Have you been annoyed by commercials and switched channels to wait until your program comes back on? Or closed a website ad that hides the content you’re trying to reach on a web page? Consumers are getting smarter in finding ways to avoid interacting with or viewing ads and commercials. These traditional marketing methods, such as telemarketing, magazine ads, television commercials and direct mailing, are called Outbound Marketing. In contrast, “Inbound Marketing” has been evolving more recently to reach potential customers in different ways.
Inbound marketing takes advantage of newer media, such as blog posts, online videos, email newsletters, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media marketing and other forms of content marketing. Inbound Marketing’s methods draw visitors to the advertising content, rather than distributing the marketing content to potential customers.
Another difference between Outbound and Inbound Marketing is that with Outbound methods, you attempt to “buy” the attention of your potential customers, whereas with Inbound methods, you focus on attracting customers to your website, social media accounts, etc.
Consumers today do not like being pushed into making their purchasing decisions by overly aggressive marketing, but prefer being persuaded by their own research and analysis of the product or service they require and the companies that provide the options available to them. Many will have made their final choices long before they set foot in a store, which is why Inbound Marketing is becoming a more and more important strategy for promoting companies’ products as well as reputations for service and performance.
There are many tools that can be used for effective Inbound Marketing. YouTube videos are a new and popular tool that can take advantage of great stories and home videos from satisfied customers. You can begin with a simple blog on your website or a YouTube channel to showcase your videos, or expand your reach with Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. Sharing your knowledge, behind the scenes scoop on upcoming products and interacting with potential customers will lead to organic marketing—just be patient and post new content consistently and regularly to grow your audience and your business.
Happy customers are the best way to grow and market your company, and Inbound marketing can help naturally increase your business.
You don’t have to be a big corporation to capture and utilize customer data to improve the efficiency of your business. An easy way to do just that is to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to track your customer information, rather than solely relying on Excel or Outlook to manage your company contacts lists.
A CRM allows you to store current and potential clients’ contact information and keep track of communication and project history all in one place. There are many options available, suited to businesses of all sizes. A large company might choose to buy a specific software and install it on a central server or individual computers, whereas smaller businesses that don’t have or need servers might utilize web-based CRM tools, such as PSPinc’s simple CRM, FlatCRM
Once you have chosen a tool to capture and store information, you can analyze the data and use it to improve your client relationships and grow your business. Here are a few ways trackable client data can be used:
1. Customized email campaigns
As you capture email addresses, you can tag each one with information such as location, age, and preferences for different services or products you offer. You can sort your data to create mailing lists targeting those interests to be used for email campaigns relevant to those specific people. Collecting a few extra details will allow you an opportunity to focus on specific customers, and using an email marketing service that allows you to personalize emails with recipients’ names and details, such as PSPinc’s NewsMAIL
, can help you directly address your audience in a more personal and friendly way.
2. Know your customers
As a customer, it can be frustrating to call a business’ customer service department and have to rehash over and over the reason for your call as you get passed to whoever can help you. When your customer service and sales representatives can quickly and easily access information about all prior interactions with a particular customer, it lets them better serve that person by understanding their history with the company and current needs, leading to more positive interactions and outcomes for both parties.
3. Review internal challenges
At times, business owners may have a need to be able to review their company’s interactions with a particular customer if a problem arises. Recording communication data lets you go back and evaluate the situation to determine where control was lost or what the weak link in the process was that failed. The more information available to you in these types of situations, the better, and having access to more data will empower you to make better business decisions as well as short and long term plans.
A CRM isn’t a magic wand that will improve your processes for you, but it is an important tool that can collect the data you need to meet challenges head-on and make informed decisions about your policies and marketing plans.
In past articles, we have covered how to attract people to our website and convert visitors into leads. But how can you attract people who are more likely to convert into leads and customers? Without the right audience, a website can’t generate new business.
In order to attract the right audience to your website, you first need to determine what makes that audience the best one for you. You can do this by analyzing your existing customer base and defining the characteristics that your customers share, as well as comparing your competitors’ offerings to your own. Once you have done this, you can go back to the marketing plan you’ve written and create demographic goals.
While it is beneficial to list out your preferred characteristics, it’s also good to keep asking yourself WHY they are useful traits while you’re compiling your lists.
Once you’ve defined your preferred audience, put yourself in their shoes. How will they seek out products or services like yours? What will be the important decision making points that get them to click over to your website? Where and how will they hear about your business or products?
