Do you have your online shopping catalog ready for the holidays? Do not miss out on the biggest sales margins of the year. There will be more people than ever shopping online this holiday season, so what are you waiting for? Come in here now and prepare yourself for the harvest!
“The Final Code Internet Marketing & Production Firm” in the heart of Ventura will be introducing Ecommerce shopping cart solutions for 2013’s last quarter sales via weekly complimentary “Lunch Workshops” starting September 13th. Bring your lunch along with your questions and concerns and we will do the rest to educate you on how to move YOUR holiday merchandise off the shelves.
Register today, seating is limited. Please call 805-243-8321 to reserve your spot and don’t hesitate, you won’t get this information for ‘free’ anywhere else!
1068 E Main Street #100
Ventura, CA 93001
Sept. 13 through Dec. 17, 2013
Every Friday from 12-1pm
We are offering Full Ecommerce online shopping sites to the first 100 attendees at a pre-holiday markdown ($200 per month for six months hosting fees included for a $2,500 savings).
PayPal and Authorize.net payment processing functionality
FedEx / USPS shipping setup
Real time shipping results
Every Item Search Engine Optimized
Add unlimited amounts of product
Add product videos/ photos
Create item attributes
Set stock levels
Add unlimited amount of categories and departments
Add sales items (no calculations)
Larry and the team at The Final Code in Ventura literally breathed life back into my business. At the time I hired The Final Code, I had invested thousands of dollars in ongoing website “optimization” with another company. Despite that effort, my law office website was nowhere to be found when it came to the core of my practice – potential clients searching for either criminal defense attorneys or DUI attorneys in my local area.
As soon as The Final Code took over care of my website applying their innovative approach, I experienced a dramatic increase in the number of calls I received for DUI and all other criminal cases. I not only skyrocketed to the very top of DUI searches, I have maintained a consistent, top-ranked placement over the last six months.
The Final Code team has a passion for helping clients that is evident in all they do. Larry, Carlo, James and team were always at the top of their game and, I felt, sincerely committed to helping me achieve real results. They went out of their way at all points to help me through the process, to aggressively make results-oriented changes, and to communicate with me in a way that made me feel valued as a client.
Most importantly to me as a client, everyone at The Final Code conveyed to me that they truly cared about the welfare of my business and did so in an ongoing way. Recognizing the ever changing nature of internet marketing, the team at The Final Code has gone out of their way to keep my website fresh and at the top through expert monitoring and continual innovation. In the website business, the professionals at The Final Code are people of honor and that's saying a lot. I whole-heartedly recommend The Final Code. You can trust the team to get you the results you want and to do so with dedication and integrity.
Google+ is a fairly new feature from Google. It is essentially a social network, you create a profile and a page, other users can be added to “circles”. Users who are in the same circle receive information shared by each other. People may wonder why they should take the time to begin participating in a new social network when other well established entities such as Facebook and Twitter exist with such a large user base and amount of popularity. Google+ offers several advantages over other social networks.
The most appealing advantage is that it is run by Google with is the world’s largest search engine, so there are some Google search placement advantages associated with businesses participating in Google+. Google+ has over 90 million users, but comparatively Facebook has over 1 billion users each month so at this point Google+ should not be thought to replace Facebook anytime soon. However, 60% of Google+ users log on daily but no statistics are easily available regarding how frequently Facebook users log-in. 80% of Google+ user engage in some activity at least once a week. To put this figure in perspective only 50% of Twitter’s users log in daily. This indicates that most Google+ users are obviously more active and engaged than the users of other social networks.
In Google+ a business can let people in their circles know about their brand and also use it to provide customer service. Businesses with Google+ profiles tend to have their site indexed by Google’s search engine very quickly. Links can be shared in circles and users can “+1” the link (or anything else you share). +1 links may rank higher in Google’s search engine as a result of the “+1”.
The best reason to become involved in Google+ is for the fact that Google is the top search engine by a large margin with no signs of decline. Orienting your business in Google+ will help to establish its recognition by Google which will increase your site’s search engine placement as a result.
Google plus has an edge over twitter, and facebook regarding specialized topics such as photography, etc.
There is a reaction to think that because everyone is on facebook that naturally that is the best outlet for marketing your business. While it is true that due to facebook’s huge user population that it should be used as a format for promotion, it is also possible to become lost in a sea of other businesses who are all attempting to do the same thing. Although Google Plus is comparatively new it is a nice balance of a significant amount of users without having too many people fighting for attention, likes, and popularity.
Google Plus also has an advantage over Facebook or Twitter in that people congregate online into “Communities” that share a common interest or passion. Google Plus has communities organized to discuss, share, and enjoy particular interests. If you have a passion for politics then you can join a community of users who share the same political interests as yourself. Perhaps you own a political blog and news website, you can join a community on Google Plus that is interested in the same issues you are. By contributing to the community you will draw attention to your site or blog. This same concept can be applied to any business that you may run. Google Plus is particularly better suited to this type of interaction because this is the reason that people participate in Google Plus.
While many businesses attempt promotion on Facebook realistically Facebook’s primary use is for people who personally know each other to keep in touch and up-to-date on each other’s recent activity in their personal lives. Because Facebook’s user population is so large businesses tend to feel obligated to participate but it is extremely difficult to gain any sort of traction through Facebook promotions. In most cases such promotions are only going out to friends and family and don’t have a great chance of helping to generate a significant amount of business.
Although businesses try to develop some sort of presence on Twitter its most popular use is to provide real-time updates of current events. For example, “Just had lunch at P.F. Chang’s . . . so good!”, “There was a bank robbery by my house!”, or “Wow, the Lakers are getting killed by the Heat!” People don’t typically pay much attention to self-promoting style’s of “tweets”. They aren’t interesting to people on Twitter who are just looking to read fun status-updates.
Google Plus sits in a very nice niche that is missing from Facebook. Unlike Facebook, Google+ users are actually interested in interacting with people they don’t know personally but do happen to share their interests. As opposed to Twitter, Google+ users are looking for a more involved interaction rather than a quick conversation about nothing in particular. If you are a professional photographer then you can join a community of other photographers or photography interested people. In this instance, the people in the community will be genuinely interested in what you do. Interacting like this is not a shot in the dark like it can be on Facebook or Twitter.
There are a huge amount of other benefits that come from having a Google+ profile. Once you you have your Google Plus account arranged the profile picture associated with your account will appear next to your website in search results, this helps your site stand-out in search pages. Another interesting feature is that when a person is in one of your circles on Google+ when they use Google’s search engine your site’s ranking will increase in their results because of your shared connection.
We don’t need to tell you how important it is to rank highly and be in good standing with Google and all of its various features and areas. Organizing your businesses online presence with Google has a tremendously positive effect. We encourage you to contact us so that we can show how easy and affordable it is to have our company adress these issues for you.
Contact TheFinalCode.com today at (805)243-8321 today for advice or a free consultation!
Ivan Rosaz is a certified graphic web designer from the Ventura Technology Development Center. He recently approached us at TheFinalCode.com interested in joining our team as a graphic designer. Ivan's background is mostly as a production worker and not in graphic design, but at TheFinalCode.com we strongly support giving promising talent opportunities, so we offered him an internship despite his inexperience in which he receives a salary while learning web-design and marketing at the same time.
Ivan is now developing his skills and abilities in the very competitive field of internet marketing. It is difficult to become extremely proficient at graphic design in a short period of time, but while Ivan's skills are developing, we have found a nice place for him building websites. As he acquires experience his abilities are becoming increasingly refined. Ivan is developing his own workflow using our proprietary software “Total Control” while at the same time increasing his understanding of graphic creation using PhotoShop, Illustrator, and a variety of other internet tools. We are very pleased with his ability to adapt to technical challenges we present him with and he has accumulated a considerable amount of knowledge in a short amount of time. He is dedicated to maintaining the extremely high standards of quality that we demand and our customers expect. Ivan is a pleasure to work with and is establishing himself as a valuable asset to our organization.
Written by: James Nisky
Greetings. My name is James Nisky and I am writing to introduce myself. The fabulous team at TheFinalCode.com has agreed to train me as an intern while receiving a salary – thanks guys! The Final Code is a professional group of Internet Marketing and Web Development experts. This is a highly competitive field and it requires a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to master. In the short time I have had the pleasure to train here I have absorbed some valuable information but of course I have only began to scratch the surface of everything there is to learn.
I will be blogging on a regular basis to share things as I learn them, examples of how well TheFinalCode.com’s content management system “Total Control” functions, and the new projects or developments we are working on here. Since I am new to internet marketing and web development hopefully I can provide a very easy to understand angle on the variety of services we offer because this is all as new to me as it is to most of you. Please check back frequently to see my blog and read articles I write. I am sure that you will find them informative and interesting. If promoting your business or art online is something you are interested in then I highly recommend reviewing my articles and blog often to discover the amazing impact search engine optimization and a well-constructed website can produce.
No one wants to be viewed as ignorant, or naïve, but it is difficult to keep up with the scams and scare tactics being used by some companies to take money from small business owners and operators. It was brought to our attention by one of our clients, at Jedlickas.com, that they received what appeared to be a bill from a company called DNS Services in Vancouver, Washington for some type of web page related expenses. Our client did the right thing by bringing this to our attention, we at TheFinalCode.com are their web marketing and production firm, and we have no affiliation with this “company”. The owners of Jedlickas.com have kindly encouraged us to share their experience in hopes other business owners will become more aware of such shady tactics. DNS Services send out these documents attempting to collect money from unsuspecting business owners who may just pay because they receive what looks like a legitimate invoice. The notice appears official, including the actual web host information, a statement date, and an account number. But the very last line (which is always in very fine print) sums up what is actually owed by anyone who gets this type of letter…:
“THIS A SOLTCITATION FOR THE ORDER OF GOODS OR SERVICES, OR BOTH, AND NOT A BILL, INVOICE, OR STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT DUE. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO MAKE ANY PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT OF THIS OFFER UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.”
Of course, before getting to this disclaimer there is a load of other gibberish making it more confusing to the average business owners. They usually are preoccupied with so many other things to deal with; they may blindly fork over the cash! It is unfortunate that con-artists will always look to find a way to make EASY money they don’t deserve from HARD working merchants making every attempt to do things the right way.
Another seemingly legitimate bill-sender has jumped onboard the modern-day snake oil salesman’s virtual traveling wagon. The Yellow Pages has sent out what appears at first quick glance to be a bill, or an invoice. It is NOT! And you will end up paying almost $400 if you sign on to be included in a “Directory Listing” with “Yellow Pages United”. You will then be billed annually to maintain the listing, at a 10% increase EVERY YEAR! All this is in the fine print on the back side of the form and can be missed by anyone who does not READ IT CAREFULLY!
So, to put it simply, if you do receive any document in the mail requesting payment for web related services, be sure to contact your web professional, (as our client did here at TheFinalCode.com), and verify the authenticity and legitimacy before you end up paying what you don’t owe!
