Top 10 Internet Marketing Tips For Business

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

To get your website noticed in the search engines, you need to optimize your website for Google, Yahoo, Bing so that your website will be on page #1 when people search for your business specialty. My SEO Secrets book gives you step-by-step instructions you can do to get your website listed on page #1 ahead of all your competitors.

Compelling Content Updates

Once you have started your business and you have your website on the Internet, if you don’t ever do anything further, your website may be doomed for failure. The thing that makes a site interesting and keeps visitors coming back to visit is compelling content where they can find “waht’s in it for them”. In order to keep visitors and the search engines happy, you’ll want to update at least once a month to keep things fresh and interesting. Writing fresh content can be very difficult unless you do professional writing for a living, so consider handing it off to a professional who writes content every day. This will take the burden off of you and get those updates completed more frequently.

Inbound Links

There are 2 types of links associated with your website. “Outbound Links” are the ones where there is a link on your website that links to another website. “Inbound Links” are the ones where another website links to your website. To give your website the most advantage with the search engines, you want as many “Inbound” links as possible because each inbound link is seen as a “vote” of confidence for your website. There are many link building strategies you can use, but one simple one is to ask all of the companies you do business with to place a link on their website to yours. You can reciprocate with them by placing a link to them on your site.

Networking

Running a business can go easier when you have others that are involved in your situation where they know details about you and your business. Years ago you had to rely on in-person meetings with individuals and groups. Today, networking with your peers and business advisors is so easy through social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and others. This is how you stay connected and involved with others and they can do the same with you.

Free Advertising

One the biggest benefits of Internet marketing is that you can use free services to advertise your business. Sites like Yelp and Kudzu offer free classified style ads where you can upload your business information and place links to your website. Another great place to get free advertising is with Google Places where visitors can find directions to your front door and have the chance to leave reviews. And when it comes to “free”, be sure to take advantage or promoting your business everywhere you can. Place a reference to your website, email address, and all social media accounts on your business card, in your email signature line, and every piece of promotional material you produce.

Paid Advertising

If you have a little money to burn, then you can pay for some key advertising slots that will increase traffic to your site and bring customers pouring in. Some of the more popular paid advertising ventures include things like Google Adwords, where you purchase text links and pay by the click up to a set amount. You may also want to try Stumble Upon and purchasing direct banner sales on sites with customers you’d like to target. Competitors probably will not sell to you, so it should be related but non-competitive.

Social Marketing

Social marketing centers aroung creating content that attracts the attention of your website visitors and encourages them to share it with their social networks. Your message spreads from user to user and is viwed as valuable because it’s coming from a trusted source, as opposed to coming directly from your company. Social marketing is a powerful platform that opens doors for your business to increase its brand awareness and hold conversations with your customers. Social marketing is free for most accounts which can’t be beat as an inexpensive platform to implement marketing campaigns. The dominant social marketing play is to have a business page on Facebook. You can gain additional exposure using Twitter for shout outs, and YouTube for visual communications.

 

e-Newsletters

Email newsletters are the essential foundation of staying in communication with your customers. Once your business has established a relationship with a customer, email newsletters are how you keep them informed of what is happening with your business. If you sold them a product, the newsletter is where you tell them about new products. If they bought a service from you, the newsletter is where you tell them about new services. Email newsletters are incredibly affordable, but you need to be very careful to use a professional email delivery company to assure that the effort you invest in your newsletter, does not get lost because the email could not be delivered. While social marketing comnpanies rise and fall, email newsletters will stand the test of time by being a consistent voice you have with your customer.

Google Adwords

If your business website is not ranking well with organic search engine optimiization, you can leverage the power of Google Adwords. The process is simple. You establish an account with Google, set a threshold of money that can be spent each day, then create your ad. When someone clicks on your ad, the cost of the ad is deducted from your daily spending limit, and then the user is sent to a page on your website. To achieve the highest conversion rates, instead of sending the user to your home page and making them figure out what to do next, you should send the user to a landing page that is created specifically for your offer.

Facebook Ads

Now that Facebook has overstepped Google with 500+ million registered users, another powerful way for your business to reach potential customers is with Facebook Ads. The process is to design your ad, target who the ad will be presented to, and then select the pricing and scheduling. The power with Facebook comes in step #2 where you can target specific demographics for your ad. This feature opens up so many segmenting possibilities that you can really narrow the focus of each ad to determine, over time, which demographic offers the greatest return on investment. Be sure to send the user who clicks on your ad to a landing page that is created specifically for your offer. Between Google Adwords and Facebook Ads, your business can reach an audience of incredible numbers.

Top Ten Small Business Web Site Marketing Tips

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Many small business owners struggle with the seemingly overwhelming task of managing their web site. There always seems to be so much to do, yet no time to do it all (something we know all too well). This brief primer should help to highlight the key aspects of web site management that will help them gain the most from their web site with the time that they have available. 

The following ten tips are key to maintaining a successful web site. Follow these and your site will do better. Nothing will guarantee that a web site will be successful as there are simply too many different factors that impact web success – but as a general rule these ten tips will always lead to better performance. 

