Category Archives: Internet Marketing

Ten Simple Rules to Help Build Inbound Links for Your Small Business Website

One of our small business customers wanted to know more about creating relevant inbound links. Here’s what I suggested after researching this topic:

1. Choose 4-10 of your most popular keywords that you’re going to use.

2. Write variations of the links that you’d like to use. Test them. You may want to experiment with the Google AdWords keyword tool.

3. Create several inbound links using different variations of linking text.

4. The easiest way to get inbound links is from other websites or blogs that you own or control.

5.  Create online profiles for your small business on social networking sites

6.  Ask friends and colleagues for permission to put links on their sites or blogs.

7.  Buy quality directory links. Don’t buy directory links disapproved by Google. Do your research – at least Google the site’s url or name before you buy.

8. Tell people how you’d like them to link to you. Ask them to copy and paste the code you provide into their web pages/blogs.

9. Write keyword rich press releases and use services such as PRWeb or PR.com to distribute them. For an additional fee PRWeb will let you embed links into the body of your press release.

10. Write and publish quality articles and blog posts. If people like your article, they will likely use your article’s title when they link to you, so make sure that you include keywords in the titles of each article/post.  

Content is King, President and Pope

newrulesofmarketing.jpgI just finished re-reading an excellent book The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

Some stuffy PR guys would probably like to challenge the contents of this book as it does not promote the old truths of PR and marketing. David Meerman Scott has focused on explaining the world of opportunities that have opened up for aspiring journalists, marketers and small business owners via web-based tools and services. Free or low cost applications such as blogs, podcasts and social networking tools such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn are changing the old rules. Niche buyers can be reached with targeted messages that cost a fraction of big-budget advertising campaign. In addition, these marketing efforts often allow instant feedback and measurable results, so the “train can be stopped much sooner when it’s headed to the wrong direction”.

One-way interruption does not work as well as it used to. Instead, marketers have to create a dialogue with potential buyers and deliver useful content at the moment their prospects, buyers or constituents need it.

Readers learn that online marketing is not about pretty websites either. Per Meerman Scott, content is not only KING, but President and Pope as well. The key to interesting and entertaining content is the collaboration between the different departments of the organization. Websites cannot be stale either – content needs to be fresh and the reactions of the visitors should be measured and analyzed, so the content can be improved. I agree with all these points as I prefer information rich blogs and websites to flashy and design driven sites.

Here are some steps David Meerman Scott suggests for creating thoughtful content. These steps apply to websites and all social media tools in my opinion.

  1. Do not focus on writing primarily about your company and products. Content should be designed to solve buyer problems or answer questions.

  2. Define your organizational goals before you design your website.

  3. Based on your goals, decide whether you want to provide the content for free without any registration, or you want to include some kind of registration mechanism (much lower response rates).

  4. Think like a publisher. Consider buyer personas.

  5. Write for your audience. Use examples and stories, make it interesting.

  6. Choose a great title that grabs attention.

  7. Promote the effort like crazy. Offer the content with easy-to-find links.

  8. Alert appropriate bloggers, reporters and analysts that the content is available and send them a download link.

What is the main reason I like The New Rules of PR and Marketing?

It gives easy to read instructions on how to become a thought leader while remaining authentic and transparent. No need to pay a top dollar to reach your audience if you have expertise, find your voice, target a specific group of people and keep improving your skills.

Educate, entertain and motivate!

Recession Proof Your Small Business Marketing

opportunityll.JPG

1: Turn your print communications into digital communications. There is a chance most of your publications can be emailed or published on your website.

2: Make your e-marketing CAN-SPAM compliant. Email marketing, only if well planned and executed, can be an extremely cost effective way to market and communicate with your audience.

3: Start an e-newsletter. An e-newsletter is one of the most efficient ways your company can use to regularly communicate with your target audience.

4: Survey your customers. Your best prospects are your existing customers. Their feedback is an easy and cost-effective way to improve your business.

5: Keep your web site content up-to-date. Your web site should serve as your prospects’ and clients’ primary point of contact with your company. Keeping your web site content fresh not only sends a message to your customers but also your prospects and competitors.

