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Online Advertising Takes the Lead

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To quote Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changin’.” Now granted I imagine when he wrote that lyric he wasn’t thinking about marketing, but the world of marketing is changing in a big way. Recently online ads have pulled ahead of print newspaper ads for the first time. This is a huge shift and the digital marketing research firm believes it will only continue to rise. They estimate that the spending for online ads will reach $25.8 billion in the near future.

While this is big news it is not unexpected. Online advertising has been slowly overtaking print ads for years now. However, while it may not be surprising it still is a big step forward for digital marketing. More spending for online ads can mean more tracking of an ad’s success or failure through services like Google Analytics. It can also cause a demand for new online tools that can help reach customers more easily. Yep the times truly are a changin’.

Reputation Management Lessons to be Learned from Tiger Woods' Mistakes

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It can take years to build a brand, but minutes to destroy it. Brand spokespeople can be a brand’s own worst enemy by inadvertently inflicting wounds that could lead to the brand’s untimely demise. Luckily, the American public is quite forgiving. You just have to go about it the right way. This requires some reputation management expertise that, unfortunately, Tiger Woods doesn’t seem to have.

The first lesson in reputation management is to shift the public’s anger and resentment (or even hate in some cases) to the actual misconduct itself and away from the person/business that did the misconduct. This is because public sentiment depends on how you respond to rumors of misconduct rather than on the misconduct itself.

The second lesson in reputation management is to plan for crisis management. If you have both an operational and a communications response, you will hopefully maintain confidence in your brand among key stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, and suppliers.

The third lesson in reputation management is to start early. Tiger waited way too long to comment on the media rumors about his indiscretions and the rumors blew way out of proportion. No comment or too little comment from you gives others permission to comment on your behalf, leaving more room for rumor and speculation. Commenting early will put you in control of the story.

And the final lesson in reputation management that is to be learned from Tiger Woods’ is to make sure there are no information leaks. You need to make sure your public relations teams or departments aren’t speaking with any outsiders or media. Word travels fast, so confidentiality is key.

Reputation management is a tough job because you need to keep in mind how people react to certain things. You need to understand human behavior at a sociological and psychological level. These few lessons will help you stay ahead of your game, but it’s probably in your best interest to hire an online agency that does reputation management. An online agency will not only have the know-how, but also the connections to properly perform some crisis management. And while they’re doing that, you can continue to focus on your business.

Being on Google's First Page Isn't Always Good

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What do you want your online marketing campaign to accomplish for you? Are there any reasons why you would not want your pages to be found for your targeted keyword phrases on page 1?

Here are 3 reasons as to why that may be the case.

Is there intent for actual commerce?

Let’s say you are the first result.

You should be asking yourself, what is the intent of this keyword phrase? Do the words contained in the keyword phrase give any indication of someone getting ready to spend money on a product/service that you offer?

For example, compare these keyword phrases: SEO NJ, automotive search engine marketing, and online press release service. The latter 2 phrases give an indication of someone who is getting ready to spend money.

If you are targeting a keyword phrase that has questionable intention, there really shouldn’t be any reason to be found on page 1. It would be better to target more appropriate phrases instead.

If there’s no intent for actual commerce then that keyword phrase isn’t helping your online marketing efforts.

Traffic Really Matters

If you can have a first page result in position 4, or a second page result in position 12, which would you choose? Is this an obvious choice?

What if the first page choice has 3,300 monthly search queries for its keyword, but the second page choice has 22,200 monthly search queries for its keyword.

Would you still believe that the best choice in this example is the first page result?

According to numbers from Aaron Wall’s site, approximately 6% of search users will click on the number 4 result in Google. That’s 198 visitors in a month.

And over 1% will click on the number 12 search result. That’s 222 visitors per month.

The second choice is now the obvious choice. The higher traffic volume will result in a higher percentage of online conversions.

Smart Searchers Bring Value

The people that click the first result in the SERPs are more often that not less serious than people who go through the first few results or who continue searching onto the second page.

There is something to be said about avoiding people who almost randomly click the first result and who may have impulse control issues.

These may not be the best potential clients for your products/services. For an online agency like us, we like our clients to be a bit more informed so we can be on the same page when it comes to performance. The searchers who don’t just click on the first result but read through a few are usually the more informed people.