  1. Content
  2. Freshness
  3. No Tricks
  4. Links
  5. Structure
  6. Accessibility
  7. Quality Code
  8. URLs
  9. Style
  10. Images

For more detail consult Building Web Site Success a detailed primer about these and other aspects of Internet marketing.

 

#1 Content

Content is key 
All the search engines scan a sites content now – almost ignoring things like meta tags. The more content you have on your site the more the search engines can scan – but there is more to it then that: people like content too. Many people measure a web site´s success by the number of visitors it gets – so ask yourself – why would people come to your web site? do you offer them interesting and informative information that relates to your product or service? if not, why would they come? 

Relevant content and lots of it is a key for a successful web site. There is always room for more content on a web site, and you can never have too much. 

Take this article for example, while it´s fairly useful information for many of our visitors, it´s also additional content for our web site – and will serve to help our site do better. Writing articles about aspects of your industry is a great way to generate content. 

Set asside an hour a day (or at least an hour a week) to devote to adding new content to your web site.

 

#2 Freshness

Keep it current 
Having lots of content is great – but if it is all three years old it´s not going to look like your site is much of a priority. The search engines actually track this. They monitor how frequently your site changes as they visit it for indexing. The more often it changes the better your rank in the freshness category. 

What constitutes change? pretty much anything – which is why keeping a BLOG or adding frequent news articles to your web site usually produces such good results. It is also the reason why having something as simple as rotating content and the current date on every page has been shown to make a difference (although the search engines have been getting wise to this kind of tactic)

 

#3 No Tricks

Don´t try to outsmart the Search Engines – Eventually you´ll loose 
Many design firms promise success through the use of tricks, backdoors, and special tactics designed to sneak a web site into a top position rapidly. Something, of course, that the search engines are constantly battling to defeat. Why play the game? as the search engines find the cheaters they will plug the holes and a rank (that usually costs a pretty penny to achieve) will immediately be lost. 
Rather, follow the recommendations of the search engines – most set out rules for web masters that outline what they would like to see in a web site (incidentally these rules are the main source of research for this document) By following the rules the engines are actually battling all the cheating web sites and working to promote the sites that follow the rules – they are fighting FOR you!

 

#4 Links

Links both in and out must be relevant 
There has been a lot of talk about link exchanges – people linking to others merely to gain a higher rank (hmmm, this smacks of breaking tip #3) if you are going to link to someone and/or ask them to link to you – ask yourself: is it relevant? 
Any old link is not going to help you much – search engines will look at who is linking to you – they are also starting to pay very close attention to how many links you have off your web site on a page. This is being done to try and drop sites with pages of links (do you have a links page on your web site?) 
It is far better to have relevant links in various places throughout your web site – on only those pages that specifically address the topic that relates to the page being linked. 
Unfortunately you can´t exert too much control over the way that other sites link to yours but it is worth looking at how a site usually links to others before to specifically go requesting a link from them. For example: a link that is your logo isn´t very useful (search engines ignore images) whereas a link containing text, listing the topic of your web site, from a related web site would be of great value.

 

#5 Structure

Organize your web site and everyone will thank you. 
Both the search engines and your web visitors prefer a web site that is well structured. The search engines due to their very nature (being computer programs) must break down all web sites into elements based on the structure of the pages. People, so frequently rushing to find the specific information they are looking for, rarely read through web pages but rather scan headings and bullied lists to find the detailed sections of interest. In both cases a well structured site will be far better received then one that is a mish-mosh of information haphazardly thrown together. 
This is simple to do – but all too often missed. Make headings, use the correct coding tags for them, organize sections of content into groups, and use bold and bullied lists to present key points. 
Keep in mind when writing paragraphs of text that most humans will not read them unless they are specifically titled with a headline that matches what they are looking for.

 

#6 Accessibility

A web site that speaks to all is better then a site that only speaks to some. 
Tips #6 and #7 are closely related: The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provides a list of guidelines for how to create web sites that are accessible to as many people (and systems) as possible. Think about your web site – can someone with a visual disability (perhaps even something as simple as colour-blindness) still get information about your product or service? If not, how do you feel knowing that you have just excluded a vast segment of the population from accessing your web site? 
There are many simple ways that you can ensure your web site is accessible to people with special needs. A group of simple tests for the sites content and design that ensure your product or service is presented to the widest possible audience. The specifics are beyond the scope of this document – but be sure that you check with your designer to ensure that your site design and code is following accessibility guidelines. 

