If you’ve heard that link building is a necessary component to a successful SEO strategy, then you’ve likely been listening to a search engine optimization specialist talking. Did that SEO also say that quality is more important than quantity? In other words, it’s not how many links you get but how good they are.
Link building is one of the more dangerous SEO tactics because if you do it wrong, it will cost you a lot of money and could cost you a lot of time with minimal or no results.
With guest blogging, you reduce your risk considerably. To be successful at ghost blogging, however, you need to focus your efforts on writing high quality content and publishing that content on websites around the Web. The sites you choose to publish your articles on are as important as the articles you write. Pay very close to the reputations of those other sites.
What you want to do is build yourself up as an authority in your niche. The way you do that is with high quality content published on high quality websites.
When you publish quality content on high authority sites, those articles will get shared and receive links. Those links will help your site and your authority ranking. Focus on quality and good links take care of themselves.
Do you know which demographic spends more time on social networks? If you guessed moms with young children, then you’d be right.
It isn’t hard to figure out why young moms spend more time online than anyone else. Their children aren’t old enough yet to demand running around here and yon. Older kids have extra-curricular activities. Younger kids have diapers.
Young moms can put the youngster to bed for a nap and sneak away to Facebook.
But they’re not just talking to their friends either. They’re actually engaging with brands.
These moms also engage with more brands online and they say advertising helps them choose the right products for their children.
In addition to using social media to find products for their young children, moms also are active on mobile devices. In fact, they’re twice as likely to use their mobile phones to access the Web than the rest of the population. They’re also heavy users of their tablets for Web surfing.
All of that spells one thing: If your target market is young moms and you sell online, then you can have a heyday. Take to social media and look for those moms who are searching for products for their young children. It’s a great demographic to market to anyway, but it’s even better now that you know they spend more time online than their neighbors.
In a way, online marketing has come full circle. In the early days, you wrote articles and published them. That was it. Yeah, you might have purchased a banner ad on a related niche website, but were those really effective?
No matter how effective those early banner ads were (not very), you could always count on well-written and well-placed articles.
Over time, the definition of content has changed. In those early days of the Internet, pretty much all content was articles. You might have had graphics on your website, but they couldn’t be search engine optimized. So articles were the real content.
The Internet grew, photos and videos became popular as the technology to implement them online improved, and millions of websites sprung up in every niche imaginable. The leading online advertising model became PPC advertising. It was very effective if you did it right. It still is.
But, there are many Internet users who developed ad blindness. It’s a very real phenomenon that causes people to ignore ads – even if they’re effective in every way.
It’s hard to ignore native advertising.
Native advertising is content that doesn’t look like content. If it does look like content, then it’s so effective that users will still click to view it even knowing that it’s an ad. It’s content even if it’s advertising. The reason this works is because users really care about great content, even if it’s advertising.
If you do any online marketing at all – whether you are an online retailer or a brick and mortar store owner – then you should reflect on these 10 holiday shopping stats, courtesy of Constant Contact.
- 28% of consumers are likely to shop on Thanksgiving Day
- 90% of retail sales are projected to occur in brick and mortar stores
- Holiday spending is expected to increase by 11% this year and online sales by 15.1%
- 66% of Black Friday purchases last year were the result of a social media interaction
- 64% of holiday shoppers have bought something because of a post they saw on Twitter versus 39.3% on Facebook
- Mobile is expected to have an impact on 87% of holiday purchases
- 25% of consumers last year purchased gifts from a retailer they had never shopped with before
- 67% of consumers have purchased a gift they saw on social media
- 64.8% of shoppers use social media to find the perfect gift
- 67.2% of consumers are most likely to share digital coupons on social media and 63.4% are most likely to share a holiday contest or giveaway
If there is anything to take away from this survey, it’s this: Social media is a necessary component to online promotions for holiday shopping, and no retail store will be unaffected by online shoppers this year. If you own a retail business, you should have an online marketing strategy that includes social media and mobile.
Is your video marketing plan written out or does it consist mainly of you throwing paint against the wall?
This is not a question in a vacuum. It’s a question that deserves an answer. With all the video marketing options available to online marketers today, there’s no reason not to write out your plan and follow your plan as you implement it.
That doesn’t mean your plan won’t ever change. Businesses go through evolutions. That’s expected.