A second page result could bring you more serious potential customers, people who are more likely to actually read your website content, understand your products/services better, and be more likely to become a traffic conversion.

Use Your Ad Dollars Wisely in a Growing Economy: Leads Over Branding

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The economy is springing back into action, and as such, this is your opportunity to position your business as THE place to go to for your product/service. By expanding your marketing NJ budget, as the now growing economy will enable you, you can add value that will result in increased reach and frequency. Both of these are essential to getting more business and increasing profits. In the next couple of posts, I will explain how you can add value to your marketing New Jersey campaign so that your ad dollars aren’t wasted.

The first thing to remember is that leads are much more important than branding right now. When revamping your marketing NJ campaign, or starting a new business, generating new leads is key, even if your online agency or online marketing company tells you different.

Of course branding will help to create a strong identity, and a fancy logo can help achieve that. But nothing creates a stronger identity than giving the best products/services to alot of consumers. So, make sure that your online marketing company is spending more time at generating leads than it is at branding. Thus, it’s critical that your ads can be responded to, so have a call-to-action, whether it’s a “call us” or a “click here”.

Your business needs to be the provider of sought after products/services, especially for people actively looking for lower-cost and better products/services. You need to be able to find an online agency that can deliver your message to consumers. I went over how to find the best ad agency for you in an older post.

Next time, I will go over negotiating and leveraging.

Mobile Marketing to Increase Dramatically in 2010

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According to a new study, mobile marketing budgets are going to increase dramatically over the next year. 31% of New Jersey advertising agencies anticipate a budget between $100,000 and $250,000 on mobile marketing in 2010, compared to only 22% of New Jersey advertising agencies a year ago.

About 13% of New Jersey’s online marketing companies plan to spend from $250,000 to $500,000, up from 4% of New Jersey’s online marketing companies in 2009. More than 15% will have a budget of more than $1 million for mobile marketing campaigns, compared to only 11% a year earlier. 23% are budgeting less than $100,000 and 10% don’t even know how much they are going to spend on mobile marketing.

The study also showed that 60% of marketing NJ firms that aren’t doing mobile marketing yet plan on buying mobile marketing in 2010.

30% of marketing New Jersey firms say that mobile marketing has become an integral part of the advertising media mix. Among New Jersey advertising agencies that have run mobile marketing campaigns, 78% said that they met campaign goals, while 80% said that they developed internal resources to support mobile efforts.

The proliferation of Google Android-based devices, such as smartphones, should help an online agency more easily run campaigns across different smartphones.

Email Database Marketing is Becoming Difficult

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For many online marketing New Jersey advertising companies, traffic conversion rates are alot less than what they used to be. But simultaneously there are also some online marketing services that have experienced no significant drop in online conversions. This is because they have built exceptional subscriber loyalty over some years.

For many online marketing New Jersey advertising companies, the biggest problem is email database marketing deliverability. Email database marketing is being filtered so heavily today that often less than 20% of a large mailing list gets delivered.

However, there are a few ways you can improve your email deliverability. One such way is to run it through a spam checker before sending it out. The best email database marketing programs have built in systems that give you spam scores before sending your email out. So, for example, let’s your email scores higher than a 1 on a 5 point scale, you should probably revise your email.

Also, a business totally dependent upon email database marketing is not a very solid business. Businesses need a database that has not only names and email addresses, but physical mailing addresses as well. That way, if something apocalyptic ever happened in the world of email or the internet, they could just start using direct mail and still be in business.

Many ISP’s now monitor email delivery rates, bounce rates, and even open rates. They use readily available data, and if a given ISP or third party list host has a dismal record, they may block all emails from that source.  If ISPs are blocking sources that send out alot of emails that have very poor open rates, some online agencies may have to move to a different outlet.

For example, a business could start marketing through various social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace, and even build a larger email database. Businesses could use these social networking sites in much the same way that email is used. They can send direct communication messages with product/service offers, discounts, value deals, etc. They can also distribute online press releases through their social networks by greating interest groups or fan pages. Social networking sites are also a free and easy way to perform reputation management. And, since social networking sites are free to use, businesses will save money.

