5 Non-Traditional Ways to Market Your Business Online

Today we look at some non-traditional ways to market your business online.  Check out these great strategies for generating traffic to your business and offers.

QR Codes – they’re those little cubes made of white and black boxes that are popping up in every store front and every flier you see these days. They’re changing the way people are sending customers to their website.

So, what are they?
A QR code is a bar code that can be read using a smart phone app. These bar codes can hold information including URL’s, phone numbers, and even text. Users simply scan the bar code with their phone, and the code tells the phone to visit a website, display some text, or make a phone call.

How can I make one?
There are a variety of QR code generators out there online:KaywaQR StuffGo QR

You simply fill out the form on the generator’s website, and download the QR image it provides you. You can then us that QR code anywhere to share the information you stored within it. You can also have a promotion company make them for you and consult you on how to use them.

Check out how Diesel is using QR codes:

 

Viral Videos

From the Antoine Dodson video to “Don’t Tase Me Bro’!” funny and/or compelling online videos have proven to have the power to reach millions in a matter of days. The days when viral videos were the created on accident is gone. Businesses are now tapping into this lucrative market to spread the word about their products.The most popular example of this kind of marketing is the Old Spice commercial. The video hit 5.9 million views and 22,000 comments within just a few days of being posted to YouTube. The month of the release, Old Spice more than doubled their sales.

Don’t have this big of a budget? You don’t have to. Dollar Shave Club made a low budget viral video for their product. Believe it or not, this low budget production got Dollar Shave Club 3 million views. That’s a lot of visibility for your brand!

 

Infographics

Ask any SEO in the business, and they will tell you: Infographics encourage shares, shares build links, and links are GOOD. The way Google works is by a complex algorithm that ranks your site against other sites for particular search terms. One way that Google ranks your site is by examining all the links that point to that site.The general rule is the more links, the better; however, natural links are the most valuable. Natural links are the links that get built without much involvement from you. One way to encourage those natural links is to build link-bait.Link-bait is basically any content that people want to show other people. In the past few years, marketers have seen that infographics are great for this task. An infographic is basically a visualization of statistics and data.



These graphics aren’t easy to make. If you don’t have an in house designer, I’d suggest finding a designer to build the graphic for you. Make sure to have a little piece of branding at the bottom. It’s a great way to build some brand recognition while you build those links.

 

Guest Posting

Guest posting, like infographics, are a great way to build links, but they also have hidden value. Guest posts are also about relationships. When a blogger lets you post an article on their site, they’re telling everyone who reads their blog that you are an expert in your field.Being seen as an expert can be extremely valuable because experts have influence, and influence sells. If you can get a few guest posts on blogs with relatively high readership in your industry, you will definitely start pulling in more leads.So, how do you get bloggers to post one of your articles on their website? It’s easy – just ask. Most bloggers are open to having another writer post on their blog, but there are a few rules you need to follow.Make sure that the content you send them is of quality and of value. No one wants to post a poorly written article on their site, nor do they want to post something that is just shameless self-promotion of your brand. Your guest post has to benefit the host of the site as much as, if not more than, it benefits you.

 

Become a Resource

Another way to be seen as an expert in your field is to become a resource. Do you have some insightful knowledge about how to do a particular task in your field? Put a post on your company blog about it. Do you know of a great industry-relevant book? Review it.People are looking for these resources all over the web, and if they find it on your website, you’re the expert. For example, I write a blog related to the graphic design industry. In order to gain readership of other designers, I post tutorials, design resources, and inspiration on a regular basis. Not only does this help me be seen as an expert, but it’s also another way to encourage links and gain some more brand recognition.

 

Get started!

Mark Zuckerburg is known to have said, “Done is better than perfect,” and he’s right. You don’t have to perfect your writing or video skills to get started on these techniques. Practice makes perfect, and trying can never hurt. So get started right now.

 

About the Author

Courtney Cox is a graphic designer, web developer, SEO, and blogger. She is currently taking an internship at WrightIMC, while maintaining her freelance design company. She is working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Emerging Media and Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas.

All-In-One Marketing: How To Reach Your Audience Anywhere


There are so many different ways to stay connected with our target market that finding the best way to communicate with prospects effectively can be a challenge. Due to the complexity of multiple communication preferences (social media, direct mail, advertising, etc.), identifying and engaging prospects and customers individually, is your best opportunity for cutting through the clutter.

To be an effective communicator, you really need to start with the premise that it’s nearly impossible to reach 100% of your target audience using a single tool. There are so many different ways to communicate (ex: like email or text) that understanding and identifying each person’s preferred method of communication is paramount. If you’re currently using only using one method of communication with customers or prospects, chances are your response rates are really low.

Improving your communication begins by asking how to communicate with your entire audience, without being overwhelmed with multiple services, different forms of media, learning several different complex programs, or having all customer data stored throughout multiple systems? Marketing technology has evolved to address this issue and make multi-model communication manageable.

