Archive for the ‘Online Marketing’ Category
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
As you’ve probably heard, Google just wrapped up its developer’s conference known as Google I/O. The annual conference is the venue for new product releases, major updates and announcements that have the potential to impact consumers and businesses.
Here are the biggest announcements from the conference:
New Google+ Design
Google+ has been gaining momentum, and Google unveiled a new design to go along with all the growth. It’s true that Google+ may not exactly be Facebook, but it does have 190 million users, and the value it can bring to search engine optimisation campaigns is no secret.
The new multi-column layout displays posts in an entirely new way, which is reminiscent of Pinterest, and boasts bigger photos and makes it easier to use hashtags. Google Hangouts has updated messaging features, notifications and saved conversation features.
Faster Chrome Speeds
Google’s browser, Chrome, has more than 750 million users. At Google I/O the company announced that users will now see faster video speeds and payment processes. It has also launched a few experiments and projects that show off just how fast Chrome is and to give businesses an idea of how they can benefit from the speed.
Talking Search and Google Now Geographical Reminders
The way users use Google’s search engine has changed: people can now ask Google a question (vocally) and the site will speak an answer. This feature is available for laptop and desktop computers using Chrome. Google Now also received a major update with the ability to provide geographical reminders. Users can now get a reminder at a specific location (like at the office or at the store) on their mobile devices.
Google Play Music All Access and Google Play Leader Boards
This new product may signal that Google is interested in competing with companies like Rhapsody and Spotify. Google Play Music All Access is a subscription-based music service that lets users listen to millions of songs for a flat monthly fee.
Google Play was updated with real-time multilayer leader boards, so players can more easily compete with their friends.
Enhanced Google Maps
Google Maps has been enhanced with added features, and better images, that are intended to make the service more personal. Users can star favorite places, write reviews, and see business descriptions on maps. Google Maps is already a powerful app and it was widely celebrated when it debuted on the iTunes store, making it available to iPhone users. More personalization and more unique features will likely make this app even more popular.
This year’s Google I/O updates didn’t disappoint and developers, businesses and users everywhere are excited about the changes. Will your business benefit from these announcements?
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Today is the much-anticipated annual Google I/O conference, where the company unveils new technologies, products and in a sense, forecasts the way technology will be used by businesses and consumers. Techies love this event, because it offers a glimpse of the newest technology and where the industry may be headed. But how do you, as a business, decide what technology to adopt and what new marketing tools to use?
It’s tempting to join the throngs and use the latest and greatest tools, but it isn’t always wise to do so right away, or even at all. Not all technologies are suited to all businesses, and not every market will respond to every new marketing tool.
Choose the Right Technologies
If you are considering using a new technology at your business, consider two factors: your business and your market. You already have a sense of what tools are conducive to your business and goals. If the new tool won’t help you meet your goals, or won’t make your job easier, it’s safe to say you are better off passing.
Also keep in mind what kinds of technologies your target market is most likely to respond to. If your podcasts are a powerful tool for your business, advances in podcast technology may be smart technologies for you to use. On the other hand, if your blog is more influential, you may not need to jump on the latest podcast-technology advances.
Where is Your Market Going?
Another important thing to consider is where your market is. If members of your target market are adopting a new social media network, your business might be wise to do the same. If your potential customers are using a tool you aren’t, you may be failing to use a channel of communication that could help increase your sales.
However, keep in mind that the only way you can answer this question when it comes to new technology is to wait and watch your market. The day a new piece of technology is released may not be the ideal time to make a decision on whether or not your company should use it. Instead, you may want to wait to see if your market, or even competitors, adopt it before you make a decision.
Are you Falling Behind?
One clear sign that it may be time to consider using a new technology is if your business is falling behind. If others in your industry, your competitors, your partners or your market have all began using a new technology, it may be time for you to start using it too. Businesses that can’t, or don’t, keep up with technology risk appearing dated and even incompetent. Most businesses benefit from a reputation of being up to date and agile enough to adopt new technology when needed.
