Posts Tagged ‘online marketing’

Facebook Profiles vs. Facebook Fan Pages for business use

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Many people think that Facebook is just Facebook! Wrong! When used properly, Facebook can be a fantastic social media tool for businesses. Unfortunately many companies (people) do not realise that there is a certain way to go about using Facebook as a platform for business.

The difference between Facebook Profiles and Facebook Fan Pages

Using Facebook on a personal capacity (Facebook Profiles) is extremely different to how businesses should be using the platform. Facebook Fan Pages offers a vast range more to companies and is in fact beneficial to their ranking on Google. Most businesses do not necessarily see the value in using Facebook and other social media for their business because they do not understand the benefits.

SEO

Facebook can easily be integrated into an Search Engine Optimisation Strategy and what many people do not realise is that Facebook Fan Pages are indexed by search engines whereas Facebook Profiles are not. This means that you are maximising exposure online. Companies who use Facebook Profiles are at a distinct disadvantage in this case because the only people who will be able to view the page, are friend.

It’s “illegal”

Facebook has strict guidelines which clearly state that no business is legally allowed to create a Facebook Profile. Should the Facebook gurus pick up on this, they will terminate the account. Facebook Fan Pages have been specifically designed to offer companies an effective social media space.

There are numerous other reasons as to why companies should be using Facebook Fan Pages instead:

  • Facebook Profiles only allow for 5000 friends (this is limiting)
  • Inviting “friends” to a Facebook Profile is in essence spamming the person, whereas with Fan Pages, “fans” willingly “like” the page. This makes a huge difference in the quality of follower
  • Sending people information without them subscribing to it, will soon be legal in online/ direct marketing

The safest and most beneficial avenue to take when taking on social media is the right one. Once the Facebook Fan page has been set up and it starts attracting fans to it, there are numerous benefits that businesses should never ignore:

  • Great way to get to know what your target market wants (Insights)
  • Interact with your customers/ target market (this often leads to increased customer loyalty)
  • Direct more traffic to your site
  • Improve your SEO

Fan Pages are an ideal marketing vehicle for businesses to utilise. The trick is to always keep content fresh, current and to interact with those who have joined the page.

Business blogging: is it important?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Business blogging has revolutionised how people communicate and do business with companies online. More and more, people expect to be able to interact and communicate with a human being instead of just a corporate name. Blogging in general is usually seen as something more “human”.  For this reason business blogging has become very popular.

Many business owners confuse business blogs and websites. There are many differences between the 2; a blog allows a two way conversation whereas a website is a one way communication medium. Business blogging allows visitors to leave comments, give feedback, make suggestions and you the business owner can also reply directly to your visitors. From an online marketing point of view, business blogging provides more accurate information to your customers and may answer the questions they have about your products and services.

Benefits of business blogging

  • Business blogging puts you in a position to post questions and suggestions to your potential customers, and get some honest feedback.
  • Business blogging puts you in a position to keep potential and existing clients up to date with developments, changes, and improvements in your company.
  • Business blogging allows you to give feedback to your clients about the status of any long term problems and projects.

Business blogging as a marketing tool

Contrary to the hype, a blog is not a be-all and end-all solution to your online marketing. However, if used properly, you will be able to take your business to the next level.

Through business blogging you are able to showcase your expertise on a specific subject. This allows your readers to trust in you should they seek advice or the service or product you are offering. The more you show off your knowledge in a helpful and professional manner, the more credibility you gain. In this way business blogging is one of the most effective contributors in an online marketing solution.

Online presence

Your business’s online presence can make it or break it. When customers are looking for a product or a service, usually the first place they start is online: even if it is just to read up on it. Google ranks the results according to the site’s locality, web traffic and optimisation on the site. If the information is valuable and rich in content, your site will be ranked higher up. A large portion of lead generation comes from online searches.

If you were wondering whether business blogging is really important to your company, the long and the short answer is yes!

Online Marketing: where to spend your money in 2012

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Marketing. It’s a strange beast. Constantly changing and evolving to adapt to the plethora of platforms that are available. The marketing evolution is something that has left many companies choking on the dust of their competitors whilst it has accelerated the success of many others. Online Marketing has for years, been the one area of marketing that has dominated. Without an online presence, many businesses have started drowning in their pool of competitors.

