Posts in "Internet Marketing"

Internet Marketing Forecast for 2016

Although the fundamentals of an optimized website with quality content will always be important, internet marketing methods change frequently. That’s why if you’re a small or medium business owner it is important to turn to the experts who are on top of the latest trends. Using outdated techniques will not only bring poor results and waste your time, but in some cases may even harm you online presence.

There are a number of changes and trends to take note of for 2016. Here’s some of what we forecast:

Targeting Mobile Traffic

Internet Marketing Forecast 2016

The last few years have been huge for apps and the mobile web. People just aren’t sitting at their desktops anymore, in fact Google received more mobile traffic last year than any other source. And this trend is only going to increase in 2016.

What this means for your website is that it absolutely must be mobile friendly, or as Google likes to call it “responsive.” Failure to do this is not only going to turn users away (because the site doesn’t look good on their device), but Google will also drop you down the rankings in favour of sites that are mobile-friendly.

In terms of marketing it is therefore also wise to ensure any paid ads are targeting mobile users. The larger platforms like Facebook ads or Google AdWords do this as standard.

Mobile Commerce

If you sell products directly from your website then you may already be aware of the increasing number of people who buy products using their mobile devices. A mobile friendly store is one thing, but in 2016 more business owners are going to make the jump to a full blown app solution. With all of the leading online retailers offering user-friendly apps, it’s an experience consumers are beginning to expect.

Targeting Wearable Traffic

While mobile traffic will dominate this year, traffic from people using wearable devices like smart watches will begin to emerge more strongly as well. Some of the same standards of mobile-friendliness apply to wearables (responsive web designs cater to all screen sizes), but we predict wearables will start to demand some of their own unique optimization requirements.

We also expect that similar to mobile ads, there will be wearable specific advertising options to market your business in the near future.

Video as a Marketing Method

Last year YouTube continued its place as one of the most visited sites on the web and the premiere destination for video content, and there’s no sign of that changing. Using video as medium for marketing will continue to grow in 2016, as both direct marketing (commercials or ads on existing videos) but also as a content platform for brands and businesses. If you site doesn’t feature video content then now’s the time to start.

Data suggests that users are often more engaged by video than text, and visitors will stay longer on pages that have video content. From product information, to FAQs, reviews and more – video should be a part of your overall web presence.

Social Searching

We all know how important social media is for marketing your business and brand, but it’s rare that we consider a Tweet or Facebook post to be a long term traffic generator. Even if it goes viral the buzz tends to die down in a few days. It’s more of any ongoing process. This may all be poised to change in 2016 with the refining of “social searching.”

This term can mean different things, but in general it’s referring to the ability to search social media effectively. Facebook for example is currently working on a revamp of its own search engine that will allow users to find historic posts more easily.

The major search engines are also constantly revising how they should show social media posts in the search results. Could 2016 be the year we begin optimizing social media posts to appear prominently in social searches?

Social Media Diversification

As with everything else on the web social media is always evolving. While a Twitter and Facebook account might have been suffice in previous years, 2016 is the year where marketing on social media really diversifies. This means considering looking further afield to the likes of Snapchat which is now ranked the third biggest social network.

There is also a trend towards live streaming apps like Periscope and Blab, which offer a brand new avenue for marketing in real time.

Content is still King

No matter what happens in 2016, quality content is still going to be the primary factor in attracting customers to your website. This is still what search engines will pick up, it’s still what you will be linking to, and it’s still what people want to read. Providing users with the information or products they desire (preferably both) is what will still set you apart from the competition.

Email is still Queen

While everyone seems to be outwardly focussed on social media email marketing is as strong as ever, and it remains one of the best returns on investment if done right. Like web pages your email campaigns must be optimized to appear correctly on all devices, as around half of all emails are opened on mobiles.

Interactive Content

While content is still king, some of the ways that content is being delivered are changing. There is a sure move towards interactivity and visuals to compliment the SEO optimized written content. Slideshows, Informative infographics, videos that prompt users to click and make decisions, webinars where you address your audience, Twitter Q&As, and other delivery methods are giving internet marketing a new lease of life and engaging users like never before.

How Competition Can Help You to Predict the Future

When you launch a business or even when you’ve been running one for a while, it is important to recognize that it does not exist in a vacuum. Unless you have come up with a truly unique concept, it will be part of a much larger market. The other businesses in the market are your competition. Analyzing the competition is an important part of formulating your own marketing and growth strategies. You need to be able to see what they did right and what they did wrong, how you can avoid their mistakes and go above and beyond their successes, and what you can do differently to stand out. In fact you shouldn’t even start a business unless you have the data to prove it can be a success, and that comes from looking at who’s already in the market.

