Online marketing will grow your business. Period.

How that’s for getting to the point?

Online MarketingThere’s a lot of talk about using online marketing and social media to promote your business, but many business owners are skeptical of its effectiveness, is the time and money actually worth it? Sticking to traditional marketing methods – phone calls, mailers, print advertising, etc they know and trust seems safe. They don’t understand the potential of online marketing for their business, so they stay away.

But let’s start from the beginning.

What is online marketing?

Online marketing is promoting your goods or services over the Internet. This is done through a multitude of mediums: websites, email blasts, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, videos, etc.

Does online marketing actually work?

YES. A recent study by Hinge Marketing found that 77% of firms generate new business leads online. The study was consisted of 500 CEOs and executives of professional services firms on the use and effectiveness of their company’s online marketing.

Here are some of their key findings:

1. Companies that use online marketing grow significantly faster. In fact, the firms growing at the highest rate are generating 40-59% of leads online. High-growth firms get 53% of their leads online, which the average company online generates 12%.

2. Online marketing increases profitability. Companies that generate 60% of their leads online are TWICE as profitable as those producing less than 20% of their leads online.

3. Companies are catching on! They’re seeing the benefit of online marketing and almost half of the businesses surveyed have redesigned their websites in the past year. Even better yet, 66% of businesses surveyed plan to increase their spending on it within the next 12 months.

So online marketing works; now, what are the best ways to use it?

Hinge listed 15 online marketing tools and found out what high-growth and average-growth firms are using and what’s most effective:

 Online Marketing tactics

How to grow leads online:

1. Offer whitepapers, ebooks and articles. Companies that offered these types of materials found that they were a great way to generate leads and convert those leads into clients.

2. SEO! Search Engine Optimization was the most effective tool in generating leads. SEO generates more traffic to your website, increasing your pipeline.

3. Blog! Companies reported that blogging was one of the most effective ways to generate leads. Producing relevant, valuable content attracts people to your site, and demonstrates your expertise.

4. Stop using banner ads. Companies reported that out of 15 options for online marketing tools, banner advertising was the least effective way to generate leads.

I get it. Online marketing works. Now what do I do?

As you prepare your budget and marketing for 2012, focus your marketing strategy on online marketing. Take the the top 5 online marketing tools Hinge Marketing found most effective with growing firms, and start creating a plan.

And now couldn’t be a better time with the new year just around the corner, especially if you have extra cash at the end of year. Spend it on a website redesign, hire an SEO company, and/or bring in an expert to jump-start and launch your online marketing efforts.

Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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