How to Make Your Online Marketing Message Effective

online-marketing-message

Everything in online marketing always comes back to the message.

Guest post by Elaine Whitesides – Whitesides Words

Every business person wants their online marketing messages to be effective and profitable. But business owners, especially small business owners, don’t have the time (and often the real inclination) to research all the elements involved and then figure out how to assimilate the information to implement a strategy that works. It’s not a simple do this and that will happen.

 

The online world is fluid and evolving every moment. It’s complex and just about the time you think you have figured out some part of it, it’s changed. But I like to simplify things and some things will never change. One of those things is that the Internet is used by humans. And one thing all humans want is to understand. That means that content will always be important. So if you concentrate on how to develop content that humans want to consume – no matter the platform, the technology used or the speed of it, you will always be marching in step.

Developing the content in your online marketing message

It’s not often that people, including you, jump into the car without a destination in mind. If you do, you might be looking forward to a leisurely adventure, a carefree few hours anticipating some pleasurable surprises. That may be fun, but it’s not the way you’d run your business, is it?

It’s definitely not the way to keep content and communications fresh online.

If you do not have a plan behind the content you put online, you are just out for a ride. You might collect visitors and have lots of traffic, but is it doing anything besides getting people to visit? Probably not.

You have to think about that when considering what you are putting out on the Web. Yes, freshening content and consistent touches with your fans and followers are absolutely important. But the real fuel for the conversion from prospect to client lies is a purposeful plan.

Make your online message consistent and purposeful

Your plan starts with the end in mind (yes, just like Steven Covey suggested in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). You have to know what you want those fans, followers and visitors TO DO. You could want them to:

  • Engage
  • Interact
  • Link
  • Opt-in
  • Buy
  • Click through
  • Share

No matter what, you have to know what your goal for them is in order to determine what to say and how to say it in every post, publication and tweet. For example, if you want them to download a special report, you have to know the content of the report, have a link or download ready and write copy that engages and persuades them so they are ready to take the next step.

Likewise, for SEO purposes, you need to have the appropriate keywords and keyword phrases that would be used in searches in the copy of the posts, publications and tweets in order for the search engines to find you organically. Again, that requires forethought and planning.

Unless you want hit or miss marketing results, you have to prevent a hit or miss marketing effort. Make a plan. What you need to know before putting pen to paper or digits to the keyboard:

  1. Goal (what you want the reader TO DO)
  2. The product or materials to be directed to the reader (what you will GIVE the reader)
  3. The link, URL or download location (where the product or material will COME FROM)
  4. Keywords and phrases (what the reader will SAY in searches)
  5. Which platforms (WHERE and WHEN you will release and publish)

Knowing all these things prepares you to compose clear and targeted pieces that will align and lead to the achievement of the goal. Each piece of writing should be tailored to the message, the goal, the platform and, most importantly, to the target market and ideal client in mind. This includes tweets, Facebook posts, free reports, blogs and even website page copy.

Bear in mind, none of these are SALES pitches. No, social media and your online communications are, more than anything, a means to educate and communicate with your herd, tribe, followers, whatever it is you call the people you want to, and do, touch. Your sales pieces are just that – a sales pitch. But your other pieces are setting the stage, answering questions, meeting needs and developing awareness of need and cultivating want.

Don’t confuse content and sales pieces. If you do and try to sell, sell, sell and sell some more in your communications, you will wear your prospects down – and out. They will go away because it is a rare few who like to be sold to all the time.

Build your community. Develop relationships. Make friends and become a resource. When they come to know, like and trust you, they will convert to customers – if you have what they want and need. The world of online marketing is seldom an overnight blast and sensation. It takes time and, if you do it right, it will be successful.

A marketing strategy and plan involves so many different aspects – technology, the message, timing, purpose and goals, tools, editorial schedule, just so many things that have to be coordinated and implemented, monitored, measured, analyzed and then you start all over again. The process, to be effective, has to march on like a never-ending parade. That’s why I prefer to talk with guys like Neil here at Strategix. He’s the little engine that can – he is the drum major that keeps the marching band organized, tooting away and marching forward. I hope you have a Neil – if not, get one – or him.

A few words about wants and needs and your online marketing message

Yes, professionals are quite able to identify the needs of their customers. But just because a customer NEEDS something, doesn’t mean they WANT it – and statistics show that buyers buy from WANT more so than NEED.

Take for example, food. Everyone needs to eat or they die. But do they need to eat cake or steak or drink vintage wine? No, they don’t. They could survive on raw fruits and vegetables. In fact, they might be healthier. But they will toss what they WANT into their carts at the grocery store and stride up to the cashier and pay for it.

The lesson: You have to make what you offer as a solution to their problem what they WANT – not just what they NEED.

