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Section I: Website Basics

Don’t Be Gobsmacked by the Internet Internet Marketing Vol. I

Richard Pelletier www.lucidcontent.com tel. 503.621.2215 @lucidcontent http://www.linkedin.com/in/lucidcontent Internet Marketing Vol. I

How to use the Internet to Grow your Business Richard Pelletier / Lucid Content / Portland, OR


Table of Contents

Table of Contents Introduction

Internet Marketing Vol. I

I. Website Basics Target Market Content Design Call to Action E-commerce Search-engine Optimization Conversions Competitors Costs

II. Driving Traffic to Your Website Local Online Search Keywords Keyword Tools The Wonder Wheel AdWords Tool Long Tail/Short Tail Keyword Phrases Page Titles Links Organic/Paid Search Results Google Analytics

III. Spreading the Word Email Marketing Social Media

IV. Resources General Business Ideas Website Building Website Designers Search-engine Optimization Local Search Website Conversion Internet Marketing General Marketing Public Relations Social Media

Richard Pelletier / Lucid Content / Portland, OR


Introduction

Wow! Lots of Small Businesses Still Don’t Have Websites.

While the number of small-business owners who have websites increased from 37 percent in 2009 to 45 percent in 2010, there are still many who say they don’t need one. Of the 55 percent of small-business owners who don’t have a website, 57 percent say their businesses will never have one; 29 percent say they will; and 14 percent are not sure. -Small Business Watch

Wow! Lots of People in Your Area Are Looking for Your Small Business Online.

Small business owners need to realize that people aren’t using phone books for anything other than door stops anymore. As of June 2010, all three major search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing, are skewing search queries towards local even when a user doesn’t include a local modifier. SMB owners need to not only create a Web presence, but control it, as well. -Outspokenmedia

Introduction Most small-business websites and most internet-marketing strategies stink. The tragedy is that it’s all so unnecessary. Internet-marketing basics are well within your grasp. Many businesses have succeeded where they thought they might not, so trust me, you can do this too. Successful Internet marketing comes down to a series of good decisions that are rooted in a) an understanding of your business, b) knowing who your target market is and knowing where those people are, and c) creating a value proposition that differentiates you from others. Think of your internet-marketing strategy as a fascinating adventure – one that you’ll be participating in for the life of your business. Like any adventure there’s a period of nervous/excited anticipation and preparation. You’ll gather information from reliable sources, and you’ll begin to make decisions. There are going to be some missteps – what’s a journey without a few wrong turns? But over the long haul, just keep moving. Put one foot in front of the other, and keep looking forward to what’s lurking around the next corner. This is Zen-like. Enjoy the journey – and the destination will take care of itself. Your website and your online marketing are going to be much better than your competition. This e-book is designed to provide you with some basic tools, ideas, and strategies so that you’ll have a better website and a better online business. Cool, yes?

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Section I: Website Basics

Section I: Website Basics: Nine Things to Know

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Section I: Website Basics

1. Who Is Your Target Audience?

As you think about growing your business, consider this: Having a crystal clear understanding of who your ideal customer is will make your marketing specific and targeted, rather than slipshod and generic. A friend of mine says that she’s identified her ideal client, and every blog post she writes, every design decision she makes is made with this ideal client in mind. We would all do well to follow her example. How to define who your target audience is? Great question. Start by asking yourself some simple questions. What age and gender are my ideal customers most likely to be? What are their hobbies and interests? Are they married? Do they have children? If you’re marketing to organizations, get clear on what industries make sense for your business. Where are these companies located? In what specific ways do you bring value to these organizations? Be as specific as possible. Knowing Your Target Audience: Shapes every decision you make. Makes your marketing easier and more successful. Helps you develop new ideas, products and services. Is a clear path to growth. Clarity on this issue leads smart business people to ever greater success. This a keystone for all the work to follow.

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Section I: Website Basics

2. Web Content is Everything

Content is what customers are looking for: it’s the what, the where, the who, and the why we should care. The best website content anticipates and answers your customers’ questions. The very best Web content tells us why. Good content respects our time, presents compelling information and if done well, provides a competitive advantage. Content can be as simple as the address of your business, the phone number, the hours you are open, etc. Make that information easy to find. Website visitors don’t read; they scan. To help your visitors, reduce the word count on your home page by 50 per cent. Avoid adjectives altogether. Good content:

Provides value to the reader/visitor. (How to make a million selling cheese.) Provides important clues: (Am I in the right place?) Articulates a value proposition: Why should I work with you? Is clear, brief, and gets to the point. Fine organic, handcrafted cheese.

