Saturday, 24 September 2011

Web Marketing For Business

If you want to succeed in business on the internet, marketing is vital. There are many facets to internet marketing. Which ones are the most important?

There’s no right answer to that question. This is a subjective topic and because the internet is very open source, there is no right or wrong answer but here is some information from a web marketing company about several vital steps that could help you increase your chances of online success:

Do Your Research

Before you embark on an internet marketing campaign, doing a substantial amount of research is essential. You’ll want to research your market, your competition, your audience, and review information to help you define a search engine marketing and / or pay per click advertising strategy. If you can’t do the research yourself either due to lack of expertise in this area or lack of cycles you could hire an internet research or consultancy firm to help you.

What’s important from a research perspective? Whether you do it yourself or get some help, keyword analysis is important. Analysing your competition will help you as well. Looking at various social media strategies can provide a wealth of info and gathering general business intelligence will pay off in multiple ways --- helping you define, strategise, and execute a campaign that will work.

After you’ve defined and executed your web marketing strategy, ongoing analysis will tell you what’s going well and what isn’t going so well. Info gathered for internet marketing campaigns can help you with improvements and can also help you fuel future campaigns as well.

Reputation and Relationship Development & Management

Work to develop a great reputation online. Establish yourself as a professional and establish your company’s presence as one that believes in customer experience, value, and service.

Online success needs more that just development of a reputation and / or a brand. It also requires that you nurture relationships. Social marketing is a two way street. So is blogging. Customers are looking for value and this can help to establish trust. Nurturing online reputation and relationships can equate to trust and success in gathering subscribers and followers to your website. Those subscribers and followers could become future clients and sources of word of mouth referrals.

Again, there are many facets to web marketing and taking a step at a time can help you success. Regardless of whether you’re embarking on a campaign on your own or getting help and whether you’re new to this or not, taking steps toward increasing your online presence is exciting and can pay off huge dividends.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Boost Your Search Engine Ranking

For any company operating in today’s increasingly digital age, taking steps to improve traffic to their websites is a must if they are going to remain competitive. But it’s not as easy as it may appear, and sometimes reading up on the subject yourself or taking one of the many quick-fix ‘courses’ on offer is not enough to get you the results you want. This is where it may be a good idea to look at bringing in one of the many online and search marketing companies out there to give your business an expert boost. Here are just some of the key services they can provide you with to take you to the next level:

Increasing traffic: You may have identified the keywords potential customers will need to type into the search engine to bring you to your site, but do you know how to convert these to newly generated traffic? Experienced internet marketing companies know exactly how to place these keywords to improve your search engine rankings. Rather than floundering in the sea of other websites all clamouring to rank highest for those particular terms, a paying for a professional, targeted approach will start getting you visitors quickly, and this will lead to...

Higher conversion levels: You have now got the visitors to your site, which is great – but that is only half the battle. Your site needs to be appealing and, above all, easy to use. If a customer is unsure whether to buy from you and the payment process is complicated or difficult to see, you may well lose that sale. Find yourself an expert to provide the full package, from search engine optimisation to a comprehensive website review and your new site traffic will soon start translating to bigger sales and profitability.

Research and analysis: Do you know how to thoroughly research your market and competitors, as well as providing a thorough analysis of your current website performance? Do you know how to find out the most common search enquiries people are making relating to your sector? Don’t worry if not – these are essential elements to any company’s business strategy but it is also part of what the best search marketing companies are there to do.

Paid online marketing: There are times – perhaps during peak sale times – when SEO methods are not enough. At these times it may be advisable to use online advertising methods such as paid placement and pay-per-click to further enhance your ratings. If employed correctly, these methods can provide a real boost, but handled inexpertly and you are spending money to no purpose. If you’re not sure, it’s best to get expert advice from somebody who can advise you on what is appropriate for your website and your market.

Hiring search marketing companies, then, can be a wise medium-term investment. Do choose wisely though, as the quality of service out there does vary. Most importantly, it is worth finding out whether the company you are considering is highly ranked for their keywords themselves, and whether they can provide evidence and testimonials from clients to back up their claims. If not, move on and look for someone else.

Hiring a search engine marketing company to improve your website’s search engine ranking can be looked on as a wise investment. If you hire the right one you can look forward to increased website traffic and much greater visitor conversion levels.

