Posts Tagged Social Media Marketing

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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The Twitter Distraction

A pie chart created in Excel 2007 showing the ...
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It’s been just over a year now since I’ve been using Twitter as part of my daily routine. For the initial few months I was regularly updating Twitter with some interesting and some not so interesting tweets.I would set aside at least 15 mins a day to network with people on Twitter or at least post about an article I’ve found or written.

Now however, things have changed quite drastically. I can’t remember the last time I posted a decent tweet or one at all! I know it was sometime last week and it was more of a demonstration to a client as to the power of posting a link on Twitter. Although I want to tweet, I’m increasingly finding it hard to find the time or the will to post something on Twitter. It’s not that I don’t believe in the hype surrounding Twitter, it’s more that I don’t have the time to work at networking through this medium. Sometimes it’s just easier to ring someone and ask them to go for a coffee rather than spend time looking for an opportunity to network with people you know, whether that’s through Facebook, Twitter or any other social network.

Clearly, I’m not the only one feeling this way. In October 2009, the Irish Twitter community was devasted when it appeared that the much loved (and hated) Damien Mulley was no longer using Twitter. How could this be? they asked… One of the most respected online marketing experts in the country had simply given up on Twitter and disappeared into oblivion. It didn’t help of course when he didn’t post on his blog for weeks either. But the reality was, that this wasn’t really the case as he explains on his blog (read here). Damien brings up other things such as privacy in his post which opens up another a whole new can of worms. It’s sad to think that someone can’t just disappear for a couple of says because of their popularity on Twitter!

I read James Forbairts blog today, who too has decided to take a look at the time he spends on Twitter. He takes a more frightening reality on how much time he has “wasted” on Twitter over the past couple of years (read here). To see the amount of time he has spent on Twitter really begs the question as to how worthwhile it really is.

The biggest problem with Twitter is, like every other form of networking, it’s extremely difficult to quantify the value of the work you put into it. One thing is for definite, you will get some sort of return. The problem is you just don’t know how much of it was worth it.

It’s so easy to get distracted by Twitter – I personally use Twhirl to receive all the tweets from people I am following. Most of the time, I completely ignore the pop up messages that appear on my screen each time Twhirl collects the latest tweets for me. But every now and again something does grab my attention and I’m hooked.

Has it been worthwhile for my business – well I guess so, I have got work from it. All of us in business network so people get to know us and hopefully recommend us to someone when they encountered someone looking for our services. The more people you know, the more people are promoting your business and vice versa. Was my conversion ratio high? Not at all, the reality is I’m probably in minus figures at this stage! But that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t me in the long run.

Twitter has now become more spammy than email in terms of my inbox. Most spam emails to my account are filtered out before they even reach my inbox, but the new 5 odd followers my account gets a day go straight into my inbox! Out of courtesy I check out these peoples profiles. The majority are spammers.

Does this mean Tom Doyle now thinks Twitter is dead? Not at all – it’s a new medium and I need to understand it more to enable me to get the most out of it. You need to find the right strategy for your business in order to maximise it’s capabilities. There are numerous examples of how Twitter can help a business promote themselves or “engage” with their clients. But on the flip-side – you can see how quickly people will begin to bore with it.

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Web design search volume in decline


As the recession hit, most web design companies were busier than they had ever been before. There seemed to be a sudden rush of businesses trying to get online. In the majority of cases it was a knee-jerk reaction to prop up their falling incomes. During the latter half of 2009, this sudden rush seemed to have abated. There are many stories flying around that some of the major web design companies in Ireland are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and offering well below cost websites in order to generate some sort of cash flow.

Although they say that 99% of all statistics are made up, it’s still worth looking at some… :)

Google Trends is a great tool for researching keyphrase search popularity over a number of years of traffic on Google. So I used this tool to run a few searches on terms relating to web design to see if it could paint any sort of picture of what the state of the web design is in.

Web Design Search Stats - Google Trends

As you can see from above graph, the search term “web design” has been on a massive decline since the recording of the statistics began. Interestingly, if you take a close look at the latter quarter of 2009, you can also see a steady decline in searches for “web design”.

December is generally a slow time for new business in web design terms, so there are no surprises when you see the massive dips in searches across all years. Also quite interesting, is the steady performance of the term “website design”. In fact, there’s possibly a slight growth in searches for this term throughout 2009.

Does this mean that the web design industry has finally entered the recession with everyone else?

Only time will tell I guess…

Looking at the other side of our business; online marketing, it appears to be performing quite well. There is an obvious increase in searches for “SEO” – everyone seems to know what it is now or at least know someone that fancies themselves as one. There is a decline in searches for “Internet Marketing” though, maybe a phrase that has been lost to the popularity of “SEO”.

Although it’s hard to see from this graph, there has been a surge in searches for “Social Media Marketing“, which started showing up on the radar in 2007. No surprises there, since it’s the latest and greatest buzz word on the planet!

Online Marketing Search Trends

We’ll never get a true picture of the web design or online marketing industry from statistics like this. For example, the searches for “SEO” are being diluted by people trying to figure out how to market their own websites rather than actually looking for those services. None-the-less it’s interesting reading for anyone in or trying to get into this industry.

