3 Questions to Ask Before Budgeting Your 2013 Marketing Plan

“What are we gonna do next year?”

That’s the marketing question being asked around offices and boardrooms right this minute.

Social Media?  PPC?  SEO?  Content?  Website?

There’s a lot of online marketing tactics to choose from.

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And if you need help picking, choose the tactics that help you answer these three questions:

1. How Can I Get More Visitors to my Site?

Your website has two purposes, and two purposes only:

  1. To Attract Traffic
  2. To Convert Traffic

That’s it.

There’s a lot of ways to increase traffic to your website, here’s a few to focus on:

Paid Search or Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC is the quickest way to get more traffic to your site, and more leads for your business.  According to Google, businesses on average receive $2 of revenue for every $1 invested in AdWords – not a bad ROI.  But be careful, if it’s not done properly you could plow through your budget.  Consider outsourcing your PPC to experts, just make sure they have the appropriate certifications, proven experience, and can supply references.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO, put simply, means taking steps to improve search engine rankings when someone searches for a keyword related to your business.  SEO is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  It takes time to see results and  search engine algorithms are changing constantly, so you’ll need someone who can keep up to the trends.  But the payoff can be huge: free, organic traffic to your website.

Email Marketing

Investment in email marketing will grow from $1.3B in 2010 to $2B by 2014.  It’s still a very effective channel, with one of the highest ROI rates in online marketing.  Email is great for increasing traffic, whether it’s to send out a newsletter, syndicate new blog posts or content, promote a sale, or just to poll or survey your customers.  Just make sure to minimize subscriber churn rate, follow CAN-SPAM rules, and monitor your site’s online reputation to avoid being blacklisted by ISPs.

Social Media and Content Marketing

Content can help create awareness for your brand, position your company as a knowledge leader, and keep your customers engaged.  It’s also great for SEO and attracting visitors to your site, especially when combined with social media.  Find out where your audience is (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and engage them: share content, answer their questions, and help promote them too.  You’ll be rewarded with more exposure for your business, and more visitors to your site.

2. How Can I Convert Visitors into Customers?

The average sites wastes 75%+ of their traffic due to lack of persuasion and “sales-ability” (Source: HubSpot).

There’s no point spending a lot of money getting more people to your site if they’re just going to leave.

If you’re website isn’t converting visitors into customers, here’s a few tips:

Design Every Page with a Purpose

You have 5-8 seconds to get a visitor’s attention before they jump ship – not a lot of time.  You need to make sure they understand exactly what you do, who your audience is, how you’re different, and what’s in it for them.  Design each and every page with a purpose: make it obvious what you want them to do, provide a path forward, and ensure a clear call to action: whether it’s to download a whitepaper, sign-up for a newsletter, or purchase a product.  Remember, a website is nothing more than a way to speak with text and graphics, you just need it to say all the right things.

Get Responsive with Web Design

There’s over 1 billion people with mobile phones, that’s one in every six people on the planet.  More and more people are viewing your website from their phone or tablet, and you need to make sure your site “responds” to this trend.  Responsive web design basically means that a website will render properly for different web browsers, including those used on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.  If your website doesn’t fit the latest technologies, your visitors won’t see your company as a fit for their business.

Optimize with Split and Multivariate Testing

Is your site’s contact form too long?  Is your “Buy Now” button the right colour?  Is your pricing too much, or too little?

The only way to know the answers is to test, test, test.

Split and multivariate testing means sending some of your visitors to a control page and some to an “experiment” page (that differs from the control page) and seeing which one performs better.  The control and experiment page(s) could have a different headline, layout, colour, call to action, or price.  The point of the whole process is to determine what your visitors respond to better.

The more you test your site, the more you’ll improve it, the more leads you’ll get, the business you’ll get.

3. How Can I Keep and Grow My Customer Base?

Never forget the Pareto Principle: 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.

So when it comes to growing your business in 2013, don’t overlook your existing customers and follow the three “R’s”:

Repeat Customers

When budgeting your marketing spend for 2013, include tactics that will get more business out of your current customers.  Think about it.  They’ve already bought from you, they’re already familiar with your brand, and you’ve already earned their trust.  Engage them with Social Media, send them useful information with blogs and emails, and offer them VIP discounts and promos.  Don’t forget to wow them with your customer service!

Rave Reviews

Never underestimate the power of reviews.  As a rule, people don’t care what you say about your own business, they care more what others say about your business.  If you run an online store or people can buy something from your site, bend over backwards to get people to write reviews of your products.  Get a ratings and review platform such as Re-Vu or bazaarvoice and give your customers incentive with reward points or special discounts (bonus: reviews are great for SEO value).  Testimonials are also very important, make them front and center on your homepage and scatter them throughout your website and online marketing collateral.


Did you know that you are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend?  Referral marketing is an often overlooked marketing channel.  Plan to get more referrals for your business in 2013 by creating a quantitative (i.e . measurable) referral marketing plan.   The best time to ask a customer for a referral is the moment you’ve “wowed” them, whether it’s solving their problem, giving them a great deal, or satisfying them with a wonderful product or customer service experience.  Reward them with special discounts, perks, or reward points.  Test different referral tactics and measure what works.  Don’t forget to include employees and social media influencers in your referral marketing plan.

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