Landing pages

Landing pages. In today’s modern economy a website is not just a nice to have, it is a must have for any business owner who is serious about growing their business. The problem is of course if you are going to have a website you need to make sure that it puts your business in the best possible light.

The internet provides probably the only level playing field for the small business to compete with large businesses when it comes to presenting a product or service offering. What I mean by this is that your website can make your businesses look professional, vibrant and modern. Conversely it can make your businesses look dated, stagnant and out of touch.

The chances are that you are investing a considerable part of your marketing budget to drive traffic to your website which could be killing your business. If you surf the internet and compare your website to your competitors you will see what your customers are seeing. If you are embarrassed by your website then it is time for a refresh and you need to do this now because your website will be killing your business online.

You must always remember that the purpose of your website is always to convert visitors into customers and not just to give information about your products and services. The average time that anyone spends on a website is less than one minute, because far too many websites fail to gain the attention of potential customers visiting the site.

Competition online is fierce and if you want your prospective customers to spend enough time on your website to stand a chance of gaining their customer then your website need to look good and deliver a compelling reason to buy from you rather than every other business that offers the sam or similar products or services.

Your landing page is your express elevator pitch because you don’t have 60 seconds to deliver your compelling reason to buy, you have just 6 seconds to get your visitors hooked. Your landing page must have an immediate call to action whether that be to pick up the telephone, send and email, fill out an information request form or download a free report of some description.

You have to make it very clear what action that you want your prospects to take and how. For example, if you are looking to generate telephone enquiries you call to action is to pick up the phone and request a quotation RIGHT NOW!!! You also need to give your prospects a compelling reason to do this and put some urgency in your message. For example, 50% discount on all order placed by midnight tonight or book right now to avoid disappointment.

Always provide more than one call to action so that you cater for more of your prospects, for example if some of your prospects are not real to buy immediately you can ask them to join a mailing list to be notified of future special offers. Try not to get carries away with flashing images or moving pictures which have the potential to distract you prospects from taking the required call to action.

Keep your website attractive but simple and make sure it is effective at converting visitors into paying customers, which is the whole reason why you have invested in a website in the first place. Keep the copy compelling but concise and to the point or you will lose the attention of your prospects and they will not take the action required to convert visitors into paying customers. Always ensure that you give the best possible impression of your business to build trust and credibility. If you are not sure of what you need to do to make this happen ask an expert.

Inbound marketing is the art of attracting prospects to your business and positioning your business as the best in class. Attraction is an involuntary response that happens naturally, but that does not mean you can’t improve your attractiveness to enhance the odds of prospects being attracted to your business. Essentially this is what inbound marketing will do for your business and the products and services that you sell.

Your new business will benefit a lot from various Internet marketing methods. But you don’t have to spend millions of pounds just to get some decent exposure for your company. There are ways to make your business be seen and felt without doing overkill with your advertisement expenses.

Make use of your online power – through Inbound Marketing. Here are simple methods that you may employ to boost the visibility of your business without shelling out more than what you can afford. However, these techniques need patience and some footwork to produce agreeable results.

Firstly, you need a website before you can make use of these low cost Internet marketing strategies. So go create one or hire a web developer. It will display your products and services. This will be used in employing the following Internet marketing techniques.

1. Affiliate Marketing

This is the process of recruiting a network of smaller websites known as affiliates to drive targeted traffic to a website. Ad copy and links will be provided by the advertisers. You will have to pay a certain percentage of the sales profit to your affiliates.

2. Links

One of your goals should be to attain a good ranking with search engines. One way to do it is through link building. This could be done through trading links to other businesses that are related with yours.

3. Newsletters

Sending out newsletters to your subscribers (those who signed up for your newsletters) will help greatly in establishing a good working relationship with your customers or prospective customers. It has to be short, sweet, consistent and written for a general audience.

4. E-mail Marketing

As one of the best cost-effective Internet marketing tools, it stays as a very important method of keeping your customers aware of your products and services. Just make sure to avoid spamming or soon enough you will have to close down you business due to complaints.

5. Articles

If you put quality content in the form of articles in your website along with your products and services, search engines will have to index your website. Getting you website indexed by popular search engines means more traffic for you.

6. Forums

Expand your Internet network is through joining forums that mainly discusses stuff regarding or related to your products and services. Actively posting responses or answers and asking relevant information will build your reputation as that forum’s member and boost your company’s visibility through your signature files. These signature files are those that go with your every post. Links to your website could be included in this signature.

Outsource Marketing

Outsource Marketing: Invest In Your Success

Outsource Marketing could be a good alternative for your business. In today’s digital world you need to invest in your success. This means you need digital and social skills within your business. If you can’t afford to hire your own digital marketing team, then you should consider outsource marketing. By outsourcing your marketing you get all the benefits without the overheads.

