A Look Back, A Look Ahead

What did you measure this year? All of us measure the bottom line but what else? Did you measure the number of new customers / clients? What about number of leads and number of those leads that converted into clients? Number of sales online? Number of new newsletter signups? Number of fans or followers on social media?

How did your numbers measure up? Some interesting things we noticed in our numbers: With the year not yet finished, we’ve already had 16% more visitors to our site this year over last. An online store we manage has had a 5 fold increase in sales and a lot more traffic.

For our site our traffic from search engines is actually down a bit over last year but that is because we’ve been focusing on our customer’s campaigns more than our own so we’re not too upset over that one.

Whatever you measure, make sure it adds to your marketing goals. If our goal was to get a lot of traffic from the search engines, you can be sure we would have paid a lot more attention and performed a whole lot better.

For the year ahead (don’t give up on this one yet though – there are still almost three weeks left) take time to set out your Internet Marketing goals. Start with your web site itself. If it conversion optimized? That is, is your site ready to convert visitors into customers? If you want to measure newsletter signups, for example, is the site geared towards getting visitors to do that? Are there barriers that you may have inadvertently put in place (such as asking for a physical address when all you need is an email address)?

Typically you want to have a conversion and a micro-conversion. If they aren’t ready to buy from you or ask you for a quote, perhaps they’ll sign up for your newsletter so they can stay in touch. Asking for a quote would be the conversion and the newsletter signup, the micro-conversion.

Once your site is ready, you can look at other marketing venues. Do you need Pay Per Click? Would a local search campaign make sense for you? How does social media marketing fit into the picture? Should you be tweeting? Do you need to claim your business on Foursquare? Will using QR codes help you reach your goals?

If you’re not thinking about these questions, I would suggest that you ought to be. If you’re not but feel like you should, give EduCyber a call at 303 268-2245. We can help you plan for a fantastic year.

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Pay Per Click vs. Organic Search

If you are contemplating boosting traffic to your web site and therefore sales in your business, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether you should use organic search or pay per click.

First let’s define the terms. Pay Per Click (PPC) is an advertising campaign where you pay the search engine (such as Google – their PPC is called AdWords) to show your ads when people search for key words. Organic Search is where you either do the work or pay a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) company to get you ranked high in Google’s non-paid listings.

There are THREE key differences between PPC and Organic Search:

  1. In a PPC Campaign, you can create a campaign and be getting results quite literally within minutes. At Google it can be as simple as creating an account (1 – 2 minutes), creating a campaign (and giving your credit card information) in 2 – 3 minutes and then monitoring as you start to get click thrus to your web site. An organic campaign, on the other hand, takes more preparation as you make changes to pages throughout your web site and the results take longer as well. Depending on the site and the content, results can take as long as several weeks.
  2. One of the reasons an SEO campaign takes more work is because you don’t have control over which page the search engine will link to so you have to make sure all of your pages are both optimized and linked in such a way that people can get to the page they want even if they click a search engine link that takes them to a page you didn’t intend them to go to. With a PPC campaign, you get to tell the search engine EXACTLY what page to link to so you can just focus on that one page and focus on the marketing content of that page.
  3. The third key difference is that, according to SEOmoz, people searching on the Internet are 8.5 times more likely to click on an organic search listing than on a paid ad.

Some of the trade-offs then are between SEO which over the long term is likely to have a bigger pay off vs. a paid search campaign which can have an immediate impact on your bottom line and having a very focused ad in paid search vs. needing to continually focus on the whole web site in organic search.

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6. What words do I expect people to have searched for when they click through to my site?

Now the conversation turns very clearly to Search Engine Marketing (SEM). There are many facets to SEM. Two of the biggest are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC).

So first you must determine what key words your customers search for. Notice how I worded that. Not what you think they search for but what they actually do search for. Many business owners are so focused on what they are selling that they don’t take time to realize what their customers are buying. For example, a hair stylist might think she is selling “professionally styled hair” while her ideal customer might be searching for “good haircut” at a “good price”.

There are several good free tools that will help you determine other related keywords. We really like and recommend the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. When I visit this site and type in “good haircut” and then add one more word so that I don’t get jobs in Australia or Alaska: “Denver”. The tool returns 34 possible other words I should look at. Some are obvious like “beauty salon haircut” and “best haircut Denver” but there are a few very nice surprises there as well, like “prom haircut” and “wedding haircut” that would probably be very customers.

The beauty of this tool is that you can also see what the competition is for a certain keyword. If you find some that have lots of searches but little competition, you have just found a niche that you can capitalize on.

Work with your website designer to optimize your site and then you are ready to with SEO and PPC. We’ll deal with both of these with the next question.

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Online Marketing

We’ve been getting a lot of calls lately about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and CPC (Cost Per Click) campaigns. Just today I had a gentleman ask about our rates for a CPC campaign. After I told him he said “I see that you also provide training, how much would it cost to train me to do the click campaign?” I told him and he changed the subject. A lot of businesses are spending big bucks are their web sites and then not going the extra mile to make the site successful. It doesn’t have to break the bank. THE single most important thing you can do on your web site is make sure that you actually use the terms you want to be ranked for.

I can’t tell you how often I have evaluated someone’s web site, we’ve discussed their key words and phrases and then I’ve asked, “Where did you incorporate these terms on your site?” and been met with a blank stare. I’m not talking about just posting a list of the key words. I’m talking about weaving the phrases into the content of your web site. I’m talking about wordsmithing your content so that it both reflects what goods and or services you offer AND uses your key phrases in such a way that visitors to your site can see that you do indeed offer what they were searching for.

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