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April 26 Marketing
posted by Mark Mark
The Science of Email Marketing

Email marketing according to Dan Zarrella is a science and in a recent presentation he gave he shared some very interesting statistics and data based on analysis of 9.5 billion emails… yes … 9.5 BILLION :-O

The presentation is available here for viewing at your leisure, there are tons of great graphs and insights and myth busting information to take in, here are a few that stood out to me.

Timing
According to the data weekends are a good time to send out emails as the click through rates during this time are higher. Also sending early in the morning produces better results than at the end of the day. Apparently you should avoid sending at the beginning of the week, that is when you see the highest number of unsubscribes.

Content
This is something we are thinking about a lot at Blue Beetle - mobiles. According to the data almost 81% of recipients are reading their email on a smart phone. If you're not testing your HTML email campaigns on the various mobile devises out there you could be loosing out on a lot of readers.

Another fact about content - lots of links is good. According to the numbers, quantity IS better than quality when it comes to the number of links in an email. The more links there are (even if they go to the same place) the lower the unsubscribe rate!

Lastly one regarding social media (this one I find useful) - in general emails do not get forwarded or tweeted i.e. shared. The take away here is to include ‘follow’ links rather than ‘share’ links such as a call to action to follow you on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.

So some useful tips there, but as always kids, remember, just say NO to SPAMMING.

July 24 Marketing
posted by Fakhri Fakhri

You've done it. After months or even years, you've created a winning online marketing strategy that's bringing you new customers – and a healthy bottom line – month after month. Just as the realization sets in and you find time to congratulate yourself, however, the question "how do I make this work?" is quickly replaced by another that's just as likely to keep you up at night: "how do I keep it going?"

In other words, when should you change a winning formula?

As tough as it is to hear, the answer is usually right away. That's because, as the saying goes, what got you there isn't enough to keep you there. Usually, you've achieved a strong online marketing position by studying what others have done, emulating their efforts, and doing your best to catch up. But once you're to the front of the pack, isn't an option; in fact, there are probably dozens of competitors out there trying to catch up to you.

And so, finding success doesn't mean letting up. Instead, you have to find new ways to reach buyers, as well as find fresh messages to keep them engaged. Success can turn quickly to failure if customers become bored with what you sell, or can find better prices and service elsewhere. Making your business thrive online may have made you weary, but there isn't any rest…

You shouldn't take this as bad news, though, because the only thing better than a successful online marketing program is a more successful online marketing program. By continuing to learn, test, and improve, you raise the ceiling on your potential profits going forward – trading small victories for bigger ones.

At Blue Beetle, we are constantly looking for ways to help our clients find more profitability online. What we want them, and you, to understand is that "success" is never any fixed destination, but a series of stops along the journey.

July 20 Marketing
posted by Mark Mark
The Best Way to Anticipate Web Marketing Trends…

It has been said that the best way to predict the future is to invent it, and as far as search engine positioning goes, that’s not bad advice. If you can come up with the next hot buzzword or key phrase in a particular industry – or even amongst a targeted search group – then it should be pretty easy for you to grab the top spots on Google and the other major engines before anyone else can.

Accomplishing this can be easier than it sounds. All you have to do is choose a target market, find out what the industry leaders are talking about (or will be in a few months), and either get there, in an SEO sense, before any of your competitors do. Or, if your site is popular enough already, you can use new content to tilt the conversation in the direction you want to see it go. Before you know it, you’ll have a steady stream of visitors that you pulled out of thin air.

Creating the future in search is a great way to put yourself at the front of the pack. Here are a few more steps to get started.

Focus. Just as you can’t be all things to all people, neither can most of us dominate large numbers of search terms and phrases at once. Try to pick one or two that you think are likely to become more popular – and profitable – and use those as a starting point.

Be consistent. When it comes to building traffic, treat your new SEO efforts as you would any other. That means articles, links, and a steady stream of fresh content for search engine spiders to find.

Define yourself as an authority. Make sure that what you write and post isn’t just filled with new keywords, but positions you as the authority on the matter. “Buyers” are always preferable to “visitors,” and people like to buy from experts.

If you see a trend coming, don’t be content to spot it and move out of the way. Start optimizing your site for search engines now – you’ll be in prime position when the rest of the world catches up.

July 18 Marketing
posted by Mark Mark

For all the talk and theories about how to take advantage of the YouTube explosion – few can agree whether the billion-hits-a-day site is mostly Internet TV, search engine, digital university, or social media – it might be that answer has been with us all along. That’s because, rather than thinking about YouTube as a marketing medium, it’s better to see it the way users do: as a series of channels and clips.

Some viewers go to YouTube for entertainment; others to learn, or to stay in touch with their favorite teams, shows, and characters. But what makes them so great isn’t that they are uniform (they aren’t), but that they’re self selecting.

