Channeling your Efforts

How can you stand out in an increasingly cluttered advertising space like the Internet? Paid search campaigns like AdWords can generate great, qualified traffic to your website. But because it works, the competition can be fierce and expensive.

Ads on other sites might seem like a good idea but the increasing frustration of users with ads, and these users increasing sophistication with web use, is leading to an increase in the use and sophistication of ad blockers. What if your precisely targeted market is blocking the very ad you created just for them?

Newsletters can be a great way to get in front of folks. And if you have existing customers, simply by the fact of them being your customer, you can add them to your email list. But you can’t necessarily keep them! We have a newsletter that goes out just to our hosting clients. This newsletter tells them about our service and any changes / additions / or maintenance they should be aware of. But several have unsubscribed. Even when you consciously opt in to a newsletter, do you read each one thoroughly? Yet each time I send a newsletter, I get feedback from happy customers. So it is a valuable channel.

So is it a lost cause? Should you throw in the towel and accept defeat?

NO.

But as technology matures and becomes more sophisticated, you need to as well. First, remember that nothing beats old-fashioned marketing. It takes more time but that is what makes it more effective. Visit your leads. Or give them a call. Or send a note via the United States Postal Service.

But of course you can use new media and use it effectively. Now you need to consider and use the right channels for your business. A brief overview of some of the main channels available and how you might use them:

Website: This is the channel you have the most control over. Make it the centerpiece of your marketing. I might click a link from LinkedIn or Facebook that takes me to your site where I learn that you not only do what the link was about but that you also provide another service or product I need.

Facebook: We recommend this for all kinds of businesses but it is essential if you are in the B2C world. Have an active account. Provide useful information AND links back to your site with further details on the issue.

Twitter: Lots of folks tell us gruffly “We don’t tweet” or “We don’t twitter” as a matter of pride. That is not a particularly helpful approach to marketing though. Do you know if your client base is on Twitter? If they are then you ought to be. Even if they aren’t, having an active Twitter account can help in myriads of ways, foremost of which is providing additional links regarding your brand – useful for SEO purposes.

LinkedIn: If you are in the B2B world, a fully built out LI profile and regularly updating , connecting with others is critical. More and more, when I talk with people and especially when I meet with them, they check out my profile and I check out theirs prior to meeting. Finding useful connections is a great way to grow.

Instagram: If what you do is visual, you should have an Instagram account and update it. This is particularly true of B2C companies. It is just another great way to get your product in front of people. Using Instagram purposefully can be immensely beneficial.

YouTube: Whether you are in the B2B or B2C realm, a video can go a long way towards getting you more sales. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, just imagine what a video is worth. Demonstrate a technique, show how to use a product, have a customer give a video testimonial, show people interacting with you, your product, or your service.

We have, over the years, repeatedly heard “We tried <Enter your favorite channel or social media> and it didn’t work.” When I counter that with “What was your strategy?” I ALWAYS get a blank stare. The key is to use these channels with a strategy. Understand how you want each channel to interact. Done well, it will get you more customers; show a better, more unified brand to the world; and get your better search rankings.

If you need help getting your digital channels lined up, we can help. If you need help getting your whole marketing plan going, give us a call as well. We partner with some of the best firms in Colorado to get your message out there.

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Does Social Media Drive You?

I came across an article on Mashable from back in November talking about how B2B social media is on the rise.

They make some interesting points that I consistently make with clients and in presentations. Basically the point is “Create a Plan” followed by “Do some exploring to find out what works for your business”.

While there are some interesting statistics and good analysis I must disagree with the quote that says “Why not use free social media tools?” There is no such thing as a free lunch and there sure isn’t any such thing as a free tool. There is a real cost to these social media tools. That cost can be measured in time and should also be measured in $$.

It really takes a professional to make sure your Social is done right. That doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t be engaged in their own Social Media Marketing either. I don’t change the oil on my car but I do drive it. I don’t rotate the tires on my car but I know how to change a flat when it happens. I even took Auto Shop in high school. I know enough to know I should let the experts handle my car.

