Three Trends and What They Mean to Digital Marketing

Competent digital marketing means you have to account for evolving technologies. Just look at all the SEO companies that still have ad copy focusing on Meta tags (which Google ignores) and search engine submission (which isn’t necessary any more). Effective search engine optimization should come from a company that knows what’s happening now – and the same thing is true for all aspects of digital marketing. This goes above and beyond the kind of trade knowledge marketers share with each other, to appreciating the implications of broader developments in hardware, software and the Web. Let me show you what I mean with three examples.

What am I talking about? Amazon’s Kindle. The iPad. Barnes and Noble’s Nook. These are just three of the dozens of devices designed specifically to get people to read magazines and books electronically instead of on paper. Sure, people have done this with PDFs for a decade, but these devices bring it into the mainstream with a comfortable user experience.

What does it mean to digital marketing? Remember those print ad campaigns you couldn’t justify in the face of the potential of Web marketing? Now those magazines are coming back electronically, and people have barely begun to talk about how ads might work in electronic magazines.

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The Five Laws of B2B Marketing on the Web

B2B Marketing on the Web

I’ve worked with a lot of B2B focused clients who have trouble adapting to the strategic internet marketing mindset. They think internet marketing is something an expert does to their business – not a process where they work with the team to find their strengths. But B2B marketing on the Web is about translating the methods that work and expanding them beyond your personal sphere. Alone or with experts, you can’t sit on your hands and wait for it to just “happen to you.” You need to stick to the five laws.

Adapt Your Successes

This is the big one. B2B marketing is all about making connections and asserting authority in a network of businesses. If you’re doing something offline that works, you must bring it online. There must be no contradiction in approaches. For example, if you’re getting offline results by using a lengthy, detailed process where you make multiple touches with a prospect, don’t replace it with impersonal e-commerce! (If the former method isn’t working, that’s another story.) Too many companies think, “Thanks to the Web I can drop that boring old method (that worked) and get push-button results!” Use the Web to extend your reach instead of dumping a working process, and to experiment with new methods until you find something that works.

Cure Their Pain

B2B marketing online often takes place when a prospect is sick of dealing with bad situations from previous suppliers of a product or service. They’re searching the Web because they aren’t satisfied with the solutions in their immediate network. They’re feeling pain – can you cure it? Right now, ask yourself what five of the most common complaints about your industry are, and then ask yourself which ones you can cure. Be practical – if you know that complaints about expense can’t be fixed while keeping you in business, don’t cut prices. Once you find a cure you can deliver, put that at the front of your marketing message, on your site, social media marketing – everything.

Clients’ Lingo = Your Keywords

You may know what all the proper terms for your products and services are, and you should keep them in mind for keywords when it comes to effective search engine optimization and PPC efforts, but what’s more important is what clients call them. Pay attention to your current contacts and listen to what they say about your industry. Write down the answer and make those your target keywords, because that’s what they’ll be searching for. Your marketing experts can thoroughly analyze these keywords and target them with a number of tactics.

Know Where Clients Hang Out

You hear a lot about social media and social media optimization these days. In B2B marketing, the best way to harness the social Web is to find out where your prospective clients go to talk about your industry and related industries. Research popular blogs, internet forums, Facebook groups and anywhere else they go, or you go. That’s where marketers should be aiming your message.

Make Yourself Interesting, Constantly!

This is incredibly important! Remember when I said B2B marketing isn’t just something that happens to your business? You need to step up and answer this question: Have you been interesting lately? Did you go to a convention? Post a video on Youtube? Pull a publicity stunt? Give away something? You should be doing something press release worthy virtually every month. If not, you (and your marketing team) don’t have much to talk about.

Follow these laws and you’ll work in harmony with your marketing, creating something bigger and more successful than your individual efforts. Contact us to see how we can create this kind of partnership with you.

Google Optimization: How is it Different from Standard SEO?

