TECHNOLOGY & ONLINE MARKETING FOR SUCCESS
These tools and strategies work for all types of businesses, brand marketing, lead generation, and online sales.
SEO, Search Engine Optimization
Before getting into the tech and online marketing tools and resources, one thing applies to most or all of them; search engine positioning can be valuable in generating business. Because Google is the major player in this arena, that search engine will be referred to in these discussions and used as an example. Others like Bing and DuckDuckGo are similar in many ways.
Google uses secret, complex, and ever-changing algorithms to determine where a website links in the free rankings for keywords and phrases used by searchers. Early on, there were supposed “gurus” who would guarantee high positioning using blackhat techniques. Google always finds them out and changes or designs new algorithms to thwart their efforts.
Competition for first page (first 10 free) listing is fierce depending upon your business. Unless there are only ten businesses like yours, your chances of placing on the first page for broad business phrases are slim. However, there are some strategies that will increase your chances greatly in some cases.
- Register your business with Google Maps: getting your business in maps with a business listing isn’t guaranteed to help with top listings, but note that if you do a search and there are map references to businesses, you’ll almost always see them at the top of the free listings as well.
- Use your location in your key phrases: while you may not be able to get to first page ranking with “top business consulting firm,” you can often do so with “top yourtown business consulting firm.”
- Use long-tail and conversational key phrases: in July 2019, Adobe released a study that found 48% of consumers were using voice for web searches. So, using our business consulting, work into your content somewhere something like “If you’re asking yourself who is the best business consultant in yourtown…” Now, when someone asks that question on their phone, you’re going to have a big SEO advantage.
Don’t get carried away with SEO, as it’s still an uphill battle to get first page ranking for many businesses. Depending on your website platform, there may be SEO plugins or apps to help you improve your content for the search engines. Consider the next tip for a fast way to bring targeted traffic to your website.
PPC, Pay Per Click Marketing
Throughout this resource you’re reading about ways to target your prospective customers, reach them, and hopefully to get them to do business with you. Then you’re also reading about how to measure the results to see if your marketing money is being well-spent. One way to pull all of these things together is through PPC marketing.
When it comes to budgeting, PPC is almost perfect. You set a monthly topend budget for what you want to spend, and you can set the top price you’ll pay for a click from search. You set up the ad to go to a specific location on your site (landing page), and there is where you attempt to convert them to a customer with content and offers. YOU ONLY PAY IF THEY CLICK AND GO TO YOUR SITE.
Here are the key considerations and strategies for a successful PPC campaign. If someone tells you they wasted money on PPC, it’s almost always because they fell short in one or more of these areas:
- The landing page: When you deliver a visitor to your website, you decide where they land, the Landing Page. This is absolutely critical. This page should be created just for the purpose of conversion of the visitor to a customer.
- The page must have content that answers the questions asked by the searcher in their search. In our example, title it “The best business consultant in yourtown.” Then you give them the info about why you’re the best.
- Must have a call-to-action. This could be a form they can fill in to get something of value, possibly a free report or study about business consulting. For other types of business it could be an offer and form or an actual product or service deal or coupon. This is how you convert.
- A well-designed ad: You want your key phrase in the title and preferably in the body text as well. Plus you want to highlight services or answer(s) to question posed in the search. Example for ads:
- Set a per click (CPC, Cost Per Click) budget that will get you viewed. You can set it higher than you want to pay over the long term, as you want to get viewed so you can build your ad score for better positions at a lower CPC. (see next section).
It takes creativity and some effort to effectively measure the results from SEO activities and strategies. The main thing to implement everywhere is to have links for visitors to click for special offers, more detailed information, special reports, etc.
The key is to track with analytics tools when and how many clicks you get. Keeping them exclusive to a special page or location on the site (landing page) that indicates they came from an organic search click is how you measure results.
Ad Score for Better Ranking & Lower Cost
Google wants almost the same thing you do, definitely the same thing the searcher wants. Google wants the searcher to find what they want when they get to where your ad sends them on your site. This keeps Google the top search engine because searchers find what they want faster.
Google is tracking their every move, and your ad is scored based on where the searcher goes and what they do. If they get to your landing page and quickly leave, you must not have the content there that they expected to see, and your score suffers. If they stay a while, visit other parts or your site, or take an action like filling out a form or making a purchase, your score improves. Google sees that you’re serving their searchers well.
The ad score is used to position your ad within the paid search results. It also influences the price you pay per click. DOING THIS RIGHT, YOU’LL ACTUALLY MOVE UP IN RESULTS RANKINGS WHILE YOUR COST PER CLICK GOES DOWN.
