Online marketing can be a challenging experience both to novice and experienced users. The rules of engagement used in the real world sometimes may seem not to work, and this can lead the business to engaging damaging marketing activity. The following are few marketing mistakes a business should avoid:

1. Lack of a plan

Just as you would make a plan of how to market products using traditional methods, you have to make a plan for online marketing. Online marketing is a complex field that needs a strategy to use successfully. Businesses that go into it without a comprehensive plan fail to achieve in measurable results. The strategy should be linked to the businesses goals both long term and short term. Furthermore, the plan should be versatile to take into account the changes that are possible in the online setting.

 2. Failure to measure online marketing effectiveness

As with any results oriented area of business, you must monitor the strategies that you have employed in order to learn which are effective. Cost effectiveness of a marketing method is measured in terms of the cost as compared to the sales brought in. This is termed the conversion rate. A small business should only use performance based advertising methods if it has to pay for it. These are advertising methods such as Cost per Click CPC advertising where the client is only charged if the advert causes some performance on the part of the intended target. Performance based advertising ensures that the cost of the marketing campaign translates into actual sales. Monitor the sales that result from redirects by placed links or ads on other websites to know whether these methods are working. Use Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness.

3. Failure to use a wide array of online marketing methods to your advantage

The online environment is intended to create freedom for the user, but small companies tend to stick to the tedious traditional marketing methods which can be quite restricted. Online marketing methods are varied; array of possible methods is limitless if you have the strategy and you put it into motion. Traditional online marketing methods that are possible are such as; newsletters, emails, ads placed on your website and other websites. Less orthodox marketing methods are content advertising, online vouchers, and others. The wide array of methods possible for marketing the product means that the small business has access to different customer bases. When used effectively, this diversity creates awareness for business on all streams.  

 4. Failure to create calls to action

A call to action is a set of instructions that enable the user to get a useful experience from the business website. The website is a marketing tool and therefore should guide the user into making a positive decision. Calls to action, when well placed, invite the viewer to interact with the company on the platform. This is important because passive viewers are unlikely to make any purchases and will usually have low product uptake. Where they are lacking, the viewer will get bored or question the professionalism of the business. An example of one is; would you like to view our gallery?

 5. Failure to properly target the adverts or links you use

Links provided within ads direct the user to your website; it is essential that you make the links land on the specific page the user is requesting. It is a terrible mistake to link users to the homepage where the advert offered a specific offer. The user should not have to actively search your website to find your products or offers. Make them easily accessible and visible. Internet traffic is averse to being forced to undertake long searches to find your offers. 

About Author: 

An avid blogger, Sandy Pardal leads the team of creative people at WebStartToday, which is a free web builder. Online marketing comes to him as a deep passion. He likes to experiment with websites, track their performances and share his insights with readers.

Ever since the first Yellow Pages business directory was printed in 1886, it has been a mainstay of the American household. The Yellow Pages was unique because it allowed you to search by category instead of business name, and “let your fingers do the walking” until you found the business or service you needed.

Many of us remember that as children, the Yellow Pages had a place of importance in our homes. This was how our parents found a car repairman when the family car needed a new fan belt, a dog groomer when Spot needed a trim, and the location of the nearest movie theater when our parents needed a break from the kids.

However, the Internet has changed all that. These days there is a shift in how people look up information. Instead of flipping through the Yellow Pages, they now go online for information. Only the directories that have made the switch to online advertising have been able to survive.

Spending on ads in print Yellow Pages peaked at $14.2 billion, and by 2011 had dropped 40% to $8.6 billion, and continues to fall.

Bankruptcy among the Publishers

The publishers of Yellow Pages have been hard hit in the last decade. In 2009, three of the top Yellow Pages directory publishers filed for bankruptcy. These were Ambassador Media, Idearc Media (now SuperMedia) and R. H. Donnelley (now Dex One).

In 2010, Local Insight, a Denver based company that was consistently one of the top five producers of the Yellow Pages directories, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

And in 2012, Dex One and SuperMedia, both struggling again, decided to merge in an effort to stay in business.

