Posts Tagged ‘Internet Marketing expert’

Tis The Season For Internet Marketing

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

It’s here. It’s been creeping up. It’s been whispering sweet nothings in the ears of millions of shoppers. Yes it’s the time of the year to turn the bottom line from red to black – Black Friday!

Are you ready? Are your customer service lines staffed with friendly, knowledgeable people? Are your warehouses jammed with product? Is your site being found in the search engines for the right keyterms. Is it in the local directories? Is it mobile friendly?

Can users navigate to the products they want, filling their carts and then checking out with confidence that their details are safe? This is the time to turn the bad economy and lackluster sales around.

If you’re like many retailers and ecommerce companies your sales this year are vital to the continuation of your business. Whether you’re in a mall or on Amazon, the next 29 days can decide the future of your business.

With the season upon us, it’s too late to make any major changes now. But if you’re a brick and mortar store just thinking about coming online, maybe this factoid will help you embark on an online venture in January.

Recent studies published in The Real Cost of the Digital Divide state “being online adds up to almost $8,000 a year in savings– and that’s after taking the cost of being connected into account. While online shoppers may save more by being connected, online bargain hunters may still spend more money.

Who can blame online shoppers for handling Black Friday events from the comfort of their favorite living room chair? I know I do everything I can to avoid the crowded mall parking lots, wishing for a personal urban tank of my very own if I have to venture anywhere near them.

With the convenience of easy price comparisons, shipping guarantees, and no hassle checkout, it’s no wonder the internet has become the largest shopping mall ever imagined.

But if you are a retailer and you’re not online, you are missing out on those sales that could put the black into Black Friday. If you’re already online and not being found in the right places, not being sure your site is a part of the mobile explosion, and not using internet marketing techniques effectively, you could be wondering what all the fuss is about.

In the coming weeks you, dear reader, may get tired of hearing me say four words – social marketing and mobile friendly. But I and other internet SEO and marketing experts know that those two phrases are vital to your online success in 2011.

If your site is not mobile friendly you are ignoring the 100 million people who use Smart Phones. Let me give you a real world example that happened over the weekend. I was having lunch with my son’s fiancée and her sister and brother in law. All 20 somethings, they all had their iPhones and Droids handy. The girls were strategizing their Friday shopping, hitting  web sites for price comparisons, coupons, and deals. They had a list – broken into two columns. One side was “hit the mall” the other was “hit Amazon”.

They pulled up the mall map and marked the stores each would check, and detailed how and when they would stay in touch via phone to maximize their bargain hunting efforts. Fast forward to next year and the bar code readers that work within smart phones will be linked to the comparison sites. Perhaps even feeding the all important customer reviews into that screen as well as other relevant information like warranty limits or recall notices.

Some of their decisions were even made by browsing the company website. Laughter exploded as they looked at some stone age sites – “Ewww look at this thing. Would you EVER want to buy from a site that looks like that?”. “Oh good grief when will these guys stop doing things in Flash. I can’t see a single product pic. I’ll have to go to the store and hope they still have one.”

Mobile is big – it’s getting  bigger every day. It is a part of the shopping experience for many, and will become a mainstay of that experience in the years to come.

I know that Amazon is huge. I know this from my beloved stats. I know the net is made up of real people doing real things online. But to watch two real people bypass every website except Amazon while planning their shopping trip, was enlightening. If you aren’t on Amazon, get there – today. There is still time if you burn some midnight oil to become a part of this behemoth.

And seeing these young ladies checking Facebook pages for customer reviews and company interaction was also enlightening. A major retail chain which will remain nameless was a turnoff to these shoppers because of how they mismanaged a customer post.  Presence matters, but engagement matters more.

My wish for you, Mr. or Ms. Retailer, is that you have a stellar Christmas selling season so we can continue our conversation on engaging netizens and turning them into customers far into next year.

Share

Internet Marketing Lessons My Sales Manager Taught Me

Monday, November 15th, 2010

A long time ago in what seems like a distant galaxy, far before the world of the internet, I had a most amazing sales manager. We were selling the first PC’s – Apple was only a scant 14 months out of the garage. And yet what this guy taught me was probably the best training for successful  internet marketing I ever got.

