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In today's ever changing marketplace, one wonders: How do businesses survive in the digital age? Most businesses believe that they have a digital presence but it is not enough for them to just have a website and a few social channels. To have an overall digital marketing presence, one must stand against the competition, and more importantly, drive more customers to their business.

Through the power of the Internet, companies are now able to tap into a networked economy where they can connect with a variety of businesses, customers, technology and a distribution system of information that supersedes the antiquated ways of old media. The World Wide Web and Internet have revolutionized what a company must do to be successful in the digital age, but survival begins by understanding what it takes to adapt to the changing landscape of the market and which technologies are needed to help businesses evolve.

Understanding growth hacking

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With today's market, businesses need to tap into discovering new, creative ways to grow their digital presence. Growth hacking requires the ability to be analytical and drive results based on media, customer engagement and data. However, one must also be able to think outside of the box and create strategies that no one has thought of before. Once this balance is reached, through trial and error, businesses will be able to reach more customers through more engaged efforts to build social traction and online exposure. Though this is a case-by-case basis, through research, analytics and creativity, a business can even potentially catch a wave of 'viral' marketing by testing out different strategies that convey the value of their goods, products, or services that wow their customers so they want to share the experience with their connections.

Discovery through relevancy

As multimedia has become saturated with advertisements, information gets lost in the shuffle as customers are bombarded with material that they do not relate to. Businesses need to realize that instead of pushing irrelevant information into the face of consumers, they need to target their audience and create content that brings them value. By creating a strategy built around the interest of their targeted audience, businesses open up the opportunity for wider content distribution. The more valuable the content, the more likely readers will share with their networks which in turn brings in more traction and traffic.

Gathering analytics

Data covers many unique and valuable touch points of the Internet, from telling a business how well their social media posts are doing to giving information on a company's online conversation. Through meaningful analytics, businesses learn what they need to do to improve their online visibility and drive traffic towards their brand – whether it's adding more media or simply engaging with their customers on Twitter and Facebook. These insights allow companies to measure their web metrics and discover data trends that will eventually predict online behavior.

The Internet is a blank canvas with endless possibilities for businesses to not only grow, but to also succeed online. Through more targeted marketing, growth hacking, and real-time analytics, companies are able to learn more about their customers to build more meaningful connections that foster brand loyalty and retention. So having a digital presence means more than just maintaining your website, its about Internet optimization and customer engagement strategies driven by data. To succeed in the digital economy of the 21st century businesses must understand how and why they need to utilize all the tools available online to capture online traffic and grow their business.

How digital is your business?

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Richard Hollis is the founder of San Diego-based Holonis, an online marketplace providing e-commerce software and services on a subscription basis for business.

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