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Like this: How to take marketing online

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you “should be doing” online to market your business and communicate with customers?

It used to be simple: Advertise on the radio and in your local newspaper. Go to the right networking events. Develop a nice sign to put out front of your store. Maybe, if you had enough money, you might do a television commercial. And … that was pretty much it.

Now we have a new technology to master every three months. Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. What is a Snapchat?

Big businesses have the time and resources to invest in every new opportunity and trend. For those where that’s not a reality, here’s a priority list of the online marketing tactics that will give you the most return on investment through the next two years.

Get mobile optimized: If your website isn’t “responsive” (that is, optimized to display well on smartphones, tablets and desktops), make this your number one priority.

The reasons are obvious: Websites are the new storefronts, and first impressions and accessibility matter. In 2013, 65 percent of the U.S, population owned a smartphone. That number will likely rise to more than 80 percent by the end of 2015.

For most websites, more than 35 percent of visitors now come from smartphones and tablets. Maybe most importantly, studies have shown that visitors to your website will make a judgement about your business in less than a second. What sort of impression are smartphone users getting from yours?

Be visual: A picture is worth a thousand … well, you know. When it comes to marketing, this is especially true. We now live in a world of high-definition screens and short attention spans, and images and videos are wonderful ways to stand out, grab attention and communicate quickly.

Consider: Most social media sites are now driven by images (and social posts with images have much higher engagement rates). People who watch videos on your website are 85 percent more likely to purchase your products. More than 65 percent of online consumers consider clear, detailed photos to be more important than product information or even customer ratings. If you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in some great photography and/or videos of your business and products.

Focus on reviews: Reviews have become an integral part of our digital life. Yelp. Trip Advisor. Urban Spoon. Facebook. Angie’s List. Star ratings influence what books we buy, what restaurants we visits and what plumbers we call.

One sobering study found that 90 percent of customers are influenced by online reviews. Google has even made reviews an important factor in how they show business in search rankings. How do you stack up? If your competitors have better reviews, it’s a safe bet they also have more customers. The good news: there are some simple, proactive steps you can take to build your reviews portfolio.

Get more sophisticated: Do you have analytics set up on your website? Do you know what your homepage bounce rate is? What are the most valuable pieces of content on your website?

I’m constantly surprised how little attention small- and medium-sized businesses pay to their online analytics. These statistics can offer invaluable insights into how your website is performing, what marketing efforts are working, and which ones are not.

I recently worked with a client who rarely looked at his analytics. It turned out that he had an article on his website that picked up more than 10,000 visits a month (more visitors than his homepage). To him, it was this simple throw-away piece of content. Had he deleted it, though, he would have lost a big chunk of his website traffic overnight.

Learning to use and understand your web analytics can take some time, but it’s an investment that can have huge returns.

Jordan Lindstrom is a Wenatchee-based marketing consultant, website designer/developer and brand strategist. Find him at http://jordanlindstrom.info.

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