Is Your Marketing Supporting your Business?

Two common mistakes made by new internet marketers is to start a blog and then not promote the material they create. If you decide to have a blog, and you know why you have that blog and why you need to market, you’ll be more likely to maintain your blog, promote your content and see your business thrive.

It’s important to have an idea of what your online business should be doing and how you should be making people aware of what you do, otherwise you can lose focus and waste effort. The best way to focus on these aspects of your business is to have plans.

A good business plan should summarise the overall strategy for your business. It should include financial details, market research, details of your products or services, and overviews of your operations and marketing strategies.

Your marketing plan should outline your strategy for social media, content marketing, pay-per-click marketing, or whatever marketing tactics you intend to use.

Producing useful business and marketing plans sounds like hard work. That’s because it is. However, they don’t have to be produced instantly. In fact they should be working, evolving documents that help you guide your business.

Having business and marketing plans that work together gives your business the following advantages:

A Consistent Brand

Your business plan should address your mission. As I’ve said before (your mission statement as a way to focus) this doesn’t have to be a specific mission statement, but it should give you direction and identify why your business exists, for whom, what you deliver, and how you differ from your competition. Knowing this will help you create a consistent brand and communicate it to your audience.

An Appropriate Marketing Budget

Deciding an initial budget for your marketing and predicting cashflow as your business grows will enable you to keep to marketing strategies that support your business, not threaten it. This may mean starting with free social media channels and only spending on advertising once you start making money.

Marketing Goals

You can set marketing goals that are alligned with the overall objectives of your business. These can include reaching a target audience appropriate to the stage your business has reached, explaining the advantages of your products or services, or generating enough prospects to enable you to hit sales targets. Set measurable goals and you can monitor your progress against your business targets.

Flexible Marketing

If you are monitoring your marketing performance you can stop investing in areas that are not working well and divert your budget (whether that is in terms of money, time, or both) to areas that are. One of the advantages of marketing online is that there are a number of strategies and channels that you can test to see what works best. This makes it easier to keep your marketing focused in areas that can grow your business.

If your business doesn’t have the above advantages it’s time to review your business and marketing plans. If you are to make the most of your resources and opportunities they have to work together.

Five Online Marketing Trends You Should Be Exploiting

If you market online you need to pay attention to trends. As technology advances and how it is used changes, your marketing tactics should be evolving too. It is said that if you’re still marketing exactly as you were just two years ago you could be missing out on the latest opportunities.

In this post I’m going to look at some of the trends that have occurred this year and can be expected to continue into next year.

1. Changes to Google’s algorithms

In terms of market share Google looks to remain the number one search engine for some time to come. If appearing in its search results is one of your marketing tactics you need to keep up to date with their latest search engine algorithm changes. Follow the updates on Google Webmaster tools and expect the changes to keep on coming.

2. Responsive design

We have now passed the threshold where the majority of people access the internet via a mobile device. Having responsive online real estate will continue to become more important. Having a site that is not mobile friendly will eventually test the patience of your visitors as the standard of websites accessed via mobile devices improves.

3. Visual marketing

The increased use of video on websites and the growth of sites like Pinterest and Instagram are signs that visually presented information is becoming more important. Prospects are more likely to consume a visual presentation of your product or service and they are also more likely to share it on social media. Even the use of static images has been growing and pictures are being increasingly used to break up text to make content more interesting.

4. Local business listings

As more business owners realise the importance of online marketing we are seeing more business listings online, particularly in Google Maps. This may be a good thing If you can help local businesses get to grips with this opportunity, or it may pose a challenge if you want to appear high on Google’s search engine results but are not location based.

5. Segmentation

There have perhaps been more courses released about segmentation this year than in any previous year. Now most presentations about building a sales funnel will include paths for those who hesitate to purchase a first, second, or even third offer. As this how-to information becomes more available we can expect segmentation of lists and clients to become the norm in online marketing.

YouTube guidelines – how to avoid getting your videos flagged

YouTube video removed symbolI read recently that an internet marketer I know had a video taken down by YouTube for allegedly inappropriate content. YouTube has a number of ground rules that you have to follow if you want to post videos on their site. Here are the most relevant ones if you are an internet marketer.