6: Always add a call to action. With catchy design and copy writing, response rates from an email campaign can be higher than from a snail mail campaign.

7: Leverage viral marketing opportunities. A recipient can forward an email he or she likes to a friend at zero cost to the marketer.

8: Send coupons. In a recent ICOM survey of U.S. Shoppers, 67 percent said they are much more likely, or somewhat more likely, to use coupons during a recession.

9: Turn your web site into a business tool. Right now, the Internet is in the midst of an exciting evolution. Web sites are being transformed from static sites into highly functional business tools and information portals.


Best Things In Life Can Be Free

Get a free copy of Duct Tape Marketing when you attend the following webinar

“InfusionSoft & Duct Tape Marketing Reveal The Must-Know Secrets of Small Business Growth”

 on Wednesday, June 18th at 3pm CDT

The 1-hour session is free of course, but here’s the kicker – anyone who registers and attends (you must attend and they will know if you do!) will get a free copy of the paperback version of John Jantsch’s book Duct Tape Marketing shipped from Amazon. 

Go here to enroll

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/945297456

Feel free to pass this link and offer along to other folks and blog about it!

Ten Affordable Small Business Marketing Ideas

  • Start a networking group or a book club at Meetup or Facebook. Encourage participation, organize contests. Have participants donate giveaway prizes.
  • Start or reinvent your blog. Free blogging platforms: Blogger and Live Journal. I am partial to WordPress as it is more than just a blogging platform, it is a publishing platform.
  • Create meaningful PowerPoint presentations. Go to Slideshare for fresh ideas and inspiration and learn how the effectiveness and rules of PowerPoint presentations have changed. Upload your presentation to Slideshare.
  • Bake a batch of tasty cookies, package them nicely and take or send to your customer’s office.
  • Buy an affordable video camera at Best Buy and create some instructional “How To” videos. Post them to your blog or website.
  • Send a free press release announcing your new product or service at PRlog.
  • Write a brochure or book covering topics that interest your target market. Publish it for free on Lulu, make available on your website or blog.
  • Give practical gifts to your prospects and customers such as VISA gift cards (they can use them as they see fit) or John Jantsch’s book Duct Tape Marketing that includes money-saving coupons.
  • Use a WordPress theme to create a new website or redesign your existing website. Themes are search engine optimized, prices start at below $30.00. If you know how to use WordPress – you will have your fresh site up and running shortly.

Mr. Microsoft’s Chase After Ms. Yahoo

I have been following Mr. Microsoft’s chase after Ms. Yahoo and have to announce today – this “soap opera” did not have a happy ending, or maybe it was Mission Impossible after all….

Mr. Microsoft did not win Ms.Yahoo’s heart. He tried, adding more bells and whistles to his marriage proposal, but Ms. Yahoo said NO and is still waiting for a Prince On A White Horse to come and rescue her from the Land of Uncertainty. Ms. Yahoo has been winking at Mr. Google who is way more skilled than her at search and online advertising…but their relationship is still in the early stages, and the two of them have not found solid common ground yet…..

Something tells me that this story will have a sequel as Mr. Microsoft is restless, desperately trying to find a partner who would balance his shortcomings in web advertising and search. He was hoping to create a harmonious island (cloud) with Ms. Yahoo, but did not find the right key to her heart.


Meatball Sundae

meatball-sundae.jpg

“Meatball Sunday” stirred up most of my beliefs about successful marketing. I enjoyed Seth Godin’s book and I wonder if I ever tried to fix Meatball Sundaes for my small business customers.   Maybe we as marketers try to cover up Old Marketing with whipped cream and put a cherry on top?

New Marketing leverages scarce attention and creates interactions among communities with similar interests. In other words: if you want your product to be successful, you need to build a community around it.  In addition, every product or service becomes a form of media through storytelling and interaction.  Dreamers, be aware – the triumph of big ideas will continue. Forget the command-and control approach to the creation and spread of ideas.

The important part of New Marketing – permission marketing is not up to the person sending marketing messages. Permission does not exist to help the marketer. The moment the marketing message ceases to be anticipated, personal, and relevant – doors close in front of the marketer.   Permission exists to help the consumer, and can’t be sold or bought.  In a market where everyone is a critic, there is a constant need to create products and services that appeal to and satisfy critics.

