10 online marketing myths (or: A little marketing knowledge is a dangerous thing)

(This article originally appeared on Mad.co.uk )

It’s very common for a business’s first foray into internet marketing to be a low cost DIY job, but this approach can carry risks.

Here are ten of the most common misconceptions about internet marketing, and what you need to know to ensure you don’t fall foul of a DIY disaster.

“It’s all about traffic”

Having loads of visitors to your site is a great ego boost, but if those visitors disappear again straight away, it’s pointless. The real measure of a site’s success is in the business it generates. Having 20 people visit your

Danger Ahead

Danger Ahead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

site and buy your goods or make an enquiry is clearly better than having 2,000 visitors that do nothing.

Intelligent web marketing is targeted to attract the right visitors, not just any visitors.

“A good website will attract visitors”

If you think you can pour resources into getting the perfect design and words on your new site, and then sit back and watch the visitors stream in, you’re about to be sorely disappointed. Getting a new site off the ground is hard work, no matter how fantastic it looks at the outset. Visitors will not appear out of the blue. You will need to work hard to promote you site, and not just once.

“Search engine marketing is all about meta tags”

If you are striving to appear at the top of search engine results for key related phrases, you might think that meta tags – the bits of code that offer search engines information about your page contents – are the answer. Not so. Seeding these tags with keywords and phrases is now only a small part of the mix. Some search engines consider them, especially the METAdescription and TITLE tag and they can show in results, but Google now ignores METAkeywords tags altogether for the purposes of ranking.

“Once I’m at the top of the search engines, I can stop trying”

There are always X thousand (or even X million) other sites competing for the same key words as yours. Keeping a high listing position means constantly staying on top of things, adding content to your site, posting in places that will give good back links, updating, adding blogs, news, reviewing and tracking. Put simply, it’s not a one off job.

“Hiding extra content on web pages will fool the search engines”

It’s a very bad idea to try to fool the search engines by hiding extra keywords using invisible text or a tiny font. The search engines don’t like it, it’s classed as spamming, and you could end up being penalised with a lower listing, or even have your site banned so that it doesn’t appear in listings at all.

“If I buy lots of links, I can instantly boost my search ranking”

When deciding how ‘important’ a site is, one of the factors search engines take into consideration is the links that point to it from elsewhere on the web. However, Google et al’s algorithms have become much more intelligent, and they no longer just count links, they also assess each site’s authority. If this is low, it will have little or no effect on your listing position.

“A higher Page Rank means a better chance of being found”

Page Rank (PR) is a score of 1-10 that Google assigns to some URLs to indicate their relative importance in comparison to the rest of the internet. It sounds important but in fact what really matters is how your sites fares in Google’s listings compared to those with similar key search terms, and this could bear no relation to your PR.

“All traffic comes from search engines – everything else leads back to that “

There are hundreds of ways to get traffic to your site and they all complement each other. Posting in forums, on Twitter and Facebook, getting people talking about you on blogs and in the online media can all bring in traffic, while also producing good links back to your site, which can in turn help improve your search engine listing.

“I can use a Twitter profile / Facebook to drive masses of traffic to my site”

Just like any other form of web presence, social media profiles take time and effort to build, maintain and attract an audience – and in this case, interaction is more important than ever. Social media can be a great traffic driver, but if you’re only promoting to your own offering, or posting endless links with no engagement, you’re forgetting about the ‘social’ in social media.

“There is a definite formula that works for all internet marketing”

Internet marketing is never simply a matter of carrying out a series of set steps. As with any marketing, to be successful, you need to understand your target market and what interests them, where their conversations are happening, what they are searching for, and so on. This takes time, and for some, means a DIY job isn’t quite as cost effective as it first appears.

Need some help? Check out my Internet Marketing Mentoring service, starting from just £25 a month

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Guest Post: A Glimpse Into the Future: The Essentials for Business Entrepreneurs

This is a guest post from Mark Kirkpatrick, an experienced writer in mass communication in its relation to business globalization.

guestimageIn the business world, it pays to stay ahead of the curve. Marketing, technology, and basic business tactics evolve all the time; and if you aren’t keeping up with the newest thing, it’s easy to get pushed aside. Here is a look at where the business world seems to be going, and what tools will be essential for entrepreneurs in the near future.

Network Advertising

Gone are the days of cold calling and blind elevator pitches. Today’s businesses are taking advantage of the growing power of social networks.  Sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn can help businesses expand their reach and influence.

