Greg Magnus

AIM Custom Media Websites Blogs Glen Allen, VA 23059

Category: Marketing (page 1 of 11)

Strategic minds discuss strategic marketing strategies

Marketers on the Move to Retain Market Share

Online marketing ad spends continue to trend up as target audiences spend more time on the Internet. Marketers are responding by shifting their marketing budgets to retain market share.

According to recent findings by the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA), the Internet has more than gained traction, it is the place to attract new customers – both Gen X and the baby boomers.

Not surprisingly, 16 to 24 year-olds access the Internet more frequently than they watch TV and spend 10% more time on it.  But did you know there’s been a double-digit increase in weekly Internet access among the over-55s since 2006? About a third of the current Internet users spend 16 hours or more each week on the web.

How are marketing managers responding?

Continue reading

Opportunities Abound During Tough Economic Times

Contrarian view? Absolutely not. The best time to strike is when your competitors are off guard. While they gather in their conference rooms to complain about the economy, use this golden opportunity to reach out to your existing customers and find new prospects.

Far too many business owners absolutely take the wrong approach. They hunker down, cut marketing budgets and pull back. The end result is "unattended customers" and less competition for you. Businesses that cut marketing budgets also demotivate their best salespeople, which start spending more time thinking about getting a new job than a new customer.

Economic downturns are an excellent time to strengthen your relationships with both your existing customers and your competitors' customers. Odds are, they are not as busy. Are they willing to spend a little more time with you? Very possible so get in touch with them and consider the following:

  • Collect testimonials: Asking for a testimonial is a contact with your customer that's not a sales call. Tell them you would like to promote the testimonial and link it to their website, which will promote them as well. Use the opportunity to show your customers you value their opinion, your business relationship, and their business (i.e., dynamic websites, blogs, Scribd, PR news, etc.);
  • Survey your customers: Create an opportunity to collect feedback and discuss services and/or products you offer that they may not be fully aware of or completely understand (i.e., email marketing, custom website landing pages, etc.);
  • Network: Introduce your customers to people in your network that they consider prospects and ask to meet their business colleagues and associates – an excellent source of referrals (i.e., LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, etc.), and
  • Use your "consulting" skills: Help your customers and prospects save time and money by providing pertinent industry news and educational materials that will help them compete during these difficult times (i.e., email newsletters, white papers and custom publications all have high ROIs).

But don't be fooled. There is also new competition for you – competition from << Continued on digital AIM >>

[Please note we have updated our marketing news website. To receive future updates including our 2009 Marketing Plan series, add your info here | digital AIM – Email.]

Promo Content Working Better Than Expected B2B

We all know that content is king, right? Not necessarily. Too much content performs poorly if the recipient doesn't have the time to read it. And, if the goal of your email marketing content is to sell then don't dismiss targeted B-to-B promotional copy. Here's my point.

B-to-B email marketing focuses heavily on relevant content – lots of info and educational flare. Is it working? Not as well as we think in all cases according to a recent study published by the MarketingSherpa, which provides an example where a merchandiser targeted and tested promotional content against informational content. The promotional content won with 89% more CTRs and five times more revenue! You can read the entire article here, Test Shows Promotional Content Beats Information (open access closes August 27).

Take aways from the full article:

  • People may not want to read about you products or services as much as you think. They might just want to buy them.
  • Discount offers or coupons are common nowadays so don't hesitate to use them; almost required to get attention.
  • Email marketing works best when the subject line text reflects the content closely. 
  • Don't abandon educational content but condense the info as much as possible; use only the most important aspects of the message you are communicating.

Also note there are two critical items associated with successful email marketing: testing and targeting. When you know your audience (targeting – list segmentation), you should be well aware of what he or she wants – make sure you know what they want (testing). And, let them know you value their time – quickly get to the point.

Publishers Seek Online Networks For New Releases

You wrap up the final pages of your manuscript and within three-weeks you are on the "Hot New Releases" list. Sound too good to be true? It's not and publishers are using online social networks successfully to promote their books, white papers and business services. For instance, we found this release on PRWEB (one of the better press release sites FYI):

(PRWEB) June 6, 2008 — A new book, "I Met a Greek Goddess in Nashville", self published by Kalpanik S., a previously unknown author made it to the "Hot New Releases" list on Amazon.com's Kindle Book store on June 5th, within three weeks of its publication.

