Copyright 2015 by The Mauldin Group, Ltd

Page 1 Copyright © 2015 by The Mauldin Group, Ltd. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manne...
Author: Berniece Mosley
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Copyright © 2015 by The Mauldin Group, Ltd.

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. Printed in the United States of America First Edition 2015

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Table of Contents On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO............................................................................................................................13 Blogging ......................................................................................................................................................16 Ebooks.........................................................................................................................................................17 Whitepapers................................................................................................................................................18 Video Marketing..........................................................................................................................................19 Infographics.................................................................................................................................................21 How to Measure Success.............................................................................................................................22

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Introduction This guide was primarily written to give first-time marketers, experienced entrepreneurs and small business owners a strong foundation on the basics of online marketing and empower them to take their business to the next level. In addition, we also want to give you the ability to think critically and creatively in analyzing and refining your online marketing strategies. So, if you are just starting your own business and are new to online marketing, or if you are not happy with the results of your current online marketing efforts, then this is most probably the guide you have been waiting for all along. We feel confident that you can achieve all of your marketing objectives by reading this guide from beginning to end so why not grab a cup of coffee and start browsing? It can be one of the best things you can ever do for your business.

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Know What Your Customers Want Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. As such, you need to build your marketing strategy around them. You need to understand what they want if you don't want to go running around in circles, with nothing to show for your efforts. You need to understand your company's needs and establish its goals so that you can move forward without wasting your time and money. Always remember that "marketing starts with your customers". So, what should you do to tip the scales in your favor? Well, first, you need to know who uses your product. You need to know how they found your product, how it helped them solve their problems and what they feel about it. You need to know what they value the most, what inspires them and what made them patronize your product. You also need to know the questions most people ask about your product and incorporate the answers to these questions into your company’s marketing messages and marketing materials. In addition, you need to understand how you can convert your prospects to paying customers. You should also be able to assess the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing initiatives and understand why sales don't happen. This can help you address any problem areas and improve your conversion rates. So, start a conversation with your most engaged buyers. Conduct customer surveys and listen to what they have to say. For all you know, it's all you need to accomplish your business goals. Are you a little overwhelmed by all these information? Well, don't worry. We will be discussing more about these things in the next chapters.

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Create a Winning Strategy After learning what your customers want and need, you should then create a winning marketing strategy. You need to establish your goals, determine the results you want to achieve and design an effective approach to marketing your business. Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Strategy Observe proper timing. You should reach your target customers at the right time to maximize your profits. To do this, you need to make sure that the timing of your marketing campaigns is perfectly in line with your buyers’ perspectives and psychology. For example, you can use banner advertisements for prospective customers who have already shown interest in your product to compel them to buy and use coupon codes for those who are interested in buying your product but are hesitant to make a purchase. Deliver the right message at the right time and you can successfully move potential customers through the purchase funnel. Establish your goals. You should establish a clear set of goals to protect your marketing investment. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining marketing ROI so you really need to understand what you need to accomplish by running your campaigns. For example, you may want to acquire new users to help you sustain your company's growth or generate social media shares to increase your company's exposure and bring in more leads. Create a connection. We mentioned earlier that you need to know what your customers want but you should also consider what your business needs – both in the short term and in the long term.

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Make Your Brand Stand Out As mentioned earlier, your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Your business simply exists to cater to your customers' needs and solve their problems. Taking this into careful consideration, you need to build meaningful relationships by meeting their needs and by providing them with positive experiences. How do you do this? Well, you can do this by telling them a good story. Storytelling has always been considered as one of the most effective ways to build a relationship. Through storytelling, you can capture your target customers' attention and make your brand stand out from the rest of the competition. Unlike what most people believe, brand storytelling is not an essay or a blog post that presents a fragmented view of your company. It is not a cheap PR stunt aimed at manipulating your existing and potential customers to patronize your brand, buy your product and/or use your services. Rather, it is about your customers and what they can get by engaging with your brand. It is about making your customers the focal point of your brand. It is about the reason why your company and your brand came to be, and what motivates your team to go to work every single day. That's what brand storytelling is all about. Creating a Great Story for Your Brand: Some Tips to Consider Stop thinking like a marketer. Instead of trying to sell your brand, try to focus on why people should care about your products and services. Appeal to your target market's emotion and let your personality shine through. Be real. Don't be too formal. Just pretend that you are talking to an old friend and write what you want to say. Don't worry about your grammar and try to keep your story short. Use the right words. Take a cue from who your target customers are and use a voice, tone and style that they appreciate most when crafting your story.