Ralph was an inveterate people watcher and we used to stand outside the store on the busiest street corner in Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland really did have foot traffic once upon a time and was the home to an astonishing number of Fortune 500 companies.

As people hurried by on their way to their cubicles and glass enclosed office suites, Ralph kept up a running commentary on what job they held, what their likes and dislikes were, even what they enjoyed doing  in their off time. Being fond of fact not fiction, I challenged Ralph to prove that he was right with what I considered to be guesses.

We started a “customer survey” with just five questions – what is your job title, do you use computers in your office, how long have your held your current position, with what you know about computers do you like them, hate them or are you afraid of them, and what do you do most in your off time.

We gave away an Apple logo’d sticky note pad and pen to everyone taking the survey. Ralph was incredibly accurate. The answers he gave for an individual before they took our survey had at least 3 of the 5 questions pegged correctly.

After about a week of running our little impromptu sampling I asked Ralph two questions. How was he able to size people up so quickly and how were those answers applicable to sales?

Ralph’s reply was that to successfully sell anything to anyone you had to know as much about them as possible in as short a time as practical. He would ask  seemingly friendly “warm up” questions to determine their level of computer experience, how they felt about computers in general, what “tribe” they belonged to, and anything else he could to determine exactly how he would respond to the customer and close the sale.

He also turned himself into that customer. He was a huge man – 6′ 4 and well over 200 pounds. But he could become a timid accountant in a heartbeat. His entire demeanor would change from the self confident sales leader into a hesitant, quiet, cubicle dwelling number cruncher. The prospect became comfortable with this mirror image of himself and would express his inner fears and sales objections, allowing Ralph to gently put them aside and close the sale.

If the self made tool and die millionaire wandered in, Ralph’s voice would boom through the store as he shook hands firmly with that kindred spirit. It was a lesson in the art and craft of salesmanship that I will always treasure.

When I began my online marketing career, Ralph’s lessons came to mind. I found that my most successful websites and clients were the ones that spoke the language of the unseen customer. The copy struck the right chords, resonating with the right “tribe” and matching the benefits to their objections,  and closing the sale.

Online marketing and salesmanship is more challenging than in person sales. The prospect is unseen, no visual cues are evident. But if you have truly taken the time to research your niche and it’s denizens, you know who they are, where they hang out, what is important to them and what product features they are interested in. You speak their language and walk their walk. By doing this, you identify yourself as a member of their “tribe” and build trust.

Yes, you understand their need. Yes, you are able to stop the pain and solve their problem because you understand THEM. You need the right keyterms to attract them to your site – the words they use, not necessarily the ones with the highest search volume.

If your market is fragmented – use landing pages to appeal to each segment. Use the language of that market segment to attract and engage. The voice in your copy needs to speak only to that segment, and not try to be all things to all people.

To paraphrase Caddyshack “be one with the customer, become the customer” and you will set sales records just like Ralph did.

Share

How Brick and Mortar Transfers to the Net

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Many business owners from the brick and mortar world come to the internet and feel that that it is alien territory, bearing no resemblance to anything they have handled in their previous brick and mortar world. Yet there are more similarities between online internet marketing and a store on Main Street than you might suppose.

Some business owners come to the online world thinking that like Jack, they have found a magic bean that will grow them an instant money tree. While in some rare cases this may happen, sales will grow over time online, just as they do on Main Street.

The net is not a replacement for a brick and mortar operation, at least not in the beginning. It is an enhancement. Old school brick and mortar techniques are still useful online.  The basics of marketing and advertising are still the same. The goal of attracting new customers and retaining and building old ones is still the goal of online marketing. The only difference is the marketing method.

Here are more similarities between the two:

Location. Your business location on Main Street is vital to foot traffic, your brand, your very presence in the area. Online your ranking – where you appear on the search page results is just as vital. Just like your brick and mortar location, your internet location needs to be easily found by the right target  audience. You would never open your storefront in a back alley. You never want your site to be relegated to the back pages of the search engines.

In the B&M world you can change your location by renting new space. You can’t do that online. You need to have a search engine expert help you rank on page one for the keyterms that your target audience is using to find your products – whether they’re trying to find you or a competitor selling the same or similar items.

