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Monopolizing the Channel with Strategic Internet Marketing

Powered by the Internet, the global economy has brought significantly accelerated market conditions where the competitive climate is no longer simply one company competing against another, but a company and its affiliates and supply chain competing against the other company and their affiliates and supply chain. This brings about significant challenges during already challenging times; but, the key is to have the discipline and the right people on your team to execute a growth strategy regardless of the times as articulated by Jim Collins below.

Name Internet marketing strategies today must then be robust and agile if they are intent on finding ways to leverage these extended enterprises in order to build long-term sustainable competitive advantages.  These new forms of a consortia brought into corporate alignment, in large part via the Internet, are now able to leverage the unique strengths of each company to (a) expand markets and market entry points, (b) effect price by driving higher business volumes and operating efficiencies, and (c) improve customer satisfaction with added-value information. Commerce is at a crossroads, and in order for your company to succeed in this environment your team will have to effectively excel in the four key areas of technology, Internet marketing, service, and branding to fully benefit from these new channel opportunities.

Technology Leadership

Obviously, the future where Internet technology plays the pivotal role in increasing the relationship with the customers by providing more conveniences and informational services is here. However, it should be noted that this reality should serve to ensure that the customer feels connected to the company rather than disconnected by the technology. This article is not written to educate you on the technical infrastructures that make up web portals or supply chain connectivity, but to remind that a customer-driven philosophy and environment is the way to go.

Marketing Leadership

One of the problems today is that in the rush to produce volumes of subpar content over the web, companies find ‘no pay a heavy cost for’ having their increased capabilities brought on by the supply chain easily outpaced by customer perceptions. Without value realization, you will not maximize the return on your hard earned capabilities unless these two components are matched. The outside perception of your business should match the inside reality and this is only achieved when advanced content is created at a level parallel to your products and services. After spending your resources developing the inside reality, not having the outside perception match will result in frustration due to minimal sales. To be a marketing leader, you and your channel partners must be committed to turning all touch points into moments of relationship building opportunities.

Service Leadership

An obsessive focus on all information surrounding the customer at all contact points is the most effective way to establish service leadership. As we know, when a customer walks, they talk. Studies show that when a customer has a negative experience, they will tell 20 friends about it and only 7 when they have a positive one. Now with social networking rapidly becoming a dominant “qualifier”: Now, if a customer is happy with your service, their message spreads to more than 1,000. So, (reputation is huge).

Excellent customer service begins its focus at the beginning of the buying process and continues for life. This attention always views business processes from the customers’ eyes and treats each customer as a valuable and familiar client with whom a long-term relationship has been built.

Regardless of what contact point the customer interacts with your company, they are dealt with the way they wish to be dealt with—as a valuable and familiar client with whom a long-term relationship has been built. As with any other relationship in life, this only happens with personal (highly customized), frequent, and quality communications.

Brand Leadership

Lou Gerstner, Past Chairman and CEO of IBM stated that, “Branding-it is a very important issue and will dominate business thinking I suspect for a decade or more”. If you and your company aspire to move from a brand management and image position to brand leadership and equity status, a number of changes must take place. First, the brand elasticity will have to be analyzed for its ability to hold up to the broader marketplace and challenge of building and sustaining an Internet presence. Secondly, when it comes to lead management, sales and marketing must be aligned behind the brand to achieve synchronized communications. In this manner, your company should strive to show, rather than talk about the brand.

In a recent survey, 42 percent of business executives said that collaborative relationships and market differentiation strategies were one of the biggest business challenges they face. Additionally, industry analysts claim that between 30 and 60 percent of information is inaccurate by the time it reaches the retail level. Certainly, it takes leadership to address these issues and to create synergy with branding partners all contributing to a customer-focused supply chain. This strategic high ground happens when message consistency is achieved across all channels.

Monopolizing your channel may sound overly optimistic and certainly aggressive, but it may also end up being the only way to win as the Internet regularly proves that Ziph’s Law (winner-take-all world) is in effect . These issues are relevant for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer business models. From operations to marketing, synchronizing your organizational universe is challenging, but also inherent in those challenges is incredible opportunity. Establishing a simple, yet thorough Internet marketing and communications strategy will provide the platform to reach your business plan objectives.

Please share your thoughts or challenges.

Achieve High Search Rankings with Off-Page Search Engine Optimization

Althought the great majority of consumers today prefer to find companies, products, and services online prior to making a purchase, most businesses have been slow to adopt best internet practices such as search engine optimization. As a foundation for achieving high rankings, let’s start at the beginning; there are two types of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), “On-Page” and “Off-Page”. On-page optimization refers to having each page of your website constructed with all of the on-page SEO elements required to achieve perfectly optimized pages along with alignment with carefully selected, popular search terms for your industry, product or service. This process involves implementing the on-page architecture across each page based on keyword research, stakeholder input, competitive analysis, and search engine statistics. In addition, to maintain best practices for On-Page SEO, constant testing and refinement is recommended.