Think of it as like a business plan for your video production team. Your goal is to drive traffic and increase conversions through video distribution. Your plan should address, at a minimum, the following methods and strategies.
- How often you will produce videos and what quality they will be (include your budget for production)
- Where you will distribute your video
- Will your videos be used on your own website?
- How will you promote your videos?
- What purpose will your videos serve for each marketing demographic you target?
- How do your videos fit into your sales funnel cycle?
Video marketing is not a marketing strategy so much as it is a piece of your overall marketing portfolio. It should work together with other marketing efforts to drive traffic and engagement. If it isn’t doing that, it is likely ineffective.
Every now and then you’ll hear an Internet marketing guru, or some blogger will write about, the most essential Internet marketing strategies. The idea is to tell people what strategies for marketing online they should be using right now. There is one major flaw in most of these lists or proclamations. That thing is the variability factor.
I wouldn’t say there is any ONE thing that is more important than everything else. Most marketing strategies have their place. The question is, how can YOU employ them effectively in your overall marketing strategy?
Not all businesses are the same. Some will benefit from a hefty social media campaign and others would do well with a strong pay-per-click strategy. Rarely is a case of either/or. That is, to be successful at marketing your business online, you either have to do XXXX or you have to do XXXX. That’s not the case.
That said, most recognized online marketing strategies have at least some value for most marketers. Your ability to put together an overall strategy using the proven tactics that others have used before you means that you have a unique opportunity to position your brand in a powerful way. There are likely as many paths to success as business plans. Your job is to find a path that works for you, fits into your budget, and can take you from Point A to Point B in your marketing strategy.
When you hit upon a successful marketing strategy, you’ll know it. You won’t have to blame it on someone else’s predetermined path.
One of the most important things you need to do as an online marketer is ensure you’re reaching the right audience. Whether you engage in pay per click marketing, social media marketing, or something else, you need to make sure you are targeting the right audience. That’s where personas come in.
Before you even start marketing, you need to develop a list of your target markets. I don’t mean generic lists like “CEOs and small business owners.” I mean, specific narrow personas that you intend to reach through your marketing efforts.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you have developed a new technology for airplanes to help them fly more efficiently. Who would be in the market for this technology?
Obviously, you’d market your new technology to major airlines, right? But what about small and regional or private air pilots and airplane owners? If your technology is out of their financial reach, then they may not be in your market, but if it is affordable to them, could they benefit? Does the technology fit specific types of airplanes, such as jet planes or cargo planes? Then perhaps manufacturers of those planes would be your market. Write down the specific person at the company you would speak to about your product if you want to sell it. A short list:
- Chief production engineer
- Flight tester
- Chief executive officer
- Maintenance chief
For each person on your list, write a bio. What are they interested in? What features and benefits are they most interested in?
Personas are important in marketing because those people who fit those personas are your market. Not all of them will be decision makers. Some of them could be influencers. You still want to speak to them, but before you can know what to say you have to know what they want. That’s why you create personas.
On August 1, we talked about how more people are spending more time online than watching TV. What we didn’t discuss was Facebook. As it turns out, more people prefer to spend time on Facebook during the day than they do watching soap operas.
This really isn’t surprising. The group that most likes to spend time on Facebook is the 18-24 age group. People over 55 prefer TV.
That makes sense. Soap operas became popular when today’s over 55 crowd were 18-24. They’ve steadily watched the same soaps for 30 years. Why would we expect them to change their viewing habits now?
By contrast, the 18-24 year old group is in the prime of their lives. They have smartphones and laptops. They are perfectly capable of creating their own drama. A quick perusal of their Facebook walls should reveal that much. When you can post your drama on the Internet so easily, why would you want to watch someone else’s on TV?
For marketers, this is telling. If you want to reach the younger crowd, Facebook is the way to go. If you are trying to reach seniors, use TV.
Another interesting tidbit: The only age group that prefers Facebook to TV during prime time is the 18-24 age group. It makes me wonder what we’ll be able to make of Facebook 30 years from now.
It finally happened. People are now spending more time online than they are on television, and it’s all because of their mobile phones. Actually, it’s all mobile devices. That includes smartphones and tablets.
It’s interesting that online usage (computers and laptops) has remained steady since 2010 while mobile non-voice usage has steadily increased.
