On this part of Getting Going with Online Marketing we will be Discussing Planning for Web Marketing under the Following Topics and Sub-topics below and More we have from our previous discussion <Taking Your Marketing to the Web>. Now you get the list of things you need when Planning for Web Marketing:
Planning for Web Marketing
As we said above the list below are what we are going to talk about on this page and more will be as Notification on your Email if you Join out free email subscribers today:
- Getting ahead of the game
- Establishing goals for your site
- Finding out about target markets
- Applying the four Ps of marketing
- Understanding why people buy
- Putting it all together in an online marketing plan
It’s easy to get so involved with the Web that you lose sight of your business goals. In this chapter, I show you how a few, simple, planning tools can help you track the big picture while maximizing the contribution of your Web site to your bottom line.
If you mastered marketing principles in business school long ago, this chapter connects cybermarketing to your memories of business plans, the four Ps of marketing (product, price, placement, and promotion), and Maslow’s
Triangle. If your marketing knowledge comes from the school of hard knocks or if you’re new to business, these conceptual marketing tools enable you to allocate marketing dollars in a new environment.
As you go through the planning process, I suggest that you summarize your decisions on the forms in this chapter. Refer to them whenever you’re uncertain about a Web marketing decision. These forms also make it easier to convey your site goals and objectives consistently to developers, graphic designers, other service providers, and employees. For your convenience, you can download full-page versions of these forms from the book’s companion Web site at www.dummies.com/go/webmarketing.
Preparing an Online Business Plan
If you’re starting a new business of any type, you need to write a business plan. If you’re adding online sales to an existing operation, dust off and update your current business plan as well. Opening an online store is like opening a new storefront in another city; it requires just as much planning. Even if you’re only launching or revamping a Web site, I suggest writing a shortened version of the business plan outlined in the following list.
Most business plans include some variation of the following sections:
- Description of Business (type of business and goals)
- Description of Product or Service
- Competition (online and offline)
- Marketing (target market, need, objectives, methods, promotion)
- Sales Plan (pricing, distribution channels, order fulfillment)
- Operations (facilities, staffing, inventory)
- Management (key players and board)
- Financial Data (financing, financial projections, legal issues)
Small Business Administration
The SBA (Small Business Administration) site includes free online business advice for start-ups at www.sba.gov/starting_business/index.html, or search the Web for sample business plans at sites like Bplans.com (www. bplans.com/sp/businessplans.cfm).
Going into detail about the process of writing a business plan is beyond the scope of this book. If you need assistance, business attorneys or accountants can help you get started and are familiar with local business organizations. For free help, check out the business program at the closest community college or university or locate a nearby small business support office at one of the following sites:
- Small Business Development Center (SBDC) www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html
- Small Business Administration (SBA) http://sba.gov
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) www.score.org/findscore/index.html
To get a good handle on the basics, you might want to read Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition, by Greg Holden (Wiley Publishing) or Business Plans Kit For Dummies, 2nd Edition, by Steven D. Peterson, Peter E. Jaret, and Barbara Findlay Schenck (Wiley Publishing).
Web sites don’t solve business problems; they create new challenges. If your business is experiencing any problems, fix them first! Any difficulties with computer infrastructure, record-keeping, manufacturing, supply chains, customer service, order fulfillment, staffing, cost controls, training, or pricing are only magnified when you go online.
Planning to Fit Your Business Goals
Before you state the goals for your Web site, you must be clear about the goals for your business. Your answers to a few basic questions establish the marketing framework for your site. Answer the questions in the Business Profile section of the Web Site Planning Form in Figure below. These questions apply equally to businesses of any size and to not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, and governments.
- Are you a new company or an existing one with an established customer/client base?
- Do you have an existing brick-and-mortar store or office?
- Do you have an existing Web site and Web presence?
- Who are your customers or clients (generally referred to as your target markets)?
- Do you sell goods or services?
- Do you market to individuals (which is called B2C for business-toconsumer) or to other businesses (which is called B2B for businessto-business)?
- More: Do you sell — or want to sell — locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally?
Answer the other questions of the Business Profile section of the form to get an overall idea of what your business looks like.
Your Web site is the tail, and your business is the dog. Let business needs drive your Web plans, not the other way around.
Setting Goals for Your Web Site
After you’ve outlined your business goals, you need to decide what your Web site must accomplish from a marketing perspective. The goals you set for your site plus the definition of your target market should drive both your Web design and marketing campaigns.