You can be paying considerable less per click than when you started, and you will often be paying less per click than your competition in lower ranked positions for the same search.
Here’s where you can be really pleased. Google does it all for you. You can log in and see or have emailed reports that tell you how many times your ad was shown (impressions), how many times it was clicked, how much you’ve spent, and even how many converted to business if you define for Google what constitutes a conversion.
If you define a conversion as a form submission, click to another page, or an order click, you can then have your conversions calculated and subsequently a calculation of cost per conversion. It’s detailed and you know exactly what it’s costing you for a customer.
Blogging for Business
Blogs began as personal journals, but it didn’t take long for businesses to notice that blogs were getting high search results page positions. It was primarily due to Google’s algorithms that gave better positions to sites with regular new content.
Once business got into the picture, blogging platforms began to gain users, WordPress being one of the largest. From CMinds.com: WordPress is the most popular content management system available on the web today. The platform currently holds a 62% market share for websites that were built using a content management system. Over 400 million people visit WordPress powered websites each month.
The term “content management” is why it’s easy to use a platform like WordPress for a blog or website. The system places the content where it belongs and displays it properly based on how you categorize it. A menu system makes it easy to design the navigation for pages.
Using a blogging platform to write about what you do or sell with regular posts is a great way to promote your business, and it can be free. WordPress.com allows you to set up a free site and do a lot with it. However, as will be discussed in the website section next, you can do a lot more at a low cost by hosting a WordPress site rather than using the free platform.
Once software systems like WordPress became immensely popular, they developed into more of a full website backend than just a blogging platform. Why just blog when you can do the same thing with a full website platform and do a lot more?
A Business Website
In today’s business world, no matter what your business or how large or small, you will lose credibility and business if you do not have a functional website. However, there are two ways you can approach your website, as a billboard for brand promotion, or as a sales lead or business generator.
- The Billboard Website — This is a site that is much like a large billboard on the side of the road. People drive by, some actually read it, but most pass by without ever doing more. It can build brand recognition, but it’s not delivering measurable business.
- The Effective Website — This one still builds brand recognition, but it also can deliver targeted customers who actually consume your products or services.
As the effective website does both, it’s the approach discussed here. The business website is designed to promote the business and brand, but it also has specific strategies in place to drive customers to the site and business to make a purchase or sign up for paid services.
WordPress and Hosting
You’re in good company using WordPress, as this article with 40+ top name brands using it shows. Using WordPress as the platform example, if you host it on a service, you have more control and lots more flexibility to build your website the way you want and to add marketing and sales tools to drive business. The WordPress software is free, and there are a number of large hosting services that have one-click installation of WordPress to make it simple. Some of the top hosting providers are:
- Siteground.com **The one I use after trying several others.
- Many others
Once you sign up for the hosting, you have WordPress installed, and you’re up and running. As an example for cost and simplicity of install, Siteground.com is used here.
As the screenshot shows, the hosting service installs WordPress for you and also Woocommerce applications for online eCommerce stores. A two-year subscription for a startup site that works for most businesses runs around $75/year. There are major advantages to hosting this way:
- Fewer limitations on use than using the free WordPress.com hosting.
- Ability to install plugins to enhance the look of the site, improve content, do special things like forms, newsletters, sales, etc.
Once you have your site ready for content, you can put into action other things you’ll learn here to attract visitors to the site and drive them to take the action your want, subscribe, do business, or make a purchase. This isn’t a WordPress tutorial, but you can find plenty of help free online, and it’s really easy to build an effective website.
What Makes an Effective Website?
As discussed in the PPC, Pay Per Click item, you want to find a way to drive targeted prospects or customers to your website. Having content there that answers questions and provides information is your first task. In the next section on Content Marketing, you’ll learn more about this. There are three things an effective website needs to do:
- Contain informative content that answers visitor questions and promotes your products or services in the context of their needs.
- Lead generation tools or sales signup or order forms.
- Mechanisms to do followup marketing for longer sales cycles.
A self-hosted WordPress site has everything you need available to you, almost everything free unless you want added bells and whistles.
In this case you can measure a lot of activity. Using Google Analytics or various WordPress plugins, you can track visitors, where they came from, where on the site they visited, what forms the filled out or links they clicked, how long they stayed, etc.
Using the site statistics and data, you can see what content and marketing is working so that you can do more of what works. Knowing what works makes spending more productive and makes improvement ongoing.
According to ContentMarketingInstitute.com: Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach 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.
Whatever services you provide or products you sell, you are or should be an expert in everything about your business. Content marketing involves sharing that expertise with potential customers or clients in a way that drives them to want more information from you or to consume your products or services.