Predict Future

This not only applies to offline businesses or your core business strategy, but also your online endeavours. One of the first steps of Search Engine Optimization is analyzing similar websites and looking at who is ranking in the search results. This involves direct competitors (for example if you sell sports shoes, then other sports shoe sellers) but also websites that rank for terms like “sports shoes” even if they aren’t selling them.

Expert SEO companies can help you gather and make sense of this data, but in general it involves looking at the competition’s content, which keywords they are targeting and how, and where they’re getting their backlinks from. A reasonable prediction can then be made about how successful you can be by targeting the same or similar keywords. There are many tools that can help with this process.

You can also get valuable information about the latest trends in your niche by monitoring how customers interact with your competition’s social media profiles. Is a particular product hot right now, with a lot of discussion and hashtags on Twitter? Is everyone tagging their friends in a certain post on Facebook? How can you replicate this or tap in to the existing buzz?

More broadly you can learn about trends by using tools like Google Trends. While this is not strictly a business tool it lets you know the most popular topics in specific countries around the world based on how many people are searching about them. If you see anything related to your products or niche you should be able to tap in to this with social media or blog postings.

You can also enter a specific keyword to learn about its historic popularity, as well as related search terms and demographics. This can be very useful when compiling a list of keywords to target with your site.

Google Alerts can also be used to monitor the competition as well as keywords or topics. All you have to do is enter a phrase and you will be sent an alert whenever that phrase is used online. If using to keep tabs on competitors it is a great way to get insight in to what customers and others are saying about them. You may even want to use this for your own name or business/website name.

Why Business Owners Should be Open-minded about Internet Marketing

When business owners enter the realm of the internet they often bring a lot of preconceived notions from the offline business world with them. Just because you’ve had success marketing a business the old fashioned way does not mean you will have success doing it online. It’s like learning a whole new language.

There’s also a tendency to underestimate the knowledge, skill and time it takes to run a successful internet marketing campaign, because there is so much information freely available. Unfortunately reading a few blog posts about internet marketing and SEO, does not make you expert, just like reading a college book on business doesn’t make you a businessman.

Open Minded Business Owner

All business owners recognize that delegating and outsourcing is important for success, and that includes internet marketing. It is therefore important to keep an open mind when using the services of an internet marketing company and to respect their expertise.

Here are some other reasons why.

Do You Have an Alternative?

It’s one thing to reject the proposals of an internet marketing firm, but do you have a better alternative? Do you have a detailed plan and strategy to grow your online presence, and the expertise to accomplish it? If not perhaps you should listen to them more closely?

Internet Marketing is Always Evolving

Even if you understand the basics of internet marketing, unless you are living it 24/7 you are not going to be on top of the latest trends, techniques and search engine algorithm changes. It was once popular to stuff pages with keywords and buy irrelevant backlinks. Today the likes of Google consider this spam.

A professional internet marketing company is able to evolve with the times, while business owners who only know a bit about the process may have outdated ideas. These ideas could cause more harm than good.

Remember, you go to an optician to fix your eyesight not a dentist, so go to an internet marketing company to handle your internet marketing.

The Data Speaks for Itself

If you are concerned or skeptical about a proposed internet marketing strategy, let the numbers do the talking. All reputable companies closely monitor their online ads, social media accounts and web traffic, and can track exactly what is working and not working. Of course part of this process is trial and error, it will take a little while to perfect the strategy. However if the results are not there over time, then you have reason to confront them.

Saves Time

Allowing the internet marketing company to get on and do its job without interference will save you time in the long run. While they focus on promoting your business effectively online, you can focus on providing the best products and/or service as possible.

You Can’t Afford not to

If you are spending your time second guessing the experts and failing to take their advice, you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage against the competition who have fully embraced internet marketing. Simply put, you cannot afford to be close minded about the online side of your business, because falling behind the competition is going to cost you market share and money.

Why You Shouldn’t Schedule Social Media Posts

When you first begin using social media to promote your business, one of your first thoughts may be to use the schedule function on platforms like Facebook and Twitter so you can free up time and/or plan in advance. While the ability to set your post to go live at a later date is definitely useful if you’re out of town or taking the day off, using it regularly could be detrimental to your success. Here’s why…

Content is Likely Outdated

One of the first concerns if you’re scheduling all of your posts days in advance, is that things you reference might be outdated. This is especially true if you’re commenting on current events. Furthermore if you’re in a newsworthy niche or one with a lot of online social chatter, you may miss out on a topic with a lot of buzz.

Schedule Social Media Posts

For example perhaps you sell sportswear and want to engage with the sporting community, but because you’ve scheduled posts you might miss the chance to comment on a big news story involving a sports star that day.

