Archive for April, 2010
Wednesday, May 5 @ 1:00pm EDT / 10:00am PDT
FREE Webcast | Register now!
In Q4 of 2009 representatives from iProspect, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft hosted small, intimate events for online marketers in 8 cities around the U.S. At these events there were no Powerpoint slides, no scripts, no prepared content - just a commitment to answer any and all questions that marketers had about paid search and online display advertising. This webcast is a byproduct of leanings from those events: what was on marketers' minds, where their pain points were, and what interested them most. It is also intended to be a virtual version of those events - enabling those who dial in to ask questions about paid search and display advertising directly to the experts at iProspect and the search engines.
At this event you'll learn:
- Best practices for paid search and online display campaigns
- The importance of integrating these channels
- What new programs the search engines are offering
- The answers to your most burning questions
Posted in: Web Marketing by VSHoward on
After a tough 2009, the majority of small businesses have high hopes of emerging from the sales doldrums in 2010. Some 86% of small business owners expect 2010 revenues to be equal to or higher than 2009 figures, according to research firm Ad-Ology. However, despite that glimmer of confidence, most small business owners don’t plan to increase their marketing budgets in the near term. In a February 2010 survey of small business owners called the Merchant Confidence Index, 46% of respondents said they expect their marketing expenditures to remain stable over the next three months, while just 29% expected to increase marketing spend.
Just because you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on marketing and advertising doesn’t mean you have to sit back and hope for the best in 2010. In fact, there are many free online marketing methods small businesses can use to connect with potential customers. Below are eight proven marketing strategies you can use to boost customer acquisition and increase sales in 2010 – which will cost you only your time.
- Create a simple, clean website. There are dozens of self-service website creation services, such as Weebly, BlinkWeb, and Squidoo, which allow non-technical users to create simple, functional sites for free. Your site should include key words about your business so that people looking for your products or services can find you.
- List your business on all free directory sites available to you. MerchantCircle, Google Local Business Center, Angie’s List, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, YellowPages.com, SearchLocal, and SuperPages are some of the online business directory services that allow businesses to create a free listing. If the site already lists your business, you can “claim” it by adding more details to the listing, such as your company website URL, a map, phone numbers, or business hours.
- Use email to stay in touch with your best clients/customers. You likely already have the email addresses of your best clients or customers, so use them! An email newsletter is a great way to connect with your loyal customers. Create an email that includes a quick update on new products or services, and perhaps a printable coupon or promotional code. You can also add an image, a link to your website or a video you’ve posted on YouTube, or a link to you’re a business directory page that includes lots of positive customer reviews.
- Create business pages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. Social networking is here to stay, so your company needs to join the fray. Start by creating a Facebook business page and a Twitter account in your company’s name; both are free. If you have video content about your business, create a free “video channel” on YouTube, while B2B companies should also create a LinkedIn profile that details your business profile, lists key contacts, and provides information about your products and services. Make sure to encourage customers to sign up for your pages by printing your Facebook address and Twitter handle on all business materials.
- Get creative with promotions. Everyone loves a bargain, and people are increasingly price sensitive after recently living through one of worst recessions in decades. Try offering different types of promotions: downloadable and printable coupons people can bring into your store or office; online coupon codes redeemable for a one-time discount; a 10%-off coupon for signing up for your email newsletter or Facebook Page; a refer-a-friend discount; or a discount for writing a review of your business on a directory site like Yelp. You can promote these discounts via free or inexpensive advertising options: your email newsletter, in-store banners, Twitter, and Facebook.
- Search online for all businesses like yours. Use Google, Twitter, Facebook, and other search engines to find similar businesses in your city and in other areas to get a sense for what marketing tricks your competitors are using. Check out their social networking pages and their websites, and try searching for their latest promotions. Sign up for their email newsletters. Armed with this free competitive intelligence, you can see what’s worked for companies you admire, and fine-tune your own marketing strategies to compete with them.