 

#7 Quality Code

Well coded web sites perform better. 
Many small business owners don´t have too much control over the code used to create their web site – but it is still important to know how important it may be. Standard compliant code that has been checked for errors is easier for the search engines to assimilate. It is more widely visible across varied platforms (computer types) and in different browsers. 
Ensure your web designer is writing standard compliant code that is validated for errors. You can also check your own web site using free on-line tools from the W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium – the standards body that administers Internet technologies)

 

#8 URLs

Prudent choice of URLs will impact your web site´s performance 
Professional web designers should already know this – but if you are using a content management system to build your web site, or portions of it, it is important to understand the significance of the URL used to access pages on your web site. 
Search engines look at the address of every page on your web site and try to extract key-words from the content of the url. For example, you may have a page about “Widgets” on your web site called “somewhere.com” creating the page with a filename of widgets.html will give a better keyword rank then page6.html this is also true of sub-directories on the site somewhere.com/widgets/… being better then somewhere.com/files/… 
This is a fairly subtle point but makes a significant difference for most search engines. It can also make it much easier for people that are typing in a URL to access a specific page of your web site. Notice the URL for this web page – it´s called http://www.pawprint.net/internet-marketing/small-business-web-site.php for a reason! 
If you really want to target a key phrase consider purchasing a microsite for that phrase. An inexpensive secondary web site that can be tailored to focus on a specific key phrase or concept.

 

#9 Style

Looks do matter – but perhaps not the way you think… 
In the grand scheme of things the “looks” of a web site in the classic sense are not really that important – honestly! once people have looked at a web site for a few minutes they will quickly discard their first impression (based on looks) and move immediately to asking – is this site giving me the information I need – and can I find it quickly (going back to tips #1 – content and #5 – structure) 
So what are we on about with style? simple – ensure the style of your site makes it easy to read. Avoid things like black backgrounds with white text (inverse text is harder to read) ALL CAPS (humans read by identifying word shapes – writing in all caps forces people to read every letter and quickly becomes annoying – plus on the net it is used as an typographic method of indicating you are screaming) You should also check your web site using a colour blind test to ensure that visitors with the various types of colour-blindness can still actually read your navigation.

 

#10 Images

Selling a product – better make sure it looks good 
If you are selling something that has a visual representation – then professional looking photography is key. Even a multi-million dollar resort will not look good if the photographs are amateurish. If you care about what you have to sell, then it´s worth investing in some professional photographs to show people what you have. Remember, on-line people can´t get a hold of your product – so you need to give them some really good photographs so that they can feel confident that it meets their needs.

101 Web Marketing Ideas and Tips

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Global Marketing (emphasizing technical specifications)

    1. Don’t use site-wide links. They are highly deprecated in the latest algorithm changes, and may even lead you to a penalization of your website’s SERPs. As a measure of precaution, I recommend a maximum of one site-wide (no matter the number of pages) for every 40 to 50 unique links from 40 to 50 unique domains.
    2. Use the title and meta description tags as wise as possible. They are your best choice of avoiding supplemental pages. Try to make each page with it’s own unique title and description, and never repeat more than 20-25% of the title and description tags content on different pages. Use a limited number of characters (8-10) in the title tag, and put the most important of them, relevant to each page, at the beginning.
    3. Read my previous post on 14 search marketing questions, asked by Digitalpoint members.
    4. Try to use H tags (1,2,3 etc) at the top-most possible location in the pages of your website, in the source order, and NOT visual order.
    5. Don’t be a Copycat. Don’t write news or posts just to have something for the big Google. Nowadays, duplicate-content filters are continuously evolving and even if you gain something on the short term you will loose it later. Try to be innovative.
    6. Use a pen and paper. Always have an agenda and a pen around. Note down every crazy idea you think of … Most of us have truly great subjects to write about, but during the day we forget, busy with other issues. I always note my ideas. At the end of a day, I am amazed to see a 20 subjects list to write about, versus 1 or two that I can come up with at writing time.
    7. Suggest “related websites” in your website’s Alexa information page. That will bring some traffic.
    8. If you want that early search engine boost, don’t just buy a new domain and invest $10K on the website design and development. You are better off buying a 5 year domain and investing $5K on the website. Age matters a lot and it will matter good years from now on.
    9. If you own a website that contains 80% Google and you are always on the lookout for new content/news to write about, please and I mean PLEASE read Ionut’s Google System. He’s still a student at a University in Bucharest (I live in Bucharest, so I have to meet him soon) and he can write all those stuff about it. Imagine him 10 years from now. He’s great on finding every bit of information, bug, unreleased service or any other thing about Google.
    10. Try to build other websites that revolve around your primary niche. Use them to better market and infuse brand and traffic into your primary website. I’m not talking about building scraper websites. Build quality content ones, and invest money and time and work hours in them. But in the end, just make them a vehicle that you will use to better market your primary website.
    11. Use Google’s, Yahoo’s and MSN’s(that’s the Moreover ping server which will ping MSN) sitemap services. Not only that it will provide you with invaluable server and website data, but it will get your pages in their index faster.
    12. If your website is in DMOZ, and Google and MSN (Live.com) show the DMOZ title and description, and that doesn’t work for you (most of the time, the DMOZ information for your website sucks) just bypass it and use your own ones. MSN and Google both support this function.
    13. Don’t ignore Google’s, Yahoo’s, Live’s and Ask’s image search functions. Most of the times, you can get a higher traffic from the image search engines then from the usual search, especially if you have a content rich website. Just a reminder for you: use the title attribute on links that surround the images, and use the ALT attribute on the image tags themselves. Also, always remember to rename your images with relevant descriptive words (a maximum of 4 words works best).
    14. Have a look at the websites I read (Bloglines), and subscribe to their feeds. Read them regularly.

