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Small Businesses with Big Online Marketing Dreams

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imageA new year is here and now that we’re already knee deep in the first quarter it’s time to set the goals for 2011. It seems the most popular change in small businesses this year is the plan to invest more into their marketing efforts. According to a survey done online in the past month 77% of small businesses plan to expand their business this year. Also, out of the people that wished to expand their business almost half of them wanted the focus on  marketing and sales to be their first priority. With businesses making marketing a major priority again, and with many businesses starting new ventures in online marketing it is safe to say that it will be a good year for advertising.

However, what makes this year different than other good marketing years in the past is the new desire for small businesses to invest more in online marketing avenues.  Now this may seem to many people as a little late for a online marketing boom considering that the internet has been around for a while now. Yet, the survey also revealed the sad fact that only 54% of businesses that took part in the survey had a company website. Shocking I know, but this explains why so many small companies see this as the year to get their company on the web. This push for internet marketing can also get small businesses noticed if the are located outside of a major city like New York or Philadelphia.

If your one of these small businesses looking to make 2011 your marketing year then call us for a free consultation at (877) 279-1055

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’.

Search Engine Marketing Right vs. Wrong

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WRONG: Not targeting the correct keywords

It’s easier and more effective to win your locale. Focus your keyword and business listing efforts towards winning the area directly surrounding you. It is often counterintuitive to try and dominate an entire state or even worse, a tri-state area. Take a look at your analytics and see where your target demographic is. If your business caters mainly to a 20-mile radius, focus your keywords on specific locales in that area.

For example, “NY Honda Dealer” is much more difficult to win and when you do, you can’t guarantee that those impressions are from people within your target demographic. Instead, try focusing your keywords to specific towns you want to target (ie, NYC or Manhattan). There’s a big demographic difference between Buffalo, NY and Midtown Manhattan.

WRONG: Forgetting to use negative keywords

When setting up a pay-per-click campaign, many people forget to include negative keywords. These are keywords that you don’t want your ad to show up for when they are searched. For example, if you’re a Honda car dealer you may want “Honda dealer” in your database, but you don’t want your ad to show up when someone looks for a Honda motorcycle dealer. Therefore, “motorcycle” should be in your negative keyword database.

Covering substantial ground with negative keywords ensures that your ad appears when you want it and you don’t waste valuable ad dollars.

WRONG: Not using a tracking number

Wouldn’t it be great if every person who called you because they saw your ad could be differentiated from everyone else? 800 tracking numbers are common when trying to assess the effectiveness of your ad. By using a unique 800 number on each ad source, you can see which investments have the most success in attracting calls and adjust your online marketing dollar deployment accordingly.

WRONG: Not A/B testing

The art of A/B testing is crucial to successful PPC campaigns. An A/B test is where you take your ads and change some of the copy, especially titles, to see which ad is more effective in attracting clickthroughs. Some ads focus on price, while others may focus on service, selection or buyer benefits. The market will click the ad that’s most relevant to what they want. Guess work isn’t necessary when you can test the market in real time. Don’t waste precious ad dollars on ineffective ads.

WRONG: Improperly tracking your clickthroughs

The best way to measure how effective your SEM efforts are is to properly record analytics. When linking to your website in a PPC ad, it is important to build a reference URL that can be tracked. Google offers a free URL building tool that can be found at: http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578

URL building lets you specify your campaign’s source, medium, term (if using paid keywords), content and name. So instead of simply linking to www.bullseyenj.com to find out how our ad performed, we can link to:

http://www.bullseyenj.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=email&utm_content=marketing%2Btips%2Bto%2Bavoid&utm_campaign=email%2Bblast

Your Google Analytics (a whole topic on its own) can identify these specialty links and will sort them by the signifiers specified (in this example, source, medium, content or campaign).

RIGHT: Measure everything

The most important part of analyzing your ad campaigns is to have the most data possible. By following the above methods, you’re guaranteed to use your ad budget more effectively. More importantly, you can hold yourself accountable.

10 Online Marketing Mistakes To Avoid (1 of 2)

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1. Keyword Spam

Most people think the fastest way to getting your website ranked is to fill each page with keyword relevant data. This is only partially correct. While filling your website with content that reflects the search terms you want to be found for, you must be careful not to overdo it.

Google and other major search engines have become hip to keyword padding and will treat your “keyword rich” content as spam. A very useful keyword density tool can be found at: http://www.webconfs.com/keyword-density-checker.php

A keyword density of 1-5% is a successful average. Anything abnormally over that total is subject to being treated as spam.

