Published: Sunday, 18 May 2014 17:16
Optimizing an online store is a lot different from the way a marketer usually handles online promotions for non-commercial websites such as blogs, forums, directories etc. Devising a strategy that drives e-commerce sites to success can be quite challenging, especially if the company is working under a market constraint. The most effective and inexpensive means remains through SEO content, but that is not enough and other marketing means need to be implemented in order to make an e-commerce site bring in the profits.
Reasons why it is a challenge:
- Linking, voluntary or natural, is not really a preferable option to all. Other sites will allow links only if they earn a commission from the links.
- The ideas presented in content are restricted, especially if the focus is solely on endorsing physical goods.
- The sheer volumes of pages that need to be optimized are overwhelming. Most e-commerce sites have a separate landing page for each product and each page is directed towards a particular segment of people only. Optimizing each page, though not an impossible task, is a tedious work that requires hours for it.
To generate more interest, not only do the right pages need to be optimized, but strategically placed internal links, focus on non-promotional material and creating market awareness are also equally important.
So, here are some ways that you can employ for your on-site optimization to bring more traffic towards your e-commerce site:
Increase web traffic – Using reviews generated via users can help you to put the e-commerce site within the top 10 list. Search engines such as Google are known to utilize user activity as a means of ranking a site. Generating more user views help in determining which pages are most visited and then updating those pages regularly. Properly promoting it via Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feeds, email marketing will help significantly to drive traffic back to your site to purchase that item (this is where an SEO Consultant comes in handy).
Update the home page – The home page is the first page that any user sees and is an indication of what the site consists of and how useful it will be from the buyer’s point of view. The homepage needs to be updated continuously and be impressive in order to attract more visitors.
Keyword targeting – Assigned keywords should be completely relevant to those pages which form the landing and title page. Keyword targeting can be used in meta descriptions also. For example; while selling a mobile phone, if the homepage keyword is ‘affordable mobile phones’, the category page would be ‘cheap <brand name> mobile phones; the product page would be ‘buy <brand model> phones’ and the information page would have the keywords ‘<brand model> specifications’.
Product optimization – Use the targeted keywords in the description of the product as well as the Alt text features of the product images. This helps in increasing the relevance score of the pages.
Using user friendly permalinks/URL – The targeted keywords for a page should ideally be on the URL. At the same time, the URLs should be Search Engine Friendly (SEF) - clean and without too many words, symbols, numbers, etc.
Removing duplicate content – The URL is very important as one site must be redirected through a single URL only. Both www. version and a non www. version must redirect to the same page. Also, use Copyscape to determine whether your page content is unique or a replica of another manufacturer selling the same product.
Create linkable pages – Add cornerstone contents to your website. This not only generates user interest in the page, but also educates visitors and makes the site look better. Adding resource pages, blog links, award displays and downloadable objects makes the site more interesting from the buyer’s point of view.
Store Widgets – Let customers know what items are related, top selling, recent additions to your store. This helps upsell and get more items into their baskets.
Add videos – Increase your page views using video sitemaps. A video helps in generating traffic through universal search and a video post within the site improves the site rankings.
Add search features – Building up the site’s usability depends a lot on how easy the site features can be utilized by the users. Setting up a search feature makes it easier for a visitor to navigate through the site. It also increases search rankings in the Google search engine algorithm.
Include blog links – Blog entries pull in visitors. They not only improve the internal linking structure of the site, but also allow more flexibility in using keywords for SEO purposes. Blogs foster relationships with readers and other sites having similar usage. A blog reinforces brand name and builds up credibility of the site.
Apart from these few means, creating widgets for your e-commerce site, developing an easy interface and allowing sharing mechanisms on the site also help in directing more traffic towards your site, which in turn will ultimately help you to generate more leads and convert them into sales. So, optimize and promote your e-commerce site using these methods as mentioned above to enjoy an augmented ROI.
Published: Monday, 12 May 2014 01:00
Good content comes from within
When it comes to ramping up an email marketing campaign, one of the biggest challenges small businesses and nonprofit organizations face is coming up with useful content to send out to permission-based mailing list subscribers. Yes, you could send the latest sales pitch or plea for donation, but if customers aren’t ready to part with their money, what value does that newsletter issue bring them?
In this guide, we’ll give you tools and ideas for creating compelling content that will provide value to your email recipients and keep them opening your messages each time they arrive in the inbox.