Cloud Sharing

Sharing documents, reports and other files with coworkers is a cinch when businesses utilize cloud storage. What’s more, one cloud system allows the integration of office, mobile and home storage options, streamlining how data is compiled and shared.

Wireless Printing

Companies like Canon, Lexmark and Hewlett-Packard introduced web-enabled printers that offer businesses the capability to print documents directly from a mobile device or tablet. Rather than having to carry around a ton of printed documents,professionals can now keep their needed documents on their devices and print them when they are needed.

Touch Enabled

Since the introduction of smart phones with touch screens, the technology has constantly expanded. Now computers and printers are touch screen enabled. Also, as the technology grows and spreads, the price of such devices has started to drop. Technology that was once only available to high end customers is now easily accessible for even the smallest startup business.

Zero-Clients

Companies that require many desktop computers but don’t necessarily need the additional operating system are turning to zero-client PCs. They are smaller and more cost-efficient than their larger desktop counterparts. Zero-clients come with a fast onboard processor and speedy boot up times. An added bonus? They can’t get viruses. Because they are simplified computers: they require minimal maintenance and don’t need regular updates like other systems. They are great options for business that want to provide basic computers for multiple employees for a smaller investment.

Voice Control

Voice control has grown leaps and bounds since it was first introduced. Though it won’t completely replace a keyboard, or an actual human, voice control technology is useful for dictating short notes while you are driving or just too busy to write something down. Along the same lines is voice recognition. Software, like Dragon Naturally Speaking, types your spoken word as you speak it. One word of caution on these tools, they aren’t always 100% accurate and do take some getting used to. Take some time to practice with them before completely converting to them for business use. Nevertheless, they are very useful for certain tasks and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Go Old School

Email and social media have changed the way we communicate. To really get someone’s attention, send them a letter. Even better, make it handwritten. Emails tend to get deleted; tweets get buried in a busy social stream. But a mailed letter to someone isn’t as easy to ignore. It’s a forgotten communication method that still packs a big punch.

As technology and marketing strategies evolve, the business world evolves with it. Adopting new tactics as they come about can really help businesses succeed.

==

Today’s guest blogger is Mark Kirkpatrick, an experienced writer in mass communication in its relation to business globalization. In addition to writing for 1800-number.com’s blog, he also enjoys covering business finance, technology and online networking.

Social Media Marketing – is it REALLY all that new?

new2Let’s be real – Social Media Marketing isn’t really all that new…

We were clicking, viewing, commenting and sharing, long before the term ‘social media’ was coined.

The world of business is going mad for social media, with a recent study suggesting 92% of businesses in North America are using it in some way.

This is exciting of course, but in this excitement, many seem to have forgotten that while some of the technology may be new, the phenomena is not.

In fact, this interactive methodology has been at the core of internet marketing since its very inception. Web pages are, after all, interactive and multimedia by their very nature. We were clicking, viewing, commenting and sharing, long before the term ‘social media’ was coined.

In fact, ‘social’ has always been as aspect of marketing. So, how can the lessons of the past inform the way we approach social media marketing today?

Mistaken identities

What is new to many businesses trying out social media for the first time is the idea of anything other than direct selling. On your website, if you want to you can say what you do, why you are the best at it, ask people to buy and no one will bat an eyelid. The same goes for advertising, of course. But in the social media space, this is not so. Or at least, it can’t make up the majority of what you say.

If you’re familiar with networking in the real world, this will come as no surprise, but if you’re not and you try to use your social media profile as advertising space, you’ll be sorely disappointed at the results. Put simply, your social media profile should be more akin to your whole business persona, not just the advertising part of it.

In real life, you wouldn’t just sell, sell, sell (I hope), you would be informative, knowledgeable and helpful. Knowing the value of word of mouth, you would build connections, have conversations and generally get involved in your community. You would take an interest in others and sometimes, your conversations would be with a view to selling, but sometimes they wouldn’t.

Once you think of it like that, your social media strategy should look a whole lot clearer.

Same game, new pitch

So once we accept that social media goes beyond simple advertising, what else can we learn from the marketing that went before? What can we do to ensure it’s not just chat for chat’s sake?

Three techniques that can work wonders in the social media space are: offering free information, helping promote others reciprocally, and giving exclusive offers to others in the online ‘community’. But, again, these techniques are much older than the space they now inhabit.

Ever given out a free fact sheet to anyone that visits your office? Or helped out a person you meet at a conference by passing on the details of a third party? Or offered a ‘buy on get one free’ deal via your shop window?

