Chart Your Business Course for 2012: Check the Economic Trends and
Select Your Next Internet Marketing Move
Good news on the economic horizon means opportunities for small businesses to ride a prosperous wave in 2012. Review these recent reports and then consider whether (and how) you should adjust your Internet marketing presence.
2012 Business Trends at a Glance: Curving Upward
Jobs – Up: Available jobs are increasing, especially in Arizona. Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at Arizona State University, reported Arizona moved from No. 49 among the states for job creation in 2010 all the way up to a top 10 growth state in 2011. Nationwide, the hiring outlook overall for 2012 remains cautiously optimistic, with small business hiring notably expected to increase, according to CareerBuilder 2012 Hiring Forecast. The ABC News 2012 US Economy Forecast cited CEO Brian Hamilton of financial information firm Sageworks, who said, “The jobs numbers are getting better,” and Kiplinger agrees that job creation is picking up.
Retail Sales – Up: Not only were holiday retails strong in 2011, according to USA Today, but overall retail sales rose 4.5% year-over-year in 2011, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Retail Chain Store Sales Index (cited by CNN Money). For small businesses and especially those using refined Internet selling strategies, the news was very good. As Internet Retailer reported, the online holiday shopping season generated at least $35 billion in sales for web retailers according to comScore Inc. Many smaller niche web merchants also closed out the online Christmas shopping season with a nice boost to their fourth quarter sales by making constant updates to their marketing and merchandising plans. Internet businesses gained ground by concentrating on their best customers, using social media and offering highly targeted incentives.
Economists – Favorable: Arizona’s economic indicators have been improving, according to the University of Arizona – Arizona Economic Outlook 2012-13. The state’s personal income, wages, and employment are growing at increasingly faster rates. Spending is robust while unemployment, bankruptcies and residential foreclosures are happily declining. Nationally, the 2012 Goldman Sachs white paper, The Outlook for the US Economy, reports household debt burdens have continued to improve. Inflation is not expected to significantly increase. As USA Today reported, holiday retail sales strength, steady manufacturing performance steady and housing market resurgence all point to sustained corporate profitability in the coming year.
Business Metrics – Up: Kiplinger estimates the U.S. economy will grow about 2.3% in 2012, a bit faster than the 1.8% pace in 2011, and businesses appear willing to invest in new equipment to expand production after several years of slowed production. A Reuters report observed manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in six months in December, capping a late-year upswing, and a rise in new orders for manufactured goods suggested momentum going into 2012. Another report showed U.S. construction spending neared an 18-month high in November.
Consumers – Polling Optimistic: An Associated Press poll result suggests 62% of Americans are optimistic about the economy in coming year, while 78% are hopeful about the year their family will have in 2012. The public’s expectations for this year’s economy reached their highest point since last spring.
What Is Your Internet Marketing Agenda in 2012?
Being first to spot an oncoming tide is vital both to boaters and to business owners. Given these economic climate trends, now is the time for small business owners to re-evaluate and re-energize their online marketing campaign. Over the next four weeks, we’ll give you insights and tips for creating websites, SEO/SEM strategies, social media campaigns, and other tools to build your Internet marketing presence and success.
1. If you don’t have a website, now is the time to get one. Truly, if you don’t have a viable website, then you are almost certainly missing tremendous business opportunities. If your website has not been redesigned in over three years, it might as well be an old phone book: outdated and not terribly practical. Rather than rush into new marketing channels, it makes sense to build a website that helps establish your brand and reputation while it produces leads and sales. With more online customers out there, you can’t afford to ignore them.
2. If you do have a website but don’t show up near the top of the search results page, now is the time to invest in strategic Internet marketing. More than just techie buzz words, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) help propel you to the all-important top spots in relevant searches for your products and services. What strategies will make the biggest impact on lead generation for your business? Pay per click advertising via search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) can be the most effective forms of marketing activities for your business in 2012.
Staying on top of the latest trends is not an easy task. While you focus on the day to day operations of your business, hiring the right SEO and internet marketing company can save you time, money, and increase the bottom line. Google is making more changes to their system in 2012. New website analytics are coming as well. Hiring experts to help update your website design and SEO will keep your business in front of potential customers under the current Google system and continuing as Google evolves.
At the same time, consumer Internet use patterns and preferences are favoring social media as well. Webmarketing’s report also showed 55% of companies closed deals from social media leads, and social media is expected to see the biggest increase in investment moving into 2012 as it impacts all facets of marketing strategy.
3. If you don’t have an ongoing relationship with your clients, now is the time to establish social media and email campaigns. Social media helps develop interlocking communities, building relationships with site owners, publishers, and bloggers, which in turn bring new link opportunities for SEO. The landscape is diverse, with many areas to focus on including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. A competent internet marketing firm with the experience to help tie all of these social networks together with your overall SEO and SEM plan will position your business for future success.
Experts agree that tapping into social media empowers small businesses with limited budgets (or low cost items) to market to a receptive audience and even create brand recognition and trust. Michael Brito of Social Business News suggests focusing “on building trust with the community first, then figuring out how to monetize (or get a lead).” A company with the right social media strategy can reach and out to customers like never before.
4. If you have some Internet marketing pieces but not all, it may be time to compliment what you’re doing with video marketing, PR campaigns, blogging and quality content. Which of these Internet features make sense for your business? Hiring the right internet marketing firm that has a solid understanding of what’s out there and how it can best help your business is key. The companies with the best internet marketing strategies, using the most cost effective marketing techniques that are custom to their business model will outpace the field by generating and converting more leads than the competition.
Wow! But Can I Do Any of These Great Things?
To learn how to ski or surf, your best bet is to get an expert skier or surfer to teach you. The expert sets you up with the right equipment, shows you the right moves and why, and stays with you as you learn. You may not need the expert forever, but the coaching prepares you to move forward on your own when you’re ready. And so it is with Internet marketing and website design. The experts at seenBEST Web Design in Phoenix, Arizona, will help you create a successful online marketing campaign using the latest technologies in web design, search engine optimization, social media marketing, video marketing, and internet marketing. Call today (480) 256-9010 for a free consultation and catch the wave to prosperity in 2012!