Nothing evolves quite as rapidly as the internet does. When it comes to online marketing, what worked for a business in 2011 is certainly very different to what might have worked in 2010. With 2012 peaking its head around the corner, there is much is be learnt.

Social Media dominates

One of the major online marketing trends in 2011 was the use of social media. Everyone from major corporations to the family owned grocery shop on the corner adopted the social media trend. Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter accounts have allowed for fast, efficient communication to target markets. During 2012, Facebook will remain one of the most competitive online marketing tools available. Facebook Ads will continue allowing companies to reach targeted groups of people according to demographics and placement characteristics.

Have a look at some extremely successful Facebook Business Pages

Browsing on the go

Having a Mobi- Site has become increasingly important during 2011. Mobile Apps, Facebook, Twitter, Google Places: all of these have become commonly reached on Mobile Phones. However, integrating these social media platforms with an effective Mobile Site has proven to an extremely strategic component to an online marketing strategy. Companies who have succeeded in doing this during 2011 and who have benefited from it may tell you that it is an extremely viable and inexpensive marketing solution. To say that Mobile internet usage has increased, would be an understatement. In fact, Microsoft Tag recently released statistics on how people have been using their mobile phones in 2011. They say that over half of all local searches are performed on a mobile phone and that by 2014, mobile internet will take over desktop internet. If your company didn’t take on the Mobile Website trend in 2011, we suggest you do in 2012.

Pay- Per- Click Advertising

Pay- Per- Click advertising is still and will be for a while, a huge component in an online marketing strategy. In fact Cost- Per- Click will continue to rise as companies strive to appear on the sides and bottom pages of a search engine. Although Cost- Per- Click will continue to become more expensive in 2012, it is important to keep the bigger picture of your online marketing strategy in mind. Within your industry, competitors will be paying the money, so having an online expert to assist you in choosing the correct keywords and structuring the campaign accordingly, will give you a distinct advantage.

Online marketing has become more of an investment than ever. Spending your marketing budget on online marketing more so than offline marketing, is sure to show you the results. At the end of the day, having a solid online marketing plan for in 2012 is as important as it has ever been.

Social Media Strategy Info-graphic

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

As Social Media becomes more and more entrenched in marketing strategies around the world; we need to be sure that we know how to use it. This is a short info-graphic which touches on the 3 main social media networks that businesses are using in their social media strategies.

An info graphic showing social media usage

Twitter

Twitter is a social network with a business edge, that is used to share and push information across to a select group of followers. Followers on Twitter are those people who have committed to receiving communication from you on a regular basis in the form of a tweet (140 characters of information) which needs to be compelling enough to entice the reader to click on a link within the tweet and engage further. There are currently over 55 000 registered South African Twitter users with over 1.5 million tweets a month. There is no opportunity to advertise on Twitter at the moment.

Facebook

Facebook is a social network that is primarily used for exactly that, staying in contact with your friends and their daily activities. Facebook however does allow for businesses to have a Page which people can like of become friends of. These pages get a fair amount of traffic, but it is very important to ensure that your business is right for Facebook as very often a business might not have its primary audience on a platform such as Facebook nor will its ideal clientele want their friends to know that they are making use of its services (ie – private investigators, debt councilors). Facebook does allow businesses to advertise their products or services and these adverts can then click through to either the businesses Facebook page or a specific landing page on their website. There are currently over 3.76 million South African users on Facebook with the greatest percentage of them being between 18 and 30 years of age.

LinkedIn

Linked in is a decidedly business orientated social network. There is little social interaction between users even though you can integrate it with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, being social for socials sake is not its primary focus. LinkedIn is for keeping in touch with business professionals who can either be potential or current clients. There are currently over 1.1 million LinkedIn users in South Africa and this makes it the largest network focused on professional individuals with the largest demographic being users between 25 to 35 years of age. LinkedIn allows businesses to showcase their products and services and have these recommended by their customers. Advertising is also available and users can then click through to a specific page determined by the advertiser. LinkedIn can be an excellent platform to contact potential customers as a platform to initiate communuication.

