Social Media Questions Answered

With an increasing number of businesses going online, there is more competition than ever. The increased online social-media-questionscompetitiveness calls for creative measures to be adopted for promoting your business. Social media marketing is one of the most utilized strategies for promoting your business online. However, there are several questions that come to mind, which need to be answered before adopting this strategy for your business. While it is not possible to list all the questions regarding social media, here are the top five questions answered to help you make the most of this platform:

What is the best way to interact using social media practices?
Use of social media is considered a true success if your message reaches more people and you are noticed. Going viral is one of the simplest ways to ensure that this happens without you having to do anything. Of course, in order to go truly viral, you should create a good and catchy message, and then post it on various social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. It is important to study the rules and regulations of each such site before using it to further your business. Spam less, interact more, and offer quality and value. These are three rules that you should always follow if you want to succeed in using social media effectively for your business.

How do I find the time for social media campaigns?
Very often, businesses are overwhelmed with the response they get through the use of social media, which prompts them to devote their whole time towards interaction and less towards other business activities. While it is necessary to concentrate on social media and use it to your optimum, it is equally important to concentrate on the qualitative aspect of your business. While big businesses get away by appointing a special person to handle such needs, small businesses find themselves in a difficult position. Time management is the key to successful social media strategy. Allocate specific hours towards responding and interacting with your customers. Make sure that they meet the basic requirements of social media marketing. And when you can afford, make sure that you have an independent person looking into such activities full time.

How can I measure ROI using social media campaigns?
When businesses use a particular strategy to further their interests, it is obvious that they want to measure the exact return on their investment. Key factors that indicate the effect of social media marketing on the customers include loyalty towards brand, customer satisfaction, and revenues generated through such efforts. Social media automatically increases the visibility of your business, which can then be used to convert idle visitors into loyal customers.

How can I use social media to market to my target audience?
Niche marketing, location based marketing etc are ways in which you can achieve your targets through the use of social media. Niche marketing concentrates on attracting and interacting with a specific group of people who share the same interests as you. When interacting with a particular group, you can easily customize your content and interaction to suit your mutual needs and requirements. Additionally, it is possible to create brand awareness, which again helps in achieving targets.

How does it help generate leads and traffic?
Increased use of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc will help you find more customers than are available in your contact list. Interacting with them in a personal manner will help create traffic to your webpage. Additionally, you could always optimize the content on your web page to use specific keywords that will enhance your visibility on the internet, thus helping you to rank high on search engines for relevant keywords.

While there are several other questions which you should address before using social media for your business, it is important to have clear answers to these five listed above and create your strategy accordingly.

Why Your Website Needs a Privacy Policy

Privacy-PolicyInternet privacy is a major concern to many website visitors. These days, businesses conducted via websites have become the common norm. However, the way personal data is disclosed or shared by sites where customers have to submit such information is not always properly revealed. All internet users are worried about sharing their personal information in case it gets misused by others. This is why your website should have a clearly laid out privacy policy.

The privacy policy on a website is a document which informs the user of the parameters of privacy as provided by the site. The privacy policy has detailed information regarding how the personal data of a user will be used and to what extent it will be distributed. Having a privacy policy on a website is required by law and any site which does not comply with the legal aspects of having a privacy policy on its site can and have been sued by law enforcers. After all, consumer protection is not a matter to be taken lightly.

Having a privacy policy for your website gives customers a sense of security and eases their mind. It gives the site a very professional image and attracts more site visitors who are willing to conduct their business through your secure website. The privacy policy of a website is instrumental in promoting the marketing value of the site and increasing customer retention.

While it is true that almost all websites these days have a privacy policy, not all of them follow legal guidelines. Many websites copy their policies from other websites. Borrowing a privacy policy from another website may seem like an innocent act, but the terms stated within the policy may not adhere to the website’s actual practice. This can result in the website being penalized heavily in case of a breach of privacy. A good privacy policy follows the stipulated guidelines as dictated by law.

To create a privacy policy for your website, you need expert help from someone who is familiar with the regulations regarding website privacy. Depending on what kind of data your website collects, your privacy policy needs to be modified and worded. The policy should also be accurate at any point of time. In case the website practices are changed in any way, you need to post a new privacy policy, which complies with the changed practices. The entire document should be easily understood by the customer and should not have hidden clauses buried under complicated language.

In case you need to create your privacy policy on your own, you can use online tools like the one at Free Privacy Policy. The policies created by this online privacy policy generator are easy to read, and customized according to your web services on offer. The privacy policy generator asks you a series of questions and gives you a completed document within minutes. You can customize the document as necessary and then use it for your website. No wonder that such privacy policies are very effective as and when they need to be executed.