Choose the Right Time
There are both benefits and risks to being an early adopter. Early adopters can find themselves ahead of the curve and on the cutting-edge of the newest technology, but they can also find themselves in tough spot. If you adopt a technology too early, before you have evaluated whether it will benefit your business, you could waste money and time and even throw your entire marketing campaign off track.
It’s extremely important to determine whether an investment in a new piece of technology will be worth it before you take the leap. Part of this decision-making process should involve evaluating when you should implement a new technology — whether you decide to be an early adopter or to wait to see how a market reacts to the technology.
New technology is appearing every day. Advances in social media networks, smartphone capabilities, and new technological tools can change your business’ digital marketing efforts. Knowing whether or not you should use new tools, and when you should implement new technology, can help you make wise marketing decisions that will help your business.
Friday, May 10th, 2013
Image courtesy of ddpavumba/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Your business blog is a marketing, search engine optimisation, social media and public relations tool. It allows you to reach your market, get your story out there and drive traffic to your site. As your blog acts in all these capacities, it can help you indirectly make money as your business grows. However, there are also ways you can earn money directly through your blog.
Whether your entire business is based on a blog or your blog is just one aspect of your business, these tips can help you earn more money from your blog.
Participate in Affiliate Marketing
When you become an affiliate marketer, you will partner with a company and get paid based on the number of products you sell or the number of leads or traffic you generate. Some bloggers see a lot of success with affiliate marketing, and this approach may work for your blog.
To make money this way, you’ll need a large audience and a good sense of how to pitch products to your market. Good affiliate marketers are able to persuade their audiences to purchase a product without losing readers. Usually affiliate marketing is implemented through links or ads on a blog and many times the links are included in actual posts. Marketers can sell products by posting product reviews or sales pitches or by simply mentioning and recommending products.
Earn Sponsorships or Sell Ads
Of course, your ability to gain sponsorships and use ads will depend on your blog. If your entire business is based on your blog, you may be able to take this approach. However, if your blog is just one entity of your business, you may not want to send potential customers to sponsors and advertisers, since that would likely hinder your own sales.
Many bloggers that have large, niche followings are able to earn revenue through sponsorships and ads. Sponsors who want to get their name in front of your audience and encourage your readers to visit their website will often pay a monthly or yearly fee to have their logo and links added to your site.
You can also sell ad space on your blog or write sponsored, or paid, posts to earn money from businesses that want to sell their product to your audience.
Sell a Product
This may seem like an obvious way to make money, but many people don’t associate product selling with blogging. You could use your blog to market an ebook, a newsletter subscription, a paid forum or any other product. The secret to doing this well is finding or producing a product that will appeal to your readers. For example, if you are a food blogger your audience may be interested in purchasing a cookbook you created or subscribing to your recipe newsletter.
Selling a product through your blog is slightly different than the classic business approach. Many businesses sell their products first, and blog second, treating their blog as a necessary aspect of their website. However, if you’re a good blogger, you could focus on building your blog, then introduce your products as an additional offering, next to your blog posts.
Your blog has the potential to add to your bottom line. Whether your blog is the foundation of your business or it is a branch of your larger organization, these strategies can help you reap monetary benefits from quality blog posts, a niche target market and a substantial following.
Friday, May 10th, 2013
Facebook has unrolled a new feature: the ability to comment on posts from Bing search result pages. When a Facebook user searches for a term, Bing displays relevant posts from the user’s friends on the right-hand side of the page, where searchers can now add a comment. Another new feature is the ability to add a new Facebook post from Bing.
Last year, Bing added social search results from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, but today is the first time users have been able to interact with those results from Bing. For users to use the new features, they will have to login to Facebook through Bing.
Are Social Results Helpful?
Social search results aren’t anything new; Google has been offering it for years. But, how useful are these results? If someone is searching for information through a search engine, does he care what his friends think?
There may be cases where social search results are helpful, but it may be more likely that the results are more for fun, adding a new dimension to social media. However, even if a searcher doesn’t think he cares what his friends have to say about a topic, he may still see related posts and be influenced by them.
