The prevailing question among marketing professionals and businessmen right now is how to effectively market their products to their target consumers through the internet. Both Organic SEO and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) give companies the opportunity to advertise their brand and products online. In this article, we will discuss whether SEO, PPC, or a fusion of both will be most appropriate for your business requirements.
Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is basically the practice of improving website traffic through White-hat SEO techniques, which allow your website to figure prominently whenever search engines turn-in the search results made by internet users. Some White-hat SEO techniques include putting more meat on content and placing more quality backlinks on the website. All of these tactics are done without violating the terms of service that the search engine has set.
One of the most popular forms of marketing done on the internet today is called Pay-Per-Click (PPC). It is an advertising model wherein companies pay website owners a specific amount of money for every click that their advertisement gets from internet users who visit the website. Advertisers would craft their own set of keywords that reflect their target market and the products that they offer. Whenever internet users would key-in words similar or related to those keywords, the website and the advertisement would most likely come up in the search results. PPC can also be used to increase traffic for a website.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Both
An inherent advantage of the use of SEO is that it comes at a lesser cost, or even at no costs at all, compared with PPC. Unlike PPC, the success of SEO fully lies on the effective implementation and execution of SEO techniques and methods to improve a website’s visibility. Furthermore, another advantage of SEO is that it becomes more beneficial as time passes. Over time, a website can continue to accumulate quality backlinks. These will have positively affect website visibility significantly and the effect would remain so long as the links are there.
However, the use of SEO also has its own disadvantages. First, it takes time for your website to become visible. A day or two may improve the ranking of a website, but such a short period of time is insufficient to push its ranking to the top spots. There is no guarantee of how long it will take for a website to become really visible to internet users, but it usually takes six months to one year. Second, there is risk in SEO. The internet is a world full of different kinds of SEO practioners and some of them use black-hat and unethical SEO techniques. You never know when they will strike, but these people have the potential to destroy your brand and credibility to consumers.
As for PPC, results and progress come in pretty fast. Rankings improve quickly. It is also pretty easy to start a PPC campaign online. Moreover, the better positions your ad gets from search engine results increases the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. Typically, ads are put on top, the right side, or below the search engine results. In addition to these, another advantage of PPC is that it allows you to focus your campaign on certain regions, countries and regions. Furthermore, PPC gives you the freedom to manage and edit the keywords you have previously set any time.
The most alarming disadvantage of PPC is that it comes at a great cost. Overtime, the costs will begin to pile up and your company may end up spending too much money on PPC. Furthermore, traffic is totally reliant on the money you pour into PPC. Once funding stops, traffic disappears into thin air almost instantly.
A thorough examination of the qualities and advantages and disadvantages of PPC would lead to the conclusion that a mixture of both would be best. Starting with PPC, then slowly switching to Organic SEO would help you maximize the results that you can achieve. Timing is always an important factor in advertising. When you need to send an important message to your consumers, it might be best to use PPC for a short period of time instead of relying completely on the slower Organic SEO. But, complete reliance on PPC may hurt your company’s resources. The use of both advertising methods also allows you to effectively manage and lessen the costs that you will incur without sacrificing the quality of the results.
Overall, internet marketing is an art. It requires crafty manipulation and employment of advertising frameworks such as Organic PPC and SEO to reach your target consumers and maximize the effectiveness of your advertising campaign.
If you really believe that content curation is not just a buzzword but a marketing staple, you can also implement this idea in email marketing. Undoubtedly, a well planned email campaign can result in better conversions and generate repeat sales. It’s also an excellent way of collecting useful feedback and suggestions from your visitors or customers. In addition to all of these, email marketing can also do a great job to boost your offline purchases.
Email marketing works best only when it suits the needs of subscribers. But it’s sad to see emails that are nothing more than ‘pure promotion’. You might also have deleted a lot of emails delivered to your inbox simply because they sound like a self-interested bore.
Do we (the email marketers), therefore, need to change?