Having a privacy policy on your website is as much necessary for you as it is for your customers. If your policy is not well written, it can create liability issues. So, make sure that your website has a comprehensive privacy policy so that you can get the confidence of your existing as well as potential customers, and also avoid legal hassles should an adverse situation arise.

Using Google+ to Connect With Customers

Google+Social networking has always been popular with businesses, big and small, to reach out to their customers. Making their foray into this wonderful world of social networking is Google+, which is considered to be the biggest and most advantageous product of the search engine. What makes Google+ special is the fact that it is a mix between Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to interact with your friends as well as customers in a way that is second to none. Here are some ways in which you can use this new social networking site to help promote your business globally over the internet:

Understanding the advantage of Google+ over other sites: When comparing social networking sites and their utility value, Google+ ranks high over others, simply because it is intricately connected with the search engine and its varied tools. In other words, Google is already helping local businesses find a presence in the virtual world through the integration of Google Maps. When you add Google+ to the mixture, you get something that is truly wonderful and which helps promote local businesses in unimaginable ways.

Building web presence is easy and free: Businesses, especially small and medium ones, are often reluctant to spend huge amounts of money on creating and maintaining their own website. However, given the increasing need for web presence today, it is not possible for them to actually succeed without it in the long run. Google+ acts as a medium, which helps small businesses, create their web presence at no cost whatsoever. In short, without worrying about coding and hosting, you can enjoy the perfect web presence and cash in on it.

Increasing visibility becomes extremely easy: Visibility is the key to successful business operations. Therefore, it is important to take all possible steps to ensure that your company is not only visible but ranked high in the search engines. While this is quite difficult and expensive in the usual internet marketing style, it becomes extremely easy when you attempt it through Google+. Given that Google+ is a product of the popular search engine Google, you are automatically ranked high on the Google search engine for certain keywords that are related to your area of business. Additionally, when you are registered with Google+, you are automatically registered on Google Maps, which again contributes towards increasing your visibility in the online world. With both these important factors by your side, more customers seek your business, which in turn increases profitability.

Connecting with customers is simple and effective: Success in business comes from being able to connect with maximum number of customers. It is equally important to convert idle visitors into loyal customers to gain maximum presence and profits. While there are several ways to achieve this level of connection, Google+ makes it really easy for the business to achieve instant connection with the customers. Through their various features, including those like hangouts, circles etc, interacting with your customers individually as well as through a group has become quite simple. While the hangout feature allows you to video chat with your customers, the circles feature allows you to segregate your customer group into macro groups and speak with them on specific issues.

So, what are you waiting for? Register now on the Google+ business page using your Google account, categorize your business, customize your page, and you will soon notice the difference.

Why Your Site Isn't Showing Up In Search Engines

woman-going-crazyNow that you have your site live, you're expecting tons of traffic, sales through the roof and your phone ringing off the hook, right? Reality is, that's just not happening. There are many reasons for that. Here are just a few:

  1. No SEO services – Having a website without SEO services is comparable to having an advertisement laying on your desk that’s never been printed in a magazine or newspaper. With over 1 million new domains registered each day, you have major competition. Therefore, simply making your site live is NOT enough for it to be found.
  2. Substandard content – not enough text for spiders to crawl, no keywords, meta info, title tags, ALT tags, images containing text for pages, no content on homepage - only images, etc
  3. Inadequate structure – bad HTML coding that comes from such things as copying and pasting text from Microsoft Word or using FrontPage to publish your site.
  4. No inbound links – having high ranking inbound links to your site gives your greater visibility and lets search engines know your site is worth being listed.
  5. No new/fresh content – spiders aren’t crawling if they don't have fresh content. Be sure to update your site frequently by adding blogs or new pages.
  6. Social Media Networking - works in many ways, for starters: public pages like Twitter and Facebook are crawled and give more opportunities for Google to find you; if one of your posts goes viral these all become inbound links; review sites like Yelp can also be listed high in SER by Google which gives you more exposure
  7. Flash based site – search engines can’t read flash. They need content to “read” what your site is about to gather information to match users search terms. Only recently has Google been able to pick up some of the content in flash.
  8. Newly constructed or redone site – it will take some time for the search engines to recognize and crawl your new site. Generally a couple weeks.
  9. Site is considered spam – by using such tricks as keyword stuffing, doorway pages, hidden text, too many links on a page
  10. Domain – register your domain for at least 5 years. This lets search engines know you aren’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon.
  11. Search engine directory and Sitemap submissions – you can submit your site to Google, Yahoo and Bing in a matter of seconds. Uploading your Sitemap to Google will help it to index your pages and take notice of your site.