Advertising and Affiliate Marketing

    1. If you use the Adsense, YPN! or adCenter contextual ads on your website, try to optimize them. Don’t just insert them in your website and leave them. Work with them, change the position, the ad layout, the colors, the content around them. And remember, that at least for Adsense, the ad that’s placed in the highest position possible in the source’s order, will yield the highest income per click.
    2. Use affiliate programs once your website has started to receive some quality traffic. Depending on your niche, affiliate programs are a much better way to convert your traffic, then all the other advertising methods like contextual networks, banners, links etc. Commision Junction is a good way to start your research.
    3. Effectively lead your readers to your MDA (Most Desired Action). That may be a newsletter box, a banner, an Adsense etc. Place your MDA right below comments, or in the left/right sidebars, or in the header. Experiment. Analyze. React.
    4. Build an affiliate system for the services products you are offering. Let others do the PR and sales job for you.

RSS & Newsletter Marketing

    1. Don’t trust yourself only in RSS feeds. A lot of users are “old-school” and prefer e-mail newsletters. Always offer this option.
    2. Another good newsletter tactic is to offer a periodical e-mail digest with the top stories in a certain period. A week, a month etc. Maybe some of your visitors missed a few interesting posts/articles.
    3. Research Robin Good’s Best Blog Directory And RSS Submission Sites (Part 2 and Part 3 available too) and market your RSS feed in all those websites. Don’t know what an RSS feed is ? (if you don’t, you’re either a moron, or you should fire someone).
    4. Not only submit your RSS feed to different RSS aggregators, but learn to market it.

Analytics Marketing Techniques

    1. Pay attention to your website’s statistics. Install a good analytics tool like IndexTools or Google Analytics. Not only the absolute numbers and statistics (like total users/total visits) count. Try to go deeper and analyze the navigation patterns, entry/exit rates and pages, the new /returning visitors ratio etc.
    2. Continuously monitor your server stats, referrers and logs, and try to respond to links and articles that reference your website. That shows dedication and it’s another way to market your website indirectly.
    3. Survey your visitors (you need a free user account to read this article). Learn what your audience anddemographics are. Strive to improve your readership towards your website’s business goal. Constantly re-survey.
    4. Research your market and always be up to date with your competitors. What their prices are, where do visitors go, is the site designed for success ? Look for things like quality code and content, internal/external linking, keyword density in content and links, pages indexed, Google Pagerank, quality titles, headers, site layout and design, conversion process, site load time, dedicated host, what new services they develop and announce etc.
    5. Learn to increase your leads
    6. Trial and error Trial and measure: raise awareness of your products and services, convert a visitor into a registered user and/or paying customer, persuade exiting customers to make further business, developing loyalty.

Brand and Visibility Marketing

    1. When commenting a post or story in another website don’t spam: “OMG that’s uber cool”, “Nice post” or something like that. Instead, try to make your comments in a professional way, show what you liked/disliked/agreed/etc, cite other sources, give examples, bring pertinent arguments etc. Remember, comments are an important part of a post/article. Over 60% of the readers will also read the comments.
    2. Try to associate your name or your website’s name/brand with the big boys on your niche. Regularly comment their articles (don’t spam) and from time to time make reviews of their post on your blog/website.
    3. Starting your website from scratch, always sucks. Seek out other websites/companies in your industry and try to establish a relationship with them. Try a mutual partnership and/or services recommendations. Don’t try to e-mail/fax your direct competitors.
    4. Brand and paint your employee’s uniforms and your company’s cars with your logo and website address. This is especially useful if you have a lot of cars. It’s mass-branding and it will get people, thus future clients in your local area accustomed and comfortable with your logo, website and business.
    5. Put your website address, on every possible internal piece of paper or communication device, including, but being limited to business cards, letterheads, invoices, newspaper and/or other print ads, yellow pages advertisements, receipts etc.
    6. Always identify yourself with your visitors, especially if you own a publishing website/weblog. Always have your editor name written for articles and it’s best to have a profile too. A picture, a contact method.