"We are very pleased to see 'I Met a Greek Goddess in Nashville' achieve "Hottest New Release" within a few weeks of its publication. . . . This proves the power of the use of the New Media formats and platforms such as Kindle, Facebook, MySpace, Amapedia, YouTube and Google/ Yahoo groups." [These sites were used exclusively for publicizing the book.]

"I am a busy executive so I did not have time or energy to follow the time consuming publishing or publicizing methods" said Kalpanik S., the author . . . In place of spending my time contacting publishers and agents or sending copies of the books for book reviews, I decided to use the New Media formats, platforms and forums such as Kindle, facebook, Amapedia, MySpace and YouTube for publishing and publicizing my book. These have been instrumental in the success . . ." 

More and more people are realizing the potential associated with marketing directly to the end user online. This strategy is working because things have changed for PR; and how things have changed.

Until recently, media “press releases” were considered dead. First of all, the traditional press release has rapidly evolved with technology. We now focus on “Marketing PR,” which bypasses traditional media outlets and reaches target market directly. How so?

By preparing and sending press releases frequently via wire services, blogs, email newsletters and social networks, you can zero in on business prospects who use search engines – just about everyone in the business world. Shockingly, whether a journalist actually sees your PR or responds to it is secondary in importance.

PR is once again essential because it is cost-effective and properly managed PR campaigns are generating high ROIs.

Seriously consider incorporating PR into your annual marketing plan. More of your existing clients and prospects get to know you – you build stronger relationships and increase your referral rates, which translates to a better bottom line.  

Blogging for Dollars and New Business

Not many know it but, content management systems (CMS) are replacing websites and savvy website developers are using certain blog functions as both management and marketing tools. And, as we discuss frequently with business owners, CMS-driven websites are hands down one of the most cost-effective online marketing tools. In fact, many small business owners are generating enough revenue from their blogs that their "blog" is now their "business" (these fortunate few no longer have real jobs). How did they do this? Several ways but first let's take a look at a few blogging facts.

Citation from the Wall Street Journal,
New Services Help Bloggers Bring in Ad Revenue
by Kelly Spors:

If you're not making money off your blog, 2008 might be the year.

As more people see potential in earning money off the Internet, there is a quickly expanding array of advertising services and tools for bloggers that go well beyond the standard pay-per-click [PPC] text ads or display ads.

Many of the most widely used programs are adding features to allow users to customize the appearance and placement of ads on their sites. Some also are introducing newer money-making mediums such as audio and video. . . [You can read the full WSJ article here.]

What the WSJ article doesn't tell you is "all of the story." For example, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.com explains how difficult it was to build his business; and a little luck didn't hurt as he discusses here. I personally discovered Darren's blog well over a year ago. He does an excellent job but he admits his success is an anomaly. Let's face it, most business owners are not interested in becoming professional bloggers. However, this doesn't mean they can't use blog technology to market online, lower their annual website costs and improve their ROI. That's the real story but first let's get back to our discussion concerning how to generate blog revenue. Continue reading

Tutorial for Enhancing Local Search Results SEO

This article covers simple online marketing strategies you can use to improve your ranking for local search results (SEO). So, how do you let everyone know you're in town?

Local Search Marketing Strategies and SEO Tips

Before you start bidding on keywords and throw money at PPC (pay per click) marketing, consider using simple "organic SEO" online marketing strategies to improve your local SEO results. Whether your revenue comes from business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), increasing your local search ranking will benefit your business.