If Charmin can make toilet paper fun and appeal to the vanity of their market, if Bean-o can make light of personal gas, and if the market is willing to pay lots and lots of money for bottled water, there exists the possibility of clients wanting your product or service.

Be sure to include and build that into your online message with your branding and plan.

Fill the human need to understand and make having your product or service something that people want and you can’t help to be successful.

 

elaine-whitesidesElaine Whitesides has a unique business past having spent time in the residential and commercial real estate/finance corporate world and also many years as an educator. Combining those with a love of writing and organizational development, she founded Whitesides Words. Her business is to bring together professional service providers and the business owners who need their services – at a reasonable rate. Her purpose is to share the stories of business and business people with the world. She can be contacted at elaine@whitesideswords.com or at 317-520-2885. Visit her website at www.whitesideswords.com.

Get Pole Position [Strategix Video Tip]

Marketing your business is not too unlike being in an automobile race, getting pole position gives you a great advantage going in to the race. Find out why you need to be in pole position in this week’s marketing tip.

Is My Website Making An Impact Online?

impact onlineOne of the things that can be frustrating when you start an online business, is knowing whether or not the hard work you’re putting in is making an impact at all. This can be hard to tell if you don’t know the signs, when you’re not making a full-time living yet from your efforts. Here are some good indicators that you’re making an impact online.

8 Ways to Know If You’re Making an Impact Online

You Have Regular and Increasing Website/Blog Visitors

Building traffic on a website or blog takes time. You’re not going to get a million page views overnight. But if your visitors are increasing and regular then that shows that what you’re doing is making an impact online. Pay close attention to individual blog posts or other content that is getting the most the most traction and do more content like that.

Your Content Is Being Read, Shared, and Commented On

If people who visit your website read, that’s great, but if they share and comment on what you’re doing, that’s even better. Engagement is a much better indicator of impact than pure site visitors. Be sure to reply to those who comment and if you are notified of shares, thank them.

You’re Consistently Making New Connections

Are people seeking you out more and more to connect with you on various social media accounts? If so, that is a great sign that you’re making a huge impact on their thoughts and actions with your online presence.

You’re Being Invited to Speak at Events

A very exciting thing that can happen when you’re making an impact in your niche is getting invited to speak at events – either online or offline. It might frighten you, or feel as if it’s way out of your comfort zone, but it’s important to accept opportunities as they come that will further your business goals.

Your Content Is Being Curated

If other people are talking about your content on their blogs and websites and sharing it, then you’re absolutely making an impact. This type of engagement is an excellent indication that you’re making waves within your niche as a thought leader.

You’re Getting New Email Subscribers Every Day

If you’ve set up an email subscribe form (and you should) and you’re getting new subscribers every day, then you’re making a huge impact. Every subscriber will take you closer to your online business success goals.

You’re Building a Community

The more you build your business, the more you will (if you set it up right) build a community consisting of prospects and customers. Your customers will become fans for you, convincing the prospects to join them. You can do this via your Facebook page or a LinkedIn group, or even with a forum on your own website. Often it happens rather organically when you’re making an impact.

You’re Earning Money

You promote products and services and start making money or someone asks to pay money to put an advertisement on your website. Even just a few dollars means you made an impact on someone.

Any combination of the above factors will show you that you are making an impact online, your next goal should be to target the factors you don’t have currently and maybe take 1 or 2 a month. Over time you will increase your impact and as a result improve your bottom line.

Top Online Reputation Mistakes Made by Business Owners

online reputationMany business owners, small, large, online and offline make mistakes regarding their online reputation. Sometimes it seems so purposeful, such as a politician sending naked pictures of himself to a young co-ed. Other times, it’s just accidental such as when a bad joke goes wrong, or you got into an online flame war with a customer. But, all of these things can be monitored and controlled if you understand what a mistake they are.

Before we go over the top online reputation mistakes made by business owners, here is a great quote:

“Begin somewhere. You cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do.” Liz Smith

Top Online Reputation Mistakes to Avoid

Revealing Personal Information of a Client – You might mean well by talking about a specific client, but the best thing you can do is ask for written permission before discussing a client’s personal details in any form. Some people don’t like it when you talk about them and they can tell it’s them. If they can tell, they will worry that someone else can tell.

Calling Out Others in a Bullying Way – It’s one thing to give an honest review of someone’s work, but yet another to seek to ruin their business entirely. If you want a really good example of this, look up on YouTube “Freely & Harley Law Suit” and watch the flaming ruin of several fitness business owners in a public nightmare that involves the Supreme Court of Australia.