How to Increase Leads and Online Conversions

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For service firms and businesses involved in complex sales processes, such as an online marketing company or online agency, the main objective of the website isn’t to direct customers to a shopping cart; the main objective is to convince the site’s visitor to contact the business. The main objective of the website is to generate leads for the sales team so it can convert that web site traffic into business.

In order to make sure that your website is giving you the most amount of leads possible, you need to view your site from a prospect’s point-of-view. In this post, and the next few to come, I will describe a few simple steps, 10 to be exact, that you can take to ensure that your website is a lead generating maching.

The first thing you need to do is establish credibility. You can start by creating rapport with prospects as soon as they reach your website. Make sure your website has a headline that creates a positive, reassuring feeling in the visitor; instead of a simple “welcome”, make your headline say something like “you’ve reached the only website you’ll ever need for (your industry)”. This tactic encourages people to stay on your site and even click a link or two. This will give you the opportunity to earn their trust. The first impression the visitor gets of your website will influence his/her view of the rest of the site. Make sure you speak to your visitors in a professional manner when you are telling the benefits of your solutions. Of course, you need to let them know what’s in it for them.

The next thing you need to do is quickly respond to all inquiries in a timely manner. Whatever way you receive the inquiry, whether it’s by phone, email, blog comment, or social media, you need to respond quickly in order to build confidence and trust with the prospect. The ideal response time is within an hour. This way you can also nurture the lead before it changes its mind or goes to another business.

In the next post, I will give you two more steps that will enable your website to maximize traffic conversions.

Local Search Made Simple Continued

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In the last post, I wrote about optimizing your website to tell Google and your visitors where you are and what you do. But another important online place where it’s absolutely critical to clearly identify where you are and what you do is your local business profile on Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local.

Your Categories

In Google Maps, you can categorize your business in up to 5 categories. They may be standard categories that are provided by Google Maps or those that you can create yourself. Use 1-2 of the standard Google Maps categories that best fit your business, and then create 3-4 that contain your best keyword terms plus the geography terms for which you want to be found.

For example, as a New Jersey online marketing company, we classify ourselves in the already established categories of Advertising, and Internet. For our other four categories we use the top keyword phrases for which we want to be found, such as SEO NJ, Internet marketing, or automotive search engine marketing.

The categories you choose may be based on any criteria that are important to you. Some suggestions are your most profitable procedures or the categories in which your strongest competitors have categorized themselves. The categories may also be based on some other criteria known only to you.

Use geographic terms in your categories in order to make it completely clear to Google where you do business. Using the names of nearby areas may also help your site rank better for those searches. For example, our office is in Westfield, NJ, but most searchers use “New Jersey” or “NJ” in their queries, so we use New Jersey terms in our categories instead of Westfield terms.

However, Yahoo Local and Bing Local do not allow you to create your own categories. So you must choose as many categories as you are allowed, picking the most appropriate and most important first.

Your Descriptions

Also use geography terms within the description area of your profiles, where you have complete control of what is written. These descriptions are crawled and indexed by the local spiders, so make certain they find your most important geographic terms within them.

Your Attributes

Attributes (only in Google Maps) allow you to go crazy with terms to tell spiders and humans what you do and where you do it. You can, in essence, create and name a field whatever you want and then populate it with terms describing that property.

Almost every business pulls people from both its immediate location and surrounding areas. So, you could create a field named Locations Served and list the towns and neighborhoods near you and from which your business typically draws customers.

Some business, like plumbing, carpet cleaning, lawn care, and pet sitting go to the customer instead of customers coming to them. For a business like this, you could title a field Service Areas and list the places where you are willing to travel to provide your services.

You can also include attributes that allow you to use keyword terms that contain geographic modifiers. For example, if you have an online agency in New Jersey, you could create a field titled Online Services and populate it with terms like “New Jersey internet marketing”, “online marketing in NJ”, “SEO NJ”, “SEM experts NJ”, “NJ website development”, and “New jersey reputation management”. This is an effective way to help you rank for long-tail terms that apply to where you are and what you do.

Your Coupons

Although not every business type has been traditionally associated with coupons, creative entrepreneurs are finding ways to use them to their benefit. Nearly every business can offer some sort of discount or value-added coupon for its goods or services. For inspiration you can look around to see what your competitors are doing with coupons. Then, when you create your coupons, include your best keyword terms plus your location in the offers.

