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]]> 123693 A starter guide to creating webinars https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/a-starter-guide-to-creating-webinars/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/a-starter-guide-to-creating-webinars/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 16:02:22 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/a-starter-guide-to-creating-webinars/

Webinars are great for generating quality leads, building trust with an audience, reaching more people, and converting more leads into customers

In an increasingly competitive market where consumers get hit with content from all sides, webinars allow you to offer them more value than other, more traditional forms of online content (blog posts, infographics, etc.).

According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 43% of B2B marketers use webinars platforms, and 55% use webinars as a key content distribution vehicle.

CMI content distribution Ascend2, meanwhile, has found that webinars are the second most effective type of gated content resource for lead capture purposes, trumped only by download offers, and Demand Gen Report has found that along with research reports and emails, webinars are the most effective tactics for lead nurture.

If you’re looking to get started with this powerful content format, read on for a comprehensive guide to creating webinars:

What do you want to achieve?

Before planning or creating a webinar, think of what exactly you want to achieve with it. For example, webinars can be used to:

  • Educate your audience: product demonstrations for existing and potential customers, or other educational material
  • Generate leads and build your email list: people are much more likely to give their name and email in exchange for a webinar; in fact, 79% of B2B buyers said they would give their personal information for a webinar in according to Demand Gen Report)
  • Establish authority and credibility in your niche: showing your prospects how helpful your product is can be far more effective than asking them to take your word for it
  • Convert more leads into customers and make more sales: few tactics are as effective for building a relationship with leads than when they spend a good hour or so watching you talk about how your product can make their lives better

Most marketers use webinars particularly to generate more leads. That’s because, as I mentioned earlier, people are likelier to give away their contact details in exchange for a webinar as they provide more value than most other forms of content. On24’s Webinar Benchmark’s Report found that 29% of marketing webinar attendees convert.

What’s more, most marketers put a big emphasis on the quality of the leads generated – and that is exactly where webinars shine.

Once you know what you want to achieve, you’ll be able to determine what type of webinar you need to create to reach that goal. So, for example, if you were a business consultant looking to generate more quality leads for your business, you might hold a webinar that not only shows off your knowledge but also helps solve one of the big pain-points of your target audience.

Beyond that, though, you should also set clear, measurable objectives for each webinar. For example:

  • To get 300 attendees and a 65% attendance rate
  • To generate 100 new email addresses for your list
  • To make 5 news sales

Goal benchmarking is important, as it allows you to optimize future webinars. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right from the first try; by analyzing your results carefully, you’ll learn what you can do to improve results on your next webinar, and so on – until you become a master of organizing holding quality webinars.

What should your webinar be about?

As I mentioned earlier, your end goal will help you figure out what kind of content you should provide to achieve that goal.

Beyond that though, all you have to do is a little research:

  • Use a keyword tool to research what keywords your audience is searching for: For example, use Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner. This will help you understand exactly what your audience’s questions and pain points are, no matter what product or service you might be selling. Use the most searched for groups of keywords to come up with multiple ideas for webinars
  • Ask your list: you could do a survey or ask your list directly of what they’d want to learn more about; give them a few options and let their answers come in
  • Look at your blog: which of your blog posts were most successful? Some of them could be great for a webinar, where you can cover the subject more in-depth. Additionally, look at the comments you receive: what questions do people have? What struggles are they facing?
  • Look at similar blogs: whether your blog is too small, or just because you want to do even more research, you can use other similar blogs for your research. Just like with your blog, find out what their most popular posts are (and why), and read through the comments they receive to see what questions and pain points their readers have

Plan your webinar

Once you’ve figured out what your webinar will be about, start planning:

  • Preparing the webinar
  • Promoting the webinar ahead of the day
  • Post-webinar, analyzing performance and repurposing the content

In terms of preparing your webinar, you need to be as ready as possible; not only have all your hand-outs ready (any PDFs, checklists, tests, and so on), but you need to be very confident about the subject you’re going to speak about.

Plus, practice some common questions and how you would answer them; at the end of the webinar, a few minutes are left specifically for a Q&A.

Next, you need to get people to join your webinar; meaning, it’s time to start promoting it:

  • Create a landing page where people can register
  • Promote the webinar/landing page on your blog and website (pop-ups, opt-in forms, and buttons); plus, if you have a blog, you can write a post about it
  • Email your list to let them know about your webinar
  • Promote on social media

You must promote your webinars heavily and over an extended period. Research from on24 found that 21% of attendees register over 15 days in advance, 37% in the last 7 days before a webinar, and as many as 26% register on the day of the webinar.

Once the webinar is finished, don’t forget to measure your results, so that you can make better webinars in the future.

Here’s a rundown of some of the best webinar tools:


ClickmeetingClickMeeting is an all-in-one webinar tool that helps you through every stage of the process, before, during, and after the webinar.

You can use it to create a webinar room with your branding and:

  • Get people to attend with customized invitations, a registration page for the webinar
  • Hold your webinar in audio and video and show your slides and other documents, use a whiteboard to illustrate your points, and use screen sharing for demonstrations.
  • Add calls to action during your webinar and post a poll or survey at any time to collect information and feedback (plus, some very valuable customer insights)
  • Record your webinar and store it
  • Get attendee statistics to understand your performance
  • Share to social media

What I love about ClickMeeting is that it offers the full suite of tools needed to create, promote, hold, and measure your webinars’ performance, making it a perfect solution for those who want to integrate webinars into their content marketing strategy – something that you won’t find with many other major webinar tools.



AnyMeeting is a webinar and video conferencing tool; when it comes to webinars, you can use the tool to:

  • Create custom registration forms to collect attendees or your webinar
  • Connect with your email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM tools through Zapier
  • Facebook and Twitter integrations for promoting your webinar
  • Hold webinars with up to 6 presenters
  • Take real-time polls during your webinar
  • Hold audience Q&As with the Q&A tool
  • Use screen sharing, presentations and share all kinds of files and media
  • Have up to 1000 attendees on your webinars

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GoToWebinar is a tool designed to help businesses of any size and shape, create and hold a webinar:

  • Create customized registration forms to gather registrants and their relevant data
  • Send email invitations, confirmations and reminders, automatically
  • Customize your webinar with your branding
  • Add polls and surveys during the webinar to collect information and feedback
  • Hold Q&As at the end of your webinars
  • Record your webinars and reuse them anywhere you need to
  • Create pre-recorded webinars and the new Simulated Live feature will help the event “feel” live
  • Built-in reporting and analytics for your webinars


Webinars, as I mentioned earlier, can provide a wealth of benefits:

  • Build more trust and credibility with your target audience and your leads
  • Raise awareness of your business
  • Increase your authority in your niche
  • Generate more leads and make more sales
  • Create a new revenue stream – if you keep at it, it can become a very profitable revenue stream, for that matter.

Have you created any webinars yet?

