How to Build a Killer Social Media Presence

Every marketer seems to be talking and doing social media. Admittedly, more and more businesses are realizing that social media is an integral part of gaining customers, keeping them and engaging with them when it matters the most. According to a study by the research group Constant Contact, up to 73% of small businesses have began using social media to market their products and services.

In essence, social media marketing is word of mouth marketing facilitated by technology. It allows marketers to actively build relationships with their customers with the goal of generating repeat business through customer recommendations. Social media has also made it possible for marketers to spend less money to advertise and promote their services to a wider audience. This is made possible by the simple to use tools and social media ad platforms that are accessible to small and big marketers.

In marketing, the funnel is the structure marketers use to gain prospects and to turn them to buying customers. Traditional marketing entailed investing time and money in finding and converting prospects. Maintaining the customers once you get them was more of guesswork than it was part of the marketing strategy.

Traditional marketing, unlike social media offers little in the way of keeping the customers that a marketer works so hard to gain. The costs and the channels for keeping customers are high and virtually non-existent. A marketer would simply hope that the customer comes back to buy more products or services and recommend others.

However, social media has served to somewhat turn the funnel on its head. This means social media marketers are now more focused on keeping their customers once they find and convert them. Marketers have a feasible way to follow up on customers and call them to action through features such as retweets, tweet buttons, shares and likes.

At the heart of social media is the recognition that your present clients are the most important assets. This is because the nature of social media participation is such that users are increasingly reaching out to their social media networks before making purchasing decisions.

Nonetheless, social media should not replace other efforts and strategies for marketing and promoting a product. Traditional online and offline advertising efforts are still critical aspects of your marketing mix. These should be used in conjunction with social media.

When starting out with social media for business and marketing, the landscape may seem quite confusing. There are many social media platforms, numerous metrics to track and measure and more than a handful of best practices for each platform. However, setting goals will allow you to get clear on what you want to do with social media, what you want to achieve and what you can do to enhance the impact of your social media campaigns. Here are several ways that you can improve your campaigns:

Tell prospects and customers about yourself: There is more to social media than just signing up and creating a profile. To get the most out of these platforms, you need to tell people about your brand, product and service offering. That is the only way social media users will know about what you have to offer them.
Use social media to boost sales: Use social media to make your brand go viral. Of course “going viral” should not be the primary goal of your social media campaigns. Instead, offer great deals that will compel your social media community to share the offers with their friends.

Engage your existing customers: One of your social media campaign goals should be to keep the customers you currently have; through their social networking, they will help you to generate even more customers. Build relationships that exude trust and that show customers that their opinion matters.
What Really Matters With Social Media Marketing

Social media is still a new concept for a good number of marketers. However, whether you are a veteran in social media marketing or you are just getting started, here are some fundamentals to consider:

Customer Recommendations Are Important: Many studies show that while web users hardly trust brand ads, they trust what those in their social networks say. As such, many web users make their purchasing decisions based on what their friends on social networks recommend. What will social media users say about your brand or product/service offering? Ensure that what they are saying will enhance repeat business as well as attract new customers.

Customer Service Matters: Remember also that it is easy for a brand to have bad press on social media. Be sure to have a community management strategy in place to ensure that your brand is presented in the right light. This means that your customer service must first be impeccable; build relationships that will keep customers coming back and spreading the word about your business. Offer remarkable customer service and social media will generate positive reviews for your brand. Thankfully, social media offers marketers the chance to contact their customers and to directly interact with them about concerns they may have.

Permission Marketing Is Essential: The practice of marketing is increasingly moving away from interruption to permission marketing. According to marketing strategist, Seth Godin, permission marketing is the opportunity to offer targeted and anticipated messages to an audience that is actually interested in the messages. Treat your customers with respect for example by:
• Not spamming their accounts
• By sending them relevant messages and also being resourceful
• Following and liking them, for example on Twitter or Facebook; this shows that you are genuinely interested in building a relationship first before marketing to them

Listen and Engage: Social media marketing is less about telling people about your message. It is mainly about listening to what users have to say and responding effectively. To really engage with your audience, you must invest time to listen to what they are saying about your brand, you niche as well as your competition. By tracking and listening to the social conversations, you are better placed to respond to your audience by providing the solutions they need.

There are numerous social media platforms where you can engage with your audience. How do you choose the right network for your business as an online marketer? No specific answer will fit all. Yet many marketers usually begin with Facebook because there are more people on this network. It may also be easier to use to reach your audience.

