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Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Order Business Cards and Get A FREE Domain Name

By John Joyce on August 23, 2011 - Comments 0

MOO and Network Solutions have teamed up to bring a great offer to small business owners here in the US.  If you purchase MOO Business Cards or MiniCards between now and September 4th, you’ll get a free domain name from Network Solutions.

It doesn’t get much easier than that.  MOO alllows you to create high-quality, unique Business Cards or MiniCards where you can showcase yourself or business with a unique image on the back of each card.  Take advantage of this offer now.

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Want Some Cool Free Stickers to Promote Your Business?

By John Joyce on June 29, 2011 - Comments 0

I have been a bit lax in writing here at The Small BizNest since joining the MOOCrew but figured I could make up for it by offering some freebies to you all.  MOO has developed some great new sticker products that allow businesses of all types to add some creativity to their offline marketing efforts.  MOO round stickers and labels are printed on thick, durable vinyl with a glossy finish. There are four stickers/labels printed on a perforated sheet, so you can tear and share one or more at a time, or use an entire sheet to show off 4 of your different designs at once.  The sticker sheets come in a protective box that you can easily re-brand and sell or give as a gift to clients.

If you’re one of the first 75 people to follow this link, you’ll be able to order a set of round or rectangular stickers completely free!

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Can You Afford To Ignore Mobile Marketing Any Longer?

By John Joyce on March 24, 2011 - Comments 0

Mobile MarketingThis question is reminiscent of the discussions many of us had 10-plus years ago when business owners were contemplating whether or not they needed a website. In hindsight, it’s pretty easy to see that Bill Gates’ vision of “a PC in every home and in every business” has been realized and online search is now universally available.

So, before you ponder the merits of mobile marketing and your specific business goals, let’s first take a look at evolving online marketing tactics and the associated opportunity cost of excluding … [Read more at OPEN Forum]

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What KPIs Should You Track?

By John Joyce on March 2, 2011 - Comments 0

The only way for you to accurately understand which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you should track is to understand which answers you are seeking. Reports are useless if they don’t tell a story, give insights, and offer measurable/actionable tactics that help you achieve your goals. You must take a step back and develop a thought process that maps KPIs to your overall business strategy.

Here’s an example. Maybe you’ve recently deployed Google Analytics on your website and you’re wondering why you haven’t been able to leverage the great data that’s being gathered such as:

  • Total Unique Visitors
  • Pageviews
  • Bounce Rate
  • New Visits
  • Traffic Source
  • Average Time On Page

Read more…

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Does Your Website Suck? 5 Free Tools to Help You Find Out

By John Joyce on October 29, 2010 - Comments 2

Your site might look fine on the surface but it could have many issues you’re not even aware of and this could be hurting your lead generation and customer conversion efforts.  Here are five tools that will allow you to take a look under the hood and get an in-depth diagnostic view of your website:

1)  Website Grader

Website Grade for www.thesmallbiznest.com

Website Grader actually gives your website a grade, X/100, based on it’s adherence to “searchability” best practices relative to the other sites that have been tested. (currently 2,973,941 sites have been graded) A report is generated and offers areas for improvement including the following:

  • Checks for a blog and gives a grade
  • Number of indexed pages
  • Readability level
  • Inbound links
  • Do you have a permanent 301 redirect of yourcompany.com to www.yourcompany.com?
  • Is your domain going to expire soon?  (it’s important to show the search engines you’re in for the long haul)
  • Do you have an RSS feed?  Do you have a conversion form?

2)  W3C Validator

W3C Validation Service

The W3C Markup Validation Service checks the markup validity of Web documents in HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc. The whole concept behind the W3C organization is to encourage the use of standards compliant, user-friendly and accessible code. The feedback from this tool is extremely technical and would be best suited for your website developer.

3)  Pearanaltyics

Pearanalytics screenshot

Pear Analytics has a more friendly user interface and offers great detail on how to fix website issues and the degree of difficulty for each recommended change.  Some of the relevant checks they perform are as follows:

  • 404 error handling
  • Do you have analytics installed?
  • Domain age (the older the better)
  • Duplicate content
  • Do you have a sitemap?

