The 4 Stages of Online Marketing

Looking to develop an online marketing strategy? Good—let me help you out by breaking things down for you. The following post breaks online marketing down into 4 stages, each more narrow than the one before. Remember, before you get started, you need a complete plan that hits every stage of the process in order to set yourself up for success. Failure to adequately plan (leaving unfilled holes in one or more stages of the process) will cause you to hemorrhage potential clients.

Stage 1: Target market

First and foremost you need to identify your target market. Are you going after new homeowners? Twenty-something cell phone users? Retirees looking to downsize? Personal injury victims? Whoever that target market might entail, you need to make sure all your marketing materials speak directly to them. That means mail outs, brochures, e-newsletters, Tweets, Facebook status updates—all types of marketing efforts. And they should all have one goal in mind—direct your target market to your website.

Stage 2: Website visitors

Once you get people to your site, they enter stage two. Here is where you had better hope you have put the work in to provide a web experience that is not only user friendly, but drives visitors to action. How can you do that?

  • A professional, useful design
  • Compelling content
  • A strong call to action
What’s the purpose of your website? I’ve said it over and over—to bring in good leads. Now website visitors in and of themselves aren’t really leads. They only become leads once they have taken the action you want them to take, which is usually contacting you via contact form, email, or phone.

Stage 3: Leads

Once a customer has shown enough interest to contact you, they become a lead. Notice that this stage is not the final stage. That’s because they aren’t yet sold. No money has exchanged hands. No contract has been signed. No promises have been made. The fact is this lead could also be a lead for 5 of your competitors they have also contacted. Now it’s time for you to make the conversion.

How? First of all, respond promptly. If you wait around, count on the competition to swoop them up and away. When you contact the customers, make sure to focus on your unique sales proposition and bend over backwards to move them into stage 4. If they don’t bite, don’t give up. Put them aside and try again in a week.

Stage 4: Paying customers

Obviously, you want as many people as possible to end up in this group. The more paying customers, the fatter your profit. But don’t forget, it’s not just about getting them here: it’s about keeping them at this stage. Repeat customers are the best kind. Because you aren’t spending time and money trying to find them. They’re already there and all you need to do is keep them happy and coming back for more.

Are there holes in your online marketing plan?

If you are missing a piece of your plan, give me a call. I can help you identify problems and come up with solutions!

About The Author

Brian Waraksa

Brian Waraksa, founder of Raxa Design in Houston, Texas has been in marketing and small business branding since 2002. He writes the Raxa Design blog on issues affecting small business marketing and corporate brands.

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