Share Your Secrets
As a business owner or organization leader, you have a wealth of secrets to success that have brought you to where you are. Everyone loves to be in the know, so share some of those insights with your subscribers. A few examples of “secrets” that could serve as valuable content:
- Restaurants or other food service businesses could share a few favorite recipes with their fans. The chef could share recipes of items on the menu or provide exclusive dishes to readers. Even general cooking tips — remedies for an over-salted recipe, perhaps — can keep an audience coming back for more.
- Craft stores could provide do-it yourself guides to some of the finished products they offer. Crafty customers will love the new challenges and will come into the store to purchase the materials they need.
- Liquor retailers can list drink mixes or offer wine pairings for special meals, particularly around the holidays.
- Consultants can use their newsletters to share advice with fellow business owners on best practices for growing a business or growing a mailing list.
In these examples, the main content of the message will feature content the reader can use in his or her own life or business. But that does not mean your entire email has to be devoid of a sales pitch. You can add a “sell” piece with a coupon block that can offer a percentage off the products and service mentioned in the newsletter.
Those in other consumer-oriented businesses might be thinking, what kind of tips can I offer? There are plenty of opportunities for you to provide knowledge-boosting content to your subscriber base.
- Accountants can share their knowledge with customers. Finances and taxes are always a big concern for people, so share ways to get financially organized and better prepared to deal with the IRS come tax time.
- A boutique could offer up unique gift ideas for that hard-to-shop-for customer. Think outside the box (pun intended) for gift ideas, particularly around holidays.
- Spas can give readers home relaxation tips or ways they can keep that professional manicure looking good.
- Home furnishing stores can provide customers with great tips on how to better decorate their home or how to find great values to make their house look great.
- Consignment stores can offer tips for getting their used stuff cleaned up and ready to sell.
- A doggy supply store could offer tips on pet health, hygiene for dogs, and dieting ideas for the overweight pup. List special events to get people — and their pets — into the store.
The takeaway here: Think about your business and ask what benefits you provide to your customers and clients. Then use your email communications to highlight those benefits to your customers in an informative manner.
Rely on Your Customers’ Expertise
Another option for content is to make your customers the experts. Sometimes, because they’re not as invested in and knowledgeable about your products and services as you are, they have a simplified perspective. Often, they value things about your products and services, or they have uses or tips, that you might not even be aware of.
- Let your customers give advice. Instead of giving subscribers your tips, ask a few of your best customers what advice they would give to fellow customers. For example, a gardening center might send an email newsletter with customer tips and ideas for creating indoor gardens. The gardening newsletter could include related offers for plants mentioned in the newsletter.
- Be an expert interviewer. Interview your customers about their experience or expertise and share the interview with your audience. For example, a travel agent might interview a customer who recently took a trip to a featured destination. In this case, including a few photos from the customer’s trip would be a great addition (after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.)
Turn questions into content
Customer questions posed to you through email, over the phone, on social media, or through any other channel are a perfect base for creating content. Chances are good that more than one person has the same question, so your answer can benefit many. Take the question and answer and turn it into an article for your newsletter.
For business-to-business organizations, monitoring social media sites — particularly Twitter and LinkedIn — for industry-related questions and trends can provide similar content. Take a question posed to a group and answer it in your newsletter. Doing so can demonstrate your expertise in your industry.
If it’s recommended that you get his or her permission before publishing the question in a public forum such as your email campaign.
Share your humanity
Nonprofit organizations can add content that takes the reader beyond just a plea for donations. Organizations should publish “mission statements” that bring the mission of the group to life. For instance, a local Leukemia Society could feature a child and family dealing with the disease. Doing so puts a real face on the issue for readers.
Profile staff members as well and share their story of why they’re involved in the organization. People like reading about other people, even if they don’t know them personally. And anytime you do a story about a person, make sure to include his or her picture. That makes the story come to life.
While the main body of your newsletter should be an article that ties to your mission statement, nonprofits can add a soft sell by listing ways subscribers can help without donating money. For example, they could donate used clothing, time, or goods. Make it obvious that there are many ways they can help.
Share content from others
Content from third-party sources
Not everything you offer in your email communications has to be original content. Sharing third-party expertise that can benefit your audience is a great way to deliver value without having to write it all yourself. Of course, when using third-party content, make sure to properly attribute where the content came from and link back to the original source. And don’t just repost another article. Explain why you like it, and what you hope your readers gain from reading it.
There are three kinds of third-party content:
Collectible Content, Pre-written Content, and Ghostwritten Content.