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Understand How Search Engines Work for Better Results Generally speaking, search engines have one major function – to crawl and index sites so that they can provide the most relevant and useful answer to your queries. Search engines currently use a site's popularity to determine its importance. As far as they are concerned, the more popular a site or page is, the more valuable the information must be. Consequently, they should also be awarded higher rankings. However, popularity and relevance are not determined manually. The search engines use complicated mathematical equations or algorithms which are comprised of hundreds of ranking factors to separate the good from the bad. Considering the complicated nature of determining search engine rankings, how can you get higher rankings or generate more traffic to your site? To increase your chances of accomplishing your goal, here are some tips than you may find useful. For Google Make pages for users, not for search engines. Do not deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users. Use clear hierarchy and text links. Every page in your website should be reachable from at least one static text link. Create a useful, information-rich site. Write pages that accurately describe your content, and make sure that your elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate. Create descriptive, human friendly URLs. Use keywords in your URL and provide one version of a URL to reach a document. Use 301 redirects or the rel="canonical" element to address duplicate content.

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For Bing Create keyword-rich content. Provide content that matches what users are searching for and produce fresh content on a regular basis. Use proper URL structure. Make sure that you use a clean, keyword rich URL structure. Do not bury your content. Make sure content is not buried inside rich media (Adobe Flash Player, JavaScript, Ajax). You should also verify that rich media doesn't hide links from crawlers.

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Find Your Customers and Build Traffic to Your Site Let's face it. Even if you have built the most amazing website, you cannot expect to get substantial web traffic overnight. It simply does not work that way. So, what should you do? Well, you need to devise a strategy that will help you bring visitors to your website. While there are a lot of ways by which you can accomplish this goal (content marketing, paid advertising, etc.), you need to keep one thing in mind. You need to connect with visitors who are most likely to become paying customers. You need to identify who you are trying to reach and find where they are hanging out online. You also need to know the best way to reach them, bring them back to your website and keep them coming back for more. Free Traffic vs. Paid Traffic Since not all traffic are created equal (there are those that convert into sales while there are those that do not), you need to know which web traffic is right for you. Do you need traffic that converts via direct response or one that converts in the long term? Well, this depends on what you hope to accomplish. Now we come to a good question - should you go for free traffic or should you pay for it? Well, while some experts believe that organic traffic is better than paid traffic, there are also those who believe that these two strategies can bring the same results – provided you do everything right. If you choose to leverage free traffic drivers, you may want to increase your website's visibility in the search engines through search engine optimization or SEO, build relationships with journalists to improve your visibility in media channels or develop a presence in the social media to reach your target audience. You can also choose to build your authority in your industry through blogging, content syndication and video marketing and/or build a relationship with your existing customers through email marketing to keep them coming back for more. However, please keep in mind that the term "free traffic" can be quite misleading. You need to invest significant amount of time and resources to build an effective strategy and power up your marketing engine. When done right, online advertising through paid distribution channels can also bring great results. These techniques (such as displaying banners on websites, running mobile ads, conducting search engine marketing campaigns, and retargeting campaigns to attract repeat visitors) can help you build brand awareness and bring existing customers back to your website.

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However, small businesses are usually hesitant when it comes to paying for traffic. This can be due to one of these things – they are not sure if it works or they are afraid of losing their money. Whatever the reason is, one thing remains true – you may be on the losing end if you don't give paid advertising a try. So, what should you do? Well, you need to get over your hesitation and test the waters – but make sure you start small. Keep in mind that you can always consider increasing your budget once you get the hang of it and gained the necessary experience you need to help you make the right decisions.

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Optimizing Your Website Let's get one thing straight. You cannot expect your customers to find you if you don't take the time to optimize your website. Believe me, there is really no other way around it. So, how should you go about it? Well, you need to start by building a keyword strategy. You need to identify the keywords that are relevant to your business and optimize your website around them to make sure your customers find you online. If you are not aware of it, keywords serve as the foundation of any successful online marketing strategy. That's how powerful keywords are! So, are you ready to create a keyword strategy? If so, here's how you should go about it. Create a list of keywords relevant to your business. Put yourself in your ideal customer's shoes. What are the keywords that you will most probably use when searching for your product online? Think of words or phrases that best describe what your products and services is all about. Choose keywords based on difficulty and relevance. For best results, choose keyword phrases or long tail keywords since they can help you rank well in the search engines. Don't choose general keywords that have high volume of searches since they are more competitive. You can use free tools such as the Google Keyword Tool to help you brainstorm new keyword ideas and determine their competitiveness. Use keywords to optimize your website. After finding your keywords, you need to incorporate them in key areas within your website. We will discuss more about this as we go along.

