?The start of a new year is always exciting there are so many opportunities and adventures ahead. When it comes to business, many of these opportunities are now online. So why not make 2010 the year that you really take advantage of what the Internet has to offer your business? Using the Internet in your business can be daunting, because there are so many different things you can do. So, to help you get started weve put together a month-by month guide of simple, cost-effective strategies and tools for you to use. These strategies cover a number of areas, from improving your website, to online advertising, to email marketing and each one will help you get amazing results from the Internet. All you need to do is a set aside some time at the start of each month to get each strategy underway, and then a few hours here and there to monitor each strategy to make sure you are getting the best possible results from it. So what are you waiting for? Start Januarys strategy today. January Set up Google Analytics Google Analytics is a free program created by Google that gives you detailed statistics about your website traffic. It gives you information about the visitors to your site, page data, keywords, advertising (it can be linked to your Google Adwords account) and referrals. The data that this tool collects allows you to gain a better understanding of your target market and therefore improve your marketing and advertising campaigns. Google Analytics is a valuable tool for any business that wants to maximise their website and marketing, and best of all, its completely free. Setting it up early in the year means you will have more time to get results from it and also that you will have lots of data to analyse at the end of the year. For a step-by-step guide to setting up Google Analytics, please click here (http://bloomtools.com/process/help/knowledgeBase.html?answerId=81). February Research your competitors This strategy is not strictly an Internet tactic, but it will help you improve your online presence. Just like with your bricks and mortar business, you need to stand out from your competitors the web in order to achieve success. Firstly you will need to research what your competitors are doing online is their website a basic brochure site, or is it professional, functional and interactive? Do they have an email newsletter? Do they advertise on search engines? A good idea is to create a spreadsheet and rate each competitor on different areas. Then use the information that you have collected to improve your own website and marketing. For example, if they dont sell their products on their website, you could set up a shopping cart on your website to take advantage of that niche. Dedicate this whole month to doing your competitor research, because you will use this in Marchs strategy. March Review your website So you know everything there is to know about your competitors now its time to make the changes to your website to put you at the top of the heap. Before you get started with the specific strategies, you should ask yourself a few simple questions about your website: o Is it achieving any purpose in your business (sales, leads, loyalty building)? o Is it a functional website that actively improves your business (or basically just an online brochure)? o Can you update it yourself without paying or waiting for your website developer? If you answered no to any of these questions, you should seriously consider getting a new website because you are missing out on the full potential of the Internet. Whether you stick with your current website or get a new one, the next step is the same analyse the challenges and opportunities for your website. Think about issues that you have with your website and ways you can improve them. For example, if you have an email newsletter and no one signs up for it, you should redesign or move the sign-up box. For opportunities you should go back to your competitive anlaysis take advantage of areas that your competitors were weak in. For example, if their site is cluttered and confusing, spend some time simplifying yours and making it easy to read and navigate so customers prefer to use your site. A good website is the most important part of your online presence so make sure you get yours right. April Conduct a keyword analysis A keyword analysis involves finding out what words your target market are using on search engines like Google when they conduct a search related to your business. Once you know the keywords that people are using, you can use the keywords throughout your website to ensure your site gets listed in the search results. For example, the owner of a dress shop may find out that her target market search for things like summer dresses, evening gown and cocktail dress, so she needs to include these words throughout her content. The best way to conduct a keyword analysis is to use a free online tool like or . These tools allow you to type in a term (like dress) and you will be given a list of relevant terms and the number of people that have searched for them. This will give you an idea of the most popular keywords in your market so you can then use them in your website copy (see May strategy). Make sure you research very thoroughly so you get a deep insight into the search habits of your customers. For a complete guide to keyword research, click here. May Get your site optimised In order to get the best possible results from your website, it needs to be optimised for search engines. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is big business at the moment because so many people use search engines like Google to find products and services. SEO is all about making your site search engine friendly so it gets ranked higher in search results, giving you more exposure to potential customers. There are on-page and off-site factors that can control in order to improve your sites optimisation. On-page factors include: o The quality and relevancy of your content the search engines love websites that are full of rich, well-written content, so work on the accuracy and detail of your copy. o Use of keywords you did your keyword research in April so you know what your target market are searching for. Now its time to use those important words and phrases throughout your content, especially in headings, bold text and hyperlinks. If search engines find these words repeated often throughout your site, they will put your site high in the listings when someone searches for those words. o Page structure search engines like it when your website pages have titles, headings, bolded text and alternative text on images because it helps them (and your customers) to navigate your site. They also reward sites that use meta tags and meta descriptions to explain what each page is about. For a full explanation of these terms, click here. Off-page factors include: o Site age search engines place more importance on websites that have been around for a long time and therefore display them higher in search results. So if your site is new, be patient - it will take several months for it to start ranking high in search engines. o Links the search engines also place more importance on websites that lots of other sites link to. So, you need to work on getting as many other sites as possible to link to yours give testimonials, write guest articles and position your site as the leader so others link to you. This is only a very basic overview of SEO. You can find some more detailed articles here (link to KB). However, unless you are an SEO expert with lots of spare time, you should probably get a professional to optimise your site, because it is a complex and time-consuming process. To check out the SEO services that Bloomtools offers, click here. June Add yourself to online directories Online directories are a great way to increase the traffic to your website and to get more customers. They are also a great way to get other websites to link to yours, which boosts your search engine ranking. There are thousands of directories on the Internet, from general business directories to geographical directories, not to mention the multitude of special interest ones (everything from weddings to environmentally friendly businesses). Its simply a matter of