Google Optimization

It’s important to build rank on all three major search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) but let’s face it: Google is king, so Google optimization is important to search engine optimization that builds quality traffic. All search engines have things in common, but Google optimization is about identifying and taking advantage of the specific values used in Google’s search algorithm.

It used to be just a matter of paying attention to PageRank, but nowadays, PageRank is just one of many, many factors. Google doesn’t like to go into detail for fear that people will “game the system,” but good SEO does precisely that, buy researching Google’s behavior.

What makes Google optimization different? These are some (but not all – it’s a complex topic!) of the search engine’s distinct elements:

Webmaster Guidelines and Tools: Google optimization begins with looking at Google’s site guidelines, getting a Webmaster Tools account and following its rules. If you aren’t auditing and adjusting your site with Google Webmaster Tools you aren’t doing proper Google optimization, period. Recheck regularly to spot broken links and other issues. This is the foundation of your efforts – it supports everything else.

Emphasis on Freshness: The last update in 2009 really amped up the importance of fresh content. Not only did we notice our own clients content jump when it was newer, but Google has now integrated freshness into user options, so that people can specifically pick the most recent results, or results in a certain date range. Maybe it’s time to refurbish that old webpage of yours or add a blog!

Nofollow Behavior: Google created the nofollow tag and obeys it very strictly – from a certain point of view. Google actually does map the link, but doesn’t count it for the purpose of passing authority. SEO experts believed at one point that you could use this to “concentrate” site authority on a few key pages, but discussions with webspam head Matt Cutts revealed that your “link juice” splits between all links. Nofollow just doesn’t actually pass it to the linked page.

Speed Counts: Google has mentioned on several occasions that it would like a faster Web, and that it values sites that load quickly and cleanly. If your site loads slowly and inefficiently you need to tweak it until that problem’s been fixed. If not, your search position will suffer. Site structure, including the depth of subfolders, amount of scripting present and sheer code volume, are all factors to consider.

Like I said, this isn’t all that makes Google optimization different, but it’s a good start. If you want to see how it applies to your site, contact us for a free website analysis.

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Internet Marketing Strategies: Which One is Right for You?

Internet Marketing Strategies

Use internet marketing strategies in proportion to how they fit into your marketing/sales process

How should you market your business online? If you’re a business just venturing into the realm of internet marketing strategies you’ll encounter dozens of options, offers and approaches. The trick to adopting a successful internet marketing strategy is to define your targets clients or customers, set goals, and understand the potential and limitations of each method.

Let’s get into the particulars of some major internet marketing strategies:

Pay per Click (PPC) Marketing: A PPC-based internet marketing strategy focuses on paid ads interested parties will click through to get to your primary website or a dedicated landing page. This is an excellent option in highly competitive industries where search engine optimization may not provide immediate traffic. But to make PPC work you must have a defined sales funnel where PPC is just the first step. The landing page should provide a way for visitors to immediately take action and perceive a fast, powerful value for doing so. You may offer a discount or free product for submitting information, or in an e-commerce situation might provide rapid access to a product or service linked to the ad. Otherwise, the landing page should have content that makes it interesting enough to prevent a visitor from hitting the “back” button on his browser.

Google Optimization and other Search Engine SEO: Google is the most popular way for people to find products and services online. Tuning your site to comply with Google’s webmaster guidelines is a mandatory part of any internet marketing strategy. Beyond that, Google optimization improves your site’s rank on keywords search terms) related to your company’s products and services. Studies have proven that a higher rank (preferably the top 10) on important keywords improves traffic. Note, however, that industries with strong market leaders or high levels of competition make it very difficult to rank for the best keywords.

Like PPC, you must have a sensible sales funnel to take advantage of this traffic. Searchers use Google to find information first, so your site should provide clear, factual statements about the field in general and why your company is the best choice in particular. Like PPC, you should provide the means for visitors to easily take an action that draws them into your funnel, such as a special offer or immediate product selection.

