Tis the season to pull out the pencils, calculators and spreadsheets, time to sit down and start planning out your 2010 online marketing budget. I know, I know, it's never fun and everyone is dreading it, but it's something that needs to be done.

Wondering where to start?

SEO, PPC, social media, email blasts, website updates, banner ads, links, directory submission…the list is endless when it comes to Internet marketing options. So what is right for your company? The easy answer is to spend it where you get the most return; the more difficult answer is what will bring the most return.

But, first things first, take a look at your existing website. Are there broken links, outdated information, clunky copy or poor design? If so that needs to be the first thing in your online marketing budget. There is little point in driving people to your site if your site is in need of an upgrade. Click here for a free website evaluation.

Now let’s see how much you are paying per visitor to your site (CPV). Don’t worry we’re not looking at conversion rates, after all it’s your website’s job to convert visitors, marketing’s job is to get them to your site in the first place. Review your 2009 marketing plan and see where your visitors are coming from, print ads, radio, tv, etc, and see how much you are spending marketing your site and how many visitors you are getting. Marketing dollars/Visitors=CPV.

This may be a good time to start thinking about ways to make finding your CPV easier for you next year. One simple way is to utilize specific URLs. For example if you are advertising in a magazine called Vacations Today you (or your webmaster) can set-up an invisible link directed to your home page, the URL for this link would be www.yourwebsite.com/vacationtoday, you can then take this URL and use it for advertising purposes. When looking at your site stats you will be able to see exactly how many visitors your site generated by this URL and be able to calculate your CPV easily.

Whew, now that is out of the way, let’s take a look at the second main factor in determining your online marketing budget, your Revenue per Visitor (RPV). This is easy to find, take your total sales generated from your website and divide it by the number of visitors to your site.

If your 2009 online marketing paid off you should be seeing a decrease in your CPV and an increase in your RPV. If you are that’s great, take a look at ways you can improve for 2010. If you are not seeing these results what can you do for 2010?

Test, test, test. Dip a toe into the waters to see if there is a market for your product or service online and customers who are ready to buy by setting up a low-budget Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. A few hundred dollars is all you need for this and all three major search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) all have easy to use analytics. A PPC campaign will bring an immediate increase of traffic to your page, but be sure you are also tracking the benefits of long-term results as long-term PPC campaigns can quickly drain a budget.

For long-term results Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a good way to increase traffic and sales to your site. The higher your rankings on top search engines, the greater the traffic to your site. According to HearingReview.com “if your website doesn’t show up on page one of the search engine results page, your chances of being found are less than 2%”. Due to SEO tactics such as localized searches and targeted keywords SEO has never been better to home in on the perfect clientele for your product or service.

Another option for long-term results is Social Media Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Social Media Sites not only provide an increase of traffic to your site but also offers an extremely high Return on Investment (ROI). It is free to set up a page on most Social Media Sites, but the time it takes to maintain these sites often scares people off. This is why it is sometimes best to hire a company to perform the maintenance for you. Even with the additional costs, the ROI still remains high and it’s not just monetary. Popular contributors to Social Media Sites often build a loyal following and become industry experts which can obviously enrich your career.

So whether you are planning your 2010 budget for social media, Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per-Click or redesign of a tired website it is never too early to plan ahead. If you would like further information on any of the ideas above please feel free to contact us at 1.800.374.7297.