Top 6 Online Marketing Lessons Learned in 2008

We’ve all heard the old adage: Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. What recent 2008 history has taught marketers is the value of online marketing in tough economic times. Consumer purse strings presumably won’t loosen much in 2009, which means marketers have to create smarter online marketing strategies. That in turn means we need to pay attention to what worked last year and what will continue to work this year.

Here are six online marketing lessons from 2008 that will be important to your company’s success this year:

  1. Plan Ahead and Follow Through. In 2008, consumers started their holiday shopping research as early as October. This means retailers should start holiday promotions at Halloween to give “window shoppers” ample time. Entice your loyal customers with special incentives, and remember the power of “free.” Offer free shipping and similar incentives as the holiday approaches. Also, plan to stay in touch year-round with customers through email and social networking.

  2. Manage Your Online Reputation. With the rise of social media, it’s more important than ever to know what’s being said about your company. Make sure you monitor blogs, social networks and your website rankings. Sites like or can help you see what’s being said about your company across the web, and setting Google Alerts for your company name will help you find negative and positive news. Also, where your company’s website lands in the search engine results pages speaks volumes to potential customers about your brand. Remember, you need to define your company or someone else will.

  3. Target Customers by Geography. Attracting local business is important for many small and mid-sized businesses. Local search strategies should include geo-targeted paid search and natural search engine optimization campaigns. Geo-targeted keywords restrict campaigns to consumers in specific cities or states where your company is looking to improve its reputation and/or increase sales.

  4. Make Sure Your Website is Working For You. Are customers bailing out of your virtual checkout line? More sales are lost during checkout than anywhere else because customers have trouble navigating a site. Make it a point to understand what analytics data is telling you. Basic design elements, print that’s too fine, ease of use, site organization and security affect a user’s overall experience. Your website should be working for your company, not against it.

  5. Have a Fully Integrated Marketing Plan. Websites are no longer pages of text in a vacuum. Good websites interact with users (your customers). Search engines are beginning to place a greater importance on video, photos, blogs and much more. Why? Because it makes a website more relevant by serving the user’s needs. That means your online marketing strategies must coincide with your traditional marketing techniques. Be smart about how you add these new elements and consider how each will play a role in your marketing plan. When you have a truly integrated marketing plan, you are sending a consistent message about your brand.

  6. Enjoy All the Possibilities. Have fun and be creative with all the new, innovative ways you can interact with customers. Chances are, they’ll appreciate it.

Lisa Wehr
Lisa Wehr
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