Tags: online marketing

Why Your Small Business Needs a Blog

Beyond • May 5, 2011

While sitting in the dentist chair the other day, mouth gaped open and tools prodding away, I mumbled to my lovely OC dentist, “Do you blog?” The question caught him off guard – and it probably wasn’t the smartest move on my part considering he’s using sharp instruments. We started chatting about his business, and while he’s one of the best OC dentists, with a delightful staff and superb service, he faces the same dilemma that my OC optometrist faced when I asked him the very same question. The Marketing Problem Most Professionals Face First, most professionals don’t have the time to market themselves. Second, they don’t know how to do it. Marketing yourself isn’t simply about getting an ad in the paper anymore. Nowadays, it’s about having an online presence, which is done through social media marketing and link building. A lot of professionals also make the mistake of thinking that having a website is enough. It isn’t. Having a website is great as a reference for existing clients, but it’s useless for attracting new clients. Having just a website is about as attractive as stale bread sitting out on a bakery counter and the baker expecting to attract customers. What is useful is having fresh bread daily and even giving a few sample pieces to taste. How Does the Bread Analogy Work? The stale bread is like your website. It might have been new and interesting at first but it quickly gets old. It just sits there, nothing changes, there’s no reason for people to revisit it. Fresh bread is like a blog. It’s new. It’s fresh. It’s exciting…and it’s relevant to your target audience. It gives people a reason to come back again and again. Equally as important, Google and other search engines prefer fresh content to stale content – meaning they give preference to pages that have higher fresh and original content when it comes to indexing pages for search results. Most search robots also can’t read the website fully because of complex codes that most sites use – rather they’re much more attracted to the simple content-rich blogs from the violet end of the blogging spectrum. The sample bread is your blog. A blog, such as the one you’re reading right now, provides interesting and informative information to potential clients. It gives them a taste of something and builds credibility for your business. It also helps make you an authority as more and more people trust you as a source of information. These people more easily convert to clients – because after all, who would you rather give your business to, someone in the Yellow Pages or someone you randomly Googled…or someone who’s provided you with useful information? Small Businesses and the Blogosphere You can use either a WordPress or Blogger, both of which make blogging very easy. For more customization and content management, you can also use Joomla. And if you already have a website, you can link the blog to your site or you can create a special page on your site for a blog. The key to blogging is to think like your consumer and provide information that people are naturally searching for. It’s also important that you remember to use an adequate number of keywords (1-5%) and well-anchored text so that your content is search engine optimized. A blog is also a great promotional tool. You can turn a couple blog entries into a newsletter and you can feed each entry into social media sites. The goal is to stay relevant and remind people you’re there, and a blog gives you a great excuse to do this.

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How Small Businesses Can Build an Online Brand

Beyond • May 4, 2011

Many small business owners think that if they’re internet-based they don’t need to worry about presentation in the same way as they would if they had a physical store front.Wrong. You Are Already Online First, all businesses are internet-based. Whether you have an e-commerce or a physical store front, you have to consider that most clients will look you up on the internet before they offer you their business. You have an internet presence whether or not you like it. So the question is, what type of internet presence do you have and what is this presence saying about your brand? Remember that the goal of any brand is to attract customer loyalty and generate repeat users. Your brand is your image and in an online world your image becomes critical. Your brand will make an impression on tens of thousands of people before you ever meet them. What do these masses think of you? If you’re getting the web traffic but not the conversion, the problem is very likely that your business is failing to convey a strong brand. Consider your brand message. What is it about your company that you want to share with prospective customers? You should be able to relay your core message in under one sentence if not just a couple of catch words and phrases. Think about what your business offers that others don’t, or how you do it better, and there you have your message. When most people think of brands, they think of Nike, Coca-Cola or other high end clearly visible labels. Those labels didn’t just pop into mainstream attention overnight; they were built from the ground up just like your brand will be. Luckily for you, branding confines were broken down the minute the internet, media and social media were introduced in the marketing arena. With glass ceilings shattered, even the smallest business can reach out and compete as aggressively as heavyweight brands. How? Simply by using the same formula that larger, more established brands use now - and then adding in a dose of creativity. Crafting Your Website Your business needs a site – a virtual stop for customers to do business with you and learn more about you. But just having a webpage isn’t enough; you have to consider the ins and outs of your website and how it plays into your brand. Consider the following: Is your purpose clearly defined? Does every page on your website have a message and a meaningful call to action? Understand your customers and what they want and you’ll begin to get a clearer picture of your brand and whether you’re headed in the right direction. Does your website design reflect your brand? Think color palates, visuals and key text. Remember that design and functionality go hand in hand; have one without the other and you’ve instantly lost your branding impact. How user friendly is your website? Some people have slow internet connections, some can’t install a Flash plug-in, for others the alignment may be off or they may not be able to view the images. Not keeping these factors in mind means that you’re likely to lose customers/readers that don’t have the patience for a mismanaged page or slow mobile uploads due to heavy image content. Put Social Media to Work Diversify your brand’s presence by using channels beyond just your website. The go-to solution is social media. When you consider that even big name brands like Coca-Cola are now primarily focusing their branding and outreach efforts through Facebook, it becomes pretty clear how important it is to leverage this tool to share your brand experience with your customers. Use social media to show you’re relevant, build a following and listen and interact with your customers. Your brand isn’t just about a product or service anymore; it’s about a positive, rewarding user experience. Use social media to also evaluate your competition in addition to leveraging dialogue for customer feedback. Have a Voice…and Share it All brands have a voice. They have a message and something to offer their customers. The best way to give your brand a voice is through a blog. Use a blog platform embedded within your website to offer your customers news and updates on your brand and to share relevant information that caters to your customers\' needs. Remember, your brand should offer them something they can connect with; online marketing is about them, not you. Form Valuable Partnerships and Associations Strengthen your brand by creating valuable partnerships and associations with like-minded but not conflicting groups and businesses. Form partnerships with neighboring businesses that allow you to host mutually beneficial events that draw in the crowds. I know a local chiropractor that has built a successful business out of this practice. By linking herself with events at local high end beauty and fine wine/food venues, she’s elevated her practice beyond just health and toward an association with luxury and leisure. Her brand is not just about chiropractic health care; it’s now about getting pampered. With these strategic associations, she’s managed to associate chiropractics with luxury.Beyond these tips, remember to take advantage of face-to-face time with customers through newsletters, thereby continuing to present and reinforce your brand to your core audience. It’s not enough to just have a brand - you have to remind your customers of its relevance in their lives.