Of course! The word change points to a change in the mindset, the way we look at our email subscribers, the way we try to convince them to make a buying decision. The current situation of the internet marketing industry makes one thing very clear – ‘The more you sell, the less you sell’.
That’s exactly where the role of a ‘curated email campaign’ steps in. It’s really a powerful way of providing your email subscribers with something they don’t usually expect. It’s an idea to keep them well-informed, educated and entertained so that they start looking at you as a ‘niche expert’. It’s all about winning the trust and gaining the confidence of your email subscribers.
Aweber Communications (a popular email marketing company) published a comprehensive article on this topic on their blog. A curated email campaign creates ‘loyal subscribers’. Let’s find out how you can use this powerful technique to make your email campaigns come alive and keep your subscribers happy.
Start to work like a content curator. That means, you need to look for blog posts, articles, industry reports, case studies, videos and images that you think your email subscribers would love to read. You can find anything that’s relevant to your niche, interesting, entertaining and unique.
Once you’ve gathered all these nuggets, it’s time to piece them together to compile your weekly newsletter. Since subscribers are already pissed off with tons of marketing and promotional emails, a curated email campaign will work like a ‘freshner’. It will provide them with highly valuable content that they can actually use to their benefits. Though it’s an indirect technique of marketing, it works like magic to showcase your niche expertise and set yourself apart from your competitors pretty quickly.
Curated Content Has a ‘Narrow’ Focus
Curated email campaigns will work best for those who cater to a specific niche or type of business. If you serve a broader market or industry, content curation may not bring you the best results. If you focus on a particular aspect of your industry, you can discover all the most useful resources and compose them in the form of an email or weekly newsletter.
Small businesses can get the maximum out of a curated email campaign. In fact, any small business or home-based business or bloggers with a narrow focus can use this email marketing technique.
Whether you’re a small business owner or a blogger, you should start with curated email campaigns right away. Find out blogs that you read regularly to remain inspired. Search for current events that relate to your niche industry. Look for articles and videos that entertained you this week. Give your email subscribers something they weren’t expecting until now. Educate your audience. Keep them entertained. And be ready to see the magic!
Did you try the concept of curated content in your email campaigns yet? Please feel free to talk back in comments.
In one of my recent posts, I talked about conducting your first A/B test. Split or A/B testing is undoubtedly one of the most effective techniques to improve your website for better performance. Though there are several testing tools (free and paid) that you can use, Google Website Optimizer (GWO) has always done a great job to help you accomplish this task.
Now, you can test the performance of your website right from within Google Analytics. Yes, Google recently announced this feature (called ‘Content Experiments’) on its official analytics blog. It’s one more effort by Google to make Google Analytics the best measurement tool for tracking a site’s performance.
The ‘Content Experiments’ feature helps you create different versions of a web page, track the effectiveness of each version and determine the version that works best for your audience.
The best part is that you can now fulfill your goals of tracking, testing and optimizing your website all in one place i.e. Google Analytics. The advanced statistical engine added to the analytics tool makes it more powerful and more useful than ever. In addition, the website experimentation process becomes easier with ‘Content Experiments’.
Testing with ‘Content Experiments’ is easier because it -
Teaches you how to set up experiments
Helps you launch new tests instantly
Allows you to choose from goals you would like to test
Comes along with easier tagging options
Makes it easy to understand the performance of different versions
Identifies the version that makes the most impact quickly
Sends you regular email updates about the experiment (to be available soon)
At a time, you can test five different versions of a web page using the Content Experiments feature in Google Analytics. If you have set up a couple of goals in your account already, you can come up with different versions of the original page and find out which one brings a higher goal conversion.
How to Set Up an ‘Experiment’
Before you create an experiment in Google Analytics, you need to do your homework. This includes identifying the goals you plan to test, selecting your conversion page and creating the variants of the original page.
Once you’re done with the preparation part, you can follow these steps –
#1. Log in to your analytics account.