4)  Reactionengine.com

Reaction Engine

The Reaction Engine is another bare bones technical tool that is geared toward the developer crowd.  The key difference with this tool is that it analyzes the SEO performance of a URL based on a given key phrase.

5)  Woorank.com

Woorank

Woorank is a very comprehensive reporting tool with a great looking interface and the ability to save a copy of the report as a pdf.  You can drill down and gain a great deal of insight from stats such as:

  • Traffic to your site
  • Valid robots.txt file
  • Usability
  • Related websites
  • Directory listings
  • Social media presence

The one caveat I did find when trying each of these tools?  Some of the results are inconsistent, for example, Pear Analytics reported that I did not have an H1 heading and the others saw that I did.  So, if you’re going to take the plunge and optimize your site using free tools, make sure you get a second opinion before making any big changes.

Of course, if you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, please reach out and we’ll give you a hand.

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Building Your Online Persona vs. Being A Narcissistic Blowhard

By John Joyce on September 12, 2010 - Comments 0

Facebook Breeds NarcissistsA recently released “study” by a psychology student at York Univiersity in Canada showed Facebook users are more likely to be narcissistic.  Their next piece of research will likely answer the age-old question, “do the Irish like beer?”  Seriously, though, this should serve as a reminder to companies using social media -  be genuine and don’t try to project a false image.

Self-promotion is an integral part of social networking but you can’t change your message or image simply because it’s different from more traditional channels. The unique advantage of new online communities is that they are bidirectional and in real time so feedback is instantaneous.  In the future, when you’re interacting with prospects and customers online, make sure you follow these three guidelines:

  • Be honest
  • Be consistent
  • Listen
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Using Foursquare To Build Brand Loyalty: Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part XV

By John Joyce on April 9, 2010 - Comments 0

Personally, I haven’t found anything useful about foursquare other than to compete for the Mayorship of a local health club with my friend Anand Rajaram over at Office Drop.  With that said, I do think businesses that exclusively operate locally can creatively leverage this type of location-based marketing service to “monitor and market” in real time.

small businesses can monitor and market to their customers in real  time

Click to view interactive online marketing ecosystem.

If a business embraces a service like foursquare, they instantly connect with their customer base in a way that promotes customer loyalty and offers a compelling reason to come back. (along with bragging rights)

If there are people already visiting your establishment who use a smart phone, then all you have to do is notify them that you are offering specials via foursquare.  As stated on their website, “foursquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. We do this by combining our friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics – our users earn points, win mayorships and unlock badges for trying newplaces and revisiting old favorites”.

In a difficult economy, a free cup of coffee or free appetizers at your favorite establishment means as much as the new lawn chairs my parents acquired from collecting S&H Green Stamps when I was a kid. (I know, I’m dating myself)

The ability for your customers to send out their location (your establishment) via social networks such at Twitter and Facebook creates a “viral invite” that can boost foot traffic exponentially.  There are also some fairly simple tools available to track your best customers, deliver special offers when someone checks in, and keep your best customers engaged and involved.

All you local business owners should at least give this a try and see if you can increase business by developing a marketing strategy around foursquare.  Trust me, you’ll still be way ahead of the curve if you do it now and you’ll have your system perfected by the time foursquare explodes.

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Get People Talking About Your Business: Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part XIV

By John Joyce on April 7, 2010 - Comments 0

You need to get people talking about your business.  Period.  Your product/service must offer an experience that compels customers to talk about you and recommend your business to their network of contacts.  Of course, there’s a flipside to this equation and that’s when someone has a negative experience with your business and they decide to share that information on social networks.  If you experience the latter, don’t run and hide; address the issue head-on and diffuse the situation within the same public forum it began.

To get started, visit each of these sites to determine if your business is listed and what people are saying.  Claim your business, manage the conversation and address issues as soon as possible.  You can’t make these sites go away so your best bet is to develop a strategy to make them work in your favor.  This is an yet another social medium that isn’t perfect and is continuously evolving and your strategy will have to do the same.

customer reviews and ratings services for small business

Click to see interactive online marketing ecosystem.