In the same way, companies should rely on their Social Media Marketing company to get them set up (I don’t build cars), start the processes going (I don’t work on my car) and then show you how to “drive” (I took Driver’s Ed back in the day): what to look for, where to turn, and what to do when something doesn’t go as planned.

Setting up Social Media is easy. Just like putting a new engine in your car is easy – as long as you know where the connections go and can connect them together in just the right way. Do it wrong on your car and it won’t start or won’t run right. Do it wrong on your Social Media and you might not get any followers or actually drive people away instead of attracting them. Groupon experienced a very red face after their super bowl commercial. They were trying to attract people and instead, because they belittled the struggles of the Tibetan people, drove people away. View the ad at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXGYK1eP_wo

Of course there are different levels of Social Media Marketing as well, just like some folks drive Hyundai, some drive Fords, some drive Mercedes and others are driven around in Rolls Royces. If your company is in high gear, you might need somebody to “drive you around” in your Social Media Marketing – and there are businesses that can help you out with social media from A to Z.

And now it’s time for a little plug. EduCyber can help you whether you need help developing the plan, implementing the plan, or running the whole thing. Give us a call at 303 268-2245 to get started today.

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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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EduCyber Workshop: Internet Marketing for the Decision Maker

EduCyber is pleased to announce their workshop “Internet Marketing for the Decision-Maker” on Wednesday, November 3 from 8:30 – 10:00. This in person workshop will be held in the 2nd Floor Conference room at 4251 Kipling St. in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

In this fast-paced seminar Brian DeLaet, CEO of EduCyber, will introduce the five main questions any firm should ask of their Internet Marketing company. There is an incredible deluge of marketing offers from Search Engine Optimization to paid search to affiliate marketing. How do you know you’re getting the right mix for your company?

Attendees of this workshop will gain an understanding of:

  • What to look for in an Internet Marketing company
  • What the current trends in search marketing are
  • Whether to venture into social media marketing
  • How to build an integrated Internet marketing plan

Further information can be found at www.educyber.com (click on the Register Online for our seminars button). This seminar costs $19.95.

About EduCyber:
EduCyber, a web design and Internet marketing firm, is based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado since 1998. EduCyber specializes in designing and building websites that are optimized to generate business. EduCyber works with growing companies to position them properly on the Internet and build their sites in order to grow their businesses.

Current EduCyber customers include non-profit organizations like the MaxFund, the West Chamber Serving Jefferson County and Wheat Ridge 2020, as well as for-profit businesses particularly in the home services (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, landscaping) area and e-commerce sites for businesses large and small.

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Setting Rules for Social Networking

There was a very good article on setting rules for social networking in the Denver Business Journal earlier this month. David Schachter, the author notes how seemingly easy it is to reach “billions of people instanteously” from your mobile device.

Approaching the topic from a legal perspective – he is a lawyer after all – he addresses key areas like Privacy, Authorized Corporate Communications and how not to get in trouble by dissing people on the Internet. That is all good stuff.

The point that most intrigued me though is the importance for companies to maintain an official site and direct / require employees who engage in social media marketing (smm) to reference the official site. One of the most critical issues for business in smm is AUTHENTICITY. What better way to be authentic than to identify yourself and your company and especially the company’s web site?

Often I speak with those new to social media that somehow want to “jimmy” the system. One way people want to do that is by having staff or relatives create rave reviews under false names. Who would catch you anyway? Seems to be the thought process. If you’re thinking like that, stop. You will get caught. And it will hurt.

Businesses large and small have been caught doing this and suffered the consequences – everything from the embarrassment of having to apologize to the world at large to, gasp, loss of revenue. But by being authentic, by telling people who you are and where the company web site can be found, you show that you are engaged and people will listen, even if you are the corporate mouthpiece.

So don’t be afraid to be you and to let people know who you are. Show them the company site and engage.

