By now,  Dave Ramsey  is a well-known personal finance guru. He has street cred when he offers financial advice on his radio program, in his books, and on his website. Guided by his mission to provide “biblically based, common-sense education and empowerment which gives  HOPE  to everyone,” Dave has helped countless people get out of debt and into financial stability.

Dave has street cred on web marketing

Dave also offers advice on web marketing strategy. His recent book  Entre-Leadership  has an  online bonus chapter called “Designing a  Web Strategy That Works.”  Dave has street cred on web marketing strategy, too. We can see this by looking at some third-party metrics.

Compare this to the metrics for  Crown Financial Ministries, one of Dave’s competitors:

To summarize,

 Metric Crown Dave Ramsey
 Alexa #43,649 #2,251
 Open Site Explorer 73/100 85/100
 Marketing Grader 86/100 92/100

Bottom line: Dave Ramsey has demonstrated that he can design and execute a web strategy better than Crown Financial Ministries, even though Crown has been around almost twice as long.

How did Dave Ramsey design a web strategy that works?

So what is Dave’s secret? In  “Designing a Web Strategy That Works,”  he tells us what he’s learned.

First, he emphasizes that the web is absolutely indispensable to his business:

  • “80 percent of our revenue comes through  the web” (pg. 2)
  • Dave’s web team consists of 65+ members (“programmers, software developers, designers, and web marketers”), or about 20-25% of his company (pg. 2)

Second, he observes that the web is now in its third phase, the “interactive/relational” phase.

  1. At first the web was primarily informational.
  2. Then, with the development of online payment processing, it entered the  transactional  phase.
  3. Today, the web is in an  interactive/relational  phase which enables two-way communication around the informational and transactional aspects.
  4. For the future, we can expect that what’s possible on the web and how people use the web will continue to change, develop, and shift; thus, a “‘once and done’ mind-set” (pg. 4) is foolish.

Next, Dave offers a host of tips for building a high-performing website:

  1. Get online if you aren’t already (pg. 5).
  2. When you pick a web address (aka domain name), buy all possible variants as well to make sure you lock out undesirable attack domains (e.g., daveramseysucks.com) and capture traffic from people who inevitably misspell your name (pg. 6).
  3. Work out the business model for your website from the beginning, and don’t make your website too complex or too simple for the revenue you estimate you plan to get from it. “You don’t have to start with the best website on the net” (pg. 7).
  4. You need to add “a steady flow of content” to your website to get the most out of it (pg. 8). “If you help enough people,” Dave writes, “you don’t have to worry about money” (pg. 9). Then he offers some helpful pearls of wisdom on business blogging:
    • Starting some kind of blog (Dave recommends  WordPress  and so do I) is the best way to distribute your content. By the way, you don’t have to call your blog a blog. You can call it something else, like “Portfolio” or “News” or “Tips” or “How-Tos.”
    • Blogging erratically or infrequently is worse than not blogging at all.
    • When you get started blogging, make sure you have at least 50 topics you can write about (this is an idea Dave borrowed from Gary Vaynerchuk).
    • Blogging is about generosity, not ad copy. So be generous by giving away “genuine, interactive, informative content” (pg. 10) rather than making every blog post a big ad. Dave’s rule of thumb is a ratio of 1:10 — one “ad post” for every 10 blog posts.
  5. Prioritize search engine optimization (SEO)  as you work on your content every week. “Companies doing business right now need to know how to get Google’s attention” (pg. 11). How do you get Google’s attention? Dave nails the two main factors, and throws in a plug for Google’s top three web marketing tools as well:
    • Relevant Content: Write content which meets people’s needs and includes the keywords they’re searching for when they’re trying to solve the problems you can help them with (pg. 11).
    • Inbound Links:  The more popular your content is, the higher it ranks in Google. Google measures popularity by the  quantity  and  quality  of inbound links. Ergo, to boost your website’s findability on Google, you need to get as many high quality inbound links as possible. And to get these links, you need to develop mutually beneficial relationships with other websites, entrepreneurs, and organizations
    • The three Google tools just about every business needs to master are  AdWords,  Google+ Local  (formerly Places), and  Analytics.  Google Webmaster Tools  offers helpful insights, too.
  6. E-commerce: Dave’s advice to budding entrepreneurs who want to sell products online is essentially to use the free or low-cost platforms already out there (think  eBay,  Amazon.com, and  Etsy), then reinvest the profits over time to build a more sophisticated, custom-tailored website. “Start simply, make some money, and  then expand your online store using the revenues from the store  itself” (pg. 14).
  7. As you hone your web strategy, opt-in permission-based email marketing, social media, and video are also valuable tools for building your business.

There’s much more Dave has to say about web strategy. But I am out of time for today. And you really should read “Designing a Web Strategy That Works” for yourself.

Will Dave’s web strategy work for your business?

Most of Dave’s recommendations for web strategy align well with the principles of  inbound marketing. Inbound marketing has clearly been a fruitful endeavor for DaveRamsey.com thus far. And I am also convinced that it is also the right strategy for  IX Publishing, where I am Director of Marketing.

Is an inbound marketing approach right for your business? If your sales process involves “high dollar values, long research cycles and knowledge-based products,” the answer is an unqualified  Yes!  (source) If you sell personal finance training programs like Dave Ramsey does or fiberglass swimming pools like  River Pools & Spas  does, you’re going to pay close attention to what the inbound marketing gurus say. (Bonus: Here’s  a case study which explains River Pools & Spas approach to inbound marketing and how it has helped their business. Cliffs Notes version: They produce relevant content for their users by blogging at least two or three times per week, which over time has secured their search rankings.)

However, if your sales process involves small dollar values and short research cycles, many aspects of the inbound marketing approach may not make sense for your web strategy. For example, perhaps you sell  baklawa in Dearborn, Michigan. Unless you want to turn your baklawa business into a franchise or some kind of premium elite mail-order business, writing two to three blog posts per week may not be the best use of your time. Instead, you should invest in  local search optimization  to secure your market share of pastry-loving Dearbornites.

Closing thoughts

  • What’s your web strategy?
  • Do you have the right web strategy for your goals?
  • What opportunities could inbound marketing help you capture?
  • What threats could local search optimization help you neutralize?

Sources

The  chess pieces  photo is a  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported  licensed photo by  Alan Light

This article was originally posted on  Daniel’s Workshop. Used by permission.