Business Web sites generally have one of the seven goals in the following sections as a primary goal, although large, sophisticated sites now address several categories. Rank the functions that apply to your site on the Web Site Goals section of the Web Site Planning Form (refer to Figure above), with 1 being the primary purpose of your site.
Unless you have a large enough budget and staff to handle the demands of marketing to multiple audiences, select only one or two of these goals. You can add others later after benefits from your site start flowing to your bottom line.
Providing customer service through information
Brochureware or business card sites are an inexpensive solution. These sites, which contain no more than the minimal information included in a small tri-fold brochure, might provide a small business with an adequate Web presence. For example, the two-page interior design site at www.lmkinteriorsltd.com (shown in Figure below) briefly describes services, linking to a second page with contact information and a project inquiry form.
Other, information-based sites are much more extensive. Medical, technical support, or news sites may contain hundreds or thousands of pages in a searchable, linkable, static format. Businesses save money by hiring fewer staff to provide the information live while taking advantage of the Internet to offer support online 24/7 to accommodate customers worldwide.
Branding your company or product
Sites like Coke.com primarily serve a branding function. Branding sites may include games, coupons, entertainment, feedback sections, interactive functions, and corporate information, but they generally don’t sell the product online. They generate leads or sales only indirectly. For instance, consumers can buy a key chain or other branded paraphernalia on the Coca-Cola site (www.coke.com) but cannot buy a bottle of Diet Coke.
Branding can be tricky, even on a sales site, when the name of a site is not the same as the existing business. Plaza Bakery, located on the central plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, solved this problem by modifying its former logo, incorporating the name of its Web site (SweetSantaFe.com), and moving its business name below the image.
Generating leads or qualifying prospects
Some sites, especially those for services and expensive products such as cars and homes, allow potential customers to research offerings, but customers must call, e-mail, or visit the brick-and-mortar establishment to close a sale.
Interactive techniques, such as the Live Chat feature used by staffing agency Aerotek (www.aerotek.com/default.aspx) build relationships that turn prospects into customers. (on this page on 4 and 6 Topics with describe many interactive techniques you can use on your site for this purpose.)
If you’re clever, you can qualify your leads online. For instance, SantaFeWedding.com, a destination wedding site, asks for the groom’s name on its form inquiry page (http://santafewedding.com/request.html). That question alone reduces the number of false leads by more than 60 percent.
Generating revenue through sales
Transaction sites, which are, perhaps, the most familiar type of site, are used to sell goods or services online. Travel reservations, magazine subscriptions, organizational memberships, B2B (business to business) sales, and even donations fall into this category, as do retail sites from Amazon.com to the smallest, home-based micro-store. Good transaction sites take advantage of the Web to gather information about customer demographics, needs, and preferences and to test response to special offers.
Generating revenue through advertising
A business model that calls for generating revenue by selling ads operates in a fundamentally different marketing mode. When you sell advertising, the primary product is the audience you deliver — either the number of eyeballs that view an ad or the number of click-throughs to an advertiser’s site.
Achieving internal needs
Sites in this category attract investors, identify strategic business partners, locate suppliers, recruit dealers, or solicit franchisees. The audience for these sites is quite different from the audience for a site targeted at customers or clients. This distinction is critical because elements of your marketing plan are derived from the definition of your target market.
Transforming your business through process innovation or creative techniques
Transformation applies to more than giant corporations whose Web sites integrate just-in-time inventory, smooth supply chains, online sales, and accounting systems. Many innovative small businesses create online processes that fundamentally change the way they do business.
Surprisingly, innovation doesn’t have to cost much. Pablo’s Mechanical (www.pablosmechanical.com), a plumbing and heating contractor, captured the second-home market in the rural tourist area near Angel Fire, New Mexico. Pablo’s Mechanical realized that second-home owners are usually well off, are frequent Internet users, and often live out of state, perhaps in a different time zone. His simple, inexpensive site directs his customers to click onto large plumbing manufacturers’ sites to select fixtures and then send him an e-mail with what they want installed.
Specifying Objectives for Your Web Site
What can convince you that your site is successful? After you establish goals, you need to specify the criteria that satisfy them. That means establishing measurable objectives. First, enter your calculations from Chapter 1 for breakeven point, return on investment (ROI), and budget onto the Financial Profile section of the Web Planning Form in Figure 2-1. Your budget and ROI expectations might constrain how much you can spend on marketing and, therefore, on how much traffic your site will receive. Take this into consideration as you specify numerical targets for your objectives and the dates you expect to accomplish them. There’s no point in setting unrealistic objectives that doom your site to failure before you start.
