Internet Marketing Strategy Articles for the Week of March 24, 2014

Here are the top Internet strategy, marketing and technology links for the week of March 24, 2014…

Just Like Anything, Internet Marketing Takes Patience

Zen Beach Stones at Home

Zen Beach Stones at Home (Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography)

In this instant-on world, where we can get access to just about any constant with a google search or an ipad app, we sometimes forget that not everything is instant. Good internet marketing is about providing the right message to the right people at the right time. Researching and figuring out what tactics and channels to use to find the right people takes time, and sometimes experimentation. Even with tactics in place, it takes time to build reputation, audience, and reach, all which may be in vain if the timing isn’t right. While internet marketing can provide results faster than many other channels, it still requires patience in execution.

Research Required

One of the benefits of internet marketing is the access to information that previously was either difficult or costly to attain. This valuable information can provide insights into where your audience is online, what they care about, and what they need.  Taking time to do research will help you tailor your messaging, tactics and even products to align more closely with what your potential customers want and need.

Experiment & Collect Data

Because the Internet moves so quickly, there is an opportunity to constantly experiment and collect data. Most marketing is a best guess based on research and previous experience. Internet marketing tactics allow marketers to test their theories relatively quickly and cheaply and collect data to improve results.

Analyze & Improve

The downside of so much information and data is that you can easily become overwhelmed with what to focus on. Analyze the data that provides direct information about how well your marketing is working — these should be your primary and secondary key performance indicators. Ask the ‘so what?’ question about each metric to move from a number to a recommendation on what to improve.

Patience Takes Dedication

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to give up on marketing efforts before they have a chance to provide results. By being dedicated to patience and controlling expectations, internet marketing tactics can have the opportunity to show what they can do. Constant measuring and analysis along the way will help provide data that tactics are moving in the right direction.

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Leveraging Social Networking for B2B Lead Generation

Banking District

Banking District (Photo credit: bsterling)

Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) typically have much longer sales cycles than companies that sell to consumers (B2C). The products and services that are sold are usually much higher in cost, which requires more hand-holding during the sales process.  Salespeople are invaluable to B2B companies because they nurture relationships throughout the sales process. B2B companies, even when they do use social media, tend to overlook it as a relationship builder and a lead generation channel.

B2B Relationships Online Matter Too

If you’re building relationships with a customer in-person, and they’re online, that’s another opportunity to listen to their concerns, learn about their needs and provide value to the relationship. If you’re also online and your customers are connected to you and you’re not listening and responding, that can impact in-person relationships as well. In lead generation, referrals are often the best source, and social networking provides an opportunity to build relationships with those in your customers’ networks.

Your Customer’s Customers Are Your Customers

In B2B relationships, your customer also has customers. Social networking provides an opportunity to connect directly to your customer’s customers. This will help you understand your customer’s needs and wants and can help you provide them with valuable information for their own marketing and sales. Needs often will trickle up the sales channel, and social networking can give you advanced notice of benefits and features you need to build into your own products. In some sales channels, knowing when your customer’s customers are looking for a product can generate a lead for you that a customer may need a product or service from you.

Building B2B Brand Preference

Because B2B is built on relationships and trust, brand preference can be a strong driver of sales. Using social networking can help you build your brand’s reputation by helping your customers with questions and problems, as well as their customers. Increasing your reputation will help generate referrals.

Provide B2B Lead Generation Opportunities

One of the most difficult aspects of lead generation is knowing when a customer or potential customer is interested in your products. It’s obvious when they call or use a contact form, but there often is interest well before those touchpoints. Providing lead generation opportunities online and with social networking can help you tap into those who are earlier in the sales cycle, allowing you to provide valuable information to move them closer to a sale.  The easiest way to provide these opportunities is to build content that is valuable (hint: lose the marketing speak and opt for benefits and value instead) for those considering a sale and providing it through social channels, not only by posting on your online profiles, but by offering it directly to those who seem to have a question.

Closing the Sale

Just like in-person sales and marketing in B2B, social networking for B2B lead generation requires time and patience.  It means listening and responding to customers in a timely manner. If social networking is treated as an extension of in-person networking, it can be an extremely valuable lead generation tool for B2B companies.

How do you use social networking for B2B lead generation?

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Improving Your Facebook Ads

facebook ads

facebook ads (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Facebook ads can be a relatively cost effective way to increase awareness and even to generate sales.  Social Media Examiner has an article — 4 Ways to Improve Your Facebook Ads — that serves as a good starting point.  The article mentions 4 ways to improve your Facebook ads: 1) Meaning of Colors, 2) Language that Reflects Brand, 3) Impact with Images & 4) Effective Targeting. I think two of the most important ways to improve ads (of any kind) are missing: 1) Providing Value 2) Catchy Wording.

