Blog Optimization for Search Engines

A blog can be one of the best ways to promote you and your work. It allows you to explain what it is that you do and why you do it in a fun and engaging way. It is also a great way of driving traffic to your website, as well as encouraging people to stay on your site for longer.

To maximize the potential of your blog you need to think about SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the science of ensuring website content will increase the visibility and rankings of your site on different search engines. Say you’re writing a blog about tea. You want to make sure you appear on the first page when anyone searches for topics such as “best green tea” or “how to make tea”. There are ways to do this and different tools and techniques to employ to make sure your blog gets as high a profile as possible.

Keyword research

Keywords are the words or phrases people put into search engines to find what they’re looking for. To ensure you get high in the search engine results you need to anticipate what these search words are. There will be keywords that are specific just for your blog (“drinking tea” for example) but other ones that are specific to the industry or related searches (“tea bags”, “tea leaves” etc).

You want keywords for each post or page, especially if each blog post has a web page of its own.

The simplest way to research keywords is to use Google’s AdWords tool to see the related searches to your keywords. “Tea drinking”, for example, comes up with relevant searches including “green tea drinks”, “healthy tea to drink” and “best tea to drink”. There are a lot of different articles and blogs written online so it’s difficult to know how to filter out the competition. Google Adwords helpfully indicates the levels of competition, giving you a better idea of the most effective keywords.

How to optimize your blog post

You want to use your keywords, but not too much. Search engines are savvy when it comes to SEO techniques. It’s called “keyword stuffing” a technique where you over-use your keywords and litter them throughout your blog post. It can actually result in your blog post appearing lower down the rankings as the search engine in effect “blackballs” you. The ideal is to have a 3%-5% keyword density.

Include keywords within the flow of the language. Don’t forget you’re writing for a human audience, as well as search engines!  The keywords shouldn’t sound as though they are being shoe-horned in. Planning your keywords before you start writing will help you slot them more naturally into the text. Using keywords in tags and titles will make the blog post more attractive to search engines.

The importance of links

Quality, inbound links are an important aspect of SEO. You want links to come from trusted and popular sites. The skill to this is to build relationships. See it as networking. If you want a third party endorsement of you or your business then you need to get out there and meet people. It’s exactly the same online. Either do it through social networks or by offering to do guest blog posts or cross-promote blog posts.

Choose a professional translator

If you want to attract a global market with your blog, then you need to localize your content. For SEO, however, it isn’t simply a case of using an online translation tool and translating each of your keywords. Different keywords will resonate with different native speakers so it’s important to do the research and understand what will work best. The most successful strategy is to use a native-speaking translator, who can offer you a greater insight and understanding of how to make your keywords as attractive to search engines, and your potential readers, as possible.

How to promote your blog online

If you write and post the blog, select your keywords carefully, and gain inbound links, it can be easy to think your SEO job is done. In fact you’ve only just started. One of the most important elements of SEO is regular, original content. You need to keep writing blog posts and keep building on relationships with other bloggers online. Use categories on your blog to help group archive posts together by topic which makes it easier for visitors to your site to find relevant content. It can also help in terms of SEO as search engines like clearly structured websites. Get your audience involved in your blog; ask them to share posts on social networks, to feed into polls or rate your content. It will help you build a relationship with your readers as well as boosting your ranking on search engines.

Know Your Guest Author

Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a translation company launched in 2001. Lingo24 now has over 180 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV, World Bank and American Express. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.

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social media web designing

Any business professional can benefit from using social media to attract new clients and engage existing clients. This goes doubly or even triply so for web designers. It’s likely that many of your competitors already use social media to target potential new clients and with good reason. The majority of your target market already uses social media to some degree and will probably use the internet and/or social media when searching for a web designer. If you’re not using social media at least as part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a major marketing opportunity.

The Most Basic: Simple Promotion

The most basic and common way web designers use social media to get clients is by simply promoting themselves or their companies on the most popular social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Using these sites, you can link to sample pages that demonstrate some of your capabilities. You can also use these sites to link to live websites that you’ve worked on in the past. In addition, many professionals, including web designers, offer special discounts to social media users who follow or like their business’s page, and they use social media to promote special deals and giveaways.