Posting Images of Your Drunk Night Out – OK so your youngest daughter got married, your oldest had a baby, and your best friend turned 60 all in one day. But, no one needs to see you drunk and partying in public. While your family and friends will love it, some business partners will question your judgement. Some people might not buy from you.

Choosing Weird Cute Names for Social Media Profiles – The truth is, unless you give your social media profile the name of your niche or product, using your own name is a good idea. Don’t use something personal because you want to represent your business as a moral and honest company that’s open about who you are.

Telling Lies – Believe it or not, more than one business owner has been caught in a bald-faced lie online which ruined their entire business. If you don’t make six figures and you’re not a million-dollar blogger, then don’t imply or say you are. The online world is small in many ways and it will come out, sooner or later.

Stealing Other People’s Content – This is an easy one to detect, but there have been cases of people stealing other people’s hard work, information products, images and so forth and then joining the real producer’s Facebook group and trying to promote their products there. Yes, they were humiliated and caught and ruined within minutes. Don’t steal.

Ignoring or Blocking Complaints – It’s a big mistake to ignore or block complaints. Your clients and future clients are watching how you will deal with a complaint, and how you deal with it will either help you or hurt you. Answer them quickly and always try to provide to your client a solution to their problem.

Not Opening Comments on Blogs – Keep your blog posts open for comments because having them closed may seem as if you don’t like disagreements or differing opinions. A blog is social due to the comments; without the comments it’s just useless content.

Finally, it’s important to never behave in an angry and defensive manner – no matter whether you are in the right or not. This is a huge mistake that will backfire. Always be humble, generous, honest and kind, and your online reputation will be very shiny..

How Online Marketing Can Trigger Your Offline Sales

Offline and Online chartGuest Post by Steve Myring of molchester.uk. Steve Myring is owner and CEO of Molchester Digital Marketing Agency.

Generally owners of brick-and-mortar stores do not expect highly from online marketing. Several of them misconstrue it as a strategy strictly meant for online businesses while others look at it with a great deal of skepticism.

So, does online marketing influence in-store sale? Yes, it does. According to studies by Forrester Research, Yahoo, and comScore, almost 92% of purchases take place offline following online consumer activity. An Accenture study showed a similar trend.

The right digital marketing strategy can put your products right in front of your customers and prospects when they are trying to learn online about the products they want to buy. This can help you capture the attention of your customers, eventually boosting your offline sales.

Here are some tips to boost in-store sales using a digital marketing strategy:

1. Use Data to Understand Your Customer

Collecting and analysing data can help you determine the behaviours, preferences, and demographics of your key audience segments. You can assimilate data from a wide range of sources including search, social, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and third parties. Analysing relevant data will not only help you understand the customers perception of your brand but it will also bring forth the level of engagement that you currently have with your customers. This will help you develop targeted campaigns around user behaviours, type of content they find interesting, and where they choose to interact.

2. Focus on Brand Building Online

Your brick-and-mortar store might be a well-loved destination for buyers but does your offline popularity reflect in your online presence? If not, you need to re-work your brand building efforts online. Use social media networks to channel your authenticity and all those qualities that make you popular offline. Its very important to maintain a consistent image across online and offline landscape in order to gain the trust of your customers.

3. Create a Brand Community

A brand community is essentially a community built on the basis of shared loyalty to a particular brand. You can build a community for your brand by utilising a social space to engage users. You can discuss about the latest products, you can announce product launches, talk about your future plans, or even ask users about their experiences with your products. The key to create a brand community is to have an honest voice and a true willingness to interact with your audience and seek their opinions, whether good or bad.

4. Enhance Your In-Store Tech Experiences

Technology has pervaded our lives to an extent where almost everything is tech-assisted. Mobiles and smartphones have changed the way people purchase and your offline store should support these changes to give your customers a more fulfilling experience. In-store technology can effectively bridge the gap between your customers online and offline experiences with your brand.

5. Manage Online Customer Relations

Not just phone calls or emails, you can treat Facebook or Google+ as avenues to address customer feedback. Today most consumers like to voice their opinions about products or services they have used on social sites. You should join the conversation by monitoring your social pages closely and responding to users. Review sites are a great way to reward your most loyal customers, while it can help you solve the problems of those who are not fond of your brand.

If you’re not sure how much return your online efforts will pay in terms of offline sales, you must remember that online users are your real customers and can influence your offline sales in a big way. All you need is a comprehensive and well-planned digital marketing strategy, and you will start seeing the positive impacts of it sooner than later.

Basic Internet Marketing Tips for Start-Ups

Guest Post by Steve Myring of molchester.uk
Steve Myring is owner and CEO of
Molchester Digital Marketing Agency

It goes without saying that without proper marketing and advertising, companies are bound to suffer in this age of stiff competition. Owners of start-ups usually get confused which marketing strategy to follow to taste long-term success. In today’s tech-driven age, online marketing is the key to visibility in the online space. This means you need to advertise your company through online ‘word of mouth’ tactics via the Internet.

