Problogger: Attracting and Managing Online Advertisers – Lucy Feagins

Problogger: Attracting and Managing Online Advertisers – Lucy Feagins

Lucy Feagins established The Design Files in 2008. Today, it is the most popular design blog in Australia, with more than 200,000 unique visitors per month and over 1 million page impressions per month. It’s rise to fame was slow and steady; Feagin started generating income 18 months into the venture, getting smaller, local advertisers onboard. Today, she has two full-time employees, and a very steady flow of income, including major global brands as regular advertisers.

Feagin admits that she is quite cautious. She maintains control over all advertising on The Design Files. She has never used an advertising network, and is never likely to. But her approach to advertising has not limited her reach; she regularly partners with Dulux, the Bank of Melbourne, and Mini. At day two of Problogger, Feagins explained exactly how she does this.

How Do I Make Money From My Blog?

According to Feagins, from advertising. She admits that her way is not only way, and not the quickest way. But its has clearly been lucrative for her. Feagins refuses to take on sponsored posts, explaining that she doesn’t feel right about writing them, that they don’t come from the heart. Instead, Feagins encourages bloggers to create value, when thinking about advertising. Creative people are notoriously bad at putting a value on their work. And, what advertisers consider to be valuable is completely different to what you value, or what your readers value. Advertisers always value who your audience is, the size of your audience, and the quality of your readers. Oftentimes, a small, engaged readership can be better for advertising than big, engaged audience. Not only that, your audience needs to be relevant to the advertiser: a men’s deodorant brand is unlikely to advertise on a blog with a predominantly female audience. So, bloggers need to know their demographics. A great way to do this is to conduct an annual survey that collects this demographic data.

Lucy Feagins

Image courtesy of www.thedesignfiles.net

Your Readership Is Your Value

Your content is what drives your readership. It’s what keeps your readers happy. Your readership is what confers the potential to introduce advertising. This is the same for every magazine, every newspaper. Your value to an advertiser is your readers. That’s why you need to put them first. Without them, you have no value. As soon as readership diminishes, your power does too. Your influence and power comes from your readers. So, it should come as no surprise that readership should be your number one priority. Respect your readers. Put your readers first. Always trust your intuition when it comes to advertising.

Know Your Readers

Conduct a survey at least once a year. Think about what your advertisers are going to want to know: what they do for a living, whether they have kids, how old they are, household income. And ask them what they think of your content; what they like, what they don’t like, what they’d like to see more of.

Advertising Is Not Complicated

When it comes down to it, advertising is a simple value exchange. It does not need to be big and scary. There are no rules, and there is no formula. You can set your own rules. You can choose to work with a network in a structured way. Or you can choose to do it your own way.

A few step-by-step tips from Feagins include:

  • Add a little sign to your blog that clearly states that advertising is available.
  • Create a rate card, starting with a low, but reasonable price point to begin with. Feagins started out with ads for just $100 per month.
  • Pro-actively write to a few local companies, or companies that have been previously featured, or that have previously enquired about advertising, and tell them that advertising is now available.
  • Once you have a few advertisers onboard, create some sponsorship banners, that advertisers have to buy out for an entire month. Make sure that you have options for the big brands to advertise, but also some smaller, cheaper options for local companies.

Be Wary of Monetising Too Soon

Feagins warned the eager Problogger audience to be wary of monetising too soon. Instead, she suggested that budding bloggers build what they’re doing first, get their editorial spot on. Blogs really need between 30,000 and 50,000 unique visitors per month before advertising is viable. Feagins now spends 50% of her time on advertising, and 50% on content creation. So, it’s really not worth starting with advertising until you have the readership to warrant it. If bloggers start monetizing too soon, they are likely to set their rates too low. And then it is extremely difficult to up them in the future.

It Pays To Be Selective

It isn’t enough just to place an advert on your website. You have to care if its working for your readers. If the ad is getting lots of clicks, then you have a happy advertiser. If the ad is not relevant to your readers, or it looks ugly, then it wont get clicks. And then you have an unhappy advertiser. So, if the ad doesn’t look appealing, then you need to tell your advertisers. You need to fix it. You also need to know what your readers want to see on your blog. Feel in your heart what your readers want to see. Defend your brand, and your blog, and your readers. Really assess what comes across your desk. Don’t just take every advertising opportunity that comes your way.