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How best to grow your markets by translation and localization https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-best-to-grow-your-markets-by-translation-and-localization/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-best-to-grow-your-markets-by-translation-and-localization/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 11:51:45 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-best-to-grow-your-markets-by-translation-and-localization/

Many businesses make the mistake of plunging ahead without due attention to translation quality or write something that proves offensive to the local mindset

Often the most cost-effective way to grow your business is by entering foreign markets. But that’s easier said than done. One relatively low-cost key to foreign expansion is successful translation and localization: letting prospective customers know that you speak their language and take into consideration their local culture. We’ll consider the challenges and pitfalls of these processes and how to get from here to there most successfully.

It’s a cliché that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. But the fact is that many businesses make the mistake of plunging ahead without due attention to translation quality or write something that proves offensive or inappropriate to the local or cultural mindset. The result can be that your message and meaning is “lost in translation” as the Econotimes elucidates.

It’s not hard to make such linguistic slips without even knowing that you did – until it’s too late. You can’t possibly be an expert on linguistic or cultural nuances in every market but you need to find someone who is, or else risk embarrassment. So what’s the best way to play it safe without laying out wads of cash?

The delicate balance between quality and price

Translating and localizing content are expert services but, for the small business marketer, they can be relatively inexpensive compared to the costs of creating original content. Once you have that original content in hand and seek to use it proactively for marketing to foreign markets, your first step is to devise a localization strategy along with marketing tactics for delivering the translated and localized content to your target audiences.

Whether your content is translating a website or localizing an app, preparing documentation in a foreign language, or performing transcription services, subtitling, voice-overs, or translation/localization services, you need to find the best and most cost-effective sources of linguistic expertise.

Translation managed by your local marketing partner

Let’s start with the high-end of quality – but also price. If you have already engaged a marketing agency in your foreign market, they are likely to either offer translation and localization services or know of an agency or freelancers that can. But watch out: that’s like letting the cat guard the milk. The foreign marketing agency, not you, then controls the localization relations, and you are left needing to trust them, with reduced leverage on quality and cost concerns.

“Trust and verify” is a watchword used by politicians seeking to confirm nuclear deals but it’s also good advice for marketers dealing with foreign marketing partners. At the very least, be part of the decision-making and selection process for localization subcontractors. Review and discuss a shortlist of candidates – never accept a single vendor diktat.

In principle, you can opt to work with a local translation agency, or a freelancer, proposed by your marketing partner. But – it’s a big but – don’t rely on your marketing agency alone. In this case, you will want to seek out and recruit to your side an independent agency with expertise in the language of the target market in question. That agency’s sole job will be to provide quality assurance on translated or localized products, ensuring that your marketing partner, and its subs, are delivering the goods at the required quality level.  Where you find such an editing and proofreading partner?

Global translation agencies for marketers

Before we move on to the task of recruiting and managing freelancers to check the work of your primary marketing partner and its subcontractors, there’s another option for you to consider. Instead of relying on a local marketing agency to provide – internally or externally – the linguistic expertise, go instead to a global agency focused exclusively on translation, localization, and other linguistic interpretation services.

There are scores of such agencies a click away on the internet – including (full disclaimer) my own.  The key factor to look for in selecting one, naturally, is demonstrable expertise in the target market and its language. Ask for lists of references and examples of successful works.

Global information statistics

Facts about localization you should know

Speaking the language of your target market may be the most important factor in growing your audience and increase your new market penetration. The Return on Investment (ROI) can be huge.

Check into the agency’s best practices, and work methods: turnaround time, certifications, pricing policies. A key consideration is whether the translation agency relies primarily on machine translation or smart human translation. Although there has been in recent years a marked improvement in the quality of machine learning (ML), and specifically neural machine language or NML, there is still an advantage to relying on local human beings who still “get” the local language and culture better than any machine (so far!) can.

A translation agency checklist for marketing organizations

Consider the following criteria when selecting a global translation agency partner:

  • Response time to your quote requests: it should be measurable in minutes or a few hours, not days!
  • Make sure the agency works 24/7 and will guarantee delivery time. Make them put that commitment in writing.
  • Dedicated account manager who speaks your language and can work in your preferred time zone. Meet that person (ideally by videoconference) and feel comfortable with that choice, before inking the contract.
  • Ensure that the agency has expertise in the specific language pair (yours and the local market).
  • Ensure that the agency will guarantee their work for a reasonable period, at least a month up to a year. If you find an error, they should fix it without additional charge.

Managing freelance translators: pros and cons for marketers

How best to grow your markets by translation and localization

Finding and managing freelance translators and localization resources has never been easier. Most marketing managers are probably familiar by now with freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, Freelance.com, and Upwork. You may have used them to get a logo designed, an explainer video produced, a white paper or a landing page designed.

What you may not have considered is using these platforms for getting your content translated to various languages. There is a robust activity in the translation sections of these sites. Just sign up for one or more and post your request, either by briefly describing your project or even, in cases where your content is well-defined and limited in scope, posting your original document.

Then sit back and watch as the freelance bids from your work come rolling in. While these platforms differ from each other in various ways, each allows you to view the freelancer’s profile with its rates, ratings, and reviews. Wait two to three days to gather the bids, then make a shortlist of candidates. Here’s a brief checklist for vetting candidates.

  • Is the freelance a native/mother tongue speaker of the target language.
  • Look first at the freelancer’s success score and client reviews. Are there any red flags or complaints?
  • Consider editing and proofreading skills. Even if you opt for a translation agency, these freelancers can be your independent auditor of an external agency, so you are not at the mercy of a third party and you have a second pair of “local eyes” – no pun intended.
  • Look at the hourly rates but also get a per-job estimate.
  • Hold the freelancer’s feet to the fire. They’re only human, stuff happens, but don’t accept repeated delays.
  • Look for comparable works in their profile or ask for it in your job request.
  • Beware of unqualified fraudsters who use translation tools and try to pass it off as human translation. Sadly, it’s being done a lot! Make sure your contract with the freelancers specifies human translation, not with software.
  • Have an interview with three to five of the most qualified candidates. Follow your gut feeling as the deciding factor after considering the points above.

After following these guidelines for managing freelancers translating just one language, you may conclude that the time required to manage freelancers is not worth the time and trouble. You may decide that the risk of working directly with a single individual rather than an agency is not worth it. This is especially likely if you are entering multiple foreign markets. Better to work with a global translation agency that has the bandwidth and network and standards to handle a larger multinational project.

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Do it yourself with cloud translation software

We mentioned the fact that many “translators” are secretly relying on software tools like Google Translate… and getting away with it! That’s possible because the state of the art, driven by Artificial Intelligence, and neural networks are improving the quality of translation radically. This isn’t to say that it’s even close to perfect. But it’s usually good enough to provide an okay idea about the meaning of the original.

You, or someone on your marketing team, can productively use these tools to produce a decent first draft of a translation. Of course, that doesn’t mean you are done, but it’s certainly something that can be used as an intermediate step in the translation and localization processes. It can also help in negotiations with a translator.

