According to Constant Contact, LinkedIn is getting more graphic. This is a good deal for LinkedIn users, and if you’ve stayed away from LinkedIn because it was boring and didn’t seem to offer the same bells and whistles that other social media sites were offering, now you can jump on the LinkedIn bandwagon.
What makes this exciting is you’ll be able to upload videos, images, photos, and other graphics to each section of your LinkedIn profile. That will make your profile a graphic depiction of your resume and life right off the bat.
Savvy Internet marketing experts know that visuals keep people returning to your website and are more likely to convert once they are there. It’s been that way for years. So this new development at LinkedIn plays right into the knowledge and information that professional online marketers have been operating on for a decade, at least.
LinkedIn has been used primarily as an online resume service. Now, your resume just got a lot more graphic. But I also think the added visuals will turn LinkedIn into more than just a place to post your resume.
What do you think? Is this good for LinkedIn? Is it good for LinkedIn users?
One of the most successful – if not the most successful – online business models is called a hub-and-spoke model. Think of it as like a bicycle wheel. There’s a hub and there are spokes that connect the hub to the actual wheel. Without both of these two components, the wheel will not do its job – even though neither component is the actual wheel.
So now that you have the visual, what is the hub and what is the spoke?
Your hub is the center of all of your marketing efforts online. It’s the place where you plan, strategize and implement your online marketing plan.
In essence, it’s your website. Your website should include your blog.
The reason you don’t want just a website without a blog is because your website is static. You want to update it on a regular basis to keep the search engine spiders coming back and crawling it on a regular basis. Fresh regular content is one of the most important things you need on your website.
So now, onto the spokes. Your spokes are the outlying bases that you use to drive traffic back to the hub. These could be popular forums in your niche, directories, or social media websites. It could also include other blogs. The key is to find locations around the Web where your target audience is hanging out. Then you go there and hang out too. Create content they will like, engage their imaginations, and then slowly siphon the traffic and direct it to your hub.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s much harder than it sounds, but it’s necessary. This is one of the most successful content marketing plans on the Net. Try it.
The key to marketing, online or off line, is to pick a target market and go after it. Don’t try to be all things to all people. That’s the surest way to fail in any endeavor, but especially in marketing.
Online marketing isn’t so much a push transaction as it is a pull transaction. Now, what do I mean by that?
Instead of aiming your crossbow at a target and pulling the string, what you do online is draw your target to you by putting carrots out and watching the prospects follow the trail back to you. So, if you think about your social media profiles as outposts for your content messaging and your blog the sidewalk in front of your store, then you can imagine your website as the inner sanctum of your online presence. That’s where you build the deep relationships.
But you still have to get the prospect there. But how?
You have to push your content out to draw your prospect in. Put some nuggets out there in social media land. Watch and see who bites, and how they bite. What are they biting on? It’s kind of like fishing. You have to use the right bait and fish in the right spot to catch the type of fish you want to catch.
After you see what people are biting on, you can then put more of that out there. Draw people in. Pull them to your blog with a little more in-depth content, then pull them deeper into your web from there.
If you make your content enticing, you can get the business. It’s a pull endeavor, not a push.
The one pet peeve every client and potential client have is not being able to find contact information when they need it. Whether you are sending out e-mail announcements, newsletters, or building a website, you should place your contact information in an easy-to-find location so that your clients and potential clients can see it.
Here are a few good places to put your contact information in each medium:
- About Page – If you have an About Us page, you can put your phone number, address, and e-mail address on your About page.
- Contact Us Page – Even if you have a contact form, you should include your contact information on the Contact page.
- Sidebar – Put your preferred contact media in the sidebar, either at the very top or the very bottom.
- Header – Headers are great places to put phone numbers, particularly for a service business.
- Footer - Put your address, phone number, e-mail address, and social media information in your footer.
In an electronic newsletter, you typically have a header, footer, and sometimes a sidebar. These are all great places for your contact information. Put your phone number and e-mail in the header. All information can go in the footer or the sidebar. You might even have a special section in the content part of your newsletter for your contact information.
Social Media Pages
Most of the social media sites have an About page or special place for your contact information. If anything, there is a description or Bio spot in your profile. Add your contact information.
Even videos can include contact information. If you have a call to action in your video, then you need to make sure your contact information is available. The best place is at the end of the video. You may include any contact information to help your prospects reach you, including your web address.
In videos today, you can include clickable links. That’s a great way to include your e-mail address.
