The Top 7 Components of a Successful Online Marketing Plan


If you’re on this website, chances are you’re looking to up your online marketing game.  Whether you’ve already jumped into the digital marketing universe or are reluctantly conceding for the first time that this whole “world wide web” thing appears to be sticking around for a while, you’ve likely arrived at the conclusion that there is a lot more to marketing your business online than simply owning a website.


It’s easy to get lost in the maze of tools and tricks of the trade, so in this 3rd module of our course, Digital Marketing Strategies and Tactics to Grow Any Small Business, we’ll break down the hallmarks of a successful online marketing plan into 7 basic components that you can implement into your own ongoing marketing strategy (or hire someone to do for you). Keep in mind that you can apply these principles whether you are building a website for the first time or are looking to improve upon an online presence that you already have in place.


1. Objectives


You’re probably thinking, “well, duh, of course a marketing plan needs to have objectives.”   Yes, but the reason I included objectives is so that you can be confident that you are creating the right objectives.  It’s not enough to have the general objective of selling more products or increasing revenue.  A successful ongoing digital marketing plan will include the following three categories of objectives.


Traffic Objectives

These objectives are related to how many people you want to get to visit your website.  When creating your traffic objectives, you’ll want to include KPIs and well-defined goals, not vague ideas. KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are numerical metrics that are used to track the progress that you are making toward your specific objectives, and tracking them will go a long way in helping you to determine whether or not your marketing strategies are working.


Examples of key performance indicators include: sales revenue, lead-to-customer ratio, organic traffic, social media referral traffic, email click-thru rate,  and the list goes on and on.  Your KPIs will vary depending on your business model and marketing needs, but the point is that your traffic objectives need to be specific and trackable.


Here’s an example:  Let’s say you own a restaurant in Redmond, OR.  One of your traffic goals might be to receive 300 visitors/month to your website by a certain date. One KPI you might want to measure could be the number of “clicks” from organic searches (e.g. people typing “restaurant Redmond OR” into Google) as measured by Google Search Console over a 30-day period.

Content Objectives

Think of this as the architecture of your website. Content objectives define the kind of content you want to have as part of your online marketing plan, whether that be on your initial website build, in your emails, or on social media. Again, be specific.  Do you want certain images or videos?  Blog articles?  Downloadable documents?


Before you wantonly throw up a website, add a new blog post or open a social media account and stare at empty space, you would do well to determine the nature of the content you would like to include.  Continuing with the restaurant example, one of your content goals might be to provide a copy of your menu on your website.  If you have a Facebook page for your business, you could set your content objective as creating 3 unique posts per month. For more on the specific make-up of your content, see # 4.


Conversion Objectives

Once you’ve gotten visitors to your website and expose them to your exceptional content, you need them to actually do something. Conversion objectives represent the actions you want visitors to take. Perhaps you want more people to sign up for your newsletter or make a donation or purchase online.  As with your traffic objectives, create goals with specific numbers that you can track to see how you are doing in reaching those goals.


If you are the restaurant owner in Redmond, your conversion objectives would likely include an increase in the number of customers entering your restaurant, or perhaps a measurable increase in the number of take-out orders. However, keep in mind that these objectives need to be trackable, so if one of your objectives is for customers to visit your brick-and-mortar store, you’ll need to focus on the measurable micro-conversions that will likely occur as a direct result of your online marketing efforts before they walk through your door.  This could mean that they sign up for an email list or click a designated link to receive a coupon.


Core Job to Be Done

Finally, succinctly describe the principal goal of your business by describing what end-benefit it provides to it’s customers.  Try to whittle it down to its most basic form, ideally a sentence or two.  Your business statement might include more than one objective (i.e. customer service, employment opportunities), but try to focus on most the important one(s).


The core job to be done isn’t just your core product or service, it can actually go much deeper than that.  Think of the job to be done as the need that is being satisfied through what you offer.  For example, when we did the strategy for Thai Fresh Gardens (a restaurant here in La Grande), the core job to be done that we formulated was “Provide a unique dining experience to Union County residents so customers can have high quality social engagements outside of their home, while enjoying a good meal.”


You can even put the job to be done in the perspective of your target personas.  One of our personas for Thai Fresh might have said, “As a wife who is working part-time, when I am looking for a better dining experience, I want to have a great experience with one of my closest friends, so I can get up to speed with her while enjoying a nice meal, without spending a ton of money.


2. Competitor Research


One of the easiest ways to enhance your marketing strategy is to find out what your competitors are doing in the digital realm.  Yep, we’re asking you to spy. You probably already know who your primary competitors are, but if you don’t, you can always find out by doing a quick Google search of keywords related to your industry.


Check out a sampling of your competitors’ websites or social media to gauge what types of marketing they are doing online, if at all.  Next, make a list of their strengths and weaknesses.  Different aspects of competitor websites you can focus on include: branding, call-to-action, tone, messaging, voice, quantity/quality of content, mission statement, navigation, etc.


Then think about: What could you emulate?  What could you avoid? For example, you may see that a competitor has a really well-written mission statement right at the top of the homepage.  On the other hand, maybe you find a website with no discernible call to action, leaving visitors unsure what to do next.  Make a note of these observations so that you can do the job even better on your own site.