 

Content Marketing – 5 Golden Rules

content-marketing-studio1cSetting up a blog or having a section on your website where content is updated regularly is a great way of getting your offerings in the limelight. However, you should plan a content marketing strategy carefully as without a set plan, you may run out of steam pretty soon. Taking some time out to decide what your objectives are, planning some themes that you can use, and establishing some tracking and measurement metrics are crucial to help you keep going and assess how successful you are in your endeavor.

So, here are 5 golden rules that can help you to get the ball rolling and keep it going:

Be interesting and stay focused: Your content should go well with your business plan. So, once your business and marketing objective has been crafted, make sure that your content sticks to it.  Though it may be tempting to write about everything under the sun, you need to remember that your content should be focused on what interests your target audience as it’s something that will count in the long run. At the same time, you should make your content interesting so that your audience keeps coming back for more. You can use multimedia elements like videos, podcasts, live chats as well as charts and images to make your content stand out and grab more eyeballs. 

Offer help and solve problems: Nobody likes reading about what you do and offer. Everyone out there is looking for things that can make their life easier and help them solve problems. So, the focus of your content should be on how your offerings can make your customer’s lives easier. Instead of hard selling your products/services or preaching your audience, try to share your expertise/knowledge to help them solve problems or tide over situations that they find hard to deal with. Having a friendly approach makes it much easier to connect with your potential clientele and keep your existing clients happy.

Think and act like a publisher: Make it a habit to think like a publisher. Try to think what will entice people to read your content, or what will make them stop and take notice. When you publish content that has many takers, it will encourage your readers to share your content and make it go viral. You may also think about ways to reward your readers’ loyalty, which could be anything from sending them gift vouchers to buy your offerings at discounted prices to inviting them to attend exclusive product launches and events.

Maintain a regular publishing schedule: Nobody likes visiting a website or blog that displays stale content or hasn’t been updated in months. So, make sure that once you have started, you keep going and maintain a regular publishing schedule.

Stay updated and keep reading: To bring variety and spice in your content, you need to stay updated about what’s happening in your industry. So, be an active participant in relevant events and read more. The online media, books, blogs, forums etc are all great sources of inspiration and you may even find pearls of wisdom that may help you in your content marketing strategy. 

With more and more businesses using social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn etc these days for their content marketing, it has become a tough task to stay in the news and yet bring something unique to your business. But if you religiously follow the golden rules mentioned above, you will not only build a loyal readership but also convert your regular audience into your loyal clients. So, start now and experience how the power of words can take your business to the next level.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

smart-phones

Mobiles and smart-phones are changing the way businesses market their products and services. If you're skeptical, the following statistics can act as an eye-opener:

  • Of the 7 billion people on earth, 4.2 billion possess a toothbrush while 5.1 billion have a cell phone.
  • As compared to traditional coupons, the redemption rate of mobile coupons is 10 times more.
  • Out of Facebook’s 900 million monthly users, 44% access the site on their phones; these people are 2 times as active on Facebook as their non-mobile using counterparts;
  • Of the 156 million users of Twitter, 50% use Twitter Mobile;
  • By 2016, 15.2% of worldwide online ad spend will be attributed to mobile marketing;
  • While a lost wallet is reported within 26 hours on an average, a lost phone is reported in just 68 minutes;
  • It takes almost a month for 70% of online searches to trigger a result, while it takes just an hour for 70% of all mobile searches to result in action;
  • Out of every 10 mobile searches, 9 lead to action; almost 50% of such action leads to a purchase;
  • As compared to traditional barcodes, mobile tags offer more product information like comparison of shopping offers etc;
  • By 2012, mobile internet would surpass desktop internet usage.

By changing the dynamics of marketing, mobile marketing is gaining popularity with every passing day. Apart from giving you access to a targeted audience in a systematic way, it also helps in encouraging a higher response rate, and immediate responses, which other marketing methods can hardly match. So, it pays to have a mobile-friendly website to tap into this huge audience.

How to tell if your website is mobile-friendly
A great tool is the W3C mobileOK Checker that tests a web page to verify its level of mobile-friendliness. You can also use Google's GoMo site, which can show you how your existing site looks on a mobile device or smartphone. This site even gives a report on what’s working and what’s not, apart from providing some suggestions on how you can do better. Several resources are also on offer here, which you can use to build a mobile-friendly website.