Demographics. In the brick and mortar world, you chose your location based on research. You want to be close to your target audience. You don’t want to be miles away in a strip mall when the people buying your products and services are visiting the Mall of the Americas.

This demographic research needs to be done online, too. If you don’t  know who your target audience is, how can you sell to them? How will you write copy that will appeal to them? How will you know where they hang out? How will you know how to talk with them, how to engage them?

In the world of internet marketing, this research has an added element. Keyword research. Too often business owners (and even some search engine experts) look at only two factors – how many people are searching for that word and how many competitors are going after that word. This information is only one small part of  keyword research.  Using keywords that come from that research without digging deeper and finding the “right” keyterms is not going to result in good sales numbers.

If you’re selling ladies coats, and you insist on ranking for “coats” you will get more traffic. But you will also have a lower ROI due to the number of visitors who are NOT ladies and thus are not finding the product they are looking for. Don’t make the mistake of having “pet” keyword phrases. Let your market be your guide. They use their own pet terms to find you, and their language and terminology should be what you use to attract them.

Marketing. The same marketing you use in the brick and mortar world can be used in online marketing. Yellow Page adverts? List and/or advertise in the Yellow Pages online directories – there are about a dozen of them that reach world wide.

Weekly circulars? Set up an email campaign that is targeted to your buyers, your prospective clients or special interests.  Online coupons are just as effective as print coupons. An opt-in box on your site with a good giveaway can entice prospects to trade their email address for the special free offer to grow that mail list quickly.

Phone solicitation? Use social media – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Squidoo like sites. Used wisely and well these social sites will bring the customer to you – rather than cold calling and phone hangup frustration.

TV ads? One word – YouTube. Video is even more powerful as an online marketing tool than a 30 second spot on a late night cable show. And in actual fact you can use Google TV ads to make your own ad for commercial TV.

The best way to create an effective internet marketing campaign and successfully bring your business online is to remember the lessons of brick and mortar marketing. They compliment online marketing, they don’t compete with it. As a successful brick and mortar business, you are one step ahead of competitors who only know the online world. Use that hard won knowledge to carve out your online niche.

Share

Web Design – Navigation Mistakes

Friday, November 5th, 2010

We’ve talked about several web design problems, but the one area that will affect your visitors and impact your sales the most is how they get around your site. Navigation – clear, easy-to-follow navigation needs to be built into every design. The rule is simple – tell your visitor exactly where they are going to go and then take them there.

1. Forgetting that your visitor doesn’t know your website as well as you do. What might be easy for you to find could be very difficult for someone coming to your site for the first time. If you force them to do things like mouse over a navigation link to see where it might take them, you’ll find them taking themselves to another site.

Don’t hide your links. Don’t make them look so much a part of the page that they stop looking like what they are – a map to the rest of your site.

2. Forgetting to check your navigation links. Once your visitor has found your links, they will expect that you are true to your word and when they click that link it will take them where you said they were going to go. If they wind up on a page for cat supplies when they think they are going to a page for dog supplies, you’ll lose the sale.

If they wind up on an ugly error page telling them the cat supply page doesn’t exist, they’ll probably leave and not come back.

No one will trust a site that can’t send them where they expect to go with hard earned dollars.

3. Forgetting the visitors need come first. Organizing your navigational links in the order that fits your needs and not theirs is a sure way to lose business. Think like a visitor – what would they likely want to see first? Then where would they want to go next?

Use a menu tree to group your navigation links into logical categories. But don’t make each branch too laden with twigs. In other words, don’t have a menu structure on the first page that is so full of links it becomes confusing. It’s ok to just have category links on the first page and then more links on that category page.

If you’re finding that your menu tree is running to three or more sub categories, your menu is too overwhelming.

Always remember to give the visitor a way home. While ruby slippers may not be appropriate, a “home” link on every page is a must.

4. Forgetting that not everyone is flash or java enabled. There are millions of cute little java or flash menu and navigation scriptlets out there. And it’s really tempting to grab some of them and use them on your site.

Before you do, be sure they are simple and leave a small footprint on your page.

Be sure they can be “externalized” so every page can call them in from the same place as needed.

Be sure they are not cluttering up the code on your page making the poor, overworked search spiders go through 200 lines of menu code to get to the good stuff.