Social Media Optimization (SMO): To use Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools for promotion you must respect the nature of each medium. That means that you’re part of a conversation – you need to be willing to use these services to go out and talk to people as individuals. While it is important to broadcast information to keep contacts informed about your current information, news and views on issues, you also need to get out there and query people about what they want and talk them into your funnel. Thus, social media is much like marketing by phone, with the advantage that this isn’t a cold call – you have prior contact.

The best internet marketing strategies don’t just use one of these digital marketing tools, but several of them in combination, both in parallel and cooperative processes. For example, you may run PPC ads beside your Google optimization and other SEO efforts. We can help you implement these internet marketing strategies – contact us to get started with a free site analysis.

Five Strategic Internet Marketing Lessons from Apple’s iPad

Internet Marketing Strategy Apple iPad

Apple's iPad demonstrates winning strategic internet marketing

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that Apple just announced its new iPad. Regardless of what you think of the iPad you must admit that Apple has hit upon offline and internet marketing strategies that work. This begs the question: What can you take away from Apple’s strategic internet marketing and apply directly to your business? I think you can distil the fundamentals down to five lessons:

Create an Event: The spark that lights up marketing hype for Apple is always Steve Jobs’ keynote address. Internet marketing strategies tend to focus on perennial, 24/7 efforts because that’s the nature of the Web, but that’s not the nature of people. Human beings need rhythms to dictate their activities and attention. Schedule events to not only build anticipation for new company developments, but prevent the agitation involved when your clients don’t know when a change is coming. The drawback is that you need to be disciplined and provide strict dates to complete the steps leading up to your event, whether it’s a new product, service or company news.

Give Your Company a Human Face: Steve Jobs returned to Apple at the perfect time, because the Internet is very much a personality-driven medium. The rise of social media (and social media optimization) has emphasized the importance of human interaction. Jobs certainly isn’t creating cool devices by himself, but Apple’s internet marketing strategy always emphasizes that he takes a hands-on approach to product development. Instead of just speculating about Apple’s commercial goals, customers look at offerings like the iPad based on Jobs’ values and ask themselves if they feel the same way. This creates a powerful rapport.

Pick a Notable Name, No Matter What: Lots of people have made fun of the name “iPad.” So what? If your product is well-defined, people can look past any mockery. The important thing is that the name is publicity-worthy, consistent with Apple’s overall brand strategy, and says something about what the product is. The rumoured name “iSlate” might have been a safer bet, but it doesn’t get across the more casual focus of the iPad. Consider the common elements you want t give every product or service name, make sure it’s unique and commit to your choices.

Stick to Your Branding: In everything from form to marketing presentation, the iPad is consistent with Apple’s other products. That means consumers are comfortable moving away from interest in just one product to several. They know that they can navigate Apple’s site in a consistent fashion for information and have a rough idea of how every product or service will be presented. Your internet marketing strategy should demonstrate the same brand consistency, with common visual motifs and a site where the user experience is consistent across every page.

Stay on Message: The iPad isn’t perfect. There’s no Flash, multitasking or a camera. Nevertheless, Steve Jobs’ presentation worked because he concentrated on the iPad as an experience. It’s designed for casual Web use, e-books and easy access to the App Store’s thousands of applications. To that end, it doesn’t include anything to distract from that core mission. Do your products and services have that kind of strong conceptual core? They should.

Chrome OS and Internet Marketing in the Cloud

Google has thrown down the gauntlet with the Chrome OS. Unlike other operating systems to date, Chrome is browser-based and designed to be used in the “cloud:” a suite of remotely hosted web apps. This isn’t the first time a company has tried to center computing on remotely hosted applications but it is by far the most ambitious, and falls in line with an apparent road map that builds on services like Gmail and Google Docs.