There are many other tools online, some of which are free while some others may be paid, which let you check your website’s mobile compatibility.

Why it makes a difference:

  • 75% of customers prefer a mobile-friendly site
  • 60% of users expect a mobile-friendly website to load in 3 seconds or less
  • Over 50% of users won’t recommend doing a business with a bad mobile site

All these data and figures show that even when you don’t think you need a mobile-friendly website, you could, in fact, be encouraging customers to go elsewhere (perhaps to your competitors) without one. To stop losing customers and use the power of mobile marketing to the optimum, you should get a mobile site built today!
What to do if your site isn't mobile-friendly?

To benefit from mobile marketing, it isn’t enough to devote just 1% of your company’s budget to create a mobile friendly site. You should remember that the rules for SEO, PPC etc are different for mobile-friendly websites. So, if your site doesn’t belong to the mobile-friendly category, you would need to devote significant resources for creating one and making your mobile presence felt. However, if it’s not possible to do it all at one go, you may start conservatively. Creating a mobile text-back campaign or a mobile-friendly landing page are good ways to judge how your target clientele responds to them before overhauling your site completely.

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Market Your Blog To The Masses

blog4Are you looking for an effective way of enhancing your online business? Would you like to get more customers for your online services and products? You can definitely do so by making use of blog marketing. This consists of nothing more than putting up relevant content, about the services/ products that you offer on your website, so as to market your online business!

Blogs are an effectual means of building a trustworthy relationship with your customers. A well maintained and regularly updated blog is key to owning a successful and highly traveled website. However, you need to ensure that your customers are aware of the blog too. Blog marketing tactics are what you need!

Selecting a topic: Your first step towards blogging is to choose an appropriate topic that best suits you and one in which you are highly knowledgeable about. You should be able to write about the topic or hire someone who can translate your notes into a blog. Posting a couple times a week is a good means to ensure visitors. If you have a news-related blog, you would benefit by posting 2-3 times daily. You could split your blog into interesting sections or tags. For example, the Studio1c blog has articles tagged at the bottom of each article so you can simply click the keyword you want more information on and it takes you to a list of articles using those keywords.

Choose the right keywords: Ensure that you select the right set of keywords in your blog posts, which will keep your customers coming back for more. For this, you can make use of various keyword research tools. Select keywords that could have more than 1,000 searches and less than 100,000 results.

Bringing the required traffic to your site: Once you get a good deal of traffic to your website, you have a successful blog! There are various tips on how to direct traffic to your site, which could help you considerably in this section. Some of them are:

Content is KING: Make sure the content you have in your blog is attractive enough to be able to pull quality traffic to your site. You could do this by providing interesting content and facts, which your clients will appreciate and gain sufficient knowledge from.

Blog comments for blog success: When you happen to comment on any blog, always make sure to leave a link back to your blog. This will help people know where you come from and what exactly your viewpoints are on various topics that suit your interest. Don’t forget to reply to comments on your blog or even other blogs you’ve commented at. You could also try to increase the comments on your blog through various techniques.

Participating in online forums: Try to take part in online forum discussions. When you manage to post your opinions, make it a point to put your blog URL in the signature. With informative forum posts, you will be able to gain the trust and respect from the blogging community and forum posters.

It helps to monitor inbound links, traffic, comments and any citations of your blog. Try to reach out to fellow bloggers by building your online networks through services, such as, Twitter and Facebook.

If you are using WordPress, try to include SEO Plugins, which guarantee you increased visibility online.

All of the above listed steps will help you attain maximum success in the field on blog marketing. Share your blog marketing tips, here!

Why eMail Marketing is Different

email vs direct mailWhy Email Marketing is Surpassing Direct Mail
Email marketing is one of the most powerful and effective marketing tools available to businesses today. Even small businesses are tapping into this incredible resource. If you aren't yet using email marketing, here are some compelling reasons to consider adding it to your marketing mix.

"74% of organizations are using email mareting campaigns as a fundamental part of their marketing programs, because it is seen as a crucial marketing tool for organizations of all sizes." [article]

Is this what your competition is planning to do, if they aren't already?

It's Effective
Email marketing works for a variety of reasons...

  • It allows targeting
  • It is data driven - educate and inform your customers
  • It allows for more frequent customer contact, which translates into higher revenues.
  • It builds relationships, loyalty and trust and name recognition
  • It supports sales through other channels - pushing clients to your website and pulling information from them
  • It's immediate and can generate quick results
  • With a "Forward Email" link you could increase your customer base two-fold

It's Affordable
Compared to printed marketing, email marketing is significantly a higher return on investment. Unlike direct mail, email marketing requires virtually no production or postage costs. You only pay when you send out campaigns. Unlike other email marketing programs, they lock you into a 6 or 12 month contract and you pay regardless of whether or not you use it.

