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.

Email, social media, and mobile should Rank at the Top of your Marketing Priorities for 2013

With smart phone penetration breaking the 50% barrier in the U.S., having email delivered to their phones and nearly half of all Facebook users accessing their accounts via mobile devices, it is clear that email, social media and mobile will increase in importance as a marketing channel.

The strong ties between email marketing and social media are reason to increase marketing in using email to drive growth in their social media channels, such as corporate Facebook and Twitter.

More than half of businesses see Facebook as the most valued social media channel for marketers, as well as Twitter and YouTube. Depending on the type of product/service offered by the business, Instagram, LinkedIn. Google+ and Pinterest may also be valuable channels for marketers.

As with any marketing campaign, it is vitally important to be able to track results, the following short video shows how you can track deliver-ability using AWeber.

Get your email marketing stated today using AWeber.

6 Tips to Get Your Social Media and Blog Posts Read and Shared More!

Getting results from your social media marketing and blogging is the whole point of investing the time and resources into it. There is no benefit to anyone, if no one reads what you have written.few books

1. Tell them what to expect up front. Peak their interest and curiosity, and their need for more.

2. Use a healthy dose of fear. Because we are social beings, our biggest fear is the fear of loss andr that others will think we are not good enough or smart enough. A tweet or blog title for a post might say: These 5 writing social media marketing mistakes make you look stupid. Do you make any of them?

3. Ask a question. We humans are wired to want to know the answers to our questions. Example of this strategy: Do you know the first thing readers look for when they land on your site? If you are a Realtor, you had better have the ability to search for properties on the first page of your website, above the fold preferably on the upper left because that is what your visitors want.

4. Don’t give away all your secrets. Again you want to just peak their interest and curiosity, and their need for more. If you have a real estate blog and your blog post teaser is, “Home prices drop 46%,” your reader has no motivation to read your post because you have told her the whole story. Instead, make her wonder how big the drop was with something like this: Biggest drop in home prices in nearly two decades.

5.Take an opposite view. If your post makes us rethink something we always thought was true, we will pay attention. One post I wrote recently: 4 Reasons Why Your Social Media Marketing May Be Hurting Your Business!
We’ve seen a million articles about the benefits of social media marketing for your business and the reasons why, Right. Don’t ya just want to click though and find out just how could this be hurting (refer to fear of loss)?

6. Promise an insider’s secret. Or as in the example above 4 insider secrets. The promise of course is that if you fix this mistake, you’ll get more sales. Who would not want to know the secrets?

And of course in your social media marketing as well as your blog posting, it is important to be consistent, personal and credible, if you aren’t credible, nobody will read you.

Part of being credible means you can’t be a salesman all the time. If the only thing you talk about is you and your company, people will stop paying attention. Share information valuable to you readers, about your industry, hints and tips that will help your readers even if they don’t use your products. If you do, they will appreciate what you’re doing and will not only be loyal to your business but will become passionate about your business.
Utilizing internet marketing strategies for your business has many benefits: such as drawing increased visitor traffic to your business’s website, providing an excellent platform to provide details about new products and services, and a blog is a relatively low-cost venture, making blogging an ideal investment for even the most budget-conscious business owner.

When properly implemented, internet marketing, 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 internet marketing strategy that uses the best resources of what today’s technology has to offer.

Blogging your way to a Booming Business in 2013!

There’s no doubt whatsoever that blogging will be crucial to SEO, social media, and content marketing activity in 2013. As a result of 2012 developments, business blogs are no longer optional, but are now essential.

But why must you blog in 2013? In addition to significant changes to Google’s algorithm, you have no doubt noticed, Google Analytics no longer displays keyword information from logged-in users. This “not provided” data means that a significant chunk of a site’s keyword data is no longer available to help the effectiveness and strategy of an SEO program.

Business blogs however thrive in this environment, because:
Blog posts add relevant, authoritative content to a site, something that Google always loves to see. Also,  well written, authoritative, relevant, and useful posts encourage visitors to stay on the page and click deeper into the site rather than bounce, which contribute to better rankings.

A lot like your social media tools, a blog can be your company’s voice to the world. But unlike the character limits imposed by Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, a blog allows you to provide more detailed information and adds the ability to include pictures, videos, etc. to illustrate your point.