For example, a restaurant owner might want their audience to include
-locals and people who frequent the neighborhood
-people who dine out often
-people who prefer the restaurant’s cuisine
-people who frequent restaurants in the same price range
-visitors and tourists, if the business is in a hotspot or near a convention center
Once you’ve determined who you would like to approach, you can redefine your messaging, where and how you choose to market your business. It can be more cost effective to choose a narrow target demographic, but too narrow and you can miss out on other opportunities. It’s important to find a balance, based on your acceptable risk and expected return, and what serves your business goals and objectives.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know who you want to reach and learn as much about them as you can in order to communicate your offerings effectively to your target audience.
It's one thing to generate more traffic to your website, but it is another thing entirely to generate leads and convert visitors interested in what you have to offer. If you monitor your website’s traffic using Google Analytics or any other monitoring software, you will see a statistic called “Bounce Rate.” The Bounce Rate shows the percentage of visitors that reach your site and leave within a very short period of time, i.e., visitors that “bounce” right off your site. In order to maintain a healthy, low Bounce Rate your site needs to engage your visitors and keep interested parties on the page long enough to be enticed by what you have to offer. For this, content plays the most important role on the homepage.
How do we engage visitors and convert them to leads?
First of all, do you have a way to capture a lead on your website? Can visitors easily figure out how to contact you? Do any of your staff that answer new callers ask where they heard about your business?
Your website’s homepage needs engaging content an attractive call to action in order to generate leads from your site traffic. Both of these aspects must make sense to an interested visitor if you want to turn them into a potential customer. Having things like “Sign up for our newsletter to receive offers and coupons!” or “Register for free samples!” can help persuade a visitor to submit their information and inquiries via a simple form that doesn’t discourage their interest while signing up.
Calls to action should be noticeable and easy to access from the first page your visitor lands on. Brightly colored banners or buttons pointing are easy to find and encourage clicks. The forms they lead to should be basic, without asking too many questions or for too much personal information. Too long or complicated a form will lead to visitors abandoning your site rather than finishing and submitting their data, and you don’t want to increase the Bounce Rate from your lead capture form.
Changing up the placement of your call to action items on a regular basis will let you see what works best for generating leads on your site. Little changes to the form, the color, or the location of the link could have a big impact on the effectiveness of your lead generation.
Are you ready to do business online? What does your website say about you, your products and services?
Building a website is only one part of your marketing strategy. The business marketing plan you create for your product or service helps you determine the strategies you will use to achieve the goals you set, as well as establishing benchmarks that allow you to measure your online marketing activities’ performance.
How do you write a marketing plan?
Step 1 - Set an objective and goal
Set a goal and create specific marketing objectives. These will form the foundation of your marketing plan, so take a little time and work out what you want to achieve and what actions you would need to get there.
For example, you might like to be able to gain 10 new clients every month for a service-based business, such as a salon, or to increase your product’s monthly sales by 50% within a year, such as a tea shop might.
Be specific and set quantitative objectives with timeframes for completion, otherwise your plan won’t be effective. Setting reasonable, and measurable, objectives in a concrete timeframe will be the framework for the rest of your marketing plan.
Step 2 - Make a list of tasks and action items
Take the objectives you created and list all the things that need to be done in order for you to complete them. Be realistic in what you can do, these shouldn’t be hypothetical or aspirational.
If our salon owner from Step 1 wants 10 new clients each month, they are probably going to want to get 30 inquiries from potential new customers. The owner can place ads to attract those potential customers, but they aren’t going to only want 30 inquiries. The ads must reach a larger audience and appeal to the type of possible customers that could convert to new customers due to being part of the target demographic, such as distance from the salon, ability to afford the services offered, etc. Different actions reach different people, so you must choose the ones that will be most effective while still being affordable for you.
Step 3 - Share your list with your team
Share your ideas with your team and get feedback. Sometimes, things that seem like great ideas turn out not to be feasible options, and you can’t know what will and won’t be possible until you discuss it with your team. Different points of view can also be very helpful in coming up with new ideas or compromises that will make your strategies effective in gaining new business.
Step 4 - Take action
Once you and your team are clear on the objectives and what activities need to be undertaken, it’s time to schedule the activities and set dates for review. Periodic reviews help keep your projects from going off the rails without anyone noticing while also showing what strategies are working and will lead you to a successful outcome.
Whether the marketing plan is meant for online or offline business, the basics are the same. Set your objectives, create a plan and measure your progress towards your goals and objectives along the way.
Many business owners have heard that it’s important to have a blog for your business, but haven’t ever been told why it’s a useful tool. The reason why blogs are beneficial for business is that they contribute to the Content Marketing area of your business’ marketing strategy.