Dave Pasternak wrote a post on WebProNews proclaiming SEO to be rocket science. Accusations of flip-flopping behind, this got me to thinking about where he might be coming from.
For many larger companies who have a lot of data to sift through, SEO may very well be likened to rocket science. Online marketers will have a lot of analytics data to sort through, links, keywords to manage, etc. But for small businesses, it’s still largely about long tail keywords and quality content.
In fact, you could argue that it’s all about quality content even for the big players in (choose your) industry. But, the fact is, those large companies still have to sort through the data. Mom & Pop don’t.
SEOs and online marketers have to decide if they want to build a huge ship to sail the oceans or steer a tugboat through the harbor. If you are a small business owner, then your job is achieve respectable results through SEO and social media that keep your company profitable and your customers happy. A larger business has to measure every element of its marketing campaigns to determine ROI, and that can get tedious.
Panda and Penguin changed a lot, but they didn’t kill SEO. They just made it a bit more complex. Even for the small business owner.
Still, it’s not rocket science. The basics are still the basics.
Rebranding is often more work than most people realize going in. Depending on how many assets your business owns, it can be a terrible headache. The more you own, the more difficult the process will be.
Let’s start with your website.
If your rebranding means a change of name for your business, then you’ll likely have to procure a new web domain and redirect your website to your new domain. You can expect a search engine fallout for your old website as you lose rankings, but if you do it right you can turn your new site into a quick-ranking powerhouse that makes up for it. Talk to your SEO before making the move.
Other things you should consider before you start your rebranding efforts online are:
- Twitter account migration. Will you need a new branded Twitter account?
- Facebook business page branding. In most cases, you can simply change the name of your Facebook business page, but it does require approval from Facebook.
- If you have a Google+ page, you’ll have to change the name of that as well. That’s a bit easier than on Facebook. You just go to your page and edit the page.
- LinkedIn changes might also be necessary.
- If you have YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, and other social media accounts, you’ll have to rebrand those as well. In some cases, it will mean starting over.
- Your newsletter will need to be rebranded. That will mean a redesign of the newsletter to match your new website design. Depending on which newsletter service you use, you might have to rebrand your account or start over. This will be painful if you have to start over because it will mean exporting your list and most newsletter services require that you send out a mass e-mail asking for opt-in permission. You’ll need to communicate with your list prior to the move.
- Blog rebranding.
There may be other things you’ll have to consider as well. In some cases, rebranding your online business might be unavoidable. For instance, if you are in a legal dispute and the court forces you to, then you have to comply with the law. At any rate, don’t make the decision hastily. Consider all your options first.
One of the most important parts of marketing online is getting a handle on what your competition is up to. One of the most important growing trends in that space is social media. It’s what I call social intelligence.
Social intelligence is learning what your competitors are doing with social media. To do that effectively, you have to follow them.
There are different ways of approaching social intelligence. You can simply follow your competition in your own name, but what if they decide they don’t want to include you in their posts? What if they exclude you because you’re the competition? There’s a simple fix. Create an online persona not associated with your brand and then follow your competition.
It’s clandestine, yes. But it also works.
Your social intelligence persona should be very controlled. You are only interested in following your competitors. But to make sure that you arouse no one’s suspicion, follow your own brand as well. You can use this strategy on any of the social networks:
- and more
What should you be looking for with your social intelligence profile?
For starters, you should be looking for new important announcements about products and services, new marketing initiatives, contests and specials, etc. If your competition makes a move, you want to know about it. That’s what social intelligence is all about. It’s competitive intelligence using social media as the information gathering tool, and it’s an essential element of your marketing plan.
Back to metrics again, it’s vitally important that you measure what you want to control. To that end, perhaps the most important business metric you should be concerned with, and one which you have a fair amount of control over, is the cost of acquisition for each customer.
Whether you market your products and service through PPC, social media, search marketing, other, or a combination of above, you should keep tabs on what it costs to get a new customer. If you don’t know that, you don’t know whether you are earning a profit or not.
By running a few tests you can determine the base cost of a new customer. This is easy to do with pay per click advertising.
After you have determined the base cost of a new customer, you can then adjust that as needed by tweaking your online marketing initiatives. You can downgrade your PPC campaigns to control costs, increase the amount of time you spend on social media, or increase your SEO efforts.
Keep in mind that customer acquisition cost is a one-time event. After you have gained a new customer you then have to expend your resources to keep him. That’s a different cost altogether, and it’s cheaper and easier to keep a customer than acquire a new one.