I do have to disagree on one point David made though. On the topic of blogging he makes the comment “blogging may be unavoidable” which, as I told David, would be like McDonald’s saying “running TV ads may be unavoidable”. Blogging isn’t something you should want to avoid if you want to grow and prosper. Blogging continues to drive a lot of traffic to our site and the way we have integrated our blog into the rest of our social media, it drives even more.

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5 Biggest Social Media Marketing Mistakes

Everyone is joining in the Social Media Marketing blitz – or so it often seems – but not everyone is doing it well. Are you?

Here are the five biggest mistakes businesses make in Social Media Marketing:

5. Not being consistent
Some really good folks come up with a plan and start implementing it and then get distracted or busy and don’t consistently implement it. Using tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck can help you manage the flow and be more consistent.

4. Being too business focused
It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason. People want to get to know you. They want to understand you from the human perspective, not just the business side. Take some time to tell people what has your interest, even if it’s watching your daughter’s hockey game.

3. Not measuring the results
I often hear “I tried Facebook and it didn’t work.” I follow up with a “How do you know?” and get blank looks or vague answers. If you’re going to engage in social media marketing, measure your results in as quantifiable ways as possible.

2. Not following the plan
It is easy to get distracted in social media. You log on to post about your next event or a special you have coming up and the next thing you know you’re chatting with your high school football buddies or “friending” your college sweetheart. Be disciplined. Tape your plan or goals to your monitor to remind you of what you’re doing. Then follow through.

1. Not having a plan
Simple as it may seem, a huge number of businesses engaging in social media MARKETING don’t have a plan for what they want to accomplish – or their plan doesn’t fit with their business goals. I met a recently laid off individual who went on to LinkedIn and established links with 1000s of people – and he only knew about 25 of them. He asked me “What do I do now?” I had no idea what to tell him because he didn’t have a plan that he could articulate.

Create a plan that fits your business. Include measurable goals in your plan.

You’ll see results.
 

 

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Plan for Internet Marketing

Internet Marketing, like any kind of marketing, needs to fit into the bigger picture of what you are trying to accomplish. There are three questions you need to ask yourself with any kind of Internet Marketing Campaign:

  1. How does this campaign fit into our overall marketing goals?
  2. How will we measure success?
  3. What step(s) do we want people to take?

ONE: Fitting your campaign into your overall marketing plan assumes you have an overall plan. If you don’t have one, get one. You’ll never get where you want to be if you don’t have a plan to get there. Stop and consider what your business goals are, determine what marketing you need to do to help you get there, and then determine what piece of the marketing pie will be Internet marketing.

TWO: A key component of your success will be determining at the outset what you are going to measure. Long ago I had a customer leave because his web site wasn’t getting him any business. So I asked where he was getting his business from. As it turned out, he wasn’t really tracking any of that stuff so he didn’t really know where his business came from – and therefore didn’t know whether he was getting any business from his site or not. What’s the moral of the story? He didn’t measure anything in his business and he’s no longer in business.

THREE: There are all kinds of measurable steps you can have on your web site. Of course, if you have an ecommerce site, the best step is to make a sale. But if the customer isn’t ready to buy, you can get them to sign up for your newsletter (another measurable step) or click to the next page for more information (this too is measurable). I’m sorry but “The purpose of this page is to educate” is not a step nor is it measurable. If you want to educate them enough that they want to call you or fill out a form, then it is measurable but “educate” is not a step.

Think through these questions with answers backed up with data and you’ll be on your way to success on the Internet.

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Why Bother With Twitter?

I’m often asked why anyone in business would want to spend time tweeting. That question often comes from the very same people who spend lots of time in meetings and events with local business associations, chambers of commerce and other opportunities to meet new people or make connections with existing contacts.

