Losing market share at the speed of light? Here’s Jon Ostler’s 10-step revival plan.

Your online traffic is climbing, your leads or sales have been increasing month by month but you’re still way off the number-one Hitwise position and your competitors are catching up fast.

Hitwise is a competitor-centric system measuring and reporting on your market share primarily based on the number of visitors you receive compared to competitors in your category.

So although your site stats package shows an impressive rise in visitors each month you may be losing market share to competitors with more effective website marketing strategies or to new players entering the online market.

A targeted approach to website marketing takes full advantage of new technologies and is primarily about giving people what they want.

It’s about communicating with people when they are receptive to what you are selling.

Experienced offline marketers often overlook the three traditional pillars of effective online marketing: search engines, linking sites and email.

Two new technologies are also set to become just as important: contextual advertising and mobile marketing. These five media produce high quality visitors who are pre-qualified and highly likely to convert to the desired action of the site.

This is in contrast to traditional banner advertising, which offers great reach but is often only cost effective for short brand or new product awareness campaigns.

Follow these 10 steps to produce a website and marketing plan that is truly competitive and effective.

1 Customer Life Cycle Analysis
This process looks at the steps in your online relationship with a consumer and ensures that your marketing plan and site features supports each step.
How will your site and marketing;
• Acquire new visitors?
• Engage visitors?
• Motivate visitors to refer site to others?
• Drive visitors back to site?
• Convert visitors to customers?

2 Competitor Analysis
Apart from reviewing your competitors sites there are some useful online resources for analysing the competition.
Hitwise will quantify each competitor marketing share, historical trends, regional representation, traffic sources and search phrases used to find and access the site via search engines. You can also use search engines to see which sites link to your competitors.

3 Market Research
After email, search is the next most popular activity online and various data sources can be accessed to help understand what people are searching for and why. Analysing what people are searching for is called search phrase research and can provide a picture of online demand, competition and consumer buying behaviour.

4 Site Content
The competitor analysis and market research can often help drive your sites content so that it matches demand and consumers buying behaviour.

5 Marketing Effectiveness Measurement System
Before you do any site marketing, set up a measurement system so that you can measure activity in terms of the business benefits each generated. Typical business outcomes could be subscriptions to newsletters, site registration, leads generated or sale made. This approach allows you to say that a specific campaign generated 10,000 subscriptions or $50,000 in revenue. Combined with the campaign cost information the cost per action (CPA) or return on investment (ROI) can be calculated and used to evaluate the true effectiveness of a campaign.

6 Linking Building & Affiliate Marketing
Some of the best traffic will come from links on other sites. These are often editorial in nature with the added bonus that visitors tend to see the link as a recommendation. Other sites will link to yours if you have remarkable and unique site features or content or if you offer the linking site an incentive (affiliate marketing).

7 Search Engine Marketing
Search Engines generate some of the best quality traffic available because people will only see a link to your site if they have searched specifically for the products and services you offer. Search engine marketing has come a long way over the last few years and now offers performance based advertising options and regional placement. Search engine optimisation is still a foundation of online marketing and it is essential to ensure that all your sites content is correctly formatted and accessible to search engines.

8 Contextual Advertising
The technology has been around for a number of years but has always been of limited use due to cost and reach. This has now changed with Google and Overture both offering a contextual advertising option as part of their search engine advertising offering and syndicate the ads out to thousands of sites around the world.

Contextual advertising means placing ads based on the specific content of the page.

For example, a sports store sets up a contextual ad campaign where the ads are placed on a sports news portal. On a page about tennis the system automatically places an ad for tennis rackets and on another page about rugby an ad is displayed for rugby balls.

9 Email Marketing
Email is the most common online activity and offers marketers many options. The main strengths are its ability to be dynamically created and filtered so that messages sent to subscribers are relevant and appreciated. Other tactics including alert systems and viral campaigns can also have a massive impact on marketing effectiveness and repeat business.

10 Mobile Marketing
Mobile technology continues to advance at a rapid rate and now offers marketers the same sort of capabilities as email and hence is set to become an important component in targeted website marketing.

Jon Ostler is technical director and founder of First Rate. Jon brings his honed skills of analysis from his former life working in the British military intelligence to the world targeted website marketing.

NZ Marketing Magazine