Archive for October, 2010

postheadericon Corporate Blogging 101

It seems that everyone has a blog these days; whether the reasoning be leisure, cause related, or business driven, you can’t deny the fact that the blogosphere is growing more and more populated. With that being said, if you’re a company in hopes of creating a blog to bring in potential clientele or even to just get an idea of consumer opinions and reviews, you should consider these pointers on blogging and make sure your blog isn’t just another, well…blog. You want to make sure that blogging will benefit your company and that it’s effective to your internet marketing campaign.

Know Your Role.

So first and foremost, does your company even need a blog? Would your company benefit from blogging and will people be interested in what you have to say or even sell? These are all important questions to ask yourself when considering corporate blogging. What will you talk about and will your consumers be able to relate to what you are saying? The blogosphere is pretty versatile, so it’s pretty important to know your place in the blog world. There are plenty of competing companies out there with blogs so it’s a good thing to check out the competition to see how effective their blog site is and figure out how you can contribute to the competition.

Identify Your Audience.

Profiling your target audience and getting to know your readers is a significant step in identifying your platform in the blogosphere. Who are you talking to? What can they benefit from your writing? The whole goal of having a corporate blog is to reach out to consumers in hopes of reaching your company’s objectives. With that being said, you don’t want to compose a blog directed to just anyone, you want to reach a target market of people who will actually benefit from the products or services you’re sharing with them. This in return will provide you with relevant and concrete sales leads from consumers who actually need what you’re offering.

Interact and Engage.

One of the greatest perks from maintaining a company blog is that you actually get to interact with your site visitors. You can get a better idea of what they’re looking for, what about your blog or company they like/dislike, their reviews of your products and information you’ve posted and much more. Even creating enough buzz could result in users sharing your blog’s content with others may generate more followers and potential patrons.

Look Good and Talk the Talk.

Organizing and editing your blog’s content regularly will automatically eliminate and prevent most site performance issues. It is important to add some visuals that will attract your users because  let’s face it, some people are more visual learners and would rather watch a video or look at a diagram than to read a lot of words describing the same information. And who wouldn’t want to look at a few demonstrations of the blog’s content? Adding some videos and images can be effective and helpful, but you must ensure that your blog is not cluttered with these “accessories”. Any graphics, images, hyperlinks, and special effects to your blog should be clean and not overpowering. No one wants to visit a blog that has a slow loading time because there are images and crazy looking fonts that intimidate and sabotage their visit. This is a big turn off to any web user when trying to retrieve information about something important to them.

Make sure that whatever you write is creative, relevant and enticing. The more you ignite visitors the more likely they will return to your site, share your content with others, and provide consumer feedback. Tagging your keywords from posts and adding links can also boost a high SEO ranking, so make sure that is incorporated with blog posting as well.

Make your blog name, titles of posts and subtitles attention grabbing. With an interesting blog name you can automatically grab the attention of a user and create a differentiation between you and your competition. This notion also works with the titles of your blog posts.

Blogging can be pretty effective as long as you have all of the right tools and plan your strategy wisely. As long as people out there can benefit from reading your blog and as long as you make it worth reading, you really can’t go wrong.

postheadericon Common Web Design Mistakes Should Be Avoided

Web design can be a pretty time consuming and complex process. With that being said, when there’s complexity, mistakes come along with it. There are tons of mistakes that both companies and web designers make when developing and designing a website. Out of those mistakes there are a few that are the most common.

When you visit a company’s website, there are usually expectations that you set for that site. You expect an attractive and easily navigated site that will provide you with your interests. Sometimes consumers will base whether or not they will make a purchase or whether they will ever return back to that site on how the website looks and performs. This is all pretty reasonable right? You should consider some of the following common web design mistakes when looking to hire a professional to design your website.

Keeping Up Appearances

When you have a website that is easy on the eyes and not cluttered with ads and unorganized content, your chances of having consumers frequent your site are more likely. I mean who wants to navigate through a website that deters you from your goal of finding what you need by excessive pop ups, overly used flash images, confusing fonts and colors and a slow loading time? Having excessive graphics and ads not only hurts the eyes and is annoying but it can cause a slow performing site.

Also, it’s very important to have consistent, creative and clean content. Grammatical errors are a no-no so it’s good to edit and spare your company’s site from confusion amongst consumers.

Navigation and Usability

It shouldn’t be difficult for users to navigate through your site, period. It’s good to have a well structured site that makes the user’s visit smooth and accomplished. It’s important to not create obstacles because the more confusing the layout, the less likely that visitor will return. Drop down menus, excessive hyperlinks and registration tables are prime examples of obstacles that may drive consumers away. No one gets joy out of strolling through a site, only to realize you must jump through hurdles just to get the information that you need. It’s exhausting. Make sure everything is obvious and clean cut, without too much clicking of the mouse.

