|Written by Joe Wozny|
Many of the online opportunities for 2014 are at your doorstep. What's required to recognize them, in my opinion, is strong senior leadership who supports implementing a "foundational" online approach for your business. Here's a compilation list of "must haves" for 2014 when listening to our current customers, networks and digital industry trends.
Reputation Management Companies have a strong interest in knowing how they present themselves in search returns, directories, Google Places, etc. There's also a strong interest in listening to what communities are saying about them in social networks as part of looking at opportunities for engagement. The need to audit, create a benchmark and monitor online reputation should be on your list of things you need to know.
Measurement Business needs to understand how online efforts support business growth ... in "english" not "tech talk". Social media measurement tools are maturing together with business understandings of where and how to apply social media. Adopting a set of measurement tools and a reporting process to guide your online activities in 2014 should be another item on your list.
Inbound Marketing eMail Outbound marketing will continue to be strong and interest in online lead generation will continue to grow. Getting to the bottom of how online lead generation should be positioned in your business and online channels is an opportunity business does not want to miss. The terms "Cost Per Acquisition" (CPA) and "Marketing Automation" should become part of your common online vernacular in 2014.
Mobile What can we say? How can you ignore the growing segment of business people and consumers who use their mobile devices for browsing, email, searching, shopping, etc.? The low handing fruit in 2014 will continue to be mobile web, mobile search and ensuring that your email campaigns are mobile compatible.
More Google The company dominating search continues to refine their rules. Chrome is now the second most used browser thanks to Android. Google+ is promoted to complement Search. Google Places listings appear on search return pages even if a business has not registered the listing with Google. Ensure your business is "Google Compatible" and Google savvy.
Content, Merchandising & Visitor Flow The terms authority, trust and confidence will continue be provided as reasons for why to create content. However, what most content lacks is integration into merchandising and the ability to measure the impact it provides for the efforts to create it. Invest time in setting expectations for your content initiatives and planning how an entire channel (including content) merchandises your products best. Use analytics to provide some context for where, when and how much content to deploy.
Purchasing Reach Specificity is important. Even great organic efforts may not get a business in front of the right audience given the tremendous amount of online competition. So, in 2014 understand your paid, owned and earned media costs and where best to place your digital dollars. Purchasing placement on some online sites may be more effective and require less time, costs and effort than some traditional online SEO activities.
Promote Privacy Many businesses and consumers are sensitive to recent Privacy news. Ensure your privacy statements are very clear for your customers and only collect information where necessary.
Bottom Line: Buttoning down the many opportunities you've been presented with, and weeding out those that do not perform, based on a set of metrics that's relevant for your business, is a good place to start ... and end in 2014. Find an online strategist who understands business values and goals and who is willing to invest time in understanding your business. While this work is not necessarily as glamorous as the "early adopter years" it will provide your business with a foundation to support the ever changing world of online.
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