Creating Webinar Tutorials

Savvy business professionals also promote themselves by creating quality content like webinars and video tutorials. As a web designer, you can create webinars and tutorials that show what a high-quality website that you’ve built can do. On one level, you’re creating a sales pitch for your service. However, that doesn’t mean you still can’t offer quality and useful content that helps and entertains viewers. You can demonstrate and discuss the differences between a good website and a bad one, or what makes a website great rather than merely average. You can also show and talk about what features make visitors want to stay, look around your site, and find out more about your business. Compare those features with the qualities that make visitors abandon sites within the first ten seconds. You can also give advice to viewers about what potential web design clients should look for in a designer and what qualities they should avoid.

Linking Social Media Pages to a Blog

Blogging is one way to get your name and your content noticed on the web. It helps your business with SEO simply by existing. All you need to do is update content related to your business semi-regularly. If you have a blog, connect your blog to your social media pages. Post links to your new content when it’s up; this makes your social media followers aware of your new content. Just as with webinars and video tutorials, be sure that you’re providing content that’s useful and of value to your target market. One of the main activities on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus is the posting and re-posting of interesting, entertaining and humorous content. Even if existing clients make up all of your followers and friends, if even a handful of them re-post your blog links, that can lead to potential new customers.

Create Detailed Profiles and Fan Pages

Many people don’t do this, regardless of what profession they’re in. Whether it’s because they don’t want to take the time to fill out the profile section of the site or they don’t know what to say about themselves, they’re making a big mistake. When people browse through profiles or sites, especially if they’re already in the market for a particular product or service, they do read or at least skim the “about me” or “about this business” section of the profile. Use this section to talk about your experience and link to live websites showcasing your prior work if you can. Fill in as much information as possible, and aim for 100% completion if at all possible. Some readers will skip profiles or “about” information that’s only partially complete.

Use Designer-Specific Social Media

Besides the big names, many smaller social media sites exist that get used and searched by designers and people looking to hire designers. Post links to some of your work on design sites that behave like Digg, such as Designfloat.com, Designbump.com and WPVote.com. If you earn top ratings, your work gets shown on the landing page of the site, effectively reaching tons of potential viewers. You can also use design promotion sites like deviantART and Coroflot to promote yourself and get useful feedback and constructive criticism from other designers.

Conclusion

For any small business owner or entrepreneur, social media sites offer a free way to market to a myriad of potential customers. As a web professional, you’d be a fool not to take advantage of this opportunity. While you certainly can’t go around spamming users or attempting to market with no strategy, a number of creative and successful ways to market yourself exist for social media outlets. Often, these methods aren’t complicated and simply require you to post or re-post work you’ve already done. In the case that you market by creating new content, you’re still only investing a small portion of your time and paying nothing to potentially reach a very wide audience.

Know Your Guest Author

Hugh Yearsley is a freelance writer with a penchant for search engine optimization. He enjoys sharing his insights on various marketing blogs. Visit the WhoIsHostingThis webhost search engine and review service for more information on webhosts.

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Video SEOSEO consultants have to stay ahead of the game when it comes to website visibility. Google seems to be constantly updating their rules and regulations and therefore the task of reaching an optimum place in the rankings and staying there is hardly the easiest of jobs. Fortunately there are many ways in which you can make your website more searchable and one which mustn’t be forgotten is video.

YouTube was created in 2005 and since then has become the most popular video uploading site ever seen. Even better is the fact that it is entirely possibly for SEO consultants to employ search engine optimization tactics when uploading videos. Video can come in any form. They may be branded advertisements of a sort, tutorials, interviews or review. Indeed a video can be used to convey any message to internet users. A much more visual format for sharing information, video still needs to be easy to find, in much the same way that written copy is online.

Your YouTube channel and videos will target relevant traffic to your website if the target audience can locate it. By tagging your video content with relevant search terms you will make it easier to find.  Keyword methodology for video content is the same for any media; the keywords used should be relevant to your video and make it easy to locate.