And always remember that not everyone has Flash or JavaScript enabled on their browser. Nothing is worse than having your menu NOT work at all for some visitors.

Navigation must be able to answer these questions:

  • Where am I?
  • Where have I been?
  • Where can I go next?
  • Where’s the Home Page?
  • Where’s the Home Home Page? (This is NOT a typo!)

Navigation must be simple and consistent.

Have a category Home page if needed and have a Home Home page as well.

A good, clear road map of your site will lead to customer satisfaction, increased trust, and more sales.

Share

More Web Design Faux Pas

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

In the last post we looked at the three most common issues that afflict websites. Today let’s delve into some simple but deadly-if-ignored, design flaws.

1. Forgetting not all of your visitors have Superman laser vision. While the Man of Steel can read tiny, badly contrasting text, most of your visitors can’t. There was a time when orange text in a 6 point serif font on a black background was common. Today, you’re probably only going to find that on gaming enthusiast sites that have been built by use good contrast on your text so it can be read easilytwelve year olds.

However, a new villain in text readability has crept into the mix. Grey text on a white background. You really must be certain that the contrast and the type font and the type size are readable by ALL visitors, not just the ones with super powers. If your visitor can’t read your web content, how do you expect to solve the problem that brought them to your website to begin with?

This goes for graphics, too. I often see graphics that create a bad contrast problem for parts of the text even if some of the page is readable. When you place an image behind the text, be sure that text can still be easily read!

Solution: Have your 90 year old grandmother check out your site. If she can read it – you’re good to go. Seriously – check every page of your site and be sure it passes the contrast test. Use black text on light backgrounds, or white text on dark backgrounds. Use a sans serif font, and unless you’re making a page like a privacy policy that no one ever reads anyway, don’t go lower than 10 points on the font size.

2. Forgetting to get out of the way of a sale. The golden rule of internet marketing is “Don’t do anything that gets in the way of the sale.” And yet I see this rule broken over and over again.

When I”m ready to buy, I want to buy NOW. I don’t want to go through a confusing or convoluted checkout process. I want to see ONE page, with a summary of what I’m purchasing, and all the details I need to enter to complete that purchase. I’ll sit still for two pages – but if you start hitting three or more, I’m outta there! As are most customers.

And boy howdy you better make sure all the links in that checkout process work! Every page, every process, every form field you throw in between the beginning and the end of the checkout process adds to the potential of a lost sale.

Solution: Use a one page checkout system whenever possible. Keep the information you’re asking the customer to fill in to a minimum. Start asking survey questions at checkout and you’ve lost the sale. Use a cart system that saves customer info so they can come back later and complete the process if they need to leave the page. CONFIRM THE SALE. Even if you send an email confirmation – and you should – have a “Thank You For Your Order” page to let them know you have successfully recorded their info and the sale. Showing a review of the order is a nice touch, but do SOMETHING to let them know you have the order.

3. Forgetting that text is text. Are you writing words? Use text. Are you displaying pictures? Use images. With the advent of CSS, designers can do almost ANYTHING with text. Images are pictures. Text is text.

Text is read by search spiders, images that say things with text are not. Image text is harder to correct. Image text adds to the size of the page as it loads. Image text is often hard to read. Use it sparingly – if at all.

Solution: Use CSS to add spiffy effects to text when needed. Save images for pictures.

4. Forgetting that not everyone loves Flash. This is probably my own number one pet peeve on the net. Flash intros are slick – and some of them are jaw dropping in design and function. But if I have already seen it once, do NOT make me watch it every time I come to your site. And don’t force me to watch it before I can get to the content.

The problem with Flash is that it can enhance a site or it can make it painful to visit. Poorly designed Flash elements get in the way of good user experience. Add to that issue the fact that not everyone is surfing on a fiber optic network or some <gasp> may not have Flash installed, or some may be using a Mac or a browser that may not support Flash.

Solution: Have an opt out button on your intro. Let me watch it if I want to or skip it if I don’t. Look at every Flash element on your site very carefully and answer question “Does this add a valuable customer experience?” for each one. If the answer is anything but a resounding YES, find another solution. Have a non Flash version of your site for your visitors to choose if they can’t or don’t want to have the Flash experience.