These classic promotional techniques existed way before social media, so what’s the lesson here? A lot of social media marketing isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it’s about taking what we’ve collectively learned from other marketing activities (in our offices, at networking events, on our websites) and looking at how these can be carried through to our social networking personas.

Making it work for you

The beauty of social media is that the initial outlay is exceptionally cheap compared to many other forms of marketing. Get yourself a profile and then listen carefully to the buzz that’s happening around you. Follow people you’d like to emulate, and those you’d like as customers. Engage as a useful resource long before you begin to add straight sales techniques to the mix, and above all, keep it up. Again, just like any other form of marketing, social media is about keeping a consistent presence. Drift away, and so will your audience.

Need some help with your Social Media Marketing strategy? Give our Mentoring tryout package a try!

 

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Why Small Business Should Start Taking Blogging More Seriously

 

mappa_blog

mappa_blog (Photo credit: francescopozzi)

Do you blog?

Back in 2010, I talked about why small businesses should blog more, and since then I believe it’s become even more important.

If you started blogging in 2010, the chances are that you were pretty early on in your industry (unless you’re in SEO or Social Media) and so you should be reaping the rewards right now, getting more visitors, more comments and more sales than your competitors who came to blogging later (or maybe still don’t blog!)

If you’ve still not got around to starting a blog though, all is not lost. Make 2013 the year that you really start to explore how blogging can work for you and your business.

Why?

Businesses that blog get:

  • More pages in search engines = more chances for potential customers to find you
  • More traffic = more chances for you to prove to your potential customers that you are credible and here to stay
  • More comments = more chances for you to interact with your potential customers
  • More credibility = more of a chance that potential customers will come to you rather than your competitors

What’s not to like?

Setting up and customising a blog isn’t difficult, and you could be up and running within a couple of days.

Writing isn’t as hard as it sounds, there are plenty of articles out there to help, and of course you could ask me about my Blog Mentoring Package.

So here are 5 blog posts you should read if you’re looking to kick start your blogging in 2013:

  • 5 Reasons Your WordPress Blog Should Be Self Hosted
    While it’s not a bad thing to start with a freebie blog, if you want to be taken seriously you really need to look at self hosting, and this blog post tells you why. Need help with self hosting WordPress? Drop me a line to nikkipilk@gmail.com
     
  • 21 Things You Could Blog About Right Now
    Often people put off blogging because they think they won’t have anything to say; this blog post talks you through 21 different things you could blog. Even if you post one a day that’s 3 weeks worth of blogging! No excuses now!
     
  • 67 SEO Tips for Blogging Newbies
    This title is a bit of a misnomer to be honest; even if you’ve been blogging for a while, this handy guide will more than likely tell you somehing you didn’t know about how your blog can help you to be found in search engines with very little effort.

  • Tips for Landing a Guest Post Every Time
    Guest blogging is one of the best traffic generators you’ll find, and if you’re not doing it yet, you should be! This post talks you through how to become the perfect guest poster and have people lining up to feature your posts.

  • Bloggers Have You Established Your Route to Fame?
    Once you have written a blog, how do you go about promoting it? If you feel as if you’re talking to yourself at times, this post will walk you through how I promote a blog post – it may help you to promote yours.

So, blogging; it’s not as hard as it may seem, but trust me, you will reap the rewards.

 
If you’re already blogging and think you’re making the most of your blog, check out our 30 Day Blogging Challenge ebook, as a kick up the bum and a good solid workout for your blog and you.
 
I’d love to know more about your blogs – post a comment below with your blog address so I can have a look!
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So you’ve written a blog post, now what? [infographic]

Another great infographic from Unbounce with a fab checklist on what to do once you’ve published your blog post. Do you do all these things?

 

Fancy £1000 of free email and direct mail marketing a month – for free?

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Yeah, I know, they say that you get nothing for nothing in this world, and you get what you pay for and all of those other cliches.

But having seen this offer Tweeted by a couple of my friends, I checked it out and it seems that it is legit.

Royal Mail, via Huddlebuy, is offering £1000 of free marketing to 2 lucky people!

The prize consists of:

  • Data lists of 2,000 prospects
  • 1000 E-mailshots
  • 50 Postal Mailshots
  • Up to 40% off Parcel Postage
  • 2hrs of Free Marketing from Huddlebuy (1 time only)

Not just once (apart from the last item) but every month for a year!

If you’re a start up or small business then this could really help out, which is why I’m sharing it with you.

Well, that’s not the only reason, because if you win via my tracked link, *I* get the same too – and I quite like getting things for free 🙂

What’s the catch?