Take Responsibility

Your blog is you business, and your business is your responsibility. That’s why Feagins chooses to have all negotiations with advertisers personally. She vets everything and has all the conversations. If you hand over the responsibility of advertising to ad networks or blog agencies, then you loose power, and cannot be discerning. No one knows your business or your readers better than you do. So it’s your responsibility to be involved in the whole process. Be proactive. Be bossy. Protect your brand, and your blog, and your readers.

Integrations and Activations

The big advertisers always ask for integration. While integration can feel like a ‘dirty’ word, it need not be. You just need to do it your own way. By asking for integration, the big advertisers are really just asking how they can be more involved with your brand. So, work out a program that you feel happy with. For example, The Design Files partner with Dulux every year at The Design Files Open House. Dulux paints all the walls in the house, and Feagins can then mention them in a natural, organic way that respects her readers, as well as Dulux. Think of integration as a challenge and an opportunity to do something new and fun, rather than selling out.

According to Feagins, selling ad space is hard and boring. It is better, and more fun, to focus on creating great content. Stop worrying about what is being offered to you, and start worrying about what you are doing and what you are offering to your readers. Focus on creating great value and everything else will follow.

Fear of Abandonment – Minimising Shopping Cart Drop Off Rates

Within 90 seconds a consumer has weighed up the hundreds of elements and nuances on a single page of an ecommerce site to reach their verdict. To commit or to abandon, that is the decision.

Coordinating the myriad factors and various tidbits that go into influencing this decision to be a favourable one is a mammoth orchestration that conjures up visions of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia.

While ecommerce marketers certainly have their work cut out for them, an in depth analysis of the motivations underlying and influencing factors contributing to consumer behaviour in the checkout process highlights areas to focus on in order to minimise the rate of shopping cart abandonment.

At its simplest, impacting upon both motivations and behaviour are the bones (server speed, structural design and processes) and the skin, hair and makeup (design, imagery) of the site. All components work together to play into the subtleties of consumer psychology in order to increase the likelihood of conversions.

Here follows three considerations in optimising your ecommerce checkout and minimising those pesky abandoned carts.

1. Feel the Tangibility

The ultimate challenge of digital marketers is to transcend the confines of the screen and convince the potential customer that the object of their desire is more than a collection of pixels on their monitor; to convince them that you are good for your word.

Making the object as tangible as possible by satisfying the main sensory judgement mechanisms available to the consumer (sight and hearing) will go some way to assuage reservations and increase the likelihood of conversion.

How is this achieved? Through various vehicles including multiple image angles, video demonstrations and customer testimonials; with real people testifying to the product’s attributes and practical limitations and applications.

Customer testimonials are especially important in a local setting, with 85% of consumers reading local business reviews before making a purchase, considering them nearly as valid an opinion as if a friend had recommended the business themselves. Just as word of mouth is important in physical communities and a bricks and mortar setting, so too has this personal evaluation system been translated into the ecommerce realm.

Making the object as tangible as possible can also reduce the amount of returns, with 25% of all items returned because the item wasn’t what was expected. Providing as much information as possible about a product not only influences the initial buying decision (providing multiple image angles increases likelihood of sale by 58%), it also reduces lost revenue through refunds.

As a final note, tangibility increases trust, and if a customer trusts you, they are more likely to commit to a conversion. With this in mind, you’d do well to ensure you predominantly display secure payment gateway logos, as more than 80% of consumers report it makes them feel more secure in their transaction.

2. The Complex Art of Simplicity

You’re entitled to roll your eyes at the following acronym, as it is no doubt the millionth time you’ve come across it as a Marketer. The oft-touted KISS method (Keep It Seriously Simple) is not only important in an aesthetic ‘hair and makeup’ sense, but also in a speed of delivery ‘bone structure’ site design sense.

With over half of consumers readily abandoning a site after waiting only 3 seconds, it pays to have a site design that is simple and will render quickly and correctly across multiple platforms. Especially when you consider the notion that 80% of these people are unlikely to return again.

