Tag Archive | Online Marketing tips

Getting the Word out – Part Two

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In Part One of this post, I showed how being included in online posts by journalists can help your business, your SEO figures, their viewing figures (So they will return to you for even more views in the future) and your own prospects’ marketing efforts.

When you extend a welcome to those that write for your industry to print your answers to their questions, you are not only gaining a friend, you are offering assistance, promotion and information to them. You are also recruiting a specialist to help you out with your own outreach: Definitely a ‘Win, Win’ situation for all.

So, once again, this is a year’s end thanks to everyone for reaching out to me and including my ideas into their posts. Here are some more ideas from the last year – I hope that your small business marketing can benefit from the following. The over-riding theme this month is creative Social Media hacks:

Instagram Hashtag Marketing:

“Hashtags can be easily tracked for popularity, just as individuals can. In fact, many influential posters rely on the same hashtags, so you can also track down those you want to be associated with via their hashtags. There are online tools available (for all platforms, not just Instagram) that help you find new hashtags, and track your current hashtags. In addition to showing important hashtag data, these tools help you find the best possible hashtags for your text and images.”

Examples of creative use of Facebook for Small Business Marketing:

“Although it’s obvious, my favorite is still ‘How much is your House Worth?’ complemented by a picture of your local city. It fulfills the marketing line of making something look free, that will offer value to you, will have a good value proposal, and even makes you feel safe enough to add your zip/postcode on the next landing page. It’s only after that you realize that this is simply outreach from a local Realtor trawling for information and introductions: Very clever.”

Social Media for small Businesses:

“Position yourself as an expert in your niche. Drill down to what your history shows you are best at and what your prospects want. You can then concentrate on that within your prospect/customer community. Use social media to show you are part of your community, are a real person, and that your knowledge can help your prospects’ lives.”

Content Marketing Hacks:

“Zero in on what you do best, what has been most profitable for you in the past, and build the persona of a ‘perfect client’. Then market to them, directly. Marketing is an ongoing exercise, so ensure that your content speaks to that Perfect Customer, and show how you can fill their possible future needs better than your competition.”

A New Year – and Decade – beckons. If you have reached this section of the post, I wanted to wish you even more success in 2020 and I hope that the ideas I’ve shared over 2019 have been useful for you. If you have enjoyed these posts, or have any feedback on how you have used these tips, please let me know. I would love to print them in a future post.

Of course, I’ll also be linking back to your own businesses’ website, so you can get some more of that good old ‘Google Juice’ that this blog benefits from by answering these reporter’s questions!

Have a great Festive Season !

Getting the Word Out – Part One

Getting the Word OutEveryone loves listening to an expert speak. In the small business world, everyone suffers from the fear that they don’t know enough to challenge other, larger, more sophisticated competitors in their field; “They are larger, more established, more profitable, how can I possibly contend with them?”

The same is true of your Prospect Marketplace. Everyone is looking for the right information at the right time. It is your outreach that answers these questions for them. If you are a ‘small fish’, you can grow your size by offering information that no-one else is doing. Don’t question who will be listening, but rather drive their interest by highlighting what you do better than anyone else.

By way of illustration, and as a Thank You to my own industry partners, here are the questions I have answered about Small Business Marketing over the last 12 months that have been published in Influencer articles. The reasons for doing this are many fold:

  1. I have been included by Industry Leaders in their professional field. This makes me an expert.
  2. By re-printing their address, I am extending the life of my post and sharing their address. This is the perfect Thank You.
  3. By adding links in my blog post, I am strengthening my site’s SEO, because all of these links match my industry and prospect marketplace.
  4. I am offering information that my Prospect Marketplace can use.

When you extend a welcome to those that write for your industry to print your answers to their questions, you are not only gaining a friend, you are offering assistance, promotion and information to them. You are also recruiting a specialist to help you out with your own outreach: Definitely a ‘Win, Win’ situation for all.