Just as the SCOOP Marketing Forum is a centralized hub for online marketers, centralized hubs for outbound marketing are multi-channel marketing platforms. There are quite a few of them out there that are pretty good. With platforms like this, business owners can send "quick blasts" to all the people on their distribution lists using different media.

It seems that mobile marketing and social media marketing are quickly becoming the channel of choice for marketing in this generation. In fact, I saw a poll the other day on Linked In that stated e-mail is the most popular medium for people between the ages of 30-40, while social media is the preferred channel for young adults between 20-30. SMS comes close behind between the same age group of 20-30. Some people are also saying that e-mail is slowly declining in favor of social media and mobile messaging, however I believe that e-mail is a different beast on its own.

Multi Channel Marketing tools from companies like UZmarketing combine the power of mobile text, email, IM, voice, and social media in to one interface. Most of these platforms are able to seamlessly orchestrate an entire marketing campaign through all popular modes of communication. These platforms allow business owners and decision makers who have little time, staff, or knowledge to compose marketing campaigns that are as sophisticated as some of the campaigns major corporations use.

The best part of using a tool to integrate many different modes of communication is effective customer management. By having clear insight into what has been communicated and to whom, you stand a much better chance of enriching your dialog with customers and even prospects. Using platforms that integrate the latest means of reaching your audience with the latest technology are vital given each user’s preference for sending and receiving messages.

This is an area that is of great interest to me. If you have a platform you use to manage your communications across different platforms, please let Marketing Blog readers know about it. With better tools we can improve your relationship with our target market and elevate the “user experience” associated with our brands.

How to Install a WordPress Blog


This past week I tried to install WordPress on a new domain via a "quick install" feature on Godaddy.com. Guess what?  It didn't work.  The good news is that with some back and forth with Godaddy support, I finally got the real instructions.  If you're struggling to install WordPress on a new domain, follow these instructions.

Installing WordPress using Go Daddy Hosting Connection is the easiest way to get WordPress up and running on your domain if it works (it didn't for me).

However, you can install it manually into your shared hosting account using the following instructions.

To accomplish this, you will need the following items:
-A compatible hosting account which supports PHP and MySQL
-Your FTP account login information. This includes the FTP User Name and Password for your hosting account.
-A MySQL Database for WordPress and the Database information.
-The latest version of WordPress which you can download from Wordpress.org
    NOTE:This article assumes you already have a compatible hosting account and your FTP login information. If this is not the case, obtain these items and then return to the article.

    The next step is to create a MySQL Database for WordPress.  No one ever told be this about installing WordPress but trust me - this is what gets your installation actually working.  Follow these specific instructions and you'll be up and running in not time.
    -Log in to your Account Manager 
    -Click Web Hosting.
    -Next to the hosting account you want to use, click Launch.
    -In the Databases section of the Hosting Control Center, click the MySQL icon.
    -Click Create New Database.
    -Enter a description, WordPress for instance.
    -Enter a user name and password.
    -Specify your MySQL version.
    -Specify whether you want to allow Direct Database Access.
      NOTE: Direct Database Access is a less secure way to manage your hosted databases which most users do not require. If you do not need to access your database remotely, then you should not enable Direct Database Access. For more information, see Why Connect Remotely to Shared Hosting Databases.

      Verify your MySQL database settings. If everything looks OK, click OK. It may take a few minutes to create your database. Click your browser's Refresh button to check if your database is ready.

      Once you have set up a database for your account, you can find your host name information by clicking the Pencil icon next to the name of your database. Note the following items, as they will be needed later in the install process:
        1. Host Name
        2. Database Name
        3. Database User Name
          Now, you need to download the latest version of WordPress from their servers. This can be found at WordPress.org.

          -Install WordPress
            Unzip the file from WordPress, and then upload the contents of the WordPress folder to your hosting account using an FTP client. This directory can be stored anywhere in your account, in this example it will be in the root (http://www.coolexample.com).  NOTE: Do not upload the wordpress folder itself, only its contents.

            Begin the WordPress installation by going to http://www.coolexample.com/wp-admin/install.php.
            -Click Create a Configuration File.
              Click Let's go!

              Complete the following fields, and then click Submit:
                1. Database Name — Enter your database's name.
                2. User Name — Enter your database's name.
                3. Password — Enter your database's password.
                4. Database Host — Enter your database's Host Name.
                5. Table Prefix — Do not modify this field, unless you want to run multiple WordPress installations.
                  Click Run the install.

                  Complete the on-screen fields for your blog's details, and then click Install WordPress.

                  That's it! Your WordPress blog is now installed. For assistance in the set up and maintenance of your blog, see the Getting Started with WordPress page at WordPress.org.  Also, be sure to search online for help from people who are experiencing the same issues you might be having with WordPress as a full site or blog.  Happy blogging!


