Published: Friday, 17 January 2014 20:39
Technology Bridging the Online and Offline World: Customers Get the Best of Both Worlds
Connecting the Internet with [offline] printed collateral is on the minds of marketers all over the world. With the advent of tools like QR codes and SMS technology, marketers are in a perfect position to reach out to their offline audience. We've heard that everyone was moving to the Internet a few years ago and now to mobile. Smartphone technology lets customers use rich media for a range of purposes by accessing the Internet via their phone. It’s not uncommon to spot two-dimensional barcodes on flyers, posters, products, etc. These are known as Quick Response or QR codes and can be easily scanned by a free barcode scanner available on most smartphones. SMS coupons are passe too, marketers have now integrated point-of-sale systems and other methods such as “Text STUDIO1C to 22828 from your cell phone to sign up for our enewsletter” (try and see how it works!).
Usage of QR Codes for Marketing
QR codes are being used extensively by marketers to help customers who are looking for more information about a product or service. By reducing additional cumbersome or time-consuming manual input of a URL, this technology has provided savvy marketers with a simplier solution to connect with new customers. Used in business cards, conference displays, postcards and brochures, the encoded information can help the customers send an email, dial a number, download contact details or view more details on a new or special offer. To give you an example, imagine you are walking down a street and find details of a new movie advertised on a billboard. The QR code on the billboard can take you a web page to buy tickets instantly. It’s not just the entertainment industry, just about any type of organization can use QR codes for marketing including nonprofits, retail business, educational institutions etc. Apart from being user friendly, these codes are cost-effective and environmentally friendly too.
Text to Subscribe Services
If you are looking for options to have your customers respond to advertisements and promotions when they are away from their computer, you can provide them the option to subscribe to your SMS with a text message. You can include offer details or vouchers in these messages, for example “Text SHOP to ****” and offer New Services, Happy Hour Specials, Help Wanted, or any other announcement. It helps you achieve the highest ROI by combining powerful web-based self-service campaign management tools and experience of a trained personnel.
QR codes, text to subscribe and Facebook links on print media and other offline efforts are poised to make it to the mainstream, they have already become a staple in every savvy marketers arsenal. Have you used any of these in your marketing efforts?
Published: Friday, 10 January 2014 08:47
Understanding the needs and preferences of your buyers is the first step towards closing a successful sale. However, you can persuade your customers – both existing and potential, to buy more from you by making use of some psychology data, which are as follows:
Breaking “action paralysis”: Most buyers don’t take any action unless they are prodded or encouraged to set foot outside their comfort zone of inaction. For example, reminding your customers how easy it is to get started with your services (one month free trial, a discounted price for the first 20 customers etc) can break their action paralysis and encourage them to act in your favor.
Tapping into the 3 types of buyers: Several research results have shown that there exists mainly 3 types of buyers namely spendthrifts, average buyers, and tightwads. While spendthrifts make a mere 15% of the total buyer segment, tightwads account for 24%, and the average buyers for 61%. You should position your offerings differently for these segments. For example, while an average buyer with an eye on long term savings may get encouraged by a product that costs $100/month, a tightwad may think about buying only when you reframe the product value as less than $4 a day. So, even when you are marketing the same product/service, remember to fine tune your campaigns depending on the type of targeted buyers.
Accept shortcomings: Rather than blaming external sources for failures, you should accept your shortcomings and stress on your success stories. Buyers prefer to trust companies that admit their failures as it shows how serious the company is in fixing the shortcomings.
Play on the sense of instant gratification: To appeal to your customers in a better way, highlight how your offerings can give them a fast solution to their problems. Focusing on fast shipping, quick delivery, and other methods of instant gratification will give your customers the right incentive to buy from you.
Promote values and build a brand name: Customers identify with brands that are driven by uncompromising values. Be it donating a sum to the charities, clothes to the poor during Christmas, and similar acts of kindness, or being driven by honesty, make sure to strike a chord with your customers and once they find how the values they hold dear are what drive your business, they will convert into your loyal clientele.