Of course there are many users who, much like those who previously used keyword stuffed content to attract Google rank and new traffic, choose to abuse the keyword “system”.  Some may use irrelevant keywords for their videos which while they may not have anything to with their actual content are still sure to direct traffic to the video as the keyword is a popular one.

Not only do users who do this annoy other YouTube users, after all who wants to see scantily clad dancers when you were looking for something completely different; users who employ these rather underhand tactics are running the risk of having their videos reported and even removed. Be very careful when choosing your keywords, they need to be searchable and they need to be relevant.

The way in which you name your videos is of similar importance. A jazzy title may look great if people follow a direct link you have given them in order to find the video however when giving your content a title consider those that you wish to find it who are searching the YouTube search engine for something that interests them. Words Work Wonders Workshop may sound pretty however is not going to rank very highly in the YouTube search whereas “A Workshop for Beginner Copywriters” may be more effective. Words do work wonders yet they can be wasted if not thought through properly in terms of SEO.

Any SEO consultants worth their salt will tell you that in order to truly optimise your site you should make sure that you pay as much attention to your video and picture content as to your written copy. Choose keywords carefully and don’t forget that by using YouTube videos in this way that you are opening your website to a whole new and vast audience.

Know Your Guest Author:

This article is contributed by Jag Ture. Jag has been writing for over 5 years. Her sales and marketing background has helped her write informative articles in areas including digital marketing; specifically, PPC, SEO, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

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Monetizing RSS Feeds

RSS, often called Rich Text Summary or Really Simple Syndication allows publishers to make available their content to the audience in real time as they publish it. As for the readers this handy function lets them collect updates from their favorite sites from a single place, without having to search for bookmarks etc. RSS Feeds are vital if you are maintaining your own blog, and expecting traffic.

(Of course you do, who doesn’t?)

Since your posts reach your subscribed readers in real time as you publish them, which essentially creates a regular readership and increases the returning traffic to your blog. Using RSS Feeds is really simple, but with few simple tricks you can make even more from your feed. The following is a description about few simple ways to make most of your RSS feed and drive traffic to your blogs.

Place the RSS Button in a Visible Spot

RSS feed button should be visible to the readers, at the first glance. Chances of a fist time visitor to your blog diving into your site, cluttered with blog posts and themes and affiliate links and Adsence ads, in search of a RSS button are few and far between. Place the feed button in a place not camouflaged by ads and banners etc. Placing the RSS feed button near the regular social book marking buttons in one highly visible, recognizable place is really important, if you want to gain continuous readership to your blog posts.

Adding a recognizable catch phrase inviting the visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed, near the link too works fine. A regular readership and the number of returning visitors to your site are important aspects determining the success of your blog, and RSS Feed is one smart way to optimize your blog for that.

Use Smart, Relevant Titles for Your Blog Posts

RSS Feeds cut all the eye candy graphics and themes etc of your site, filtering the core sap of your site, i.e. the blog posts to be presented to the readers.  Therefore to grab readers’ attention, you need to produce highly relevant, interesting and luring titles for your posts. If it’s not standing out from the rest of the posts from other sites, inside the reader, you are losing a potential reader. Also remember to provide relevant titles, because misleading attractive titles would cost you more than you’d imagine.

Post High Quality Content in Your Posts

High quality content is a must, if you want to improve traffic to your blog, and with RSS Feeds it gains even more importance, because readers focus their attention directly to the content, rather than to the fancy themes, styles and advertisements on your site. Therefore make high quality original posts, with correct grammar, proper punctuation and correct sentence structure. Do not plagiarize content from other sites, or write meaningless posts when you have nothing to write about.

Posting content with some regularity, updating content notifies the readers that your blog is functioning, up-to-date and relevant, and believe me; they do love to read such blogs. Optimizing your content for the search engines is important as well. When you are writing content, remember to use properly researched keywords, with correct keyword density. Use other basic SEO techniques to make is easier for Google bots to index your site.