While on-page optimization is the type of optimization that most people are familiar with, it is not necessarily the most effective component of SEO. What holds the most correlating significance to high rankings is “off-page” optimization.

Off-Page SEO Confirms the Pareto Principle…..Again!

Pareto’s 80/20 Rule means in essence that 20 percent of something is responsible for 80 percent of the result or activity; and so it is that off-page optimization is responsible for the majority of your advances with search engine rankings. This important aspect of the off-page optimization process involves creating authority for your website. Google quickly realized that everyone has the ability to create “on-page” optimization for their site as this is a fairly straightforward process. One of the algorithms that Google uses to rank websites is by how many back links are coming into your site.

The number of back links ‘or votes of confidence’ is an indication of the popularity or importance of your website. Links are the currency of the Internet and each link into your site acts as a “vote” that tells the search engines that your site is a quality site.

Before we dive in too deep, you need to realize that it’s not only the quantity of back links that matter; but more importantly, it’s the quality of the back links. Google realizes that getting a large number of back links is another fairly easy thing to do as you can hire companies that will provide 1000’s of links for a few hundred dollars. All companies interested in having sustainable success doesn’t want to do this as it is considered a black hat tactic that Google will penalize you ‘as it did to JC Penney’  if it appears that you’re growing your links too fast, or in an un-natural manner. Additionally, most of the links provided by these types of companies have zero link value.

Google uses a matrix to gauge the quality of your links. The matrix is based on how popular your site is in its vertical market, how many visitors your site has, the quantity of quality industry links that you have, and the authority of those linking sites. There are a number of legitimate to get quality back links; some of them are fairly easy such as obtaining links in industry or shopping directories. You can find these sites by conducting a simple Google search for “your industry” and “directory”. With this method, you can find a large number of free and a nominal-fee directory sites.

Another good way to find links is pursue to links that are utilized by your competitors. You can find all of your competitor’s links at Yahoo! Site Explorer. This is a free and valuable competitive analysis tool where you can not only find all of your competitors links, you can also view which are their most popular pages.

As I mentioned previously, there are a number of ways to get links, but the best way is to create high quality content based on original thought. If you create quality material or advanced content, it many times gets published by another site gaining the most valuable links you need to raise your search ranking. It’s all about creating consistent content that is helpful to your primary audience or even better – a broader audience.

That’s right, your article can be more successful if you write about something that is not only important to your vertical market, but it is also important to the general population. You could write about a hot trend or product that you’re using and telling everyone how to use it better or more efficiently, i.e. the 10 best Iphone apps, How to Get Relevant Twitter Followers, How Your Business Can Profit from Facebook, etc. With this type of content, you have the chance for your article to be picked up not only by your trade publications, but your article could be distributed in a large amount of consumer or other trade publications. This type of reach could equate to a larger quantity of quality back links for you site.

While writing, it’s important to realize that you are appealing to three main audiences; the actual reader of your article, the search engines, and the feed sources. Feed sources have become extremely valuable avenues; RSS readers are widely used by readers and are one of your important “audiences”. Some publishers even publish articles strictly based on the keywords they specify for their newsfeed. If you have the keyword in your title or body copy, your article could be picked up by these publications and back links will be established.

Another important point to remember when writing your articles is to remember to place anchor tags in the body copy of your article (preferably that are part of your on-page keyword strategy) to link back to your site.

Link building, along with all Off-Page SEO techniques, require an ongoing process and no single blog or article will put you over the top. With consistent article and blog submissions that are highly targeted and optimized, you will be on your way!

Is Your Website Internet Marketing Ready?

When you’ve put so much effort into developing a great product or service and you settle on a determined commitment to embrace best practices for Internet Marketing, you don’t want to find yourself many months down the road disappointed with poor sales. Although the Internet has revolutionized communications for most industries, one truth has never changed which is that many people have lived without many companies until now…offline or online.

All too often, companies get a nice looking website up and running and take a lot of pride in how clever the design, imagery, SEO or writing is. In fairness and similar to birthing your own children, loving your own ideas is typical for anyone who has been involved contributing to a creation. However, while frequent employee and stakeholder inputs are indeed vital, it can also produce a false sense of security. If businesses could succeed by simply designing a product or website and waiting for it to sell itself, then MANY more companies would be successful.