To determine the social networks to engage, consider asking your present customers which social networks they use; you can do this through an email survey. You may also integrate this question within the conversations that you have with customers for example in blog comments.

How to Make Your PPC Campaigns Work for You

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is unique to the Internet and more so for the online marketers. Marketers or advertisers use this form of advertisement to promote their products and services through other people’s websites. Pay Per Click is indeed an essential component of search engine optimization campaigns.

The practice of PPC entails the purchase of sponsored ad links that appear on the result pages of a particulars search engine. When web users click through the ad link, the marketer pays the website owner where the advertisement is hosted. The advertisements that appear on a website are generally relevant to the content within the website.

While other forms of online advertising keep evolving with the simultaneous evolution of online marketing, PPC advertising still holds presents some advantages for the online advertiser. Some of these include:

Pay per click advertising is much faster than organic search engine optimization: Once the advertising program (for example Google Adwords) approves the advertisement, the ad links appear immediately on the relevant websites. This is unlike organic search engine optimization that may take a long time for the search engines to crawl, index and rank your site at the search engine result pages (SERPS).

Pay per click has a wider reach and offers more room for experimentation with keywords: On organic search engines, you will find that it can be difficult to be ranked in the top 10 listings for the most competitive keywords. However, PPC advertisements allow marketers to choose competitive keywords and to bid for them for higher listings.

PPC advertisement programs allow advertisers to experiment with keywords and key phrases to determine the ones that generate the highest conversion rates: Advertisers can easily monitor, track and adjust the keywords and phrases depending on the analytics about their keywords’ performance.

The fee an advertiser will pay when web users click through an ad link will entirely depend on the program the advertiser is working with. Pay per click advertisement is referred to in this way because the advertiser only pays when web users click through the ad link and are directed toward a specific landing page. When marketers advertise through a search engine’s PPC program, the cost per click rates are determined by a bidding structure. The advertiser simply selects keywords and bids on these relevant keywords and phrases. The advertiser who places the highest bid is able to use the specific keyword or phrases for their advertisement.

Pay per click advertising is also applicable in affiliate marketing. In affiliate models, the partner or publisher site is awarded incentives for every web user who clicks through the marketer’s website. In return, the marketer receives platform when buyers and prospects can click through to access the products or the point of product purchase. For the advertiser of a product, the PPC model of affiliate marketing is valuable. This is because the advertiser will only pay the affiliate if the affiliate manages to attract web users to click through to the advertiser’s site and perhaps purchase a product or service. This is also known as pay for performance marketing.

All the major search engines have a pay per click program for marketers. The differences in the programs include features such sponsored ads, ad layout and the payment structures for advertisers. These programs include:

Google Adwords: This is the best-known PPC program. It is easy to use for most beginning advertisers and it offer dynamic analytics for tracking your PPC campaign. There are no minimum limits as to what an advertiser can spend on their PPC campaign with Adwords. You simply choose your budget.

Bing: Microsoft’s search engine is a pretty new one but it can offer advertisers better chances of reaching a narrower or more targeted audience. The keyword bidding competition is also less fierce on Bing than it is on Google Adwords.

Yahoo Search Marketing: Yahoo allows advertisers to place PPC ads on websites with content that is highly targeted to the ad. Advertisers may also place sponsored link ads for greater visibility.

Optimizing your landing page is an important aspect of enhancing the success of you pay per click campaigns. In fact , PPC campaigns are more than just creating engaging ad copy that directs web users to the landing page. What happens when they get to the landing page and the visitors do not convert to potential or real customers? Admittedly, up to 98% of site visitors who come to a landing page leave the page without making an inquiry about the products or services offered. The bounce rate for a large majority of websites is an estimated 95%. These are quite high figures that could impact negatively on your PPC return on investment (ROI).

However, marketers can consider several best practices to optimize their landing pages for higher conversions and better ROIs. All it takes is some simple A/B analytics, a proper marketing strategy and adequate planning; this will ensure that visitors to your site have better engagement with the site, leading to valuable conversions.

Here is what you can do to get started with prepping up your site’s landing page for a successful PPC campaign:

Keep the Page Simple: Sometimes new marketers assume that complex pages are better than simple ones. But the truth is a cluttered, hard to use website will put off many site visitors. Keeping your landing page simple means including a single action you want the site visitor to undertake.

Draw Attention: Your landing page is your call to action page. After users click through your ad links they come to this specific page and what they should find is a clear way to get to a product or service or at least a way to inquire about it. Your call to action must be prominent on the landing page. For example, place the ‘sing up’ or ‘download now’ button in a strategic and prominent area on the landing page where all the site visitors can see and click through it.