2. Using Site Submission Tools With Impunity

There are many tools available online that claim to “submit” your website to thousands of search engines, blogs, social networking sites, etc. This is another nefarious practice that search engines have become aware of, consequently blocking most mass submissions made.

If you have a regularly updated website with genuine content, you will get indexed anyway. There needs to be less focus on a quick fix and more work towards building sustainable indexed content. You can no longer trick search engines into indexing your site with keyword overloaded text. The higher quality content you create and the more often you create it, is what gets your site indexed.

3. Using Backlink Services

One of the most important online marketing tactics for getting your site indexed is having other websites link back to yours. Again, there are many free and paid services that claim they will build links for you. These sites generate spam and the backlinks they create are unsustainable.

Here, quality content is again the king. Writing an interesting blog post about the state of your industry is much more likely to generate a quality backlink. The more readers your content receives, the higher chance someone shares your content. By providing value to your audience, you make an investment in yourself.

Check out how many backlinks you have using this free online utility:

http://www.online-utility.org/webmaster/backlink_domain_analyzer.jsp

4. Building A Website Entirely Out Of Flash

While having Flash components on your website can add some flair, be careful not to imbed important content like keyword rich text or pictures that you want indexed. When pictures or text are embedded, search engines do not index this data. Your Flash photo gallery may look pretty, but it’s useless if no one can find it when they search.

Flash has also just become available on the iPhone and the most recent Android OS phones, but the technology is not nearly up to par with personal computers. This results in Flash based websites being incredibly hard to use on mobile devices. If you are going to use flash, you should have a mobile version of the website.

Having an HTML alternative with code that recognizes if the user’s browser is Flash compatible will save your non-up-to-date customers from viewing a broken page.

5. Not Utilizing The <h1> Tags

An <h1> tag is the html code for the most important heading on your website. <h1>An important heading looks like this in the code.</h1> Whatever content is wrapped in that header tag is the first thing search engines look for when indexing your website. This is where your company name and tagline should go. It is also what is viewed at the top of the web browser window, so make sure it’s unique to your company. For example, having “The Best Agency Ever” is cute, but doesn’t tell me much about you. A better <h1> title would be, “My Company Name – This Is The Product We Give You”

These are just a few tips that will help you avoid the common pitfalls of online marketing. Stay tuned for part two of this article, where we cover five more common errors in online marketing.

What To Do If Your Website Has a Google Penalty: Google Analytics

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Check your Google analytics (or your web stats program) to see when the problem first started occurring. You will quickly be able to see where the dip in web site traffic occurred and allow you to associate with what possible internet marketing efforts where conducted at that time for the problem to occur.

In conclusion, be sure you have covered all of these bases. Spend time learning search engine optimization best practices and Google’s webmaster guidelines as well

What To Do If Your Website Has a Google Penalty

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These things happen to website owners and business owners from time to time. If you think that your website has been given some sort of Google penalty then the best thing you can do is stop any new online marketing and make a list of all your search engine optimization and internet marketing efforts that you have executed for the last year. Sometimes the problem could be one minor link sitting on a website or it can be a much deeper rooted issue that has been building up for some time. You might have been given a penalty at Google if your rankings suddenly dropped or visitors from Google dropped over time. In drastic situations, your website is unlisted from Google. There are places to start looking to solve the Google penalty problem, which we’ll talk about in the next few posts.

Common Pay-Per-Click No-Nos: A Lack of Affiliate Control

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The company name usually is the keyword that leads to the most web site traffic conversions. Your affiliates know this and advertise under your company’s name in paid search engine marketing. What happens is that not only do you now have to pay your affiliate for the sale they brought you, but you’ve already paid your due with your own advertising methods for that customer to know your name before the search. Be sure to prevent your affiliates advertising in paid search engine marketing for your company’s name. All they are doing is collecting the cash from your own internet marketing New Jersey advertising.

More Common PPC Mistakes: Using Phone Numbers

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Having a phone number in your PPC ad is an eye catcher, but that’s pretty much all it is. Not too many people will pick up their phone and dial your number if they see it in your ad. The phone number, therefore, is just wasting space that can be used for a good message. SEM experts have proven this quite often by running tests. So instead of putting your phone number into the PPC ad, do what the SEM experts say and use that ad space for a relevant internet marketing message.

Common PPC Mistakes: Being Boring

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Some marketers still go online, search for a keyword, look at the competitions’ ads and create ads that conform to the rest. Even though you may not want to conform, this is a crucial step in the internet marketing New Jersey process. Anytime you create a paid ad you MUST look at what is already being said by the competition. But, instead of just being a part of the crowd, you need to be creative and come up with something unique but relevant. If your ad conforms to the rest of them, it won’t catch the eye of the consumer. It’s a tough one but you have to identify what is unique about you and why people should buy from you. Just make sure that it’s what your target market wants and cares about.