#2. Go to the profile you want to create experiment in.
#3. Move to the ‘content’ section and click ‘Experiments’.
#4. Now, click ‘Start Experimenting’.
#5. Give a name to your experiment and select the versions.
#6. Choose experiment options (select goals or add new goals).
#7. Add the experiment code to the original version.
#8. Get the experiment code verified.
#9. Preview the pages and click ‘Run Experiment Now’.
After you’ve set up a new experiment, you can also save the settings for using it later. Since every experiment has a specific name given by you, you can click the name and do what you want. Content Experiments also provides you with easy modification options, if you haven’t run the test yet.
So, is it time to say goodbye to GWO?
Actually, yes! After August 1, 2012, you won’t be able to use GWO (a standalone tool) anymore. Google has already started to implement its functionalities into Google Analytics’ Content Experiments. Therefore, you should now start setting up website experiments from Google Analytics to improve the performance of your websites. You can get started with Content Experiments (if it’s already available in your account) right away by logging into your analytics account and click ‘experiments’ within the content section of your regular diagnosis reports.
Is ‘Content Experiments’ available in your Google Analytics Account? Please feel free to ask any questions or share your own opinions regarding the same.
If you ask me what the most effective method of boosting the performance of a website is, I’ll give you an instant reply – ‘split testing’. And I really hope you wouldn’t like to differ with me on this point, would you? Since I stepped into the internet marketing industry, I have met very few (can count them on my fingers) webmasters or web property owners who bothered to utilize split testing to find out what worked best and improve the rate of conversion.
Why do most of the internet marketers ignore split testing, while investing plenty of time on just guess-optimizing their websites over and over again? Optimizing your sites on the basis of gut instinct or guesswork may bring you better results. But it won’t ever tell you what really works and what doesn’t. Split testing is the single most effective technique to ensure the best ROI possible.
Split or A/B testing is a proven technique to discover what makes the most impact on visitors, thus helping you to tweak your sites appropriately and improve the rate of conversion. Though conducting a split test consumes time, the result will be much more than the effort that you invest.
So, are you ready to conduct your first split test ever? Don’t worry. Given below is a very simple 5-step plan that you can use to get started.
#1. Choose a Web Page
Find those pages on your site that help you fulfill some important goals. Select a web page that focuses on a specific goal and have one call to action. If you think improving a web page can increase the number of sign-ups, boost online sales or assist you in achieving other significant conversion goals, you can conduct a split test for that specific page.
#2. Create Another Version of The Selected Page
After you’ve picked an important page that you would really want to split test, it’s time to create a new version of the same. To create the new version, you’ll need to list out all the important elements (that you think can increase the conversion rate) the original page contains.
You should decide to test these –
Headings and subheadings
Call to action
Placement of elements
You may focus on other important elements that your selected web page contains and make the necessary changes to create the new version. So, you’ve two different versions – Page A (original) and Page B (new).
#3. Set Up the Test
Now, you’ll need a software or tool to set up the test. If you have adequate expertise, you can make use of Google’s Website Optimizer. Otherwise, you can hire the services of an internet marketing firm that’s known for conducting split tests. There are also several paid split testing tools that you can use. No matter which split testing tools you use, you should make sure that it’s easy to set up, easy to understand and accurate (in terms of tracking results).
The two versions of the page (original and new) will either be shown randomly or simultaneously to visitors. The tool that you use will track the number of visitors, the rate of click-throughs and the rate of conversion for both the pages. Make sure you run the test for an adequate time span and that your sample size is big enough to track accurate results.
#5. Use the Version That Works Best
Analyze the results of the split test and go with the variant that makes the most impact on your site’s visitors.
Have you ever conducted a split or A/B test for your website? Please feel free to share your experiences and opinions.
Facebook celebrated the International Data Privacy Day last month (January 28, 2012). Around only a month later, The London Sunday Times reports that Facebook accesses personal text messages of users who download the social network’s smartphone application. Fox News also covered this story saying that Facebook is spying on phone users’ personal data.
