Internet Marketing: Lessons Learned and Best Practices Part 1 – The Big Picture


Compiled from 20 Years of Marketing Success 

By Hector Cisneros

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Today our world is evolving at breakneck speeds.  All aspects of our lives are changing right before our eyes. The Internet, in particular, is moving faster than most segments of our lives.  Marketing has moved on from a single dimensional communications medium to a world of multi-dimensional and bi-directional communications mediums.  Newspapers, TV, radio, magazines and even billboards are moving to the Internet as part of their communications draw.  People have access to their computers, (smartphones and smart devices) 24/7 and use them everywhere they go. 


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This article will be the first in a four-part series, covering the lessons learned and best practices from the big picture to website design/search engine optimization (SEO), to Social Media Marketing and finally to blogging/multimedia content marketing practices.

To access and read the other three articles in this series, simply type the word "marketing" in the search bar at the above right of this page.


This first installment delves into understanding the big picture; those elements that make or break campaigns and keep marketing teams and their clients working on the same page. The second in the series is devoted to web site/SEO practices, the third to social media marketing, and the fourth will cover blogging/content marketing. All of the articles in the series will layout the lessons learned and best practices we’ve gathered over the past 20 years (evergreen principles) but in particular, we will focus on the major changes that have occurred in the last five years. All are composite stories, no individual client is mention and all the examples come from the success of our agency while working the web to win.

Our Philosophy


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As a professional Internet marketer, I’m tasked with creating and implementing marketing strategies for a
wide variety of clients, from small Mom & Pops to national concerns. We start our process by first researching our clients’ current Internet position (website status, social media engagement, SEO, etc.)  Once this is understood, we move to the budget process.  Our goal is to always provide the best solution that the client’s budget will allow.  Once the client’s budget is determined, we build a detailed plan to meet their needs.  We provide objective solutions based on research, instead of the latest hot buzzword technique.  If the client’s budget allows, we provide A/B testing to see which messages are the best. We are constantly measuring the result of all the elements in play to see which items are providing a real ROI for each client’s campaign. This article will provide the reader a glimpse into what gives a marketing plan the best chance of success, and conversely, what are some of the pitfalls and common mistakes that companies often make when outsourcing an Internet marketing campaign.


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I’ll start by portraying a hypothetical set of clients (a composite, if you will) whom we’ve worked with over the last 20 years.  They will fall into two categories: Clients in Category A follow the plan to the letter, no micro-management, they just stick to the plan we developed for them, which allows us to make adjustments when we suggest that changes be made.  We and they monitor the plan’s result to make sure it’s reaching its goals.  Clients in Category B do lots of second guessing and try to micro-manage the campaign themselves. Often times, they either can’t (because they ran out of money) or they are unwilling to implement the necessary changes we recommend.  In some cases, their expectation exceeds what the original plan and budget promised to deliver.  Now let’s see what we learned.

 

Good Communications Keeps the Campaign on Track


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When Carl Weiss and I started our agency, Working the Web to Win, we surveyed our former individualclients, asking them what they liked and disliked about marketing companies they had used in the past. The number one complaint we heard about our competition was that they rarely or never call the client back.  This builds animosity and distrust between the client and the agency.  It also interferes with the necessary collaboration needed between the client and the agency.  It also blocks the ability of this partnership to take advantage of emerging opportunities.  Because of this feedback, we made open and regular communications one of the cornerstones of our business.  This is so important to the overall success of the campaign, yet many digital marketing agencies ignore this fundamental need.

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Communication between the client and the Internet marketing firm is a key factor in keeping the marketing campaign on track.  Many marketing companies like the “set it and forget it” approach and only speak with the client once a month, or when they want to bring them a new opportunity (which they’ll have to pay more money for).  We believe that weekly, short conference calls keep everyone on the same page and removes the possibility of missed communications, missed opportunities, and key deadlines.  Not communicating regularly with each other usually leads to misunderstanding, second-guessing, and sand bagging.  This leads to missed opportunities and cuts out productive brainstorming.  The client and marketing firm are in a partnership.  This partnership only works if the partners are open and honest with each other.  In communicating regularly w/ our clients, we implement two of Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s core interpersonal practices of  “seek first to understand, then be understood” and “think win-win.” 

