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The Digital Marketing Landscape: Putting Your Business in the Picture

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

digital marketing campaignThe digital marketing landscape has taken on an astonishing degree of richness and complexity in recent years; this transit map” developed by Gartner resembles a dynamic big-city subway system more than anything as idyllic as a “landscape.” What trends can we see and project from this picture, and how do they affect your business? Let’s take a quick look.

According to an Adobe white paper posted by the Guardian, content marketing was rated as a top priority by 38 percent of study participants in 2013, up from 21 percent the year before. Mobile optimization was prioritized by the same percentage. But to get the most out of both of these strategies, the posted/distributed content must be relevant, shareable over social media and other media channels, and ideally reusable instead of one-off pieces. Mobile optimization, social media engagement, and targeting/ personalization all rated as the three “most exciting” opportunities among participants’ digital marketing efforts.

Another important trend is what the study refers to as “marketing automation,” which involves creating processes to send the right pre-created marketing data to the right prospects at the right point in the sales conversation. Twice as many 2013 study participants were excited about marketing automation compared to the 2012 numbers. The Adobe paper also notes that an increasing number of businesses are working on “omnichannel” marketing, with more and more brands trying to reach out to the mobile device user. It’s all about convergence, or making all your digital marketing efforts work together in a unified, congruent message. Here at NetEdge Marketing we have a number of programs and features in place to help you do just that. So don’t let your business become a still life – contact the digital marketing experts at NetEdge and let’s put the picture in motion!

Doing the Digital Marketing Tango: Responsive Websites for Different Devices

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

responsive website developmentNo matter how beautiful and functional your grand “old school” website may be, it’s time to face the fact that it just doesn’t play well with today’s mobile devices. So how do you give your business’s online presence the scalability it needs to overcome this challenge?

The answer lies in mobile websites. Instead of trying to squeeze your full-featured main website down so you can shoehorn it into people's iPhones, you need a second website designed just for those handheld mini-computers. This website provides viewers with the essential look and feel of your company while providing easier reading and navigation to suit these devices' screen space and the way they're designed to be manipulated. For instance, large buttons can take the place of hyperlinks to take full advantage of touchscreen functionality. A typical mobile website emphasizes selected interactivity over depth of information to capture leads and boost sales.

But while it’s important to optimize your web presence for mobile devices, that doesn't mean you can let your permanent website slide. There are still plenty of us who prefer to do our serious research (and ultimately serious shopping) with the aid of a nice big monitor, lightning-fast computer, full-size keyboard and comfy office chair. And there’s no denying that a website designed solely for mobile devices will seem seriously limited when viewed on these machines. You'll need to keep your full-featured main website up to date and make sure it complements the mobile site perfectly. Fortunately, when you have online marketing professionals who build and maintain both types of websites with equal skill, you can ensure that each prospects or customer who finds you will enjoy an ideal online experience -- wherever they may be.

Bad Perceptions about Paid Search (PPC)

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

I have met people who swear that they will never click on the link on the right-hand side of the search results page, because they know those are the sites that pay money for those clicks.

It’s true, Google/Yahoo/Bing and other search engines result pages show paid search listings on a shaded background or on the right-hand side. But statistics data shows that these paid search Ads can be very effective and normally result in a quick and easy way to turn on your lead flow.E5PNPG2Y6DKQ 

Of course, your potential customers are not only searching on their desktop, they are also searching on multiple devices such as tablets and smartphones. In addition, there are other criteria that differentiate searches including the time of day and browser version to name a few. Google is aware of the growing complexity in the ways that your potential customers are searching for your products and services and has recently updated its advertising product, Google AdWords, to reduce the complexities involved in managing multiple campaigns.

New Google AdWords – Enhanced Campaigns

The new feature in Google Adwords called Enhanced Campaigns will make the task of managing all types of campaigns easier. In the past, one had to setup separate campaigns for each digital device and manage the bidding process independently. Now the integrated campaigns can managed across all devices based on parameters such as a prospects’ location, time of day, when a query is to be ran, and the type of device used. The ability to run contextual, multi-device marketing campaigns that can be measured to a granular level can add significant value to paid ad campaigns.

