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Getting (more) Feet Through your Digital Door

Nurturing your leads through their individual buying cycle from “needs awareness” to “close” is a whole other ballgame however, and something I will address in great detail later in this series.

Dennis Armstrong

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Getting-(more)-Feet-Through-your-Digital-Door_Online-marketing_Marketing

Over the past two months we’ve looked at the ins and outs of your digital marketing strategy, and the key elements to consider when constructing a successful website.

A successful website, of course, is one that guides visitors through a defined process, actively aiding your business in converting hard-earned traffic into leads and (ultimately) sales.

Anything else is a failure, a waste of time . . . a costly, empty and largely underutilised World Cup stadium in Polokwane (for example).

Alas, the famous saying, ‘build it and they will come,’ is not applicable in all instances, most notably to your company’s online presence.

You have a strategy in place, you have a killer website built – now you need feet.

Plainlish, please?

There are several key disciplines that makeup an effective digital lead-acquisition and conversion strategy, and it can get a little confusing to know what will deliver the results that are right for your business.

To make matters worse, industry service providers tend to throw acronyms around as if involved in a free-for-all digital food fight – with you, the client, trapped in the middle and getting smacked about the head with phrases like SEO, SEM, PPC, CPM, CPC, CTR and such.

Everyone promises the world but what that ‘world’ represents is often not clear – and it can cost you a lot of money before some semblance of clarity is achieved.

For the sake of sanity, then, allow me to quickly explain some of digital marketing’s main disciplines in plain language.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is a collective term for all technical and marketing work required to increase a website’s visibility on Google and other search engines (Yahoo, Bing etc.). This includes organic and paid search options, which we will touch on below.

SEO = Search Engine Optimisation

Is activity that influences where your website ranks when Internet users search for products or services that relate to your industry and expertise. This type of traffic is referred to as ‘organic’ traffic and often delivers superior quality leads as the prospect was already actively looking for a solution that you (hopefully) provide.

Website relevance_Online marketing_Marketing

SEO is a constantly evolving and ongoing process.

You can’t ‘SEO’ your website and leave it there. It’s a consistent optimisation exercise, driven by many factors that keep your website in with a winning chance of being found, as and when a search query is launched.

Google rankings_Online marketing_Marketing

What your SEO service provider should promise is to ensure that all the boxes are checked regarding your keyword research and the usual website necessities (such as page title tags, Meta tags, XML site map submissions, Google Maps Submissions).

From there your provider should work with you to ensure that relevant content is regularly added and optimised – and that your website keeps performing optimally with regards to Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines’ constantly evolving algorithms.

  • These algorithms are the computer programmes that search engines use to read websites in order to deliver the most relevant results to web users’ search queries
  • These change, often

SEO is not a simple thing. It’s a constant, scientific, labour-intensive exercise that requires a high-level of expertise – if you want to do it right, that is.

Benefits of online marketing_Online marketing_Marketing

PPC = Pay Per Click (Advertising)

PPC (also called Cost-Per-Click) deals directly with advertisements placed on search engines, with Google’s AdWords Programme the most popular.

Advertisements generally appear at the top, or to the right, of normal SEO (organic search) results, as per the below example.Insure my car example_Online marketing_Marketing

As with SEO, there are many aspects that contribute towards a successful, cost-effective PPC campaign – the most critical being:

  1. Where the advertisement appears (ranked according to several criteria)
  2. How the advertisement performs in terms of Click-Through Rate  (how many people click on your ad)
  3. How much you are paying every time someone clicks on your ad (The Cost-Per-Click or CPC)
  4. How effectively you convert that lead once he/she has clicked through. (landing page optimisation)
  5. How much you are paying to convert the visitor into a lead. (The Cost-Per-Lead or CPL)

Each of these aspects requires technical skill, expertise, professional application and effective implementation in order to deliver a campaign that is optimised to deliver the best possible results.

Lead conversion_Online marketing_Marketing

Failing to do so will lead to your PPC budget disappearing into thin air – quickly.

GDN = Google Display Network (Display Marketing)

Not just on Google, of course, but the same principle applies across Yahoo, Bing and other search engines and, here, we are basically talking about banner advertising.

Effective Display Advertisements are tailored according to a user’s browsing history (also known as remarketing).

Remarketing is about matching the right display message to the right audience. So if you own a car dealership and “Frikkie” was on your website previously, he will see your advertisements appear on other (relevant) websites.

You are basically following “Frikkie’s” online activity with your marketing message.

Social networks and online marketing_Online marketing_Marketing

Performance is everything.

A successful lead acquisition strategy requires expertise in 4 key areas:

  1. Planning
  2. Execution
  3. Optimisation
  4. Analytics and Reporting.

Each of the above core disciplines has subsets of activities, all geared to delivering the best possible leads at the lowest possible cost to you.

Whichever service provider you choose to assist with your campaigns, you need to make sure that you are spending money on the right activities and getting the very best bang for your buck.

Executed well it’s a science that will deliver bankable results – and the “feet” you need to reach your business goals.

Your next job, of course, is converting those leads into prospects and, ultimately, new business. Nurturing your leads through their individual buying cycle from “needs awareness” to “close” is a whole other ballgame however, and something I will address in great detail later in this series.

Dennis Armstrong is the managing director of Interface Media, a full service digital agency with over 2 000 clients and, more recently, contracted service provider to a host of agencies across SA. Dennis’s expertise include marketing and business development, more recently taking on a national sales role before being promoted to MD. Dennis manages over 200 staff and is directly involved in growing some of the biggest digital accounts in South Africa from search, to SEO and display marketing. He is a hands-on individual and available to advise on all digital marketing requirements.

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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Online Marketing

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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Online Marketing

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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