                  Staying Focused: Marketing Made Simple


                  Staying focused in a social world is becoming more and more complex every day. It's not uncommon to be inundated with tweets, facebook posts, IM's and other communications throughout the day. Although I feel that I've done a reasonably good job of managing these "updates", I have to admit that it's quite distracting.

                  Those who are successful with online marketing or marketing in general have learned to focus. I've been working towards improving my focus each day and reminding myself that I'm in control of my schedule. I know this is easier said than done. That said I wanted to share my strategies for staying focused on your most important marketing projects and getting them done.

                  Here are my tips and strategies for staying focused, being productive, and getting results.

                  1. Write down all of the goals and tasks you have. I never realized how exhausting it can be to keep a mental list of everything you need to do in your head. For a long time I've been in the habit of writing my goals and tasks down every day. Although my goals don't change daily, my tasks do.  The great Earl Nightingale once said that, "you can't manage time, only tasks." And he was right.  Each day, write down the top 3 - 6 things that you must complete to move you in the direction of your goals and don't go to sleep until you've accomplished them.

                  2.  Turn off the noise.  You don't have to unplug completely from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, but you should schedule time each day to login and interact.  When you establish times to engage, you'll be much less reactive and more in control of your time.

                  3.  Every day, spend a few minutes prioritizing.  If you've created a list of tasks, you're half way there.  The second step is to prioritize your list.  Start with the tasks that take the least amount of time to complete.  Are there a couple of tasks that you can knock out in a few minutes?  If so, get them done.  You'll feel a great sense of accomplishment and have a shorter list to work from.

                  4.  Team up with others to complete your goals.  Staying focus can be easier when you share the burden.  Be open to working with others and holding your partners accountable for specific goals and outcomes.  not only does this ensure completion of given tasks that others are responsible for but can help you stay motivated and on track.

                  These are just some of the ways that I stay focused on my marketing projects.  What are some of the techniques you use?  Do you have your own incentives to complete a campaign?  What other techniques do you use?  Share your strategies with other readers of the Marketing Blog!

                  The Latest Craze in Social: Buying Twitter Followers



                  While SEO and article marketing are finally taking shape on the Internet as a viable means to approach online marketing, another effective method to look into is social media marketing. With the huge surge of social media networks these days, it is undeniable that it has a great influence on people, on the web and as well as reality. What greater influence is there than the ability to instill social proof and credibility in an instant?

                  From a marketing standpoint, a small-medium business owner, corporation, or blogger, requires the help of social media to escalate to the next level of doing great business. One outstanding social media network that functions as the virtual market place to showcase products and promotions quickly is Twitter. Within three years, it has become the number one platform that the world favors to disseminate information quickly as possible.

                  If you haven't started your own account or profile on Twitter, you should get engaged as soon as possible.  Not only can you develop a following but you can reach others in your niche or social environment.  If you're an experienced Tweeter, you know how powerful Twitter can be for interacting with others and supporting your marketing goals.  As your audience builds, so does your online influence.

                  Which is why, people are now quick to build and buy followers on Twitter. Today, having Twitter Followers is a valuable asset for any marketing campaign. Here are some reasons why marketing specialists are drawn to Twitter and why having Twitter Followers is all the rage.

                  1. Building Awareness
                  Twitter has the uncanny ability to build awareness through tweets from other people. Whether they are from strangers or friends, it is the ability to disseminate awareness quickly in one 140 character tweet.

                  2. Social Proof And Credibility
                  It may seem irrelevant to some users, but marketing specialists are now quick to use this platform as a means to garner as much attention as possible for its product. In Twitter, having a large social following is relevant to people online because it enforces the credibility and image of a company. Studies have shown that humans are genuinely curious and having a large following encourages their curiosity.

                  3. The Audience For Sales Conversions
                  If you serve a certain niche of products, what better way to attract the right audience than getting the right followers on Twitter to follow your account? Getting Twitter followers to follow your account can get the right people who are interested in your product and can increase your chances of making sales conversions. With the right interaction, these Twitter followers can help spread your tweet further down to their own networks.

                  This is merely a tactical step to achieve a successful marketing strategy in no time. Twitter also offers the real time interaction between the company and its consumers to secure a long-term relationship. If you are having a hard time getting Twitter followers on your own, then why not consider all of your options.  Whether you chose to develop campaigns that aggressively recruit Twitter followers or purchase followers from credible sources, growing your list of followers is paramount.