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Facebook gets tough on promotions and competitions

Facebook announced changes to their Facebook Promotion Guidelines last week, which are likely to affect a lot of businesses currently using Facebook to promote their brand. If you’re planning on running a Facebook promotional campaign in the near future – make sure you read the new guidelines thoroughly.

The new rules state that you ;

  • Cannot run a competition without prior consent from Facebook
  • Cannot run a competition where entry is based on becoming a fan of the business’s Facebook page
  • Cannot run a competition where entry is based on posting a message on Facebook. whether status update or comment
  • Cannot notify winners of the competition through a Facebook message, chat or posts
  • Cannot request that people sign up for a Facebook account in order to enter a competition
  • Must include the following note (or similar):
    “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to [recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for [disclose any way that you plan to use the user’s information].”

This is just a taste of what the new guidelines include, you can see the full set of guidelines here http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php.

From the list above, you can quite clearly see that running a small competition on Facebook isn’t as simple as it used to be. How many businesses that will adhere to these new rules is yet to be seen, but I’m quite sure a lot will have second thoughts about a campaign. In fact most of the business pages I know of, would quite regularly be in breach of these guidelines. It’s hard to see any of these companies adhering to these guidelines, they’d probably just stop using Facebook for running these competitions entirely.

Looking into the guidelines in detail, it looks as though the Facebook are really only trying to protect themselves rather than stiffle the huge surge in businesses using Facebook to promote their brand. I can only imagine what kind of emails they are getting from Facebook fans who wrongly assume that Facebook themselves are in some way related to the running of these competitions and promotions.

It will be interesting to see how many businesses adhere correctly to these new rules and more interestingly, what will happen those that don’t.

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Facebook for Business

Facebook, Inc.
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There was a time when everyone believed that having a blog was one of the most critical elements to web success. In fact even today, I still have clients who have been informed by “buzzword driven web experts” that they must have a blog or else they are doomed to failure.

The problem with this was that a lot of businesses, for one reason or another, just aren’t suited to having a blog. Many businesses have only now realised that after many hours of painstakingly hard work, trying to create relevant and unique content on a regular basis is a lot harder than they first thought or were lead to believe. Never-mind the fact that they probably never once saw even a small return for all this hard-work they had endured. And just when all the “buzzword driven web experts” had convinced you to get a blog, they now have a brand new buzzword for you… Roll up “Social Media Marketing“…

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Social Media Marketing, but yet again I see more and more businesses who want a Facebook or Twitter presence without even understanding how they should engage with this new medium. And that’s exactly what it is, a new medium. Therefore nothing is proven just yet, but it’s clear from others success that Social Media Marketing with sites like Facebook and Twitter is a simple and cost effective way of marketing your business online.

So, how do you get on this Social Media Marketing train? Well why not let’s start with Facebook. Facebook has over 1 million users in Ireland now, so it’s very likely that many of your customers have a Facebook page or at least know someone who does. That fact alone is enough to make me believe it is a medium you simply can’t ignore!

To get you started, here are my top tips for getting your Facebook for Business strategy up and running:

  1. Create Your Business Profile Fan Page
    Even if you haven’t decided what you plan to do with your Facebook campaign just yet, get your business profile page up there as soon as possible. If you have a Facebook account already, it’s pretty simple go here http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and follow the instructions.If you are new to Facebook, it’s probably best to familiarise yourself with how it works and how you engage with other users. Sign up for a personal account and start adding your friends. Follow other businesses so you can see what their Facebook strategy is.One key point to remember is that you should NOT use your personal profile for your business. You should only use “Pages” for business  and “Profiles” for personal use.

  2. Claim Your Vanity URL
    A vanity URL is a Facebook website address with your name attached to the end, for example, our business vanity URL is www.facebook.com/2bscene. The sooner you can claim your “vanity URL” the better to protect your brand. Irish business will need 25 fans of your business fan page before they can obtain theirs. To gain your first 25 followers why not ask all your “friends” from your personal Facebook profile?  

  3. Synchronise with Twitter
    If you already have a Twitter account, you can synchronise your posts with Facebook. You can do this both ways, for example, if you post a message on Twitter, it can automatically appear on your Facebook fan page and vice-versa. Personally I would suggest the latter. Facebook is a lot more personal than Twitter. Twitter is a public networking medium, whereas Facebook is very much a personal circle of friends network. The last thing a Facebook user wants is their Facebook homepage to be bombarded with messages from your Twitter account.

  4. Include Links to Your Profile Where-ever You Can!
    Fairly self explanatory. If you want people to know about your business profile page… tell them!! You should include links on your website, blog and even email signatures!

  5. Engage!!!
    Like every other Social Media Marketing option, it’s all about engaging and socialising with your fans or followers. If you can think of your Social Media Marketing profile as one big networking event. Talk to people, ask questions, respond to their questions, give free advice etc etc. But again, be careful at how many updates you post. Try keep your interactions to a reasonable level, maybe one or two interesting posts a day.

There are certainly many businesses that are much better suited to Facebook than others – but with enough thought and planning you should be able to find an angle that suits your business best.

To give you an idea of how others are using their business pages to great effect, I have put together a list of some good ones below:

  1. Ben & Jerry’s
  2. Pizza Hut
  3. Victoria’s Secret
  4. iTunes
  5. Starbucks

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