3. Persona Development


A really important key to developing a successful online marketing plan is figuring out who your target audience is.  You may have a large variety of customers, but you’ve probably got a good idea of who your typical customer is.  Based on your knowledge of your customer base, create your “typical” customer profile.  I would suggest coming up with at least three distinct profiles. Go all the way and have fun with this!  Make up a fictitious name and a short backstory about the persona, including their demographics (age, gender, location, education, socioeconomic status, etc.).


Then ask yourself, “what problem are they trying to solve that drew them to my business?”  Think about the many objections they have to converting, the media channels they might use, and the pages on your website they are most likely to be interested in. If you’re having trouble getting started, Hubspot and Xtensio have free tools that can help you create your personas.


Even though persona development can be fun, your personas need to be based on real people, not people you envision might use your service or buy your product.  If you’re a small business with a limited data set, here are some places you can find real customer data quickly:


Google Analytics.  You can use the “Audience” tab in Google Analytics to get some additional insight into your target audience.  You may want to look at where they reside geographically, what type of device they are using to access your site, and of course, what pages they seem most interested in.


Talk to your best salespeople.  Your salespeople have tens if not hundreds of interactions with real customers every week.  Quiz them on what trends they see and what objections your potential customers have.


Survey your current customers.  This might take the form of real, 15-30 minute interviews with current clients.  Our favorite question is, “why did you almost not buy?”


4. Content Strategy


There are two types of content to be included in a good marketing plan: static and ongoing.  Static content is the content that is always on your website and will likely undergo few changes over time.  Websites following web design best practices will typically include the following types of static content: homepage, about page, product/services pages, and contact page.  Additional content types will vary depending on your particular industry and conversion objectives.


On the other hand, ongoing content refers to new content that will be added to keep your site up-to-date and engaging, and to drive traffic.  This can be in the form of blog articles, landing pages, videos, podcasts, email newsletters, infographics, how-to guides, and so on.


When creating content for your site, you must consider the following:


1) Voice. This refers to the tone of the content and will be based on your target audience and brand.  For example, if you are offering legal services, the tone or “voice” of your copy should be professional, not humorous or filled with trendy terms.  You’ll also want to avoid jargon which might confuse your visitors.  On the other hand, if you are a fashion company targeting 18-25 year-olds, you’ll want to avoid a stodgy tone and are free to be creative and use wit and slang if that fits your brand.


2) Message. Considering the overarching message that ties all the content together will help you to stay focused on the specifics of what you are trying to communicate.  To help guide your message, you can employ the PASTOR strategy.  This acronym, developed by the uber-successful copywriter Ray Edwards, represents the following point you’ll want to address in your content: P=Person/Problem/Pain; A=Amplify the problem; S= Story/System/Solution; T=Testimonials, O=Offer; R=Response.


Using this formula can make your content creation easier and more successful.  Start by identifying the problem that your target persona has that can be solved by your product or service.  Next, you’ll want to amplify the problem by highlighting the possible consequences your customer will encounter if they don’t find a solution to their problem.


For example, if you own a painting businesses and your target persona’s problem is that his house needs a paint job, then one possible consequence of him not repainting his house could be a decrease in the home’s value. Don’t be shy about pointing this out to your potential clients!


Now is the point at which you present the solution to the problem.  At this point you’re not presenting your “pitch” per se, you’re simply identifying the answer that will solve their dilemma. As you can see, if you’re following the P.A.S.T.O.R. formula, you’ll essentially be writing a narrative that includes all the elements of a typically storyline – an introduction, conflict and resolution.


Providing testimonials (T) is always a great idea, as visitors to your website will be eager to know how others fared when purchasing your product or service.


Finally, provide a clear call-to-action that will give your potential customers the opportunity to respond to the offer you just presented to them. This is typically in the form of a button with directives like “Call Now,” “Subscribe,” “Get Started,” and so on.  Make the call-to-action visibly prominent so that your visitors don’t leave your website unsure of what their next step should be.



5. Publishing Calendar


Unless you are abnormally gifted in the memory department, you probably don’t go to the grocery store without a list of items to buy and a plan of how you are going to use them.  In the same way, the best marketers use a publishing calendar to plan what types of content they will be publishing and when.


Create a list of the types of content you want to publish along with a list of topics or titles for those articles, social media posts, email campaigns, podcasts, etc. Then make a calendar with clearly defined dates and/or timelines for when and how often you want to publish your content.


Not sure what topics to address? Research what people are looking for by browsing the web to see what kinds of questions people are asking and what are the current talking points or issues related to your industry.  If all else fails, simply ask your customers what they would like to know.


6. Conversion Tracking


You might be doing a double take at this point since I already covered conversion objectives, but it would be negligent to leave out the specifics of conversion tracking.  By conversion tracking, I am referring to the technical execution of elements on your website to measure the progress you are making toward your conversion objectives.


Depending on your digital marketing strategy and KPIs, you will need to employ different means to track your conversion rates and analyze the performance of your marketing efforts. Common actions that can be measured include contact forms submissions, downloads, and purchases made.


However, there is a lot more to conversion tracking than the obvious actions I just mentioned.  Thanks to programs like Google Analytics, you can even track how many people visit your website and which pages they view.  We’ll cover these types of online tools in more detail in a different module, but for now, the important thing to take away is that you’ll need to make sure you implement conversion tracking strategies into your digital marketing plan.