                  About
                  Buy Real Followers is a company under Buy Real Marketing, a wholly owned company by Clicking Labs, Inc. The company specializes in Web 2.0 Business Applications, Web Traffic, SEO Tools and Social Media Marketing. Learn more to buy followers on Twitter.  Each product specifically addresses a need within the web marketing arena. The scope of their marketing services includes the following networks: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, Tumblr, Google Plus and SEO for web properties.  Buy followers on Twitter

                  Big Changes At Hotels.com

                  This week we interviewed Vic Walia, senior director for global brand advertising at hotels.com.  The mega brand is making some major branding changes to enhance their brand and expand their reach. Check out this marketing blog exclusive interview:

                  1. What's the primary motivation for the new Hotels.com logo? We wanted to unify the brand globally and show our customers whether booking from or traveling to the US, London or Tokyo, it’s the same travel experience with hotels.com. We also wanted to convey our expertise and longstanding leadership in the market. 

                  2. In conjunction with the logo update you're also changing your tagline. Can you provide some insight into the update?Finding travelers the perfect place is really the core of what we’ve done for 20 years so we wanted to remind customers that we’re about hotels, and only hotels. We sell over 30 million room nights every year with up to 100,000 deals so we know our customers count on us to find the perfect room, which is why our new tagline resonated so well with our loyal customers on Facebook.

                  3. How has the Hotels.com brand evolved in the last year and where do you see it going in the future?The brand continues to focus on its core business, hotels. The travel market and ecommerce market is a dynamic one and constantly changes and Hotels.com will adjust accordingly, as it always has.


                  4. In your release you mentioned additional changes in the next couple of quarters. Can give our readers some insight into additional brand related changes you'll be making? In addition to the logo change globally, we will be integrating a new look and feel among all of our sites globally to help unify the brands. We have also began using our new font style within all of our creative from TV advertising, sale messaging and emails. New sub-logos have also been released in the new style for the loyalty program, Welcome Rewards and for Deal of the Day to name just a few. We are updating our Photography our Site Copy and overall page designs in order to give users a better, more informed experience as they navigate the site.

                  5. How will you measure the reaction and feedback to your new branding (logo, tagline, etc.)?The feedback will be measured most clearly by business results. Plus, we have already tested the new logo, tagline and creative with research to ensure that it appeals to our current customer base as well as any new potential customers. 

                  Special thanks to Vic Walia for sharing his rebranding secrets with us.  He is a Brand Marketing Director with over 13+ years of experience managing several billion dollar consumer brands in the Food, FMCG, Travel/Leisure and E-commerce categories.

                  How to Get ATTENTION

                  I want tostart this post with a simple, yet profound question for you to ponder aboutyour own business…

                  “What is the one thing and first thingyou just do to get money in your business?”

                  The answers Ihear when I ask this question from a live audience ranges from “Create aproduct” to “Make a sale.”

                  While theseanswers seem to make sense, the very first thing you must do in order to getmoney in your business is to GET THEATTENTION OF YOUR TARGET MARKET.  It’sthe critical first step to any marketing effort.

                  My mentor,Dan Kennedy, has this to say about this topic,

                  “It happens constantly and it is thehidden secret reason why so many marketing campaigns fall way short of theirpotential.  Not because the offer isn’tgood or wouldn’t be welcomed by all the recipients; simply because many of therecipients never know about it because we fail to command their attention.”


                  Reread Dan’s statement.  It’s simple, yet profound.  Basically you can have the best product orservice, yet if you are not getting the attention of your target market, you’regoing to go broke.

                  Not too longago I was visiting New York City.  While there, I strolled over to Times Square.  Ifyou’ve ever been to Times Square you know it’san overwhelming sensory experience. There’s traffic noise, visual noise, people noise.  It’s a bombardment and if you stay there toolong and your senses start to become numb.


                  Trying tomarket your product or services today is no different than standing in Times Square and yelling at the top of your lungs.  There’s no escape to all the marketing andadvertising noise people face.  TV,radio, billboards, newspaper and magazines, direct mail, banner ads, pop-upads, Google ads. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

                  Yourchallenge is to cut through all the noise and clutter and createtop-of-the-mind awareness with your target market.

                  Sadly… most marketingfails, because it is so “plain vanilla” and ordinary.  People are busy. They’re jaded, guarded, andskeptical. Some are cheap and down-right rude.

                   Lots of folks have no time, no patience, andlittle interest in what you’re selling. So how can you expect to get their attention by simply adding to thenoise?

                  YOU GOTTA DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY!

                  One of the most effective techniques to grab theattention of your reader, either online or offline, is to use simulatedhandwritten notes and doodles.  In thisday and age of computer-generated everything, the power of handwriting stands out.







                  You cannot help but see thistechnique used more and more.  It’s inthe advertisements in your weekend paper; it’s on television commercials and inmagazine ads. I’ve even seen it used effectively on book covers.  You are now starting to see its use on Websites, blogs and squeeze pages.

                  The use ofsimulated handwriting goes back a long way in advertising, however, manycopywriters and marketers give me credit for this most recent and widespreaduse of handwritten doodles with the creation of CopyDoodles®. 

