Category Archives: Online Marketing

B2B Online Marketing

The B2B Online Marketing Process: Keywords For the Conversion Funnel

Online marketing and transactions have brought a new opportunity to marketing departments and planners, the ability to micromanage metrics. One of the difficulties that marketing managers have faced since the beginning of marketing time is answering the question “is what I’m investing in really making a difference?”

That obfuscation of cause (or rather ad) and effect was and still is a problem for offline marketers and their quest for more budget. Online marketing can solve that problem because everything online can be tracked and measured. But does this new ability to micromanage the process help? Can you truly rely on math instead of your gut to help guide your marketing spend?

In most cases the answer is yes.

In the online world marketers must manage their budgets with their eyes focused on conversions and metrics.

Executive management has come to rely on the fact that their online expenditures can be tracked almost in real time. And so the online marketer must keep track of their overall Pay Per Click (PPC) budget when building their SEM plan and their aggregate Cost Per Click (CPC) which incorporates their SEO numbers. These numbers and costs can be watched on a daily and hourly basis and used as a marker for a campaign’s return on investment (ROI). With all of these metrics and measurements available to the online marketer it is easy and common for them to become a cost silo all by themselves and it is important that they maintain a connection with the overall marketing objective.

Basically both offline and online marketing plans combine to make up the company’s ultimate marketing plan. So the key to establishing good metrics and goals for the online marketing plan utilizes the same process as that for the offline plan, start by planning backwards. By developing the online plan from the company’s overall marketing plan you can make sure that there are thoughtful and logical intersections between both offline and online messaging and communications with the customer.

In the late 1990s marketers were challenged with coming up with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) processes and many CRM software companies were born. The idea behind CRM was, and still is, to manage the customer touch point process and measure the conversions along the way. I call these mini, micro or intermediate conversions as they are steps in the overall conversion process. Usually these conversion metrics can be used to track single node to node flow such as with an online click action or the overall aggregate percentage to close that the potential customer is at in the process.

B2B Online Marketing Conversion Process

B2B online marketing conversion funnelAn online conversion process might look like:

  1. SSD-R-Us outbids their competitors for the search term ‘solid state hard drive comparison‘.
  2. CTO John wants to begin upgrading his server farm so he googles ‘solid state hard drive comparison’ and sees an SSD-R-Us ad and clicks on it.
  3. On the SSD-R-Us website CTO John sees a whitepaper on a comparison and reviews of solid state hard drives and a form he can download the report. He fills in his name, address and email to get it.
  4. Later that week CTO John gets an email invite from SSD-R-Us to attend a “Why Solid State Drives are the Way to Go” webinar, he clicks on the embedded link and provides his phone number and opts in to be contacted by a SSD-R-Us.
  5. An SSD-R-Us employee contacts CTO John to pitch a SSD of the Month club subscription.

That entire process would be captured in some format and hopefully tied back to CTO John’s prospect ID number and the campaign’s aggregate metrics would be used to measure efficiency and outcome of the campaign. The online marketer could begin to set up split or A/B tests to measure the whitepaper call to action or placement on the website, different types of communications such as email versus phone call or even incentives such as “buy 10 months and get 2 months free if you act today.”

With all of these online testing options available with real time data you can make decisions within days or weeks that can take an offline marketer months or years to decide. The online marketer needs to remember though that they are a step in the overall process and ultimate objective which is usually more sales.

The real objective of B2B Online Marketing metrics management isn’t to give you the look at the here and now (although it does do that) but really to focus on the future. This type of inward and intense look at conversions can also lead to other departmental efficiencies. For example you may uncover that the outbound telemarketing department for SSD-R-Us isn’t closing at a high enough percentage with the leads they are given and could use some additional sales training.

It is really all about providing the marketer and management with “what if” analysis tools to build budgets and expectations.

Later I’ll like to talk about how much that conversion was worth and how to track your online marketing spend. To get notified when I post that article, subscribe to this blog using the form below. :)

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My Success With PR, Online Marketing and Starting a Business

I’m often asked what I do for work and why am I out bike riding during the day or at the park with my son during his summer vacation. Many times I tell people I’m just unemployed and that satisfies them but really I have a few projects in place that make me decent money with very little to no “work” at all. So this is a post I’ve had in my head for about a year and I’m finally getting to writing.

Summer of 2010 I was laid off from a job where I was the online marketing manager for a great company called Metalogix. I was hired 2 years early at the start of the company. 2 of the founders of the company brought me in to improve the companies online presence and getting them selling more software. Great job and great people.

