Wednesday, 26 November 2014

10 most popular ways to monetize your website

It’s not a myth that you can make money with your website. A lot of websites on the Internet are made for one simple reason – to generate income.
Whether you are trying to get rich or just looking for some funds to cover the hosting/domain expenses, here are some of the ways to do so.
Keep in mind that some of the ways are more or less passive while some other techniques require on-going work. Make sure you pick something that suits well with your website.

1) Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a very popular way to make money through your website/blog. In short, you sell someone else’s product(s) on your website. When your website visitor clicks on your affiliate link and buys the product – you’ll receive commission.
The commission is usually 30% – 70% of the product or service price. So if you promote an e-book that costs £100, you’ll get £50 for referring the buyer (just an example).
Where can I find products to promote?
  • Commission junction
  • ShareASale
  • Clickbank (high payouts, but lack of GOOD products to promote)

2) Pay Per Click Advertising

Google has made a program called Google Adsense for publishers (bloggers, website owners) and advertisers (business owners, marketers, product owners).
This system is quite simple. You place a code on your website that will start displaying relevant ads to your website. For example, if your site is about pets (dogs & cats), Google Adsense will start showing your visitors ads for cat food, dog training and so on.
When someone clicks on the ad, you will receive money for this click. It’s usually £0.5p to £5 per click, but when your site has enough traffic – you can make hundreds if not thousands of dollars per month.
How to apply for for Google Adsense?

3) Selling Ad Space

As the name says, all you need to do is sell the ad space. You set up a price, let’s say: “Banner at the sidebar will cost £xxx per month”. You will get payed upfront and the price depends on your traffic. If your site gets ton loads of traffic from different sources, the banner ad price can go up as £3000 per month. However, if your site doesn’t have much traffic, don’t expect much.
Where can I let others know that my website is selling ad space?
  • BuySellAds – The most popular one
  • AdvertiseSpace

4) Sell your own digital product (ebook for example)

Selling your own product is awesome because there are no middle mans, no one is going to take the “cut” – it’s only YOU and the CLIENT. You sell directly through your website and you’ll get paid directly. While it looks quite simple, it’s actually not.
It takes a lot of time to create a good product that you can actually sell through your site. So make sure it’s well-made and polished before you throw it out on your webpage. In addition, a perfectly optimized landing page for the product is essential to higher your conversion rates.

5) Donation / Becoming a sponsor

Setting up donation buttons or simply asking additional funds from your readers is another way to monetize your website. It’s easy to set up, but you have to be aware that it’s not so easy to make money with it. Unless you find a sponsor(s) who pays a lot! However, before you throw up your donation buttons, make sure that your visitors will see why you need those donations(hosting expenses, new product creation, researching costs etc…).
How to set up donation buttons?

6) Accept sponsored posts & articles

Once your site is getting good amount of visitors monthly, you can offer sponsored posts and articles. There are a lot of advertisers who would be interested in writing sponsored posts for your website.
Another option is make money through reviewing something. Here’s an example: You have a website about Apple products -> marketer from Apple sees your site and contacts you.-> He/she offers you a free iPhone 5 if you make a comprehensive review and post it on your site for followers to read. This is an extreme case, but I’m sure you get the point…
Win=Win situation? Yep.
For further reading:

7) Generate “Leads” for other companies

Generating leads means you help other organisations or companies to make money. It can be a simple e-mail submit or telephone number, a lead is a lead.
Scenario: Let’s say you have a website about teaching and learning math. You can easily set up links to different schools and universities that offer people to learn math. When YOUR visitor submits their e-mail or a phone number to university for application – you’ll get paid.
It’s very similar to affiliate marketing, but your visitor doesn’t necessarily have to buy something. A short contact information is more than enough.
Where can I find such offers?
  • MaxBounty
  • Neverblue
  • Peerfly

8) Build an “Email List”

Building a “list” means that you gather your visitors emails. 90% of the websites that get some sort of traffic use that technique.
You’ll not make any quick money, but it’s definitely something long-term (and profitable). But make sure you first create relationships with your followers by simply offering great information and/or help for FREE. Spamming different offers through emails is never a good idea.
How exactly does it work?
email-signup

9) Set up an online store

You don’t always have to create a website about something. You can just create a “tool” for your business – an online store.
Bricks and Mortar businesses are becoming more and more popular since the rise of the “Internet era”. If you have enough dedication to make it work, try it out.
How do I create a successful online store/shop?

