How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your New Website
You finished creating your website and have launched! That’s a big deal. But if you thought the hard part was over, think again.
Creating your website is a huge step, but if you actually want people to see it, then you need to get to work marketing it.
There are nearly 2 billion websites out there. You may not be in competition with every single one of them, but if you want anyone interested in what your website has to offer to find you, you can’t expect them to just happen upon your URL in a sea of 2 billion options.
To get noticed, you have to perform online marketing. And to do it well, you need a plan.
Step 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.
Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Do you want to drive a specific type of traffic to your website? Are you selling something and need to prioritize profit? Are you hoping to build an email list?
You may have more than one main goal for your online marketing, but use this step to figure out both what your specific goals are, and the priority level for each. Different types of online marketing will work best for different goals, so this step will play an important role in leading you toward the best choices in the next few steps.
Step 2: Clarify your target audience.
Most websites aren’t for everybody. Your online marketing efforts will work better if they’re focused on the people most likely to be interested in your website.
Think carefully about who is most likely to want what your website offers. Is it more likely to appeal to people within a certain age demographic, geographic area, or gender? What about parental status, household income, and general interests?
If you already have customers or followers, then what you know about them should help shape your idea of your target audience. Sit down and create a profile of the kind of person that’s most likely to buy your products or follow your content. Be thorough. Include things like:
- Income level
- Education level
- Marital status
- Parental status
- General interests
- Politics and values
- Personality traits
- Buying behavior
Obviously, there will be some variety in the kind of people interested in your website – you probably won’t exclusively appeal to liberal women aged 32 with two kids and a yoga habit (even if that describes some of your audience), but crafting a picture of the kind of person you want to reach will help you refine your efforts.
After you’ve worked up your initial portrait (in marketing speak, this is called a buyer persona), you want to back it up with research. There are a number of different products (some free, some not) that can help you learn more about a particular market segment. Some of your initial assumptions about your audience may be wrong and the research stage will both help you figure that out, and enable you to flush out the information you have on the people you’re trying to reach.
Step 3: Determine which marketing tactics to use.
Once you know what you want to accomplish and who you want to reach, it’s time to figure out which online marketing tactics to use. If you’re not already familiar with online marketing (and maybe even if you are), this step will require diving into some research. There are a lot of tactics and channels to be aware of and each of them have their own set of best practices.
If you’re hoping to do this all yourself rather than hire help, then expect to devote a significant amount of time to learning the ropes. If you have a budget and intend to hire help, then you still want to make sure you have enough understanding of the different online marketing areas to know which ones you want to pursue and be able to hire someone that knows what they’re doing.
You’ll probably want to do some combination of:
- Search engine optimization
- Paid search marketing
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Conversion optimization
Each of these works in tandem with the others, but you may not need to do all of them to start. And to further complicate things, these are large categories with a lot of different tactics within them. For example, content marketing can include hosting webinars, making podcasts, publishing a blog, making videos –or some combination of any or all of those things.
If you have limited time and budget to work with, you’ll need to figure out where to put your initial efforts to get the most bang for your buck. Knowing your goals and the audience you most want to reach should help guide you in determining which tactics and channels to prioritize.
Step 4: Figure out your budget.
Online marketing has two big costs: time and money. You can get away with spending less in money if you’re able to spend more in time, but either way it’s going to cost you. So before you start to delve into the specifics of your plan, consider carefully how much you have to spend.
Some types of online marketing don’t cost anything in money unless you hire someone to do them, while others, like paid search and social advertising, will cost you something no matter what. If you need to get by with little to no monetary budget, then try to find the overlap between your own strengths and what your audience will respond to. If you want to try content marketing but you’re a terrible writer, consider if your audience might respond to a podcast, for instance.
In general though, you’ll get further with your online marketing if you have some money to spend on hiring skilled professionals to help and investing in paid advertising to help give you that first boost of awareness. Online marketing isn’t entirely dependent on being able to spend a lot of money, but it does help.
Step 5: Create your plan.
The four previous steps should bring you to the point where you have a pretty good idea of what types of online marketing you’ll be doing and how much you can handle. Now it’s time to put it all together into a clear plan, with specific steps and timelines.
If you want to keep up with your online marketing, you’ll need to be organized and give yourself a schedule with deadlines to stick with. If you’re pursuing social media marketing, commit to updating your profiles a set number of times each week and schedule time to spend interacting with others on the platform. If you’re starting a blog, work up a list of topics to write about and give yourself a specific deadline for getting each post written and published.
The only way you’ll get it done is if you stay organized and commit to keeping up with the schedule you create. And if you want people to find your site, you have to get it done.
If it all sounds like a lot and you’re overwhelmed, don’t feel bad. It is a lot.
Luckily, there are free marketing plan templates you can use to help you get started.
But the only way to move forward is to get started and learn as you go. And if you can find the money to do so, it’s worth hiring someone to help. Look into online marketing agencies and consultants, or freelance specialists to help with things like SEO and blogging. Your life will be a lot easier if you outsource some of your online marketing to people skilled in doing it. Then you can focus on creating the products or content you built the site to promote to begin with.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.