In many respects, SEO, social media, and content marketing are all rolled up into one big, internet marketing strategy. It’s increasing difficult to have an strong SEO program without a content marketing component.

It’s tough to have an effective social media program without a strong SEO component. And, it’s tough to have an effective content marketing grand strategy without solid SEO and social strategies supporting it.

I’ve already talked a bit about how blogs relate to SEO, but blogs also play a vital role in social media marketing and content marketing as well.
It may not be essential to have a blog to be successful in social media … but it sure helps. Business people who use social media are socially oriented, and are probably more interested in checking out a businesses blog than its product listing, at least at first.

A business without a blog undercuts its credibility in todays world. In addition, without a blog, a company must rely completely on third-parties like Facebook and Twitter for its community hubs.  If Facebook happens to make changes (without asking you, haha ), what happens to your community, and all of the content you’ve published there and do not own?

So are you ready to get serious in 2013? This is where the rubber will meet the road for many firms in 2013. Now I realize many small and mid sized firms are not staffed or organized for serious blogging, they lack the time, resources, knowledge base, and in-house talent. And who wants to expand a marketing department in an uncertain economy?  I get all that. But at the same time, a businesses SEO, social and content marketing results will suffer without a powerful blog, and in an uncertain economy,  can you afford to under-perform? It’s time stop marketing like you did in the past (the past is gone ) and it’s now time to get serious.

Social Media Dead Already?

It’s clear to me that the way that we communicate and share information as a culture has definitively changed. As such, social media is dead simply because EVERYTHING is social media.
Even if you have no mobile device, and you decide that you don’t want to participate in social media, chances are that someone has photographed you with a mobile device and that image is on Facebook. Case in point: my parents are 74 years old, the only 2 people I personally know without a Facebook account, but their pictures are on Facebook, they are talked about on Facebook. And if you own a business the chances of social media happening to your brand are even greater. The question is are you involved in the conversion or are you not even aware of what is being said?
It’s 2012, there are over 1 Billion people on Facebook, the average Facebook user is 40.5 years of age. Twitter generates 1.6billion search queries per day. I think it is safe to say your customers and prospective customers are there. Are you?
Most business owners I talk with, when thinking about social media are constantly looking at outbound social efforts. Only concerning themselves with lead generation. But listening to what customers are saying about your brand on social media channels is critical. Your company better be listening to what customers are saying on social media channels, because customers aren’t saying things anywhere else.

So does the future hold for social media? Social media will be bigger than websites, call centers and become the number-two way to engage customers (the number one way is still sales reps).

Social media is dead simply, because everything is social media now. We’re surrounded by social media every day in every way. Your business will either actively engage in this phenomenon or become obsolete. You’ve been warned.

If you don’t have the time or resources to cross promote your business through email marketing, Facebook  advertising and social media marketing yourself, then we can help you with your social media marketing and cross promoting though varies channels

Social Media Marketing and Blogging your way to Brand Loyalty.

Blogging is one of the most effective tools available to assist the small business owner in achieving branding.
What makes blogging such a useful tool for branding? A number of things, you can’t control the conversation in most online platforms. Forums, social media, other off-site platforms are usually controlled by someone else. But your blog is yours. You can initiate the conversation and control the conversation. It’s the perfect branding tool. Everyone needs a home base. I’m not saying don’t use social mediaor off-site platforms as a matter of fact I strongly believe you should but not as your home base or “hub”. You should use social media, but you should use social media to drive traffic back to your hub, remember  the place that is yours, that you can control, your blog.
As you direct traffic to your blog, get people to join your mailing list. This is where the money is and your blog is the gateway.
When it comes to business success, customer loyalty is everything. Luckily, social media marketing provides the perfect platform to start these relationships between customers and brands. Social media marketing is an excellent starting point to connect with prospects and customers so you can transform your online fans and followers into taking the next step and becoming brand loyalists.

