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A regularly updated resource of information and news items.

Posts Tagged ‘online marketing’

The Utilization for Social Media for Business

Posted Friday, June 8th, 2012

Making a business become profitable is a very hard concept for business owners. Just couple of decades ago, having a good product to sell and having a good advertisement campaign was usually enough for success and for profitability. However, times have changed, as it has become more difficult than ever to be competitive in a world where every person on the planet has become a potential customer who can buy your products and services.  Thus, as a result, you need to be more vigilant, so that you can be competitive in a world where every company has become your competitor. Nowadays, instead of using classical modes of advertisement and expansion, you will need to use the internet as it has become the major mode of advertisement in the world. Internet is a special entity of its own and as a result, you will need to make sure that you use special social media interactions in order to make sure that you can remain competitive.

Social Media for business has become the main trend of business expansion for potential customers. In fact, currently it can be said that most potential customers do their due diligence on various products and services by using social media business criteria. For example, when a person is interested in a particular company, then usually the first place that they look is the company website along with its Facebook page. Then, sometimes users will use Twitter updates as well as YouTube videos on the products and the services. Once the customer is satisfied that the products and services are suitable, then that company’s products and services will be sold.

Hence, social media for business has become a very important criterion for success and as a result, if you own a company, you will need to have some sort of a master strategy for dealing with social media for business. Management of social media business modules can be a full time responsibility, as you will need to use full time for best results. You will also need to use the help of professional companies which have become experts in managing the social media business tools for best results. Social Media in Business has become a very important sector, which has redefined the way in which internet marketing has been done. This way, you can make sure that your business will achieve the greater height that is required.


How Social Search Will Transform the SEO Industry

Posted Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Facebook and Bing announced last week an agreement that would allow Microsoft’s search engine to return results based on the FacebookLikes” of the searcher’s friends. Additionally, Google recently began including Twitter updates in its search returns. It’s a natural innovation that fits into the business models of both companies and takes the trend of individualized search results to its next logical level: results tailored to the searcher’s existing social footprint.

SEO insiders have wondered whether this new search innovation would affect placement strategies. And the simple answer is: yes. Yes, there will be changes to the way SEO professionals run their clients’ campaigns. Yes, this will affect the industry as a whole. And yes, we believe SEO professionals will have to adapt to meet ever-evolving needs.

Changing the Method, Not the Mission

But to think that this development is rocking the SEO world is to misunderstand the realities of the industry. In its roughly 15 years of existence, SEO has grown from being a small wildcat operation run by webmasters and content services to being one of the most dynamic, fast-growing sectors of the tech market. The reason for this rapid growth is because — not in spite –- of the constantly evolving nature of search engines.

Of course, as with any complex question about a dynamically evolving industry, there is a caveat. While the Bing-Facebook agreement and the recent updates to Google will change elements of how we do our business, the fundamentals will remain the same. As much as innovation shapes the day-to-day processes of optimization, the core foundations of the industry remain unchanged. The goal was — and still is — putting clients at the top of results pages, whether this is through organic search, paid search or social media.

Social media is nothing new in the world of online marketing. Facebook alone has 500 million users. We have already seen certain Twitter feeds included in Google search results. Before long, results may integrate other social networking sites, like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and myriad other sites that haven’t even been developed yet. For SEO professionals, this change highlights the need to integrate social networking if they haven’t already.

The Bing-Facebook agreement is indicative of the many changes that have taken SEO from a small-time game to a major, innovative industry. SEO is not about counter-punching, and it’s not about simply reacting to the changing search-engine landscape. Instead, it is about growing alongside search engines. It is about evolving with them to ensure that searchers get the results they need.

SEO Firms Must Become Digital Media Agencies

For years now, successful SEO firms have not been focusing their efforts strictly on organic search results. They’ve been steadily evolving along with changes in search engines: new Google algorithms, the emergence of Bing, the development of Google Local, instant searches, paid search, and searchable Twitter feeds. At mycompany, we believe that to be successful, SEO firms need to become something more advanced: Digital Media Agencies.

A modern DMA resembles an SEO firm from 2002 in the way that a Ferrari resembles a Model T. The basic elements remain the same, but sophistication and complexity have resulted in a better product. DMAs are about handling the many online representation needs of their clients. While top search engine placement remains the major goal, it is just one aspect of what they seek to do. A DMA also seeks to manage a client’s online reputation, create and maintain their social presence, and handle the many other aspects of a client’s online brand.

Will SEO professionals have to change their strategy in reaction to a new social media paradigm? The answer is yes. Their evolution into full-fledged Digital Media Agencies is imperative. And as the social and search industries continue to change, so too will DMAs need to innovate.


