Whether you have an online business or you rely on the Internet to bring awareness to your company, brand, product, service or idea, the right Internet Marketing approach for you can make a big difference to your bottom line. But be careful, because there are Internet snake-oil marketing tricks that can both drain your wallet and actually hurt you. The Internet is an ever-changing place, and marketing tricks of yesterday might not be applicable today.
Here are 5 Internet Marketing tips you should know:
1. There are no one-size-fits-all Internet marketing solutions.
Differentiate yourself from the competition. The last thing you want to do is market your service, brand or product in the same way everybody else is doing it. To stand out, you want to be unique. Your uniqueness will be far more attractive to your true audience than if you do a blanket, status quo outreach. For example, if you make t-shirts and you blitz your SEO effort with “t-shirt” keywords and meta tags, you aren’t likely to crawl anywhere near the top search results because a billion other people/companies are doing the same thing, and have been doing it a LOT longer than you have. However, if you tailor your SEO towards the distinctive aspects of your product you will get far greater results from a more interested audience.
2. SEO stands for: Sharks Eat Owner.
Ok, “SEO” really is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, but the point here is that many people and businesses fall victim to pseudo-SEO experts because the term, “SEO”, sounds official and sexy, and everyone that is anyone is doing it. The sharks are VERY good at smelling your fresh blood, and they barrage your inbox with offers of free analyses, where they will point out all your “missed opportunities” and promise “first page rankings” if you sign them on. After you sign on they’ll put a couple of keywords here and there, embed “meta tags” in the code, change your page titles and links, bury superficial lists and links all over the place, change all your text and content to impress the Internet robots, and you’ll be good to go. Simple. Wallet drained. Wait for results while the shark swims away to find its next kill.
The truth is that hack-SEO designed to superficially “trick” Internet robots into thinking you are top dog for every search term can actually bump you to the bottom, or even get you blacklisted from search engines (the robots don’t like attempts to fool them, and they are pretty smart!). Search engines like Google work hard at keeping search results relevant so people can better find what they are looking for. You’ll likely agree that there’s nothing more annoying than getting search results that have nothing or little to do with what they expected. There are constant efforts from Search Engines to stamp that out.
So is SEO bad? Certainly not, when implemented properly and with measure. The key is to be honest about your site content. Write copy that speaks to people, and not robots. And rather than focusing on reaching the largest possible number of random people, make an effort to reach a more refined target that is more likely to respond to your content. Less can be more. And remember, SEO tricks that worked yesterday may hurt you tomorrow, so the best course of action is to keep your content clean and honest.
3. Email Marketing: Familiarize Yourself with the CAN-Spam Act!
Start spamming people and you could face up to $16,000 fines, per-email! If you think you can hide behind a 3rd party Email Marketing Agency to do the dirty work for you, think again! You, and/or your company, are responsible for email content that gets sent out on your behalf. Think about your own personal email, and how you complain about too much spam. Nobody wants it. And don’t think that everybody wants your emails, even if what you’ve got to offer is pretty cool and useful. When it comes to email, people only want what they ask for.
How do you avoid sending spam? Here are some tips:
- Don’t Ever Buy A Mailing List. First of all, probably less than one-tenth of a percent of the recipients on the list will actually be interested in your product. What’s more likely is that they’ll start pitching their own services to you. Bought lists are also VERY expensive and tend to be dated. Chances are that the entity selling the list to you is just trying to unload it and make a sweet $ in the process. The odds are extremely high that many recipients on your purchased list will trigger ISP blocks, meaning even your legit recipients won’t receive your newsletter or email blast. So, just don’t buy a list.
- Purge Bad Recipients from your email lists. In addition to “unsubscribed” recipients this includes bounced email addresses and recipients that have never, ever opened a single one of your emails over a period of time. No point in using up data and opening yourself up to ISP blocks if they never will read what you are sending. In addition, without those useless accounts your metrics and analytic tracking will give you more accurate reports about your email campaigns so you can optimize your efforts!
- Include clear messaging at point of registration. On your email signup forms let your subscribers know what content and how often they should expect to receive emails in their inbox.
- Collect Information and Create Segments. By segmenting your email lists you can target specific recipients with specific content. When recipients only receive content they want they are far more likely to open future emails from you.
- Use Double-Opt-In Subscription. To ensure that your list is clean and legit, use a double-opt-in mailing list signup. Users will subscribe on your form and verify their interest via a confirmation link emailed to the address they used for registration.
- Closely Monitor Your Email Analytics. Watch for anything out of the ordinary, like high complaints or unsubscribes, or lower than average open rates. If you see anything amiss you will need to clean house accordingly.
4. A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words.
Don’t skimp on your imagery. While search engine results are primarily (but not completely!) influenced by textual content, people on average tend to respond to images first and text second. A well-constructed image can actually get people to read, so both are important. People browsing on the Internet need to be grabbed in a millisecond, so a clean, straight-to-the-point approach is best.
Allocate a decent portion of your marketing budget towards photography or graphic design. You’ll find the assets valuable for Web Site content, Email Campaigns, Social Media, Print and beyond.
5. Use Web Analytics to Know Your Audience.
Many people/companies make the mistake of casting the widest possible net with the hopes of a big catch, leeches and all, that can be sorted out into some kind of success. In order to cast that wide net, though, it requires generic messaging. The thought process is that the product or service is so cool and catchy that it will do the rest of the work. Unfortunately, marketing doesn’t work that way. It is far better to cast a smaller net in the right place – maybe don’t use a net at all, and instead create an attraction in the right spot, under the right conditions, that makes people feel and respond. Creating those perfect conditions and finding the right places to project them is what marketing is all about. It requires research and understanding about how people think and respond to their surroundings.
The good news with Internet Marketing is that a great deal of information can be discovered about your audience through Web Analytics. Everything from geolocation, browsers and devices used, web pages of interest (or not), the choices visitors make as they go from page to page, and a myriad of other factors can be tracked at a detail level. You can learn about your audience and their perceptions about your product or service. This is extremely valuable information for Internet Marketing, and, used properly, it can aid in crafting truly successful marketing campaigns.
Like any skill, having experience interpreting data and crafting content helps a great deal in building successful Internet Marketing Campaigns. Don’t just hire some cold-call (or cold email) SEO “expert” and expect the efforts to go gangbusters (often promised). Those experts often start out by telling you what you are doing wrong, or that you are perpetuating “missed opportunities”. That approach usually means they will be selling you a generic, one-size-fits-all package.
A better starting point is to find an Internet Marketing consultant that looks at what you are doing right first, and then broadcasts your finer points to an audience that will love what you offer.
~ Andreas Engel