Monitor the Traffic

You can monitor the traffic to your blog using FeedBurner. With this handy tool you can see how many people have subscribed to your RSS Feed, how many are reading your blog posts etc. Another added advantage is that you can even get the CTC in Google Adsense, and get a clear picture of your target audience and optimize your content to match the readers. SmartFeed feature found here optimizes your feed and makes your feed compatible with any feed reader, making sure that you won’t miss any reader willing to read your blog, on grounds of an incompatible feed reader not displaying your posts properly.

Use RSS Feeds on social media

You can promote your RSS Feed via the social media sites like Twitter and Facebook easily, using a free online service like Twitterfeed. You can maximize exposure to your content and view real time stats about your blog posts, analyze and optimize your posts to match the target audience quiet easily with these handy tools. Another handy tool is the Yahoo Pipes. With Yahoo Pipes you can filter, categorize and even combine multiple feeds together, and distribute them using Twitterfeed on social networks. Apart from Twitterfeed, you can use NetworkedBlogs to update your Facebook page with your blog posts.

Know Your Guest Author

This is a guest post by D. Blackthorn from Drm remover software team. Dmitri is fond of SEO – looking for the most appropriate SEO strategies. He’s interested in software testing and reviewing, music recommendation engines and Video on Demand services.

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Email Marketing and BloggingBlogging for increased business is a provable practice. Combined with email marketing, a small business can make blogging work even better. You may not have considered email marketing because it’s often thought of as spam, or coupons, rather than true marketing by some. But the fact is, Email marketing is for all types of businesses, not just big corporations and spammers.

It works for all types of small business and is a great way to compliment your blogging efforts. 50% of subscribers to email lists, according to Nielsen, trust the information they receive from their subscription. This means that email marketing is a viable and worthwhile endeavor for most small businesses. It gets results!

What Is Email Marketing?

Typically, email marketing encompasses readers subscribing, by providing their email address, and “double opting in” to receive regular emails, content and newsletters from you. You’ll need a service such as MailChimp, Aweber or other email marketing apps to perform email marketing most efficiently. You’ll be able to send a variety of content with links and images with such a service to your subscribers. You’ll have to pay a monthly fee based on the volume of email sent as well as how many subscribers you have.

Offering some sort of incentive to get people to sign up for your email marketing campaigns, such as a free eReport, or cents off coupon is helpful, allowing you to get happy and enthusiastic subscribers. However, some people who sign up for freebies are just doing it to get the free item, so offering a topnotch newsletter full of interesting and relevant content can suffice too. You know your market better than anyone so do what you feel will work for them.

What Can Email Marketing Do For Your Business?

Keep Readers & Customers Updated – It’s simple to keep your readers and customers updated via a regular weekly newsletter sent via email. Include the most popular or important blog posts from the previous week, include a few extras, and they’ll be happy to receive your email.

Promote New Products or Events — Send out an email to subscribers each time you have a new product, event or promotion.  If you’ve done a good job keeping in touch with your subscribers, they will respond well.

Reach a New Audience — If you make your email marketing interesting and allow your subscribers to share your mailings with others, you’ll reach people who don’t use social media to find out about your blog.

Stay In Customers & Readers Minds — Email marketing allows you to stay in your customers and readers minds in between times that they visit your blog or storefront.

Five Tips for Email Marketing Success:

Success at email marketing campaigns is easy if you know the basics. These tips below can help you with it -

  1. Use Good Subject Lines & Headlines — It’s important that you really think about your subject lines and headlines for your emails. If you don’t ensure that your subject lines and headlines are creative, yet accurate, people won’t open your email.
  2. Always Choose Relevant Topics For Your Audience — Ensure that what is inside the email is relevant to the subject line, as well as speaks to your target audience. Knowing who your audience is will go far in making email marketing a success.
  3. Pick Fabulous Images And Graphics — If you send HTML email, ensure that you use clear, high quality appropriate graphics and images. If you send old fashioned clip art, and fuzzy pictures, you’ll turn off your audience.
  4. Send Newsletters Regularly — In order to not be classified as spam, it’s important that you send your email marketing campaigns at least once a week, or at the very least, how often you told them you’d send them something at the time they signed up for your email list.
  5. Follow The Law — Read and understand the laws regarding spam. A terrific blog with links to the various laws around the country is here. Look up your country and get to know the laws so you don’t accidentally break them.

