Posts from "July, 2015"

Internet Marketing 101 for Business Owners

With the rise of internet connectivity, social media and smart devices, internet marketing is now one of the primary elements of a successful business marketing strategy. Whether you’re targeting a global audience or simply people within your local community, using the web is an efficient and cost effective platform to do so.

Of course in 2016 most business owners will be aware of this, but applying it to your day to day operation is not as straight forward as it might seem.

So you have a website, but how do you get people to visit it? You’ve been posting away on Twitter, but how do you keep your followers engaged? You have a budget to pay for online advertising, but how do you get the ads up and running?

If you’ve asked some of these questions and others, then you may want to keep reading. Internet marketing can be broken up in to 5 key elements, which combined with the help of a professional internet marketing company, will ensure you’ll reach the audience you desire.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If you want your website to show up in search engines like Google when people search for terms related to your business, then you’re going to have to speak its language. SEO is a combination of different webpage tweaks and principals that help Google interpret the content and rank it against all of the other websites with similar content. Traffic sent by search engines is known as “organic” and is one of the most valuable sources of traffic you can get. Why? Because if done correctly it means the user is actively seeking the information or product that you provide. This means an increase in sales!

To be ranked well in search engines you need high quality and informative content, coded with all of the appropriate tags, as well as backlinks from other sites so Google knows that others also value the content.

This is very much the lifeblood of most websites. If you aren’t getting hits from Google, the website is essentially useless at generating customers.

A professional internet marketing company can help you apply the basic principals and formulate a long term strategy for bringing in consistent organic search traffic.

Search Engine Marketing (PPC)

PPC is short for Pay Per Click, which is a commercial form of advertising that runs alongside the organic search results. While SEO can take time to bring success (though when it does it is usually recurring), PPC can bring instant success because there is no crawling and ranking of your pages. Your ad is live almost right away, regardless of whether Google’s algorithm thinks it is a great page or not at the time.

Shopping Online

You are charged for every click that the ad generates, and ads are based on the search terms you bid on. So if you’re selling phone cases you may choose the search term “buy smart phone case” and whenever somebody searches this term and they click your ad beside the regular results you will pay a fee. This is determined by your own budget, though if many other marketers are paying for the same term, the cost will be higher. You’ll need to ensure that your ad is genuine and engaging, so that you can make a profit.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion Rate Optimization can relate to PPC or any form of internet marketing in general. The conversion rate is the percentage of people that click on your link or ad that actually buy a product or complete the desired action you want them to (sign up to your site, use your service, redeem a coupon etc).

Optimization is the process of getting this rate as close to 100% as possible. With ads you pay directly for like PPC it is clear why you would want high conversion rate. What’s great about platforms like Google AdWords is that you can easily track ads that are the most successful so you can refine the process. For example you may notice a high conversion rate for “buy smart phone cases” but not “buy cell phone covers” so you may choose to drop it altogether or change the wording of the ad.

This can be a very experimental process, however monitoring the data will allow you to learn what’s working over time. Internet marketers from an expert team will have the experience to keep things running smoothly.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing was one of the first forms of internet marketing and is still one that brings results today. However because it has been heavily abused over the years by spammers and scammers, you should never just buy a list of email addresses or find them yourself by Googling. In most cases paid for lists are out of date or even fake, and most email clients will now recognize unsolicited spam and send it directly to the spam folder.

Email marketing should be a secondary process where you can follow up with an existing customer. If they sign up to buy something encourage them “opt in” with their email address. Or you can promote a “newsletter” through your site as well.

Following this route allows you to build a list of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, which in turn makes email blasts with offers and other information that much more worthwhile and successful.

There are many professional tools available to manage email lists and newsletter/marketing content.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

When internet users are not actively searching for information on search engines or checking emails, they’re probably on social media chatting with friends or following pages and people related to their interests. While they might not be in “buy mode”, this is still a prime place to remind them of your existence and build brand awareness. Think of it as a more efficient form of the roadside billboard or shop window notice, with the ability for the information to be shared to thousands of people in minutes.

From a straight shooting product launch announcement, to a quirky take on something in the news, to handling customer feedback – social media allows you to stay connected with your audience, building trust over time.

There’s no one single method for approaching social media and each platform is different, so it’s important to learn the ins and outs of each one.

Social Media Marketing Myths still Believed Today

When you first dip your toes in to social media you may think you have it all figured out, but there are several long running myths that confuse new businesses or those looking to employ a social media marketing strategy for the first time. Let’s take a look at just some of those that are commonly believed today.

My Customers Don’t Use Social Media

One of the gravest mistakes some business owners make is assuming their customers are not active on social media. No matter how obscure your business, and no matter the age of your target demographic, in 2015 a large percentage of them will be accessing social media on a daily basis. Failure to fill this online space to remind them you exist, will simply allow the competition to get there first.

I Can Do it Myself

While anyone with some basic internet knowledge can sign up to the leading social media platforms and begin posting content, that certainly doesn’t mean they will be successful in driving traffic to their website and generating sales. Many people confuse the accessibility of Facebook, Twitter etc, with the presumption that they’re easy to use.

Targeted Marketing

Ask yourself this, if you were given cameras and the ability to shoot a TV commercial, would you know what to do?

That’s not to say you can’t learn along the way, but hiring a professional internet marketing company that knows various techniques for engagement and traffic generation, not only ensures success from the beginning but gives you the spare time to continue focussing on the core aspects of your business.