I can’t really find one. OK, Huddlebuy are obviously looking to build up their email list, as it seems that you have to sign up with your email address.

And they’re hoping this will go viral because the more times you share / tweet / email the link they give you to other people, the more entries you get.

But let’s be honest, you can unsubscribe from any email newsletters, and you don’t have to share if you don’t want to, you can have just the one entry.

So really, I don’t see any catch (or I wouldn’t be participating myself)

What do we have to do?

Just visit the promotional page (that’s my tracked link BTW) and submit your email address to be in with a chance – the page will guide you through all the sharing stuff if you want to do that.

Good luck!

More info on Huddlebuy (from their website)

Huddlebuy are the UK’s and Europe’s largest daily deals site for small businesses and entrepreneurs – providing exclusive deals to a rapidly growing community of more than 50,000 businesses.

 

 

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New Email Marketing Tactics

A guest blog by Samantha Peters

English: email envelope

English: email envelope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When a consumer wants to find the best business credit card for his company, he is going to start looking for as many options as he possibly can. If a traveler wants to avoid airline bag fees, then he will want to be placed on lists of airlines that email out airline specials that pertain to his needs.

More people are connecting to their favorite vendors through email, and that is causing more vendors to market to new clients via email. The key to email marketing is to utilize new tools that are available and update older methods to reach an audience that will be interested in your marketing message.

Social Networking

One of the advantages of social networking is that you can reach millions of prospective clients from all over the world at the same time. The way that you can utilize this resource to help build your email database is to allow customers to click on a button that will get them placed on your email list.

When customers are reading through your latest offerings on the social networking websites, they are often inspired to want more information on your product and your company. When you include the option to get more information via email in your social networking presence, you are doing a lot to increase your marketing exposure.

Segment Your Email List

The problem with email lists is that people will often send a single message to everyone on their lists. Do marketing surveys with your email clients to help segment your list into categories that will apply to what you are trying to sell. Your customers will want to fill out marketing surveys because it will insure that they only get information on the products they will really be interested in. This increases the effectiveness of your emails and helps to prevent people from opting out of your emails.

Create Emails for Smartphones

Smartphones are becoming extremely popular and more people are getting their emails via their phones. When you create your marketing emails, keep smartphones in mind. For example, keep your subject short so it will be easy to read on a smartphone and avoid including images and attachments that will make it difficult to open an email on a phone.

Marketing with email is constantly evolving. If you want your company to be able to take advantage of a growing audience of prospects, then you need to find effective ways to use marketing emails.

This Guest Post is written by Samantha Peters, an avid blogger who manages The Tech Update  and enjoys writing about new marketing tactics and new developments in email marketing strategy.  Samantha can be found on Twitter here.

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64 Marketing Strategies for Pinterest

Another great infographic from SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com – if you’re new to Pinterest or thinking of trying it out, then this is worth a good read.

Want to give Pinterest a go? If you’re not sure where to start, my Pinterest Management Offer may help set you on the right track.

Five Ways to Spice Up Your Email Marketing Strategy

A guest post by Samantha Peters

Română: Emeil

Română: Emeil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spam is the defining nuisance of online marketing – a mediocre sales gimmick nearly as old as the web itself. Indeed, junk email makes the job of small businesses genuinely wanting to reach out to current and potential customers via this common communications tool that much harder. In order to keep your marketing emails from heading anywhere other than into the trash bin or from destroying your attempts at reputation management, they need to be spiced up a little bit. To do that, adhere to the following:

STRENGTHEN YOUR SUBJECT LINE

Your subject line is like the opening sentence of a book. If it’s enticing and interesting, people will want to read on. If it’s dull and repetitive, most folks will pass on reading further. In roughly seven words or less, define the point of your email in the most excitable way possible.

AVOID SALES CLICHES

That doesn’t mean that all you need to do is CAPITALIZE EVERY LETTER or throw in sales words like “Free” and “Deal” into your subject. In fact, emails that contain such writing and language usually never make it past spam filters. But even when they make it to an inbox, most people don’t give these cliché phrased emails a second glance. Skip on sales cliches, opt instead for original language.

PERSONALIZE WHENEVER POSSIBLE

Whether in the subject or when addressing the recipient, use their name whenever possible. If you’re a laid back sort of enterprise, then stick to the first name. If you’re no-nonsense, use the appropriate Mr., Mrs.,Ms., or Dr. designation. Using the full name, however, stinks of automation and data mining, so personalize with this in mind. Proper personalization goes a long way as far as increasing the chances of an email being opened.