So thanks for including my answers to your questions, and I hope that the following short tips are helpful to everyone reading:

Small Business Marketing :

“Digital marketing is a wonderful, cost effective way to market a SME business, but writing about how good your goods and services are simply isn’t enough to engage people. The challenge for many small businesses is to ‘open themselves up’ to their prospect marketplace and highlight their authenticity as a business. People buy from people, not simply for deals, so becoming an active part of your community is very important.”

Your Businesses Mission Statement  :

Develop a new (or updated) mission statement. “Too many sales reps and business owners are consumed with the everyday realities of how to get the next sale, how to get through this quarter, and how to do this or that, all without giving much thought to the long-term. One way to avoid this trap is by knowing—and living by—your mission statement. If you already have one, dust it off and make sure it still represents your brand, who you are, and where you’re headed. If you don’t have a mission, then it’s time to develop one. “In order to start putting the right message out there for customers, you have to start at square one. Think about what your company does, what it does better than anyone else, and why customers should work with you for the long-term. That’s your mission statement.”

Earning your Customer’s Trust :

Small Businesses — and especially startups — have to address the trust gap: Why should you, as a small company, be trusted more than other companies?

For many Home Service companies, this is complicated by having to put prospects’ minds at rest about inviting you into their homes. I always suggest that small businesses highlight their differences from the bigger, ‘industry leaders’, and ‘being just around the corner’ can work for you. However, ensure to add some details about your trustworthiness — such as testimonials about how clean, efficient and sympathetic you are while in people’s homes — so that you stand out from the competition, and make your prospect’s ‘Value Decision’ easier.

Marketing Tools for All:

Add a Video :

You have the opportunity to add a video to your Google My Business listing, add your videos to YouTube channel and link them to GMB. As this is a Google property, you will get extra benefits from using it!

Tags :

Pairing investment tracking with UTM tags and asking customers where they heard of you: The time costs and possible advertising costs should be reflected in eventual sales. Ask your customers where they saw your posts, and ensure that any organic posts are directed at your prospect marketplace. Tag each weblink with a suffix so that you can see how many hits your posts get, what type of posts are the most popular, and who retains the information.

Google Alerts :

Google Alerts are a very valuable resource. Delivered free to your e-mail inbox every day, you can read and understand more about breaking news, fashions and trends in your given industry.

Don’t forget to visit these great sites to learn even more about how to successfully market your small business – there are some great tips in each one. Part Two of this Thank You is coming up. Hope you also find that instructive.

You haven’t got just One Audience, so why treat them like you do?

segmentation2How do you approach your e-mail inbox every day? What do you save, read, or delete without looking?

Chances are that if you aren’t being enticed by e-mail subject lines, or author’s name, you won’t be opening that e-mail. If that’s true for you, why wouldn’t it be true for your e-mail marketing? If you are not communicating with both Customers and Prospects on an ongoing, successful basis, you aren’t getting through to them. Once you have an automated system in place to keep in touch with the life-blood of your business, don’t take for granted that it will work. You still have to put the work in to ensure that what you are writing is being read.

While you have read a lot about the power of glistening copy that sticks in people’s minds, sometimes the message you are sending out simply isn’t being read. If the gross amount of sales you are making thanks to automated e-mail communication, do not equal the amount you are paying for it, it still isn’t worth it: Start looking closer at your audience, and ensuring that they open that e-mail, at least. How? Segment your audience into handy groups that you can send a more personalized message to – not just by ensuring that it is a personalized e-mail greeting, but that the message itself is more attractive to them, personally. So, how can you achieve the Holy Grail of branding: Mass personalization? By segmenting your audience into different groups based on more direct information that you have about them.

Look at what social media successfully does: It ensures that you, personally, are being addressed.  Social Media platforms have discovered that getting sales messages that align with all of the interests you have noted in the past is the best way for them to sell their client’s goods and services. Perhaps you, in your own way, you can do this too. It is the same with your e-mail opening habits, and all of your customers and prospects. How can you achieve this? Here are five easy points to point you in the right direction:

  1. By Persona. 
What are their professional responsibilities, job description, department, and which demographic they inhabit? Ask yourself what is it in your message that they would feel attracted to?
  2. By historical Buying Patterns and Frequency
. You can actually increase your followers by offering special terms, or offers. You don’t want to make your sales arguments about budget, but perhaps you can do it by size, payment schedule, geographic location? Find out who has bought what and when in the past, and tailor your messages to refer to these past purchases at the time and rate their sales’ history denotes. Any kind of feedback you receive will give you more information on past customers, so what do you want to find out, and how can you tie that in to what and when was purchased before?
  3. By Geography. Get accustomed to finding out what happens where? Every area has different holidays, or perhaps different, predictive weather patterns. Show your customers and prospects that you know them, and offer items especially aimed at them. Of course, this will also take a little extra work, but the rewards will be worth it.
  4. By Industry or Vertical. If you are a B2B seller, what do these contacts want at what times of year? Do they have a purchasing and sales cycle? Do their past purchases, or even growth pattern, conform to a predictive pattern? Similarly with business verticals: Are they buying something small, or huge? You can deliver personalised messages based on their contact data. Get into their conversations just before you know they are buying and when.
  5. By Channel Usage. For those of us branding in a B2C marketplace, HOW do people like to interact with you, mobile, social, or E-mail? At times of the day, week, or year? Once again, you can pre-empt their purchasing patterns with the right message at the right time, to the right people – via the right delivery channel.

The more you learn about your customers, the more successful you will be in ensuring that your message gets through, and the next one will be eagerly awaited. Of course, this kind of detective work is not only fun, you may learn way more about the intricacies of your own product or service array, and how you can get even more focused messages out. It will take some testing, nothing is perfect out of the box, but when you segment your audience and talk directly to them, your marketing will be way more successful.

What the Hashtag is this? Part One

hashtagIf you are confused by the entire ‘Hashtag’ culture of tagging pictures and quotes online in order to promote yourself, you can help your business by thinking more about them than simply casually plugging them into your tweets and posts. Purposeful hashtag marketing can boost impressions, make your content more searchable and encourage users to talk about your brand.

A great resource to investigate is https://top-hashtags.com/ . With this tool you can not only find hashtags that are already in use, but also find the most popular ones online, both overall, and in business niches.

Chances are that you want to steer clear of the ‘Branded Hashtags’ that the giant companies’ marketing campaigns use, unless you feel that you can use it to promote your own business successfully. While you can piggyback on all well-known hashtag phrases, this won’t guarantee a big following.  However, you can use your own branded message to promote your own brand. As with all marketing, it is best to create your own then see how you can leverage what is already online. Let’s look at an example:

If you own a small shoe store in Fort Worth, you can market on Social Media by highlighting who you are what you do and where you do business. When starting Pinterest or Instagram campaigns, for instance – great ways to show graphic attractive representations of your goods or services, a couple of checks through Top Hashtags show you more creative marketing options.

Entering Top ‘shoes’ requests for hashtags, show the following post numbers:

1 #shoes 58.36M  2 #flatshoes 3.798M    3 #instashoes 3.121M    4#newshoes 2.184M

5 #flatshoesmurah 1.969M    6 #shoestagram 1.858M    7#shoesoftheday 1.498M

8#nikeshoes 1.370M

Obviously, if you stock Flat Shoes (Or have a special price on them for a while.), or Nike Shoes, you have a built in global audience for them. #ShoesOfTheDay would be very cool ‘loss leaders’ for driving interest to your other stock.  Instagram-only special pricing would be a great fit for both #Instashoes and #Shoestagram hashtags. Whichever ways you want to use these figures, you can see the benefit of using these hashtags instead of a brand tag that you create. How about the city where you are doing business?

Top ‘Fort Worth’ hashtags along with post Numbers:

1 #forth 45.34K 2 #worth 789.2K

Obviously, these figures are much smaller, but definitely show some interest in the area where you are doing business. You could add one of the Shoes result hashtags from above to one of these to grow your local audience. Additionally, by looking at the top 10 hashtags overall, you can find some very interesting ideas:

1 #love 1.069B   2 #instagood 584.5M   3 #photooftheday 414.0M

4 #beautiful 384.9M   5 #fashion 375.0M   6 #tbt 369.8M 7 #happy 366.6M

8 #cute 363.1M   9 #followme 334.7M   10 #like4like 323.9M

Obviously, any combination of three hashtags from these lists has some incredible numbers attached to them.  ‘Cute Shoes in Worth’ garners built-in interest figures of almost 500 million posts, boosting your geographic prospect area’s numbers. Just 1% of these along with an engaging picture and copy would result in some great visitor figures, and possible store visits.

