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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Is tweeting a waste of time?

Alice

To the uninitiated Twitter may be considered a useless pursuit. The idea of reading these little ‘messages’ that rapidly zip past your eyes, all seemingly unconnected with each other, blathering on about nothing in particular, would seem like a waste of time.

Until you analyse why people do twitter. Social networking is about being sociable, and forming relationships with each other. It’s about spreading news, sharing information, meeting new people, learning what’s happening, finding out what others are doing or have achieved, reading what others have written – all enabling you to engage without the expectation of gaining.

You could trundle along with your business totally unaware of what is happening outside your doors, or you could, from the comfort of your computer chair, be alive to all that activity online. It can be focused within certain areas: local issues, your niche, a particular subject, your competitors, your friends or enemies, your hobbies, political news, the latest gossip – and you aren’t expected to be able to follow everything, or it will drive you mad!

So how does it help your business? Of course raising your company’s awareness online is always good, and you can feed your blog posts onto Twitter to reach a larger audience, link up to your website to bring in more traffic, and connect from your other social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn) where you can write more than 140 characters. You can undertake market research by asking questions or following trends and topics, tweet your problems to receive immediate solutions or a link to relevant resources, find out the latest news before it breaks, and learn about other people’s thoughts and aspirations on particular subjects.

But all this twittering would be a waste of time if you didn’t have a focus (this is true for all marketing activity). Are you using it for brand awareness, or for research purposes? Do you want more visitors to your website, or to increase the subscriptions to your blog or newsletter? Are you curious enough to keep an eye on your followers, or just chancing on interesting conversations? Many networking meetings have been arranged through Twitter, with business formed from the results. Many conferences and workshops have gained increased attendances through focused twittering, and skills and expert statuses raised from poignant and relevant tweets.

So who now says tweeting is a waste of time?

Why you should add blogging to your marketing mix

Alice

There are many pros and cons to having a blog. Unfortunately, if you mention blogging to the uninitiated, they immediately think of the cons, partly because they don’t know the pros. But in my mind blogging is an essential part of marketing that should be ignored at your peril, as businesses without blogs are seriously isolated in this ever-increasingly online world. So here are some pros and cons so you can make a choice:

The pros of blogging

Having a blog will increase your business’s credibility. Here is a medium that will allow you to express another side of your business, deliver more information that cannot be crammed into your website, somewhere to answer customers questions, and offer solutions and other valuable expertise. It allows you to converse with your customers through their comments, and influence prospective customers who want to learn more about you before they buy.

Blogs will increase your business’s visibility, not only through their pages, but because each new post can be ‘fed’ to other social networking sites, increasing your business’s exposure to a much wider audience than via your website alone. They are notoriously compatible with search engines, who send their spiders hourly to check for new material (since that is what a blog is designed to produce), not to mention their plugins (applications) that enhance the use of search engine optimisation, and proactive use of contextual links to direct traffic to your website and other online promotions.

The cons of blogging

The first thing that puts people off is the thought of constant updating and monitoring. OK, an effective blog is one that is posted in at least three times a week, as this consistent new material is what stimulates the search engines to visit, but if writing new stuff is deemed too difficult, especially when you can’t think of what to say, why not outsource this task to a copywriter, VA or marketing firm?

There are some people who worry about how much blogs are visible on the web, but then all online activities are exposed to ever increasing audiences, especially if they are connected to each other through social networking. The idea of a blog is to promote your business to more potential customers, and having the chance for your readers to immediately respond to your posts, and you returning a reply, is surely a valuable commodity to forming customer relationships?

OK, so it’s not easy to see immediate results, but then all online marketing is long term. Blogs can take up to a year to get ‘noticed’, but this depends on how often you blog (obviously if you post several times a day you will gain a following much faster than if you contribute only once a month). Self-hosted blogs allow extra applications to Google Analytics for monitoring your blog’s performance, but there is an in-built stats system that automatically shows how many times your blog is visited and which posts are more popular.

As you may have gathered I am totally biased towards blogging, because this is ‘my’ subject, and with good reason. This blog has helped promote Appletree to a higher online level, and linking it successfully to social networking has increased its exposure to a much wider audience than before. So, is a blog something you should ignore or participate in?

10 steps to succeed in online marketing

Alice

There are many examples of online marketing throughout the internet for all of us to see, and plenty of posts and articles from gurus and experts all saying how wonderful their versions are. So I have added my tuppence-worth to the fray to let you know what I think of this subject!

1. Understand exactly what marketing is. This may sound pretentious, but marketing should not be confused with selling. It’s important to know that marketing is all about nurturing relationships with your customers and also having the chance to spread your expertise to gain trust and credibility. Once your potential customer has really got to know you and your company, only then will they make the move to do business with you.

2. Understand how important customers are. It really is worth doing some marketing analysis on your customers’ profiles, activities, buying habits, lifestyles – not to mention their needs and wants. This means you’ll be able to provide effective solutions to their problems, as well as placing your marketing exactly where your customers hang out, saving time, energy and money. And when you write copy, always present it within the customers’ point of view, to make them think you really care about them and want to help them.

3. Do you have a proper focus? It’s not worth setting up a marketing campaign without a suitable end in sight. Lots of people happily spend time marketing their business and then wonder why nothing comes of it. If you aim your marketing towards a goal, not only will it be more focused in its approach, but it will help towards measuring your results and analysing whether you are going down the correct route, being cost-worthy and productive, as well as achieving what you set out to do.