10) Sell your site for someone else

I usually don’t suggest people to do that, but site flipping/selling is becoming a very lucrative business model. If you are into short-term projects and more into “quick buck” you can implement it as well.
… but you also have to know that your site has to either get a lot of traffic or generate money through different monetization methods.
The site value is usually based on the income. If your website is making £500 per/month through selling ad space, you can sell the site for £6000 – £11000 (12x – 22x monthly income).
Where can I sell my site?
Source; http://websitesetup.org/33-ways-to-monetize-website/

Friday, 24 October 2014

9 Ways to Improve Social Sharing on Business Videos

Creating a video is a great way to showcase your business or service. The time and effort you put into this marketing material can really pay off — if people watch it. So how do you tap into the power of social sharing online?
To find out, we asked nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

“What is one tip you have for getting more social sharing and views on business videos?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Use Three Cameras and a Good Editor

“Of course you want a snappy title to generate views, but the simple touch of having different camera angles and a smart editor makes a world of difference. This could be the difference between someone watching your video for 30 seconds versus three minutes.” ~ Rob Fulton, Exponential Black

2. Be Informative

“Remember, most people share not to help you so much as to help themselves. So, how can you make people share your video in their own best interests? Make it informative and helpful. If the video has good insights and information, and the person can help their followers by sharing, they’re likely to “be the hero” and share it with others.” ~ Andy Karuza, Gossip App

3. Cultivate Community

“If you haven’t built up a community, don’t expect anyone to care unless you pay for it. Even then, it won’t get much. Build an online community around your niche. It will help you in the long term. Note: When creating a video, make sure that it grabs the attention of the viewer every 3-5 seconds. We have short attention spans and get distracted easily.” ~ John Rampton, Host

4. Highlight Your Expertise

“You’ve made a video about your business, which means you have a target audience in mind and an attention grabbing idea behind the effort. What else would they find useful? Provide actionable insight to their issues so that when they come across your content, they will be more likely to share it with others and spread positive feedback.” ~ Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

5. Keep It Brief

“In most cases, your video should never be longer than a few minutes. Get to the point quickly and immediately show the value your video will provide. If you can’t cover everything in one video, create a series.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

6. Promote Your Video

“The best way to get more social sharing and views on a business video is to promote it. Many businesses focus on content creation so much that they forget about content promotion. If people aren’t aware that your video exists, they can’t share it. Get creative: Share it during Twitter chats and share with your strategic partners, but — and this is important — explicitly ask your social network to share it.” ~ Sean Kelly, HUMAN

7. Be Interesting

“Make it interesting. There’s no substitution for great content. One way we’ve done this is through variable data in video. A company called Switch Merge came up with this technology and we love it.” ~ Justin Gray, LeadMD

8. Feature Concise and Clear Benefit Statements

“The end user wants to know “What’s in it for me?” in order to watch and share your video. So make sure you clearly outline that.” ~ Daniel Wesley, DebtConsolidation.com

9. Add Pre-Made Sharing Links

“Though YouTube already makes it easy for you to share a video you just watched, as a viewer I might also turn to the description section to learn more about the video and then share it with a quote from that description. Use services such as Click to Tweet to get your audience to share your video more often and watch your views count climb.” ~ Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep
Source; http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/

Monday, 13 October 2014

What Twitter’s Mute Button Means for Small Businesses

My remote’s mute button and I are best buddies. We tag team the task of watching a show and muting the commercials — all from the comfort of my favourite recliner. Why do I mute commercials? It’s simple: They’re usually annoying or irrelevant. When the program I’m interested in returns, I’m able to un-mute my TV, and life is good once again.
This May, Twitter caught on to the beautiful idea of muting and introduced a new Twitter mute button feature to its users. Basically, muting on Twitter hides an account’s tweets and retweets from your Twitter stream so you’ll no longer receive push notifications from that user. However, muted users can still favourite reply to, and retweet your tweets. You just won’t see any of that activity on your timeline.
While this mute feature is great for blocking your overly opinionated cousin, it’s not so great for businesses. If a business is muted, its engagement will be hindered because customers won’t see any live tweets of industry events or responses to questions or complaints.
So what can you do to prevent your small business’s account and tweets from being muted? Below are five key tips to consider:

