We are regularly asked by entrepreneurs: “So, exactly how much time do we need to put into our online presence?”
Often, the answer they’re really looking for is: “Not much, a few hours a week… tops.”
The trouble is that’s not what we’re going to say. In fact, we might even answer the question with a few questions of our own.
- What do you want to get out of your online presence?
- How many new sales leads?
- How many online sales?
Some entrepreneurs just get it. They fully understand that in the online space, like in any other aspect of your business, it’s “you get out of it, what you put into it.” You don’t ask your sales reps to work just a few hours a week. Right?
The first thing you need to know is that you can succeed at online marketing. If you put together the right mix of strategy, personnel and tools, you will indeed get an ROI from it.
The set it and forget it mindset
In my last blog post, “Marketing automation tools make your digital marketing easier”, I said when it comes to digital marketing, there is no “set it and forget it.”
In fact, for us in BDC’s Integrated Sales and Marketing team, “set it and forget it” is the worst possible mindset.
There was a day when entrepreneurs could create a website or online media campaign, pat themselves on the back and say: “We did it!” Sadly, those days are gone, long gone.
DIY vs DIFM
A trend we have noticed is that the business people who have the fastest path to online success (whatever that means to them) are the ones who have a Do‑It‑Yourself (DIY) mentality. They want to know more and understand what it means to be active online.
Do you need to be an uber‑nerd to do this well? Absolutely not. But an innate curiosity about how the tools and mechanisms of the Internet work can go a long way to putting you in the driver’s seat when it comes to making decisions about what tactics to use and truly understanding how your tools work.
Even more, it will help make you a critical consumer of information provided by the “experts” whether they be a web developer, social media consultant, or even me for that matter.
Then there are the Do‑It‑For‑Me types. They tend to rely on the expertise of others to guide them through things that they may or may not understand. Sometimes this is for logical and logistical reasons—mainly not enough hours in the day.
Does it make your eyes glaze over?
Sometimes business people like the idea of all the business that can be found on the web, but the reality of what it takes to get that business causes their eyes to glaze over. If that’s the case for you, digital marketing may not be the best fit for you.
Whatever your ability or aptitude for things Internet/tech‑related, remember this is a business platform for your company. Taking ownership of that platform can help demystify what it actually takes to be successful and I strongly encourage my clients to do so.
A great place to start is with a reality check on your expectations. Some expect the traffic and sales to start pouring in as soon as their website goes live, or as soon as the social media property is up and running.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
A change in expectations
Those expectations need to be changed to the following: With small measurable tactics, based on a good digital strategy, you will see results over time.
I like to think in terms of Macro versus Micro results. A Macro result is a sale. Someone searches Google, finds your website, interacts with you, decides you fit the bill, and places an order. Boom! Done!
Micro results are the little things such as Facebook likes/shares/comments, Twitter retweets, email click‑throughs and so on. In today’s fragmented and frenetic world every one of these should be considered a win. You’ve successfully captured someone’s attention for a period of time and they responded. Good stuff! String enough of these Micro conversions together as you optimize your tactics and the Macros will start happening.
How many people/hours?
How much time will this take? First ask yourself: Am I truly engaged and interested in the digital space as a means to grow my business?
If your expectations are low then whatever sales you attract online will be a bonus. And that’s great. However, if you’re more ambitious for your digital presence and are looking for it to be a consistent and strong source of new business, well, strap yourself in for more than a few hours a day.
Starting right now do you have enough people to manage your commitment to a strong online presence? If not, consider outsourcing the work to someone you can trust. Just make sure to ask potential vendors a lot of questions about their expertise and approach.
If it’s too costly to hire new staff or an agency, good training and practical experience can get your team the expertise they need.
You can do small things to get moving, but it will take consistency and commitment from your organization in order to be successful. If you aren’t ready to do this for the long haul then hold off until you feel like you are.
How many posts and how often?
Search the Internet for the frequency of posts and you will get a lot of opinions. Some say you should tweet at least 10 times per day, plus two Facebook posts, a LinkedIn post, and one blog post a week on top of that. The only yardstick I would go by is what your customers want. They need to drive what you do and it’s certainly a quality over quantity argument every time.
If it were my business, I would want to engage with my audience on a daily basis on whatever platforms they spend their time on. The daily part is a key because in the online world, out of sight really does mean out of mind. What you supply in terms of content will determine the level of interaction from your audience.
Here is a guideline to give you some idea of the tasks you will need to undertake in the online space.
Each platform has its own best practices and your job is to find out where your customers are spending their time and then communicate with them. Is that once a day or once a week? Well, it will depend on the level of engagement you can foster with your followers. Remember to treat each platform as unique. A Facebook follower will have different needs than a Twitter follower or a Pinterest follower. The bottom line is get to know the platforms and how best to use them.
If you’re building a content strategy that includes a blog you should attempt to create at least one post per month. Do more if you’re able to, but one should be the starting point. This adds content to your website and keeps your audience coming back for more.
Try to send a least one email newsletter a month if that is part of your communications plan. Keep it short, give relevant customer information and try to have some kind of offer to encourage a click‑through. Also, remember we live in an anti‑spam law world now, so make sure you have permission to send that email.
Posting video content regularly on a tool like YouTube can add a lot of value to the customer experience. Why write a 2,000‑word blog post when you can do the same thing in a 90‑second video? It doesn’t have to be high production value and it’s great for keeping people engaged with your brand and your website. Do this as much as it makes sense.
Do a deep dive into your data at least once a week (i.e. Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc.). This can help you make decisions on what may or may not be working with your digital marketing efforts and can certainly help you determine the optimal path for converting visitors into customers. If you never look at this, you will never know what you’re doing right or wrong.
Remember, a scheduled content calendar and content strategy can help alleviate the inevitable fatigue that comes with trying to create all these things online.
Trying things out? Have questions about your own expectations? Please leave a comment below.