Studies have shown that people value their peers’ opinions. When someone’s friends are all talking about a new product, that person is bound to become interested as well. People’s friends and family members also have a tremendous influence on one’s decisions.
For example, if a searcher is researching a product, and sees a post from a close friend that speaks highly of the product, the searcher is more likely to purchase that item.
How Can Marketers Use the New Feature?
Perhaps the biggest way your business can use Facebook and Bing’s new feature for your marketing campaign is to bolster your social media marketing efforts. Social media is a powerful marketing tool, and with social search results, it becomes even more powerful. Knowing that your target market may see social media posts that mention your brand when they use a search engine, you can make an effort to create more of a buzz about your business on social media. As more of your customers post about your company, your business will be more likely to appear in social search results.
Encouraging customers to post positive messages about your business, products, services and events can have a big impact on your overall success. Taking advantage of this feature can help you leverage people that are influential over your target market, so you can gain more customers.
Another benefit of this feature is that it adds one more way companies can earn search engine results. If you are using a search engine optimisation campaign, you can add this feature to your list of tools that can help you earn higher rankings. While these rankings may not directly bring traffic to your website, they can help raise awareness about you brand and spur people to seek out your company.
Facebook and Bing have worked together in the past to bring new features to users, and this latest update is just another example of how the two companies are influencing the way social media and search work. Your business can take advantage of this feature by recognizing that your social media presence is growing increasingly important, that you can leverage comments from influential people and that you now have one more way to gain search rankings.
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Image courtesy of mack2happy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Some say you should ignore your competition and focus on your own business and your own goals. However, you can learn a lot and even improve your own business and marketing by watching you competition.
Understand What You’re Up Against
When you know who your competition is and what kinds of marketing they use, you can better understand what you need to do to compete with them. You’ll now what it will take to stand out and get your target market’s attention, and you may even better understand what kind of messaging you need to use. Knowing what your competition does gives you a good look at the market and what your business will need to do to succeed.
You likely won’t have an inside look at your competitions’ success and failures, but you may be able to get a sense of what kinds of marketing strategies resonate with your market, assuming you share a target market, and what kinds don’t. Take note of what kind of messages your competition uses and what kinds of tactics they use, and then watch what happens. Are these businesses successful? Or do they seem to be falling behind? Analyze their strategies, and then use what you learn as you create and execute your own marketing strategies.
See What Your Market Sees
Your target market is inundated with all kinds of messages and advertisements, many of which come from your competition. When you step back and look at your competition, you can see the industry as your market sees it.
Try to set aside what you know about the market and your business and look at all the things your potential customers see as they learn about and experience you and your competitors. What would you change about your approach that would encourage people to choose your business over the competition? The answer to this question can help you make your strategy even more effective.
A screenshot of Samsung’s iPhone-mocking commercial. Image source.
Create Competing Campaigns
It’s not unusual for brands to create competing campaigns. Samsung has been known to produce commercials that openly poke fun at the iPhone and its users. This bold marketing strategy can work for some brands, but isn’t for every business. Whether this approach is for you or not well depend on your business, industry and markets. Even if you decide not to openly mock your competition, you can use subtle messages that oppose what your competition is telling its market.
For example, if your competitor claims to offer the most affordable products, you could run a campaign that highlights the idea that you get what you pay for, and that although your product is slightly more expensive, it is of a much higher quality.
Watching your competition can help you understand what you need to do to stand out and get your market’s attention. This practice can also help you see your strategy and tactics from your market’s eyes and even create campaigns that oppose your competitions’.
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
Image courtesy of Chris Blakeley/Flickr.
According to the Content Marketing Association, 82 percent of consumers like reading content from businesses when it is relevant. In general terms, relevant content is content that speaks to your audience. It is content that provides helpful information and is applicable to your target market.
Marketing experts often tout the importance of relevance in content marketing and search engine optimisation plans, but how do you discover what “relevant” means for your company?
Study Your Audience
The best way to find out what is relevant for your market is to study it. Learn about its demographics, its needs, its tendencies and what influences it. You can use market research your business already has or you can do new, content-specific research. When you understand what makes your audience tick, you can develop content that is relevant.