Break the content up so your readers can digest it more easily. For example, this page has four paragraphs, and not one has more than four sentences.

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Section I: Website Basics

3. Website Design is Nearly Everything

Design is extremely important for one simple reason: People don’t buy from you because of what you know. People buy from you because of how you PACKAGE what you know. I cannot stress enough the importance of great design and high-quality photographs-especially if your website is food related. Don’t take it from me, take it from Tom Peters:

“Design is about making something relevant. It is about making a connection with your audience. Which means you have to truly understand them, and you have to have a clear communication strategy…all the senses are involved.” -Tom Peters 5 Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Section I: Website Basics

More From Tom Peters “The eyes, hands, heart, brain...a website user or brochure reader takes in many elements and processes them via his or her senses. All of the elements require careful attention and need to be considered from a user’s point of view. All of the details need to work together in a holistic, integrated way to support each other and the user experience—and thus build a relationship with your brand.”

Remember: Eyes, Hands, Heart, Brain

It ain’t about you. Your site is less about what you like or what you want and more about what your customers and prospects need from you in order to achieve what they have set out to achieve. The design or the “look” of your website is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Design supports and amplifies the content-the words that tell us who you are, why you exist, and why you matter.

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Section I: Website Basics

Effective communication is about reducing the noise. Further thoughts on website design courtesy of Scratchmedia of London. Create your website with the needs of your visitors/customers in mind. This cannot be said often enough. Below are two ideas that will help you with this. Simplicity. Remove all unnecessary elements from your Web page. You want your visitors to interact with the content – the material that is most important, essential, and valuable. If you have too much stuff crowding the page, you deny visitors the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter. Everything you do with regard to design must enable communication. Simple Navigation. The global website navigation that appears on every page of your website needs to be clearly identifiable as navigation and should be easy to interpret, target, and select.

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Section I: Website Basics

So What Do You Tell Your Website Designer? Jakob Nielsen is a highly respected author and website usability expert. Below, is a brief excerpt from his website, www.useit.com.

From Nielsen’s 113 Design Guidelines for Homepage Usability: Communicate the Website’s Purpose Show the company name and/or logo in a reasonable size and noticeable location. Include a tagline that explicitly summarizes what products or services the company provides. Emphasize what the website does that’s valuable from the user’s point of view as well as how you differ from key competitors. Emphasize the highest priority tasks so that users have a clear starting point on the home page. Not everyone agrees with Nielsen, but regardless of his popularity, he’s contributed a vast amount of important knowledge to this topic.

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Section I: Website Basics

4. What About the Call to Action?

What exactly do you want your website visitors to do? “Start My Inter-Dimensional Quest� is probably not going to do it.

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Your Business Needs a Compelling, Interesting, and Persuasive Call to Action. Financial Planner Call to Action What if one simple step could ease your mind, give you financial seccurity, and start a college fund for your daughter? You can make it happen. Click here>> Artisan Cheese Retailer Call to Action: In less time than it takes you to find your mother’s cheese fondue recipe from 1967, we can ship you the most delicious tasting artisan French cheese ever. Your mouth will jump for joy. Click here>> Realtor Call to Action: I’ll help you find exactly the right house for you and your family fast. Click here>>

Help your website visitors take the action that you want them to take. If you can, make it fun. 10 Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Section I: Website Basics

5. E-commerce or Not?

Can you protect your customer’s financial information? Do you want to? If your business is virtual — no physical storefront where customers show up in person-then you are strictly virtual. This means your website has to manage and protect financial data, whether you want to or not. This also means you must absolutely create a secure page on your website to allow online purchasing. Make sure your website designer can provide this for you. Pay Pal is a widely used acceptable alternative to creating your own order page.

6. Search-engine Optimization

You’re going to have to figure out how to get people to your website. This requires you to do some initial work on your website, coordinate with Google and other search engines, and make a commitment to stay on top of and tweak your website. We’ll talk more about these steps later in the book.

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Section I: Website Basics

7. Turning Visitors into CustomersWebsite Conversions

This applies to anyone who lives and works on the Internet. You need some understanding of the conversion process, which is the means by which you convert website visitors into customers. You’ll have to learn how to create a trust-based website. You’ll need to learn how and why people make purchasing decisions on your website. You will need to learn how to move your visitors through the “sales funnel” as smoothly and as easily as possible.

CONVERSION = turning visitors into customers Reminder: Your website is not a place to do what you want. Your website is a place to deliver what your customers need easily and quickly.