Why is online video content vital to your business' success? Well, it is becoming clearer that to make the most of the internet market, using video to sell a product is not the wave of the future, it is the wave of NOW. Consumers are using search engines to find goods and services online, and they want the best and easiest website providing what they need. A website with video saves them the effort of reading a ton of words and looking at bunch of photos to figure out if you have what they want. Online video can explain in an entertaining and informative way exactly what your business offers. It is no coincidence that YouTube is the second leading search engine, second only to GOOGLE. And any online video can be specially tailored to fit your unique business, with music, narration, or action to accentuate your products! Adding video content to any website is a bargain compared to advertising on television, radio or in publications. Online video can also boost the success of social network marketing, through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and email marketing campaigns for businesses by including free online marketing video, which can be used to better explain precisely what they want to emphasize about their company and its products and/or services! Plus, online video doesn’t prohibit how many times your customers can watch it, or limit when, or where, they might see it. It becomes a permanent part of your website until you decide to change it. Educate your customers while keeping them entertained. They will be rewarded by having an easier experience online, and YOUR reward will be in the form of higher rankings from, search engines and longer periods of time on your site by your potential customers It’s probably the most cost effective way to share information, and it's fun and entertaining! Mention this blog to professionals at TheFinalCode.com, at 805-243-8321, and receive a free one hour consultation to find out tips and advice about how to put the power of online video to work for your business!
More than 8 out of 10 Internet users look on search engines to find information and
the products or services they want to buy
Pay-per-click (PPC) costs are rising (over 37% higher from last year to this year Q1)
Up to 85% of searchers ignore paid listings
63% of the top natural (organic) listings get click troughs
Natural (organic) search results convert 30% higher than PPC
Why chase potential customers when you can get them to come to you?
Every day, thousands of consumers use Yahoo! Search to locate for products and services. They are ready to purchase. Why not let them look at what you have to offer?
Rather than spending heaps on mass advertising to attract just a few potential customers, why not talk only to the people who are already searching for what you sell? And don't take out word for it – you will be able to monitor how many people have seen and clicked on your Search Result, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You take charge. Very simply, you pick search words or phrases relevant to your business. When a potential customer searches with those words, your listing appears at the top of the Search Results pages. Your ad is prominent – customers see your listing before the regular Search Results. Internet marketing is the way to go! Ventura local businesses can market online and win with the help of The Final Code! We are local and are dedicated to helping local companies thrive in the world of Internet marketing.
Whether you need a website or have a website that is not pulling in customers call us today!
Our professional and affordable websites start at only $250.00! Start getting business today!
We are local in Ventura! So stop by at 1068 E. Main Street if you like!
Ventura County Now, sponsored by The Final Code, is now offering Premium Listings geared to get your business found more effectively on search engines for less than $10.00 per month!
Ventura County Now is the premiere online business directory in Ventura County! With thousands of local businesses listed, over 100,000 consumers seeking goods and services every year and thousands of YouTube views every month, Ventura County Now is one of the most affordable and effective way to advertise your business online.
The Ventura County Now directory is a powerful, search engine marketing tool. Many online shoppers use online directories because they can find everything they are looking for in one place. For instance, if someone wants to shop for shoes, get their nails done, and get a bite to eat in Camarillo, the can use the Ventura County Now directory to find Camarillo businesses by searching either by shopping mall or category and utilize Google maps listed on each listing to find places nearby each other.
Premium Listings are the most popular because they engage the consumer with pictures, videos, and promotions offered by local businesses. Also Premium Listings are indexed with keywords relative to a company’s product or service so online shoppers can easily find the listing on search engines. Local business owners can also post specials or promotions, feature FaceBook posts, create a YouTube Channel and more!
Last but not least, all Ventura County Now Premium Listings get FREE Internet Marketing Workshops geared to help bring in even more customers from the Internet! Channel Islands Sportfishing has attended several workshops that have made them number one on Google in many different categories!
So if you are a local Ventura County business that wants more online exposure call us or stop by! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a website or if you do, the more online exposure the better! There are over 10 million Google searches each month in Ventura County alone! Don’t let customers pass you by! Call 805-243-8321 today! Or stop by our offices at 1068 E. Main Street in Ventura!
Ventura County Now, sponsored by The Final Code, welcomes A Bar Stool, Dinette, and Kitchen to our online business directory! A Bar Stool, Dinette and Kitchen Furniture is a local Ventura County Business located at 2358 E. Main Street in Ventura that offers a great selection of furniture for your home, office or restaurant at very good prices. Owner, Santa Cruz, knew he needed to start marketing online and the only thing that was stopping him was the money needed to invest in a campaign.
Online marketing is the most effective way to advertise your business as hardly anyone uses the phone book anymore. Most all consumers shop online to find a business that offers what they are looking for. As a matter of fact, if a business doesn’t have a website or any online presence, they will most likely get passed by.
Ventura County Now offers something very unique. We offer a way for you to get great online exposure for your business for FREE! Over the years we have built a directory listing thousands of local business and showcase them to online shoppers. Thousands of local consumers searching online for goods and service utilize our directory because our directory makes it easy to find what they are looking for. A consumer can find any type of business in our directory in every city in Ventura County all in one place online.
Santa Cruz saw the value in Ventura County Now and chose to upgrade to a Premium Listing which will give him even more exposure to consumers. A Ventura County Now Premium Listing showcases a business with an in-depth company description, displays promotional offers, pictures, includes website links, FaceBook Posts, search engine optimization specifically for each listing, and more all for under $10 bucks a month! Where else can you get your business in front of over 100,000 potential customers online each year for under $100 bucks? In addition, all Premium Listings get FREE Internet Marketing Workshops hosted by our sponsor company, The Final Code, the premiere, local, Internet Marketing and Production Firm in all of Ventura County! These workshops unveil the secrets of Internet marketing for the local business owner so that they can compete online and win!
We at Ventura County Now believe in locals helping locals. That is why we offer so much for so little. Stop by our offices located at 1068 E. Main Street in Ventura or call us at 805-243-8321 and let us help you bring in more customers from the world of the Internet. With over 10 million Google searches each month in Ventura County alone isn’t it time to get has much exposure as possible?
Get A Ventura County Now Online Business Listing and Get Found On Google!
Recently we contacted Robert Eyberg of Eyberg Stained Glass about enhancing his Ventura County Now listing. Mr.Eyberg didn't have a website and he knew he needed to launch a Internet marketing campaign but didn't know where to start.
So Robert decided to attend a FREE workshop to get educated on how to get customers from the Internet. During the workshop Robert learned that thousands of people were seacrhing online for his type of service. He learned about how to apply correct keywords to a website so search engines could display his website to potential customers. After the workshop Robert opted to enhance his Ventura County Now and within weeks his listing was on the first page of Google!
Now Robert has taken it a step further by investing in a website from The Final Code and his business has now even more exposure to the thousands of potential customers searching online for goods and services,
Recently Robert visited us at our downtown Ventura offices and recounted the time when he first got a phone call from our staff. He told us he gets tons of calls from companies claiming to be able to get his business fouind on Google. He said the companies that call him were from out of state or even out of the country so he just hung up on them. He also said he was glad we called him and that he didn't hang up on us! Mr. Eyberg told us he was very happy that he could finally deal with a company that was local and eager to help him get more customers.
Our staff is here to help local Ventura County businesses. We are here to make Internet Marketing easy to understand and more importantly profitable by bringing more customers to our clients. Our services are ridiculously affordable and incredibly effective.
Check out Mr. Eyberg's new website at www.eybergstainedglass.com
So where do you start to get more customers from the Internet? Call us to schedule your FREE Internet Marketing Workshop today and stop letting customers pass you by!
It's easy once you know the simple steps to a successful Internet Markting Campaign.
Workshop 1 - Keywords
What would your potential customer type into a search engine to find your business? If you were a pizza business in Ventura a potential customer may type in "Pizza in Ventura". So the simple thing to do would be to put the keywords "Pizza in Ventura" into your website so search engines can match your website with the keywords typed in by the potential customer.
But, the only thing wrong with that is there is probably another 100 different keywords or phrases used by online shoppers looking for pizza in Ventura.
Researching keywords used by online shoppers is the key to Internet marketing. Then, having the ability to index keywords into your website and blogging about keywords is the next vital step.
Don't worry we have you covered. We are a local Intenet Marketing Firm that offers FREE workshops for local Ventura County businesses only.
Our workshops usually cost $145.00 per hour - but for a limited time we are offering our Local Biz Web Marketing Drive geared to help the local business community compete online against the chain stores and win!
We want to keep Ventura local and we are tired of seeing the local business community suffering and going out of business. Online marketing is where most all consumers search for goods and services, and without a online marketing campaign, the local business will continue to suffer.
Let us help!
Call us @ 805-243-8321 and learn how to market online for FREE!
Is Your Website Not a Priority?
Let me start with this simple fact: There are over 10 million Google searches every month in Ventura County alone.
What are these people searching for? Goods and services offered by local businesses. So here is the question: Is your business getting found by all these consumers searching for your type of goods or services?
Local Ventura County businesses are suffering and the number one reason why, according to local business owners, is that the economy is bad.
Yes the economy is down, but people are still spending money.
The fact is, there would not be so many consumers shopping for specific goods or services online if they weren’t willing and able to spend money. As an Internet Marketing Firm, we are constantly researching how consumers shop online. For example, if you are a photographer, we would research how many consumers are searching for photographers in Ventura.
So maybe we research the search words “Photographers in Ventura”. The results for how many consumers that use those specific words and variances of those words when seeking a photographer online are in the thousands every month!
So next step… Now we Google “Photographers in Ventura” and several photographers show on the first page of the Google search. These are the photographers that have the best chance of capturing the thousands of online shoppers.
If your business has a website and you are not getting found on the first page of Google, then your business is allowing the online consumer to pass you by.
The “economy” for the business that does show up on the first page of Google or any other search engine is quite good indeed.
So maybe it’s not the “economy” and maybe its local businesses are being too “economical” when it comes to investing advertising dollars into their online presence?
If you are a local Ventura County business here a couple ideas that will turn your bad economy into a great one…
Determine how much money you are spending on outdated advertising campaigns.
Does your business still pay for a Yellow Page ads? They are very expensive and rarely does today shopper use the phone book to find what they are looking for. Most shoppers under 50 years of age use the internet to search for goods and services.
Does your business still pay for print ads? Print ads are hit and miss. Determine what your return on investment is for each campaign and consider the fact that you will never be able to determine how many people actually looked at you ad. If a print ad company could tell you how many people looked at your ad, how many were interested in your ad but haven’t called you yet, then you would be able to determine if the ad was worth running again. Obviously, nobody can tell you that they sent out a 1000 mailers and “x’ amount of those many people read your ad and “x” of people are interested but haven’t called you yet.
