The reason I decided to write this blog post is best explained by a short story, so sit back with your cup of coffee and join me on my journey across the Internet.
I was browsing around, flicking through some social media strategy posts to get information, and I noticed something that I've seen far too often.
As I ventured from one post to the next, they had completely opposite advice, with supporting statistics for each.
Isn't that just enough to make you throw all your papers (or the more expensive but modern version: your laptop) off of your desk and walk out, proclaiming that the internet is too confusing and you’re going to some tropical island to live out your days running a small yet well-enjoyed cocktail bar? ...No? I guess that's just my dream then...
An Example of Conflicting, Yet Equally Successful Strategies
To show you what I mean, I'll compare a couple of points from a QuickSprout post by Neil Patel, and a Buffer post by Kevan Lee.
Let's start with Twitter. First, Neil Patel states a fairly common claim, that 80 percent of what you promote should be other people's content, and 20 percent your own:
And he's got the stats to back up his success. He's had a pretty good go of it lately:
So it works. This is a good strategy. But what happens when the next marketer comes along, in this instance Kevan Lee, stating that he promotes 90 percent his own content, and only 10 percent content from others:
And then proves that he's also having a pretty good time of it:
I know you will have encountered this before, because it's absolutely everywhere. I've seen many a comment on blogs along the lines of, "But this other blog said this!" or, "What about this other article saying that?"
So What Do You Do Then?
You have to learn which strategies are the most compatible with your particular website and audience, and which don't suit them at all.
It's easy to wonder: How did they get such different results? Which method are people meant to follow?
Unfortunately the answer to this question isn't “Option A” or “Option B.”: There is no right or wrong; there is the option suited to unique website, and the option that's not.
It’s somewhat like relationships. Sometimes break-ups happen, not because either party is good or bad or right or wrong, but because of compatibility issues.
So with this blog post I'm urging you to build the best marketing strategy for your website.
There are 3 core elements that you'll need to consider when deciding whether a marketing strategy is a good fit. Write up a rough answer to each, and then keep them in mind as you browse through online blogs and strategy guides.
Question 1: What is the Point of Your Site?
Almost any marketing strategy will work for some websites, and not others. Being able to summarize the main point of your site, and keeping that in mind whenever you consider a strategy, will help you to make the right choices.
This might sound super obvious, and in some ways it is, but this is a pivotal point for all strategical thinking for your site. If you can really dig down to the core purpose for your website, all content strategies, social strategies and user experience strategies will become clearer.
For example, if your website is to help women find the best recipes for their dietary needs, is writing a bunch of recipes helpful? Yes. But there are already a lot of sites out there doing exactly that. A more helpful strategy could be to build a web-based tool that helps them to search and filter recipes that already exist.
This would be a completely different content strategy, switching focus from recipes or articles to a directory or filtering tool. But, because you know what the point of the site is, you can see more clearly which strategy will be the most effective.
For a different website, such as teaching people how to train a dog, the content method would work much better. It really depends on the point of the site.
What will people want from your site? What's the one thing you want them to be able to take away? Do you have the same answer for both of those questions? Because that should be your goal.
The next few questions will help you to refine the point of your site.
Question 2: Who is Your Website Actually For?
Without a solid idea of your target audience, all strategic decisions are floating in space.
This can quite easily be broken down into some sub-questions.
- What does an average person from your market audience look like?
- What do they want?
- What do they already have?
- How could you make that information or process easier for them?
- What could help them to advance in whatever journey they're already on?
This question will help you greatly when tossing up different content strategies, as well as social media strategies.
- Does your audience care about social media?
- Would they benefit from a variety of information?
- Would they have time to read a lot of posts?
- Or would they suit only a few highly relevant posts mostly from your site?
These are the questions that help you to know which marketing strategy you should consider first.
If you'd like a further guide for building an idea of your audience by persona, I actually really like the one Kevan Lee has written here.
Have a go at the process he's outlined there and see if you can't build a strong idea of your audience. You can then reference this persona outline when considering different marketing strategies for your website.
