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A No-Nonsense, 5-Step Guide to Success In the Digital Era. Your family, friends and all of the marketing blogs are dead wrong!

By Ryan Erskine Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Let's face it, the digital space is a wild and dangerous place. A single tweet can cost you your job and a bad customer experience can quickly become your worst PR nightmare.

Given the huge risks, isn't it frustrating that everyone has an opinion about your company's digital strategy? Any schmuck with a smartphone is suddenly a digital marketing expert.

It's impossible to know what's important and what's not. Should you take advantage of content marketing or is it a waste of your time? Should you tweet three times a day or three times a week? With so much conflicting advice, it's no wonder business owners everywhere are struggling to maximize their digital efforts.

Your family, friends, and all of the marketing blogs are dead wrong. I alone hold the secret to digital success, and lucky for you, am charitable enough to share it!

Here are five clever steps I've developed to guarantee your business success in the digital era.

Related: Six Fail-Proof Tips For Social Media Success

1. Stop sending email blasts. Send this instead.

After several drafts and revisions, your carefully crafted email is ready for delivery. Your marketing team has given you two amazing headlines to A/B test and you can't wait for the positive response.

You send the email off and where does it go? Right into the trash folder.

Did you know that the average email only gets clicked three percent of the time? You are ten times more likely to be able to walk right into your customer's unlocked home unannounced.

Now I'm not suggesting you do that -- that would be crazy. But you can take advantage of this "open-door" policy without getting yourself arrested. I'm talking about a completely untapped marketing strategy that's guaranteed to get your business the attention you need.

The secret? Ditch the emails entirely and send glitter bombs to your customers via snail mail.

People love glitter! It's sparkly and fun. Women wear it on New Year's and guys even put it on their beards. If you're in a boring industry, glitter has the added benefit of generating more excitement than you possibly could by yourself.

Actions speak louder than words, so stop sending email blasts and start sending glitter blasts. Put your email marketing efforts on hold and dedicate your efforts toward a full-fledged glitter marketing campaign. People are guaranteed to pay attention.

Related: Rookie PR Mistakes: Why Email Blasting and Harassing Editors are Major No No's

2. Avoid social media at all costs.

You don't have time to mess around on social media, you've got a business to run!

Would you have a baby and expect it to raise itself? Of course not. So why would you start an online presence when you don't have the resources to nurture it and bring in qualified leads?

You might have heard that 80 percent of small and medium-sized businesses use social media to drive their business growth. Sure, but did you also know that 80 percent of businesses fail within 18 months? Coincidence? I think not.

Remember, the internet is a dangerous world where online gaffes cause irreversible damage that no PR firm wants to handle. The best way to avoid these issues? Avoid social media altogether. Roughly 99 percent of top brands use Facebook, so this tactic will land you in the top 1 percent, the very cream of the crop.

As if that weren't a good enough reason, remember that social networks are teeming with bots, spam, and fake followers. You'll never convert a phony follower into a paying consumer, no matter how hard you try.

3. Ensure your website is old and out-of-date.

All the blogs say you need a modern a mobile-friendly company website. It's a good thought, but allow me to propose an alternative.

Sure, more than half of website traffic comes from mobile devices. But that leaves a good chunk of traffic that doesn't come from mobile. Plus, everyone and their grandma is hopping on the responsive design bandwagon now. Why not try the opposite to distinguish yourself from the competition?

In other words, make your website an antique.

There are TV shows dedicated to antiquing and towns that are famous specifically for their antique markets. I know this because the women in my family have an uncanny ability to locate these markets and dedicate whole afternoons there.

So how can you take advantage of this untapped business opportunity? You make your website as mobile un-friendly as possible. See if you can give your site that old, 90s flair that makes it feel optimized for a slow connection on Netscape 3.0. That is, your site should be mostly text on a patterned background with a few cheesy graphics of your choice.

Don't bother with a blog -- nobody reads anymore Anyway -- and see if you can avoid a clear call to action. People love guessing games. Making your call to action obvious is like giving away the punch line of a joke before you've had a chance to tell it properly. Don't be that guy.

4. Neglect your search results.

You might have heard the stats -- 97 percent of consumers search online for products and services and half of them start on search engines.

So if 97 out of 100 consumers will be looking for you online, why should you completely neglect your search results?

It's the same reason Hermès sells a limited supply of its handbags and it's the same reason De Beers manually controls the international diamond supply. Luxury brands have learned the art of cultivating exclusivity by limiting brand access to their consumers.

You can do the same with your business. By neglecting your search results, consumers will have trouble finding your company's most important information. You'll restrict access to the information consumers want most, suddenly making your product, service, or experience extremely rare, and therefore extremely valuable.

Related: 5 Ways to optimize local search results and compete with the big guys.

5. In general, take up as little space online as possible.

Imagine your morning routine. If you're like the average American, you wake up and check your phone. You shower and check your phone. You probably spend more time checking emails in the morning than eating breakfast. And then you go to work and hop online for six to eight hours.

The average person spends eight hours and 41 minutes on electronic devices. That means we're spending more time on our laptops and phones than we are sleeping!

The result? People's backs are hurting, their eyes are getting worse and their social anxiety and depression is off the charts.

The last thing you want to do is encourage that kind of behavior with your business practices.

Instead, your goal should be to keep your business out of the online space entirely. After all, you want people to spend time shopping at your business, not surfing the web and damaging their health.

As the trend for corporate social responsibility continues to blossom, this kind of digital strategy will perfectly position your business to garner trust from responsible consumers.

If you can do good in the world and make money in the process, then why not? By shrinking your digital presence, you'll encourage safer habits, attract more clients, and ultimately, boost profits.

Ryan Erskine

Brand Strategist at BrandYourself

Ryan Erskine is a Brand Strategist at BrandYourself and a leading expert in personal branding and online reputation management. He empowers individuals and businesses to develop their personal and corporate brands, take control of their search results, and position themselves as thought leaders in their industries. He's completely rebranded online images for everyone from c-suite executives and entrepreneurs to middle market professionals and college graduates.

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