I’ve been taking business owners through the beta of my Total Online Presence Program of late and the comprehensive nature of this mindset is certainly reinforcing the overwhelming amount of stuff there is to do online if you are to tap the full potential of building a Total Online Presence.
That was a really long sentence to say – “Dang, there’s a lot you have to do to get this right.”
But here’s the good news (or maybe it’s the horrible news), it never ends, you’re never done, it’s just part of who you have to become. What I mean is there’s no point in worrying about getting it all done this week or this month unless you only plan to be in business for a month or so.
You must come to think of building a Total Online Presence as an intention and a continuous work in progress. (I’m conducting a live online seminar the subject of this post January 22nd if you want to get into even more specifics – Enroll here)
With that in mind, I present a 12-month plan of attack or blueprint for working on your presence in the coming year. I’ve long taught this “live by the calendar” approach as I think it helps business owners, who wear many hats, get above the overwhelm by taking it topic by topic and manageable bit by bit in an attempt to forge something that looks like continuous progress.
Month 1 – Create a Listening Station
Setting yourself up to actively monitor what’s being said to you, about you, about your market, your competitors and by your customers, is step number one. Employ a combination of free and paid tools such as Google Alerts, Google Reader, HootSuite and SproutSocial to filter, aggregate, follow and monitor your online presence and establish a routine of processing, acting on and sharing this information on a daily basis.
Month 2 – Set-up Foundational Content Calendar
Using your own brainstorming combined with some smart keyword research from a tool like the Google Keyword Tool, set up a calendar of monthly themes that will make up the focus of your content for each month. This can be a mix of your own content, guest content, video, audio and related content produced by others. The content created around these foundation themes will become the backbone of your SEO efforts. (I wrote more about a Total Content System here.)
Month 3 – Get More Sharable
This month you’re going to work on several fronts. You are going to audit everything you’re putting out there and make it easier to share. That means adding social media buttons to all of your content through WordPress plugins such as Sociable, adding ways for people to share your emails and adding sharing options to your printed and offline materials. In addition, you’re going to start exploring ways to share more of other people’s content. Drawing links to your content is essentially networking and you start this process by filtering and sharing good stuff that your followers and readers want to know about. One of the best ways to do this is to scan your blog subscriptions and employ a tool like Buffer to share 10-12 great finds each day.
Month 4 – Create a Point of View eBook
This month comes with one and only one task – create an eBook that will be the backbone for your lead capture program. By creating a content tool that summarizes how your firm is different by either presenting highly valuable content or outlining your unique methodology you create the foundation for trust building while giving people a reason to start a conversation beyond Twitter. This also gives you a tool to start reaching out to potential strategic partners for list swaps and cobranding opportunities.
Month 5 – Clean Up Your Content Delivery Platform
It’s time to take a good hard look at what we used to call your web site. Content delivery now means your blog, podcast, videos, eBooks, newsletters and brand assets placed in other networks around the web such as YouTube and Slideshare. And, of course, this also means your web site, your email capture process, your contact process, your about us page, your on page SEO factors and your page load speed.
Month 6 – Become Serious About Landing Pages
Now that we are producing keyword rich content it’s time to start driving people to get that content, to download that eBook, subscribe to your content updates and to connect for specific events and presentations. This month you’re going to get serious about creating landing pages for very specific purposes such as signing up for your email newsletter, downloading your eBook or attending a free educational online seminar. You can use outside tools such as Unbounce or internal tools such as Premise to help create landing pages with lots of functionality. Once you learn the mechanics of what makes a good landing page you can replicate the process to test and personalize for a variety of environment and occasions. Here’s a great primer on landing pages.
Month 7 – Revamp your Email Communication
This month you’re going to get serious about remaking your basic email newsletter as well as employing autoresponders to help follow-up with prospects and customers. By adding your monthly content theme material mixed with other people’s content you’ll produce a far more valuable newsletter that people want to receive. In addition, you’re going to start using your ESP’s tools to segment and personalize content for different audiences.
Month 8 – Tackle Social Profiles
I know that with all the emphasis on social media these days that waiting until month eight to mention it may seem odd. My view is that without addressing many of the steps that I emphasized in the previous months, social media participation is simply a distraction. Now, I can make a case for claiming and building profiles whenever you can, but serious consideration should be focused here now. Get serious about claiming, completing and enhancing your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook profiles. Don’t stop there, branch out to industry networks, Yelp, Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest profiles. Consider a service like KnowEm to create even more profiles.
Month 9 – Address Social Integration
Now that you’ve built profiles it is time to start going deeper. Choose the social network that allows you to reach the greatest number of prospects. Depending upon your business this might be LinkedIn or it might be Facebook. I believe that most businesses need to up their game in a number of networks to cover the favorite for their entire market, but it’s important to also get much deeper in at least one so you can learn how to engage in a way that attracts leads and converts fans and friends to email subscribers and customers. Then you can expand that effort.
Month 10 – Work Out Conversion
This month your entire focus should be on the conversion process. So many business focus on generating traffic when the money is in, well, the money. This begins with understanding everything you can about the usability of your web site, A/B testing your landing pages and setting up analytics goals and funnels to track every ad, call to action, headline and offer. Tools like UserTesting.com, Google Experiments and Google Analytics make up a nice low-cost toolset for these functions.
Month 11 – Start Employing Smart Advertising
Here’s another category that lots of people want to jump right into. It’s true you can run some Google AdWords and maybe generate traffic before you ever create any kind of organic presence, but I believe that your advertising gets far more effective if you can use it to create awareness for strong content offers, have a firm foothold in some social networks, are testing and tweaking your conversion tactics and are prepared to capture leads and build the kind of trust that helps you fully monetize your traffic.
Month 12 – Develop Mobile Friendliness
We end the year by looking at ways to tap the fact that almost every one of our prospects and customers have mobile devices that allow them to shop, search, research and buy products and services from local and global companies. The need to make your content mobile and tablet friendly is essential. Once that is taken care of you can branch out and explore mobile advertising, location-based offers and SMS communication knowing that the foundation built over the past year will allow you to maximize the growing mobile space.
Even at over 1400 words I realize that for some all I’ve done is whet the appetite for more specific direction. If today’s post has piqued your interest in this important subject, join me Tuesday, January 22nd for a live online seminar where I will dive into all twelve months with a list of specific actions you can take for each.