5 Online Marketing Resolutions for 2010

Posted Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Resolve to give your online marketing efforts a boost this year by recognizing areas for improvement and putting in place a plan to make positive changes.

online marketing, Jan 8 2010

1. SEO:
I resolve to focus more on maximizing visits and conversions from organic searches. With SEO efforts, it’s easy to get caught up in one goal: getting found via the search engines. But ranking in the search results is only half the story. If potential customers aren’t clicking through to your web page – or other piece of digital content – the ranking doesn’t mean much. Plus, due to variances in what each of us sees in the search results for the same query, rankings as metric are no longer as useful. Personalized search results according to location and web history means your site might rank high for one person, but not another.

Maximize the success of your online marketing efforts by analyzing your metrics report to determine which pieces of digital content are highly visible but producing less than ideal traffic results. Then take some time to ask yourself these questions:

What competitive search results are your potential customers seeing? Assess the title tags and meta descriptions of competitive search results. Are competitors offering customers a free case study or a complimentary product sample? Then consider ways to make your own title tags and meta descriptions out-entice the competition.
Does your content live up to the promise put forth in your title tags and meta descriptions? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: When you first visit your web page or other digital content from an organic search, is the content you find relevant? Potential customers don’t want surprises; they want a solution to the problem that caused them to search in the first place. And they want it as promised.
Not only will searchers respond more favorably to customer optimized titles and meta descriptions, but the increase in clickthroughs will, no doubt, be noticed by search engines and may influence subsequent rankings.

2. Social Media:
I resolve to set goals and track the results of my social media efforts.
There’s no denying that social media is more difficult to justify in terms of ROI compared to other online marketing strategies.  But that’s not to say it’s impossible – or that tracking results should be placed on the back burner. And without goals, it’s pretty difficult to measure success. In 2010, put forth even more effort to set goals for social media participation and tie results back to specific tactics.

There are a host of free or near-free tools available to gauge brand mentions and traffic from social media channels.

Tracking results via social media monitoring tools is just a start. Those results must be tied back to business goals. Potential goals might be:

Develop better customer relationships
Reputation management
Identify and energize brand evangelists
Increase brand awareness
Increase relevant visitor traffic
Improve standard and social search engine visibility
Build up a list for email marketing
Increase leads or sales
Without setting specific goals upfront, social media efforts can’t be definitively quantified so be sure to implement a Social Media Roadmap and all or social bases will be covered.

3. Email Marketing:
I resolve to integrate my email marketing with other online marketing channels. Regardless of what the naysayers may say, email marketing isn’t going to disappear as a result of social media in 2010. In fact, email will continue to play a significant role in most online marketing mixes this year. A study from Silverpop found nearly half of marketers surveyed plan to increase email marketing budgets in 2010.

That’s not to say email marketing efforts shouldn’t evolve with the times. Integrating email with social media is on par to be a popular resolution for 2010: A recent eMarketer report found 40% of executives surveyed willmake integrating the two tactics their top marketing initiative this year. Another 25% of respondents have already implemented an integrated strategy.

Pledge to take email marketing to the next level by encouraging email subscribers to not only forward content via email, but also to get social with email and share it via Facebook, Twitter, Digg and other sites. Conversely, conduct a poll on Twitter or your blog, and encourage followers and readers to subscribe to your e-newsletter for the results.

4. PPC:
I resolve to maximize conversion rates by testing different versions of my ads and landing pages. Most companies using self-serve pay per click programs fall victim to “set it and forget it” habits. They’re busy with numerous other marketing activities or don’t have the time to really get to know the native bid management platforms and test/refine campaigns. Even if PPC efforts are reaching set goals in terms of conversion rates, there’s always room for improvement. You’ll never know until you try.

Consider these three ideas for testing different elements of your PPC campaigns:

Test multiple ad versions that highlight different benefits of your product, service or company. For example, one could tout cost-savings benefits, while another emphasizes a convenience aspect.
Use A/B testing to try out two different headlines on your landing page. Again, each could speak to a different benefit (i.e., cost savings vs. convenience). Google Optimizer is a great tool for this.
If you’re targeting a competitive search term with many competing ads, consider launching two different campaigns simultaneously. Each could offer a distinct piece of fulfillment – a free case study and a product coupon, for example.
A few tools for testing include:

A/B Testing resources: (Google Website Optimizer, 7 Free Resources)
Multivariate Testing service: (Omniture)
Heatmap & User Testing tools: (CrazyEgg, Clickdensity, Clicktale, userfly andEyetools)

5. Mobile:
I resolve to rethink my website design for mobile users.
If your site isn’t already optimized for handheld devices such as cell phones, now is the perfect time to re-assess your site design and how users find your site through mobile search – particularly for B2C companies.

