How to Create a Total Online Presence When You Really Don’t Have the Time

As marketing your business online continues to evolve it’s become essential to look at how you view your online presence in a global, integrated and strategic manner.

Online juggling

Ernst Vikne via Flickr

From this view, I believe you can gain the greatest coverage with the least amount of chasing your tail. I believe there’s a bit of a hierarchy to what must be done first and by adhering to this loose order you’ll always know what comes next.

Do you add Pinterest to the mix? Well, the answer depends greatly on what else you’ve accomplished, as there may be higher priorities for you right now.

By following the plan of action below you can also maximize your precious time and resources by focusing on the highest payoff activities online rather than chasing the idea of the week.

I’m not going to dive into great detail about how to do everything you need to do. In keeping with the theme of time, I’m going provide a quick list of action steps that you can treat a bit like a checklist or to do list.

Each section contains one time actions and actions that you need to return to as part of your daily, weekly or monthly marketing routine.

Listen before you speak – I like to set this aspect up first because I think it provides immediate payoff and lasting benefit for decision making

  • Create Google Alerts or Talkwalker alerts for key brand, industry, client and competitive terms.
  • Create Twitter lists for clients, competitors and key media contacts.
  • Create Feedly account and find twenty five industry related blogs to follow (If customers or competitors blog, add them to a folder)
  • Investigate social settings in your CRM and add Rapportive to your email.
  • Investigate social tools such as TweetDeck, HootSuite or SproutSocial to help monitor mentions
  • Bonus: Add paid options like Radian6 or Trackur for deeper listening metrics

Optimize online content – One of the most important ways to be found online is through search. This only happens if you write content and create pages that match what your ideal clients are looking for online. This includes local search!

  • Ask at least ten customers to tell you what search terms they would use looking for a business like yours.
  • Employ a keyword tool like Google’s Keyword Tool or the free or paid version of WordTracker to dig up lots of potential keyword phrases related to your business.
  • Create a list of either to ten major themes that will be the basis of your content
  • Start or restart a blog and commit to addressing your themes and actual customer questions three to five times a week. (Of course, I recommend WordPress)
  • Share every blog post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and StumbleUpon
  • Bonus: Make two to three minute video overview of your post and submit to YouTube.

Claim real estate – One of the biggest ways to help in the game of being found is to be lots of places. Even if you’re not sure you’re business is ready to spend significant time engaging in a specific social network, you should make the time to claim and build strong profiles and place and optimize content and brand assets in these outposts.

  • Create and build out profiles in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
  • Create and build out profiles in Picasa, Flickr, YouTube and Slideshare
  • Add plugins to your blog and web pages that makes all of your content sharable in social networks
  • Start sharing your blog posts on social networks
  • Start uploading and describing images, slide presentations and videos
  • Share five blog posts from Feedly on Twitter each day
  • Join five active groups on LinkedIn and connect with people in each group
  • Find twenty five Facebook pages related to your business and Like them.
  • Put all of your customers you can find in a Google+ Circle
  • Claim your Google Places Page on Google+ Local
  • Claim your business location on Foursquare, Twitter, Yelp and Facebook
  • Bonus: Check out KnowEm and get hundreds of social profiles built automatically

Capture and segment visits – One of the primary goals of your content, link building and social networking activity is to attract interest in a long-term trust building relationship. Once someone decides they want to click over and read your blog post, you want to capture some information in an effort to build an email list for more education and eventual promotion.

  • Find and signup for an email service provider (ESP) – I can recommend Infusionsoft, MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber and Vertical Response as I’ve used each.
  • Create a reason someone would want to give you’re their email – eBooks drawn perhaps from a collection of your best blog posts are a great place to start.
  • Use the chosen ESPs form creation tools to put a signup form on every page.
  • Consider a plugin such as Pippity or PopupAlly to highlight your email offer through a pop up function (people will tell you they hate popups, but smart popups increase signup by two and three hundred percent.)
  • Create a weekly or monthly email newsletter with best information you’ve collected through your own reading each month.
  • Create an autoreponsder series through your ESP’s tool for each product or service
  • Bonus: Look into tools that allow you to create content funnels such as Survey Funnel, Spring Metrics or Get Smart Content

Integrate landing pages – Once you have your social profile set up and you’re producing new content and starting to make offers online in advertising and through social networks it’s time to look into creating landing pages that drive people to specific information and personalized calls to action.

  • Create a landing page for your eBook or newsletter that sells the signup
  • Create landing pages for each product or service that offers your autoresponder more information series (I use the WordPress plugin Premise on my site)
  • Consider creating welcome landing pages for your LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook profiles
  • Look into tools such as Unbounce or Optimizely to create and track versions of pages for testing.

Play ratings and reviews – Love them or hate them, search engines and surfers alike put a great deal of importance on the presence of and quality of reviews.