Copyright

Only upload unique videos that you have made, had made specifically for you, or videos that you’re authorised to use. If you want to use content in your videos that someone else owns the copyright to, such as music tracks, text, parts of copyrighted programmes or videos made by other users, obtain authorisation first. If you want to use content that has already been created by someone else and that you are automatically allowed to use take a look at my post on creative commons.

Misleading metatags

Don’t use misleading tags, titles, descriptions or thumbnails in order to get more views. Adding additional tags to the description of your video may be seen as spam and lead to YouTube removing your video.

Misleading information

If you are making wild claims about becoming a millionaire or something like that it’s possible that a viewer will flag your video and YouTube may remove it. Posting large amounts of untargeted, unwanted or repetitive content, including comments and private messages, can also lead to trouble.

YouTube is a great resource but it is possible they may remove a perfectly fine video at any time. Like so many other free-to-use sites online it should never be relied upon. As a precaution you can also upload your videos to dailymotion, Vimeo or any other video hosting site so you can embed from there if YouTube mistakenly considers a video inappropriate.

For more information on YouTube guidelines go to:

https://www.youtube.com/yt/policyandsafety/en-GB/communityguidelines.html

7 Steve Jobs Quotes an Internet Marketer Can Relate To

Steve JobsSteve Jobs would have been 60 today. I’m sure there are going to be many words written about his impact on the world of technology, his approach to innovation, and maybe even what he was like to work with.

I don’t feel I’m qualified to comment on any of these, but over the years I have encountered a number of quotes Steve Jobs made that have resonated with me to some extent.

Below are seven Steve Jobs quotes and why they appeal to me. If you are trying to get to grips with marketing online they might offer some insight and encouragement to you too.

We’ll start with a quote that I’ll suggest everyone starting out in internet marketing should read. You know, that time when many around you won’t believe this is a way to make money.

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

There are many ways to make money online. The key is to find what works for you and what you enjoy doing.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

Once you’ve discovered what works and what you enjoy, the key is to focus. This next quote is particularly relevant if you have shiny object syndrome.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

Once you’ve started in the right direction for you, keep going. The next two quotes are particularly relevant.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

“You have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing because it is so hard…if you don’t, any rational person would give up.”

It has to be more than the lure of money that keeps you going. Direct your work so that what you do addresses a bigger cause.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”

It can be frustrating , but if you do it right internet marketing can be something you can be proud of when it comes to look back at what you’ve done with your time. This ‘bigger picture’ approach is summed up by what Steve Jobs said to John Sculley, then vice-president at PepsiCo, when trying to recruit him to Apple:

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Ten Amazing YouTube Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Ten years ago this Saturday saw the launch of the beta version of YouTube. The service was created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005 and in those ten years the site has produced some amazing statistics.

  1. The first video uploaded to YouTube was just 19 seconds long.
  2. The number of hours people spend watching videos on YouTube each month is increasing 50% year on year with people watching hundreds of millions of hours of content and logging more than 2 billion views every day.
  3. Five years ago over 24 hours of video was being uploaded to the site every minute. By last year this had increased to 300 hours of video every minute.
  4. YouTube was bought by Google in October 2006 for $1.65 billion. YouTube is now the fastest growing search engine in the world and its videos can be part of Google’s search engine results, leading to exposure on one of the few sites that gets more traffic than YouTube itself.
  5. Half of YouTube views are on mobile devices.
  6. Cisco have predicted that online video users will reach 1.5 billion in 2016. They also predict that in 2016 55% of all internet traffic will be video related.
  7. Social Media Examiner has reported that 76% of marketers plan to add video to their sites. This makes it a higher priority for them than integrating Facebook, Twitter and blog posts.
  8. Webdam have reported that videos on landing pages increased conversions by 86%.
  9. It’s not just a place to post videos. You can use a YouTube channel as a basis for a social network where people subscribe so they know when to return to see your newest content. This means they could be finding out about your latest offers.
  10. With so many people uploading videos on the most popular content the depth of relevant videos has greatly improved. These days it’s likely you’ll find a number of videos on any topic. Just five years ago results were much more haphazard. Checking my notes from back then I see that after  watching a video on how to put an opt-in form on a blog YouTube suggested I watch: three music videos, including the official Lady Gaga video for Telephone, a vlog about having a son with ginger hair, and a video of a fight between a porcupine and a lion. Today I repeated this search, chose the first video and every alternative video presented down the right hand side was related to setting up an optin/squeeze page.