Providing the machine-translated document can reduce the cost of a translation because it simplifies the human translator’s task. There is a usually a price differential between editing/proofing a document and translating from the original. Naturally, you should provide the original as well. But using a translation tool yourself gives you, and the translator, a valuable cross-reference and reality check.

Naturally, there’s a whole class of tools out there to assist in common translation and localization needs, like translating apps and websites, software documentation, and help messages. These “localizers” expedite making your digital products available in multiple languages and multiple countries. They don’t just do the translation, but also the conversion of currency and measurements. This is a special niche for digital product marketing, and we can address that in a future post.

For now, my takeaways and best practices can be summarized simply:

  1. Machine translation is no substitute for human expertise.
  2. The real cost of translation needs to include your management time.
  3. The marketing value of a strong translation outweighs the added expense of working with professionals.


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Incremental measurement – advantage and opportunities https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/incremental-measurement-advantage-and-opportunities/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/incremental-measurement-advantage-and-opportunities/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 10:34:56 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/incremental-measurement-advantage-and-opportunities/

The scientific method of measuring marketing effectiveness

As seasoned marketers, I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the quote (often attributed to John Wanamaker):

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”

The ability to effectively measure marketing effectiveness is the Holy Grail for CMOs and marketing leaders. With so many established, new and emerging channels at our disposal, it’s more important than ever to identify and prioritize those that drive the most value for our businesses.

Many marketers believe that evaluating the impact of marketing is straightforward – simply compare the outcomes from one campaign to another and look at which channels generated value.

However, simple or even more complex attribution modelling doesn’t always give the right credit to different types of advertising and marketing. Last touch attribution ignores different influencers on the path to conversion, whilst multi-touch attribution can give too much credit to low-value touches at the start and end of the measurement period.

The advantages of incremental measurement

Some of my fondest memories from school involved the experiments we conducted in science class. Whether we were testing magnetic fields, chemicals or plants, our experiments always had five steps:

  1. Question(s)
  2. Observation
  3. Hypothesis
  4. Method
  5. Results

Following the scientific method ensures that experiments can be both easily repeated and the results accepted. As part of the method step of the process, the ‘thing’ being tested should be broken into two groups:

  1. Treatment – Receives the treatment or intervention, usually manipulation of the independent variable.
  2. Control – Receives no treatment or intervention, or receives standard treatment that can be understood as a baseline.

Experiments involving treatment and control groups represent the scientific gold standard in finding out what works. By comparing results between treatment and control groups, we can make a much more accurate evaluation of the value specific marketing and advertising activities deliver. This approach gives us the incremental value by measuring what a campaign adds to revenue.

However, poorly designed experiments can lead to misallocations of budgets, especially if too much weight is placed on a single set of results. The importance of having a very clear question and hypothesis is crucial, as well as a series of repeatable experiments, before making a final decision on what may or may not be effective.

The components of a controlled experiment

The main difference between results generated via scientific experiments and other forms of measurement is the ability to identify incremental impact. Incremental uplift demonstrates the performance of a specific channel being tested in a more meaningful way. Rather than showing how many products your target audience bought, incremental uplifts show how many more products were purchased because of the marketing activity the audience was exposed to as a result of a change in media spend.

A treatment and control experiment has two main features:

  1. A clearly defined target group
  2. Control over who will be exposed to the marketing activity

A marketing campaign will never reach all users within the target audience because exposure to an ad, search listing or email will depend on people’s individual behaviour, numerous targeting parameters and competitor bidding.

This means that the people reached will differ from those that are not reached. To measure effectiveness, we need to make a comparison: “Did people who saw our ad change their behaviour, relative to not seeing it?”

In order to do this, we must randomly divide our target audience into two groups: those that are exposed (treatment) and those that are not (control).

This test and control framework establishes a baseline so we can clearly identify the impact of our marketing efforts. Without this framework, it’s easy for results to be ambiguous or inconclusive.

Bear in mind, however, that there are many factors that can affect the results of an experiment. Don’t assume that email or social don’t work because one experiment performed below expectations. Even if the treatment and control groups and targeting were set up correctly, the experiment may have failed because the creative messaging or proposition wasn’t effective. One test is never enough, so run a series of tests with different variables.

Five steps to creating an effective experiment

A controlled experiment will be an experiment itself if it’s the first time you’ve attempted this way of measuring marketing effectiveness. So take your time and give yourself permission to test and learn. Here are five steps to follow:

1. Set out your business goals and performance metrics

Ensure that tests are aligned to the broader business goals you’re looking to influence. If your company is looking to drive committed customers, testing direct and one-to-one communication might be the focus. You might, therefore, look to test the targeting and creative as part of your mail and email communications.

2. Ask a clear question

Once you’ve thought through your business goals, ask a clear question about what you’re looking to achieve. Start with an objective:

“To understand if narrowing our targeting to the 25-40 demographic for email drives incremental newsletter sign-ups”

And a hypothesis:

“Changing our targeting parameters to reach a narrower audience base (from 20 – 50  to 25 – 40) will improve relevancy and increase CTR for newsletter sign-ups.”

3. Develop a media plan

Develop a solid media plan in response to the objective and hypothesis of the test. Define the types of media you plan to use and test to achieve your objectives.

4. Design the experiment

Design your experiment with all the right details:

  • Set Parameters
  • Outline measurement period
  • Include confidence intervals
  • Define clear treatment and control groups
  • Ensure you employ random selection for treatment and control groups

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5. Test and learn

It will take more than one attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of any given channel. Take what you’ve learned from your first experiment, make adjustments and test again.

Conclusion: the benefits of controlled marketing experiments

There are three main benefits to running controlled marketing experiments:

  • Hypothesis-driven – Experimental design brings goal-setting to the front of the process.
  • Gold standard of measurement – A valid, controlled experiment will tell you whether marketing on a specific platform creates incremental value. Other measurement methods (e.g. attribution) are useful but depend on assumptions and correlations.
  • Simple to understand – Controlled experiments are transparent and easy to understand. Marketers at any level can understand the results.

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How to use the BCG Matrix https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-use-the-bcg-matrix/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-use-the-bcg-matrix/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 08:28:56 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-use-the-bcg-matrix/

Examples of using the BCG Matrix (Growth Market Share Matrix) to review your product portfolio

What is the BCG Matrix?

The Boston Consulting group’s product portfolio matrix (BCG matrix) is designed to help with long-term strategic planning, to help a business consider growth opportunities by reviewing its portfolio of products to decide where to invest, to discontinue or develop products. It’s also known as the Growth/Share Matrix.

The Matrix is divided into 4 quadrants based on an analysis of market growth and relative market share, as shown in the diagram below.


  • 1. Dogs: These are products with low growth or market share.
  • 2. Question marks or Problem Child: Products in high growth markets with low market share.
  • 3. Stars: Products in high growth markets with high market share.
  • 4. Cash cows: Products in low growth markets with high market share

Members can use our guide exploring classical marketing models to learn more about how to apply them to real-world challenges. We also have a free guide for more recent digital marketing models including our Smart Insights RACE digital marketing planning framework.