By now you’ve heard all the hoopla about Yelp having “long faced criticism that it gives preferential treatment to businesses that advertise with the company.”  Although Yelp maintains that there is no connection between the two, they did announce significant changes to the service this week.

Service providers like Yelp have proven how lucrative the local search advertising market is and Google is currently testing Enhanced Listings in Google Local Business Center that would allow business owners to create a unique, differentiated listing.  Google’s beta service currently offers the following:

  • Add yellow tags to promote coupons, a photo of your business, and more.
  • Stand out in local business results on Google & Google Maps.
  • See your performance in your account anytime.
  • Cancel anytime. Pay just $25 a month.

Will Google face the same scrutiny as Yelp?  We’ll have to see how this plays out but, if Google can collect $25 per month from a large percentage of small business owners, there’s a good chance we’ll see this rolled out in the near term.

The bottom line for businesses, especially “local” businesses, is to be aware of all these feedback sites and to monitor your reputation regularly.

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Building Your Online Marketing Ecosystem Part IX: Crowdsourced Buzz

By John Joyce on March 23, 2010 - Comments 1

small businesses using crowdsourcing to create buzz

We "digg" the stuff you write on your blog!

If the first two requirements of effective blogging are 1) an enticing headline and 2) valuable content, then #3 would be choosing a topic that is so hot that your readers are going to share it with the masses on sites like Digg and Reddit.  These types of crowdsourced buzz platforms allow the collective community to drive awareness and create buzz around user submitted news and blog posts.  As you have more than likely already learned,  the more posts you write, the better you’ll be able to understand what type of headlines and content are catching people’s attention and you’ll begin to discover your “voice”.  Promoting your blog to these platforms is a bit different from the basic SEO strategy implemented within your site, so I’ll review some of the specifics to help you develop your own “external buzz strategy”.  (Since Digg is currently the most popular platform, I’ll use that as my point of reference when citing examples and tactics)

Crowdsourced buzz for small business

Click image to see interactive online marketing ecosystem

Once a post makes it to one of these sites, you can notify your network to start fanning the flames by voting and forwarding the link.  Of course, as is true with many of these “exposure platforms”, there is etiquette that must be followed in the course of presenting content to the masses.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t submit your own content to Digg.  If possible, ask friends to submit for you.
  2. If your friends are going to submit your content, make sure they also submit additional content from other sources at the same time.
  3. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, write a compelling headline and description.
  4. Be active in the Digg community by voting, developing your profile and inviting friends.

This might sound like a lot of work but getting “Dugg on Digg” can drive substantial traffic to your site.  Actively participate in the community and you should be justly rewarded.

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Optimizing For Google Images To Strengthen Your Keyword Exposure

By John Joyce on March 19, 2010 - Comments 0

Optimize Images For Better Search Results

Make Sure Images Help "Tell The Story" To Search Engines

Always be optimizing. This is the mindset required to drive and strengthen your online presence to the point where you are always “found” wherever people are searching for your keywords. This includes prospects who are searching Google Images.  You have to view images as additional mechanisms for delivering your keyword content.

Believe it or not, images do more than simply make a blog post more appealing to the eye. They actually allow you to include additional “search engine friendly” content within your images that compliments your overall page/site SEO goals.  Once you implement this process in your overall routine, you’ll see it become more and more automatic over time.

Content management systems (CMS), like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal help automate the process of optimization and keep you from having to write any html code yourself.  If you are actually writing your own code, the syntax is very straightforward and you can learn more here.

The main theme here is to treat images like the rest of your content and make sure you do the following 3 things:

  1. Give your image a descriptive title.  As soon as you download an image from a service like iStockphoto, change the cryptic file name that looks like 08948istockphoto23bizimage.jpg.
  2. Make sure the body content and image content are consistent and working toward the same target audience.
  3. When possible, choose content that is very popular at this moment in time and somehow relates to the information you’re presenting.  See my post regarding Susan Boyle.

Just remember that content is still king and there’s no excuse for missing an opportunity to boost your exposure/rank with the search engines by delivering the most optimized content possible.  If you’re posting images on your websitesite/blog, you must now add “image optimization” to your regular operating procedures.

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