If you were going to have a new house built for you and your family, what’s one of the first things you’d do? You would hire an architect to sketch out the plans. Building a house without a plan could be disastrous and cost you a lot more money. Likewise, building a Website without a plan can be disastrous to your online efforts and bottom line.

The most successful Websites are those that have a direction. And the only way to have a direction is to have a plan. How can you reach goals that are never set? How can you reach a destination that’s never determined?

A strategic Web marketing plan consists of several elements that allow you to research and explore various aspects of your business while determining its direction. Some of the elements your strategic Web Marketing Plan should include are:

– The purpose and philosophy of your website.

– The ultimate goal of your website. Why does it exist?

– Mission statement.

– An outline on what you want visitors to do while on your website (i.e. buy a product, sign up for a newsletter). By determining what you want visitors to do, you can shape your marketing strategy to help accomplish that goal more quickly.

– Website Positioning Statement. What will make your website different from your competitors? You have to offer something unique to give users a reason to surf your site.

– Marketing objectives and timeline to completion.

– Specific marketing techniques you’ll use to drive traffic to your site.

– Specific marketing techniques you’ll use to make sure visitors return to your site.

– Specific marketing techniques you’ll use to build loyalty and trust with your visitors.

– The five biggest strengths of your website (you’ll want to build upon these strengths).

– The five biggest weaknesses of your website (be truthful here, otherwise you’ll be unable to improve).

– A list of specific solutions to tackle your website’s weaknesses.

– A list of your top 3 competitors.

– A list of your competitor’s biggest strengths (you’ll want to turn these into your strengths too).

– A list of your competitor’s biggest weaknesses (make sure you never fall into the same trap).

– Identify the needs of your visitors and what your site does / will do to meet those needs.

– A list of ways you’ll brand your website’s logo and slogan.

– Policy on dealing immediately with visitor inquiries.

– A list of five primary risks your weebsite faces.

– A list of five primary solutions to deal with the risks.

A Strategic Web Marketing Plan is not easy to create. It will take dozens of hours of research, soul searching, analysis, and preparation. But it will save you hundreds of hours of frustration and problems for once you have a plan, you know where to go, and it becomes easier to get from point a to point b.

The key to creating an effective Strategic Web Marketing Plan is to be very thorough in creating it then be consistent in reviewing it on a regular basis so that you can stay the course or make adjustments/additions as needed. When complete and thorough, your plan will be about 20-30 pages long and will give you an instant advantage over your competitors as long as you follow the direction within the plan.