Small Businesses Moving to Online Marketing

Small and medium-sized businesses are beginning to realize that digital and online marketing are necessary in achieving success. In the past, many small business owners had ignored online marketing, and they lost business as young and middle-aged customers flocked ethernet cableto competitors that are online.

A new survey based on data from 300 small and midsized businesses in the third quarter of 2012 was recently published by BIA/Kelsey, a distinguished local-media research firm. One of the top findings of the survey was that 40 percent of these businesses are planning to increase their budgets for digital marketing sometime in the next year.

The survey also reported that the online channel rated as the favorite among the small businesses surveyed is Facebook. Over 52 percent of businesses used Facebook for promotional purposes, which puts it above most other forms of marketing, such as the following:

• Newspaper advertising – 31 percent
• Community sponsorship – 27 percent
• Email marketing – 25 percent

While I strongly agree of the importance of utilizing social media for your business, I certanly wouldn’t suggest it consume the bulk of your marketing resources.

Social Media does not generate significant ROI in my experience. Facebook Likes, Google +’s or a mention in LinkedIn are not reliable ROI metrics to measure. While an important part of your online marketing strategy,  I consider Social Media not so much of a sales function but more of a marketing department function, where brand awareness and consumer education are important.

I believe the greatest ROI generating activity is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By far and away, SEO produces the lowest cost per lead, the largest volume of leads and the best leads in terms of quality. The drawback with SEO is that it can take some time to get to the ranking.

In the interim, use PPC, especially for high-value, short term campaigns. In my opinion, think PPC for the short term and think SEO for the long-term better quality leads.

Keep in mind, with your online marketing you are building a complex and long-standing infrastructure that, will grow with time and effort. As important as quality relevant content is also consistency in posting new quality relevant content.

As I have mentioned, you must devise a online marketing strategy and you must use the best resources of what today’s technology has to offer.

Online Marketing Strategies You Should Not Ignore

Online marketing strategies that can pay off and drive free traffic include social media, search and the all important  content marketing, that facilitates and accelerates the sharing on social media and lifts your search results.question mark sign

Search is ever-changing, are you?
There are essentially two ways people find your blog or website when they search online. They either click on a paid  ad that are placed on the side or the top of the search results page (that someone has paid Google to put there) or they clicked on the links from the organic search results. The organic results are earned through optimizing your website for search engines.

Not so long ago, the best way to do that was to hire an SEO consultant, you hired them and put them in a dark room, fed them pizza and soon your site was ranking on the first page of Google. It was like magic.

But Google has started changing the rules with strange sounding algorithm updates called “Panda” and “Penguin”. Remember that all these Google algorithm changes are intended to cut out SEO magic.  So if you are doing things in your content to trick the search engines or that don’t seem natural to the reader, the chances are your results won’t last.

Many businesses, that were ranking on the first page of Google and had built a booming business based on “old SEO tactics” had dropped off page one and the inquiries and leads had dried up. This type of SEO didn’t require creating great unique content, that people searching the web need and love, but just involved playing an SEO game

The search game is changing with Google now putting major emphasis on content and social signals such as Retweets, likes, shares and the Google Plus one platforms +1′s.
It is no longer about gaming the system but adding real value to the web through regular publishing of content that people love to share, link to and embed.

You’ve heard people say content is king, you might say content is the new SEO.
Google’s updates have made content marketing hot. As a matter of fact content marketing is one of the fastest growing trends in marketing today. Small businesses in particular are learning and using content marketing to more cost effectively promote their services and products.
By creating, publishing and promoting great content, the Google bots will start to love you.

The challenge of course is to make the content so valuable and so enticing that people will share it with their friends, family and colleagues. Which takes, thought, skill and creativity.

Your content is what tells the visitor how you work with clients, what they can expect, the process, etc.  All the credibility of what you are offering is conveyed though your content. Don’t forget, content isn’t just the written words, the images on your website are a form of content.  And like any content, those images can be pinned, shared and tweeted on social networks.

Content with a good headline or a captivating image will be shared much more on Twitter or Facebook than a bland bit of poorly written text. You need to think about what sort of content captures your attention and then create that for your customers that is relevant and tempting.

Use Social to Share your Content and boost your SEO.
Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,Google+ and Pinterest is how people share content.
Social media accelerates the discovery of your content. Additionally back links are important in SEO.  Part of a healthy SEO strategy is to request links from other reputable websites, directories, portals, blogs and so on so that you can boost your link popularity.