                  As a matterof fact, marketing guru, Bill Glazer called CopyDoodles, “the biggest enhancement I have seen in the last 10 years for peoplethat are writing copy for bumping the response and making the copy much moreinteresting.” 

                  Before CopyDoodles, theprocedure to add handwritten doodles was both time-consuming and tedious.  Now you can add these powerful doodles toyour marketing in mere seconds.
                  Over the years, my clientsand I have done a number of split tests and across the boards the materialsthat contain handwritten notes and doodles always perform better than thosewithout them.
                  Of course you have to knowhow and when to use them appropriately (just slapping a bunch of CopyDoodles onyour materials without proper context can be counter-productive).

                  So why is simulated handwriting soeffective?
                  Legendary direct marketer andauthor of Common Sense Direct Marketing, Drayton Bird, says, “The use of handwritten notes in themargins can add variety and interest to the eye and brain.”  Quite simply, the widespread useof computers, word processing and laser printers has created “homogenizedmarketing.” Meaning 95% of everything looks the same.  When you introduce a handwritten orhand-drawn element to the mix, it becomes very different in a simple, human-personalitykind of way.

                  The effectiveness of a simplered handwritten note and doodle to a web page or direct mail piece can be hugeand over time this type of copy cosmetic technique can add thousands of dollarsto your bottom line.  Try it and see foryourself!

                  ++++

                  Mike Capuzziis a marketing strategist, author, speaker and newsletter publisher.  Since 1998, he has been helping entrepreneursand business owners improve their marketing and response rates.  He is the inventor of the wildly successfulCopyDoodles, which allows anybody to quickly and easily add handwritingelements to their marketing.  For a FREEebook on how to increase your marketing response and more information aboutCopyDoodles visit www.copydoodles.com.

                  Article Marketing Tips for Businesses and Internet Marketers


                  While article marketing can be a real challengefor internet marketers and online businesses, it is by far the most effectivemarketing strategy for engaging prospects, improving search engine rankings,and generating website traffic . However, in order for it to be effective, itneeds to be done properly. Here are a few article marketing tips that marketersof all levels will find helpful.

                  The Systemis Not Flawed

                  With Google’s recent Panda updates, many internetmarketers are starting to think that using keywords throughout their content isnot wise. Remember, this system came about as a means for the search engines tofind relevant articles for the searcher. The trick is to make sure keywords areused naturally within articles (4 or 5 times is more than enough for a 500 wordarticle). Try to also spend time acquiring quality backlinks and attentionthrough guest blogs and submissions to relevant authority sites, instead ofusing article blasting software. This is a smarter option to begin with as itmeans more exposure to your target audience.
                  Don’t Underestimatethe Power of your Own Website

                  Many people think that for every one article theyput on their website, they need five pointing back to it. This will help fordifficult-to-rank keywords, but you can still rank well without backlinking.One of the best article marketing tips that should never be overlooked ishaving hundreds of articles written (as time and budget allow) on relevantkeywords and placing them on your website.  This is particularly great if you have aservice or product that can be addressed in many different ways.  Remember, you can keep many web pages hiddenon your website so they can be picked up the search engines and not damage thelook of your website.

                  Rememberyour Audience

                  One question that successful businesses andmarketers frequently ask themselves is, “What is my target audience lookingfor?”  Following on from the previoustip, always keep in mind what your audience is seeking. As a website owner(regardless of your product or service), your aim should be to become anauthority within your niche. Try to provide an extensive array of content onyour website that is helpful, well written and easy to understand. You need tohave a good reason for your audience to find you and keep coming back again andagain.

                  In the world of article marketing, success comes primarilyfrom patience and persistence. People who doubt their strategy are the ones whohave the most trouble here. Take time to choose a strategy that has been knownto work and stick to it – of all the arthcle marketing tips, this is probablythe most important.


                  Article Marketing Co has been in the contentindustry for a few years now, but has recently launched a new website in aneffort to make ordering and managing content orders as simple as possible. Withexperienced American writers and editors on staff, and an aim to provide thebest articles on the internet at the most affordable prices, this place isdefinitely worth a visit. For more information, check out www.articlemarketingco.com.  

                  How to Conduct Effective Keyword Research


                  One of the most important steps asmall business owner should take when starting a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is to make sure you are targeting the right keywords with your content, blogsand press releases.

                  The best way to do this (that’salso at no cost) is using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This tool was build to help advertisersdoing Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) through Google AdWords filter and pickmore effective terms to place in PPC campaigns; and since PPC and SEO are oftenhighly correlated, it is also a valuable tool for researching SEO keywords.

                  Google’s keyword tool let’sanyone with or without an AdWords account expand and filter relevant keywordsquickly.

                  To start, type in 5-10 keywordsand phrases that describe the product or service that you want to rank for:

                  If you are a local business, tryadding the following modifiers before and after certain keywords:
                      Zip code
                      City
                      State spelled out
                      State abbreviation
                      Country
                      County
                      Region
                      City, State
                      “in” city
                      “local”

                  Once you have a solid list, typein the capcha and search.