Web Site Planning Form
Table above suggests some possible measurements for different Web site goals, but you have to determine the actual quantities and time frames for achievement. Define other objectives as appropriate. Enter the numbers and time frames for the criteria you’ll use on the Sample Objectives section of the Web Site Planning Form. These numbers are specific to each business.
If you don’t have objectives, you won’t know when you’ve reached or exceeded them. Setting objectives ahead of time also ensures that you establish a method for measurement.
For instance, you can obtain site traffic numbers from your Web statistics, as I discuss in Chapter 14, but you can’t count leads that come in over the phone that way. Your receptionist must ask how a caller heard about you and tally results. Or you can display a separate number, e-mail address, person, or extension for Web visitors to use, just as you would establish a separate department number for a direct mail campaign.
Try to track data for a 13-month period so you can compare same-date results. Almost all businesses experience some cyclical variation tied to the calendar.
Defining Your Target Market
In the Marketing Profile section of the Web Site Planning Form (refer to Figure above), you need to define your target market(s). For each goal you select on your Planning Form, decide who your audience is. Phrases such as “everyone who eats chocolate” or “all airplane passengers” are way too broad. Unless you are Toyota or General Mills, you won’t have the funds to reach everyone, so you need to segment and prioritize your markets.
Note: I discuss how to fill out the rest of the Marketing Profile section in “Writing Your Online Marketing Plan,” later in this Article.
Understanding market segmentation
Market segmentation (dividing your market into smaller sets of prospects who share certain characteristics) takes many different forms. You need to select the one that’s the best fit for your business. For your online marketing plan, you need to locate the various sites on the Web where your target audiences hang out, so you need to know who they are. Think about it for a moment. The sites that appeal to opera lovers might not appeal to teenagers, and vice versa.
One caveat: Your online target audience might differ slightly from your offline audience. It might be more geographically diverse, wealthier, older, younger, more educated, more motivated by price than features, or vice versa. You discover these variations only from experience.
Here are a few forms of market segmentation:
- Demographic segmentation: Sorts by age, gender, socioeconomic status, or education for B2C companies
- Lifecycle segmentation: Acknowledges that consumers need different products at different stages of life (teens, young singles, married couples, families with kids, empty nesters, active retirees, frail elderly)
- Geographic segmentation: Targets areas as small as a neighborhood or zip code or as broad as a country or continent
- Vertical industry segmentation: Targets all elements within a defined industry as a B2B strategy
- Job segmentation: Identifies different decision makers (such as engineers, purchasing agents, and managers) at specific points of the B2B sales cycle
- Specialty segmentation: Targets a narrowly defined market (such as 45- to 65-year olds, female caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, or 16- to 35-year-old male owners of classic Mustangs)
Follow classic guerrilla marketing principles: Focus on one market segment at a time, gain market share and profits, and then invest in the next market segment. Otherwise, your limited marketing time and advertising funds are spread too thinly to have a significant impact. For more information on market segmentation, try www.businessplans.org/segment.html or http://money.howstuffworks.com/marketing-plan12.htm.
Researching your market online
If you aren’t sure how to define your market segments, check some of the online market research sites in Table below. These sites offer a wealth of statistical data about the demographics of online users, what types of products sell well, and the growth of Internet use by demographic segments.
If your target audience isn’t online, the Web should not be part of your marketing mix for end user sales! It can still fulfill other functions, of course. Check the Harris Interactive report at http://harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=668 for details about who’s online. As of May 2006, Harris found that 77 percent of U.S. adults — 172 million — were online at work, school, or home and that Internet access now looks a lot more like the nation as a whole than it did several years ago. More seniors, minorities, and low income users now have Internet access, shrinking the digital divide.
Writing Your Online Marketing Plan
Your business might have a formal marketing plan, or perhaps you have been in business so long that your marketing basics are second nature. For the sake of completeness and easy communication with others, fill out the additional questions of the Marketing Profile section of Figure above:
- Marketing tag: Enter your marketing tag, which is the five- to seven-word phrase that describes what your business offers or who you are. This phrase probably appears (or should) on almost all your stationery, business cards, advertising, and packaging. Like your logo, your marketing tag helps define your public image. Your marketing tag should appear on your Web site as well! Many companies include it in their header graphic to reinforce branding. You can see examples in Figure above and the figure in the “Planning for success at a museum Web site” sidebar near the end of the chapter.
- Value proposition: Why should someone buy from your company rather than from a competitor?
- Competitors: Enter the names of at least six competitors and their Web addresses.
After you go online, your universe of competitors expands phenomenally:
If you’ve been selling locally but plan to expand your market size, you’ll find lots of other competitors online. You’ll find competitors for your type of business in search engines, online Yellow Pages, or online business directories. This effort can be a bit sobering, but it’s better to be prepared than surprised.
