How do you integrate your online marketing, to save time and money?

Chantal

The number of ways that you can promote your business through online marketing is constantly growing. It is now accepted that you need an online presence in order to market your business. I was asked to speak about this at a recent FSB IT event in Reading, so I thought I’d share with you a summary of the session. (The full PowerPoint presentation is available from the Free Stuff page of my website, if you’d like a copy.)

So What Online Marketing Can You Do?

  1. Keyword Research – use to find phrases people are actually looking for online. Use keywords for your website, titles for your articles, newsletters, blogs and tweets. https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal
  2. Website – use it to give the key messages about what you do, promote your blog, tweets and newsletter; list your articles. Put Google Analytics on all the pages; do some keyword research.
  3. Google Analytics – see how people use your website; see what keywords they use to find it and put more of those words onto the site.
  4. Newsletters – provide regular advice and comments, promote your website, blog, tweets and articles; use keywords for titles.
  5. Social Networking – keep it business. Post your articles and newsletters.
  6. Networking Groups and Forums – if you go networking, do those groups have websites you can use? Post comments and advice on forums; post your newsletters and articles. Complete your profile page to promote your website, blog and tweets.
  7. Blogs – provide regular comments and thoughts. Promote your website, newsletter and articles.
  8. Google Adwords – research keywords for your website, titles for your articles, newsletters, blogs and tweets. Create specific landing pages on your website.
  9. Twitter – daily tips and advice. Promote your website, newsletter and blog.
  10. PR – submit articles and your newsletter. Promote your website and tweets. www.EzineArticles.com

Summary

The number of online marketing tools is on the increase. If you try to do everything, you’ll end up spending all your time online – leaving no time to do your actual job; or you’ll spend all your money on online marketing with nothing left for old fashioned off line marketing.

Remember these three things – quality not quantity; integrate it and keep doing it.

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The difference between a blog and a blogsite

Alice

WordPress comes in two versions, .com and .org – so how do you use WordPress efficiently?

WordPress.com provides free hosted blogs that take about 20 minutes to set up. Everything is virtually done for you: the hosting, template, applications available, SEO, social sharing – even the URL. The CMS (content management system) is designed to be extremely easy to use, and applications to add in images, video, audio, other media and polls are fully integrated. In fact, WordPress are improving their free hosting service so much, there are frequently new features available to play with whenever I go in.

However, there are restrictions, you don’t get something for nothing. You don’t get an independent URL, it has to end in wordpress.com; even though there are about 100 templates (themes) to choose from, and some can have their headers and link colours changed, you are still stifled as to design; extra HTML is not accepted, unless it is for RSS subscription sign-ups and social media feeds; and selling or advertising results in having your knuckles rapped by the blog police (and sometimes your blog taken down), unless it’s automatically generated Google Adwords from your keywords.

The upside is that this version is brilliant if you are a blogging beginner and want to start with an easy version, or you want to quickly set up a blog ‘on the side’ that links both ways from your website and feeds to your social media.

But if you want to create a blogsite (a website with an incorporated blog, or a website created using WordPress), then you need to use WordPress.org, the self-hosted version. This requires your own web-host and some technical knowledge to set up. You can either add on WordPress as an extension to your website (eg URL/blog or blog.URL), or create it as an independent blogsite.

You will need a host that is compatible with WordPress. There are two kinds: those that are semi-compatible, and you have to undergo a lengthy procedure to set up the right conditions, create databases and configure WordPress; and those that are totally compatible using Fantastico, which does virtually everything for you and your blog can be created within minutes.

The beauty of a blogsite is that you have total control of what it does, what it looks like (there are literally thousands of themes to choose from, and they can be easily adapted to suit your corporate style by changing the CSS and image files within them), and you can add as much extra HTML and selling mechanisms you like, as well as check your stats on Google Analytics. You won’t be bothered by the blog police, but you will have to remember to upgrade and back it up regularly. You will need to research into which plug-ins are suitable for you, and be aware of the latest additions to WordPress so you can install them.

Your blogsite could be an identity by itself, or a fancy blog that’s attached to your existing website, and can easily be incorporated so you can’t tell the difference. It is as easy to use as the WordPress.com blogs, plus extra features to help with SEO and other benefits.

So which one should you use? If you budget is restricted, you don’t have much time and aren’t technically minded, you just want to write some posts to promote your brand and educate your audience, then a blog is the answer. If you want your corporate identity to be seamless, use extra pages to sell your products or services, or even incorporate it into your new website that can easily be updated by you and your colleagues, then a blogsite is the answer.

Is a blog more than a marketing accessory?

Alice

Someone on LinkedIn asked a question if blogs are businesses. Many of the answers wittered on about affiliate and sponsored advertising, as if making money made your blog a business. I sometimes wonder how much money these blogs actually do make… I personally ignore all advertising I see on blogs and just concentrate on the posts.

There is also the old adage that a blog can help your business (and I’ve written plenty about that before), but have you considered how a blog could be adapted to become an integral element of your business, rather than a useful accessory?