Tomorrow we’ll go over the last of the web design mistakes on our list, starting with the all important site navigation.

Share

How To Avoid the Three Biggest Mistakes in Website Design

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Ever since the long ago days when I taught budding webmasters the rudiments of web design I have been fascinated by the number of ways a website could be presented to the public. Your online presence can be a showcase for your products, inducing a visitor to purchase your goods and services, or it could become an instant turnoff.

Here are some of the most common mistakes I see in web design in the online marketing world.

1. Forgetting there are more browsers than just Internet Explorer. Microsoft in it’s infinite wisdom has always believed that their products are superior to anyone else’s in computerdom. And to reinforce that belief, they try to be sure those products do not follow the same standards every one does.

IE does not handle web sites the same way as other browsers do. As a web designer I’ve gotten used to dropping pieces of code into pages that basically say “Figure out what browser the visitor is using and if it’s IE – do this, this and this so that visitor can actually see and use my page”.

While it has gotten better, IE will still occasionally be the ONLY browser that will work with some sites. How bad is this? Look at your server stats or Google Analytics. There will be stats and graphs detailing who is using what when viewing your site. Notice how many of your visitors are using something OTHER than IE as a browser? Do you want to lose all those visitors because your site can’t be seen correctly (or sometimes at all!) if they are using Safari, or Firefox or Google Chrome?

Solutions: TEST your site – every single page, every single form including checkout pages in IE, Safari and FireFox at the very least. Add Google Chrome, Opera, and Netscape if you want to be certain 99.9% of your visitors can see and use your website.

2. Forgetting why people are coming to your site. I can’t begin to count all the websites I’ve looked at that forgot this vital point. Your visitors don’t care about you. Honest. They are at your site for one or more of these 4 reasons:

  1. They want/need information
  2. They want/need to make a purchase / donation.
  3. They want/need to be entertained.
  4. They want/need to be part of a community.

Your web site needs to solve their problems. It doesn’t exist  just as an additionalSolve visitor problems instead of talking about youmarketing channel. It’s not there just to promote brand awareness or increase sales. It has one primary purpose and everything else is secondary. Your web site needs to exist to solve one of the four problems above.

Solution: Make a list of the pages on your site – leaving out product pages if you have more than a handful of products. Next to each page, enter the number from the above list if that page solves that problem. If you can’t put one of those numbers next to a page – rethink why that page exists and correct it.

Also count how many times the word “I” or your name appears on a page. Then compare that number to the number of times your product or service name appears. Here’s a tool that will quickly handle that chore. Keyword Density Tool

Your website isn’t about you. At least it shouldn’t be unless you’re a Hollywood star or a major sports figure. It should be all about your potential customer and how you have exactly what they need to solve their problem and ease their pain. If your name or “I” appears far more often than your solution to a visitor’s problem, you need to rewrite that page copy.

3. Forgetting that your visitor doesn’t know what your site and company are all about. We have a four second rule in site design. We have four seconds to clearly let a visitor know what the site is all about. That’s half the time of the average “bounce” – how long it takes a visitor to leave your page and move on to the next site. In short – you have 8 seconds to grab that visitor and bring them deeper into your site.

Your tagline under your logo and the first sentence or two of the home page copy needs to give a visitor a CLEAR idea of what you are all about. Your page title also comes into this mix. Many browsers show that title on the address bar.

Have someone who is unfamiliar with your site take a quick look at the first page. If you can – time them and see how long it takes before they can  answer the question “What do we sell/do/service/answer?”

Solution: Make sure you have a GOOD, unique title for each of your pages. Use a tagline under your logo that actually describes what you do. “Big Hands of Hope – It’s all about compassion” tells me NOTHING about you other than you are probably a charity of some sort. “Big Hands of Hope – Saving Africa’s Children” may not be great copy, but it at least gives me a fairly good idea of what I will be reading on this site.

Tomorrow we’ll be back with a few more design tips that will help you make the most of your internet doorway.

Share

SEO and Viral Content

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Have you ever looked at a video on YouTube and seen views over 1 million, or even over 2 or 3 million? If you’re a red blooded marketing person you probably drooled as your eyes turned glassy dreaming about that many visitors.

