Online Marketing Strategy Blog

Social Networks and Your Online Marketing Strategy

Michael Pulo - Tuesday, April 06, 2010
As social networking becomes a hotter and hotter topic, what should your organisation do and what are some of the choices to make?

Just to note, social networks are not new. The first social network launched 13 years ago and was called SixDegrees. Now there are many social networks from start ups to the big ones like Facebook.

Your demographic will most likely be in a social network, the questions is how do you reach them effectively? This starts with selecting the right social networks in the first place. By country is a good place to start.

Different countries prefer different social networks, sometime for simple reasons like simplicity. So here's a quick run down by users...
  • Facebook - 430,000,000
  • Windows Live Profile - 164,000,000
  • MySpace - 110,000,000 
  • Baidu Space - 63,000,000
  • Orkut - 54,000,000
  • Twitter - 58,000,000
  • HI5 - 47,000,000
  • QQ Allumni - 43,000,000
  • LinkedIn - 35,000,000
  • Deviantart - 34,000,000
  • Kaixin001 - 24,000,000
  • Vkontakte - 17,000,000
  • Studivz Sites - 17,000,000
    Skyrock - 16,000,000
  • VK - 14,000,000
  • Mixi - 13,000,000
  • Conoklassniki - 10,000,000
  • Bebo - 8,000,000
  • Wer-Kennt-Wen - 7,000,000
  • Hatena Bookmark - 4,000,000
  • Bharatstudent - 4,000,000

And here are the favourites by country in priority order...

  • USA - Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn
  • China - Baidu Space, QQ Alumni, Kaixin001
  • Russia - Vkontakte, VK, Odnoklassniki
  • France - Facebook, Skyrock, Windows Live Profile
  • United Kingdom - Facebook, Windows Live Profile, Bebo
  • Brazil - Orkut, Windows Live Profile, Twitter
  • India - Orkut, Facebook, Bharatstudent
  • Canada - Facebook, Windows Live Profile, MySpace
  • Germany - Studivz Sites, Wer-Kennt-Wen, Facebook
  • Japan - Mixi, Hatena Bookmark, Facebook

Australia does not rank in the top ten yet for social network usage. Professional networks like Linked In can have a positive effect on your business and professional success.

So what should you do for your business?

We usually recommend a stepped approach into social networks before you commit allot of time and money into developing a thorough social networking strategy.

Step 1: Establish a blog within your website with an associated RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed. This will allow you to automatically integrate into your company Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks.

The benefits of this approach include keeping things simple so you don't waste allot of time posting in different networks and supporting your search engine optimisation activities with good links coming back to the pages you need.

Step 2: Actively grow your social networks to expand your market reach. Step 1 would have started this. Here we mean actively advertising your company Facebook page and growing your LinkedIn network for example.

Step 3: Running commentary on company activities and offers. Really engaging with your network so you connect, build relationships and grow your business. This may include targeted advertising. For example; Facebook will allow you to market to General Managers in Australia or Chief Purchasing Officers in New Zealand.

Taking the first step into social marketing can be very productive at the basic level if you target the right networks in the right countries. As a minimum you should see increases in your free keyword rankings in organic search engine results. You should also see increased traffic to your website.

To get more aggressive than this you should develop a thorough social networking strategy to ensure you make the right investment and workload decisions.

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Google Adwords Secrets and your Online Marketing Strategy

Michael Pulo - Thursday, March 11, 2010
We've seen it again! Another client attempting to tackle Google Adwords (Also known as Sponsored Search or Pay Per Click) but have done it incorrectly. So what's it matter I hear you say?

What if I told you they are now banned from having a Google Adwords account and they are losing more than 200 sales per day because of it? Ahh... got your interest now...

Google are the kings of making things easy. They do it so well that people spend 4 times more money than should on Google Adwords campaigns. Google makes the process extremely easy to give them your money but bury the facts that can mean all the difference to your bottom line.

So what are the secrets that can make Adwords a profit generator for you? I wish I could share them all with right now. However, my priority is to stop you from making the key mistakes that will have you banned from Google with little or no warning. So here they are:
  1. Read the Google Adwords guidelines. They really do spell out what you need to have in place to stay in the good books.
  2. Do a thorough keyword discovery and prioritisation of exact keywords qualified to your business and group them into similar words or phrases.
  3. Have specific "landing" pages in your website that target each ad group.
  4. Create Google ads for each group of your keywords and have them link directly back to your target pages. Do not point all your ads to your home page!
  5. Ensure your Google settings are correct so minimise spend but maximise return/conversions.
  6. Do not have menu clicks that go to different websites or even subdomains. These are called "bridging" or "doorway" pages and can have you banned immediately.
  7. Ensure your website is secure. PCI Compliance is a mandatory, especially for ecommerce websites.

