Let's start off by admitting that most of us don't spend the holiday season thinking about things like online marketing, inbound lead generation, and search engine optimization strategies. That's fair. But why not take a couple of hours anyway and learn what you can do to attract new customers online?
If that sounds reasonable to you, and you would like your company to be more profitable in 2014 and beyond, here are five ways you can use the holiday season to become a better online marketer:
1. Read up on basic topics.
We meet a lot of business owners and executives who know next to nothing about very basic online marketing topics. We mostly blame their previous vendors for this, since we consider education to be one of the most important parts of our job. Still, a lot of the biggest online marketing topics (like search optimization, or social engagement, for example) can be grasped with 15 minutes spent on a blog or YouTube video. Why not use a few minutes this holiday season to learn the basics?
2. Evaluate the results you have seen this past year.
Again, this doesn't have to be an in-depth look at your website analytics. Instead, we are simply recommending that you pull aggregate numbers for a quick review. How many leads did your website generate this year? How many of those turned into actual sales or new accounts? Did your search engine position change at all? These are the kinds of things you should think about so you can set appropriate targets going forward.
3. Think in terms of real business goals.
Speaking of future targets, the holidays are a great time to sketch out a few thoughts about what you'd like to accomplish in 2014. Forget Internet indicators for a moment - things like your search engine ranking are secondary. What you really want to know (and to be able to communicate to your online marketing partner later) is the number of new clients or customers you'd like to find, the percentage of growth you'd like to see in new revenue, or the ROI you want to get back from your marketing budget.
4. Sketch out a few ideas for new pieces of content.
Creating content, whether it's in the form of blog posts, e-books, or something else entirely, is one of the biggest ongoing challenges in online marketing. So, take a bit of time while your mind is clear and free of day-to-day work distractions to think about what hot topics you can envision sharing with your readers or prospects in the coming months. What sort of things have been on their minds, or will be when the new year is in full swing?
5. Ask whether you're getting enough from your online marketing partner.
This is perhaps a little self-serving, but it's also incredibly important. We meet with a lot of companies that aren't getting the kind of service, much less results, that they expect and deserve. If you feel like your marketing expenditures basically go into a black hole, never to be seen again, it's time to consider why you haven't made the decision to change vendors before now (or, learn how to do it yourself).
The great thing about each of these ideas is that they only take 10 or 15 minutes to complete. And really, that's the beauty of thinking about these kinds of items during late December and early January - you can take a few spare moments to create a stronger future for your company, and then get back to that holiday state of mind in a flash. Isn't that better than having another cookie and taking a nap?