How to Avoid Being Muted

Tell Followers When You’re Live Tweeting an Event

Live tweeting an event is a fantastic way to gain followers, showcase your knowledge, and offer tips and tricks. However, live tweeting overwhelms certain followers. To avoid this, announce the times you’ll start and stop live tweeting beforehand so users can mute and unmute as they see fit.

Keep Your Content Focused

Identify the content that attracts followers to your account and track the activities that also may have caused a drop in followers (like frequent event tweeting).

Use Analytics

Turn to your Twitter analytics to see follower growth and user engagement. Build on the messages and the activity that drive growth and engagement, and cut out those that hurt it.

Have a Defined Twitter Personality

The Twitter mute button makes it easier for followers to silence your voice. So it’s even more important to pay attention to the narrative of your tweets. Make your followers want to read your tweets.

Create Visual Content

Tweets with visual content are read, shared, and liked more frequently than text-only tweets. Add meaningful images such as screen shots, photos, infographics, or videos to complement the rest of your tweet.
Businesses can begin to determine whether their tweets are being muted with link-tracking tools, such as Bitly. While these tools won’t tell you directly whether you’re being muted, you can deduce that if your clicks had a 3 percent CTR and then dropped to 1.5 percent, you may have been muted and should adjust your strategy.
Likewise, if you’re seeing “unfollows,” you may have been muted prior to being unfollowed. Businesses should track the number of unfollows to see what types of content are driving followers away.

How to Win Back the Muters

Though being muted is an unfortunate occurrence, there are ways to win back the muters. Businesses can reach these audiences via Promoted Tweets, Twitter retargeting, and email marketing.
One retargeting tool, Perfect Audience, allows businesses to deliver ads to users who have visited their website. Businesses should also tap into the power of email marketing in concert with their Twitter ads to remind followers of all the great tweets they’re missing out on.
Although the Twitter mute button is successful at cutting out the excess “noise” on Twitter, it can be harmful to businesses. However, small businesses can avoid being silenced by posting relevant and engaging content — but not excessively.
If you do find yourself on someone’s muted list, remember that you can always work to win them back via Twitter or email marketing.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Trouble Determining PPC Budget Numbers? This Will Help


Everyone knows that you want your PPC budget to be just enough to make you a profit. But you have to have an initial budget to test how much you can get for each dollar you put into paid search advertising, or pay per click advertising (PPC).
Having this budget ready to go before you start creating your PPC strategy is crucial. Your budget may very well change over time, so it’s important to understand how to set a budget and why it matters. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as many may think.

Setting Up an Estimated PPC Budget

The reason that so many people dread determining PPC budget numbers is because there are many different ways to get to your rough estimate. In the end, your goal is to perfect your budget, but your initial PPC budget has to be a good solid estimate.
SEO agencies can help you perfect your budget in the end, but it helps a lot to have your own idea of a PPC budget before you even speak with an SEO agency. It’s not completely necessary, but again, that ballpark estimate will help speed up your path to success.
Below are two choices you have for coming up with a good initial budget.

Choice #1: Think About Your End Goal

What you need to do here is think of an end-goal. Whether it be to have a certain amount of sales dollars, producing a number of leads, etc. Once you have your end goal in mind, think about the target CPA and do the math from there. In other words, work backwards.
Wordstream wrote a great article discussing the importance of working in a specific order to come up with your budget. You have to first know the answers to the following questions:
  • What is your goal cost per lead? Ex: $30 per lead.
  • What is your new client goal per month? Ex: 150 per month.
  • What is your average close rate of leads? Ex: 12% close rate.
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can start putting some numbers together to come up with a rough PPC budget. Using the numbers from the questions above, this is the way that the math would look:
  1. Find how many PPC leads you need. For 150 clients from a 12% close rate, you need to do this math: 150/0.12 = 1,250 PPC leads.
  2. Determining PPC budget. Take your number of leads and multiply that by your goal cost per lead: 1,250 leads X $30 cost per lead = $37,500.
Of course the value of a lead will depend on several factors including geography, bounce rate, interaction, etc. So there are ways to better control this quality (such as using negative keywords).