Try adding email marketing to your blogging efforts and you’ll soon see an increase in business, no matter what type of business you have.

Know your Guest Author

Christophe is the co-founder of GetApp, the #1 Cloud Business Apps Marketplace. He writes about cloud computing trends and provides tips on how businesses can benefit from cloud-based apps to improve their profit. Find Christophe on Google+

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Photo Apps

For today’s marketers and entrepreneurs, social media is an important tool in getting the word out about their products and services. But as the old saying goes: A picture is worth a thousand words — especially with the rise to near-ubiquity of Instagram, and the dominance of photo based content on networks such as Facebook and Pinterest. These shifts are forcing brands large and small to adjust their content strategy to make sure they continue to tell their story in a way that is visible to their audience while being engaging and on-message.

Building a brand with the use of photo apps offers affordability, immediacy and countless creative options to get your brand out there. With these apps, brands have the ability to share quality photos and visual content without the continuous need for Photoshop.

Brands have also found photos as a great way to get their community involved in their online presence by crowdsourcing photos from their community members and sharing from their own accounts.

With all the features, filters and effects that Photo Apps offer, the creative possibilities for building your brand through images are seemingly endless. To get started, here are five photo apps and their features that you can use to further engage with your community and create a quality social presence.

Instagram

The photo app that started it all, Instagram is the most popular of all the other photo apps out there and sets the standard for them as well. Instagram is still being figured out by brands, but has served as a great way for media outlets and brands to showcase their products, as well as get their community involved in their mobile presence. Visit Instagram here

Lightt

A new, unique take on taking photos, Lightt features the use of highlights: single 10-second grabs of pictures. Each highlight captures the motion of the moment, and when like together, a string of highlights reads like visual memories. It will be interesting to see how Lightt succeeds in the mobile market, but certainly seems worth checking out to create dynamic and creative content. Visit Lightt.

Mobli

While Instagram has quickly become THE storyteller for individuals, Mobli has created a product that could be the storyteller of choice for communities. With dedicated “channels” for events, locations, causes, etc. brands can get their communities involved by creating a channel that features the view points and images from all of their members under one roof. Visit Mobli..

Photo Mage

This is a simple photo editing app. Choose a photo, apply one of 15 filters, add a label using five built-in fonts and save it to your camera roll, even if you don’t have a network connection. This is a great way for brands to add context to some of their photos and further tell their story despite a picture already being worth a thousand words. Visit Photo Mage here

Cinemagram

Using a similar interface to Instagram, with profiles, popular pages, filter effects, etc. Cines or cinemagraphs are animated GIFs created by recording a two to three-second video that loops a small section within the shot, saving the rest as a still image. With the rising popularity of gifs on platforms such as Tumblr and Facebook, Cinemegram gives brands an easy way to capitalize on this trend and create content their community will enjoy. Check out Cinemagram here

Know your Guest Author:

Harrison Kratz.is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, a new initiative which allows students to receive their MBA online from the University of North Carolina from anywhere around the world. He also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. When he’s not working, Harrison switches his focus to great food, watching any sport that’s on TV, all things Disney, and traveling. You can find Harrison on Twitter @KratzPR.

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Article Spinning

It’s funny how certain memories suddenly re-appear when certain words start ringing in your ear.

I had the opportunity to join SEMCON way back in 2010 and I got to meet a lot of SEO experts at that particular convention. One of those SEO experts was Benj Arriola. He was actually one of the speakers of that said convention and I liked his speech about link building. After the convention, I asked him a few things about article marketing, link building and internet marketing as a whole.