Online marketing usually refers to four main categories SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and paid advertisement. For a start-up, choosing the right online marketing method is critical to the organisation’s success in the long run. Let’s go through the above mentioned four categories and understand their potential along the way.

Tip One: Search Engines Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the method of ranking a website on various popular search engines. People looking for information on a particular product or service prefer websites that appear on the first page of Google, Yahoo, or Bing’s organic search results. #SEO plays a crucial role in converting the internet searchers into potential buyers.

So every company vying for a slice of online visibility needs to achieve a high ranking on search engines to start getting maximum online traffic on their website. Highly skilled online marketers use a number of methods to optimise a site for search engines like using specific keywords, developing relevant content, and following SEO guidelines carefully.

Tip Two: Content Creation and Distribution

If you are marketing your business online, you must explore the power of quality content to attract a large number of readers to your site. Not only text blogs, and articles, as part of your content marketing strategy, you should also add images and videos to increase visibility, appeal and engagement factor of your content marketing efforts.However, it is not just about creating quality content, you also need to market it through the right channels or else you are wasting your time and effort..

Tip Three: Social Media

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have become widely popular with millions of active users worldwide. As such social media has become an important part of online marketing. You can open an account on these sites to start interacting with millions of people talking about your company and its products. Through social media interaction, you can reach out to more people anytime, at any part of the world. You can create a community of people interested in your start-up and easily share relevant content and useful links/product videos with them. Not only that, you easily analyse your performance and ROI in real-time to monitor the impact of your strategies.

Tip Four: Paid Advertising

Through paid adverts on Facebook Advertising or Google AdWords, you can easily reach out to more number of people in less time. The pay per click model or #PPC refers to the method of paying the publisher only when a potential buyer clicks on the advert, which is a cost-effective marketing method that allows you to set your hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly budget.

Choosing the right internet marketing method is not an easy task; you might have to go through several trials and errors until you understand which strategies are the best fit for your business. In fact, you need to juggle with 2-3 different methods until you get what modern marketers call “the right marketing mix”.

In the Age of Social Networking – Why Email Marketing Still Works for Online Business

email marketingMany people wonder if they still need Email Marketing now that we have interactive social media. But, there are many reasons that point to why you should still be email marketing, and in fact Email Marketing is still more effective and preferable if you have to choose one over the other.

Why Email Marketing may be your best marketing option

1. It’s a Numbers Game – More people have email accounts than they do social media accounts, and more people still purchase through email than they do through social media messages. Plus, the truth is that social networks are still limiting your ability to get to your audience even when they have consented to receive your messages by liking your pages.

2. Email Is More Personal – People often check their email messages on their cell phones, mobile devices and computers and love to see something specifically addressed to them. Email gives you the personalization options that social media never can. When you send a social media message it is going out to all audience members with no personalization (unlike email), which makes them feel rather generic.

3. It’s More Businesslike – With social media you have to contend with cat videos and baby laughing videos, but with email messages your audience has signed up to receive your business transactional emails and are expecting to get promotions. That makes email much more businesslike than social media, even LinkedIn, can dream of being.

4. Email Gets More Attention – People are much more likely to open and engage with a personalized email message than they are to engage with your social media marketing campaigns. That’s why social media marketing should be engaged to build your email list rather than promote products directly.

5. People Expect Your Email – Everyone has signed up to receive your email. They’ve given their permission for you to send them marketing messages and are expecting to receive them. In fact, if you don’t send them often enough, they will get frustrated that you’re not sending them enough messages and forget about you.

6. They Agree to Receive Your Email – Your audience has agreed to receive your email messages, which is a big thing. When someone “likes” your social media page they actually aren’t expecting promotions to appear on their wall, but when they sign up to get your email messages they are expecting to get promotions, sales, and information about your products and services.

7. They Will Receive Your Email – If you join a reputable email autoresponder service (we love Active Campaign), your email messages have over a 99 percent chance of getting into your customer’s inbox, whereas reports are showing that less than 10 percent of your social media followers or “likes” are seeing your messages.

8. Email Is Easier to Track – Email autoresponder software has better analytics than social media at this time in history. You’ll be able to measure your metrics better so that you’ll know whether your goals are being met or not.

In terms of online marketing, it’s clear that if content is king; Email Marketing is queen. No serious business person should give up on email marketing in favor of social media marketing. Right now social media marketing is too limited, not personal enough, and reaching your audience is still not a sure thing like it is with email marketing. We’d love to hear what you think? Enter a comment below or contact us if you have questions.