I it sounds so high school, but the more votes or links you have the more popular you are which influences Google.  And the credibility or reputation of the source of that link is also very important.

What is the best way to get pure, highly valued links?  Social media!  Share great content with people and if it really is great, they will also share it!  Let’s face it, your biggest content marketing dream is to create some article, video or picture that gets spread all over the world and goes viral. So spread the word!

Content that is shared on social media channels is your new SEO.

When properly implemented, your online marketing strategy, can be a game changer for your business in 2013. However, you can’t simply throw caution to the wind and hope everything plays out the way you’re wishing. Instead, you must devise a online marketing strategy that uses the best resources of what today’s technology has to offer.

Blogging Mistakes Your Business Should Avoid

Blogging is a critical part of businesses  online marketing strategy. It’s a media channel, you own and control that helps establish your credibility and expertise, while also providing a platform for engaging more directly with customers. Your online marketing strategy can’t be helping your ROI without great marketing content, and your business blog shouldn’t be ignored.turning point rr tracks

HubSpot “has found that companies that blog generate 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and have 434% more indexed pages than companies that don’t. Even if you’re posting once a week, you may not have leveraged the full power of content creation for your small business brand”.

Some of the most common business blogging mistakes I see and some insight on how you can improve:

  • Stop using a someone else’s website for your blog. Is your company blog housed on your website, or are you using Blogger, or Tumblr? While it’s incredibly easy to get started on these free blogging platforms (and it is a good place to practice before you start), but you can’t afford this blogging mistake. If your blog is hosted elsewhere, your company website won’t receive the SEO boost it deserves with all your hard work on content creation! And isn’t that one of if not the main reason you are blogging?
  • Does your business blog tend to be neglected when things get busy? We recognize that small business owners rarely have much free time, but research has indicated that blogging on a regular basis is necessary in order to see real results.  It’s critical that you both post frequently and on schedule. Posting sporadically can impact how well your blog ranks in search engines, but can also hurt readership numbers, as visitors may think you stopped posting and never return.
  • That being said don’t overload yourself by committing to an aggressive posting strategy than your schedule will allow. Even if you can only post once or twice weekly, making a commitment and sticking to it is necessary for success.
  • Be sure  to Optimize for Search. While SEO has definitely evolved over the past few years, it’s not dead, optimizing key metadata is important to help readers share and find your blog. This data, including the title tag and description, are critical so readers can easily share your blog on social networks like Facebook. This data also helps search engines correctly index your blog posts.
  • It’s no secret that business blogging is a powerful tool for gaining and maintaining a high search ranking. If you’re not leveraging internal linking, keyword research, tags and other SEO strategies to ensure your content can be found by search users, your inbound marketing strategy could be suffering.
  • However don’t be over-optimizing for search, what worked 3 years ago doesn’t work today.
  • Be sure you’re not still writing for the Google search algorithm of 2010? Keyword stuffing or even just using a high keyword density isn’t an effective business blogging tactic in the world of Panda 3.9, where quality trumps quantity. Google realizes that people want great content, and the main way it determines value is through volume of inbound links. Write information, tutorials and articles that people want to link to by including a distinct voice, your own style and humor.
  • Another common mistake many businesses make when blogging is not using images. Using images helps keep readers engaged on blog post by providing visual and psychological breaks.
  • Don’t forget to leverage Social Media. You’ve gone though all the effort of building your blog on your website. You’ve filled out a blogging schedule and you’re publishing at least once but preferably a few times a week. But if you’re not promoting your content on social media, you could be missing out on quite a few opportunities for visibility. How are your Twitter followers going to know the content exists! Make social media promotion part of your online marketing strategy.

Keep in mind, with your online marketing you are building a complex and long-standing infrastructure that, will grow with time and effort. As important as quality relevant content is also consistency in posting new quality relevant content.

As I have mentioned, you must devise a blogging strategy and you must use the best resources of what today’s technology has to offer.

What a Business Needs for Online Marketing Success.

As a business owner in this century you know you need to market your business online, While it may seem a bit overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be that way! There are 3 basic components you need as part of your online marketing strategy to support your business growth.