Simplicity in the checkout process can really be seen as being synonymous with streamlining. The available information should be easily digestible, almost osmotic in nature and require little active energy from the customer. We eat with our eyes and we shop with them too – 92.6% of people rate visuals as the top influencing factor in deciding whether to commit to a purchase.

You need to gently, lightly, take the customer’s hand and lead them through the process. Speaking of which, the process of completing the transaction should be kept to a maximum of 5 steps, which is the maximum patience threshold of most consumers.

3. Clearly, Transparency is Important

While design factors certainly contribute to the average shopping cart abandonment rate of 67.4%, so too do logistical elements, including hidden charges, lengthy checkout processes and compulsory registration.

People shop online for convenience. Making the process upfront and transparent not only increases the all-important trust that I talked about earlier; it also keeps the consumers’ short fuse dampened nicely.

How? Make sure the customer knows where they are up to in the checkout process and how many steps until completion. Guide the customer with obvious and simple calls to action, and allow them to go back and double check or amend their details. On that note, avoid asking for the same information twice, which is a mistake 50% of sites make. Use auto fill options to avoid this.

Show all charges the customer can expect, including delivery. 41% of cart abandonments are a result of unexpected charges later on in the checkout process. Hidden charges ambushed upon the customer late in the game can lose you the trust you’ve been working to build all along.

One final parting thought: if you’re looking for a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card to forgive you a few blunders on your way to the ultimate streamlined checkout experience, I have one word for you: Discounts.

Incentivising with discounts as menial as a small percentage can get the customer over the line, by gently coercing them to have a little extra patience in your processes. In fact, 57% of people surveyed said that if they didn’t receive a discount they wouldn’t have committed to the purchase.

Creating and refining the ideal optimised ecommerce checkout is an ongoing process. Consistently reviewing and seeking feedback from consumers themselves is a guaranteed way to achieve the insights you need to lower your shopping cart abandonment rates and ultimately increase conversions.

See the infographic below for more information.

Consumer Psychology and ECommerce Checkouts Infographic (1)

 

 

3 Ways To Up Online Sales In 2014

3 Ways To Up Online Sales In 2014

Australians are set to spend over $28.3 billion dollars online in 2014. That’s just over 10 per cent of Australia’s entire annual retail outlay. But what’s keeping some retailers ahead now will only be enough to keep them in the game in 2014.

Last year the focus was on ensuring a simple, intuitive checkout process, offering a variety of products and running discounted shopping events. Now it’s time to take the consumer’s personal experience of the brand to the next level.

1. Put the shop front in their hands

Every screen needs to give access to the same online storefront. One shopping experience can cross multiple devices so retailers need to make themselves accessible in this manner.

Ideally a shopper could start filling a cart from their desktop in the morning, add a few more items on their mobile app at lunch and then checkout on their tablet later on. A retailer’s multiple channels should only appear to be a single outlet to the consumer.

The weak link at the moment is a lack of mobile retailer applications. A study for UPS conducted by comScore, found that 60 per cent of Australians prefer to access their favourite retailers online on a desktop or mobile device rather than visit a physical store.

When consumers hold the storefront in their hand (in the form of an app) brands can also improve consumer loyalty. The comScore study found that 47 per cent of Australia’s shoppers are less likely to comparison shop when they are using a mobile app.

So retailers need to invest in an app that offers ecommerce as soon as possible and aim for shopping cart syncing across all channels by the end of the 2014.

2. Focus on being flexible, not fast

Somewhat surprisingly, long delivery times aren’t a major issue for Australians. The comScore research for UPS shows we’re a patient bunch in comparison with our foreign counterparts. Sixty per cent of us will only abandon a shopping cart if we discover the delivery time is more than eight days. In fact, 34 per cent of us are willing to wait eight or more days to receive our goods.

This is a bonus for retailers who can look to save money on transport, warehousing and supply chains that would normally come under scrutiny when focusing on timing and processing speed.