The most important point of this exercise, believe it or not, is to make sure you don’t have too many calls-to-action on each page.  One – or at maximum two – calls-to-action will prevent your users from becoming overwhelmed with the options you present to them.


7. Keyword Research & Mapping


This component is extremely important, so don’t stop now!  Even if you follow the above strategies and create a killer online digital marketing plan and excellent content, it won’t do any good if no one can find you. I can’t stress this enough.


As you’re aware, search engines use keywords to locate content that people are searching for.  Accordingly, you’ll need to do some research to figure out what keywords your audience is typing into search engines.  The first step is to start a list of your products or services, essentially whatever you think that your potential customers are searching for.


For example, if you are a hair stylist, your list will include words like “haircut”, “hair stylist, “hair salon”, etc.  If you want to expand your list, try typing keywords related to your industry into the Google search bar and let Google autofill the rest to see what people are searching for.  You can also look for ideas by typing your principal keywords into Google and scrolling down to the bottom of the results page to the “Searches related to” section. Consider using various iterations as well, such as “haircuts for men” in addition to “men’s haircut.”


There are some wonderful (and free!) tools online that you can use to aid you in this process.  Both Ubersuggest and Google AdWords Keyword Planner will give you suggested keywords related to your original keyword ideas, and they will generate reports on expected traffic and competition for your chosen keywords.


This is hugely important, as you need to be aware of which keywords are highly competitive so that you can opt for those which are within your reach to rank for.  This is also where long-tail keywords come in.  Long-tail keywords are phrases with three or more words that make up the entire search term.


For example, “hair stylist for kids in Redmond, OR” is longer and more specific than simply “hair stylist,” which is very general and, therefore, more competitive and difficult to rank for.  The more specific your keyword, the less competition you will likely encounter.


In addition, notice that the keyword above is location specific (Redmond, OR).  Adding your location to your keyword can go a long way in making sure that the right audience finds you, especially if you expect to do all or most of your business locally.


Now that you have a list of keywords that you want to rank for in search engines results pages, it’s time to apply them to your content.  The best method for this is what is known as keyword mapping. Keyword mapping is exactly what it sounds like: creating a map for how your keywords and related content will fit together on your website.  There are various ways to do this, and it typically involves a spreadsheet.


Now, if the mere thought of launching Excel or Google Sheets makes you lose your lunch, do not fear!  Moz has an excellent video that explains keyword mapping using a good ol’ fashioned whiteboard and markers.  I highly recommend that you check out their video for a detailed explanation of how to create a keyword map to plan out your content:




If all of this seems overwhelming, don’t worry – it totally is!  Developing a successful online marketing strategy is a ton of work, but, unlike other risky and expensive business investments (like commercials or billboards, wink wink), we promise that this will be worth it.  And, if you have any questions, you can always give us a buzz or leave a comment below.



7 Tips to Crush Your Small Business Online Marketing

Hi guys!  Matt Sheeks here.  I’m just starting to do some video marketing and I hope you find value in what I have to share.

First off, you need to do online marketing for your small business in 2019.  Of course, everyone knows that, but let me ask, “how’s that goin’ for ya?”

Sometimes a hard dose of the truth is a great motivator:

Studies show that…

  • 70-80% of people research a company online before visiting the small business or making a purchase. (Source)
  • 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 47% of people click on one of the first three listings. (Source)
  • Almost 90% of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve increased traffic (Source)

All of this begs the question about your own digital marketing.

Do you have?

  1. No Google My Business page?
  2. Vague marketing speak in the headline of your website?
  3. A Facebook business page, but no email marketing list or campaigns?
  4. An unprofessional website?
  5. No email opt-in on your site?
  6. No search engine marketing strategy?
  7. No content promotion strategy?

If you have any of the above online marketing flaws, you’re already way behind.  But that’s okay, I’m sure your competitors love it.

Allright, maybe it’s not okay.  Maybe it’s time to fix it. “New-Year-New-You,” right?

But how do you find the time to do online marketing all by yourself? Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean you all of a sudden have more than 24 hours in a day.

Lemme tell you, it took me forever to figure out which marketing activities actually worked, and which ones were aimed at funneling me into someone’s get-rich-quick scheme.

But, you don’t have to start from scratch like I did. If you just invest the 6 minutes before your next meeting to watch this video, you’ll be miles farther along than you were 6 minutes before.

If you follow these seven tips, you’ll experience increased ROI. You’ll experience more online leads and revenue. Your social and website will begin to work for you instead of, well, just sitting there.

Bottom line, we want to help you market your small business online simply, affordably, and for you to get results.  So check out this video.

14 Local SEO Statistics You Must Know

I’ve always said that SEO is a huge deal, and it doesn’t take long as a web designer and digital marketer to understand why.  Once you are managing several sites and have a chance to dive into the analytics of a site, a distinct pattern begins to emerge.  Even though site owners spend a lot of time attempting to drive traffic to their site from social media and from other referral sources, they inevitably get over 60% of their traffic from search engines.

