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Start With A Goal, Then A Strategy: Easier Said Than Done

There are some times in a person’s life where common sense just kicks in. The right answer is obvious and we act on it quickly and easily. Fries or tots? Tots, obviously. Do you want a regular size beer or a tallboy? Is that even a real question? Problem is, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the answer is staring us in the face and our minds end up spinning in circles or overthinking to the point where common sense is no longer there. That’s where things get a little tricky.

You’re Thinking About It Wrong

I’ve worked on many strategies with many different clients over the years. The common sense way to start these projects would be to ask, “What is your goal?” and then make a determination on what the strategy should be. However, you’d be surprised at how many times the client dictates the strategy before the goal is even discovered.

If you’re in the business, you know that oftentimes a client might say “We need SEO services” or “We need paid search management” not really knowing if these are the correct strategies or not. They instinctively reach for these strategies based on something someone said a conference or something they read online.

They think, “Our website traffic should be higher” without any sense as to why or what it will accomplish. Then, they hear an expert talk about the benefits of paid search or read a case study on how the latest SEO strategy helped a business get 10,000 more visits to their site a month and it’s all they can think about.

But the real question they should be asking is, “What do I want from my website?” How are you supposed to put together a winning online strategy if you have no idea what you want to get out of it?

Start With the Basics

To really get in tune with your goals online, you need to find out what you want to accomplish. Generally, this falls under four categories:

  • Traffic
  • Sales
  • Conversions
  • Rankings

Of course, most people will say that the end goal of any marketing campaign is traffic (which they believe will ultimately lead to sales.) However, just generating traffic to a website won’t necessarily result in sales. I’ve seen many occasions where an uptick in overall traffic to the site resulted in no more sales than the client had months before.

However, if you choose which of these goals are most important to your website, you can work backwards to build a strategy that works better for you.

Build It the Awesome Way

Let’s say your end goal is sales. You have a small eCommerce website that sells trendy bowties and, because you sell them all online, you know pretty quickly how well your products are doing. You might already have a lot of traffic coming to your website and be doing ok with sales from that traffic.

Now rather than thinking about just increasing traffic and assuming it will produce more sales, why not think about how your customers are already converting on the website? Think about these questions:

  • How are customers generally converting on my website?
  • Which pages produce the most conversions?
  • Do I have popular products that are ordered often and do I make it easy for customers to find these products?
  • What do my landing pages look like?
  • Would a new layout help customers convert easier on these pages?

Increasing your conversion rate by optimizing your landing pages can help you earn more sales from the customers already coming to your website. That’s already a win and we haven’t even uttered the words “paid search” or “SEO” yet.

For something as diverse as a trendy bowtie website, the options are really endless as to how to get traffic to the site. Sitting down and really thinking about how to make these options work for you personally will help you tailor these strategies specifically to your goals rather than just hoping a bunch of people will come to your website and maybe buy some stuff.

Here are some options for the trendy bowtie company:

  • Paid Search – Utilize your recently optimized landing pages and specific products for a very targeted paid search campaign. Add promotional text and product information to ad copy and keep your keyword lists tight.
  • SEO – Put together a content strategy based around all of the awesome things you could write about men’s style and neckties. Work on spreading this out to your networks and think about doing some content syndication. This will produce qualified traffic to your site since the people reading your information are obviously interested in neckties and probably more likely to convert.
  • Retargeting – Drop some display ads on visitors that have already been to your website. Hit them up with promotional ad copy to get them to come back and buy something.

There are so many options to consider when putting together your online marketing strategy, but knowing your end goal will help you tailor these strategies to help you achieve it. While it sounds like common sense, avoid starting off with a strategy first then attempting to make it fit your goal. You’ll be a much happier marketer in the end. Trust me.

  • Paid Media

  • SEO

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About the author

Kyle Brigham

Kyle Brigham is the Chief Strategy Officer at Marcel Digital. He specializes in client services and project management, but also original Nintendo games and ping pong.