One opportunity highlighted by the study is the range of delivery options available. It found that even though flexible delivery options are highly important to us they are currently receiving very low levels of satisfaction. Offering in-store pick-up, couriers, express, registered or regular post may seem a hindrance to an efficient checkout but it’s what consumers want.

3. Take social seriously, make it friendly

Another piece, by comScore, shows that Australians accessing the Internet from a PC spend 10 per cent of their time online visiting social media sites. And further evidence suggests that consumers have a closer relationship with brands on Facebook than you’d expect. Forty-five per cent of us “like” a brand simply to stay up to date with a retailer. And 25 per cent of us pay a lot of attention to updates from brands “as if it were from one of my friends”.

If you’ve been invited into someone’s personal space make sure you’re having a conversation with them. And make sure it’s not always the same, repetitive, one-dimensional conversation. Social media and networks aren’t just a place to post retail adverts and discounts, you can seed brand advocates, learn from your consumers and test interest in new products.

Hmm, here’s an idea … use Facebook to tell consumers about your new mobile app and diverse delivery options!

 

 

Where Does Social Media Fit In Your Online Marketing Strategy?

Where Does Social Media Fit In Your Online Marketing Strategy?

Social media has taken the internet world by storm, and many marketers are deathly afraid of missing out when it comes to social media and anxious that all bases be covered. However, you might wonder just how useful it all is, and whether it is necessary to leverage social media in the course of your own online marketing. The reasons for its popularity have been well-documented: social media has been helpful to many businesses due to its flexibility and relatively low cost. It can also be done in-house and requires little technical know-how. Furthermore, with the prevalence of social media marketing in our everyday lives, most people pay attention to what is posted and shared. Despite these advantages, there are also many businesses that do not manage to reap the benefits of social media marketing. Here are some points to think about when considering where social media fits in your online marketing strategy.

Does social media gel with your overall marketing plan?

Social media marketing does not operate in a vacuum, and for you to successfully leverage social media, it has to be integrated into your overall marketing plan in order to be effective. You will need to think about your overall marketing goals and how you plan to achieve them, and then use social media as a tool to achieve these goals. For instance, if you want your brand to project a certain image, this will have to be taken into account when crafting content on social media platforms. In addition, various factors pertaining to your business need to be considered such as the legal, commercial and support aspects. Just because social media is perceived as more informal doesn’t mean you can afford to make mistakes or step on someone’s toes.

Are you prepared to face the implications?

Creating social media output can have huge consequences and should not be taken lightly. Reputations can be built and destroyed in just a few clicks, so you should ensure all social media marketing is tightly monitored. For instance, making a post in bad taste or responding to a customer’s query in an offensive manner can have disastrous consequences, especially if your output goes viral.

Are you using social media just because you feel like you have to?

If you genuinely have nothing valuable to say or share on social media, maintaining accounts and posting lacklustre content may be of little help. Bear in mind that it is not compulsory to be on social media platforms, and if maintaining an ineffective social media presence is taking time and resources away from other areas that could be of more benefit, by all means divert your attention to other methods of marketing instead.

Do you know what social media platforms your customers use?

There is no one size fits all approach to social media marketing, and your choice of social media platforms depends to a large degree on which ones are most frequently used by your customers. For instance, if your business is fashion-related, chances are your customers scope out new styles on Instagram. However, the same platform may not work for a law firm or doctor’s office.

Do you know what you want out of social media?

Jumping right into social media marketing without having a clear idea of what you want to get out of it leads to a lack of focus that will hamper your ability to achieve results. Do you want to provide your customers with a platform for sending feedback, showcase your latest products or create viral content? You will need to define your goals clearly in order to determine what kind of content you need to create.

Do you know how to calculate ROI?

While social media marketing is relatively inexpensive, it still incurs significant time costs. It is necessary to have a clear and definite way to calculate your return on investment so you can determine whether social media marketing is increasing or crippling your profits.

The marketing opportunities social media offers can be exciting, but it takes time and effort to master social media marketing, which has to be done correctly, consistently and regularly in order to yield results. Instead of just plunging in, floundering about and having to suffer the consequences of expensive mistakes, engage the help of professionals such as seoWorks who can enable your business to fully realise the potential of social media marketing.