Common PPC Mistakes: Not Remaining Relevant on Landing Pages

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Whatever you say in your paid search engine online marketing ad you need to repeat on the landing page, or where you’re taking the visitor! If you are advertising a 60% sale in your internet marketing paid search ad, you can be certain that people are going to looking for it when they arrive at your landing page. All the SEM experts say that if people don’t see the 60% sale anywhere on the landing page, they’ll leave. Your landing page needs to reflect exactly what you promised or advertised in your PPC ad.

Back to Basics of Internet Marketing NJ

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Many businesses are joining the world of internet marketing, especially in New Jersey. Online marketing can be categorized into three categories: market analysis, search engines, and e-zine advertising.

Internet marketing research is figuring out how your investment can fit into your online marketing campaign as a whole, determining the people, places, and which of your products you should focus your investment on. This analysis is the foundation of any internet marketing New Jersey campaign. Investing the right amount of money to the right groups is essential in internet marketing NJ research and online marketing in general. Proper research can eventually determine the outcome of your entire online marketing campaign.

Search engines are a very common type of internet marketing New Jersey. Search engines are divided into two sections: search engines and directories, and pay per click engines. While the most favored and effective type of online marketing New Jersey, this category is also the most time consuming and requires the most amount of investment. For example, automotive search engine marketing NJ requires a few months to be truly effective, so it is best if that type of work is left to a knowledgeable expert.

Another effective form of internet marketing NJ is e-zine advertising. Using the data collected from your internet marketing research, you ought to be well tuned in to what your audience wants. Find out what kinds of on-line publications or newsletters your customers are inquisitive about, and purchase advertising from these sources. Ads typically are on the market in three basic sorts: solo ads, top-line ads, and classified ads. Solo ads are the best ads since they are sent to the entire publication list. These ads also are helpful for online marketing because they contain solely your ad. But, solo ads are the most expensive. While classified ads could be a cost-effective alternative, they will not be enough for your online marketing campaign to return a positive ROI. This is because they are tiny advertisements that are positioned at the tip of the newsletter, and are sometimes overlooked by the bulk of readers.

Retailers Spend More On Paid Search Engine Marketing

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U.S. retailers spent 7% more on paid search campaigns between October and mid-November 2009 across all major search engines — Google, Bing, Yahoo — compared with the same time last year, according to the SearchIgnite Mid Q4 2009 U.S. Search Marketing Report released Monday.

Consumers continue to buy online, but many are spending less on average per transaction. During the first half of the quarter, online conversions rates rose 17% year-on-year, but the average order value declined 27%.

People are buying online, according to Roger Barnette, SearchIgnite president. “We’re feeling pretty good about how the quarter will end up,” he says.

Retailers allocated a higher percentage of ad budgets to Bing this holiday season. U.S. retail advertising agencies dramatically increased their search spend on Bing — up 47% compared with MSN in the year-ago first half of the fourth quarter. Average order values on Bing are 21% higher than across all engines.

Despite retailers’ increased allocation of their paid search dollars to Bing, Google still captures the majority of retail paid search engine marketing campaigns with 75% of all budgets in the first half of the fourth quarter, compared with only 16% on Yahoo and 8% on Bing.

“Although the Monday after Thanksgiving is a big day for online retailers, there are several big days from now through mid-December,” Barnette says. “You can’t really compare it to 2008, because last year everything got thrown out the window. After Thanksgiving it all just fell off a cliff.”

Research from SearchIgnite may reveal a rise in online conversions and retail sales, but findings released Monday from CrownPeak suggests that companies are not making the most of online paid search engine marketing dollars. The study, “Holiday PPC Ad Strategies,” suggests that retailers could do better by improving the connection between paid search ads and Web site landing pages.

In fact, of the 66% of advertisers that did not connect holiday search ads to targeted landing pages, nearly 13% drove traffic to the advertiser’s home page. The remainder misdirected ads to general category pages, or ads that did not integrate the advertising copy. Only 34% of holiday-themed search ads analyzed in the study drove traffic to retail landing pages, but few had a call to action.

Half of product-specific advertisements linked either to a canned search or category page, or the retailers’ home page. Some advertisers — primarily content aggregators — directed ads to specific landing pages, which featured advertisements for other providers of the product.

As part of the two-week study, CrownPeak analyzed search engine marketing results across 10 different holiday-themed phrases, including holiday deals, holiday gifts, Nintendo Wii, Elmo Live, and Christmas decorations. Individual advertisements were analyzed from more than 100 online marketers, all of which leverage the Google AdWords pay-per-click advertising product to disseminate campaigns.

