Online Marketing

Online marketing is all about how to acquire and retain customers. And how to vendor to them just what they require. A growth hack starts with the following steps: 
  1. define your ideal customer, 
  2. your goals, 
  3. your customer acquisition funnel, 
  4. your metrics,
  5. and track almost everything to gather valuable data. 

Growth start from crashing your goals with your metrics

What is strategy? 

Online customer acquisition plan evolves as you grow. The strategy evolves as you understand your customers better. Simply saying, your strategy is your customer. You start by your Ideal customer and make an 'Ideal' acquisition plan. After all, "no plan survives first contact with customer" - Steve Blank. The more information you can get on your customer, the more targeted your strategy is likely to become.

How tactics are born?

The Growth process usually starts from crashing your long-term goals with your current metrics. That's how tactics is born to life. Tactics are not sustainable, their effects will always tail off. A process is sustainable and continuous – as long as you are committed to it.

How to create the online marketing Tactics?

1. Create growth ideas list 

Tactics are the specific ways you’re going to execute on your strategy. List out any ideas you have to increase your metrics at each stage of the funnel. This is your dumping ground for any possible tactic you think might work for your business. These are your tactics / ideas to implement.

Your strategy might be to run Facebook Ads, but you tactic might be to:

Use custom audiences, optimize for click-throughs, advertise against top of funnel blog-posts, or advertise an upcoming webinar. These are all derived from a specific strategy and goal, which are identified through the process.


2. Prioritize your ideas

Especially when starting out, you want to do a million things RIGHT NOW. You’ll eventually want to see all your metrics improve, but you should work on improving 1 metric at a time. When you spread yourself too thin you’ll never take the time to focus on your task and you’ll do everything with half a brain. You’ll become stressed and demotivated because you won’t see results.

Pick one tactic to execute, send it through the funnel and see it through to the end. 

Which ones do you focus on?

Play to your strengths to get the ball rolling. If you know you can create great content, focus on that to start. It takes time to learn the ropes on a new channel (let alone be effective), so get the quick wins first before trying channels you have little to no experience in. 

Your bottlenecks help you to determine how to spend your time. If your immediate goal is to increase website traffic, then focusing on email marketing isn’t going to bring in more traffic as well as other channels can. 

Look at how much of an impact it might have, how confident you are that will happen, and how many resources it takes to experiment with it. Compare it against other experiments that are on the list. 

This is how you use your longer-term goals to work backwards to figure out exactly what you need to do today to reach them.

How long do you plan your experiments for? 

Brian Balfour, VP of Growth at Hubspot recommends 30 to 90 day experiment cycles: “Anything smaller than 30 days you’re probably not giving yourself enough time to make a meaningful impact, anything larger than 90 days you’re probably biting off too big of a piece.”


3. Execute your plan

This part of the plan is where you implement your specific tactics. 

The first time you test a new idea in a channel, it’s unlikely that you’re going to achieve a big impact. It’s okay to run a campaign where the primary goal is to learn whether something works. Aim for small victories quickly to establish momentum.


4. Analyze: how to stand apart from the majority of marketers 

The most important part of the process is analyzing the results of your campaigns against your hypothesis, pulling out learnings, and turning those into action items, or new experiments. The results of your previous experiments will guide the next cycle of marketing, based on your learnings. 

This is the crucial part of the process that most marketers fail to execute and stick to. 

At the end of any experiment you have to go back and ask yourself: “Was this experiment successful? If so why? If not, why not? What have we learnt and what can we do differently next time?” 

Take these learnings, funnel them back into the plan as new ideas for the next cycle.


5. Optimize & formalize your methods

A well defined process comes from well-defined methods. 

Whenever you run a marketing experiment, document your efforts. Outline your objective, hypothesis, timeframe, and how you’ll execute it. After the experiment is over, return to the document and include your results, your learnings, and what you’ll do next. 

If you’re doing something that is likely to be repeated in the future, write out a playbook for it that can be referred to next time.

Create a dashboard.Whatever goals you’re focusing on, create a simple dashboard that helps you visualize the metrics you need to improve. This can be in a Google Analytics dashboard, or use Heap analytics.

Timeframe is important. You need smaller timeframes to see if your actions are having direct impact, and longer timeframes to see trends. For example, if your goal is to improve the number of signups, you might want to add: number of signups per day, week, month or over six months, and also top signup sources.

Case study 

The client’s customer acquisition plan  

The client: a start-up lawyer directory and review service. The client positioned a site as a ‘place where Aussies go when they need a legal advice’.

Customer acquisition strategy: gain customers through organic search (SEO).