So keep an eye on the cost of obtaining a new customer. It’s your most important business metric.
This is the time when most people reflect on the old year and begin to look to the new year and set themselves some goals for the coming year. New Year’s resolutions can often be a way to do a personal inventory (what did you do well last year, where did you fall short, and how can you pick up the slack in the year to come?).
While just about everyone establishes one or more New Year’s resolutions, hardly no one makes marketing resolutions.
I encourage marketing resolutions because you can meet all your personal goals, but unless you get out there and start letting people know who you are, where you are, and what you do, then you’ll still fall short. Marketing is the key to success in almost every human endeavor.
Online marketing is its own animal. Much of what companies do online to market their businesses can be traced back to a principle that was established by off line or traditional marketers years ago. But you should think about it anyway.
If you are a business owner and you are ready for 2013 to be a breakout year, start by making your New Year’s marketing resolutions. What do you want to accomplish? How many sales do you intend to make (or by why percentage do you expect to see your sales increase)?
Be sure to write it all down. A resolution doesn’t become a goal until you write it down and set a date for it. Let 2013 be the year you go beyond your own expectations.
If you could buy a tablet for $99, would you bother buying another eReader? Ever?
My thought is the eReader market would dry up and disappear completely if consumers could purchase a tablet for $99. Of course, rumor has it that the $99 Acer tablet wouldn’t be sold in the U.S. But that’s just a rumor.
Let’s say the rumor holds true. Many eReaders are priced in the $69-$99 range. With lack of competition they will continue to sell. Many people don’t care about the extra features you get with a tablet. If they want to read e-books, an eReader is adequate. But what if a $99 tablet does come to market, Acer or otherwise? That would totally shut down the eReader market.
Why would anyone pay $99 to read an e-book, or even $69, if they can spend $99 and get the extra functionality? Furthermore, why would e-reader manufacturers take a chance on producing more e-readers when they can focus on cheaper tablets?
I think it will be interesting to see where the e-reader market goes in the next couple of years. Tablets are becoming more popular each day, so it’s possible that a cheaper tablet may not even be necessary to drive eReaders out of the market.
Tablets serve up another medium for online marketers. eReaders serve up a limited opportunity only if you publish e-books. With tablets, you can produce more videos, do more social media marketing, and implement more mobile marketing campaigns. These are exciting times in which we live.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the order of the day for SEO is diversity. Dr. Pete spells it out real well at SEOmoz.
- Diversify your anchor text
- Diversify your links
- Diversify your traffic sources
- Diversity your marketing
- Diversity your POV
But you should have been doing these things all along.
Why Should You Diversify?
Let’s take a look at the benefits of this sage advice.
Anchor text – If you’re still trying to make all of your links use the same few exact phrase keywords, then you are stuck in the Dark Ages of SEO. Google has been rewarding diversity in anchor text for a long time. That’s doesn’t mean that you should avoid exact match phrases. It does mean that you should link intelligently within your content. Don’t try to make it look natural. Just link intelligently. Then your anchor text will be natural.
Your links – Don’t just use one link building tactic. Try to garner your links from as many different types of sources as possible.
Traffic sources – Google is not the only source of traffic. Many websites still get 80% of their traffic from Google, but there are other sites that can deliver great traffic. Play around on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and anywhere else your target market hangs out.
Marketing – Quit trying to trick people and just talk about the benefits and features of what you have to offer. If you have a good product or service, the best marketing is proving it.
Point of view – OK, this one is tricky. In a word, branch out. Look at things with fresh eyes. Ask people for feedback. You might be missing the obvious.
2013 will be the year of diversity. Take your online marketing to a new level.
There are two annual shopping days that have achieved famous, or infamous, notoriety. One has been in the popular imagination since before the Internet was commercialized. The other is strictly an online shopping phenomenon.
Black Friday. That’s the traditional biggest shopping day of the year. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow.
Black Friday is the day offline retailers look forward to. It’s the day that many stores open early to allow shoppers inside to ransack the store and fight over ugly baby dolls. It’s also the day when they earn their paycheck for the year. If you are an offline retailer and you haven’t started your promotions – including your online promotions – to get people to your store on Black Friday, then you are way behind.
Cyber Monday is the other shopping day. It’s the day that online retailers, e-tailers, look forward to – the busiest online shopping day of the year.
