Posts Tagged Internet marketing

Online Marketing has gone to the dogs

It’s been nearly 8 years now since I started online marketing company 2bscene. At the time, there weren’t many dedicated online marketing companies around. Most companies offering online marketing services were either web design or advertising agencies trying to cash in on what was clearly going to be a massive growth area of business.

Search Engine Optimisation was still pretty much in it’s infancy and I had built up 4 years experience of search engine optimisation of websites before I started 2bscene. God, in those days it was a hell of a lot easier to rank than it is today.

Of course, Google Adwords wasn’t around then, so there were fewer online marketing opportunities. We did have a number of online advertising options, but they were limited generally to banner advertisements and advertorials.

There was nothing as popular, nor as effective as Google Adwords is today. Banner advertisements were beginning their steep decline in click through rates and search engine optimisation was hardly heard of.

In fact organic search engine optimisation was the only real option for many businesses to get found online, yet little knew about this little secret never mind recognise it’s potential.

I have to admit, I didn’t come from a marketing background when I started 2bscene. I naively opted to study music and live my dream rather than contemplate choosing a college course that would enhance my career! However marketing was something that always interested me greatly.

I had gained significant marketing experience (and interest) in the companies I had worked with before setting up 2bscene and felt I could effectively build and grow a company selling online marketing services. Online marketing was a new and exciting way for businesses to promote their brand and there were very few companies offering the service in Ireland. Therefore the only thing I could be judged on was the results I achieved.

Fast forward 8 years and oh how the landscape has changed.

I had many reasons for setting 2bscene up as a solely online marketing services company. One of the main reasons was to distinguish my business from other web design companies.

At the time web design companies were popping up all over the place, everyone you talked to knew someone who was a web designer. Of course, you could still only count the good ones on one hand, but the surge in growth of these cheap and nasty web design companies was rapidly helping to deteriorate the web design market. From students working from their parents bedroom to the fly by night web designers who have disappeared off the face of earth, they all did little to enhance the reputation of a “web designer”. In fact, they did the complete opposite.

I get it all the time from new clients “we had a falling out with our web designer” or “we can’t get in touch with our web designer”. The perception of a web designer followed through in many advertising campaigns with the likes of IBM featuring web designers off snowboarding while their was a disaster taking place at the office. Web designers became a breed of people who could simply not be trusted to be there in a time of need.

The student type web designer brought web design to a level where a lot of people expect web designers to work for free or next to free. In their naive approach to business, they’d undertake to do a job only to realise they would bore with the client and their requests quite rapidly. In some cases, they thought the best solution was to do a huge amount of work for free in order to get the client off their backs. And of course, there were those who simply said the job is too big for me and disappeared, never to be contacted again.

Now the same thing seems to be happening with the online marketing industry. In fact, everyone wants to be or claims to be a search engine optimisation expert nowadays. I’ve never in my life encountered so many people in any other industry I’ve worked in, that claim to know more than the expert they have hired to do the job for them.

A times it can be a major struggle to have a reasonable discussion with a client/potential client about how best to market their website. There are a lot who feel that they are near experts in search engine optimisation because they have done “a lot” of research on the subject. A little knowledge is probably the most disruptive of all.

It doesn’t help much when businesses like “Snap Printing” decide that they are all of a sudden web marketing and web design experts because they now offer these services to clients. Pretty much all of our clients have been approached by UK online marketing companies offering to get their site listed at the top of Google for €x per month which is clearly a total scam. Yet, clients still question and compare the work we do, to what these shower offer.

Look let’s face it, search engine optimisation is not rocket science and is not hugely difficult when you know what to do. Anyone who has done even the most basic research on search engine optimisation could possibly rank a site for a non competitive keyphrase, that’s fact. But there is one key skill to search engine optimisation that I feel is the most important strength and that is… experience. Because search engine optimisation is changing all the time, having the experience to notice the changes that have occurred and why makes the job a whole lot easier.

Google Adwords and other pay per click solutions are similar. Pretty much anyone can get an account set up and get your site listed in the top results, but the value add from a professional comes in when they help you get the most bang for your buck. Experience is what makes the pros stand out from the rest.