Social Media Marketing

    1. If you ever want to write something that will end up on any of Digg’s, Reddit’s, Netscape’s, Newsvine’s(etc) frontpage, write about how to get on their frontpage, about Firefox, Wordpress or Apple/Mac. No matter what you write about those, people love them and you WILL get on the frontpage, unless it’s un utterly stupid article.
    2. Pay close attention to Stumbleupon. It’s a great alternative social network. Install their toolbar, and if you write a good post, submit it in their system. Be faithful and fairplay with the other members, help each other, and add friends to your account. Ask other members to review you if they liked what you stumbled upon. StumbleUpon traffic had the highest converting ratio (at least for me), in comparison to Delicious, Digg or Reddit users, which seem to be RSS and AD blind.
    3. Whenever you have the belief that digging your articles will yield you an increased CTR on your Adsense ads, RSS subscriptions, comments or any other kind of added benefit to your website, you are wrong. I can sustain Davak’s post 80%, except the Alexa part. Digg users do use the Alexa toolbar or plugins that count as the Alexa toolbar. But you won’t notice any increased CTR’s, comments or clicks, no matter the traffic gained from a Digg.
    4. Reward helpful and valuable users by promoting their work on your homepage, or develop a rating system. Invest 5 minutes of your time to send a quick email or note telling them you appreciate their help.
    5. At least once per year, ask your visitors what do they think about your website’s content. What would they want to read more ? What new facilities should you offer them ? 10 reasons to survey your visitors.
    6. Be humble. Don’t forget where you started from, even if you are a professional in your field. No one can be an authority in a certain category if others don’t link to/recommend/interview/blog about.

Link Baiting, Link Building and Research

    1. Write controversial content that will self-generate links and discussions/comments. Pick on well-known people, criticize loved websites or brands.
    2. When starting your website, try to gather a few links from already established and trustworthy websites. Stop trying to get your link on websites that are 2 months old like yours. Pay a directory submission inYahoo!, BOTW, Webxperience!, Skaffe or other well known directories. Paying for a directory submission almost guarantees you a faster response time. DMOZ is an excellent way to start but you can’t get your way in fast and with money, so it’s best to “submit-and-forget-about-it”.
    3. Build links slowly, to avoid the sandbox. Slowly can mean 5-10 gained backlinks per month.
    4. When you research websites for IBL’s possibilities, don’t be fooled about high PR pages. What you need is Trust, not a high Pagerank. How can you tell if a website is an authority website or not ? Just find 5 titles of 5 articles on that website and search those phrases in Google. If the website appears on the first page, then it’s a quality website. After that inspect some of it’s backlinks, and try to see if the website is involved in dubious link schemes or has IBLs from irrelevant and spam websites. If it doesn’t, you’re OK to go. Remember, what you need is Trust, and traffic. Not Pagerank.
    5. A good link building strategy is to comment or participate in discussions or content on other websites in your industry. It’s not enough to have good articles/content. The world has to know about them. Make connections/relations with other jounalists/bloggers/entreprenours in your niche, comment their articles, and links will come by themselves, with time.
    6. Create posts/articles that help your visitors and attract natural links. “5 tips to …”, “25 easy ways to make …. better” type of articles are the best you can write.
    7. Write stories/articles in the most highly-ranked websites of your industry and link to your website from the article. I am not talking about article directories, but industry websites that accept content contributions from members. (like ThreadWatch or WebproNews, for example)
    8. Are you in any good relations with an US faculty/university ? Kindly ask them if you can contribute with something, and request a link from their websites. .edu and .gov links are supposed to carry a little more weight and authority then regular links. An excellent post in SEOmoz on ten ways to earn an .edu link
    9. Do you write in forums ? Always put your link in your signature, and try to write a few attractive words too, to increase the likelihood of clicks on your links. Many forums like Digitalpoint or V7N, have a latest blog post function. If you have a feed, always use that functions (tip: it works with any feed, not just blogs).
    10. My best advice for gathering a LOT of easy links is to create and release free templates for any wide-spread, free CMS system out there. Wordpress, PHP Link Directory, Joomla, Mambo, Typo66, Drupal, etc. You are not a designer ? Hire one to build you some templates. What’s the benefit ? That small “template by X” in the footer of the template, that will reside in all the websites that use it. The more functional and beautiful the template is, the more people will use it. Colleen, from Kalina Web Designs as well as Chris from Pearsonified come highly recommended by me and others. It’s not worthwhile to tell you that I too have a design company. We’re too expensive for your ass😉
    11. If you are interested about Pagerank rather then relevancy, whenever you submit to directories or other websites that accept links, try to search the most relevant page with the highest PR, and submit to that. Keep the relevancy pretty high on your list though, otherwise they will reject your website for sure. I would and will.
    12. Viral marketing, word of mouth, tell a friend schemes can get your server on fire in hours. Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. I guess this Threadwatch article about a Mini-Cooper AD will tell you more.
    13. Ask friends or colleagues in your industry, to review your business website. If you have high profilefriends, then you are sure to bring a high traffic and increased authority impact to your website.
    14. Build a funny 404 page that will make your visitors laugh a bit and maybe will attract some links.
    15. Don’t overlook linkbaiting: Organize a contest, adding a competitive element to it and offering a prize, post a very cool and funny post (usually a video or a cartoon or something that everyone would understand visually), ideally related to your industry etc.
    16. Take a 6 months/1 year college class and get a personal page on the university’s .edu domain. Prices are usually cheap