By the same token, TV viewing has remained pretty steady. It’s only because mobile usage has increased that total online activities have surpassed TV viewing.
Getting into the nitty-gritty of mobile usage, smartphones and tablets are running neck and neck in 2013. Both technology options have run neck and neck since 2010 with feature phone usage remaining steady. Since both smartphone and tablet usage has increased by more than an hour per day each, the percentage of feature phone usage has dropped to just 7.7%.
Why is any of this important? It’s important because marketers will have to decide where to spend their marketing dollars next year and the year after that. I don’t think mobile phone usage is declining any time soon. Smartphones and tablets will only become more popular.
If you haven’t started thinking about mobile marketing options yet, then you need to start thinking about that right now. QR codes, responsive web design, and SMS text messages are just three of your options. There are plenty more. But one thing is clear, mobile marketing is becoming more important.
This is an interesting experiment. Twitter marketing at its finest.
Actually, it’s book marketing using Twitter as the medium and the main character in a work of fiction as the medium. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not this is effective book marketing and whether or not this is the future of book marketing. Let’s see what we can learn from it for business purposes.
Do characters work? On the whole, I’d say no. But I can see a scenario where they might.
Let’s say your business has a mascot. It’s a well known mascot. Your target audience knows who it is. For instance, the Dallas Cowboys has a mascot named Rowdy.
Suppose Rowdy had his own Twitter account.
Wait a minute. He does have his own Twitter account. And his own Facebook page too.
Rowdy has his own character’s voice, even on Twitter. Which is cool.
So if your business has a mascot, you could create a Twitter account for your mascot and use it as a platform to give your mascot a character’s voice. Instead of using it as a marketing tool where all you do is post links to your products (which would be boring), you could use it as an entertainment platform. Let your customers interact with your mascot through Twitter as if he was a real person. Give your audience entertainment value and you’ll see the rewards in a tangible way. That’s online marketing in the 21st century.
E-mail marketing services provider Constant Contact conducted a survey of small businesses and asked them how running their businesses today is different than it was five years ago. There have been some interesting findings as a result of the survey.
- 59% say it’s harder running a business now
- 84% use more online marketing tools
- 51% say it’s important to be a locally-owned business vs. 42% five years ago
- 98% use e-mail marketing today vs. 64% five years ago
- 87% use social media marketing vs. 10% five years ago
- 72% expect revenue increases in 2013, however, 56% do not expect to hire new employees in the next six months
- 55% say the biggest impact on their business in five years will be the economy; 18% say mobile and search marketing technologies
These certainly are interesting findings. The fact that small business owners are turning to online marketing tools to grow their businesses today means a lot. In five years, I expect that 84% to grow to over 95%, possibly nearer to 99% or 100%. If you look at the e-mail marketing number (98% of small businesses today), that’s where I’d expect all Internet marketing numbers to be in five years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see video marketing and mobile marketing to be a bigger part of the survey by that time.
What are your thoughts?
I’m surprised that the number of small business owners who see value in Google is so low. But I think Frank Reed’s analysis is pretty sound. This is likely based on most small businesses having no clue what Google+ is.
Sadly though it goes even deeper because most don’t even have the knowledge of what Google+ is and why it can be valuable. Simply knowing what they are missing is the first step.
I disagree that Google+ is more valuable to large businesses than small businesses. That may not be what Frank Reed is saying, but it appears to be the case. This:
I would posit that Google+ is truly valuable to larger businesses. Why? Because they have the resources to take advantage of what Google+ offers a business in terms of its SEO efforts.
coupled with this:
But optimizing your Google+ presence requires the usual resources that most SMB’s struggle with which is people, time and money. SMB’s often don’t do what many see as what is best for them in marketing because they simply don’t have these resources.
is what I’m basing that on.
I do agree that Google needs to target agencies like Reciprocal Consulting. These agencies are the conduit between the small business owner and Google as search engine and Web portal. Google+ is a social network, but it is more than a social network. It isn’t Facebook or LinkedIn. There is an additional element of search that I think is lost on most small business owners.
So what’s that mean? I think it means that agencies also need to help small business owners understand the benefits of Google+. Those benefits are something akin to social + search. Even then, I’m not sure that gets to the heart of it.
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.