Tuesday, February 4, 2014

4 Strategies For A Holistic Online Marketing Plan

Holistic is a word that is often used to describe a business’s marketing efforts. What does this actually mean? A holistic approach to marketing involves strategies that work together to benefit your business as a whole. A more holistic online marketing strategy is now more critical than ever. You can’t just build a website and hope to be successful on the internet; you need a comprehensive strategy that propels you past your competition and improves your visibility in the ground transportation services sector.

Components of an effective holistic online marketing approach include:

Responsive Web Design 
Today, the majority of websites receive 30 to 50 percent of traffic from mobile visitors. This number will continue to increase, making it even more imperative that you innovate with a responsive website design that adapts easily to different browser window sizes – from desktop computers to mobile smartphones and tablets. With a responsive website design, instead of seeing only part of your web page when viewed on a non-traditional browser, the web browser automatically detects the type of device accessing the website and adapts the page to fit the viewer’s screen, leaving the navigation, text and forms large enough to easily read and access without adjusting the browser.

It can be a frustrating experience trying to get information on a website that doesn’t adapt to your browser window dimensions. If a customer can’t easily scan a page and find what they are looking for, then they will most likely go back to their trusty friend, Google, and visit a mobile-friendly competitor’s site.

Quality Web Content
The look and feel of your website should, first of all, quickly communicate your brand identity, and your company’s brand should be consistent across all communication platforms. From social media to your website to newsletters, your brand identity should be clear, consistent and memorable.

Additionally, when customers visit your website, they should quickly and easily find the information they are looking for thanks to simple navigation approaches that allow the user to seamlessly move between multiple pages on your site. Thanks to mobile technology, customers want to do things quick and easy, making an online reservation system imperative for customers to book their trips.

Your website also needs to evolve over time. Consider building your website on a platform that is expandable and easy to keep current as business grows and applications and technology advance.
Visual appeal is also important. Photography should be professional and personalized to your business. A professional showcase of your available transportation options is a must on your website.  As video content has exploded on the internet, it is also an effective way to communicate your value and demonstrate your transportation offerings and services. Video content is easily shared, and in addition to your website, it can be posted on sites such as YouTube.

It is critical to focus on what your prospects and clients want, and not just what you want to tell them on your website. Clear navigation, easy access to vehicle images and descriptions, and calls to action should lead the visitor to book a trip.

Online Marketing Strategies
The ground transportation services sector can be a very competitive field. A good copywriter with search engine optimization (SEO) experience can make a big difference in helping your business stand out and rank high on the search engines.

Every website requires at least basic SEO practices to ensure visibility across the various search engines. Organic SEO positioning of your website for major keyword searches is free and raises your website visibility and authority over your competition.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the paid placement of ads (Pay Per Click or PPC).  These are the “sponsored links” on search engines and other online advertising channels for specific keywords or phrases. Managing these campaigns can be difficult and costly. An experienced online marketing firm can significantly increase your effectiveness and ROI.

Take advantage of online business directories, such as YellowPages.com, Yelp, Citysearch or Google. The listings should be accurate and updated when any changes to the business occur. There are now power listing tools to control your company information and promotions across multiple directories from one control panel.

Social media is the fastest growing segment of the internet and includes content distribution, interactive discussions, audio and video. The community aspects of social media and the ability to communicate to an audience make social media an invaluable component to a holistic online marketing campaign.

Content distribution opportunities also spread your message on the internet and give you quality inbound links, which drive traffic to your website.  Blogs, articles, press releases and YouTube videos are all effective forms of content distribution.

Don’t overlook the value of email marketing. This can be a cost effective tool to continue to communicate with your audience and stay top-of-mind when they need your services. It’s important to ensure that your emails provide value—useful information or advice—rather than just promoting your transportation service.

Online Reviews
Did you know that over 70 percent of online purchases are decided by online reviews? That’s a significantly high percentage, which means that you need a proactive approach to soliciting and distributing positive reviews on your website and the many web directories where individuals talk about your company.

Many business owners fear review sites, such as Google, Yelp, Yahoo, CitySearch, and Yellow Pages, for fear that someone will post a negative review that will impact their business. This is understandable; however, sitting back and not being proactive about welcoming reviews will more than likely make your fears a reality. Those motivated to write a review on their own tend to be unhappy customers. But, if you encourage your customers to share their positive experience on these review platforms, you will find yourself seeing a whole lot of love, and also gain a lot of useful feedback that will help you improve your business.

Consider sending an email to customers after you’ve done business with them with a direct link to one or more review sites. By encouraging them to share their experience, you demonstrate that you value the customer experience and quality of service.

You can also offer customers a post card with a QR code that will send them directly to a review site to share their experience. Making it easy for customers to rate your business will allow those good reviews to help showcase your company—reviews that more than likely would not have happened without you making it top-of-mind and easy to do.

Another benefit of using online reviews is that they help build your search engine ranking. The more reviews you have, the higher your search engine ranking and the more easily you can be found when customers search for your company.

In Summary
Online marketing is not just about getting a website like it used to be. The online marketing opportunities available today are tremendous, and using them effectively requires a concerted holistic approach. Know your audience and how they are doing business online, and make sure that your marketing strategies coincide with those behaviors.

The adage, “build it and they will come,” may apply to baseball fields, but it certainly does not apply to online marketing. Effective content and visual appeal is critical. A well laid out website with professional photos and concise, professionally written copy lends to a positive image of your company. Customer reviews are important to your business and can’t be ignored. Be proactive with your customers and make it easy for them to post reviews of your company; it not only helps boost your online presence, but it shows the value you put on customer service.

As your business and online profile grows, it’s important to update your marketing and communication to ensure it continues to deliver your message effectively, and maximize the return on your marketing dollars. A good holistic online marketing plan evolves, just like today’s ever-changing technological landscape.


Lou Amico is founder and president of LA Management Company, a strategic marketing firm specializing in online marketing, video production, multimedia production, website development and optimization and social marketing. He can be reached at (704) 560-6274 or visit LAManagementCo.com for more information.  


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