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How Can I Get Started With Online Marketing?

By Karen Tiber Leland

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I've recently launched an architecture business with a colleague. My business partner doesn't know much about online marketing, and it's new to me too, but I've agreed to handle this side of the business (among other duties, of course). How can I get my feet wet with online marketing and start building a following for my business, with the goal of gaining customers?

Simply by asking this question, you are already ahead of the game. Instead of rushing headlong into online marketing, taking the time to step back and think about how you should approach it is key.

The first, and perhaps most important, aspect of launching into online marketing is to consider what your end game is. What goals and objectives do you have? Do you want to increase your Web traffic by 40 percent? Grow your Facebook followers to 5,000? Generate four new leads a month? Whatever your online marketing objectives are, make them measurable so that you can track your progress, gauge your efforts and make adjustments when needed. Before you make any efforts in online marketing, set up Google Analytics for your website so that you can track pageviews, traffic sources, number of visitors and other metric, and sign up for Google Alerts or Social Mention to keep track of when your business is being mentioned online.

Once you have your goals in mind and your analytics set up, the next step is to ensure that your website fits the criteria for modern marketing. Is your website contemporary and fresh-looking in color and design? Do you have up-to-date and well-branded content and writing on your site? Are you offering calls to action, such as downloadable white papers, e-books, newsletter sign-ups, etc.? Do you have a way to capture the contact information of the visitors who come to the site? Have you created a mobile version of your website so that it can be easily accessed from a cell phone or tablet?

In addition, consider using a blog as part of a content marketing strategy to provide visitors with specific information, tips, ideas, videos and industry information. Be sure to add sharing buttons to your website to boost brand awareness, since search engine rankings are partially determined by how much your content is shared. WordPress offers a whole slew of widgets for your website that allow users to share your blog posts and other content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other sites.

Remember, your website is the hub of all your online marketing efforts, so there is no point in putting content out there if you aren’t driving potential clients back to a website that inspires them to buy.

At this point, you’re ready to jump into the social media fray. But start small. The big four social media players are, in descending order, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Before signing up and investing effort into pursuing these, take the time to review the demographics of each to determine which one or two sites would be the best place to begin. A recent Pew report gives a thorough overview of who’s hanging out on which site.

Want to find out where you are in terms of modern marketing, and what your next steps might be? Take the easy, quick and free quiz on my website to determine your place in the Modern Marketing Pyramid.

Karen Tiber Leland

Author and President of Sterling Marketing Group

Karen Leland is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group, where she helps entrepreneurs and executives build stronger personal, team and business brands. She is also the best-selling author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand.

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