The Pros and Cons of Paid Search Marketing

Using search engine marketing (SEM) methods such as pay-per-click (PPC) or paid inclusion can be very effective in terms of increasing traffic to your website and widening your customer base. But you have to be aware of the best times to employ these strategies, and if you are considering going down this route it may be a good idea to hire a search engine marketing company to advise you on the latest methods – otherwise you may be spending money with very little reward. So when should you use SEM, and what should you avoid?

On the plus side, paid search marketing is a highly targeted method with corresponding low wastage. Because the traffic driven to your website will be those with the right match types in terms of keywords or Google Adwords, your ads only appear when potential customers are searching for products in your particular area, and therefore have a high purchase intent. Logically, then, if your website has a very specific or niche product to sell, pay-per-click may be the right marketing option for you. Traffic volumes with PPC are also more predictable and easier to manage than with search engine optimisation methods (SEO).

Pay-per-click listings can also give you the advantage of speed, since they can appear within a few hours. Contrast this with SEO, which has a much longer lead time. If you are selling a product within a particular time-frame (perhaps for Halloween, for example), then you will want to make the most of the time you have so in this case PPC could be appropriate in terms of overall cost benefits. On the other hand, if your product is more of a slow-burner then SEO may work just as well, if not better, in building up your brand. Basically, you need to decide which approach will be best for the product or service you have.

One of the major disadvantages of pay-per-click marketing is actually born from its strengths. Because it is such an efficient way for companies to achieve high rankings and drive customers to their websites, there is a correspondingly high level of competition. Pay-per-click is based on competitive bids and for some sectors this can lead to alarming levels of inflation. Basically, this can be a prohibitively expensive business if you don’t know when to employ it effectively, or when the placement costs will begin to outweigh the benefits. If you are at all unsure about this, consult a search marketing company who will be able to give you a realistic idea of your potential return on investment, and whether PPC is right for your company.

Because of the potential for inflated PPC prices, sadly this method can often favour larger brands which have a bigger budget and more effective infrastructure in place for managing competition or bigger campaigns, for example. If you are a start-up, it may be a good idea to build up your brand first before embarking on paid search marketing.

Pay-per-click marketing can be a very effective way of driving traffic to your website and improving your search engine rankings. However, it can also be costly and there is a great deal of competition in certain sectors so you need to think carefully about the right time for your company to employ this approach.

The Benefits of Search Engine Marketing

Traditional forms of marketing such as magazine advertising, billboards, TV etc are slowly being replaced by search engine marketing (SEM). SEM can allow you to reach your target market in a very effective way, wherever your customers are in the world. It promotes your website by increasing its presence in search engine results pages using paid placement methods such as targeted advertising, paid inclusion. All those ads you see on the right hand side of the search results pages when you type in a key word – chances are these are the result of SEM.

The initial outlay of hiring a search marketing company to optimise your website’s visibility in this way can bring substantial rewards, and here’s why:

Typing keywords into search engines is the number one method people use to find websites. If you have used any of the methods listed above then you are tapping in to a global audience, all potentially getting ready to type in your key words. Furthermore, the majority of people will check a search engine every day – that’s a lot of potential clients that you simply wouldn’t have access to using the more traditional marketing channels.

Your website will appear to an audience who are already actively searching for your keywords. For example, if you are a company making toy prams for children, a person looking for this product will type in your key words and, if you are using paid-for, targeted advertising such as pay-per-click your website will appear to somebody who is already in the market for your products. If you pay enough per click then you are almost certain to increase the visibility of your website to your customer base.

Search engine marketing can also be far more cost-effective than other forms of internet advertising. For example, with pay-per-click you don’t pay until a user clicks on your advert so you are really only paying for those interested in your products. Furthermore, it has been estimated that there are 5-6 times more online purchases made from traffic coming from search engines than from banner adverts, and the cost is lower.
Search engine marketing can allow you to keep up with, or ahead of, your competition.

Really, if you want to maximise your business opportunities these days you need to be thinking about online marketing – because if you aren’t you can be sure that many of your competitors, whatever sector you are working in, are already doing it and reaping the benefits. If you want access to the latest search marketing methods, particularly if you are a start-up and want to hit the ground running, it may be a good idea to seek expert advice from a specialist search marketing company who will be able to develop the best online strategy to fit the particular needs of your market.

Search engine marketing is today one of the most sure-fire ways of increasing the visibility of your website and reaching out to a global customer base. Using a search engine marketing company can allow you to increase your profits at a relatively low outlay – and it should be remembered that online marketing is relatively outstripping the more established channels.

