The following was originally published by ColoradoBiz Mag...
As the realization has likely set in that you're behind the curve in positioning your business to compete in this dynamic environment, some application tips could prove helpful. If you'd like to perform your own assessment of your online marketing baseline, I've outlined seven important tactics to employ.
1. Build a responsive website
We can't compete in this brave new world without people having the ability to browse our sites from their phones and tablets. The user interfaces (UI) we create should take into account the complete user experiences (UX) that our customers desire. As Seth Godin said in 'The Big Red Fez', web visitors are kind of like monkeys in front of a computer. They're all just looking for the damn banana they got online to find. As businesspeople, it's our job to make it as easy and painless as possible for our customers to find the banana. If our websites don't present good user experiences to help people find the banana, we're failing them.
2. Start your own blog
Publishing helpful articles to our websites through our blogs is essential because it provides valuable content for consumers to discover while online. Search engines love fresh content that helps build value to their results pages (SERP), and they reward the websites that produce it with better rankings. The articles can then be shared across a host of online media like social, email, etc. The more content we produce, the more we'll be seen as our trusted consumers return for help.
3. Build a social community
Building our presence across a host of applicable social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn allows us to reach an audience that likely won't otherwise end up on our websites. Remember, social media (and their apps) make up a large percentage of people's time online. Since our customers are on social media, we need to be there, too. We should be mindful not to be overly promotional, though, instead working to answer questions, share tips to help people learn about what they're interested in, and provide a sounding board to interested customers.
4. Publish resources of value
If consumers are taking the time to educate themselves online before they make a purchase, we should help them, not fight them. Instead of holding all of our 'secret industry recipes' close to the vest, we should share our intellectual property openly. If we share our advice and wisdom in a variety of digital formats such as eBooks, Slideshares, Webinars, Whitepapers, and Podcasts, we'll build a library of value for people to access on demand. This library should live on our website where we can request contact information so we can learn more about the people who are interested in our products and personalize our future conversations.
5. Build a sound email marketing strategy
Email isn't dead: the second highest allotment of time people spend online is checking email databases. If we want to be successful with email, we need to change our mindsets; No one likes spam. Our emails need to be highly relevant. They should be personalized, catered to what we know our customers are interested in, and full of value if we want them to be more effective. Email isn't a way to blast people with coupons any more than social media is. It's another channel to stay in touch, inform, and offer consumers help in finding what they're looking for.
6. Track everything and make adjustments
In the world of digital marketing, everything is an experiment. Every piece of strategy we execute is really just a hypothesis. We think it's going to work or we wouldn't do it, but we're not sure until we see the results. If we don't learn from our digital marketing experiments, we're unlikely to improve. Careful analysis and a critical approach to reviewing everything we develop for our prospects and customers will help us build on our successes and learn from our failures.
7. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there
There are really two schools of thought on how we can compete. One option is to be guarded and minimize risk. Another is to be open and take chances. We can accept the possibility of failure and proceed with cautious optimism, or we can come up with enough ways things might fail to justify inaction. My advice is to go for it. Put yourself out there and take a chance.
Yes, someone might not like the way you write. You might get negative feedback about your brand or product on social media. You can bet that everything you do won't be a home run, but striking out once in a while is acceptable too. You’ll never hit the home run you're dreaming of if you don't swing the bat. Work hard to learn the best practices, plan carefully, execute with precision, test everything, and repeat often. You'll get better and better as you learn and experiment, and so will your results.