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Section I: Website Basics

“Improving your focus on persuasion will help you improve your marketing and get more people to move from early in their buying processes further along in their buying process. Conversion is about improving leaks in your sales funnel, and persuasion is about increasing the size of your sales funnel.

Reduce friction first, then focus on persuading more traffic to get further along in the process, then go get more traffic. It’s bad math to do it any other way. Baby steps. Eat the elephant in pieces.”

-Future Now, Inc.

Reducing friction can be as easy as reducing the number of clicks that people have to do to achieve their task. Consider Amazon’s one-click button that allows you to buy what you want with only one click. Brilliant!

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Section I: Website Basics

8. “Borrow” From Your Competitors

One way to begin thinking about your website is to see what other folks in a similar business to yours are up to. Visit and review as many websites as you can – while thinking like a customer – and then list your favorites. Winnow your list down to five or six websites that have elements that you like, admire, and wish to emulate. Pay particular attention to what you like and why you like it. Take note of websites that are simple to use and navigate and do this to you: “Wow! I love this website/company.” Or conversely, “I hate this damn website/company!” As you develop a Web presence don’t forget to keep checking up on your competitors. See where they show up in a Google search. In Section II, we’ll talk about the free tools that are available to help you determine how you rank in Google versus your competitors. You should know that you can reverse engineer your competitors search-engine-optimization tactics/strategies to find out exactly what they are doing that you might emulate.

-“Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” Pablo Picasso

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Section I: Website Basics

There is no Santa Claus, and Web designers don’t do search-engine optimization. 9. Your Costs

In life and in website design especially, you get what you pay for. Good Web design is expensive. Nevertheless, right now there are thousands of capable website designers everywhere and some are quite affordable. Some designers have excellent skills, but are at an early stage in their careers and need the work. Find them, I promise you that they’re out there. Choose carefully. Look for some kind of a track record, and take the time to talk to the designers’ customers. Website designers will tell you that they’ll take care of your search-engine optimization efforts. Don’t believe them. They won’t.

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Section I: Website Basics

Highlights From Section I • • • • • • • • •

Understand who your audience or target market is and what the purpose of your website is. Content should always tell us why we should work with you. Good design separates winners from the rest. Develop creative calls to action. Learn what turns visitors into customers. Pick up some basic search-engine optimization tips and use them. Research your competitors, and create a list of websites you admire. Hire the best website designer you can afford. Always think like a customer.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Website How Does It Happen? Here Are Ten Ways.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

1. Local Online Search | Getting Your Business Found

There are lots of ways to get your business found and/or listed online. This first section will focus on those that are ridiculously easy – and essential. Any item below with an asterisk is required. You must, must, must list your business on the first three websites, Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It’s free advertising. Yelp is free too, but makes some people nervous. That’s your call entirely. Go to GetListed.org Begin by using this free website to help you plan your moves. This is a very helpful website that grades you and literally points the way forward. That process will take you to some of these websites that are listed below. Google Places* (free) Yahoo! Local Features* (free) Bing Business Listings* (free) Yelp (free) Best of the Web ($) Yahoo! Directory ($) Also cool – Google Places allows you to post promotions or coupons that are time sensitive. Check Bing and Yahoo for their policies regarding promotions or coupons.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

2. What Is a Keyword?

A keyword or keyword phrase describes the word or words we use when searching for a website in search engines or directories. The ideal core keyword phrases are those words that describe your business exactly plus additional words and phrases that describe in a broader sense the products and services you offer. The trick is this: you need keywords that are used often enough to be valuable – lots of people use them-but they’re not so competitive that you’ll never rank well for them. I’ll expand on this a bit more later on.

3. Free Tools to Help With Keywords

There are a number of good, free Google tools that will help you understand which words and phrases people use when looking up a business like yours. These tools are not perfect, but they are enormously helpful and should be central to any internet-marketing effort you undertake. Let’s begin.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

4. The Wonders of the Google Wonder Wheel

If you’re going to try to get at least a little bit serious about search-engine optimization, it will help you to become familiar with Google’s Wonder Wheel. The Wonder Wheel offers up new ideas for keyword phrases that are a big, big help. Here’s how it works. Let’s consider my business, for example. When I type in freelance copywriter into the Wonder Wheel, it suggests alternative/complementary keyword phrases like freelance advertising copywriter and freelance copywriter portfolio. If these alternative words/phrases are appropriate to my business, then I’ll use them to begin creating a list of about 20 to 25 keyword phrases that I’ll deploy in different areas of my website to drive more traffic. For this exercise, we’re going to look at three search terms: freelance copywriter, artisan cheeses, and financial planners.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