Testing, Testing

Testing your site to make sure its browser friendly is one of the most crucial steps to take when making sure your company site is usable. You want to make sure your site is easy to find in any search engine and from any given source. Easy accessibility is key. So test your site as much and as often as possible to make sure it is consistently visible and performing well.

There are so many mistakes that can be made when designing your website, the ones mentioned are only a few of the most common mistakes that are made. The best way to avoid these mistakes and others is proper design planning. When you breakdown a structural plan for your site and seek consultation with a professional web designer, you can’t go wrong. You’ll only find yourself constructing a sophisticated website that web users will want to visit again and again.

postheadericon Target and Maintain Your Website Audience

Ever so often companies who market their brands digitally are confused as to why certain aspects of optimization and/or social media marketing may not work for them. There are common mistakes that are made not only when it comes to identifying your target audience but also retaining any leads and consumers.  A lot of times this feeling of failure to maintain leads and potential patrons result from simply not knowing which market of consumers to target and not knowing how to market to maintain them. As it’s been said before, it’s great to receive new leads but maintaining the consumers you have and making sure they’re building a relationship with your brand is just as important.

One of the main reasons for missing the target audience mark is that the target hasn’t been quite identified specifically. Too many times businesses may get a little overzealous and think that marketing to any and everyone to cover all bases is the way to go, but not so much. You want quality leads that are relevant to what your company has to offer and you want consumers who will actually benefit from your service. The ideal scenario is to generate great sales leads that will provide longevity and loyal consumers as opposed to one time deals. You want to build relationships between your brand and patrons so that they won’t want to go to your competitors the next time around. Word of mouth is one of the most ancient and effective ways to receive new leads so it’s pretty important to maintain customers after the first sale so that they can also refer promising leads in your direction. When people find a brand that works for them they are usually pretty excited and want to spread the word!

Figuring out your target can be done through a series of questions you may have to ask yourself. A general first question to ask would be: What kind of consumer can benefit from my company’s products or services? You should try and create a profile for a typical consumer who would request your services which ultimately will define your target audience.

Another good way to figure out your intended audience is through measurements. Through measurements and analytics you can produce a profile for your company’s average consumer through page views, keyword searches, comments and reviews, content sharing, and much more. Basically you can find out your target consumers wants and needs by their requests and interests within your site and web pages. Measuring and monitoring is a continuous process that requires time and consistency so make sure you’re constantly analyzing your company’s web performance to produce leads, maintain customers, improve company internet performance, and to predict trends with your consumers.

Also, knowing how much information to share and knowing when content can be excessive is key. We like to call it content control. The content that you put out reflects your company so it’s important to have relevant and creative content that your site visitors can relate to. You also want to keep them wanting to know more about what your business can do for them. Once a consumer actually connects with a brand, they’re usually there to stay; hence the brand relationship.

All of this may seem simple but it’s more complex then you would think, which is why so many businesses can and have failed at internet marketing campaigns.

postheadericon Internet Marketing and the Holiday Season: Economically Speaking

We all know the economy isn’t what it used to be, and while there still continues to be speculation regarding whether the economy will ever recover and when, business must still go on. Companies are shifting more and more towards internet marketing rather than traditional marketing considering it is cost friendly, and that’s important if you want to survive the recession and still achieve your company’s online marketing objectives.

With the 2010 holiday season right around the corner we will see consumers smart shopping for the best deals and ads online rather than leaving the comfort of their home to shop in chaos. With this popular method of shopping, internet marketers should make preparations before the holiday season hits and make sure they are on top of their game when it comes to content editing, analytics and measurements.

One of the benefits of online marketing is that it requires more of your time rather than dollars. Make sure your company sites, blogs, and social media pages are up to date with creative and effective content…and are updated frequently. By doing this, you will attract potential consumers much better and maintain the ones you have already established a relationship with because maintaining the customers you already have is just as important as attracting new ones. If you are always putting out fresh and interesting content then you should expect positive responses from your site visitors. This should be constant regardless of the season, but during the holidays consumers are paying closer attention to what differentiates you from your competitors. This also works hand in hand with search engine optimization. By making sure your site has great content you will make your company more visible and search engine friendly.

Also, make sure to stay on top of your website measurements so that you can recognize trends and popular promotions you may advertise again next holiday season. This is also beneficial when you start receiving sales leads, you should note what company specials you offered were well received and which marketing methods proved more effective. Make sure you’re staying on top of new developments and improvements to popular marketing tools like search engines. You can measure your site’s peak traffic volume and performance as well as analyzing past holiday season shopping trends.