Internet Marketing is the avenue local businesses should place their marketing dollar. Let’s say for instance that you are getting ready to spend $500.00 on a big print ad that is going out to 50,000 people. Sure that’s good exposure, but that is a one-time shot. So if it works okay, you will be tempted to spend another $500 and by the end of the year you have spent quite a bit of money.
Now consider investing $1500.00 in a top notch website that is set-up so consumers can find your website on all the search engines. Your business would now be exposed to thousands of consumers search specifically for your type of goods or service. Plus a good website is equipped with a reporting tool that can tell you how many people look at your website and how long they stayed (which determines interest and they may call you).
Print ads are distributed to people who are not all looking for your goods or services. When a consumer goes online they are searching for your type of goods or services.
Obviously, consumers that are specifically looking for what your business offers are a better prospect than those that aren’t.
A website that is set-up properly with search engine optimization will always bring your business a bigger pay day. A website will only be a one-time investment that will bring in big returns for the years to come. So, would you rather constantly throw money at hit and miss print ads or invest a one-time amount that exposes your business to consumers that are in the market for what your business offers?
When you opened the brick and mortar retail shop, chances are you planned for a grand opening or ribbon cutting. Marketing and advertising to get the word out about your new business was probably one of your top concerns. Marketing online is just as important for a retail store.
Don't just sit there watching cob webs gather on your website. Whether you sell products online or have a one-page website, there are many ways to generate more in-store traffic from your online presence. Increase exposure online with these Internet marketing tips for your retail store.
One of the fastest ways to spread word about your store, and products or services to local Ventura County shoppers, is by sending a press release. Media outlets all thrive on press releases every day. The abundance of online news distribution services is now making it easier than ever for retailers to announce new product lines, special events and other shop news.
Retailers that sell products online should most definitely be using product feeds to reach a broader audience. A product feed is simply a file generated from the website that lists product details such as photos, descriptions, pricing and even specials. These product feeds can be submitted to shopping comparison websites, search engines and also made available to customers using feed readers.
There are many ways a retailer can appear as an expert or voice of authority in a certain industry. One way is to host classes, seminars or workshops in-store. Another way is by signing up to teach related continuing education courses at the local college.
Internet retailers have known for years that one popular way to share knowledge and gain extra exposure is by writing content for free distribution. Article marketing, as it is known, has the ability to increase awareness of a retailer's presence, online and off.
Newsletter and email marketing is key in keeping in touch with the customers you've manage to get in your store or on your website. It takes a lot of work to gain a customer. Why let them leave without offering a way to stay in contact?
Many new website owners submit their site to the major search engines and then sit back and wait for customers to come. While this is an important step for marketing online, Ventura website owners often overlook all the other directories available.
Look for specialized link directories and niche sites to submit your business information and website. Not only will these directories help increase your link popularity, but they can drive highly targeted traffic to your retail store.
Google, Yahoo, Superpages and other directories and search engines are creating tools for local Ventura shoppers to find your business, provide maps of location, hours of operation and even coupons. Many of these listings are free with upgrade options for a fee.
If your store has paid for a print display ad in the local newspaper, you may know how ineffective marketing without spoken word or visual imagery can be. Radio and television marketing may be too pricey for your shop's budget, but there is another option.
Video marketing online allows a retailer to extend the reach of their message to a larger audience for little investment. Unlike traditional marketing, producing a unique online ad or video to convey your message or brand your store can have an extremely high ROI.
Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn may or may not help you sell your products but if that's where your customers hang out, maybe you should too. The blogs on these sites can help retailers keep in touch with shoppers, make announcements or feature new merchandise and promotions.
One very popular and effective method of Internet marketing for retailers in Ventura is the affiliate program. This is the process in which a retailer pays one or more affiliates for each sale or customer gained as a direct result of the affiliate's marketing efforts. The retailer generally provides banners, buttons or product feeds for the affiliate's use.
Many retailers manage their own affiliate programs while others opt to use a third party to track sales, orders and payments to the affiliate. The amount of commission or bonus paid out is determined by the retailer and outlined an affiliate agreement.
Shoppers love to get something for nothing! Retailers know this and have used freebies and giveaways as marketing tools for decades. Pens with the business name on them at the checkout counter and shopping bags with store logo are so commonplace in a retail store that we may not even see them as marketing items. Unfortunately, these items can actually become quite costly.
Not all giveaways must be expensive. A big advantage of marketing online is the opportunity to easily and quickly offer contests, coupon codes, product samples and even valuable content as promotional giveaways.
Online journals, better known as blogs, are becoming more and more popular. When the Internet was first getting started, users rushed to build personal web sites. Web sites are still very popular among web users, but many are now turning to blogs. What's the difference? This article will examine the main similarities and differences between a Weblog and a website.
While blogs and website are intended to be different, there are a couple of similarities in blogs and sites. Mainly, they are both found on the Internet using a URL or a web address. Both also must have some sort of host to keep the information online. Another similarity of the two is that they both can be maintained by virtually anyone from individuals to companies. Both Weblog and websites can also contain information, pictures, link and keywords, as well. These two types of sites will target readers.
With a blog, information that is entered on the site is generally updated very frequently depending on the writer. Sometimes blog writers even update several times a day. Usually with a website, information is not updated regularly. Websites generally contain information about something that does not change often. When a website is updated, usually the entire page is altered. With a blog, just one entry at a time is updated. After a website has been changed, that information is gone and cannot be seen again by the reader. On a blog, new entries are added, but the old ones are not deleted from the site. Instead, they are stamped with the date and time that they were created, given a title and indexed on that blog page. It makes it easy for a blog reader to go to a certain blog page and read past entries without having to search.
Another main difference between and blog and a website is that a website is generally a little harder to maintain and oftentimes requires a solid understanding of the way the Internet works. Unless you use a dynamic website or Control Management System that allows you to make changes without having to write code. With a blog, almost anyone can easily and quickly update a blog. It does not require any special working knowledge of the Internet. In addition, there are many sites that offer blog features and most of the time these can be used for free.
Blogs also encourage people to communicate with each other much more so than with a website. A websites primary function is to provide some sort of information to a reader. While there may be a place to leave a comment or an email address for writing that is not why that site was created. Blogs are used for communication. Writers may choose to make their site private, but most choose to publish their blogs making them public to any one who wishes to read. Most blog hosting sites offer options to add to the site so readers and the writer can leave comments to each other on the site. In addition, there are entire web communities built just for blogs. Blogs encourage those who have similar thoughts, interests or even businesses to share their blog site so readers can find them easily. Blogs offer guest tracking, keyword tracking, hit counters, comment areas, and even tag boards for both the reader and the writer to use.
Blogging is extremely popular right now. As more people begin sharing their thoughts with others, there are more blogs created each day. Blogging gives writers, journalists, professionals, moms, dads and even teenagers an instant way to publish their thoughts on a regular basis. For those who enjoy writing, blogs give a unique opportunity to practice writing skills and experiment with what others want to read. Businesses use blogs to show off their expertise and knowledge in their fields, whereas websites do not always get this type of message out to the readers.
Blogging and websites do have some similarities. They are both found on the Internet and contain information. However, blogs give a writer the unique opportunity to communicate with their reader and update their entries on a frequent basis. Anyone who tries blogging will love the instant gratification of getting their opinions and thoughts out on the Internet right away and getting instant feedback from readers that visit their site.
The bottomline is you should marry your website with a blogging tool and get the best of both worlds. Those trying to find a dynamic website with a built in blog can us at call The Final Code in Ventura Ca @ 805-243-8321 for complete Internet Marketing advice.
I Don’t Know What To Blog About!
When we consult with clients about marketing their website we educated them about the importance of blogging and how it helps with search engine placement. Most business people claim they don’t what to write about.
What do I blog about? “Write about what is unique about your business and how your business benefits a potential customer in an educational way”
It really is that simple. Of course, the challenging part is understanding and staying focused on the most important, otherwise known as highest payoff, topics.
Today it’s not enough to simply write brilliant stuff. Yes, that’s certainly one aspect, but you’ve also got to write brilliant stuff that addresses what your prospects want to know in ways that search engines and searchers alike find relevant.
A little bit of research can go a long way when trying to develop a content strategy based on winning search results for phrases and topics related to what you do.
Keyword research is a fundamental practice in the search engine optimization and marketing world. It’s how you determine what your pages need to say, it is how you determine what your competition for important search terms is doing to stay at the top of the rankings.
It’s also a great way to develop a body of primary topics for your editorial content calendar.
Below is a routine business owners should use over and over again to help sort out the precise body of topics that will produce the highest payoff in terms of search engine results.
Google Keyword Tool
Next I take this list to a free tool like the Google Keyword Tool . I run the words or phrases into these tools and quickly start working on revising my brainstorming list based on actual search volume, competition and a host of related phrases that these tools feed me.
Now take my revised list that is probably no more than ten phrases, to the Google. Plug each phrase in and note the page one results.
Analyze the top results to make sure this is a place you want to land and create a list of what is now called “competition” for these phrases.
Website Content Feature
One last step to use is to return to Google Keyword tool and use the website content feature that allows you to run a keyword analysis not on a search phrase but on an actual URL.
Do this with many of the competitive sites to learn why Google thinks what they do about this page and drum up more related search term candidates.
From all of this research you can generally come up with a meaty list of topics that you need to blog about in a very optimized way. The only task now is to find ways to say some of the same things over and over again in highly interesting ways. I also employ a tool like Scribe in my writing to help keep me laser focused on the content strategy.
This isn’t the only way to do keyword research and I’m sure many of the SEO folks have great strategies and routines for accomplishing what was described here, but this is a way that works to find a natural balance between content and optimization.
We offer easy to follow and FREE Internet Marketing Workshops in Ventura, CA. Call us to today and learn how to blog like a pro and get more customers online!
If you don’t post anything for months, then start posting every day for two weeks, only to burn out and stop again … your readers are going to get fed up.
There’s no rule about how often you should post … but you should try to be consistent. That means keeping the frequency of your posts roughly the same from week to week and month to month. If you do decide to make changes, phase them in gradually (and make sure you can keep up the pace).
You can be a bit flexible (e.g. posting twice one week and three times the next) but you shouldn’t have long periods of no posts at all followed by a rapid-fire stream of posts; you’ll overwhelm your readers.
Fix it: Come up with a blogging rhythm that works for you. Remember, quality is better than quantity!
Although most readers will be tolerant of occasional typos, constant mistakes can really damage your chances of success. If your posts are riddled with errors, or obviously dashed off at the last minute, can you really expect readers to feel confident about buying your products or services?
Once you’ve finished a post:
Fix it: Build editing time into your blogging schedule. That might mean writing posts a day ahead, so that you’ve got time to go through them again before publishing them.
This is probably the worst mistake I see … and sadly, it’s very common. Many bloggers just end their posts without giving the reader any clue about what to do next.