Like Black Friday, if you haven’t started promoting Cyber Monday sales, then you’re way behind. Those should have been planned and promoted months ago. But it’s not too late to start marketing for the holiday. You still have a month to go until Christmas. You may be late to the party, but you can still get in. Start your Christmas sales today, and turn this into the best Christmas ever.
When it comes to marketing online, do you know how to find the right niche? Is it all about keywords? Should you take your most profitable keywords – the ones that Google says are most profitable – and turn those into your primary source of income?
No. I think you’d be surprised at how simple it is to discover the right niche.
If you want to own an online business that will earn you a steady income, start with your passions. What do you care about? What’s the most important thing to you? What do you think about more than anything else?
Write down five things that really float your boat. Prioritize them. Which is the most important, and which is least?
Now, conduct a preliminary keyword research for each item on the list. How many strong keywords do you see that you could target? Now go to Google and Bing and conduct a search for the top 5 keywords on each list. How much competition do you have for those keywords?
You want to try to quantify a value for the level of competition and the potential for search engine optimization. But don’t let that value determine your niche. Go back to your passions.
Is there anything about your research that would indicate one of your passions is too narrow or too broad? If so, put it aside. Focus on something that will allow you ample opportunities for income but not force you into an overly competitive environment.
When it comes to building an online niche, start with your passions. Let them rule the day.
Small Business Newz lists the top 10 trending opportunities for small businesses. Interestingly, the first five are firmly established and growing online marketing tactics. I think in five years these will be so mainstream that you can’t ignore them. So what are those five? Let’s take a look.
- Social networks – This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been online for the last couple of years, but I think niche networks will grow to be even more popular than the big five (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube).
- Geolocation – Services like Foursquare and Facebook location updates are putting business owners just around the corner from their customers. Your office can be anywhere.
- Crowdsourcing – Small Business Newz proclaims the excellencies of deal and discount sites, but crowdsourcing can come in many formats. And it will.
- Social commerce – A blend between social networking and e-commerce, small businesses can use these sites to create outposts with shopping carts. Why just have one storefront when you can have several storefronts, each one getting its own traffic and with its own conversion rate that you can measure and control.
- Referral-based review sites – We’re talking about sites like Yelp that allow customers to review businesses and then refer traffic to those businesses. Already popular, I think you’ll see more of these types of sites pop up in the future, and you’ll likely see them serving specific niches.
The trend online for any new marketing tactic is to fan out from the general to the specific. New trends start with general audiences in mind, then when something catches on the concept goes specific with niche-targeting technology. I think you’ll see it with every one of these top 5 online marketing trends.
Are you familiar with the term “persona marketing?” Probably not. I just made it up. But there is such a thing as using personas to market your products and services. It’s nothing new.
Marketers have been using personas for years. It’s your voice. You can create a character with its own persona and write from that character’s point of view or you can use your own natural voice and make that your persona. The key is to create a memorable character, real or imagined, that people can relate to and respond to.
If you create a great persona for your marketing efforts, your content will be unique. And that’s the most important thing your content online should be.
When your content is unique and your target market responds favorably to the persona you’ve created to promote your brand, you’ll increase your visitors, your unique visitors, and your conversions. That’s what marketing is all about – making the most of your marketing opportunities to present your message in a unique manner using a voice that is unique to you and your business. That’s persona marketing in a nutshell.
There’s never been a better opportunity to succeed with persona marketing than there is right now. No matter what business or niche you are in, use your persona to entertain, enlighten, and sell to your target market.
54% of the top brands are now using Instagram, but what is that? In short, it’s a photo sharing app for your smartphone. But what can you do with it?
Several small business owners share what they do with Instagram, but the question is this: Is it for you?
Like all social media, what you get out of Instagram is directly related to what you put into it. You don’t have to spend all day taking photos and sharing them to make it work for you. I think it will be more rewarding if you use Instagram in conjunction with other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
The key to any social network, and that includes Instagram, is to integrate it into your overall online marketing plan.
Rather than use Instagram to push your brand on unsuspecting consumers, why not just use it to highlight key aspects of your business once or twice a day – or, once or twice a week even? You don’t have to make a big splash to be effective. All you have to do is be consistent.
Instagram, like Pinterest, Photobucket, and Flickr, allows you to share important news and events about your business in a graphic way, and images can often be more powerful than words. Just be smart in how you incorporate it into your business. Think it through and it can work for you.
A client says to me, “I should be getting more traffic than I’m getting from this SEO business.” My response is, “Of course you should be getting more traffic. You should be doing more things.”