Corporate & e-Commerce Marketing

    1. Issue press releases for your website. No matter the field, a well written press release can not only improve your marketing strategy and gain a few inbound links and link bait from other websites, but can lead to journalists that will cite your company in their offline/online magazine as well as in online news websites like Google News and Yahoo! News.
    2. If you have a company or product presentation website, try to provide multilingual pages. Helps for ranking in different localized search engines and user experience …
    3. If you have local conferences or shows, that relate to your industry attend to them. Go yourself, or send an employee. Make business connections, friends, discuss daily issues, socialize. You wouldn’t imagine how much that will help you on the long run.
    4. If you sell products or services on your website, regularly offer discounts or promotional coupons. That will not only increase sales and visibility but will attract links and stories, especially if you are a well known company. Issue a press release each and every time you offer that discount. Journalists and news search engines like Google News usually pick up the press release if it’s written correctly.
    5. Offer a Privacy Policy (think about how much information is on the Internet; your credit card, your home addresses, your personal letters by email. etc.), a FAQ section, a Help section or any other functionality that will bring your website closer to your visitors, increasing authority, trust and re-visit rates.
    6. No matter your writing skill, read a few pointers about how to write a professional press release(excellent 21 pages e-book on the new rules of PR – local mirror) and try releasing a free press release atPressBox, Free Press Release, PrLeap, i-Newswire, 24/7 Press Release, PR.com, PR Free or ClickPress. After you’ll see the benefits, hire a professional press release writing service and do it by the book atPrWeb, PrNewsWire and/ore other global, more authoritative PR distribution services.
    7. Read the PccPolo 101 marketing tips (local mirror) and the United States Small Business Administration 100+ Marketing Ideas.
    8. Your customers are always right!
    9. Thou shalt remember that not only Google has a Bible: The 10 Commandments of Marketing (you need a free user account to read this article).
    10. Personalize your company’s cars license plates
    11. Optimize your website’s shopping cart and watch how your average order size increase and your cart abandonment rate decrease.

Blog Marketing

    1. Do you have a company or corporate website ? Build a blog for yourself. Blogs are a common way of internal company communication as well as a good source of PR. Clients and possible clients feel close and can interact with your team, online.
    2. Do you blog ? Pimp your blog with social bookmarking tools, a Feedburner account with the FeedCount option activated to show your RSS subscribers.
    3. If you have a blog (but not only a blog) take full advantage of Technorati. Technorati offers you the chance to submit 20 tags relevant to your blog, when you create your account, and start to claim each blog/website. Don’t let that stop you. Use Technorati tags, tailored for each post individually. Technorati pages rank extremely well, and it’s a great source of traffic, so it’s best to use it to your advantage. Watch how PrWeb uses Technorati tags in every press release, to it’s advantage. The advantage is that your specific article will show up in searches of each of those tags.
    4. Whenever you write a post on your blog, or an article in your publishing website, or a press release, try to think search too. Research with Overture and Wordtracker (if you have an account), what are the best words to use in your title. They tend to help a lot, because the title usually is used in the meta description and URL too. That will boost your page a little in the SERPs.
    5. Plan your blog’s start. When starting a new blog, it’s important to realize that every detail counts. Don’t start with a default theme and ‘hello world’ – like posts and then ask for links. Try to start with 2-3 good written subjects. Always plan ahead and write today, tomorrow’s post.
    6. Always link from your blog. Link to as many quality websites as possible. Don’t be afraid to “spread your PR thin” or some other BS like that. Link to good posts of people, link to good newspaper articles, and most importantly, link to relatively unknown blogs/websites that feature a good original story. In most cases that will yield you some free PR. Most other websites (like PrWeb or blogs etc) have trackback plugins so they’ll feature your story in their comments.
    7. Read Quadzilla’s 9 rules about blogging (disregard rule #10) and Seth Godin’s how to get traffic for your blog post.
    8. Have a blog ? Always ping update services. Here are the Update services I use for this blog (For WordPress, they are located in Options/Writing/Update Services):

      http://rpc.pingomatic.com/

      http://pingoat.com/goat/RPC2/

      http://pingqueue.com/rpc/

      http://ping.feedburner.com

      http://www.bloglines.com/ping

      http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2

      I use the Bloglines, Technorati and Google Blogs pings to update those services immediately and not wait for services like Pingomatic to notify them hourly.