Friday, 9 September 2011

7 Reasons to Look at Cloud-based ERP Solutions

Businesses have been using cloud-based solutions (also known as SaaS – Software as a Service) for years, especially for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and HCM (Human Capital Management), but many have shied away from implementing Enterprise Resource Planning as a cloud-based solution. In the past many organizations feared the security implications with deploying a mission-critical solution like ERP to the cloud, however as SaaS ERP becomes more established its apparent that cloud-based ERP can be even more secure than traditional on-premise solutions.

Momentum for cloud-based ERP is growing with worldwide spending on expected to rise by 21 percent a year through 2015, according to Forrester Research. So what are the benefits behind cloud-based ERP and can your organization gain a competitive advantage from looking at this SaaS deployment model?

1. Low Initial and Predictable Ongoing Costs

Because SaaS solutions are provided on a subscription basis, companies with limited budgets can substantially reduce their initial capital costs of investing in an ERP System. Instead, the software becomes a monthly operational expense that allows customers to spread the cost over time in a pay-as-you-go manner. In addition, most SaaS vendors provide assurances that customers will not face large fee increases to continue using the solution once the initial term expires by capping fee increases.

2. Faster Implementations and Time to Value

As SaaS solutions are hosted and managed by the vendor, customers have no hardware to set up or software to install. The implementation is solely focused on configuring the system and, if necessary, importing data. Advanced SaaS ERP systems come preconfigured based on best practices to further simplify and expedite the implementation process. This translates into faster, less complex implementation projects. Because implementation is rapid and customers invest little up-front capital, but receive the benefits from the system as soon as they go live; customers achieve a faster return on their investment.

3. Reduced Cost of Ownership

With a SaaS solution, customers pay only for users that actually use the software. Businesses don’t need to invest in all the peripheral resources and technology to support an on-premise deployment. If the needs of the business expand over time, the customer simply adds users at a pre-specified cost without worrying about investing in additional resources (e.g., hardware). In addition, with a shared, multitenant SaaS model, vendors can pass along lower costs due to the economies of scale achieved through the use of a shared data center, network, and management services.

4. Greater Reliability

SaaS vendors typically offer reliability that exceeds that provided by the IT departments within most job shops and small manufacturers. Due to the economies of scale associated with SaaS solutions, vendors can make significantly greater investments in skilled staff and technology than an individual company. These investments go towards ensuring performance, reliability, and security. In addition, most SaaS vendors offer service level agreements that guarantee uptime, typically 99.5%, assuring customers of system availability.

5. Improved Support

When a customer reports a problem with an on-premise solution, that problem could easily be related to the hardware at the customer site, interactions with other software, the network, or other components that the remote support site has no visibility into, making troubleshooting difficult and time-consuming. However, in a SaaS environment, the vendor’s development and support teams control the entire environment, which gives them a high level of visibility and enables better, faster service.

6. Reduced IT Complexity

The SaaS model transfers the burden of managing and keeping the system up-to-date and running from the customer to the software vendor. The software vendor takes responsibility for maintaining the entire infrastructure including: networks, storage, operating systems, databases, application servers, Web servers, disaster recovery, and backup services. Further, SaaS eliminates the need for customers to upgrade their software to the latest release and to update outdated infrastructure (including hardware) to support major software upgrades. The software vendor takes responsibility for all upgrades, ensuring that the system is always running on up-to-date hardware and the latest software version.

7. Improved Business Focus

Finally, one of the most important benefits of the SaaS model is that it frees the customer from the responsibility of maintaining and managing the hardware, software, and infrastructure associated with ERP systems. Instead they can focus on and devote their time, staff, and resources to their core business and new strategic opportunities.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Why Link Tracking is Important for Successful Internet Marketing

Once you have set up your internet marketing it is vital that you keep track of how it is working and if it is as successful as you require. This is mainly because it is not worth spending out money on certain types of search marketing if they are not generating the sales that you need. Link tracking is the process in which you use software, website logs and other means of tracking to keep an eye on the response that you get.

How does Tracking Work?
These days there are a number of different methods that you can use to track links including services that will actually do the hard work for you; although these will cost you a small fee. However if you wish to do this yourself then services such as Google Analytics may help and can be a great place to get started before spending out money on paid services. In the main you will need to know a few details about the pages you are interested in such as a small piece of tracking code.

