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  February 23rd, 2017 | Written by

The Online Marketing Plan That Will Take You Global in a Heartbeat

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  • Keep in mind the four Cs of social media: content, conversation, community, and connections.
  • Come up with a string of keywords that best describes your business.
  • Promote content and participate in social media: set up a schedule, start promoting, and stick to it.

Want to reach customers worldwide?  It starts with crafting a solid international online marketing plan – one that is strategic in nature and executed in a consistent manner. The goal is to get more customers from around the world to export to and to increase your business’s profits. Here’s how a plan might look.

Keep in mind how the four Cs of social media (content, conversation, community, and connections) might play into each point:

Define a keyword strategy (set objectives). You need to come up with a string of keywords that best describes your business. Think of it this way: If you were to call a bunch of folks together at an online water cooler every week to talk about something related to your keywords, what would they be? Mine is, for example, “Global small business.”

Optimize your website to get found. That effort is critical for getting found by the billions of consumers you are interested in selling to. While keywords are not the only search engine ranking factor, they do support the relevancy of your page and they’re within your control when creating new page content. Consider controlling keywords by optimizing content across all of your pages, including those in different languages. Feature your blog on your homepage and provide clear ways that people can connect with you on their favorite social media platforms. All of these efforts in combination will determine how well you rank in a Google, Bing, or Yahoo! search result.

Create a blog and other related marketing content. Your online success is directly proportional to the quality of your web design and the information you provide. Consider creating podcasts, Tweet chats, Skypecasts, YouTube and Periscope live streaming Q&A session videos, and webinars to further promote your business to the world, better connect with existing and potential customers using these platforms, and transact business around the world. Write articles, white papers, and e-books in your area of expertise. Internet consumers visit and return to those sites that consistently provide a high-quality, informative, and engaging online experience.

Promote content and participate in social media. Set up a schedule, start promoting, and stick to it on a regular basis. Here’s what you might be dealing with: a website, blog, and Facebook page; LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Periscope accounts; and an app and mobile site. Whether you start with a daily blog post, an affiliate marketing program, a display ad, or an email campaign, keep the conversation going until you generate new business.

Convert site traffic into leads. Getting lots of visitors to your website and social media channels is terrific, but how do you turn those visitors into leads and then into customers? Here’s a simple four-step solution that I encourage you to implement:

Step 1: Decide on your offer (give ’em something they can’t refuse!).
Step 2: Create a call to action (can be an image, video, text question, or survey, for example).
Step 3: Create landing pages (these are where your visitors end up after they click on your call to action).
Step 4: Test what worked best—in the form of a text question, poll, or survey, for instance—in terms of converting visitors to quality leads and to new customers.

Nurture leads with targeted messages. One of the best ways to build a relationship with your leads and convert them into sales is to find out more about the people who are visiting your site. They might email questions, view newsletters, comment at the end of blog posts, fill out opt-in forms, or take a brief poll. It’s a courting process. You want to reach engagement (serious interest) and then marriage (a purchase). The objective is to start the conversation, be sensitive to moods and needs, and respect privacy by not pushing too deeply, instead inquiring about things such as what your visitors want to see more or less of on social platforms as it relates to your business and their interest. Stay in the picture—keep the conversation going—until the lead is ready to buy. It’s that simple.

Whether you’re dealing with positive conversations or complaints over social media, avoid negativity at all costs. Be polite and appropriate. In other words, don’t ridicule or defame, be unresponsive, or waver during complaints or adversity. It’s the test of your strength and resolve during the courting process. Take the high road and have the attitude that the customer is king and can do no wrong. Serve everyone politely and with respect and you will encourage a great fan base and returning customers.

Optimize your marketing for mobile. Mobile users want quick, actionable access to relevant and useful information on the move, wherever they might be, and at any given time. So put the users in control. Test out your social platforms to make sure they are mobile ready. Enabling consumers to have an active hand in choosing how, when, where, and why they wish to be marketed to results in a highly targeted, highly engaged audience. It gets back to the basics of starting a conversation with customers, listening to them, and understanding what they want. Then you need to deliver on it.

Develop a mobile campaign that leverages your existing, highly visible marketing assets and also invests in creativity. These might include in-app ads, app games, mobile banners, and blogs and social media channels (i.e., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+), and allow users to engage with your business in the unique ways that mobile devices allow.

Evaluate, refine, and improve strategies. Now that you’ve had a chance to test and power up your marketing efforts via your international marketing plan, evaluate how it’s working for you. Do you have more followers and fans, especially from overseas? (Refer to Google Analytics Dashboards: A Step-By-Step Guide.) Have you converted any of them into customers? If not, how could you improve on what you are doing? Your return on investment can be calculated by dividing the excesses in benefits (new customers) within a year by the costs of the internet marketing investment. In the case of OBC mentioned earlier, the fictional company determined that its average customer spent $50 a year, so it would take one thousand customers to bring in sales of $50,000. In other words, to cover the additional marketing investment, it would need to gain one thousand new customers based on its internet strategy.

Get the leadership right. People must be digitally minded, highly motivated, and collaborative. Develop appropriate performance-based metrics for the business and its leaders to ensure global growth.

Recommend action. Based on your activities, ask yourself what you should continue doing because it is working and what you can do differently to generate more revenue and profits for your business. Take time to recommend a new course of action that will benefit the company, key stakeholders, and consumers. Remember, the best marketing is marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing.

This is an edited excerpt of Chapter 10 from Laurel Delaney’s Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably, 2nd edition, published by Apress,  October 20, 2016, and endorsed by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and co-author of Beyond Entrepreneurship.