How to use the BCG Matrix?

To apply the BCG Matrix you can think of it as showing a portfolio of products or services, so it tends to be more relevant to larger businesses with multiple services and markets. However, marketers in smaller businesses can use similar portfolio thinking to their products or services to boost leads and sales as we’ll show at the end of this article.

Considering each of these quadrants, here are some recommendations on actions for each:

  • Dog products: The usual marketing advice here is to aim to remove any dogs from your product portfolio as they are a drain on resources.

    However, this can be an over-simplification since it’s possible to generate ongoing revenue with little cost.

    For example, in the automotive sector, when a car line ends, there is still a need for spare parts. As SAAB ceased trading and producing new cars, a whole business emerged providing SAAB parts.

  • Question mark products: As the name suggests, it’s not known if they will become a star or drop into the dog quadrant. These products often require significant investment to push them into the star quadrant. The challenge is that a lot of investment may be required to get a return. For example, Rovio, creators of the very successful Angry Birds game has developed many other games you may not have heard of. Computer games companies often develop hundreds of games before gaining one successful game. It’s not always easy to spot the future star and this can result in potentially wasted funds.
  • Star products: Can be the market leader though require ongoing investment to sustain. They generate more ROI than other product categories.
  • Cash cow products: The simple rule here is to ‘Milk these products as much as possible without killing the cow! Often mature, well-established products. The company Procter & Gamble which manufactures Pampers nappies to Lynx deodorants has often been described as a ‘cash cow company’.

Use the model as an overview of your products, rather than detailed analysis. If market share is small, use the ‘relevant market share’ axis is based on your competitors rather than entire market.

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BCG Matrix Example: How it can be applied to digital marketing strategies?

The BCG Model is based on products rather than services, however, it does apply to both. You could use this if reviewing a range of products, especially before starting to develop new products.

Looking at the British retailer, Marks & Spencer, they have a wide range of products and many different lines. We can identify every element of the BCG matrix across their ranges:

Example: Lingerie. M&S was known as the place for ladies underwear at a time when choice was limited. In a multi-channel environment, M&S lingerie is still the UK’s market leader with high growth and high market share.

  • Question Marks/Problem Child

Example: Food. For years M&S refused to consider food and today has over 400 Simply Food stores across the UK. Whilst not a major supermarket, M&S Simply Food has a following which demonstrates high growth and low market share.

Example: Classic range. Low growth and high market share, the M&S Classic range has strong supporters.

Example: Autograph range. A premium-priced range of men’s and women’s clothing, with low market share and low growth. Although placed in the dog category, the premium pricing means that it makes a financial contribution to the company.

You can also apply the BCG model to areas other than your product strategy.

For example, we developed this matrix as an example of how a brand might evaluate its investment in various marketing channels. The medium is different, but the strategy remains the same-  milk the cows, don’t waste money on the dogs, invest in the stars and give the question marks some experimental funds to see if they can become stars.


Other more tactical uses of matrixes to support your digital marketing strategy development include the Smart Insights :

What to watch for?

The BCG Model is seen as simplistic and it can be difficult to classify products in smaller businesses where the relative market share is too small to quantify. It’s also based on the concept that market share can be achieved by spending more on the marketing budget.

Original Sources

Barksdale, H. C. and Harris Jr., C. E. (1982). Portfolio Analysis and the Product Life Cycle. Long Range Planning. (Vol. 15 Issue 6). p74-83.

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Introducing RACE: a practical framework to improve your digital marketing https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/introducing-race-a-practical-framework-to-improve-your-digital-marketing/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/introducing-race-a-practical-framework-to-improve-your-digital-marketing/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 06:32:13 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/introducing-race-a-practical-framework-to-improve-your-digital-marketing/

The RACE Digital Marketing Planning Framework

We created RACE to help digital marketers plan and manage their digital marketing activities in a more structured way since we found that many don’t have a well-formed digital marketing strategy. In this post, first published in July 2010 and since updated with a new infographic and summary of the digital marketing KPIs you should track, we show how you can simplify your measurement and reporting of digital marketing through RACE Planning.

You can find more details about applying RACE for digital marketing planning in our FREE RACE digital marketing planning template download.

To explain and fully define ‘What Is Digital Marketing?’ we created this popular infographic structured around RACE in 2012 and updated in July 2020 as shown below. It shows the key measures to set targets for and evaluate at each stage of the funnel.


Within our Digital marketing E-learning course and Digital marketing strategy toolkit for premium members we break each part of RACE down into 5 essential activities to give 5X5 = 25 activities that must be planed for successfully managing continuous always-on integrated marketing across the customer lifecycle.

What does RACE Planning stand for?

The RACE mnemonic summarizes the key online and multichannel marketing activities that need to be managed as part of digital marketing. RACE covers the full customer lifecycle or marketing funnel from:

(Plan) > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage

There is an initial phase of PLAN, which involves creating the overall digital strategy, objective setting and plan, so sometimes members call it PRACE, but we prefer RACE Planning for simplicity.

We have defined four steps of engagement across the customer lifecycle, since in online marketing there is a major challenge in gaining interaction, participation with prospects and creating those all-important Leads after the initial customer touchpoint.

These interactions, covered in the Act step can take place over several channels and touchpoints such as web, mobile, social media and email contacts, so these leads need separate management from final conversion to online or offline sale through techniques like retargeting and assisted selling.

RACE consists of these four steps or online marketing activities designed to help brands engage their customers throughout the customer lifecycle.

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  • 1. REACH. Reach involves building awareness of a brand, its products, and services on other websites and in offline media in order to build traffic by driving visits to different web presences like your main site, microsites or social media pages. It involves maximizing reach over time to create multiple interactions using different paid, owned and earned media touchpoints.
  • 2 ACT. Act is short for Interact. It’s a separate stage since encouraging interactions on websites and in social media to generate leads is a big challenge for online marketers.  It’s about persuading site visitors or prospects take the next step, the next Action on their journey when they initially reach your site or social network presence. For many types of businesses, especially, Business-to-Business, this means generating leads, but it may mean finding out more about a company or its products, searching to find a product or reading a blog post. You should define these actions as top-level goals of the funnel in analytics. Google Analytics Goals can include “Viewed product”, “Added to Basket”, “Registered as a member” or “Signed up for an enewsletter. Act is also about encouraging participation. This can be sharing of content via social media or customer reviews (strictly, part of Engage). The specific goals and dashboards need to be defined for each business as explained in our Delivering results from digital marketing guide.  It’s about engaging the audience through relevant, compelling content and clear navigation pathways so that they don’t hit the back button. The bounce rates on many sites is greater than 50%, so getting the audience to act or participate is a major challenge which is why we have identified it separately.
  • 3. CONVERT. This is conversion to sale – occurring either online or offline. It involves getting your audience to take that vital next step which turns them into paying customers whether the payment is taken through online Ecommerce transactions or offline channels.
  • 4. ENGAGE. This is long-term engagement that is, developing a long-term relationship with first-time buyers to build customer loyalty as repeat purchases using communications on your site, social presence, email and direct interactions to boost customer lifetime value. It can be measured by repeat actions such as repeat sale and sharing content through social media. We also need to measure the percentage of active customers (or email subscribers) and customer satisfaction and recommendation using other systems.