Don’t just advertise, connect with patrons. A good way to connect with consumers is by blogging. If your maintaining a a blog, again make sure it is filled with relevant and creative content and it provides details about your products and services. Blogs are the best forums to do this with considering there aren’t any character limitations, it’s an outlet for customer feedback and reviews and it’s free! The same goes with other social media sites when it comes to customer feedback and interactivity.

While it seems the worst of the economic downfall may have passed, it still has yet to fully recover. Recession can be a scary word for business owners, but there’s no need to panic considering there are tons of resources out there that can allow your company to market economically and effectively.

postheadericon Internet Marketing Trumps Traditional Marketing

So it’s pretty evident that technological advancements won’t be slowing down anytime soon or maybe ever. In fact, I’m sure we haven’t seen anything yet and as we move further and further away from the Dark Ages digital marketing is proving more effective and even preferred compared to traditional marketing. More and more we rely on technology to do almost, if not all of the work for us which is proving it’s effectiveness on the way we shop, sell, and advertise. There are quite a few ways marketing digitally has made campaigning for your company online easier and more accessible.

1. Cost Effective: I’m sure we can all agree that it doesn’t hurt to save a little money. The cost to advertise and market in a print ad or a television ad can definitely break your budget, which is where internet marketing saves the day. Internet marketing offers sources to market your company for an inexpensive rate and depending on the source, can even be free! Isn’t “free” such a great word? Whether it be pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing, or even hiring a professional to do all of the above, there’s no denying that at the end of the day you save more and you still get your message out there to the masses. If you compare the cost of printing ads in a newspaper as opposed to the expense [or non expense] of a social network or e-newsletter, you will see which method proves to be victorious.

2. Easily Measurable:  When you advertise your company digitally it’s easier to measure trends as opposed to putting faith into conventional advertising where results aren’t as immediate. You can measure the amount of people who visit your site, your social media pages, blogs, and any other internet marketing tools you may use. You can see everything from how many people click on your web links, viewed your page[s], what special offers were more popular, and even content they have shared from your company’s website. Through these measurements, it is also easier for you to interact with your fans and consumers considering you know who’s visiting your sites and again depending on the marketing source, you may also get insight on their needs and wants through their online comments and reviews.

3. Attaining Your Target Audience: Your target audience is a group of people that you market your products or services to based on their needs and wants. Basically, the people you know will buy your product. By knowing your target audience it makes your marketing campaign planning simpler and again easily measurable. Even if you don’t have an idea of whom your target audience is, online marketing can still assist in identifying your audience through tools like analytics and measurements. It is very difficult to find your target audience through traditional marketing considering it’s hard to measure who’s read or watched your ads and feedback isn’t as attainable.

4. Internet Marketing is a Consistent Source: When you market on the internet, it’s easy for people to find your company and services considering any content you put online is permanent. This means that fans and potential patrons can research and find your company based on specials, advertisements, and search engines anytime they want. Your company becomes more visible and it’s convenient that consumers can always search what they need and find your company to be a great match. Anything done in print can easily be tossed away and never be seen again, as well as television ads where you may see a commercial one minute and then the next minute it’s gone and you can’t go back to review it whenever you like.

These are only a handful of reasons why big and small businesses are jumping on the internet marketing bandwagon. While there are so many benefits from switching from traditional marketing to internet there are still some that haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet. But eventually we all will have to face the music; internet marketing is King.

postheadericon Social Media Marketing On the Rise: Measuring Your Brand Awareness

Nowadays all you hear about is Facebook this and Twitter that, but these social networking sites aren’t just for the leisurely users or the tweens and teens. Big and small businesses are starting to become hip to these same sites as well. I mean why not? It’s a great source for reaching out to thousands and even millions of people as fast as a snap of your fingers. It’s pretty amazing how useful social media can be for online advertising, marketing, and branding a company but while it is impressive, it also can be a lot of work to maintain a social media page and measure your brand awareness. There are quite a few things any company should take heed of before starting a social networking profile alone or even when hiring a professional to do it. Measuring your company’s brand awareness through social media sites is a key factor and one of the many processes for maintaining a social page.

Know Your Audience and Goal

Before anything, knowing your target audience and your company’s objectives when running a social media page is key. You should know who you’re targeting and what you are marketing to them. When you have this already set, everything else should come easier. By knowing this information, quality and relevant content you put out on your page can automatically generate sales leads from your followers and fans. As you may already know, there are plenty of social networking sites out there [Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Youtube, etc.], so it is wise to choose your social media platform based on your company’s budget, what you may need from the site, it’s relevance to your target audience, and how effective it will be for your company’s sales. Majority of social sites are free and pretty easy to set up which is pretty beneficial for company budgets but eventually you will pay with time and consistency. By consistently updating your page[s] it is very likely that you will build more fans which in return can produce different ways to measure your branding.