Encourage your followers to use them as well. This way, they’ll have a clear method of sharing posts with you and others interested in your company’s products or services. The online community will also know how to find content about your brand.

This is really just scratching the surface of Hashtag Marketing. In the post, we’ll be addressing some more ideas on how you can spread the word about your business using the ubiquitous hashtag.

Let’s Get OFF Facebook!

facebook logoAOL-logoHere’s a bold Marketing idea: Let’s get off Facebook ! Now, why would we even think of stopping marketing on the site that has over a Billion active users? Because of a system they have put in place that may render them as inconsequential as AOL. Remember America Online? In the Nineties, they were the dominant business on the web, because of a bold marketing strategy, that eventually turned on them:

In the early part of the decade, they spent over $300 million in mailing CDs to everyone’s mailbox. At one point, 50% of the CD’s produced worldwide had an AOL logo on it, and they were logging in new subscribers at the rate of one every six seconds. Within ten years AOL rose to over 25 million users – an unbelievable number at the time – and they were the hottest company in the world. They began opening up new opportunities for brands to reach consumers. Companies raced to build up their AOL brand pages, and you would see “AOL” all over the commercials.

But eventually it fell out of favor (as every social network does), and lost users in droves. Those huge marketing investment dollars that companies made into AOL were wasted — because it was a “closed system”. All the data and user information belonged to AOL, not the companies who worked so hard to build it in the first place, and marketers realised that they were never going to either get control of those prospects, or would grow their sales. Today, Facebook have started doing exactly the same thing.

Companies love talking about their Facebook “Likes” and promoting their pages wherever they can. But here’s the problem, Facebook is starting to charge you to reach your own fans.

Facebook acknowledged it recently: Messages now reach, on average, 15 percent of an account’s fans. However, In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: You pay them for better access. If you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.” according to the monolith. They have, in effect, stolen the friends that you have, and are holding them hostage until you pay to get them back – this on top of you spending time, money, and energy acquiring them in the first place. If not enough people pay this outrageous ransom fee (and who would?), those friends will remain as Facebook’s property, hereby creating a closed system that you don’t own or control.

If you’re looking for awareness, then track visits, not “Likes.” If you’re looking for sales from repeat visitors, then use email marketing, not Facebook. You never know how long it will be around. If that sounds heretical, ask anyone who was online in the nineties about AOL.

What will move your business branding in 2016?

Crystal BallIt is the time of year, when everyone appears to run their ‘best of’ or highlights of the year just gone. Of course, this allows you to see how things changed over the last 12 months, but how about using the movements we have seen in a particular area (Social Media branding in this case.), and use them to predict what will probably happen in the upcoming 12 months?

Of course, we leave ourselves open to ridicule a year from now when these things don’t appear, but we are sure that, based on recent movements in the small business branding area, you will see at least some of the following changes online. You can do no harm by preparing yourself for what may happen – if you are wrong, you will only overshoot what is happening. In each case, it means a ‘win, win’ situation for your small business.

Content Marketing grows in importance. Salaries, expenses, and profit continue to be aimed at – and derived from – quality, original content to ensure that businesses are heard above the ‘cybernoise’ of the internet. Ensure that your content continues to show you in the best light.

Parsing Data. The more marketing there is online, the more data Search Engines can collect and show you about exactly what kind of engagements your business is getting. Data levels of engagement can be further mined to show exactly what prospects are finding interesting about you, and driving down the cost of customer acquisition. Pay what you need to get hold of more and more data.

More of the same? The amount of low quality, low interest, cookie-cutter information will continue to grow, and the Search Engines will continue to grow their filtering algorithms to ensure that only the best-of-the-best get higher rankings. Stay on that High Road, and create content, don’t be lazy.