The conclusion I have drawn, which is shared by many other digital marketers, is that local SEO – the practice of optimizing web pages in order to benefit local businesses – is some of lowest hanging fruit in the online marketing space.  It can literally make or break your entire business.  Personally, I have been able to create two profitable and sustainable businesses off of local SEO. One, as you can guess, is White Hat Matt, based on this very site.  The other is Tritheos Coaching Services, my triathlon coaching business.

If this infographic, originally developed by Go Globe, doesn’t convince you about the fruitfulness of investing some time and energy into local SEO, nothing will.
The importance of Local SEO
Infographic by- GO Globe Hong Kong

The Top Online Marketing Myth: “No One Will Read All That”


Welcome to the second module in our course, Digital Marketing Strategies and Tactics to Grow Any Small Business.


Before we go any further in our course, Digital Marketing Strategies and Tactics to Grow Any Small Business, we’re going to have to dispel some common online marketing myths.




You’re likely to be resistant to the strategies I’m going to present in future modules because of the prevalence of myths that often persist in the name of common sense.


How do these myths come about?


There are at least 4 causes:

  1. Assumptions about who your website visitors are and where they come from is incorrect.  This affects your strategy in how you build trust with your audience and how you can meet their needs.
  2. Assumptions about what’s important to your website visitors is incorrect.  This affects the information you choose to provide to them.
  3. Assumptions about how your visitors travel through your website is incorrect. This affects your content hierarchy, menu items, call-to-action buttons, and the offers that you present on your website.


And finally,

4. Assumptions about how people consume content on the web is incorrect.  This affects how you construct your sales message.


These assumptions are then perpetuated en masse until you begin to believe them.


Now, let’s bust through some marketing myths so we can help you grow your small business!


Myth #1 – No One Will Read All That


It is commonly asserted that because people don’t like to read, your website content should be short and to the point.


My caveat is that no one will read all that unless: (a) you are sharing information that people want to know, OR (b) you are trying to sell something and people need to know what they are buying.


The inverse would be if you’re not trying to sell anything or don’t have important information to share and you decide to create content about something anyways; then, yes, no one will read it.  But if that’s the case, why are you putting it online?


The problem with this myth is related to incorrect assumption #2 and #4.  Quite often people new to online marketing do not distinguish the differences in the willingness of others to consume content for random social media updates, versus the amount of content needed to create a lead, versus the amount of content needed to make a sale.


Short and to the point is necessary for a facebook update, but does that mean it’s what’s necessary for creating leads for $5k products, or even selling a $50-100 product?


Let’s dive into 3 areas where more content generally performs better – sales, conversion rate optimization, and SEO.




Long Sales Pages Tend to Do Better


Contrary to popular opinion, copywriters, conversion rate optimization experts, and SEO experts agree that longer sales pages tend to do better.




That’s simple: People want to know what they are buying.


In the words of famous entrepreneur Neil Patel, co-founder or Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics:


“Conversion Rate Optimization is like dating.  So, if I go up to a random person…and I say, ‘will you marry me right now…chances are she’d say no. Why would she say no? [asks for response from audience]…exactly, you don’t know them.  That’s the way the internet works too. Why would you expect someone to just come to your website, and you say, “Hey, buy something for $1000” and expect them to say ‘okay, here’s my credit card’…but once you get to know someone, they are much more likely to say yes.”  (from: Neil Patel’s Top Ten Rules for Success)


These are intelligent words from Neil put into common sense lingo. People are generally not going to buy from you if they don’t trust you. They don’t trust you if they don’t know you.


Similarly, they won’t trust your offer if they don’t know exactly what they are going to get.


King of Copywriting David Ogilvy puts in his two cents on why lots of information tends to do better on sales pages:


“Direct response advertisers know that short copy doesn’t sell. In split-run tests, long copy invariably outsells short copy. But I must warn you that if you want your long copy to be read, you had better write it well. In particular, your first paragraph should be a grabber…Long copy sells more than short copy, particularly when you are asking the reader to spend a lot of money. Only amateurs use short copy.”


Conversion Rate Experts throw their hat into the ring on this subject when they say:


“Marketers have been debating for a long time about how much copy to include. In general, write as much as it takes to communicate your entire sales message and to overcome all the likely objections. You are aiming to condense as many persuasive arguments and as much relevant information into as little text as possible. Conveying all of this information will usually require more words than most websites currently use.


Include all the information that customers could possibly require in order to make a purchase. (Note that it doesn’t all need to be on the main product page.)  Make sure to address all the common objections that your customers bring up. Compile a chart of objections and counter-objections, and then rank them in order of importance.”



According to the Crazy Egg blog, conversion rate optimization studies have been performed on advertisements for years.  Crazy Egg relays the findings:


“A second team of scientists found that readers of an industrial magazine were significantly more likely to read ads containing long, rather than short, copy. The researchers “found that short copy is less effective in arousing the interest of readers. The results suggest that longer ad copy is needed to communicate the type of information sought by industrial prospects, empirically confirming beliefs held by the advertising industry.”



Free Trials Achieves the Same or Better Effect than Long Sales Pages


Now, this doesn’t necessarily prove that a longer page with more written content always wins.  Just having length doesn’t mean you’ve provided the most relevant information. In fact, buyers can get to know you and your product/service through other means, such as with a free trial.  Neil Patel is also famous for “reversing the sales funnel.” That is, he allows users to try the product before they buy it, either through a free trial or freemium version of his software. This takes away much of the risk of the unknown on the part of the buyer.  Instead of having to take a leap of faith and make an educated guess about whether or not a product will work for them, they are able to test-drive the product. This seems to be more effective than having a long sales page.