Collectible Content: Gather a handful of articles from the web that are related to your industry and the interests of your subscribers. In your newsletter, provide a brief description of each article followed by the link to the piece. This is a fast and easy way to put your newsletter together with quality content. All you have to do is share your opinion. It’s that simple.
A quick way to find content when you need it: consider saving articles from your favorite email newsletters and blog posts in a folder in your email inbox. This way you won’t have to look far for content.
Another great place to find articles to share with your audience is Google News. You can enter a search term such as “small business marketing” and the news database will pull up all articles related to small business marketing posted within the last few days. Just pick the ones that work for your audience.
You can automate this process as well by having Google News email you a list of the latest articles on a particular subject each day. Just enter a search term into Google News and then scroll to the bottom of the web page to sign up for instant, daily, or weekly alerts. And of course, your favorite social media sites can provide great suggestions for articles. If you see someone tweet or post an article, save that URL in a document and refer back to it later.
Before linking to a website, keep in mind that some online publications may have a reprint policy that includes linking. Generally, though, in this age of interconnectedness, it should be more than alright to link to an article you’ve found, just as long as you don’t claim to have written it yourself.
Pre-Written Content: There are many articles written by experts that are available for you to reprint (for free!) in your email fact, the web is filled with these types of articles. You just have to know where to look for them. Two recommended sites:
If you use an article from these sites, you will need to publish it in its entirety and include the author’s name. At the end of these articles the author always includes a paragraph link. Usually these links are harmless and just lead to the author’s web page for products or services. Be sure to check out these links before publishing the article so that you’ll know what content your audience will see.
Ghostwritten Content: The third option is to hire someone else to write your articles for you. It’s not as expensive as you may think. Best of all, with ghostwriting you retain all rights to the article and you can put your name at the top as the author. Just give the writer a subject, word count, example of what you believe good writing to be, and a firm deadline.
Wondering where to find quality writers? Here are a couple places to start your search:
Keep in mind that you’ll want to consider in advance what themes and ideas you want the articles to cover. This way the content will be higher quality and will truly stand the test of time.
Share your content through social media
Re-purpose your content across social media
Hitting Send on your email communication does not signal the end of your content’s life cycle. You can continue to use it across multiple social media channels in an effort to reach more customers, members, and prospects by linking to it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or whatever social media site(s) you use.
Conversely, you can use social media to promote upcoming email content and drive subscribers. A day or two before your email is scheduled to go out, tease what the email is going to be about and direct fans, friends, and followers to sign up if they want to get this valuable information.
There are many ways a business or nonprofit can generate compelling content that will keep customers and members opening and interacting with their email campaigns. Once you have a handful of ideas, you’ll find the process is easier than you thought and you may even have more ideas than space to use them, which is a good problem to have.
Published: Wednesday, 30 April 2014 15:02
If you are looking for some innovative ways to promote your business, try using Foursquare, which is a social networking website that’s based on location. The term also refers to a game and a software for mobile devices. Users generally use a device specific application or text messaging to "check-in" at venues. So, registered users can use this web and mobile application to connect with friends and update their location. You too can use the platform of Foursquare to highlight specials to its users who check-in nearby and get useful data for your business from the location-based campaigns.
If you are wondering how to give your business some leverage using Foursquare, here are some tips to help you get started:
Persuade users to shout out: Though users can get the word out about your offerings by telling the same to their friends on Foursquare, it will be much more helpful if they shout out about the same on their Twitter profiles too. So, encourage them to shout out and you will see how amazing such a word-of-the-mouth publicity can turn out to be.
Engage your customers with some fun activities: You can create some unique tips list or to-do lists with a touch of fun and humor for the Foursquare users. Entice these people complete one or more of the tasks, and ensure that they get rewarded for the job. This will not only bring the fun side of your business to the forefront but also help customers to be at ease while they are at your place.
Create Foursquare specials: There are some tools that you can use to create a wide range of Foursquare Specials, which are customized for your customers and your venue. You can use Mayor Specials where your most loyal customer acts as the Mayor of the venue to unlock the special offers, Check-in Specials that’s unlocked by a user who has checked into your venue a certain number of times, Frequency-based Specials where users with frequent check-ins get rewarded, and the like. The basic idea behind these specials is to empower you to develop more engaging and long term ongoing relationship with your customers.
Promoting specials via mobile: You can actively promote your business offerings to Foursquare mobile clients (those who have Androids, iPhones, and Blackberry), thereby drawing their attention to venues that offer special deals to them. For example, a Foursquare user near your store can be informed about special treatments that he or she will get on visiting your store. In case you run a restaurant, a Foursquare user who has come to the venue can be informed about how he or she could unlock a free snack or discounted beverages.