Guest posting drops. As soon as Google stated that Guest Blogging is a great way to get links, the market exploded. The obvious reaction to this is the number of sites that will no longer accept them. Wean yourself from Guest posting.

More High-end Videos. Video exploded a couple of years ago. The amount of upgrades now being adopted by marketers to their video presentations, such as graphics, High Definition, animation, etc. mean that the more creative marketers will do whatever they can to imaginatively use video: Be one of these, and graphically show hoe you can help your clientele.

An Acquisition market. Over the last few years, start-ups in the online world have not only continued to be bought by big players, the rate of acquisition continues to grow. Nowadays, it is the way that the marketplace is diversifying. We believe that more acquisitions will take place in 2015, and so if you see a start up with a clever marketing idea, add it to your branding avenues. The chance that it will be swallowed by a big name is very high and, as an early adopter, your rep. will grow after acquisition.

There may be more headlines to share as we move further into the New Year, but we think that these are the base line in continuing internet branding. Be on the front line of marketing, and ensure that you are compliant with these predictions. It will lead to a happy and profitable New Year.

An SEO Crash Course: Part One – On Page SEO

SEO logoStill confused by SEO? Still thinking that this is something that you shouldn’t be involving yourself, because it’s too technical? Think again. With a little research, and – more importantly – an understanding of what the final result should perform for you, you can address many of the basic problems of most business websites.  Small businesses, especially, use websites that are hurriedly put together, or an amateur-looking one. However, most sites’ low rankings can be improved with some tweaking to your site’s code and look. As of this writing, these are some of the most important things that you can ensure your site is doing. Think about what your site is trying to do, and use those answers to fill in the gaps below.

1. Title: This is most important. Keep it as interesting as possible, keep it simple, and answer a question that your prospects will have.

2. Meta Description: The Meta description comes directly under the title. The first 10 words should convey the message. Don’t be a ‘writer’, be a businessman. What do you do, and how do you do it. Speak from the customer’s point of view, and ensure your keywords are included in a natural manner.

3. Meta Keywords:- Forget about them. It is an old fashioned keyword stuffing system that everyone looks down on – including the big search engines. Find more information on this direct from the famous Matt Cutts, and you will get the idea. No matter what any expert says – forget them.

4. Keywords: Use these sparingly, and use synonyms wherever possible. If these phrases don’t fit into regular copy (Think of regular conversation), then change your copy style, or change your keywords. Try to put them no more that 4 or 5 times in an article or post, and find different ways to state them. How to get them? Don’t listen to anyone else. Google will show you how to choose your keywords, what are the most popular ones, how much they cost for a PPC campaign, and your own research will show you who is using them by using search. The only expert on this subject is you.

5. Long-tail keywords: These keyword phrases are usually less expensive as part of a PPC campaign, and are easier to put into prose. You may want to focus on a particular prospect community, and aim keywords directly at them. Now that search engines are getting more and more intuitive, be creative, and ensure that your site can be found. Try two systems of keyword search: Short, and direct and long, and inviting.

6. H1, H2 (Heading): Obviously, your H1 heading describes the overall theme of the copy, and H2 is an examination of a certain area of that these. Look at Magazine articles on how that is done (see? It’s been happening for decades, but no-one really notices it.), and ensure that you Keyword is in the H1 heading.

7. Site load time (page speed):  This is also vitally important. Search Engines don’t like sites that take more than a handful of seconds to load. Whatever you have in your site that is slowing down your load time, get rid of it. Clear, simple prose always beats any ‘special effects’ that you think are cool. Shoppers don’t wait for a site to load, they move on.

8. Image ALT Text: You can ensure that the overall theme of your site is cemented by adding alternative text to every single image on it. If you leave them blank, this is the same as having no instructions to tell Search Engines what the picture is about. If you confuse search engines, you confuse your customers and prospects. Ensure that everything on your site has a reason for being there, and they all point to the same conclusion.

Soon we will look at the best system for Off-page SEO, but concentrate on getting these straight-forward on-page points all doing the same job. It’s like getting all departments of a large company working toward the same goal.