Tuesday, 21 February 2012

6 Top Tips For Using Online Video To Promote Your Business

The sheer popularity of YouTube: currently 490 million users worldwide, generating an estimated 92 billion page views per month, demonstrates that online video represents the ‘now’ and the ‘future’ of social media.

In fact, the ‘how to’ video category is YouTube’s fasted growing group. Are you beginning to see the potential already?

Thanks to huge technological advances in recent years, corporate videos are now easier than ever to create in-house, or via an agency if you prefer. However some companies have reported a reluctance to try video marketing in case their message comes across as ‘mixed’, or the audience reaction isn’t as positive as they had hoped for.

Video can be a really profitable marketing tool for businesses of all sizes, so it’s well worth considering for your next campaign.

Whether you choose to employ a professional company to produce your video, or decide to do it yourself, here are 6 top tips for making videos work for your business:

1. What is the key purpose of your video?

Is it to drive awareness of your brand? A platform from which to launch a new product or service? Is it to attract affiliates to sell your products? Or perhaps you want to persuade your customers to take part in a survey.
It’s worth spending some time outlining the basis of why you are creating your video and what its key purpose is. It’s also a good idea to write your initial ideas down in the form of a Mind Map or draft document you can refer to at various intervals.

2. Who is your intended target audience?

What is their age range? Gender? Salary? Lifestyle? Hobbies? Define your ideal customer as far as possible. You can even give him or her a name if you wish, which can provide a focus for the project. You will then create your content for this particular character or persona, for example ‘Project Arnie.’

3. Why will your target audience watch your video?

Just as TV programmes are made with a particular audience in mind, your video communications need to do the same. Writing and delivering your content with a target demographic in mind, will ensure you have better chance of reaching the people you want to with your message.

4. What is your key message?

Thanks in part to the immediacy of the Internet, most of us have shorter attention spans than we did a decade ago. Very few people (even committed fans) will sit through a video that waffles on aimlessly. You need to create a proper structure with an emphasis on one or two key messages. Ideally your video should be no longer than five minutes – three is ideal. Make sure your tone of voice is consistent throughout and that the video content reflects your brand values. And talking of ‘tone of voice’, make sure you address your audience in their preferred language – don’t alienate people by being ‘too corporate.’

5. Promote, promote, promote.

You have now created a great video for your business – congratulations. But it’s not much use to you if no-one sees it. So how will you promote it?
Via your website – make sure it’s embeded in a prominent place, preferably on your Home page, not buried several layers deep.
On your very own YouTube Channel – it’s easy and free to sign up.
By emailing your list.
Using a dedicated ‘Squeeze Page’ for a particular campaign.
All of the above.

While it’s perfectly possible to do much of your video’s marketing in-house, if you are seriously planning a viral campaign, I would urge you to consider utilising the services of a viral marketing agency. By ‘seeding’ your video they will be able to create a buzz for your brand far quicker than any non-expert could hope to achieve by themselves.

6. Measure and evaluate your video’s performance.

You need to put a system in place to measure the effects of your video campaign against your objectives. A truly effective video should pay for itself in terms of savings or sales. Hopefully, the experience will prove so profitable for you that you will decide to use video as the focus of future internet marketing campaigns.

Friday, 10 February 2012

How Internet Marketing Consultants Can Help You Forge Links (The Right Way)

You probably know that search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo rate your website according to how many ‘links’ you have. Link building is one of the most valid things you as a business owner can do to boost your website’s search engine rankings, but it’s vital to have a proper strategy in place before you begin.

Unfortunately, link-building can be extremely time-consuming, particularly when you’re just starting out. That’s why some so-called SEO companies will try to sell you bundles of links – and although you may be tempted – please don’t go down that route!

Because even if you manage to fool the search engines briefly, you will end up with a hoard of non-relevant links to your site that could see your rankings suddenly plummet. Particularly if you’ve been persuaded to sign up for a subscription which you later cancel.

This could mean that literally hundreds of links are removed overnight – a red flag to the search engines – who will heavily penalise you. This link-building business is all about consistency and longevity.

Here’s where genuine internet marketing consultants can help. A professional consultancy will have the know-how to help you grow your business on the internet ethically.

Some of the many things your chosen internet marketing consultants can assist you with:

Choosing The Right Anchor Text

Anchor text is the word or phrase your visitors click on to take them to your web page or other associated web pages. This is one of the most important considerations for your overall link-building strategy. Choosing the keywords you want to be ranked for can have a huge impact on your success (or otherwise). However, if you use the same keywords or phrases for all your links, the search engines won’t be impressed by the repetition and you could be adversely penalised.

Checking Out The Competition

Who are your main competitors? Where do their websites rank among the major search engines? What keywords do they rank for? Where do their links originate? By revealing what your competitors are up to your internet marketing expert can help you out-smart the opposition!

Identifying Opportunities For Reciprocal Links

Your internet marketing consultants will identify potentially beneficial linking opportunities on other websites and blogs. This is a complicated area – just because someone asks to link to your website, don’t automatically say ‘yes’ out of flattery, because it could be detrimental to you in the long run.