Advertisers Go Where the Consumers Are

The thing is, consumers have always done the majority of their shopping in their local communities. And that is not likely to change. However, they now search for products and services online using their computers, tablets and smart phones, instead of relying on a paper directory.

The only place where Yellow Pages directory still seems to be doing well is in small communities. In larger cities, they are virtually obsolete. There is little room for paper Yellow Pages in today’s marketplace. That’s why smart businesses are turning to online ads, to be where their customers are.

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An affordable, quick, and easy way to stay engaged with your customers is with E-mail marketing. This is an essential part of your small business marketing efforts. You can make it easy to reach out to your customers through E-mail by choosing the right software to help automate the process, import or build your list of customers, and send E-mails to that list.

There are many different software packages available on the market to help you manage your E-mail. As you go through them, you should take a look at the different features available with each software package. In addition to being able to send an E-mail, you want to look for certain features such as list building and spam protection. This will help you to contact new people on your list during future E-mail campaigns.

Some features to look for when comparing E-mail marketing software:

  • An E-mail list sign up box for your website. This may be a snippet of HTML code, or a plug-in or a widget to be added to your website. Once it’s on your site, visitors will be able to enter their name and E-mail to subscribe to your mailing list.
  • An independent domain name for your E-mail blasts. If someone on your list marks an E-mail as spam, it won’t be from your website’s domain and won’t affect your future mailings.
  • The ability to send out your E-mails in small batches. This will allow you to spread your E-mail over time, rather than sending hundreds at once. Some programs will send out E-mails in small groups, and others will send by time zone. You may also want to spread out E-mails to one E-mail ID (for example, Hotmail.com) so as to not trigger spam filters.
  • Your company name, address and phone number automatically placed in your E-mail, as well as an unsubscribe link, to comply with CAN-SPAM regulations.
  • The option to prevent an E-mail user’s ID from being added back to a mailing list after they have unsubscribed. This will help you cut down on spam notifications.
  • The option of using data fields to customize your E-mails, including first name, last name, salutations, etc. You should also be able to create custom fields as well. You can use mail merge to incorporate these fields into your E-mail, so that you can create one message and have it automatically personalized for everyone on your E-mail list.
  • HTML and text only versions of each E-mail, to accommodate different browsers, E-mail systems, and mobile users.

There are many choices available for E-mail marketing software, and many opinions as to which is the best program. You can try out different E-mail software packages by signing up for the free trial periods that most programs offer. Take time to test each program to see how easy it is to use and customize. Ultimately, the best E-mail software to manage your E-mail marketing is the one that you find easiest to use.

Online advertising can be an extremely valuable tool if you do it well. However, many businesses aren’t getting the best return on investment (ROI) for their online advertising campaigns. By mastering the 3 C’s of website content, you can boost your online advertising ROI and dramatically improve your business profits. 

Capture

You can capture your customers outside of your website in a variety of ways, including things like search engine rankings, online advertising, banners and more. Each of these traffic sources requires a different technique to effectively capture your customers and convince them to visit your site.

  • Search Engine Rankings: The higher up in the search engine rankings you are, the more likely a customer will click through to your site – but the meta description and page title play an important role in capturing your customers and convincing them to click through. The meta description and page title should mention relevant keywords, should give customers the reassurance that the page offers what they’re looking for, and should give a compelling description that the searcher will want to click.
  • Online Advertising: Online advertising, such as in Google AdWords, consists of a headline, two lines of description and a display URL. Ideally, a good online ad will list the benefit in the headline, features in the description and will repeat the keyword in the display URL.

online advertisement

  • Banners: Banners should be attractive, should incorporate creative use of text and graphics, and should convey the benefit in as little content as possible.