Ideal customer type: small businesses / individuals who want to find lawyers judging by others reviews or through asking them a question for free.

Initial Goals: 1) get on Top 5 Google results against ‘lawyer’s name’ search term; 2) get on Top 10 against ‘practice of law’ + ‘location’ search term.

Acquisition funnel: from Organic search: 1) Sign up, 2) Ask a question, 3) Review a lawyer, 4) Tell other how great they were, and 5) along the way generate more and more positive feelings toward the brand.

What went wrong? 

The client’s strategy relied was based on two cornerstones: 1) a large & accurate database of lawyers on the website; 2) customers would give their reviews and feedback on lawyers as their engage with them on the website. 

The bottleneck: Apparently, the bottleneck was reviews and feedback on the stage when no engagement with lawyers has occurred. Right from the start it has questioned the ‘ideal customer type’ concept – a person who wants to judge by others reviews. And, importantly, the absence of reviews undermined the quality of pages, which in turn prejudiced Goal 1 – lawyer pages ranking. 

So, goals needed to be updated: we now need Reviews.  

We needed a direction how to get to this Goal from customer experience 

Obviously, the customer type has to be refined. Ideal user persona needed to be further dissected but user-level data were very obscure. Bounce rate was high and it was hard to extract any meaningful users’ experience.


User segmentation hypothesis 

I suggested a hypothesis that there might be 3 user segments down within the ideal buyer’s persona: 

  1.  Upstream user
  2. Low hanging fruits
  3.  Problem solvers

Upstream users are millenials with a strong grasp of social. Create lots of content and need instant gratification. Appreciate smooth user experience. 

Low hanging fruits were those already interested in finding a lawyer in a specific location. 

Problem solvers are people who search a web to find an answer to law-related question. By the contrast to ‘low hanging fruits’ who have an ‘intent’ buying stage, problem solvers are only embracing the problem – arguably, the ‘awareness stage’. 


Who helps the most?

Obviously, upstream users will be responsible for creating the biggest share (if not all) of the site’s content user-wise. This means that as compared to all other user segments, upstream users will mostly likely be asking questions. Predictably, low hanging fruits will mostly search lawyer biographies and possibly browse lawyer reviews. Problem solvers most likely will explore the existing answers / advices. 

So, upstream users will create the momentum that will keep all other user segments engaged with the client’s website. That’s why I suggested to pick optimizing the conversion funnel for upstream users as a first milestone. 

Tactics – How to target them?

I suggested approaching upstream users in Facebook through Community / Interest targeted advertising. The ad pitch may say: Small business owner? Ask legal questions for free. Connect and review lawyers. Share your experience with others with your industry.    

The conversion Funnel 

 A primary goal is to Review a lawyer. Obviously, goal conversion will augment the Lawyer’s profile and result in attracting more customers: both through organic traffic and social networks. The easiest way to reviews is enable instant Review option after the first interaction with a lawyer. 

So, the conversion funnel was: 

  1. Sign-up
  2. See a guide
  3. Ask a question
  4. Post a review
  5. Share your experience via Social

How it’s going to be?

The Ad landing page is going to be Main page. It has to feature video explaining benefits of Sign up and Profile. It has to be both emotional and instructive. The page may also have featured profiles of other clients to give them a look and feel. This will secure step # 1 ‘Sign up’ conversion of ‘Upstream’ users. 

It has to be as simple as ‘type your email’. After that they need to tell a customer ‘What to expect from you’ – a) how ask questions, b) how to search lawyers, c) how to set the account up. It shall produce a high conversion rate onto step #2 ‘Ask a question’. Subsequently, they would want to empower a user to review a lawyer by his / her answer only. Along the way, the client would want to enable social sharing of blog entries / articles on your website so that a user may tell others about the service.  


Key metrics

Suppose there is customer who is a small business owner. She gets signed up and has a profile page. There she puts some info on his business, links to his web resources and social accounts. In addition to that, on the profile page she can put lawyers’ wish-list (the one’s she follows or want to get into the contact). And, importantly, her profile shows reviews from lawyers who she worked with (if any). 

Would be that profile beneficial to lawyers (sellers)? Yes, because they can get more of a background on the clients and have more accurate angle when communicating with her? Would be that profile beneficial to herself also? Yes, because she can have more targeted content on her areas of interest. And, above all other, it will bring greater buyer’s experience as sellers would know the client. If combined with Social Accounts networking possibilities it creates even more fun.

So, the key metrics to target were:

  1. Sign-ups
  2. Profile completeness
  3. Wish-list usage
  4. Ask a question stats
  5. Reviews stats
  6. Social shares