too many choices with online marketingIn this series of articles, I’m talking about all the things that we as online marketers have to worry about, and why a lot of it drives me nuts.

In the “olden days” of marketing (BI – or “before internet”), you really only had a handful of choices:

  • Yellow pages phone book
  • Radio
  • TV (if you could afford it)
  • Newspaper ads
  • Billboards (most of those have come down)

It was all offline, and very difficult to measure any type of results, unless you put in unique tracking phone numbers.

Today, with the online world, there are so many choices that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start.

I just taught a three hour internet marketing class last night at the Silicon Valley SCORE facility in San Jose. There were about twenty business owners wanting to learn how to get found online. In the class, I boiled it down to a few simple things that everyone in the room can do when they get home:

  1. Fix Your Website – The website is the core of everything. All of this is “set it and forget it” – do it once. You have to have a good, basic website that includes the following things:
    • A consistent, horizontal navigation bar across all pages (keeps an anchor for navigation while minimizing wasted real estate on the site)
    • Trust-building factors like testimonials, logos of BBB, review sites like Yelp, and trade organizations
    • Good SEO on every page – set it and forget it. Do it once and walk away
    • Content that is “you”-focused, not “We sell this, we do that.”
    • A consistent call-to-action on EVERY page of the site, preferably at the top-left corner (for those of us in the western world, it’s where our eyes naturally)
    • Mobile-aware design that gives people with smart devices a positive experience
  2. Great Content – Create content on a regular basis, like videos, blogs, podcasts, press releases, and other material for people to consume on a regular basis
  3. Social Media Presence – Pick ONE social media platform (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and use only that one for six months to share your content. Get good at it, learn the lingo, and make a habit before adding a second platform
  4. E-mail Newsletter – Your regular e-mail is the most important place where you can engage with your customers on a regular basis. 91% of us open our e-mail at least once per day, so it’s where most of your customers are going to get information.
  5. Paid Placement – Optionally put a budget in for some paid placement on Google on one of the other search engines. Make it a regular part of your lead generation strategy, and it can reap good rewards.

So about that elephant in the room: What about “link building campaigns”? Where is that in the scheme of things? Shouldn’t I be spending a lot of time fostering links?

In a word, “no”.

With Google Penguin, they have worked very hard to devalue the old way of doing things – that links count for a lot of the placement. It’s just no longer true that doing “link building campaigns” makes any sense at all anymore, and it’s easy to get penalized big time for it. So just don’t go there. Besides, it’s a helluva lot of work for not much payout. If you’re creating good content, you’ll get the links anyway, so you don’t have to force anything.

That’s it. Just follow those five steps above, and we don’t have to worry too much about the rest of the noise.

Did I miss anything? What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below.