Know Your Place and Fill a Need
Once you have a strong understanding of your target market, understand where you fit in. The place you hold in your potential customers’ eyes will depend on what kind of business you have. For example, if you sell an online video streaming service, you fill an entertainment need. Or, if you are a healthcare company, you fill an informational and health need.
Your business probably already strives to meet the needs of its market, so carry that same strategy over to your content marketing campaigns. However, keep in mind that the need you fill with your content may be slightly different than the need you fill as a business.
One excellent way to find out how you can deliver what your market wants is to do research. Surveys and focus groups can give you a good understanding of what your market wants and can direct your content marketing planning.
Get Creative with Your Content
Not every audience needs another article or another YouTube video. When you understand what your audience needs, be wiling to creatively fill that need. For example, maybe you have an audience that doesn’t have time to read long articles. Visual content may be more useful for that audience.
Providing relevant content is not just about the themes or the message in your content, it is about creating content that is accessible to your market.
Stay on Message
Content that is based on a well-researched message rarely fails. You can make sure your content is relevant to your brand’s audience by sticking to one message. This will avoid confusion and will allow your content to resonate with the audience as you fill its need.
Avoid Unnecessary Content
Content that is created just for the sake of content is an enormous waste of time. When you use content marketing, it can be tempting to try to produce content in mass, just to get the job done. However, this strategy rarely works and is a waste of time and money. Instead, make sure every piece of content you produce will fill one of your market’s needs.
Relevant content can help you build an online presence and better reach your audience. If you provide content that fills a need and sends your business’ message, you will have a much more successful content marketing campaign.
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Image courtesy of @notnixon/Flickr.
As your list of email subscribers grows, the last thing you want to do is drive your readers away, causing them to unsubscribe. Even if your marketing emails are successfully driving traffic to your site and increasing your sales, you should still be cautious of these common email marketing mistakes.
Sending Emails too Often
The number of emails your business sends to its email list will depend on your goals, your market and your business. There isn’t a certain magic number of emails that works for every business. You’ll have to experiment and see what works for your business. Once you find out what kind of frequency works for you, be careful not to send so many emails that you annoy your subscribers who will then mark your messages as spam or unsubscribe from your list.
Assuming One Email Works for Everyone
Even if you think you know your market very well, take some time to consider what your subscribers want out of your emails. Remember that your email subscribers may be different than your general market. Sending unwanted information or messages that don’t apply to or interest your audience is one sure way to lose subscribers. Research like surveys, focus groups and A/B testing can help you create the perfect email marketing campaign for your market.
Some businesses have multiple email lists, divided by demographics or varying markets. This strategy lets you target each email and message to the group that it will resonate with and that is most likely to respond to the calls to action.
Abandoning Your Mobile Audience
Image courtesy of Phil Roeder/Flickr.
A study done this year by Nielsen showed that 68 percent of smartphone owners in the United Kingdom had used their phone to check their email within the 30 days previous to taking the survey. This is big portion of the population, and it’s probably safe to assume that some of your subscribers will read your emails from a mobile device. If your emails are hard to read on a small screen, they won’t get read. They could also be viewed as a nuisance by your subscribers, who will opt out of receiving future emails.
Over Promising in the Subject Line
Your subject line can make or break your email campaign, and it does need to entice recipients to open your email. However, if you over promise in your subject line, and then fail to deliver in your email message, your readers will be disappointed, annoyed and tempted to unsubscribe. Make sure your email subject line is an accurate description of what your email has to offer.
Sending Unwanted Email
The best way to maintain a list of subscribers, and to reach success through email marketing, is to use opt-in methods. Let your users sign up for your emails or newsletters, rather than sending emails to unsuspecting people or using a purchased email list. This not only helps your company’s reputation, it makes it more likely that your email list will be made up of valuable leads.
Even businesses that have been using email marketing for years are susceptible to making one of these mistakes. Whether you are developing your first campaign or have been sending emails to subscribers for a long time, don’t make these mistakes that can drive your readers to unsubscribe from your list.
