Technology and marketing don’t always go together—just ask any marketing department that has tried to cut costs by doing its own web video content. For some purposes, video isn’t worth the trouble—but more often than not, it makes all the difference between a marketing approach that works and one that falls flat.
Web video is set to become even more central to online marketing in the next few months, as it becomes more accessible and less taxing on bandwidth and CPUs. If you’re up for the challenge but don’t have all the ideas, here are some suggestions to get you started.
How-to guides: Whether it’s a productivity app or a radical new household tool, videos are the best way to introduce people to your product. Words and user manuals can only go so far in showing what a product can do. With web video, you can show the product at work and suggest ways to get the most out of it. More than a few small business owners have market their product this way, and with one-click video sharing, a good clip can get you far.
Go beyond local: If you’re having trouble attracting clients in your area, or if you’re looking to expand your business geographically, online videos are the way to go. Certain service products lend themselves especially well to this medium. Music and language instructors, for example, often post short instructional clips on YouTube and then post a link to their website where people can sign up to learn more.
Post just-for-fun videos: Sometimes it helps to take a break from the daily grind and come across something out of the ordinary—even if it’s a one-minute video of a sleeping puppy. That’s not to say you should make a habit of posting random videos as part of your marketing plan. Once in a while, simply post relevant, entertaining content that users will want to share. Even if it doesn’t go viral, it gets your name (and your link) around and brings in a good bit of traffic.
Build a new service around it. This may not work for every business, but it just might be the edge you need over your competitors. Maybe you can offer customized tutorials on using your product, or stream company events that your users might be interested in. Think of new ways you can incorporate the new technology beyond marketing and into expanding the business itself.
Internet marketing is vital to any company with something worthwhile to offer, online or offline. The question most entrepreneurs ask—or should ask—is not whether or not to invest in Internet marketing, but how. Outsourcing is a popular choice because it gives companies the flexibility to get work done as needed, and often for much less than what they’d pay in-house.
Outsourcing your Internet marketing, whether to a company or an independent contractor, frees up valuable time that you can spend developing new products or content. Of course, there’s also the risk of getting substandard work or not getting anything done at all. Three things are especially important when you’re considering delegating your marketing tasks: what, when, and how to outsource.
Deciding what to outsource depends largely on what marketing model you follow. Do you rely largely on article marketing, link building, or email marketing? It all comes down to control. You want to start by outsourcing things you don’t need to monitor that strictly, and save the ones you do for last. For example, if your main form of marketing is through article directories, you may want to build trust with your contractor and do a few tests before letting them take the helm. One rule here is that you should only outsource things you’ve done yourself, so that you know how long it takes and how hard it is, and you can guide contractors through the process.
When to outsource is a simpler matter: most businesses benefit from doing it little by little. Once you’ve determined what you want to outsource first, start by delegating a few small tasks and work your way up from there. This means you’ll have to do some of the work for a while and keep communication lines open, but remember, it’s your company’s image at hand—and it’s usually worth the time to make sure your contractor gets the hang of it.
The tricky part is figuring out how to do the actual outsourcing. There are several online platforms where you can get in touch with individual and team contractors for Internet marketing, with price and quality levels varying considerably between each one. If you have friends in the business, they may be able to recommend a few sites for you; otherwise, you can do a few test hires and see where you’re most satisfied. Once you have your contractor, lay out the rules and rates at the outset, and make sure to require full communication so you can monitor the work at least in the first few weeks.
Backlinks are an essential part of online marketing, but to many new site owners it often takes the backseat to more straightforward methods such as article marketing and forum posts. While these are just as important, one can’t deny the importance of high quality backlinks, both for your search engine rankings and your overall credibility.
A backlink is a link that leads back to you from other websites, one of your own, or even the same website. The benefit most people are familiar with is search engine optimization—the more people link back to you, the more popular and relevant you are as far as the search engines are concerned. Major search engines such as Google have more advanced algorithms that determine whether these links are from relevant sites and how current the information is. That’s why entire positions have been set up for people to monitor and create backlinks to make sure a site stays on top of the page
Second, and probably more obviously, backlinks send traffic your way. If a popular website links back to you, visitors to that site can also end up on yours. And if that website is in the same niche as you, you don’t just get visitors—you get interested visitors who may potentially want to do business with you. The fact that you were referred by a site they already trust also adds bonus points to your credibility.
Another important benefit of backlinks is networking. Often, when a site links back to you, it’s a sign of appreciation—you may have provided some useful information or given them good publicity. In any case, it’s a way to build good relationships with others in your field. Down the line, it can mean anything from more backlinks to promising collaborative projects. And just like in any business, that’s one of the things that set successful users apart.