Google’s Wonder Wheel

Once I’ve got a core keyword phrase freelance copywriter and some alternative keyword phrases (freelance web copywriter) I can test those phrases in another free Google tool – the Google Adwords Keyword Tool that is on the next page. So for right now, let’s look at the term freelance copywriter in the AdWords Tool.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

5. Google AdWords Tool

At number four on the page, freelance copywriter gets over 18,000 global searches a month. Almost 10,000 local searches a month. Freelance copywriting gets only half that amount, so I don’t want to use that term as my core keyword phrase. The solid green box tells me that freelance copywriter is extremely competitive. In fact the terms are all highly competitive. It’s a very challenging process to show up on the first page of Google for some of these terms, given how competitive they are. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You can see that the Google AdWord Tool will also give you alternative keywords and/or keyword phrases.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

Are You a Financial Planner?

Let’s try fee only financial planners and see what happens. (You’ll note that, with freelance copywriter, I began by using the Wonder Wheel but this time I’m starting out with the AdWord Tool. The sequence doesn’t matter. Use them both interchangeably, but use the Adword Tool to check the volume of searches for a given search term and the competitiveness of the phrase you wish to use.)

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

Fee only financial planners generates almost 2,000 local searches per month. It’s a very competitive term. I then turned to the Wonder Wheel to find a bunch of alternatives.

Let’s add retirement planning.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

See what happens when I add retirement planning? I get both sets of complementary keyword phrases-a set that comes with fee only financial planners and a new set of possibilities that comes out of retirement planning.

This is a very cool way to build a list of useful keywords. 25 Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

artisan cheeses Now let’s visit the keyword phrase artisan cheeses. You can see that the Wonder Wheel provides us some alternative keyword phrases, so let’s also try artisan goat cheese.

artisan goat cheese

These terms may or may not be appropriate or useful to you, but they can be a springboard to new ideas or search phrases that will work for you.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

Now let’s check our AdWord Tool to see how many people are using these particular search terms and how competitive the terms are. Artisan cheeses gets 2,400 search queries a month. It’s very competitive, but not ultra competitive, so it’s certainly possible for you to rank for this term.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

Now, just to keep things interesting: The volume of searches isn’t the whole cheese wheel. Quantity is not everything.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

6. Understanding Long Tail Versus Short Tail Keyword Phrases

Without getting into too much detail, you should know that there are two distinct classes of keyword phrases: long tail and short tail. To understand the very fascinating long tail/short tail concept of niche selling/marketing pioneered by Chris Anderson, go here>>. For our purposes, a short tail keyword phrase is something like artisan cheese. This is a very generic, very broad, very popular search term. It gets tons of search queries, and it’s extremely competitive. But in reality, a lot of people would add some sort of modifier to that term. Like making artisan cheese or purchase artisan cheese or selling artisan cheese or, artisan cheese shop, Menlo Park, CA and so on. So a long tail keyword/keyword phrase is quite specific. It often speaks to a particular niche. It could be artisan cheese, wine bar, Portland, Oregon, (hello Steve Jones!) or open an artisan cheese shop. These long tail keywords are not as popular as short tail keywords, but their value is really high – these terms are much more specific and can deliver real traffic. They’re much easier to rank for in Google and other major search engines. Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

7. Page Titles/Title Tags

The reason that you use the Google Keyword Tool and the Wonder Wheel is to find keyword phrases that will help your customers find you. So where are you going to put these keyword phrases? The most important place for these phrases is on your page titles. Do yourself a favor and use proper page titles. Don’t use your company name. Use words or phrases that are likely to be used by people seeking a business like yours. Here’s an example from my website.

No

Yes

Home is not a keyword with any value for a freelance copywriter. However, freelance copywriter, Portland, OR and website copywriter are useful keyword phrases for my business. 30 Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

8. What Are Links and Why Do They Matter?

Search rankings in Google, Yahoo, and Bing function like a big popularity contest. If your goal is to get your website to appear on the first page of Google for a given search term or several search terms, you need to have other sites on the internet pointing to yours. So how does this work? Consider the two graphics below: The first is the State of Oregon Business Directory website and the second is a page from Freelance Designers, a business directory. These links work in two possible ways. Potentially, someone sees my link, Lucid Content, and visits my site, which of course is the main point, but this link also functions as a reputable link that points to my website/business. The more links I have, the more traffic I’ll receive. It’s just that simple.