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Does your content marketing plan need an overhaul? Or maybe you haven’t used content marketing and are ready to try something new. Every plan will vary depending on your business, but there are some characteristics every successful content marketing plan needs.
Relevance to the Correct Market
The content you create needs to resonate with your target market. Every content marketing task you undertake, from blogging to posting podcasts, needs to be done with your target market in mind.
To leverage your opportunities, you need to have a content marketing strategy to follow. Your strategy should consist of a defined target market, messaging, calls to action, content creation and publishing plans.
As you create content with your target market in mind, make sure it is meaningful. Content that is created just for the sake of creating new content or linking back to a website doesn’t have much marketing potential. Create content that appeals to your market and that builds your brand.
When you undertake a content marketing campaign, consistency is key. Create a content schedule and decide when and how you will share your content, and then stick with your schedule. Consistency is about more than just sharing regularly though, it also means using the same messages throughout all your content.
Branding can help you create a consistent look and feel for your content. It can also help you build your reputation, grow your business and increase your sales. If your audience instantly recognizes a piece of content as part of your brand, you will build your reputation and your content marketing campaign will be much more successful because your audience will be more likely to respond to your messaging.
Some of your content will most likely be published on your own website, blog and social media channels. However, you should also publish content in other places. Identify influential websites and blogs that you can share content through. These publishing opportunities will give you the chance to share your content with your target market and even reach new audiences.
Content marketing can include more than just articles and blog posts. Get creative and find ways to use images, videos, podcasts, infographics, interactive content and even crowd-sourced content. Using different kinds of content can help you stand out from the competition and get your market’s attention. Sometimes, when a business uses the same kind of content for a long period of time, its audience begins to tune it out. This strategy can help you avoid this problem.
Compelling content that sparks engagement can help you drive traffic, create a social media buzz and generate more leads. Engagement has also been shown to help increase search engine rankings, bringing more traffic to your site. Engagement takes time, since you will need to interact directly with your audience, but it will pay off in the end.
Calls to Action
The majority of your content should include a call to action. Consider what you want your audience to do, and then find ways to include it in your content. Remember to make your calls to action clear and easy to follow.
The best content marketing plans evolve over time. As you find what works for your market and what doesn’t, you will need to adjust your plan. You may also find that over time your audience is tuning out your current tactics, and a change of pace can help generate renewed interest in your brand. As your market and business changes, your content marketing plan needs to adapt.
Including these 10 characteristics in your content marketing plan can help you build a strategy that will help you reach your target market, encourage your audience to respond to calls to action and build your brand.
Monday, April 15th, 2013
Real-time marketing is being used by more and more businesses as a way to engage with markets and leverage current events, turning them into marketing opportunities. If the whole point of real-time marketing is that it is spontaneous and dependent on what is happening in the moment, how can you plan for it? How can you successfully use real-time marketing in your business?
Understanding Real-Time Marketing
In essence, real-time marketing consists of tactics that are employed in response to a current event. Sometimes these tactics are aimed at a large audience; think billboards, press releases or social media posts. Other times the tactics are aimed at individuals in the form of customer support or social media comments and responses.
Because social media allows for timely responses and lets companies get a message out to a huge audience in very little time, social media is a popular channel for real-time marketing.
An excellent example of this type of marketing is an image Oreo tweeted during the U.S. Super Bowl. The much-anticipated game was being watched and followed by 108 million people when the power in the stadium went out. The game was delayed for 34 minutes, and Oreo jumped on the opportunity with the following tweet:
Oreo’s well-known Super Bowl tweet.
While this response was spontaneous and wasn’t completely planned, it’s clear that Oreo was prepared to launch a real-time marketing tactic through social media.
How to Implement Real-Time Marketing
You can’t always plan real-time marketing in advance, but you can take steps that will make it possible for your brand to use these tactics when the right time presents itself.
Identify the Best Channels
As with many other marketing strategies, you need to identify which channels will be the best for this type of marketing. Social media is commonly used for real time marketing, but you can also use your blog or even more traditional channels like billboards or press releases. When you have identified the channels you want to use, listen to the conversation or news that is being talked about on that channel so you can identify real-time marketing opportunities.
