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16-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing in 2016

Just as a great novel needs a readership in order to be successful, your business needs a stellar marketing plan.

Jason Parks

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“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”

Entrepreneurs might politely disagree with the aforementioned quote from Bill Gates. There is a heck of a lot that you can accomplish in just 365 days, especially when you are sacrificing your weekend mornings or late evenings at the coffee shop pouring your heart and soul into your business.

What if I told you that you could make the year 2016 wildly successful for your business? I’m talking Taylor Swift successful – according to MSN, she raked in R10 million every day in 2015.

Just as a great novel needs a readership in order to be successful, your business needs a stellar marketing plan.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: The Secret Ingredients to a Successful Branding Strategy

By implementing the 16-step digital marketing blueprint, your business can flourish this upcoming year.

1. Google AdWords

google-adwords

Have you started to bid on keywords related to the product you are selling or the service you are offering? Google now processes more than 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to more than 3.5 billion searches per day.

People are clearly looking up information on the search engine behemoth before making a purchasing decision. Bidding on the proper keywords targeted towards your demographic and region can drive instant new business, if executed properly.

Step up you Google Adwords game with this advice. 

2. Landing-Page Design

According to Search Engine Land, only 25 percent of advertising accounts average above a 5 percent conversion rate. How do you break through the 10 percent barrier? The answer is custom landing pages.

Using a service like Unbounce, you can build, publish and launch A/B test landing pages without special I.T.

Search Engine Land states that to break into the top 10 percent of landing-page performance, you need to test 10 different landing pages to find one that really sticks. What are you waiting for?

3. Moz

Are you curious why your competitor outranks you on Google and they are sitting on top of the first page while you are buried on page three?

Moz allows you to compare competitive metrics, such as domain authority. Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines.

Once you start to learn the reasons why your competition performs well on the major search engines, you can formulate a strategy for your business.

4. Help a Reporter Out

help-a-reporter-out-logo

If you are looking for amazing and free publicity for your company, you need to sign up for HARO.

You will receive daily queries from reporters all over the country that are looking for quotes from business owners and entrepreneurs.

In order to be successful with HARO, you need to dedicate at least 20 minutes per day to respond to the queries and offer expertise within your field. If you think you can handle this, get ready for some awesome publicity, which will also be beneficial for your SEO.

5. Outreach

Become an expert within your industry by contributing content on well-known websites. This is a great way to drive referral traffic back to your site from readers, who are interested to learn about your insight.

Create a “dream list” of 10 websites you want to write content for. Make sure to send each of these 10 publications a compelling pitch that conveys what you will bring to the table by sharing your insight on their site.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: How to Start Your Website With Just R80

6. Sidekick

Let’s say you reach out to a prospect through email and a couple of phone calls, but nobody gets back to you. Is it time to throw in the towel? Not so fast.

Sidekick, which is powered by HubSpot, tracks whether or not a recipient opens up your emails and clicks on any links inside.

Is this somewhat stalker-ish? Sure. But the bottom line is if you see a prospect open your proposal 10 times, you know they are interested! Sidekick can be a game changer for your business strategy, and they have a free package.

7. Postable

Another great way to close the door on prospects is to utilise Postable, which offers really nice cards mailed for you all over the Internet.

They have a wide assortment of thank you cards that you can customise to reflect your brand image. The best part is each postcard typically costs less than R36 to ship and be delivered into your hot prospect’s actual mailbox.

8. Display Re-marketing

Zando-jean-remarketing

Have you ever wondered how the jeans you looked at on Zando’s website magically appeared on your Facebook newsfeed 10 minutes later? This is called display re-marketing, and it is a great way for you to follow up with website visitors who do not make a desired action on your website.

Display re-marketing builds brand awareness and is a cheap way to get customers to come back to your website to convert.

People will think you’re spending a lot of money on your advertising when your advertisement appears on CNN.com, but little do they know that you’re only paying around R3 per click because of an awesome re-marketing campaign!

9. Video Content

Online video advertising is on the verge of explosion. It seems that right now, only larger businesses with a substantial advertising budget are investing in video advertising, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

Facebook revealed that the number of videos posted to the platform per person in the U.S. has increased by 94 percent over the last year.

Homepage videos are shown to increase conversion rates by 20 percent or more, according to Adelie Studios.