When looking at which networks to use from a business point of view; a combination is definitely the approach, rather than a mere single focus option. Each network has their own nuances and intrinsic benefits and each should be explored in turn.

Social Business – The Focus of NetProphet 2011

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

So what is Social Business, who’s doing it, and why is it so important?

NetProphetNet Prophet 2011 opened up with yet another bang this year, with Rob Gilmour covering the overall history and success of NetProphet to date. This year being no different, but with attendance exceeding the 1000 people mark.

The general theme of the event was that of Social Business, and why we should all be thinking about getting involved. Although the concept is a rather fresh one, it’s something that many businesses, to a large extent are already very actively involved in. The sad fact however, is that most businesses haven’t even considered the idea.

So what is Social Business?

Social Business ThinkingImagine if you will the impact of businesses working together not only for profit, but, in the process, creating a business model that adds immense value to the broader community that surrounds it. How many times have you found yourself frustrated by a number of things that just don’t work? How many times have you thought to yourself, if I had the means, I could fix this, and make it better?

Now take this example to the next level. Imagine, you were able to conceptualise the solution, get the right team of people together, employ a vast number of free technologies to support it, raise some funding along the way, and in the process, not only fix the initial problem, but make life better for all those impacted by the same problem, and while you’re at it, make a profit from your initiative.

This is Social Business.

Social business is not about running a charity, or a non-profit organization. It’s not even about doing things for free. On the contrary, social businesses make good profits, and all the while, they are aiding a greater cause, eliminating a problem, or just simply making life easier for all those around them.

While this might sound somewhat utopian, social businesses are already a reality in most parts of the world, delivering much needed relief from a wide variety of global challenges.

Two examples of such social businesses are:

Young Africa Live, a mobile-based community portal developed by the praekeltfoundation, where young people can openly discuss critical issues such as love, sex and relationships with each other, and mPedigree, a mobile service in Ghana and Nigeria that verifies via SMS the authenticity of medication prior to being taken. Saving millions of lives and recouping lost revenue to pharmaceutical companies.

Social businesses are sustainable, they deliver true value to their community, they build trust and most importantly, lasting customer relationships, and loyalty. Another great thing about social business is that, if set up correctly, they are a great source of ever increasing annuity revenue for the founding businesses.

Technology and Social Business

With the level of technology at our fingertips today, the possibility of social business also becomes that much more of a reality. The misconception of limited Internet access in places like Africa is now superseded by present day mobile phone penetration, allowing us to reach a much wider audience immediately. Social Media allows us to share and consume content and media much faster, while also collaborating on multiple projects in real time. And finally, the Internet provides the power of research right on our doorstep.

So, the next time you are faced with a situation that you find somewhat frustrating, chances are, you are not alone. The difference however is that you might be in a unique enough position to bring about a change that has a long-term benefit to your community, while making you a handsome profit in the process.

Is aspx or php better for SEO?

Friday, March 25th, 2011

There is a long standing debate in the world of SEO which tries to get to grips with the myth that aspx websites will not index as well as a html or php site does. There are arguments in favour of both camps; but which one is actually right?!

What is aspx?

ASP.NET is a web application framework developed and marketed by Microsoft to allow programmers to build dynamic web sites, web applications and web services.

What is php?

PHP is a programming language used for populating dynamic web pages. It is mainly used in web development and can be embedded into HTML by using PHP code as its input and HTML as the output. PHP is also a part of the popular LAMP environment, but has many other useful applications as well.

We can already see where a lot of the problem stems from. In the aspx definition, the mother of all swear words when it comes toweb development, “Microsoft” is responsible for the aspx language. Many web developers are not firm favourites of anything Microsoft due to the expensive licencing costs as well as the business methodology of keeping all their cards close to their chest rather than following an opensource route like php.

But this really doesn’t get to the heart of the problem as there are many aspx developers out there who DO swear by the platform; so what is it about the platform that causes so many headaches for SEO professionals?

aspx vs php code wars

So what’s the answer?