I find it incredibly sad that the industry has come to this as I feel like the bubble is about to burst on the whole industry. In the past, there was a massive burst bubble for the web design industry. Web designers admittedly charged well over the odds for a simple website that never had a chance of generating a return on the investment. This led to many businesses believing that having a website was not a worthy investment for their business and opted not to have one at all. Web designers in the past year saw a massive rush by the companies without websites finally realising that the web was the way to go, but again a lot opted for the cheap option rather than choosing a true professional to do the work.

When I look around at the new so called experts that are leading the industry today, I find it hard to see any real quality. It seems to be the same old faces who you can rely on and trust. The problem with that is that a lot of these are too busy to handle the smaller clients and therefore the smaller online marketing companies are picking up the pieces and doing a pretty woeful job.

A recession is no better time to weed out the poor companies, but I just hope it doesn’t take too long for these guys to get found out!

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Google update Keyword Tool accuracy

Google in 1998, showing the original logo
Image via Wikipedia

If you haven’t used the Google Keyword Tool lately to find keywords to target in your SEO campaign, you should really go back and check again. Google recently updated their keyword tool and have made it a lot more accurate than it was in the past.

Those used to using the Google Keyword Tool, probably took these results with a pinch of salt. Google Keyword Tool was nothing more than a very good guide as to what the most popular search terms being used to find a product or service relating to your business.

Every SEO has his/her way of deciphering the data presented by Google’s keyword tool. Some simply divided the results by 10, while others divided it in half. Whatever your method was,you should really go and reassess your keywords as soon as possible.

Some examples provided by other online marketing experts show massive differences in what is reported in the latest update compared to the old date. For example the term “Golf Clubs” once recorded as having over 165,000 searches per month is now down to just over 33,000.

Google of course, haven’t commented on the update – it’s no wonder considering a lot of people based their online marketing strategy on the free tools they provide.

What are you waiting for? Go check your keywords now https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

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Tools for Building a Successful Online Marketing Campaign

Online marketing is quite a broad term used to describe the act of marketing a business or web-site online. It encompasses all online marketing activities such as Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click, Email Advertising, Google Advertising, Banner Advertising and of course Social Media Advertising.

If you’ve ever met someone and discussed online marketing with someone who works in the online marketing industry, you were probably amazed at how much knowledge this person had of the Internet and its usage. Every Internet marketing expert I know loves to recite the latest statistics on the growth of social media marketing, browser usage and pretty much anything other useful online statistics. Most people I know look at online marketing as some sort of god like skill that only the elite and very web savvy fellows can possess. Much of this can be blamed on the self hype created by a lot of these new wave “marketing experts” who think only they possess this knowledge. The reality is that anyone can do this job and a lot of the tools they use to gather key statistical knowledge about your business is at your fingertips and generally for FREE!

Researching your target market is the key to a successful marketing campaign, whether online or off. But what information should you be looking for and where can you find it?

  1. Keyword Tools
    It sounds like the most obvious place to start, yet the majority of people I encounter every day don’t know that they can get statistics on the number of times a search for their product or service was searched for on a monthly basis. Not only do they not know they could get access to this information, they certainly didn’t know it was free!Keyword Tools are the best place to start when planning any online marketing campaign.

    Keyword tools allow you to quickly establish the amount of interest there is in your product or service by showing how often a keyphrase was searched for on a monthly basis across the major search engines. Most go one step further and create a list of other suggested relevant keyphrases that that people are using for when searching for the products or services you offer. A good keyword tool will also you to drill down to see statistics relating to searches in your locality as opposed to just globally.

    Google Keyword Tool is probably the best free Keyword Tool available on the web today.
    https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

  2. Google Ad Planner
    It’s not surprising that since Google make the majority of their revenue from Advertising that they would offer another great free service to help you establish how best to market your business online, step up Google Ad Planner.

    Google bought Doubleclick back in 2007 for $3.1 billion. Since then they’ve rolled out the Google Ad Planner to its network of advertisers. What’s great about Google Ad Planner is that you can research and select some of the web’s top properties that you would like to advertise your business on. It allows you to view statistical data such as the number of visits per month, search terms used to find the website and the demographics of users (where possible) of most of the webs largest online properties. You can pretty much see statistical usage information on any website that have advertising opportunities open to the public.