- Show your expertise. There are many sites where experts can provide answers to people asking questions about anything under the sun. Yahoo Answers, MerchantCircle Answers, and LinkedIn Answers are some of the most popular question-and-answer sites. Search all of these sites for questions related to your business or service expertise, and then provide answers to them. Offer thoughtful, expert advice people can really use; that’s great PR for your business in and of itself.
- Create some online marketing videos. Most people prefer to 'see' something rather than 'read' something – so create some videos for your business! There are several sites, such as Jivox and Spotzer, where you can create simple marketing videos for free using stock footage, then add your company’s URL, phone number, address, and clickable coupons. You can also shoot marketing videos yourself using an inexpensive hand-held camera, and then polish them with free online editing tools like JayCut. Post your videos on your Facebook Page and on YouTube, and use them on your website and in your email marketing campaigns.
Small business owners are a creative and hard-working bunch, used to doing a lot with few resources. In 2010, take the time to invest in the growth of your business, implementing a few creative marketing strategies that deliver real results in return for just a little elbow grease.
Posted in: Web Marketing by VSHoward on April 25, 2010
With so many different marketing, advertising and PR channels out there, it’s hard to be heard above the din. One relatively new approach is blogger outreach. The opinions of bloggers are heard and respected by thousands, but many companies still ignore their reach. It’s new, unknown, and they don’t understand how to track ROI. Essentially, it’s not like “old school” marketing, so they don’t like it.
That’s a shame, because while those companies are clinging to print ads and TV commercials, other brands like Cover Girl and UbiSoft are building lasting relationships with bloggers that are getting some serious attention.
By targeting and building relationships with bloggers that address your audience, you can garner effective, unbiased reviews of your products. Their readers will be introduced to your brand, get interested in it, visit your site, and hopefully buy.
Why Blogger Outreach?
If it’s not reason enough that your competitors are already doing it, here are some other benefits of blogger outreach:
- People trust consumers (i.e. bloggers) more than they trust advertising (Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey 2009).
- It’s cost effective.
- ROI is measurable if you know what to look for (more on this below).
- It has the potential to go viral. People tweet and share good blog posts, and may do that with a blog review of your brand.
The old methods of marketing simply aren’t cutting it anymore. The landscape is changing. With sharing, community and conversation being today’s keywords, shoving a television commercial down consumers’ throats isn’t the way to create brand evangelists anymore.
How it Works
There’s not a lot of instruction out there on how to do blogger outreach (we PR types like to closely guard our secrets), but Monica O’Brien notes that you should be looking for bloggers who reach the same audience you do with your products.
Start out by doing some research. Search Google (), check out Alltop, and browse blog directories. Search for keywords to find blogs that discuss the area you’re looking for. If you sell onesies, mom blogs (but only those with babies) are a good fit. If you have a social media book, look for marketing or entrepreneur bloggers who reach the readers you’re looking for.
Make a spreadsheet of all the blogs you find. I suggest having some criteria, such as a decent PageRank (I use three as my cutoff) or good web traffic. If they don’t make the grade, skip them. I also pay attention to whether a blogger has posted lately. If they haven’t posted in over a year, don’t waste your time reaching out. Also, be sure to actually read the blog. Doing so may reveal that the blogger isn’t a good fit at all.
Next, it’s important to make an initial connection on the blogger’s own turf. The more you can interact with the blog and blogger, the better your subsequent pitch will be received. Leave comments (relevant ones only) and connect with them on Facebook (), Twitter (), etc.
Once you have enough blogs on your list (I tend to do batches of 15 or 30 a month, depending on how many bloggers there are in a particular niche), move on to your pitch. I know to many, “pitch” is a bad word, but let’s be honest; that’s what it is.
Keep it short, sweet, and customized. You can include some of the basics (what your product/service is), but the rest should be tailored to the recipient. You want to show you’ve paid attention to their work. I like to refer back to a particular post that caught my eye. You need to explain why they and their readers will care about your brand. It’s the “what’s in it for me” thing. They will not waste their time writing a blog post about your brand unless they find it compelling.