It's Measurable
Unlike most marketing options, email marketing is measurable. You can easily track who opens your emails and what links they click on (i.e. Learn what interests them most!) You actually know who is looking at your messages!

A good email marketing campaign can help you:

  • Increase your sales conversion
  • Generate repeat sales
  • Up-sell and cross-sell products and services
  • Gain valuable feedback from your visitors
  • Drive web users to make offline purchases

It's Easy
You can create professional-looking campaigns with no design or expertise, or have me take care of the design, writing and great ideas for marketing!

Sign up for eMail Marketing for FREE for 60 days, and we'll put a FREE "Subscribe" form on your website to start gathering your visitors email addresses!

PART II: How to Blog

how-to-blogWith a bit of creative writing, a small business can have big results from a blog. Many of my clients often ask, "What do I blog about?" and to this I have a question for them, "What are they interested in?" Below are other ideas to spark that creative writer hidden within all of us.

What to write about - a mini-brainstorming session

  • Future developments in your industry
  • Newsworthy (industry related) items that affect your clients directly
  • Ways you are incorporating "Green Living" into your life or business (studies show internet buyers are most interested in purchasing/doing business with people who are environmentally conscious).
  • How is your business different from your competitors? Quality? Variety of Services? Price?
  • Articles that address ways your product/service can help/benefit your customers
  • Broadcast sales or promotions
  • Announce new services
  • Share links about your industry, new products in the industry, etc
  • Include photos and descriptions of your [new] products

Just to give you an example: A friend of mine is starting up a business for her husband who does carpentry, building furniture, etc. I told her she should put a blog on her site and received the typical, "Why, what would we write about?" My reply was this. If someone is looking into a reputable carpenter for building furniture, I would want to know more about the furniture, his skills, what makes his furniture of the quality I would want, or how his is different from something I could purchase at IKEA. This definitely was an "ah-hah" moment for the client.

Promoting your blog

    • Post each new blog on your site, then spread the word to Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Here you can create an account and post a link back to your website blog article. Email your friends/contact that you've posted it. They can then vote for it on StumbleUpon, Digg it, Reddit, Delicious, etc. This gets the visitor to your site to continue reading, to help your SEO.
    • Add an RSS Feed to your articles so readers can stay abreast of new postings.
    • Monitor what people leave for comments too. Comment on their comments. Keep the communication going.
    • eMail (eNewsletter, eVite) Marketing can also be a valuable way to get out informational and educational blog articles out to potential clients. Start the article in your email and link back to your site for them to continue reading.

PART I: Why You Must Have a Blog if You Own a Business

blog1In times like this many business owners are looking for creative new outlets to attract potential clients. I cannot stress the importance of starting a blog on your website NOW. Reasons for this: It is predicted that 100,000 new blogs are created every day! As they say, “Timing is everything.”

With the popularity of blogs rapidly increasing now is the time to jump on the wagon. This doesn’t mean you have to blog everyday or even have every topic be ground-breaking. What it does mean is that you are getting the information out there to be found and linked to by potential clients. Over time, these links grow exponentially and soon, your site will have many inbound links to it.

A few basics
Albeit tempting to create a blog at a dedicated blogging site like “Wordpress” or “Blogger”, this doesn’t accomplish the same results as having a blog located at your own domain.

Two reasons for this: it will drive more traffic to YOUR website instead of the dedicated blog site, and you will be able to track hits pertaining to what articles they are most interested.

WHY you need a blog
Blogs help you target and attract more of your audience for several reasons:

  • This is another outlet for potential customers that are going to search engines to locate you. You will be providing information based on what your customers are searching/shopping. If they came to your blog, then the must be interested in your product/service, right?
  • Think of a blog and your website as free advertising space. Sure you pay for hosting and the domain (like $60/year!?!), but what a great ROI if the visitors you are attracting are converted into customers.
  • Fresh content helps with your ranking. Frequently updated sites are “crawled” more often and therefore will rank higher. This is seen by search engines as being a worthwhile site with valuable content.
  • Visitors will be more tempted to bookmark your site and return to it if there is worthwhile content. More visits means better ranking in search engines.
  • Blogs allow for 2-way communication that brings a sense of knowing who you are working with.

PART II: How to start a blog