If you've been listening to me, you've probably taken to heart some of the lessons about the key components you need for your company to achieve online marketing success: a strong website, social media strategies and an SEO campaign.
If you have all of these things in order, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. That's a big first step.
Now, it's time to kick-start your campaigns into further action. This requires some extra steps and leveraging of new technologies - but don't worry if you might be struggling with this.
We all know how important a web presence is for presenting a desirable online identity and attracting new customers, even though we may not yet fully understand how to achieve our goals, implement new technologies, or adapt to new trends as deftly as larger companies. But there is a step - or two or three or four - forward that can be taken with your online marketing campaign in 2013.
Step 1: Use analytics
Small business professionals would certainly invest heavily in their websites if they had the resources. But at the same time, they would be making this decision blindly - as three-quarters of small businesses haven't even used Google Analytics or similar tools to measure their sites.
If you're going to make any changes to your website - in appearance, integrating new features, incorporating social media, whatever - I suggest you start by analyzing its strengths and weaknesses. Find out which pages on your site are most visited, how much time consumers spend on each page, where they commonly exit from and anything else that could be useful.
All of this can be done using data analytics tools. So, use them.
Step 2: Start branding
I have some slightly troubling news for you: when it comes to all of these best practices, there's a good chance some of your competitors will be using them as well. Sure, you should aim to utilize them better than your competition, but eventually it will be hard to separate yourself from these strategies alone. Therefore, you'll need to find a different way to differentiate yourself.
I've talked a lot about brand marketing recently, and the above issue is why. Going forward, it represents one of the best ways for your company to rise above your competitors.
Devise a noteworthy logo and catchphrase that will not only stand out, but remain uniform across all marketing channels. Consistency - from the writing of your company name, the slogan, the logo and so on - is an essential component of branding.
Step 3: Expand social strategies beyond Facebook
Among the alarming statistics floating around is the measly 14 percent of small businesses who cited LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest as extremely effective social media channels.
Facebook might be the most mature social networking site, but it's far from the only one that's developed. Twitter and LinkedIn have each amassed 200 million users, while Pinterest has built up a base of 50 million people in its slightly more than two years of existence. You don't need to use every social media site if that's beyond your capabilities, but you can't rely on solely Facebook to deliver the goods.
In addition to building up your followers, using other social networking sites presents another way by which you can improve your branding.
Step 4: Time to jump-start mobile initiatives
You don't need to invest heavily in a company app (at least not yet), as most mobile shoppers still search for listings via the web. But you do need to make your website compatible with mobile platforms.
If you're among the approximately 60 percent of small businesses that haven't, you need to change that.
If you have your website in order, a social media following and SEO strategies in place, you're doing fine. Now it's time to push your online campaigns a few steps further over the next few months.