So, use these research findings to bring more customers to your business.
Published: Monday, 06 January 2014 18:05
Almost two third of the world’s human population banks on Google as compared to other search engine results. Though some critics and businesses were skeptical about how well the platform would do in a market where Facebook and Twitter were the reining social networks, it soon carved a niche for itself. Within twelve months of its launch, Google+ garnered around 250 million users and is steadily growing.
If you too are planning to add Google+ info in your social media meriting plan, here are some things to remember:
Different from other social media platforms: You should not deal with Google+ the same way you handle Twitter or Facebook. Remember that it is a completely different platform and has different functionalities, which is why it needs a different approach on your part. Interaction and communication via Google+ is typical to the platform and you need to understand how unique it is to make its full use.
Can boost your SEO campaigns: Since Google+ is a platform that has been introduced by Google, all the accounts and posts will be visible in the search results of Google. No wonder that it is extremely significant for any business. You should use targeted keywords and interesting content to boost your SEO campaigns via Google+.
Using rich and interesting content: In the world of social media marketing, the most crucial thing is the content. Therefore, always take care of the content that you share with others on Google+. Since your content will speak for your industry and brand, it must be relevant. Also make sure to incorporate rich content, including videos or images to make them more interesting and likeable. Posts with minimum text and more images or videos are shared and +1’d more often as compared to the posts that include only text.
+1 button: The “plus one button” of Google+ is similar to the “like button” of Facebook. If the readers like your post, they can press the plus one button to share it on the Google+ network. Another important aspect of Google+ is that you are allowed to follow individuals and their posts in a particular group or in distinct groups.
Segregation: Personal and business accounts on Google+ are differentiated, and named as Google+ Profiles and Google+ Pages respectively. You can allow different team member access to the admin section, which will enable them to manage your page and post refreshing content. This in turn will help you to increase your Google+ following.
Some other important features of Google+ are:
Circles: This is similar to the Groups in Facebook. You can add different people to different circles. When you post something, you can select particular circles in which you want the content to be visible. You can either keep your content restricted to a specific group, or make it public depending on what suits your business the best.
Hangouts: This is the finest place to share your ideas, interact with your customer, and talk about case studies. You can chat live with numerous people simultaneously. Here, you can also create personal video chat rooms and hangouts to share information with a selected group of individuals.
Incorporating Google+ in your social plan will not only enhance your profile, but also make your business successful by increasing its online presence.
Published: Sunday, 22 December 2013 19:44
If you are considering giving a boost to your PPC advertising campaign, chances are that Google AdWords already included in your to-do list. However, Google AdWords can be a double-edged sword – it can either bring profits your way or bring heavy losses and erode a sizable portion of your advertising dollar investment. So, before you jump into Google AdWords, be sure to weigh in on all aspects:
Worldwide recognition with Google: Perhaps all of us know that Google is the leading search engine where people come to get their queries answered or check out products and services that they intend to use in the future. Using Google AdWords will give you the chance to be seen on SERPs (search engine results pages) for Google search queries. This is surely a great way to maximize your exposure and increase your chances for visibility in the competitive world.
Quick to set and easy to change: You can set up your Google AdWords account within a few minutes and start using it to give leverage to your business. What’s more important is that you can easily change your targeted keywords or adjust your AdWords setting for free based on how your customers’ behavioral trends change with time.
Track performance: Thanks to the availability of Google Analytics at your fingertips for free, you can track how well your AdWords are doing and make necessary adjustments, as and when the need arises.
Everything isn’t perfect when it comes to using Google AdWords. Just take a look at the points mentioned below to understand the level of pitfalls:
Steep learning curve: You will need a good sum of money and lot of time to understand how AdWords can help your business. Though there are many self proclaiming tutorials and help books that promise to teach you everything, the real scenario is different. Unless you get into the field and learn mostly by trial and error method, you can’t become an AdWords expert. The entire process is bound to be a costly experience.