In October, ABI Research forecast that mobile sales of physical goods in North America would reach $750 million by the end of 2009, a 117% annual growth rate. Consumers are doing a lot more than purchasing downloadable cell phone ringtones and games from their mobile devices. These days, clothing, electronics, books and a host of other items are being purchased through mobile commerce. Additionally, social network participation through services like foursquare, Facebook and Twitter are growing dramatically, creating additional opportunities for promotion and traffic to the mobile version of your company web site.

When optimizing web pages for the mobile web, consider a few tips:

Keep fonts in their most basic format
Eliminate advertising to conserve screen space
Take out images unless they are absolutely necessary
Remove Flash, Java or any plug-in content unless absolutely necessary


What Should You Spend on Advertising?

Posted Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

It’s a ticklish question for every company. See what your rivals are doing, and then think about what’s going to be effective.

Businessweek, February 2009

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is: “How much should my company spend on marketing and advertising?” It’s a conundrum that vexes many corporate leaders, from emerging entrepreneurs to seasoned CEOs. Unfortunately, instead of seeking a rational answer to the question, many of them just ignore it and hope it will go away.

As a rule, emerging companies focus most of their time and talents on meeting the needs of customers, as well they should. If they don’t take care of the customers they already have, everything else will be academic. Strangely, however, many neglect the function of winning customers in the first place. Others naively assume that if they simply provide excellent products or services, their reputation will precede them. Call it the “build a better mousetrap” syndrome. But the world has too many other things to do with its time than beat a path to your door. That means you need to structure your profit-and-loss statement in such a way that you can profitably allocate a reasonable percentage of your revenue to marketing.

The Big Question: How Much?
While there is no definitive answer as to how much any business should spend on marketing, there are general guidelines any company can use to develop a formula that works for them.

Your first step should be to try to find out what the advertising-to-sales ratio typically is in your field. Public companies in your industry may give a figure for their marketing spending in their financial statements (found in their annual reports). With a simple calculation, you can figure out what percentage of their overall revenue that represents. If you can’t find any public companies that seem similar enough to yours, you might want to start at 5% and then adjust your projected spending up or down based on the size of your market, the cost of media, what you can learn about how much your competitors are spending, and the speed at which you’d like to grow.

You’ll also need to ask yourself if your business is built to leverage volume or to leverage margin. Even within industries, there are substantial differences in the marketing spend of volume-driven companies compared with margin-driven ones.

Volume-driven companies tend to spend a tiny percentage of sales on marketing, in part because their large revenues enable small contributions to add up fast, and in part because of the margin pressures they face in having to compete with other high volume companies. By contrast, margin-driven companies tend to spend a larger percentage of sales on marketing: They have room in their margins to afford it, and they’re often working from a smaller revenue base.

The retail industry provides some good examples. While Wal-Mart (WMT) might spend a meager 0.4% of sales on advertising, the sheer size of the company turns that tiny percentage into a significant budget. Wal-Mart’s nominally higher-margin competitor, Target (TGT), spends closer to 2% of its sales on advertising, while Best Buy (BBY), as a specialty retailer, spends upwards of 3%. Finally, more upscale stores like Macy’s typically spend on the order of 5%.

The same kind of ratios can be seen in the car industry (automakers’ generally spend 2.5% to 3.5% of revenue on marketing), liquor (5.5% to 7.5%), packaged goods (4% to 10%), and every other industry.

If you’re in a services business, you might want to bump your starting point higher than 5%. For example, like most professional services firms, my company is more margin-oriented than volume-oriented, so fueling its growth requires that we spend a higher percentage of our revenues. Last year, our number was just over 8%, and I’ve seen companies spend upwards of 15% when warranted—especially young companies that need to invest to build their brand.

Marketing, Not Just Advertising
It’s important to make a qualification here. Giant consumer corporations such as automakers, packaged food manufacturers, and retail chains spend a huge percentage of their marketing dollars on paid media advertising, the most visible (and expensive) tool in the marketing toolbox. Depending on the size of your company and the business you’re in, advertising might not be the right (and certainly not the only) tool for you.

A professional services company like my own is a good case in point. While we serve a national clientele, we are much too small to effectively advertise on a national scale. As a result, we don’t purchase paid media advertising. But we do have an aggressive marketing program built around tactics like direct mail, online marketing and public relations. For a variety of reasons, paid advertising might not be right for your company either, but events, vehicle wraps, point-of-sale displays, or other tactics certainly could be.

The important thing is intentionally and deliberately to set aside some rational percentage of your sales to get out there. That way, the question you have to answer isn’t “How much should we spend?” but rather, “How do we spend most effectively?”


 
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