But after 2 years the industry changed a bit and so did the economy. Board of directors wanted to do things cheaper and cut expenses and go into different marketing channels. So I was laid off with a few other key people as well. I kept in contact with a few coworkers but oh well life moves on.

Time to look for the next project.

I decided to try the local marketing/web developer consulting gig lifestyle. Little did I know it was waaaaay more work and less pay. So much for the easy comfortable corporate days of salary and benefits. I now had to work even harder on my own to find clients and then report and give them what they expected on a timely basis. I got in a little over my head at the start and quickly started to fall behind on deadlines. Sorry Chris, Ivan and Chuck.

After fulfilling my obligations I once again decided I had to make a change where I’m not dependent on someone else or another company to make a living but truly go out on my own and make my own path in life. I was going to be an entrepreneur.

I kind of knew what the word meant but really had no idea what it was to be an entrepreneur.

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I want to have a little list or story about what I’ve done in this last year. I want to share real ideas, stories and numbers of what I did and a little on how I did it. Take it as bragging or take it as a big lie. Whateva!!! It’s my blog and you’re reading it so far so there’s got to be some interest so far.

3+ years ago I was at a point in my marriage where my wife cheated on me and told me she no longer loved me and I didn’t know what to do. I found a few resources online where people told their stories of failed or failing marriages but they were more like whiney stories that were just a place for them to vent and leave. After talking to a shrink and some good friends I was still mad.

I wanted to start an online resource where I expose how people were using Facebook and social media website to cheat and engage in infidelity. I wanted to talk about how I used technology and gadgets to catch my wife and share it with other people who were going through a similar situation like me. It hurts and I had a lot of passion about it. After writing up a whole lot of posts and articles on the site I started getting people commenting and telling their stories and asking for advice.

A light went off in my head and I started to pitch other websites to mention me and my articles so it would help their audiences as well. Soon after that I started email newspapers and radio stations saying that Facebook is so popular and after a few studies came out in the mainstreeam media about Facebook being mentioned in lots of divorces lately it would be a great idea for their readership or listeners to interview me and have me talk about my story.

After a few radio live interviews and a newspaper quote I started getting small magazines and then larger magazine like US magazine and eventually Vanity Fair. Those turned into the front page article on CNN.com and that in turn got me on the Larry King Live TV show, The View and ABC News and even a social media documentary. Lots of viewers to the website and lots more subscribers and commenters. Time for the payoff. Now how do I monetize all that?

The first thing I did was mention the gadgets I used and linked to an affiliate program that sold them. Next I tested out selling someone’s ebook on marriage and relationship counseling but took that down as it wasn’t all that great. Finally I turned to Google Adsense and monetized each page of the site with contextual ads. The site was making between $50 and $400/day depending on the traffic and what direct ads were being placed on the site as it got mentioned on more and more media outlets.

So I decided to do less press about the site and focus more on my experiences and how I can reach a larger audience both online and offline. I’m talking to 2 agents and publishers about writing a book. Sharing my story and giving some advice and talk more about the age of social media and how it plays into privacy issues and the issues of infidelity and deception.

Stay tuned.

How to market your ebook

How to Submit and Market Your eBook on Amazon Kindle

How to market your ebookChanges in the publishing world have made it possible to publish and sell your own eBook for free on Amazon’s website. Publishing industry professionals who were once the gatekeepers and kept many good books from being published are no longer a barrier to publishing.

Even a guy like me can write a how to ebook and publish it on Amazon Kindle. Anyone can now publish an eBook overnight on Amazon’s Kindle platform. There are no more legitimate excuses for writers to use.

Why Publish an eBook on Kindle

Since there are fewer authors publishing books on Kindle than in the print world, there is less competition. This factor gives Kindle authors a better chance to show up in book search results. So let’s talk about how to submit and market your eBook on Amazon Kindle.

Kindle is very user friendly and makes it simple to assign relevant keyword tags.

Getting Your Book Ready to Publish on Amazon

There is no reason to be intimidated over formatting a book for Amazon. Using Microsoft Word is a good place to start with a manuscript.

You need to save your book in DOC format. Adding italics and boldface using Word’s toolbar will translate into Kindle when you convert it onto Amazon.

You need to also use indentation and page breaks on Word when preparing the final draft that will be published. These standard publishing tools are accepted by Amazon and will make your eBook look professional. Images can also be added to an eBook using JPEG. Spellcheck and grammar tools on Word are also recommended to catch typos and other grammatical problems that the editor may have missed.