First and foremost, create an SEO friendly website. The first step you can take to improve your local – as well as your overall search engine results – is make sure your website is search engine friendly. Make it easy for search engines to identify your business location and your keywords by following this short-list of SEO tips for local search:

  • Prominently display your business name and address as text on both the top of the page and in the footer. In the header, it helps if you use an "H1" tag that includes your address. Avoid placing your address and keywords in image files given they can be hidden from the search engines. Also, it is difficult for your site visitors to capture your address and phone number for future reference when it is embedded in an image. Continue reading

Why Companies Are Moving Marketing Online The Emerging Trends

The amount of research supporting the effectiveness of online marketing is staggering yet many business owners are still unconvinced or just inadequately informed. If you are seriously looking for reasons to justify spending marketing dollars online, here are a few facts and trends to ponder:

Although most marketers allocate minuscule amounts of their budgets to their email efforts, the channel continues to deliver substantial returns on every dollar spent. According to the Direct Marketing Association, marketers spent $500 million on email in 2007 to capture an astronomical $23 billion in sales – yes, $23 billion in sales; that's not a typo.

The DMA forecasts:

  • During 2008 marketers will spend $600 million on email to drive $27 billion in sales; and
  • Email delivered $48.56 in sales for every dollar spent in 2007. A substantial return is also predicted for 2008; $45.65 for every dollar spent. More from the DMA is available here.)

The results are in. The success of online marketing is supported by reliable research reports and marketing pros have taken notice. In McKinsey's July 2007 global survey of marketers, more respondents used email than any other form of digital advertising. Some people still don't understand the value but those that do are moving online across the spectrum of marketing activities, from building awareness to after-sales service. They see online tools as an important and effective component of their marketing strategies

McKinsey survey of marketing executives reports that: Continue reading

Reaching Target Markets Through Online Communities

You don't need me to tell you online communities and social networks are powerful interactive marketing tools. What you may need to know is why you shouldn't wait any longer before you get involved. I'll get to that but first let's consider just a few of your options:

  • blogs,
  • chat rooms,
  • forums,
  • business networks,
  • product review sites,
  • email discussion groups,
  • photo sites,
  • video sites and the list goes on and on.

It all comes down to this, hundreds of millions of people now participate in online social networks. Some just hang around reading the content while others actively participate in lengthly discussions. They build strong relationships with others in their communities. Your target market? They make recommendations and provide referrals day in and day out. And yes, many small businesses are no longer "small" as a result.

This is not just my opinion, large corporations such as Sony, Chrysler and Dell are in tune to this marketing channel in a big way because of one main reason – it works and they are benefiting.  What about you? How do you "reach out" and capture new business online? Continue reading

What is Cyber Monday?

The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday; the first Monday after Thanksgiving Day. It is considered the ceremonial kick-off of the online holiday shopping season. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, "Cyber Monday" symbolizes one of the busiest days of the year for online retailers although the busiest online shopping day of 2005 was actually December 12.

The idea was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend and then make online purchases – buying all of the stuff they didn't find in their local stores.

Cyber Monday has evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National Retail Federation's Shop.org division, in which online retailers offer low prices and special "today only" promotions. Here are a few "current" examples: Continue reading

Searching for Business Online

The results are more compelling now than ever. If you think a line item for online marketing in your 2008 budget is an option, consider this:

  • Odds are strong that your customers will read online content developed by your competition in 2008 (articles, testimonials, blog comments, e-newsletters, PR news, e-reports, etc.)
  • Your competition more than likely has a budget for search marketing (either paid or organic SEO) and they intend to place relevant ads in your client's conscious – a click away (display ads, rich media, video, classifieds, sponsorships, referrals, e-mail, etc.)

Forrester Research's "Get Serious with Search Marketing" (Aug. 2007) reports 65% of marketers surveyed are using search marketing tactics.

"Local" search is on the rise and eMarketer's "Local Online Advertising" report (Aug. 2007) projects an increase from $2.9 billion in 2007 to $4.6 billion in 2008 (U.S. total).

  • Your competition is working on their blogs, widgets, wikis and websites right now to capitalize on the red hot social networking trends. 

Frankly, you don't need me or anyone else to tell you online marketing is important and that every business owner should be paying more attention to it.  The majority of our clients tell us, "What we need is a better understanding of the tactics, costs and resources necessary to build long-term relationships with our existing clients, increase referral rates and capture new business using online strategies."  

Where do you start?

