Second Star to the Right and Straight on into 2015

By John Eberhard

People who have followed my articles for a while know I often write an article at the end of the year or beginning of the New Year about what has been happening in Internet marketing in the past year, what to expect in the coming year, or both.

This article will be a little of both.

2014 was a turbulent year for internet marketing. In fact, the last two years have been pretty turbulent in internet marketing. Many things we knew and things we generally depended on, pretty much got thrown out the window.

Search Engine Optimization: Although I don’t see many SEO consultants willing to say so, Google has been conducting a war on the activity of search engine optimization for the past 3-4 years. I see other SEOs reacting to each change Google makes and saying, “OK, now we’ll have to do…” I don’t see too many others who see the big picture, i.e. what is Google doing? Why are they doing it? My thought is that they are predicting AdWords revenues falling and want to shut down SEO completely and force everyone over into AdWords. But AdWords is really not suitable for everyone as I will cover.

With that all said I am piloting some new SEO actions that may be effective in getting web sites and videos onto Google page one again. We’ll know by February.

Google AdWords: I see AdWords as still a very viable method of driving leads to a company, but it is suitable only for companies with high ticket products or services (let’s say $1,000 or more). Also, competition, year to year, is driving up bid costs and making the cost per lead more expensive each year, which is ultimately unsustainable in really competitive industries.

That said, I think remarketing is an important technology to be using. This is where when someone visits your site, a cookie is placed on their system and they will begin to see banner ads for your company all over the web for the next 30-60 days.

Also you can run AdWords video ads, which drive people to see your YouTube video, and these ads are much cheaper than regular AdWords ads, in the 12-18 cents per click range.

Yelp: I believe Yelp is now the go-to service for small businesses, especially local ones like dentists, restaurants, etc. You can set up a free account and some people get good results in terms of leads just from the free accounts. But you can also set up a paid advertising account, starting at $200 per month, and all the clients I have set up on this have been getting good results. You have to sign a contract for a year. There are occasionally problems with people writing bad reviews. See my earlier articles on how to deal with that.

Mobile Web: I think it is more important than ever to have a mobile version of your web site. There are currently 1.08 billion smart phone users worldwide, with 91.4 million in the US. 92% use them for sending text messages, 84% for Internet browsing, 76% to send emails, and 59% for going on social media sites.

There are two ways to go in getting a mobile friendly version of your site. One is to make a site responsive, which is a technology that resizes the window based on the size of the screen of the device you are using. Another way is to create a version of the site that is created just for mobiles, and so is sized just right for the mobile screen. Then code is placed on your site that detects what type of device the person has and serves up the desktop or mobile version appropriately.

Video: Videos which promote companies have been very popular and will continue to become more popular and more necessary over the next year. There are many ways to go in creating a promotional video, from simple Powerpoint style videos, with narration and music, to videos showing company principals speaking, testimonial videos with clients speaking, to high-end videos with lots of special effects. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a video, but it should be clean and well produced, and should have a “call to action” at the end, i.e. telling the person to call and giving your number and website address, and making an offer of some kind.

Social Media: There has been a tendency on the part of marketers to view social media as a free medium. Especially for Facebook that is no longer true. To run a successful Facebook campaign you will need to pay money to run ads, to boost your posts, in order to build the size of your fan list, and to actually reach that whole list with your message.

I think the challenge is also to make your message out to social media as personal and as human (not corporate) as possible. People go on social media to interact with people, not corporations really, so if you can connect with people on a human basis you will do well on social media.

On Twitter the challenge in the coming year will still be building a large follower list, and doing it organically, not buying followers (because when you buy them they are never your target public). In building your follower list you have to target people that are your correct potential buyer public. Then you need to post regularly (several times a day at least), and use hashtags, which increases your reach.

On LinkedIn, you of course need to build a large connections list, then send out regular communications. Make sure your communications are visual in nature. Also we have had really good luck with sending out LinkedIn emails to client connections, asking them to read a blog article or view a video.

Content Marketing: I have written disparaging articles in the past about content marketing, but specifically about the idea that ALL you need to do is content marketing. I am actually a firm believer that you should have good content on your web site, you should write regular new content for your blog and newsletter, and you should use the content to establish yourself as a credible expert source of information about your industry.

But once you write good content, it is also vital to actually distribute that content broadly, on your web site, on your blog, in your email newsletter, on social media. If you write press releases, put those on your blog and also distribute them to online PR sites, both free and paid. Create special reports or white papers and offer them broadly.

With great content must come great distribution.

I wish you the best and most prosperous New Year in 2015. Head for that second star to the right.

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