Choice #2: Analyze Your Past PPC Campaigns

If you had a PPC campaign in the past, you can use some of that data to help you determine where to set your budget this time around. Look at what worked and what didn’t for the goal you had in mind. For example, if you had a goal cost per action (CPA) of $200, go look at what you spent previously and see what met that mark.
Once you have narrowed down what worked, look at the impression share. Those with low impression share will give you the chance to earn more volume by having a larger budget (or increasing your bids). You then need to ask yourself, “How much additional budget will I need based on the current impression share?”
When you add up all of your estimates you’ll have a rough budget.

The Takeaway

Once again, the above options are very basic in nature. When you start working with an SEO agency or expert you can start to get into quality aspects and other factors that might come into play. Until then, having an idea of your budget is an important thing to keep in mind as you start talking to more professionals or creating a strategy.
Robert Brady, head of PPC at Righteous Marketing, said it best when he talked about the importance of understanding your own budget:
“Optimization implies choosing better options over less desirable options. Without knowing all constraints, of which budget is a MAJOR one, it is very difficult to make the best optimization decisions.”
Source;  http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/09/determining-ppc-budget.html

Friday, 5 September 2014

Internet Marketing Methods for Small Businesses


Internet marketing is a powerful marketing strategy for businesses. It is gaining the attention of small business owners because of its effectiveness. Internet marketing is aimed to enhance the business in a better way to build brand image, customer relationship, customer retention, increase sales, etc. Following are some of the methods of Internet marketing for small businesses.


Different Methods of Internet Marketing:

  • Search Engine Optimization: SEO is a method where different strategies and techniques are used to improve a website’s rank in the search engine result pages. These techniques help search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing find and rank the website in the first page in response to a search query made by a user. If your business website appears in the first page visitors will consider your site as trustworthy and reliable. Moreover, you will have more traffic as people are more likely to click only the results in the first page.

  • Email MarketingThis helps you send commercial messages about your products/services to your potential customers. These emails contain information related to your company's products, services, special offers, latest updates, discounts, etc. E-mail marketing takes less time, effort and money to do the campaign compared to other marketing methods.

  • Web Banner AdvertisingWeb banner ads appear on some websites giving link to your website. This can be in the form of content, audio, video or a combination of all three. You can give ad on new products or special offers with attractive content, colours and graphics. Customizing your ad for your potential audience helps in attracting and engaging the audience and will eventually lead to traffic and sales for your business.

  • Social Media MarketingSocial media as a means of marketing is gaining a lot of attention and popularity. With this form of marketing, you can gain the attention of online users to your business. By creating professional and attractive content for social media campaigns your visitors will not only like it, but will also share it. In this way, your business will gain credibility among the online audience. Social media marketing is an inexpensive marketing strategy for small businesses.

  • Mobile Advertising: Mobile marketing is a process by which, you can market your products/services via mobile devices to your targeted customers. This form of marketing helps you reach a huge number of mobile users. This form of marketing is also inexpensive and requires less effort and time.

Because of the benefits of Internet marketing, small businesses should leverage the benefits of it and apply these techniques to get targeted leads, increase in sales and higher profits.

Source; http://www.sbinformer.com

Friday, 22 August 2014

It’s finally here... A system that rakes in monthly pay cheques on autopilot

Google Sniper 2.0 is an amazing new system that anyone can make money from. It’s simple, it doesn’t involve a heavy investment and proof shows it works! That’s a type of strategy we all want right?

I’ve always been left disappointed with various “make money online” schemes, after I’ve invested so much time, hard earned money and effort into them. You’ve probably been in a similar situation, and may even still be struggling to make a cent online, but we’ve all been there.