Design, Content, Accessibility and Usability Marketing

  1. The quality of the layout and design matters. Don’t release an ugly, badly design website. I would rather wait to do a much better design and release the website afterwards. The same situation for websites that are already online. Got an ugly design ? Redesign the website. It’s proven that a new, more beautiful and accessible design for a website strongly increases the likelihood of bookmarking, re-visiting, and subscribes to the feed and newsletters.
  2. Write with the user in mind. A BAD post example is like writing a long citation of another blog-post/authority site, and actually writing no opinion of your own. Try to add your own analysis and views of the subject. No matter how many other websites blogged or wrote about a story, they will never write the same post as yours, with the same pro’s and con’s.
  3. Spell check your content. There’s no other big mistake for a publishing site than users criticizing the misspells. Take those extra 2 minutes to check the spelling errors in Word or even Google.
  4. Try to get your readers to comment and to involve themselves with the subject at hand. Uses phrases like “I’d like to know what you think?” / “I’m waiting your suggestions about …” etc.
  5. If you can’t write good stories, don’t. Hire an experienced publisher to do the writing for you. John Scotthired Peter Da Vanzo to blog for V7N’s blog. Not because John can’t, but because he’s not the writing geek and because he wanted a professional blog. That does the job well for him and that can do the job well for you too.
  6. If you have a website where people can pay online for products, make the job easy. Put a BIG button or text, use multiple processors like 2CO, Paypal etc. Don’t hide the payment link in some footer or sidebar space. Make it visible. If you don’t have your own shopping cart, then let the visitor know that he will be redirected to a 3rd party website, to complete the payment process.
  7. Make sure the website is consistent in look, feel and design. Nothing is more disturbing to a visitor/customer than feeling as if they have just gone to another website. Keep colors and themes constant throughout the site. And yes, this is a marketing tool too. You DO want your visitors to come back right ?
  8. If you have a content website, try to keep your posting frequency regular. If you decide to post 1 post per day, then post 1 post per day, every day, every week, 365 days/year. So what if it’s Christmas ? Just don’t make your posting habit irregular. Today 1 post, tomorrow 5 posts, 1 week no posts etc. That disturbs visitors and that will hurt your RSS subscribers and newsletter subscribers numbers.
  9. If you just invested a lot of cash for a beautiful Web 2.0 design and layout (Web 2.0 hotties and how to design Web 2.0 style), why not make the best of it ? Make sure that it’s a valid XHTML and CSS layout and submit it to the hottest CSS galleries around the world like CSS Beauty, CSS Import, CSS Remix or CSS Vault.
  10. Always personalize your e-mail responses, newsletters, invitations and any other material that ends up at your existing or possible future clients. Never send a bulk message. Most of the current clients get offended by such messages and the future possible clients will just ignore them.
  11. Send out a “thank you” email to all existing customers and alert them about your plans for the next year.
  12. Add interactivity to your website. Visitors need to have a communication highway one way or another. If you still haven’t included a commenting system, a forum, a blog or other interactivity systems to your website, do it now. Always ask questions from your readers and try to involve them in your world.
  13. Create an (extensive) glossary of terms in your industry, like Aaron did for his industry: search engine marketing. That will set you apart and will make you an authority website in your niche.
  14. Create powerful anti-spam blocks for your website. No-one will trust your authority if your website is full of spam. Use a Captcha module, or a math module, asking visitors to identify a string or to do a mathematical calculation before their comment gets approved. According to Akismet, 93% of (blog) comments are spam. Loren Baker’s Search Engine Journal got hit with 850.000 spam comments since he installed Akismet (thanks for the info Loren).
  15. Put the accent on visitor experience not traffic. Traffic is useless if you can’t convert it into paying customers. A visitor experience optimized website with 500 visits/day can bring you twice the income then an un-optimized one with 10.000 visits/day.

3 Internet Marketing Tips

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1. Internet marketing is not a business model or a replacement for marketing basics

There’s a certain amount of confusion around this what Internet marketing really is. For some, Internet marketing is a business model – i.e. you have built an Internet based business. But for most small businesses, the Internet is a new media channel that can be used to reach your target market.

If you view Internet Marketing as another tool in your toolbox, then your mindset changes and you can apply basic marketing concepts to your efforts – that is who is my target audience, where can I find them and why would they want to connect and do business with my company?

2. Internet marketing is not a quest for the most likes, followers and friends

Internet Marketing Tips - Build RelationshipsInternet marketing is about building relationships and gaining visibility within your target market. Unfortunately there is something inherently important about fan counts, and it is human nature for people to check out your company profile on Facebook or Twitter and instantly judge them based on the metric of followers, friends or fans. But having many fake or uninterested followers does not help your business. So although growing your Facebook fans or Twitter followers organically seems tedious, those who follow you may actually care about and support your business. Using a service to quickly add 2000 fans only hurts you in the long run if you plan to do anything to market to these fans or followers.

3. Internet marketing is not about chasing the next new shiny object

Internet marketing is about creating a solid marketing plan, staying the course, evaluating your results and then modifying your activities as needed. I advise small business owners to create a marketing plan that’s flexible, can adapt to changes as the Internet evolves and fits your specific needs and overall marketing strategy. Not every new and improved online tool will be right for your business.

Digital Marketing Must: Deliver Great Content Where Your Customers Are

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What do entrepreneurs need to be doing when it comes to location-based marketing? Which social-media sites are best for companies in the service industries?

These are just two questions of many we answered today in the second installment of our Google Hangout Series, “The Best Marketing Advice You’re Not Following.” We chatted with a trio of digital marketing experts from our Team Digital:

  • Karen Leland, author and president of Sterling Marketing Group, a marketing and brand-strategy firm based in San Rafael, Calif.
  • Jayson DeMers, founder and chief executive of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based SEO agency.
  • Adam Kleinberg, co-founder and chief executive of Traction, an interactive agency based in San Francisco.

