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Posts Tagged ‘Online Marketing’


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.

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.

Some More Pay-Per-Click Mistakes Most People Make: Confusing Click-Through-Rate with Traffic Conversion Rate

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Online marketing services love to test PPC ads, but what should marketers look for when choosing which ads to keep and which to delete? Looking only at the click-through-rate is a false indication of a better performing ad. If you add the word “free” to your ad, you’ll see a jump in your click-through-rate but what good will it do if it doesn’t lead to online conversions?

More Common Pay-Per-Click No-Nos: Not Separating Content Match from Search Results

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This is one of the worst mistakes people make. Of course it takes time, but any online marketing company should separate its regular search advertising from content match. This will allow you to get better reporting, set different costs per click, different budgets, and overall have a cleaner look for both of these campaigns. Just separate them into 2 campaigns. Both will have the same keywords but one campaign will be created only for “search” and the other one for “content match”.

Some More Common PPC Mistakes: Not Bidding For Your Name

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You may be able to take legal actions if your competition is targeting your company name. But if you’re in a different situation, bidding for your keywords will mean more traffic and another real estate space devoted to you on that search results page. It’s a good idea for online marketing NJ to even bid for the company name if there are no competitors at all. You will pay around $0.05 to $0.10 per click and see the amount of searches that are done for your brand name. And you also get some extra statistics that show you the possible growth of your company.

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.

Common PPC Mistakes: Not Geo-Targeting

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Even though what you’re selling may work all over the country or the world, most people still would rather use a local provider, or someone that recognizes their state. Search engines like Google enable you to geo-target your PPC ads by state. You can create 50 ads and put in the state name in the ad. This way you will get a higher click through rate (CTR) and thus a lower CPC. If you’re a smaller business, you can simply geo-target for your state alone. Some online marketing services, like us, even geo-target for your specific city/town. I’m sure that a local pizzeria wouldn’t want to target the entire state of New Jersey in their online marketing NJ campaign, but rather the specific locality within which they are located. After all, why target people that would never come to your business anyway.

Common PPC Mistakes: #1 May Not Always Be A Good Thing

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Being the #1 ad in any paid search engine internet marketing results, such as automotive search engine marketing, is not always the best strategy, especially if you’re paying a lot per click and the keyword is too broad. One of the best ranks in paid search engine online marketing is #3. This is because most people do research before they buy online. As a result, being #1 could mean that you’ll attract visitors who might have not used the right keyword for their search or ones that are just starting their research. When they are ready to buy, you’ll be the last one they remember. As a result, you may have alot of web site traffic, but your traffic conversions will be low, and consequently so will you ROI.

Common PPC Mistakes: Broad Keywords

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In the next couple of posts we will talk about some of the most common PPC (paid search engine marketing) mistakes that people make in their online marketing campaigns that, if fixed, can earn any business an extra 70% of revenue or save thousands of dollars a month.

The first mistake people make is bidding on keywords that are too broad or general. Each industry has its giant keywords that bring in the most web site traffic. However, there are many more variations of those keywords that searchers are using. The more focus you put on the long tail keywords, the less your PPC campaign will cost. Also, your ads will be ranked higher if the keywords are more closely matched. Take your 100 keywords and make them into 200 by just looking at your own web statistics for exact keyword variations people use to search for your product.

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.

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: Leveraging for Better Ads

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This time I will talk about negotiating in a buyer’s market and leveraging your business to get the most out of your New Jersey advertising dollars.

Since we are in a buyer’s market right now, your business is in a great position to add as much value as possible. For television advertising this can mean that your business is mentioned more in intros and outros to commercial breaks. For radio advertising, this means a higher frequency of mentioning your business’s name, or co-op advertising of a local event. For print advertising, this means bigger ads and more ad placement.

Finally, you should try to leverage any online marketing package that is presented to you in order to get as many leads as possible.

Next time, I will talk about establishing a reputation management campaign by being a contrarian.

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.

Online Radio Advertising to Grow in the Next Couple of Years

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Online radio advertising revenue is expected by SNL Kagan to grow 12% this year, to $441 million; in 2010, online radio advertising revenue will leap by 20%, to $530 million.

Online marketing revenue will also grow from 2.7% of total radio advertising revenue in 2009 to 3.2% of the total in 2010. By 2013, online marketing revenue growth is expected to level off, making up 4.7% of radio advertising’s total revenue.

