ID-10019658If you are using LinkedIn, you probably realise that it comes with multiple opportunities for marketing and networking, but you may be unclear on how best to take advantage of what it has to offer. Whether you are a small business owner or yours is a large corporate business, there are certain strategies you can use to develop a LinkedIn marketing plan and maximise your long-term success.

Understand that using LinkedIn effectively, like other social networks, requires a long-term commitment to your marketing plan. An effective strategy will require consistent managing, monitoring, analyzing, and adjusting. Assess your needs and your resources ahead of time and determine what you can commit to, and then try the following tips for integrating LinkedIn into your comprehensive marketing program.

Build A Strong Company Page

You will need to build a LinkedIn company page to establish a business presence and use the extra features that increase your visibility. Basically, think of this as an extension of your website, using it to display graphics, content, products and services, and even job openings. Invite people such as employees, clients, customers, and vendors to follow your page. An effective way to grow your following is to keep your LinkedIn page filled with relevant and interesting status updates. Remember that you can target your members with specific updates relevant to them.

Launch a LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn groups are another part of a complete strategy for positioning yourself or your business as an industry thought leader. Focus on gaining members with common goals, and manage your group consistently. This task could be assigned to someone who will ask great questions, preapprove discussion posts, and decide which members are accepted into the group. When you launch your group, you will want to get the word out. Let employees, clients, customers, and other influencers in your field know about the group. Use the group messaging feature, which allows you to message you members each week with promotions, campaigns, or other relevant messages that go directly to their email inboxes.

Involve Everyone

Specific employees will need to implement and maintain your LinkedIn strategy, but everyone should be on the same page. When everyone is involved in your LinkedIn initiative, an extended network is created that strengthens your company’s presence. Provide training on how to represent your company and how to use LinkedIn. For motivation, teach team members the advantages of LinkedIn in expanding their own professional networks.

Monitoring And Tracking

You will need to know what your business goals are when you start using LinkedIn. Your success using LinkedIn will be measured by whether you accomplish these goals. Appropriate goals for using LinkedIn include enhancing your company’s position as an authority in your field, increasing brand awareness, and lead generation. You should also define specific metrics by which to measure your success that align with your company’s goals. LinkedIn can grow your company’s reach and generate new business when used properly.

 

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

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ID-10087056Google+ has been making waves in the marketing industry. As a business owner, you may be wondering what it is all about and whether you should use it. You’re not alone.

Google+ offers a Facebook-esque experience, allowing users to access a news feed where people share status updates and other types of content. Where Google+ is unique is that it uses “Circles” to make it simple for you to share content with specific groups of people (as opposed to Facebook, where you post content on your wall to be viewed by all your Friends).

Why Does Google+ Matter to You?

First and foremost, Google+ offers outstanding SEO opportunities. You can share pages from your website, for example, thereby helping get it ranked higher by, well, Google. This ups your chances of getting seen by your target audience. Google+ is also relatively new, meaning you have time for trial and error, growing along with the up-and-coming platform. With a smaller audience (so far) than on other social networks, you can build relationships with your customers more effectively. Finally, Google+ offers exceptional efficiency. By placing your followers into categories (think email lists), you can send relevant, contextual content to specific Circles.

Getting Started with Google+

Keep in mind that this is the time for experimenting with Google+, and for now, it should probably not be your only social media focus. But its benefits make it worthwhile to get familiar with. One of the nice things about Google+ right now is that the smaller audience means that less frequent posting is acceptable. Once a week is enough to start with. Decide which day and time you are going to designate for playing around with Google+. Once you get your feet wet, you will be able to direct customers to your Google+ page.

How you use Google+ will depend on what your goals are. Posting an article once or twice a week is a good starting point. Engage other users by clicking “+1,” which is similar to a Facebook “like.” Share others’ posts when they are relevant, and take part in the conversation by talking about updates you find interesting, helpful tips, and other comments your followers might find interesting.

Tips for Maximising Your Results

Once you have the hang of using Google+, use a few simple tricks to make your page even better. For example, you can make your content stand out by using distinctive formatting. Longer posts are more acceptable on Google+ than they are on Facebook, but that does not mean your readers want to see a long, boring wall of text. Use good line spacing and paragraph breaks to make your posts more readable. Also, don’t forget great images. Intriguing, vibrant graphics improve click-through rates.