  • Signup for and claim profiles on Yelp, CitySearch, Google+ Local, Bing Local and Yahoo Local
  • Subscribe to the RSS feeds of your profiles on Google Reader so you can get notice with a new review appears
  • Bonus: Pick one or two local review sites and start actively promoting reviews. (This is done one to one when you get a testimonial or compliment, not via mass email)

Go online to drive offline – Now that you have traffic, content, and social working for you, it’s time to add some features that make it easier for people to interact or even go offline to meet or buy.

  • Create an offline call to action such as a free visit, coupon, or even evaluation
  • Consider adding click to call/chat/schedule to make it easier for people to engage, get help and take action.
  • Create a Google AdWords account and start driving traffic to your call to action
  • Bonus: Create a local LinkedIn or Facebook group around a topic related to your industry and start building interest with a goal of taking the group offline as well through a tool like MeetUp

Analyze and test – Actually, while this step comes last it’s really the beginning. After you set everything in motion you must create the ability to see what’s working and what’s not so you can make adjustments.

  • Subscribe to Occam’s Razor blog by Avinash Kaushik
  • Create a Google Analytics account and install the tracking code on your site
  • Create a list of core actions to track – things like newsletter signups, information requests, video views or social shares
  • If you are running Google AdWords make sure you add conversion code so you can track what ads are getting the desired results
  • Consider using goals in Analytics to track conversion funnels and paths
  • Create an A/B test of your Newsletter sign-up page in Google Analytics Content Experiments function to start to learn how to optimize pages based on results.
  • Bonus: Consider adding more robust tracking tools such as Spring Metrics, Omniture or KissMetrics

So, how many things on this list can your check off? How much do you still need to understand and do?

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  • Jamie Wallace

    Thanks for this, John. Great resource post that breaks things down so they look more manageable. 😉 

    One nice way to tackle this kind of list is to take a “spiral” approach. 
    Starting in 1st grade, my daughter (who is now just graduating 2nd grade!) was taught math using such an approach. The lessons “spiraled” around and around  – passing through the same skills (addition, subtraction, money, fractions, etc.), but each time pushing a little farther and farther out. In this way, the kids get to learn all the different math functions more-or-less at the same time. They can see how they work together and use what they’ve learned from one lesson to help them navigate another. It’s proven to be a very effective way of teaching. 

    I think that the same kind of strategy can work well for small businesses trying to build their online business. Pick a few things from each of the categories you’ve defined above and just get yourself started. You don’t have to do everything at once, or even all of one category in sequence. Pick the things that make the most sense to you or have the highest priority for your goals and get them in place. Then you can circle back and start adding in other elements – spiraling through the categories and touching on multiple areas at once. 

    In my perfect world, I’d be able to go through this list in sequence and check everything off nice and neat. But, in reality, I know that I will need to fit these things in around my day-to-day and client work. I like the idea of being able to make progress in all areas so that I can start to see results … and then building on that with the other pieces.  

    Again – thanks for the great list. Saving this for future reference. :) 

    • ducttape

      Wow Jamie – great comment – I’ve always approach marketing from this kind of repeat approach – like stages, but you’re never really done.

      I love the spiral analogy.

    • Dale Dillon

      I like the spiral approach suggestion! What a great post and a great comment!

  • brentmkelly

    Great breakdown John. I think many business owners understand they need to do these things, but get so overwhelmed they don’t know where to begin.

    If you can break down things into digestible chunks, it becomes much more manageable and effective. Thanks.

    • ducttape

      Thanks Brent – I think I’ve certainly felt that over the last 10 years or so – business owners are so time strapped that they want to find someone they trust to just tell them how to turn the car on and go rather than how to build the car.

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  • Davina K. Brewer

    It’s a targeted checklist of tasks and routines, that do have to address very specific goals and strategies. What you’re trying to accomplish – and the results you get – will greatly determine the moves you make. Amen to not jumping on Pinterest or any other flavor-of-the-month – at least not until you’ve done your homework and know that’s where your fish are biting.

    I’m a slow reader .. just nothing ‘quick and easy’ about many of these good points. John, there is so much really good info jam-packed in here, I cannot imagine how this is for someone who ‘doesn’t have the time’ – it’s so much work.

    I realize this is a KISS post, but my fear or concern is that a formula or checklist like oversimplifies social media and social media marketing. I know we make things harder than they have to be, yet some of this really is very complex. Take something as ‘simple’ as deciding a company page: do you go local or organization, what are the SEO or brand benefits of each, which is better for your business?

    I guess I’m saying is that – this is a solid list, like @twitter-14241407:disqus one I’ll bookmark – but with a reminder to all that it’s a beginning, not the whole enchilada. FWIW.

    • ducttape

      this is the high level game plan – it’s now how to do it, but I will say that your primary concern of oversimplifying was intentional. What I’m seeing is people doing nothing. I would rather have them wade in simply and do one or two thing.

      The fact is that most of this needs to be done at some level by every business – not because it’s a way of keeping up, because it’s a way to stay far ahead.

      The list is also laid out as a priority – if you’re not doing item one start there and do that, then come back tomorrow and do the next thing!

      • Davina K. Brewer

        What I’m seeing is people and companies check things off the list, typically the ‘easiest’ and what’s ‘free.’ They create a few profiles, automate some feeds to broadcast ads disguised as ‘valuable’ content, they
        set and forget it to pump out the same noise .. then wonder what went wrong.