1.

2.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

A Quick Review of Search-engine optimization

The reason that a given website appears on the first page of Google results are twofold: 1) The website has made use of keyword phrases that are exactly the same or very similar to the words that the person who is conducting the search has used. 2) The website has many other links pointing to it, which suggests relevance, popularity, and importance. Using keyword phrases throughout your website is known as onpage search-engine optimization. The process of creating many links that point to your website is known as off-page search-engine optimization. In the world of search, it’s the off-page tactics, links pointing to your site, that is one of the most important things you can do to gain more visibility on the Internet. It’s also the most difficult and time-consuming part of search-engine optimization.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

9. Organic Search Versus Paid Search Results

Everything we’ve talked about so far relates to organic search. Paid search results are distinctly different and are found at the very top and very bottom of Google’s results page. They also run along the right side of the results page. As a general rule, more people by far click on organic search results than paid results for the simple reason that paid results are pure advertising, and most people are seeking information, not advertising. Paid search can and does work. Many companies use both methods in tandem. Obviously, millions of people are using paid search. But the statistics on how many people click on organic results versus paid results are pretty amazing. Far, far more people click on organic results. If you can achieve a page one ranking in Google for a primary keyword, you’ve got a kind of free advertising that people actually click on and look at. For a small business starting out online, a modest spend on paid search might yield some quick benefits. Like any other marketing initiative that you can imagine, there are ways to make paid search work for you. With search – organic and paid - you’re dealing with human psychology, and to be successful requires research, thoughtful planning, trial, and experimentation. One way for it not to work for you is to jump in without doing any research, make some quick decisions, put an ad together, throw it out there and three weeks later pronounce it a failure.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

10. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an extremely powerful tool that will help you determine a) how many visits your website is getting, ) b) which keywords are actually bringing you visitors, and c) which pages are visited most frequently. It’s important to understand that Google Analytics offers far more than these three things, and it is definitely worth your while to become acquainted with it as much as possible. Google Analytics is free, and all it requires is that you place a snippet of code onto your website.

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

Gmail account if you don’t yet have one. Then sign up for a Google AdWords Account, then head over to Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and the other tools we’ve discussed. Make sure to sign up for a

Here is the Keyword Tool link: http://www.googlekeywordtool.com/

You don’t have to do this, but it might speed things up. Submit your website to Google here: http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/index.html

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Section II: Driving Traffic to Your Site

Highlights From Section II • • • • • • • •

Get acquainted with Getlisted.org Visit Google’s Wonder Wheel to explore keyword phrases. Test keyword phrases in Google’s Adwords Tool. Understand long tail versus short tail keyword phrases. Place keyword phrases in title tags/page titles. Know what backlinks are. Learn the difference between organic search and paid search. Become familiar with Google Analytics.

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Section III: Spreading the Word

Section III: Spreading the Word: Email Marketing and Social Media

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Section III: Spreading the Word

1. Email Marketing – Low Cost, Big Return

For the small-business owner, email newsletters are a simple, powerful, and effective way to get your message/story in front of customers and prospects. Think of email marketing and newsletters as a relationship-building tool. You’re getting people comfortable, and excited about your brand. Email newsletters are perfect lead-generation tools, but it will help if you map out a basic plan. Here, courtesy of the fine folks at MailChimp, are some basic points on the compass to keep in mind for launching an email newsletter. Basic Outline of an Email Marketing Plan • Define your readers. (Keep them in mind with every issue.) • Determine your purpose. (Are you selling, creating brand awareness, or informing/educating?) • Outline your goals. (Write them down!) • Determine your email frequency. (How often and how much time do you have for this?) • Create a time-line. (Procrastination is not fun. Create small, bite-size steps for the creation of each issue.)

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Section III: Spreading the Word

Subject Line and Open Rate The subject line – the words that the recipients of your email see in their inboxes - is one of the most important pieces of any email campaign. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the more boring the subject line, the better the odds are that your email will be opened. The more saleslike your subject line – “Spring Savings Are Here!” -- the less chance that anyone will want to open your very obvious advertisement. Keep it simple. Technical Issues Email newsletters run the gamut. You can brand your newsletter to match your corporate identity in very sophisticated ways. Usually, that means understanding HTML. If you don’t know HTML, you can go one of two ways: Hire someone who does, or settle on a simpler newsletter design from one of the templates that your email-marketing company offers. Most of the major email-marketing firms can offer some design and technical help to get your template designed the way you want. Be sure to test your email in various email programs (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc). Just because your newsletter looks spiffy in the preview mode or in your own inbox doesn’t mean it will look good elsewhere. Test often – every issue. Email marketing is relatively inexpensive. In terms of return on investment (ROI), email marketing is an almost irresistible choice. The major cost in email marketing is your time. But of all the time you devote to marketing, this is probably your best place to spend your time in terms of a decent return.

