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Eight Elements of a Successful Online Marketing Plan

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The technology takeover is here. As a small business owner, you know you can’t fight it anymore. Whether you’re excited, apprehensive, or both, you’ve decided that the best thing for your business is to get tapped into the opportunities available to you online. But where do you even start? From building your own website to setting up social media profiles, joining directories, advertising, and more, your digital checklist is more than a little overwhelming.

“One of the main challenges small businesses face in terms of influencing—or even joining—the online social conversation is that there is simply so much information out there,” acknowledges Tsai, author of The Small Business Online Marketing Handbook: Converting Online Conversations to Offline Sales.

“It’s difficult to know where to start, where to focus, and where to invest the marketing dollars and time you have. And as you may suspect, the stakes are fairly high: If you don’t connect with consumers in the right ways and invest in the right social channels, your efforts could very well have no impact—or worse, a detrimental effect—on your business.”

Don’t panic, though. The fact that you’re a small business owner, not an online marketing guru, isn’t a death knell for your digital future. In fact, says Tsai, it’s a huge advantage.

“Think about it: You’ve gotten as far as you have by focusing on what you know and honing your area of expertise,” she points out. “As you’ve bootstrapped your business, you’ve had to synthesize a lot of new information, and you’ve had to frequently learn by doing. By using those same skills, you can gradually wade into online waters (no need to jump headfirst into the deep end!) and successfully dot.com your business.”

Here, Tsai shares eight specific tactics to help you establish and grow your company’s online presence:

Clean out the skeletons in your online closet. If you’re a newcomer to the Internet scene, you may be surprised to find that it’s already familiar with you. Specifically, one of many online business directories has probably pulled your physical address and other information together into what’s called a “skeleton profile.” The problem is, many skeleton profiles contain inaccurate or incomplete information. The same website (such as Google, Bing, or Yelp) might even have two or more different profiles for the same business.

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