of making the sale, but they still have to think about it for a few days.
Use the automation features by sending an email after 4 to 5 days to follow up with the prospect and make sure you don’t lose that hot lead!
Has one of your current customers or a lost prospect visited your website? No problem, you can use automated emails to give him a friendly follow-up and ask if there is anything you can help him with!
The beauty of Amazon is that you will almost only find users who are inclined to buy (hot). People who are in “buy mode”, have a preprogrammed credit card in the account and ready to make impulse purchases!
Amazon is a lot like Google, in that you can optimize your product listings for better organic positions (like SEO) or buy keywords and pay per click like on Google Ads.
I love Amazon, the ROIs are phenomenal! However, this is not for everyone.
However, Amazon is very greedy, and the base charges average 33%. It is enormous!
If you don’t make more than a 50% margin on your products, I wouldn’t advise you to go there.
Ideally, you need to be the manufacturer of your own products or an exclusive distributor to be able to take full advantage of Amazon.
Send your merchandise to their warehouse, and they take care of handling, shipping packages and returns.
This can significantly increase your sales volume, without additional effort, but with a lower margin.
Need help choosing your strategy?
Congratulations on making it this far! It may all seem a bit overwhelming to you and each marketing method is an expertise (a profession) in itself.
I know few people who can perform everything mentioned in this guide to perfection (perfection is not achievable anyway).
The mistake people often make is to use the strategies they know rather than choosing the right strategy.
The right strategy is often a bit of everything, a Google Ads campaign here, Facebook and Instagram remarketing there, an email follow-up and bang, you’ve got a sale.
Except that no company has the same formula, budgets must be taken into account, user behaviors analyzed and campaigns optimized.
This is why it is essential to surround yourself with the right people and have a solid plan.
I preach for my parish by telling you that if you cannot internalize by having at least 1 expert in each area of digital marketing, the ideal is to hire a marketing coordinator alongside a competent agency that will have an internal multidisciplinary team and thus bring you the maximum performance on each platform.
There are several competent agencies out there, just make sure you choose the right one for you!