The Three Phases of Online Marketing

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The Three Phases of Online Marketing

Acquire, convert, retain. All of the activities of online marketing take place within these three basic phases, as Tim Ash explains in his book Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions.

1. Acquisition. Getting people to your website or landing page. This is also called traffic generation, and from a content marketing perspective, it involves publishing ebooks or white papers.

2. Conversion. Persuading visitors to take the desired action, such as making a purchase, downloading an ebook, or registering for a webinar or white paper. The conversion process generally takes place on a landing page, the subject of Ash’s fine book.

3. Retention. Deepening the relationship with prospective customers who, for instance, have given you permission to send them your email offers or enewsletter content.

Each phase feeds into the next. At Canright Communications, we tend to use social media in the acquisition process, either as a means of sparking a conversation online that we can take offline or as a way of distributing content we write in our blog posts, enewsletter, or ebooks and report.

Conversion takes place on landing pages, which vary depending on the content we publish. We have specialized landing pages for white-paper registration, and we have sign-up boxes on our home page and blog pages.

Most of our online marketing effort goes into retention. Email marketing is our primary means of retention communication, and we believe that’s the best use for email in content marketing.

As Scott Stephen, now head of digital at Playboy, put it during a panel discussion we sponsored: “My goal in an email is simply to start a relationship and to get their permission to speak with them over time through email or other means. You don’t go on your first date and ask someone to marry you.”

Tim Ash extended that thought in his book: “Retention programs should seek to build on the initial permission with anticipated, personal, and relevant ongoing communications. Over time, as you earn the consumer’s trust and continue to provide value, you are granted higher levels of intimacy and permission in return.”

The company or individual with a changing menu of compelling content earns – truly earns – a valuable return in the form of a community of people who are highly attracted to learn more about the company’s subject and, in turn, market offerings. This invariably leads to customers.

What kind of content do you feel extends your engagement with a company? How do you manage acquisition, conversion, and retention?