Thanks for sharing your tips Bernard for including social media in an online marketing strategy.

 

 

Why You Should Study Marketing Online

A career in marketing is fun, worthwhile and challenging – especially in this increasingly consumer-driven world. And there’s no better way to get started than by studying an online marketing course. Not convinced about the ease of studying in your pyjamas? Here are five reasons why you should turn to distance education to kick-start your marketing career.
 

1. Studying online is a breakout trend

As a marketer, you’re required to keep abreast of the latest trends, and when it comes to education, online courses are all the rage. Distance education has revolutionised not only how and where people study, but also who can study, opening up the doors to a range of people in a variety of life stages.

2. More control over your education

Always wanted to study with a course provider from another state? Perhaps you prefer the subjects available in a degree offered by a uni far away? Studying a marketing course online removes any geographical barriers, letting you study the course you want with the provider you want – minus the hassle of moving interstate.

3. Get on with the real world

Studying online makes it easier for you to start your career offline. Get some valuable work experience and put your learning into action, all while studying your marketing degree.

If you do choose to study an online course, you’ll also have the option to fast track your degree and finish it earlier than any on-campus student. This means that you’ll be able to get your hands dirty in the real world sooner than those students studying the old-fashioned way.

And, without the hassle of outdated textbooks, studying online means you’ll get only the freshest of content with real-world examples.

4. It’s still about the people

There’s the old misconception that if you study online, you’re essentially studying all alone. But with technology changing the way courses are now delivered, and with more emphasis on connecting students, this is far from true.

With no geographical boundaries, online courses give students the potential to connect with fellow students from around the country and even the world. How’s that for networking power!

5. Keep on learning

Staying on top of the ever-changing marketing industry is made easy with the scope of online marketing courses. Whether you’re looking to validate your experiences with a qualification, upskill with a postgraduate degree or simply keep informed of the latest trends and techniques, distance education offers a range of courses and course levels to satisfy your needs. From a VET qualification to a university degree, and even free MOOCs courses, you can continue your education while you work, and expand your knowledge and expertise.

Marketing.com.au thanks Andrea for this inspiring and informative article on studying marketing online.

 

 

Making the Most of Your Advertising Spend: Examples of Advertising Budgets

Making the Most of Your Advertising Spend: Examples of Advertising Budgets

Before we launch into a tirade about advertising budgets (and give you examples thereof), let’s take a step back. What exactly is encapsulated by the term advertising? It differs greatly from marketing. Advertising is far narrower than marketing and should be treated as such. In fact, advertising is just one small part of marketing. If we are looking for a dictionary definition, then advertising is deemed to be the act of drawing the attention of the general public to a company, brand, service or product, by way of paid announcements in online, broadcast or print media. In other words: advertisements.

So, when we give examples of advertising budgets, these relate only to money spent on paid online, broadcast and print advertisements. They do not include other elements of the marketing mix like publicity and public relations or e-marketing and events.

Right, now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s get down to business: examples of advertising budgets. Obviously, advertising budgets need to include the cost of booking banner ads on websites, display ads in newspapers, radio spots and TV commercials. But let’s not forget about the hidden costs: graphic design, copywriting, talent fees and production. Determining how much to spend on all these costs can be difficult, particularly for a start-up business or if you’re investing in new advertising channels. That’s where an advertising budget comes in handy.

There are several ways to calculate your advertising budget. The most important thing to keep in mind is that, as your company matures and revenue increases, your advertising budget should be reviewed to foster continued growth. Here are a few examples of advertising budgets.

Competitor Matching

Carry out a really comprehensive competitor review. Work out where, and how often, your main competitors are advertising. Are they primarily opting for print ads or have they plastered every billboard between here and the moon with their logo? From this, you should be able to work out (around about) what your competitors are spending. To remain competitive in the same market, you may need to make sure that your brand is as visible as your competitors. You may need to match their advertising budget.

Percentage of Sales

Quite a lot of companies simply set a standard advertising budget, usually a proportion of their sales revenue. In general, this is around two to five per cent of all sales revenue. This can cause problems though. If you are a start-up business, without a steady revenue stream, this might not be the most sensible budgeting method.