The final few lines of a post is a great opportunity to encourage readers to dosomething (this is called a “call to action” by marketers). You could ask them to:
Your call to action doesn’t need to be pushy or intrusive. You can simply write something like If you enjoyed reading this, click here to subscribe to my blog. That way, you’ll never miss a post!
Fix it: Go back to your three most recent posts and look at the final lines. Do you have calls to action in place? If not, add something.
So … it’s my turn! If you want to be a better blogger, The Final Code offers free blogging classes and other Internet Marketing workshops at our offices in Ventura, CA that will help you get more customers online. Call us at 805-243-8321 today!
Here are three easy steps you can use to see if your business website is a cookie-cutter site.
1) Look for websites that were created with website-builders – like Web.com or Website Tonite. Yes, these sites can get a small business a website on the Internet fast. But these sites rarely target a specific demographics, nor do they effectively convert website viewers into customers because of their cookie-cutter feel.
2) Cookie-cutter sites are rarely optimized for the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. They just do not know enough about your business to create the underlying code that the search engines … well … search for.
Let’s dig a little deeper: You can easily check a website’s keyword list by right-clicking on any page on a website. Then left-click on “View Source” (Internet Explorer) or “View Page Source,” (Firefox and Chrome). A new page will open listing the source code for that page. Somewhere near the top of that page you should find an entry for “keywords.” View this list and consider whether there are some creative entries for that business, or whether they are ‘machine generated.’ Then ‘View Page Source’ on another page on the same website, and make sure that page’s keywords matches the content on that particular page (not just the same keyword list shown on each and every page!).
3) The best consumer products proudly show the name of their manufacturer; Louis Vuitton, Apple, Mercedes Benz, etc. Websites that do not have the web developer’s name – linking back to the developer’s website, are probably sites where the creator would prefer that viewers not know who the developer was.
If you want your website to be found online and convert shoppers into customers, be sure to get a website that is search engine ready. This simply means have a professional set-up your website so your potential customers can find you with the keywords they use to find your type of goods or services. For example if a online shopper was looking for a Honda motorcycle mechanic in Ventura and a Honda motorcycle mechanic’s website was not programmed with the words “Honda motorcycle mechanic Ventura”, his website would not likely be found.
If you are shopping for a website just be aware of the fact that quicker and cheaper is not always better, especially if you are serious about Internet Marketing.
Was your website supposed to save the day?
Get a free website check-up to
see what your hero is really up to.
Let the professionals at The Final Code give you a FREE report on how your website is performing. Our “Nerd Report” is normally priced at $155.00 is now FREE for the month of October!
Find out if your website is getting found by online shoppers.
Find out if there are any errors that prevent you from capturing customers.
Find out if your website is getting consumers to buy from you and more!
Call today to schedule a FREE website check- up and start making money from your website and Internet marketing efforts!
Ventura County Now sponsored by The Final Code, Ventura County’s premiere internet production and marketing firm, is now offering FREE classes on how to successfully launch a powerful web based marketing campaign on any budget!
There will be many more topics and classes geared to help you, the local merchant bring more customers to your businesses.
Introductory classes are FREE. Our philosophy is we offer free services and classes to help local merchants get found online where all of today’s customers shop for goods and services. We hope are efforts are appreciated and if your business ever wants to increase your web based marketing efforts, we trust you will call us and let us create a campaign for you.
Classes begin September 2012!
Please RSVP as soon as possible! Space is limited!
VenturaCountyNow.com is a FREE online directory connecting customers to local businesses like you. We make it easier for people to find local services and quicker for local businesses to find new potential customers!
Now local businesses can increase their online presence through VenturaCountyNow.com for FREE!
Did you know that 97% of local consumers shop online and that nearly 10,000,000 searches take place each month in Ventura County?
More Online Exposure Please!
Thousands of online visitors use Ventura County Now for their shopping needs because they offer one simple site to use to find a multitude of goods and services.
Local Businesses can increase their visibility on VenturaCountyNow.com with Enhanced Listings! Your business listing will include a multitude of cool features geared to attract online shoppers!
How much does it cost?
How do you get an Enhanced Listing?
Give VenturaCountyNow.com a call and they will send their crew out to take pictures of your business, write a review on your goods and services, and gather all the information they need to create your listing! They may even select your business as a Front Page Featured Business and produce a free video for you!
Call Them Today at 805-243-8321 to Secure Your FREE Enhanced Listing!
The Final Code video team helped Jedlicka’s support The Make A Wish Foundation by producing a free professional video featuring Damian Gomez’s wish to meet rodeo cowboys.
Damian Gomez is a 9 year old boy from Santa Maria came to spend at Jedlicka for some one-on-one time with the Professional Bull Riding Tour cowboys on Thursday the 2nd of August as part of his wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Damian was all smiles while he shopped for a new cowboy hat, explored our store with his family and chatted with his bull rider heroes.
Damian has loved watching bull riding on television since he was 4 years old and it was his wish meet them in person. He was able to meet cowboys Ryan Dirteater, Rocky McDonald, Chase Outlaw and Sean Willingham who shared stories of broken bones and their many years of riding bulls for the crowd, which Damian said was his favorite part of the afternoon.
After visiting the store the whole Gomez family enjoyed the show at the Earl Warren Showgrounds where they were able to cheer on the cowboys and get a behind-the-scenes tour, given by the 2012 Old Spanish Days Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo.
The Gomez family has been going through Damian’s battle with Hodgkin’s together, and a day meeting Damian’s heroes, shopping with us at Jedlicka’s and attending the 2012 Old Spanish Days Rodeo proved to be a young boy’s day to remember.
At Trio Nursery located in Santa Barbara, CA, we truly care about unyielding customer satisfaction. When it came time for us to launch a new website and internet marketing campaign we chose The Final Code because they have also have proven to provide the same level of customer satisfaction that we demand from our staff. The Final Code team is dedicated to personal attention and guiding their customer’s through the process of creating a powerful web presence. The Trio Nursery’s new website is now rich with outstanding new features. Our new online store now inspires our customers to make purchases easily online and also allows our staff to process orders quicker and more efficiently.
We really liked the fact that The Final Code is a local company and that they were easily accessible for any questions we had throughout the process all the way to our launch date. They continue to support us with valuable insights and ongoing marketing efforts. They have great knowledge of how to market online and have provided us with social media and search engine optimization services. We really like our new videos that display our beautiful nursery and the landscape that harbors our wide variety of plants. Now our customers can feel like they are physically at the nursery from the comfort of their homes! We really feel the videos and multi-media features produced by The Final Code’s production crew, has created a more personal online shopping experience! As a matter of fact, we have seen a dramatic increase in traffic on our website just days after it was launched!
We at the Trio Nursery demand excellence from our staff, and we are pleased to say, The Final Code met all our demands and then some. If you are seeking a firm to develop a new site or help you marketing your current site give these guys a call. They are very affordable, effective, and professional. Our ROI will far exceed our expectations and we feel confident our profits will soar from our new web presence.
We are proud of our new website! Please visit us @ www.TrioNursery.com. We offer a wide variety of unique plants for your home! Feel free to browse our new store and see all the beautiful pictures of our inventory and get a Trio Nursery plant shipped to your front door!
One of our customers built a website with Yellowbook who now has ownership of the domain name and will not release it. Before building the website, the Yellowbook Rep assured the customer that if he ever wanted to build his own website they would release the domain name. What he didn’t mention is that they would do anything possible to make this difficult.
When we spoke with Yellowbook they informed us that they would release the domain at the end of the current contract. When speaking to them they informed us they would not release the domain name until 1 year after the website was published. The rep claimed that the website was published at a later date so they would not release the domain name until one year from that date. According to the customer their website has been in operation for some time, so clearly their records are inaccurate or their “retention department” is making things up.
If you are considering building a website with Yellowbook look elsewhere.
Good Blog writing could be the key to keep your visitors coming back for more. Blogging has helped people make a proper living and to achieve the same you need to make sure that you deliver what your customer is looking for. Some important tips to be kept in mind while making a blog post.
1) Write what you feel is right – People respect sincere opinions. You will get much higher blog traffic if you can keep your blog simple to understand by writing what you feel is right.
2) Write your blog posts to the point -Remember most of us today have very little to no time to go through lengthy Posts — Keep it simple and crisp!!
3) Try and post a relevant image with your blog post – A picture speaks a thousand words. You can add on simple line to your blog post and let the picture say the rest. You will be amazed at the results.
4) Bullet points – This will help readers see what you want them to read. Your most important message can be conveyed very easily with the help of bullet points. They stand out and provide a clearer picture.
5) Use of keywords - Though keywords are important remember not to overdo them. To put a clearer picture in front of the reader keywords should always be sprinkled over your content rather than “stuffed”!!
6) Headline – Don’t be afraid to be creative with your headlines — this alone can help you get 100′s of visitors
Dynamic Websites Versus Static Websites
Before you go to a webmaster for a website to be developed it is important to know the difference so that you can determine the best solution for your website.
Let me explain you these concepts……
A static site is a website that is written entirely using HTML. Each web page is a separate document and there are no databases or external files that are drawn upon.
This means that the only way to edit this type of website is to go into each page and edit the HTML. So you would have to do it yourself using a web page editor such as FrontPage or Dreamweaver, or pay your web developer to make updates for you.
A dynamic website is written using more complex code - such as PHP or ASP - and has a greater degree of functionality. For instance, many dynamic websites can be controlled by a CMS(content management system). This means that you will potentially be able to make updates without needing any knowledge of HTML or any website software.
Each page of a dynamic website is generated from information stored in a database or external file. And the content management system that you may use to maintain your website directly modifies this stored information.
Which one do you prefer?
Many people prefer dynamic websites because they have a lot of benefits.
1. Dynamic sites reduce ongoing maintenance costs,
2. Make data management very efficient,
3. Enable the addition of any future add-ons such as data feeds or a comprehensive site search.
4. They also make it impossible to destroy the layout, as might happen if you edit it from a web page editor.
5. Above all…it makes you website interactive rather than just text displaying page.
There are some drawbacks to using dynamic websites as well.
1. First, they usually cost more to develop, because they require more complex coding, as well as the development of a content management interface to enable you to maintain your website.
2. Second, you will need to obtain web hosting which supports databases and dynamic languages. Fortunately, most hosts do offer these features by default.
There are affordable dynamic sites that don’t skimp on workability, options, or functionality. The Final Code is one such company. Often times The Final Code’s dynamic sites cost less than static sites
The Final Code also offers great hosting fees for very little money and offers unlimited usage of the dynamic application. That means you can create as much content as you want because you have unlimited storage.
Blogging for business purposes has become an extremely effective SEO technique and often helps with building your online business. Careful research and planning before setting up a blog, will provide the maximum benefits.
What is Blogging?
When it comes down to it, a blog can be anything you want it to be. What sets it apart from what may be considered a regular website is in the fact that blogs are more of an ongoing conversation with the internet public, that is updated regularly.
A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger.”
How Can Blogging Help My Business?
