Companies are dedicating more of their budgets to online marketing activities. But simply focusing on digital tactics is not very effective. What’s needed is an integrated online program focused on driving website traffic, generating leads and nurturing leads into paying customers.

6 Components of a Winning Online Marketing Program

Because simply “doing” digital marketing—having a website, sending out emails and being visible on social media—is not going to lead to success. So we’ve outlined six essential components of a winning online marketing program.

1. Strategy

Effective online marketing is not fragmented or done on a whim. It’s intentional and meticulously executed. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is jumping straight to tactics and losing a focus on doing what matters. There are far too many companies enamored with the latest online marketing tools with no consideration for how they fit into an overall strategy.

So instead, lay out a comprehensive and integrated online strategy that is aligned with your business goals, based on your buyer persona profiles, and measured by a dashboard of KPIs and metrics that are critical to determining the ongoing success of your efforts.

2. Content marketing

Content marketing is the core of a successful online marketing program. It’s the magnet that helps you get found in search results, attract prospects, convert leads and engage customers. It’s not so much a tactic, as it is an overall philosophy. Instead of shouting your messages with a bullhorn, you attract prospects using engaging, customer-focused content as a magnet.

It’s about adding value through blog articles, eBooks, whitepapers, webinars, infographics and other formats. And it’s a critical component to providing prospects with answers to questions and helpful information throughout every stage of the buying cycle: from awareness, to interest, consideration, evaluation and purchase.

3. Traffic generation

What good is content if nobody knows you have it? Getting found in search engines and promoting content through multiple online channels will drive web traffic and increase demand for your content (and ultimately your services or products). Blogging is one of the key ways to drive traffic to your website. According to Hubspot, companies that blog receive 55% more visitors by posting regular, customer-focused content that your prospects are interested in and searching for. Blogging also helps you with SEO, as it provides you the best forum to create keyword-rich content and build inbound links. Promoting your content on social media is another way to drive traffic and increase your online visibility.  Lastly, the right kind of email marketing can also increase traffic to your website, by promoting relevant content to existing contacts.

4. Lead generation

Attracting qualified traffic to your website is only the first step. The next step is to convert visitors into leads through effective lead generation strategies that prompt them to take action. Only 3% of first time visitors are ready to make a purchase, so that contact form on your website is probably not going to generate a lead out of the other 97% of website visitors.

What’s needed are premium content offers such as whitepapers, research reports, webinars, etc.  These offers should be featured on custom landing pages and promoted in multiple places on your website and blog using engaging calls-to-action. A lead capture form is a critical piece of this process as it gives a way for an unknown visitor, with some presumed level of interest in your company, to essentially “raise their hand” and make themselves known. But always remember, if a prospect is going to give you their contact information, they are going to expect to get something of value in return, so make sure your content is truly “premium.”

5. Lead management

Most leads aren’t ready to buy just because they’ve filled out a form and downloaded a whitepaper. Qualified leads need to be engaged after their initial conversion and nurtured through each stage of the buying cycle. This is where understanding your personas and their needs at every stage are so critical.

Leads should be entered into a lead nurturing drip campaign that sends a series of automated emails at scheduled intervals. These emails educate and inform prospects as they move through the buying stages of the customer lifecycle and also keep your products or services top of mind, allowing you to “nurture” the relationship until the point where they are ready to talk to a salesperson.

Effective lead intelligence (tracking your prospect’s behaviors and web activity) combined with lead scoring (a point system that adds and subtracts points to a lead’s value over time based on various lead attributes and behaviors) is helpful to understand which leads are actually interested and which leads just wanted to read your whitepaper. When this information is integrated with your company’s CRM system, it helps close the loop with marketing and sales and keep your business development team focused on the best opportunities.

6. Analytics & reporting

Measuring the success of your efforts is a critical component of an online marketing program. Gone are the days of launching a campaign and waiting months for an indication of success.  Analytical tools allow you to track activity in real-time, using the KPIs and dashboard of metrics you established in your strategy.

Understanding what works and what doesn’t, and being able to make changes as you go along will have a dramatic impact on the success of your online marketing program. All your online marketing efforts should be constantly measured, analyzed and tweaked for improved performance.

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There are so many online tools and tactics available to marketers today. But even the best tools and tactics will not be very effective if they’re not integrated and strategic. We’re long past the simple metrics of eyeballs and impressions. If your online marketing is not generating leads, nurturing leads and converting leads into customers, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.