You could also try your own version of tracking by creating separate pages that are identical and giving them different names and then linking your various internet marketing pages to these. This is one way to quickly see which pages are being viewed the most and therefore which of your adverts are proving most effective at generating leads.

Why Track Links?
The main reason for tracking your internet marketing is to see how effective your campaigns are and therefore which to continue with and which may need some work. By tracking this information you can create better advertising campaigns in the future and know exactly how to appeal to your niche market. In the long run this can help you save a considerable amount of money on campaigns that are just not working.

So if you want to make your business successful and profitable you must track your internet marketing and find out exactly how many visitors you are getting. It may seem complicated and time consuming to begin with but the results will be worth it! If you aren't sure of how to go about this look up an internet marketing consultant.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

When to hire a SEO agency

To begin with, it would be a good idea to understand what SEO agencies are designed to do for your company. Basically, they specialise in driving traffic to your company’s website without which, even if you have the most original and beautifully put-together site in the world, you will never be able to command the sales figures necessary to keep your business afloat. It hardly needs saying that a service like this is particularly vital if your company is of the rapidly-increasing number that does most, if not all, of its trade online. So when is the best time to research the SEO agencies out there and select the right one for you; and how should you go about this? Here are a few pointers to bear in mind.

In my personal opinion, the time to hire an SEO agency is very early on, if not from the start, of your company’s activities. Many companies will struggle along with poor visitor ratings before concluding that they need the services of an expert, by which time they will already have lost revenue and will have far more ground to catch up on than if they had budgeted for this in the first place. Think about it: if your business is based online then your website is your main selling tool, so why would you neglect to budget for the service that will bring customers to you?

Let’s assume, then, that however well-established your company is you have now decided to choose one from the burgeoning number of SEO agencies out there. All well and good, but how should you go about this and what should you be looking out for? The thing to bear in mind is that the best SEO service is not necessarily the most expensive one. Instead, you should be looking for those who can lay out every service they will be providing in a business plan so you can see exactly where your money is going. If a company won’t do this because they prefer to keep their mysterious ways to themselves you should probably give them a wide berth. After all, you’re a business person and you want to know what you are paying for.

Secondly, it is very important that you check out the agency’s credentials thoroughly. If possible, use a company that has been recommended by several sources and that has been proven to boost traffic to a number of sites. Of course, most of them will claim to have done this but really the only way to check this conclusively is by sufficient word-of-mouth endorsement. Obviously it will take a little longer to gather this information, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Thirdly, you should be aware of your time-frames if this is an issue for you. For example, if you have a seasonal product and you are hoping to shift large volumes of it then you really need to bring the SEO agency in several months in advance. Remember that driving the required business to your website is not an overnight process. Patience is required and no SEO company, not even the most experienced, can work miracles with search engines which all operate under specific rules of their own.

This is just a short list of points to bear in mind, and there are of course other issues to consider such as budgetary constraints, whether you want the kind of agency which will be on-call 24/7 and so on. But no business which relies heavily on its website for sales can really afford, in these days of fierce online competition, to ignore the need for SEO.

Using effective SEO tactics is a must today for any company that conducts its business online. So when should you bring in SEO agencies and what should you bear in mind when choosing the right one for you?

Marketing a Small Business on a Budget

Setting up a small business can be expensive and you may not have a huge budget available for your marketing. This article offers help and advice on managing your advertising in a cost effective manner.

Marketing is vital to get a business noticed by its target audience and this is possibly just as important if not more so if your business is on a small scale. With so much competition around you cannot simply sit and hope that people will find you or before you know it your business will be making a loss. Many people assume that marketing is going to be incredibly expensive and never make it past handing out a few leaflets. However this need not be the case and even those on a tight budget can find marketing methods to suit their needs.

Lead Generation and Email Marketing

Setting up a website is incredibly important as this gives you somewhere to refer potential customers to but you need to make sure that you are thinking about every visitor being a possible sale or lead. For this reason you should try and make sure that you entice them into leaving their contact details so that you can contact them with future promotions and offers and generally remind them that you exist. This can be as simple as you make it and many people often just have a short contact form for their name and email address. This is a great way to market your business without being expensive or too time consuming.

Search Engine Optimisation

This type of marketing is something you may have heard of since SEO, or search engine optimisation, is incredibly popular and does not cost much to put in place. It will however take a little time and effort initially to establish important keywords and phrases that people use to search for what you offer and make sure these are placed in all of your web content. In this way you should find that people are able to locate your website quickly as you will rank well in the search engines. If you are in a competitive industry search marketing companies could help you to increase your rankings.