Having a website that is market-ready involves a lot of effort. Faced with tight marketing communications budgets, the need to execute multiple projects in parallel, and the specialized skills best practice Internet Marketing demands, many companies are looking for a cost-effective way to outsource. The key here is to develop the site to be a business development engine that not only pays for itself, but drives revenue performance.

As you venture out to develop or evolve your website and perhaps more critical to success, your web presence or digital footprint, the first thing to remember is that it is important to construct it from a marketing centered approach. Typically, web site developers get paid to just “build” your web site. Unfortunately, they do not know or view things from a marketing perspective. Simply, marketing is the ability to articulate a sales argument. So before you get concerned over branding, look and feel, function, or search engine optimization, you need to get focused on the web development project from the perspectives of (a) will this compel the highest potential of the right people to visit and hear the right message, and (b) will the site help the company make money?Footprint

Yes, sales and making money. Although it is regularly forgotten, marketing professionals have a rule “don’t fall in love with your own creations”. Why? What matters is that it works and produces business results. This leads me to a bigger subject, one that is surely frustrating to every business person, the sluggish economy and company after company getting their lunch taken by competition both foreign and domestic. So, let’s take a moment to regroup by reminding ourselves that we are in business and that-

Business strategy is not revenue, advertising is not revenue, PR is not revenue, strategic alliance is not revenue—only Revenue is revenue.

In addition to thinking from a marketing-centric position, getting and ‘keeping’ your website market-ready includes multiple layers of development that need to be done in a desired execution sequence. This may include and is not limited to the phased layering in of architectures for branding, information, SEO, lead generation and capture, sales funnel/conversion, service oriented, interactive community, online store/e-commerce, CRM integration, and overarching analytics required for ongoing improvements.

In reality, there is a gap between goals and actual results. In the end, true results vary depending on the quality of execution. In their book ‘Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done’: L. Bossidy & Ram Charan capture the essence of this gap and explain:

“The fact is that with execution, there is a significant gap between what the company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability of their people to carry it out.  The real challenge is being able to implement plans and that what most people miss today is that intellectual challenge also includes the rigorous and tenacious work of proving ideas”.

Stay with me as over the course of the next several weeks, we drill down and examine the role of each of of these architectural layers and discuss how to execute a winning website strategy.

Understanding Webspam or Make Friends With Pandas And Penguins

Black Hat SeoThe days of manipulating search engine page rankings with garbage websites are gone.  Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithms focus on penalizing and downgrading Webspam websites that have unnaturally high page rankings based on poor and repetitive content and other questionable SEO practices. Panda and Penguin algorithm updates are happening more and more often and some days both can be updated a couple of times per day.  To succeed in driving traffic to your website, you need to keep your website out of the Webspam category while providing relevant and timely content.

Defining Webspam

Webspam is a practice that for many years allowed websites to manipulate search engines to drive traffic to their site.  These sites are designed specifically to spam Google and other search engines in order to raise page rankings, albeit, artificially.  These practices include cloaking, keyword stuffing, and other tactics known as “black hat SEO”.  What businesses fail to understand is that these practices, in the long run, do more harm than good.  When a potential customer finds you through this practice, it is extraordinarily difficult to convert them from a visitor to a buyer and develop an ongoing relationship.  Today, the algorithms are designed to weed through the websites that are employing “black hat SEO” practices and downgrade their page rankings for the purpose of raising the quality of information in search engine page rankings.

 

Google’s Panda

Panda algorithms search for websites that have poor quality, duplicative, and repetitive content.  Websites, including content farms, and others that specialize in creating tens of thousands of pages of worthless content are now considered Webspam by most search engine algorithms.  For nearly two years since the first Panda run in February 2011, website owners have had to refocus their SEO strategies and revamp websites without utilizing manipulative black hat tactics in order to rank high in search engine findings.

Google’s Penguin

Google PenguinPenguin algorithms are different.  While Panda focuses on the content of websites, Penguin focuses on links and link profiles.  Link building has always been a focus for website owners seeking to raise their page rankings, however, just as there are individuals that seek out black hat SEO tactics, there are those that manipulate back links to raise page rankings. Penguin targets these low-quality link profiles and lowers the page rankings based on real and high-quality links.

How To Keep Ahead Of Panda And Penguin

First, abandon your old practices that included any of the above mentioned black hat tactics.  These simply do not work any longer, and in fact, cause your website to be deemed as Webspam.  Today, you need a comprehensive SEO strategy that includes high-quality content for Panda, and high-quality links for Penguin.  Think “keyword optimization” not “keyword stuffing”.  Think “high-quality relevant links” not “link to everything.”  Raising your page rankings with Google and other search engines does require time, effort, and patience.  Remember, you are building an online persona, reputation, and looking for new customers that choose you.  When you engage potential customers and provide them with timely and relevant information, your linking efforts will be rewarded.  Organic linking that comes from individuals that like what you have to say or offer so much, that they want everyone they do business with to know it as well.