It’s Just about Posting Content

When starting out on social media many people fall in to the trap of posting anything, with no real direction or plan, or posting the same kind of content over and over again. To be truly successful you need to post a wide variety of content, from direct links to your site, to personal opinions, to images and video. What you do post however always needs to be considered for relevance and purpose, and should be part of an overarching plan or strategy. Will the customer find the information useful and engaging? Will it show your business in a positive light? Is the brand clearly being represented in the display image and bio?

It will Expose My Clientele to Competitors

One fear that business owners have on social media is that they might overexpose themselves and their customers to competitors who may be snooping on them. What if they mine the data and steal my ideas and customers away from me?

Fortunately this fear is not just an internet based fear, it has been around since the dawn of trade and service.

Ultimately if you’re providing the best possible service or product you can, at the best prices, with the best customer engagement, your customers won’t want to go to the competition. If you recognize that they are leaving you, then it’s time to up your game and win them back.

It’s All about the Numbers

A common trap that is easy to fall in to when using social media is believing that success is defined by your number of fans, followers etc. In fact some people take this idea so far they actually pay people to follow them, which often turn out to be fake or inactive accounts. This is a terrible mindset to fall in to, because you could have 10 million people connected to your social media profile, and only 10 people that actually actively engage with it.

The whole point of social media marketing is to find real potential customers and engage with them, so they trust your brand and spend money. It’s not about the overall numbers, it’s about how many people legitimately care.

Unique Advantages of Most Popular Social Media Platforms

By now we all know that social media is an important element of marketing your business. It helps you reach a wider audience, engage with new and existing customers, and build you brand image. However not all social media platforms are the same, so it’s important to understand how each one functions in order to get the most out of them.

Twitter for example is limited to only 140 characters, while Facebook allows you to make posts as long as you want. If you want to convey a similar message on both networks you’ll have to think of different ways to do it, or even change your strategy completely.

Many of these “limitations” are actually advantages that allow you to diversify your marketing approach and target different users in different ways. Here are some of the unique advantages that each major social media site offers your business.

Facebook

Facebook is still the king of social media and the sheer size of its user-base puts it ahead of most of the others. In the first quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.44 billion monthly active users. That’s huge!

As well as its built in user base Facebook is also extremely versatile, allowing you to share videos, images, direct links to your website, and text posts of any length. You can even schedule these to post at future time, so you can plan your marketing efforts well in advance. What makes it particularly useful for marketing is the wide range of statistics Facebook page owners have access to.

Social Media Platforms

You can see how many people are liking and leaving your page, how engaged they are with posts and videos, and their demographic (i.e. age, geographic location etc). Monitoring this data can help you better target your audience, generate more traffic, and ultimately earn more sales.

Google Plus

Google Plus is not as widely used as Facebook and Twitter but because it is the search giant’s own social media platform, it offers benefits that none of the others can. Setting up your business page can lead to more visibility in local and global Google searches. You may also find that some of the content you post ranks easier than content on your website, making it an invaluable avenue for targeted organic traffic.

One interesting feature is “Circles” which allows you to organize followers in to specific groups. This allows you to share posts with certain circles and not others, something most social networks cannot do.

Google Plus also integrates well across other Google services you might be using, such as Gmail and YouTube.

Twitter

Because of its 140 character limit Twitter is ideal for sharing links to your website, blog, or niche related news articles. It is also often used as a way for business owners to be more informal and down to earth with their customers. Trust can be built when you present yourself as a real human, so if you have any funny things to say or nuggets of wisdom to share, Twitter is the place to post them. The hashtag feature also allows you to piggyback off current trending events. For example if it was the Cricket World Cup season you could chime in with the #WorldCup hashtag included in your Tweet and anyone following the hashtag will be able to see it.

Creating your own hashtag is also a good way to engage users and track customers during a promotional campaign. For example “Tweet us with the hashtag #summerdeal to get 20% off orders.”

LinkedIn

As a business owner customers are obviously who you want to attract, but businesses don’t thrive without employees, suppliers, partners, and other associates. LinkedIn is a business and professional orientated social network that allows you to connect with those who already help make your business tick, or those you think may have something to offer in the future. In short LinkedIn is the virtual version of attending a business function and slipping people your business card.

Pinterest

Pinterest is an image-centric social network which is tailored especially for businesses that sell products. It allows you to share pictures of your products, with links to your sales page, and even pricing and product information. What makes Pinterest so important is that unlike other social platforms users go there specifically with the intention to buy something, which means your ability to close a sale should be easier.

Monitoring Pins to your site and Repins of your content will allow you to refine your Pinterest marketing strategy.

YouTube

While YouTube marketing takes some extra effort (after all you have to make videos not just simple text posts), the results can pay off in a big way if your video goes viral. This is especially true for funny commercials and other entertaining content. The possibilities are endless, you could provide hands on reviews of your products, video blogs about your niche to build authority, or create customer guides and FAQs in video format.

YouTube has the benefit of ranking well in Google, so if you apply some SEO logic you can get videos ranked for keywords that you might struggle with on your own website.

You can also add an associated site to your YouTube account allowing you to add a clickable link to any portion of your video, that will take users directly to the page.

Instagram

Similar to Pinterest Instagram is all about imagery and you can also post lengthy captions along with the pics as well. This makes it ideal for product promotion, but you might also use it informally to give users a behind the scenes look at your business. Busy in the office? Snap a pic. Just got some new stock in? Show everybody the unboxing. With over 3 million users Instagram has now surpassed Twitter, making it an important platform for generating traffic. Like Twitter it also uses hashtags that you can latch on to or create yourself.

What’s good is you don’t have to be a professional photographer because Instagram has a useful selection of filters and effects that can be applied to any image to make it look better.