CaptureIt’s not exactly corporate espionage. Your competition’s social media pages are right out there in the open where you can see them, and ignoring them can be a big mistake. There’s a lot to be gained through spying on your competitors. However, as with most things there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Keep in mind that when you choose to spy on the competition, you’re not looking to mine their page for content. What you’re after is something much more crucial – a social media strategy that works. And spying on the competition can help with that in a number of ways. At a glance you can see what engages the type of audience you are looking to attract, what turns them off, and the way that your potential audience is responding to different types of media – all valuable information that can offer you a number of benefits.

What Your Competition’s Audience Can Tell You

Where has your competitor set up shop? Are they Twitter-happy or do they prefer to spend their time on Facebook? If they’re on multiple social media sites, where do they have the biggest audience? Where do they experience the most audience engagement?  Answer these questions, and you should have a clear idea of the site that might work best for your needs, which can be especially important if you’re still in the earliest stages of building your social network.

If you’re a little further on in the process, you can use your competition’s audience to determine whether or not you’re doing everything you can as regards your social media efforts. Whether you’re lagging behind by a handful of followers or your follower stats are lagging behind by several digits, this might indicate that you have not yet reached your full potential. It might be time to step it up a notch.

Check Out The Competition’s History

They may be getting it right now, but chances are that they were getting it wrong at some point. Check out their history, making note at the amount of engagement they received at various points in time through the number of likes they received, the number of shares, or the number of retweets. If you note that there seemed to be a major upward shift at some point, see if you can’t figure out changes your competition might have made at that time to get that extra boost.

Use Monitoring Tools

Even if you don’t have the time to personally conduct espionage missions on your competition’s page, you can always utilise one of the many tools that are available to do the job for you. Analytics tools such as those at Rival IQ and Simply Measured give you at-a-glance access to your rivals’ stats. That gives you instant data that you can use to improve your own page.

These social media spy games can be of big help to you as you seek to improve your presence online. Just remember to spy ethically, and remember to keep the competition friendly.

Thanks!

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

ID-100113617It can be difficult to give up control. You want your content to be factually correct, knowledgeable, and interesting to a number of individuals, from potential customers to other industry pros. So why choose to outsource? It is true that in most cases, the person writing your content will by and large not have the same experience as you do in your field, and that can be an intimidating prospect. However, just because someone is not an expert in their field does not mean they cannot create quality, inviting content for your marketing needs. In fact, it is often the content team’s lack of expertise that makes them capable of producing quality content. Unlike industry professionals, who may have a difficult time getting out of the “expert” mindset to break a topic down into layman’s terms, content writers are capable of bridging the gap between expert and interested reader. That in turn makes for more interesting, and ultimately more accessible, content for your marketing needs.

Bridging The Gap Between Expert & Audience

When choosing to outsource your content, it is important to decide early on just how technical your approach will be. Part of this process is identifying your target audience. Ask yourself what your audience is already likely to know, and what they may be interested in learning about. Determine where your knowledge can meet the needs of your target audience. From there, you can work with your content writer or team to come up with the approach that will work best for your – and your audience’s – needs.

The team in charge of producing your content will ensure that what you know is delivered in a way that is accessible to the audience.  One of the big benefits of outsourcing when taking this approach is that someone else is in charge of determining how that message is delivered, leaving you to focus your energies on the message itself.

Let Your Content Creation Team Utilise Your Skills

While the talent in charge of your content are not experts, you are. By making yourself and your knowledge accessible to them, you can come up with a winning content marketing approach. One of the most rewarding things about this give-and-take, as many who choose to outsource find, is that the content creation team often acts as the audience surrogate. They can see things that you can’t when it comes to your marketing approach,  which can make them an even more valuable asset beyond the creation of your content.

By letting them ask questions and make use of your knowledge, you may be able to uncover new areas where your expertise may be of use.  This can lead to even more engaging and innovative content.

Thanks!

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

ID-10090612If you haven’t started creating marketing videos yet, you should be aware that this is a powerful inbound marketing technique that really should be part of your overall strategy. Creating a successful online video takes time and know-how, especially when your goal is marketing. If you are new to making videos, it can be a disappointing process unless you plan some strategies for optimising the content for maximum visibility and exposure. There are some simple ways to increase your potential success that all beginning video marketers should know.