Before writing an online marketing plan, consider how three other traditional marketing concepts apply in cyberspace: the classic four Ps of marketing, Maslow’s Triangle (which I discuss in further detail in the “Understanding why people buy: Maslow’s Triangle” section later in this chapter), and the obvious but often-forgotten need to fish where the fish are. Use these tools as part of your planning process to resolve problems before they impede your online success.
Examining the four Ps of marketing
Marketers name product, price, placement (distribution), and promotion as the traditional elements of marketing. These terms apply to the Web as well. If you plan to update an existing site, it’s particularly important to review the four Ps. For instance, you might think you need a site update because you receive too little traffic from search engines, but after a review of the four Ps, you find out that the real issue is pricing. Topic 14 explains how to diagnose problems with the four Ps by using your Web statistics.
Your product is whatever good or service you sell, regardless of whether the transaction takes place online. Review your competition to see what features, benefits, or services they offer. (To find your competitors, look up your product in Google or another search engine.) Product also includes such elements as performance, warranties, support, variety, and size. If you have an online store, look at your entire product mix and merchandising, not just individual products. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have enough products in your online catalog to compete successfully?
- Are you selling what people want to buy?
- Are you updating your product catalog regularly, quickly removing items that are out of stock and promoting new items?
The expanding presence of discount stores online puts significant price pressure on small businesses. Price comparison sites like Shopping.com, which cost-conscious shoppers check frequently, also compel lower prices. Use those sites to assess your prices against your online competition. Are you significantly higher, lower, or price competitive?
What about your shipping prices?
I talk more about shipping in Topic 5, but for now, remember that high shipping costs account for 75 percent of abandoned shopping carts. If necessary, bury some of the handling and shipping costs in the basic product price and reduce the visible price for shipping.
It’s very hard for your small business to compete in the market for standard goods like baby clothes or DVDs unless you have really good wholesale deals from manufacturers or distributors. But you can compete pricewise on customized goods or services or by offering unique benefits for buying from your company. If you must charge higher prices than your online competitors, review your value proposition so that people perceive an extra benefit. That could be a $5 promotional code for a discount on another purchase, a no-questions-asked return policy, exclusivity, or your reputation for quality service.
You don’t need to compete with offline prices because people value the convenience of, and time saved by, shopping online. It’s perfectly okay to price online products higher than identical items in your brick-and-mortar store.
In a drive to compete, many dot com businesses drive themselves into the ground by charging less for products than they cost. The more products they sell, the more money they lose. What a business model! While every business sometimes offers loss leaders, you have to cover the loss with profits from other products.
Placement refers to your distribution channels. Where and how are your products and services available? Inherently, the Web gives you an advantage, with 24/7 hours of operation for research, support, and sales online. However, you might face distribution challenges, particularly if you’re constrained by agreement to a particular territory or are a distributor or manufacturer who plans to sell online directly to consumers.
Avoid channel cannibalization (the use of multiple distribution channels that pull sales from each other). Don’t compete on price with your retailers.
Otherwise, your direct sales might cost you sales from other outlets, in a destructive cycle of eating your own. Before competing with retailers, review the increased level of staffing and expenses that are required to meet expectations of consumer support. Are you really able to take this on?
If so, you might want to open a completely separate retail site at a different URL from the one that your dealers and distributors see.
Your Web marketing plan is one of the four Ps. All the different ways you communicate with customers and prospects are part of promotion. Include marketing your Web site as much as you market your company and products.
Careful integration of online and offline advertising is critical. Are your methods reaching your target audience? Are you sending the right message to encourage customers to buy? In the next section, you can see how to use Maslow’s Triangle to craft a message that appeals to customers’ motivations.
Understanding why people buy: Maslow’s Triangle
By now, you realize that online marketing requires more than getting listed in search engines and waiting for the money to roll in. Maslow’s Triangle is another way to gain an edge. Advertisers have long understood the power of messages that address people’s emotional needs, taking advantage of a theory developed by humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow in the late 1960s. You can do this, too!
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (displayed as a triangle in Figure below), everyone has to satisfy certain needs before they can achieve their maximum potential. In marketing terms, people buy certain products or seek certain types of information to satisfy one of more of those needs.