It’s highly likely that attributes from Google Maps Local Business Listings and coupons from all of the platforms are pushed out to other places on the Web, such as Google Base and coupon Web sites, so the impact can be very far-ranging.

Local business listings are designed to help searchers find businesses in particular geographic locations. Make it easy for Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local to tell where you are and what you do to increase the odds they will find your business when a relevant search is made.

Experience is Key for Any Online Agency

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By now, all you small businesses must know that having an internet presence is necessary for your business to succeed.  It’s certainly not enough to just have a website.  You need an entire comprehensive internet marketing strategy.  A good online agency will offer a greatly scalable website, SEO capabilities, an SEM campaign, and e-commerce solutions, all tied together with trackability.  But how do you know which agency you should go with?

The first thing that comes to mind is experience.  Has the agency that you are considering had enough experience in the marketplace?  Is it capable of innovation when it comes to new and exciting marketing ideas.  Agencies with experience have had the time to develop strategies to keep up with the pace of the marketplace.  These are usually the agencies that are leaders in their areas of business.

The second thing is, of course, the online marketing services that the agency offers.  Does it just offer website hosting, or just website development?  Does it offer an entire comprehensive package of marketing tools?  It would be best for you if you can consolidate your marketing strategy into one agency and not have to go to a number of separate agencies for each service.  For example, if you are a car dealer, it is not enough for your agency to just offer automotive search engine marketing.  It should offer search engine marketing, along with organic search engine optimization, website development, website hosting, database marketing, etc.  Again, larger companies with more experience will most likely fit this bill.

Finally, the agency’s reputation for increasing not only web site traffic, but also traffic conversions should be the deciding factor if you’re still on the fence.  Being able to carry out a comprehensive internet marketing strategy is all well and good, but if it doesn’t increase your traffic conversions then what are you really paying for?  The ability to increase online conversions should always be the bottom line for any online agency.

Separate Your Online Marketing Department

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If you decided to go with your own in-house online marketing department instead of an online agency, then another helpful suggestion for your internet marketing campaign is to position your online department as an entirely separate business.

The biggest advantage of your online marketing department operating on its own is that it will leverage most, if not all, of your existing expenses of your brick and mortar business.  How is this possible?  Well, the return from an internet marketing strategy can be exponentially greater than any other traditional media marketing strategy.  Why?  Because the realm of online marketing is global, not to mention the fact that a lot more people use the internet than any other traditional media, such as reading print advertising, i.e. a newspaper (which is slowly dying) or looking at television advertising (most people change the channel or get up to do something else during a commercial break).  Relatively speaking then, the cost of an online department (if run properly) is much cheaper than a traditional media department since the return is much greater (cost includes risk here).

Budgeting for Your Online Marketing Department

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You need to budget as much as you can into your online efforts.  If you hire an internet marketing firm, you should redirect a good portion of your marketing budget towards that endeavor.  However, if you decide to tackle your online marketing efforts on your own, you need to keep a few things in mind when budgeting.

There’s a lot that goes into an online marketing department.  Of course you have to hire staff (creative staff for the writing and design, and IT staff for logistics).  You need to get proper equipment, which includes a top-of-the-line computer (you definitely don’t want to deal with lag when running an internet marketing campaign).  You need to have software so your internet marketing department can do its work.  You need to have tracking programs so you know how much web site traffic your online campaign is building.

It’s like going to Vegas, or Atlantic City for us Jersey folk.  To win big you need to play big.  The more you invest, the more return you can potentially see (of course there’s always the chance that you’ll fail completely, but what’s business without risk).  Of course with all the required investments in creating your own online marketing department, the bill can run up pretty high.  If you’re a small business, you might want to consider hiring an online marketing company.  But if you can afford to allocate the necessary funds into an in-house online marketing department, then by all means do so.

Finding the Best Online Marketing Company

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Finding an online marketing company with good SEM experts is a lot like shopping for a car.  You definitely don’t buy the first car that you see.  You shop around, look for the best deal, the best prices, and the best product.  Well, you should go through that same process for hiring the best online agency as well.

