Archive for August, 2010

Are You Marketing to the Have’s or Have Not’s?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

The internet has set up a dual culture – the have’s and have not’s that affects pretty much every business on the planet. The distinction is the result of two factors – connection speed and shopping habits. How does this affect your internet marketing efforts? Let me give you a real world example.

A year ago I was living in a small town in Wyoming. If you’re at all familiar with Wyoming you know it has plentiful wildlife, enormous open areas and the lowest population of any state in the US. Pretty much every town in Wyoming is small. Tiny by most standards. Dialup connections are standard fare because low population density makes it pretty expensive to run anything through antelope country.

Very few merchants were online because their clientèle already knew where they were. Weekly paper flyers announced sales and special events. The Yellow Pages sat next to every house phone and local merchants had a small but thriving customer base. Smart phones were rarely seen in use outside of “major metropolitan areas” with a population of 30,000 – 50,000 if you counted horses and sheep.

I recently moved to Phoenix. Culture shock doesn’t even begin to come close to describing the experience. The first night of our arrival some friends took us to dinner. Pulling out an iPhone they asked what we were in the mood for. A few quick screen taps and they brought up a list of close by eateries. Narrowing our choices, a few more taps brought up that night’s menu. Map directions were instantly available and within minutes we were on our way to our final destination.

House phones are non-existent here. Yellow pages are landfill fodder. Unread circulars are bird cage liners.  Laptops, netbooks, iPads, Kindles, and every Smart Phone known to man are used to find anything and everything. The combination of great connectivity and a tech savvy population has created an entirely different buying experience from the one found in Wyoming.

Your marketing efforts need to recognize and address which group makes up the bulk of your customers and clients. From web site design to search strategies, your business has to be geared to your prospective clientèle and their habits.

Google Places doesn’t even know most of the towns in Wyoming exist.   Here in Phoenix my browser constantly filters ads and search results by my IP address – translating it to a zip code range. My local grocery chain puts the weekly coupons online. I can scan them with my smart phone, print them, or even automatically transfer them to my shopping card. I can shop for ANYTHING with a few mouse clicks or screen taps and receive all the info I need from the stores and establishments in the area. The websites reflect the tech smart population and the best ones are built and maintained with the “have’s” front and center.

If your online presence is geared to small town “have not’s” and you’re trying to reach metro consumers, you’ll have a tough sell and conversions will lose out to your mobile ready competitors. Likewise if your site relies heavily on mobile consumers but you’re in an area with 56K dialup and one phone carrier, most of your prospective customers will quickly bounce from your site rather than enduring the pain of waiting for your pages to load.

No matter who you are marketing to right now, think about the culture divide when you look to expand your online efforts. What works for the 85032 zip does not work for the 82301 zip and vice versa. The cardinal rule to marketing online is “know your customer” and knowing if they are a “have” or a “have not” is the first question you need to answer.

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The Number 1 Thing You Need to Do This Year

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Have you ever felt that you need to be cloned or at least turned into a super intelligent octopus with three heads and sixteen arms to be able to do all the things you’ve been told you need to do for online success? There’s email autoresponder systems, site design, copywriting, optimization, Twitter accounts, Facebook fan pages, article writing. The list is endless.

Where do you start? And how do you know which one is most important? There are so many “experts” and “gurus” suggesting a path to internet nirvana that you’re probably drowning in information overload.

Let me cut through the fog and tell you the one thing that you need to learn and do for your internet marketing efforts. Yes all the other things are also important, but nothing achieves a wide range of results in search, customer engagement, lead generation and sales as this one piece of the puzzle.

Video. Now before you run screaming from the room let me tell you that making a video is not that hard, and I’ll be telling and showing you ways to make it easy on yourself.

Why use video? Here are some recent YouTube stats courtesy of ComScore:

According to the web metrics company, 183 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during the month compared to 178 million in April. ComScore reports that YouTube saw record viewership in May with an all-time high of 14.6 billion videos viewed

That’s a LOT of time spent watching videos and not all of those videos include people stuffing cats into trash bins or babies dancing to funky music. Many companies have found that YouTube videos are a good way to introduce themselves to new customers, get better brand recognition, instruct viewers on product features, even teach them how to use a product.

But that YouTube video also helps with site ranking. Have you noticed that Google has a category of search devoted to just video? And have you also noticed that video always appears on the front page of Google’s general search results? Depending on the number of videos competing for a keyterm, you can see your video appear on the first page of Google in a matter of hours! NOTHING hits the first page of Google faster than video.

Post your video in your blog, and on your Facebook page and link it back to your site or to your YouTube channel and you now have another source of traffic – one that does not depend on high ranking search engine results.

As you do more videos, you are adding to your website content – something the search engines really like! Quality content that is frequently updated becomes a link magnet. Other sites now have a reason to WANT to link to you. Quality backlinks are a very big factor in high rankings – you can’t get first page without them.