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Section III: Spreading the Word

How to Write Your Newsletter Email marketing is much more of a conversation-based approach to writing than other traditional types of marketing collateral. The tone of your voice in a newsletter should feel and sound friendly, accessible, and informative. There are two very simple ways to achieve a more relaxed tone of voice in your writing. 1. Use contractions: instead of saying, “we are” say, “we’re” and 2) Use simple everyday language. Avoid words like “utilize.” Read your work out loud to a friend and listen how your words sound. You’re trying to get to a place where your words sound like normal human conversation, not marketing jargon. The chances that people will want to read what you write rise in direct proportion to your willingness to sound like an normal, interesting, friendly, and useful person. Allow me a word or two about humor. I’ve learned this the hard way. A little humor goes a long, long way. Unless you’re a comic, don’t use your newsletter to show everyone how funny you are. A very short, quick dash is sufficient. Then get on with it. Permission Marketing Email marketing is similar to direct mail, but with one very important caveat. In some cases in the direct mail world, if you have someone’s address, you can just send that person your marketing/advertising pitch. In email marketing, you need permission. People who send email marketing to people who have not signed up or “opted in” are known as spammers. Don’t be one. 40 Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Section III: Spreading the Word

Some of the major email marketing players are: iContact Benchmark Campaigner Mad Mini GraphicMail Stream Send Pinpointe Blue Sky Factory Constant Contact MailChimp VerticalResponse AWeber StrongMail eROI

A number of these companies have extensive libraries of articles that will help you understand the email environment. I happen to use MailChimp for my newsletter, Five Cool Things. Some of my colleagues and friends use VerticalResponse and Constant Contact and find them to be just fine. Your decision should be based on several factors: • Ease of use if you have to do this yourself • Easy management of subscriber lists • Easy segmentation of subscriber lists • Easy subscription and opt out management • Robust reporting statistics on open rate • Integration with social media

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Section III: Spreading the Word

2. Social Media

Blogs and Blogging Recently, James Sunshine, who was deputy executive editor for decades at the Providence Journal, commented on a controversial New York Times blog posting. About blogs, Mr. Sunshine said, “I spent 45 years at the Providence Journal, and I still do not understand them. Nor do I like them. I think we would all benefit if we just dropped the word “blog” and went back to simply putting out the newspaper, which we used to know how to do.” If only. This train has already left the station - there is simply no turning back. Nor should there be. Blogs have become vitally important, essential even, to the free flow of knowledge and information around the world. Blogs rule, and they are here to stay.

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Here’s a list of a few of the very best marketing blogs out there.

You should be able to get a sense of the content that these bloggers are focusing on and the way that they’re presenting their information. Dosh Dosh Duct Tape Marketing eMarketer Entrepreneur’s Journey MarketingProfs.com Taming the Beast Chris Brogan Seth Godin Bad Language Fritinancy

Marketing Blogs I hereby grant you permission to not have a blog. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. It’s true that blogs can be very powerful marketing vehicles for your business. If - and it’s a big if you have the time to blog, you’re a decent writer, you have interesting and useful things to say, and blogging fits into your overall marketing plan, then please do it.

7 Reasons to Have a Blog: • • • • • • •

Greater reach Trust builder Brand awareness Instant feedback (if you have a decent readership) Search engines (They index blog content because the content is frequently updated.) A way to monitor your industry (With a decent readership, you can “hear” what people are talking about.) Driver of new business

6 Reasons to NOT have a blog: • • • • • • •

Your audience doesn’t read blogs. Time constraints Other marketing initiatives are more effective Technically challenging You hate writing It doesn’t make sense for your business

I can tell you that a blog is a very demanding animal. It all sounds good and even glamorous sometimes. Consider Julie Powell, the woman/chef/blogger who cooked all of Julia Child’s French cookbook recipes for a year, got a book contract and even a movie deal! That’s a serious blogger! But for most of us, finding the time to write, developing ideas to write about, doing the research, writing the drafts...trust me, it’s a lot of work. If you’re already doing a newsletter and you’ve got a business/fan page on Facebook, and you have a website, when are you going to find the time to blog? The decision to have a blog or not really and truly depends on the nature of your business or organization, the nature of audience/market you have and where they live, and hang out, and whether a blog is the best way to reach and engage them. It’s that simple. Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Blogging Platforms All blogs are not created equally. Two distinctions are important to note. Blogging services (the easiest, least intimidating method) refers to a platform where all you need to do is pretty much sign up: Create a user name and a password, and you’re good to go. Blog software can be a little more technically demanding but with huge advantages in terms of design and functionality.