You must have a website for your business. Your website should be the hub of your online activity, this is where you want your traffic to ultimately be driven to. Your website is like a salesperson that generates leads for you around the clock. A good site will make it clear what products or services you provide, and the talents and expertise that you have to offer ( your website is where you brag and boost ).
Of course your website needs be optimized for search engines and online marketing. This requires understanding what your users are searching for, as well as making sure that your website can be viewed on mobile devices. Unfortunately, many websites that look good don’t function as effectively as they can.

You must use Content Marketing. One of the most important components necessary to make your website an effective online marketing hub will be your content, delivering content that is relevant to your prospects. Content can be video, podcasts or business blog. In order to achieve the most SEO benefit and building long term relationship with your prospects and customers new content should be delivered regularly and constantly. I know delivering new content regularly can seem overwhelming.
The best to develop new is to address the questions that your current and prospective clients continually ask you. What are the questions that come up most often?  Addressing questions and issuers people have gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise by addressing these questions and issues.
When you’re writing your business blog, address one issue per post. Choose one or two keywords or phrases (preferably long tail keywords) to focus on in each blog post or resource. Don’t try to cram every keyword in every article.
You must also have Social Media presence.  Social media should be used to share  via  social networks every time you have created new content,  In addition to announcing your latest content, you can update social media sites with helpful relevant, quick tips and links to more information on your site. The goal for your social media activities is to connect with your audience and drive traffic back to your website ( social media is not where you brag and boost or sell products or services) .
People are far more likely to trust a peer recommendation than advertising. According to a Neilsen study, “90% of consumers trust a testimonial from a peer. Compare that to just 14% of consumers who trust advertisements.” Use that to your advantage by encouraging interaction with your company on social media.
Don’t let overwhelm deter you from creating an effective online marketing presence!  You must have a good website, regular, consistent relevant content and social marketing to support your business growth.
There are resources available to help you.

Is Your Business is to Small to do Social Media Marketing?

Your business may be to small to buy a TV ad during the super bowl, but, your local business is not too small to benefit from social media marketing.

I had a number of business owners tell me last week that their local business was to small to do any social media marketing. I would have to disagree with that statement, it would seem to me a local business would benefit as much or more from social media as part of there online marketing, than a huge corporation based thousands of miles away would have.
Walmart, for example, last October, launched the “My Local Walmart” campaign  which involves a Facebook app that the local stores can use to communicate sales, specials and other updates with fans in their area.
Some of the findings from a new study by, a social media tools/analytics company showed that “only 4 percent of the local stores have more than 1,000 fans, compared to about 22 percent of other local Facebook business pages (in the same markets where Walmart has stores) have more than 1,000 fans”.
4 percent compared to 22 percent, that is over 500% for local Facebook business pages compared to the local Walmart stores.
Keep in mind social media marketing is NOT a place to freely post the “special of the day”! It’s not about the use of social media for advertising purposes, spamming as many social networks as they can, blindly blasting out their content to as many people as they can reach.  It’s taken the old school advertising rules associated with TV advertising and applying them to a social platform where those old school rules don’t belong.
Marketing in the true sense of the word, is where companies interact with customers and prospective customers in an attempt to understand their customers better and then respond to their need. For that purpose, “marketing” social media is fantastic.
Your local business is not too small to benefit from social media marketing and there are resources to help you with your online marketing.

Incorporate Email with Your Social Media Marketing Strategy.

Yes, despite all the advancements in computing technology, 30 year old Email!
Email is thirty years old, and it’s arguably bigger than ever, the number of emails sent per day continues to increase, and there are way more accounts than even Facebook has.
Not only can you use email marketing to help add all those important “likes” on your Facebook page, but you may need email to close the business deal.

According to Pooky Shares “Facebook is the leading source of referred social media traffic to websites, at 26%”.
We all understand the importance of leveraging your Facebook page by getting a lot of Likes, is going to affect the bottom line of your Business. But have you considered promoting likes on your facebook page by using email markeitng?
Yes your profile image is important, as is relevant content essential to your Facebook Marketing strategy and  building a strong community with engaging content will also be encouraging for them to like your page and spread the word about your business.
You can also by ads on Facebook to promote your page and/or use email marketing as mentioned before.
And when that prospect with an immediate need for your product or service finds you don’t be surprised if they don’t prefer getting the details via email.

In a piece about email’s 30th anniversary Jeff Rohrs of ExactTarget’s said, “In fact, an overwhelming 77 percent of all consumers surveyed prefer to receive promotional messages from companies via email compared to five percent who prefer text messages and four percent who prefer Facebook. Email is also one of the most utilized apps on every smartphone — right up there with the phone, text messaging and the browser itself.”