If you can offer something, such as a sneak peek at a new product, or free membership, do so. The more exclusive the offer, the better. I was part of a group of mom bloggers in Orlando who were invited to go to Sea World and just experience the park. We were all so pleased to have been noticed, we wrote great reviews of our experience. Giving bloggers access to something they wouldn’t normally have is a great way to get them writing about your brand.
- Copy and paste a press release with no intro or other customized information.
- Send a press release at all. You can offer that if they are interested or link to it.
- Send attachments. They won’t be opened.
- Address e-mail to “Dear blogger.” They hate that.
- Send without proofing or making sure you spelled the name and blog correctly.
- Demand or ask for only positive coverage.
Follow up a week later to make sure they got your e-mail and to see if they’re interested. I get far more replies to my second e-mail than my first. If they’re not interested, thank them for their time, and make a note in your spreadsheet of why they weren’t interested. They might be better for a different product down the road, or maybe they don’t want to be pitched at all.
What to Know
Product Types: I find that physical products do best with bloggers. They want something tangible they can touch and use. Services are a harder sell. But it really depends on the blogger and the niche — your mileage may vary.
Measuring ROI: People have been arguing for years that you simply can’t measure ROI on social media. I like Brian Solis’ idea that maybe we’re not looking for return on investment so much as return on engagement, attention, participation or involvement. Here are a few tips in that department:
Before you begin contacting bloggers, decide what your goals are.
- How many blog posts are you aiming for?
- How many readers in total would you like to read these posts?
- How much interaction do you want (comments on blog, retweets, social bookmarking, etc.)?
On the other end, see where your results stand compared to your goals. If you had posts on 10 sites, with traffic totaling 70,000, that’s great. If you had posts on 100 smaller sites with the same traffic, that could be good too, depending on what your goals are. Many companies, like POM Wonderful for example, aim to develop close relationships with a few key bloggers at a time.
Tie it Together
Like all social media, blogger outreach can be interwoven with your wider marketing strategy. Any time you have a new post on someone’s blog, tweet it, put it on your Facebook Page, share it on bookmarking sites and link to it on your company blog. That will solidify the relationship for further partnerships.
It may be a hard sell to your boss, but tell him that with 126 million blogs and growing, blogger outreach is something he simply can’t afford to ignore any longer.
Susan Payton is the Managing Partner of Egg Marketing & Public Relations, an Internet marketing firm specializing in blogger outreach, social media, and PR. She is also the blogger behind The Marketing Eggspert. Download her free white paper, The Importance of Connecting Brands with Bloggers.
Posted in: Web Marketing by VSHoward on April 24, 2010
In this video interview, SEO and PR expert Greg Jarboe discusses the role of press releases in both short- and long-term strategies for higher organic search rankings through links on news sites to your website.
Short Term Strategy
Press releases are one of the few things for SEO that you can do quickly to get links. For example, press releases can be implemented in a crisis or for a news announcement or product release. You can optimize a press release and get it out in literally hours! Some of the links generated will last for 30 days only, but some will last forever in archives, even high quality links.
A long-term strategy for links from press releases is to build a series of press releases -- every month or quarterly. These new releases replace links that have fallen off and build an enduring body of links to your site.
Free press release services don't help much at all, since spammers began to use them and they were devalued by Google and other news services. Press release services Jarboe uses -- depending on the client -- include Business Wire, PRWeb, and Globe News Wire (owned by NASDAQ).
10 best WordPress Plugin for ecommerce
What could be the best way to fillip your ecommerce in WordPress? Well, there are some cool WordPress plugins for ecommerce that can make your online business effortless. Using the plugins you can boost your ecommerce in a jiffy and that even without spending a hill of beans. There are a number of revolutionary plugins that can help you in selling anything from digital products to content to arts. To aid your business efforts we had already provided more than a dozen of ecommerce application. This time we have a well-researched list of 10 best WordPress plugin for ecommerce.