Break It Down: If, there are several steps involved for the user to take a specific action, break them down into simple steps. This will engage the site visitor and make it easier for them to complete the process and even provide their personal information.

The most functional landing pages are simple and make it easy for users to navigate through the site. Landing pages are far from being static and permanent; on the contrary, they change with time and require your constant input beyond placing a pay per click ad.

On-page and Off-page Optimisation: A Complete Walkthrough

Search Engine Optimization entails techniques that attract search engine traffic to your site. Simply put, SEO is an integral part of website marketing because it enhances the visibility of your website.

Search engine optimization can be done on-page or off-page, with both types of SEO holding equal importance.

Many webmasters take for granted that both on page and off page SEO take a certain order. When you have a new website, you might want to focus first on off-page SEO to make your website visible to your target audience. On-page SEO allows you to enhance your website so that it has better rankings at different search engines.

On-page SEO
On-Page optimization techniques include tactics that help you to improve your site. These may include using targeted keywords that web users can use to search your website, developing content for your web pages, and internal link building so that you appropriately and seamlessly link one webpage to another, within the website. Other techniques include improving site navigation, creating suitable title tags, image tags and sitemaps for your website.

Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO strategies are those activities you do off your website to increase the site’s visibility. The main strategy for off-page SEO is link building, which entails finding authoritative sites that will link back to your site. When readers visit the authoritative site, they can click to a link that points them to your website where they can find relevant and related content.

At the heart of On-page SEO is the selection and proper usage of targeted keywords within the website. Keywords are those terms or phrases online consumers use to find information about products and service through the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.) Google Adwords Keyword Planner can help you build a list of keywords related to your content. Incorporate keywords into the content, the titles, the internal links, the page description (Meta tag) as well as in the URL of all site pages.

Consider doing a Google search for specific keywords to determine the websites that come up in the top 8 to 10 search engine results for the related keywords. Note down the sites that rank well for specific keywords and those that have poor ranking. You might also want to do a competitive analysis to see if your competitors rank highly or poorly for certain keywords. This will allow you to see how your competitors are attracting traffic to their websites.

The titles tags are essential to your SEO strategy. Title tag is the heading that shows up on the search engine results pages for related keywords. Optimize the titles tags for all your web pages to allow web users to find these pages easily at the search engine pages. Do this by naturally including natural keywords in the titles. Something else to consider for your on-page SEO is how well you use the keywords.

Some factors to consider when using keywords are:
Keyword variation – Instead of using just one keyword, use synonyms that users might use to find the same product or service. This will allow you to attract more traffic because the search criterion is expanded.
Keyword density – Keyword density refers to the number of times a keyword or phrase appears on a site in relation to the number of words on the webpage. Using too many keywords (high keyword density) is known as keyword stuffing and can raise a red flag; your content will be perceived as spam content. If the keyword density is too low, the search engines will not be able to find, index and rank your site. Your website will not show up for the targeted keywords.

One of the main strategies for off-page search engine optimization is link building. The more quality links your website has, the better rankings it will enjoy at the search engines. As the name suggests, link building entails linking your website to other authoritative sites. When other websites link to your own website, it shows search engines such as Google that the content on your site is relevant and valuable to web users. Links to your site can also generate relevant traffic and help you to build an online following.

When looking for websites to link to, the quality of the site is more important than the quantity of links. You are better off with a few high quality links than too many poor links that will have no impact on your site’s page rankings. How can you spot the best websites to link to?
• Consider if the website you are looking to link to is related to your niche
• Determine if the site links to low quality sites and those that are unrelated to the niche
• Take into consideration the page ranking of the site at the search engines
• Find out if other sites have linked to the website before you link to it
• Some sites only have no-follow links – this means that the link will not direct readers to your site and as such, will not influence you site’s ranking.

Do not forget about your internal link building. It is best to link pages to a specific page to boost its rankings. This does not mean that one page should have a link to all other webpages. A better approach is to seamlessly link one related page to another. For example under the ‘Services’ section in the website you can include a link to another relevant page or pages that you want to make visible. You may also include links to the main sections in your site.

In conclusion, SEO is not a one-off activity in your website marketing and promotion efforts. You need to regularly optimize your site for better rankings and for greater visibility.

How to Identify Your Target Market and Sell More

The online market, like the offline one is highly segmented in terms of demographics and the needs of the consumer. The online market place comprises of the older generation, the middle aged, the young adults and the even younger consumer. Why do these segments matter? Taking into consideration the online behavior of these different segments allows you to determine their needs and how to engage these needs. Not understanding the online consumers segment is really marketing on blind faith. The main online consumers include: Baby Boomers, Generation C, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z.

