Articles written in December, 2008

December 30 2008

Small Business Marketing – Challenges


In a recent survey of small business owners by the Yellow Pages Association, more than half of the respondents said that generating new customers is an ongoing challenge, and over two-thirds don’t currently outsource their marketing duties and handle everything in-house. Other challenges included: limited advertising budgets, lack of marketing knowledge (where to advertise and how to measure results), and customer retention. 


With the abundance of marketing channels and the overall lack of marketing knowledge, the responses in this survey are not at all surprising.  I am pretty confident that the challenges are even more profound in the online marketing arena. Each of these small business owners has unique issues, but the right marketing mix is attainable with proper guidance. What surprises me is that a lot of small business owners have identified issues with their marketing efforts, but haven’t raised their hands for professional consultation from an expert. In many cases, these businesses may need some simple pointers to get on the right track to acquire new customers, improve retention rates and in many cases the outsourcing costs are well worth the investment.

If you feel that you may need some assistance with your marketing mix, please call for a free consultation — 800-787-0497.

December 23 2008

Use Negative Keywords to Control Costs in Your Pay-Per-Click Campaign


Sometimes it pays to be negative…especially when optimizing a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign.  The main goal of Google and the other search engines is to deliver the most relevant paid (and natural) results to a search query when a visitor uses their search engine.  Seems pretty simple and works exceptionally well when you have a well structured PPC campaign.  If someone searches on a keyword that you feel is relevant to your business, be sure that keyword is included in your campaign.  But what happens when the search query triggers your ad and the visitor isn’t the most targeted prospect?  Well, you still have to pay for that click and if that continues over time, you could be wasting a sizeable portion of your budget on unqualified traffic.  Implement negative keywords into your campaign to help cut costs, optimize your campaign and zero-in on your target customer.

For example, if you provide a high-end product or service, utilize negative keywords like “cheap”, “low cost”, and “inexpensive”.  This will help filter out visitors who are looking for your “type” of product or service, but aren’t the target customer who can afford your product or service.  It seems like a simple idea but the savings are real and the higher your target budget, the greater the cost savings.  In addition, negative keywords will help overall campaign optimization because your ads will not be delivered to the wrong search query.  You could expect to see higher click-thru rates (CTR) and better conversions as the visitors generated by your sponsored ads become more targeted. 

Google has a keyword tool which helps campaign managers develop keyword lists.  This same tool can be used to develop negative keywords as well.  Leverage the broad match search settings within the tool and it could return thousands of possible keywords, many of which can and should be added to the campaign as negative keywords.  In addition, if you have Google Analytics tracking on your site, utilize that tool to determine your best and worst performing keywords.  By reviewing both the organic and paid traffic (and the keywords that generate that traffic) you can further expand your negative keyword list with the non-performing, budget wasting keywords.

Quite simply, by implementing negative keywords you can help optimize your campaign, drive more targeted traffic to your site and save money on your PPC costs.  That is the formula for success in search engine marketing and ensuring a favorable return on your advertising spend.

December 22 2008

Seven Days of Facebook


At the risk of dating myself, I’m proud to say that I was an early adopter of e-mail, Windows 95, Google and many other online technologies that truly made life easier and kept people informed. And while I quickly saw the value of Instant Messaging, the chat room never really appealed to me.   So is Facebook the new chat room?  Does it make my life easier?  Those were the questions that I posed to our Tweeters, Facebookers and MySpacers at our recent holiday party.  I got a lot of blank stares and long-winded answers, so I decided the best way to answer the question was to use Facebook for one week. 
Day 1
Signup – a few red flags here: Why are there so many personal questions and why do they need my birth date? (If you connect with me on Facebook, I want you to know that I am not really 103 years old.  Please do not call The Today Show on my next birthday.)  My strategy during sign-up was to dip my toe into the Facebook waters and reveal as little as possible about myself — I put in my name, and the name of my high school.  Once enrolled, I became a fan of the MoreVisibility Facebook page and stare at my blank wall and nearly empty profile. (According to Facebook your birth date is required to comply with the US Child Protection Act.) 

Day 2

I opened up my e-mail to find that a friend from high school has sent me a friend request.  My first thought was, how did she find me?  Friend request accepted, now it’s time to check out her Facebook page.   Apparently my restrained approach to Facebook was way off.   In addition to incriminating photos in your profile; several times a day I’m supposed to reveal:  Every detail of my life, my inner feelings, thoughts, and all activities.

Day 3 

Someone wrote on my wall? (Your Facebook wall, as I’ve learned, is a section of your profile where others can leave you notes and gifts.)   How could they allow someone to clutter my austere profile?  Apparently there is no rule against this and it’s actually encouraged.   

Day 4

What is a Good Karma request?  I thought I actually had to do good things for people in order to receive positive energy from the universe.  In the world of Facebook, all I have to do is ask for it!

Day 5

Is Facebook the only online company name that is not a capitalized contraction?  Shouldn’t it be FaceBook?

Day 6

More people are looking for me on Facebook?  Today I received another friend request, this time from a former co-worker — how are these people finding me?  I feel a little too exposed and vulnerable to accept.
Day 7

I relent and accept the friend request, only to get several more from old acquaintances and co-workers that are connected to him.  This is clearly not the place for anyone in the witness protection program.   I view the other pages and am truly shocked at the level of activity and the personal connection to their profiles.   Facebook users are addicted to and engaged in their community.  
After one week of using Facebook I can’t say that I have a definitive answer to all of my questions.  But, I do know that Facebook is much more than a chat room and I have warmed to the concept.  I realize that, like LinkedIn, Facebook has the power to quickly connect you to the people whose relationships you value.   Does it make your life easier? Is it supposed to?  Facebook’s goal –and real value– seems to be to help people easily share information, and for that Facebook hit’s a home run.   

– 140 million active users and growing with 100 million international users.

– More photos are posted on Facebook than the next 5 photo sharing sites combined. 

– More events are publicized on Facebook than any other site (4 times the next event site.)

– Users are engaged and spend more time on Facebook than most other Social Media sites.

Are you a Facebooker?

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