It is an accessible shopping cart plugin for WordPress packed with sophisticated features. eShop uses WordPress pages, or posts, to create products. There are various methods available for listing the products. Various methods available for listing products. It allows you to download data and upload downloadable products. The basic statics and sales data provided by the plugin is quite handy. The Admin has access to an order handling section. It sends automatic emails on successful purchase. The emails templates are user configurable. Various discounts options are also available.
eShop offers a number of payments options that include- Authorize.net, Paypal, Payson, eProcessingNetwork, Webtopay and Cash/Cheque. What's more it offers several shipping options.
2. Shopp Requirement Check
This plugin has been designed to ensure that the web hosting environment has the technologies to support Shopp. Shopp was a much needed ecommerce plugin solution for WordPress. It provides an online commerce platform that can easily handle larger online store operations without any complexity. For any small online shop owner it's a great asset. The plugin is simple to use and focuses on balanced, efficient, and stable feature set to provide best ecommerce experience. Further it also extends the powerful flexibility and adaptability required by developers and designers. It offers advanced Thickbox product image galleries with smooth transition
Some of the key features in Shopp include
- SEO shopping pages with pretty-url permalink support, product and category names in the page title, and more
- Dynamic categories that highlights new product additions, featured products, on-sale products and bestselling products
- Product RSS feeds for every category (including dynamic categories) enhanced for Google Bas
- Run time-limited promotions like price discounts, free shipping or even buy 1 get 1 free support
- Easy to set up multiple shipping methods with an intelligently simplified shipping rate manager
- Options for payment through credit cards easily and securely
- Offsite checkout through PayPal Express and/or Google Checkout
3. WP e-Commerce
This sophisticated plugin for WordPress is a simple and easy to use fully featured shopping cart application that can be used to sell your products, services and fees online. It is a Web 2.0 application designed to offer usability, presentation and aesthetics. WP e-Commerce could be a one stop shop for those dealing with bands & record Labels, clothing companies, crafters & artists, books, DVDs & MP3 files.
4. WP osCommerce
WPosCommerce or the WP.osC plugin for WordPress is a modified version of the popular ecommerce solution osCommerce. WP.osC allows you to integrate osCommerce with existing WordPress website.
The plugin displays latest products, random products, top 10 best sellers all on your WordPress blog post page. It adds a dynamic widget in your blogs sidebar to display the products.
5. Quick Shop
QuickShop supports any WordPress that has the Sidebar Widgets installed. Quick shop adds the SideBar widget that shows the user what they currently have in the cart and allows them to remove the items. There is a TinyMCE button that allows you to add products to your posts/pages. It offers two widgets - Paypal and other for custom solution. It features both Paypal Subscription and Donation tags. Users can create different product options in a drop-down. It features an inventory listing tied in to TinyMCE and a full range of formating for widget layout in Quickshop. In addition, it provides a checkout page.
6. flshow Manager
This WordPress plugin for ecommerce could be a handy solution for sites developed with static flash galleries, headers, menus and intros. In such case, it is hard to determine which parts of the site can be changed within WordPress, and which cannot be changed. flshow Manager has been designed to manage the fantabulous flShow Photo Carousel within the comfort of WordPress dashboard. The carousel offers an excellent platform to display the products of eCommerce with attractive header. Else you can simply show off your photography portfolio.
7. WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart
Paypal is one of the most widely used ecommerce applications. This WordPress plugin allows you to add an Add to Cart button on any post or page. The shopping cart is displayed on any post or page or side bar easily. In the shopping cart users can see what they currently have in the cart. It also allows the to remove any item from the cart, if required.