Conversion Rate Experts also comments on this technique when they write:


In general, do whatever you can to get the product into the customer’s hands. If you’re so confident in your product, prove it by taking some of the risk.”



What to Do When You Can’t Offer a Free Trial


But, not all industries can employ the “try before you buy” approach.  This works particularly well in the SAAS industry; it also works in car sales.  But it doesn’t work that well when you can’t physically examine the product and can’t use a free trial.  If that is the case you’re going to need a convincing argument about the superiority of your product, and in most cases it is going to take some length to say it.


Barry A. Densa, from Melissa Global Intelligence, sums it up when he writes:


“You simply cannot provide all the information—a compelling story, incontrovertible proof, undeniable credibility, risk reversal, and an irresistible offer—all of which is necessary to convince, persuade and close a difficult sale—in… Click To Tweet



An Important Case Study Where Long Form Content Won


This screenshot below shows the sales improvement achieved by Protalus, maker of an over-the-counter corrective insole, by moving to a longer sales page:


They comment on their rationale for moving to a longer sales page:


“On a landing page, you must overcorrect because you lack the back- and-forth conversation in a live selling situation. Below is the list of key elements on the winning page.”


They go on to state the key elements to their sales page which basically amounted to answering customer objections, including (1) Price too high, (2) Not sure it will work, (3) Not sure it will work for my specific condition, (4) Difficulty navigating the website.


The conversion optimization company then added sections specifically addressing each objection.  The result was a page 5 or 6 times as long as the original. This increase in sales page length increased sales by 91% in 6 months.



The Protalus case study highlights a belief commonly held by pro copywriters.  In a live sales situation, you can answer your customer’s questions at that moment.  But on a sales page on the web you don’t know which questions or objections your visitor will have…so you need to answer all of them.  This overcompensation often means you may arrive at a significantly long sales page.


Sales Page Length and Conversion Rates For Different Types of Offers


We’ve already covered how a longer sales page isn’t an absolute necessity because there are ways of communicating your message, overcoming objections, and demonstrating the value of your product/service through other means.  But does this mean that long copy always wins where free trials or video are unbecoming? Bob Kemper, Director of Sciences at MECLABS and an authority on analyzing long versus short copy, relayed his findings on hundreds of A/B tests comparing short to long copy.


He found that (a) inexpensive purchases generally required shorter sales copy, (b) short copy generally performed better with products that were purchased due to emotional, impulsive, or want-oriented buying behavior, (c) if you’ve already established good brand identity and trust with your prospective buyer, not as much information is required because they already know and trust you.



Lead Vs Sale?


One final issue is the difference between asking for a sale and asking for a lead.  Are you asking for payment right then and there on a website page, or are you just looking to get someone’s contact information?  Regarding this distinction, Bob Kemper concludes:


“If you’re asking for $$$, people need way more information to make a decision and hence a long form page might be a more suitable option. In the end, it depends on the goal of your home page….long copy is the better performer when there is a rational, analytical, need-oriented motivation. Think consumer insurance products or many complex B2B offerings.”



What Kemper is saying here is that if you are asking for a visitor to make a purchase on the spot, you’re likely going to need longer content.  If all you are asking for is a lead, such as someone picking up the phone, emailing you, or completing a contact form submission, you won’t necessarily have to counter every objection or answer every question, because you can do that down the road once your prospect begins to have more interactions with you.


What this all amounts to is the avoidance of making your website visitors and potential customers do all the heavy lifting.  Give them some information about you, build some trust; don’t make them knock down your door to figure out who you are, what you offer, and what makes your business special.


Long Form Content Tends to do Better In SEO


In a landmark study of top search engine results, Brian Dean of Backlinko, in conjunction with Ahrefs, SEMRush, Market Muse, SimilarWeb and Clickstream, found that the top search engine results were, on the average, occupied with pages of about 2000 words of content.  Here is a quick graphic that illustrates their findings.



As you can see, after about position #2, as word count decreases, rankings tend to decrease as well.  This isn’t true for every type of content in SEO, but it is true for the majority.


Brian Dean comments:

“After removing outliers from our data (pages that contained fewer than 51 words and more than 9999 words), we discovered that pages with longer content ranked significantly better than short content. In fact, the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.


This correlation could be due to the fact that longer content generates significantly more social shares. Or it could be an inherent preference in Google for longer articles.  Another theory is that longer content boosts your page’s topical relevancy, which gives Google a deeper understanding of your content’s topic.”



This is why Dean, in his post on optimizing on-page SEO, gives the following pieces of advice to posting long content:


“The SEO adage “length is strength” was supported by our industry study which found that longer content tends to rank significantly higher on Google’s first page. Aim for at least 1900 words for every piece of content that you publish.”


When it comes to social media, people will likely not want to read 1000 word posts.  But when it comes to web users who have informational or transactional intent, they will be willing to consume large amounts of content.


In the case of someone with informational intent (think blogs posts and SEO), their goal is to accumulate knowledge, so of course they are willing to “read all that.”


