Developing a Marketing Plan: Marketing Channels

by Martin Malden

In this post I talked about Market Research and I looked at a simple, quick and effective way to research a product or business online. Now it’s time to develop a Marketing Plan.

In this article we’ll take a look at some channels through which you can promote your site.

Because this one’s turned out quite long, I’ll leave it till the next article to look at some ways of mixing and matching these channels to get you the best exposure within your budget.   

So here are 5 Marketing channels, with some comments on each. This is not an exclusive list – there are many more – but it’s a start for now:

1) Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC can bring quick, targeted traffic – in fact it’s probably the quickest way to get targeted visitors. It can be extremely expensive, though, if it’s not done properly, so handle with care!

It requires study to understand how it all works and, if you’re new to PPC, the best advice I can give is to start slowly. Set low daily limits (I’d suggest a maximum of $5 until you know what you’re doing) and check & optimize your campaigns each day.

You need to construct your landing pages properly, using standard SEO techniques. This is because Google and Yahoo both check out your pages and assign quality scores to them.

A good quality score will result in a lower cost per click and higher placing.

The main PPC providers are Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing and MSN Adcenter.

If you’re interested in learning about PPC a great place to start would be Wealthy Affiliate. They specialize in Google Adwords training, plus a whole lot else, and I wrote a review here.

2) Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

This also relies on search engine traffic, and will also bring very targeted visitors when it’s done properly.

But it won’t bring you quick traffic, unless you’re quickly able to get your site onto the first page of the natural search results.

However, it won’t cost you anything – other than your time.

For Search Engine Marketing to work you do need to have a good grasp of Search Engine Optimisation.

Your site and landing pages must be properly constructed, using all the correct tags (META, H, alt and title), and you need to have lots of well written, relevant content. Better still if you have a blog on your site, as the best content is stuff that’s frequently updated.

You also need to develop a link building strategy that will get lots of quality inbound links to your site.

3) Blogging

This is similar to Search Engine Marketing in that it can bring you lots of visitors via the search engines. It’s also, therefore, a good way to get targeted visitors.

It’s easier to get blogs on most platforms noticed quickly by the search engines because of the way they’re structured. The use of tags and categories gives both people and the search engines an easy way of finding the content they’re looking for.

This is one of the reasons blogs are more search engine friendly than static sites.

However, blogging, too, is not a quick way of getting targeted visitors.  Plus it requires a lot of work at the beginning.

You need to be putting up new articles frequently and they need to be well written and tightly focused on your blog’s theme subject.

Also, you probably shouldn’t start to monetise your blog from the outset, because you want people to see you as an authority, rather than a commercial.

But once you’ve built up a reasonable following (say, around 500 readers at day) you can slowly start to introduce monetisation.

The best resource I know on blogging techniques is Jack Humphrey’s Authority Black Book. It’s free, and I wrote a review here or you can download it from here.

4) Advertising – Both Free and Paid

This is a way of getting visitors quickly.

There are lots of free Classified Ads sites online and most of them have paid upgrades or Premium options.  You can also buy advertising space on blogs, other websites, online ezines, newsletters and off-line media.

Advertising can bring you quicker results than either SEM or blogging, but your visitors will not be so targeted.

You’ll get more browsers and tire kickers because there’ll be a fair few of them who weren’t actually looking for anything (as they are in SEM). They just saw your ad and came looking out of curiosity.

Paid advertising can be cheaper than PPC, but since your visitors will not be so targeted you should really be looking beyond the upfront cost and comparing the cost per conversion.

However, if you’re on a tight budget, the free advertising options are definitely worth looking at.

Some of the main advertising sites include USFreeads, Adland and InetGiant. And there’s a list of advertising sites here.

5) Article Marketing

This is where you write articles that offer help, guidance or advice on your subject area, which you then publish in article directories such as GoArticles or EzineArticles.

Your author by-line contains a link back to your site, and is the way you funnel traffic through from your articles.

Article Marketing too, will not bring you quick traffic.  You usually need to write anywhere from 10 – 15 articles before you have enough of a footprint out there to start attracting visitors.

But provided you write helpful, good quality articles, they will begin to attract visitors who are looking for more details on what you’ve written.

Article Marketing is free – except for the time you spend – and it can be very effective over the long term.

There are lots of article directories, so the best way of distributing your articles may be through a professional article distribution service.  The one I use is here, and they provide an excellent distribution service.

Ok, that was a selection of Marketing Channels. Next time we’ll take a look at how to mix these to get the best result within your budget.

I recently wrote a series of articles on how to promote your site for free.  If you click the ‘free traffic’ at the bottom of this article they’ll be listed. They’re all tagged as ‘free traffic’ so just click that tag each time to get back to the list.

If you have other Marketing Channels that you’d like to be discussed please leave a comment!

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