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Care to guess how many small business owners and marketers consider themselves "pros" at digital marketing?

Only 12% of them, according to a new survey by email provider AWeber. Whoa.

Plus, 29% said they were overwhelmed by online marketing, which makes sense when you consider the almost constant influx of new and evolving marketing tools.

So are you still trying to focus on email marketing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, blogging, Instagram, Snapchat, and who knows what else at the same time? If so, not only is that next to impossible, it's also a bad idea.

Here's a better idea: Rein in your marketing habits and get them under control, all in three steps.

1. Chunk your time

When we feel overwhelmed by big tasks, we tend to put them off or not start them at all. With your marketing efforts, that would be a major mistake.

Instead, try to start small, and commit a portion of every day to your online marketing efforts, say 30 minutes to get the ball rolling. Aim higher if you're more ambitious; just make sure you have a block of uninterrupted time to focus.

Before you know it, you'll be more confident about your efforts, and you'll want to expand that time to match results. You might even have to pull yourself away from your desk.

2. Work your networks

The worst part about marketing, especially as an entrepreneur or a small business owner, is feeling like you're doing everything yourself. (The AWeber survey found that 91% of small business owners and CEOs act as the primary marketer for their companies.)

Guess what? You don't need to be an army of one. Plenty of tools exist to help you out. Blogs with helpful tips and advice, online forums, local chambers of commerce, and myriad services can help boost your marketing. Think of those resources as having a team of consultants to assist you.

This year, commit to keeping up with at least three new and relevant marketing blogs weekly. And become an active member in at least one local or online marketing group.

3. Automate

If you're sending email campaigns on an ad hoc basis or manually tweeting every 15 minutes, you're just making life harder for yourself. Instead of taking an "as-it-happens" approach to marketing, plan ahead.

For instance, create an email autoresponder series and plan your social media posts a few days ahead of time. That is easier if you set aside one day per month for content creation. Lock yourself in a room, tune out distractions, and create as many posts, tweets, and other pieces of content as you can (or focus on content curation if you absolutely dread writing).

If you're struggling, save everything in one spot and go back to it later. You'll be surprised how much pressure doing so will relieve.

* * *

We often try to tackle a new year with lofty resolutions and goals. Nothing wrong with that. But as small business leaders, we can be just as effective, if not more so, by starting small and working smart(er) to achieve big results.

For more results from the survey on what your small business peers are forecasting for 2014, see the following infographic:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Hunter Boyle

Hunter Boyle leads business development for email powerhouse AWeber. A veteran content marketer and conversion optimization strategist, he's helped organizations improve their digital ROI since the dot-com days.

Twitter: @hunterboyle

LinkedIn: Hunter Boyle