The Candidate digital marketing recruitment agency recently put together a guide to recruiting a full digital team and their roles are shown below. When you take into account employers national insurance, holidays and sickness you wouldn’t get much if any change out of £500,000 per year.

A Full Digital Team and Roles

Head of Digital or Ecommerce

Front End Web Developer

Back End Web Coder / Developer

SEO Specialist

Paid Search PPC Specialist

Social Media Specialist

Content Writer

Web Analyst

Data Manager

Email Marketing

Creative / HTML Designer

See more full descriptions at The Candidate

I am sure you would agree that whist it would be fantastic to have access to a complete digital team in house. For SME’s it is just not feasible, as most small to medium sized businesses do not have the budget. Also having gaps in your digital skills is also not ideal, as this will certainly have an impact on the quality of your marketing communications. The alternative could be to outsource your digital marketing work to an agency, on a project or pay as you go basis.

Marketing is an investment, if done right

It has been 25 years since I first asked myself this question. I was launching my first business at the time and after reading several books on business start ups and planning, it soon became clear you needed to speculate to accumulate.

The biggest lesson that I learned in those early years, is the need to have a plan for everything you do within your business. Marketing is not an exception to the rule and as the old adage says if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

You see if you don’t take care of your marketing budget, you will soon become a soft target for account managers from Yellow Pages, Thompson Local, BT Phone Book, Local Magazines, Newspapers, Radio stations and today a whole host of digital salespeople touting Websites, Google AdWords, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Facebook, Twitter, Video and Email Marketing.

How do I know all of this? Well I have operated on both sides of the fence. As an business owner I wasted money on every type of traditional marketing known to man. At times when business was slow and salespeople come knocking I found myself like a gambler out of control chasing the win. I would spend money on everything and anything to generate business leads, but they just didn’t come.

Why? because at that time like many business decision makers today, it was all done on a trial and error basis. For two reasons, the first reason was I didn’t have a clue what worked and what didn’t and the second reason to be honest. I came across some hardcore salespeople selling advertising gold for the price of silver, a skill that became useful when I later worked for Yellow Pages myself.

It was actually when working for Yellow Pages that I had an epiphany. After visiting literally hundreds of business owners I realised that most business owners today, still have no idea what works and what doesn’t and this problem has been exacerbated by the minefield of digital and social media marketing.

As an early adopter of all things digital and with 15 years experience in web design, search engine optimisation, email marketing, video marketing, and more recently social media marketing, I found myself with a unique opportunity to provide business owners with a solution to the marketing budget conundrum.

By the way, the answer to the original question is that 74 per cent of all business owners invest between 0 – 6 per cent of gross turnover on marketing. But, just before you get excited about the prospect of having no marketing budget. I should warn you that 96 per cent of those business owners ultimately fail. So, my advice to you is to stick to closer to the 6% and have marketing strategy and plan in place to avoid failure.

Would you like a marketing strategy and plan done for you for FREE?

Email your details to craig@mktg4u.co.uk

The Aldi Effect

As a company we have often been criticised by our peers for being too cheap and I sometimes wonder whether offering great value for money has been detrimental to growth.

For example, we tend to quote hundreds of pounds to design, build, host and maintain websites whereas most digital agencies quote thousands. Yet, the platforms used would be identical and our technical expertise is often far more advanced. However, the reality is we have probably priced ourselves out of the shortlist because our competitive pricing puts some people off.

Even so, we still believe that the best long term policy is to charge a fair price for an honest day’s work. I believe that sticking to this simple principle will pay dividends over the long term – just as it has with Aldi.

Aldi has stayed true to its principle of offering great value for money, even though some customers were put off visiting an Aldi store because they were perceived as being too cheap. And nobody likes to be seen as being cheap! As a consequence Aldi took a while to get going. That was of course until the recent recession hit. In recent years, Aldi has enjoyed significant growth as consumers have swallowed their pride and actually decided to give Aldi a try.

Giving Aldi a try has been one of the best moves many consumers have made, and they have never looked back. They now do all of their shopping at Aldi, turning their backs on many of the leading supermarkets because they enjoy significant savings on their weekly shopping, with no loss of quality. Shrewd buyers!

I guess the moral of the story is, don’t be put off by competitive pricing.

Next time you’re offered high quality at a sharp price, it could be purely because the people concerned are attached to the principle of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Just like Aldi.

Social Media is vital for SMEs

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media  is now a necessity for SMEs.

Do you use the internet on a regular basis? If you do, there is a good chance that you have heard of websites like MySpace, FriendFinder, Classmates, or Yahoo! 360. What do all of these websites have in common? They are known as social media  websites. Social media  websites, over the past few years, have rapidly increased in popularity, so much that many are wondering why.