Stay away from manipulative SEO tactics and instead focus your efforts and resources on creating high quality content for visitors to your website. Blogs, white papers, product reviews, industry news and analysis, and press releases are a great way to build high-quality content.  Encourage visitors and customers to comment and share the information you provide and build a relationship with the community.  This leads to the invaluable organic links that will raise your page ranking.  The next time you do a search and you find the results are relevant to you, hug a panda and a penguin and be thankful that they are doing their job and helping you find relevant, high-quality websites.

Generating Backlinks With SEO And Content Marketing Strategies

The world of SEO and content marketing is changing.  Recent adjustments to Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithms as well as adaptations by other search engines have made SEO tactics more important than ever.  Once, individuals could recycle or repurpose articles and blog posts that appeared on their websites and continue to submit them to directories to capture backlinks thereby raising the rankings in search engine findings.  Now, the dynamics have changed and what once worked can now cause websites to lose their coveted page rankings thereby resulting in a dramatic decrease in traffic to their website.

Today, content marketing including articles, blog posts, and press releases must be timely, interesting, relevant, well-written, and most important fresh.  Content was once written to satisfy the search engines but did little in the way of converting visitors to sites and very little to educate or inform them.  Content must be written in a manner that relates timely information that visitors to a website are seeking, as well as to encourage feedback, comments, and sharing.  This now is the natural linking needed to generate the backlinks that help websites rise in search engine rankings.

 

Content WritingWhat Websites Need To Rise In Search Engine Rankings

·         Link Building: Link building requires websites to build credibility, nurture relationships, and maintain a healthy stream of relevant content.

·         Limit Content Submissions: Submit well-written and original content only to high-quality article directories.

·         Relevant Content: Generic content is no longer going to drive traffic to websites; well-written content with the proper keyword density is essential.

·         Guest Blog Posting: Research existing blogs that provide timely and relevant information and that have active followers.  Offer to write guest blogs; this helps generate back links and  expand reach to a new audience.

·         Use Google Authorship: Link blog posts to Google+ page.  Remember, a Google+ page that includes a photo drives more traffic.

·         Develop On-Site Blog Editorial Calendar: Take a look at the next 3 months; what dates stand out that is relevant to your business?  Develop an editorial calendar to ensure that topics are relevant and timely.

·         Develop Off-Site Editorial Calendar: Guest blogging builds relationships, increases backlinks, and develops a larger audience.  Write compelling and timely pieces including blog posts, press releases, and white papers to provide to bloggers and industry news leaders.

What Websites Need To Avoid In Order To Rise In Search Engine Rankings

·         Generic Content: Immediately stop distributing generic and poorly composed content to article directory services.

·         Article Spam: Cease distributing article spam – non-original content – to content delivery services.  In the end, this does significantly more harm than good.

·         Plagiarized Content: Stop spinning content from other sites.  Unique, original, and fresh content is more valuable.

Timely, Relevant, And Unique Content Marketing

Instead of focusing on general information for visitors to your website, think about how to provide real value.  The list below is a sampling of content marketing topics and ideas that can help Interviewyour website rise in page rankings:

·         Interviews: Conduct an interview with a customer or industry professional.

·         Case Studies: Write a case study of a customer that has successfully used your product or service in their business.

·         Industry News: Search the news of the day/week and write a relevant post on timely and relevant news.

·         Tools & Tips: Brainstorm new ways that your product or service can be used to educate your potential customers.

·         Product Reviews/Product Comparisons: Routinely review products that are relevant to your business and compare your products with your competitors.

Most importantly, remember that the dynamics of driving traffic to your website has changed dramatically over the last couple of years.  Do not let the changes in Google’s algorithms get you down; you can still drive visitors to your website and rise in the page rankings.  SEO and content marketing take nurturing, analysis, and time; building backlinks by providing relevant high-quality content is worth the time and effort.

Integrating Social Media Strategies Into Marketing Campaigns Is Vital

Social MediaOnline And Offline Businesses Both Need Social Media Marketing Strategies

Once, it was commonplace for businesses that conducted the majority of their business in brick and mortar businesses to not have a compelling online presence.  That quickly changed and businesses across the globe that offer local services have found the power of harnessing of the internet in addition to their traditional marketing strategies.  Online businesses however, have always focused on getting their customers from internet users.  Social media integration into marketing strategies was first successfully employed by online businesses and now offline businesses understand the importance of having a social media strategy that is woven into their overall strategic plans.  Consumers buy from businesses that have a recognizable brand, a good product and offer it at fair prices.