8. Are Paypal
It's a unique WordPress plugin that allows monitizing WordPress blog content using Paypal. That's a cool way of making money by selling your knowledge. It allows you to set the Post/Page to contain hidden content. To visitor willing to view the content has to perform a given task provided in a message.The content might be set as hidden for unregistered users and visible for registered. In a similar way the content can be set as hidden for unregistered-unpayed users and visible for registered-paid users. The search engines will only see the visible content. The administrator can grant the users access to content for certain payment. These features can be configured using the administrative screens. The plugin uses Paypal IPN - Instant Payment Notification protocol to offer a fully automated payment/content delivery.
9. WP Auctions
It's one of the most innovative ecommerce plugins for WordPress that allows users to host auctions on their blog or website without any expenditure. It doesn't require listing fees, seller fees, final value fees, gallery fees or any other type of fee for anything you wanna sell online. Once the auctions is listed, user can register your plugin with the WP Auctions Live page and generate some traffic for your website. Some of its exclusive features include uploading multiple images for each auction; selling items only on Buy It Now basis; RSS feed for your auctions and shows 3rd party ads when there are no auctions. It's only payment option is PayPal.
It's a free ecommerce WOrdPress plugin for artists who wanna sell their work online. It allows easy PayPal integration with just the address. Artpal offers real time sales updates as soon as the item sells and disables it so that it's not sold twice. ArtPal gets more powerful with support from businesses mean business. It's Digital Sublimity offers commercial support ensuring that the critical application will stay up and running when its needed.
Posted in: Web Marketing by VSHoward on April 20, 2010
Social media platforms build buzz, boost business and serve small businesses as low-cost/no-cost marketing tools. Small business owners need to understand how these tools strategically serve and support small business first so they best implement social media strategies to sell products and/or services.
How Social Media Serves and Supports Small Business
Social Media, simply put, serves users and organizations in marketing in three ways:
Marketing is all about building relationships -- relationships start with communication. New web tools like blogging, micro-blogging (Twitter), social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning), podcasting (BlogTalkRadio), video distribution (YouTube), event coordination tools (Meetup), wikis (Wikipedia) photo sharing (Flickr, Photobucket), and product review sites (epinions.com) allow small businesses to communicate, educate and share information directly with their current and prospective customers.
Content in the form of blog posts, audio, video, comparison/review sites, tweets and social network messages help share information in a less-formal way that builds the know, like and trust factors that influence decision making. Content is no longer just text. Small businesses can use audio or visual content for a "show me" and "tell me" to make communications a pack more interactive punch.
Social media's direct communication distinction serves and supports small business as it brings the people you want to attract directly to you and makes direct communication possible. Social Media makes communication a conversation so small business owners can share, receive feedback and connect on equal ground with their target markets.
When small businesses empower their target consumers, they feel powerful. When your target market feels powerful, it trusts you, buys from you, and stays with you. Social media collaboration transforms consumers into prosumers. In an era of social media prosumers, it's people (not companies) who make, shape, or break purchase patterns.
Small businesses can ignite collaboration for marketing by creating their own communities and/or joining communities. By doing so, they can listen and connect to their target customers and build a free forum to bring their market together. Collaboration = Marketing Acceleration.
Social media collaboration tools like review sites, video sharing sites, blogs, wikis and more allow users to self-serve, collaborate, and potentially serve as an endorser for your small business. Social media works as a marketing tool because people are more likely to trust peers rather than companies.
The power of mass collaboration serves and supports small business owners in a distinct way. Tapping/creating valuable collaborative options can bring people together to share ideas, exchange information, and help each other -- and support relationship growth. Removing the "company/client" disconnect can break down elitism and boost marketing mind power.
The most important reason that social media works as a marketing tool is simple -- because it's fun. People want to go where they feel they belong, have a voice, are listened to, and enjoy themselves. Small business owners need to be where their target markets are -- and these days, the masses are on Facebook, Ning, Twitter, Linkedin, Photobucket, YouTube and more because it has entertainment value.
Remember the Will It Blend? campaigns by Blendtec? They were a perfect example of social media marketing in brilliant action. Videos were relevant as they showed the product, were entertaining (they blended an iPhone!), and they were viral! People could easily share the fun with friends due to the ease of social media sharing widgets.