First of all, you should find out whether the online agency actually does search engine optimization, or if they just claim to do so but do something else in reality.  I know that some SEO NJ firms claim to perform SEO services, but instead they just buy the sponsored links at the top of the search results page.  Anyone can do that, you don’t need an SEO consultation firm to do that for you.  The whole point of SEO is improving organic search results, that is to say, all the search results that come underneath the sponsored links.  Improving organic search results has nothing to do with buying sponsored links from Google or Yahoo.

Secondly, you’ll want to find out if the online agency only offers SEO services, or if they also offer all other types of online marketing services.  The other types of online marketing are SEM – search engine marketing (that’s where the buying of sponsored links comes in), email  or database marketing, website design, website development, and pay-per-click (PPC, sometimes referred to as CPC, or cost-per-click).  The best online agencies even do their own website hosting.  A great internet marketing campaign will utilize all aspects of internet marketing, not just one.

Your website will probably be the most important and powerful marketing tool that you’ll have, so make sure that your online agency is on the same page as you when it comes to long term success.  And as when dealing with any salesperson, pay attention to how your questions are being answered (are they actually answering your questions or just beating around the bush), ask for references, and most of all, trust your gut (human intuition exists for a reason).

Find the Right Person for Your Online Marketing Campaign

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Here’s another tip for your online marketing campaign:  FIND THE RIGHT PERSON!

This may now be a cliché, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still true.  Your company’s greatest asset is its people.  If you have incompetent people working for you, your business won’t go anywhere.  This is also true for internet marekting.  They say that your company is only as good as your worst employee.  Well, your internet marketing strategy is only as good as the person who implements it.

Your business needs the right person (or group of people if you’re hiring an online agency) to head your online marketing strategy.  Do you have anyone who you can trust your life with?  Well, for your online marketing strategy you need someone who you can trust the life of your company with.  If your internet marketer, or online agency, isn’t good at what he/she/it does, then you’ll be behind the curve, which will mean dire consequences for your business.

If you decide to go with an online marketing company, there are a few things you should keep in mind when selecting one.  But I’ll save that for my next post.

Measuring Web Site Traffic Through Data Analytics

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Why is data analytics important? Well, have you ever tried to manage something that you haven’t measured? You could throw yourself into the deep end of a pool, but if you don’t know how to swim then you’re going to drown. So how do you stay afloat?  You need to invest in measuring and tracking services for all of your web site traffic.

First of all, you need to be able to measure your sheer traffic volume.  Traffic volume is the general number of visitors to your website, whether they were online conversions or not.  This can give you a clear picture of how many web surfers are even reaching your website, from anywhere on the web.  This number is also important because it gives you something to measure everything else against.

Secondly, you need to measure traffic quality.  What is the bounce rate of your website?  How much time are your visitors spending on your website?  These things are important to measure in order to gauge how well your website keeps the attention of its visitors.  By measuring this against the traffic volume, you can see what percentage of your visitors is actually staying on your website, versus just looking at it for a couple of seconds and then hitting the back button (or any other way to get off a website so quickly).

Thirdly, you need to determine your traffic sources and measure how many visitors you are getting from each one of those sources.  This allows you to see where you are getting your visitors from and enables you to allocate more resources to those traffic sources.  You can measure this against traffic quality to see where the most interested visitors are coming from (from which website or link they are being redirected).  You can also measure this against traffic volume in order to determine the percentage of visitors from each source.

Fourthly, you need to measure your traffic conversions.  Making that sale, i.e. getting that conversion, is the goal of your business.  By measuring traffic conversions, you can see how well you are doing in each category.  By measuring traffic conversions against all of the above mentioned kinds of data, you can determine where most of your online conversions are coming from, how long each conversion spends on your website, and the percentage of total visitors that become online conversions.

Lastly, you need to determine how often you should analyze these data points.  This depends entirely on your business and your industry.  It also depends simply on your preference.  Some people like to have daily numbers, some like weekly, or monthly, or quarterly, or even annually.  The point is that you need to figure out how often you need the data reports in order to be on top of your game.  But that is entirely up to you.

Again, these numbers individually won’t mean much.  A number by itself is just a number; but together, these numbers will paint a very clear picture of the health of your business.  With all of this knowledge, you’ll be able to do everything that is necessary in order for you business to thrive.  If you know how to swim, into the deep end you go.