1. Your Video Content, Like All Your Content, Should Be Compelling And Relevant

Before you start creating your video, think about who your audience will be. What will they find interesting? Video marketing, like all internet marketing, is customer-centered. A video that focuses on being relevant to your niche audience will result in bigger growth. Helpful or teaching videos are likely to be well-received.

2. Put Your Video On YouTube

YouTube is second only to Google in terms of searches performed. Over a billion users visit YouTube every month and watch over 6 billion different videos. Uploading your video to YouTube should be a given, and will ensure that it can be seen by many people.

3. Share Your Video Other Places, Too

YouTube is the best platform for video exposure – but to maximise exposure, upload your video to other websites like Vimeo, Vine, and even Instagram for added visibility. Share the video on your blog, on others’ blogs, and on all your social media channels. The more you share it, the more times it will be viewed.

4. Your Video Content Should Be Optimised

Once you have created your video, consider which keywords are important in ranking it on search engines. Make sure that viewers who search for items related to your field find your video by including relevant keywords in your title, tags, and description.

5. Include A Call To Action

Adding a discreet lower third graphic – that does not interfere with the video content – that includes the website URL you are promoting, a phone number, and a logo is a good idea. This is a great way to drive traffic to your website, the ultimate goal of most inbound marketing like videos, blogs, and social media. Your YouTube video description should also contain a link to your website. You can also include a call to action on the end screen of the video so that it’s the last thing viewers see when they watch your video.

6. Attract YouTube Subscribers

When a user subscribes to your YouTube channel, they will automatically see your most recent video on their homepage. One good way to gain subscribers is by subscribing to others’ YouTube channels and actively participating in comment discussions. The more subscribers you have, the more publicity your videos will receive. Keep subscribers by uploading videos on a regular schedule, optimising titles and descriptions, and keeping the content high quality, contextual, and interesting.

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
The Internet Marketing Academy

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I am not referring to a short list of things you can do to achieve success with Internet marketing. Rather, you can use the technique of creating a short list to ensure that you have the most successful and profitable business dealings with subcontractors and vendors. This is especially useful for Internet marketing, since you have a global pool of subcontractors and vendors.

What is a short list?

For any situation where you are accepting proposals from a wide variety of vendors or subcontractors, you want to get the best deal that you can. The best deal is not always the least expensive deal, although price is usually a component. Your short list consists of those vendors or subcontractors whom you are confident could adequately perform what you are requesting, for a price that would not give you too much heartburn. If you threw a dart at the list of names, no matter where it hit, you would be satisfied with hiring that business or person.

Get better deals with a short list

Since only the best proposals will make it onto your short list, the vendors and subcontractors are motivated to offer you the best deal they possibly can upfront, rather than holding out for concessions during negotiations. Once you know which vendors and subcontractors are on your short list, you can compare their deals, and ask them for modifications. For example, if you were asking for a graphic design to be created and only one of the businesses included a free revision of the design, you could ring up the other people on your short list and ask them if they would also offer a free revision of their design. It may be that others didn’t mention this on their bids even though it is part of their service because you hadn’t explicitly asked for it, or would consider including it in exchange for some feature they normally offer which you didn’t want.

Using a short list

In order for a short list to be effective, your vendors and subcontractors must know that you will be assembling a short list, and then coming back only to those that make the short list for a final set of negotiations. When you send out your initial request for proposals, tell everyone that you will be assembling a short list within a week of when the proposals are due – if you are getting fewer proposals, you will need fewer days to read and consider them all – and that you will contact everyone on that list before making your final decision. Also, consider their ability to follow your explicit directions regarding submitting their best proposals and awaiting your contact as a sign of how likely they are to follow your directions in completing the project you assign them.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

pile of chain linksIn the pre-Penguin days of Internet marketing, one of the favourite means of generating backlinks to your website was through online article sharing. You could create a hotlink from the text of your article every time your keyword was mentioned, and, of course, it would be mentioned a lot. You could also create links from the resource box attached to the article which described who wrote it, and where the reader could find more of their work.

Internet marketers who were focused solely on the number of backlinks would spin an article so that it was nominally new, and submit it to hundreds of article repositories online. As a result, the search engines began looking more at what constituted “unique” information, as well as giving more credence to article repositories that had human editors vetting the quality of the article information.

Step 1: write a good article

The first step in generating backlinks from an article is to ensure that you write a high-quality, informative article that offers new and interesting information. Do not simply repeat or spin information you find elsewhere. If you are using information on your website as the basis for your article, ensure that you add additional new content to the article, and structure it in a different order from your website content.