If it catches on, this represents an unparalleled shift for strategic internet marketing. Let’s look these possible effects:

  • Many people already use Gmail as their primary email application and are exposed to context-sensitive ads through Google’s AdSense service. Chrome OS may spark a surge in Gmail use, from thousands of new users to people who promote Gmail from their secondary to primary email. AdSense ads will only increase in importance.
  • Google has put itself in an enviable position, where simply getting people online is good for its bottom line. Google search integrated into the UI may well catch late adopters of the Web as the primary tool to plan purchases.
  • Microsoft’s antitrust woes demonstrate that locking people into one company’s services is bound to attract unwanted attention from governments and consumer advocates, so even though Google services will be in the lead for adoption there will probably be options to integrate competitors such as MSN Live. If so, these services will probably also see increased usage as well.
  • The Chrome browser’s features are interesting when it comes to budgeting for economical SEO versus Pay per Click search engine marketing. The browser suggests search results right in the box, so there’s less need to actually visit a search engine results page. Presumably, this vastly increases the importance of SEO efforts, but will it make PPC less useful? It seems more likely that to change its role in the user experience. PPC will enter the picture when users want to research a subject in detail, or if they have trouble finding exactly what they’re looking for. Campaigns will have to target these users by being mindful of the long tail and grabbing attention with desired information, immediately.

This isn’t all that will happen. Chrome is designed to support Solid state drives exclusively, hinting at a focus on netbooks, tablets and other semi-mobile or mobile devices. In any event, great opportunities lay ahead for those willing to explore the possibilities strategically.

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SEO Basics: Start With PPC, Build With SEO

It’s been a while since we offered some SEO basics and it’s time we brought them back to the blog! We specialize in SEO for small and medium sized businesses so it’s naturally in our interest to let the average new business experiment with their own initiatives. That way, they can better understand why our economical search engine optimization option makes sense.

Strategic internet marketing is more than SEO, however. The best campaigns use a mix of tactics. For example, combining a pay per click (PPC) campaign with SEO helps combine the strengths and counter the weaknesses of both. Let’s break that down:

PPC: Pay per click ads are structured so that you only pay when someone clicks through your ad – thus the name. There are lots of different PPC ads, but the most prominent occur alongside standard (or “organic”) search results in major search engines. Google AdWords is far and away the PPC leader, just as they lead in pretty much anything else to do with search.

PPC bidding and budgets are a complicated topic, so suffice to say that you do need to sink some cash into them. The advantage is that you can buy your way to the first page of high volume search results. Combined with decent landing pages, PPC campaigns are a great way to get fast traffic to your site. PPC ads aren’t clicked through as often as organic results, however. Combined with the cost, they’re not a long term substitute for organic ranking.

SEO: Search engine optimization uses improved content, coding and linking to improve your site’s organic rank. Nothing compares to page 1 ranking to generate improved traffic – some surveys say 40% of visitors click through the first organic result alone!

The disadvantage of SEO is that it takes time to build rank with these techniques. There are no quick fixes in SEO, though the best efforts have enduring results because your improved site is better focused on target keywords and is not only easier for search engines to index, but for visitors to navigate. Some budgets may not be able to handle SEO campaigns directed at the most competitive keywords.

Using Them Together: PPC and SEO efforts naturally complement each other. PPC gets immediate results, but a PPC-focused campaign can be an onerous expense for smaller businesses. SEO is more cost effective and drives traffic more effectively over the long haul, but it takes time to build results. Therefore, doing both improves your traffic from beginning to end. Use PPC for the initial boost and SEO to provide long term results.

As your SEO campaign bears fruit, you can pull back on your PPC efforts, but don’t forget that each method is still useful throughout your entire campaign’s life cycle. For example, even after building SEO results you can use PPC to get paid traction with keywords that might be a bit tough to crack in organic rankings, and that even when you stick to a PPC focus, good SEO improves site usability – and that correlates with conversions.

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Five SEO Cues to Look for in Search Results

Everyone wants a top 10 Google rank on a high volume keyword, but just because companies and their internet marketing strategy people all want the same thing doesn’t mean that they should all use the same methods. Keyword phrases aren’t just about the numbers – they have factors that create qualitative as well as quantitative differences.

