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Developing a Web Site Marketing Plan

By Bobette Kyle

Email: Bobette@WebSiteMarketingPlan.com
Web: http://www.WebSiteMarketingPlan.com/sr.htm

Bobette Kyle has over 10 years experience in Product Management, Marketing, and Management. The four part Web site marketing plan series is based on Bobette's book "How Much For Just the Spider? Strategic Web Site Marketing". The book presents a unique five-step marketing plan development process.


This paper, based on the strategic marketing plan book “How Much for Just the Spider?” outlines the importance of creating a marketing plan for our web sites, and provides some practical pointers for achieving such a plan.

For many of us, finding the time and commitment to complete a marketing plan for our Web sites is difficult. There are so many other obligations vying for our attention it is tempting to push planning to the back burner. Giving in to that temptation, however, means putting your business at a disadvantage. Your marketing plan is the compass by which you navigate. As opportunities arise or your business environment changes, the objective and strategies in your marketing plan will point you toward the best action. Without a marketing plan, you risk becoming unfocused in your marketing and are only guessing what might be best for your business.

In this article, you will learn the parts to a marketing plan. I will also point you to some marketing plan resources. In parts two through four of the series, I will discuss objectives, strategies, and tactics for your Web site marketing plan.

To be most effective, your Web site marketing plan should be a part of your business marketing plan. By aligning online marketing with your offline efforts, you can better achieve overall company objectives. Additionally, you will present a consistent style and message across all points of contact with your target audience.

Your Web site marketing plan's focus will be partially determined by your site's status. If you already have a site in place, your plan can focus strictly on marketing issues - how to most effectively market using your existing site. If you have a site that needs improvement, your plan should incorporate enhancements into the site’s design in conjunction with marketing activities (While you may not think of these enhancements as "marketing", in this case, they are instrumental to an effective plan.). If you do not yet have a site, you can create one while developing your Web site marketing plan, with your plan focused on launching the site. In any case, remember that your objective, strategies, and tactics will change over time as your situation and focus change.

Parts of a Marketing Plan

The Web site marketing plan is similar to a business marketing plan, but with a narrower focus. Completing a marketing plan includes developing strategies and tactics (also called action plans) that, when implemented, will help you reach your marketing objectives. Objectives, strategies, and tactics are each progressively narrower in scope.

By studying the MarketingProfs.com site, one can see evidence of a marketing planning process. They ask that we think of MarketingProfs as the "PBS of online marketing sites" ( http://www.marketingprofs.com/about/index.asp). This can be seen as an objective for the site. Thinking a little narrower in scope, one strategy to achieve this objective could be to associate the site only with prestigious individuals. Thinking narrower still, two actionable tactics could be to 1) put together an advisory board and 2) include articles on the site written by high- caliber individuals. It appears that MarketingProfs has successfully implemented both of these tactics.


The objective addresses the "big picture". In general terms, your objective answers the question "How will I overcome my main marketing challenge(s)?" Your objective can address revenue, customer service, branding, or some other critical area.

The Wall Street Journal Online (http://www.WSJ.com), for example, has an objective of achieving direct revenue with the site, as evidenced by the subscription business model. Kraft Foods takes a different approach with its consumer site by focusing on branding (http://www.kraft.com/foodfun.html).


Strategies support your objective by defining the general approaches you will take to meet your objective. For example, strategies to achieve a customer service objective could include 1) improving online communication, information, and education and 2) communicating the Web site’s existence and advantages to existing clients. Specific strategies are not often visible to the outside world. You can think of strategies as internal maps that point you toward effective tactics.


Tactics are where the action takes place - these are the things you will do to bring your strategies to life. Tactics for strategy 1 in the above example (improve online communication, information, and education) could include 1) sharing experience and observations in your industry through participation in discussion boards, 2) offering an email newsletter, and 3) listing/submitting your site to targeted search engines and directories.

Because tactics are the most visible part of a marketing plan, examples - both positive and negative - are easily found. On the negative side, Xcam has created controversy in recent months with its wide use of pop-up and pop-under advertisements. Many marketers prefer to avoid these types of intrusive tactics because they create ill will with potential customers. On a more popular note, publishing an informative newsletter is a widely accepted tactic that can support multiple strategies (advertising, lead generation, customer communication, etc.). As a well-developed example, the ClickZ network (http://www.clickz.com) successfully publishes several newsletters.

Marketing Planning Tools

The specifics of developing a marketing plan vary according to the source. All can be effective when used correctly. Some sites and software that can help you in developing your marketing plan are below.


eSOLO’s Marketing Action Plans, http://www.esolo.com/mapslist.php3, can help you to come up with strategies and action plans (tactics) to support common marketing objectives.

The Web Site Marketing Plan's Marketing Plan Resources page, http://www.websitemarketingplan.com/sr3.htm, includes several links and descriptions of sites with marketing plan information.


Each of these software titles takes a slightly different approach to developing a marketing plan.

Other Articles in this Series

In this, the first article of the series, I discussed the elements of a marketing plan - objective, strategies, and tactics. In the remaining three articles I will take a closer look at objectives, strategies, and tactics you can consider for your Web site.

Part Two: "Your Web Site's Objectives"

Part Three: "Strategies for Your Web Site Marketing Plan"

Part Four: "Choosing Tactics for Your Web Site Marketing Plan"