Your videos don’t have to be long, in fact they should NOT be more than about 3 minutes running time. Viewers tend to drop off at the three minute mark unless a video is very compelling or is part of an education series.

It may take you a day or even more to do the first one, but that is 8 hours very well spent. No other task will net you the return of improving search rankings quickly, opening new traffic channels, adding fresh content to your web site and reaching prospective customers in venues you may not currently be exploring.

In future articles and videos we’ll show you how to create simple videos with equipment and software you probably already have, quickly and painlessly. If you’re searching for the number one way to get the most bang for your internet marketing buck video is the number one place to start.

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Does SEO Need a New Name?

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I’ve run into quite a few companies who call themselves SEO experts lately. And I’ve discovered that the term “SEO” which stands for Search Engine Optimization is being used to cover a wide variety of services. Some of these companies only do link building. Some only recommend keyterms based on how much competition and how much traffic each term has. Others say they do SEM or Search Engine Marketing.

Since both terms – SEO and SEM have developed diverse meanings, perhaps it’s time to change those definitions or coin some new phrases.

How have we come to this state of affairs where these terms have murky meanings and are no longer well understood? Let’s hop into the Internet Marketing Way Back machine and take a look.

Back in the early days of the web – we’ll call it BG (before Google) there were some primitive search engines such as Alta Vista, Dogpile (ewwww who would want to search through dog piles for info?) AOL and Yahoo. SEO was easy – you tossed some keyterms in your page code, added a title, a description and made sure you used those terms in your content. You trotted over to the search engine directories and told them you had a website, gave them it’s address and told them what it was about. They listed you in their glorified directories and visitors came to your door.

As more and more websites appeared, search engines were stretched to their limits trying to list those sites in any coherent order. Enter Google. They had this unusual notion that some sites were better than others at giving searchers the information they were looking for. Taking it one step further, Google thought those sites should be seen first, and came up with mathematical methods of presenting those sites first. And so SEO was born.

Optimization companies began paying close attention to the wide variety of factors that went into Google’s idea of what made a site worthy of being listed first. As Google grew, so did the number of companies offering to make your site worthy in the eyes of Google.

Fast forward to today. We’ve learned that being found is only one part of the battle for the bottom line. And we’ve learned that search engines are only one part of being found. Today there’s YouTube, Fan Pages, Blogs, Twitter, Local Search, Directories – the list keeps growing.

We can think of that bottom line battle as a three legged stool. One leg is getting our website address in all sorts of places where it can be seen. The next leg is getting someone to click on that address so they visit our site. The third leg is turning that visitor into a customer.

Each leg of that stool has it’s own sub specialties. Very few companies handle all three legs of that stool, even though they are all called Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Marketing companies.

If your Search Engine Optimization company only handles one leg of that three legged stool, you may not be any better off than you were before hiring them. If you only concentrate on search engines while ignoring other traffic channels, you won’t be growing your traffic as well as you should.

Even worse, if that company only handles one part of the many interlocking pieces that make up search engine traffic – let’s say they just make sure your pages are optimized and ignore building quality backlinks,  or industry specific directory listings – you’re really missing the traffic boat.

If an SEM company is only concerned with putting an opt-in box on your front page and doesn’t look at where and how the traffic is coming to that page, you won’t be making that all important conversion of visitor to customer.

There are many other examples, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. As the net has grown, Internet Marketing, Search Optimization and Social Media have become inter-twined. And each area has spawned specialties and sub specialties that are being lumped together under one term – Search Engine Optimization Expert.

This lack of clarity is confusing for everyone. An SEO company that specializes in building link campaigns isn’t “bad”, but they are also not handling all the pieces that make up a successful Internet Marketing campaign. I think it’s time we recognized and addressed the need for more specific monikers that let our potential clients know precisely what we as an SEO or SEM company will and more importantly, won’t do for the bottom line.

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Online Marketing – Does ANY one really make money?

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Well, we’ve kicked good old Admin to the curb and he’s off to find yet another fresh new blog to write another “welcome” post. So it’s just you and me today exploring the wonderful word of the web.

If you’ve been trying to get some online money for your business you’ve probably spent thousands of dollars Is makign money with internet marketing a game with no winners?and your sales numbers are probably not what you’d been led to expect. And I’m willing to bet that you’ve asked yourself the question I’ve put in today’s title. It may seem like the only people who are making decent sales numbers are the giants like Amazon or the people selling consultant services to you. The answer to the question “Does anyone make money online?” is not quite as easy to answer as it may appear.

I came online in September of 1997. Well in true fact I was online before that with the ill fated Sears backed Prodigy network but that doesn’t count. The point is in over 12 years of working online I have seen many individuals and companies make a good income online. Some made enough to retire forever. Some made enough to close their storefronts and rely on the net for 100% of their sales income. But the vast majority did not strike it rich. In true fact they have struggled for the past decade and work 80 hour weeks just to keep the doors open and the lights on.