Key benefits include:
  • Ability to integrate and run a single campaign across multiple devices 
  • Create targeted ads based on devices used and location of search
  • Measure the impact of various ads across devices 
For businesses this is great news since paid campaigns will become much more flexible, easier to launch, less time consuming, and best of all, cost-effective.

How to Integrate PPC with Other Digital Marketing Tactics?

To make sure you won’t single out any group of your targeted prospects, your business needs to consider broader digital marketing tactics beyond PPC.
Below are a few suggestions:

  1. SEO Strategy: Paid Search Marketing is quick and easy, but attention must still be paid to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because more than 80% of clicks go to the organic search results links. If your website doesn’t have a position there, your competitors are eating your lunch. Your organic search results landing page will have a measurable impact on your overall strategy. 
  2. Segmented & Targeted advertising: Normally you don’t have much control regarding which page will be listed under the organic search result however, with PPC you can direct search traffic to a specific landing page. This can greatly improve the overall conversion. So if you have specific conversion goals or a call-to-action item, consider this feature from paid search.
  3. Look at Both Paid Search and Organic Search Data Together. Compare data gathered from both your organic and PPC campaigns to understand your buyers’ behaviour and optimize campaign effectiveness.

The Behind the scene SEO trends that business owners need to know

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

Major search engines are developing relationships with social media web sites. In the summer of 2009 we saw that both Google and Bing developed closer to ties with both Facebook and Twitter. Bing (MSN/Live) and Yahoo! recently announced a deal that they would combine their search results and that merger would result in an approximate 28% search market share with Google taking the bulk of the remaining 70%. Google and Binghoo! (Yahoo! & Bing) are providing more real time data in their search results. Real time content is coming from streams like social media, press releases and blog posts. As always, a large portion of Page ranking is being determined by popularity, authority and relevance of the backlinks to a piece of content (blog post, web page, etc). These links traditionally were relatively static between two web sites, however now they are now being created much more dynamically from social media posts in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites.

Local Search

Local search has become much more important in recent years as major search engines have made it easier to add local listings and in turn made it easier for users to understand that they have the option of searching locally. Consumers are also searching more often using alternative searches such as maps (via Google Maps). It is important that businesses understand how local search impacts their search results, especially at the macro level when considering how your results appear in different regions such as Canada versus the United States.

Web Presence

We believe that the largest issues that businesses face today are needing to understanding the internal and external factors that make up their web presence, how to monitor these factors and then finding the time to effectively manage their web presence effectively over time. We consider SEO, Social Media, Press Releases and Blogs as web presence optimization.

Ever Changing SEO landscape

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

In the early days of the Internet, search engine ranking algorithms are heavily weighing on the basic elements of website structure, keyword selections and backlinks. Today, search engines have been rolling out updates in a much faster paces, not only it posts bigger challenges for SEO, but also leaves many frustrations to business owners because many of these ranking algorithm changes directly impacted their website’s ranking, and their inbound leads flow.

What have changed?

  1. The number of web sites, pages, blog sites and social media content has increased drastically from the days of only having a few million web sites online. Today – millions of pages of content, blog posts and social media content are published daily on the Internet. There is an incredible velocity of content generation daily and this will only continue to accelerate. In order for the search engines to provide quality, timely search results for users, they had to develop algorithms to sort through all of the noise. The complexity of optimizing for organic search rankings has gone through the roof, but the underlying formula for success can be achieved through a combination of strategy, tactics, effort and long-term vision. Of course, software automation added to the process will drastically help (more on this later in the article).
  2. Competition has escalated during this period of time. Now,not only do we have an ever increasing volume of content but also many businesses understand the art of search engine strategy and have started spending money on optimizing their web design and web content. Businesses are actively measuring their results with analytics and making changes each month and they understand the value of being found naturally or organically in the search engines. According to an eMarketer.com survey of senior Marketing and business owners in 2008,a large percentage have added “SEO” to their marketing budget as a separate line item. Forrester Research surveyed 204 marketing executives in July 2009. Their research unveiled that marketing executives are expected to spend $2.8 billion on SEO services in 2010 with spending to increase year-over-year to $5 billion by 2014.
  3. The entrance of social media to the search engine stage gives us even more we need to focus on. Social media has completely transformed how people share information – in terms of the social anthropology of storytelling (future blog post) and also in terms of how the major search engines have adapted to use social media factors in their search algorithms. The real-time delivery of information provided by Social media, combined with the upcoming changes to search (See Google Caffeine) mean that social mentions, syndicated press releases, blog posts and even videos can rank higher than business web pages. The most interesting part is that they can rank very quickly, sometimes in minutes. We are seeing Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook content ranking higher than business web pages! People are also using social search results as a relevant and convenient traditional search alternative.