Why RACE Planning?

We created the RACE Planning system to help give a simple framework to help small and large businesses alike take the best advantage of the opportunities available from digital marketing.

In our research, we have found that, shockingly, many businesses don’t have a digital marketing strategy. When creating a digital marketing strategy, knowing how to structure it and where to start is sometimes the biggest challenge!

There are so many tools and tactics available that it’s difficult to know where to start. We hope RACE gives a structure to help you review and prioritize when there are so many options, but some options work better than others.

RACE is a practical framework to help manage and improve results from your digital marketing. It covers always-on digital marketing activities across the customer lifecycle which are sometimes neglected in favour of campaign-based activities for launching new products and promotions. Investing time and budget in planning always-on activities is vital for many businesses to connect with customers who are researching new products by searching or asking via social media.

Ultimately, it’s about using best practice web analytics techniques to get more commercial value from investments in digital marketing. We hope it will help simplify your approach to reviewing the performance of your online marketing and taking actions to improve its effectiveness.

Using KPIs to manage RACE

In our Marketing manifesto we explained that we believe that data-driven marketing is the best approach to growing business through digital marketing. Priorities and improvements should be based on a sound evaluation and optimization process using digital analytics showing which marketing activities are effective and which aren’t. This diagram shows relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be used at each stage.

RACE framework KPIs

Here’s an example of our recommended measures in a simpler summary of RACE KPIs which could form a dashboard – the best dashboards show not only volume and how they change through time, but also the quality of visits and the value generated.


Many of these KPIs be created from Google Analytics although it needs to be customized for each business to record goal value or revenue per visit. For some other measures such as social mentions, you need to pull in from other tools.

For premium members, we offer an interactive monthly reporting dashboard based on RACE using the Google Analytics API to rapidly create monthly reports using Google Docs Sheets.

The dashboard makes it easy to compare digital marketing performance through time with a focus on the key digital marketing measures across the customer lifecycle or marketing funnel defined across the Smart Insights RACE planning framework. For example, you can compare year-on-year or compared to the previous reporting period both overall and for each of the digital marketing channels such as organic, paid search, email and social media marketing.


Marketing activities to manage within RACE

All of our guidance on Smart Insights from our blog posts to detailed guides and templates are structured according to RACE. This is a summary of some of the main activities which our guides, templates and free blog guidance cover.


Of course, there are many more online marketing activities which are covered in our e-learning.


Google Analytics has over 60 reports displaying many more metrics and that’s before you start segmenting your audience… Other web analytics tools have more… This makes it difficult to know what to report; you have to identify your “critical few” Key Performance Indicators which you report on regularly to review performance and identify problems. Here we have suggested just 3 KPIs for each area which applies to a retail site. We’ll have more on these and related performance drive measures in later posts.

RACE is Social! Digital marketing is not just about your website

Digital marketing today is not just about your website, and in fact it never has been, partnering with other sites or co-marketing and influencer marketing have always potentially been important.

But today, the popularity of participation in social media with web users means that how to reach, interact, convert and maintain ongoing engagement of customers through social networks is vital to the success of a brand. At each step in RACE you need to think how social media can help achieve your goals and how you can measure the effectiveness of social media.

RACE is integrated

Digital channels always work best when they’re integrated with other channels, so remember that where appropriate, digital channels should be combined with the traditional offline media and channels.  The most important aspects of integration are first using traditional media to raise awareness of the value of the online presences and drive visitors to the website(s) at the Reach and Engage stages. Second, at the Convert and Engage steps stage customers may prefer to interact with customer representatives as part of the buying or customer service process.

So that’s an introduction to the Smart Insight RACE framework. We hope you find it useful when you’re planning and managing digital marketing!


I also like to credit the REAN (Reach > Engage > Activate > Nurture) framework for web analysts which influenced my thinking back in 2010. It was originally developed by Xavier Blanc and popularised by Steve Jackson in his book Cult of Analytics of which I’m a big fan.

We devised RACE since we wanted to develop our own approach for improving digital marketing and we feel Step 2 is more about initial interactions with a brand and in step 4, customer engagement is a longer-term process.

Through 15 years of advising marketers through my books and training I’ve found that, after time has passed, all that often remains from the course as a takeaway is a framework on which to hang future actions. C’est la vie! But busy people seem to like frameworks and mnemonics to structure their actions. To help digital marketers structure their thoughts, over the years I’ve created or been involved with these frameworks too – I hope you find they’re useful – that’s what we aim for – to make marketing life simpler and more profitable.

And finally, it’s why we’re called SMART Insights – we believe the best marketers compete and win by a data-driven or insight-driven approach to marketing.

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In the digital era, convert customer frustration into conversion https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/in-the-digital-era-convert-customer-frustration-into-conversion/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/in-the-digital-era-convert-customer-frustration-into-conversion/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 04:46:36 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/in-the-digital-era-convert-customer-frustration-into-conversion/

A single bad review can have a huge impact on your business, which is why customer service is key. A customer journey map can help improve conversion

Are you facing issues while trying to provide a stellar customer experience? The onus is on the businesses to rectify this situation quickly because customer experience has been a cornerstone of business since the very beginning. However, today, the business landscape is growing increasingly competitive. Businesses are doing more than ever to get customers’ attention than ever before.

Not so long ago, the need or want for a product meant we were supposed to drive miles to get to a brick and mortar store to spend hours looking for the desired product. From test driving each option to trying to determine the difference between models, we would make the comparisons in person.

If possible, you might even have ended up asking a friend or two for a recommendation. In a general scenario, there is always a sales rep ready to help who could answer questions and help you proceed with your purchase. Most likely, you’d decide right there, selecting a familiar brand name. Do you know what the biggest struggle was then? Finding a parking spot near the store.

As of now, there are a huge number of options available when it comes to researching and purchasing products and services. You can find almost any product from any brand and compare it by quickly visiting review sites, social media, and blogs. You can find out about everything from quality to price to customer service.

Of course, this also means that negative reviews can influence the buying decision of your end-user. Businesses with just one negative review risk losing as much as 22% of their customers. If three negative articles or reviews pop up in a search query, the potential for lost customers increases to 59.2%. Get four or more negative articles, and you’re likely to lose 70% of your potential customers.

It seems as though the word of a bad experience can travel faster than lightning. One negative review can quickly spread across the globe like wildfire and cause damage to your brand’s reputation. Unfortunately, people often tend to remember negative events and reviews more easily than positive ones. Research suggests that it can take 12 positive experiences to repair the damage caused by a single negative one.