Content Marketing is the part of your marketing strategy that should be “focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
This means that the content you put online is designed to appeal to potential customers and make them aware that your business offers solutions for their specific needs.
Here are three reasons why a blog plays an important role in your Content Marketing efforts:
1. Blog posts increase the chances of being found online
There are many keywords you can include in your website’s content, but blogs can expand on those keywords or add new ones to your content. More pages with your keywords and company name in the same place help increase the odds of search engines showing your page in search results for those keywords. Frequent and regular content updates can also contribute to a higher spot in search results.
2. Visitors convert into leads
When a potential customer first visits your site, the extra information provided by blog articles can help convert a visitor into a lead. You can solicit more information from them using forms to gather contact information, questions and subscriptions to your newsletter. Having calls to action in your blog posts engage visitors and help convert them from visitors to leads.
3. Display your industry expertise
Blog articles allow you to share knowledge and demonstrate why you’re an expert in your industry while building your brand. Consumers are more likely to trust opinions and reviews than advertising copy, and publishing articles online can help you build a following for your brand backed up by the positive reviews you cultivate online.
PSPinc found blogging so beneficial for our customers that we built a free, easy to use blogging platform, Bloguru
, to help anyone who wants to build their presence online. Our Dreamersi web hosting service
’s website builder also has support for adding a Bloguru blog built right into the system so that you can aggregate your blog posts and update your website automatically every time you publish a new article.
Want to see what the hype is about? Give blogging a try for free with Bloguru.
Looking for a new home for your website, or an easy way to built a website for your business with an integrated blog? Contact us for more information.
Blogging is one of the easiest ways to serve relevant content directly to the consumers who are looking for solutions your business offers. Get started today and integrate a blog and Content Marketing into your business’s online marketing strategy!
Did you know that it is estimated that 1 out of every 3 people will look up information about local businesses on their mobile device before going to visit a business or store? I do, because that is exactly what I do. Whether it is just to check the store hours or the address, or to find a business that serves an immediate need, potential customers rely on information available online. What if that information is wrong? Is your business is listed at the wrong address — an old address you moved out of last year? Or do search results display an old telephone number? How would people find you?
It is very important to maintain and update our business information online, and here are some things you might want to consider when updating your website or social presence:
Make sure you have your correct address, telephone number and other relevant location information listed on your site in an easy to find spot
Be mobile friendly—if your site isn’t navigable on a small screen, you can lose potential customers who can’t find what they’re looking for on your site
Claim your Google listing on “Google My Business”
Make sure other information such as open hours and other business addresses are entered correctly in Google My Business
Ask your clients to leave your business reviews and star ratings on Google
Search and verify your business’ information on Google and other search engines regularly
Many consumers make decisions based not only on the quality of reviews, but also on the quantity of the reviews. Moz is a company that specializes in SEO and analyzes how Google’s formulas work. In their 2015 survey report
, Moz attributed 8.4% of Google’s ranking factor to reviews.
Your customers can help your business grow by reviewing you online. It’s an easy and free way to boost your local search results as well as encourage more potential customers to seek out your business to fill their needs, so don’t forget to ask for reviews when your transaction is complete!
When you run a business, it can feel like you’re being pulled in many directions. Though it can require making a few changes in how you conduct some of your business processes and an initial investment in both time and money, choosing and using the right technology can make running your business easier, no matter what the size.
While implementing new technology often requires change, the benefits often greatly outweigh the initial discomfort.
More often than not, new software can cause frustration and take much more time to use when learning than it will in normal daily use. The best way to avoid or reduce this is to spend some time researching the type of software you need and the benefits of different products available to you before you commit your money or your time to a solution.
A great example of software that can make your life easier is content management software. A Content Management System (CMS) is a piece of software that will let you build and manage your website content through a web browser. Building a website from scratch requires, at minimum, a working knowledge of HTML and CSS, but CMS software lets you skip the coding step and build or manage a website with the same skills required by a word processor. WordPress is one of the best known CMS tools, and PSPinc created WebdeXpress, a CMS for our Dreamersi web hosting customers to use on our hosting platform.
Not all CMS are created equal. Some are great for complex technical websites and require the user to have either basic or advanced knowledge of HTML, CSS or other coding languages to use properly. Others eliminate the need for coding and offer features that can be turned on and off through a Wizard or menus, making it easy for anyone to create and manipulate pages. Many CMS allow for the use of plug-ins, pre-set bits of code that create specific features, to be used, but many require that you configure parts of your hosting or CMS platform and perform software updates yourself, tasks which might be intimidating or impractical for many non-technical users.
