web design blog

The Rise of "Inbound Marketing"

Inbound marketing; the new direction of online marketing is challenging traditional marketing by focusing on delivering for a more selective consumer.

Traditional broadcast and impression-based media or "outbound marketing" focuses on brand awareness through methods such as trade shows, print ads, television and other types of expensive broadcast media. Trends now show the old way of marketing is on the way out, just ask any newspaper or magazine about their ad revenues and shrinking readership if you want proof.

With the invention of tivo, people can just scan over all the commercials rendering them completely useless. More consumers are also subscribing to a wider array of closed media such as Netflix instant download, virtually shutting out all possibility of an advertisement being seen. With high-speed internet now widely available, most consumers are prone to research thier next purchase through the internet.

The result of the new, emerging media choices available to consumers is TV, newsprint, and even glossy magazine advertising are not nearly as effective for advertisers as they once were. This may work to level the playing field for advertisers of any size.

It is clearly an exciting time for small to mid sized companies to challenge their larger counterparts with new and innovative ideas because they do not need to buy expensive television air time anymore or pricey ineffectual print ads. Delivering the information for what consumers are searching for is what is driving the future of business today. It is now recommended that business earn their customer's time by publishing useful information that informs the customer on their interests.

Consumers are now extremely aware and do much more research before making a purchase.

They do so on many social media network channels like company blogs, twitter posts, facebook profiles, and linked in business contacts. The percentage of use through these channels has risen quite rapidly. Companies who blog frequently have shown an increase of 66- 88% in their monthly lead generation if they blog 52 or more articles a month. Twitter has also become a huge part of business interaction today with its use increasing by 15% monthly. Profile pictures have also become an important aspect of marketing a company. If there is a picture of yourself and your company the average number of people who will follow you on twitter rises dramatically.

It is amazing to see the statistics of online marketing today and it is also refreshing to note that a great deal of small companies can and will compete in today's market with an even larger company. Now, it is all about the consumer not about the big companies new product.

In conclusion, a new company needs to be ready for these changes by optimizing their site for improved organic search engine results and organize the content of their site for the needs of the consumer. Target the marketing message to answer the questions that the consumer may have about the product or service that is being sold. Hold an open dialog with your customers that show them that you have their needs in mind because consumers today are quite knowledgeable and they do their homework.

Sources: David Meerman Scott. (2010). The New Rules of Marketing and PR. How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. Inc.
posted by Stephanie Williams on Sun., Sep 26th, 2010 in web marketing

Pick your battles - affordable SEO success by keyword research

By now most "hot" keywords have become extremely competitive and difficult to get top ranking. So much so that many would-be online entrepreneurs have been discouraged from even attempting to get their website ranking for good search results. Stories of business owners or professionals spending thousands of dollars per month to get a handful of leads abound in many competitive search markets.

While there are plenty of instances of business owners either being taken for a ride by an unqualified or over-priced SEO firm it is a huge mistake for any business to write-off search marketing from fear of a lack of ROI.

A skilled SEO professional or even a determined business owner can achieve greater search traffic by researching the most productive and "cooler" long-tail key words. Many online searches follow a pattern of starting with an extremely general and broad search term, and then gradually narrowing their search by entering increasingly specific search phrases.

This search trend creates a large opportunity for those who know how to take advantage of it.

The potential for better ROI from longer, more specific search phrases or keywords stems from two factors:

  1. longer, more specific search phrases have a better conversion rate than more general keywords - better conversion means more $$!

  2. longer key words and phrases are much less competitive and easier to get top ranking for! Much easier.

The best way to take advantage of these factors involves 3 components -

  1. Thorough key word research and a detailed analysis of top-ranking websites

  2. A well-optimized website. The content of the site should have a high level of keyword optimization for the target phrases

  3. Plenty of written content. A major factor in targeting long-tail keywords both targeted and unexpected is how much written content is on your website. You will need to have enough relevant content to begin to rank for more searches.

By now you may be wondering were the affordable part comes in.

You may notice all of the above items are all directly on your website. This differs from SEO strategy for more competitive keywords. These days getting top search results for short or "hot" keywords usually requires a large effort of building links that go back to your website and a much higher cost over time, but targeting long-tail keywords allows for good results by having your website content relevant and optimized. Getting good ranking for longer search phrases by your website content alone opens the possibility for many business owners to utilize popular open source content management systems or blogs such as wordpress to optimize their own website and publish their own content.

In fact a good strategy for a small business with a limited budget but unlimited ambition would be to hire an SEO consultant to do the competitive analysis, keyword research and a bit of training then make regular lengthy posts at least once per week. Putting this task into a scheduled routine will go a long way to making it effective. Over time with weekly or better still daily posts, a business's website can end up with many pages of optimized content; and many pages that pick up great ranking for long-tail keywords!

Remember even though there are far fewer searches for a given long-tail search phrase most website conversion come from these type of searches... So do your research, don't let the nay-sayers discourage you and write your way to effective online marketing.
posted by Glenn Williams on Sat., Sep 25th, 2010 in search engine optimization web marketing website content

Understand The Benefits of Search Marketing For Your Business Type

Many business owners know the internet can be an major resource for promoting their business or making direct sales. However the benefits from internet marketing and search engine optimization realized by a business can vary greatly based on the goods or services the business provides.

Not all businesses will benefit from search marketing equally.