When I wrote my ebook on how to clean your bed’s mattress, the writing part was easy. It was the formatting and submitting it to Amazon that made it a bit challenging.

Certain pages that fall in the front of many books can also be added. At the very least, a title page should be added. A copyright page is usually the next page following the title page. Page breaks should be placed after each of these pages to be sure they format properly. When appropriate, a dedication page, a preface and a prologue can be added to the front of the book.

When you are finished formatting the book and like the visual look, it is time to upload the file to KDP. It is as easy as clicking save and publish to send your book to Amazon. The book will be instantly published. In about 48 to 72 hours the detail page should be completed.

Setting the Price

Prices for eBooks are much lower than prices for print books. Pricing a book correctly is critical for achieving success. Fiction eBooks written by indie authors are reported to sell best at a price point of about $2.99.

The good news about pricing is that you can test it to see how the price impacts the number of purchases.

Marketing Your Kindle eBook

Compelling sales copy is critical for selling any book. A great cover and good title are also very important for marketing success. In addition to these three key elements. identifying and using the best keywords will also dramatically impact the number of prospective customers you will attract.

It is a good idea to experiment with keywords, pricing and sales copy. Fortunately, the Kindle platform is conducive to making changes easily. Like so many aspects of marketing, using a trial and error formula to test these important variables for success is a good way to establish a winning formula that delivers desired results.

It is important to remind prospective customers that they do not have to own a Kindle to access your eBook. Making customers aware of this fact can increase sales, since many people still do not own Kindle readers yet.

Letting interested customers know that there is a free compatible reading app that can be downloaded that is compatible with a Mac, iPad, Blackberry, PC, or iPhone will definitely sell additional books. The cheaper price of digital products definitely makes them more attractive and sought after, even for readers who have still not invested in a Kindle.

It is imperative that your physical book in print be linked on Amazon to the Kindle eBook. Reviews posted for your print book version should also show up on the Kindle eBook page. Conversely, the sales page for the print book needs to be clear that there is an available Kindle version. If the links don’t show up within two weeks or so after initial publication, then it is important to contact support at Kindle to get help.

Commissions and Affiliate Status

One of the most attractive aspects of selling eBooks is the percentage paid to writers. Writers can earn as much as 70 percent of the price. Many writers report that they earn more commission selling eBooks for $2.99 than they did previously selling hardback books via traditional bookstore marketing efforts.

One way to make a little additional cash on each book sold is to join the Affiliate program for Amazon. This allows you to promote other Amazon products as well as your own. There are online marketing professionals that never sell their own products but that earn a living as an affiliate marketing company selling the products of others.

Deciding on What to Write to Make Money

Writers of both fiction and non-fiction are earning money writing eBooks. One way to determine the best subject matter or types of books to write is to study the books that are making the Kindle best seller list. For non-fiction books, it is important to pick a niche market that has a lot of demand. Providing answers to help people solve painful problems is a key component of success for informational books.

In the fiction market, books that you can brand as part of a series work well.

What’s your book going to be about?

Laptop Lifestyle

The Laptop Lifestyle I Want to Live

20120802-002053.jpgWoke up from a dream (nightmare?) this morning wondering why I’m driving 2 hours a day to and from a job that can be done from practically anywhere in the world. And why am I putting up with this daily aggravation at a fixed income and making some other person’s company wealthy. As hard as I work it doesn’t matter, I still bring home the same paycheck.

I can see it from the business owner too. They start a company and need help growing it into a profit driven revenue generating machine so they can sit back and profit. So they hire people at a fair wage and demand good work for their salary they’re paying out. They hired me because someone saw an article I wrote about using social media for small business marketing and then offered me a job. I get it.

But I don’t want to have to retire at 67 or so and wished I went out on my own and took charge of my life. I’ve seen relatives of mine stop working late into their 60′s and when it’s time to slow down and enjoy their lives and families, they can barely get out of the chair.

So who am I and who am to complain driving on my way to work at 7:30 am talking into my iPhone recording and transcribing this blog post using Dragon Naturally Speaking? Maybe you’ve seen me on Larry King Live or been to my social media cheating website talking about how people use social media for their personal

Ya see I’m an online marketer, Lowell MA photographer, wannabe entrepreneur and Dad. Those are my hobbies, passions and jobs. Not in any order of importance of course. I’m always thinking of how I can work less and achieve more.

So on my way to work and stuck in 5 mph traffic on the highway I’m thinking what can I do to put together and create a website or online business where I’m the boss. There’s plenty of “get rich from home” books out there you can read that will hype you up and start making Millions from the comfort of your poolside chair. I’ve bought some of them and I know for a fact that they’re not all that practical.