                  At the top of the results youwill find detail on each of the keywords that you typed in; below that Googlewill expand your list and provide up to 100 keyword ideas related to the termsentered. If you are just learning SEO some of these results may be surprising toyou.




                  Next, click the “Local MonthlySearches” header to sort both lists by the average amount of times the term hasbeen searched in your country or language.



                  Then scan the list for keywords keywords that:
                      are highly relevant to your business
                      contain a low to medium competition ranking
                      have a sizable number of local monthly searches

                  The competition ranking isspeaking to the competitiveness of the term as it relates to PPC advertising,but it can be generally related to SEO as well.



                  If you would like to save yourfavorite keywords, check them off and click the download drop down menufollowed by the selected option.  This will let you save yourchecked keyword list in a variety of formats.

                  Keyword research works best ifyou do several of these types of searches, constantly washing the keyword listthat you build on subsequent expansions.

                  Once done you can then either usethe final list of 5-10 keywords as the ones you are going to target, or use anSEO-specific tool to check the SEO competition for related terms. SEOMoz (paid)and the SEO SERP plugin for Google Chrome are greatoptions for this.

                  To learn more about how to build an SEO foundation, check out Grovo’s expert serieswith Zach Ciperski, VP, Coffee For Less, Director of SEO, Elite SEM.

                  In this video series Zach coversa variety of topics, including:
                      A history of SEO
                      Choosing the right keywords
                      Onsite SEO optimizations
                      Creating SEO friendly content
                      Basic link building
                      Social media SEO
                      Video SEO
                      User experience and SEO
                      Mobile SEO

                  Special Thanks to Nick Narodny, Co-founder, SVP of Business Training for Grovo for sharing his expertise with the readers of the Marketing Blog!


                  See you at the top,
                  Mike Fleischner

                  Marketing From Your Gut


                  The nice thing about marketing is that it's both art and science.  I was recently reminded of this while I was cleaning out some of my web browser bookmarks.  As someone who's constantly bookmarking different websites, my list seems to grow daily.

                  I was reminded of a great site that actually tests different creative and shows you which one produced better results.  In addition to being sucker for data, I know that sometimes marketing is something where you have to go with your gut.  Although I wouldn't recommend that strategy as your full-time credo, there is something to be said for going with what feels right.

                  Okay, now the moment of truth.  How good is your gut?  Check out Anne Holland's Which Test Won Blog and try your hand at determining which creative outperformed the other.  By way of full disclosure I don't know Ann personally but am a big fan of her blog.  On a regular basis she provides insight into marketing creative and shares performance results.

                  What this means for you
                  From my perspective, I believe that I never doing enough testing.  Don't get me wrong, its great fun to see if one can find the "winning" creative but the reality is that a larger message is being communicated here.  How often do you test your creative?  Are you learning from each webpage, every email?  If you're like me the answer is no.  Personally I think I'm getting better with the concept of testing but I'm not there yet.


                  Each time you plan a campaign, think about doing multiple versions of it.  Printing post cards?  Create version A and version B.  Considering some new web pages?  Use Google Website Optimizer and plan a couple versions of copy or designs to test.  For me, the easiest way to start has always been to simply test a headline or subject line.


                  This may seem too simple but the reality is that headlines and subject lines account for a large percentage of readership.  Prospects can't read your message if they don't open your email or envelope.  Break down each of your campaigns into specific components and consider which can be versioned or tested.


                  Take the next step
                  As is true with an marketing initiative, you must begin by taking action.  I hope this post at least opens your mind to the possibility of doing split testing or multi-variate (testing multiple elements simultaneously) testing.  The goal is to always measure and improve upon your marketing.  This enhances your return on investment and ultimately the profitability of your marketing programs.


                  Let me know what types of tests you're running and what type of results you're seeing.  I'd be happy to share them with the rest of my blog readers!

                  Making Friends: Social Media Meets Facebook


                  I don't know about you but it seems like everywhere you turn someone is talking about Facebook.  Individuals, companies, organizations - just about everybody has a Facebook account or fan page.  From a marketing perspective, Facebook has always fascinated me and I've come to the conclusion that it's all about community.

                  People like to belong.  When you belong to a group, Like a page, or follow someone, it has meaning.  Many people like to judge their worth by the number of Facebook fans they have or number of Likes they receive to their pages.  This seems to be a good metric.  After all, the more fans or likes you have the more popular you are.  Sounds a little like High School doesn't it?  Well, the fascination with Facebook is here to stay and there are a few ways to use Facebook to your advantage. Begin with the following steps:

                  1.  Create a Fan Page.  Start with the creation of a fan page.  By developing this virtual real estate, you create a community that allows your prospects, customers, and friends to interact, develop user generated content, and gain access to special offers.