You can't put a dollar amount on free promotion. The way social media stores data as an "Interactive Rolodex" also has an entertainment factor. Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are becoming the "new databases" because they are fast, easy, and fun. People are more likely to update their Facebook and LinkedIn information than a sterile address book because it is fun.
Small business owners use social media's entertainment factor to build their online database of contacts and connections, be visible to prospective customers, and get the word out in creative ways like YouTube videos, blog posts, images, podcasts to make people smile and spread the word.
How Social Media Helps Small Businesses Sell
Social Media Marketing helps most small businesses boost sales indirectly by increasing relationships. Understanding that social media marketing serves users for communication, collaboration, and entertainment is the first step to considering how to strategically implement the multitude of social media marketing tools and choose the ones that work best for your unique organization.
The key thing that small businesses need to remember when using social media to help sell is that efforts must have value. There has to be value to your content, community, and execution to get people to engage with you or your organization. Social media doesn't sell things -- people sell things. Engaging in social media marketing starts the relationship-building process. Start small and snowball. Social media takes understanding, passion, effort, and commitment to make it work. Give your small business an authentic voice with social media and commit to providing value and you will be off to a smart start.
Posted in: Web Marketing by VSHoward on
Facebook is a social networking platform that is more than the latest fad. It is boosting marketing and sales for local businesses. Here are the five main ways that Facebook can help your local business:
1. Build Awareness
Facebook offers very affordable, targeted cost-per-click advertising options that can be laser-targeted to the city you do business in. You only pay per click, so costs are minimal. Also, a Facebook page or group can be created to help get the word out about your organization.
2. Distribute Information
Local businesses need to affordably communicate events, news, products and services. Facebook allows you to leverage your personal and professional contacts to share information -- for free.
One of my favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara closed last year. I learned that it re-opened because one of my Facebook friends messaged all his personal contacts to share the news that he took over as the General Manager. He earned lots of business and boosted awareness by one easy (and free) message.
3. Create Community
Social networking serves to bring people together. Your local business can brand, build, and boost business by creating a Facebook page or group so your local contacts can converse with each other. Let your community become your best sales people and free focus group. Listen to the conversations and allow raving fans to share and get in on the conversation.
4. Offer Additional Customer Service
Through Facebook, you can answer questions, receive free feedback, promote events, and provide news to be of additional service to your locally-based audience. Facebook gives your prospective and current customers an additional web option to find and connect with you.
5. Boost Sales
Local businesses have to fight harder than ever to survive in this tough economy, but your business can have a competitive edge with Facebook. Tapping free social networking tools like Facebook to build awareness, share information, educate, build community, increase connection, and enhance customer service will all work in unison to make sales.
When used with the right intention and managed regularly, Facebook can be a no-cost marketing tool to help your local businesses gain a competitive edge. Converse directly with locals, create a community of conversation -- learn, share, and connect -- all in a fun way.
Facebook has over 350 million users; I am willing to bet that your local audience is waiting.
The home page of a website is valuable marketing real estate to brand, build, and boost your locally based business. Follow these home page best practices to maximize your selling power.
Clearly Communicate Who You Are, What You Do, and Whom You Serve
You have two seconds to capture your website visitor's attention. Make it immediately clear what products and/or services your local business sells. Identify what market you serve (geographically and demographically) to immediately pre-qualify the right customers. Do not be afraid to identify your niche. Use your home page to attract the right customer so your sales time is spent on quality candidates. Your time is money.
As a locally based business, make it very clear where you do business. Using the local area code with your phone number instantly indicates that you're nearby. A toll-free phone number is great for customer service, especially for out-of-town callers. But when you show a local phone number under the tool free number you clarify your location, build trust, and increase leads.
Employ Professional Website Design
You communicate value not only through your words but also through your design. Don't look at professional website design as an unneeded expense -- rather as an investment that lasts years and sets a tone that supports sales. In addition to graphics, your design can include professional photos of your business location, or even a video introduction.