        Again – I’m not discounting the advice John. As I said, this post is loaded with smart advice and you’re point about analysis is spot on: you end up back at the beginning. It takes a watchful eye to monitor, to stay on top of and ahead of trends, to be able to adapt, improvise. But I think more complicated steps like that get skipped, b/c it’s not as easy as checking off “yes, we Tweeted, Linked, Facebooked and Blogged today – all with one click.” FWIW.

  • Gabrielle

    Fantastic post, John. This is excellent for seeing exactly what may be missing, and the way you’ve categorized it is super. I’m definitely going to use it in my business, and it finally helps demystify some of what I “should” be doing! Thanks a bunch!

    Only one point I’d like to ask a question on (though it doesn’t really apply too much to my own business, since I’m 100% virtual, so doing local marketing isn’t too important for my business, but…) you said:

    “Pick one or two local review sites and start actively promoting reviews.
    (This is done one to one when you get a testimonial or compliment, not
    via mass email)”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “actively promoting reviews” as a one-to-one activity. Do you mean in conversation on social media posts or even in person with clients and/or prospects?

    Thanks again! I love your blog. :-)

    • ducttape

      Gabrielle – what I meant by that for the local business was that when a customer gives you a compliment, why not point them to your Google+ Local or Yelp page and let them write a review.

      • Lawrence D. Blumberg

        And hand them the ipad to make it easy to do before they leave.

      • Tinu

        That seems to be working really well for two companies I did business with recently.

      • Brian H.

        This is a good point. Small businesses must jettison their old marketing strategies and recreate marketing around social strategies, generating more word of mouth, and grassroots campaigns. If people build their marketing systems around social networking, then doing even the advanced things on this list will be a part of the daily marketing flow. Time consumed marketing will not feel like something taking time away from the real work of marketing.

  • NandoJourneyman

    Wow, another keeper. This is like a “Quick Start” manual for online marketing, and each bullet point a topic for further discussion. I’ll be using this one as a reference for a long while. Thanks, John.

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  • Vikk Simmons

    Interesting breakdown of a wide variety of opportunities; however, I’d agree that they do take time. I’m happy to see that I’ve done some of them but still have a lot to do. Thanks for putting it all together in one place. Good checklist.

    • ducttape

      Thanks Vikk – I wasn’t really trying to suggest they don’t take time, I was trying to suggest these are the things you must do even though you don’t have the time – the good news is these are the highest payoff activities. It’s a process, keep chipping away!

      • Vikk Simmons

        That’s what I like about this list. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and often difficult to figure out where time would be best spent. Sometimes people think these things take a few clicks and they’re done without realizing that they do require a certain commitment. Chipping is the operative word. Thanks. :)

  • Brad Patterson @ Evercontact

    Lots of really great ideas here, John. Thanks!

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  • cherylpickett

    Hi John, I’m just catching up on some of my blog reading. I agree this is a really useful list, but what I’m wondering is how does this fit in with the post you also did recently about how marketing is/may be shifting toward doing less because people are so overwhelmed, that we may be returning to more simplified sites etc.?

    • ducttape

      Not sure I know what post you are referencing – perhaps on site optimization – I don’t think I’ve ever implied it was going to be about doing less, maybe greater focus, but not simply doing less.

      • cherylpickett

        On June 7, you mentioned a little about how in the recent past, the big strategy has pretty much been to crank out a lot of content but that the problem now is people are now overloaded. I took that whole discussion to mean things are headed to/or back to simplifying for the visitor, rather than continuing to overwhelm both them and those trying to market. I’ve read that kind of idea elsewhere just in the last week or so as well. Did I misunderstand what you were getting to?

        • ducttape

          You’re making it a little hard to respond because I’m not sure which post you’re referencing – I’m going to go with this one but what I was suggesting is that we have to simplify what we present, but not that we create a simple site to do it – in fact, on our end it may be more complex because it will need to deliver smart content based on knowing who our visitors are.

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  • Mark Kelly

    Hi John, this is a great action list and stops that ‘startled rabbit’ paralysed mindset of ‘there’s so much to think about, I’m not sure where to start’.
    In your section around creating themes: as well as talking to customers and looking at keyword analysis, I think looking at any published industry or sector reports can be a great way to triangulate during the ‘discovery stage’ and come up with subjects that will resonate with your audience. I guess you pull some of that through also from the listening stage. Great post and site John, cheers.

  • Susanne Rector

    Hi John, great post.
    I appreciate the thoughtful approach – great way to narrow things down to a manageable schedule.
    I do have to give Jamie Wallace cudos as well here, I think her spiral approach is a great way to get started without feeling overwhelmed and leads into feeling secure down the road!
    All in all great post and great response.


  • Tinu

    You know how you leaves tab open because the article you’re reading is so helpful for people you know that you’re scared to close it until you share it and save it? Yeah. That. :)

  • PC Tune Up Service

    Thanks for the explanation.That’s excellent

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