So what’s different about Google Sniper? Well...

●             This system is EASY to implement.
●             There’s NO traffic generation required.
●             There’s no need to dedicate hundreds of hours each month.
●             And it’s generated more online success stories than any other course...

Do a simple search for “make money online” and you’ll discover that there’s a lot of “push button software’s” that promise to generate you an income online, and there’s a lot of strategies that simply don’t work. Google Sniper 2.0 has taken the online community by storm and is quickly generating a huge amount of online success stories, and allowing a great number of people to quit full time employment...

Re-read them bullet points again, because this new, unique strategy allows you to make money online easily. It involves no traffic generation, is simple to learn and most importantly... you don’t need to commit a lot of time to it.

Now not only is this unique strategy a proven success, but the training guide is second to none also. It’s hands down the best training guide I’ve come across to start making money online in the quickest time possible, with a simple approach. Yes, the training is extensive, but it’s a step-by-step process that includes videos that walk you through the whole strategy also. There’s nothing better than a proven strategy that works, is taught well and can be picked up by anyone.


See what the hype is about by checking out Google Sniper here - http://m4gp13.gsniper.net

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Friday, 15 August 2014

Internet Marketing: Your Ladder To Success

In the present scenario, internet plays a major role in the way everything functions. From social interaction to marketing to finding solutions to everyday problems the realm of internet offers it all. Over the years marketing has evolved and adapted to the internet plane and ever since that has happened marketing executives enjoy a fun ride on the internet jet pack.
Internet marketing works in a similar fashion as real world marketing and harnesses the power of the internet to propel their internet marketing campaigns to new found heights of success. This also allows them to reach a wider audience on a global scale and widen the horizons they aim for. UK and internet marketing have formed a strong bond with each other and the marketing sector here has shifted to the World Wide Web to ensure that they reach out to maximum number of users in the minimum amount of time.
Although internet marketing is an easy way to reach out to the masses and provides your products a superb platform to be popular and create a fan base for themselves, it is equally difficult to be visible and create a stable spot for yourself. With the ever changing landscape and strict search engine guidelines internet marketing is a slippery slope.
Like every coin has two sides, Internet marketing also has its set, on one hand it is a superb platform to reach out and make yourself visible. While, on the other hand, the amount of competition makes it an uphill task to do the same. To achieve success in this harsh world you need to have the right set of skills up your sleeve and only then you can make it to the top of the charts.
Since internet marketing relies on social media, search engine optimization as well as pay per click services having the right amount of each of them is a must. If your strategy lacks on one frontier it will suffer on the other as well and by the end of it your entire campaign will go downhill. To avoid this form happening UK based Internet marketing companies develop a spearheaded strategy for all the aspects of internet marketing. By doing so they are able to provide their campaigns the right mix of Search engine optimization, Social media marketing, and Pay per click campaigns and generate organic as well as inorganic results.
Using this approach the companies are able to deliver the best possible results in the least possible time and also are able to maintain the results for a longer duration of time. The campaign needs to be designed in a way that it works in synchronization with the guidelines laid down by the platforms that are used to propel the marketing campaign.
Internet marketing is a great way to reach out to your target audience but its volatile nature makes it a constant struggle, like any other marketing campaign. The key here is to keep calm and put in all your efforts in the best possible way.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Web-based Internet marketing is the norm

Custom web design solutions, based on business strategies, objectives, brand image, and target customer demographics, help business entities to survive and prosper in present day market scenario.  Logical methodologies, creative concepts and investigative strategies are adopted to ensure speedy and smooth transition of business from existing traditional set up into an online Internet marketing and Mobile marketing venture. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques help companies to improve visibilities and ranking of their sites based on different key search engine ranking.  They render the website usable to entice visitors and convert those visitors into customers into loyal regular customers, in turn, attracting more customers. These techniques reduce loading time of websites and initiate processes to make the search engine crawl through inner pages of the website easily. Efforts are made to select keywords to attract maximum traffic to the site. These keywords are continually monitored and evaluated to check their efficacies. Search engine marketing procedures help to place product ads in leading search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Using Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter, Pay-Per-Click ads appear on the search engine result pages and their partner sites. Proper optimising techniques, content optimisation, and usability of landing pages are ensured, so that marketing activities on the websites do not suffer from high bounce and low conversion rates. With eCommerce calling the shots in business transactions, an eCommerce portal can be integrated into the business corporate website.

