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Stay up-to-date with the continuing sagas and dilemmas involved in the online marketing industry.

       

The growth of traffic to Twitter.com has been nothing but astounding over the past year. The micro-blogging service quickly turned skeptics into addicts and pushed Twitter towards the top of the social media rankings. But in October the number of unique visitors to Twitter.com declined. According to Techcrunch.com, the number of unique visitors in October to Twitter.com was down 8 percent from September, a decrease of roughly 1.7 million unique visits. Are we tweeted out?


Image from http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/11/12/trouble-at-twitter-u-s-visitors-down-8-percent-in-october/

The industry is buzzing with discussion as to the cause, but no one is suggesting that Twitter is about to sing its last song. In fact, they are thinking positively about this change and are looking at the use of Twitter-related applications as a factor for the drop. Third-party applications make tweeting much easier and quicker and give the user better Twitter management and monitoring. Applications such as TweetDeck and HootSuite allow you to Tweet from your computer desktop. Twitter mobile tools let you post tweets on the go. These Twitter applications have almost completely eliminated the need to visit Twitter.com.

In his article "Guess How Many Tweets Fly Across Twitter Each Day", Brian Solis suggests that the drop in unique traffic to Twitter.com could mean that current users are becoming more engaging with their tweets. This change in tweeting behavior from trivial posts to dense messages that utilize hash tags and shortened links is furthering Twitter's role as a social media tool.

The 140-character tweets are becoming so influential that other social media platforms are making moves to utilize the micro-blogging service. For example, LinkedIn recently launched a Twitter feed application, which pulls tweets from your LinkedIn connections and displays them in real-time, something Facebook found advantageous a few months prior.

Social media is always evolving and changing for the better. Online marketers are beginning to feel that traffic numbers are not what's important, but rather how users are employing these tools. When Twitter was started it had users answer one simple question, "What are you doing?", but with time behaviors have changed and tweeters are tweeting a more meaningful micro message, leading to greater user interaction, which is the core of social media.

Sources:
http://techcrunch.com/2009/11/12/trouble-at-twitter-u-s-visitors-down-8-percent-in-october/

http://www.briansolis.com/2009/11/guess-how-many-tweets-fly-across-twitter-each-day/

http://www.simplyzesty.com/social-media/twitter-traffic-declines-october/

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/11/11/urnidgns002570F3005978D80025766B0060446A.DTL

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

       

Branding is an important piece of the marketing puzzle. Does your company have a motto or mission statement? How about a logo? What colors do you associate with your company? The answers to these questions and more are the outline of your company's brand.

Think about it. When you head over to the Coca Cola Web site, what colors do you expect to see? If you visit the Nike Facebook page, what logo do you look for? Branding allows users to immediately associate a Web site or social profile with a company.

Branding your business is important, because it allows you to set your company apart from the competition. Whether your company is an international corporation or a small neighborhood establishment, you have the opportunity to brand your business in a way that makes you recognizable to your customers and potential customers. Being recognized can make the difference between getting the sale and losing out.

One of the biggest challenges of branding your company is establishing that brand so that people can and will recognize it. There are simple ways to position your brand online to make the most of your time and resources. It is important to coordinate your different online presences so that you are presenting a uniform brand to the public.

If a potential customer visits your Facebook page or YouTube channel, will they immediately recognize your brand? Do all of your online channels represent your company in an easily identifiable way?

The more that people can identify your brand, the better off you are. Chances are, Internet users could stumble upon your Twitter account without ever visiting your Web site. Why not make it as easy as possible for them to recognize your brand, no matter where they are on the Web?

  • Your Website

    Your Web site is one of the most basic, but important places for you to establish yourself online. Most companies today have a Web site, but is it a good one? Are you displaying your company logo and utilizing your company colors? Do you have a page where visitors can read about your company, and how the brand was established? Is the Web site easy to find and easy to use?

    Too often, companies hire a Web developer to create their Web site, and relinquish all control to that person. It is irresponsible not to take an active part in the design, implementation and upkeep of your Web site.

