The world of business has changed markedly over the last thirty or so years. With the advent of the internet and the growth of other associated online technologies, it is now easier and more affordable than ever for firms to market and promote themselves locally, nationally and even internationally.

The web offers unrivaled advantages to firms of all sizes, in all sectors and all locations, providing a level playing field for promotions, regardless of available budget. By leveraging the considerable benefits afforded by online promotion, companies can expand into new markets and reach out to prospective clients in ways previously unimaginable in the pre-web days. 

However, many companies struggle with the concept of effective web promotions. If the idea of online marketing seems like a confusing or bewildering prospect, read on for some tips to make the process considerably easier for your firm.

Draw up a plan to define clear goals for your promotion 

There is little point aiming to promote your firm online if you do not first have a clear idea of what you want your marketing to achieve. Perhaps you are launching a new product and want to raise awareness, maybe you are looking for ways to drive more traffic to your site or e-commerce store, or maybe you just want to improve your overall online branding. Whatever the reason, having a clear list of objectives will allow you to keep your promotion on track - plus, it will let you gauge the relative effectiveness of your campaign and identify any problem areas. 

Also, while it is possible to try and perform many simpler internet marketing tasks without experience, if you are to achieve the best results, you should really consider partnering with a dedicated web marketing firm. Having a professional onside will allow you to concentrate on running your business while they perform the often confusing and detailed tasks involved in successful web marketing. 

It is also worth remembering that while good online promotion can build a brand and propel it to new heights, if you get it wrong you may end up irreversibly damaging your reputation. Rather than taking chances, for complete peace of mind, it is much better to call in the services of a specialist company. 

Organize your branding resources for easy distribution

No matter whether you decide to take the DIY approach and try to coordinate your campaign on your own or instead opt to bring in the services of a professional, you will frequently find you need to re-use branding resources across multiple channels and services. Saving these common files in a document repository or digital asset management platform will save you hunting around for materials each time you need them. For example, having your logo or company images stored at different sizes and resolutions means you will easily be able to find and send these resources as and when they are needed, resulting in considerable time savings. 

Perform a full audit of your website and invest in updates as appropriate

The web design and development sectors move more quickly than most industries and new technologies, design trends, programming and security systems are constantly evolving. If your site is over five years old, chances are it will already look dated, likely load slowly and could be damaging your overall branding. 

Your company website is your firm's window on the world - however, much more importantly, it is also the world's window on you so you must make the right impression the minute a visitor comes to your site. While opinions vary, most industry experts suggest you have somewhere between three and eight seconds to capture a visitor's attention before they will click back, most likely never to return. 

Also, web tech and the way we use the internet is constantly changing so you should try to stay abreast of new technologies. For example, mobile devices now account for over 50% of all web traffic (with that figure constantly growing), so your site must be built in a responsive format that automatically scales content so it is viewable, regardless of screen size. 

Moreover, if your site is not responsive, Google mobile-first initiative will see it slipping down the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), ultimately harming your branding and significantly reducing the chances of being found by prospective clients. 

Remember the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Being online and having a website is only one very small part of web marketing. At the end of the day, you could have the greatest, all-singing, all-dancing website but, if you are not getting any visitors, it will not be performing a tangible service for your company and will not be giving you a reasonable Return on Investments (ROI).

It is estimated around 70% of all consumer journeys these days start with an online search - and typically on the Google platform which accounts for around 92% of all search engine-generated traffic. If you are to stand any chance of improving your profile online and attracting new visitors to your site, you need to ensure your site ranks high in Google searches. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the comprehensive and detailed process of pushing websites higher up the search engine rankings to increase their traffic and exposure. Techniques include optimizing a site's underlying source code, images and text as well as establishing backlinks and tweaking meta tag information, and so on. 

Incidentally, if any of the above sounds like another language, this is a pretty clear sign that you should enlist the help of a professional SEO company. 

Choose the social platforms best suited to your company and campaign goals

Social media has completely transformed traditional marketing and advertising, essentially democratizing publishing and allowing all firms to reach out to a massive potential global market, regardless of their size or budget. These days, using social media in your online promotion is almost a prerequisite. However, you may find different services are better suited to your particular company and campaign goals than others. 

Most firms realize the importance of being on the major three - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube - however, depending on your aims, you may find other systems could work better for you. For example, the often-overlooked Pinterest service has a loyal and dominant female user base and, being mostly image-based, works especially well for aesthetically pleasing products or services, for example clothing, beauty products and jewelry.