Of the five levels in Maslow’s Triangle, the bottom two (Physiological and Safety) are basic needs. The top three (Social, Esteem, and Self-actualization) are growth needs. At this point, people can find Web sites to satisfy every need in the triangle. Here’s a list of those categories along with a description of each:
This category covers air, food, water, sleep, sex, health, and shelter. To satisfy these needs, people might research homes online, look for apartments to rent on Craigslist.org, purchase apparel from Patagonia.com, arrange a grocery delivery from Peapod.com, search for a dentist’s name, look for nutrition advice, or locate an oxygen bar like the OxygenExperience.com.
These types of needs include security items and information for times of emergency, social disorganization, or personal trauma. At this level, people might seek hotline numbers, fire or flood evacuation information, earthquake kits from SurvivalKitsOnline.com, fire extinguishers from AmericanFireEquipment.net, car alarms from SlickCar.com, orGPS systems from MagellanGPS.com.
This category indicates our human cravings for caring and belonging, including products and services that make us more attractive to others. This need drives the appeal of popular social networking sites as diverse as MySpace.com and PunkyMoms.com, as well as cosmetics from ElizabethArden.com, spa memberships, self-help books from Amazon.com, hobbies, clubs, civic activities, churches, and other groups.
This refers to an individual’s need for self-respect and respect from others. This need motivates the purchase of items like jewelry from Tiffany.com, fine wines from WineWeb.com, a monogrammed leather wallet from FineLeatherGifts.com, or a search for a Hummer dealer at Humvee.net, all of which carry a sense of status, prestige, and power.
A sense of creative self-fulfillment may come from artistic, musical, educational, spiritual, or religious pursuits. Individuals with self-actualization needs might visit sites related to creative or spiritual pursuits, such as Buddhanet.net, AcademyArt.edu, or ClevelandOrch.com, and they might buy books, music, classes, concert tickets, or art.
To increase your conversion rate (the percent of site visitors who buy), match your message to the needs your products fulfill. If you identify the specific benefits that people are looking for, you’re more likely to close the sale. For instance, an esteem message would talk about the exclusivity of owning jewelry from Tiffany’s, not about saving money.
Fishing where the fish are When you advertise offline, you put your ads where the target market is likely to see them. Ads for muscle cars run in the sports section of the paper or on billboards near gyms. The same thing applies online. You need to place your lures where your fish hang out.
Figure below lists the marketing methods discussed in this book. As you read different chapters, check off methods you think are possibilities for your site. I also recommend that you compile a marketing notebook with ideas, articles,
and Web sites, and create marketing folders on your hard drive to store online research.
fill out a Web Marketing Spreadsheet
Over time, you’ll gather enough information to fill out a Web Marketing Spreadsheet like the one shown in Figure below. On this form, you finalize the marketing methods from your checklist and specify marketing method, audience, impressions (number of times an ad is seen), costs per month, venues, and delivery schedule for each one. (In Topic 12, I explain more about cost per thousand impressions, or CPM. You have to research costs for each technique.) You can incorporate offline marketing in this spreadsheet or duplicate this arrangement for offline expenses and then add the two together.
The combination of marketing methods you decide to implement is called your marketing mix. When completed, this spreadsheet encapsulates your marketing plan, showing how your marketing mix will achieve the objectives
you’ve already established. The example in Figure 2-6 includes some objectives for a mock B2C site.
If you lose direction, you’ll end up wasting money. After several months, discard the methods that don’t work and put more money into the ones that are successful — or add another method or two. Over time, you’ll develop an optimized, online marketing program that you can monitor and tweak as needed.
Marketing online is part of overall marketing
Exclusive online promotion of a Web site is rare. Your Web address should appear on your stationery, packaging, and brochures, at the very least. As you build an online marketing plan, you might decide to redirect some of your existing advertising dollars, but don’t abandon successful offline advertising.
Will you still need a listing in the Yellow Pages?
Will you still hand out promotional items or exhibit at trade shows?
Put your domain name (that’s just a techie word for Internet address) everywhere that you put your phone number and more. Meanwhile, Put it on your shopping bags. Next, Put it on your outdoor signs. Put it on your business truck! Heck, you can even hire someone now to put it on his shaved head.
What you already know about your business is right —
the Web is a new medium, not a new universe. Don’t let technology fool you into abandoning hard-won knowledge of your business, your target markets, or how to appeal to them. When in doubt, follow your instincts and let your bottom line guide your decisions.
Summary – Planning for Web Marketing
- 1: Define your goals. Before you start making decisions about how to approach online marketing, it’s important to think about what you want to get out of it.
- 2: Clarify your target audience.
- 3: Determine which marketing tactics to use.
- 4: Figure out your budget.
- 5: Create your plan.
What More you Need – Taking Your Marketing to the Web – The Need for Online Market