Lack of regard for the above are exactly why the websites in trouble are in the position in the first place.

So I do wish and hope that you do not make the same mistakes so you can grow your business and not be stopped by innocent mistakes.

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Online Marketing Strategy Case Studies - Reduce Costs, Improve Rankings, Leads & Sales

Michael Pulo - Thursday, October 15, 2009
What can the right online marketing strategy, combined with the right website and internet marketing platform produce?

Take a look at these case studies to see how some recent clients have improved their search engine rankings, attracted more visitors and generated more leads and sales. As well as saving on website design, build and internet marketing costs...

Bed Wetting Alarm – Ferring Pharmaceuticals Case Study

Catering Equipment – Prestige Products Case Study

Cleaning Services & Graffiti Removal – Workzone Case Study

Facilities Maintenance - Complete Industry Solutions Case Study

Limo Hire – PV Limousines Case Study

Waste Management – Galloway Case Study

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How To Maximise Your Pay Per Click Campaigns

Michael Pulo - Monday, August 31, 2009

Pay Per Click offers quick results as part of your Online Marketing Strategy. Is it worth it?

Maximising the return of your Pay Per Click campaigns can be challenging for a number of reasons, including:

  • It is an auction environment - the more you pay the higher you rank. The trouble is that you and your competitors keep bidding against each other which slowly increases your average bid amount. Eventually it becomes too expensive and you are no longer on the first page of search results.
  • Google Analytics does not give you the exact keyword phrase the person typed in to find your ad. Instead, Google tells you the keyword that you bid on. This can mislead you into really understanding where your visitors come from.
  • The amount you bid immediately eats into your gross profit margin on your products and services. You may make the sale - but for what it cost to bring in the lead (which continues to rise) - you may not make a profit. Each sale begins to lose you money.

So how do you maximise your Pay Per Click campaigns? Follow these few rules to reduce expenses and maximise response rates:

  • Do a thorough keyword discovery on all keywords in your market, not just the high volume terms.
  • Implement these keywords into your full keyword and content strategy.
  • Set your campaigns to Exact Match, Geo targeted and off the content network.
  • Aim to rank for free for your terms so you can switch off your paid searches over time.
  • Monitor your conversion rates and change or turn off poor performers.
  • Ensure each ad is grouped into keywords that can have a common landing page. Point each ad to a specific landing page for that keyword group.
  • Set your budget per click using the formula : Profit divided by 100 divided by 2. This will give you the best chance at making a profit on leads that do come in.

Of course, Pay Per Click should only be part of an integrate online marketing strategy. Many research sources show that paid search can drive only 2.5% of actual first time visits to your website. Higher figures have been stated but these figures include return visitors once a person has seen your brand name several times in free search and other areas on the web.

Eye tracking research shows that only 2.5 to 5% of searches actually look at the Pay Per Click ads in Google.

Stay focused, have a good strategy in place and know your constraints and goals and you will be able to maximise the return on your Pay Per Click campaigns.

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Online Marketing Strategy Copy Writing Costs

Michael Pulo - Thursday, August 27, 2009
We have had many questions this week about copy writing and how much should you pay?

It's a hard one to answer as your copy writer's confidence in writing for the result you want comes into play.

What do you need written, is it sales copy or just something that reads right? What type of document it is is being written, is it a web page that needs to convert or a whitepaper or case study?
 
All require different formats, structure and language to achieve the results you are after with the piece you need written.

The rates vary wildly for copy writers as part of your online marketing strategy. The minimum is around $20-$200 for a 500 word article. At the other end of the scale, you can pay $15,000 for a couple of thousand words of copy that really converts.
 
You do get what you pay for. Things you should consider are:

1) Will your writer need to research the topic or will you provide the raw material in either written or verbal (Recorded) form?
2) How much is there to write?
3) What type of writing is it - copy that reads right or power copy that sells?
4) How long will it take you?
5) What audience are you writing to?
6) Does it need to be optimised for use on the web?
7) Your writer's own knowledge on the subject?

In every case you should ask for a fixed price and some sort of guarantee if you are not happy with the copy. Guarantees can range from reworking at no cost to complete refunds or no charge for material that can not be used. 

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Online Marketing Strategy - Measuring Your Marketing

Michael Pulo - Monday, July 27, 2009
Measuring your marketing efforts as part of your online marketing strategy can be a challenging task.

In today's economic environment it is even more important to understand the bottom line business results your marketing is achieving. Measurement can be your only way to ensure marketing gets a seat in sales pipeline meetings and that marketing proves its contribution to the sales pipeline.