Integrate it with other tools: You can use Foursquare more effectively for your business by using it with other social tools like Twitter and Facebook. You can also make videos or write a blog to attract and encourage the customers to use Foursquare. You can even thank the users who have checked into your location on Facebook or Twitter, and invite them to share their experiences and offer feedback, which in turn will help you to better your offerings.
So, start now and see how Foursquare can give a boost to your sales figures.
Published: Wednesday, 23 April 2014 17:05
Till a few years ago, marketing meant spending a deluge of money on a top notch advertising campaign, something which only big companies could afford. Then came the internet that changed everything with the concept of online marketing. Again, big companies with fat coffers and attractive websites scored the goal, which small entrepreneurs could hardly afford. However, a new revolution surfaced in the recent years with the arrival of social networking. Money was no longer the major concern as anybody and everybody could enjoy the benefits of social networking. Connecting with people and getting your message across was never so easy. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc provide you with instant connectivity and the power to reach out to thousands of people in no time at all.
Unlike the monologues of traditional advertising campaigns where businesses used to bombard customers with their message, social networking paves the path of multiple conversations. You can use the same to boost your sales as these platforms help in:
Communicating with your prospective and existing buyers: You can create a direct channel to connect with your present customers’ base and woo the prospective ones. Let them know about special deals, discount offers, end-of-season sales etc before others get to know about the same. Such an act will build trust and help you to forge a strong business relationship with your clients, resulting in augmented sales figures.
Listening to your customers: Encourage your customers to speak and act on what they have to share. If they praise some of your offerings, show a proactive approach by asking their suggestions for bettering the same. On the other hand, if they criticize a specific product or service, ask them how the same has failed to match their expectations so that you can set things right. Remember – participation is the key to effective social networking campaigns. So, make people feel important by seeking their opinion and act on their feedback to prove that you value their judgmental power.
Encouraging people to publicize your offerings: Word-of-the-mouth publicity helps a lot in getting the word out about your offerings. It adds to the credibility factor too as common people and not someone associated with the business is praising the products or services. So, to increase your sales, you should encourage your fan base or people in your contact list to spread the word. You may even offer some freebies or special deals for people who can successfully promote your offerings on the web. You can take a cue from Coca-Cola’s Facebook fan page that has taken the unorthodox step of displaying content generated by their users, while many other brands shy from doing the same.
If you are now wondering how you can get started with your social networking campaign, these steps can help:
- Create an account for yourself as an individual on some social networking sites
- You may create another profile for your business
- Add people to your friend list
- Expand your friend list. Add friends of friends, people from your industry or people interested in the kind of products or services you deal with.
- Make your business page informative and interesting
- Create a group about your business. Invite people to join the group. The more the members, the better will be your reach. Options like Become a Fan in Facebook enables a user to express his/her liking for your product or service. It creates a fan base, which in turn can act as your potential customer base. What’s more, new users also get drawn in through these existing fans.
- Include blogs in your group. Fill it with all the latest updates and activities regarding your business. Add a personal touch so that your viewers feel more at home. Ask for reviews of your products or services from existing customers. This way, you can get assess to the mood of people, and have an insight into what works well and what doesn’t. Avoid sending bulk emails as it would lead to spamming.
As in any business marketing, you need to concentrate on a few basic things in your social networking campaign to make your business flourish:
Identify the target market: Conduct a thorough research into your business area and finalize on your target area. Identify your potential customers and try to reach them instead of taking your products and services to everyone.
Keep track of the changes in the market: You must be aware of the present market trends. You need to have knowledge about everything that may affect your business. A creative mind and smart innovation will give you the edge over your competitors.
Act on time: It’s a cat and mouse game. The faster you reach out to the people, the better it is for your business.
Have an open mind: Prospective and existing customers can often help you see something that you have either ignored or missed. So, it pays to have an open mind, listen to the people and act upon their feedback or suggestions. Remember – the willingness and agility to learn and interact effectively with people is the essence of social networking.
Though any one can create a social networking page, you need to identify the ones that can offer maximum leverage to your business. If you want to know more, stay glued to this place.
Harnessing Social Networks to Boost Sales - Part II Continues here.
Published: Monday, 14 April 2014 19:54
Social bookmarking is nothing but an online reference of your favorite websites, which can be easily created and accessed from any place. Given the ease with which you can access your favorite websites using this method, it is hardly surprising that there are several social bookmarking websites available. Digg and Del.icio.us are currently the most popular social bookmarking sites.