Objective-Based

As the name suggests, set an objective for your advertising first. Maybe you want to increase online sales by 10%. Work out how much it will cost to meet this objective and then spend that much. Simple! This can work well for start-up businesses.

Total Maximum Amount

Simply decide on an amount that you want to spend on advertising, based on personal experience or intuition or management whims. Pluck a number out of the air, or a hat if you prefer. This is a fairly hit-or-miss budgeting method. It doesn’t take market factors or objectives into account and it isn’t really measurable. We wouldn’t recommend going with this method, but we know lots of companies that do.

Experimental

Try your hand a few different types of advertising. Increase spending if any one method seems to drive more sales than another. This one could be re-named the ‘suck-it-and-see’ example of advertising budgets.

As you may have worked out, none of these examples of advertising budgets really hits the mark. So, instead of making such a cut-and-dry decision, we think a better approach involves asking yourself a series of revealing questions. These questions should help you create a realistic, effective advertising budget that can deliver on your broader marketing objectives. Sounds good, hey?

First up, who exactly are you trying to reach with your advertising? Are they male? Female? Both? Are they old or young? Do they catch public transport? Do they read the newspaper online? Or do they prefer the print version? What radio station do they listen to? Are they avid social media users? It’s only once you’ve answered all these questions that you can answer the most important one of all:

  • What type of media does your target audience pay attention to?

There are so many media choices out there. You have to choose the right one. Grandma is unlikely to flick through Facebook updates and little Johnny, the 16-year-old skater dude, is just as unlikely to listen to ABC talk-back radio. The right medium is vital.

Answering the rest of the questions should be simpler:

  • What type of appeal will work best to get your target audience to buy? Emotional? Rational?
  • Will the profit generated by the advertising outweigh the cost? No point in advertising, just for the sake of advertising.
  • Is advertising really right for my brand, service or product? Is it really going to increase profit? Sometimes word of mouth or publicity or direct marketing are more appropriate.
  • How long has your brand, service or product been around? Unknown brands will usually need to spend more on advertising to create awareness first.

 

Thanks to Sally Wood for yet again another insightful article which is a very handy reference for anyone who needs examples of advertising budgets. Make sure you also check out Sally’s article on A Step-By-Step Guide to Marketing Budget Plans.

 

 

Does Your Business Need An e-Marketing Make Over?

Does Your Business Need An e-Marketing Make Over?

Does your business need an e-Marketing make over?

There is a saying that for anything to remain successful, one must show the same enthusiasm as in the beginning. That’s never truer in business. Setting up an online business is pretty easy nowadays. But to make it successful and maintain it as such, requires specialised knowledge and hard work.

  • Has your business’ e-marketing campaign been put on hold for too long?
  • Have you recently noticed lower sales, interaction, conversions, and referrals?
  • Do you want to take your business to the next level?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, then an e-marketing make-over may just be what you need. First, we need to figure out your strategy; what is it that you’re trying to achieve, your goals.

Revise Keywords

Ranking for the right keywords is the key to a successful online business. You don’t want just any one to come and visit. The whole point of marketing is to invite “targeted” customers, the ones that will come to buy your products. So, instead of broad keyword phrases like “university courses in Sydney”, your potential could significantly be increased when you focus on the keywords, “Applied Media Arts Bachelor Program in Northern Sydney”. And when the keywords are narrowed down, competition is lower and rankings can be achieved easier as there are certainly less universities in Northern Sydney having Bachelors in Applied Media Arts than there are universities in Sydney. Remember – the more targeted the keyword, the further down into the buying process your prospect is.

Optimise Correctly

If your content is under optimised, search engines might have a difficult time assessing what is it you are selling; and even not bother too much with your site. They might not easily notice it and if they don’t, you’ll never get in those rankings. On the other hand, if you’re over optimising they could penalise you, pulling you to the bottom. If your website is an important piece of your marketing strategy, then this is scarier as more time and work will need to be done to put it back up. The correct level of optimisation is achieved when your content is original, inbound links are genuine and relevant, there are more matter than advertisements and your content is precise and helpful for the visitors.

