By: Kevin Hourigan – Bayshore Solutions President & CEO

Is it too early to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions? Maybe so, maybe not, but for you early planners, I have some ideas for you to consider as you start to plan your company’s digital marketing strategy.

1. Website

As you think of new, creative and cost effective ways to grow your brand and generate leads and revenue, make sure the core of digital marketing strategy, your website, is sound by conducting a third party Usability Study. If you have not done a website usability study in the past year, I strongly encourage one.

The process starts by selecting a usability study company or buying the tools yourself and then determining who is most likely your ideal prospects and have them go through a series of ten questions regarding the look, feel and navigation of your website. I would then analyze the audio and video of those studies, determine what the common opinion of what needs to be changed, and prioritize and make those changes. You might A/B test the original website to the revised to confirm the website updated help increase your key performance indicators. Every Usability Study that I have experienced has generated plenty of ideas and quickly paid for the costs of the study and the website changes with much more long term value after the fact.

2. Organic Search

I encourage all marketers to re-examine their Organic Search Campaign. I would start by having someoen from outside your current organic SEO efforts do keyword research as well as review on page SEO tactics so you can get an “outside the forest” view. You might want to outsource this or find a fellow SEO peer outside your company and agree to review their website as well. The results could show a confirmation that everything you’re doing looks great, or you may find someone’s outside the trees recommendations have some great new ideas.

3. Pay Per Click Campaigns

With many marketers reporting an increase in their cost per click, it might be a very good time to conduct landing page and optimization testing. I would start with some measured A/B testing on your existing pay per click campaigns and see if some of your costs increases can be mitigated by better performing landing pages.

4. Email

I would examine your current email marketing efforts and make sure you are following all best practices that exist for email, from list integrity, subject line, time of day for sending, and more. I would also adopt some rules around triggered campaigns, both to those who did not take action on your initial sends as well as more focused content on the tops in which previous recipients expressed an interest. Track your results and watch your email ROI increase significantly.

5. Display Advertising

As mentioned before, many marketers are reporting an increase in their cost per click. Display advertising seems to be a very good solution around increasing paid search costs and the ability to extend your brand outside just the search channels.

6. Blogs

Do you have a company blog? If you do, is it set up correctly to get all the organic SEO value that a properly set up and implemented blog can do? Many companies blog with great results, but other companies do not get all the value they could if their blog was a better partner to their organic SEO efforts.

7. Optimized Press Releases

Does your company distribute news with great success by having press releases published on many high link quality websites? This is another tactic that experienced marketers are using to generate traffic to their websites, media inquiries for subject matter expertise comments, and high quality link building for their Organic SEO strategy.

8. Social Media

Facebook’s users are growing, Twitter followers are declining, but marketers can’t ignore the fact that their target audiences are spending more time in these social media channels, specifically learning of products and services. Companies will have to spend more time in 2010 determining where and how they want to participate in the social channels with their customers.

9. CRM

Does your company currently have a CRM? If not, you will need one. If so, how confident are you in the accuracy of the data in that CRM? Advanced marketers know the value of a very strong CRM. If your company has one, utilize it, and get everyone from sales, marketing, and the “C-level” group to populate it and live by it. It might not be 100% accurate now, but if you can get everyone in the company to commit to using it, they will improve their accuracy. It is a two-way street. The accuracy comes from the commitment of usage and the commit of usage improves the accuracy. Do your part on both sides and watch your CRM grow.

10. Stronger Analytics Tracking

We all probably track our web marketing results and many of you have some good analytics reporting tools and benchmarks. In 2010, those benchmarks probably have to improve to the next level, tracking the number of visits and sources of visit a potential prospect reviews your content and crediting each marketing source for its role will help you better understand the influence of your search, email an dother online strategies. Many of us have been crediting the marketing source that created the conversion but not tracking as deep as to the number of visits and sources of each visit before the conversion took place. With all of this information correctly tracked and managed, we will have th best results in how we manage our time and dollars.

I hope you enjoy the upcoming holiday season. The coming year will be another great year for web marketing, with many changes in what works and what doesn’t. That’s what brings fun and challenge to our careers and those who have the best  strategy, execution, metrics, and management will make significant strides.

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