Source:  MediaPost News

Big Companies Turn to Search Engine Marketing

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Big companies with reduced ad budgets have discovered a way to make more from less by utilizing paid search engine marketing. With more brands taking advantage, a search engine keyword bidding war is starting. The concern is strategy; SEO NJ is quickly becoming obscured by the amount of companies using the same keywords.

Companies like Sprint have ordered keywords in order to increase sales, not just interest. Instead of generic words like “Sprint,” they now use phrases such as “cellphone rate plans” or “Samsung Reclaim.”

Volkswagen is telling more than 600 dealerships across the country to not compete against each other. The car manufacturer has been buying the keyword “Jetta,” but a local dealer could bid on “New Jersey Jetta” and inadvertently increase the price.

Google, which owns 80% of the online marketing industry, has noticed the diminishing amount of keywords available as more big companies come into play. The search giant offers a variety of tools that monitor when consumers search for specific keywords, letting online marketing services know the best time to bid on those keywords.

How to be Creative in an Uncreative Industry

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People argue that it’s difficult to be original when creating online marketing campaigns if you’re always required to tell the same old message. For grocery chains, that message is usually fair prices, selection, and convenience. However, the marketers behind these brands are frequently and regulary able to create online marketing initiatives that promote these in an innovative way.

Exposure to advertising for grocery stores is not limited to in-store flyers and newspaper ads anymore. Advertising efforts have been shifted to the Internet, where sites have become rich content portals and grocery chains have plenty more to offer than pricing specials. All this comes with good reason; an August study from comScore, Inc. and dunnhumbyUSA — a consulting company specializing in retail sales — found that Internet marketing is as effective at increasing retail sales as is television. According to the survey, Internet marketing increases retail sales by 9%, which is compared to an average increase of 8% for television advertising. This makes an online marketing service a worthwhile investment for grocery stores.

A consumer’s online interaction with a grocery brand now plays out in a mixture of brand and local store websites, e-mail database marketing, mobile marketing, and banner ad campaigns. Grocery chains such as Albertsons, Wegmans, and Safeway have already successfully shifted to the online arena. Albertonshas robust e-newsletters and online recipes; Wegmans has a section on their website with videos that offer meal and lifestyle ideas; Safeway has a blog where shoppers can read tips for fall cleaning, eating nuts as a healthy snack, and accessing the latest supermarket coupons through Facebook.

Safeway owned chains Tom Thumb and Randall’s, along with Remke Markets and Kroger, all expanded their mobile marketing communications in 2009. Banner ads are also a popular choice for promoting stores’ weekly circulars, with many regional chains advertising their local sales on food-oriented sites like Cooks.com and Cooking.com. These banners are simple with a strong call-to-action and a link that allows shoppers to view specials by location.

Grocery stores are proving that there are ways to go beyond the usual advertising messages inherent to the grocery retail industry. For example, Whole Foods emphasized its wide selection of organic products by shirking a more traditional prize and giving its millionth follower on Twitter a million grains of quinoa.

These grocery giants are demonstrating that the tired and old advertising messages you’re obligated to deliver — whether it’s low prices or some other characteristic of your product — don’t necessarily have to hold you back. Their narrow margins may be the incentive you need to expand your marketing campaign and produce online marketing initiatives as creative as those from the grocery aisle.

How to Increase Leads and Online Conversions Part 5

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In the last post, we talked about increasing web site traffic conversions by making it easy for customers to concact and by making your call-to-actions obvious. This time we will talk about combining your call-to-action buttons with benefits and keeping contact forms short and simple.

In addition to making your call-to-action button obvious and prominent, you should also combine it with a benefit for the customer. It’s not enough to simply say “Contact Us” or anything to that degree. You should be answering the age-old question, “what’s in it for them?”. So, instead of just a simple “Contact Us”, you can say something like “Increase Your Online Conversions Now!, Contact Us”.

Next, for contact forms you should only require the information that is necessary for you to respond to the customer. So, if your fishing for leads by having a sign-up form for email newsletters, all you really need is an email address, and possibly a first name. Some people prefer to be contacted by phone, so you can also ask what method they prefer by having a two-step form. Also, make sure that every time someone fills out a form, they receive a reply acknowledging that they’ve filled out the form. This process can be automated with many email programs.

We’ve finally completed all 10 steps to increasing your web site traffic conversions. By utilizing all these steps in unison, you can greatly increase the amount of leads your website generates. Of course in tough economic times it can be difficult to generate leads, but those are the times, such as now, during which you can evaluate your website so it has a jumpstart when things start moving again.