Make your posts engaging by tapping into your followers’ interests. Also, asking questions is a good way to encourage audience interaction. Give them a reason to act, too. One fun strategy is to post a unique image and ask your followers to come up with a caption. Another is to ask for – and take – their suggestions for your future content. Finally, come up with a theme (think Motivational Mondays, Tuesday Tirades, etc.). Or post a trivia question once a week and maybe even a reward for the first correct response – for example, a coupon or a free eBook (full of optimised content, of course).

Be patient and realise that it takes time to build an audience. With persistence, relevance, and consistency, you can develop a community of followers who become more and more engaged.

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
The Internet Marketing Academy

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InboundDo you know the difference between outbound marketing and inbound marketing? Outbound marketing includes things like email blasts, outsourced telemarketing, pay-per-click advertising, trade shows, and seminar series. These are “outbound” marketing techniques because you are pushing your message out to as many prospects as you can and hoping you reach some of them. Most people are riddled with these types of advertising “interruptions” on a daily basis and are getting better and better at blocking them and tuning them out. Inbound marketing, by contrast, means that you create and distribute relevant content that your target audience will find without your direct involvement. A social media presence, your blog, YouTube videos, and white papers are examples of inbound marketing.

Starting An Inbound Marketing Campaign

Outbound marketing to a large group of people who are all trying to avoid you is a bit like beating your head against a brick wall. Instead, develop your inbound marketing so that people who are already shopping in your industry will find you naturally. These days you should be investing much more of your marketing efforts on inbound techniques. Done right, this can attract visitors organically to your website through social media and search engines.

Understand Your Targets

Your goal is to get visitors to your website, but before you can develop content that will attract them, you need to know who they are. Determine which customers you are trying to reach by analysing your past customers. What do they have in common? You can use these shared traits to target new customers. For example, if your analysis shows that a lot of your past customers come from a specific social media site and fall under a certain age group and gender, you can use this information to create content that appeals to the specific demographic.

Plan Your Actions

Now that you know who your target audience is, you can decide on the best inbound marketing approach. This could include things like what type of content to create, providing a way to subscribe to your email list, creating relevant videos, or sharing your content on social media websites.

Don’t Forget To Distribute

Once your content is complete, get it out there so people can find it. Be proactive by finding the social networks your target audience frequents the most. Become an active member of these communities. Take the time to share content other than your marketing pieces and be an involved, respected member. And ask “power users” – authorities in the industry – to share your content with their followers.

Measure Your Success

Make sure your results are measurable – for continued success, you’ll want to know which actions drew the most customers. Use the available conversion rate tracking tools to monitor your results so you’ll know whether your efforts are paying off – and which ones – so you don’t waste your time and so that you can maximise your results in the future.

Thanks!

 

Sean

 

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

(Image: Flickr)

variety of mobile phonesMore and more people are using mobile phones as their primary means to access the Internet. While once you only needed a mobile website if you were a restaurant or service provider whose number someone might be looking for, virtually all businesses must now be conscious of how their website appears on mobile devices. These seven secrets will help to ensure your mobile website is a success.

1. Divide and conquer

Your website is divided into zones or sections. You have a section of navigation, one or more sections of ads, a header section, and a content section. The more that you can divide your website into these different sections, the more control you have over the order in which those sections appear for your mobile website. If your navigation, ads, and content are all one big section, you will not be able to change their order of appearance to enhance the mobile experience.

2. Respond automatically

Many website templates are designed to be responsive. Responsive websites at a minimum allow the width of the website and the size of the text to be adjusted. WordPress-based websites can use plugins that detect whether the device viewing the website is a mobile device or not, and provide entirely different user interfaces for different devices.

3. Allow freedom of choice

Just because your visitor is using a mobile device, does not necessarily mean they want to be limited to the information available on your streamlined mobile website. Give them the option to view your regular website, and do not automatically send them back to the mobile version if you detect they are using a mobile device.

4. Target your audience

Use your website analytics to determine which devices your target audience uses, as well as which levels of operating system your target audience has installed upon those devices. Develop your mobile website with that operating system and device in mind, then test on all of the major devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows phones, with backward compatibility to the operating system versions still in use.