You can implement video re-marketing ads to tell your brand’s story for you when visitors drop off your site.

All you need to do is schedule a three- to four-hour shoot and strategically script out the video content you are looking for. You can obtain amazing video content that can play a crucial part in your marketing strategy in 2016.

10. R50 Boosted Facebook Post

facebook-marketing-tools

You can write the greatest novel in the world, but if nobody ends up reading your book, what purpose does it serve?

Rebecca Coleman, a social-marketing guru, conducted a case study on the R50 boosted Facebook post. The results? “Awesome,” Coleman said.

“My post reach soared and I got a ton more comments, as well as a few shares. My advice: Every once in a while, it can be completely worth it to give Facebook R50.”

If you want to be seen in 2016 on Facebook, you will need to invest money into promoting your content. Otherwise, you’ll go unnoticed.

11. Instagram Advertising

Schedule a two-hour photo shoot for your business and show off your awesome pictures on Instagram for your target demographic to see.

Facebook (which owns Instagram) now offers advertising to businesses of all sizes, everywhere!

Follow these eight simple steps to set-up a killer Instagram ad in under 10 minutes.

If you don’t want to spend money on advertising on Instagram and want to grow your following organically, make sure to ask local businesses to follow you and return the favour. You can create a network of local businesses and influencers elevating one another.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: 8 Reasons Why Your Marketing Sucks

12. Email Marketing

Are you sending out at least two emails per month for your business for marketing purposes?

According to Marketing Sherpa, 60 percent of marketers believe email marketing produces positive ROI.

Make an effort to collect more email addresses in 2016. From obtaining the email addresses from customers on your website to grabbing business cards at trade shows, the larger your email list and the more effort you make in sending out memorable messages, the more business you’ll get for very little cost.

13. Mobile Friendliness

It’s official: Google says more searches now take place on mobile versus desktop.

Is your website mobile friendly? Do you have an easy way for site visitors to get in contact with your business when they visit your site on mobile? For instance, including your phone number at the very top of your mobile site is crucial for B2B businesses to increase their conversion count.

Are you tracking conversions that take place on mobile versus desktop? Make sure mobile becomes a focal point for your business in 2016.

14. Google Analytics

In 20 steps, you can master Google Analytics to understand the visitors coming to your website and make implementations to your online marketing strategy to convert those visitors better.

Dedicate at least 10 minutes per day to dig into GA to become an expert on the traffic coming to your site.

15. Online Reviews

online-reviews

Create an email template for your business to send out personalised messages to satisfied clients or customers.

Marketing Land says that 90 percent of customers’ buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Ensuring that that your Google+ and Yelp pages portray your company in a positive light will help generate more business for your company.

16. A vs. B Testing

You and your coworker could have different ideas on what piece of creative will perform the best for an advertisement that you’ll be running for the holiday season.

Rather than getting into an argument, why not run an A vs. B test to determine the winner?

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: You’ll Market Better and Be More Persuasive Knowing These 10 Brain Facts

Approximately 61 percent of companies carry out fewer than five A vs. B tests every month.

Make sure your business is on the forefront of the online frontier by running tests to generate more conversions and lower your cost per acquisition.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Jason Parks is a proud Columbus native and the founder and CEO of The Media Captain, a digital marketing agency. He has been featured in the New York Times, Yahoo News, Search Engine Watch and AOL on digital-marketing topics and success stories.

Online Marketing

Everything You Need To Know About Instagram’s New Shopping Features

The app is giving influencers and brands new channels on which consumers can discover them.

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Influencers and brands have two new ways to sell products to users scrolling and tapping through their Instagram feeds. After a summer of testing shopping buttons that drive purchases via Stories, the Facebook-owned app has launched them for businesses in 46 countries.

It’s also begun rolling out a personalised shopping section in the Explore tab, which Instagram redesigned earlier this year to feature AI-powered channels categorising content based on topic (e.g. travel, art, decor).

The shopping tab will be a place for users who know they want to browse and potentially buy, with Instagram’s algorithm serving up brands the user already follows or would likely be into, based on past activity on the app. Meanwhile, the shopping bag stickers in Stories will give users a chance to not just admire their favourite influencers’ outfits, but actually click through and learn more about promoted items.