I believe it is best use websites, Blogs, social media marketing, and Email marketing to cross promote your message to grow your business. Need help with your complete online marketing strategy? Help is just a click away.

Social Media Marketing doesn’t Work, Social Media is just a place Kids Play Games!

That was a pretty common response I would get from business owners a couple of years ago. Now over 70% of businesses say they use social media marketing as part of their online marketing strategy.
Of those businesses using social media marketing, the majority are trying to manage it in house. When I ask if their social media campaigns are profitable many respond with sometimes, when discussing what they are doing that may be producing limited or sporadic results some of the reasons are:

They are doing too much selling – there needs to be a balance. You need to share content from other sources, build value for your followers and get involved in the conversation. But you also can’t forget about the reason you’re there – the selling. Regularly creating engaging content on your blog and social media accounts that can move your prospects through the sales funnel, will help you identify key motivators for your market to gain new customers and retain existing customers long term.

Over posting is another common mistake – followers can feel inundated and overwhelmed by company tweets and status updates. 36% of all unlikes on Facebook are because a company was posting too much.

Some things they should do to change are:
Post photos with your link previews or with status updates, photos are more eye-catching in a user’s newsfeed.
Mix it up a little, add a little fun. Jokes, and other entertaining content can help keep users engaged.

Focus on relevant news happening in the industry, instead of just your most current company promotion.

And lastly, the world of social media upgrades and moves quickly, policies change, rules are updated, reading through new privacy policies may not be glamorous, but it’s something you have to do in order to protect yourself and your business. Social media marketing can be time consuming.
If you don’t have the time or resources within their company to set up and/or manage your companies  social media campaigns you should outsource the management to professionals.

This Weeks Online Marketing Recommended Reads!

Most businesses today are aware of the need for an online presence and the need for social media marketing to be apart of their online marketing strategies, here are some of the articles I have read and recommend reading as I believe are of value.

Most businesses I talk to today have a Facebook business (fan) page but many express struggles effectively utilizing it. Here is a link to a post Social Media Examiner had with Facebook marketing tips from top experts.

One of the problems some businesses have resulting in a non profitable do it yourself social media marketing campaign is their updates they post on social media are without much thought or perhaps the wrong thought. Search Engine Land posted this week, tips on crafting your local business updates on Facebook.

Social media marketing can be time consuming, but it can pay off, Social Media Today reported 3 out of 4 CMO’s say social media impacts sales.
If you don’t have the time or resources within their company to set up and/or manage your companies  social media campaigns you should outsource the management to professionals.

Searches on Smart Phones bring in the Customers!

Facebook now has 955 million users, according to Socialbakers, 54% of users access Facebook via mobile.
Over 70% of social media users are likely to seek the opinions of others before buying goods or services, and over half of them have changed their minds as a result of those opinions.
72% of marketers plan to increase their marketing on Facebook in 2012 as part of their online marketing statagies. What are you doing?
Local business searches on smart phones can bring in customers, are you getting your share?
According to a survey done by xAD and Telmetrics titled “mobile path to purchase” 89% of smart phone users and 84% of tablet users searching for restaurants take action within 24 hours while 64% and 44% make a decision within an hour.
Bottom line is over half of the smart phone, tablet users made a purchase within 24 hours.
The survey also reported Local Directory apps are most popular for Restaurant and Automotive with Smart phone users, while branded websites were most popular with Tablet users.
The important things to take away here are your websites need to be mobile viewable, you need to be on social media, and you need to be in local business directories as part of your online marketing strategies.

Internet advertising has surpassed that on cable television

Online advertising topped $30 billion in 2011, according to The Interactive Advertising Bureau and Pricewaterhouse Coopers today, with a 22% growth rate over 2010, marking a return to pre-recession rates of growth. Although being surpassed by internet advertising cable television did show positive growth. According the the report, email and radio remained steady while newspaper continued to decline.

Display grew, also, by 15% year-over year. (for the study, display encompassed banner ads, video, sponsorships and rich media) Display represents 34.8% of overall ad revenues, with search still represented the largest share of interactive ad revenues with a 46.5% share.

Whether you are interested in advertising your business on Facebook, on mobile devices or you need resources to free up you time to run your business, we can help!