Truth be told; it comes down to personal preference… Yip, that’s the answer. There is no definitive answer which points in either direction. In the old days of search, when SEO was but a babe, search engines wouldn’t (read couldn’t) crawl dynamic pages – the heart and soul of aspx. Today though, the major three (Google, Yahoo and Bing) all crawl and index dynamic pages without too much hassle.

The real lesson here is that basic SEO best practices still mean the most :

1. Ensure relevancy between your content, heading, tile and URL

2. ensure that your URL’s are clean – use a rewrite mod to change your URL

3. Ensure that you keep the 3 spheres on SEO in mind : on site; off site and server side.

To sum up in short; if you are an aspx developer; then stick with aspx. If you are a php developer, then stick with php. If you have beef with Microsoft, then so be it – truth be told though, aspx is a very powerful and beautiful language once you get to know it and understand it………. Much like Flemish!

IP Address could effect SEO and ranking!

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Whenever you listen to self proclaimed “SEO guru’s” waxing lyrically about SEO, they are always talking about onsite and offsite SEO. The conversation gets sprinkled with acronyms  (I’m sure half of which are designed to confuse) and they focus on the fact that onsite SEO is the first step in Search Engine Optimisation.

How is this wrong?

The server that your site is hosted on has more influence on your sites performance than you would initially think. There are a

number of items which need to be checked to ensure that you are getting not only the best value for money, but that it is the best hosting solution to ensure that your site is able to rank well within the search engine results pages (SERPS – see how I threw in that acronym?)

IP Address

When you host your site you need to check if you are on a dedicated IP or a shared IP. The IP address is :

a numerical label that is assigned to devices participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication between its nodes.

and will look something like : 196.55.562.1

The important thing here is to make sure that you are not sharing your IP with any “bad neighbors”. Bad neighbors can be defined as any website that is practicing black hat SEO techniques, is a porn site or a gambling site.

These sites are not valued by search engine robots and spiders and when you share your IP with them, your site could be penalised at the same time. The best thing to do would be to do a reverse IP look up to see who your neighbors are. A great tool for doing this is

Mummy Maze.

The next step would be to make sure that your IP address has not been listed as spam; a great way to do this is by doing a Blacklist Check.  This will help you in working out if your IP address has ever been used for shady doings.

While there is no definitive answer at the moment from anyone at Google or the other search engines; it is not advised that you share your IP with too many different websites. The smaller the neighborhood the better seems to be the general feeling. What’s more if you can arrange it so that the websites you share your IP address with are all similar in terms of the category they fall into, then even better.

Where to host?

Again there has been no definitive answer to the theory that you should host in the country where you intend to do business; but it is the generally accepted norm as far as SEO goes. This line of thinking does make a lot of sense; especially when you think back to neighborhoods : you don’t necessarily want to be sharing your neighborhood with sites that are all in the UK and you are trying to do business in Australia. Although as I said, that is all still up for public debate.

search engine movements : new and old

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

It looks like the Search Engine battles and shake ups are never going to end. Earlier this week Ask announced that they were no longer going to be competing in the search engine market as they saw Google as being market leaders controlling the majority of the market and (Im guessing) they were not too keen on reinacting the David & Goliath story.

Rise up Blekko

As one falls though, another rises to takes its place. The latest search engine on the block is one called blekko. Now while they are definitely no Google; they are certainly putting a few interesting search query parameters to the table.

One of these is their “slashtags”; which appear to be ways of profiling your search queries. These slashtags can be created by users and then saved for future searches. Essentially its exacltly like a list in Twitter.

Other than this small “feature” their user GUI is very traditionally Google (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). What they currently don’t have is additional refined searches like image search, news, blogs and news.

What is painfully missing from the search results is a form of paid advertising. Whether this means that they are hoping to gain some traction before unleashing their advertising model on their users; or if they are not sure if monetising their site is right at the moment(sounds a lot like “the social network” that).

Google review

Whatever the case is; this will be an interesting search engine to keep an eye on. I’m under no illusions that they are going to topple the mightly Google; but competition is always healthy.

Interesting to watch though while we are back on familiar ground is the rumours starting to slowly turn around the rumour mill that Google may “influence” the search results when it is a Google property that needs to rank.

Or is this just the talk of disgruntled SEO “gurus” who can’t get it right or perhaps even other search engines trying to tarnish a still superior reputation?!