Now two years later, I find myself recalling the things we talked about, especially when one of my friends who work as a content writer asked me a particular question about article spinning. For those who are not familiar with article spinning, it is a process of “revolving” mutiple word synonyms every time a copy of the article is published in the Internet. It became a very popular article marketing technique since it allows Internet marketers and SEO experts to produce a supposedly “high-quality”copies of an article multiple times. So if I have one good article and I want to publish 10 articles to 10 different blog networks, I simply have to “spin” the said article in order to produce 9 more copies, which will then be published in the different blog networks.

An ideal technique, right? Unfortunately, things have changed when Google Penguin erupted back in May. I suddenly remembered the conversation that I had with Mr. Arriola about article spinning and I really had no choice but to agree with him whole-heartedly! Now, the things he mentioned to me during that one fateful SEMCon can be found in his blog, but I’d like to simplify his explanation in order for newbie content writers and SEO analysts to understand.

So in a total nutshell, ARTICLE SPINNING DOES NOT WORK.

Why oh why?

It’s because Google has gotten smarter and has picked up this tactic. Sure, in 2010 it may have worked, but ever since then, Google’s already sensed that there was something funny going on everytime people would introduce a funny-looking article within blogs or websites.

Oh, and one more thing. Google doesn’t have to read your articles in order to know that it’s a spinned article or not. Basically, all Google has to do is TO CHECK YOUR LINKS. Unbelievably, I did not believe in this logic when Mr. Arriola discussed this with me, but right now, this is pretty much true and accurate. Once Google checks the links on an article, any link that does not look natural is immediately regarded as a very weak link. Weak links do not give out traffic to your site.

So in reality, ARTICLE SPINNING IS A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.

To be honest, I’ve done article spinning a few times and it’s a very difficult process, especially if you use article spinning programs. The content produced by these programs are horrible. You can barely understand what you are reading because the words are all jumbled up. All the more reason to conclude that article spinning should be literally forgotten.

To all my content writer friends out there, let’s bring back quality writing and non keyword-stuffed

Know Your Guest Author:

Jessica Greenberg is an avid blogger/internet marketing expert from San Diego, California. When she is not busy working on a new internet marketing strategy for her clients, you’ll find her chatting with her friends inside Starbucks.

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shopping experienceAs more and more new technologies compete for consumers’ attention in the marketplace, consumers are often choosing to use multiple sources of input to make a single purchasing decision. For instance, a consumer may initially see a product she likes in your store’s catalog, further research the purchase using the store’s mobile app, then read reviews online on her computer, then go to the store’s brick-and-mortar location to make the actual purchase.

When the consumer is able to transition seamlessly from one channel to another, being available on so many fronts is a great boost to business for retail stores and can do a lot toward increasing customer loyalty. However, cross-channel marketing has a downside, as well: If your store is inconsistent in price, customer rating or any other aspect of the customer experience, customers will get frustrated and will often take their money elsewhere.

For an improved cross-channel marketing experience, follow these tips:

Pay attention to how customers are using your marketing materials.

Are customers spending most of their time on your mobile site looking at photos of products, but most of their time spent on your website reading reviews? Make reviews more prominent on the website and increase the size of photos on the mobile site, or make them easier to find or enlarge.

Look at what customers are buying through various channels.

Pay attention to whether customers tend to make certain types of purchases in one medium or another. For example, if you own a housewares store and customers are three times as likely to purchase bedding through your catalog but tend to purchase kitchen equipment online, put bedding at the front of the catalog, but kitchen equipment on the front page of your website.

Offer the same information through different channels.

Customers who are unable to access customer reviews through your mobile app, for example, may be frustrated not be able to find that information. Even if you’ve determined that most customers do not use the app to read customer reviews, make sure customers still have the option — just don’t put them front and center. Use expandable menus to show customers that they have the option to view any information they need, without making them do a lot of scrolling through areas of the page they don’t care about.

Sync prices across all platforms.