Given the fact that social bookmarking websites are constantly reinventing themselves, this mode is becoming extremely popular with SEO consultants as well as individual users. One of the primary reasons for the popularity of social bookmarking among SEO consultants is the marked increase in traffic, which is easily visible and verifiable. Following are some of the main reasons why you should make social bookmarking a significant part of your SEO campaign.
Reaching out to a Wider Audience: SEO consultants are always looking for tools that will ensure that their websites reach out to the target audience. Optimization helps in ensuring that your website is noticed and made visible by the search engine robots. However, this does not mean that your target audience will actually visit your website. Social bookmarking is an excellent way to reach out to the millions of people who will actually benefit from your website. In other words, when you publish your website and its content in these social bookmarking websites, you are actually providing access to those millions who are accessing such social bookmarking websites. In other words, you are reaching out to a wider audience, which will definitely improve your inbound traffic.
Creating inbound links: Link building is an age old concept for search engine optimization. It is also a well known fact that if you create inbound links from high quality websites, your rankings will automatically increase. Social bookmarking websites are highly ranked, which means that any link coming from such sites will be considered as a quality link. This becomes all the more important if you can create inbound links from categories that are relevant to your area of business. Creating such links is extremely easy and simple, when done through social bookmarking sites. This automatically increases inbound traffic, which is the ultimate aim of SEO.
Sharing of Content: Social bookmarking websites allow for easy sharing of content between users, irrespective of whether they are individuals or consultants etc. In other words, if you post content related to your sphere of business on any social bookmarking site, the content can be easily accessed and shared by others belonging to that particular sphere of business or even by other users who are just curious to know more. In simple terms, this means that you can actually access a huge audience through content sharing, which would have otherwise been really difficult. Moreover, given that social bookmarking websites are creating newer ways to include specific content under specific categories, it becomes easier to access the right kind of audience required for your area of business, making it truly beneficial.
Social bookmarking websites can be used as a two way forum for information travel. In other words, while your information is shared with others, you can also access information about others. This leads to better business processes all around, which ultimately increases profits. Hence, if you are looking for creating awareness, want to garner opinion or just need some pieces of information, social bookmarking websites are your best bet.
Published: Saturday, 12 April 2014 15:45
You must have come across ‘links’ many a times whenever you made a visit to a website. Website owners usually direct the reader to a different page with the help of these links. Getting such links from other sites that bring visitors to your website is an essential ingredient of SEO, referred to as Inbound Links. Needless to say, every website owner desires to have maximum hits a day, which can be achieved with back links from popular or quality sites. In reality, the popularity of such links goes a long way in determining the page rank of your site. This page rank is taken as a yardstick to come to a conclusion where your web pages stand in search engine results for a relevant keyword.
Since all major search engines place importance on link popularity in their ratings, you need to try and get back links from relevant and quality sites to climb up the ladder of online visibility. Remember – the inbound links are the life blood of your website. Since the way to succeed in your business venture revolves around these links, you need to be careful about the sites that are linking back to you. In a broad sense, you can categorize the inbound links under three groups namely Good, Bad and Useless Links. While the good links can help your website popularity, the bad ones can dump your website out of sight on the World Wide Web. The useless links will serve no purpose and can be a detriment to your ranking. So, it becomes very important to take time to cultivate highly ranked, credible links.
Various search engines use different ways of ranking a website through link popularity. You will need to invest considerable time to figure out all your possible inbound links. You can even group your links in categories based on the purpose that they serve for your website. If you find that your website has got linked to another site that appear to have no content relationship or is completely irrelevant, you can request the webmaster of such website to remove the link to your site, as such back links are not given much importance by the search engine spiders for ranking purposes. However, if the site that has linked back to you has a very good reputation and a high page rank, you can let them link back to you, as getting even a fraction of their high traffic volume diverted to your own site, even though such traffic will not be targeted, can help you.
You can get started with your link building exercise with directory submission, postings on popular forums and blogs, article submission, participation in various social media outlets, etc. Though link building is a time consuming process, you should work with patience and have a long term plan and not look for overnight results. Your site should have top-notch content, user friendly interface and design so that other websites are encouraged to link to you. Getting back links this way will increase your ink popularity, which in turn will make the search engines consider your website to be important, and rank you higher. Thus, you will be able to receive more traffic, and convert such leads into sales.