Since Instagram began testing the feature in June, more than 90 million users per month have tapped to reveal tags in shopping posts, according to a Sept. 17 Instagram blog post. The app already allows brands to purchase ads in the form of Stories.

More than 400 million accounts watch Stories daily, and one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses, Instagram also reports.

Instagram has been testing shopping in feeds for nearly two years.

Related: Creating Power Digital Campaigns

Back in November 2016, the company explained on its Business blog that online shopping often involves research and deliberation, rather than impulse purchases, which is what led Instagram to build out shopping posts that would provide consumers with information about products without having to leave the app until they’d made a purchase decision.

Salesforce has forecasted that the referral traffic Instagram drives to retailer websites will increase by 51 percent between the 2017 and 2018 holiday seasons, according to Adweek.

Speaking of leaving the app, Instagram is rumored to be developing a standalone shopping app, according to The Verge, but the company declined to comment on these reports to both The Verge and Entrepreneur.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

There are plenty of ways to get the leads your start-up needs, but only a few tactics you’ll need in your arsenal to get the job done at a limited cost to your burgeoning business.

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Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing, when you’re short on funds, can seem like an intimidating prospect. If you and your team aren’t already knowledgeable about digital marketing strategy, you may think it’s impossible for you to manage marketing campaigns yourself. With a bit of determination and a great deal of studying, however, your startup will be able to successfully launch, direct, and refine your own digital marketing strategies.

What things can you do to help your start-up get more press, attract more customers, and get more brand awareness? There are plenty of ways to get the leads your start-up needs, but only a few tactics you’ll need in your arsenal to get the job done at a limited cost to your burgeoning business.

Get to know your niche

Many young companies adopt random acts of internet marketing. They’ll throw a few hundred dollars into promoting Facebook posts without necessarily understanding how to communicate to their audience.

Before you dive into advertising and promotion platforms, you should spend some time to define – and to get to know – your niche.

To help define your target market, use questions like:

  • Who are your existing customers?
    • How would you group them?
  • Who does your product or service help?
    • Does your product help business owners, stay-at-home parents, college students, or someone else?
  • Who are you looking to reach out to?
    • That is, are you looking to refine your target market or expand it?

Once you’ve answered a few questions like the ones listed above, you should be able to get a better idea of who you’re marketing to. With an understanding of who you’re communicating with, you should be able to craft a tailored message about your brand.

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

Choose social media platforms wisely

Many start-ups try to master as many social media platforms right at the start. Instead of dividing your attention between Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you should identify one or two social media platforms that will help you market your product or service. This is why defining your target market at the beginning is so very important.

You must first decide who your message is intended for before writing, editing, and positioning that message. After you’ve got your target market down, you’ll be able to pinpoint which social media platforms can serve you best.

Here are a few examples to give you an idea of which social media platforms are best suited for your needs:

Twitter

  • Best for blog links
  • Frequent posts: 1-4 posts every few hours is the most effective
  • The community is open to businesses promotion

Facebook

  • Best for communicating to existing customers
  • Daily posts: 1 post every 2 days is the most effective
  • Users respond best to images, videos, and clips

Reddit

  • Strictly promotional posts are undesirable
  • Building readership and/or a following is slow
  • Better suited for long-term growth strategy

Do your social media research

Start conducting some preliminary research about social media platforms. Build a profile of each, listing their pros and cons. Try investigating other social media platforms such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Quora. While these aren’t platforms as large as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, they could have a far greater impact on your start-up.

Answering questions on Quora and interacting with other users on GitHub, for example, could help you build genuine business and customer relationships.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Concentrate on mastering a few channels

Ultimately, it’s important to concentrate on one or two social media platforms based on your target market and your goals. Attempting to have a significant presence on all of them will prove expensive, time-consuming, and, at worst, counterproductive.

Focusing on one platform will allow you to track your marketing efforts with greater precision, revise your marketing strategy more easily, and help you speak more directly to your target audience.

Digital marketing, while best left to a team of experienced marketers, content creators, and creative designers can be done by your team.

Start-ups tight on cash don’t need to fret, they only need to do a bit of market research and direct their energy accordingly. After narrowing down your audience and performing some preliminary research on social media platforms, you can start working on your social media marketing strategy.