Only time will tell what will happen – but this is one we will be watching very closely!

Twitter Location-based advertising coming soon, but will it be enough?

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Twitter has finally decided that it’s going to roll out location-based advertising early next year. Dick Costolo, the new Twitter CEO, announced in his interview with The Telegraph that Twitter will soon be able to serve location-based advertising through its “Promoted tweets” and “Promoted Trends” products.

My views on this are two-fold and I’m completely undecided (yet starting to lean slightly towards the negative) as to how effective this may be in South Africa just yet.

Will it be worth it?

No. Thats the short answer. Heres the long: Location-based advertising is probably one of the most rewarding forms of marketing in terms of ROI. However, I don’t feel that the way Twitter is using its platform to deliver its advertisements is appealing enough for online marketers and businesses. For example, how often do you actually look at the trending topics? What are the CTR’s going to be like? Yeah you may get 1 000 000 impressions in a day, but whats the point if your CTR is going to be 0.0001% (“guestimation”) ?

My next question would be how many searches are actually performed on Twitter per day, per country? I might use the search functionality once a day. It hardly seems worth targeting users through this functionality either as I don’t believe the numbers are there just yet.

Give us what we want!

As an online marketer, I feel that giving companies and individuals the ability to create text-based ads around certain keywords or #hashtags would be a good start. I would then like to see these ads being displayed on the user’s sidebar depending what he/she has tweeted in the last 24-48 hours. For example, if you had to tweet “my mother-in-law just came to visit without forewarning. wish I had a hammer“, then Twitter would serve Bob’s Hardware Store’s advertisement in the advertising slot on your sidebar the next time the sidebar gets re-queried. This way, your chances of creating slightly relevant advertisements are higher than the current model.

In short, I believe Twitter is still miles behind Facebook (who is still light years behind Google, in terms of functionality) in this regard. It really would be nice to see a quality advertising platform come out of Twitter.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Bounce rate : 4 sure-fire ways to improve it

Monday, October 4th, 2010

The bounce rate of a website is a metric that displays the amount of visitors that entered your site, viewed only one page and then left. In basic terms, its a representation of how many people didnt find what they were looking for on your site. Your bounce rate is directly linked to a number of aspects of your website and as  an online marketing professional, I come across a number of websites with bounce rates ranging from 1% to around 77%. And yes, it is possible to have a website with such a low bounce rate. Follow the below steps to not only improve your bounce rate, but to also improve the overall quality of your website.

Copy

You’ve heard this before but copy is king. As cliche as that statement is, its true. Your copy needs to highlight valuable points of interest to your visitor. If the copy is rubbish or spammy, the visitor will leave. Although most of your visitors wont spend too much time reading your content, making the important points bold and in some cases underlined will definitely catch the visitors attention and give them a clear understanding of what you are trying to portray. If you are using WordPress for your website, making use of Talooma’s Copy Compass plugin will help streamline and optimise your copy.

Site Design

Site design can have a massive impact on your bounce rate. Personally, if I’m searching for something and land up on a website that looks like it was built in the Roman era, I leave almost immediately without even reading the copy on the page. Ensure your site design is modern, easy on the eyes and displays information neatly without any advertisements (especially the page on which you are trying to convert users into sales or leads).

Call to actions

A call to action is a phrase, image or link that directs visitors to act in the manner you would want. Many websites fall short on catchy call to actions and therefore leave the visitor either trying to find the link that gets them to the next level, or leaves them in the dark as what to do next. This can have a drastic impact on your bounce rate.  Take a look at some of these CTA’s to get some idea’s for your site.

Basic Landing Page Optimisation
Google Website Optimiser
Testing different variations of certain key elements on your page may be a good way to identify problem areas on your site. For example, your header tag of your page may be throwing people off. Running the same page with different variations of these key elements is not a difficult task. I suggest making use of Google’s Website Optimiser tool to run these experiments.

In short the bounce rate of your website is one of the more crucial or critical metrics to keep an eye on. But do not only pay attention to bounce rates in isolation as certain pages especially well optimised pages (with call to actions that don’t lead away from the page) will have an acceptably high bounce rate.