There are several ways to get backlinks, but the most effective ones are the ones that take work and effort. Search engines are now programmed to see through tactics such as loading your site with backlinks or posting in forums just to make your signature hyperlink show up. Some people also try to rank highly but choose keywords with little competition or demand, but that doesn’t mean much either—you do show up on top of Google, but the people who do visit are probably not interested.
The bottom line is that backlinks are worth your time, and should be given at least the same amount of effort as other marketing tools. Don’t think of it as just another thing on your plate, but as the foundation for the rest of your marketing and a long-term investment in credibility.
For many bloggers, clicking on the Publish button is way too easy. Often, you write a post that seems perfectly appropriate, and two days later you’re lucky to get a handful of hits. The problem usually lies in one of several points that new or overeager bloggers tend to overlook. Here are some of the most common.
Keyword research: It’s not as simple as typing up search terms you would use yourself. Read around to see if people are actually interested in the topic, and then do a few searches to make sure it hasn’t already been answered a thousand times. The more unique your post is, the more it will get around.
The headline: True, it has to be catchy, but it also has to attract search engine robots. You want to work your keyword or key phrase in and put it as close to the beginning as possible, while still sounding casual.
The slug: A post slug is part of the domain that contains the post itself. For example, a post titled “The Best Laptops for Poor College Students” might be assigned a slug that reads “myblog.com/the-best-laptops-for-poor-college-students.” For SEO purposes, what you want is a slug that contains only the important words, such as “myblog.com/best-laptops-college-students.”
Pictures and videos: We all know how much a picture helps liven up a post, but it also serves as an SEO tool. Work keywords into your alt text and title tag—this will make it easier to turn up on relevant searches. When there’s a relevant video available, add it in—search engines equate that to being a good source of information. You can start making your own videos or embed other people’s, giving due credit.
Subheadings: Breaking up your text into schematic chunks makes it more readable. It also leads search engines down the right path: they scan the HTML tags from H1 onwards for relevant keywords. Use these tags instead of just formatting each level differently.
Linking: Both internal and external links are vital to a post’s rankings. When you’ve built up a good archive, always try to link to older posts whenever it fits—it keeps the search robots on your site a little longer. External links—those that lead to other sites—are less clear-cut on the benefits, but it’s a good way to network with other bloggers and build a good reputation.
Meta descriptions: This is the one- or two-line clip that appears just below your link on a search results page. Google only displays entire descriptions under 155 characters, but it puts keywords in bold so you may want to work them in. Try to lift it from your actual content so people can find it once they click.
The call to action: You don’t want people to just read your work and move on. You want them to buy a product, sign up to a service, or share your post—whatever your business model calls for. A brief sentence urging them to take action can make all the difference.
Direct ads are one of the most reliable ways to make money off your website, but also one of the most competitive. There are hundreds of interesting blogs out there, but an advertiser will only tie up with a handful. Therefore, it’s all about standing out. It’s a lot harder than it seems, but it’s not impossible. If you’re having trouble holding on to advertisers, here are some ways you can make your site more attractive.
Make information accessible: Interested advertisers are just like any other user: if they don’t find what they need in five seconds, they’re off to the website next door. Put up an “advertise here” page and link to it somewhere visible—at the top of your menu or a prominent spot on your sidebar. On the page, put in everything they need to make up their minds, as well as contact information in case they want to get in touch.
Show, don’t tell: Not everyone knows how big a 125×125 ad is in real life. If you have spare placements, use them as displays for potential advertisers, showing them how big a banner ad is and how it would look on your site. You can also put up house ads—ads for products you sell on that website or another one you own. Offering free ads or a trial period can also increase interest.
Boast your site stats: By the time you’re ready for direct ad sales, your site stats will probably be worth showing off. Use it to attract advertisers. The first thing they usually look for is site visits: more unique hits means that more people will get to see their ad. You can put it up on your sidebar, and go into more detail on your advertiser info page—at the very least, provide data on readers’ gender, age, and location.
Have a niche. Use your site stats to create content that targets your readers. This will not only keep the same readers coming and build a loyal reader base, but also tell advertisers that they’re speaking to the right people. You can go off on a tangent once in a while, but keep the bulk of your content on the same general topic.
Look professional. Free blog templates are a good start, but if you can afford it, hire a web designer to make your site look professional. This builds credibility both from your readers and your advertisers. Readers want to know that you know what you’re doing, and advertisers want to know that you have a good relationship with your readers. It takes time and a bit of money, but good design is well worth it.