The Best Practices for Business Blogging Success

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

There are certain best practices that can help you enhance your online presence and achieve your optimum business potential through blogging; some of these are the following:

  • Incorporate social media – useful content on your blog is worth-sharing, so provide your readers with an easy way to share your content by adding social links such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ to your blog
  • Use it for promotions – if you run frequent promotions, you can make use of your blog to highlight them.
  • Use it as a tool for building FAQs page – with blogs, you can usually get a lot of queries/questions through the comment section and this can help you expand your frequently asked questions page, which is beneficial for your business as a whole.
  • Provide news updates – ideally, your blog should be regularly updated, particularly with news, latest happenings related to your industry, as expected by your readers.
  • Provide photos – sharing daily photo blog with a short description can be quite interesting to your readers, customers.
  • Initiate contests – you can ignite healthy interaction with your audience by providing daily contest and games for them; they are fun and can keep your readers, customers coming back to your blog.
  • Provide ‘What’s new’ pages – blog section can be a great way for your site to tell your audience what’s new about your products or services; it gives them an easy access for updates.
  • Provide ‘What’s coming? – your customers and potential customers definitely want to know what is up, what is coming; it is something that they look forward to.

Taking LinkedIn to the Next Level

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

linkedin markeitngSocial media has many faces, but the most purely professional face of all belongs to LinkedIn, the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Professional Network.” Here are some ways you can put this connection-building powerhouse to work for your business:

Build your own community. LinkedIn makes it easy to connect to the people you know and ask them to introduce you to the people they know. Its focus as a professional social media platform ensures that these connections are all there primarily to do (or at least talk and think about) business. Your potential base of connections grows exponentially with every new contact you make. and since everyone on  LinkedIn has a professional profile, you can even use it to help you decide who you want to connect with and why.

Use it as a soapbox. If your company has a blog, push those posts to your LinkedIn account. Include links back to your business website along with a call to action that encourages readers to learn more or even make a purchase based on the information in the article. This tactic is a powerful means of attracting people who might never normally see or know about your blog and turning them into devoted followers. It's also a tremendous advertising platform.

Get interactive. One of LinkedIn’s greatest features is the wide number of groups created by members -- groups based on every possible segment and demographic, from college alumni to clusters of hobbyists. In other words, it’s chock full of easily identifiable target markets for your business. Even better, these groups regularly engage in spirited online conversations on topics relevant to their interests. Join the appropriate groups and get involved! By expounding on your knowledge, dispensing advice and answering questions, you brand yourself as an industry expert and go-to resource.

Good luck!

Has Social Media Crushed Email Marketing?

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

Social Media versus Email Marketing Nowadays, Social Media is the buzz words and businesses of all sizes try to figure out how to reach and engage with their customers.

While your Facebook page might have a lot of likes, if your fan rarely interact with your page or your post, your updates will have very slim chance to show up on their feeds due to Facebook’s edge ranking algorithm.

Regardless how active somebody is on the social media, people are all pretty good at keeping up with their emails, so email marketing is a much reliable way to deliver your message. Email marketing can help with both your lead generation and customer retention efforts, which is why it’s an effective tactic for businesses of all industries.

There are two important components for any successful email marketing:

  1. An Opt-in email list.
  2. Relevant and interesting information that you are sending.

Many companies try to find shortcut and even buy email list; those email campaigns normally have very low open rate and could also be potentially damaging to your company’s reputation. Your domain could be black listed if a lot of email users label your emails as “spam”.