Hmm . . . is what I think. I’m not sure why people don’t see the value of tweeting to friends, colleagues, vendors and customers (and in fact all of Twitterland). Here are the reasons I find time to tweet:

  1. I can connect with my known circle of friends and tell them about what is happening (remember, don’t tweet about what you’re doing but about what has your attention).
  2. I can read my circle’s tweets and join in the conversation, letting those folks know that I am engaged in their conversation.
  3. I can share my news – typically that I have posted a new blog article but also about things related to my company.
  4. I can meet new people who share my interests, industry, politics, religion and more.
  5. I can connect with potential employees or staff members.
  6. I can stay abreast of what is happening in the world and in my industry (I learned that Michael Jackson had died through Twitter and I learned that Facebook surpassed 350 million users via Twitter)
  7. I can do research on what my competitors are doing

Most importantly, I realize that Twitter is one more way to network but it is unique in the real-time information flow and the method of using it – I often go days without visiting twitter.com but a day very rarely passes without one tweet or interaction on Twitter.икони

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Evaluating your Social Media Campaign

Question 10 of 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign is “How do I evaluate the results?”

If you planned properly this is an easy question. At the outset you should have set a measurable goal and set a time period. So now all you have to do is, when you hit the milestone set, look to see if you reached your goal.

In our first question we talked about setting goals and what those goals might look like. The funny thing about goals though is they often change. And that’s ok. The important thing is to continually set, measure and reset your goals.  If you had said you wanted to get 200 new subscribers to your newsletter over a two month period and you hit 250 after one month, it would be a good idea to evaluate after one month and change the goal to, for example, 700.

If you only had 20 new subscribers after a month but three of them converted to customers, you might reset the goal to 50 and add a new goal of converting 10 of them to customers. But if you haven’t set a goal, how do you know if you reached it or not?

Other things you can measure as a part of your evaluation of a social media campaign include:

  • Number of Facebook fans
  • Number of re-tweets onTwitter
  • Number of profile views on LinkedIn
  • Number of views on YouTube
  • Number of click throughs from any social site to your actual web site
  • Number of new newsletter subscribers
  • Number of new customers

Note that new customers is only one measurement. And it is probably not the most important at first. Of more importance is how you engage and interact with the “friends”, “followers”, “connections” or other social media friends in order to build your network over the long term.

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Tools to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

Question 7 from 10 Essential Questions for your Social Media Marketing Campaign: ” What tools are available to make my time in SMM more efficient?” can be answered in different ways.

There are tools and then there are tools. Every day there are thousands (yes thousands) of blog entries and tweets about all the wonderful tools available to help you leverage your Social Media Marketing time to maximum advantage.

This isn’t another one of those messages. Instead, let me tell you about two that I use and point you in the direction of finding others.

The tool that I use to tie things together is Friendfeed. Friendfeed lets you tie your various social media accounts together in such a way that you can post once to one account and the post will automatically be updated across all your accounts.  What does “all your accounts” mean? Friendfeed can talk to your blog, to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to name a few. If you use pictures, it can talk to Flickr and to Picasa. If you are into bookmarking and news, it will talk to delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg and Google Reader. In fact, there are currently 58 different sites that can be tied together through Friendfeed.

That sounds a bit overwhelming.  It doesn’t need to though. You can start with just a couple and still save time by using Friendfeed. Then when you’re ready to add, you can do so and tie them into Friendfeed as you add them to your repertoire.

The second tool I use and like is TweetDeck. While it sounds like it is just a Twitter application, it actually ties into Facebook and MySpace as well, allowing you to post once but push it to all those accounts. I only use it with Twitter but even then it helps. I have a personal account twitter.com/edubrian and a corporate account twitter.com/educyber and I can post to either or both at the same time through TweetDeck.

The power of TweetDeck comes from being able to create groups. I follow more than 1400 people but it works its power even if you follow a handful. For example, you can create a group called “My Industry” and add the people from your industry into that group. You can create a group called “Customers” and add your customers to that group. And so on. The simplicity of that makes life easier and will likely encourage you to follow more people because the flow of Tweets becomes more manageable.

What else is there?

Here are just a few links I found:

42+ Social Media Marketing Tools

4 tools for easier social media management

35+ Social Media Tools That Make Life Easier

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