Baby Boomers are those consumers aged between ages 63 and 75 years; these are the older baby boomers. There are plenty of marketing myths about this consumer segment. While it is true that most of them do not spend as much time on social media, it is not entirely true that they spend less time online.

A study by eMarketer showed that the younger baby boomers between the age of 47 and 55 years spend up to 39 hours online. The older baby boomers spend up to 36 hours online every month, not too far behind their younger counterparts. Both groups of baby boomers spend much of their online time on online shopping portals. A recent survey by Forrester research group indicated that baby boomers spent up to $650 on online shopping in just three months. This is in contrast to generation X consumers who spent only $581.

While baby boomers are generally active online, they are not as committed to their mobile devices as other online consumers are. eMarketer studies show that just 40% of baby boomers will have a mobile phone or mobile device at the end of 2015. This is lower than the expected mobile device usage, which is anticipated to be at 49% by the end of 2012.

What about social media? Certainly, Generation Y is much more active on social media than the baby boomers are. But you might as well find a couple of baby boomers on platforms such as Facebook. In general, baby boomers heavily relay on social media to seek peer recommendation before making a purchase decision. Baby boomers also rely on traditional channels such as print and email before they can visit a specific website.

Overall, baby boomers are keener on personal recommendation, brand loyalty, and customer services. As people become older, they are keener on the experience they have with a brand than the products that brands sell to them.

Generation C is rather a new and narrow categorization of online consumer segmentation. According to a recent report by Nielsen, Generation C consumers fall between the time when the VCR became popular and when businesses began gaining an online presence. In America for example, the Gen C would fall in the age 18-34 age group and they are revolutionizing online media consumption. They are willing to easily adopt digital technology and all the rapid advances that come with digital consumption.

The generation C consumer is keen on staying connected with themselves and with their community. This consumer is adopting new devices that enhance his connectivity. This consumer is consuming online video, spending a lot of time on social networking and sharing sites as well as popular blogs.

The generation C consumers stay connected with their mobile devices, specifically tablets and smartphones. The fact that they use internet-enabled devices makes them distinctive consumers; this target market offers an opportunity for marketers. Their sense of connectivity and their availability online allows marketers to reach out to the generation C consumer.

However the marketing and business funnels used to reach out to, engage and keep this type of consumer needs to change. The connected online consumer is keen on having their changing needs met, they simply want to click and to receive what they need conveniently from their connected devices.
Finally, the connected consumer can be reached through multiple channels. According to a Nielsen, when the Generation C consumer is watching TV, he is also checking email online, generally surfing the web and participating in social network including Facebook, Zynga, Google and YouTube.

Generation X consumers fall in the age group between 35 and 46 years. While generation Y consumers have been with technology and the internet all their life, Generation X consumers grew up at a time when there was no digital advertising. This consumer segment is familiar with traditional forms of marketing more than they are with modern advancements in advertisement and marketing.

Importantly generation X is strongly committed to a single brand when compared to the more versatile and choosy Generation Y and baby boomers. They tend to stick with brands they can trust and do not mind paying higher prices to obtain services and products from a specific brand. Compared to Gen Y consumer, the Gen X consumer is less inclined to try new products. In an eMarketer study up to 70% of participants in the US and 30%, from English speaking markets elsewhere can be categorized as Generation X consumers.

Both the marketing message and the channel used to reach the Gen X consumer matters. Most consumers in this category spend up to 37 hour online every month, according to comScore. Generation X consumers are more receptive to emails, websites that offer news, weather updates as well as banking information. They are generally affluent consumers who also stay connected through their smart devices mostly for business, to check email and to access social media.

Generation Y consumers are also known as Millenials. They are avid consumers and influencers of the online market. They are more drawn toward forward looking brands such as those that have a Facebook presence. They are also keen on brands that have optimized their websites for mobile. Additionally, most millennials spend most of their online time on social networks where they look to connect with brands.

Like the Generation C consumer, the Gen Y consumer is willing to adopt novel technologies. He is likely to own an Mp3 player or an iPod compared to non-millenial consumers. Generation Y will also spend a large amount of their time in online video platforms. It is important to identify the precise platform where your target market spends their time, for you to engage the market effectively.

While social media is important, it is also a good idea to effectively use your website to reach out to the Gen Y consumers. These consumers are usually looking for valuable information and content. Give them valuable content about your business and related niches. Also, allow your website to serve as a place where this consumer can offer feedback and connect with your brand.