5. Use easily resizable text

Do not develop a Flash website, unless you want to develop a duplicate non-Flash website for mobile users. Avoid popup windows, fixed display widths, and floating images or text boxes. Popups are difficult to close on a mobile device, fixed display widths require scrolling back and forth to see the entire display, and floating images or text boxes that are insignificant on a computer screen can obscure most of the content on a mobile device.

6. Put your phone number in text

Mobile devices will convert any phone number into a click-to-call hot spot. However, this only works for text phone numbers. The mobile devices will not touch phone numbers that appear in graphics, depriving you of an easy way for potential customers to reach you.

7. Keep to one page

Have all of the content in an article available on a single page. That way, website visitors who start reading your content and then pass out of range of a signal will not be frustrated and unable to finish the content.

Looking for more tips of mobile web design? Here is an article that you might be interested in:

Make Your Mobile Presence Amazing

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

 

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We all know the main goal of an Internet marketing campaign is to generate traffic the converts to sales. Using SEO to optimise our presence online has been part of this for many years. Recently, the changes to Google’s algorithms made countless marketing coordinators wonder which way to go with SEO. SEO is a large part of the Internet marketing world. However, in order to be successful, you have to adjust your strategy and avoid common mistakes.

Keywords are the backbone of SEO. You have probably spent hours perusing key words and their popularity. You search for the right keywords to get your site recognized in organic searchers.  The mistake many marketers make is misunderstanding how the public searches for their business. The average web query is straightforward words or questions. Once you understand this, your success in choosing keywords will increase.

Your organization might be the leading distributor of polyvinyl chloride products, but the general public is not going to search for that term, they are going to look for plastic. You have to get inside their thought process and figure out how they search the Internet.

There are people who literally ask Google what they want to know. This breaks keyword research down to the simplest possible ways of describing your business. In this example, plastic makers could be a key word.

Another common mistake I have seen in regards to SEO and keywords is a failure to do competitive keyword analysis. Google Tools, Hubspot’s Keywords Tool and other research tools are available to help you determine if you have the best keywords in your strategy and compare them to keywords being used by your competitors. You can lose position in the rankings quickly if you fail to evaluate keywords.

You need to make sure that you are monitoring your keyword strategy on a constant basis. Trends change constantly. What is popular today will be unpopular tomorrow. If you have a plan in place to monitor search trends,  you can get ahead of the game. This is where many seasonal businesses experience shortfalls. They neglect to monitor trends and lose business. For example, many women start Christmas shopping and planning well before the fall season arrives. If you are monitoring your keywords, you will see this early and cash in on the increase in traffic.

The bottom line in SEO strategy and keywords comes down to research and monitoring trends. At one time, keyword stuffing worked for many websites. Today, you have to be smart and use them appropriately to achieve maximum conversion and increase your profitability.

If you have made mistakes using keywords your marketing strategy, I’d love to hear from you. Use our comments section to share the lesson you learned so we can all avoid costly keyword mistakes.

Thanks!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy

http://internetmarketingacademy.com

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A few months ago I introduced you to the social media site Pinterest. Today, I’d like to offer you three tips for how you can fully realise its potential as a marketing tool.

First, let me give you a brief refresher. Pinterest is a visual “pinboard” with more than 18.7 million unique visitors each month. It allows users to connect with one another via shared tastes and interests. They “pin” images and videos to pinboards that are generally identified by an idea or theme, such as travel or books. As a “pinner” one can create, collect, share, and repin images and videos in any of the 32 categories that Pinterest has set up.

Let’s get started.

Plan Your Pins Ahead

With so many possibilities, it’s tempting to just start pinning images from your site. Don’t. First make sure you’ve set up your account fully, filling out all the profile information and linking it to your Facebook and Twitter account in order to maximise exposure.

When setting up your pinboards, consider your customers or clients. What are the services or products that they will most likely search for? If you are a sports retailer, perhaps you’ll have pinboards for tennis and football and golf. If you’re a bookshop, perhaps your pinboards will be grouped by subject, such as Renaissance history and literature. If you’re a garden shop, you might have pinboards for herbs and perennials. Also, be creative in coming up with names for your boards. For example, don’t just call your board “Flowers,” call it “Bountiful Blooms!”