State Value & Benefits in Ads

I think it’s important to remember in any marketing communications or advertising that customers want to know what’s in it for them. Instead of a list of features, they want a list of benefits. While Facebook ads have a set limit of words and images, these should be used to inform the audience of the value you are offering them. It’s important that messaging reflect your brand, in terms of voice and image, but without communicating value, you are relying on what the customer knows of your brand (which may be nothing at all).

Ads Have Only an Instant to Impress

Images and color certainly have an impact on how we feel and whether something catches our eye.  Once that attention is caught, even if only for a split second, it’s vital to do your best to communicate in a way that keeps the attention.  Obviously putting your value/benefit out there front and center is key, but also to word your call to action and entire message in a way that’s both easy to read and catchy.  The example ads for #3 in 4 Ways to Improve Your Facebook ads are great examples of having catchy messaging.

What ways have you improved your Facebook ads?

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Internet Marketing Strategy Articles for the Week of March 17, 2014

Here are the top Internet strategy, marketing and technology links for the week of March 17, 2014…

Getting Caught Up in The Wrong Numbers

Numbers

Numbers (Photo credit: RichardBowen)

Numbers, Numbers everywhere! With every social network we sign up for, and every online service we subscribe to, we’re given numbers measuring everything from followers to likes to page views.  It’s so easy to get caught up in all these numbers and to start to try to make them bigger and better.  Bigger is better, right? While internet marketing does provide fairly easy measurement tactics, it’s vital to focus on the numbers that are important to your business and its goals.

Tie Measurements to Goals

Numbers that aren’t directly tied to goals are nice, but may obscure focus from what’s really important.  Look for measurements that will allow you to directly understand how you’re doing on your way to your goals.  Secondary measurements that help you understand what tactics are working, and how are also important.  These measurements, primary and secondary key performance indicators, are what you should focus on improving.

Measure with Value

Measurements need to help you understand how your business is doing.  Look for measurements tied to your goals that provide value in understanding how you’re doing — how each tactic is working and how it can be improved. Valuable measurements tend to also be easy to understand, but there are measurement tactics that do need more analysis to be valuable. The key is to do whatever number crunching or analysis needs to be done to make a measurement valuable — otherwise it’s just a number.

Measure to Drive Action

Measurement without action is useless. Measurements need to be analyzed to provide insights that can be acted upon. A good metrics will help you understand how your tactics are doing and what you should improve. It may take analysis to get to the point of actionable insights, but if a number doesn’t provide any insights, it’s not the right number.

Continuous Measurement for Improvement

Just like marketing and sales, measurement is something that has to be done constantly to be valuable to the business.  If you just look at some numbers every quarter, it’s hard to know if what you’re doing is helping you achieve your goals.  While it’s not necessary for most companies to measure daily, regularly measure and analyze to provide recommended actions for your business to take to improve performance.

How do you measure success for your internet marketing?

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Internet Marketing Strategy Articles for the Week of March 10, 2014

Here are the top Internet strategy, marketing and technology links for the week of March 10, 2014… [Read more...]

The Need for an Internet Marketing Strategy

Business

Business (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

While many internet marketing tactics are fairly obvious — SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), content marketing, social media, etc. — they are not necessarily right for your business or organization. What tactics to use should be decided by understanding the audience you are trying to reach and where they are online. An internet marketing strategy creates a plan of action based on your business objectives and audience to make the most effective use of  your budget and resources. [Read more...]

Social Media ROI is Always a Number

Numbers

Numbers (Photo credit: RichardBowen)

Wishy-washy marketers may try to tell you that Social Media ROI doesn’t matter, or that it’s about the conversation, or some quirky statement asking how you measure a phone call.  But ROI of any marketing does matter, especially to decision makers (whether your boss or your client).  People want and need to know how well any particular marketing tactic is working, so they can make decisions about what to improve and on what to spend money. Nichole Kelly has a great article over on Social Media Explorer about how to apply ROI to social media:

So how do we fix it?  We’re going to have to accept our reality that we need to be able to tie social media to an impact on customer acquisition. Sure you can tout customer service savings and other types of cost based results, but you’re going to have to bring a huge volume of conversations for that savings to really mean something to the leadership team. But the minute you start generating leads and adding new customers with a reasonable volume at at a reasonable cost, ears start to perk up.  Social Media ROI is Nothing But A Numbers Game by Nichole Kelly

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Top 10 Ways to Build Lasting Links in 2014

Chain link

Chain link (Photo credit: Dvortygirl)

Throughout the years, the Big G (that’s what I like to call our Google overlords) has been implementing a ton of updates for its search engine’s algorithm. All these changes have been mostly understandable because in the end, Google wants to provide the best possible search results to its users.

It didn’t help that a lot of unscrupulous “SEO experts” in the past have been looking for ways to game the system, so a lot of link building tactics we used to implement are now worthless as Google has become a lot stricter with what it considers spammy and exploitative techniques.

For 2014, I’ve put together my 10 surefire link building strategies that I believe Google will continue to respect and reward for the rest of the year. [Read more...]