The Internet is an important part of the marketing plans of many companies. The Internet offers the potential to reach a large audience for a low cost, but only if there is a plan in place that understands how to maximize exposure. Developing an effective e-marketing plan begins with having a template of steps to follow.
Develop a Game Plan
Gather the managers from your company and determine what each department expects and needs from the Internet. The sales department needs a way for customers to order product and for people looking for information to be able to easily fill out an online form. Marketing needs the content on a Web site to maximize search-engine results while engineering needs customers to be able to access drivers and firmware updates to keep their products running properly. Take detailed notes of exactly what each group needs. This initial stage is a brainstorming stage, so even if you are a one-man operation you can still put ideas to paper and determine what your needs are.
Determine which tasks are more important and have the largest impact on the ability of the company to do business, and then organize the e-marketing plan to accommodate these priorities. Your priority list will depend on what you hope to accomplish with your strategic plan. If your plan is to increase your visibility in the results pages of major search engines then your priority list would begin with collecting information necessary to better understand how search engines work. From there you would develop steps necessary to examine your current content and compare that to your new understanding of how search engines work (if you are developing a new e-marketing strategy then you would be able to remove the comparison portion for now, and save that for when you begin to monitor progress).
Once the priorities have been set, determine what resources on the Internet (beyond the company Web site) can be used to execute the e-marketing plan. Marketing may find value in posting information about your company on Internet message boards and then tying that back into the Web site to increase traffic. Make business partners part of your e-marketing plan by swapping links to drive traffic to your site through theirs. Look for complimentary businesses you are currently not doing business with and try to establish Internet links with them. For example, if you manufacture hot dogs then try to establish Internet relationships with hot-dog-roll manufacturers and mustard makers.
Once you have the focus of your e-marketing plan figured out it's time to determine the cost. Not only will you need to figure in the cost of online advertising and Web hosting, but there will also be the cost of the time spent by your employees in developing and executing the plan. After you have developed your cost estimates compare them to your budget. If you need to lower costs you could narrow the scope of the project to reduce the hours your employees will have to put in to it. Labor costs may wind up being a significant part of an e-marketing strategy and that makes them one of the first places to cut costs.
Part of your e-marketing strategy should be to tie in your Internet activity with your activity in other mediums. Include your Web address in your print advertising and encourage customers to visit your Web site. Your e-marketing plan should be an interlocked component of your overall marketing scheme.
The Internet and all forms of electronic media change frequently. Once you have a plan in place and begin to execute it, monitor its progress regularly. Keep an eye out for changes in technology or new marketing avenues on the Internet, and be ready to adapt your e-marketing plan to incorporate new developments.
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