Are you commited to digital marketing rethink or get left behind

Just how serious is your business about digital channels? The pervasiveness of smartphones (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry), tablets (iPad, Samsung, Dell) and the app economy that surrounds them is quickly becoming a dominant business force.

We also can’t ignore the growth of Facebook. During the holiday break, Facebook was named the most visited site in 2010, beating out Google. And we’re not just talking about big business, either. Groupon -which enables local businesses to offer a unique discount once a predetermined number of people commit to purchasing the deal -turned down a $6-billion acquisition attempt by Google, which suggests hyper-local marketing has finally arrived.

Small businesses can now effectively leverage digital marketing channels in a cost-effective way.

If brands were feeling intimidated about managing all of these channels before, I hazard to guess at how overwhelmed they’re feeling now (the word “dizzy” comes to mind). It’s the beginning of January, so before things start to pick up and many of your new year’s resolutions fall by the wayside, why not commit to a digital marketing reboot?

Here are the questions you should be asking yourself:

Are you committed to a real strategy? Sadly, most businesses get caught in the weeds. They hop on Twitter because their competitors are there, but they have no strategy in place.

Think about why you need the digital channels, and develop a holistic view of the digital marketing landscape. Figure out how the digital channels can best serve your brand. The net result should be a focused strategy that is based on your business objectives, economic value to the organization and a tactical plan.

Do you own your brand online? Make sure you own all of the right domain names for your business and renew the ones that you currently have. This should include all . com and . ca iterations. Make sure to also protect domain names for your products and services as well as your key management people (buying the misspellings of your keywords is a great idea, too).

Don’t forget social media spaces Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., allow you to customize your direct URL for these spaces. Regardless of whether or not you’re active there, it is better to be safe and have the names than to be sorry should you need them.

Does your website suck? There has been such a focus on social media that many business websites look tired, out-of-date and lack the functionality consumers expect. It might be time for a refresh or an overhaul of your website.

-Is your content up to date? Is your content representative of your business in 2011? Is it filled with industry jargon only your competitors will understand? Do you have a news section? Does it have an RSS feed? In reviewing your “about us” and “management” sections, are they fresh? Do they allow your consumers to connect with you?

What about your more visible profiles in places such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Wikipedia? Make sure the content is up to date. If you don’t have profiles in some of the more popular online social networks, get started. Any work you do in this area makes it easier for potential customers to find you.

Is your website mobile? More and more people are doing searches and navigating the Internet via their smartphone or tablet. If your website does not automatically redirect these people to a mobile version of your online experience, there’s a good chance these people are having a bad brand experience.

Pay heed to this: the mobile Web is where the desktop browser was in the mid-’90s. Mobile will quickly become more important than the Internet as we’ve known it.

Are you easy to find? If someone uses a search engine to find your business, brand, management people, or the industry you serve in, where do you show up in both the organic and paid listings?

What about if someone does a search for you on YouTube or asks about you on Twitter? Are you listening? Are you responding?

While all of this should be defined in your strategy, it’s still important to know that in 2011, consumers have high expectations.

If you don’t offer the functionality they expect in their daily digital interactions, you risk disappointing them with an inferior digital experience and possibly coming across as behind the times.

There’s no denying that a digital marketing rethink will take a lot of work. Does your business have what it takes?

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