    When was the last time you really looked at your Web site, and assessed how it's doing at represent your brand? Take a good hard look at your Web site, and put yourself in the position of a consumer with little to no knowledge of your brand. Does your Web site do a good job of informing the public about your company? Your Web site shouldn't focus solely on your products or services. It should establish your brand as an industry leader. Use your Web site to explain and highlight what makes your brand unique.

  • Your Blog

    Blogging platforms such as Blogger and Word Press make it easy to set up a company Blog. As beneficial as Blogs can be, the focus of them is often on the content. As we all know, content is king on the search engines. But there's more to a Blog than the posts.

    Your Blog should be an extension of your Web site. Does your Blog reflect your brand's image? Are you utilizing the correct colors and fonts? Your brand should be well represented throughout the motif and design of your Blog.

  • Social Networking Channels

    Social Networking is an important factor in online marketing today. Web sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are a great way to market your brand. When used correctly, Social Networking sites allow you to create another point of contact for your brand.

    These Web sites allow you to create a personalized presence online, tailored to connecting with your target audience. Creating a profile on these sites gives you control over the information and image the members of these communities obtain. Utilize these Web sites to create personalized brand hubs. Use your company logo. Include any tag lines or mottos. Set up links to your Web site, Blog, and other online presences. Include photos and videos. Post your commercials. Interact with your fans online and you will be positioning your brand as a household name.

  • Twitter Micro-Blogging

    Twitter allows you to brand your account page with your colors, images and more. The Twitter Settings options allow you to get creative with your color choices and background designs. Play around within the settings to create a page that reflects your brand. You want those who view your Twitter page to immediately identify your company and your brand.

    You'll also notice some Twitter users display their contact information or company specialties as a part of their background image. While this may take some extra work in terms of formatting and design, it is helpful.

  • YouTube Video Sharing

    From the videos you offer to the background of your channel, you have the potential to brand your YouTube account.

    YouTube allows you to tailor your page in much the same way Twitter does. Through the Themes and Colors menu, they have preset themes or you can choose to create a new one that is all your own. You can add your company logo as your profile picture. Link to your Web site.

    The videos you add to the Web site allow you to broadcast your brand. Add your commercials, record a tour of your facilities, highlight key product demonstrations, the possibilities are endless. You have control over the content people associate with your brand, are you utilizing this control effectively?

  • Information Resources

    Web sites like Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers are important because they offer user generated content. While this leaves you with less control over the image of your company on these sites, they allow you to get an honest look at how the public perceives your brand.

    Search for your company on Wikipedia. Are you listed? Is the information correct? How are you doing in terms of brand management? What are people saying about you on these resources? While these resources give you less control over your brand, they are important tools for gauging the public's perception of your brand. To better position your brand, you need to have a clear understanding of how your brand is actually being perceived online.

    Information Resource Web sites allow you to read and understand how your brand is being received by the public. They also give you the opportunity to connect with users, and position your company and your brand as industry resources.

Chances are, you've decided to create a Facebook or Twitter account because you are hoping to expand the reach of your company. The more people you network with, the better off you are, and Social Media channels give you the opportunity to do that networking. Potential customers could find your Facebook page or your LinkedIn profile before they ever visit your Web site.

Your Social Media channels hold important opportunities for impressing potential customers. You can utilize all of your online channels to position your brand and build better relationships with customers. Even though you are using different technologies and Web sites, you should present a uniform brand across them all. The more consistent you are with your brand, the better your chance of turning Social Media users into customers.

If you don't take the time to create a consistent brand presence on your online channels, you aren't utilizing them to their fullest potential.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

       

Many want to know, what is the secret formula to get to the top of Google? Well, there is no secret formula. It is simply a matter of having a Web site with strong content that informs and engages your target audience, and motivates others to link to your Web pages.

Google Engineer Adam Lasnik explained the value of content for Google search visibility well:

"People underestimate the huge importance of having creative and compelling content. People need a reason to go to your site."

"Sell widgets? Post thoughtful, helpful comments on blogs that talk about the care of widgets, traveling to see widgets, widget troubleshooting, etc. Be a part of the online community.