In the case of someone with transactional intent (think business and sales pages), they want to make sure they are making wise use of their money (except in the case of impulse purchases), so they also need a good amount of content to make an informed decision.


Text vs Video vs Audio


One question we should answer before we finish off this section is:  “Do I always have to use a ton of text?”


The answer for SEO is “probably,” because search engines are much better at crawling text then they are at understanding videos and audio.


For sales, however, you could communicate your message through video, audio, infographics etc.  It really depends on the type of product or service you offer and your production quality over the variety of mediums at your disposal.


Here are some alternatives to using long form text content:


Physical product – consider doing an unboxing video and show your product works in action.


Software as a Service – offer a free trial of your product or freemium version.  Even better, offer a live demo of your product right on your site. Elegant Themes, for instance, is crushing their competition by offering a live demo [link] of their front-end page builder, Divi.  This way, visitors don’t have to go through the trouble of downloading or signing up in order to test out the product. Why gate your product when people can try it immediately?


Service – Offer some free miniature version of your actual service.  For instance, I am a web designer and digital marketer [link] and offer 3 different free services in order to build trust and clinch a sale.  I offer:


  • A free SEO-specific audit, where the user completes a form and their audit is delivered to them electronically.  All of this happens automatically on my site and is initiated by the user.
  • A hands-on website audit, so we can understand what’s wrong with your site and how to fix it.  In this case I take 1-1.5 hours and look at everything from search engine rankings, to website speed, to conversion funnel.
  • A discovery process that occurs before my proposal/estimate process, so I can understand what strategies to employ once I start a web design project and/or traffic and conversion campaign.  This alone delivers a ton of value, helping prospects understand their competition, target audience, and available strategies and tactics.


So what happens if you buy into the myth that “no one will read all that?”


  1. No traffic.  People won’t be able to find you online from search engines.


  1. No conversion.  People won’t trust you enough to buy from you, won’t understand your offer, or won’t even bother contacting you.


Okay, myth #1 is sufficiently busted!  If you read all the way to the end, then that pretty much proves my point.  You read all that!


In the next article, we’ll move onto myth #2: Online Marketing = Social Media Marketing


But before we do move on, we need to answer how you are going put your long form content knowledge into use?


It’s difficult to give any advice that is “one size fits all.”  If you’re just starting to get your small business online, here’s are some potential action steps you could take:


  • Begin writing down objections people have to buying your product or service, preferably during live selling situations.
  • Add an FAQ page to your site, answering all the objections you hear.
  • Add an About Page to your site.  The About Page tends to be the 2nd most popular page on a site, on average.  This will help build trust with your audience and add some personality to your brand.

Just making those 3 small changes would have a big impact on your conversions.


If you’re following this class on-line and keeping up with your coursework, here are your next steps:


If you haven’t already done so, sign up for Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Course.  You should have already watched “Inbound Marketing Fundamentals”
Watch “Planning a Long Term Content Strategy” and take the quiz at the end.  Repeat the quiz until you score 100%


(Editorial Note:  Since beginning creating this online course, Hubspot has restructured their inbound course offerings.  We will be using the course “Inbound Marketing” primarily, but will also draw from the “Inbound” course.)


Additional Resources:

Brian DeanWe Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results.  Here’s What We Learned About SEO

Neil PatelHow to Share Your Brand’s Story on Your About Page


7 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Digital Marketing (Course Introduction)


Have you ever wanted to move beyond marketing theory and into what it takes to successfully market a small business online?  Our Digital Marketing Strategies and Tactics course will help your business develop new leads and customers in order for your business or organization to grow.  


This article is to designed to help you navigate the course. Digital Marketing Strategies and Tactics to Grow Any Small Business is divided into 10 modules per term, for a total of 3 terms. This follows the conventional quarter system course schedule.  If you plan to commit yourself to the entire course, we recommend going at a speed of 1 module per week or perhaps 1 module every 2 weeks if you intend to follow the course purely online.


The course is designed to give you the basics of marketing any business online; once you’ve completed the course you’ll have 80-90% of the knowledge you need as a small business owner to successfully attract enough customers so that you’ll never have to worry about whether you’ll have enough business again.


We currently do not have plans to offer the course in person in La Grande, Oregon, as we have in the past.  However, should you need additional training or want hands on help marketing your business you can always reach out using contact form and we would be happy to train you in person.


Modules, 1st Term

  1. Why Google My Business is Crucial for Small Business Success
  2. The Top Online Marketing Myths and How They Hinder Small Business Growth
  3. The 7 Components of a Successful Online Marketing Plan
  4. How to Write Persuasively to Clearly Demonstrate the Benefits of Your Product or Service.
  5. How to Employ Search Engine Optimization to Get Free Exposure and Traffic to Your Website
  6. Whether Pay-Per-Click Advertising is Really Worth It
  7. What is WordPress and Why is it the Best Platform for Small Businesses?
  8. The Best Website and Online Marketing Tools to Help Small Businesses Succeed
  9. The Unrecognized Value Behind Email Marketing
  10. The Truth About Social Media Marketing
  11. Affiliate Marketing and How to Start Creating a Supplemental Income Immediately


The course then repeats the same subjects for the following terms.  Think of each term as proceeding from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced for each subject.