However, it’s not only Facebook that’s spying on users’ personal information. A number of other high profile web firms are indulging into this practice. Several similar cases have been reported lately.
Widely popular companies like Flickr (a photo sharing site by Yahoo), Badoo (a social discovery website) and Yahoo Messenger are stealing private data of smartphone users. Recently, Twitter also admitted storing users’ private data including contacts lists and address books.
Should web firms spy on customers’ personal data?
This is a burning issue for all high profile web firms, and the user. Today’s users are highly concerned about how their personal data will be handled. In fact, ‘user privacy concern’ is one of the emerging digital trends in 2012.
Though many web firms would claim to disclose the permission to use customers’ personal data, very small percentage of people actually goes through the terms and policies. According to a recent study, around 70% of all smartphone users scarcely or never go through the policies before they download an app on their phone.
Whether you’re an advertising agency, a retail marketer, an OS creator, a social networking platform or a search engine, you can never ignore the privacy issue regarding personal customer information. It’s, therefore, crucial to provide users with more knowledge and control over their personal data.
A Smartphone App – An Excellent Tool to Extract Private Information!
Your personal information is extremely valuable. Since companies know that they can cash in on this private data in many ways, they use different ways to collect the same. And smartphone apps give web firms an excellent opportunity to extract a vast amount of private information as users download the required apps on their phones.
The App Store features more than 500,000 iPhone apps, belonging to different categories. Android phone users, on the other hand, can download more than 400,000 different apps.
In the United States alone, 91.4 million people use smartphones. As texting is the most popular activity on smartphones, companies can go to any extent to collect this private data and use it to their business benefits. And the usage of smartphones worldwide is continuously on the rise as well.
How Comfortable (or Safe) are You?
It’s not just the location information that’s being disclosed while you download an app. Mobile application developers can get their hands on your phone’s contact lists, address books and text messages. Unless consumers are given clear notice about privacy policies and total control over their private data, downloading apps poses a big risk.
Are you a smartphone user? Please feel free to share your views and opinions on this burning issue.
A customer of luxury brands seeks a connection and is looking for a brand that can improve their lives and simplify their lives too. If your site caters to this particular demographic, then you should check out Four Seasons recent report: The Luxury Consumer In the Digital World: Then & Now, 2012 Four Seasons Luxury Trend Report.
Quite a few tidbits stand out in the report that can help you market to a luxury customer.
Don’t forget about your global market. Luxury buyers aren’t just nationwide they’re worldwide. Attract visitors from overseas particularly European markets, China and Latin America. The global luxury market is expected to grow by 10% in 2013, according to consulting company Bain & Company.
According to the Affluence Collaborative, 34% of luxury buyers expect products and services to be customized to their needs. Offering cookie-cutter only products and services certainly won’t attract a large part of this demographic.
92% of Internet users read online reviews and 89% of reviews influence purchasing decisions. This is the case with the luxury buyer, so place importance on getting more reviews, responding to reviews and claiming all those profiles. New local search sites seem to pop up every day, so when they do be sure to claim your profile and ask for a few reviews.
72% of those wealthy that were polled were active on Facebook. This might not be an obvious choice, but using Facebook to market to your luxury customer can prove beneficial. If you aren’t convinced at first maybe try your hand at Facebook advertising. Test out different ads and see how they perform. If ads seem to be worthwhile it may be time to start a page, promote the page to encourage likes and update status messages regularly.
Location Based Services
Apps like Gowalla and Foursquare are perfect marketing channels for most brands. The luxury customer is utilizing these apps, since a large number own smart phones. The trend report showed large growth in this area and predicted more. Encourage check-in’s at your location, encourage reviews/tips and respond as appropriate.
As stated above, the trend report found that smart phone ownership in the luxury marketplace is high. Marketing via mobile devices – through apps, mobile advertising and SMS campaigns – is a growing trend in coming years. The cost can be expensive for some mobile marketing. Developing an app has a lot of development time involved and an SMS campaign can be expensive. Look at all options and don’t forget about mobile search advertising.