Social media and mobile marketing rule the roost
Social media optimisation have helped SMEs and large-sized business firms alike, to leverage popularity and reach of sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, to attract additional customers and increase their awareness to available products and services.  Facebook marketing has helped many companies to target more customers.  Web site designers carry out an in-depth research and evaluation of business concepts and ideas, competition in local and international markets, customers' expectations of products and services.  Existing websites are assessed for their effectiveness and functionalities in meeting complex demand and uncertainty related to modern-day Internet marketing environment. Accordingly, existing sites are modified to make them visitor friendly, and get improved visibility on search engines, with appropriate search engine ranking so that they can experience accelerated business online. Customers now seek product information on the go, on their smartphones. Their lifestyles, work ethos, and process of getting product information are undergoing a dynamic change.Mobile marketing has evolved as an important advertisement channel. This new channel attracts more customers.  Mobile application development techniques have helped mobile customers to use their smart phones to access business sites for product information. This helps in enhancing the product's visibility on the channel, opening up of new mobile marketing channel and acquiring new buyers.  Experienced android app development programmers and designers develop apps for various business categories and verticals at an affordable cost.  These apps are developed from the marketing point of view. They enhance the visibility and reach of the company's brand, help to entice new customers and make available an additional marketing channel.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Google Unveils New AdWords Innovations – Including App Ads Feature

Google has announced that it will launch three new AdWords updates over the next couple of months.
Unveiled on April 22, the updates will include app ads, more insightful reporting features and enhanced tools that will enable advertisers to carry out bulk actions directly from their AdWords account.
With the app ads feature, advertisers will be able to display ads related to the apps installed on a user’s mobile device. These ads will be displayed in the Google SERPs (search engine results pages) and YouTube, and through the Google Display Network (GDN).
On the Inside AdWords blog, vice president of product management at Google AdWords, Jerry Dischler, stated: “For example, if you exercise regularly and use an app to measure how far you run, you might see an ad for an app that helps you measure the foods you eat and calories consumed.”
The feature will also enable advertisers to encourage users to re-engage with their apps through a re-engagement campaign. When tapped or clicked, these ads will automatically take the user directly to the already-installed app in question.
Presenting an example, Dischler said a user with the HotelTonight app already installed on their device, searching “hotels in San Francisco,” could be presented with an ad that, when interacted with, would take them directly to the page in HotelTonight app relating to hotels in San Francisco, as opposed to its main landing page.
Google has also stated that advertisers will eventually be able to measure conversions from the “entire lifecycle of the app.”
Having launched Estimated Total Conversions last year (2014), which enables AdWords advertisers to more effectively measure the value of their campaigns, Google revealed at its innovations launch that it would continue to invest in the product.
It stated that it was experimenting with a solution to measure in-store transactions that would allow advertisers to track off-line conversions.
The last of its PPC advertising updates, Google will  also introduce enterprise-class optimisation, reporting and workflow tools to AdWords. It will support bulk actions, enabling advertisers, for example, to update thousands of ads with a few clicks across numerous campaigns from one interface.
Google will make improvements to conversion optimisers and automated bidding to provide advertisers with the option to set efficiency targets, whilst enhanced reporting tools will let users analyse results directly within AdWords in more depth.
Meanwhile, the update will also encourage PPC account managers to experiment with campaigns at draft level, allowing them to determine the elements that do and don’t work before committing to running a full campaign.
Dischler commented that the updates were motivated by the desire to “connect people to the content they care about, whether online, mobile sites, or on apps.”
Source; http://www.clickthrough-marketing.com

Monday, 28 April 2014

An interview with Eddie Howard, Product Manager for Vocus: Email’s best days are still ahead

Eddie Howard is the Product Manager for Vocus, a leading provider of cloud marketing software. He talks about the different aspects of email marketing and shares his insight on how businesses can take full advantage of email marketing – the most proven and cost-effective marketing tool for promoting products and services. Enjoy!