Module Subjects, 2nd and 3rd Terms

  1. Google My Business
  2. Marketing Strategy and Planning
  3. Copywriting
  4. SEO
  5. Pay-Per-Click
  6. WordPress
  7. Online Tools
  8. Email Marketing
  9. Social Media
  10. Affiliate Marketing


Why Small Businesses Need Online Marketing

Several reasons exist for why small businesses need to invest time, effort, and even dollars into online marketing efforts.  Some of these are obvious, such as the increase in computer and smartphone usage to research businesses and ultimately make buying decisions.  But some of the strengths of digital marketing may be less obvious to the unaccustomed.  Let’s dive into the top 7 reasons small businesses should get busy with their online marketing. Five of these reasons are conceptual in nature, while the other two refer to trends in consumer behavior.  The first five will always be true, while the trends we have noticed (as of 2017) may change over time.



Five concepts drive the need for Online Marketing: Power, Ownership, FlexibilityCost, and Control.  


It will be noted here that these concepts are applicable only to the method of marketing espoused in this course.  There are any number of online marketing strategies which can be employed which do not fit where the above concepts do not fit (online gambling marketing, marketing with a heavy emphasis on paid advertising, black hat SEO, etc.). We can define the method espoused in this course as: content marketing based primarily on one’s self-hosted website, where traffic is driven primarily by Search-Engine-Optimization, organic social media and influencer marketing.


#1 – Power

No one can debate the power inherent in presenting information in an an online format.  Certainly, creating web content takes a lot of time, but your efforts can be multiplied because of the ability to reach a worldwide audience. Representing your business online is similar to being in two or more places at one time!  


Many of you are familiar with the concept of an elevator pitch.  Imagine being able to give the elevator pitch for your business to only one person.  Now imagine giving the same elevator pitch to a group of ten in the same elevator.  Now, imagine giving an elevator pitch to 10 people in 100 separate elevators located in 100 separate countries.  Finally, imagine giving an elevator pitch to 10 people in 100 separate countries, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and for the next 100 days, but only having to give that elevator pitch one-time.  Such is the power of having content related to your business available online.


Another powerful element in digital marketing (hence the term, digital), is the ability to deliver the message in multiple formats.  Text, audio, images, infographics, video – all of these are preferable to different audience members at different points in time.


Personally, if I’m really intent on learning something quickly, I will gravitate towards text-based content such as blog posts, articles, online tutorials, etc.  I can easily find the information I want by scrolling the content and looking at sub-headings.  Many times, I will read the article in its entirety, if I have time.  It’s also easier for me to return to the same article in order to re-read, cut-and-paste, or reference a certain section.  This is currently much more difficult to accomplish with audio or video.


If I’m driving, audio, specifically podcasts, are my preferred method of consuming content.  I can turn my car into a rolling University, maximizing my time in the car so I can focus on producing content when I am stationary and at my desk.  


However, if I want to be entertained, perhaps while eating a meal, I will gravitate towards video.  I have to interact far less with content.  Video is slightly more passive, it seems, in that I can let the information come to me.  As an added bonus, I rarely have to touch the trackpad of my laptop with dirty fingers!


#2 – Ownership

Unlike traditional advertising, the methods promoted in this course are not based on a pay-for-placement system.  This is where “marketing” is much broader in scope than simply “advertising,”


If you think about paid advertising, it can usually be accomplished because the other guy – the one charging you – is delivering content in order to drive eyeballs to whatever medium he controls.  


Newspapers could be considered one of the oldest forms of content marketing.  Because people are willing to look at and read the newspaper, this opens up the opportunity for the newspaper company to be able to charge for space within the newspaper.  You pay for access to their audience.  Similarly, companies that operate billboards have some sort of control over the land where the billboard is located.  This allows them to charge for space on a sign in an area that is highly trafficked.


Finally, we have pay-per-click advertising.  Paid advertising only exists because people want access to the organic or unpaid results found in search engines.  Indeed, according to Rand Fishkin of Moz, about 90% of the clicks go to the organic (or unpaid) results.  While there is profit to be had in pay-per-click, the attractiveness of optimizing one’s site for the organic listings, a practice known as Search-Engine-Optimizaition, is undeniable.


When you own the platform, no one can charge you for the placement of your message.  At a minimum, you’ll need to pay for a budget website hosting plan (~$5/month) and possibly a premium WordPress theme (~$50/one-time).


If you create content, there might be costs involved in the creation of the content itself, but no one can charge you to place the content on their medium.   It’s only your time and effort involved.


#3 – Flexibility

This segways nicely into the 3rd concept we need to look at when discussing the advantages of online/digital marketing.  Once a website or other piece of content exists, there are multiple ways to utilize our platform of choice, which is a website.  All of the modules in this course – Copywriting, SEO, Email Marketing, Web Design – all seem to work in harmony to get results for the website owner, whatever the owner’s objective may be.  


Personally, I certainly use my website for purposes that have a clear financial outcome.  But I also use it for causes which I believe in deeply and which give me no monetary gain.  


In addition to multiple types of website utilization, there are multiple ways to promote the message of that website or page.