Limitations: Google AdWords alone can’t help your business. You have to devise an overall advertising strategy that includes other tools and methods like organic search engine campaigns, email and video marketing, etc along with Google AdWords to get results. With 70 characters of copy space available, you would also need to select your words carefully to make the maximum impact with your Google AdWords campaign. Another disadvantage is that people often ignore the advertisements at the top and right-hand side of the search engine results page as they know them to be advertisements. So, the odds of getting them to click on the links is difficult.
Click fraud: A major problem with Google AdWords is click fraud, where fraudulent websites are setup and use software "hitbots" or employ low-wage employees from other countries to clicks on ads, and then collect the commission from these pay-per-click programs. So, click fraud hurts advertisers and deplete their pay-per-click account, thus leaving them with little or nothing to show for the expenditure incurred.
Published: Sunday, 22 December 2013 00:00
The major search engines dominating cyberspace give considerable emphasis to the quantity and quality of inbound links that any website receives. In fact, it can be safely stated that ‘if there weren’t links, the internet would not exist’. If you thought search engines keep the internet alive, think again. They simply organize the internet while links build it. If you are willing to spend some time in building valid links for your website, you are assured online success.
Before you begin to build valid links to your website, you need to do a quick analysis using an application like Google Analytics to determine why surfers visit your site. Find out what pages are most visited, keywords they use to find your site, length of stay on certain pages, etc. Once you’ve discovered this, the next step is to offer users links to related websites so visitors know that you care about their interests even as they exit your site. A well-designed and user friendly link directory will not only make your website useful, it will lend credibility and importance to your site as well. Some of the SEO techniques which you can use to get valid links include directory submissions, blogs, discussion forums, article syndication and adding social bookmarking links to your site.
Valid, Credible Links
Everyone who has a website and wants people to find it, should consider using these techniques. A common mistake most website marketers commit is exchanging links with clean sites even if they aren’t relevant to their site. They believe that a good link won’t hurt, even if irrelevant. So, how do you set your website apart? With links that will bring your target audience to your website. Remember that traffic which isn’t targeted to your website is waste traffic. Consider this; your website receives 250 untargeted visitors in a day and no conversion. On the other hand, you will receive 100 targeted visitors, higher page views, exploration of your site and a far better conversion rate, with targeted traffic through effective link building. Which is a better proposition? The latter, for sure. That’s because relevant traffic is valuable traffic.
Quality and Quantity of Links
It’s no secret that Google ranks its search results partly based on the analysis of quality and quantity of sites that are linked to your site. Questionable webmasters use link exchange schemes to establish cross-linking and non-valid links. They don’t consider the quality and sources of the links and thus violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and impacting their site’s ranking negatively. Some link exchange schemes which you should avoid are links that lead to web spammers, unnecessary reciprocal links and links that assure you a higher PageRank. If you are linked to a site that is spam or a link scheme your own ranking will eventually go down. Not aware if you are a part of a link scheme? Here’s how you can find out! If you are simply making a link, without providing any useful website for your visitors, you are a part of a link scheme.
Finding a Reputable SEO Company
Most online link building companies will promise complete link building solutions. Finding the best service to fit your needs and budget can be a daunting task. Ensure that you hire services of a reputable company that will effectively promote your business properly.
Published: Friday, 20 December 2013 20:38
Is your blog generating leads yet? If not, then you need to use social media to generate leads. How can you use social media to attract prospects to your business? Assuming you’re offering a quality services or product, a convincing offer, and are talking to the right customer, social media tools make generating leads easy on the pocket and time-efficient.
Twitter as a Lead Generation Tool
Having thousands of followers and a database of millions is only valuable if you can continue to build value into the relationships in order to, at some point, have some financial exchange with that lead (either directly or indirectly). Remember leads are people, not just names. The first strategy is to schedule tweets for times that many people read Twitter, usually on weekdays. You can use tools like Hootsuite to do the actual scheduling. Second, send out a promotional tweet every day, but with an altered text. Different people respond to different call-to-actions. If you want to reach people who don’t follow you, include relevant keywords or hashtags. Experienced Twitter users will search for those terms.