Step 2: choose your anchor text

Do not make your primary keywords the only anchor text in your article. Choose words and phrases that are natural, rather than SEO optimised, since links that appear to be over-optimised will be penalised. Natural words and phrases include the name of a business, the URL of a website, and phrases such as “this site”, or “here”. You can also choose anchor text that is related to your keyword without being an exact match. For example, an article that directs people to a website that is optimised for the keyword “bridal gowns” might use anchor text such as “wedding gowns” or “bridal dresses”.

Step 3: submit to high quality article repositories

The whole purpose of getting backlinks requires that those links come from a site that the search engines value highly as a source of links. Otherwise, you’ll get penalised for associating with low-quality websites. The most highly valued article repository website is Squidoo, with an Alexa rank of 173 and a Google Page Rank of 7. Creating a Squidoo lens for your topic is easy to do. Following that, the next two article repositories with relatively similar authority are EzineArticles and HubPages. Both have Google Page Ranks of 6, and Alexa ranks of 357 and 406, respectively. The next tier of article repositories includes Go Articles and Suite 101, with Google Page Ranks of 6 and Alexa ranks between 3000 and 4000.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

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Man's foot stepping on bad linksOnce again, Google is causing a flurry of panic among webmasters and SEO practitioners. They recently released a new webmaster tool that allows webmasters to disavow links, in effect refusing to accept the bonus or penalty that would normally accrue to their website from having that link.

Why do webmasters need a disavowal tool?

With the Penguin update a few months back, websites began being penalised for having low-quality links. These links could be from link farms, or clearly purchased links, or links that came from a “bad neighbourhood” such as a web hosting service that filled its servers with spammers and porn sites. Webmasters saw their site rankings drop in response to Penguin, or received the note from Google informing them that they were being penalised for bad links, and tried to eliminate the bad links. Unfortunately, unscrupulous webmasters at these sites realised they had honest businesses over a barrel, and demanded as much as £2,000 to have a link removed!

A cottage industry sprang up, targeting the businesses that were most vulnerable to these types of attacks. Additionally, “black hat” SEO firms would target their client’s competitors with a flurry of bad links, forcing the competitors down in ranks while standard SEO practices lifted their client up in ranks.

The disavowal tool is intended to level the playing field again. Businesses that have been targeted by malicious link-building, or who mistakenly used easily available but poor quality links to try and get attention on the Internet, are no longer held hostage by the sites that link to them.

What’s the downside?

If this was all that the tool accomplished, there would be a sigh of relief from those impacted by Penguin, and a grumble from unscrupulous link farmers whose source of easy money is gone. However, what has the Internet Marketing community in an uproar is wondering to what use Google may put the lists of sources of bad links.

Some people worry that Google is effectively crowd sourcing its algorithm for detecting bad links. As a result, they are concerned that sites which receive multiple disavowal requests will be blacklisted, and all sites that the blacklisted site links to will get penalised for those links.

There are two avenues of abuse this would open up to black hat SEO practitioners. The first is to mimic the links coming in to a competitor’s site, and then disavow those links, making them worth less or even incurring a penalty for their competitor. The other is to somehow trick a competitor into creating a link to a special site set up for this purpose, and then disavowing that link, again penalising their competitor.

For now, unless you need to use the disavowal tool to recover from a Penguin hit, the best thing to do is to watch and wait until it is clear where this is leading.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Morgue File)

If your marketing department hasn’t started a mobile marketing campaign, you are potentially losing money every day. Mobile marketing plays a crucial role in today’s world of on-the-go, send-it-to-my phone consumers. They don’t have time to stop at their PC and check mail; they want it on their phone or in a text. Your marketing strategy has to conform to this in order to reach them and bring them to your business.

Before you start sending out mass emails and texts to hundreds of people, you need to make sure your message is going to be read first and second cause an action. It doesn’t matter is you send out ten thousand emails, if the message isn’t read, your time has been wasted. Follow these tips to increase the ROI of your mobile marketing campaign and increase the chances of success.