It’s smarter in my opinion to create a sustainable business that will generate revenue regardless of trends, seasons or the economy. I’ve built websites and sold them for great money but that money goes away quicker than you acquired it and then your left with nothing. One website I made sold for $30,000 a few years back. I put $10k in the bank and the rest of it disappeared into furniture, flat screen tv’s, vacations and even loaning a friend money who conveniently disappeared shortly afterward.

Last night I was looking at a list of all the domain names I own. If there was a decent website for each one I would be in a great position.

But there’s not. Know why?

It takes hard work to make money online. Enough traffic and revenue where you don’t have to constantly sit down at night at the dinner table and look over at your 10 year old son and think that you’d like to spend more time with him.

Like tomorrow.

Like you don’t want to go to work and run meaningless weekly reports for some executive that doesn’t care about them much or even understand them.

So what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks is documenting what I’m doing to build up my business. I’ll share how and why I’ll be doing things so those that read this can follow along. Maybe if you decide to do the same share in the comments or send me an email.

local-social-media

Successful Ways to Unlock Local Social Media Strategies For Your Small Business

local-social-media

Using Local Social Networking for Your Smal Business

Social media presents today’s small business owner with a wealth of opportunities to find success in a major way. While many claim it’s all just too complicated, the reality is that most successful local social media strategies can be implemented at little to no out-of-pocket cost. You just need to know what works, what doesn’t and how to enter the playing field with your eyes wide open. Soon, you’ll have all of the ammunition and motivation needed to launch a wildly successful local social media campaign without breaking the bank or jeopardizing your sanity.

Quick Social Media Facts

In a moment, we’ll deal with the ammunition and strategies of successful local social media campaigns. But first, it’s time for some old fashioned motivation by way of powerful facts and statistics that should fuel your passion for social media promotion.

  • One in every nine people in the entire planet are on Facebook.
  • That same Facebook eats up 700 billion minutes of our time each and every month.
  • In May of 2011, 190 million Tweets were being posted every single day on Twitter.
  • Google+ was the fastest social media platform to break 10 million users in just 16 days after launch (it took Facebook 852 days to do it)
  • Foursquare boasts 1.5 billion check-ins, with millions more daily.

Obviously, there’s an audience out there. The challenge is devising a customized local social media strategy (across multiple platforms) that stakes your claim in the local market share using new, exciting ways that yield powerful customer relationships and loyalty.

When I sit outside Brew’d Awakening on Market St. I can literally watch the checkins on Facebook and FourSquare, and tweets from Twitter. There’s no question that social media is alive and active in Lowell. I’m even a Mayor at quite a few establishments myself :)

Unlock Local on Facebook: Status Tags

Since Facebook announces new and exciting developments every time you turn around, some fall under the radar. One that did is the Status Tag. Most of you have tagged a friend in a post or mentioned them in a Check-In status update, so you know how that works. What you may not know is that you can do this for relevant local pages and fan pages when you post. What you need to do first is search out groups and “fan clubs” that like things that you talk about, whether it’s religion, marketing, coffee or whatever your business’s specialty might be. When you find relevant groups (especially those that fall in your local market) you can tag that group or fan page in your posts, and your post will also appear on that particular Fan Page as well.

Case Study: How One Restaurant Hit Local Gold with Status Tags

In a small town in southern Georgia, there is an annual agricultural festival that brings in vendors, experts and enthusiasts from all across the planet. One local mom and pop restaurant started doing status tags about 3 weeks prior to the event, and continued throughout the week. Their offer: Bring in your stub from the Ag Expo for a free piece of pecan pie. The results? Folks were literally standing in line for a piece of that pie, and drinks and dinners, too!

Unlock Local On Twitter: Advanced Search

It’s hard to believe that a simple search tool can pay off in dividends, but when it comes to optimizing your Twitter profile for local marketing efforts, it does – every time! Using the advanced search tool, you can search all users by keyword, location, or many other data breakdowns. You can also search for hashtags to find out what people are saying about a particular subject, topic, etc. This allows you to develop a targeted strategy to grow your following and followers.

Bonus Tip: Insight into Your Local Influential Social Media Personalities

Wefollow.com is a great free tool that allows you to gain clear insight into the local Twitter users in your area. Find out what they’re talking about, who is listening and how to influence the influencers.