Blogging for SEO to Get Online Conversions

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Blogging is not just for running public relations/reputation management campaigns.  It can and should also be used for SEO, or search engine optimization.

Search engine optimization is a way to get your business at the top of a Google or Yahoo search results page. This is the most effective form of search engine marketing, or online marketing. If you use Google to search for the service/product that your business provides, does your business show up on the first page of results? How about the second page? Maybe the third page? Does it show up at all? Chances are that your business is nowhere to be found.

Most people these days use search engines to perform product/service research before they buy anything. And more than half of the activity on the Internet is on search engines. So what does this mean for your business? You need to get indexed on search engines so people can see your business when they are searching for a product/service that they need. If you do get indexed, then you will probably have an almost exponential increase in business since the marketing potential of the Internet is unlimited.  You’ll increase your web site traffic and get more online conversions (which can be anything from form sign-ups to actual sales).

So how do you get indexed? Well, that’s where blogging comes in. But first you must understand how search engines work. Suppose you go to Google and search for “New Jersey advertising”.  Without getting into the technical aspect of it, especially since that would take up a couple of blog entries itself, simply put Google will run through the entire World Wide Web and find the sites with the most occurrences of the phrase “New Jersey advertising”. “New Jersey advertising” here is a keyword.

If you blog for your company, then you can utilize relevant keywords so when people search for the service that you provide, your business will come up. So the point of blogging is to win those specific keywords that are relevant to your business. And since blogging is very frequent, it is easy to win keywords since you can use them over and over and over again.  Industry experts, like these guys, agree that blogging may be the most effective form of search engine optimization.

But getting indexed on that first page of Google isn’t the last step.  After you’ve run a successful blogging campaign, which can take a while, your website needs to be able to get traffic conversions.  Let’s say your an online marketing company in New Jersey, like us.  Once you’ve been indexed on Google and someone searching for “SEO NJ” clicks on your site, your site needs to be able to make the sale or get that person’s information.  To get the maximum amount of online conversions, you can have people fill out submission forms for email newsletters, videos, and other things of that nature.  Then you can simply follow up on all your leads.  But that’s a story for another day.

Build Website Traffic by Keeping Your Website Updated

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The internet is a great forum to cultivate A.D.D. habits. Most people using it get bored very quickly. A big reason why a lot of websites start out good but then fall off the radar is that they are not updated. Any online marketing company can tell you that your website’s structure, layout, and content plays a big role in your online marketing efforts (that is why website development should be a part of your internet marketing strategy).  As a result, your website needs to be updated regularly. That doesn’t mean that you need to constantly add new content every second. But it does mean that it heavily depends on your industry.

Let’s say that you are a car dealer.  Automotive search engine marketing, or more specifically SEO, is almost necessary to build website traffic.  You need to keep your website updated with new car models, new deals, or even future concept cars from the manufacturer.  Your website’s job is to keep the audience interested and entertained.  Imagine if all the car enthusiasts in your area went to your website.  Even if they go there to just be entertained (by any interactive media you may have on the website, or just videos) chances are that they will buy from you when looking for their next car.  In other words, the more you keep your website updated, the more traffic conversions you will get.

If you regularly update your website with new content relevant to your industry, you can seem like THE industry expert.  Most people don’t want to be sold, especially by any random schmoe who doesn’t know about the product/service itself, but rather knows only how to sell the product/service.  Most people want to know that they are getting solid, factual information from people who know what they are talking about.  By keeping your website updated regularly, you can be that person/business.  Your website can be THE place that people go to for information regarding your industry.  Take us for example.  We are an online marketing company that specializes in co-op advertising, database marketing, mobile marketing, automotive search engine marketing, reputation management, and website development.  We consider ourselves to be SEM experts.  As an internet marketing best practice, we keep our main website, which is other our blog site, constantly updated.  We blog about online marketing techniques, online marketing services, and current events in the world of online marketing.  Even though we really just got the ball rolling, by updating regularly we will soon have enough content on our site to be considered scholars or experts in the industry.  Once we’ve accomplished that goal, once we’ve established ourselves as industry experts, getting traffic conversions will be much easier.  When people think that you are an expert in your industry, they rightly assume that you know what you are doing.  You will no longer have to go out of your way to sell, as your expertise will sell itself.