doing your research and choosing the ones that are most likely to get results for you. A Google search for online directories will show you most of the main ones like Yellow Pages and Hot Frog that you should be part of. The next step is to search for location and industry specific directories that are relevant to your business. You may have to pay to list in some of these directories, so make sure you set a budget and stick to it. Also, if you write articles, get them listed in article directory sites like Digg and Buzzle and if you write a blog, get that to appear on blog listing sites like Technorati and Bloglines. This will expose so many more potential customers to your brand and increase your online presence. July Start an Adwords campaign Youve probably noticed that when you conduct a search in Google, there are some businesses that get their site listed at the very top of the page or down the side. These ads stand out from the rest of the results and usually get clicked on the most. These are ads that the businesses pay for using a system called Adwords. This program involves businesses bidding on keywords that they think their prospects will type in the search engines, so if those words are typed in, their ad appears at the top. Adwords is reasonably cost-effective because the businesses only pay each time their ad is clicked on. Other search engines have their own advertising programs, but Google Adwords is the most popular. This is why we recommend that you sign-up for an account and start advertising as soon as you can millions of people search with Google, so put your brand in front of them with paid search engine advertising. You should bid on keywords that you know your target market use (see your keyword anlaysis from April) and write short, punchy ads that will attract people to your site. To really get your moneys worth out of Adwords, you need to devote a fair bit of time to researching, writing your ads, creating your landing pages (see August strategy) and monitoring your progress, so it may be an idea to get professional help. Bloomtools offers a full Adwords management package click here to learn about it. August Develop landing pages So in July, youve learned all about Google Adwords and have started advertising through it. If you have bid on the right keywords and have written pretty good ads, chances are youre getting lots of clicks through to your website. But what happens when people arrive on your site? If youre not using specific landing pages, chances are you arent getting any results from your advertising. A landing page is a page on your website that has a particular purpose such as sell a product or get newsletter or event sign-ups. This landing page is linked to your ad on Google, so when someone clicks on your ad they are taken to the exact page they are interested in, rather than having to find their own way their from your home page. For example, if you have an ad for summer dresses, your ad should link to a landing page that shows all the summer dresses you sell, with a big, bold buy now button. Landing pages are effective because they make it easy for prospects to find what they want and keep them focused on the action you want them to take. If you need help with creating landing pages, contact Bloomtools, because we have a great landing page manager that will help you get the most from your Adwords campaign. September Start using ecards Its a fact 7 out of 10 customers that left a business did so because they felt unappreciated. If you dont want your business to suffer the same fate, you need to show your clients that you value them? A great way to do this and to keep your brand awareness high is to send ecards to your clients. An ecard is an online greeting card that you send via email. Sending personalised ecards on occasions like Christmas and Valentines Day, as well as the clients birthday, will put your brand at the top of their mind and make them feel special. Including their name is the minimum, and if you have any other information stored on them (location, last purchase) then use that too if you can. Many businesses and organisations send ecards, so they are now widely available from specialist companies or through email marketing software like the Bloomtools Ezy Communicator. The ecards within the Ezy Communicator system are professionally designed so they will enhance your brand image and you can automate them to be sent on particular dates so you can set and forget quick and easy to organise and the increased client loyalty will be a great boost to your business. October Set up automated letters Automation is one of the best things about the Internet. With many email marketing programs you can automate everything from ecards as mentioned above to payment reminders. Automation is great for streamlining your client management processes. For example, you may automate a series of 4 welcome letters for new clients over a 10 day period, as well as birthday ecards to go to all current clients and a special discount voucher to go to clients that havent made a purchase in a while. You can automate all of these things in a email marketing program like the Bloomtools Ezy Communicator, which will cut your administration time and keep your clients happy with little effort. Set aside some time to go through all your processes and see what regular letters can be converted to automated emails to save you time and money. And be creative think of new ways you can use automation to regularly communicate with your clients. November Build your database of contacts The biggest asset in your business is your database of contacts. The bigger your database, the more opportunities you have to generate sales. So you should always be trying to grow your database with fresh new contacts. However, most people wont just give you their precious details for nothing, so you have to offer them something valuable in return. Here are some easy strategies to get the contact details of your prospects: o Send a monthly email newsletter and have a sign-up box for it on the front page of your website o Run a competition that requires the persons details for them to enter o Write an ebook or whitepaper and give it away to prospects in return for their contact details o Encourage your current subscribers to send your newsletters or emails to their friends o Think of every point of contact you have with potential clients and put some kind of sign-up at each in your store, email signatures of staff members, ask people you meet at networking events. Remember, with the current spam laws in Australia, you cant send a person emails without their permission, so always ask before you put them in your database and tell them what they can expect to receive from you. December Publish an ebook As mentioned above, writing an ebook and making it available on your website is a great way to generate leads for your business. Ebooks are also a very effective way of educating clients and positioning yourself as an expert. An ebook is an electronic book a book, report or document that people can download and read in a program like Adobe Reader. The best and most successful ebooks are those that are helpful to the reader a how-to guide, insiders industry knowledge or expert tips and advice. The first step in creating an ebook is to choose a topic you are knowledgeable about, then plan out your structure and start writing. The easiest way to publish you ebook is to purchase PDF converter software so you can save your ebook as a PDF document that people can easily download from your website. Once its ready, promote it as much as you can an ad on your homepage, give it to your alliances to give away to their clients, add it to online ebook directories. So there you have it an entire years worth of online marketing strategies to keep you busy. These activities have the potential to be a huge boost to your business, so make sure you give it a go! This article was provided to you by Bloomtools, Australasia's leading website developer. With Offices in Melbourne, Newcastle, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Wellington New Zealand. Online business solutions provider SEO, Websites (with simple to use Content Management System), Email Marketing and CRM.