Blogging provides a specific method to personalize your business and keep the internet public updated on new and exciting things going on with your company. They can also be a wonderful marketing tool, provided the content is designed to BENEFIT the reader, rather than solely to advertise a product or service.
Blogging also provides another opportunity for people to find your site. Often times when people are looking for a product or service, they will FIRST look for information concerning the subject.
What Would I Write About?
Although you will likely publish several articles on your blog site, first determine the primary focus of the blog. Select topics that are relevant to your website and the visitors you are targeting. If you have more than one relevant topic, create separate blogging accounts for each subject.
Sample Topics Relevant to a Business Website:
Parts dealership - articles on repair tips.
Homeschooling website - frugal living tips.
Virtual office - articles on organizing an office.
For this strategy to be effective though, you must provide quality content that benefits your visitors. Do not use your blog strictly for advertising your website. Although you will certainly blend in references to gently guide the visitors to your site, it is not intended to be a walking billboard. Many search engines give added weight to authority sites. This will be important to you for several reasons, but especially in terms of controlling quality anchor text backlinks to your main site.
Researching and Planning For Your Blog
Once you have decided on the main topic, thoroughly research key phrases the public will use to search for information concerning the topic you have selected. Use tools such as the free Keyword Suggestion Tool from Google Adwords to research possible key phrases for your selected topic. https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer?__u=1000000000&__c=1000000000&ideaRequestType=KEYWORD_IDEAS#search.none
Your selection will be used as the title of your blog. It is vital to remember that search engines will return search results in the exact order of their perceived relevancy to the search phrase requested. The more relevant your blog appears to be to the search requested, the HIGHER your articles will show in the search results.
When you have selected a key phrase for the primary focus of your articles, you will now need to choose the description for your blog. I have found it to be far more effective to use no more than 150-200 characters. It is imperative to include the title of your blog within the description.
Use Basic SEO Techniques For Your Blog
If the service you select allows you to choose the URL of your new blog, consider using effective keywords from your key phrase. If your key phrase is only 3 words, consider using the exact phrase, separated by hyphens. Once you have completed setting up the new blog account, adjust the preferences following basic SEO techniques.
For example, many blog services will give you the option of adding a title for each article. This will certainly be far more effective to your search engine optimization strategies than separating postings by the current date, provided you select titles that use at least parts of the key phrase from your blog title. Of course you will also want to consider keyword density when writing your articles.
It will not do a lot of good to invest your time setting up a blog to focus on a specific subject, unless the articles are actually about the topic. Some people choose to move articles to their own domain once they reach the point of being archived. This is truly a matter of personal preference. One possible alternative would be to provide enticing blurbs on your blog, that are anchor text linked to the full articles published on your main website.
Promote Your New Blog
Finally, you will need to link to your new blog from your main site, so that the search engines can find it! Consider having a small area on your front page for featured articles. As you create new blog accounts, make sure you add them to the static links on your original blog, to encourage the spiders to crawl your blogs on a regular basis.
Place a note on your articles encouraging visitors to link to your blog. If people find your articles to be helpful, often they will happily add a link to your blog.
Posting Comments to Relevant Blogs
Why Leave Comments on Blogs?
There has been a lot of misinformation passed around the internet concerning the new "nofollow" attribute announcement by Google. Many people felt that this meant that all links on blogs would no longer be followed.
The new attribute is designed to be used in locations where spammers are able to leave their link AUTOMATICALLY, such as in the comment sections of blogs. This will have no effect on the links used in the blogs themselves.
"If you're a blogger (or a blog reader), you're painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites' search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like "Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site." This is called comment spam, we don't like it either, and we've been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn't a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it's just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists." Google Blog January 18, 2005 - Preventing Comment Spam
Many people have asked if there is any point in leaving comment on blogs anymore. First of all, not all blogs are using this new attribute. This attribute is most commonly used on the blogs without the option of screening comments BEFORE they are posted. Most importantly though, you should NEVER leave comments on a blog for the sole purpose of receiving credit for an incoming link. Comments left on blogs should be honest and sincere feedback. As part of good advertising you should always sign your name, business name and the URL to your site.
Multiple Blogging Accounts
Should you have more than one blog? Since I think blogs should have somewhat of a basic "theme", I also happen to believe that you should consider maintaining as many blogs as you are able to provide QUALITY content for. One of the keys to developing a successful online business, is creating a variety of different opportunities for people to find your site.
The SEO Secret Weapon
If you have a web site, you may have noticed one of two things about the traffic you get from search engines.
Your search traffic may have dried up overnight, with once-healthy streams turning into a sad little trickle.
Or you may have noticed a nice, steady improvement as you’ve climbed higher in the SERPs (search engine results pages), while other sites that used to outrank you suddenly evaporated.
There’s a super-secret new ingredient in SEO.
It was always a factor, but it’s become even more important recently, as the Google team relentlessly declares war on what they see as tricks and sneaky tactic
Ready for the mind-blowing “secret new ingredient”?
It’s the authority, editorial focus, and relevance of your site — in other words, your site quality.
Be careful — site quality may not mean what you think it means
It’s not just good writing. That can help, but it’s not enough.
It’s not just having a lot of content. That helps too, but it has to be the right content.
And it’s not just optimization. Optimization still matters … but only after you take care of these key site quality factors.
Improving your site quality means building a site that works for users first, and search engines second.
Let’s take a look at some individual elements of site quality, and how you can boost them to create a site that works for users and search engines.
Is your site someplace readers want to be?
One of the factors Google looks at is how long a reader spends on your site. Not just on the page they land on, but are they sticking around to check out other pages?
It starts with site design that’s clean, uncluttered, and appealing.
It may not make sense for you at this point to spend thousands of dollars on graphic design, but anyone can benefit from great-looking site design (that also happens to be well-optimized for SEO).
You also want to make sure you’re on good, reliable web hosting, so that waiting for your site to load doesn’t resemble waiting in line at the DMV. Slow sites aren’t good for users and they don’t earn search engine love.
Finally — and most important — you need to put reader questions, problems, and concerns front and center. If you’re a great resource for them, they’ll stick around and see what else you have to offer. What’s the secret there? Content… of course.
Less sophisticated SEOs might advise you to outsource a writer (who may or may not be particularly proficient in English) to slap together hundreds of pages that have the right keywords on them.
That’s a sign that you need to fire your SEO. The true SEO pros know that it isn’t just content you need — it’s good content.
Good content isn’t always the most gracefully written. It might violate every grammatical rule in the book. It might be brash, or weird. It might offend your in-laws.
But for your purposes, it’s good content if it’s:
Good content is persuasive, it’s interesting, it’s useful, and it gets shared. It earns the “signals” that tell search engines you’ve got the best site in your topic.
What do you talk about most of the time?
This one can be a real advantage, letting a relatively small site win the SERP battle against a much bigger competitor … for the right term.
That’s because Google now looks more closely at what you talk about most of the time.
Here on The Final Code, we talk a lot about website design and SEO marketing which relates to content marketing. We don’t talk much about pizza, weight loss, or pharmaceuticals.
That’s why for every site that got kicked in the teeth by Google’s Panda update, there was another site — one with a lot of high-quality content that was well focused around a particular topic — that started to see a nice boost in search traffic.
Write about what you want to rank for. Then write some more about that. Then write some more.
Keep your content focused. Keep serving your audience. And keep showing up.
Every page is a landing page
You don’t know how your next reader will find your site. It might be the result of a search. It might be from a social media share. It might be an email post that got forwarded. You might have bought some traffic with pay-per-click.
It doesn’t actually matter. Because every page on your site is a landing page for someone. The reader jumps into your site there … and looks around to see what to do next.
Every page has to lead gracefully into everything else you do. Every page has to underscore the value you provide.
That means you make your navigation user-friendly, you highlight your very best content, and you get smart about internal links. Which brings us to …
How to use your link structure
Remember when we talked about keeping readers nicely stuck to your site, poking around and finding lots of good stuff to read, listen to, or watch?
That’s one of the many excellent reasons to have lots of internal links in your content.
What should you link to? To your best content — what we call your cornerstone content. Your best advice, your best thinking, and your best answers to the questions readers come up with again and again.
Content landing pages are a handy way to focus those links, but you should also keep linking to your favorite posts that address a key point in your topic particularly well.
This encourages readers to spend some more quality time on your site. The resulting backlinks you get aren’t exactly going to make or break you with the search engines, but if the scraped page has any readers at all, some of them will come find you.
Remember to be smart about how you’re using anchor text when you link to your own stuff. Use keywords gracefully, and again (as always) write for your readers first. Don’t try to stuff your content with internal links — use them when they make sense and give the reader a deeper view into what you write about.
Of course it isn’t new
Obviously I’m indulging in a bit of silliness by calling this a “new” factor. Google (and the other search engines) have always wanted to make site quality their main factor — but doing that was difficult.
So they put a bunch of very brainy engineers on it, and every year they get a little better.
Here’s what one of their relatively new engineers said in a recent interview, quoted in Web Pro News.
Manipulating Google results shouldn’t be something you feel entitled to be able to do. If you want to rank highly in Google, be relevant for the user currently searching. Engage him in social media or email, provide relevant information about what you’re selling, and, generally, be a “good match” for what the user wants.
That’s always been their position. Trying to fight that by exploiting weaknesses in their algorithm is a short-term solution that tends not to work very well for your readers … or for the long-term health of your business.
Don’t take shortcuts, they take too long
I was talking with a gentleman at a conference this week, and he mentioned a colleague with dozens of clients who got utterly demolished by Google’s Panda update — an update designed to improve the quality of the sites Google ranks well.
Interestingly, every one of those Panda-smacked clients followed the same marketing guru for “shortcuts” to good search traffic.
Shortcuts can work for a little while. And you may have found a good one that will get you a quick burst of traffic while you build something that lasts.
But if you aren’t building a site that’s worth reading (and that’s therefore worth sharing in social media, and worth linking to), the most brilliant shortcut in the world will take you away from where you want to go.
You aren’t serving search engines - you’re serving readers and customers. Put them first and everything else will start working for you.
Back in the good old days when blogging first started all you needed to do was WRITE great content and you were set. These days however the web has come a long way, making it simple for bloggers to create dynamic content that can grab a user’s imagination both on-site and off-site.
Whether you’re writing a political blog, a blog about technology or managing a site about healthy eating these five types of content can help better engage your audience while providing more ways to reach new followers.
1. HD Video
A good HD Video camera can be the best investment a blogger can make. These days readers want to put a face with content and if possible they want to see example for what you write about (sweeping landscapes for a travel blog, tech reviews for a technology website, etc). HD video allows users to become even more engaged since they are likely to watch your videos in full screen mode which means they are giving you their full attention.
A word for the wise, don’t simply write “watch my review of this product” instead give a full write-up on the page where your video is being shown, this increases time-on-site, helps your page get indexed and gives users who can’t watch a video at the time reason to stay on your site and read the written part of your content. If your written content is really good that user might go back and watch your video when they can.