The only way to know for sure that a system or software will work for you is to give it a try after narrowing down your options through research. Take advantage of free trials, watch online demo videos and explore demo sites to see if the final product is what you’re looking for. Don’t choose a product just because it’s the best known or the most commonly used in your industry—sometimes the best fit for you will be something you haven’t heard of before but that you and your staff are the most comfortable using. Whatever technology you choose to utilize for your business should ultimately be a benefit, and not a liability, to your business.
As in many industries, it is common to come across abbreviated terms when talking about software and web technology. One that is commonly confusing is “SEM.” Often conflated with SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, SEM is a related but different area that is also important to your website.
SEM stands for “Search Engine Marketing, and obviously shares the “Search Engine” part of the abbreviation with SEO. The two are related in that SEO will always be a part of a bigger SEM strategy, and Search Engine Marketing covers a wide variety of activities that are incorporated into your online marketing plan.
SEO practices are used to help increase your search rank and website organically, which means without paying for advertising on any of the search engines. Organic search traffic is very important to your website, but it’s not the only way that visitors find their way to your site.
This is where Search Engine Marketing comes in to play, by complimenting the organic SEO you’ve built with paid advertising that appears both on search engine results as well as pages within the ad network. These ads are often referred to as “pay-per-click” or “PPC” ads, and you are charged every time a user clicks on the ad and is taken to your website. Google AdWords and Bing ads are two of the most commonly used PPC networks for SEM.
While clicks are obviously the goal of most PPC campaigns, SEM can help grow your brand awareness in the same way that paper advertising can even when the ads aren’t clicked, as the more times they are shown to a user, the more familiar that user will be with your company and/or products. Many ads let you edit what the viewer is shown, and you can include information such as selected quotes from reviews, location information and phone numbers. The traffic generated by ad clicks and returning visitors can also help boost your search ranking in the early days of your SEO when you may not have a presence in the top pages of your search terms.
While Google is responsible for around 80% of search traffic, Bing and Yahoo make up most of the remaining 20%. You can begin working on your SEM using either Google AdWords or Bing ads and switch or add another service at any time—you’re only paying for the ads that are clicked on, so if one service doesn’t work out for you, you aren’t going to be out much money. Both services function on an auction-based system, allowing you to set “bids” for the keywords of your choosing. In order for your ad to be displayed, you will need to combine a high enough bid and a quality ad. There are different positions on the search result pages, and where you display on that page is also determined by your ad’s bid, format and performance.
Many keywords can be bid on for a few dollars or less and be successful, but highly sought after keywords can get expensive quickly. Examples of some keywords that often bid for $45 or more are “insurance,” “loans, “mortgage” and “attorney.” You can both keep your budget in control and target users who are searching for what you’re offering by using multiple-word keywords that describe your product and adjusting the location and daily budget settings within your campaigns.
SEO is very important to your website, but SEM works hand in hand with SEO to help your site reach the most people who have a need for your product and services.
I’m pretty sure you are at least a little familiar with the term “SEO” if you’re reading this article, but for those who are new, today I’m going to cover the basics of what this commonly-heard term means for you.
Wikipedia defines SEO—Search Engine Optimization—as
Search engine optimization, the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results...
You use SEO practices in order to create a website that will be found by search engines and visible in search results without paying for advertising on Google, Yahoo or other search engines. There are both technical/invisible and creative/front-end methods that will improve your visibility to search engines and ranking in search results, though both require discipline in your website updates.
There are around 250 million registered domains on the web, and around 1 billion websites. It is important to create a site that will stand out to search bots and to search engine users if you hope to grow your business online.
Google is used for 80% or more of internet searches, making it one of the most powerful players in the search engine optimization game. Keeping up with Google’s updates to their search algorithms is important to your SEO strategy, and most other search engines will eventually adopt similar changes to their algorithms as well. Last year, Google announced that they had begun factoring in a website’s mobile-friendliness to its search rank. In May 2016, they are expected to make further updates to their algorithm that will favor websites with responsive and mobile friendly designs over those that can only be viewed on large screens.
A website with a technically-perfect architecture optimized for search engines will only take you so far—much of search engines’ rankings also depends on the “popularity” of the website as well. Google, Yahoo and other engines have multiple factors that determine a site’s popularity. Exact formulas are unknown, but key elements of any SEO strategy include keeping abreast of published updates from the major search engines, regular website updates and relevant content.
What are the best practices? Stay tuned in, and don’t neglect your website.
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