Keeping today’s fast pace life into account, most customers don’t bother to complain – they just never come back – leaving you in the dark without explaining why they left in the first place.

  • What went wrong?
  • How was their experience?
  • Is it the price, product, or service; what is the issue?

All you know is that you can suddenly experience a high rate of customer churn. This is why it is important to remember that one single customer can make or break your brand.

What causes bad customer experiences?

Rejection comes in many shapes and sizes, so predicting its cause isn’t easy. However, there are several commonly-reported issues that you should bear in mind:

  • Long wait times.
  • Unable to understand customer needs.
  • Unresolved issues/questions.
  • Automation without a human touch.
  • Service that is not personalized.
  • Rude/angry employees.

There are likely to be more causes of bad customer service than these though. It’s easy to put yourself in the place of your customer and consider the last time you were frustrated by a service you received and why. Are your customers having the same experience?

Customer journey mapping: How to make this work?

Customer journey mapping, the concept has the potential to provide companies with a rare ability to better understand their customer in regards to the user experience your brand offers and, therefore, stop problems before they start. Its benefits include:

  • Tailoring your UX to the consumer, giving them a better all-around experience.
  • Losing fewer customers as they engage with your brand (and therefore increase profit).

Apart from this, by mapping your customer journey, you’ll better understand how your business works, be able to spot potential weaknesses, and allocate resources more efficiently. As a result, you will be able to improve and streamline your customer service, as well as identifying (and removing) any potential weak links.

More importantly, discovering, reaching out to people, encouraging conversion, effective delivery, and aftercare are the crucial stages in the process of the customer journey map. You must make sure you truly engage and empathize with the customer’s experience through all five of these stages.

Boost conversions and keep customers happy

Around 80% of businesses believe they offer a superior customer experience, but only a handful of customers agree that this is the case. You can learn from the customers who don’t agree by reaching out to them to gather as much information as you can regarding their expectations and whether they are being met and where there is room for improvement.

At the same time, it is a good idea to research websites, especially those that are similar to your own. Keep an eye on them, get to know what they do and what seems to work for them. Then, revisit your website. Can you spot the difference? Is there any similarity between the CX you offer and what they provide?

On top of this, you should be assessing how many people are viewing key parts of your website, clicking through to different areas, staying on your site, or bouncing off. This will help you get a better understanding of whether your content is helpful and engaging, as well as how long it takes people to convert. If too many people are bouncing or exiting, address this. If the conversion process is too long, try and cut it down by addressing the information you provide earlier on.

A holistic approach

If you wish to truly improve your customers’ experience, you need to be holistic. After all, if someone reaches the three points of annoyance in the ordering process, they won’t complete their purchase, let alone come back to your site. Even a few small issues can build up and be enough to make a customer abandon their purchase. With a customer journey map; you can create a detailed and segmented journey to help you prevent even small annoyances.

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You should identify the ‘Pain Points’ that a customer may experience. This is vital as it will allow you to see which areas of your business are performing below expectations. These can be the areas that customers are reporting a negative or neutral experience or where you can see customers dropping off when you assess your analytics. Get into the nitty-gritty of why they are leaving your website. The chances are, you may not have considered the issue beforehand.

Last but certainly not the least, quantify. This is one of the most crucial things you need to do when you are about to deal with fundamentally subjective and often intangible concepts, such as customer emotion, decision-making, and overall perception of your brand. Mitigating these difficulties using metrics whenever possible, is the best thing to do. Once you have your information through adequate testing and quantifying, nothing can stop you from succeeding.


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Content marketing audit essentials | Smart Insights https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/content-marketing-audit-essentials-smart-insights/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/content-marketing-audit-essentials-smart-insights/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 02:25:10 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/content-marketing-audit-essentials-smart-insights/

Top tips for making a quick but effective content audit

One of the common themes I continually revisit in my work and writing is the proliferation and abundance of content. For brands looking to use content, and content marketing more specifically, to reach and engage prospects and customers, they have to think very carefully about the value and utility of their efforts and how this benefits their audience to generate action.

There are many great resources and links to in-depth content audits, including Smart Insights’ 360 content marketing audit Quick Win. These are essential for anyone looking to conduct a detailed evaluation of a brand’s current content situation to make changes and recommendations. However, in this post, I’d like to highlight just five simple steps and techniques that I have personally found useful for making a quick assessment. This can often be useful for digital marketers looking to make a quick overview when starting a new company or for anyone else (e.g. brand managers, marketing managers, etc.) who want to understand how content is being used.

What is a content audit?

The concept of a ‘content audit’ can mean different things to different people and the scope can change greatly depending on the emphasis. Some will review an entire brand’s content presence (online and offline), whilst others will focus more on usability or UX. For this post, I’ll be considering the use of digital content from a content marketing perspective and how content is used to drive reach, engagement, and interest with consumers across digital channels.

Need help with your Content Marketing Strategy? We have an entire Toolkit dedicated to helping you plan, manage, and optimize your content throughout the customer journey, including:

What are the benefits of running a content audit?

It’s fair to say that conducting a content audit is not always the most glamorous of tasks. But when carried out well they can deliver a disproportionate amount of value. Some of the benefits of a good content audit include:

  • Evaluate content quality and effectiveness
    • Understand what is/ isn’t driving performance
    • Set new standards for good quality content
  • Identify content gaps
    • Discover new topics and areas that will resonate with your audience
    • Identify the right content types and assets to leverage
  • Improve user experience
    • Take a user-centric view of content
    • Improve content structure and information architecture
  • Enhance search engine optimization
    • Highlight areas of focus based on search demand
    • Remove content that could harm search performance, e.g. poor quality, ‘thin’ content
  • Enhance content efficiency
    • Identify opportunities to re-purpose or create new content
    • Leverage social media to amplify content

Five areas of focus

If you have limited time and budget and want to conduct a quick but effective audit, what are the main areas of focus? Everyone will approach this differently but here are the steps and techniques that I have found useful:

1. Reach: organic and paid visibility

Understanding how you’re reaching users from both a paid and organic perspective will give you an indication of where you stand versus competitors and begin to unearth areas for improvement and opportunities to create new content.

Key questions:

  • How are key pages rankings organically?
  • What is your brand’s market share vs. competitors?
  • What social media presence do you have?

Steps and actions:

  • Check organic search visibility for key terms and phrases using a keyword tracking tool such as Moz or SEMrush to understand where content is appearing in the search results:

keyword tracking tool

  • How is your brand appearing for universal search results? Depending on your brand and business consider how you are optimized for the following organic sections: Organic listings, images, videos, news, local (map), hotels, books, and knowledge graph profiles.
  • Review social reach and engagement to understand paid and organic reach of content and how it is resonating with audiences across all the main social channels:

Facebook impressions

2. Architecture: channel design, structure, and functionality

For many brands their website is will be their major digital asset and the most important owned media property for setting the vision, look, and tone of the brand. How content and information is structured and presented is crucial to make an impact and ensure consistency.