Join LinkedIn Communities to Get Noticed
Social media is organized around common interests. As an individual you can connect with professional contacts on LinkedIn. If you want to influence these online communities for your business, you need to be a valued community member too. The easiest way to become valued is to present some new insight. Update your LinkedIn status frequently. These status updates are shown on your profile and emailed to everyone in your network. To reach new people, post your message in LinkedIn Groups. Ask questions to seek feedback on your content; don’t forget to include a link to the registration page. Link your profile to your website, blog and feed. Incorporate the linked in tool that displays your feed on your profile as well. And if you’re answering other questions, use an autograph that promotes your brand. LinkedIn works two ways for lead generation. It helps you find out what is interesting for your audience and to promote your offers.
Regularly updating your blog will interest possible clients. You’ll expand your readership by publishing articles regularly, and by having a common theme in all the posts. Once you have a loyal audience, write a blog post about your new content, with a link to the registration page. This call to action does magic for lead generation. You will get lots of registrations from your blog readers.
Create a Facebook Application to Promote Your Brand
The Facebook market is particularly valuable for those businesses that sell material products. If you run an ecommerce store, you can promote your items for free giving you greater exposure and potentially improving your sales figures and profit levels. By creating a Facebook application you promote your business in several ways. First, other users will be more inclined to add you as a friend if your application is useful. They may also send details of your application to their own network – this style of viral marketing can generate a lot of interest for very little money. Users will remember your name, the name of your service, and they will instinctively know how to find you.
Also, add links to your website and blog on your home page profile under your photo as well as on your information page. Setup the RSS Feed feature to display your feed on your profile. This will auto display on everyone’s news feed!
Social media is an effective way to generate leads for your service-based business. You can build your standing within your industry, connect with potential customers and planned partners and use it to drive traffic to your website.
3 Ways Social Media Helps Generate Leads
By Building your Reputation
Participating in social media – through online networking, blogging and rich media – can help you build your reputation within your industry. Building your reputation online has three great benefits – your credibility goes up, people perceive your business to be successful and a level of trust is established.
By Building Relationships
Social networking online allows you to build solid relationships that can result in lead generation for your business. Talking to people in complimentary industries, helping them with client enquiries can help you build a strategic partnership. Building relationships with individuals and proving them with information they need could return media opportunities to promote your business.
Must Do’s to Attract Visitors
There’s a variety of ways to use social networking to attract visitors to your website.
Use social networks to distribute your content by posting a link to your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or your blog profile and adding content distribution buttons to your web page (e.g. Tweetmeme, Digg and RSS). The first step here is to create content worth distributing – if it’s not good, no one will want to pass it on to their network.
Create a landing page for your social media profiles. People will click on your website link in your profile to find out more information about you. Make the most of their interest with a dedicated landing page that explains what you do how you can help that person and provide a call to action detailing what they should do next.
Published: Sunday, 15 December 2013 16:22
Press releases posted online have emerged as a powerful medium to draw the attention of existing and potential customers as well as probable business partners, all of which can give your business a boost. However, to get the most out of your press releases, you need to optimize them carefully. Here are some tips that you can use to optimize your press releases to give your business the much needed leverage:
Select appropriate keywords: Carry out research for relevant keywords before you write your press release. You can take the help of Google Adwords or WordTracker to find relevant keywords for your line of business an even use Google Analytics to know the keywords that people search to find you. Other tools that can help you to evaluate keywords are Google Insights for Search and Google Trends. Once you have finalized the list of keywords to be used, weave them into your press release to grab eyeballs and bait the search engine spiders.