I can’t possibly stress the importance of podcasts for developing a rabid following. While some users will sit in front of their computer to listen to what you have to say podcasts really shine when a user must walk away. I have numerous friends who actually listen to audio clips from their favorite websites when they drive.
While Podcasts are great for on-site listening they also get users engaged off-site which can in turn make your property more attractive to advertisers.
A quick tip with podcasts, make sure to always tie some of your conversation back to the website. For example you might say “I wrote a nice piece about co-blogging on the site yesterday.” This ensures that your listeners convert back into readers by leaving something to desire for at a later time.
Readers love info-graphics. First this is really easy content to create, simply read the info-graphic and write about it. Typically give the main gist of the info-graphic then display it. Also use info-graphics at the end of the title. This is the best way to attract attention to the fact that this isn’t your regular post.
Info-graphics are nice because a lot of web readers like to absorb information quickly and in a visual manner and info-graphics allow that to happen.
Helpful tip: Create your own info-graphics with useful information and other sites will grab the graphic from your website, share it on their own and provide a link back to your website. There are literally companies that will sell you exclusive rights to info-graphics that match your industry and then help you get it displayed on many websites with link-backs.
You may have noticed lately that a lot of blogs and general websites have added photo and video slideshows to their pages. This type of content is nice because it forces the user to interact (typically with back/forth arrows or play/pause buttons). Slideshows are also nice because they come off as professional. When I think of a slideshow I think of a well thought out business presentation.
Slideshows are also nice because they can let you determine the “flow” of your content by pushing users in a certain direction while they think “what’s next.”
A well thought out Slideshow allows you to direct your content and because it takes time to interact with it allows for longer “time on site” statistics which advertisers love.
5. PDF & Other Document Downloads
I know a lot of users who find it silly that some websites still offer PDF and other document types for the content they create. I personally find this type of content however to be some of the most engaging. A user who is willing to print out a webpage is probably an engaged user who will print and share your posts with others. For example an inspiration post may be handed out at a meeting which in turn will lead to more readers. With documents I suggest you make sure your website’s URL is printed somewhere on each page.
PDF and other documents don’t necessarily need to be based on the content on the site, you could be providing a free e-book in PDF form or offering supplemental directions for a how-to-article you just wrote. The trick is to make the downloadable content engaging and something users don’t just need to read once to fully comprehend.
Those are just a few tips on content creation. The trick to remember is that your users want to be engaged immediately, conveniently and if possible once they leave your website, you just have to give them those options.
Why Use Online Marketing
You should use online marketing for a variety of reasons. If you can figure it out, it gives you the ability to spend your time, not your money, advertising your business. It gives you access to a much broader market than any brick and mortar business. It allows you to compete with big companies that just throw money at Internet marketing, a tactic often used to crush smaller business in the brick and mortar world.
When you get down to brass knuckles, online marketing not only gives you a level playing field with the big or bigger boys, it gives you an advantage. I like to call this the leverage and arrogance advantage.
Assume you write one piece of great software and try to start a small company in the brick and mortar world. If you are deemed to be a threat by the big software companies, what is going to happen? If you don’t get bought out, they are going to wipe you out. Not on the web.
Online marketing is beautiful because it flattens the playing field for all players, big and small. The key is search engine optimization. Regardless of how much money a dominant company in an industry throws at search engine rankings, they will never have an inherent advantage over you. They have no leverage, because there is nobody to buy off. The best they can do is buy advertisements, which most people don’t click. If you get the top ranking on Google, Yahoo and MSN for your keywords, nobody can knock you off unless they do a better optimization job than you do. In no way, shape or form would this ever be possible in the brick and mortar world unless you have a monstrous amount of cash.
Dominant brick and mortar companies use marketing firms to push their brands on television, billboards, magazines and so on. When the companies open a site, they often have these marketing firms handle their internet efforts as well. Crushing them on search engines is like taking candy from a baby. They haven’t a clue what they are doing, but their arrogance will never let them acknowledge they are paying triple the going rate for advertisements on high traffic sites. They just throw money at the problem, a strategy that fails every time on the web.
You, however, aren’t going to waste money by purchasing banner ads and other fluff that will waste your money. Nope, you are going to pursue search engine optimization on your own or through a credible group. While the dominant company is spending $20 a click for their apy per click ads, you are going to be laughing your way to the bank as customers pour in from your top rankings on Google, Yahoo and MSN.
Website Design and Optimization
The Internet can be a cruel place for many businesses. Website designing and optimization must be done at the same time, or your super highway will dead end.
It is often said that humanity seems to have lost its common sense. This simply is not true, but it would be great if people chucked common sense when starting a site. Common sense has no place in the design process!
Common sense suggests that the first step in designing a website is…to design the site! In this case, common sense takes a fall. The last step in starting a website is the design. Many feel that the most important aspect of a great website is it needs to be pleasing to the eye and be rich with pretty graphics.
Actually, the first step is to research. The second is using the research to create a layout. The third step is planning out your optimization… then, and only then, should the website be built. Let’s take a closer look.
Research is all about figuring out what keywords your prospects are using on the web. Keywords are simply the phrase being typed into search engines for various subjects. For example, the keyword phrase on this page is “website designing and optimization” and a couple hundred people type it into search engines each day. The best thing to do is hire a reputable internet marketing firm to research the best key words to use for your business.
Undoubtedly, you have a very strong opinion about what your prospects are searching for and want. You are undoubtedly wrong. Sorry, but it has been proven over and over again. People type in the strangest things when searching for things on the web. You should allow a professional to identify the exact phrases being typed. You should then look for trends. As those trends appear, you should start laying out your site. Each trend should have its own section on the site. Don’t fight the results of the research. You want to sell to your prospects, so make sure your site layout matches the subjects they are looking for on the net.
Optimizing your site is not the easiest of tasks. In fact, it goes well beyond the scope of this article Nonetheless, the important thing to realize is that you must have an optimization plan in place before the site is built. Optimization techniques are like the electrical wiring in a skyscraper. Once they are in place, it takes a lot of effort, time and money to change them. Get it right from the outset. Once you do that, you are ready to actually build your site.
Website designing and optimization should be done in concert with one another. If you can avoid building a site before even thinking about optimization, you will be far ahead of most sites on the web and your internet marketing will match up with your website production.
Brand Marketing Online
I have always been envious of offline marketing companies because of brand marketing. It must be glorious to create marketing plans where you don’t have to show precise cause and effect results. Creating an image for a product sounds like so much fun, particularly when you don’t have to show a particular advertisement produced exactly “x” amount of sales. On the Internet, you should always be able to show such a revenue analysis or you are not going about things correctly.
While there are many online marketers that make feeble attempts at branding services or products, there is one area where you can establish a branding element. This area is known as article publication and distribution. Traditionally, this marketing strategy has been used as part of a search engine optimization strategy, but it works for branding as well.
The Internet is all about the flow of free information. There are millions of sites on the web and they are all looking for new content to keep their visitors coming back. This is where articles and article directories come in.
An article directory is a site where writers publish articles that other sites can use without worrying about copyright issues. In exchange, the sites agree to publish the authors name and an author byline. The situation is similar to writing a column for your local newspaper, except you are writing for hundreds or thousands of “newspapers” depending on the number of sites that pick up your articles.
To take advantage of these directories, you need to write articles on subjects relevant to your business. The articles are not press releases nor should they be sales pitches. They are information articles and should offer something juicy. Think of like the free workshops you attend at Home Depot to learn how to fix or build something. Your articles should provide the same value.
So, how does this constitute brand marketing online? It establishes you and your business as a credible source on a subject. If you publish hundreds of articles in the directories, your site will become the dominant site in your industry.
When you read the paper, do you have a favorite columnist? If so, you inherently view that person as highly credible and knowledgeable in their area of expertise? You also pay attention to things they speak highly of or recommend. When you need to buy one, you will almost always go with what they recommend. By publishing quality articles in the directories, you can become that columnist.
Can you imagine a more effective method of brand marketing online and increasing your internet production efforts? If you have a great web design, and a great product or service, why not become a blogger and begin to expand your web presence?
Stand Out in the Crowd!
Trade Secrets Revealed! Learn What the Experts Know in Internet Marketing for Free! Smart Internet Marketing = Big Return on Investment!
When internet marketing is concerned, the biggest investment can be the time spent in research to determine how to launch and maintain a success campaign. There is a lot of information regarding internet marketing that can be confusing, and overwhelming. Questions like, what is SEO? What is the difference between organic SEO and pay per click? Why is social media important? What are back links and why are they important? What is the difference between a dynamic site and static site? Do I own my own URL? What is web hosting? How do get the most out of video on my site? Do I need e-commerce? How do I launch an e-mail marketing campaign? What is the best way to capture customers? The list goes on and on and many throw their hands up in the air and give up.
The Final Code helps make internet marketing and production simple with concise and easy to understand steps that anyone can assimilate and put into action to create a steady stream of new customers.
The problem is if a business gives up on internet marketing or don’t market effectively, “in the know” competition will gladly take the lion share of online customers. The bottom line is internet marketing is hot and it’s only getting hotter. Those with the knowledge and know how will win and their business will grow and thrive while there competitors are left in financial despair.
Be “In The Know.” The Final Code is a local internet marketing and production firm that is dedicated to help local small businesses “crack the code” to the sometimes intimidating world of internet marketing. Local small business owners will now have the opportunity to attend FREE classes on how to effectively market on the web in a cost effective, easy manner.
“Our goal is to help local businesses tap into the incredible business generating world of internet marketing”, says Dave Williams, Marketing Director for The Final Code. “We have found that many small businesses have not launched a success internet marketing campaign simply because they didn’t fully understand how to do so or they were intimidated by the cost. We are focused on creating an avenue in which any business, even with the smallest of advertising budgets, can launch a powerful web presence. Let’s face it. Many customers are passing by local businesses because today’s customer searches for goods and services online. If a potential customer can’t find a business online they will bring their dollars to a business that does.”
The fact is not enough nowadays to simply create a website. It is essential that a website is properly promoted through search engines like Google, Bing, You Tube, Yahoo, and through Social Media avenues like Facebook, My Space and Twitter. In addition there are many other effective and affordable methods of internet marketing.
The Final Code desires to share trade secrets with local businesses so they can effectively compete in today’s fast moving internet market place.
That is why The Final Code is now offering free classes in downtown Ventura for local businesses. Topics in the classes range from Internet Marketing 101, where small business owners can learn the basic workings of internet marketing, to Search Engine Optimization, Blogging and Social Media marketing which provides the attendees valuable insights in creating new customers online.
Space is limited to these free classes. Contact The Final Code at 805-243-8321 for more info and to reserve your spot today!