Key questions:

  • What do digital assets look like and how are they organized?
  • How do the assets work?
  • How is the brand presented to customers?

Steps and actions:

  • Review the usability of your website with a focus on the following criteria: Design, presentation of information, load times, link integrity (broken links), and navigation
  • Most websites are now responsive by default but take some time to review how content appears on mobile. Check your site’s performance across different mobile devices across different metrics:

Responsive sites

  • Take a look at the branding, appearance, and set up of your different social channels. Whilst visits to a brand’s social pages may be limited, they are still important brand touchpoints and contribute to your channels’ authority and reputation. Areas to consider include: Channel header, logo, page description and ‘about’, links related to sites and pages, and pinned posts or trailers to key content.

Social pinned post

3. Content: process and assets

Not all content is created equal and it’s therefore important to take a view as to what is good and what may need to go, either due to an objective assessment of the quality of how this fits with your wider content strategy.

Key questions:

  • What existing content needs to be re-worked or refreshed?
  • What new content should you be creating?
  • And where is that content best promoted?

Steps and actions:

Review existing content strategy:

  • What are the brand’s goals and objectives for using content?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What content types and formats are frequently used?
  • What content creation workflows and processes are currently in place?
  • How is content being measured and performance presented to management?


4. Integration: the connection between online and offline touchpoints

Whilst it is sometimes appropriate to keep elements of your digital footprint separate from one another, it can also be a missed opportunity if you’re not cross-promoting channels and inviting your audience to connect in different places.

Key questions:

  • Our social media channels accessible from your website and other digital properties?
  • Are you cross-linking between different social channels and websites?
  • Is there consideration as to how online and offline connect (if relevant to your brand)?

Steps and actions:

  • Ensure that your main social channels are accessible via your website and positioned prominently to enable users to find and click. Ask yourself if the right social links are being used
  • Review links back to your website on your social channels. Are the links correct? Do they point to the right pages? (hint: they needn’t always point to your homepage)
  • Review how online and offline channels are connecting and referencing one another. For example, does the brand use hashtags, URLs, or social icons within TV, print, and OOH advertising? Interestingly Marketing Land found that in 2017 hashtags in Super Bowl ads were overtaken by URLs:


5. Measurement: digital objectives, metrics, and performance

Without a clear picture of performance, it’s very difficult to form a baseline in which to make improvements and judge what has/ hasn’t been working. It’s also important to have the right reporting structures in place to ensure that all key stakeholders are receiving the right information to make decisions and take action.

Key questions:

  • Does your brand have the right objectives in place to measure KPIs?
  • What metrics are being used to measure performance?
  • What reporting structures are in place?

Steps and actions:

  • Ensure there is a robust and consistent measurement framework in place. A measurement framework/ model is a way to structure your thinking, prioritize goals, and organize the KPIs and metrics you’ll use to measure performance:

measurement framework

  • Review how content marketing campaigns and projects are being measured. As shown in the example above, goals, KPIs, and segments should flow from high-level business objectives so there is always a clear link back to what the business is looking to achieve
  • Check current reporting systems and protocols:
    • How often is performance measured?
    • When are reports being run?
    • What is being reported?
    • Why is the data being shared?
    • Who is receiving the data?

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As mentioned at the outset of this post, there are many great guides and resources to more in-depth content audits which I would highly recommend taking a look at if you’re intending to conduct a detailed content audit. But for those looking for a quick, cost-effective overview I hope the steps outlined above prove useful.

Whether you’re conducting a deep-dive audit or a simple overview, the key objective is to ensure you get a 3600 view of how content is being planned, promoted, used, and measured.  Only by understanding how content is currently performing can you then start identifying opportunities for new content opportunities and build the credibility needed to sell ideas to the rest of the organization. The five areas of focus above provide a basic framework to structure your audit process.

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How to structure an effective business plan https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-structure-an-effective-business-plan/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-structure-an-effective-business-plan/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 01:16:43 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-structure-an-effective-business-plan/

What are the essential parts of a business plan template?

Understanding and creating different types of marketing plans and knowing when they are needed is essential to creating a thriving business. But it can be difficult to know which type of plan to use when and how best to structure them. In this article, we look at the essential parts of a business plan and show how to lay it out.

Our new, free PDF download detailing the different types of marketing plans will help you structure different types of plan and gives recommendations on how to make them effective.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that outlines organizational objectives and the strategies required to achieve those objectives.  It identifies how you drive your organization’s future.  It aims to answer the question: How do we plan to make our business a success?  It is a written record of goals, coupled with a track record of delivering against those goals.

As outlined in the Smart Insights Quick Win Guide and Template – Create a Multi-Channel Marketing Plan, the purpose of a business plan is to define strategies for growing profitability over a long-term period. The scope of a Business Plan is typically 12 months to three years and content usually includes:

  • New product development
  • Revenue sources
  • Means of cost management

The purpose of a business plan is to match targeted opportunities with resources, focused activity, and strategies. It supports in guiding and directing different areas of your organization to ensure that you are all working towards the same objectives.

When to use a business plan?

A business plan is used by organizations for establishing and monitoring continuous business growth, remaining competitive, and in achieving specific goals.  Business plans are typically utilized by organizations when:

  • Gaining initial investment as a new business or startup
  • Planning market expansion for an existing company
  • Undertaking product development
  • Preparing for acquisition
  • Planning divestment
  • Gaining or sustaining a competitive advantage
  • Evaluating resource allocation and strategic goals

Organizations seeking funding require business plans to demonstrate the strength of the business and its future to investors.

What should be included? / How should the plan be structured?

A business plan typically defines how an organization will change to become more competitive in the future. It typically includes:

  1. A review of existing financial performance
  2. Objectives
  3. Strategies
  4. Value proposition (products and services)
  5. Sales
  6. Marketing tactics including the 7Ps of the marketing mix
  7. Operations
  8. Financial forecasting
  9. Staffing
  10. Potential threats and challenges
  11. Tactics

A business plan is an effective way of monitoring progress as it establishes targets in all areas of your business; from sales and expenses to staff recruitment and financial requirements.  Once established, these targets translate into performance goals.

A solid business plan has:

  • Clear, realistic goals which you can be confident of hitting
  • The best strategy to achieve these goals against your competition
  • Sufficient details of the tactics and actions needed to translate the strategy into action
  • A method to check you are on track with your plans

To make sure your business plan has all the essential features, I recommend the SOSTAC® structure developed by PR Smith—Dave Chaffey’s co-author of the printed book Digital Marketing Excellence.

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® is a great template for structuring a business, marketing or digital marketing plans since it’s relatively simple and logical, so it’s easy to remember and to explain to colleagues or agencies. SOSTAC® is a strategic planning process framework that gives you a clear structure to work through to create and manage your plan.