1. Can you start off telling our readers a few words about yourself? How long have you been involved in the online marketing field?

My name is Eddie Howard, I am the Product Manager for Vocus email marketing tools. I’ve spent the past 9 years in product management and 7 years in email and online marketing. I worked with digital marketing technology company Datran Media (now Pulsepoint), and the largest privately-owned Internet advertising network, Adknowledge, before starting with iContact and Vocus.
  
2. Tell us about Vocus and how your services can help small businesses better communicate with their customers and prospects.

Vocus is a leading provider of cloud marketing software that helps businesses reach and influence buyers across social networks, online and through media. Our integrated suites combine social marketing, search marketing, email marketing, and publicity into a comprehensive solution that helps attract, engage, and retain customers. In addition, our software sends real-time marketing opportunities directly to marketers in the form of leads, prospects, social media conversations, curated content, and inbound media inquiries.
  
3. Recently, Vocus commissioned Edge Research to survey 601 email marketing decision-makers at small to medium sized organizations. What are some of the key findings from the survey?

The Edge Research survey had some exciting and interesting key findings regarding email marketing. Email marketing remains the top type of marketing among SMBs by budget share, which is due in part because 91% of SMBs continue to find email marketing helpful in their company’s marketing. We also found out that over two-thirds of SMBs said the cost of acquiring a new subscriber is either reasonable or too low—and they can afford to pay more per subscriber if they had to. Not surprisingly, most SMBs have a list size under 10,000, and 24% have fewer than 1,000 contacts, and on average, SMBs are hoping to increase their list size by a modest 25%.
  
4. How are businesses currently using email marketing?

The most common use of email marketing is to share news about new products or services, the organization in general, or to advertise special events. In addition, the vast majority of SMBs are using email marketing for regular customer/client contact like email newsletters or soliciting feedback from subscribers.
  
5. Based on your experiences, what share of the marketing budget do the companies typically allocate to email marketing activities?

Email marketing remains the top type of marketing among SMBs by budget share. On average, SMBs are spending 15% of their marketing budget on email marketing, followed by Events/Tradeshows and other person-to-person contact. This pattern is consistent for SMBs of all sizes.
  
6. How can businesses measure the success of their email marketing campaigns?

Click-throughs, increased web traffic to the organization’s website, and new sales leads found through email are the top measures of email marketing success. SMBs are also measuring the success of their email marketing campaigns by monitoring the general increase in revenue or sales following email campaigns.
  
7. Are there any barriers to effective email marketing campaigns?

No one barrier stands out as a major problem for a large number of SMBs, and the overall rate of problems is on par with similar types of marketing. Of the barriers observed, worries about sending too many emails or overusing email lists were the most common, as well as concerns about SPAM filters.
  
8. What are your predictions for where email marketing is headed in the next 5-10 years?

Email and social media are the two fastest growing marketing channels for SMBs, with 56-60% of SMBs planning to increase budgets in these marketing activities. We’ve heard for years speculation that email is declining, but the numbers just don’t agree. I think email’s best days are still ahead— especially with social media forcing companies to rethink about their overall marketing strategy, which tends to start with a foundation of successful email marketing. I’m also seeing a transition to suite products that combine email, social media, and other marketing channels into one cohesive product, rather than SMBs using separate, ad hoc systems to accomplish this.
  
9. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has really changed how we communicate. How has this shift affected small businesses attitudes toward email marketing?

Combined marketing strategies between email and social media campaigns have become much more commonplace. Nearly two-thirds of SMBs now coordinate their email marketing with social media. SMBs are now able to complement their email marketing campaigns with effective social media strategies, and vice versa. This is ideal because exposing your company to prospects and customers in multiple channels is crucial to brand success.
  
10. Would you agree with the statement that email is the most cost-effective marketing tool for promoting products or services, and why?

Not only is email the most cost-effective marketing tool for promoting products and services, it’s also the most proven method for SMBs. We see this year after year with increases in email marketing budgets and resources. Email is relatively easy to monitor effectiveness and ROI, which is why SMBs trust and rely on email marketing more and more.
  