The bottom line is if you want to have an online presence, but you’re not planning to have a channel on YouTube, you are probably handing an enormous advantage to your competition, and this is only going to become more true in the next ten years.

50 Days to …?

Last 50 days of 2014As this post is published there are 50 days left of 2014. If you subtract the seven weekends till the New Year and take away the holiday dates for Christmas, you could have about 30 working days left.

So how does that make you feel? Assured that you can comfortably reach your targets by the end of the year, or panicked by how much you are supposed to achieve in the time remaining?

If you’re interested in internet marketing your plans probably fall into one of the following three categories.

Buy

50 days remaining means there are going to be at least 50 new shiny objects to grab your attention and tempt you. How many will you purchase? How many do you actually need? If you haven’t worked out exactly what you need to make progress you run the risk of buying products and services that simply won’t help you. If you haven’t identified exactly what you need you run the risk of being tempted to buy anything or everything.

Learn

Yes, but learn what? What’s the most important topic you can learn before the end of the year? Again, if you haven’t identified exactly what you need to help you make progress you could be wasting time learning methods that you’ll never need or that will be outdated by the time you come to use them.

Do

It’s no use buying and learning if you don’t do something. If you feel you’re going to struggle to meet your targets in the remaining days of 2014 this is a great opportunity to decide whether you should do more or do less. Which of these two options have you tried so far and how has it been working for you? If you feel intimidated by the approach of 2015 perhaps you should consider what to remove from your ‘to do’ list.

Perhaps having, learning, and doing less can make the end of 2014 more productive. Narrow your focus, keep things simple and concentrate on the most important tasks. You’ll find you can make more progress in the last days of the year.

Learning from Spelling and Grammatical Errors

Google spell searchI remember an email I read years ago from Ryan Deiss in which he said he did not care how many spelling mistakes or grammatical errors were in his work, he was too busy creating products and making money.

Although I could see his point, it struck me as a little arrogant and completely missing the point that everything we produce creates an impression, and every impression we make influences our customer’s opinion of us. Although perfect grammar and spelling is no guarantee of the most valuable and useful content, it does give the impression that you have mastered a skill and taken time and care over your own material.

Years ago one of my mentors produced an ebook that addressed poor spelling and grammar in online sales pages. He gave his secretary the task of checking the top sales pages in several niches on Clickbank for spelling and grammatical errors. She then collated them, identified the most common errors and this became the basis of the book.

I remember that two things struck me about this process. Firstly it addressed a real problem and produced a solution to that problem, and secondly it was based around some real research. Most ebooks I had read up to that point had simply announced their solutions, without giving proof as to how those solutions were arrived at.

Unfortunately I have changed computers about three times since I downloaded the book and I can no longer locate it on my hard drive. However there are plenty of online resources now that can be of help, and who hasn’t at some time typed a word into Google looking for the correct spelling?

If making some of the most common grammatical or spelling errors is a concern to you here are a couple of websites you may find useful:

http://www.skillsyouneed.com/write/common-mistakes1.html
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/common-misspellings

Create an Avatar to Focus Your Marketing

TargetMarketIn the era of mass marketing it was difficult to target your audience. Newspaper and magazine advertising covered a large sector of the population and you had to hope that your target audience was amongst the readers. At this time even the Ford Motor Company didn’t have the resources to make their advertising efficient.

The way computers can handle data and the ability of the internet to gather data means we can now target a highly segmented marketplace and create specialised content aimed at addressing specific problems.

You can target your audience by developing a detailed profile of them including demographics, psychographics (attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria) and identify which online platforms they regularly visit.