So you’ve decided to put the wisdom and experience of an internet marketing consultancy to work for your business. But with so many companies offering their services across the internet, where the heck do you start?

The obvious starting point is with the consultancy’s own website. If they can’t get on Page One of Google for themselves, why on earth should you believe they can do it for you?

Business Owners Why You Should Take An Interest In Pinterest

Pinterest – it’s just another form of social scrapbooking, isn’t it? Yet another social media site demanding my attention. Sigh . . .

But please do read on, because the sales potential and the ‘numbers’ may just surprise you.

Pinterest is a virtual (online) pinboard system where you are encouraged to ‘organise and share the things you love.’ At present, membership is available by invitation only and you can request an invite by entering your email address on the website (Pinterest.com).

If you currently sell products over the Internet via your website or an online store, then it’s easy to catalogue them on your Pinterest board also – complete with price tag! For example many people who sell their gifts on the creative marketplace site Etsy, have a dedicated Pinterest pinboard on which to display and sell their goods. Indeed, Pinterest is responsible for generating a 75 per cent increase in traffic according to some online sellers. Now that’s serious business.

But Pinterest isn’t just for craft-workers or product sellers – oh no. It’s ideal for those with businesses in the service industries too.

Let’s say for example you run a hair salon. You could share ideas for hair colouring techniques, the latest celebrity hairstyles, bridal hair accessories, and so on. Or perhaps you’re in the travel industry? Your pinboard could contain your predictions for the 50 most fashionable resorts for this year, or the world’s top 20 remotest trekking areas.

Maybe you run an events company? In which case you probably have some great photos of events you have produced that you’d love to share with your audience. Alternatively, how about celebrity gigs you wished you’d produced! And if you are a designer, photographer, artist, or other kind of ‘creative’, then Pinterest is the perfect place to display your portfolio and win more commissions.

Whatever business you are in, with a bit of creativity you should be able to come up with a suitable angle for one or more pinboards. Even if your primary aim is to make sales online, the key thing here is to offer content that will engage and inspire your potential buyers, (minus the hard-sell.)

Here are several ideas for generating interest for your Pinterest pinboard(s):

Give your customers a personal insight into your company by including photographs of your team in action. Or if your business has several branches, how about a ‘sales team of the month,’ or ‘employee of the month’ pinboard?

Contests are a wonderful way to create a buzz, so why not build one around your business. Don’t simply make it a prize draw, but rather ask people to vote for their favourite product, holiday resort, or whatever. The aim of the game is to get your contestants to promote your business for you.

Pinterest is visually driven, so think about how you can best provide dynamic images accompanied by just a couple of words of text. Clean and elegant boards usually attract the most attention. For each picture you post (sorry, pin), you can include a link back to your website or blog.

So, tell us about the numbers then . . .

Well according to the social media bookmarking site Hitwise, Pinterest received almost 11 million hits on the week ending 17 December 2011 – a 4000 per cent increase in visitors compared to six months’ previously. That’s one serious spike! Especially when you take into account that Pinterest has only been in existence some nine months. Consider the growth potential here.

Pinterest is worth checking out even if you have no inclination to sign up for an account and create your own pinboards. Why? Because there are some really exciting and unique concepts on the site which are bound to inspire you when it comes to developing your next advertisement or marketing campaign.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say, virtually every business owner will find something of interest on Pinterest.

How An Internet Marketing Company Can Dramatically Improve Your Website’s Performance

So your business already has a website. Great. But is it working for you? Is it bringing in a high volume of enquiries each and every month which you can readily convert into sales? Or is it quite simply . . . there?

Your website is your business’s shop window, so it’s essential your browsers (visitors) like what they see – at least that they want to know more about what you can offer, which could lead to a sale. First and foremost an internet marketing company can make sure your website is doing its job properly.

As a business owner you will know that having a web presence is pretty much an essential requirement these days. But in the beginning when you’re just starting out, it’s all too easy to focus all your attention on the ‘building the website’ part, and very little on the ‘what happens next?’ part.

With the result that you could have a website that is at best under-utilised, and at worst, never gets picked up by the search engines. Which means the only people that contact you are people who already know you through other sources.

When you are ‘invisible’ to potential customers it’s very hard to grow your business. So what to do about it.

An internet marketing company can improve your website marketing in several ways:

By ensuring your website gets picked up by the major search engines.

Ensuring your site is well laid out and functions correctly.

Making certain your website fully represents you and what you stand for.

Creating an effective online marketing strategy for your business.

Have you ever happened upon a website that was over-cluttered, confusing, difficult to navigate, or where its purpose wasn’t immediately clear? When this happens, the visitor tends to take avoiding action and exit the site. Unfortunately, when this happens, you are likely to have lost your visitor for good. Let me ask you how often do you re-visit a website where you didn’t enjoy the experience first time round? So creating a website that provides a great visitor experience is paramount.

And once you have built your website that is clear and fully functional, you must ensure that all the major search engines (and particularly Google) can find you. In other words, your website must be search engine optimised. To the uninitiated, SEO is a bit of a mystery, but your internet marketing company will be able to advise you as to how they can get your website onto Page One of Google at a reasonable cost – which for most businesses is the ultimate goal.