You will hear internet marketers promoting software or programs or techniques that will give you viral content. But you will NEVER see numbers even close to 10,000 by using any of these “tricks”.  You see, these techniques forget a very important fact about content.  The content has to be something someone actually wants to watch/read/listen to.

One of the masters of the viral content game is OK Go.  Their latest video features a choreographed dance with dogs. More than 6.5 million people have watched it on YouTube.

According to Ok Go’s lead singer Damian Kulash, “Content succeeds online,” he said, “because it brings people joy, it makes them smile — it’s interesting enough to be passed along to friends and family members. That’s no stunt,” he said, “it’s just a matter of making something that’s genuine and interesting.”

There’s no amount of savvy or gaming the system that is going to make people like things that are not likable.

We can expand that last statement  (which completely explains why all those programs and techniques won’t work) to read “There’s no amount of savvy or gaming the system that is going to make people like things that are not likable or useful.

Here’s the thing about the net – it’s built around people. Long ago the page rank of a site was an indicator of how many other sites found the content likable and useful. But guess what? Things have changed. Now actual real people “like” content and share it with friends, colleagues, and family. Social has overtaken the net and people, not sites, determine who has the best content. (Which is why page rank doesn’t matter nearly as much as it once did.)

Take a good hard look at your content. Does it talk about you? How great and good and wonderful you are? Be objective – is that content anyone wants to spread to their circle of people? Probably not, unless you have one of those foot long gold statues that are given out at awards ceremonies in Hollywood.

What is your content doing for your visitors? Is it educating them? Is it answering questions for them? Is it making their lives easier? Is it entertaining them?

Are you providing a place for lively discussion of ideas on your Facebook page, your blog, or your forum? Have you built into your site or your social media efforts an engine that will allow more and more content to be built up over time? A repository of useful information in your field?

Or is your site like the millions of others on the net –

  • page one – welcome to my site
  • pages two through 1000 – here are my great products with a one line description and a fuzzy, out of focus product image
  • page three – all about me
  • page four – contact me

This yawner formula is certain to make you a part of the thundering herd of similar sites and prevent you from ever “going viral”.

You see what works on YouTube – the basics – entertain, impart USEFUL knowledge, provide LIKABLE content, works with search engines as well as with people. The more likable content you have, the more the engines will visit and the higher you will climb in the rankings, bringing more and more visitors to your site. Those visitors are asked a ton of questions every single day that begin with “Where do I find…”

This is what viral truly means. When the answer to that question is YOUR site, and YOUR URL gets passed around in FaceBook, Twitter, eMail, and Smart Phone conversations – you’ve GONE VIRAL.

Your site will never achieve the Holy Grail of Viralizm unless you have that likable content in place.

How do you create likable content? Stay tuned and tomorrow I’ll go into the nuts and bolts of how to create that likable content.

Share

Why SEO AND Social Media Marketing are an Investment

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Are you one of the companies who feels you don’t really need to spend any money on SEO or Social Media Marketing? I know times are tough. I know money is tight. And I know that many companies are tightening the budget. Search Engine Marketing isn’t free. Neither is Social Media Marketing. And cutting corners or even eliminating online marketing efforts completely can look attractive. But money invested in your online marketing can be the best investment you ever make for the health of your bottom line.

Let’s look at SEO first. Do you know what percentage of your visitors are finding your site from organic search? If not take a look at your Google Analytics. If those aren’t available, take a look at your raw server stats. If those are unavailable hop over to Alexa.com and look at their numbers.

Is it 60%? 10% ? 85% ? If it’s above 50% – will you be able to replace that many of your leads and prospective customers without spending any money in any other channel? Can you afford to lose those visitors? The net is a competitive arena, and if you don’t continue a link building campaign, if you don’t continue to create and distribute quality content, you will lose your organic traffic.

Maybe you’ve heard that Social Media is where it’s at. So you might consider pulling your money from the Search Marketing campaign and throwing it all into Social Media marketing. You’ll get some Social traffic, but without a properly optimized site it’s like pouring water into a leaky bucket.

Maybe you think that you can pull ether one or both inhouse. After all the mail room guy says he knows all about Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. And he probably does – as a user of those services. But will he know how to set up the profiles in a way that gets them found by the right audience? Will he know how to conduct the conversations that will get users interested enough to visit your site?