Identify the gender or the majority of your target market and you can be active on the social platforms popular with that gender. For example if you are targeting women you might want to start using Pinterest. If you can identify the interests of your ideal audience you can have a presence in the relevant niches and the most popular niche related sites they are likely to visit. If you can identify their online behaviour you can build a list of the social platforms and other resources they are likely to use.

You want to target people who are invested in their interests. People who have purchased their way into a membership site, signed up to Facebook groups, commented on specific blogs, or asked questions on niche related forums.

Look for strong sharing activity. Perhaps they have their own blog or an active Twitter account. Perhaps they participate in forums, or regularly share and like posts on Facebook.

Bring together all the information and create an avatar, an imaginary person that represents the most common type of customer in your niche. Once you have identified your avatar, their interests and what they do you can look for people in a similar situation and who exhibit similar behaviours as the avatar. These will be your ideal customers. These are who your marketing should be focussing on.

More World Cup Lessons

News paper headline - England's poor World Cup performance Write some posts related to the World Cup, I thought. That’ll be topical here in England. Yeah, hoped it would last longer than two weeks though. So, here’s the last World Cup related post from me for a while!

In last week’s post I looked at three ways the World Cup can teach us how to succeed in business. Here are three more.

Skills from Practice

Even an average player on the field at this year’s tournament has far more skill than the average Sunday league footballer, despite the occasional foolish error and the conviction of confirmed armchair critics.

The skills were built with repetitive practice, focus on the basics, and coaching by some of the best in the business.

This is exactly how you should be looking to build your skills online. Find a good coach, learn the basics and start filling your own will have experience with their guidance.

Cumulative Steps

Each run up the field, every kick of the ball contributes to the outcome of the match and each match outcome determines how well a team progresses. In sport and in business outcomes depend on the cumulative impact of lots of small steps.

For example, write 1000 words of content a day and that’s the equivalent of a Short Kindle book every week, or about 20 average sized Kindle books a year. That’s an awful lot of content from a regular task, and it’s just one example of how small, simple steps can produce an impressive outcome.

Team Work

Although there are some footballers that grab the limelight there is not a single footballer at the World Cup who can get a winners medal purely by their own efforts. From the management team to the physios, the sponsors and the coach drivers, everyone plays a part in moving the team forward.

Even if you work alone in your online business you will need a team to be successful. You will need people with expertise in areas where your skills and experience are not good enough. You will also find it useful to allocate basic or repetitive tasks to others while you concentrate on the parts of your business where you can make your best contribution.

Whether it’s getting placed in a group table or listed online, you can’t do it without teamwork.

World Cup Lessons for Internet Marketers

World Cup 2014 logoSo the World Cup has begun in Brazil and whether you have a team to follow or not there are still lessons to be learned from one of the top sporting tournaments in the world.

Passion

Football is probably the most popular sport on the entire planet. Across the globe supporters save their money, organise their time, and invest their passion in following and supporting their favourite team. This commitment is possibly one of the best examples of a niche made up of people with a passion. If you can provide this niche with a product or service that they value, you would have to be pretty poor at business to not make a healthy profit. It’s a perfect example of the advantage you have when working in a passion driven niche.

Setting Goals

The entire process of getting to the World Cup and progressing towards the finals is built around a definite structure. To get to Brazil each country has had to play qualifying matches and perform well in their own groups. There is another group structure when the tournament begins which then breaks down into a number of matches to determine the placement of the top teams. There is also a clear goal to aim for, in this case lifting a gold trophy at the end of the final game.

This structure makes the setting of objectives and the focusing of effort straightforward. Every team knows what it must do within each group, even though it may not be clear how to deal with opponents in individual matches. A long-term, overall plan with clear steps can greatly help us progress, even if we do not know how to perform all the steps from our current position.

Celebrating Goals

What would sport be without the celebration that goes with victory? Again it’s about passion, emotion and the rewards of success. Celebration is important because it marks achievement and also pushes us to commit to the next period of hard work so that we can experience victory again.

Working online it can be too easy to neglect celebrating our victories. Yet each step is an important part of the process that leads to success. Sometimes campaigns don’t go as well as planned, products don’t turn out as wonderful as you’d hoped and you have to remind yourself that there is progress amongst the setbacks.