One key indicator is the first page of results – the very place you want to be. Virtually every SERP (search engine results page) is unique, and not just because they have different links. Let’s look at five factors that end up on SERPs and how you can use them to guide your campaign.

Big Brands: If several of your target keywords drive to big brands you have a special challenge to overcome, especially since Google has given conflicting signals over brand weight. This is doubly true if your client sells these big brands – no Ford dealership is going to beat Ford.com. This is a signal to try long tail variations that capture users wanting something distinct from or within the big brand. You want visitors looking for an alternative to widgets from Widgetsoft, Ford vehicles in Peoria, or either of the above combined with a special service only you provide.

Images: Image results inline with standard results tell you that customers are very interested in the look of what you have to sell. Remember that people do click through images to the main site, so these results mean you need to add new images to your site and craft informative, keyword targeted alt image tags. Make your images unique, too, because Google can now group similar images – unless you can legitimately use images similar to the leader. . . .

Shopping Sites: The bane of the small retailer, shopping sites can fill search results with a competing product and service combined with ranking factors you’d be hard-pressed to beat. Like the big brands result, it’s time for you to examine what a smaller, more agile business can do that a big shopping site can’t – and add those benefits if you can’t find them. Unlike big brands, leading shopping sites like eBay and Amazon present another option: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Think about opening up new storefronts through eBay, Amazon, Google Product Search and similar venues.

Wikipedia: Google likes even bad Wikipedia results, so not only are they hard to dethrone, but they create aversion to the search result. This problem is actually an opportunity in disguise, however, as you can add value to the original entry while promoting your site by linking to a relevant web page or blog article. You won’t get link juice but you may get traffic. The important thing here is to add real value, both to the Wikipedia entry and the linked resource. Don’t spam; improve Wikipedia where it would pass strict editorial muster.

Youtube: Inline Youtube results are very common for some products and services. Like images, this is a sign that searchers want to explore the keyword in a particular way. Unlike images, you’ll need to host videos on Youtube and then customize descriptions and meta data to point to your site. Include a relevant link in every video description.

GILL Media Graduates First Internet Consultants Trained Online

Certified web business consultants receive full training, support and help starting an internet business

Tampa, FL and Toronto, ON: GILL Media (http://www.gill-media.com) welcomed its first Web-trained certified iGSM internet consultant business graduates recently. The online iGSM internet consultant training program is described at the official iGSM website, located at http://www.internetbusiness-opportunity.com. The first graduates have all opted to become GILL Media members, authorizing them to resell GILL Media’s internet services and receive full support and ongoing training from the search engine optimization, web design and internet marketing firm.

The iGSM training course features over 20 hours of Web-based training modules and evaluation tools that teach the technologies and best practices behind an effective internet consulting business, along with GILL Media’s procedures, products and services. Only graduates qualify for GILL Media Membership, which enables them to become authorized Media Partners: resellers of web design, SEO, web video and a range other services. Partners are also authorized to use GILL Media’s name, elements of its branding and a private resource of documents and marketing materials on the company’s Extranet.

The cost-effective nature of web-based training allows GILL Media to share this opportunity at a fraction of the costs levied by competitors. Internet consultant training and reseller franchising typically costs $10,000 up, iGSM Certification fees are only cost $795.

Interested parties can email [email protected] to find out more. GILL Media encourages anyone interested in learning more about the iGSM program visit http://www.internetbusiness-opportunity.com. Visitors to the site can also discuss the program with a live agent during select business hours. To discover more about GILL Media’s products and services, visit http://www.gill-media.com.
About GILL Media

Established in 2000, GILL Media (http://www.gill-media.com) provides a Total Internet Solution for businesses of all sizes. Clients range from small companies that want to promote their web sites to large enterprises seeking comprehensive solutions. Privately owned and debt free, GILL Media uses supporting offices in the United States and Canada as springboards for growth. The iGSM Media Partner Program (http://www.internetbusiness-opportunity.com) brings successful internet marketing solutions to communities across North America and South America.

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