“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

“If your website is on the Internet and no one ever visits it, does it really exist?”

I am not really sure of the answer to the tree question, but when it comes to websites, armchair philosophers all agree: A great website is useless if no one ever visits it.

To take it a step further, no matter how beautiful and functional your website is, it can be a complete waste of marketing dollars if the right visitors never find it.

Internet marketing has become a mandatory part of every general marketing effort. With essentially everyone using the Internet as their primary resource for finding and purchasing products and services, optimizing your Internet marketing strategy is critical to the success of most every business.

With myriad web-based marketing tools and options available, choosing the most effective ones is confusing at best.

Being in the website design and Internet marketing field myself, it has been interesting to witness first-hand which strategies work and which don’t in the quest to draw qualified leads to a website. I have seen email marketing, search engine optimization, paid advertising and affiliate marketing campaigns both succeed and fail in the quest to gain more website leads and sales. Predicting which marketing approaches will work for any given business can be difficult to say the least.

So what’s the secret formula for Internet marketing success?

In thinking about our own marketing efforts as well as those of our clients, the first step to determining the best Internet marketing campaign is to use tools that are easily measurable.

When you initially dream up a web-based marketing campaign, it’s tempting to make decisions based on opinions and hearsay. The color of your logo, the wording of a Google ad, the timing of a mass email — a group of intelligent, experienced and creative individuals often have completely differing subjective opinions.

Whether using email marketing, Facebook ads, Google ads, search engine optimization, or any online effort, the ability to turn the subjective into the objective is what separates a profitable campaign from a waste of money.

The key is to collect your “best-guess” ideas about what marketing strategies and efforts will draw more traffic and sales, and then real-world test them to objectively prove or disprove their effects on profits.

Fortunately, most Internet marketing can be setup in a way that allows businesses to do quick and cheap trial-and-error campaigns before committing to the right mix of long-term marketing activities. Most every aspect from mass email subject-lines, to Facebook ad wording, can be deployed, tested and tweaked both easily and cost-effectively.

Over the past several years, the toolsets available to facilitate this trial-and-error approach to online marketing have multiplied and matured. You can gather most of the data you need using the ever-popular and free Google Analytics. Open rates and click-through rates are reported in most every email marketing system. Web ad testing tools that compare effectiveness of one ad versus another are affordable for any size business. There is no longer any reason to simply guess when it comes to online marketing.

Combining the creative mind to brainstorm ideas with the scientific mind to measure their effectiveness can turn subjective opinions into objective marketing decisions and ultimately increased profits.

JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba, an IT consulting, programming, networking, web design, and web development firm located in Nashville, TN. Visit Atiba online at www.Atiba.comor www.cabedge.com.

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