Some of the world’s most popular blogs are on both platforms. Blogging Services - (easy and good, but somewhat limited) TypePad Blogsmith Wordpress.com Blogger A self-hosted blog is more involved and does require a greater degree of technical expertise. The upside to this approach is very significant: There are plug-ins that bring greater functionality to your blog. Also, in terms of design and search-engine optimization, a self-hosted blog is far superior. Blog Software - (a bit more challenging but with big advantages) Wordpress.org Movable Type Drupal 44 Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Section III: Spreading the Word

3. Human Beings, Social Media, and Marketing

There have been so many words written about social media in recent years that it seems foolhardy to write even more. Nevertheless, I do want to give you some information that may help you think about social media and how it applies to your business. At the very least, as a small businessperson, social media gives you some sophisticated tools that are pretty easy and fun to use. In fairly short order, you can put your name and your business in front of people who otherwise would never know you exist. That’s a very cool thing. But here is something that you don’t often hear regarding social media. Social media is much less about the tools – Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, etc. – than what those tools enable. So what does social media enable? As a function of marketing, social media allows a new form of customer engagement to take place. It allows for the spontaneous creation of communities around commonly held interests. It fosters direct connections between people that cut across class, race, profession, geographical location, political persuasion and so on. Want to have a brief chat with Susan Orlean, a writer for the New Yorker magazine? Or Ezra Klein, who writes for the Washington Post? Or, would you like to get your name in front of an important gallery owner? You can because pretty much the whole world is on Twitter or Facebook. It’s a very interesting phenomenon. If you email someone and they don’t know you, it’s likely they’ll ignore you. But if you send them a message on Twitter known as a tweet, it’s so easy to reply, they often will. Social media facilitates an ongoing conversation between business owners and customers/prospects and everyday people in new and revolutionary ways. 45 Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Small Business and Social Media One of the principal challenges for a small business is how to get the word out to the greatest number of appropriate people - the target audience - at the lowest possible cost. That used to be the press release or a radio ad or a print ad in the local newspaper. But even though those forms of advertising are still around, they are less and less effective. This form of marketing is known as -- interruption marketing -- the goal is to stop you from what you are doing and get you to pay attention to an ad. Newer forms of marketing that involve blogs and social media are sometimes referred to as inbound marketing or participation marketing. This is a wholly different sort of activity. Imagine an online-based business that creates useful, valuable content for its audience and becomes a kind of hub where important information is constantly being created that the audience can then make use of. HubSpot, a Boston based software company, is a perfect example of this. HubSpot creates valuable content that their core audience needs and wants. They use Twitter, YouTube, blogs, email newsletters, and every other form of social media to spread the word about the content they’ve created, and they just keep growing their business.

From Social Media Marketing Industry Report The most commonly used forms of social media: • Twitter • Facebook • LinkedIn • Blogs

The benefits of social media: • Generated exposure for my business – 85% • Increased my traffic/subscription/opt-in list – 63% • Resulted in new business partnerships – 56% • Better search rankings – 54% • Qualified leads – 52% 46

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So let’s take a closer look at three forms of social media. Facebook Facebook has more than 400 million users. Facebook has a lot of functionality: You can post photos, videos, and links to other websites: you can have multiple pages, and best of all, you can separate your personal Facebook account from a professional account. Key point: A fan page or business page is indexed by Google so yes, you can and you should create your Facebook page with search-engine optimization in mind. Five tips for Facebook. 1. For your Facebook business page, simply choose the official name of your business. 2. Select the best URL (Facebook username) for your Facebook page. (To do this go here: www.facebook.com/username) 3. Place keyword-dense prose near the top of the page as much as possible. Include the link to your website in your news stream frequently. 4. Add lots of photos and videos with keyword-rich captions. 5. Put a logo on your website inviting people to join you on Facebook.