Social Media has two important areas. Setup is the most important. If your setup is not done well, you’ll be building on a shaky foundation laid in quicksand. Social Media is a conversion layer NOT a sales channel. You CAN NOT SELL DIRECTLY to friends and visitors on your Social Media channels.

Social Media is like a good ShamWow infomercial. It introduces your and your company and products to prospective buyers. You have to get them interested and then make them want to buy, and then convince them to buy from you.

With SEO they are ALREADY interested, you just have to move them to your site and show them what they want.

Tapping someone to run a Social Media campaign who knows how to use Social Media, not how to market Social Media is like taking your receptionist who knows how to use MS Office and having her pitch your new operating system software to the folks in Redmond.

If you are thinking about cutting back on your SEO or Social Media efforts, or doing one without the other, remember – you’re playing in the big leagues. The day is long gone when you could throw up a site and get visitors and sales almost by default. You’re competing against brands and companies who command armies of experts.

But the really cool thing about the net is that you can STILL level that playing field and you can go head to head against the giants AND WIN if your experts are good at building foundations, engaging in the right conversations, and making your site appeal to your prospects.

Holding back on your online marketing investments can prevent you from building up the momentum you need to overcome your competition. Holding back on your online marketing investments means you won’t see your conversions increase even if your traffic doubles. Holding back on your online marketing efforts means you will lose market share and stop growing. And in the online world, if you stop growing, in time you’ll just be another web site languishing at the bottom of those 5 million pages that aren’t in the first 100 search results for your products and services.

Share

When Online Marketing Consultants Are Like Bad Mechanics

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I have had an ongoing adventure over the past two months that has me frustrated, annoyed and ready to tear my hair out. Last night as I was thinking about the latest wrinkle in the situation it suddenly dawned on me that my offline experience was probably pretty similar to many site owners online experiences.

I have an older truck that has been a cherished member of the family for several years. She has one bad habit – she eats starter motors for breakfast. So when her latest one gave up the ghost, and being 1100 miles away from my favorite mechanic, I hopped online to order a new one. I wasn’t willing to pay the sky high prices at the local Auto Zone, so I got a “bargain” online. It arrived and was the wrong part. It looked about the size to power a Yugo, and was definitely not going to do an F350 much good.

So off to the net I go, and order from another company, while jumping through the phone calls and RMA process with the first company. Second part arrives, it looks much better, but it too is incorrect. By this time I am getting annoyed, and have the old part in hand. I march down to the Auto Zone and pay their sky high prices for the correct part. Installed and finally back on the road again. Life is good!

Ummm NOT. Next day my poor truck is not healthy. I now have three choices. Call in yet another mechanic to come out and see what’s wrong. Call a tow truck and have it towed many miles to the ONLY mechanic I know in the area who might do a decent job. Find the issue and fix it myself.

Armed with some online books and a shred of common sense, I did find the problem and will be fixng it soon. It was in a “jury rigged” battery cable repair made years ago by a less than sober, but very cheap, mechanic. It is also probably why I’ve been eating up starter motors. And boy howdy did the whole experience make me miss my favorite expert mechanic!

So here I am waiting for several hundred dollars to make it’s way back to my credit card. Out the shipping costs of sending the wrong parts back. And wasn’t able to go play in the traffic for almost two months.

Think about it. Haven’t you gone through the same thing with SEO experts, or internet marketing consultants orDon't monkey around when it comes to an online marketing expert even online marketing products? Your site isn’t converting well anymore, it’s a little long in the tooth, so you decide to hire someone to refurbish it. Or you need more traffic so you look around for a search engine optimization company.

You find that prices for SEO work and conversion specialists and site designers is certainly NOT minimum wage level. But your receptionist has a boy friend who “does a lot of stuff online” and he’ll help ya out for just a few bucks. Or maybe you look around online and find the sites that match online job seekers with online employers. Hey even better! Minimum wage in THEIR country is a lot less than minimum wage in America!

And then the fun begins. Your results are less than stellar. Your traffic goes into the basement. Your rankings are no where to be found. You’re banned from You Tube for duplicate content. And the good article sites won’t let you back in because they say you spammed them. And your new site design is tiny orange letters on a black background that is readable only by a 12 year old gamer.