"If you don't make an effort to engage others or -- worse -- simply put up a flashy (or contrastingly boring-as-heck) Web site that's an island unto itself, why SHOULD others care, much less visit?"


In other words, you need strong content to earn Google search positions. You have to give your audience reasons to visit, explore the site, then return to it. A Web site that is nothing more than a brochure in an electronic format will not earn search visibility. You need to give visitors thorough information about your business.

Then go beyond that.

Educate your audience about your industry to establish yourself as the expert. Give them reason to come back by adding new informative content on an ongoing basis.

You need to ask yourself:

- Why should someone visit your Web site?
- Do you show and say what makes you special?
- Do you benefit the visitor beyond pitching them for a sale?
- Do you demonstrate that you are an expert?
- Do you engage the visitor?

In the content, you need to use the keywords that you want to be found on search engines. Those keywords need to be relevant to that Web page's content. But don't overuse keywords. Use the keywords naturally in the page title, headline, body copy and links that point to that page.

Strong content attracts links that search engines reward with better search positions. Using strong content is the most effective linking strategy. Build quality links naturally is hard and takes time. But it will result in long-term solid search visibility.

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The holiday season is approaching, fast. If you haven't stepped up your online efforts for the holidays yet, you're missing out. Being found on the first page of search engines is as important as ever, but there is so much more to the puzzle.

According to Forrester Research Inc., U.S. online sales are expected to rise 8 percent this holiday season. Forrester Research has stated that it anticipates online retail sales to reach $44.7 billion this month and next. That amount is an increase from $41.4 billion last year.

According to the Shop.org's eHoliday Study done by BIGresearch, there are many reasons why shopping online is so popular with customers. Here are just a few of the reasons customers find shopping online more convenient than in store...

  • Web sites are open 24 hours a day.
  • Search engines and online retail sites make it easier to compare prices.
  • Many companies are offering free shipping.
  • Online, there are no crowds or long lines to deal with.
  • It is easier to find specific items online.
  • Web sites and search engines offer better variety.
  • Companies offer email and online promotions that save customers money.

Though some expectations for this holiday season are high, the current economy and heightened competition between retailers has been a point of stress for most companies. Online sales continue to be an area where companies are seeing growth and promise. With so many retailers turning to online marketing, what have you done to set yourself apart from the crowd?

The Shop.org study asserts that 34.3% of retailers say they will offer their holiday deals earlier than usual. Companies offering these early discounts are looking to give customers an extra incentive to start their holiday shopping.

Free shipping is still an important holiday promotion retailers are using to be more appealing to the masses. The Shop.org study continues, 79.4% of online retailers will offer free shipping with conditions. 57.4% plan to offer free shipping without conditions. 35.7% said their budgets for free shipping are higher than last year. 30.0% said free shipping offers will start earlier than a year ago.

If you only use the same promotions and marketing strategies that you've used in the past, you will miss out. More companies than ever are turning to marketing initiatives in hopes of rising above their competition. The amount of companies using Free Shipping illustrates how important it is for your company to find new ways to draw in customers.

If you believe that your current Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing campaigns are enough, you may want to think about. According to the eHoliday Study, 47.1% of retailers surveyed will increase their use of Social Media Marketing for this holiday season.

Simply having that Facebook page, Twitter account or Blog just isn't enough anymore. The Shop.org study states:

  • 60.3% of retailers said they have added to or improved their Facebook page.
  • 58.7% of the retailers surveyed have enhanced their Twitter pages.
  • 65.6% have created or made improvements to their Blogs and RSS Feeds.

With so many people recognizing the opportunities presented by Social Media Marketing, you have to step up your game to rise above the crowd. Have you brainstormed new ways to enhance your Social Media Marketing channels? Have you updated your accounts with all of your holiday season recommendations or products? What are you doing to establish yourself as an industry leader this holiday season?

Using the same old approaches to your holiday marketing just won't cut it anymore. Too many companies understand the value and potential of Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing. You could miss out on crucial sales this year if you haven't started increasing and improving your online presence. Don't wait any longer. Look for new ways to set your company apart this holiday season.

