More Online Marketing Expertise – Richard Hearne

2012 has introduced more threats and, by extension, more opportunities for Online marketers than at any time since I started my Internet career. Coming from a search background I’ve seen first-hand some of Google’s “jarring and jolting” updates which can literally put site owners out of business. Competition Online is growing exponentially as offline spend transfers to the Web. Mobile will soon outpace desktop in absolute usage figures. These changes are forcing Online marketers to re-evaluate how they interact with their users and focus on delivering real and perceived value across the entire spectrum of Online transactions:

* Getting exposure now requires “real work” – you cant fake/hope your way to eyeballs;
* Customer service is happening online as well as offline, with more use of Social Media platforms to resolve customer issues;
* Trust is becoming more of a linchpin – Google wants us all to become “brands”, perhaps users do too;
* Users expectdemand fast usable websites across platforms – performance is more important than ever now;
* Interaction is happening on many platforms, with many interactions sharing multiple devices – web, mobile, apps etc;

Hang on! That’s a lot of words for the topic “One thing businesses should put some effort into online before 2014 comes along.” Yep it is, so here’s my one thing every business owner should do: focus on engagement. Each of the items I listed above can be considered in terms of engagement:

* What do your customers want/desire/need online? Building content that truly engages your customers and prospects builds loyalty and increases sales. Check out these guys and the cool videos they created.
* Do you have service channels on Twitter/Facebook/Google+? Even (could you be more staid?) offers customer service on Twitter!
* Are you engaging with customers to hopefully make them your Online evangelists? Offering ways for customers to review and feedback on your products is required not desired. Hands up who looked at the number of reviews in Google’s search results?
* Are you measuring how your website performs? I’m not talking how many visitors (old hat), but how quick, responsive and valuable your content is. Measuring performance is the new analytics. Check out tools like and RUM, or Google Page Speed and to slowly on-ramp your site. Collect qualitative data via feedback forms and surveys.
* Does your site work on mobiles and tablets as well as the desktop? Have you looked into Responsive web design, or better still Mobile First Responsive Web Design? Not only will your site look/work great across platforms, but by focusing on what’s really important you also deliver a better overall user experience.

I know there’s a lot to take in there, but each example I give places engagement at the core of how you plan and execute Online. By engaging with your users and focusing on delivering true value your Online business will succeed and flourish.