2011 Was a Big Year For Social Media
The "Big Three," Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn got bigger. Hundreds, maybe thousands of other social networks flourished. Social media is not just a fad. Instead, it's become clear social media is here to stay. It has fundamentally changed the way we do business and the way we document our everyday lives. One in every nine people on Earth are on Facebook and people spend over 700 billion minutes a month sharing photos and status updates.
Despite its name, social media success has nothing at all to do with media; it’s all about the community within which you do your business. Social media works because people realize that they trust each other more than they do the companies that try to sell you products.
The key to exploiting this new reality is to continuously listen to and evaluate what people feel, think and say about your company, and respond to these perceptions appropriately.
With all the tools available online, you can jump in and start measuring virtually everything about your social media activities.
These measurements are popular and normally easy to understand, but by themselves don’t lead to useful strategic action and so may not be worth much. For example, marketers may be tempted to focus on measuring the so-called “three Fs” (friends, fans and followers).
But, knowing these figures provide little help in determining how effective a social media campaign is. Following are five useful measurements that will help you assess your social media marketing performance.
Social media marketing is not always an easy task for companies to manage; most companies don't have the staff in place to help them with their online marketing initiatives. That’s why The Final Code offers comprehensive Social Media solutions for businesses in need of marketing assistance.
Search Engine Optimization 101
More than anything else, after you completed your website design and website production and want to launch your internet marekting campaign, you need to start producing quality content? If you’re selling something, do you go beyond being only a brochure with the same information that can be found on hundreds of other sites?
Do you provide a reason for people to spend more than a few seconds reading your pages?
Do you offer real value, something of substance to visitors, anything unique, different, useful and that they won’t find elsewhere?
These are just some of the questions to ask yourself in assessing whether you’re providing quality content. Do provide it, because it is literally the cornerstone upon which other factors depend.
Content Research / Keyword Research
Perhaps the most important SEO tactic after creating good content is good keyword research. There are a variety of tools that allow you to easily, and for free, discover the ways that people may be searching for your content.
You want to create content using those keywords, the search terms people are using. That effectively lets your content “answer” them.
For example, a page about “Avoiding Melanoma” may be using technical jargon to describe ways to prevent the most dangerous type of skin cancer. If people are searching for “skin cancer prevention tips,” then writing in the wrong “language” might cause search engines to skip your content as a possible answer.
Create content that speaks to what people are searching for, that uses the language that they themselves are using.
Content Words / Use Of Keywords
Having done your keyword research (you did that, right?), have you actually used those words in your content? Or if you’ve already created some quality content before doing research, perhaps it’s time to revisit that material and do some editing.
Bottom line: if you want your pages to be found for particular words, it’s a good idea to actually use those words in your copy.
How often? Repeat each word you want to be found for at least five times or seek out a keyword density of 2.45%, for best results.
OK, that was a joke. There’s no precise number of times, and even if “keyword density” sounds scientific, honest, even if you hit some promised “ideal” percentage, that would guarantee nothing.
Just use common sense. Think about the words you want a page to be found for, the words you especially feel are relevant from your keyword research. Then use them naturally on the page. If you commonly shift to pronouns on a second and further references, maybe use the actual noun again here and there, rather than a pronoun.
If you’ve written quality content, then users will be engaging with it. To determine that, search engines may try to measure engagement in a variety of ways.
For example, did someone search, find your page in the listings, click through but then immediately “bounce” back to the results to try something else? That can be a sign that your content isn’t engaging. It’s also a metric search engines can measure.
Are people sending a relatively long time reviewing your content, in relation to similar content on other sites? That “time on site” metric is another thing that search engines can measure, such as through toolbars that both Google and Bing offer.
Social “likes” of the Facebook type and other varieties are another way that engagement might be measured, and we’ll cover these more in the Social section of this guide.
Search engines are typically cagey about if they use engagement metrics much, much less exactly what metrics they may use. But we do think it is a factor being measured in several ways. Success here is highly linked to the quality of your content.
No you can’t just update your pages every day thinking that will make them “fresh” and thus more likely to rank better with search engines. Nor can you just add new pages on anything constantly and think that gives you a freshness boost, either.
However, Google does have something it calls Query Deserved Freshness. This means that if there’s a search that’s suddenly getting unusually popular versus its normal activity for some reason, Google will look to see if there’s any fresh content on that topic and give it a boost toward the top results.
If you’ve got the right content, on the right topic when QDF hits, you may enjoy being in the top results for a week or two or three. Just be aware that after that, your page might disappear. It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong. It’s just that the freshness boost has worn off.
How often do you search in the online yellow pages or on google for a particular business, only to find that they do not have a website? How often do members of the business community hand you a business card with an email address @yahoo.com or the like? In today’s business world it is amazing to see just how many businesses still do not have a web presence. A website is a fairly inexpensive business tool that serves a purpose for both you and your clients. For you, it is a fairly inexpensive way to advertise. Obtaining an appropriate domain name for your business does not cost very much any more.
The Final Code is here to help through the process, choosing your domain, emails, marketing strategies, social media creation and much more. Once you have a website you can list your website address on your business cards, flyers and pamphlets, bulletin boards and even the company sign that you have hanging on the side of your building. In fact, you can save money on these other marketing tools by having a website. For example, you can feature an electronic version of your catalog on your website, with no limit on size. You can describe all of your products and services in greater detail because space on your website is significantly less expensive then full color print. And what happens if you need to make a change, such as if you delete or add products or services? Are you going to reprint all of your printed marketing materials? On a website, you have the ability to make the necessary changes at no additional costs. The Final Code makes dynamic websites that you can change yourself at anytime from anywhere.
For your clients, they will have the convenience of reading about your company and the services and products you offer on their own time. In today’s world, people lead very busy lives when you consider the commitment of their careers and family. By having a well presented website, you lend yourself to the convenience of your clients. They can come to you when they want to. If you add a “Contact Us” link onto your website, it allows your customers to contact you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can drive traffic to your site to learn all about your company and what you have to offer. Your clients can get a much better idea about your business because you can feature multiple pages on your site with greater details about the different aspects of your company, products and services. You can even provide directions to your place of business, making it easier for customers to find you.
By having a web presence, great website design, web production, and internet marketing campaign, you expand your market significantly. You make yourself available to people in other time zones and even across the globe rather than the limited market audience you can reach in your local geographical area. And at a fraction of the cost! With a website there is less need to send out expensive mailings to purchased mail lists that are often unreliable. Even those mailings that do make it to the target audience are thrown away without ever being looked at.
Small business internet advertising is more targeted to a specific audience. The Final Code has a unique built in email program that allows you to collect data from the clients who visit your website. They are there because they have a specific interest in your company’s product or service, which you can use to your advantage. By collecting e-mail addresses from willing visitors to your website you can stay in contact with them without having to pay for printing or postage.
Whether you are a small business owner, inventor, entrepreneur, artist, author, musician or band, you need a website. In the world we live in increasingly people are turning to the Internet to find information, and if you don’t have a presence on the Internet you will not only be making it more difficult for people to find you, but you will be sending the wrong message.
RETURN ON INFLUENCE. In social media, this is the new ROI, and it's a term that represents qualitative results more than quantitative statistics. Return on Influence is concerned with engagement, rather than the monetary investment and profits associated with social media metrics.
The social connections you make through your web strategy are at the core of your influence --- it's this strategy that affects the perceptions, attitudes and actions of your audience. The first product that your web engagement should create is impact. Your impact is relative to your social media influence (new ROI), while standard ROI seeks to attribute a financial value (something that will typically be a secondary result of your social media efforts). These two ROI's require different perspectives when measuring a program's success, and for many, the assessment of return on influence is more telling than the return on investment. For example, let's look at volume.
Whether you're calculating Facebook fans, Twitter followers or website traffic, this metric can be seen in two ways:
1. Return on Investment: i.e. How many Facebook fans did you gain after spending $1,000 on a Facebook ad campaign? Say you achieved 2,000 new 'likes' -- that would appear productive and efficient from a financial perspective. Your quantitative assessment = Success
2. Return on Influence: i.e. If you achieved 2,000 new fans over the course of your $1,000 Facebook ad campaign, how many of those 2,000 fans took the action you ultimately desire (shared your page, posted a comment, joined your contest, etc.)? If only 400 of those new fans took action, you could assume your engagement is low, and therefore, could be improved since your ultimate objective should be to impact behaviors rather than just extend your reach. Your qualitative assessment = Needs improvement
Some other KPI's (key performance indicators) you can use to measure your Return on Influence include:
Let’s face it… Would a customer more likely believe in a pitch man or a trusted friend when considering making a purchase? Consumers are rapidly turning away from listening to commercials and reading print ads. Most consumers simply turn the channel or change the station when a commercial comes on.
Word of mouth marketing is now more powerful than ever, where consumers are continuously embracing social media channels to get news, updates and offers from their favorite brands. At The Final Code, we understand the power of social media and the impact of how it is fundamentally changing the way we communicate, as well as the urgency for businesses and product branding to have a successful social tool belt with which to make an impact online.
The Final Code has in-house social media team. Our digital agency is committed to creating strategic social media plans that are cohesive with your marketing and company branding efforts, and ultimately, help identify and cultivate lasting customers.
By building custom branded Facebook landing tabs and pages, YouTube channels and Twitter skins, our team will work with you to create polished, professional pages that are seamless with current marketing strategies, giving clients a leg up on the competition. We also have the capability to build exciting custom Facebook and Mobile applications to support your social media campaigns and engage your audience.
Remember when people debated whether e-commerce was for real? When the media scoffed at the idea of being able to “just point and click for great deals?”
Today, e-commerce is a massive industry. In the U.S. alone, online spending reached nearly $130 billion in 2009. Like e-commerce before it, mobile commerce is on the cusp of becoming a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s time for merchants to take notice and seize the opportunity.
Globally, consumers are expected to spend $119 billion by 2015 through their mobile phones, accounting for about 8% of all e-commerce activity, according to ABI Research.
The total value of mobile payments around the world will quadruple from $170 billion in 2010 to $630 billion in 2014, according to Juniper Research.
From point of sale offerings, to mobile shopping apps and enhanced mobile web experiences, it seems like companies both big and small are trying to capitalize on what mobile commerce promises consumers.
Though much attention has been paid to how consumers are adopting a mobile shopping experience, little consideration has been paid to how merchants can get in the game.
Mobile Browsing vs. Mobile Shopping
The numbers speak for themselves, so it’s fair to say that consumers are rapidly adopting mobile shopping as a way to buy physical and digital goods. This rapid adoption rate means customers are starting to expect that their favorite retailers will have a mobile presence, making mobile commerce both an opportunity and an imperative for merchants.
Realizing measurable gains from engaging with these tech savvy shoppers means understanding what motivates them to complete a mobile purchase. Consider the difference between “mobile browsing” and “mobile shopping.” Applications and websites that allow customers to view the latest fashions are great for brand awareness, and maybe even getting them in the physical store, but without a mobile-specific checkout experience, they don’t yield actual sales. I call that mobile browsing because making the purchase is secondary to just looking at the item for a price tag.