So, depending on whatever industry your business is a part of, you’ll need to update your website daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever consumers of your industry demand (aren’t we all at the mercy of our customers). But beware, once you start updating your content more quickly, your site visitors will expect the content to be updated in that same frequency for the rest of your site’s lifespan. So be like the tortoise, start out slow and pace yourself. You can regularly update your site with new content such as pics, videos, or even text. That way, your regular visitors won’t abandon your site completely.

Have an Online Marketing Presence to Stay Alive in the 21st Century

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Let’s face it.  The economy is still not that great.  But there’s an upside to any recession.  Businesses now have the opportunity to position themselves for when the market turns around.  If you’re in the right position, your business will boom once the recession is over.  And even though the economy is down, people still need products/services.  So how do you position yourself properly?…DEALS!

“People need deals and deals need people.”  You remember that scene in “A Beautiful Mind” when Russell Crowe, er, I mean John Nash, says the best option is the one that benefits both the individuals involved but also the group as a whole?  In other words, you need to create deals for your product/service that are mutually beneficial for both the consumer and for you.  The economy will stabilize once we’ve reached equilibrium.

And how do we reach that equilibrium, you ask?  The WEB!  The INTERNET!  The entire ONLINE ARENA!  Online marekting is the wave of the new century.  And now is the best time, if any, to get your business into the 21st century.  If you do, you’ll be in the best position when people start buying again.  Why?  Because there are a lot more people using the internet right now than you think.  In fact, the internet is very quickly becoming the hub of all media.  The internet allows you to watch TV and movies, listen to the radio, or just download music, talk with friends (and even people you thought you would never see again thanks to a little something called social networking, i.e. Facebook, MySpace), buy pretty much anything you want, pay bills, do all your banking, and even get medical advice.  The virtual world is slowly replacing the real one.

Of course that is not to say that traditional media advertising has no place in your marketing strategy.  Traditional media, such as print advertising, television advertising, outdoor advertising, or direct mail, still serves the same function it has for years.  But the market is rapidly becoming fully virtual.  Instead of advertising your big savings deal in any traditional media, you can do it for alot cheaper through online marketing, such as by submitting an online press release, for example.  You can market your deals on your own website, on your competitor’s websites, on any search engine, or any industry experts’ websites in order to build web site traffic.  And the precision of internet marketing will maximize your ROI since potential leads will all be those that are already interested in your product/service.

In order to fully corner the market, I suggest that you invest in all media, both traditional and online.  However, the current economy may force you to be a bit more frugal with your capital.  If that is the case, then you should certainly focus more on your online marketing.

So when people start buying again, you better be prepared to meet them half-way.  And when people start buying again and go online to do so, if your business isn’t online it probably won’t survive.  In order to stay in business and meet the demands of the new century, you’ll have to have a basic web foundation.

Here’s a quick overview of how you can have a successful web foundation:

In the next couple of posts, I’ll give you some tips on how to get your money’s worth from the world of the Internet and online marketing.  We’ll go over what you’ll need in order to have a comprehensive web foundation, including a website, an email  database marketing campaign, a social networking campaign, a blogging campaign (for SEO and reputation management), and search engine marketing.  It’ll definitely be worth your investment.

Don't Spend More on an Online Marketing Service, Just Spend Smarter: The Snowball Effect Part 2

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So what do you do when you can’t spend money on an online marketing service, but you not spending money means that you lose even more money by losing new customers?  The answer is quite simple really.  You don’t need to spend more.  You just need to spend smarter.  If you’re spending a couple of grand on some sort of internet marketing, lets say search engine marketing, but that online marketing isn’t bringing in any more business than usual, then you need to stop paying for it.

Suppose you’re the corner coffee shop.  All the people living around you that need coffee will come to you for coffee whether or not you advertise to them.  So why would you spend ridiculous amounts of money on an internet marketing strategy that targets those people that are already coming to your store?  That type of online marketing is not worth the investment.  If an internet marketing strategy is not bringing in any NEW customers, then it is worthless.  Any online agency should know that the purpose of an online marketing strategy is to gain new customers, not keep existing customers (that’s what customer service is for).