  1. Don’t buy email lists. These are a waste of money. You need email and text information of people who are actually going to be interested in your product. Save your massive, all-inclusive marketing, for ads on social networks. Your email and text recipients should be from your database and from lists that come from your own industry.
  2. Design your emails and texts so that they are mobile-friendly. Your messages should not be lengthy paragraphs that mobile users have to scroll through to find the message; make them short, sweet and to the point. The same goes for your text messages. The main thing to remember is that your brand and call to action should be prominently featured in the beginning of the message.
  3. Use QR Codes: QR codes are showing up everywhere, from signs going into a business, to magazines and menus. Make sure that you have your own code and that it is linked to your website. The landing page that the code goes to should require an email address and possibly a text; however, it should not force users to type lengthy amounts of data. Keep in mind; the users are on a mobile device.
  4. Use the text or email message as a coupon or promotional offer. You can incorporate the discount into the email or text or you can direct them to a landing page that contains the offer. The point is to elicit a reaction from the recipient in the form of a sale.
  5. Time your messages and cycle of messages. We’ve all had the dreaded email that won’t stop coming. You answer one email to get an offer, and suddenly your Inbox is overflowing with mail that you simply don’t want. If you’re like most people, you delete it without even opening it. Don’t let this happen to your mobile campaign. Set your emails on a cycle, perhaps once a week and don’t send them in the middle of the night. Many people keep their smart phone near their bed and “you’ve got mail” is not a pleasant sound at 2 AM.

It’s not difficult to plan a mobile marketing campaign that people will read and use. Stop and think about your own email and text usage. If you wouldn’t want it on your phone, don’t send it to others.

Let us know how your mobile marketing campaign is faring. If you have tips you want to share, use the comment box and we can all market smarter and more successfully.

Looking for more advice on mobile marketing? This article might be of interest to you:

Mobile Marketing: Revolutionising Online Advertising

Thanks!

Sean

(Image: Ricmoo via Wikimedia Commons)

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It is no secret that mobile marketing is essential in marketing your business. Everywhere you look; there is a mobile phone being used to accessing the Internet, texting, emailing and yes, making calls. If you do not have a mobile marketing campaign, you are losing potential revenue. On the other hand, if your mobile campaign is not successful, you are going to lose revenue.

There are many possible reasons your mobile marketing strategy might not be working. The following reasons are some of the most common mistakes that can ruin a mobile campaign. Use these to evaluate your own campaign and make corrections that generate more traffic to your business.

1. No contact or action information: If you want people to reach your business through mobile marketing, you have to target them specifically. It has been proven time and again that mobile users who search for a business or service on their smart phone are ready to either call the business or purchase online. If your business shows up in the search but does not have an action, such as “contact us” or “enter your zip code for locations”, you are wasting your time and the consumers. Your mobile ad should not send users to your regular website; it should reach a landing page customised for mobile users.

2. Purchasing sales leads: This should not have to be included in this list; however, there continues to be marketing coordinators who buy cell phone numbers in order to target them with sales. You do not want to waste your marketing budget on a list that may not be anywhere near your target audience. Gather your own list from your website or business inquiries.

3. Over use of text marketing: No one wants to get a text message at 2 A.M. with a discount offer on tires. Overuse of text marketing, and sending them at inappropriate times, can actually hurt your business. Keep texts to a minimum and only during business hours.

4. Discounts, promotions and offers: If your mobile marketing campaign does not have an offer or promotion, you are losing revenue. Make sure you are offering the consumer something for their time and patronage.

5. Asking for too much information: Mobile devices are not always the easiest to use for inputting information. If you are mobile campaign asks the user too many questions, or for too much information, they will most likely find another business. All you really need is an email address so that you can reply to their inquiries.

6. Opt out and privacy notices: Today’s mobile consumer is savvier than you might think. You should make sure you have an opt-out option and that your privacy policy is easy to read and find.

7. QR Codes: QR codes can be found practically everywhere. However, if your QR code does not take the user to a landing page with relevant information or an action, you are wasting time.

These are just seven of the biggest makes you can make in your mobile marketing campaign. There are many more blunders that can cause failure. If you have a mobile campaign mistake, and you would like to share, use the comment box and send me your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.

Need more help with your mobile marketing stratgey? Try this article:

Breaking Into The Mobile Market

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

(Image Source: MobileReady via WikiMedia Commons)

With the social network media buzzing about Google+ and Google+ Local, I decided it was time to delve into this new and constantly evolving scene and find out what it means to Internet marketing. Google+ Local has replaced Google Places and in the process added some features that will impact the way your business is found locally and what they see when they do find you.