                  2.  Build Your Community.  Having a fan page is great but the real goal is to build a community.  You want people with common interests to interact with one another. The common interest could be you, your company or products.

                  3.  Create Unique Offers.  You want those who Like your page or become your fans to have access to special content or offers.  This not only encourages them to take an initial action but to keep coming back for more.

                  4.  Experiment with New Features.  Facebook is continually adding new features and modules.  Experiment by customizing your pages and adding a variety of features that engage your audience and enhances the community.

                  5.  Promote your Fan page.  If you want to build your community quickly and leverage your fans, you must promote your fan page.  Use your website, blog, emails, and email signature to let people know that you have a fan page and there are benefits to joining.  The more you promote, the more you'll convert. 

                  The key with any social media is getting started and to keep contributing.  Once you launch your fan page, don't stop there.  You should continually develop the community through original contributions, moderation, and interactivity.  View other fan pages and see how other companies are creating value.

                  When focusing on creating value, keep in mind the goal of your fans.  Help them solve a problem or learn more about their needs.  Facebook is a great tool for getting closer to your prospects and customers and is a community you can't afford to be without.



                  Recovering from a Social Media Mishap

                  The new year has been here a little over a week, and already we have seen some major social media fails. Pappa John's is currently on the chopping block for an inappropriate comment written on a receipt that later went viral on Twitter, and several large companies including Chrysler, Kenneth Cole, and Domino's all had grand fails in 2011.

                  And there is no doubt that there will be countless more social media fails by other companies before the year is up. However, while the social media failure may be inevitable for both companies large and small, that doesn't mean that they have to be the end of the line for reputable brands. We all slip up from time to time, your attempt at recovery can be the determinate between whether or not your public will forgive and forget or will crust your business. So if you find yourself with a social media failure on your hands, try to adhere to the following steps to achieve the best recovery possible:

                  Remain Calm 
                  Once you click submit, there isn't much that you can do to remove it forever from the internet. So if you find yourself staring at an inappropriate post or Tweet, stay calm. Panicking in this situation will not help you in anyway shape or form.

                  Acknowledge What You Have Done
                  One you have realized that you have committed a social media fail, you need to take the time to actually realize and consider what you have done. Have you made an inappropriate comment regarding an event or have you made a derogatory Tweet aimed at a certain group of people? Either way, you need to figure out just what type of social media disaster you have created so you can...

                  Realize Who You've Offended
                  Never start blindly apologizing, and certainly don't hand out gimmicks as an apology.  Keep the personalized pens 
                  for marketing, not apologizing. You always need to figure out what you have done and who you have apologized first. So after you have acknowledged just what you have done, you need to figure out exactly what group or groups of people you have offended.

                  Start Apologizing
                  Once you know who you have offended and how you have offended them, it is time to start apologizing, and you want to do so in a very polite and timely manner. Make sure the you come across as sincere, offer time so that those offended can offer insight, and then do anything possible to remedy the situation.


                  Prepare for the Long Haul
                  Your battle doesn't end simply because you have apologized. Depending on the severity of your social media mishap, your business could see effects linger for months. If you want to experience a complete recovery, however, you need to expect the going to be slow at first. You most likely lost the trust of your customers and they are going to want to see that you can conduct business as usual before giving you their patronage again.


                  A social media mishap can definitely be devastating, but it doesn't have to be the end. If you find yourself in the midst of one, simply keep calm and begin the recovery process as quickest as possible to reduce damage.

                  Today's guest post provided by Jenna Smith.  Jenna is a Saint Louis resident who seeks to travel the world while producing compelling content for the masses. When she isn't writing, you can find Jenna with her nose in a book, or her headphones on to block out the rest of the world.  Thanks for your contribution to the marketing blog Jenna!
                   

                  Creating An Online Marketing Community

                  A little over a year ago, I set out to build an online marketing community.  And honestly, a lot of people thought I was nuts.  With social media ruling the day, creating an online community could be considered old-school.  But the reality is that social media has only raised the awareness of the importance of community... even in marketing.

                  Last year I launched the
                  Internet Marketing Forum.  The goal was simple, "Give a platform to marketers that allows them to share ideas, contribute, and build a real community."  And I'm happy to say, a year later, The Marketing Forum has just surpassed 4,000 members.  Yeah, I'm pretty pumped.


                  The Marketing Forum has a number of sub-forums covering everything from Internet marketing to general chat.  You'll find threads and posts covering the following areas:


                  -Internet Marketing Forum
                  -Special Offers Forum
                  -Search Engine Optimization
                  -Adwords/PPC/SEM Forum
                  -Social Media Forum
                  -Affiliate Programs
                  -Internet Marketing Product Reviews & Ratings
                  -Marketing Classifieds
                  -Domains For Sale
                  -Internet Marketers For Hire
                  -HTML & Web Design
                  -Graphics & Multi-Media
                  -Content Management
                  -Web Site Programming
                  -General Chat
                  -Local Meetings, Mastermind Groups, And Events


                  As you can see, we cover virtually ever topic you can image and I'm so excited by the dialog that happens each and every day across these forums.  Because the forum is moderated, you'll find only engaging conversations and growing list of contributors.