4. The importance of keywords. Search engines thrive on both keywords and links. Concentrating on the former, performing adequate research into which keywords are effective, relevant and up-to-date, plus knowing how and where to use them correctly, could make or break your online marketing.  Successful search engine optimisation may be considered a ‘black art’, but even small amounts performed appropriately is better than messy misunderstandings in large scale operations.

5. Content is king/queen. A well known phrase which can be interpreted in many ways. What you write about should always be relevant to both you and your customers. It should be focused on your customers’ desires, or aimed at filling a niche gap in the market, or promote your service/product within your customers’ point of view. It should be entertaining, educational and enterprising. It should pander to the needs of both humans and search engine spiders, to both be read and interact with the internet. It should not mention your company to say how wonderful it is!

6. Be aware of social media use. Rapidly rising in online marketing use, this phenomenon should not be ignored. Blogs are, of course, the hub of social networking, as well as all your online marketing activities, as everything can be directed back to them and thence outwards! But social media is not necessarily somewhere to dump material hoping it will be read and acted upon, it depends on social interaction and sharing with like-minded and relevant contacts. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are facilities to collect a following and post notifications of what you are doing, whereas other social media such as StumbleUpon, Delicious, Mixx, Digg, Reddit and the like, rely on a voting system to promote your blog posts virally around the web. If you aren’t interested in what others are doing, how can they therefore be interested in you?

7. Gathering leads into lists. For some online marketers this is key. If you are able to collect a relevant and focused list of likely leads for you to market to, people who have willingly given their permission to receive information from you each month so that they can keep in touch with what you are saying, thinking or doing, being the first to know of any events or promotions you are creating, this is an extremely important source of marketing value. Email newsletters are big news because of their cost-worthiness in communication, and flexibility of use and transmission, and as long as they are used appropriately with the required focus, they are a very effective online marketing tool.

8. Using calls to action. Oh, how many times do I see online marketing with inappropriate or neglected call to actions! If you don’t tell your customers what to do, they won’t do it! And where you place these call to actions is also important: multiple mentions, within landing or squeeze pages within your website, with incentives and time-dependency, in postscripts at the end of communications – this little, much forgotten element of marketing could make all the difference towards success or failure. And the squeeze pages I mentioned before – another excellent marketing tool that when used appropriately can contribute much towards the benefits of online marketing.

9. How well are you performing? It’s no good undertaking a marketing campaign without knowing how well you are doing. Google Analytics for both your website and blog are vital to measure performance and analyse the correct procedure for future projects. Understand who is responding, why you got the responses you did, how to get more online visibility, what can you do to increase your conversions – all this is related to many of the points I mentioned above, plus a coherent understanding and focused appreciation to enhance your online marketing.

10. Nothing will happen overnight. Ignore all those marketing gurus who promise untold immediate wealth as soon as you sign up to their programmes. Online marketing is hard work, and you need to be in it for the long term. Many customers will read your newsletter and blog for years before they decide to take action, during which time they have been convinced of your expertise, have learned what you can do for them, and have formed a favourable opinion of you and your business to make the initial approach. If you show genuine interest in them (mainly through social networking) and gain a sizeable following of relevant, like-minded prospective customers, regularly communicating with them through your newsletter and providing them with valuable information that truly helps them, only then will your online marketing activities start to bear fruit.

Positive blog reviews

Alice

I inwardly celebrate the arrival of a new blog, but silently sigh when I see missed opportunities. There are many elements of a blog that are not incorporated, mostly due to ignorance of which is available, or what to do with what is presented.

This is certainly no criticism of new bloggers. When I first started out, I had to learn the hard way, by trial and error, listening to other bloggers and tentatively asking questions, lurking and learning – and I still am. I keep a close eye on the blogosphere, watch the groups and questions on LinkedIn, scan relevant Tweets and click on their links, read interesting posts about blogging and note any new stuff I come across, keep a record of anything of interest, with a view to informing my readers with my own slant at a later date.

And anyhow, the blogging world is rapidly changing, as is the rest of the online marketing scene, you need to be on your toes to keep up.

So back to the new bloggers – I also relish the chance to do a review. Emma Walton kindly gave me permission to scrutinise her new blog and offer my suggestions to help her make the most of it. I did get a bit carried away (there are so many things that can be added to a blog), and I probably gave Emma total blogging-overload (neither clever or good), but there is certainly plenty of stuff to keep her going for a while.

Read Emma’s blog review and let me know what you think.

Why should people interact online?

Alice

Online marketing and social networking thrives on interaction. Without this, there is no purpose to doing any of it! It would be like talking to an empty room with an echo.

But to encourage interaction, there has to be a good reason for it. In the end, it all boils down to: content. If there is something worth while reading, understanding, learning or sharing, then the chance for interaction from your friends, followers, audience or subscribers increases. It must be good value, interesting, exciting, educational, controversial or even down right annoying to encourage a response.

And then if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Not  everybody will be inclined to interact or leave a comment, respond to a question or interject with their point of view, or be inspired to share their knowledge or expertise. It’s worth noting that those who are active on social networking are more likely to interact – are you one of them? If not, are you ready to break out of your mould and join the throng?