Update Content

Nowadays, fresh and topical content is paramount to your online success. The key is to regularly offer insights on the industry you are in, not just publishing content about your own offer. There are lots of events and product releases in your area of expertise, so speak up and establish yourselves as leaders! Well-written and sincere content will help you engage your customers and establish a relationship with your clients. Remember this golden rule, no matter how good your products and services; people, being emotional creatures, buy from whom they like. So, keep writing, engaging and evolving to the customer’s needs.

Quality Backlinks

Are there authoritative websites in your niche linking back to your site? Or is it just friends commenting about your products from their blog? They are both backlinks but Google values each of them in completely different lights. Quality backlinks are considered votes: those from sites that have made a reputation in your niche are given more weight than those from ordinary sites. So, brush up those content writing skills and write some awesome guest posts that will attract links back to your website as magnets. Google will reward you for that.

Clean Up Broken Links

Broken links are links to non-existent pages, on your website or someone else’s. They’re simply like misplaced doors where there are no rooms. When visitors, i.e. potential clients, visit your website and come down a dead-end, they’ll figure your business unprofessional and might leave for other competitors with whom they can safely place their trust. Search Engines too consider broken links negatively and this can lead to a lower trust in your website’s reputation. So to improve user experience and increase your rankings, fix your 404 errors using Google Webmaster Tools through “crawl errors” option.

Technical Roadblocks

Once you get on the wagon of an online business, you will come across technical issues that are going to need expertise to resolve. Now, even if you have the time and inclination to study the issues and solve them on your own, which admittedly has its advantages, it would be wiser to hand over the work to professionals. They’re likely to finish the job ten times faster and better; while even offering suggestions and potential improvements. Your time could be much better utilised for the rest of your marketing efforts.

If you’re facing a stagnant online venture that isn’t going places with low conversions and falling sales, then you need to work on your e-marketing campaign to make those prospective clients come, click and buy. Start by following the steps given above and make your business more competitive in your industry. And if you’re unsure about any of this, your best bet is seeking the services of a professional SEO consultant.

Marketing.com.au would like to thank Bernard for sharing these great eMarketing tips with us.

 

 

What Is Content Marketing?

What Is Content Marketing?

One of the key Australian trends for 2013 that we discussed in our article Marketing Predictions For Australian Marketers In 2013 was ‘Content is King’. Everywhere you look, people are discussing the importance of content marketing and why marketers need to develop a sound content marketing strategy to avoid being left behind.

This week we decided to get back to basics, the 101, and look at what content marketing actually is, how marketers can use it and also some juicy statistics on content marketing in Australia.

The term ‘content’ doesn’t just mean written words, posts or articles. It is much more broad. Basically, content marketing refers to the act of distributing relevant, authentic and quality content and multimedia across any number of channels/platforms, with the ultimate aim of engaging with consumers.

By providing consumers with content that they actually want to watch, read, learn, enjoy and share, creates a positive brand experience and strengthens the brand relationship. The end result is increased brand awareness, traffic, customers and ultimately sales.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the common channels/platforms that marketers may use in their content marketing strategy:

  • Social media
  • Email newsletters
  • Commenting, posts and articles
  • Graphics, infographics, images, memes, photos and comics (e.g shared on sites like Pinterest and Instagram)
  • Slides, graphs and charts (e.g distributing via websites like SlideShare)
  • Video, webinars and podcasts
  • Events, presentations, papers, ebooks, articles and case studies
  • Online forums
  • Tools, apps and games

Now you may be thinking, I wonder what other marketers are doing? Well, as promised, let’s get into some juicy Australian statistics released by the Content Marketing Institute a couple of weeks ago:

  • 96% of Australian marketers are using content marketing
  • 61% plan to increase their content marketing budget over next 12 months
  • 25% of marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing
  • An average of 12 tactics/channels are used by marketers
  • Top 3 tactics/channels used are articles on your website, social media and email newsletters
  • Top 3 most effective tactics/channels seen to be in person events, case studies and email newsletters

So now that you know the basics and a little about what other marketers are doing, it’s time to get your skates on. Remember, you can always outsource content creation if you don’t have the time or feel out of your depth. Either way, always remember content marketing is not about a sales pitch or a call to action. It is about sharing quality (and not necessarily quantity) content that is authentic, unique and ultimately engaging.