Correct placing of the keywords: Once you have shortlisted the relevant keywords, you have to place the keyword phrases at the correct and most important places of your press release. So, weave them into your headline, subheads, as well as the first and second paragraphs. SEO experts say that you should include the main keyword phrase in your title, and within the first 100 characters of your PR. It is also advisable to put the most important information close to the beginning, if possible, and improve keyword weight by reducing unnecessary words in between.
Hyperlink the keywords: Use your keywords as anchor text links, and hyperlink them to relevant pages of your website in case you are distributing the PR on various press release sites. However, it’s not wise to point all the links to your home page. To optimize your PR, you can link your PR to your home page, product page, and your blog, if you have any. A word of caution though – don’t go overboard with hyperlinks. A maximum of 3-4 links per release would be a good number to stick to.
Optimize images and multimedia content: If your PR contains multimedia content and/or images, optimize/tag them with your target keywords.
Using keywords and their variations: According to a rough guideline, your main keyword phrase and/or its variation keywords should feature approximately one time for every 100 words. However, this is not a strict guideline. The key is to blend in keyword support without sacrificing the readability of your press release.
PR on your own website: Instead of distributing your PR via various press release sites, if you want to put it on your own website, make sure that you optimize the title tag of your page, the url and the Meta description tag according to the best SEO practices.
Finding services that optimizes your online press release: Once your PR is ready for distribution, you can give it an additional boost by using services that optimizes it online. Several traditional wire services provide SEO distributions, which you can use to your own advantage, either along with your traditional wire distribution or as a standalone step.
So, use these steps to optimize your PR so that you can bring increased web traffic and a hefty ROI your way.
Published: Tuesday, 10 December 2013 15:41
LinkedIn Groups can serve as a powerful tool to get connected with other business people. By using such groups, you can:
- make your target markets more aware about your business
- cultivate helpful industry relationships
- position your company and/or yourself as an industry thought leader
- display and highlight your unique thought leadership content
- encourage inquiries for your company by generating interest, and
- convert group members to subscribers, who will advocate your brand
However, many people make the mistake of simply launching a group and then abandoning it after a few weeks or months. You should remember that after you launch a group, you would need to manage it successfully to make the most of it. Here are some tips that can help you do just that:
Deciding on your Group Name and description: This is the first step towards attracting the right members. To ensure that your group is indexed by Google and displayed in LinkedIn group searches, you should use relevant keywords in the group “title” (which has approximately 48 characters) and description (the first 140 characters of which usually show up in search results).
Setting a policy for your Group: Your group should have a clear objective and policy in place to invite members whom you believe could benefit the group and vice versa. While your invitation should outline what the group intends to do, your welcome message to the new members of the group can summarize the rules. You should manually approve every registration, and let your welcome message state how members can use the group, contact/interact with you etc. Once you have laid down the group rules, you should emphasize these rules from time to time, especially as your Manager’s Choice discussion. Unless you manage your group with a tight fist, it may be overtaken by spam, thus driving members away as no one welcome spam.
Managing the Group: You should scan the group activity regularly to find who are actively participating in the group, and note those who have a tendency to post topics that are a bit obstreperous. While encouraging active users, who could eventually act as a catalyst to your thriving group, you should watch those closely who have a tendency of posting off-topic subjects, or create trouble. While some aggressive views, which don’t openly attack someone, can be beneficial for stimulating the community, those spamming the group or posting about unrelated matters should be handled strictly with a warning or in severe cases, by removing them from the group. You can also manage your LinkedIn contacts by using LinkedIn tools.
Moderating posts: Giving your members a free hand in everything could wreak havoc, as you never know who’s going to post what. So, moderating posts is a good idea to ensure quality and on-topic discussions. Even where don’t you choose to pre-approve posts/discussions prior to them being posted, you may keep an eye on the posted discussions strictly to ensure that they are in line with your group’s policy. Though most business owners are against letting their direct competitors post in their LinkedIn groups, you may assess if there’s any benefit to such a move, especially where your competitor has a well-managed and related LinkedIn group. However, you should exercise caution as you never know if your competitor is just interested in gaining exposure to your group’s members for its marketing purposes and not much concerned about your group’s well-being!