Here are some tips on how to generate your in-house opt-in email list:

  • Ask for it: ask and you shall receive! During any customer touch points, you can ask the permission to add them into your mailing list. You’d be surprised by how easily people will give theirs up if you just ask for it. Whether in a physical store or on a website, people are accustomed to being asked for their email address, so don’t worry about scaring anybody away.
  • Give some incentive: if you’re having trouble generating a list of email addresses, consider adding some incentive for those who give you their information. Offering promotions, discounts, or valuable information via a whitepaper or webinar in exchange for email addresses will be more successful.
  • Run a contest: similar to providing incentives, you could also run a contest and raffle off a product, service, or just a popular item. All you need to do is to have people submit ballots that include their email address - if your prize is good enough, you’re sure to generate a decent list of contacts.
  • Friend referral:once you do start sending out communications, a great way to grow your database is to get subscribers to ‘Forward to a Friend.’ Put a ‘Forward to a Friend’ link in all of your newsletters and drive subscribers to a page where they can type in their friends’ information and you’ll instantly add to your list of contacts

Email marketing still plays an important role in today’s digital marketing mix, so use it even if it’s not the latest “thing” out there; it’s one of the most effective digital marketing strategies. 

Making Google+ a Plus for your Business

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

google plus social marketingGoogle+ has only existed for a couple of years now -- but of course any social media service powered by the world's biggest web browser has a head start on life. As of October 2013 it had 540 million active users worldwide, and currently those users are uploading 1.5 billion photos to the networking service each week. That’s some serious activity, and your business should be in the middle of it. So if you’ve never gotten involved in Google+, it’s time to set up that profile!

One key attraction of Google+ is its interconnectedness with so many other Google offerings -- especially YouTube, which definitely rates as the “killer app” for your online marketing videos. You can monitor and use Youtube, Analytics, Hangouts and all sorts of other Google goodies from your Google+ profile page. Treat this page as a kind of portal to your permanent website, pushing a steady stream of blog articles, special offers, video clips, news releases and other items of interest out to your connections. Like LinkedIn, Google+ encourages you to collect and then interact with a large pool of connections. But it also lets you categorize those connections into different “Circles,” which may or may not overlap according to industry, interests, relationship status, et cetera. This function means you can send different types of targeted information to different circles -- and that's every marketer’s dream.

As all-inclusive as Google+ may seem, however, don’t let it drift away from your core online marketing presence. Make sure your content links back to your company website’s products, services, or Contact page, or you may end up with a fabulous social media platform that fails to convert viewers into buyers. Contact the experts at NetEdge Marketing to get the most out of your Google+ marketing channel.

Mobile Marketing Tips: Engaging Online Customers on the Go

by: Dana Chen Fischer 

mobile marketing tipsAre you reading this article on your iPod, Google Nexus, Microsoft Surface or other portable device? 55 percent of all online retail searches were conducted on a mobile device in 2013. So if your prospective buyers are searching for you on the road, you don’t want to be left in the dust. Here are some ways to capture this lucrative audience: 

Get social. Plaster your web presence all over the social media scene by getting heavy leverage out of Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and other popular sites. These destinations can be turned into portals when you post engaging, entertaining content or irresistible deals on your business’s profile pages and link them back to your Contact or Purchase pages. 

Think small. Smaller bursts of marketing content are more likely to work well on the little screens so widespread in the mobile marketplace. Text messages work great, as long as you make it possible to opt out of unwanted messages. 

Allow for expansion. Today’s tablets and netbooks can handle bigger slabs of content than smartphones can, so you’ll want to scale some of your content up to take advantage of that usability. Tweets are easy to read on just about any device, and you can seed them with links leading to longer content (or purchasing options) on your website. 

Go geo-local. In recent years Google and other browsers have placed increasing priority on geo-targeting of business, helping consumers find their desired products and services on the fly. That’s why you want to optimize your web presence in terms of local search marketing, and why you also want to aim targeted ads and promotion according to zip codes or other geographic markers.

Need help putting your mobile marketing game plan together? Contact NetEdge Marketing and let us help you get moving!

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