The good news is that there are solutions. Follow these principles in your online marketing strategy measurement:

  • Use your website to measure your print, radio, TV, tradeshow and other offline marketing. Use dedicate URLs, Personal URLs and Smartcodes on print.
  • Ensure you have Google Analytics installed with sales funnels enabled so you can automatically track your marketing goals that contribute to sales.
  • Ensure your automated business development system (Lead Nurturing) can score your leads based on visitor actions and behaviours so you feed sales with qualified leads.

These three things will then ensure you give Sales accurate Business Intelligence to help them plan their pipeline, address challenges and close more sales, faster.

If you are only trying to drive visitors to your website, you are missing out on substantial opportunity to really drive leads and sales for your organisation.

Do you have these three principles in your Online Marketing Strategy platform?

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Lead Nurturing - Part of Your Online Marketing Strategy

Michael Pulo - Friday, July 24, 2009
Your Online Marketing Strategy should include a Lead Nurturing Strategy.

Research shows that 12.5% of leads are normally ready to buy now, 17.5% can be discarded/dis-qualified and a huge 70% are longer term opportunities worth nurturing. (Source: Marketing Sherpa).

This is where Automated Lead Nurturing as part of your Online Marketing Strategy can really make a difference to the return on your marketing efforts.

The challenge with nurturing leads are many:

  • Not enough time in the day
  • Multiple products and data sources to manage
  • Manual processes to send and schedule emails
  • Pressure to improve results
  • Multiple channels that aren't integrated
  • Lead qualification and prioritisation is to cumbersome

This 70% are in the interest stage of your products and services but do not yet have the desire to buy. They are in "research" mode. This is typical in the Business to Business space and can range from 8 to 18 months in duration.

To add to this, sales need to focus on hot prospects, now! They need to close deals for the quarter and do ont have the time to nurtured possible deals that have a longer window of even starting than the next 3 months.

A good Lead Nurturing Strategy and system can plug this leaky hole in your marketing and sales pipeline. An automated system, with content structured in paths that help qualify leads automatically and score your leads and automatically feed your sales team with hot, qualified prospects.

The biggest mistake made is thinking that a monthly email is a lead nurturing program - far from. The right strategy and system will use a combination of electronic, telephone and print to stay in contact with prospects.

The system can:

  • Be smart enough to learn when each individual is most likely to open their email and send it at the right time
  • Deliver content that they are interested in, from the sales person they are dealing with 
  • Give sales business intelligence so they know what their prospects are interested in
  • Seamlessly integrate your email with your website analytics so you can track prospect's behaviour end to end
  • Integrate with your sales pipeline system (Customer relationship Management)
  • Possibly even tell you about who the company is, before you know who the person is looking at your online marketing

The bottom line is that if you have an online presence and you don't have a nurturing program in place, you are missing out on the 70% that are opportunities for you, just not right now.

Automate your Online Marketing Strategy and you could take advantage of this opportunity without significant increases in marketing or business development resources.

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Improve Search Engine Ranking Online Marketing Strategy

Michael Pulo - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Improving search engine ranking as part of your online marketing strategy is a problem we speak to people about every day.

Have you chosen your keywords, conducted your own or engaged an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) company...

Only to find that you have spent allot of time and money and are still far from being on page 1 of Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines?

In all cases, we have found there is a lack of a keyword strategy that addresses these key points:

  • Identify all of your keywords, regardless of search volume, at the local level - 80% of your traffic can come from what we call the "tail" of search terms
  • Effectively assess your ranking competition so you can determine short, medium and long term ranking targets
  • Have a content road map (For search engines - not menu bars) so search engines understand the importance of specific pages in your website
  • Ensure your internet marketing platform is set up to implement the correct strategies to rank to keep expenses low
  • Identify specific internal and external linking strategies utilising your website, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Blogs, Article Sites, Press release Sites, Directories and other effective linking partners

Your keyword strategy is the foundation to all of your internet marketing, not just search engine ranking.

A good strategy tells you exactly what language to use in your content, links, images and file names (In your website and other websites) that will integrate your online marketing efforts and connect with your target market.

This can be a daunting task. With the help of an Online Marketing Strategy Consultant, you could fast track the process and get and effective strategy in place.

In many cases we have found that you could save around $1,000 per month with a good strategy in place, for and investment around $2,500 to $7,500.

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Online Marketing Strategy - Linking Correctly

Michael Pulo - Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How do you create the right incoming links to your website and ensure they assist your entire Online Marketing Strategy? How can this help you rank fast and generate more leads and sales?