In addition to location-based marketing and social media, topics we discussed ranged from customer reviews to responsive web design to creating engaging content to market your website and business.

“If you want to be successful online you must publish great content and be an authority on your niche,” DeMers said.

“You gotta make your marketing fun and stand out,” Kleinberg continued. “That’s what makes it engaging and makes people want to give a damn.

5 Tips for Successful Marketing Online

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So retail is down and e-commerce is up. This presents entrepreneurs the chance to make an end-run around mass retail.  At Little Pim we have been scaling the retail wall since we started selling four years ago, and we rapidly realized we could grow our own customer base online by being creative, focused, and um, entrepreneurial.

As a new brand in a crowded children’s space, we have been uber-focused on online sales, and this holiday season we’re seeing the payoff. For the third consecutive quarter, we have seen a 40% rise in our Direct to Consumer sales. Here is what is working for us:

•           Understand the buyer’s journey.

In the past we had many different lead offers using only discounts; everything from 20% off to buy-one-get-one-free.  Take a minute to understand your potential customers’ decision chain, and what’s most important to them. Once you do that, you can match the right offer.  We now offer a free trial of our product to get leads to the top of the funnel.  Then we try and educate them about the value of language learning, and throw in a tasty offer offer from time to time.  With this multi-staged approach, we’re beginning to see much higher conversion rates and lower CPA.

•           Use Google, and learn how to use it well.

Take a webinar in Google’s host of tools, and make sure to keep up with the rapidly changing services they offer. Ask fellow CEOs what is working for them. Google ads, SEO and YouTube marketing can make or break your online presence. Analyze what is working and what isn’t with rigor and tweak often, not just the offer but the creative too.

•           Turbo-charge your customer service.

Make sure whoever is answering phones is prepared to upsell, offer special discounts and incentives and take orders on the phone. Getting the customer to call or click is only half the equation. Take a page out of Zappos’ book and make sure your customer service people understand your product, understand your customers, and are a pleasure to talk to.

•           Quality vs Quantity: Stay focused.

We have had greater success cultivating a smaller number of people and guiding them through a very intentional sales funnel, than when we cast a wide net to people who might not fully align with our target customer.

•           Experiment.

We set aside 25% of our marketing budget to try new things. There are so many new tools, services and mediums to try. Unless you are strict about setting budget aside, you can keep doing the same thing over and over and miss opportunities to discover new things that could end up seriously paying off.

Having just seen Life of Pi, it occurs to me that online marketing for small businesses is like being that young man in a tiny boat at sea. You have a set number of things you can use to survive and thrive – a net, a spear, resilience and creativity. Use them all and get to safe shores. You may even find you can outrace the big cruise ships in reaching your customers.

5 of the BEST Sales Tips Ever

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five best sales tips 300x300 5 of the BEST Sales Tips Ever photoRecently I was talking to a group of college students regarding a sales career and they asked me what I thought were the best sales tips I’ve ever heard.

Here is what I said:

1. It’s not what you say; It’s what your customer believes.

You can have the best sales presentation in the world, but if the customer doesn’t believe your proposition, then you don’t have a chance.  Take the time to engage with the customer.

Ask them questions and let them tell you their wants and needs.  Yes, many times they don’t know what their needs are and you’ll have to guide them, but in the end, if they don’t believe it, you don’t have a chance.

2. Never go into a sales call not knowing how you’re going to close the sale.

If you don’t know where you’re going, then how will you get there?  The most common part left out of any presentation is the close.  Plan for it upfront by developing the strategy and your course of action.

This does not mean you’re only going to use one type of closing technique.  On the contrary, it means you’re going to be ready to close using several different techniques based on what the customer tells you.

3. Have a dedicated time set aside either daily or weekly to do your prospecting.

Too many salespeople find themselves spending far too much doing everything else but prospecting.  If you don’t schedule it and hold yourself accountable, you won’t do it.

4. Believe in yourself and what you’re doing to help your customers.

Why should anyone buy anything from anybody if the person from whom they are buying doesn’t even believe in it?   There’s a reason why confident salespeople are more successful.

5. Show up and show up on time.

More sales are lost because the salesperson either failed to show or failed to follow-through.  It’s a sad comment that something that basic and easy could deter more sales, but it’s a fact.  This is the main reason why when companies are looking for salespeople, I tell them to find candidates who have a proven track record of self-discipline.

If you were looking for a silver bullet sales technique, sorry you probably didn’t find it here.Then again, I don’t believe there are any silver bullets in sales.

It’s all about having the discipline to demonstrate to the customer that you care about them and their needs.

Were these the type of “best sales tips” the students were looking for?  Who knows?! Yes, they responded positively, but only time will tell if they took what I said to heart.

I’ll say this — based on the thousands of salespeople I’ve had the privilege to work with and train, I know without a doubt that if salespeople do these 5 things and do them well, they will have a high probability of achieving success.