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Twitter Here’s what’s great about Twitter. For no money (but you need to spend time), you can get your company in front of LOTS of people fast. And you can communicate with them directly. You can send out pictures and little messages – tweets – about a promotion, a tasting, an event, etc. You can join the conversation. So when you set up your account – use your business name! – you’ll find you have exactly zero followers. How do you get followers? Go to http://www.twellow.com and register, it’s easy and free. Once you’ve registered, click on the TwellowHood tab. Select North America, and then choose the state and the city you want. I chose Phoenix, Arizona for the illustration below.

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You move through that list and follow everybody. There’s more than 23,000 people in Phoenix on Twitter so you’ll never get done, but this is how to begin. Most people that you follow will follow you back. It’s kind of an unwritten rule of Twitter. Word to the wise: There are many people on Twitter who are strictly money/sales/profit oriented. Avoid them. Most important thing you can do:

Read “Twitter 101: A Special Guide” – the folks at Twitter wrote this and it’s really good.

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LinkedIn This is an essential business networking website and you should at least register for the free version. It is integrated with Twitter so you can actually post updates from LinkedIn that will appear in your Twitter stream. LinkedIn remains somewhat of a mystery for many people. However, this is an extremely powerful business tool, and it’s well worth your while to spend some time to understand it. Linked Intelligence is the unofficial source for all things LinkedIn. Check out their blog posting: 100+ Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn. Overview topic: Business Development/Marketing/Sales And these are the articles: • A Tool to Help With Reference Selling • Getting More Than Just Answers • How to Use LinkedIn to Build Your Business • Market Your Company on LinkedIn • Using LinkedIn for Market Research • Secrets LinkedIn Can Tell You About Your Customers YouTube There are legions of stories about YouTube videos going viral. The principal reason why you should think about posting videos to You Tube is that You Tube is owned by Google, which means that the search potential is tremendous. Everything we’ve discussed with regard to search-engine optimization applies here. Research keywords. Use the YouTube Keyword Suggestion Tool. Place your keywords in your title, description, and tags.

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Finally: Your Unique Value Proposition.

Your unique value proposition should answer this question: Why should I work with or buy from you? Make sure this statement lives on your home page. One way to get a handle on your unique value proposition is to do a -- strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threat -- analysis of your company. This is usually done with a coach or a facilitator, and can be highly useful and valuable. This is an involved process, but the information it gives you is absolutely amazing. A second way to get at this is to ask a number of your best customers what makes you different and special. What they say might surprise you. In a good way.

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Resources

IV. Resources General Business Ideas/Strategies/Tactics With a Dash of Inspiration http://www.tompeters.com/ http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/ Website Building http://www.homestead.com http://www.sitesell.com/ http://www.wordpress.com http://www.wordpress.org http://www.squarespace.com Website Designers http://bluedeerdesigns.com/ (specializes in e-commerce) http://www.grayskystudio.com Search-engine Optimization Hubspot | http://blog.hubspot.com Yahoo Site Explorer | http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com Search Engine Land | http://www.searchengineland.com Search Engine Roundtable | http://www.seoroundtable.com seomoz | http://www.seomoz.org semoz - Internet Marketing Handbook | http://www.seomoz.org/dp/the-internetmarketing-handbook Local Search Google Places | http://www.google.com/local/add Yahoo Local Listings | http://listings.local.yahoo.com/ Bing Local Business Center | https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx 52 Internet Marketing Vol. I

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Resources

Website Conversion Future Now | http://www.futurenowinc.com/ Google Analytics | http://www.google.com/analytics/ Google Website Optimizer | http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer Marketing Experiments | http://www.marketingexperiments.com Marketing Experiments Blog | http://www.marketingexperiments.com/blog Internet Marketing Hubspot | http://blog.hubspot.com Website Grader | http://www.websitegrader.com Inbound Marketing Blog | http://www.blog.hubspot.com Inbound Marketing | http://www.inboundmarketing.com General Marketing Marketing Sherpa | http://www.marketingsherpa.com MarketingProfs.com | http://www.marketingprofs.com Public Relations PR 2.0 | http://www.briansolis.com Strategic Public Relations | http://www.prblog.typepad.com Social Share Public Relations | http://www.pitchengine.com Social Media Mashable | http://www.mashable.com Twellow | http://www.twellow.com Twitter | http://www.twitter.com Facebook | http://www.facebook.com LinkedIn | http://www.linkedin.com YouTube | http://www.youtube.com Twitter 101 | http://business.twitter.com/twitter101/ YouTube Keyword Suggestion Tool | https://ads.youtube.com/keyword_tool 100+ Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn | http://linkedintelligence.com/smart-ways-to-use-linkedin/ 53

e-book design by Gray Sky Studio | http://www.grayskystudio.com

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Notes

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