Now that we are actually into the holiday season, and most of us are taking time away from the office, we know that a lot of marketers are going to be thinking about what’s to come in the new year.

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For those negatively affected by Google’s Hummingbird update or who didn't get as many leads as they would have liked and who are wanting to explode into 2014, I have a few words of caution… If you want to be more successful, and begin the new year without an Internet marketing hangover, there are a few pieces of advice you should keep in mind:

1. Don't roll the dice on marketing without a plan.

Although ambition is generally a good thing when it comes to online marketing, a desire to do things too quickly isn't necessarily a good sign. That's because a winning strategy takes quite a bit of research, and a little bit of testing and tweaking here and there. Plus, you don't want to burn up all of your budget on a quick campaign without having the resources to build on it later. A good online marketing plan should keep growing over time, not be launched once and then forgotten about a few months later.

2. Stop looking for the quick fix.

The more failure and frustration a company has generally had in the past, the more anxious they are to see their online marketing efforts pay off quickly in the future. That's understandable, but it's also a good way to set yourself up for failure. That's because results can add up quickly if you have a well thought out plan and a bit of creative marketing experience behind you, but trying to turn things around in just a few weeks can cause more problems than it solves. Most short-term tactics don't work very well. And, even when they do, they tend not to work for very long – leaving you back where you started.

3. Don't pour big money into custom website design.

Often, when things aren't going that well online, a business owner or executive decides that what they really need is a big, expensive, brand-new website. While there's some appeal to writing a big check and hoping to see things happen, the reality is that most of that money should probably be put towards generating online marketing content that connects with your prospects. With website templates (or Themes) to use as a starting point, there just isn't a reason any more for most businesses to pay a lot of money for custom design or complex development – you can get most of what you need for a lot less in a “theme” or template, and save serious time in the process.

4. Set goals that have an actual meaning for your business.

Far too many businesses set a goal of achieving a top rank on Google, for example, or drawing in a thousand unique visitors per day. Those make nice benchmarks, but they shouldn't be your real online marketing targets. Instead, you should be looking for measures like marketing and sales qualified leads generated, sales opportunities created, or increased account activity from established customers. The point is to begin with your most important real-life business goals, and then to work back from that point to create online marketing targets that make sense.

 


We know that enthusiasm can run high, especially when you're looking at a brand-new calendar and feel eager to put any past problems behind you. But, by thinking carefully about what you actually want to accomplish – and avoiding the kinds of shortcuts that sound great, but end up hurting your company – you can get the new year off to a healthy, productive, and profitable start.

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By Randy Milanovic