Be Aware of Opportunities
Being aware of real-time marketing opportunities may be one of the biggest preparations you can make. Know when an event is likely to pave the way to launch one of your tactics and then be ready to act. For example, big events or industry developments can provide opportunities for your business to react with a marketing message. One way to find these opportunities is to follow blogs, news sites and to use Google alerts.
Image courtesy of the waving cat/Flickr.
Have a Marketing Team at the Ready
Just like Oreo did with the Super Bowl, you can have a marketing team ready during previously identified real-time marketing opportunities. During large events, new product launches, or holidays, this team can be ready to deploy a message through the channels you have chosen. Your marketing team can also constantly listen to your channels to watch for and respond to these opportunities.
Engage with Individuals in Public Forums
Real-time marketing doesn’t have to be targeted at huge audience. In fact, some very valuable marketing opportunities happen between a business and an individual. However, in order to use these interactions as marketing opportunities, they must take place in a public forum like social media sites or on your website or blog. Some easy ways to implement this type of marketing include responding to your customers’ questions, responding to comments and thanking people for mentioning your brand on social media.
Real-time marketing can be a fresh way to reach your audience and when done correctly, it can resonate with a group of people. Your business can plan for these tactics by identifying channels, becoming aware of opportunities, having a marketing team at the ready and engaging with individuals in a public forum.
Landing pages, or the pages your potential customers see when they click on one of your ads or a search result for a specific keyword, are extremely important in the digital marketing world. Usually, these pages are built with the intent of capturing the attention and information of a specific target market or selling a product so a business can fulfill sales goals. The features you include on your landing page can make or break its success.
Boldly Stated Call to Action
The number-one thing any landing page needs is a clear call to action. After all, the whole purpose behind creating a landing page is to encourage your audience to do something. If your audience isn’t sure what to do, or if your call to action doesn’t include very specific instructions, your landing page will not be very successful. Make your call to action bold, straightforward and easy to see.
Answer the “Why?”
The copy on your landing pages should tell readers why they need your product or service or why they should respond to your call to action. One effective way of doing this is by telling your market how your business can fill a need. Another way of doing this is to clearly explain why your product is better than any other similar product. When you answer “why” someone should engage with your landing page, your market will be much more likely to respond to your calls to action.
Skype’s landing page clearly answers the “why” question and gives visitors a reason to sign up for the service.
An Offer or Reason to Engage
Your landing page’s offer will be closely related to your call to action and answer to the “why” question. People aren’t likely to give up their contact information or contact your customer service department if they don’t have a good reason to do so.
The offer may be very obvious and your audience may be seeking it out. For example, if you run a local deals blog and are using a landing page to gain subscribers, chances are that people found your page while looking for discounts. This audience is ready to respond to your call to action almost immediately.
However, sometimes your audience may find your page while searching for a related term or simply out of curiosity. If this is the case, you will need to make your offer very clear and appealing to this group or people as well so viewers will become potential leads.
Intuitive Design Elements
Dropbox has a landing page with a very intuitive design. Viewers can watch the video for details on the product or set up a free account without having to search for a sign-up form.
The design you use should compliment your call to action. Use elements like pictures, contrasting colors, arrows and buttons to help your viewers understand how to take advantage of your offer. Landing pages that send readers searching for answers or for a way to connect with your company are not very successful.
You can use heat map tracking software to find out where your viewers are most likely to click and then design your layout accordingly. Make sure your contact information and any submission forms are designed and situated in a way that they can’t be missed.
Testimonials that Persuade
SurveyMonkey’s landing page includes a call to action, explanation of benefits, and a list of corporations that use the product.
Testimonials from people your target market identify with can be a powerful way to persuade readers to become customers. Choose some testimonials that are from people in your target market or from people who are likely to influence your potential customers. Another way to use testimonial information is to include details about how many people use your product or how many positive reviews your service has received.
Landing pages are often the one thing that is between your business and a new customer. Make the most out of the opportunity by including these features so your readers will be more likely to respond to your calls to action.