    If you want your advertisement to appear on some of the webs most popular websites, this is where your research should start.
    www.google.com/adplanner/

  3. Facebook
    There are over 1.5 million people in Ireland with a Facebook account, that’s simply a market too big to ignore. Facebook offer an advertising system similar to Google Adwords that allows advertisers to target specific users based on a number of different criteria such as sex, age, location, interests etc.

    A lot of web marketing experts use the Facebook “Create an Advert” system to get an idea of the demographics of those using Facebook. It’s quite a nifty little tool that updates immediately on screen as you select different criteria. Of course, you don’t have to complete the advert to access this extremely valuable information. Another great tool that is absolutely free!

    www.facebook.com/ads/create/

  4. Google Trends
    This is probably the least effective of all tools mentioned, but it’s definitely worthy of being in the list. Google Trends allows you to compare the world’s most popular topics. One really good feature in Google Trends is the ability to see the rise or fall of certain search terms used to find your product or service.

    For example, you could try a search for “online marketing, SEO“. The results will show you how people searching for the term “online marketing” has stayed pretty stagnant over the last 6 years, while searches for “SEO” have grown substantially. With this knowledge I can see what terms are best to focus now.

    Another cool feature to Google Trends is to see which terms are most popular in different countries.

    www.google.com/trends

  5. Google Adwords
    I always suggest Google Adwords as a tool to anyone who plans on marketing their business online. I’ve left it until very last because it’s the only one of the tools I have suggested that is not free. However, although it’s not free, it can be a hugely beneficial tool for gaining insights into the habits of those people you are targeting can be.

    Even running a small Google Adwords campaign on a budget of just €50 will give you invlauable information that you simply wouldn’t be able to gather in any other way. Google Adwords is instant, your advert is live within minutes and you can quickly analyse the performance of your advert on so many levels.

    Setting up and running a Google Adwords campaign is simple, but running an effective one is actually quite difficult. You should spend time learning about Google Adwords and how it works to fine tune your campaign.

    www.google.com/adwords

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How to boost your online sales

As we gradually emerge from the global recession, those businesses that have been lucky enough to survive should now focus their attention on creating new ways to sell their products or services online. After all, the Internet accounted for over $150 billion worth of sales last year, a jump of 17% on the previous year. Ignore these figures at your own peril.

The reality is though, and might come as a shock to some, but selling online is pretty much the same as the old traditional methods of selling. In order for your business to succeed online, it is essential that you use the knowledge that you’ve obtained about your business over the years, readjust it (with the help of an expert) and there’s no doubt your business can flourish online.

The Basics
Right now, it’s not uncommon for businesses to offer cut price deals to attract new customers. Everywhere we look there seems to be a retailer with a new sale on. But after you’ve won that order from your new customer, the key is to continue to provide a great experience for them so that they keep coming back for more, even when times are good again.

The same applies to the Internet, you need to treat each customer as if they were visiting your physical shop.  You should constantly look for ways to improve user experience and give your website that competitive edge. And what’s the best way to know what makes your customers tick? Yes…just ask them! You should get as much feedback as possible from your customers and action on those things that your customers feel are most important.

Marketing
In every downturn, the first item on the list to be cut is generally the marketing budget. Trying new channels is probably worth the effort. Spending more money in one area and less in another, but this isn’t worthwhile if you can’t quantify the return on investment from each channel.

The beauty of online marketing is that there are so many free tools available to you to build a dynamic marketing campaign. Having the ability to quantify the success of your marketing campaign is easy and in real-time! Unlike traditional methods, you can be reactive and respond quickly by modifying your campaign in response to user behaviour.

Google, unsurprisingly, lead the way in terms of offering free tools to website owners to help them establish a great online presence. Not only do they provide tools to help you research and find what your potential customers will be looking for online, but they also offer many tools to help you quantify the success of your campaign.

Take Google Analytics for example, an enterprise statistics package that will allow you to analyse visitor behaviour which in turn can help you quickly establish the areas of your website or campaign that need improving. In conjunction with the their Conversion Tracking feature, you will be able to establish the chain of events user by the visitor to complete a transaction or an area that is making the visitor leave your website before completing the transaction.