Convince

Once you’ve captured your customers, your website should convince them that your product or service is what they’ve been looking for. You have two tools to convince your customers once they reach your site:

  • Home Page: Your home page should briefly summarize your product or services, and easily direct people to the landing page best suited for their needs. Ideally, your online advertising sources will send people directly to the targeted landing page, but if people end up on your home page, it should serve as a portal for users to easily reach the landing page most relevant to their needs.
  • Landing Page: Your landing page should be a relevant and targeted page, optimized for the keywords or online advertising source that led visitors to your site. Focus attention with a clear and concise headline. Convince your visitors with content targeted to their needs, which clearly explains the benefit and features of your product or service. Create a separate landing page for each type of user and traffic segment to optimize conversion. For more on creating landing pages that can boost your ROI for online advertising, visit Unbounce’s 101 Landing Page Optimization Tips.

Convert

Conversion follows visitors from their arrival at the landing page to their completion of a task at a success page. A success page may denote things like:

  • Successfully subscribing to a newsletter
  • Completing the checkout process
  • Filling out a “call me” or “contact” form

Conversion is often the most challenging component of the 3 C’s, so we’ve compiled some resources to help you boost your conversion, and subsequently the ROI for your online advertising campaigns:

Remember: The 3 C’s of website content are tools that can help you boost the ROI of your online advertising campaign. By mastering these tools, you can capture more visitors for your site, convince them that you offer the solution for their needs, and convert them to sales more often.

In small business marketing – especially when it comes to websites – there’s an old saying: Content is king.

If this is true, then engagement is the king maker. And it’s the thought leaders who engage their audience. These thought leaders are not only able to create new content but manage it in such a way that they become known as experts to their audiences. People turn to these thought leaders for a reaction to every new news story or trend.

You can see this throughout social media. Social media is all about sharing content across a variety of formats, ranging from text to audio to video. Text can be further divided into a number of different forms: PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, doc files, blog posts, etc.

Become a Content Curator

It would be great if you could constantly publish new material in all these formats to really offer a lot of value to people. But let’s face it; it would be both costly and time-consuming to constantly be a content creator to that degree.

If you want to offer that much content to your followers on social media without always having to create it, however, you need to become a content curator.

What is content curating? Think about it like this: a librarian doesn’t write all the books, but you still go to a librarian when you need content. A natural history museum curator didn’t write the history, but that’s where you go to learn it.

A content curator organizes and exhibits information in an appealing format. This service in and of itself is just as valuable to your readers and followers as content creation because it means you’ve done the pruning for them.

The Engagement Value of Curated Content

That’s how it is online. Anyone can try small business marketing this way. When you curate content, link to it and share it, you don’t have to worry about stealing it. An entire world of content is available to you because you are simply linking to someone else’s content.

The value comes in how you select and present the information: you can be the information expert because you’re the one bringing it all together, a task no one else wants to handle. Additionally, the value of your sharing is much higher when your information is new. Think about the news aggregation websites you like to visit and consider how much they link to news reports rather than creating the content themselves.

The end result of taking a content curating policy in social media marketing will be more likes, thumbs-ups, and Re-Tweets then you can handle – this is your proof of audience engagement. That’s how you build prospect funnels that make you a marketing expert.

Database marketing for B2B allows you to build a list of other businesses as potential customers – but also lets you do so much more.

Your database should contain contact information of course, but also other information about your prospects. It can contain information such as when you’ve contacted them and followed up, any order history or other business you’ve done with them, and even what you’ve talked about and personal interests.

All of this information is useful when it is time to reach out to your prospects again or when you are launching a new marketing campaign.

Building Your Database

There are many ways you can build your database of B2B contacts.