Sometimes, expectations exceed reality because we’re not willing to do the work necessary to make reality reach our expectations. If you aren’t getting enough results from your efforts, maybe you should do more. Or maybe you should see what else you can do to achieve the results you are expecting.
Online marketers should never just rely on one method of marketing. If all you are doing is writing blog posts and hoping SEO will deliver more traffic to your website, then you aren’t doing enough. You should be promoting through social media.
Or you could be using pay per click advertising models, or perhaps doing some video marketing.
If you’re blogging 15 days a month, start blogging 30 days a month and see what happens. Open up a Twitter account and promote your blog through Twitter. Do some Facebook marketing. Or head off to LinkedIn and join a few communities. Join a forum or two. Engage in some conversation in the forums. Write a few articles even.
Marketing is about talking to people. It’s not about sitting around waiting for results. Birds who do that don’t get any worms.
There are numerous ways to make money online. If you are going to attract targeted traffic and convert it to money, then you have to have a content strategy, but there isn’t just one way to develop said strategy. Every content strategy should have a purpose and a plan to push it along.
The following 5 content strategies are available to you in various mix and match options. Pick your options and run:
- Catalog of themes – Pick your themes. What will you write about? What should you write about? Pick your favorite topics and write about those using the best keywords to attract the kind of traffic you want to attract.
- Create Value – Your static content pages should be full of value. Whether they are on Squidoo, your website, or wherever, meet your targeted clientele at their greatest point of need.
- Enter Into Conversation – For this strategy, your blog is the best and most useful tool. Talk about topics that your audience cares about. Solve their problems. Ask them questions. Get them to talking back.
- Go Social – Drive traffic back to your website and blog using social networks. Your social media content should act to tease and attract an audience that wants something deeper. But don’t just go deep. Also go wide. Different types of social media content is just as important as what that content is all about. Develop a presence at Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, YouTube, and other social networks to make your content speak to different interests.
- Develop Landing Pages – Your final strategy is to build landing pages for your market audiences. Drive all your traffic to those pages and convert it.
When it comes to online marketing, you have to chart a course and stick with it. Then give your plan some time to work.
According to the National Retail Foundation, 41.4% of Americans will start shopping for Christmas before Halloween. Many of them have already started shopping. And more than 50% will start shopping before Thanksgiving.
Another statistic worth noting is that 51.8% of those consumers will do their shopping online. That’s good news.
Well, it’s good news if you are an online retailer, maybe not such good news if you are a brick-and-mortar retailer. Hey, but things change. Maybe it’s a good time for you to build an online presence if you haven’t already.
Here’s the million dollar question: How are online consumers deciding where to shop for this Christmas? How will they know what to shop for?
Thirty-six percent (36.6%) said the most important factor in deciding where to shop are offers for sales and discounts, along with 16.1 percent who say the most important factor is selection of merchandise and 13.7 percent who say it’s quality of merchandise.
So there you have it: Discounts, merchandise selection, and merchandise quality.
If you want consumers to shop at your online store, then you are already behind in marketing if you haven’t started already. Before they make a purchase they have to find you. Now is the time to market your online retail store. Then what?
Make sure you have the highest quality merchandise on stock and offer a few sales and discounts. Online retail is becoming more competitive. You’ve got to give yourself an edge somehow.
Christmas season officially kicks off the day after Halloween. Whilst the biggest shopping day of the year is the day after Thanksgiving, most people start thinking about Christmas shopping directly after Halloween. Right now, their minds are on pumpkins and goblins, but you should be thinking about how you are going to start reaching them on November 1.
So what’s your plan, Stan?
If you think that holiday marketing should all be done off line, then it’s time to get with the times. No marketing should ignore the online opportunities you have every day of the year. So let’s start with your website.
You don’t have to make your holiday shopping pages live just yet, but you should be building them. In reality, planning for your holiday marketing web pages should have started a month ago. Now is when you should be building and testing your holiday web pages.
You should also be planning your off-site marketing initiatives right now. What kind of social media marketing will you do for your new holiday pages? How about pay per click campaigns? SEO campaigns? You should be lining those out right now.
The implementation for your online marketing campaigns should coincide with the roll out of your holiday shopping web pages. That doesn’t necessarily have to happen on November 1, but it should happen before Thanksgiving. Start dropping little gems of suggestion into your customers’ minds now, then by the time Thanksgiving gets here they’ll be ready to buy.