Now before you groan and close this page and run away from the net forever I have two things to tell you that are absolute, incontrovertible fact.

1. Even though everyone in the online world doesn’t make money, I’ve never seen anyone who CAN’T – with some of the RIGHT help.

2. Most of the problems encountered in successfully hitting decent online sales are easy to resolve – with the RIGHT help.

Yes – the net is confusing. Yes -things change often. Yes -it is impossible for any one person to stay on top of all those changes and become an expert in every facet of internet marketing. And yes – every piece of the puzzle has to come together for your site to rise to the top.

The first thing you need to understand is that no matter how persuasive the pitch – there is no silver bullet. There is no magic elixir or “incredible secret never shared before” that will get your business to the top of the internet marketing heap. You will not have a new Ferrari sitting in your driveway 6 weeks after you open your doors, redesign your site or make a killer video for YouTube.

If ANYONE guarantees or even implies any of these things – RUN don’t walk as fast as you can and keep a real tight grip on your checkbook.  They are NOT the right help, they are merely trying to take your money so THEIR sales numbers go up.

In future articles we’ll go into how to find and choose the right help, but for now just be aware that anyone can claim to be an expert. Anyone can claim “guruhood”.  You sit there looking at dismal sales numbers, crunched by the economy and totally overwhelmed by the bazillion details that you feel you need to know about the online world. All you want is for someone to come in, take this pain away and just DO it. You’re easy prey.

What I want you to do is dig into yourself and rediscover that internal compass. You know the one I mean. That compass that swings to true north when you KNOW in your gut you have a really great idea. The one that pings when you hear a truly sound plan. It works for you in the offline word – guess what? It works in the online word, too! Don’t be afraid to use it and rely on it. If something doesn’t sound logical or quite right to you don’t say “oh well I just don’t understand all this techy stuff”. It doesn’t sound logical because it probably isn’t logical!

Moving on to #2 – the BIGGEST online sales mistake is to forget your customer. Stop thinking like your customer and you will fail. Period. That simple. Start from the very beginning. Who are they? How are they going to find you? What are they typing into a Google search box?

When they get to your site can they find their way around? If you’re selling something can they find it? If they find it is it easy for them to buy it? Do you help them make an informed buying decision? Do you give tons of details or just a short three word description? Do you provide over-the-top, gold plated, stellar customer service?

Look at your online presence and ask yourself two questions. If I were the customer can I find ME? and If I were the customer would I buy from ME?

If you can’t in real and true total honesty answer YES to those two questions you’ve just identified why you aren’t making money online.

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Hello Internet Marketing world!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Hello to the internet marketing worldAhh don’t cha just love the smell of a fresh new blog? All that beautiful pristine white space just waiting to be filled with thoughts and ideas. The first post on a new blog is usually a welcome to you – our unseen readers who inhabit this incredible space we call the web. And like this first post it’s often written by that elusive workaholic – Admin.

So, let me officially welcome you to our blog space and tell you a little bit about who we are and what we’ll be sharing with you here.

We’re Marketing experts, with decades of experience both on and offline. In our time online we have identified the many puzzle pieces that need to come together to form a successful online business. Then we went one step further and not only put those puzzle pieces together, but automated all the hundreds of tasks that must be combined to achieve the goal of making money online.

The world of Internet Marketing has grown to include so many puzzle pieces that it’s almost impossible to put them all together to form the winning picture. On page SEO, organic SEO, rankings, video marketing, YouTube channels, MySpace, Twitter, Google Places, Blog Rolls, RSS Feeds …. the list goes on and on. And the rules and major players change every day.

For example, did you know that Google makes 550 changes, on average, every year that affect how people find you through search? And what’s with that little blue bird and the Fail Whale? How do you present your business on Facebook? In short – how do you market your company, your products, your services on the internet?

Then just when you think you have it nailed, it changes!

I love this fast moving world of the net. I love it because I KNOW there are millions of people out there looking for answers and products and services. I can sit here pecking away at my keyboard and almost hear the babble of voices as they hunt through the billions of pages of information that form the interweb. When I get a website to the first page of Google, when I see visitor traffic on an uphill track, when I see sales start to rise it’s a real rush. I know I’ve managed to reach into my arsenal of internet marketing weapons and  score a bullseye on the constantly moving target that is the world wide web.

As the days go by, we’ll be filling these pristine pages with advice and tips and discussions on the many facets of internet marketing. We’ll cover social media, search engine myths, good email practices, video marketing and production and much, much more. We’ll make it simple. We’ll make it fun. We’ll bring our expertise and our passion for the web to these pages. Won’t you come join us?

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