  1. Take your existing list of business customers and expand it. Get to know these customers more thoroughly and take the time to develop a better relationship. Because these contacts have already done business with you and trust you, they are good candidates for upselling your other products and services.
  2. Go to secondary sources that you have access to. Some examples of these are:
    • Chamber of Commerce directories (if you’re a member, you can probably get a list of other members).
    • The organizers of conferences you’ve attended. You may receive a list of other attendees automatically or you may have to ask.
    • Business cards dropped in the fish bowl on your table in a conference/exhibition stall, leads coming in response to E-mail blasts, website visitors or webinar attendees.
  1. Go after some more unconventional sources of leads after you’ve populated your B2B marketing database using the sources above. Some examples of these include:
    • Search Google for contact lists on the web. You can do this by searching for TXT, PDF, DOC, and XLS files. Try searching organizations that you belong to or companies you are interested in connecting with. Many people use unsecured cloud storage to share files. It’s worth a look to see if there’s anything you can use.
    • If you know sales people in other industries that aren’t competing with your company, you may be able to share databases of prospects. These will generally already have names and contact information and other useful information. This is a good way for both of you to gain new sales leads.
    • Search job boards, like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, to find departmental information and contacts for companies you would like to market to. You can also search for press releases for your target companies. Often the marketing people in the organization are listed as the media contacts in a press release.
    • Sign up for a Linkedin premium account, and use it to contact other LinkedIn users at target companies. A premium account will allow you to use custom filters on searches to find contacts and build a list of prospects. You can also send InMail to prospects outside of your network with a premium account. Because LinkedIn is a business-oriented site, it’s a good way to build a rapport with other professionals.

You will need to use extra care as you contact these non-traditional leads. They have no history with you, and as such will require extra time to nurture. If you don’t push hard, add value to the relationship with useful information and don’t ask for the sale right away, you can build these leads so that they go from cold contacts to potential buyers.

Though it takes time to nurture your prospects, database marketing is worth the effort. As you put more effort into developing your B2B contacts, it will eventually pay off with more leads and sales.

B2B Marketing is different than marketing directly to consumers.  In consumer sales, someone may visit your website and subscribe to your newsletter for more information, or may pick up a product in the aisle of a store and buy it. Consumer purchases tend to be simple.

But with B2B buyers, it’s a more complex process. There is usually not just one person involved in the buying decision. B2B buyers are said to make decisions by committee – that is, there are several approving officials to go through.

The Buying Cycle

When marketing to B2B prospects, you need to be aware of the buying cycle for consumers: identifying a need or problem, searching for a solution to the problem, evaluating options, purchase and evaluation of the purchase. All consumers go through this process, but B2B prospects tend to take longer and evaluate each step.

The key is to reach the key decision makers in the first stage of the buyer behavior cycle as they are identifying a need. If they become aware of your product during this time and how you can fulfill their need, they will keep your information on file and share it with the other approving officials when they are ready to buy.

B2B and Mobile

The use of mobile marketing has become effective in B2B sales, because B2B decision makers are short on time. They want to get their information quickly in a short format – and mobile delivers. That’s why mobile is ideal.

However, mobile has limitations. You can’t use the same content you use for the rest of your online marketing. The screen on a mobile device is only 3” x 4” on average, which limits what can be seen. If a website or newsletter isn’t optimized for mobile display, the content will be hard to read.

Messages sent to a mobile device are received instantaneously because most users have their phones on at all times. B2B decision makers always have their cell phone with them, so they are ready to receive short blurbs of information.  And even if their phone isn’t on, the message is received and waiting to be seen.

A mobile phone user may receive an E-mail or see a message on Twitter or Facebook while checking their phone. They can go to the link in the message or tweet and get information about the product immediately.

Users can also view short videos sent by marketers, or can quickly scan a QR code that they see in an ad such as in a magazine they are reading in a waiting room. The QR code can be set up to take them to further information on the website, in a newsletter or to give them a special offer.

Marketers can take advantage of Google Mobile Ads and the Click to Call feature. This can be included directly in your ad, and allows the prospect to click a button and you call directly. This makes it easy for them to get information, and for you to capture a lead.

Issues to Watch Out For

Websites and newsletters need to be formatted differently for mobile marketing. If content is not optimized for mobile displays, it is hard to read on a small screen. However, it is easy to produce content for mobile.

Mobile content only needs to contain basic information, because that’s what people need and want on their phones. And it’s easy to get responses by adding features such as bookmarks, refer a friend, and 1-click auto call. This allows people to save, send and find out more information with the click of a button.

Using mobile for B2B marketing is a great way to get in front of potential customers any time they have their cell phone on, which is most of the time. Utilize mobile ads to turn prospects into sales leads, and be in front of them whenever and wherever they become aware of a need to buy.

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