A while back, a friend of mine suffered a heart attack. It turned out to be very mild and not life-threatening, but it was scary for him and his family, nonetheless. Ultimately, it served as a warning about his lifestyle and the dangers of what's to come if things don't change.
The doctor had plenty of advice, and my friend was eager to make the lifestyle changes needed to get back to good health. He even hired a personal health and wellness coach to help him get his diet and exercise under control. Each month, his coach made assessments of his progress and laid out additional lifestyle change recommendations for him to follow.
Right after the initial attack, my friend was quick to do everything he was instructed. But it wasn't long before life got in the way. His intentions were good, but other more pressing matters made it increasingly difficult for him to continue to live the healthy lifestyle he was being asked to live.
He knew it was his fault that his health wasn't improving. But as time wore on, he became frustrated, not just at his lack of progress, but by all the new rules and regulations that he was being asked to follow to bring him back to proper health. I guess he didn't expect it to be so much work.
After a while, my friend stopped blaming himself for his poor health and started to blame the coach he hired. As he saw it, he hired him to do a job, which was to get him into good health. The coach continued to talk to him about the things he needed to do. He created workout schedules, meal plans and laid out specific dos and don'ts that would help him lead a happier, healthier life. But as my friend continued to ignore his coach's advice, the more fed up he got with his own lack of progress, eventually firing the coach, simply because his health never really improved.
Sadly, not too long ago my friend suffered another, more severe heart attack. The doctors told him that if things don't change, the next one will be the big one. He talked about hiring another coach but ultimately decided against it because, according to him, they are all just shysters. And many of them want too much money for stuff he can do himself anyway.
Most of you reading this probably know where I'm going. My friend, unfortunately, has died. But he's not my friend. Nor is he a person. He's a business. And it didn't have a heart attack, but suffered from poor online exposure. This "friend," like so many others, hired a web marketing company to help them get more traffic and sales. And like so many other businesses, they failed to follow the advice of the web marketers they hired. But instead of blaming themselves for not doing the things necessary to succeed online, they blamed the SEO.
Hopefully, you're not that guy. But maybe you see yourself in there somewhere or you know someone who is like that. Or maybe you truly are willing to do the things necessary to see your web marketing campaign succeed. If that's you, then I have your prescription for good web marketing health right here.
Set Your Goals
You can't know what you will consider a success unless you set some goals and benchmarks. In fact, without those goals, you'll never know if your expectations are doable, what kind of budget you need to set or the timing in which you might see your goals realized.
These are all important aspects of a successful web marketing campaign. Just about any goal is achievable with the right budget, but most of us don't have the kinds of budgets that produce magic. So we have to know if what we want to achieve is doable within our budget and, if so, how long it will take. If the budget is firm, then we have to adjust our expectations accordingly. If the budget is enough to see the goals achieved, you just need to set your time frame expectations.
If you don't get all three of those things lined up, you're in for bitter disappointment from your perceived lack of success. However, when goals, budget and time frames are all in alignment, you can measure your progress and see if you're on the right track or if adjustments need to be made as you go.
Take Your Medications
Your web marketing company can give you your medications, but you still have to take them. For many companies, that means getting your web developer involved in fixing all the web architecture issues that are holding back your online marketing success.
Web marketers can diagnose issues and tell you what needs to be done, but unless you're willing to hand over the keys to the website, they have to rely on you to do it. Even if you do give your web marketers site access to make needed changes, some changes still require your approval. If you're slow to respond or outright reject their recommendations, you're going to feel the effects of that in your website's health.
For best results, I recommend quick approvals and turning the keys over to your web marketers. Where there is a conflict between what the web marketer wants and what the company execs want, instead of outright rejection, discuss alternatives that can give both more of what they want, even if it's not 100%.
A lot of websites can do well enough without on-page optimization. But just like the average person who does not exercise, they can live a normal life, they just can't compete in a marathon. As a business, if you want to compete for top rankings, that's your marathon. To be a serious contender, you need to do some serious keyword and user experience optimization.
The goal here isn't to "optimize" your site but rather to create a "healthy" experience for the visitor. The more engaged visitors are with your site, the more you'll see your online visibility improve. Keywords are just a way of speaking your visitors' language. Your text should talk about the value of what your visitors will receive in the terms that make sense to them, not you. After all, there is no need to talk about a "multi-directional metal spike installation tool," when a hammer will do.
Make sure your site is easy to use and your visitors can quickly find the information they came looking for. On top of that, make the decision process an easy one by discussing the benefits of your products or services rather than just the specifications. Answer all potential questions and guide your visitors through the sales process. Make sure your shopping cart is intuitive and you give visitors as few jump out points as possible.
Aside from the on-page optimization, there is a whole off-page world of work to be done. This requires some additional leg work. Sure, you can hire a social media company to create a content calendar for you, write some blog posts and even share some stuff on your social streams, but there are just some things that only you can do.
Face it, you know your company better than anyone else. If someone is asking a question about your inventory on Twitter, no third-party company can answer that for you. If someone is asking about specific product specifications, you may be the only one who can look up those details.
A good chunk of social media marketing is customer support. That means you need your best reps monitoring your social streams for quick answers and responses. You also need to be available to work with your writers (whether internal or external) to ensure the information is accurate and is consistent with your company voice and image.
There are also other off-site promotion avenues, and it can take a good deal of effort to make sure those align with the online efforts. For example, you don't want to run an ad that leads to a URL that doesn't reinforce the ad's messaging or run promotions over social media that are not re-iterated on the website itself. Keeping all your marketing efforts aligned with one another can be quite a bit of work, but it ensures all your efforts are more successful.
Get Plenty of Rest
After working on your promotion and optimization, sometimes you need to take a step back and assess your progress. That's not to say you have to stop doing what you're doing, but you do need to look at the data and see what it's telling you.
Analytics produce a gold mine of information about your progress that, if used properly, can help you tweak, change and reconfigure your efforts and goals to keep you on the path to success. Based on your budget and available time, you may need to stop focusing on one area in order to spend more time on another. Or you may see completely new opportunities arise that were previously ignored. You'll have to work with your web marketers to determine the best way to proceed.
Let the data tell you a story. What you see should raise questions, and then your job is to look further to see if you can find the answer to those questions. While this isn't truly "resting" from online marketing work (in fact, even more work is being done), the whole idea here is to not only focus on the marketing but to take time from that to look at the results as well.
Set New Goals
Once you have looked at your analytics and implemented changes to your plan, you need to set new goals. Some goals you've likely hit, and others will be a bit further out than you anticipated. Your "resting" time in analytics should be followed by a time of course and expectation correction.
Keeping a healthy website isn't a matter of life and death, but then again, the success of your business does lend to the quality of your life. And not just yours but also everyone else's life the business supports. Having a healthy web presence can significantly improve your quality of life and your business' long-term prospects.
Survive? Sure. But we want our businesses to do more than that. We want to thrive. Follow the steps above you you'll be on your way to a long and healthy business life.
Have you ever gotten out of balance when it comes to your web marketing health? Let us know what happened in the comments below.