Can’t Predict the Future

Likewise you can’t predict the future. Something you’ve scheduled to post in a week might not be as viable then as it is now. In some high profile instances brands have even made themselves look insensitive or stupid because they weren’t aware of certain events.

For example the day after a deadly tsunami you probably don’t want to be tweeting: “You never know when bad weather might strike, save yourself today and buy our waterproof coat.”

Can’t Take Advantage of Viral Success

There’s no better feeling that seeing one of your posts go viral, but in order to capitalize you need to be online. You could have added a link or special offer to the post, or made several new posts branching off from the original idea. By time you’re back to schedule your next round of posts the buzz may have completely died down.

Won’t be able to Respond to Data

Similarly if you only schedule your posts in advance you won’t be paying close attention to the statistics and data they produce. If you’re there in the moment you might learn something valuable about how your audience responds to certain posts and then tweak them accordingly. You might even notice a mistake such as bad image sizing. But if you’re away you will miss this opportunity, or repeat the same mistake again and again if you schedule many posts at once.

Aren’t Interacting with Users

Perhaps one of the biggest downsides of scheduling posts days in advance and then not coming back until the next scheduling session is that you aren’t going to be there to interact with your audience. Half of social media is about engaging with your followers and fans, responding to questions, conversing, and building trust.

The worst thing you can do is ignore them and make them feel like there’s no way to contact you.

Why Internet Marketing is about Quality over Quantity

There are many traps that business owners fall in to when they first decide to spend money on internet marketing. In the grand scheme of things it’s still a relatively new industry and most people launching websites for their businesses, or indeed starting an online business, will not have the same kind of foundational knowledge that comes with traditional offline marketing. This can leave them vulnerable to internet scammers or at least poor quality services.

One of the main pitfalls is paying for quantity instead of quality. Some random “marketer” on a forum may be able to send your site 5,000 hits for $2, but that doesn’t mean those hits will covert in to sales. Traffic is only worthwhile when the users are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

Here are some other things to look out for:

Internet Marketing

Bulk Email Lists

Email marketing is one of the oldest methods of internet marketing, and it’s also one of the most abused. The issue of spam emails has gotten so severe that most email providers now have stringent spam detection systems that weed out 90% of unsolicited marketing. In short anyone claiming to be able to send your press release to 50,000 addresses is mostly likely misleading you, as the majority of those emails will go straight to spam folders, and a lot of the addresses will be inactive or irrelevant to your target demographic. 10 personally written emails sent to potential clients who have shown an interest in your business will be much more effective than 50,000 cookie cutter spam emails.

Backlinks

When researching Search Engine Optimization one of the first techniques you will come across is building backlinks – the process of getting links from other websites to your site. This gives the nod to Google that your content is valuable and others are giving it a proverbial thumbs up, which in turn boosts your search rankings.

While back in the day you could spam blog comments, forums and other public systems with your link and have success, today search engine algorithms are advanced enough to realize that these kinds of links are poor quality. Their effect on SEO is therefore negligible and if you go overboard they could actually get you penalized.

So if somebody is offering a service to get you thousands of backlinks, be warned that they’re most likely poor quality and unrelated to your site’s niche.

The best method of building links is to provide high quality content that people actually want to share.

Black Hat SEO

Just because there are thousands of different SEO techniques out there doesn’t mean you should use them. Black Hat SEO for example are SEO techniques that Google doesn’t allow, and will cause you to be penalized if caught using them. Anyone using the “latest” Black Hat method is essentially in a race against time and will ultimately be found out and dropped from the search engines. Black Hat techniques are simply not worth the risk of losing your entire business just to get a temporary advantage.

Stick with white hat techniques, good clean mobile friendly pages, with well organized and high quality content, and genuine backlinks from relevant sites.

Social Media Followers

While there’s some truth to the idea that the more followers or likes you have the more successful you will appear to potential customers, buying social media followers could prevent you from actually reaching them. Facebook for example uses an algorithm to determine what posts users see in their feed, and this is partly determined by the popularity of each post. If your page is liked by mostly fake users, they will not be interacting with the post and therefore it may not be shown to real users because it won’t be deemed popular.

There is no shortcut to online success and any reputable internet marketing company will focus on quality over quantity; formulating a long term strategy for organic success, rather than spam, non-converting traffic and black hat techniques.

Why Your Web Designer Shouldn’t be Your Web Marketer

So you’re looking to launch a website for your business? One of the first steps most people take is to hire a web designer to create a unique and professional looking site. While this is certainly a smart move if you want to be taken seriously by your customers, many business owners fall in to the trap of thinking the designer will also be able to market the website. Some companies may even actively promote this as a service, but if you take them up on the offer you could be making a big mistake. Here’s why:

Designers are not Marketers

Web design and internet marketing are completely different jobs and skills. In fact sometimes they are at odds. What might look good visually on a website may not translate well for search engine optimization and other marketing methods. Web designers often ignore a lot of backend SEO principals such as meta tags, duplicate content, and may choose visuals over written content that can be crawled and ranked.