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The (Belated) Weekly Wrap

Beyond • May 2, 2011

This week\'s wrap has a ton of great email marketing information, and the five albums I would want with me if I was deserted on an island. This wrap also caused me to consider how ridiculous of a question that is. Do deserted islands even have CD players? Or power? Email Marketing Software: How Our RSS to Email Feature Works This post taught me that RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Am I the only one that thinks that\'s a little bit condescending? Regardless, check out our new Email Marketing Software: How Our RSS to Email Feature Works. Why SEO Matters I better not make any jokes about SEO. I don\'t want any of our SEO team to erase my existence from the internet (not sure if that\'s even possible, but that\'s why I don\'t do SEO). I\'m sure there\'s plenty of good reasons as to Why SEO Matters. How International Robinson Lists Can Impact Your Email Marketing Instead of thinking about what I should write for this summary, I pondered the 5 albums I\'d bring with me if I were on a deserted island. Beatles - Rubber Soul; Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland; The Band - Rock of Ages; Black Crowes - Shake Your Money Maker; and Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik. When you\'re done appreciating my awesome picks, read about How International Robinson Lists Can Impact Your Email Marketing. How Email Templates Can Be Used on a Personal Scale Sure, email marketing may be a mass communication tool, but it\'s often at its most effective when it feels like the message was crafted for each individual recipient. One way to do that is with your templates. Find out How Email Templates Can Be Used on a Personal Scale. Top 5 SEO Best Practices for Your Winery Email Newsletter Content Number 6 would have been \"make sure your subscribers haven\'t consumed too much wine to be able to read your newsletter\". Possibly with a caveat that they could drink enough to make them more likely to purchase more wine. For all those of you shaking your heads out there, that\'s why Hal wrote this one and not me. Learn the Top 5 SEO Best Practices for Your Winery Email Newsletter Content. Arbor Day Email Templates for April 29th! If this post inspires you to do one thing, I hope it\'s to go back and read The Giving Tree. If it inspires you to do two things, I hope it\'s to use our Arbor Day Email Templates for April 29th. Social Media Marketing: Facebook vs. Twitter What\'s all this talk about versus? Why can\'t we be friends? Why can\'t we be friends? Why can\'t we be friends? Why can\'t we be friends? Sometimes I don\'t speak bright, alright. But yet I know what I\'m talking about... Before I bust out into song in the middle of the office, read about Social Media Marketing: Facebook vs. Twitter. Customize an Email Template for May 4th! Pierce thought I made this holiday up. I\'m not that clever. I am, however, that big of nerd that I wanted to write about it. So, May the 4th be with you. Be sure to Customize an Email Template for May 4th! Support Update: Upgrade and Billing Cycle Issues I wish I could tell you the first place my mind went when thinking of an anecdote for this post, but Pierce might take away my writing privileges. Before I shoot myself in the foot, check out our new Support Update: Upgrade and Billing Cycle Issues. Top 5 Ways for Restaurants to Encourage Forward to a Friend Dangle a carrot dessert in front of me and I\'ll forward to as many people as you want. Perhaps everyone doesn\'t have a sweet tooth. There\'s other ways, such as the Top 5 Ways for Restaurants to Encourage Forward to a Friend. Online Marketing: It\'s about Them, Not You The headline almost sounds like a breakup line, but it\'s not. In fact, it\'s quite the opposite. This is about building relationships. Learn the ins and outs of Online Marketing: It\'s about Them, Not You.

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