Know Which Social Site Works Best For You

There are different ways to measure your company’s growth rate and brand visibility based on which sites you choose to participate in. With sites like Twitter and Facebook, you can measure the amount of fans/followers on your page regularly, monitor feedback from consumers such as comments on status updates, retweets and sharing links that you post. With sites like Youtube and Blogs you can measure the amount of views for video posts, subscribers to your page, comments and content post views. All of these measurements are pretty effective when trying to create and predict trends on a normal basis and even during specials and promotions your company may offer. You can also measure your growth through sales calls and requests from fans. You can see changes in consumer needs and wants and interact with them fast and frequently.

How influential is your page?

Another great way to analyze your brand’s awareness is by measuring any influence your company has had on your fans through your measurements of trends. You can find this out by staying in the know with your followers’ loyalty, the content of their comments, and if they share your page information, updates, and images with others in a positive way.

Don’t forget about the competition!

`With social media marketing on the rise you shouldn’t forget the competition because you can also expect your competitors to be keen on this effective tool. By measuring even your competitors’ page[s] you can also use their findings as a source of measurement for your own stats. By knowing how your competitors are doing will give you a sense of where you may be ranked or should be as well as effectiveness for their brand.

So now that you know some of the basics of brand awareness through social media marketing, it can be much more complex, you should carefully weigh your options and a possible role in the social marketing world as well as planning your company’s internet marketing campaign all together. With much planning, monitoring and maintaining your social media efforts, positive measurements and a high social media marketing status can be attainable.

postheadericon What is SEO – Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, may seem like a foreign language to some, but it’s a term business owners should become familiar with.  SEO is a method of internet marketing that is used to help companies improve their website visibility by optimizing the site to rank high organically across all the major search engine results pages.  One of the main goals of SEO  is to have your site listed on the first page of all the major search engines when someone types specific keywords for the products or services you’re marketing  for.  When you type a keyword or phrase in a search engine you will find the top 10 results listed on the first page and the next 10 results on page 2 and so on and so forth.     The results you receive on the first page are seen as the best, most relevant results to your keyword or phrase, and to have the top rankings on that search engine; ultimately this is where you want to be because site visitors can become customers.  Being one of the  sites listed on the first page of one or more major search engine is highly favorable.  Remember, the more pages you cycle through the less relevant the results become to your initial search inquiry.

So how exactly does Search Engine Optimization work and who can utilize this technique?  Well, you can research SEO and try to go at it alone, but it can be a time consuming ordeal, so it is recommended that you utilize a SEO company to take care of the process for you.  Not to mention, it’s wise that you work with an internet marketing consultant first to get a professional opinion about whether or not your site needs an SEO overhaul and the best way to use it to your advantage.  Search engine optimization can be a strategy used alone or within a broader online marketing campaign, so it’s best to find an internet marketing consultant or SEO company that’s highly skilled and with a significant amount of experience.

Search engine optimizing is a process that is constant and continuous. Before the process begins, the consultant will analyze your site’s overall health, content and format, imagery, keywords in use,  and other aspects of your site to get a benchmark of how your site is doing at the present time.  Also a review of your overall internet marketing campaign including current seo efforts in place, paid search campaigns, social media efforts, company blog , etc. is also highly recommended.

So how do you know if you even need an SEO overhaul for your site? Ask your self, Where do I rank on the search engines?  If your answer is something other than page one, then you need an SEO overhaul!   Is your website easy to navigate or isn’t user -friendly?  Then you need an SEO overhaul!  It is essential to have a clean, easy to navigate, and content rich website that is user-friendly, if this is not the case then consult with a web designer to help improve your site’s overall look and fell.  Once you have a user friendly company website that is rich with quality content the SEO process can begin.  You should ask yourself, “Does this site provide quality answers and relevant services to inquiring patrons? If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, more than likely you should find a professional to make search engine optimization work for your site.

When choosing a SEO company to optimize your site, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Initially, make sure to ask how many years the company/consultant has worked in this field and/or been in business. You should also check for an extensive portfolio that will exemplify their techniques and services and also check to see if they have any marketing experience. It’s also beneficial to know whether they can perform an analysis of your competitors’ sites to better understand popular trends.  When it boils down to it, you want to work with an SEO company that is consistent and effective.  Read up on customer reviews and testimonials regarding their services, but also take it all with a grain of salt. While reading customer reviews and site forums can help an inquiring consumer to trust the company their researching, you must also remember that they are still opinions from strangers. Another alternative to researching a company online is to also get a recommendation from someone you know and trust.