Make Your Pins Pop
The great thing about Pinterest is that an arresting image will get noticed and repinned thousands and thousands of times. In the language of the Internet, it will go viral. Pinterest is about the visual. It’s about that image that sticks with you long after you’ve moved on to something else, the one that makes you tell your friends what you saw.

In order to make your images pinnable, you need to find ways to highlight what you have to offer in the best way visually. Choose the best images from your site, or use one of the many tools available on the Internet to help you create them, including Pinstamatic, Snagit, and Pixir. Always make sure that the image you use is copyright-free.

Generally, the most engaging and repinned images on Pinterest are the ones that are the most simple. To go back to our bookshop example, maybe your pins aren’t images of each book’s cover. Perhaps, instead, you choose a line from the book and place it against a simple colored background; quotes are some of the most repinned pins on Pinterest.

Track Your Pinning Success
As with all of your social media efforts, you should track how well your Pinterest efforts are doing. When you log into Pinterest, a “Recent Activity” box will appear on the left of your screen, which will provide a breakdown of comments, likes, repins, and follows. Note the categories, keywords, and suchlike, that get the most activity and concentrate your efforts there.

The possibilities for Pinterest are endless. Happy pinning!

Thanks!

Sean

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A website is the central hub of activity for your business. The majority of your marketing efforts are done in order to drive customers and potential customers to your website. The design of your website is extremely important. It is the digital representation of you, your business and the overall mission of your business. When individuals come to your website they want a few specific things. They want to find the specific information they are searching for to be found easily. They also want a clear call to action. Before you update your website, or even have your website initially built, it is important to avoid some common errors. These errors can cost business dollars if they are not avoided.

Your Website Shouldn’t Sing

When a person lands on your website are their ears overwhelmed by music that starts to play the instant the site opens up? There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find the volume control for your computer to stop the annoying music from blasting out of our computer. The truth is that when someone lands on your site and they hear immediate music, they will be clicking off your site quicker than you can blink. Great rule of thumb is to keep your site as a visual experience and leave the music for your iPod.

Direct Call To Action

Where do you want to drive your visitors? Are your products and services that are for sale clearly marked? Sites that are difficult to navigate will annoy 100% of those that visit your site. Your site may be the most visually exciting site in the world, but if you don’t tell your visitors where to go, you are left with a site that looks good but isn’t functional. Clearly mark on your website how to contact you and where products and services can be purchased.

Text Size & Color

I know you want to cram as much information as possible onto your website, but remember that less is more. Your visitors don’t want to spend hours reading your site. They have come to your site with a specific question or problem that needs to be addressed. Make it easy for them to see and find what they are looking for. Using a unique font, a smaller font size and a creative color for your font makes it difficult to read and navigate your site. Keep it simple. Use a standard font, in a standard color that is in a font size that is easy to read.

Creating a great website can be a costly investment for any business owner. If you have taken the time and energy, not to mention your hard earned money to create a great site, make sure you avoid the mistakes listed above. You want to keep your visitors on your site, not drive them away before they even get a chance to find what they were seeking.

Thanks!

Sean

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Internet Marketing Academy

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We are constantly reading blogs and reports on how to maximize Facebook and Twitter for your marketing efforts. While many of us thought that LinkedIn was simply a platform for business professionals, most of whom were seeking work, in the last few months LinkedIn has changed their game dramatically. For many marketers, having a LinkedIn presence can be extremely helpful for their business. How do you maximize your LinkedIn efforts, in a short amount of time, to see these benefits? Here are three quick tips to set you on your course.

Complete User Profile

We all know that individuals do business with people they know, like and trust. If your profile doesn’t properly reflect who you are and what your business represents, the people viewing your profile will quickly skip over yours and go on to the next. Take the time to fill out your profile and choose your copy carefully. In many cases you are making a first impression. You want that impression to be a good one.

Start and promote a group

If you are unable to find a group that reflects your business or your philosophy, simply create one. Creating a group will establish you as an expert in your field. You must keep your group active. Invite people you admire to your group and invite people you know to your group. Add discussions and offer relevant information that can be used by others. This is a great way to start the ball rolling on potential customers and creating joint ventures with businesses that mesh with your company.