You could adapt your blog to become a blogsite (a website using a blogging platform such as WordPress that is self-hosted) to become a more substantial business tool. The alternative to having irritating adverts would be to write the pages to incorporate e-commerce (shopping carts) for visitors to buy e-courses, products, services, etc, because the blog is self-hosted, you can include any kind of HTML or web-programming for money-making functions.

Your entire blog can be adapted to become a very effective website, suitably programmed to attract SEO, internet and audience traffic, and RSS feeds to social media and elsewhere. The blog news-stream will attract a readership which can be directed to the other pages on your blogsite, which in themselves should be transformed into effective landing pages for email and Google Adword campaigns. I note there are effective sales pages programmes available for WordPress now.

Why not take advantage of a blog’s ability to become a membership site. The privacy and password protected posts and pages will enable you to gain paid-for subscriptions for members to view certain elements of your business. You could also build up a membership or forum, like a sort of ‘Inner Circle’, or even provide individual page access for particular subscribers or customers. This feature is extremely easy to set up, even for a WordPress.com blog (see my e-courses on the sidebar).

This proves I don’t see blogs merely as somewhere to post up your thoughts, or even somewhere to put up advertising, but certainly occupying a viable position for making a business successful.

How to use pay-per-click properly

Alice

Not all Google Adwords work properly because the campaigners don’t know what they’re doing, and I often sigh when I think of how much money is wasted.

Let me give you an example. I wanted to get a galvanised metal watering can for my husband’s birthday, a big sturdy one rather than one of those delicate versions you daintily water your house plants with.

So I typed in ‘metal watering can’ into Google and surveyed the screen in front of me. (Please bear in mind that entries on Google continuously change, so if you do this you may see something different.) The top five links seemed likely possibilities.

How annoying! Amongst small dainty examples that I didn’t want, there were some sites that didn’t even have ordinary watering cans available. Eh? I didn’t want to buy discounted garden furniture or a 100 ft hose. And further investigation revealed the company didn’t sell watering cans because their search mechanisms didn’t bring any up.

So I looked at the paid for links in the shaded areas, and started to receive the same treatment – and this struck me: why did they compose these pay per click adverts that didn’t deliver what they said on the tin? Surely it would be a waste of money if the visitor ends up being confronted with something they didn’t ask for?

Pay per click advertising is only effective if it is properly targeted. If your ad mentions metal watering cans then you should be directed to a page with metal watering cans in it. The index page of the garden centre is not the answer, as it is not what the clicker wanted.  A webpage offering another special offer is a complete no-no! And if your company’s website doesn’t bring up watering cans via searching, then there is definitely something wrong with your search engine optimisation.

I did find a website that had the watering can I wanted. Their concisely written pay per click ad directed me straight to a page that offered three metal watering cans. I made my selection, paid through an efficient shopping cart system, and received confirmation of my purchase plus tracking information for my watering can’s delivery progress. The watering can arrived before the time specified, and I have a happy husband.

That’s the way to succeed through PPC.

Keywords and keyphrases: what, why and how?

Alice

I accompanied Chantal to the Build a Better Business event organised by The Late Breakfast yesterday, where Chantal was giving a talk about how to incorporate a marketing strategy into a business plan. I decided to visit the other seminars, and was intrigued by one which was called ‘PPC, SEO and the Long Tail’. Usually acronym-ed jargon like this would suggest something high-flying and technical, but actually it consisted mostly of common sense taken from a different point of view.

Keywords and phrases are words which trigger a response from the search engine spiders (mathematical robots that crawl the web looking for new content to index). They are effective if they are tuned into what people type into the search engines at this moment in time, and you can find this out through the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

Most small keywords or phrases have a very high response, which mean although there may be several thousands of people searching for it, there are also many thousands of websites containing those keywords. To narrow down the competition, you lengthen your keyphrases to include more elements that are relevant to your visitor’s ‘wants’. For example, ‘holiday cottages’ could be increased to ‘holiday cottages near Bath that accept dogs’, and ‘horse riding’ could lengthen to ‘horse riding stables that offer lessons for beginners near Swindon’.

These keyphrases containing many keywords combined together are more likely to trigger a match in search engine requests. It narrows down the field so you’ll find that there are less websites that offer these complete keyphrases. Do people type so much into the search engine status fields? Yes, they probably do, hoping that at least something will bring up a website that will help them.

But what do you do with these keyphrases? Each should be allocated their own webpage, which acts as its specific landing page. These webpages should be carefully optimised for their keyphrase, by including them in the page title, the metatags behind the scenes, the page’s title and within the words on the page. There are also clever ways to use keyphrases effectively and yet still make the page read well; after all, it’s meant to be for humans to understand and appreciate, not just search engine spiders.

These special keyphrase-induced landing pages should be marketed for full acknowledgement from the visitor, provide plenty of relevant information about the keyphrase’s subject, offer incentivised call to actions to encourage a response, and link up to other like-minded pages for further perusal of your website. In other words, there should be a series of pages that won’t be accessible from your homepage, but act as fly-papers to attract the spiders and therefore the searching visitors craving what you have to offer. Make sure you don’t disappoint them…