Remember, people are on social media because they want their opinions and thoughts to be heard. If a fan or follower tweets to you or posts a question on your Facebook wall, they are looking for a response, and a fast one at that.
More often than not, instead of calling a customer service line, people will jump over to a company’s social media account and say what is on their mind.  Your job is to keep an open ear and be ready to respond.  Fans and followers won’t hesitate to ask questions directly on your social media profiles.  Be ready to provide helpful content, everything from how-to guides to simple customer service answers about your products and services (no doubt links to pages on your website). Going out of your way to respond directly to someone’s question instantly creates a closer connection, making your customer feel appreciated and important.
If someone posts a negative comment, put your customer service skills to work to provide a speedy solution.  Respond quickly to that disgruntled customer’s post, assuring them that you appreciate their business, as well as their patience while work towards a solution to the problem, Just as you respond to a negative online comment, you should also respond to fans and followers who thank you for your excellent service or give a rave review. This interaction shows your customers you appreciate them and their business, and adds to brand loyalty.
Honest and consistent social engagement are the key building blocks to gaining the trust needed to start building your brand loyalty.
You can develop a great strategy to sustain valuable social media presence on your own? If you don’t have the time or resources to do your social media marketing yourself, then we can help you with your social media marketing.

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.

Whats Your Content Marketing Missing?

Content marketing, is more than the latest buzzword. It’s a way to increase traffic to your website and convert to new customers. The reason blogs might position better than a standard website to increase traffic is because blogs are modified ( new content added) more often than full websites. Search Engines love to discover new content, so their interest in your website may be powerful due to the new content you are making available.
Keeping it simple is probably the best advice and for that reason this post is short and sweet on the topic of how to ensure your great content attracts, engages and converts.
Content marketing requires a great deal of effort if you are doing it right. Constantly coming up with new, fresh topics, certainly isn’t the easiest thing in the universe to constantly come up with new topics about which to write, especially if you write as you should, on a regular basis. One of the best ways to approach the writing and coming up with new topics is that you pay attention to what other people are discussing online. Another is to address questions or concerns your encounter on a daily bases talking with prospects and customers.
Effective content marketing is really about creating information that’s useful for specific audiences and with certain outcomes in mind.  While context is often satisfied, the question of finding it is usually underestimated. I’m talking about optimizing for search engines. There are also promotion channels such as email, cross linking from existing content, Facebook advertising and social media marketing.  Are you creating content that’s so good, people will want to share it with others? Have you made it easy for them to share?
If you don’t have the time or resources to cross promote your business through email marketing, Facebook  advertising and social media marketing yourself, then we can help you with your social media marketing and cross promoting though varies channels

4 Tips to get More of your Facebook fans to Share your Posts.

So your Facebook fans are not interacting and sharing your content. 4 tips to do and 1 not to do to increase your Facebook fan interaction.

  • Less words more pictures!

Research repeatedly shows that the longer a post is, the less engagement it will receive.
According to Buddy Media, it is best to limit text postings to no more than 80 characters. This limit is much lower than even Twitter’s 140-character cutoff. The report says that posts under 80 characters receive 23 percent more interaction than longer posts.  The report also found that posting a picture improves results.
According to Facebook, posts that include a photo album, picture or video generate about 180%, 120% and 100% more engagement, respectively.

 

  • Secondly you should post on the best days and time of day.

Buddy Media suggests that people are more likely to use social media when they are at work. The research shows that Facebook users interact more to content posted during daylight hours. The best hours for posting are between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Engagement is higher on Thursday and Friday than other days of the week, according to Buddy Media. Engagement rates fall for posts Monday through Wednesday, when people are more focused at work.
Another thing to consider is the Friday factor, as office burnout peaks toward the end of the week, more people will be escaping to Facebook.
If you don’t ask, you will not receive.
Also, questions placed at the end of a post increased engagement over questions at the beginning of the post. A post that that you ask others for comments is over 3 times more likely to get comments than posts with no call to action. Posts asking for “likes” are also 3 times more likely to receive a like. A post that requests that others share the post is seven times more likely to receive a share than one without the same call to action.

 

  • Use Emoticons

Apparently emoticons, we are visual people no doubt. In general, posts with emoticons get a 52 percent higher interaction rate than those without emoticons.

 

  • And now for a Don’t

I know it’s popular and you may think it looks better and all but, Don’t Use URL Shorteners!
A shortened URL does not indicate what type of website you’re taking them to, which is a deterrent to mobile users considering the fact that more and more Facebook users are accessing Facebook exclusively from their mobile devices.
Don’t make this mistake, implement these tips in your social media marketing activity and if you don’t have the time or resources to manage your social media marketing yourself, then we can help you with your social media marketing.