How to Increase Leads and Online Conversions Part 4

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In the last post, I gave tips to increase your web site traffic conversions that were about being up-front about your price range and posting up pictures of your staff. In this post I will talk about making it easy for potential customers to get in touch with you, and making your call-to-actions obvious.

You should make it as easy as possible for potential customers to contact you. Your contact phone number should not be peripheral. It should definitely stand out on your website, and on every page of your website for that matter. Along with your phone number, you should make the link to your contact page prominent as well. Your website’s visitors should not have to scroll anywhere to locate your contact information. Also, you should post your contact information in the footer of your web pages, just in case the viewer is closer to the bottom of the page than the top of the page.

Next, you should make your call-to-actions as obvious and clear as possible. The call-to-action can be something like “Click Here for a Demo!” or even an email sign up form. But make the call-to-action copy short and easy to read. Also, use graphics, colors, styles, and positioning to make your call-to-action stand out. The viewer should not have to search for your call-to-action. You can minimize anything on your website that takes attention away from the call-to-action. These things may include words, images, or graphics, all of which are a type of “visual noise”. Direct your visitors to focus on the right thing, the call-to-action.

In the next post, I will give you the final two tips on increasing your web site traffic conversions. By combining all of these tips together, you can have a website that is trusted by customers. As a result, you will not only increase your rate of online conversions, but you will also build website traffic just through word of mouth.

How to Increase Leads and Online Conversions Part 3

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Last time, the tips to increase web site traffic conversions that I gave were about promoting your benefits and being the customer’s primary source of information through every phase of the buying cycle. This time I will talk about informing the customer of pricing and posting up images of your staff.

It’s important for potential customers to know that your solution is within their budget. Most people don’t expect a “set-in-stone”price on your website, but they do expect to see some sort of a price range. Having this information right up-front will allow the customer to determine right away if your solution is a feasible option, saving both you and the customer time.

Next, it is also important for website visitors to be able to associate a human face with your business. This is especially true for service businesses and also local small businesses. On your “About Us” page of your website, you should post up pictures of the staff. If you have a very large staff, then it is only necessary to post pictures of the staff that customers will regularly interact with, such as the sales staff. You can even post up videos giving some background information on the staff. Show how down-to-earth and friendly the staff can be. Depending on your strategy, you can show strictly professional pictures with everyone in suits, or you can show somewhat goofy pictures. The goofy pictures would be for a business that wants to connect with its audience on an emotional level, like a business involved in the local community.

In the next post, two more steps on increasing web site traffic conversions will be discussed. Those steps are making it easy for customers to get in touch with you, and making call-to-actions obvious.

How to Increase Leads and Online Conversions Part 2

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In this post, I will give you two more tips on increasing your website’s lead generation ability and increasing your traffic conversions.

The next step is to promote the benefits of your solution while still giving the facts. You should give concise descriptions of your products/services while also noting the most common questions so you can create a FAQ’s page with all the answers. Most importantly, you should note the emotional triggers that tell the benefits of your solutions. Most sales people know that creating an emotional connection is the most important aspect of a sales pitch.

Another way to increase your web site traffic conversion rate is to give the customer information during each phase of the purchasing cycle. Pertinent content directs potential customers from one phase to the next. During the research phase, be their primary resource for information. Post relevant videos to capture their attention. Retrieve their contact information by having them sign up for an email newsletter or an event. During the comparison phase, when the customer compares you to your competitors, you can have success stories, case studies, checklists, and guides that will give the customer more faith in your business. And finally, during the decision phase you should offer value-purchases, deals, and guarantees (that you can deliver on) in order to reassure the customer that they are making the right decision in choosing your business.

4 tips down, 6 tips to go, so stay tuned…

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.

What Do You Do and Where Do You Do It From? – Local Search Made Simple

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What and where? These are the two big questions that must be answered over and over again in local SEM.

Local searchers ask these questions implicitly and explicitly. In some cases, geo-terms are used and in other cases they aren’t. For example, search queries can be “SEM experts in NJ,” “SEO NJ” or simply “SEM experts” or “SEO.”

Search engines such as Google and Yahoo want to know the same things about your business that searchers want to know. Where is it and what products/services does it offer?

Are you answering these critical questions for your potential sales leads as well as the search engines?

Many times local businesses choose a website development firm based on the attractiveness of the websites they create without giving any thought to SEO. Even those website designers who know how to help with search rankings are rarely knowledgeable enough about the specifics of ranking for local search. As a result, the local business owner ends up with a beautiful website that never ranks for competitive keywords or attracts any new customers.

By following a few simple tips and tricks, you can prevent this from happening to your online marketing investment.