The Internet has given consumers of all goods and services an almost unlimited universe for research before they purchase. Depending on what you sell, there can be hours to weeks of research online before any purchase decision.
Content marketing is creating content and distributing it around the Web to market your business. The content must be informative and answer the questions your business customers ask before they buy. You’re sharing your expertise and building credibility to generate business.
Leveraging Through Sharing
In the next section on Social sites, you’ll get more information about using it for content marketing. What you’re going to do with this strategy is to create original and informative content on your business website and then share it across social sites to leverage their exposure opportunities.
All shares of your content should link back to the most relevant content on your site, and there WordPress plugins that can automate this process for you.
Start a business profile/page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (business-to-business). If any other social sharing sites work for you, do the same for them.
Either manually through sharing from your site, or preferably using a plugin to automate the process, share every new content item across the social sites. Use relevant images for Instagram and Pinterest.
Use a “headline” and teaser strategy. Suppose you write an article explaining one of your products or services in detail with information that satisfies the research of your site visitors. Use the title as the title of your social post, and then a small portion of the content, preferably one that piques their interest further. Or, it could be an offer on the page that you’re using to generate sales leads or purchases.
That headline/teaser strategy leverages your detailed content across the Internet to reach as many people as possible. Those with an interest can click the related link and go to your site where your sales lead or purchase calls-to-action are in place.
Social Site Ad Marketing
On Facebook and others, you can run advertisements as PPC marketing. It’s relatively inexpensive, and especially for Facebook, you can target your best prospective customer using location or other information in their profiles, such as interests.
Campaigns can have set budgets and you get much the same reporting as Google PPC as to clicks and you pay only when they click to your site.
Email & Newsletter Marketing
To start, buying email lists and doing blast emails isn’t recommended here, even if you get a quality list, which isn’t always the case. What is discussed here is marketing to your own list that you build over time through lead generation on your website or emails of previous customers or clients.
Become familiar with the rules for email marketing, as you can get into trouble for sending emails to people who do not meet the requirements. Email SPAM has resulted in some strict rules about who you can email market. Check out the CANSPAM Act.
Though you can use a plugin to send emails right out of WordPress, it’s not the best way. Your hosting service may have its own rules and limitations as to number of emails in a given period of time as well. Using an online service like Mailchimp is recommended, and there is a plugin to tie it into your website for efficiency. For most sites, especially small newer businesses, Mailchimp is free.
There are three ways in which you can approach email marketing from your website:
- Drip Email — Drip email is setting up a campaign to send a specific number of emails out automatically over time. It is best used for products and services with a longer buying cycle to keep the prospect in the loop until they make a purchase decision.
- An example might be an accountant who offers a free tax report to get a lead and then follows up with an email every week for a month or two with specific information in each and a link back to the website for more information. It’s critical that you keep the number low and the information valuable to avoid too many “unsubscribes.”
- Single Emails — Use these to market to previous customers and/or prospects with new products, services, specials, or offers. It’s just keeping your business top-of-mind for when they decide to make a purchase.
- Newsletters — If your business type has new information to provide on a regular basis, you can put them on a newsletter campaign, suggested no more often than quarterly.
- If you’re creating regular new content for your site, you can use excerpts of that with a link back in your newsletter.
Newsletter or email marketing can be quite effective for service businesses or to announce sales or coupon offers to existing customers. The key is to always be sure that an email has value in the eyes of the recipient, or it’s just one click for them to unsubscribe.
The same advice for dedicated landing pages, phone numbers, or email addresses works here as well for measurement. By the way, with Gmail, you can add anything to the front of an email address with a period between and all emails to that address will come to the main Inbox. So, firstname.lastname@example.org will get the email to the youremail Inbox and you know which campaign generated the response.
The good news is that, no matter what your business, there are some excellent strategies, tools, and resources here to get you started with a comprehensive and EFFECTIVE marketing plan.
There isn’t any bad news, just the promise that if you take this information and use it properly you’ll generate business and growth.
Most important is that you use this information to set out a written marketing plan and budget. Second, measure results as best you can, and last, act on those measured results to improve and modify your marketing for better results at a lower cost overall.
Combine both short term and long term marketing approaches for best results. An example may be starting some PPC to drive immediate website traffic (only if your content and lead/sale generation is in place). You can restrict the budget to give you time to analyze the results and hopefully deliver some revenue. At the same time, work your content marketing strategies to deliver longer term traffic and business.
CHECK OUT MY ARTICLE LISTS:
Solopreneur Business Resources
The Power of WordPress for Your Business
About Real Estate
The Business of Real Estate
Real Estate Investing
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