Pay per click advertising

This is another marketing strategy that does not cost much but will take a little time and effort on your part; however the results will be worth it. It is important that you understand how this works before you begin otherwise it could end up costly. For this reason you should take your time to do your research or perhaps consider hiring a marketing consultant of some kind to make sure that you are doing it right.

How Link Building could Increase your Website Rankings

If you wish your marketing to be a success you will need to make sure that any online content ranks well within the search engines. This short article offers you a brief glimpse into link building and how this may help your business.

Setting up a business can take up a lot of time and requires a great deal of commitment to make it as successful as possible. You will need to focus on your marketing if you wish it to really take off since there is so much competition around that it is easy to get lost in the crowd. For this reason you should make sure that you come up with regular online content and that you keep your website and/or blog ranking highly in the search engines. Perhaps one of the best ways to help improve your internet marketing rankings is by using link building which essentially aids website optimisation.

What is Link Building?

If you have a computer then you will almost have certainly used a search engine to find something online and you will realise that most people only tend to use the results on the first page. Therefore if your website ranks lower then this you will often find it is overlooked; which is of course bad for business. This is where link building can prove to be useful since it allows you to increase and improve the ranking of your website so that it is on the first page of results. This may at first seem like it could be quite time consuming and whilst it will take time and effort initially the results speak for themselves.

Link building basically refers to the quality, quantity and the relevance of links that are focussed on your website. Say a link to your website is included on a number of other websites then it will be seen by the search engine as being of greater importance. Therefore marketing links that point people in the direction of your website tend to increase the popularity of your internet marketing and should increase the ranking of your site.

How Link Building Works

Link building tends to be focused in two different ways as some websites may ask for a reciprocal link, meaning they require you to place a link to their website on yours so that you help each other. Or you may be able to find one way links which will not require help from you. In some cases these sites may charge a small fee so it may be worth looking for other businesses that are perhaps linked in someway with what you do, but are not in direct competition and helping each other out for free. If you go down this route then try to pick sites that already rank well so there is a greater chance of your link being viewed.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Considering a career in PR

Getting a job in public relations can often seem like a glamorous choice – travelling, working with high-profile clients, maybe even celebrities – but it can be stressful and it’s certainly not for everyone. Before you decide to embark on this path, you need to be sure you are the right kind of person to cope with the challenges this sector can throw at you.

A career in public relations involves a lot more than you might think: It is not just about marketing a person or brand. To succeed in this industry, you need communication skills and the confidence to talk convincingly to a wide range of people. You will almost certainly have to give presentations to clients, as well as liaising with journalists or other groups, so if you are the shy retiring type you may find it difficult. It also helps to have strong writing skills as you may well be called upon to put together press releases, newsletters and other promotional material.

Creativity is also an essential attribute. Many a UK PR agency is involved in the building of a brand from the outset – including aspects such as product development, packaging, in-store placement - not just the marketing side of things. This being the case, do you think you would be able to contribute effectively to brainstorming sessions to come up with original ideas? Above all, this requires the confidence to put your ideas across and not be embarrassed if they seem a little ‘out-there’.

Organisational skills and the ability to work under pressure are also a must. PR work doesn’t come in a steady stream like some jobs. You may have periods of relative calm followed by a frantic few days trying to organise an event or product launch, etc. This means you must be prepared to work flexibly – even staying late at weekends and during the evening if the project in hand demands it.

Still interested? Then you will benefit enormously from some kind of business qualification. Whilst it isn’t an absolute essential, a UK PR agency will tend to prefer its employees to have a bachelor’s degree in communications, English language, journalism or public relations. Of course, nothing can compare to on-the-job experience but with the increasing competition in this market today you may find yourself at a disadvantage alongside other candidates if you have no formal training.
You should also research the kinds of roles that appeal to you: Do you see yourself as a media analyst? A marketing executive? Try to speak to people already working in the industry to get a feel for the pleasures and pitfalls of such positions.

Whilst there is fierce competition for such roles, trying to land yourself an internship at a PR company is a great way of getting a feel for the industry, and is also a good way of establishing contacts or finding a mentor – an invaluable asset when you’re starting out.

If variety is important to you when making a career choice then public relations could be the right path for you. There are certain skills you need your foot in the door there are wide and exciting range of roles to choose from.