Your Home Page

You need to make it clear to people who land on your page what you do and where you do it. Simply because everyone in New Jersey knows where Broad Street is, it doesn’t mean that everyone who sees a Broad Street address on your website will know that you’re in New Jersey. The searcher may be entirely new to the area or just passing through, which may be the reason why someone may be searching for your business in the first place.

So, if you’re a New Jersey advertising firm, don’t expect people to look around to find that information on your site. Say it clearly near the top of the page and do it in text form, that way it is unmistakable to the search engines as well as to the searchers. Don’t assume anything! It’s important to make this information so clear that it can’t possibly be misunderstood.

Your Page Title

This is the most important ranking factor for SEM. And if that isn’t enough of a reason, then think about it from the human point of view.

Google displays the page title as the headline in the listing that appears for your pages in the SERPs. If someone is for searching for “search engine marketing new jersey” and the headline they see in the search results says “THE SEM experts in NJ,” it’ll grab their attention much better than a headline that says “Search Marketers”.

Google will also bold the words that were in a search query in the title when it appears on the page. So, for example, if a searcher in Central NJ asks for “co-op advertising” and your page title says “The Co-Op Advertising Professionals in Central NJ”, then your title will look like this to the searcher: “The Co-Op Advertising Professionals in Central NJ”.

Your Meta Tags

Along with your page title, these are also displayed in the SERPs. Meta tags are like the ad copy that entices people to click on your listings and go to your website.

Much like the page title, if your meta tags have the terms used in the search query then Google will bold these words on the SERPs. If the tags don’t contain the keyword phrase that was used in the query, then Google will pull a snippet off the page that contains that phrase.

It’s important to use your best keyword terms in your meta tags because, even though they may not help your pages to rank, they will likely encourage searchers to click through to your site.

In my next post, I will give more tips and tricks on how to clearly tell the search engines and the searchers where you are and what you do.

Internet Marketing Revenue Falls for Second Consecutive Quarter for the First Time Since the Dot-Com Bust

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Online marketing slipped 5% in Q2 as the recession extended the first decline in online marketing since 2002.

This marked the second consecutive quarterly decline in online marketing since the dot-com bust at the start of the decade. That decline resulted in eight consecutive quarters of falling online ad sales.

In the first half of 2009, internet marketing totaled $10.9 billion, down 5% from the same period of 2008. Almost 50% of that money has been spent on search engine marketing with Google, making Google the controller of 2/3 of the U.S. search market. In fact, Google’s ad revenue for the first half of the year increased by 4%.

SEM experts predict that revenue will pick up as the U.S. economy recovers and advertisers increase their efforts to connect with consumers who are going to the Internet for information and entertainment.

The Internet’s advertising prices are also lower than those offered in traditional media. As a result, these advertising trends are the primary cause of traditional media suffering much steeper advertising declines than the Internet.

For example, print advertising has been falling for the past three years, including a 29% drop in Q2. Marketing analysts doubt that all the advertising dollars that have migrated away from traditional media will return, even after the economy recovers.

–Source:  The Associated Press 10/05/09

FTC Reveals New and More Strict Guidelines for Marketers

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The Federal Trade Commission has made its guidelines tougher for traditional media and internet marketing.

From now on, advertisers who use atypical examples, like someone losing over 100 pounds from a diet pill, also need to provide typical examples. The newly revealed guidelines, which were announced October 5th, 2009, also have some requirements for celebrity endorsements. Celebrities now need to disclose their association with advertisers, if any, outside of the context of their traditional media ads. This includes appearances on talk shows and online social media connections. Celebrity endorsers and advertisers are now liable for any false or unsubstantiated claims.

The FTC has also place restrictions on social media advertisers, such as bloggers, online marketing companies, and word-of-mouth marketers. All three must now reveal if and when they received any material considerations, such as monetary compensation or free products, for their endorsements. Advertisers must also reveal if they paid for the research that backs up their claims.

Of course the FTC has the consumers in mind when making these new rules and regulations. The new guidelines will increase transparency for consumers. However, the increased scrutiny upon online marketing companies will increase costs, which will most likely be passed onto the consumer.

–Source:  Broadcasting & Cable, 10/05/09

Google Makes Changes That Will Effect Mobile Marketing

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On their blog, Google has announced several changes today that will effect their mobile marketing via smartphone technology.

Now, AdSense mobile marketing publishers will be able to serve up text and image ads on their respective websites, especially for phones such as the iPhone or Android powered devices.

The blog announced that this move will help mobile marketing publishers to earn more money and fund more web content and mobile sites.