Connect Your Accounts

LinkedIn offers the ability to link many of your accounts to your LinkedIn profile. This feature is often overlooked and it is a great way to drive traffic. If you want people to go to your website, add that link. If you want people to go to your blog, attach a blog rss feed. Another great tip is to link your twitter account to your LinkedIn profile. This allows a constant stream of new content to flow to your account. People will quickly learn that you are a valuable source of useful information and they will continue to visit your profile. They will also be more apt to visit your website or your blog if they feel that you are trustworthy.

LinkedIn is one of the most underutilized social media platforms of today.  By taking the time to use LinkedIn effectively, you will find potential customers that you otherwise may not have reached. LinkedIn is also extremely valuable for staying on top of what is happening in your industry. You have the opportunity to connect with other experts while establishing yourself as the expert in your field.

Thanks!

Sean

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Ever wish that you could know the precise effect of given piece of advertising or a marketing campaign? Now you can, by using Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a suite of website traffic analysis tools from Google. Quite frankly, if you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing a huge opportunity for increased marketing effectiveness. By some reports, as many as 50% of the top sites use it, including Twitter and MySpace.

Google Analytics tracks visitors to your site, and provides you with detailed information about which pages they looked at, how long they lingered on each page, and what they were looking for on your site.

Getting Started

Getting started with Google Analytics is incredibly simple. Start by heading over to their website, and setting up an analytics account. It’s free, you just need to register.

Then you’ll be provided with a snippet of code and instructions on how to input it into your site.

Analyzing Online Marketing Effectiveness

The first, and most obvious, use of Google Analytics is simply to track general campaign effectiveness. So after you make an advertising push, you can track its effectiveness by logging into Google Analytics and checking the change in your page visits. It will also track the changes over time, so you can evaluate the stickiness of your advertising.

Most importantly, all the data is recorded in an easy-to-use, visual format, so that you can quantify all your results.

The second use of Google Analytics is for much more detailed tracking. For instance, say you make a major advertising push, and you site hits are way up, but you don’t see much of a difference to your sales numbers.

You can use Analytics to go in and see what went wrong. So perhaps hits were way up on your landing page, your product information page, and your pricing page, but you didn’t have many more conversions. You can also glean valuable information from the time that your users spent on each page. For example, if they stayed on your product information page for 0:05, then you know they probably weren’t very interested. On the other hand, if they sat on your pricing page for a long time before deciding not to buy, then perhaps the price is just slightly too high, and a temporary sale could drive up sales numbers.

In this case, you can tell that your marketing campaign was successful in attracting attention, and that your customers are interested in your product, but that the price point is too high.

You can also glean valuable information from the time that your users spent on each page. For example, if they stayed on your product information page for 0:05, then you know they probably weren’t very interested. On the other hand, if they sat on your pricing page for a long time before deciding not to buy, then perhaps the price is just slightly too high, and a temporary sale could drive up sales numbers.

Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool, and will work wonders to help you track and quantify the effects of your marketing campaigns. No top website should be without it.

Thanks!

Sean

Internet Marketing Academy

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When people think about creating content for their business they often think about sitting at their keyboards slaving away for hours creating blog posts and articles.

However, there are several things you can do to create content while you are in “dead” time (like driving your car or doing something else that allows you to think).

1) Record a quick podcast.

Most people have smartphones that allow them to record voice. So why not use it to record a quick 10 to 15 minute podcast while you’re driving to the bank or grocery store?

You don’t have to have professional-quality audio or be in a studio when recording podcasts. Just pick up your cellphone, hit the RECORD button, and start creating content!

If you do not have a smartphone that records, you can buy a voice recorder for cheap at any office or electronics store. You can then take that audio (most voice recorders will export into mp3 format) and put it up as a podcast!

2) Dictate on the go.

If you have an iPhone, you can use a neat program called Dragon Dictate. It will actually transcribe everything you say into the phone into text. Of course you have to train it to learn your voice, and you have to speak clearly so the program can pick up your words.

But this is a good way to create content on the go if you want to create written content.

3) Record a video on the go.

Who says you have to be sitting at your computer in front of your webcam to create a video? You can use your cellphone or handheld camera you can get for under 100 pounds these days to create a quick video.

You viewers might consider these “off-the cuff” videos more authentic.

So there are several ways you can create content on the go. Don’t get bogged down by having the perfect equipment or presentation…the key is being consistent about delivering content to your target audience!

Live, Love, Laugh!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Internet Marketing Academy