MAKE THE SENDER SEEM HUMAN

Too often companies send mass-emails from an address such as “Info@BusinessX.com” or some other impersonal entity. Whilea marketing firm may advise you against using your personal name for these emails, a real name of any kind is sure to lead to more opens, reads, and results. You will come across as the human you really are – and what’s wrong with that?

FOLLOW-UP ON PARTICIPATION

When someone participates in a survey or poll you’ve provided via email, follow-up with a phone call or additional email, personally thanking that individual for taking time out of their day to help you help them. Follow with an itemized list of ways in which customer participation in surveys and polls improves your business practices and makes for a better product or service for them.

The effectiveness of email marketing may seem moot in the age of social media. On top of that, years of relentless spam in our inboxes has resulted in a most cynical outlook on email marketing. But with some creative wording, a little respect, and the ability to reach out to those who took the time to respond, you’re sure to spice up an otherwise unwanted email in a customer inbox.

This Guest Post is written by Samantha Peters, an avid blogger who enjoys writing about new marketing tactics and new developments in email marketing strateg

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Social Media Marketing: How Much Is Too Much?

 – A guest post by Henry Fitzgerald

From the consumer side, you know when enough is enough.

Maybe you reach that point after reading 26 consecutive tweets from Café Le Nom about lunch and dinner specials. Perhaps you draw the line at 50 Facebook notifications from one vendor. Or maybe you call it quits when your Gmail finally figures out how to re-route all messages from Café Le Nom as spam.

Either way, consumers know when they’re fed up. But, how do businesses and service providers know when to draw the line? How do they know when they’ve gone too far? What are the steps to recover from overdone social media marketing and get on the path to recovery?

Whether you suspect you’ve gone too far with your company’s social media use or had no idea that people can become fed up, check out these tips to help gauge your marketing.

What to Do:

When it comes to marketing via social media, there are definite do’s and don’ts. If you haven’t considered this concept before, you may have already gone too far. But don’t worry, you can always improve!

1) DO: Use Email Marketing

Businesses can be pretty quick to discard email as an effective marketing tool. However, with the smartphone revival sweeping the nation, people are showing a renewed interest in email. Eighty-five percent of people surveyed said that their mobile email is becoming increasingly relevant for daily life while one in three consumers said they use mobile email now more than ever. These numbers all add up to a solid case for email marketing. With people using email on the go, sending out deals, offers and coupons directly to consumer’s inboxes means they can access information on the go, from just about anywhere.

The key to being successful with an email marketing campaign is the frequency of delivery and the wording. Do not, for any reason, use spammy subject lines like, “OPEN NOW!!! UP TO 95% OFF SPECIALLY MARKED ITEMS FOR THE NEXT THIRTY SECONDS!!” Your messages will be flagged as spam and redirected accordingly. Make your subject lines honest and appealing and keep your messages between the 2-5 times a week mark. Send them during the day when people are likely to be out shopping and keep the message short but informative.

2) DO: Blog!

Blogs are an underutilized resource for many larger businesses. People like to be updated with your business, but might not necessarily want to read about it on Facebook or Twitter. Linking to your company blog gives people the option to check it out, without being too overwhelming. Keep the blog updated with fresh, interesting content and be creative to make sure that your readers keep coming back.

3) DO: Use Social Media Wisely

All in all, just be wise with your social media use. Follow the golden rule. If you don’t want your social media bombarded with company links, coupons and gimmicky posts, then don’t do it to others. Post a few times a week to keep customers interested and avoid posting more than a handful of times each day.

What Not To Do:

1) DON’T: Fill Up News Feeds

This is fairly self-explanatory. If you notice that you’ve posted a lot at one time, you can bet that you’re probably filling up news feeds. This act will put you on the fast track to be un-friended or un-followed. Over-sharing is the number one reason people will cut you from their social media radar. Keep your updates limited to avoid being axed.

2) DON’T: Bombard Inboxes or Sent Out Spam

If you decide to use email marketing, do not take it too far. Don’t send more than one email a day and avoid spammy subjects like the one listed above. If you send out messages too frequently and if they contain the spam phrases, Gmail will call you out before consumers can even find the unsubscribe button.

3) DON’T: Ignore Feedback

Customers are the most vital aspect of your success or failure. If you receive feedback, either positive or negative, don’t ignore it. If they’re trying to tell you something, listen. You’ll be glad you did.

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter: @hfitzy34

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