New markets will be able to be reached, and business will be able to grow. The number of people going online through their mobile devices has increased by 34%, from 42.5 million to 56.9 million, from July 2008 to July 2009. These numbers are very promising to anyone running a mobile campaign.

Tips on Running an Email Database Marketing Campaign

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Successful email database marketing campaigns require constant improvment upon themselves in order to meet the demands and expectations of customers.  There are a couple of things you can do to maximize your ROI.

First of all, make sure you use a valid email return address.  The point of this type of internet marketing is to start a dialogue and end up with a loyal long-term customer.  As a result, your customers need to be able to respond to your emails so a long term relationship can be built.

Second of all, you need analytics to track your results.  This way you can measure exactly what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.  You should track bounced emails, open rates, click through rates, and online conversions rates.

Third of all, you shouldn’t overload your customers with too many emails or too much information. Your customers can’t spend all of their valuable time on your emails, so keep them short and simple.

Next, you must abide by CAN-SPAM laws that require your customers to agree to receive your emails. If you don’t adhere to a strict opt-in policy, you may be fined, and your deliverability rates will suffer.

Then, make sure you keep your database interested by staying relative and on-topic. Your database expects quality content, or they wouldn’t have signed up to receive your emails in the first place.

Finally, use a proper email marketing tool that will make your database marketing campaign scalable. There are many tools out there, so you must determine which one fits your needs. Many online marketing services run email marketing campaigns as well, so you should probably do some research and weigh the benefits of doing it yourself versus the benefits of hiring an online agency.

Reaching Balance is Essential for your Email Database Marketing Campaign

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Email database marketing is the most effective and cost-efficient medium available for your internet marketing campaign.  Emails enable you to develop a long-term dialogue and relationship with your customer.  However, if you abuse your email marketing campaign, you can also harm your relationship with your customer. So you must strike a delicate balance.

In order to reach that balance, you should combine informative content with promotional content. You should create the need for your product/service by providing relevant information. Then you can start the sales process by providing promotional content.  For example, car repair businesses can explain the importance of maintenance, the benefits of repairing instead of replacing, or even the symptoms of required maintenance before offering their services.

Because of this delicate balance that is required, careful planning is a necessity for your email database marketing campaing. A successful campaign is constantly improving itself in order to meet customer expectations.  In my next post, I will give you some tips on how to run a successful email database marketing campaign.

Internet Consumers Show Interest in Viral Online Marketing

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According to a new study, internet consumers are now showing interest in a different type of internet marketing. Internet consumers are increasingly showing interest in interacting with videos and viral marketing.

This brings to mind last summer’s marketing for the film “The Dark Knight”. The film’s viral internet marketing campaign had fans all over the world running around the streets in order to look for clues, just to reveal the next piece of online marketing. The film’s viral marketing campaign even won a few awards for engaging fans the way it did.  And considering that the film made almost a billion dollars, being the second highest grossing film of all time, the viral marketing actually worked wonders.

By providing ads that don’t just act as banners, but as expandable interactive images, or videos, the marketer can better engage the consumer.  By engaging the consumer in such a way, advertisers can get the consumer excited about the release of a new product or service.  This way, the product/service can simply sell itself, so to speak.

Reputation Management Through Social Media Initiatives

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Companies are trying to leverage social media for marketing, customer outreach, and reputation management. They’re logging onto Twitter, creating Facebook pages, and building communities in the hopes of attracting customers.

Social media is probably the best tool for reputation management, and when leveraging your social media presence you must keep that in mind.

You must understand the difference between social media that you own and social media that you don’t own. You own the social media that you empower on your site, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, etc. However, you don’t own what other people are saying on their Twitter accounts, reviews on other sites, etc.

Much too often companies are just focused on understanding how people interact with the social media initiatives controlled by the company. People talk about the number of followers their company Twitter account has or the number of fans their company Facebook page has. While you want to understand the reach of those owned initiatives, the power is actually in what others are saying about your company.

The magic for companies is defining ways in which to harness the power of positive comments while finding the negative comments and addressing them so that they don’t spin out of control.  This can have a drastically negative impact on your business (short term or long term).  This is how social media can be a great tool for reputation management.  It can enable you to perform rumor control.  It can enable you to react directly to what actual customers are saying about your company.

A perfect example of this is news about the Dell laptop batteries overheating and exploding a few years ago. There was an incredible amount of talk about it online before Dell addressed it. It ended up becoming a huge issue leading to recalls.

If Dell had been listening across the Web at that point, it may have been able to identify the issue earlier and get ahead of the problem, working with manufacturing and recalling batteries earlier. It would’ve been seen as getting ahead of the problem rather than getting nailed for ignoring it.  The reputation management they could’ve done through social media could’ve saved them the trouble of having to back peddle.