A web designer’s main concern is to create a user friendly and visually appealing website. An internet marketer’s main concern is tweaking that website to be Google-friendly so it appears in the search results, while promoting it through social media and advertising campaigns.

They Don’t Do Content

Most web designers build you a website as a template that you must then fill with your own content. If you yourself are not experienced in internet marketing, this could be disastrous. Do you or the web designer know how to formulate an effective landing page? Do you know what keywords you should be targeting and how to include them on the page so it doesn’t look spammy? If not then an internet marketing company what you really need.

Internet Marketers are Full Time Marketers

Internet Marketer

An internet marketing company by its very nature is immersed in internet marketing every day. So while some web designers and design companies may offer some basic marketing services, chances are they do not have the experience or dedication of the professionals. Do they really have time to monitor your traffic and ad campaigns, refining them daily and working towards a long term goal?

Why pay for half a job, when you can hire somebody who will go above and beyond to make your site a success?

Web Designers Have Outdated Knowledge

An internet marketing company will be at the forefront of the marketing industry with all the latest tools and techniques. They’ll know when Google’s algorithm has changed, the latest trends in social media, and how to use the latest analysis software.

A web designer however may only know the basics and might even have outdated information that could ruin your marketing effort and get you penalized by the search engines.

Web Designers Don’t Stick Around

Unless you hire them as a webmaster to manage the day to day running of your website, a web designer is not usually going to stick around. Their job is to make the site, and when that job is done they’ll be on to the next client. This is terrible for internet marketing as promoting a site is an ongoing project that never ends. You can’t market the site for a month and then forget about it. Especially when SEO, social media and other marketing channels are constantly changing.

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.

Why Every Business Should Follow a Marketing Strategy

Most businesses will not get off the ground without a marketing strategy. This involves analyzing the market and finding your target audience, deciding on the best methods of reaching these potential customers, all while keeping your current customers satisfied. Throughout the process you also need to be recording data, monitoring what does and doesn’t work, and refining the strategy accordingly.

Having this all down on paper (including the steps you need to take to reach your goals) is a smart way to ensure you stay focussed on growing your business. While there is no set format for a marketing strategy, it should at the very least involve a bullet point list of the marketing methods you plan to use and things you hope to achieve.

It is also important to remember that marketing is only half the battle. You need a well thought out strategy, backed up with solid research, in order for that marketing to be effective. There’s nothing worse than burning through an advertising and marketing budget, only to find that sales have not increased.

Here are some key reasons to follow a marketing strategy:

Marketing Strategy

Maintains Focus

Without at least a basic list of things to focus on, your time is going to be scattered and unproductive. You will already need to spend time on your basic day to day business responsibilities, but couple that with the wide variety of marketing methods and tools out there, you’re quickly going to become overwhelmed without a strategy to keep you focussed. Hiring a professional internet marketing company to manage your online marketing is the perfect way to save time so you can focus on other areas of your business.

Helps You to Achieve Goals

If you haven’t formalized your goals you’re not going to feel rewarded when you achieve them. And without a strategy you’re not going to achieve them at all. The goals outlined in your marketing strategy will set you down the path to success and allow you to monitor progress as you go.

Invaluable Insights

Marketing is not just what you put out, it’s what you get back from the customer. Collecting this data helps you learn what they like and dislike, which types of marketing are effective, and in turn allows you to create an even more efficient strategy that pinpoints only the methods that work and the customers willing to spend.

Internet marketing in particular allows you to track users across your advertising campaigns, social media accounts, and website, in order to closely analyze their responses and behaviour.

Saves Money

Whether you’re hiring an internet marketing company or paying for advertising in a local newspaper, unless you do proper research that money might be wasted. A proper strategy will help you target the right audience, which in turn will bring you more conversions, and make your marketing budget go further.

Convey Your Brand

Developing a detailed marketing strategy will also put you in a better position to convey your brand in the way that you want. Or in other words the way you want your customers to see you. Is this professional or laid back? Family friendly or appealing to single males? Without thinking things through you may end up sending mixed signals to your customers, which is not good for your brand image.

So What Are You Waiting for?

You wouldn’t go on a long journey without taking a map or using a sat-nav. Your marketing strategy is that sat-nav for your business. It’s the guide that will help you measure your success and stay on track for meeting your objectives. And if you haven’t developed one already, now’s the time to start!