Generation Z are the younger consumers who are about 13- 15 years old. However, these consumers are well versed with technology and they seek to keep up with it. They know how to build and to interact with websites and they are indeed active online. They spend most of their time on online video and gaming platforms making it easier to reach them through ads on these platforms.

Generation Z consumers, like the connected consumers and the Generation Y, are more likely to multitask. They often watch TV while using their mobiles to send messages and surfing the internet. This usage of multiple screens enables marketers to reach this consumer from more varied points of contact.

Research Your Industry, Niche and Competitors

As you plan to set up your online business, it is imperative to invest your time in a feasibility study. This will entail researching about the niche you want to get into, the wider industry and your competitors. An important consideration will be to determine the keywords you will use to optimize your website for the search engines – this will help your target market to find your online business.

You want to set out in a niche that will allow for growth and profitability. The market on the Internet is wide and competitive. It is important to determine the niche that you want to specialize in and the products and services you want to offer. You will find that some niches are narrow while others are wide and allow you to target a larger audience. It would be a fallacy to assume that a wider niche is better than a narrower one or vice-versa. The suitability of the niche will depend on your product offering. The most vital factor is the availability of a market. Narrower niches mean that your products could be exclusive to a highly specific market. A wider niche allows you to sell to the mass market or to a less exclusive market.

Establishing your niche requires you to spot a real need and a way to fulfill that need. If there is no real need, you might not have a feasible market or the niche might be too small to make economic sense for your business. As you establish your niche you might want to:
•    Find a product that has adequate demand but is scarce
•    Work with a market that you understand and have some experience with
•    Work with a niche that has higher margins and positive returns
•    Select a niche that has room for expansion

To determine how competitive a specific niche is, you need to establish whether you have a true market for the product. It also entails an assessment of your competitors.  Some factors to consider in determining the viability and competitiveness of your niche are:

Customer Analysis: first, you want to determine your target market; consider demographic factors such as their age, gender, income level and the ethnic group that is likely to buy your products.  Consider if there are specific times that the customers are more likely to do businesses with you and whether this will be sustainable for your business. You should also establish the reasons that would make a customer buy your product.  Is it because the product is exclusive, luxurious, and scarce? And why would the customer opt to make a purchase from an online store?

Research Your Competitors:  their offering and pricing as well as the number of visitors that come to their websites. This will allow you to weigh the level of competition you will face in your chosen niche. You might also want to assess the competitors based on keywords and links to their site. Who ranks at the top for certain keywords? How long have they been in business? Are there any opportunities for business-to-business collaboration?

Determine your market size: once you determine your ideal customer, you need to ascertain the number of people who will actually constitute your prospective market base. To determine the size of the niche you might want to look at statistics about your target market; of course, the data should be relevant to your market.

Determine how much you will sell your product for:  you can check how much your competitors are selling similar products for. You can then set the selling price depending on the way your product compares with that of competitors, for example in terms of quality or packaging. You can increase the price or subtract it to make the product more competitive in the prevailing market.

Assess your keywords: if you already established that, you have a feasible market, assess how the search terms that describe your product show up in the search engines. Take about four of your main keywords and using Google’s Keyword Planner, assess how frequently web users apply these keywords to find your product. This will help you determine the amount of traffic as well as the click through rate to expect for your website.

Here are some factors to consider when establishing the profitability of your niche:

The demand: is there a real need for the product or service you are offering? There should be adequate demand for the product to keep your business profitable. Do a keyword search to see if people are querying the search engines for a solution to a specific problem. A good rule of thumb is to get at least two percent of site visitors to become buying customers.

The competition: the amount of competition will affect your profits. Is there someone else supplying a similar product? The keyword analysis mentioned previously should help you determine the number of players in the market. Then, figure out how you can differentiate your product to make it more competitive.

The traffic: it is not enough that people click through to your website. What you are looking for are high quality visitors who are looking to invest their money on a product or services. You might also want to look if your competitors are offering your product for free because if they are, people are less likely to buy your premium product.

The customer lifetime value: What type of customer does the niche have? Will your business attract high value customers who are looking to do business for the long term? Does the niche only allow for one-time customers or does it have space to convert one-time buyers to long term and loyal customers.

A back-end product is the type of product you sell to your customer after they have bought something. Back-end products can serve to boost profits more than the initial purchase. In fact, back-end products can sometimes make it worthwhile to give away for free the initial product purchased. Finding a niche that allows for back-end product can be very lucrative for your online business. You will be able to sell additional products that the customer actually needs because the back-end product is related to the initial product purchased.