Start with a reality check. Do you have a written strategy for marketing online? Do you have the human resources and a budget to support your plan? For example, if you run a small business and you plan to use email marketing (basic strategy everyone should be using now), how much should you spend on generating quality content? How frequently do you plan to update your content?  And, most importantly, what marketing tools do you plan to use to deliver the content to your existing clients and your target market?

  • Monthly website updates (new testimonials, industry news, articles, press releases, etc.)
  • Dynamic blog content – subscriptions, weekly updates with RSS feeds and automated email delivery whenever new content is added (organic SEO)
  • Email newsletters with a summary of relevant industry news and articles important to your clients (link your newsletter to your email signature, website pages, and publish an archive on our website)
  • Participation in social networks that increase referral rates, etc.

A recent survey of thousands of marketing pros indicates that email is still considered one of the strongest marketing tactics (highest ROI) when compared to other marketing tools. (see our previous post here for more on this survey)

If you are a small business owner and your company generates more than $200,000 in gross revenue, consider budgeting at least $6,000 for online marketing in 2008. As a rule-of-thumb, your marketing budget should include a minimum of 2-3 percent of your projected 2008 gross revenue – varies by industry and your competitive strengths.

Are you producing static or dynamic content online? Are you providing your clients with a compelling reason to visit your site frequently or read your emails? Whether print or electronic media, "Content is King." If necessary, pay someone to design your newsletter (custom publication) and write professional articles in your name. Publish your newsletter content on your website and/or blog and publish the articles on external websites as well (article marketing).

Join the conversation – visit relevant industry websites and/or blogs and leave comments (start now, your are welcome to leave a relevant comment on my blog). Let it be known that your company is an expert in your field and you are willing to help others.

As always, if you need assistance preparing your marketing plan or just a little advice on the budgeting process feel free to contact us. We'll be glad to answer your questions no charge – no strings attached.  

 

 

Guide to Buying Toys Online

What websites should you visit when buying toys online? Thousands are vying for your holiday dollar but few have the credibility of the market leaders Amazon and Walmart. From a marketing perspective, Amazon has made a significant investment in technology during the past year that puts them at the top of everyone's list when shopping for toys.

With innovative search features and videos on every product page, Amazon has turned a frustrating shopping experience into a very merry melody. They gained popularity over the years with consumers by leveraging customer-to-customer communications; product reviews provided by people like you or myself that have purchased the product. Amazon continues the trend by giving their customers the ability to select the season's hottest toys. 

BUSINESS WIRE, Nov. 01, 2007 Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today unveiled a new section of its Toy Store called Amazon's The Holiday Toy List, featuring new, innovative navigation tools and videos on every product page for over 450 of this year's top toys, video games and sporting goods. Utilizing search features from its popular shoe website Endless.com, customers can now quickly narrow and expand search results by age, gender, price, category, favorite characters and preferred brands simultaneously. In addition, each product page will feature video content demonstrating the toys in action that customers can e-mail to family and friends as well as options for customers to upload their own video reviews or download and print a PDF of The Holiday Toy List.

"Amazon has made it easier than ever for customers to discover the perfect gifts for their kids, by creating the ultimate holiday toy destination that's simple to use, convenient and fun," says Mark Randall, vice president of the Toy and Baby stores for Amazon.com. "The Holiday Toy List is a place where parents can really engage and learn about the products their kids are asking for by watching interactive videos of the products and reading customer reviews and ratings from other parents."

Walmart continues to be the low-price leader but lacks the tech savvy served up by Amazon this holiday season. However, it appears Walmart is making a move to appeal to a slightly higher end demographic. A few weeks ago I noticed significant changes at our local Walmart; cleaner, more overhead banners, and several upscale products in premium spots – I couldn't resist the T-bone steaks and they were excellent. The entire store looked better but the website stills trails behind Amazon's innovation.

Other online stores such as Overstock.com are aggressive when it comes to affiliate promotions and their pricing models but the websites also lack the technical luster of Amazon.com:

Here's a few toys expected to be consumer favorites this holiday season:

I can't believe the holiday marketing blitz is upon us already – shop 'till you drop, enjoy. 

 

 

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