Step Number One – S.M.A.R.T. Goals


For the most part, the more a client sets proper S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-Related) allows for pre-campaign A/B testing, and allows for modification of the plan as it’s being implemented, the more successful the client will be.  

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On the other side of the coin, clients in the Category B don’t measure against their predetermined S.M.A.R.T. goalsThey often measure against some pre-conceived notions of what they “think they deserve” or “what they use to do” verses what their current budget will be able to produce.  They’re often more anxious and are looking for immediate results. These same clients often ignore counsel and have a tendency to want to try irrelevant, non-productive marketing techniques, just because some so-called, self-proclaimed “expert” said this is the latest thing going.  They sometimes ask us to engage in trendy techniques that are not tied to their initial goals at all.  Sometimes they will go outside the campaign altogether and engage in activity that unwittingly is against their campaign’s efforts.  We had a couple of clients go on fiverr.com and buy traffic to their site, which actually lowered their traffic and score.  One client even got sandboxed by several search engines for engaging in this behavior.  Needless to say, clients in Category B are far less successful than their counterparts in Category A. 


The Big Picture


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To make sure you understand the big picture here, I want to emphasize a couple of unique benefits that our digital agency provides.  First and foremost, we provide real guarantees for organic search Page One positioning, website traffic increases, social network growth, and organic blog page views growth.  Our guarantee simply states that if we can’t meet the predetermined goal(s), the client does not pay until we do. This takes a lot of the risk out of the equation.  At the same time, if the client's budget can’t afford the labor needed to get the job done, we tell them that in advance. This way, there’s no “he said, she said” finger pointing, just our drive to reach their predetermined goals that both parties agreed upon in writing.


Flex Plans Take the Risk out of the Campaign


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Secondly, we believe that marketing plans need several dynamic elements to be successful.  Just like in a football game plan, you sometimes need to make changes in real-time to deal with the competition and stay ahead.  Our marketing campaigns are flexible and allow for changing the plan in midstream without incurring extra costs or negative consequence to the client.  This means clients never have to worry about paying for an element in their campaign that doesn’t produce concrete results.  Most clients would agree that there is nothing worse than having to pay for a dog that won’t hunt.  Other unique benefits our clients receive are: award-winning proprietary technologies (several of which allow us to meet or exceed the clients’ goals), all our work is done in-house (meaning clients only have one point of contact/accountability), and everything we do can be tracked (so we always know if an element is working or not).

In this article, I’ve discussed several philosophical and cultural elements that can make or break a marketing campaign.  My partner and I have found that regular and open communications with our clients are fundamental to success.  We’ve determined that marketing elements need to be based on research that is done before the budget process is fulfilled.  Testing and measuring are critical.  Lastly, we’ve found that marketing plans need to be dynamic ― not static ― even though most other agencies employ a “set it and forget it” campaign.  We’ve found these elements have a profound effect of the strength and success of the business relationship between the client and the marketing agency.

You can find more than a dozen articles about Internet marketing and how it has evolved on our blog site by entering “Internet marketing” in the search box, at the top of this blog.  I also recommend reading the “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Internet Marketers” and the “The Evolution of Internet Advertising,” just to name a few.


To directly access the other articles in this four-part series, simply click on the following direct links: Part 1 – The Big Picture, Part 2 – Website and SEO Principles, Part 3 – The Social Media Dynamic, and Part 4 – Content is King.  Thanks for sharing your valuable time with us.

That’s my opinion, I look forward to reading yours.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success” and co-author of the new book, Working the Web to Win, both sold on Amazon.com.

1 comment:

  1. As usual, Hector is right on the mark. I'm eager to read the rest of this intriquing series.

    ReplyDelete