What trends stood out to you in the report? Share with us in the comments below!
A siloed promotion strategy is rarely successful. Variety is key in any promotion that has even a shred of hope at taking off. You want to attract a wide array of visitors within a short period of time, so coordination is key. If you’ve ever put together a content promotion strategy then you know that the details count – and they count from the very beginning.
The first step is to start making a plan. Think of the different channels in which you can share your message. Social media, SEO, guest blogging and e-mail in my experience are four of the best ways to promote your content. Different channels may perform better for you such as paid camapaigns/PPC, mailers, tv, radio, etc… Cater your content promotion to the channels in which your inbound marketing performs best.
If you’ve done your job well on social media than it’ll be no problem to get eyeballs to whatever you’re trying to promote. Building a community requires brands to become experts, shed knowledge and provide answers. Every now and again it’s appropriate to have a self serving tweet or status message update. And some studies even show that asking for a RT or “Like” can increase the likelihood of it actually being done.
Optimize your promotional landing page or piece of content for search engines. This is one of the best things you can do to promote your content! Determine the terms that will yield the highest traffic with a bit of keyword research. During your brainstorming sessions when determining new promotions and content assets in the future think of these keywords to build a campaign around.
Long tail search terms certainly bode well for many industries so consider all keyword research tools to find the best variations. Searching Q&A sites and social sites, as well as polling your audience are great ways to get ideas.
Promote your content with a bit of guest blogging. Think about the type of guest post that would intrigue the audience but also allow you to slip in a little mention of your promotion. It will allow you to get your name in front of a new audience and help you build authority in your niche – if you do it right.
With a bit of research anyone can get their hands on the e-mails of awesome webmasters. Sure the research is hard, but once you get the hang of it you can be extremely successful. I always thank my lucky stars that I have had the chance in my past to be a link builder. I learned so many tricks and research skills to find awesome sites appropriate to literally any niche. Once you find the site and you if you can give a good enough, personalized enough, enticing enough pitch then you might just convince a blogger or webmaster to write about and link to your content.
These are just a few tips to help you along the way, as I stated before – it’s important to see which channel works best for you. Track your inbound marketing efforts with an analytics program and monitor data throughout any campaign.
Have you heard the buzz in the SEO community? Bruce Clay announced on Facebook, later followed up by this Search Engine Watch post, the launch of a new service that guarantees top listings in local search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. The service works to promote your business listing for a nominal fee, guaranteeing a top position – in organic listings! It also boasts to be a cheaper option than PPC. UBL, the backend partner of Clay’s in this venture, verifies that they are still in the beta phase and are currently testing the system (now being vehemently denied).
When I first heard about this news I had to look at the calendar – April 1st? Seriously, this seems a bit far fetched. Within a very short time the SEO community reacted with amazement; it’s common sense that this type of service would be looked down upon. Miranda Miller’s Search Engine Watch post did a good job of sharing her investigative research and the comment section is a worthwhile read. Additionally, friend of SEM-Group.net, Dave Harry wrote a summary post with some good reactions in the comments as well.
Bruce announced on Twitter that they’d have a statement this morning regarding the local paid inclusion fiasco. Google, Bing and UBL all deny involvement in lpi as reported in Danny Sullivan’s post. More reactions include thoughts that this is just some clever marketing plan or package done by Clay’s team – but gone awry maybe? I was intrigued by a comment on the SEW post by Bob Bigellow, he stated:
“I bet I know exactly what this is.
It probably requires each individual to install a plugin or extension or script or to otherwise implement some sort of service which will insert these “results” into the organic results area. Google has a service similar to this for a while where you could subscribe to certain feeds and, as a result, certain searches would trigger a special result on the page which was artificially put there by a third-party.
So, this likely won’t be anything new and won’t be very significant in that it will require opt-in, which means it will never reach the full breadth of Google.”