An crucial factor in determining the potential benefits of search engine marketing is relevant search volume. For example a business that offers real estate will enjoy a large search volume that crosses all demographics. In contrast a real estate attorney will have a much smaller search volume, and more narrow demographics - yet search remains an important opportunity that should not be ignored despite the lower number of potential visitors. Understanding how your business's niche will affect your potential for search engine traffic is crucial to setting realistic expectations and planning an effective internet marketing strategy. A business for a private consulting firm may also have a low search volume for relevant key words so a different strategy will be needed to increase traffic. For a business with a low search volume competition may be even higher for effective keywords than a highly searched topic, as a result the business owner will need to focus much of their online marketing effort on advertising, social networking, bookmarking, and any of the variety of web 2.0 sites that allow users to publish their own content. This will be important as it will allow a low search volume business to actively getting exposure to more internet users as well as target their audience. In contrast a business owner who's industry has a large relevant search volume may get more return by focusing on traditional SEO. A large number of visits can be attained by optimizing for long-tail or "warm" key words as well as short or "hot" key words. This strategy will net many visits even if the search market is very competitive and more often than not long-tail key words have higher conversion rates than "hot" key words.

By studying the relevant search volume for your business's niche you can also avoid making bad decisions with your marketing dollars. For example a business that sells a product online will have little benefit from paid advertising for a local search advertiser such as Local.com. Few people search for commodity or brand name products by location and any money spent to localize the searches will most likely be waisted; these searches are however a good candidate for traditional SEO. Benefiting from a potentially large search volume and the advertising from the product's manufacturer to promote internet searches, a highly optimized website can receive many visits and if designed with great usability in mind also receive many conversions!

The moral of the story is to do your research and understand the potential benefits to your company of search marketing. A good understanding of the search volume, demographics and behavior of your industries internet users can mean the difference between dollars and effort well-spent or a lack of returns.

If you would like a professional evaluation of your industry's search dynamics, and potential return feel free to contact IMAGE Web Design for a free consultation.

posted by Glenn Williams on Tue., Sep 14th, 2010 in search engine optimization web marketing

Analytics Matters... Your website visitors are speaking - listen!

One of the most crucial and overlooked tasks many website owners do not do, is reviewing the analytics! Reviewing your website's analytics reports on regular basis is essential . Website owners and webmasters can discover unexpected opportunities, serious errors or a need to improve the content of a page.

For a brand new website the analytics data is useful for tracking your website's progress in visits, time on site and more. A new site can benefit from regular analytics reviewing by allowing the webmaster or content publishers adjust the content to guide the visitor to a conversion and be sure the visitors are shown the essential content for that website. The earlier these adjustments are made the better - many established websites suffer from content that does not get to the point fast enough or usability problems that are getting in the visitors way.

For a well established website, tracking visitor behavior through reviewing analytics becomes even more valuable by showing you what your visitors are REALLY thinking about your website or article. Many times the business owner or web developer assumes "my visitors will look at these pages" and it turns out hardly anyone is actually viewing the page or that they leave immediately after viewing it, a term called a "bounce". These issues once discovered can be corrected and bring the conversion success rate of the web site up fast. Many times the actual visitor tracking shows surprising results and can uncover otherwise missed opportunities.

An example of discovering a hidden opportunity, the website owner or webmaster reviews the analytics data for keywords visitors entered to find your website and the keywords are totally unexpected. Looking back further similar keywords are discovered - as a result the site owner posts an article on the topic of the new key words and receives more visits and new customers as a result.

IMAGE Web design has used analytics data to effectively improve e-commerce conversion rates for online retailers and increase the weekly sales - just by observing some opportunities and some areas that required improvement and making the adjustments.

Reviewing the analytics reports can prevent website owners from spending time and money on items the visitor is not terribly interested in, uncover opportunities or illustrate that a page crucial to your business is not very successful and needs an update. If you are not sure what visitors really think about your website contact IMAGE web design for a review of your website's analytics.
posted by Glenn Williams on Wed., Aug 25th, 2010 in usability web marketing website content

Keeping up... A scheduled workflow helps maintain interest in your site.

For those of us with busy schedules and demanding jobs, the idea of publishing a blog, adding a new website page or tweeting can seem daunting if not impossible. However establishing a scheduled workflow and single point of entry can make publishing website content effectively a relatively painless task.

With so many social media choices available including facebook, twitter, flicker, YouTube or LinkedIn and more, it's key that you narrow your choices down to the most effective sites /or social networks that are compatible with your lifestyle. Many third-party developers have created excellent widgets or apps that can republish your content to multiple formats at the click of a button. All the tech gadgets in the world won't help if you have not written, shot or filmed any content. An effective way of getting your content out into the web is to schedule a time and day write, photograph or film something - whether it's once a week or once a month is not important but by maintaining the same schedule it will become easier each time and eventually maybe even a habit.

Your website and business will benefit two-fold from both real live people stopping by to read your blog post, tweet or your new photo album but search engines will discover new content has been added to your website blog or profile and may return more frequently helping to boost your search engine visibility.

The business world has changed a lot in the past 5 years and keeping up can be difficult, but with a little planning, discipline and creativity, using the tools available today to make new connections and maintain old ones can be made easier.

For help with your publishing workflow or website marketing, feel free to contact IMAGE Web Design.
posted by Glenn Williams on Wed., Aug 25th, 2010 in web marketing website content



IMAGE website design blog