“Meatball Sundae” focuses on 14 trends no marketer can afford to ignore. It explains what to do about the increasing power of stories and shortened attention spans.

———Gotta get me some of that New Marketing. Give me blogs, e-mail, YouTube videos, MySpace pages, Google AdWords…I don’t care as long as it’s shiny and new.

Free Google Marketing Tools for Small Business

Let’s face it.  Google has become part of our daily routine.  We can decide how much of it we will let into our lives, but why not take advantage of free tools that have been created by this innovative company?  Small businesses can definitely utilize some of the web-based marketing tools that Google offers.

Blogger

It takes just 10 minutes to set up a blog on blogger.com.  It is time well spent as a company blog can become a powerful marketing tool for any small business.  It can also be used as a platform for cross-promoting your products and services with other companies.  Google keeps adding new features as well – embedding a YouTube video to your blog is a breeze now.    

Google Analytics

You don’t need to keep guessing how visitors arrive at your website, how much time they spend on it, and whether they ever come back.  Add Google Analytics to your website code to keep an eye on your web traffic.    Discover whether the majority of your web traffic comes from search engines or referring sites.   Find out what search keywords are being used to get to your site.

Google Alerts

Would you like to keep an eye on your competitors or specific small business topics you would like to write about?   Set up Google Alerts, indicate which topic, person or company you would like to be alerted about and how often.  Alerts will come straight to your Inbox.

Google Groups

Can’t get enough of social networking?  Google Groups enable users to start their own email discussion groups as well as message boards. Browse archives of Usenet groups and gain new knowledge or find a group that matches your interests.

Google Maps

To help your customers and prospects find you, create a profile for your small business on Google Maps.  Your business listing requires verification, therefore it will take a couple of weeks for your listing to appear.  You can embed a Google Map with your company location to your website or blog.

Google Calendar

Keep your marketing projects on track with Google Calendar or create a marketing calendar for your business.  You can publish your Google Calendar on your website or share it with your associates, family and customers.  Planning events?  Keep track of RSVPs with the easy web-based interface.

Google Talk

Provide information about your products and services immediately by utilizing Google Talk, a Google approach to instant communications.  Just cut and paste a block of code into your own webpage or blog to embed the Google Talk gadget.   You can chat with all of your Google Talk and Gmail contacts in real time.

Google AdWords

Start your own online marketing campaign by signing up for Google AdWords.  You will need $5.00 to get started, but the use of the Google keyword tool is free and it can give you valuable insights into the minds of customers who are looking for products or services that you offer.  The keyword tool enables you to find the right keywords and estimate the cost of your campaigns displaying text ads that you create.  Campaigns can be turned on and off any time you desire. Master Google AdWords before you get started by studying free online tutorials.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense will create/match ads to your site’s content, and your company will earn money whenever your visitors click on them.   You must have a launched website with acceptable content and valid URL as well as a valid payee name and mailing address to apply.  All ads are reviewed and approved by the Google team, ensuring that inappropriate ads don’t appear on your pages.

In general,  a GMail (Google) account is required for all web-based products described above.  Sign up by going to Google.com.

Small Business Owners and Social Networking

Salesconx, a growing online business referral company, recently surveyed 700 small business owners across North America in an effort to understand how they value new client relationships, approach lead generation and how they utilize the Internet’s networking features.

Survey findings indicated that word-of mouth and client referrals are the main source of new client acquisition for small businesses. Most small businesses are slow at implementing new marketplace techniques. Why?

Small business owners are concerned about the expense and they mistrust unfamiliar marketing methods. While Facebook has 50 million users and LinkedIn has 14 million users, only 11% of survey respondents noted that they belong to either of these communities. 79% of the participants do not belong to social or professional network.

Referral and word of mouth account for nearly 50% of all new business for surveyed small business owners, however, only 9% are using online lead generation. I could not find any data about the age of the small business owners who were surveyed, but I know several small business owners who are 45 or older and need help understanding or learning Web 2.0. They state they don’t have time for social networking. They view social networks as popularity contests as well as question the importance of online networking . Many of them still don’t have websites.

I keep learning and teaching them in the process….