If you’re offering a sale on women’s jackets on your mobile site, make sure to offer it through other mediums as well, and at the same time. If you have problems syncing up prices, at least warn customers that prices may be different in the store versus online, and consider offering them the lower of the two prices if they find a discrepancy. Most customers will have their smart phones with them while in your store, so it shouldn’t be too hard to prove if there’s a price difference.

Offer the option of creating an account.

If a customer creates an online account with your company, the specifics of that account can move between a computer and a smart phone. For instance, if a customer adds an item to his wishlist on the computer, next time he signs in on his mobile phone, that item will be waiting for him.

Test out marketing methods to see what works.

Cross-channel promotion sometimes reaps great benefits, and other times it falls flat. Take careful note of how one channel impacts another so that you can decide which methods to retain and which to toss. For example, some stores print a website on their receipt where customers can go to fill out a satisfaction survey and receive a coupon for their next visit. Some engage in email marketing for online or in-store sales. Some promote sales through social media. Test out a few methods and see what works.

Know Your Guest Author:

Valerie Cecil is a research coordinator, marketing specialist and writer for Outbounding.com. Her work allows her to investigate many topics, ranging from online consumer relations to effective communication in the workplace. When she is not working, she enjoys kayaking, watercolor, and scouting out the best Retail Packaging Tissue Paper out there.

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Opening a StorefrontConsumers spend millions of dollars each year shopping online and the trend isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. In fact, online shopping is predicted to triple in the next decade. Corporations aren’t the only ones taking advantage of this phenomenon. Individuals all over the country are opening online storefronts and reaping the benefits of online shopping. Running a successful business online isn’t a pipe dream. It’s easier than ever to do with all of the online resources available.

Once you’ve decided on a product (or products) to sell and you’ve researched the competition, the hardest part to opening an online storefront is knowing where to begin.  Luckily, there are tons of resources available to facilitate the process.

The Domain Name

Purchasing a domain name is the first step in opening an online storefront. Your website will become a staple in your marketing so choose a name that will describe your product, appeal to consumers, and be unique all at the same time. It’s not as hard as it sounds. You are no longer limited to the .com. When choosing a domain name consider the use of it. For instance, .org implies you are a non-profit and .biz implies you are a for-profit. Others are: .info (used for sites strictly providing information), .me (useful for bio sites) and .us imply you are a U.S. based company.

Storefront Designing

Next, hire a webmaster to create an ecommerce website using the domain name you have purchased. Designing a bold and graphic website isn’t the only thing your webmaster should be concerned with. Choosing the correct ecommerce platform is just as important. It will not only make your life easier but will give your customers the payment options they seek so keep that in mind. You will be limited in sales if you limit the options consumers have to pay, so make it easy for people to pay in as many ways as possible.

Marketing Your Products on Social Media

While you are waiting for your site to be built, it is a great idea to begin selling your product(s) through social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter or Fiverr.com; or online platforms such as Etsy, EBay or Craigslist. Tracking trends for your product will be easier to do because you’ll see where traffic is coming from and which online resource is benefiting your sales. Once you have your store opened, you will be that much ahead of the game.

Promoting Your Online Store

Once your website is complete, now it’s time to promote your online store. This will be a little easier to do since you’ve already begin to sell your products through social networking sites and online platforms. Include your website address on these sites to draw traffic to it. Don’t rely on the search engines to promote your site for you and don’t expect traffic to boom overnight. Nothing will happen if you aren’t promoting your online storefront.

The Brand – Build It

Build your brand. New products are introduced online by the thousands every single day. You will have a harder time competing if you don’t build your brand to set you apart from the rest. Your brand should be an attention getter and can be something as simple as a catchy logo or a simple character that can be associated with your product.

Mobile Marketing – Success Mantra

Finally, expand your online storefront a mobile app if applicable. Believe it or not, consumers are finding it even easier to shop online from their cell phones or tablets. In fact, it is becoming more and more common for people to do all of their online business from their cell phone. Some analysts have even posited that the heyday of laptops and desktop computers are is slowly waning. Creating a mobile app so that shoppers can access from these devices is a win-win for everyone.