So what’s your take on the whole thing? Hoax, bad PR fiasco for a new service, or an April Fools Day joke 2 months early? Who knows, the whole thing could just be a ploy to get links or some elaborate SEO experiment….
I’m excited to announce that everyone who’s already signed up for my Ask Gerald newsletter should now have the inaugural edition in their inbox. If you haven’t had a chance to sign up yet, it’s not too late to become part of my free newsletter.
The point of the Ask Gerald newsletter is to make it as easy as possible for you to directly ask me questions. While you will continue to see great content on the blog, I wanted to create a place where people feel comfortable asking direct SEO questions. After evaluating several options, I decided a newsletter was by far the best. Not only does this format allow me to answer individual questions, but it makes it possible to share that information with an entire community of people who truly care about SEO.
Once you sign up, don’t forget to send in your SEO questions. Whether you’ve got a question about building links, increasing your social media presence or dominating a local business niche, I want to provide you with answers. So, be sure to send your questions to askgerald at sem-group.net so I can start answering them in the next newsletter!
Sign up now so you don’t miss out on the next Ask Gerald newsletter:
Keeping an eye on what the future holds in its palm is key to growing your business and reaching out to new audiences. Trends will continue to change directions. And if you aren’t ready to embrace the upcoming developments, you can easily lose the race. As we proceed into 2012, it’s highly essential that you become cognizant of the top digital marketing trends.
Given below are four key trends that you’ll need to watch in 2012, so that you can make your digital marketing efforts fruitful and elevate your business to new heights.
#1. Location, Location, Location!
Location-based marketing (LBM) is one of the top trends in the digital marketing arena, as the year 2012 continues to unfold. Focusing on delivering content (instantly usable information) to the user should always remain a high priority, if you’re really serious about generating more leads as well as staying ahead of the competition. With the ever-increasing population of mobile device users, delivering content to consumers based on their location becomes even more important.
The biggest benefit of location-specific marketing is that you can immediately increase the rate of conversion for your business. To improve your location-based marketing, you can follow these tips.
Buy country-specific domain names (.co.uk for UK, .com.au for Australia etc)
Create a mobile-friendly version of your website
Use Facebook ads to target audience by demographics, interests etc
Master the usage of free tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc
Use services like foursquare and Gowalla to engage consumers
Don’t forget to claim your Google Places page (Google Places Optimization)
#2. Video Advertising Leads the Way
According to a recent report by emarketer, online video advertising spend in the US will cross the $3 billion mark in 2012. Online video marketing is an emerging trend due to two major reasons – better reach and better measurement. Since more than 1.3 billion videos are watched in the US per day, video advertising happens to be a rich medium to establish an emotional connection with consumers, engage them quickly and achieve a higher conversion.
#3. Gamification Drives Social Momentum
Yes, it’s not just the latest fad. Though adopting this marketing approach depends on the kind of business you run, gamification can present some of the most potential opportunities you wouldn’t want to miss. To get started with it, you should first of all get the concept pretty clear in your mind. Gamification is not entirely similar to games. In fact, the concept that underlies the term is the application of gaming principles to non-game experiences in an effort to drive social momentum among the audiences. Several brands have gamified their marketing strategies to engage customers (by offering incentives) and provoke them to take action. Start-ups can benefit from this concept the most.
#4. Privacy Concerns are Growing
User privacy is another burning issue that digital marketers should pay careful attention to. Today, consumers are more vigilant about the usage of their personal data by businesses. Whether you’re an advertising agency, a retailer, a trader or an OS creator, you can never keep consumers in the dark about how you’re going to handle their personal data. The more knowledge and control (over personal data) you provide, the more trust you can gain from users.
There are many more trends that you’ll need to watch out for, to bolster your digital marketing strategy further. What’s really important, however, is that you don’t get distracted while getting the basics right.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on other upcoming trends in digital marketing. The comment section is all yours.