Bottom line here? Whether you’re fixing the biggest truck Ford ever made for non commercial use, or a 1000 page online retail site, paying for expert help saves time, aggravation and money. The mail room boy isn’t going to be able to design your site so it converts. He doesn’t have the time to keep up with industry changes or hone his skills. Your cousin’s wife’s brother-in-law isn’t going to be able to optimize your site while working the night shift at 7/11. He too can’t keep up with the ever changing search landscape.

And that guy writing your articles for $5 a pop? You know, the one sitting in that country with the monsoons and landslides? His articles may read ok in his native language, but they sure do lose something in the translation to English!

I’m going to have my truck on the road, as soon as I find the time to replace that bad cable. And the first thing I”m going to do is drive it to the expert mechanic 15 miles away and have it checked out. I want to make sure there isn’t anything else “jury rigged” by that inexpensive mechanic that will rise up and keep me off the highway. I learned from my mistake.

Is it time for you to have your site checked out by a real online marketing or seo expert?

Share

How To Win The Internet Marketing Game

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I feel incredibly fortunate to have lived through the beginnings of the biggest revolution our society has ever witnessed.

The Internet.

It may be called the Electronic Revolution, it may be called the Digital Divide, but make no mistake. Computers, smart phones, and electronics all have on thing in common – the Net. In less than two decades it has swept just about every corner of the world, changing our lives and how we view ourselves and others forever.

The faceless, nameless millions who work, play, shop and hang out online are really not so faceless. There is a real live human being behind every keystroke, behind every post, every sale, every tweet. And yet we tend to forget that those real people exist.

When I put my first site online back in ’98, a community site that in it’s own way was a precursor of the socialReal people are behind internet marketingmedia world we know today, I was stunned. I sat there in all my geekiness watching stats. OH someone from Germany just paid a visit! How cool!. Hey there’s a person from Norway! Oh and look – East Bofunk is hooked in, too!

I sat at my computer into the wee hours of the morning watching people coming to my site from all over the world, people I didn’t know, had never met, people who were mere wisps of electronic signal. I visualized these people, they were more than just dots or numbers, they were real people reaching out to me across thousands of miles and THEY WERE BUYING my services – without my having to do a single thing.

This was heady stuff! And then these people started conversations on my forums. They exchanged information with each other, they talked about the net and their own lives. They were real people, there was flesh and blood behind those electronic signals. A hundred sites, then ten thousand, and today 10 billion are serving these people in ways never imagined. An integral part of their lives, a place some call home. A social revolution undreamed of just a short time ago.

Today, 92% of babies born have their picture online before they are 6 months old. Today, smart phone carriers breeze through a living maze in minutes thanks to Google Earth maps. Today, we have a front row seat to every event happening anywhere in the world (except maybe China) whether it’s a flood in Pakistan, a political upheaval in Iran or the new Fall line of a major fashion house. Today, 1 in 3 products is bought online.

Are you a part of this revolution? Are you engaging your audience on Twitter and Facebook and chat boards? Or are you still waiting for a flesh and blood person to walk through your door? Even if they DO walk through your door, they will be changed. They will be better informed, thanks to their online research. They may ask you why you have negative reviews about your shipping process. They may ask you what your Facebook Page address is in case they have questions after the sale.

You see, no matter how much things have changed, no matter how much online marketing and social networking have become a part of the sales process, your customer is STILL real. They are still flesh and blood, they still respond to the same sales process, just in a different media.

Have you embraced the social revolution or are you being trampled by it? If you don’t understand it, if you don’t engage in it, you’re not hanging out where your customers can be found. And you’re losing prospects and sales.

It’s easy to jump in. Just remember that those faceless people are real. The way you speak to them when they walk into your establishment, or call you on the phone works just as well in online marketing as it does offline. No matter how far reaching, or how pervasive the revolution, one thing has NOT changed. REAL people are sitting at that keyboard. The same people who used to walk in or call your business.

The only difference is now you can reach a LOT more of them, and they won’t be your real life friends and neighbors. Make them your digital friends and neighbors and you’ve won the internet marketing game.

Share