Share and Promote: Starting from sharing new features that get added to LinkedIn via LinkedIn Group Announcements and showing how to use them the best, to letting users showcase their talents with SlideShare and Visual CV, if relevant to the group’s goals, you can gain the trust of members and encourage others to join. You should promote your group via your website, other social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook etc). You can also create a badge for your group’s users and ask them to display it on their blogs/websites etc, which would be directly linked to your LinkedIn group’s url.
Being the leaders and showing the path: If you are a small business owner, you should be the face of your LinkedIn group. In case you own an enterprise, you should appoint a spokesperson who can interact with the group and act as the group’s face. To lead your group, various activities can be used like posting weekly discussion topics/ weekly questions, posting comment on existing discussions (which usually create further activity on the thread), asking for feedbacks from group members on specific subjects/posts, running polls within the group etc.
Though the above points are just a few elementary ways of managing LinkedIn groups, they can help you get started. So, use them and learn on your own by browsing LinkedIn Help Center and other useful sites to get insight into other modes of managing your LinkedIn group well.
Published: Sunday, 08 December 2013 08:21
Blogging is a regularly updating advertisement for your online business which provides your readers detailed information about your product updates, company information and recent happenings in your company. Updating your blog frequently means letting your readers and potential customers know that you are always trying to improve, be it improving your product quality or service and thereby reassuring their faith in your company’s products. Blogging is also known for its effective quality of generating quality traffic for your business and establishing your points of presence in your field of business.
Why Blogging in 21st Century Businesses is Important
Builds a Network
This is a fact that businesses cannot be promoted with a sole thought. And when it comes to online business, sharing views and news is absolutely important. Thus, blogging plays an important role to promote your business in this dynamic world. Today more than ever, we can see that even a small business firm in the most remote city in the US, can sell their products globally and this is possible because the majority of the population now prefer the Internet as their primary shopping medium.
Blogging helps promote your business and share your thoughts, which in turn, helps you to be in the same frequency as your customers. You can better understand your customer’s needs and change your business processes accordingly to meet their needs.
Blogging not only helps you to promote your business but it also saves your advertising money. Blogging itself is an advertising tool that costs you very less to maintain but helps your business to get immense PR, which cannot be achieved even by paying for an expensive ad agency.
Furthermore, linking your blog is another impressive way to endorse your business because in this way you not only earn valuable traffic to your blog but also your site becomes a target for qualified customers. Frequently updating your blog content and revitalizing your blog posts will definitely help to increase your page rank because search engines love fresh content and indexes them on a regular basis.
Brings Business to You
Blogging shows your importance and experience at your field. Thus, blogging has also been an effective way of generating business opportunities. Blogging helps you to grow your network online which is very important to promote your business and for making quality link exchange.
Blogging is an essential part of web businesses and is becoming an essential tool to promoting your business in the 21st century.
Hidden Tools for Fame and Fortune
Including tags to your site is an essential tool. Though adding tags may consume a few minutes; its results are worthwhile. Tags are easily noticed by search engines. They also help your readers to identify your blog when they search the popular blogs. This helps you to earn fame and recognition among your readers which is necessary because it shows your importance and experience as a good blogger.
Furthermore, submitting your site to bookmarking sites like: Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit helps you to generate more traffic. It’s better to include your best posts to these bookmarking sites because it creates a good reputation of your blog among the readers.
Many companies are blogging to promote their business and also encouraging employees to do the same. You want your employee’s blogging to share experience and perspective of your company and your products. With an average of 3 million blog entries written each day, it's evident that blogging will be a viable tool in online networking.
A Recruiting tool
The business blog is a recruiting tool for your company. Potential employees can learn about your culture, your policies, your way of interacting with the world, and the process you use for hiring employees. Business blogging is a powerful tool for engaging the people who might want to potentially work for you. Thus, blogging contributes a lot to your business success from every point of view.