Mobile shopping on the other hand, offers consumers the chance to buy something in a checkout experience catered to a mobile device and perhaps most importantly, reduces the amount of clicks it takes to finalize the purchase. This is particularly important in the context of mobile web browsers, where cutting back on content and minimizing the number of clicks is vital to keeping shoppers engaged.
As is all too common with mobile shopping, consumers are taken to a third-party checkout site that is not catered to a mobile browser. Instead of making a couple of clicks, they find themselves scrolling, re-entering sensitive information, resizing the screen, ultimately getting frustrated and abandoning the purchase.
As a retailer, it’s critical that your mobile customer has the same level of convenience that they would have if they were shopping on their laptop with a checkout experience that’s designed for the device.
A number of retailers have successfully brought easy shopping experiences to mobile platforms. Buy.com, for example, has tailored their mobile website for intuitive shopping and quick checkout. While developing a mobile shopping experience is more art than science, layouts with large buttons, minimal text, little scrolling and a fast checkout have proven key to conversion.
Mobile Web vs. Native Apps
Much has been made of whether the future lies in mobile applications or the mobile web. Both apps and browsers offer compelling characteristics that, in the context of mobile commerce, can draw in shoppers.
Mobile apps are like your neighborhood produce store. You walk inside the doors looking for specific items. They also typically let users tap into their phone’s full potential. For example, a native app might integrate with a phone’s camera, voice recorder, contacts or other features. And for shoppers looking for a richer, more advanced interface, applications typically win out over the mobile web because they are designed specifically for that handset’s hardware and operating system.
Overall, native apps offer a tailored shopping experience that’s well delivered but limited.
The mobile web on the other hand is a like a huge shopping mall with seemingly limitless stores and tons of options all under one giant roof. It’s not as constricted or fragmented as shopping on disparate mobile apps but the experience isn’t as tailored as the specialty store.
Unlike device-specific native apps though, the mobile web has enormous flexibility and, usually, much larger reach. Customers don’t need to download robust programs from app stores to their handset in order to begin shopping. Instead, all they have to do is type in a web address in their mobile browser to start spending their digital dollars. Much of the time mobile sites serve as stripped-down versions of regular websites and serve a utilitarian purpose: selling goods and services.
The mobile web offers what native apps lack and vice versa. And just as in the real world, there’s room for both. As long as there is an easy way for consumers to shop from their mobile devices, both apps and browsers serve a purpose for retailers.
Get Ready… The Holidays are coming!
Yes the 2011 Holiday Season has passed but now is the time to get ready for the 2012 season.
With the biggest shopping season of the year just weeks away, now is the time for retailers to look to the mobile channel to boost sales and meet their customers where they want to be met.
Last year, PayPal saw mobile payments on Black Friday rise about 650% compared to 2008. This year, the holiday season will be a pivotal time for retailers to capitalize on the mobile opportunity as the market really becomes main stream.
Right now, merchants from small businesses all the way to the largest companies in the world are finalizing their strategies for the holidays. They’re thinking about how many MP3 players to keep in stock and how to get feet in the door, and which demographics they should be targeting once the doors fly open on Black Friday. But maybe this year, the smart merchants will think back to the 1990s –- to the birth of e-commerce — and decide to act on the opportunity that mobile commerce opens up, and to change the relationship with their customers once again. E-commerce drove sales, but also more importantly it changed merchants’ relationship with their customers. And mobile commerce has the potential to do it all over again.
Social media is a logical extension of what humans have been doing for centuries: Communicating. Although the technology and medium have changed, the same driving need to connect, learn, express, share, and interact has not. Social media allows you to reach a vast array of people, within seconds, at the press of a button. Social media is a dialog, not a monolog. Communicate with your company’s audience. Build personal and lasting relationships between your company and its audience. Give your company a human touch by giving it a voice and personality. Craft unique and personal experiences for your audience. Get your audience buzzing about your company and create great content.
It’s actually a pretty old concept. People feel comfortable doing business with companies that they feel they know. Social media gives your brand personality and accessibility. You’re not in an ivory corporate office. You’re an entity with goals, concerns, and interests, just like everyone else. Access to an incredibly dedicated fan base who work like brand ambassadors. Fans strive to become knowledgeable about you, they tell their friends, their friends’ friends, they answer questions that previously only your customer service department knew the answers to. They defend you; boast about you, it’s crazy. When you influence one individual, you gain influence on their entire social network of friends and followers. A ‘Like’ is a fan for life and have essentially lent you their attention.
Cultivate new customers and build loyalty.
By that token, you earn customer service opportunities and sales opportunities that are simply impossible to discover in any other way. Lead generation, new sales and marketing channels and increased website traffic. Generate leads by inserting your brand into the conversation. Up to 30% of our clients’ website traffic is referred through social networks. On average, Facebook fans spend an extra $71.84 they would not otherwise spend on products they describe themselves as fans of, compared to those who are not fans. Facebook Fans are 28 percent more likely than non-fans to continue using a specific brand. Facebook Fans are 41 percent more likely than non-fans to recommend a product they are a fan of to their friends.
Market intelligence. For your business to thrive you need true feedback. Focus groups are naturally biased because you’ve taken the person outside of where they normally live, think, breath and complain. Successful businesses are talked about. They just are. There’s no controlling that, but with social media you can help shape that conversation. Shape the perception of your company through dialog and audience engagement. Ask for input from your audience and give them buy-in to your brand through their contribution. Discover what your audience wants, needs, likes, and expects. Listen. Listen. Listen.
Website traffic. By engaging your community on different topics, you increase the amount of things that search engines will find you for. Great content and just being interesting allows people to come to you for different reasons. New demographics discover you as you discover them. More potential customers and a broader reach for your company. Increase organic search engine standing. Take better advantage of Google’s social search integration. Increase links and keywords related to your site. Widen your company’s searchable content.
Do you know what people are saying about your brand? Do you want to know how to monitor these conversations?
Regardless of the size of your business, chances are good people are talking about you and your brand via social networks and blogs. In this article I’ll cover four free monitoring tools to help you get started.
A good place to find how people know and speak of your brand is to look at the keywords and phrases they use to find your website.
You can find these metrics in the analytics package you’re using with your website. If you’re not using an analytics package like Google Analytics, Webtrends or Clicky, then brainstorm keywords and phrases that you may have heard clients/customers use in discussions you have had with them.
You’ll need to decide what tools you will put in your brand-monitoring toolbox. There are a myriad of tools to choose from! There are websites, applications, software and email alerts galore! That’s just to name a few. Here are four free brand-monitoring tools:
You can sign up for Google Alerts quickly, easily and relatively painlessly! Using those keywords and phrases from your preliminary research, you can elect to have any instance of those keywords and phrases in combination with your brand, product or service as Google finds them online sent straight to your inbox.
For example, I work for Harrisburg International Airport (HIA), a regional airport located in central Pennsylvania. HIA knows their brand is often primarily searched for and referred to as “Harrisburg Airport,” “HIA airport” and “MDT airport.” So I’m signed up to receive Google Alerts for not only our full company name, but also the three keyword phrases listed.
Anytime Google indexes any mention in search results of the four alerts I am signed up for, I receive an email notification in my inbox. The notification is a direct hyperlink to the article, website, blog, product review, etc., wherein the keyword or phrase appeared. I can click on the link and be taken directly to the location of the brand mention.
SocialMention allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real time. SocialMention monitors 100+ social media properties directly, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google, and so forth.
It also tracks what your competitors are saying as well. It can be accessed directly from the tool’s website or you can download the widget and add it to your websiteto have convenient access to buzz about your brand right from your blog or corporate site. Or, also available is the search plugin that allows you to select SocialMention from within your browser’s search options.
It’s straightforward and easy to use. You simply type the brand, product, service name or keywords/phrase into the search field, select where you would like to search the social sphere for the search term(s) you have entered and click the Search button. I recommend searching all of the categories, but if you’re limited on time and resources, narrowing your search breadth and depth may be a good place to start.
Based on your search criteria, SocialMention will return all of the mentions of your brand or keyword/phrase across the web.
Within the results, you’ll be provided a number of statistics, not just the instances of brand/keyword mentions. Based on SocialMention’s search metrics, they’ll provide you sentiment ratings, top keywords used in conjunction with your brand, top users of your brand name (those mentioning it the most), strength, passion, reach and more.
You’re able to click on the links where your brand is mentioned which facilitates a direct response to the person or party mentioning your brand or keyword/phrase.
While these provided metrics are not completely scientific, they’re a good reference point for understanding the nature of the types of conversations and comments surrounding your brand.
To narrow down where you monitor your brand, TweetDeck offers you a simple way to view multiple conversations and searches from one location. You can use the dashboard in multiple locations such as laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet.
TweetDeck is a multifunctional tool. It allows you to save Twitter keyword searches;hashtag searches; monitor your Twitter followers’ tweets, Twitter lists, and @ replies; and permits you to tweet from your account(s) too. You’re not just limited to tweeting with TweetDeck, you can also update Facebook profiles and LinkedIn accounts.
The power of TweetDeck and other similar dashboards like HootSuite, CoTweet or Seesmic, is the ability to see tweets (conversations, comments, feedback) regarding your brand and keyword/phrases in real time.
To monitor the blogosphere for what bloggers are posting about your brand, I recommend Technorati. It’s an online tool that searches a blog directory of nearly 1.3 million blogs for all mentions of the brand or keyword/phrases that you enter in the search field.
When the search results are compiled, you have a listing of posts for perusal to againdetermine what kinds of product and service reviews, comments, feedback, stories and more are being shared regarding your brand.
Using Technorati for monitoring your brand via blogs allows you to post comments and feedback on the blog posts. Yet another tool that permits you to join in the conversation about your brand.
The search results you garner from Technorati blog searches can be a powerful tool in finding and building a network of blogger brand ambassadors. When you find your brand mentioned in a blog post, take the time to read it, and comment. If questions are raised about your brand, product or service in the comments on a blog post, feel free to answer the questions. Many bloggers who take the time to write about your brand will welcome your participation in the comments/conversation. Use these opportunities for involvement to build your network of brand ambassadors, as often these folks are some of your biggest fans and advocates!
These four FREE tools outlined are a small sampling of what’s available for brand monitoring. There are many options, both free and paid, such as JitterJam, Vocus, Radian6 and HubSpot. They’re expansive in their reporting and capabilities as monitoring tools.
When deciding which monitoring tools are best for your brand’s needs, take into account all of these considerations: what, where, how and why you are monitoring.
This will help you plan for and hopefully succeed in brand monitoring and give you a roadmap for how and where to participate in the conversations about your brand in the social sphere.
What are your thoughts? What tools have you considered for brand monitoring? Are you currently engaged in brand monitoring? Is it helping you have a better understanding of how people perceive your brand, products or services? Leave your comments in the box below.
By Stephanie Gehman
Social Media Examiner