In other words, as with Google or Yahoo, users will tell you what they’re looking for by entering in a search term or visiting a certain channel. But on YouTube, because they’re searching videos, rather than web pages, you can even more closely guess at what they’re hoping to find… and then give it to them.

If the people who are likely to find your videos seem to be searching for an informational resource, provide them with one. If they seem to want to be entertained, wrap your marketing message in something silly and light. But no matter what you do, don’t treat titles and descriptions as tools to simply reel them in. You need hits to gain attention, but you need to hold that attention before you can persuade anyone to do anything.

YouTube works best as a marketing tool when it’s treated with the same common sense as any other online medium. Remember that attention leads to action, and then make a point to give people just what they want … along with a taste of your marketing message – they’ll reward you by not changing the channel.

July 12 Marketing
posted by Amir Amir
Are You Ready for Online Marketing Success?

Here at Blue Beetle, we spend a lot of time helping our clients to find the flood of new traffic, orders, and profits that can come with a successful online marketing plan.

I guess we just take it for granted that they’re ready to handle them when the time comes.

To be fair, they usually are. For a lot of businesses, ramping operations up to meet a jump in demand is a good problem to have, and an easy one to deal with. For others, though, a sudden spike in orders can be a big headache.

With that in mind, ask yourself: are you really ready for online marketing success? Here are a ways to tell:

You could easily double your sales volume next month. If handling extra production, shipping, credit card transactions, and other details wouldn’t represent a problem, you’re probably well-poised for online growth.

Your site is ready for more traffic. It used to be fairly common to see business websites crashed by spikes in traffic. These days, most webmasters are better prepared, but it’s still a good idea to be sure your site could handle a rush of new shoppers.

Customer service isn’t a weak point. Often, where a lot of companies fail isn’t in finding new buyers, but keeping them happy once they do. Finding customers only to watch them leave after their first order – and possibly start spreading bad word of mouth about you when they do – is never going to lead to big bottom line improvements.

Most entrepreneurs and marketing managers don’t sit up nights worrying about what will happen if their online marketing plans are too successful, but it’s worth taking a few minutes to figure out whether you’re really prepared for the flood of new customers you’re trying to find.

July 11 Marketing
posted by Amir Amir

Even if you aren't a fan of football, you have to love the way players and news outlets have embraced social networking sites to broadcast news, opinions, and personal updates. You don't have to be a world-class striker or holding midfielder to follow their example. Here are a few things the World Cup has shown us about social networking:

Twitter is a great tool for broadcasting news, but only if people are already interested in what you have to say. We've heard from players, agents, and managers about their opinions on different games, their predictions about what's ahead, and even thoughts on the business side of things like transfers, new signings, etc.

For the biggest names, tweeting has been a quick and efficient way to share their thoughts, largely because they've already gathered thousands of followers. Take steps to build a large following of your own, then you'll start to realize the power of Twitter.

Facebook can help the world get to know you. For those who are newer faces to a lot of audiences, Facebook has been a popular first stop. With bios, pictures, and lots of background information, you can quickly learn everything you'd need to know about a player just by looking at his profile.

As your company gains dance and reputation, make sure that your Facebook page reflects that. If someone were to view your profile for the first time, what impression would they get?

YouTube is more popular than BBC, ESPN, or any other single channel... and a lot more cost effective as a marketing medium. By serving as an almost universal news and replay outlet for most of the Internet-connected world, YouTube is a first stop for fans looking for World Cup highlights. It's also an important destination for your customers and prospects.

Don't underestimate YouTube's importance; make sure that your videos, channel, and profiles are aimed at helping searchers first to find your company, and then leaving them with the impression that they would be better off doing business with you.

July 07 Marketing
posted by Amir Amir

Search engine optimization, which is only a about a decade into its existence as a serious discipline, is already undergoing some big changes. It used to be that writing a few articles, changing a few heading tags, and getting a couple of links to your site was enough to see your site crawl towards the top of Google or Yahoo. These days, though, that just doesn’t cut it. Online marketers have gotten smarter and more sophisticated, so your company will have to be, too.

Even more, the changes that are taking place have big implications for all areas of marketing, not just SEO. Here are four trends to look out for, and what they mean to your business:

The rise of the long tail. Searchers aren’t just looking for basic keywords anymore; increasingly, they’re trying longer strings – hoping to find exactly what they’re looking for, rather than something close. That means your landing pages should be specific, and informative, or you’re running the risk of leaking visitors.

More emphasis on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites are factoring more strongly into search algorithms, meaning that searchers are as likely to find your social profiles as they are your home page. Keep that in mind, and use your accounts to not only enhance your SEO, but add a soft marketing tint.

Video results gaining in popularity. Google, YouTube, and others are making video more important than ever – even outside of normal “video sharing” sites. Be sure you’re using clips as part of your marketing mix, especially for your most important key phrases and themes.