If you have used a social media website before, it is likely that you are already fully aware of their popularity and the reason for popularity. There is just something about these websites that draw in millions of internet users. With a wide variety of different social media  websites available, there are a wide variety of different reasons for their popularity. One those reasons being the ease of use.

Social media  websites are, for the most part, easy to use. Most sites are easy to navigate. In fact, many require little knowledge of the internet. In addition to being easy to navigate, social media websites also make it easier to meet new people online. There are many internet users who would love to make new friends online; however, that can sometimes be difficult do. Without social media websites, you would have to connect with internet users, often in chat rooms, and learn about their interests before deciding if you would like to consider them your Internet buddy. Social media sites allow you to learn information about another internet user before ever having to make contact with them.

Another one of the many reasons why social media sites are popular is because many are free to use. In fact, the majority of social media sites, such as MySpace and Yahoo! 360, are free to use. Despite being free to use, many websites require that you register with them. This registration will not only allow you to create your own profile or online webpage, but it will also allow you to contact other networking members.

Although most social media websites are free to use, there are some that are not. Classmates is one of those websites. Many of these websites give you a free trial period or a free membership. That membership can be used to help you determine whether or not the website is worth paying for. What is nice about paid online social media websites is that many can be considered exclusive. Since most internet users would not want to pay for something that they can get for free, most paid social media sites are limited on the number of members they have. This may work out to your advantage because it tends to eliminate those who create fake accounts or aim to cause controversy online.

Social media websites are also popular because they come in a wide variety of different formats. Websites like Yahoo! 360 and MySpace focus on a wide variety of different topics. This means that just about anyone can join. However, there are other social media sites out there that have a particular focus. These focuses may be on a particular religion, political following, or hobby. Most specialty social media sites restrict the individuals that can participate in their network; thus, making your experience more enjoyable.

Finally, social media websites focus on meeting new people, especially online, but over recent months, many have started including additional features only available to their online members. Many social media members can receive their own free webpage, get free access to popular music videos, a free blog, and much more. Although social media websites are popular enough to bring in members on their own, these additional features are, in a way, providing internet users with an incentive to join.

Mentioned above were a few of the most popular social networks that could be found online. Those networks included MySpace, Yahoo! 360, and Classmates. If you are looking for additional social media websites, you should easily be able to find some by performing a standard internet search.

 

What Is The Attraction Of A Home Based Affiliate Marketing Business?

Home Based Affiliate Marketing

Have you dreamed of packing in your job? Would you love to tell your bosses to take their job and shove it?

Too many of us are frightened of doing what we most desire. The fear of leaving that secure source of income stops most, those who get past that fear that don’t have the capital to get a business up and running.

A home business does take money of it is run as a sole proprietorship. However, starting a home based affiliate marketing business is a completely different kettle of fish. Setting up a home based affiliate marketing business is relatively easy and there are several factors that make it very attractive.

One of the most desirable factors is the privilege of being able to work from your own home. Your home is your most comfortable surrounding. Everything you want and need is right there. Is your have small children, a home business is even better. You can work and still be home with the children. You also don’t need to worry about commuting and work wardrobes. You can work when you want and schedule your jobs around your other commitments. Working from home does provide people with many wonderful advantages.

A home based affiliate marketing business builds on that even further. A home business, if it is run as a sole proprietorship will need a significant amount of start up money. Even small businesses need a fairly large amount. Most people rely on banks for the financing which puts them at further risks. When you sign on as an affiliate, the risk level drops by about 90 percent. When you sign up as an affiliate, your either selling goods or services on behalf of another company. You are paid according to how well you perform. You don’t have to worry about sales targets and making a certain amount every month. The company you work for worries about all of that. You concentrate on selling the goods and services that you want and increasing your earnings.

A home based business that is run as a sole proprietorship has to worry about competition. Unless you really hit upon a niche market you are likely going to have to attract customers away from already established businesses in your area. This can be difficult because customers tend to trust what they know is good. If you do manage to do it you will be creating some bad blood between you and other businesses. By working through a home based affiliate marketing program, you’ll be selling products that have already been on the market. You can actually check the saleability of these products with the company. If the products you choose are well known and trusted then you won’t have a problem attracting customers. This takes the stress off of you.

A home based business that is run as a sole proprietorship can take years to get established. On average, nearly 70 percent of small businesses fail in the first year. Those that do make still have many hurdles to get past. It usually takes 5-7 years to realise any significant profit in a sole proprietorship. During this time the business owners have to continually promote their business just to keep it afloat. A home bases affiliate marketing business is much easier to manage. You will have to work hard to promote yourself but most of the start up work will be dome for you. You’ll have your line of products or services and ways to advertise them. You’ll also have support from a company representative. They will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice on how to increase your sales. Remember, the better you do the better they do.

