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If you have any doubts whatsoever about how critical online marketing is to your business, consider the following two statistics, substantiated by none other than the megalossus of online business, Google. According to Google, approximately 94% of all consumers research a product online before they ultimately make a purchase – that’s just a whisker away from saying that no one buys anything these days without checking it out online first.

The companion statistic for that is that 60% of all shoppers use search engines as their most reliable source for shopping. Between the two of them, the conclusion jumps out with the clarity of a trumpet on a winter morning – if you’re a business person, you MUST have an online marketing strategy. If you don’t, chances are you’ll be watching your competitors skate away from you on that winter morning. This discussion will consider some of the ways that online marketing delivers more traffic to your business, and just why it has become so indispensable as a modern marketing strategy.

Social media marketing

This is one of the best ways to develop new business, because the vast audiences available through the social media will include far more than your normally targeted segment of potential customers. You can even be an active participant on social media, joining groups which are related to your products or services. Once you get any kind of buzz going about your business, the real power of social media can be unleashed, and you would be the happy beneficiary.

Mobile marketing

Next time you’re walking through a mall, count how many people out of 10 pass within your field of vision, and are on their cellphones. Your business message needs to reach those cellphones, through mobile marketing. These devices have more and more capability all the time, which means you can be ultra-creative with your advertising ideas. Whatever you do, don’t overlook mobile.

Local listings

Make a point of getting your business listed on local listing websites, because one of the most common of all online searches is the ‘business near me’ search, where ‘business’ represents the specific type of store, e.g. restaurant, movie theater, filling station, etc. With a few positive reviews from satisfied customers, you’ll be out-performing all your regional rivals.

Search ads

This is a powerful technique that allows you to place ads on pages which are returned in searches, in a dynamic way that happens at the moment of the search itself. Best of all, you generally only have to pay for those Adwords when someone actually clicks on the ad you placed.

GEO-targeting

When you’d like to target only certain specific areas of the country with your advertising, Geo-advertising can be extremely useful. If you wanted to sell winter vests in Buffalo, NY, for example, you could get a great start by creating a listing in Google Places, or another kind of geo-specific software.

Context ads

By using a service that distributes your ads to sites which are contextually related to your products, you can reach far more Internet customers than you might on your website alone. If you’re trying to sell fishing gear, you could have your ads placed on lots of sports websites to increase your reach.

Affiliate marketing

This might take a little more effort on your part, but the results can be impressive. Try contacting competitors or related businesses to setup a mutually beneficial arrangement where each of you promotes the other’s products or services on your site. It increases your power to reach customers, and just might drive a lot of business your way.