Higher pay-per-click costs. More advertisers, especially in the high-traffic keyword areas, are driving up click prices. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon PPC – for the most part, paid traffic still converts at a higher rate – but that you have to be smart about it. Setting up your PPC account and ignoring it is the recipe for a lot of wasted time and money.

July 04 Marketing
posted by Amir Amir

A lot of attention is paid in online marketing circles – including this blog – to the best ways to bring traffic to your company's site. That's not a bad thing; whether you are relying on search engine optimization, pay per click ads, social networking strategies, or something altogether different, the fact remains that you can't have sales without visitors.

But never forget that visitors aren't enough. In fact, they are only half of the equation.

The other half, the more important half, is what you do for the people who take the time to click through. What is it they get – in terms of information, service, or value for their money – that makes it worth their time and attention?

Even though it isn't discussed often enough in marketing circles, the question is incredibly important for two reasons. The first is that your unique competitive advantage is what will ultimately turn traffic into sales. Regardless of what your business offers, there are probably dozens of other places to find online. Your customers need to have a compelling reason to choose you instead.

The second reason it's so important is that offering value drives its own traffic. In other words, if people love your product or service enough, they won't just keep coming back, but also refer to their friends, colleagues, and family members through strong recommendations. And as any of us who have been in marketing for any amount of time knows, those are the best perspective buyers you can find.

Decisions about what kind of business you're in, and what its unique selling proposition is, were probably made long before you jumped in to online marketing. Don't take it for granted, however, that you shouldn't take a bit of time to think about it now and then. Offering value to your customers, and communicating that on your website, isn't just a great way to gain traffic, but also to make the most of it.

June 28 Marketing
posted by Mark Mark
Is Facebook Advertising Worth it?

For years, as online marketers have watched Facebook explode in popularity, we've been forced to advise a "soft sell" approach to working on the site. In other words, it was hard to promote your company or products outright, but what you could do was make important connections, describe enough about yourself or your business that people might want to work with you, and let prospective clients see behind the curtain a bit and build your brand in that way.

Now, with Facebook opening its virtual doors to advertisers earlier this year, the path to promotion and profits is being well-beaten... or is it?

Advertising on Facebook is far from a sure thing, if only because it's new. There isn't much of a track record of companies, big or small, making any money on the site through paid ads. What's more, as the most "social" of the social networking sites, it's a place that people go to in order to have fun and mix with friends and relatives – not necessarily find marketing messages.

So what does it all mean? Is Facebook advertising actually worth spending on? Here are a few questions to help you sort out the right answer for your company:

Do you sell directly to consumers? If so, you might be in luck. While Facebook is likely to remain a poor business-to-business advertising venue, it does seem to offer some hope for those who sell directly to consumers.

How specific do you need your audience to be? While new options are being added quickly, Facebook still lacks many of the customization tools you'd find on a more popular platforms, like Google Adwords. What that basically means is that you might have to settle for marketing to broad groups – like women or students, for example – as opposed to more targeted demographics, at least for now.

Do you have room in your budget to take the chance? Like other forms of pay per click advertising, it doesn't take much to get started on Facebook. But, as a new platform, it makes sense to test the system out and see whether the results will pan out in the bottom line. And as with any test, be prepared in case you get back less than expected... or even nothing at all.

As Facebook advertising grows, marketers will undoubtedly figure out which strategies, prices, and types of products can reliably succeed. For the time being, however, the concept is like a lot of things that have to do with social networking – fun, interesting, and a little unproven.

June 27 Marketing
posted by Mark Mark
Channeling Your Inner Marketing Ninja: Turning Social Networking Contacts Into Real World Buyers

When I read about the rise of social network marketing, I’m always reminded of those old kung fu movies, where a masked warrior moves silently through the shadows to defeat dozens of enemy samurai. Why? Because today’s marketers, like the old-time ninjas of the silver screen, need to rely on stealth to reach their goal and turn contacts into customers.

The problem isn't a new one... either to life or this blog. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are filled to the brim with buyers; at the same time, they don't come to any of these virtual destinations to be sold. That can create what seems like an unwinnable dilemma – come on too strong, and people will ignore you; fail to market it all and you'll be making lots of friends who will never buy anything. As much fun as it might be, that's not anyone's idea of a good business plan.

And so, your social networking marketing plan has to hide under the cloak of darkness. Here are three quick tips to help you forge a decisive attack:

Show, don't tell. It's bad form to tweet that people can save money by working with you, for instance, but perfectly all right to congratulate a client for improving their bottom line as a result of your services.

Hide everything behind humor and entertainment. There's always room online for something that makes people laugh, or at least gives them a momentary break from their day-to-day lives. Try to think of ways to embed your marketing message into a format that accomplishes one of those things.

Strike decisively. In the rare event that you do advertise or broadcast an offer via social networking, make it so strong and compelling that people can't help but have a look. You aren't going to get many opportunities to ask for business outright, so make every one count.

August 2014
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