We’ve already discussed SEO, the practice of making webpages more amenable – simultaneously – to human web users and to the search engines themselves.  This is an immensely practical way of driving traffic to a website because of the minimal upkeep needed to continue driving traffic.  But there are yet other ways to drive traffic to a website or piece of content.  Social Media, E-mail, and even Paid Advertising come to mind.  Even print advertising can drive a good deal of direct traffic.


#4 – Cost

The simplest way to think about owning a website and performing content marketing is to think about renting versus owning a home.  When you purchase a home, you pay one amount (although you may have a mortgage payment!), and can continue to utilize the benefits of the real estate as you please.  With renting, you make recurring payments and are bound to the stipulations provided by the owner of how you may use the property.


This is very similar to owning your online content versus renting.  If you advertise on someone else’s platform, let’s say it’s Facebook Advertising, you pay them on a recurring basis and they dictate where you can place the ad.  If you create your own content on your own property, you can continue to derive benefits from that piece of content in a residual fashion.


#5 – Control

Within all 4 of these elements is the concept of control.  When the message and content is produced on your own property, you have more control over the outcome traffic and conversion of the traffic.  When you build your “house” on someone else’s foundation, whether that be Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, etc., they make the rules and can change the rules at anytime, leaving you as the business owner and content creator in the position of having to pivot.  One can’t help but think of the mass demonetization of Youtube channels recently that were deemed too politically controversial by Youtube.  When you own the web-property, you still have to pivot with changes in technology, the economy, and in your own industry, but these changes can be made according to your own schedule.


Of course, you don’t need to memorize or even know these concepts in order to start taking advantage of content marketing.  I certainly didn’t when I started out.  But knowing the advantages of digital marketing can certainly influence a business’s willingness to stick with their online marketing efforts.


Now let’s look at emerging trends in consumer behavior that make digital marketing even more attractive.


#6 – 97% of Consumers Search for Local Businesses Online

Currently, consumers are searching for information about local businesses at a rate that outpaces the amount of information given by the businesses themselves.  This creates a massive opportunity for small and/or local businesses that decide to get savvy with their marketing efforts.


According to Eventility, 97% of consumers will search for local businesses online. Source: Forbes


In addition, according to research conducted in 2016, “50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a business [for that search] within a day.” ( Source: Google )


Image Source: Go Globe 


#7 – Consumers Trust Online Reviews

The value of online reviews and the effect it can have on small businesses is staggering.  Yet, it is perplexing that local businesses place so little value on online reviews.  


According to a 2016 survey conducted by Bright Local, the seminal surveyor on the topic, 50% of consumers regularly check online reviews for local businesses, 41% occasionally check online reviews, and only 9% do not check online reviews.  So, in total, 91% of those surveyed check online reviews at least some of the time.



In addition, 39% of people claim that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business, while 24% claim that negative reviews deter them from using a business.



Among the most popular types of businesses that consumers sought reviews for include: (1) restaurants (60% of participants searched for), (2) Hotel/B & B (40%), and (3) Medical/Healthcare (31%).


Finally, 84% of people will trust an online review just as much as they trust a personal recommendation. (source: Bright Local


Conclusions Based on Consumer Behavior

These numbers have only increased in favor of consumers reading and trusting online reviews over the years the survey was conducted.


In our course, we’re going to teach you the best methods for reaching out to customers in order to garner positive reviews.  According to Reevo, having online reviews results in an 18% uplift in sales.  Adding reviews to your “digital portfolio” could be one of the easiest methods to increase sales!  


We’ll also share some strategies for reputation management, i.e. what to do when you get a bad review.


Tying this all together is that for 54% of respondents in the Bright Local survey, the next step taken by consumers who read a positive review is to visit the business’s website.  While creating a website cannot be considered easy by most of us, this seems to be the next logical step for businesses who do not yet have one.



In our course we’ll share with you the best tools on how to create a website, as well as give you some of the basics to get started in designing your own site.


The Need for a Small Business Online Marketing Course

While a vast amount of good information exists regarding the topics we’re going to cover in our course, few resources/websites have broken down the steps necessary to market a business from the perspective of a small business owner.  Even fewer have created their content in a systematic fashion in order to take small businesses from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible  We have sifted through all the information that isn’t applicable or practical for small businesses.  


Finally, we help you make the changes to your online presence in a hands-on fashion, considering your business’s unique circumstances.


If you can’t enlist our help in-person should you happen to live in Eastern Oregon, you can follow along with the articles, video, and audio presented on this site.


We’ll pick it up next time to discuss Why Google My Business is Crucial for Small Business Success.


In the meantime, please answer the question: What’s been your biggest challenge in marketing your small business online?  Leave a comment below and we will address your challenge in the course!


What to do Next?

If you are participating in this course formally, whether in-person or online, you’ll need to take the following steps before the next class:

  1. Sign-up for an account over at the Hubspot Academy.  Then, you’ll want to enroll in the Hubspot Inbound Marketing Course.
  2. Watch the Introduction as well as the first series of videos: Essentials of an Effective Inbound Strategy.
  3. Take the quiz under “Inbound Fundamentals.”  Review the videos and re-take the quiz until you score 100%.


Additional (Optional) Reading:

Forbes:  Is Online Marketing Really Necessary for Small Businesses?

The Balance: Top Digital Marketing Strategies for the Small Business