The results are more compelling now than ever. If you think a line item for online marketing in your 2008 budget is an option, consider this:

  • Odds are strong that your customers will read online content developed by your competition in 2008 (articles, testimonials, blog comments, e-newsletters, PR news, e-reports, etc.)
  • Your competition more than likely has a budget for search marketing (either paid or organic SEO) and they intend to place relevant ads in your client's conscious – a click away (display ads, rich media, video, classifieds, sponsorships, referrals, e-mail, etc.)

Forrester Research's "Get Serious with Search Marketing" (Aug. 2007) reports 65% of marketers surveyed are using search marketing tactics.

"Local" search is on the rise and eMarketer's "Local Online Advertising" report (Aug. 2007) projects an increase from $2.9 billion in 2007 to $4.6 billion in 2008 (U.S. total).

  • Your competition is working on their blogs, widgets, wikis and websites right now to capitalize on the red hot social networking trends. 

Frankly, you don't need me or anyone else to tell you online marketing is important and that every business owner should be paying more attention to it.  The majority of our clients tell us, "What we need is a better understanding of the tactics, costs and resources necessary to build long-term relationships with our existing clients, increase referral rates and capture new business using online strategies."  

Where do you start?

Start with a reality check. Do you have a written strategy for marketing online? Do you have the human resources and a budget to support your plan? For example, if you run a small business and you plan to use email marketing (basic strategy everyone should be using now), how much should you spend on generating quality content? How frequently do you plan to update your content?  And, most importantly, what marketing tools do you plan to use to deliver the content to your existing clients and your target market?

  • Monthly website updates (new testimonials, industry news, articles, press releases, etc.)
  • Dynamic blog content – subscriptions, weekly updates with RSS feeds and automated email delivery whenever new content is added (organic SEO)
  • Email newsletters with a summary of relevant industry news and articles important to your clients (link your newsletter to your email signature, website pages, and publish an archive on our website)
  • Participation in social networks that increase referral rates, etc.

A recent survey of thousands of marketing pros indicates that email is still considered one of the strongest marketing tactics (highest ROI) when compared to other marketing tools. (see our previous post here for more on this survey)

If you are a small business owner and your company generates more than $200,000 in gross revenue, consider budgeting at least $6,000 for online marketing in 2008. As a rule-of-thumb, your marketing budget should include a minimum of 2-3 percent of your projected 2008 gross revenue – varies by industry and your competitive strengths.

Are you producing static or dynamic content online? Are you providing your clients with a compelling reason to visit your site frequently or read your emails? Whether print or electronic media, "Content is King." If necessary, pay someone to design your newsletter (custom publication) and write professional articles in your name. Publish your newsletter content on your website and/or blog and publish the articles on external websites as well (article marketing).

Join the conversation – visit relevant industry websites and/or blogs and leave comments (start now, your are welcome to leave a relevant comment on my blog). Let it be known that your company is an expert in your field and you are willing to help others.

As always, if you need assistance preparing your marketing plan or just a little advice on the budgeting process feel free to contact us. We'll be glad to answer your questions no charge – no strings attached.