Trust starts visually. Of course, web surfers scan rather than reading carefully, so design with that in mind. You need text to allow search engines to index your site properly and get higher rankings. But you'll also want to communicate visually -- with art, photos and video -- to motivate your visitors once they land on your home page
Have a Clear Purpose and Call to Action
What do you want people to do when they visit your website? Call? Learn More? Read information? Fill out a contact form? The purpose of your website needs to be designed into your home page. You wouldn't build a house without a blueprint. The same principle applies to your website's home page.
Here's a helpful exercise: Without looking at your website, write down what purpose(s) your website serves. This may include attracting search engines, showing how to find your local business, communicating your products/services, branding, funneling different types of customers to different areas of the site, and more.
Next, decide what will be your calls to action. Do you want web visitors to call? Join an e-mail list? Login? Visit a certain area of the website? Fill out a contact form? Every local business will have varying purposes and calls to action, so determine what yours are. Don't expect a web designer to know these by osmosis. All of your answers become design criteria that must be incorporated (in priority order) into your home page.
Demonstrate visually and textually what you want people to do when they hit your website. Architect your local business home page to have the most important information and wanted actions "above the fold" (on the first screen) so visitors do not have to scroll to find them. You may have several intentions; just make sure that they are visible to your visitors so you can bring them into your sales funnel.
The top right hand corner of a webpage is the most valuable "call to action" area on a website. The upper middle area of a website is most visible for marketing messaging. (See Amazon.com's use of this space).
Websites have only second to make a large first impression. Sometimes visitors will leave and come back until they trust you. One way to maximize website visitors is to build an e-mail list. Most local business owners do not take full advantage of e-mail collection as a web marketing tool. Sign up for an e-mail marketing management company like iContact or AWeber. Then add the e-mail signup box they supply as an easy way to get the most out of your visitors.
In today's over-e-mailed world, you need to communicate value in order to increase e-mail signup box conversions. "Sign up for our eNewsletter" doesn't cut it anymore. Use your local niche expertise and offer a newsletter with local lore. The difference between "Join our e-mail List" vs. something worthwhile like "Get the Insider e-mail for Mesa, Arizona Dining" or "Sign up to get Free San Jose Motorcycle Ride Routes" makes a big difference. When there is something worth signing up for, you will capture more e-mail address that allow you to sell to, upsell and resell to your website visitors.
Make your home page a "north star" that guides your visitors to where you want them to go. Success begins with that first page. Getting people to your site is only half of the local marketing puzzle, getting people through the site is what makes a real impact. Invest in the health of your local business; secure a smart web solution that serves your business for years to come.
Posted in: Web Marketing by VSHoward on April 16, 2010
In this video interview, social media marketing specialist Dave Evans explains how businesses can use social media to listen to the voice of the customer and respond by improving their products and services.
Evans begins by explaining the feedback cycle that exists between the experience a business creates and the conversations that result from it on the social web.
He likens the feedback cycle to the purchase funnel concept: awareness > consideration > purchase. In offline marketing, word of mouth often leads to a purchase. And once a person makes a purchace he, too, is part of that feedback cycle. With the social web, however, we have a much more direct channel, such as the review mechanism, where purchasers can seek feedback about a product or service. The cycle here consists of purchasers' comments and shopers' queries.
We used to use focus groups to listen to potential customer likes and dislikes. But focus groups are influenced by previous motivations to be a panel member as well as selection bias. In contrast, purchasers' comments on the web are much purer.
Having understood the feedback cycle on the social web, businesses need to understand what that feedback means in terms of their products or services. They listen to understand what is the issue -- either positive or negative. The social web can sometimes tell us what not to "fix," things that customers really like.
Evans cites Fred Reichheld in The Ultimate Question (Harvard Business Press, 2006). The whole point is to generate favorable recommendations, then use those to drive your long-term business. Favorable recommendations give your business a huge competitive advantage. Without them, you're continually spending money yourself to create awareness.