SNL Kagan analyst Justin Nielson points out that radio broadcasters were slow to embrace new technologies, but says that, with the decline of traditional ad spending, radio stations have “turned to online marketing initiatives to grow top-line revenues, improving their Web sites and embracing online streaming and mobile apps to drive their local base to their multiple platforms. With total radio advertising revenue only expected to post modest growth over the next five years, it has become increasingly vital for stations to monetize digital innovations.”

ZenithOptimedia predicts that overall radio advertising revenue will return to positive growth in 2011.

PricewaterhouseCoopers expects that terrestrial radio will decline by a 4.7% compound annual rate over the next several years, to $13.6 billion in 2013. Radio advertising is expected to drop 14.2% this year to $14.8 billion, but will begin to turn around in 2010 and 2011; PwC says positive growth won’t be seen again until 2012.

Radio One is one radio company that is beginning to pull itself out of the advertising slump. Though third quarter revenue fell 12% – and automotive and financial sector advertising dropped 37.6% and 22.9% respectively – Q3 was the company’s second consecutive profitable quarter, having earned $14.2 million, compared with a loss of $266.1 million last year (the year ago period results were affected by a one-time write-down of $337.9 million).

Radio One said some categories, like food and beverage, healthcare and retail are showing signs of improvement.

–Source:  MediaBuyerPlanner

More Things to Look for When Finding a SEO NJ Vendor

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Looking for a SEO NJ vendor?

Because SEO is sometimes not fully understood by clients, they often struggle to know what to look for in a SEO NJ firm, and what types of activities and deliverables an SEO project should entail.

When you solicit proposals from vendors, it is important to have a frame of reference for what to expect in a proposal. What are elements that should be a part of a typical SEO project? What does a comprehensive, well-defined SEO program or project look like?

That’s why it is important to do your research on SEO NJ so that you are somewhat educated on how SEO works and what type of activities are typically involved in the process. This will give you some sense of a benchmark as to where you should be heading and enable you to better evaluate what is put in front of you from a given vendor. It will also help you compare across multiple vendor proposals to determine which one seems the most thorough or appropriate for your needs.

Once you feel sufficiently educated, you can begin your online marketing services vendor search. Depending on your procurement approach, you may request a proposal from one or several vendors. These proposals will vary in style and contents, and the next section will help you better navigate these in order to determine which proposal best meets your needs.

Just like any proposal from a potential partner, you first need to ensure that they have understood and integrated your project objectives, as well as any relevant requirements or constraints within the proposal. At least a brief reiteration of your goals and how the SEO project will meet these should be included.

If the company has understood your goals and requirements, they should be able to articulate how the SEO program will aim to achieve those.

A solid SEO project proposal should ideally include consideration of the three main elements of SEO: Web site structure, content, and link building.
 

  • Web site structure: Activities to ensure the site is built or revamped in a way that is search-engine “friendly” so the Web site structure follows industry best practices in terms of technical architecture, coding, hierarchy, navigation, linking, redirects, etc., and can be easily accessed, crawled and indexed by the search engine spiders.
     
  • Web site content: Activities to ensure the site content is optimized for search engines, utilizing specific keyword terms of value to your business. This typically involves keyword research and selection, development of keyword-rich meta data (page titles, descriptions), and integration of keywords into on-page elements including headers, body copy, links, alt text, etc.)
     
  • Link building: Activities to increase the authority of your Web site through the acquisition of relevant, authoritative inbound links from third-party sites. Link building typically takes two forms: direct, wherein other Web sites are directly solicited for links, and indirect, wherein activities are undertaken that would encourage inbound links, such as participation in social networks or user-generated content site (e.g. blogs, forums, etc.), distribution of press releases, or article syndication.

In addition to the actual SEO NJ activities, the proposal should also review and include the analytics approach for the project, including pre- and post- benchmarking, definition of KPIs, and the reporting framework (frequency, depth, format).

Related to measurement and evaluation, at least some minimal discussion of ongoing SEO, maintenance, and optimization should also be present (i.e. whether it’s included in the scope or not of the current project, and if included, what would it consist of).

A well-designed proposal should also include a detailed review of the key deliverables, which should elaborate on the areas above. “Deliverables” outline what is going to be delivered as part of the project. Depending on the style of the proposal, the presentation of these will vary. But these samples should give you an idea of the type of things you should be seeing.

The pricing for each deliverable should be clearly laid out in the proposal so that you can understand the cost of each activity and the time and resources involved. The overall project budget should also be disclosed, including a payment schedule, as well as any terms and conditions associated with the project.