What Social Media Marketing Does For Businesses

Social media platforms give you the invaluable path for pursuing new customers, nourishing existing customers, and for building buzz about your products and services.  Reaching customers, regardless of the type of business you have, is vital to your success. In fact, one of the biggest marketing and sales challenges has always been choosing the best channels to find customers.  Social media allows businesses to build their brand and their reputation, encourage feedback and sharing, and educate customers on the benefits of your products. Going viral through social media campaigns, is the ultimate goal.  Tweets, videos, blogs, and forums are all pieces of the social media puzzle and are a vital part of your UX.

Using Social Media To Its Full Potential

So DeliciousSo Delicious Dairy Free is a company that makes dairy-free milk and other products from nuts.  When they launched their Facebook campaign, they continually asked for feedback on their products, were active in responding to questions, and offered followers coupons and recipes.  As they kicked off their product launches, they had ongoing contests that spurred their customers into action.  Their customers shared their recipes with friends, talked actively about their products, and created the buzz all new companies strive for.  While they had been in business since the late 1980s, their social media campaign catapulted them into new waters and greatly expanded their business.  They created a UX that engaged a passionate community – they had the right message, at the right time.

Most companies do not spend the time or effort necessary to build a community like the So Delicious folks did.  For a brand with non-universal appeal, their over 110,000 “likes” on Facebook and 17,000 Twitter followers is remarkable.  The truth is, when creating a marketing campaign, regardless of whether for offline or online businesses, social media must be integrated into the fold.  The brand message of any business needs to be promoted through traditional media as well as social media to increase the reach and build a strong customer base.  The added benefit of an active social media community are that the more people that are talking about your product, sharing your product benefits, the more your rankings in search engines will improve because of the number of new organic backlinks.  Organic backlinks cannot be achieved without effort; however, they are one of the key components in search engine algorithms for moving your business to the first page.

Internet Marketing: How To Increase Leads and Sales

Internet marketing is a rapidly evolving advertising platform that can increase leads exponentially when done right. Let’s face it; everyone wants to increase leads and sales revenue. In the past, cold-call sales, direct mailings and advertisements in industry publications were the norm. Today, marketing is all about generating inbound traffic and attracting fresh leads through content management, online campaigns and social media promotions then managing the results with customer relationship management tools and analytic tracking,

Also known as inbound marketing, internet marketing is about getting found by customers, attracting traffic and reeling in the leads and sales. Effective marketing campaigns utilize a multifaceted approach with synergistic elements that instantly increase traffic, search engine ranking and most importantly sales. From creating a layout that welcomes search engine and customers to selecting the appropriate keywords and anchor tags, these elements are essential to creating an effective campaign and SEO strategy that drives traffic to your site. PPC advertising on search outlets like Yahoo, Google and Bing can maximize your advertising budget and campaign results when popular keywords are selected carefully and optimized regularly. Add timely updates, valuable info and email marketing content, and you’re on the way to sustainable growth.

Social Media Advertising

For businesses, the power of social media is lightning in a bottle. Word of mouth is still one of the top referral methods and a foolproof way to increase leads. Today’s social media outlets allow businesses to connect with potential customers on an unprecedented level. The rapidly growing network of social media sites and professional groups is changing the way companies interact with their customers. CRM tools allow businesses to monitor trends, stay in tune with the market and keep in touch with consumers and potential buyers. Social media sites are expanding promotional opportunities and giving entrepreneurs and corporate leaders a better way to reach potential buyers with advertising targeted by job title, industry, demographics and interests. Now is the time to get on the bandwagon. Join Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter and take advantage of powerful business tools that were unheard of four years ago.

Advanced Content

Developing unique content is the most effective way to stay current, appeal to search engines and earn clout in your industry. Keyword-rich blog posts incorporating effective SEO techniques establish your brand and improve your site’s ranking by developing high-quality backlinks. Blog content can also be tooled toward trade publications and article distribution channels that spread the word to a larger audience. Content development includes press releases, articles, in-depth white papers, videos, webinars
and coupons that increase leads and drive current and potential consumers to your site. Creating high-quality content is only half of the battle. Promotion and distribution are the keys to winning the war.

Internet marketing campaigns are capable of reaching millions of consumers around the world. With a multifaceted marketing approach, businesses can build a successful and sustainable online lead generation system. The audience is there. You just have to reach them.