Master a few channels rather than trying to dominate all of the social media space. Keep conducting research as you start your marketing campaigns. Each community naturally changes so you’ll want to keep up-to-date. Leverage your research and dedication to get the most out of your startup marketing.

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How To Create The Best Small Business Website: 5 Easy And Effective Steps

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Ethan Dunwill

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It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. If you don’t have online presence, it will become difficult to obtain the results you expect. Your target audience is using the internet nowadays for almost anything. So, if you want to attract more customers and build your brand reputation, you need to build a website. This is how you will be able to expand your business in an easy and not so expensive way.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be a savvy web developer to create a basic website and let the others know about you. Web development and design software have evolved a lot and now you can use several website builders to develop a functional site. You will have plenty of templates to choose from to increase your business’ visibility.

Check the steps below and get ready to create a successful small business website.

Easy and Effective Steps to Create a Website for Your Business

1. What is the purpose of your website?

It doesn’t matter if you develop a simple or a more complex website. Before you start working on anything related to your website, you should start with saying what your company does. Your customers need to understand from the first minute they access your homepage what is your mission and vision. They don’t have too much time to invest when they enter on a website. So, you can make their journey smoother by telling them from the beginning about you. In case you are not so talented at writing, you can use writing companies like RewardedEssays or SupremeDissertations to give you a hand.

Related: 5 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A Website For Your Business

2. Choose a domain name and a web host

Even though many think they shouldn’t focus too much on it, the domain name is an important feature of your website. You will use the URL to promote your business to existing and future clients. So, this means that your domain name should be explicit and talk about your business to anyone who wants to find more about you. A domain name should be short, clear, without acronyms or numbers. What is more, you shouldn’t forget to check if your domain name isn’t already taken by someone else.

Apart from a domain name, your website will also need a server where all your data is stored. When you own a small business, creating your own web host will represent a serious financial effort. So, it would be more cost-wise to choose an external host.

As your business grows, you can choose a different host, or you can ask several providers to work on a personalised solution.

3. Build your website’s pages

website-pages-build

You will need more than a homepage to create a good website. If you want your customers to understand that you are a professional in what you do, you will create several pages dedicated to different elements of your business. For example, you can include a catalog with your products or a blog.

Natalie Andersen, CEO of GetGoodGrade mentions that “It is obligatory that apart from the homepage, a website should have at least a page with the products’ catalog and a Contact Us page.”

Below you can find a list with the minimum number of pages a professional website should have:

  • Homepage – here you will include details about your business, making sure that you also talk about your mission and vision.
  • List of products and services – your customers need to know what are the products and services you offer. This will help them decide whether you can answer their questions and provide a solution to their problems.
  • About Us – “About Us page is the place where you talk about your story. Your target audience wants to know more about yourself. This is how you will create a connection with your customers and let them know more about you”, says James Daily, Head of content department at FlashEssay.
  • Contact Us – it should include your address, email, phone number and working hours. You can also include the links for your social media profiles.

Furthermore, if you want to achieve an international presence, you can also use the translation services offered by IsAccurate. Thus, you will be able to address your message to a wider group of people and expand your business on new markets.

Related: How To Secure Your SME Website

4. Test if your website works properly

Christopher K. Mercer, CEO of Citatior recommends that “before you launch a website, you should first test whether it works. You cannot tell your future customers about your website without knowing for sure that it will work without problems once you launch it”. Therefore, you should click on each page and check whether it has any errors. You still have time to fix something if necessary.

Once you have launched your website and something goes wrong, it will become more difficult to do any change. Plus, always remember that the first impression matters. So, you need to be perfect in the eyes of your customers.

5. Maintain your website

After you launched your website, this doesn’t mean that your work is done. You will need to keep your customers engaged and curious about your business. Therefore, updating the products’ catalog constantly or producing content for your blog will keep your audience informed about what you can offer and the latest trends in the industry. Plus, you should also check if your website is up to date with the latest add-ons. If you don’t know how to produce new content for your website or you feel that you are not talented enough, you can collaborate with HotEssayService or RatedByStudents for professional writing services.

It shouldn’t be complicated to create a website for your small business. As long as you keep a clear structure and create a story around your business, you don’t have anything to worry about. It is very important to understand that a website is very important for your business visibility. Thus, you should put all your efforts into it.

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