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Google has long made it a point that they want pay per click campaigns to be as relevant and targeted as possible, especially since rolling out the Google AdWords Quality Score algorithm back in 2006. Google followed up on making the AdWords network even more relevant by adding geo-targeting, placement targeting and demographic targeting to help advertisers qualify potential customers even further. Google has extended their reach for relevancy and choice even further by Offering Ad Sitelinks to select advertisers (Ad Sitelinks will only appear for advertisers whose ads meet a certain high quality threshold). Some of you may already be familiar with Sitelinks as they have been showing in organic search queries for some time as you can see from 5-Hour Energy, one of E-Power Marketing's SEM client's search listings below.



Google AdWords Sitelinks Search Result

As noted, Sitelinks will only be available to some advertisers whose ads meet a certain high quality threshold. E-Power does not currently have insight as how the "high quality threshold" is determined, but we believe it is tied to the Google AdWords Quality Score. E-Power has already noticed the new Ad Sitelinks feature within several of our accounts (See screen shot below). You can check to see if this option is available in your account by navigating to the campaign settings tab and looking for the "show additional links to my site" option. If you do not see this option, you may want to address your campaign's Quality Score.


Accessing Google AdWords Sitelinks

How will AdWords Sitelinks Benefit My Campaign?


Presenting advertisers with multiple Sitelinks options will allow the user to go to the most relevant information in your site, display special offers (making it easier to update seasonal or promotion offers), or by allowing for deeper entry into the Conversion Funnel process.

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The population of smart phones, PDAs, and similar technology is booming. The popularity of these technologies is causing an increase in the number of users accessing the Web using their mobile devices. This is creating both new challenges and new opportunities for Web site owners. When it comes to measurement of these users, basic analytics will not cut it. Mobile users don't behave the same way that stationary Web users do. And mobile phones do not necessarily work technologically the same way that stationary computers do. Traditional analytics platforms base measurement on Javascript and Cookies. Most mobile devices do not support Java, nor do they store cookies. Therefore, a different type of measurement is necessary. With the demand for additional measurement came the introduction of mobile analytics tools.

Mobile analytics tools are analytics for measuring mobile user behavior. They are designed to track mobile devices instead of stationary Web users. They track visitors to help you improve performance of your mobile presence, to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and to monitor goals. You can locate the country of origin in which the users are located, find out who their carriers are, as well as what model and make of phone they are using. This gives you a better understanding of your mobile visitors.

There are many benefits to understanding mobile users. For one, the mobile Web is becoming ever more popular. You don't want your competition to understand the mobile user better than you do. Understanding the differences in behavior between the mobile user and the stationary user can prove very beneficial. The two different users may spend their time on the same site looking for very different things and may behave very differently when on the site. Understanding this behavior is important for mobile marketing

There are also many challenges to mobile analytics. The most obvious one is that there are a myriad of different carriers, mobile devices, platforms, and support. All of this is mixed with multiple users, making for confusion and variances in data. The fact that users can go from their stationary computer to their phone for Internet access also causes variances in the data. For example, a user may be checking a local Blog, sees a link for a restaurant he wants to go to, then picks up his phone. He types the URL of the restaurant he visited right into the browser on his phone so he can use the map on the site to get to the restaurant. The problem here is that the visit to the site on his phone will not be counted as a referral. It will be counted as a direct visit, which leaves the data inaccurate for analysis.

There are a variety of mobile analytics solutions available to measure mobile Web use. A few of the more popular ones include Bango, Amethon, and Mobilytics. Google Analytics also offers a free option for measurement of the mobile Web. Each mobile analytics package works a little differently. Mobilytics, Google Analytics and Bango all require code to be placed on the pages of your website which is similar to Google Analytics. Amethon, measures using a different technology that allows measurement without log-file analysis or page tagging. Of course all of these solutions come at a cost, with the exception of Google Analytics. However, the benefits of these solutions may outweigh the benefits depending on your needs.

Though there are many challenges and benefits to mobile analytics, it is still a great option for getting a better understanding of mobile users. Like most analytics, it's not the individual data points that matter. It is the trends. Mobile analytics is still very new and always changing, and E-Power Marketing's certified professionals work to stay up-to-date on new developments in analytics tools.