11. What’s the most important component of an email marketing campaign?

The most important component of an email marketing campaign is to remember to have a conversation with your subscribers, and be sure to really listen to them. Even though email campaigns are easy and inexpensive to deliver, we can’t lose our subscribers’ trust by sending stale content or too many emails. If we treat email marketing like any other method of conversing with our customers, we will undoubtedly be successful in our marketing efforts.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Year Ahead: 5 Social Media Trends Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Technology is transforming how modern entrepreneurs stay connected to their business, their team and their industry. In this series, learn more about the cutting edge tools and thinking allowing innovators to stay ahead of the trends.


The social media landscape is evolving rapidly, and therefore, your social media marketing strategy cannot remain static. Instead, it’s important to reevaluate business goals, social media campaigns, platform results and revise your strategy at least once a year -- if not quarterly.
Being aware of trends in the social sphere can help you design better strategies, apply the most effective tactics and choose where to invest your staff as well as financial resources. Here are the top five social media trends every entrepreneur needs to think about for 2014 and beyond:
1. Diversify. You've probably seen headlines about Facebook’s algorithm changes. If you currently operate a brand or business page, one study found that only six percent of followers currently see your posts. Experts suggest that that number will continue to plummet, eventually reaching one percent.

This bid by Facebook is aimed at increasing advertising dollars. But it highlights a potential weakness in many business’ social strategies: overdependence on any single platform puts you at the mercy of that platform’s whims. Whether it crashes or simply changes its rules, too much is at stake.
2. Google+ is for real. If there’s one social network businesses should pay specific attention to, it’s Google+, which is already playing a more important role in Google’s organic ranking algorithm. I expect this trend will continue.
To the surprise of many across the SEO industry, Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed in a recent video that Facebook and Twitter have no impact on SEO rankings as a result of crawling and accessibility issues. So it stands to reason that if Google wants to use social signals for organic search rankings, it could easily mine Google+ data, where its crawler access is unhindered.
Google+ is also the best way to get access to Google Authorship, which will play a huge role in SEO by the end of the year. Google Authorship helps the search engine identify your content, attribute it to the correct author and build a portfolio for each author that may include what many are calling “Author Rank” -- algorithmic scoring based on author expertise and publishing history.
In most cases, an image of the author appears next to their content in search results, which also increases visibility and click-through rates.
3. Integration of social media, SEO, and content creation. The online marketing industry is moving away from the idea that social media, SEO and content marketing happen in isolation. Social media marketing decisively impacts how content is seen and shared.
Content creation and marketing have direct implications for your SEO performance -- especially in light of Google’s latest algorithm updates. It’s important that you think of the three pillars of online marketing -- SEO, content and social media -- as a system that works synergistically to increase visibility, build your brand and ultimately garner customers and sales.
4. Visual content will win. An estimated 63 percent of social media comprises imagery. As such, visual platforms are playing an increasing role in social media for businesses. One study found that 29 percent of Pinterest users bought an item after posting or re-pinning it on the network.
Video content is also hotter than ever, with the addition of networks like Vine and Instagram featuring microvideos. Infographics are another effective promotion tool for businesses with both a bounty of data and absorbing stories to tell.
Not every platform will be right, but spending the time to find the visual angle to your business’ story and experimenting with different content formats can help revitalize your social media marketing strategy.
5. Social media as a brand builder. Social media channels should be managed according to a brand-oriented approach. Building your brand on any platform impacts your SEO and improves sales over the long term.
Are the visuals of your social media accounts consistent with the rest of your visual branding? Is your account name or any other copy branded? Are you regularly filtering your status updates to ensure they’re on-message and consistent with the overall brand that you’re building? Focusing on building your brand through your social interactions should be a key focus this year.
If evolutions in social media have taught us anything so far this year, it’s that entrepreneurs with flexible and engaged approaches will have the highest ROI. Take the time to understand general trends and focus on core goals, but also take action to experiment with specific tactics that will grow and change as your business evolves.
What major trends are you seeing at play in social media? Let us know in the comments below.