Some “nice-to-haves” in a proposal would include items such as:

  • An overview of SEO (what it is, how it works).
  • Key definitions/glossary of terms.
  • An overview of the capabilities and experience of the company/SEO specialist or team.

So if you’re looking to find a potential SEO NJ vendor worthy of your investment, hopefully these quick tips will aid in your decision-making process. Happy hunting!

–Source:  ClickZ Experts

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 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…

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.

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.

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.

Integration Online Marketing

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So what is integration marketing, you ask?  Well, it’s a process of integrating your product offer into someone else’s sales funnel.

A good example of this is Coke. Coke is one of the largest brands in the world. They sell millions of products every year and have a pretty good relationship with their customer base. But if you notice, Coke doesn’t sell any of their products from dedicated Coke stores.

So how do they sell their product? We all know but probably never thought about it fully. What both Coke does is use integration marketing. They use other people’s sales funnel to get their product sold and give the seller a commission, all while making a profit.  Coke gets other people to do all the marketing work for them, all they do is supply the seller with a quality product that the customer wants and gives a commission.

For our purposes as sem experts, or online marketing services, we will be placing our product/services into other people’s sales funnel. More specifically we need to place our product/service offer in two places:

  1. Another business’s product “thank you page”
  2. Another business’s newsletter signup “thank you page”

Both places are almost always unused real estate and they get extremely targeted traffic directly to your product/service.

This strategy is a complete win/win for both you and the other business on whom’s “thank you page” you will be placing the ad on. Once the ad is up it runs completely on auto-pilot. After the owner sets it up they don’t have to do anything except watch the commissions roll in. There is no need for them to sign-up for anything on their own nor do they have to pay for anything. You would supply them with an html affiliate link and let it work on its own.

Your perks include an unlimited number of “thank you pages”, a completely automated system, and letting others do the work for you.

More Companies Turn to Mobile Marketing

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Mobile marketing has finally come out as an important part of a marketing strategy. The mobile marketing medium can now enable highly scalable marketing activities capable of engaging consumers in never-before-seen ways.

Companies are now increasing their attention on mobile marketing as a substantial percentage of their overall marketing strategy, with more and more companies indicating that their mobile marketing activities are integrated with their entire marketing strategy as a whole. Mobile marketing now accounts for more than 10% of their overall marketing budget.

But it’s no surprise that mobile marketing is garnering such attention, given the benefits of it. When the proper marketing approach combines with the proper analytic capabilities, the mobile marketing channel can be a highly effective way to cut through the clutter and elicit positive consumer responses to a company’s call-to-action. Most times these responses not only accomplish just one-time interactions or product purchases but long-term customer relationships.

By delivering an array of messages, offers, coupons, games, sweepstakes, and access to exclusive content that many consumers deem valuable, and by engaging them in meaningful interactions on an ongoing basis, mobile marketing serves as a highly effective medium for improving the customer experience and driving increased customer retention.  As a result, it becomes an effective driving force for traffic conversions.

Companies that engage in mobile marketing don’t necessarily need to receive millions or even tens of thousands of opt-ins in order to justify the effort. Depending on the nature of the business and campaign objectives, just a few hundred qualified responses may be sufficient to impact the bottom line.

While mobile marketing has a mass-market reach, it is not the mass market on the other end. Rather, it is an individual with specific wants and needs that a company can help fulfill.  Mobile marketing may be the most effective form of consumer specific precision targeting.

Developing and executing a mobile marketing campaign usually involves a wide range of technologies, from messaging solutions and mobile Internet hosting and delivery services for transmitting content across disparate mobile networks and the thousands of types of mobile devices, to dynamic ad delivery platforms that deliver targeted ads to a publisher’s mobile content based on a set of predefined criteria.

Consumer brands are finding it increasingly easy to make the business case for investing in mobile marketing.  This is because companies utilizing mobile marketing report being much more satisfied with their ROI in mobile marketing than their ROI in traditional marketing.

The fact that companies are 1.6 times more satisfied with their ROI on mobile marketing versus marketing through traditional media helps to explain why more companies are increasing their budgets for mobile marketing even as they continue to reduce or completely eliminate other programs in response to current business conditions.

If you’re a small business looking for a good online marketing company with a highly effective online marketing program, make sure that the online marketing service has a comprehensive mobile marketing plan.

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!