Know Your Guest Author:

Ryan Franklin is a marketer, writer, and small business owner who writes on behalf of Ordoro. Click here to learn more about Ordoro’s helpful order management software.

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facebook cupcakesDoes Facebook have your credit card number? Unless you’ve purchased a sidebar ad for your company, or paid to promote a post since that option was launched for business pages last spring, the answer is probably no.

They’re hoping to change that — and fast. Ever since their initial public offering last May, Facebook’s stock value has plummeted from $38 to a steady fluctuation around $20. The pressure is on to monetize, and they’re responding quickly.

Cupcakes and Cappuccinos

Remember Facebook gifts? The ability to send cartoon icons to friends was a triviality of Facebook’s early days, discontinued in 2010. Although a virtual birthday cake may not have much meaning to most people, the ability to send real cupcakes to a friend on their birthday may actually have some traction.

Facebook purchased gift giving app Karma this summer, and they’re poised to put it to use with the potential launch of Facebook Gifts this month. Users will be able to choose between hundreds of options, from a box of cupcakes to gift cards from Starbucks, celebrating special occasions without having to open another window on their browser. Recipients will receive a notification that a gift has been purchased for them, and they’ll choose a delivery address to receive it at.

Opening the Door for Pay to Play

One implication of Facebook Gifts, a relatively positive idea for the average user with obvious appeal and usefulness, is that Facebook will now have credit card and ‘checkout’ information on file for many more of its users. Just as someone might choose Amazon over a competitor simply because they’ve established one-click checkout, Facebook will now be able to more conveniently offer its other latest round of monetization attempts: paid posts.

Beginning last spring, companies have had the ability to increase the readership of an update through promoted posts. While average viewership of a status update is just 12 to 16 percent, Facebook page administrators now have the option of giving their posts some added fuel to keep at the top of followers’ news feeds, for a longer period of time. If you have 4,000 followers, for example, the chance to pay $10 to reach 2,500 instead of 500 followers with your post about an upcoming sale has obvious appeal.

The downside of promoted posts is that they only reach people who have already liked or followed your page. To remedy that problem, Facebook announced Suggested Posts in October. Companies now have the option of paying to reach users with no connection to them, whatsoever.

This tackles two issues Facebook has struggled with:

  1. The reduced effectiveness and click-through rates of sidebar ads.
  2. A rapid shift to primary access of Facebook by many users to mobile devices.

By allowing a company to infiltrate the news feeds of literally anyone, advertising can boldly step into the mobile world and replace the rapidly aging banner/sidebar concept (at least on Facebook).

In conjunction with Suggested Posts, Facebook also debuted promoted posts for regular users in October. A focus group of accounts now have the ability to promote posts, a new icon that appears with the ‘Share’ and ‘Like’ buttons below a post. Most reports have indicated that the going rate for a promoted post for a regular user is $7.

Is It Worth It?

With all these changes occurring at rapid speed — literally in six months — it can be difficult for the average internet entrepreneur to decide where their money is best spent. Allotting funds for promoting posts on Facebook will likely require drawing from the overall budget elsewhere.

The take home point should be that creating engaging content that encourages interaction and inspires comments should still be the number one priority. Promoting a post won’t carry it on its own — if you decide to spend the money, think of that as an extra boost. Your actual product (the quality of your post) still needs to stand on its own.

Because Facebook offers free analytics for their Promoted Posts, showing users the percentage of followers that a post reaches, choosing a few different types of updates and promoting them can be a tool to gauge effectiveness of your post approaches. If asking followers for input or launching a giveaway contest generates more views than a post about a sale, you can take that information into account for even your unpaid posts.

The long-term results of Facebook’s shift to paid posts remain to be seen. What’s certain is that few things are actually ‘long-term’ in the world of social media marketing. For now, do you see yourself paying to promote posts on Facebook? Do you see the option as a good opportunity for internet entrepreneurs, or yet another expense?

Know your Guest Author:

Working with storage units users all over the United States, Tim Eyre helps customers store their stuff in places like the Everett self storage facility. Tim also contributes to the conversation at The Storage Blog.

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