For a business looking to enter the online world – How would you rank the importance of the following: A) – Website B) – Blog C) – Email Marketing D) – Social Stream Interaction? Your web site should be your first priority, since it will be the nexus of all of your online marketing efforts (whether you are email marketing, #social media marketing, search engine marketing, or whatever — it will/should all point back to your web site). Make sure you have a good website that you believe captures the essence of who you and your company are and the service you provide.
What you focus on next depends a lot on what type of business you are and how you attract and retain customers/clients. A blog can be interesting if you actually have something to say that will either interest people or demonstrate your expertise. It can also be useful for improving your web site’s SEO (but make sure you design it that way) and it can help you stand out from the crowd. One important point about blogs is that they do require regular updates. If the goal is to demonstrate expertise sometimes it can be just as effective to post well written articles on your web site.
Email marketing can be very important, but only if you have a list to send to — and it is to some degree dependent on what type of business you have. If you have a lot of special offers or sales and a client base who purchases your type of product fairly regularly (at least a few times a year) it can have a huge positive impact on your business and ought to come right after your web site in terms of importance. To that end, perhaps the most important element of your email marketing program should be collecting email addresses, which you should be doing in the store and on your web site.
Social stream interactions has some value, but my guess is that unless you’re a fairly large consumer facing company you aren’t going to have a lot of interactions typing up your time. In my experience, people don’t spend as much time discussing their carpet cleaning company or their auto mechanic on Facebook or Twitter as the hype would make your believe. Most people who follow companies like this on Facebook or Twitter aren’t looking for anything more than discounts.
Two other areas you didn’t mention that many business will want to think about are social review sites and social/search advertising. A few excellent reviews from happy customers on Yelp, Google Places and Angie’s List can have a big, hugely positive impact on your business that you can’t get from regular marketing efforts. There is nothing wrong with actively encouraging your customers to review you on these sites. And of course you should keep an eye out for the negative reviews.
Another big opportunity (that doesn’t cost a lot) is advertising on Google, Bing and Facebook. It is very easy to set these programs up, and because they can be targeted regionally and by market segment it can in many instances be easy to reach the right people without spending a lot of money.
I can’t stress enough though that the right mix is really dependent on your business and the profile of your products and customer base. A B2B business will have a much different mix than a B2C business, and a carpet cleaning business will have a much different mix than a theme park. You need to think about your customers and how they want to interact with and think about you.