Running a business as a sole proprietorship can be extremely rewarding. If your one of the lucky ones that makes it the financial rewards can be tremendous. However, the odds are stacked against you when you take this option. A home based affiliate marketing company minimises the risk and offers you support when you need it. You will still have to work extremely hard but they rewards will be well worth it.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing

What You should Know About Affiliate Marketing

What is Affiliate Marketing? Well you have finally done it. You have packed in the rubbish job and told your boss exactly what you think. You have taken the plunge and made the decision to begin your own affiliate marketing business. Affiliate marketing can be very lucrative. It provides people with the opportunity to work for themselves with very little risk to them. Those that are sales savvy, good at marketing and are not afraid of a little hard work can often do incredibly well with an affiliate marketing program.

Affiliate marketing sounds easy but you do need to exercise some caution. You want to avoid the affiliate marketing pitfalls that can ruin your business and worse, have you crawling on your hands and knees back to that boss that now knows how you truly feel.

People tend to get excited when they start a new venture. Unfortunately this excitement and eagerness can cause them to miss key things in their agreement. Whenever you sign up for an affiliate marketing program, you will be expected to sign an agreement. The terms and conditions of the agreement for both sides should be outlined. However, if they want to hide something this is where they will put it. It will either be in the small print, so get your magnifying glass out, or they will baffle you with legal language. Either way, you need to read and understand your agreement thoroughly to avoid disappointment and lost earnings.

If you are signing up for a commission based affiliate marketing program then you need to understand how the term revenue is defined. This is one of the biggest pitfalls of the contracts. They may advertise 5-10% commissions but it all fall on how they define revenue. Most affiliate marketing programs will calculate commission on the gross value of the sale. In other words, the amount of money the site will get at the completion of the sale. You may think that this sounds great. However, you need to read this part of the agreement very carfully. The amount of the sale almost always excludes credit card or debit card payment surcharges. They also are likely to exclude payment and delivery charges as well as any gift wrapping or other surcharges. What sounded like a nice commission is soon shrinking before your eyes. Ask these questions specifically before you sign an agreement.

Some affiliate programs are even stricter in their definition of revenue. Your commission may be based on the profit margin of the sold product. For example, if you help sell a book for 20 dollars but the company only makes 10 dollars profit, you’ll receive a percentage of 10 dollars not 20. This can make a substantial difference in your earnings. Again, make sure you understand these things and ask specifically what your commission will be based upon. Read your agreement and look out for odd sounding clauses. These could come back to haunt you later.

Something else to beware of when you work on commission is returns. Many affiliate marketing companies only pay commission out on completed sales and then only if the customer keeps the item. If they return the items your commission could be cancelled. To really rub salt in the wounds, you could be billed for the outstanding commission if you do not have sufficient commission credit built up. Make sure you understand this before signing on. You cannot expect a company to pay you a commission on an item that is returned but make sure you understand their return policy. Find out your rights in this situation.

Affiliate marketing can be a great way to earn money. If you have good sales and marketing skills then it can give you the opportunity to out them to good use. You’ll be able to work for yourself and not someone who undervalues and does not appreciate them. One needs to consider affiliate marketing carefully. Make sure you understand your agreement and exactly what you will be paid for. You don’t want to have to go crawling back to your boss begging for your old job back.

Blogging is not a new phenomena.

People have been blogging for the best part of two decades and just about everyone can use a blog from major companies to local communities. Blogs are an excellent way to share information, opinions and experiences with your target audience and if your blogging is engaging your audience will grow.

If you are currently do not have a blog then you are missing a huge opportunity to gain FREE publicity and visibility in your target market. If you want to get found on major search engines by your prospective customers then you need to stand out from the maddening crowd. Your blog can help you to get found on major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing with effective search engine optimisation.

Google and other search engines are interested in content that is fresh and relevant to the keywords that people are using in searches. If you are updating your blog with content that is fresh and relevant, Google et al. will soon start to rank your website above your competitors who are not.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing is about attracting profitable customers to your business, rather than bombarding your target customers with sales messages which interrupt their day.

Inbound Marketing requires a strategy, a budget, a plan and a robust method of measuring success. A major advantage of Inbound over traditional marketing, is that you can measure the Return On Investment (ROI) with accuracy. In fact, one of the main aims of Inbound Marketers is to continuously improve the ROI, to safeguard the marketing budget even during periods of economic downturn.

In order to attract profitable customers, the main priority of outbound marketers are to ensure that their client or company can be found online. Research has shown that inbound marketers who blog are 13 x more likely to enjoy a positive ROI, indicating that having a blog is a must for any business.

Inbound marketers focus on increasing the number of contacts / leads a business has along with converting those leads into paying customers. In order to do this successfully, it is important to identify and reach a relevant audience that is ready to buy. Increasing the revenue generated through existing customers by up-selling and cross-selling, is another important aspect of the Inbound Marketers role.