This new feature in Google+ is a more personalised way to search for businesses than the traditional web search. When you log in to your Google+ and go to the new local tab you are taken to your local home page. Here, you can put in your location when you search and also choose whether or not you want to see results based on reviews and people in your circles.

The results are where you see the new and improved Google+ Local. All of the basic business information is displayed along with a new Zagat score and reviews from locals, people in your circle and people like you, based on your profile. You will also see pictures more prominently and a Google Map with the listings.

So, now, you simply have to put Google+ Local to work for you and your business.  First, you have to understand that Google+ Local is indexed pages and this will be the basis of your online marketing strategy using these pages. As indexed pages, query results will be both stand alone pages and pinned results that are controlled by Google.

Whilst this does mean that Google will have editorial discretion on the content of pages, and they will display competitors’ ads on the bottom of the pages, it also means that as the business owner, you have a role in controlling your content, and need to employ SEO tactics. You should constantly monitor your listing on Google+ Local and use this in other online marketing strategies.

My first suggestion is to create local ads for Google+ Local to showcase your business. These are called express ads and will bring more traffic to your website .Much of that traffic is going to be local traffic that converts to revenue.

There is more to Google+ Local and Express that adds more value to your ads. Express ads not only show up when your business type is queried, they can also appear in the “Sponsored Links” section of Google and Google Maps search results.

If this sounds alien and you, like me at times, need a visual, imagine that you are searching for accommodations for your next holiday. Your query in Google+ Local will return results that are not only relevant to my search but will include reviews from people in my Circles if there are any and any results that are based on their input.

As a business owner, what you have to understand is that Google+ Local will impact your business regardless of whether or not you get involved in marketing with Google Express. All it takes is someone on Google+ to post a review or comment about your business and that will travel from Circle to Circle and ultimately across the Internet when your business is queried.

My suggestion to you is to take time to walk around the Google+ landscape and see what it is for yourself. If you choose not to get involved, you will only have yourself to blame.

If you have used Google+ Local in your marketing campaign, I’d love to hear from you. Use our comments section to share your success or lack thereof with others, and we can all learn how to improve our online marketing.

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

(Image by  Bruce Clay Inc)

Pinterest has been the talk of the town in the States, but for the rest of us, the talk has been mild to non-existent. It isn’t that Pinterest isn’t available in the UK; it’s just that we are using Pinterest in a slightly different way.  What is Pinterest and what are the major differences between UK use and American use of this new social networking platform?

What Is Pinterest?Pinterest is a social networking platform where users “pin” images and videos to their personal “pin boards”. Users are encouraged to share, follow and comment on what has been “pinned”. From a marketing standpoint, Pinterest is a virtual visual playground. You can easily drive traffic back to your site to purchase goods and services. Pinterest appeals to businesses that are visual in nature. One can find a plethora of interior designers, fashion designers, jewelry designers and other niche fields where their products and services are photogenic.  For the UK audience, the realm of businesses that use Pinterest goes beyond the crafts and design realm. UK Pinterest users also leverage this site for SEO, marketing, content management, blogging resources, web stats, web analytics and public relations.  How can UK users fully maximize the Pinterest platform?

Demographic

Unlike the American audience for Pinterest, which is primarily female, the UK demographic is mainly male between the ages of 25 to 34. Most of these men are college educated and fall in the higher end of the socioeconomic scale. While the American audience sees 12,000,000 unique visitors, the UK sees only 200,000 unique visitors. What does this mean? If you have a business that caters to wealthy men between the ages of 25-34, you should consider using Pinterest for marketing ventures. Why? Because with a smaller audience you are more likely to have your goods and services seen by potential clients.

Engage And Make Money

If your business is a fit for the UK Pinterest audience, start pinning! I cannot stress enough that Pinterest is image based, thus make your images interesting. Each pin has a maximum width of 222 pixels with lengths that vary. You can have text, but it must be incorporated into your graphic. To turn these “pins” into actual dollars is based on how your website is set up. Can a potential customer visit your site and directly purchase an item or service? Similar to other marketing, your goal is to drive traffic to your site. Make sure there is a call to action on your site and an easy way for people to click “buy now”.  Pinterest, as is the case with other social networking sites, will work for you if you “work it”. The key is to know whom you are trying to reach and if your demographic is within those 200,000 Pinterest users. If they are, it is worth your while to start engaging.

Happy Pinning!

Thanks!

Sean

(Image Wikipedia)

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