Unlock Local on Google+: Coming Soon – Brand Pages

As highlighted earlier, Google+ is by far the fastest growing social media site out there. While it offers a very similar end-user experience to what you would get from Facebook, there are distinct differences, especially from the marketers point of view. Fortunately, while you can do your best with complete profiles, in-depth and locally relevant status updates, etc. there is a new development in the works, Google+ Brand pages which will provide business users with significantly in-depth demographic information about relevant market segments.

Unlock Local on Foursquare: The Best Free Thing You’ll Do

Foursquare is a mobile sensation that has turned patronizing brick and mortar businesses into a game, one where you could ultimately be deemed “The Mayor” of your favorite establishment, with all the pomp and glory that may entail. If you haven’t signed up already, it couldn’t be any simpler. Just sign up at the Business page, “Claim” your establishment and create an offer and watch the site work it’s magic. Because it is integrated with Twitter and Facebook, this can translate into an explosion of traffic and interest in your offer and business.

Of course, you don’t have to be a traditional business to make it work. There is another aspect of Foursquare for Brands that work for publishers, non-profits, religious organizations, media and more. One small childcare center in Jacksonville, FL got a number of local businesses to set up as partners who would “contribute” a small amount (usually $0.05 or less) for every Check-In during a one month period and was able to bring in several hundred dollars in funding with very little trouble through the Merchant Platform.

Using Foursquare for local business marketing

How Local Business Can Use Foursquare

Companies are starting to use LBS (location-based services) as the new cutting edge marketing to attract a new crowd. The question is whether they’ll pay for the privilege. Or whether Foursquare, which has 400,000 users now voluntarily “checking in” at locations, and broadcasting that to their followers, will transcend its current “it” status among the technorati and become a lasting consumer phenomenon and a marketing tool.

Co-founder Dennis Crowley puts it this way: I think Foursquare found some kind of sweet spot between the:

  • intersection of social utility (Hey, I know where my friends are)
  • sharing/oversharing (I log everywhere I go/everything I do)
  • and gaming/rewards (every check-in gives you a little piece of candy).

Foursquare is designed with these game dynamics in mind, and it’s the absurd appeal of its reward that makes the service so “sticky” for us. ALSO keep in mind each time someone checks in, it exposes your business to all of their followers on Twitter and Facebook as well. That’s over 300,000,000 people.

Foursquare is available in every city (mostly in the U.S.). Right now, the service has a strictly urbanite appeal, and it could inhabit this niche quite nicely. However, if local offers are incorporated in a compelling way as its coverage area expands, it could certainly head towards the mainstream. I can also see people using it just to discover what’s around them, regardless of telling people where they are. “I’ll get sushi at Ki Sushi since Carter P. tells me it’s the best in the city,” or “I’ll hit up an ATM if I go to Trout when D.M. warns that it’s cash only.”

[pullquote]Keep in mind each time someone checks in on Foursquare, it exposes your business to all of their followers on Facebook and Twitter.[/pullquote]Advertisers, both local and national, would be smart to start thinking about their “location” strategies while there’s still a relatively open playing field. By taking advantage of mobile platforms like Foursquare, ones that engage and offer incentives to consumers within the proverbial “last 50 feet,” businesses can bring all the advantages of the social web to their front door.

Startup Foursquare is showing the early stages of what could be some very interesting things for local marketing and fun for its users.

One of the biggest things to leverage for local businesses is using Foursquare “Mayorships” (which you get when you check into a venue the most times compared to others in the city) as a way to give out special deals, like free beer, 10% off your bill every visit or even a free toy for the Mayor’s kid.

That idea continues to expand. I’ve talked with 2 local companies in the Boston area and one is a custom running shoe store that gives out a free pair of sneakers to its Mayor and another Children’s Dentist that could do a free 30-minute teeth cleaning procedure for their Mayor.

Local business using FoursquareAs Amit Gupta noted, a bar/performance space is doing something similar in San Francisco. But they’re also expanding on the idea. Not only does the mayor of the venue get free drinks, but everyone who checks into the venue on Foursquare and shows proof (on your iPhone or other mobile device) gets $2 off a ticket to any performance that night.

While Foursquare didn’t officially sanction this, it loves ideas like this. And it should be obvious why: It entices people not only to go to those venues, but to use Foursquare when they do. The service loves the idea so much, that it’s building support for these types of deals, or “Mayor Bonuses” as they it calls them, into the next version of the iPhone app.

Want to get your business in on this Foursquare bandwagon? Go here and register your company or venue right from its foursquare venue page. There’s even a premade Foursquare sign you can put in your business’s window.

If you need more help with this or any local social media marketing feel free to contact me.