If you’re looking for more information, check out a couple of our recent articles on Why The Digital Content Revolution Will Not Be Televised and 27 Ways To Improve Your Content. We also came across this great little video by the SEOMOZ crew on How To Win The Content Arms Race:

How To Expand Online With Performance Marketing

A couple of weeks ago we had a great article shared with us by Richard Green from Hot Deals and James Kitchener from Jack Media on The Secret to Affiliate Marketing for Marketers. This week they have kindly shared with us this handy infographic with some useful information on ways to expand online with performance marketing.

It is important to note that sometimes performance marketing and affiliate marketing are referred to as one in the same thing. However, affiliate marketing is actually a component of performance marketing. Think of performance marketing as being much broader for any online marketing that is paid for based on it’s performance rather than a set price.

The infographic below from Jack Media has some really handy sense checks that are worth a few minutes reviewing to see if you have missed anything in terms of making sure your website is up to scratch first. If you then follow the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers it will help you to gauge what your next steps might need to be when it comes to growing your database and your sales. If you would like to view a larger version of this infographic please click here.

Hungry for more? If you are interested in finding out what the expected trends are for performance marketing in 2013 make sure you check out the Performance Marketing Guide for 2013 which was released yesterday.

Tips For Writing An Online Style Guide

One of the most popular articles we’ve written at Marketing.com.au is Top 5 Tips for Writing a Style Guide. In today’s digital age, it’s also important for marketers (especially online and digital specialists) to use an online style guide. Writing for the web and generating content can be quite daunting, so we thought we’d share some useful information on online style guides.

A style guide is a set of guidelines that is referenced when writing any communications. A style guide ensures any communications from a company are always consistent and professional, even with multiple authors. An online style guide on the other hand, whilst similar, is specifically tailored for writing and optimising content to be published on the web. It ensures all online communications reflect your overall brand. When preparing your own online style guide, be sure to use plenty of examples, images and sample code. We also like the idea of distributing a reference or cheat sheet which contains key elements that people can post around their workspace.

Here a couple of resources we came across that we highly recommend if you are working on creating your own online style guide.

Yahoo! Style Guide

We’re big fans of the Yahoo! Style Guide It’s one of those simple resources that’s really easy and straightforward to use. It was designed specifically with writing for the web in mind.

Some the key things we found really useful were:

  • Tips on writing for an online audience and making sure that you speak to your entire audience.
  • Understanding the importance of readability of your content and making sure it is ‘easy to scan’ by visitors.
  • Making sure you use neutral language, consistent terminology as well as short and clear sentences.
  • Ensuring that your content is error free (so you are not penalised by search engines). There is also a really handy list of words which is a useful reference.
  • It also helps you ensure your web pages are optimised for search engines, so you appear higher in search results.
  • The guide also has tips on improving your user interface (UI) to make sure visitors can easily navigate around your website.
  • It also addresses how to streamline content to make it email and mobile friendly.
  • You will also find some of the standard style guide references to grammer, punctuation etc.
  • The Yahoo! Style Guide also features some useful HTML code references. We’ve all seen pages that have random symbols that appear because text isn’t rendering correctly. It can be really confusing to read, particularly when the same content is shared across multiple channels.

We’ve also included a short video introduction for you below that we came across where Yahoo! Senior Editorial Director Chris Barr discusses the Yahoo! Style Guide.

Web Style Guide

In addition to the Yahoo! Style Guide, we also highly recommend checking out the Web Style Guide. This guide was written by Patrick J. Lynch who is the Director of Special Technology Projects from the well renowned Yale University’s Information Technology Services. The guide has some other handy tips for styling content specifically for the web. We also found the illustrations used to be particularly handy in demonstrating the principles.

Finally, it’s also an interesting exercise to see how other companies and brands structure their style guides. If you perform a search of “online style guide” there are many great examples from simple single page documents through to detailed guides.

If you’ve come across any other resources you would recommend for creating an online style guide, please share them with us below.