Question 3: What is the Best Format for Your Site?
Each audience has unique needs, and that determines the optimal format for your site.
To answer the big question about the best format for your site, you first need to assess the true purpose of your website (as you did with question 1).
Once you know what it is they want, and what you want to give to them, you can figure out the best way to deliver it. It comes down to these questions:
Do they have the means to do something but not the knowledge of how? Can you provide a focused series of lessons to help them to get there?
Do they have the time and the means to do something, but finding the resources is taking them forever? Can you build a useful directory for them?
Do they want something practical that they don't currently have the means to do? Can you create a web-based tool that would help them?
These points lead to the main three website formats that I'd urge you to consider:
1. Do You Want to Teach Your Audience Something? (Content)
For more information on building a strategy for a content website, see this post here.
When you build a content-based website, it's crucial that all of your content talks site visitors through something that they're trying to do. There needs to be an overall focus to your site, and each lesson needs to give them some solid, actionable advice.
For example, a weight loss website is a very general angle for content. Let's say you wanted to help people who were just starting out get fitter for weight loss. Now you have a more targeted audience: Newbies who are overweight and likely have low-level fitness.
Already, you know your lessons won't be high-end fitness tips. You could focus your lessons on getting from the couch to being able to jog a 5k run, each one with a plan for the next week of the journey.
This would be much more useful to a specific audience than a random assortment of fitness tips, and you'd be a lot more likely to get people signing up to your site and returning for the next bit of information as they go.
2. Do You Want to Help Your Audience Find Something? (Directories)
If you'd like a simple way to build a directory website, try the WordPress themes here.
Sometimes all people want is to be able to find what they're looking for. Travel websites are a great example of this. They offer a filter and options so that people can find what they're looking for much faster than they could on their own. Maybe they want something cheap, or maybe they want something luxurious. Either way, a directory will always help them to find this faster than they could on their own.
If you can direct your site visitors to where they'd like to go, and remove the time-consuming search process for them, you'll have some happy people on your hands. If you get a cut for referring people to certain places/services, as you do already with affiliate marketing, well then you're going to do very well. So long as you're honest with your filters and recommendations, it's a win/win situation.
Add a blog if you like, to keep your directory relevant provide helpful advice, but remember the main focus for a site like this when getting started. You simply want to figure out what a specific group of people are struggling to find quickly online, and provide them with a tailored directory to save them time and effort.
You don't even need affiliate links. If there are no relevant affiliate products to use within the directory itself, you could use the site purely as a way of building a niche-specific email list to promote to later on.
3. Do You Want to Help Your Audience Do Something? (Tools)
Building web-based tools is more complicated, as you'll need the help of a developer (unless you are one yourself). You can hire freelance programmers on sites like Upwork.
The main focus when building a web-based tool is providing a highly in-demand function to an audience that is struggling without it. Without this demand, you could sink a lot of effort and money into something that may or may not work.
Start simple: really outline what you want this tool to do, do your research into the demand for it, and write up a thorough plan: how you'd like it to look, what features it should have. Then you can start to ask, "how Long will this take? How much would this cost?"
I'm not saying that you should go and make a tool for the sake of making a tool. If other formats are more useful to your audience for accomplishing their goals, go with a different one instead. If this really is what they need, however, get planning! See where it takes you.
Don't Forget Your Takeaways!
* Not all strategies will work for your website, and some are bound to work better than others.
* Whether or not a strategy will be relevant is highly dependent on the purpose of your site, your market audience, and the format of your site.
* Once you've defined these elements thoroughly, it'll be much easier for you to assess whether a strategy actually suits your site.
* This way, you'll waste less time trying strategies that won't work, and you'll move forward more confidently with strategies that are likely to have a better impact.
Question: Who is your audience and how do you (or could you) help them with your website? Could you refine your marketing strategy to better suit your audience? Have you made refinements in the past that have worked well? Let me know in the comments below!