You need to figure out what amount of customers you would have regardless of your internet marketing.  Let’s say that with the online marketing service, you have 105 customers.  But 100 of those customers would come to you anyway, with or without having been exposed to your internt marketing efforts.  So that internet marketing is only bringing in 5 new customers.  Now let’s say that the online marketing service cost you $5000.  But those 5 customers only gave you $1000 (yes, I know, that is some pretty expensive coffee, but go along with me here).  Since the internet marketing campaign had no effect (either positive or negative) on the 100 customers you already have, the money they gave you is irrelevant.  The $5000 you spent on that internet marketing campaign only brought in $1000.  Congratulations, you have just now lost $4000.  That type of investment may not be a good idea in this economy.

A good online marketing strategy doesn’t focus on targeting customers you would already have.  In fact, a good internet marketing strategy doesn’t waste any time with those customers at all.  A good online marketing strategy only focuses on targeting the customers that you don’t already have.  These are the customers that will bring in more money.  These are the customers that will make your investment in an online marketing service worthwhile.  If your business is snowballing out of control, you can’t just stop spending money on online marketing all together.  You just need to spend on an online marketing service that will bring in NEW money.  Don’t spend more, spend SMARTER!

Not Enough for an Online Agency, but a Need to Reach a Wider Audience: The Snowball Effect

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The recession may be bottoming out, but consumer spending is still pretty low.  And it won’t get any better for a while.  When people are unemployed, they don’t like spending money.  And when people are afraid of being laid off, they don’t like spending money.  It’s simple psychology.  But people not spending money just makes the economy even worse.  The economy runs on the transaction of money.  If there’s no money being transferred from one person to the next, the economy will sink.  So the less people spend, the worse the economy gets, which causes people to spend even less, which in turn makes the economy get worse.  It’s simple economics.  Everything snowballs.  Things just get worse and worse, and people get more and more afraid.

Let’s say that you’re a business.  People aren’t buying your product because consumer spending is down.  That means less revenue for you.  Maybe you have to lay off a few people you can’t afford to keep on.  But there’s still work that needs to be done.  So the work from the laid off employees gets delegated to the remaining employees.  But your remaining employees are already up to their noses in work.  So what happens?  Productivity gets cut.  You’re unable to deliver, which in turn cuts your revenue once more.  Even less revenue means even less capital to spend on your marketing strategy, especially if you use an online agency for your online marketing services.  The less money you spend on your online agency, the fewer chances you have of gaining new customers.  Your revenue once again is either reduced or remains stagnant.  Everything is snowballing again.

So how do you save your business?  Do you simply stop spending money?  If you cut down on marketing costs and stop using your online agency, you may save money in the short run, but you’ll lose new customers.  So what do you do?  How do you reconcile the facts that the less you spend on your online agency, the fewer new customers you will have, but the costs of using an online marketing company is simply out of your budget because of low consumer spending?  Do you cut off your online agency completely?  Do you go all out and give massive amounts of money to your online agency so they can saturate the market with your ads, all while your simply sitting and hoping for the best?  Is there some sort of middle ground?

I’ll tell you the answer…in my next post.

Public Relations/Reputation Management

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It is crucial for any business to run a public relations/reputation management campaign in order to keep a positive image in the public eye. However, the traditional modes of running such a campaign are slowly becoming obsolete. That is why it is necessary for businesses to update their public relations/reputation management campaigns for the 21st century. So how does a business update their public relations/reputation management campaigns? All it has to do is join the virtual world. The quickest and easiest way to run a public relations/reputation management campaign online is through blogging/SEO.

A business can respond to pretty much anything through blogging, especially negative rumors or negative public reaction to anything the business does. Since blogs are supposed to be updated incredibly frequently (usually every day or at the very least once a week) a business can respond to the public in real time, instead of having to go through all the time and trouble of having to set up a press conference. Also, since blogs allow comments, a business can see the public response to the public relations/reputation management campaigns themselves. Blogging is a great way for a business to set up a dialogue with the public. And if the public feels that the company is truly engaged in a two-way communication channel, rather than a one-way, then they will feel more involved with the business as a whole. That, in turn, will make them more loyal to the business.

And we’re not the only ones who think so.  Industry experts, such as these guys, also think that blogging is one of the best public relations/reputation management tools.