The most common mistakes in linking strategy are:

  • Getting too many links too quickly rather than building well-themed quality links - naturally. 
  • Not taking the time to research and build one way incoming well-themed links rather than just trading reciprocal links.

Quality incoming links that are themed to your website will always outperform competitors whose internet marketing consists of links from web pages that are not common to your topic.

Remember, Google wants to provide the most relevant content based on the keyword terms that are put into the search bar. Google tries to determine what the content of your page is and whether it is focused on a specific area.

You will confuse Google if you do not make it very clear of your page theme.

One way incoming links are given more importance to reciprocal or traded links - Why? 

Because it is easy to trade links but much harder to have other web pages refer directly to your content. Your content needs to be value adding and educational. The more web pages that have one way links into your web pages the more important Google will think your web page is.

To be successful with your linking strategy, you should answer the following questions:

  • What are your long and medium term strategic keywords and fast ranking keywords?
  • What linking strategy are your key competitors implementing?
  • How will your website support your linking strategy?

To be successful with your linking strategy you should answer the following questions:

  • What long and medium term strategic keywords are you targeting?
  • What fast ranking keywords are you targeting?
  • What linking strategy are your key competitors implementing?
  • How will your website support your linking strategy?

The answers to these questions are critical because:

  • Your website content map (not your menu structure) will need to support your linking strategy. This will allow you to build natural links to many different pages, not just your home page.
  • Knowing your linking strategy will help you plan your resources and budget correctly. For example, do you need to cover directories, blogs, social and professional networks, shopping portals, comparison portals, articles, press releases and other strategic targets.
  • You need to have the right website platform. You may need an internal Blog, News Area, Forum and other Web 2.0 technologies to make your linking strategy effective.  

The golden rule is to ensure your linking strategy is natural. What does this mean?

  • If Google sees 100's or 1000's of links in a short period of time - it may class you as a Spammer and ban you from search engine results. Resist those tempting emails to get "lots of links, fast"
  • Natural links have common themes to your web page. In other words, pages on similar topics link to each other.
  • The links will come in to many of your web pages, not just your home page. People naturally link the the right content from their web page or posts.

When done correctly, your Online Marketing Strategy Linking will bring increased traffic, improved search engine ranking and more leads and sales.

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7 Online Marketing Strategy Mistakes

Michael Pulo - Thursday, May 14, 2009

Not having a SEO Plan on all terms

Instead of brainstorming 20 to 30 keywords for search engine optimisation, use Google Keyword Analysis. These tools help you find all the terms people are using, to find your products and services.

Prioritise these words into easy, medium and long term ranking goals for Google. Optimising your web pages for all your easy terms will bring relatively quick, free and qualified traffic to your website. You will then set the right outlook for your Online Marketing Strategy, for visitor goals and ranking - helping you focus your time and money in the right areas.

Looking at your design, content, traffic driving and sales process individually

It is the nature of internet marketing that each area affects the other's results.

For example, your design will have weaknesses if you don’t consider how you are going to bring traffic to your website – getting image names and messages incorrect. Choose the right platform to place your design on, or you will impact your ability to conduct search engine optimisation effectively. Ensure your copy writer writes for easy and search engine ranking, otherwise you will have to rework your content to increase traffic to your website.

Not positioning uniquely

Most people look at their competitors to “copy” things they like about their websites. What happens though, when a visitor has you and your competitors websites open, and is trying to decide who to contact? You must position your website uniquely – both in terms of unique buying motives and experience of using your website.

Not monitoring website analytics and testing & measuring to improve

Do you look at your statistics alone, or do you look into your website analytics to discover visitor behaviours? These behaviours might be losing you sales.

Subtle things can make a big difference to your leads and sales generation. Image placement and types used, headings and the traffic you are bringing to particular pages, ease of reading of your content and many other things affect your conversion rates. Use website analytics to find out what you can improve on your website. 

Confusing strategy with tactics

There are over 27 pillars of strategy, and more than 500 tactics, that can be used on the web to increase leads and sales.

An Online Marketing Strategy is a logical plan across these tactics. Planning what is suitable to your business will ensure your tactics and strategy work together effectively. It includes building the capability of your team, implementing the right systems and procedures. 

Making decisions based on price alone

We understand many people find that there is so much information, it is challenging to choose the right solutions.
 
Because of this and conflicting interests of niche providers such as Web Designers and Search Engine Optimisers, defaulting to price decisions - in the absence of facts you can trust - can seem to be your safest way of managing risk.
In reality, the price may seem low but as you discover your real growth needs, expenses begin to mount and your low price risk management begins to hurt you. Using an experienced online marketing strategy business consultant can help you navigate the information overload and guide you on the right decisions for your business.

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