The professionals in any industry who have seen it all, the ones who know that everything comes and goes in and out of style eventually, have a habit of saying that "the more things change, the more they stay the same." I certainly think there is some truth to that especially with online marketing. That's because, even though tactics, tools, and ideas shift from one year to the next, some are enduring.
To see what I mean, and learn how you can use it to grow your own business, here are five tried-and-true rules for Internet marketing success that still apply:
1. Your website is the starting point for everything. Without a great website, you really don't have a workable online marketing plan, just a set of things to try. That's because your site is the hub that supports everything else, including your search engine optimization and social media campaigns. Concentrate on building a great, useful, and informative site first, because everything else follows.
2. It's about your best customers, not the rest of your customers. Since more and more websites, blogs, and other Internet destinations are being launched all the time, it's important to your success that you be able to focus. For most small and medium-sized companies, the true market for their products isn't "everyone," but a handful of businesses or individuals. Know who your best potential customers are, and market directly to them.
3. Traffic, sales, and relationships are all different things. Far too many businesses get hung up on a single statistic or metric, missing the big picture in the process. Things like traffic, and traffic sources, matter a great deal. In the end, though, what matters most is your ability to turn those visitors into buyers, and eventually to build relationships with them. Don't lose sight of the results that are actually important.
4. You should never be reliant on any single marketing source. While some business owners or executives will swear by optimizing their sites for Google, and others may prefer social media sites like Facebook, or even pay-per-click advertising, the reality is that most companies should try everything and be reliant on nothing. You never want to be in a situation where a single competitor, policy change, or search algorithm shift could bring your pipeline for new business to a screeching halt.
5. Better products and sites always rise to the top. For all the attention paid to search, list-billing, etc., the fact of the matter is that the best companies tend to attract the most customers, online or off. So, if you have a reputation for great value and strong customer satisfaction, and can demonstrate that online, you'll almost always be moving in the right direction.
Patrick Carlson is Principal Partner of Bull’s-Eye Creative Communications, an Atlanta-based creative marketing communications company that assists businesses with increasing awareness and sales. He can be contacted at: 404.352.3006 or firstname.lastname@example.org