Couple this with another great weapon from Google; Google Website Optimiser, you can get down to the finest detail to find out what makes people react more positively to your website. Google Website Optimiser allows you to run free A/B split tests on your website.

Search Engine Optimisation
If I’m completely honest, Search Engine Optimisation bores me. It’s not because I’m tired of seeing just about everyone jumping on the gravy training and suddenly offering becoming an SEO an expert, that does annoy me, but it’s not that. No, my problem is that I believe every website regardless of how big or small should be designed with the search engines in mind. SEO is an integral part of any online campaign. If your website cannot be found, really what’s the point in having it in the first place?

SEO isn’t rocket science and I believe anyone who wants to promote their business online should know the basics. And when I say basics, I mean the basics! Search engine optimisation is an interesting topic and as soon as you start doing a bit of research you quickly find yourself being drawn into the inner workings of it all. However, a lot of the information that you find on the web (if you don’t know where to look) is either inaccurate or completely out of date.

Since SEO is the foundations of every website, your focus should now turn to conversion optimisation. Spend more time working with your designer to create areas of increased conversion opportunities on your website.

Social Media Marketing
It hasn’t taken long for this phrase to be on the tip of every Internet sales guys tongue. According to most Internet marketing gurus, Social Media Marketing is the future of the web. In fairness I do believe it is and will be an important part of online marketing, but at the moment it is too difficult to quantify the real return on investment.

Engagement is the key word here. To get anything back from your social media marketing, you need to engage with your customers. A lot of companies with Facebook pages prevent people from posting on their wall in fear of one unhappy customer posting scandalous remarks about their business. But believe it or not, a lot of potential customers are happy to see how you, the company, deal with customers like this. Engaging with even the most insane customer to attempt to resolve their issue publicly could actually work in your favour.

Twitter is a different beast altogether. A lot of companies believe the strategy for Twitter should be to simply post as many links to their blog, products or any other article related to their area of expertise. In fact, this strategy is most likely going to damage their reputation. Twitter is about networking – it’s no different than going to your local business network meeting only that it is done online with no particular agenda.

To summarise what we have discussed above, boosting your online sales should be approached in same manner as you would your off-line business. The customer should always be your core focus of attention. Regardless of how you attract the customer, their experience should be the best it can possibly be so that they continue to comeback for more and recommend you on to their peers.

If you need help building a web strategy that will boost your sales online, why not contact me to see how I can help you. Email tom@2bscene.ie or phone +353 1 2190223

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Creating Killer Call-To-Actions for your Website

Possibly one of the most common occurring themes for the majority of Irish websites is the lack of strong “call-to-actions?.

Having great call-to-actions one of the most effective (yet often overlooked) ways in which you can get people to interact with your website visitors. In a nutshell, call to actions make the visitors on your website “do something?. So if you want the person visiting your website to do something, tell them!

Personally, I don’t think you need to read the many studies that show how effective a strong call to action can be to realise that they can greatly improve the response from the visitors to your website. For me it’s quite obvious that by constantly making it clear what you want the person to do when they are on your website, will have an effect.

Developing strong call to actions are not rocket science, but in saying that, you should spend sometime thinking about what you want the button to do and how you will achieve it. Here are three simple steps to help you build a killer call to action:

Colour
The easiest way to make a call to action jump off a page is to emphasise it with colour. There are studies that suggest red, yellow and orange are the best colours to use for many different reasons, but the general rule of thumb should be that it stands out from the background.

Wording
Setting aside time to research what wording is best for your call to action could prove time well spent. If you want someone to do something, tell them this. For example don’t be afraid to say “Click here to…?. Think hard about the effect the wording you are using will have on someone. In reality you should try some split testing to see what wording works best.

Placement
We all know that it’s hard to gauge exactly how small or big the screen of the person visiting your website actually is, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of research to find out what the majority of people on the web are using. Choose your optimum resolution and ensure that all (or those most important) call to actions appear “above the fold?. In other words, make sure the user doesn’t have to scroll to see your call to action.

And the only way to finish off this post is to say… test, play, experiment and test again!

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