                  Help us reach our next goal of 5,000 and then 10,000 members.  Join today!

                  Changes to the Marketing Blog in 2012

                  Each new year brings new opportunities and new ideas.  This year is no exception.  In fact, I've been spending quite a bit of time thinking about The Marketing Blog and the changes that can benefit those who read the blog as well as the advertisers that want to reach you.  For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I'm a minimalist when it comes to advertising and I have turned down many advertisers in the past.

                  Even since the days when I started with online marketing, I've been very careful never to sell names or deal with unscrupulous advertisers.  As a result, people trust me and the content on my blog.  This is important to me and everyone in our community.  I'm always looking for ways to connect audiences with information that may be beneficial though- and this year I'll be updating the blog to bring you more of what you want.

                  Changes to Design
                  Overall I'm pretty happy with the design of the Marketing Blog.  What's nice about having your own blog is that you can keep tweaking it until you have something you're really happy with.  I've avoided the "templated" approach as I want something unique that you won't find anywhere else.
                  My plan is to add some advertising units or take the display ads I currently have for my own services and open them up to more advertisers who provide relevant products and services to the marketing community.  I'm considering some self-service type solutions to provide the flexibility needed to create a win-win situation for everyone.

                  Additional Content
                  I'd also like to experiment with additional content.  Whether it's adding access to special reports, marketing magazines, or resources, additional content is important to keep everyone informed about today's marketing landscape.  
                  I'm also looking for more guest posts this year.  I can sit here and write content everyday all day but no one is an expert on everything.  This is especially true when it comes to marketing.  This year I'll be doing more to attract some of today's leading marketing experts and hope you find the additional content worthwhile.

                  What's Your Role
                  I love hearing from all of you - my blog readers.  Let me know what additional content, features, and information you're looking for me to cover this year and I'll find the experts to educate all of us across any marketing related topic.  From mobile marketing to loyalty programs, The Marketing Blog has it covered.

                  Effective Marketing Strategies For Building Your Business


                  One frequently overlooked aspect of marketing is the concept of the loyalty program.  There are many different types of loyalty programs but I think the most important aspect is all about generating repeat business. This is essential if you want to win in 2012.

                  As I was thinking about the new year, and all of the businesses (large and small) that I've helped over the past number years - I couldn't help but think about those businesses that do such a fabulous job of getting people to use their services products again and again.

                  Let's take a look at a local hotel that just opened it's doors a couple of years ago near my home.  This hotel is part of a chain and is in an ideal location for out of town guests.  As my family plans events we consider and use this hotel for relatives on a pretty regular basis.  This hotel is not the only game in town but they do a decent job at a reasonable price and the location is convenient.

                  Who is your customer?
                  There are really two separate audiences this hotel is catering to. The first audience is comprised of people like me who are using the hotel to solve a problem. My issue is simple - relatives are coming and we need the space.  There aren't a whole lot of options to solving this problem and the hotel is in tune with my needs.

                  The second audience is the guest themselves.  Not only must the hotel recognize my needs as a consumer, but they must ensure that the guest who stays at the hotel has everything they need to guarantee a pleasant stay. 

                  Now you might be saying that the first audience is more important to the hotel.  And I would agree that your biggest customers - those who purchase often - are definitely important.  I'd also like to suggest that the second audience, the guest, is equally important because by delivering exceptional service there are many additional benefits to be gained.

                  Businesses will win or lose based on word-of-mouth marketing. 

                  Whether it's social media or face to face interactions, we like to talk about our experiences.  In this example, the guest, is going to have an experience at the hotel.  If it's okay, they'll move on and probably won't even remember the name of the hotel.  If the experience is good, they may call me at some point in the future and say, "What was the name of that hotel we stayed at when we came to visit?"  If the experience was exceptional, they'll not only remember the name of the hotel but recommend it to others and/or select it as their first choice each time they come to visit.

                  As you can see, getting new customers is only half the battle.  Once you have a customer, it's important to exceed expectations.  This is the best way to grow your business.  That is, unless you have millions to send on advertising.  Even so, if you want to make the most of your marketing dollars, you must focus on creating an amazing experience to build referrals and repeat business.

                  The businesses, large and small, who do this on a consistent basis are winning, and winning big.  This is why I frequent the stores I do and I'm sure it's a large reason why you keep going back to many of the same retailers, websites, or other businesses that you interact with on a daily basis.  Sometimes your purchases are driven out of convenience but I would suggest that your repeat purchases are based on a positive user experience.