Here’s a summary of how different multichannel marketing activities map to different sections of SOSTAC®. Smart Insights premium members can download PR Smith’s SOSTAC® guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan.

Sostac(R) growth wheel

So, what does SOSTAC® stand for?

Situation analysis means ‘Where are we now?’ For business planners, questions include:

  • What industry are we operating in?
  • What are our products and/or services?
  • What is our current business structure?
  • What do our cash flow statement, balance sheet, and financial ratios look like?
  • Are we measuring results accurately?
  • Who and where are our customers?
  • What are our competitors doing?
  • What’s working for them?

Objectives mean ‘Where do we want to be?’ What is the growth forecast? What are the top-level goals 5 Ss (Sell, Serve, Speak, Save, and Sizzle)? Here we can build specific and measurable business plan targets. Good objectives are quantified against timescales.

Strategy means ‘How do we get there?’ Strategy summarizes how to fulfill the objectives. It is the shortest part of the plan, but arguably, the most important, as it gives direction to all the subsequent tactics. It answers questions including: how do we position ourselves to gain a competitive advantage? How will business plan targets be achieved?

Tactics are the details of the strategy. They highlight in a business plan exactly which tactics occur when. To recruit new staff, for example, we would include what methods we will implement to improve our employer brand.

Action is the detailed planning of tactics. Who does what, when, and how? What processes and activities are required to make things happen?

Control identifies what you need to measure when, a review process and corrective action when you’re not hitting your targets. The Control section of the plan ensures you know if you are succeeding or failing – and you can make adjustments – before it is too late.

Which type of business is it most suited for?

A common perception is that business plans are formulated by cash-starved start-ups seeking investment to launch a new venture, but a business plan can and should be utilized by businesses of any size, type, and at any stage of existence.

Even though the techniques for business planning may vary between different sizes and types of organization, the objective is always the same: to define targeted opportunities to become more competitive with resources, focused activity, and strategies.

In smaller organizations, the business planning process may be more straightforward than for larger organizations with distinct business areas and who may need to make some difficult decisions regarding resource allocations and strategic priorities. This may lead to internal uncertainty and conflict. The business planning process, however, can also be a good opportunity to gather employee feedback on potential ideas and improvements. You could hold a brainstorming session to gather knowledge and get your employee’s support, for example. They will value the opportunity to contribute to the business.

For already established businesses, a business plan will enable you to objectively look at what is working well and areas for improvement. Many business plans are formulated by organizations that are long past the start-up stage. There may be a need for a formalized plan to manage rapid growth, stakeholder expectations, or to secure funding for growth.

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How does it relate to other plans?

A business plan outlines the long-term corporate strategy of a business, which informs and influences other plans within an organization. It is at the top of the business planning hierarchy, covering systems, procedures, resources,

and structure. A marketing plan, however, covers the sales, distribution, communications, and delivery of a product or service, intending to achieve the corporate objectives set out in the business plan.

Integrated with a business plan may be, for example, a marketing plan, a digital marketing plan, multi-channel marketing plan, and/or a campaign plan. The business plan informs these plans and vice-versa.

Different organizations will utilize differing plans, covering different areas and timeframes. What is crucial in a business is that the plans being utilized, the timeframes allocated, and how they integrate are collectively established.

To find out more about how different types of marketing plans and how to structure them, download our free Understanding different marketing plans guide, which includes campaign planning, digital transformation plans, and multichannel plans.

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Marketing strategy for consultants and freelancers I Smart Insights https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/marketing-strategy-for-consultants-and-freelancers-i-smart-insights/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/marketing-strategy-for-consultants-and-freelancers-i-smart-insights/#respond Mon, 20 Jul 2020 23:57:35 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/marketing-strategy-for-consultants-and-freelancers-i-smart-insights/

What kind of marketing strategy should you adopt to reach potential clients? Venngage surveyed 100 consultants and freelancers to find out which ones worked, and which didn’t

Creating a foolproof marketing strategy that will land your clients isn’t always an easy task. There are numerous freelancers, consultants, and solopreneurs demanding the attention of a small pool of businesses and customers. To find the best marketing strategy, Venngage spoke to 100 marketers to learn from their experiences. The results are surprising and should aid you in deciding which marketing strategy works best for you.

Traditional media is out

It seems like only a short while ago, marketers were putting out advertisements to coax clients to hire them. But those days may well be in the past. Among the marketers we surveyed, print advertising ranked lowest as a method of attracting clients. The only print medium that was still being employed was business cards.

Another traditional method that failed to gain much traction among respondents was cold calling. It was deemed a complete waste of time by a large percentage of those surveyed.

Interestingly, strategies haven’t become completely digital, either. Though social media marketing, blogging, and SEO strategies do seem to be working well for marketers, the most effective methods of reaching clients were found to be referrals and networking events.

LinkedIn is the key

Among the social media platforms that have been performing well for marketers, LinkedIn ranked very high. Other social platforms and even Google ranked fairly low in comparison. Facebook was the next most popular, with Facebook groups, more than any other aspect of the platform, appearing to be the most beneficial in winning clients. Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube ranked very low.

LinkedIn is also the primary portal for marketers to learn more about their trade, ranking slightly higher than blogs. Facebook groups also ranked in this area, which seems to point to the fact that making connections is important in educating oneself.

Major challenges

The respondents we spoke said that the biggest challenge they face is a lack of time. Surprisingly, many of them also said they struggle with the marketing aspect of their jobs. Not everyone is comfortable with marketing, nor do they seem to be satisfied with the results they are achieving.

Also, many of those surveyed cited a lack of design knowledge as a roadblock in their marketing strategy. This ties into the fact that a majority believe that using good social media graphics is an important way to attract clients on social media.16

Visual strategy

Alongside social media visuals, respondents also cited blog headers as an important part of their visual marketing strategy. As blogs and SEO were deemed a good way to reach clients, this was to be expected.

Slide decks were also popular, with a large number of marketers using them to pitch to clients. Interestingly, webinars did not rank highly as an effective tool to meet new clients. Slide decks are largely used in webinars, but if webinars are not earning marketers clients, then they are using decks elsewhere. We can safely assume that, as networking events have become a top contender for winning clients, slide decks and pitch decks are being used in those environments, rather than during webinars.

Among the other visuals that freelancers and consultants are using, email newsletters, whitepapers, ebooks, infographics, and charts, all ranked higher than webinars. Graphics are the way forward in terms of marketing strategy.

Make connections

The chief takeaway from this survey is that human connection is the best way to earn clients. Whereas a short while ago, impersonal advertisements in print and social media were enough to reach people, now referrals and networking is the best way to meet like-minded people.

Digital media is still an important part of marketing strategies, however. LinkedIn, in particular, has grown in popularity from being viewed as a business-forward platform to one that encourages communication between people.

Putting yourself out there and connecting with people is the best way forward, but you also need to have a strong digital presence to reach the clients you want to.

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Get the full survey results and learn more about the best marketing strategies for consultants and freelancers with this infographic from Venngage.


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