Recession-defying, downturn-destroying, money-making – online shopping has had a good year.
According to the IMRG/Capgemini Sales Index, while Christmas day 2007 saw £84 million spent online, in 2008 more than £103 million was expected to be spent in the 24 hour period.
Ideally, any would-be competitive company in Britain will have been allocating a portion of its marketing budget to the internet for years now.
However, a sizable number of firms have yet to explore the full potential of online marketing, from search engine optimisation (SEO) to making the most of social platforms.
It is not too late to upgrade your online efforts and make 2009 the year your company became truly competitive. Here are a few New Year resolutions to help you boost your web marketing prowess.
Resolution number one: Confirm a budget
Pretty much every online promotional effort, from email marketing to social networking requires a prolonged investment.
There is no point ploughing a huge sum into any platform only to decide that because there is no immediate pay-off, you will cut the money. That simply wastes the initial investment you made.
Blogging, link building, email marketing, all SEO efforts, these require an ongoing commitment if a website is to see the fullest returns possible.
Resolution number two: Start a blog
The benefits of good quality blogging are many; it can help network, aid SEO, encourage inbound links and increase a firm’s reputation, to name but a few.
If you can commit to updating a corporate blog regularly and with high quality posts then it can be an excellent tool.
However, unless you are willing and able to update a blog, this is a waste of time. A page which has obviously not been updated in months does not just fail to deliver the benefits; it can also look shoddy and damage your image.
Resolution number three: Focus on your consumers
Whatever your online marketing tactic, remember the end user. If you are embracing SEO for the first time, it can be really tempting to suddenly fill your website with a load of content and quirks designed to appeal to search engines.
However, it does not matter how many consumers your tactics drive to your pages, if they are not attractive to humans, they will soon leave.
Remember as well that, while it is important to boost the number of visitors your site sees, it is more important to encourage them to take the action you want once they arrive. Whether it is a sale, the submission of details, signing a petition, whatever – getting people to the page is just half the battle.
Resolution number four: Seek expert aid
I know this sounds like a sales pitch but this really is important. If you do not know what you are doing, find someone who does.
Badly-worded email marketing, flagrant selling via social media platforms, outdated SEO tactics, all these things can damage your online opportunities more than they will help.
If you cannot find the budget to bring in outside help then take time researching expert opinion and guidance online. Often, hiring an agency to take care of online marketing will ensure the budget is spent more effectively.
Resolution number five: Be personable
Consumers do not like to be marketed at, it makes them uncomfortable. That does not mean that they always dislike goods and services being showcased, they just want additional value to make it worth their while.
If you are communicating with your consumers and potential customers – whether through the copy on your website, a blog, social networks, email marketing or any means – make sure they can see the person behind the message.
Sales-speak is rarely good. The internet can be highly impersonal, so if you make the effort to communicate openly and are not afraid of showing some personality, the returns can be great.
If you can build good relationships with consumers, it is not just sales which will soar, loyalty will too.