Unfortunately, many companies still aren’t proactive in listening to what their clients are saying on the Web. To shift corporate thinking, you must put a strategic plan in place to address these kinds of things.

How do you define success around social media? What is your strategy to leverage the positive mentions and address the negative mentions?  A big part of your answer should be to perform reputation management.

Once you have that in place, you can look at the different tools available to understand what’s happening outside of the social media initiatives you control.

Geo-Target for Paid Search Engine Marketing

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Do you geo-target your paid search ads? If you only sell products to certain areas, then you most likely do. If you sell products nationally, you most like do not. But that may be a mistake.

Most people geo-target for two reasons: either to support the geographic areas their business supports, or for local promotions or events. While geo-targeting is perfect in those situations, sem experts agree that using geo-targeting in your regular campaigns can have some crucial advantages, even if you already have a successful paid search account.

So why should you geo-target your successful paid search engine marketing campaign? Well, geo-targeting provides an additional layer of data that is more profound than the keyword level. It complements the knowledge of which keyword is performing by adding information about which state a keyword is performing in. This enables your bidding decisions to be made with better data based on certain regional factors:

  • Competition: The number of advertisers is different for each region. So your CPCs will be very different.
  • Product price: New York advertising may cost more than New Jersey advertising. So, your CPA metrics should be different for each region, because revenue will vary based on location. This impacts your ROI and, consequently, your allowable CPC.
  • Online Conversions rate: Some locations are in better economic situations than others, and are more likely to purchase and get traffic conversions. In other cases, one location may have users that are more Internet savvy. Many factors can affect your online conversions rate, and these factors will vary by geography.
  • Brand awareness: Your brand may be stronger in some parts of the country. This might be based on the way various media is purchased, or store locations. This difference will impact your CTRs, and therefore your quality score.
  • Ad copy: It may be hot in Miami and cold in Buffalo. There are also geographical differences in what things are called, or ways things are talked about, i.e. sub vs. hoagie. The message in your ad copy could target these differences.

In order to implement this strategy, you can replicate any given campaign exactly as it is. For example, if you have a campaign called “marketing,” copy it and call it “marketing NJ” or “marketing New Jersey” for targeting New Jersey (or whatever region you like).

In regards to the original “marketing” campaign, you can either remove New Jersey or keep it national. I suggest you keep it national, so that those prospects who can’t be identified geographically are still able to see your ad. This is especially important if that campaign is already working well, and allows your campaigns to maintain current web site traffic levels.

The only downside to this is the duplication of your keyword list. If you were managing 200 keywords in your “marketing” campaign, you will now be managing 400 keywords across both campaigns. This will add work to your bid management and reporting duties. But the impact this will have to your campaign metrics will more than justify the slight workload increase.

Think about the states or locations that will get you the most online conversions. In order for this strategy to work, you don’t have to select a single state, though that would make it much easier for reporting the data. It can be a collection of states, locations, cities, etc.

The idea is to go deeper than your keyword level, gain profound insights into how your campaigns are performing, and optimize against that data.

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.

Localizing SEO for More Qualified Traffic Conversions

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Local SEO is much simpler than general SEO. Here’s why. Take for example our company, Bulls Eye Marketing. We describe ourselves as a New Jersey advertising firm rather than just simply an advertising company. This is because it is much simpler to win local keywords rather than generalized keywords for which there is much more competition.  There are alot more internet marketing firms in the entire world than there are here in New Jersey.

If you own a mom and pop pizza shop, there is no way in hell that you are going to win the keyword “pizza”. The huge corporate chains will always have monopolies on those words. So, your goal must be to win the keywords that are specific to your locale. After all, if you’re located in Central Jersey, then someone in Northern California will not care about your pizza shop. You should try to win over the keywords that specify your locality so you can bring in new business from around your area. But the challenge here is to define your parameters.

In order to define your geographic parameters, you should identify where you are already getting business from. Let’s say that everyone in your town already comes to your pizza shop for all their pizza needs. But if you go one level broader, let’s say your township, you can still do much better. So you should then run your SEO campaign for your township. You should simply run your online marketing campaign for the market that you are not winning. In our case, we try to win the keywords with the localities of New Jersey and Central Jersey.

Of course this means that you will receive much less web site traffic than if you were to win the keyword “pizza”, since “pizza” will be utilized by everyone in the entire country, or maybe even the world; but the rest of the country is not your concern when it comes to selling pizza. You’re trying to win over you own geographic location. So your overall web site traffic might be less, but the precision of targeting your locality will result in better and more qualified traffic conversions.

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.