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On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO When optimizing your website, you should always aim to be on the first page. And SEO can help you do just that! Search engine optimization or SEO can be divided into two categories – on-page and off-page SEO. While on-page SEO refers to how well your website’s content is presented to search engines (this can easily be improved since it covers what can be done on the pages of the website itself), off-page SEO refers to your site's overall authority on the web and is determined by what other websites say about your site. On-page optimization When improving your site's on-page SEO factors, you need to consider optimizing your page titles, meta description and meta data, ALT tags and H1 (headings) tags. You also need to review your content (use fresh, high quality content) and keyword density, and pay particular attention to your site's URL structure, site maps, internal linking strategy, usability and accessibility. Consider submitting a sitemap (a list of webpages in your site) through Google and Bing Webmaster Tools to ensure that search engines know about all the pages in your site. This is especially important if your site is new, has dynamic content, has pages that are not easily crawled by search engine bots or has tons of content that are not properly interlinked. In addition, make sure that your site's navigation and 404 pages are user-friendly, optimize your images and have Google Authorship verification for all your pages. What to Avoid: Stay Away from These Practices By all means, avoid spammy tactics such as cloaking (a technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user's browser) and keyword stuffing (the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results). You should also stay away from doorway pages (web pages that are created for spamming the index of a search engine by inserting results for particular phrases with the purpose of sending visitors to a different page), hidden text and hidden links since they will not help you rank higher in the search engines and may even hurt your SEO efforts.

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Off-page Optimization After reviewing and improving your on-page SEO, you need to take care of your off-page SEO as well. After all, it accounts for 75% of your overall search engine ranking. A successful off-page SEO strategy can help you rank higher in the search engines, improve your PageRank (an indication of the importance of your website in the eyes of Google) and increase your exposure. So, how do you do it? How can you improve your site's off-page SEO? Well, for starters, you need to generate more inbound links to your site. And you can do this through content creation. Content is King – and it will stay that way for years to come. Taking this into consideration, you need to create valuable content. Make sure you produce high quality content that can help build your authority and credibility as an expert in your field. Reach out to bloggers and journalists with interesting news or special offer to help them develop valuable content to encourage them to link to your site. Write guest blog posts to generate exposure and inbound links, write and distribute press releases, and be more active in forums, online social communities and social networks. You should also consider sharing your content in the leading social networking sites and create content for online social communities such as Digg and Reddit to promote your content and further increase your chances of attracting inbound links.

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Content Marketing In a nutshell, content marketing is the process of creating and distributing high quality content to attract the attention of your target audience, engage them in a meaningful conversation and drive them to take the desired action. When done properly, content marketing can help you position your brand as an authority in your field. Despite the many benefits that can be achieved through content marketing, a lot of marketers do not get the results they need. Well, this may be due to the fact that they are doing it all wrong. To get the most from this strategy, you need to focus on creating awareness around your brand, engage your target audience, and create a demand for your product or service. How do you do this? Well, you can do this by building trust and rapport with your existing and potential customers. Don't try pitching your services or promoting your brand upfront. Prioritize building relationships above making a profit and you will surely accomplish your goal. To make your content marketing strategy work, you need to focus on creating high quality content that can help solve the most pressing problems of your target audience, reinforce your brand message and establish your authority in your area of expertise. As such, you may want to consider blogging, writing ebooks and whitepapers, producing videos and infographics, and offering online courses and webinars to establish your credibility, build rapport with your target audience, and generate leads and demand for your brand. Don't focus on one type of content. You should offer different types of content to increase your chances of providing your target audience the type of content they prefer and reinforce your authority as a thought leader in your industry.

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Blogging Regular business blogging is one of the best ways to ensure that the right people discover your business online. By starting a blog or by adding a blog to your business website, you can offer fresh content to your target audience on a regular basis. Not only will it help you establish your thought leadership in your industry, it can also help you attract more organic traffic to your site and help you rank higher in the search engines. So, what should you blog about? Well, if you are just starting out, you may want to answer some of the most common questions your prospective customers ask. Talk about the problems that they are experiencing and how your products or services can help them but try your best not to be overly promotional. Some Tips to Help You Get the Most from Your Blog Don't forget to include the key components in your blog post. Make sure you write a well-constructed article to attract traffic and convert it into leads. Your blog post should have a clear and compelling headline, a well-written and easy-to-read body, a relevant multi-media content (image, video, infographic or slideshow presentation) and a powerful call-to-action at the end. Include in-text links. You may also want to include in-text links to help your audience learn more about the topic at hand. To drive conversion, consider linking to your internal or landing pages that provide more information or offer downloadable access to ebooks, webinars or online courses. Check your analytics. Check your blogging analytics after publishing your first ten blogs to see which among them resonated the most with your target audience and expand on those topics.

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Ebooks Experts agree that writing an eBook (a digital book available online and on digital devices such as Kindle or iPad) and distributing it to your customers, clients or potential new business contacts is a great way to promote your business. It can help you demonstrate your expertise, establish your thought leadership in your industry and develop brand awareness. You can also use it to attract the interest of your target audience and foster a deeper engagement with them.

Writing an Ebook? Some Tips to Consider Decide on your topic. The topic for your eBook should relate to your business and area of expertise so when customers read it, they will come to you for more information. As such, writing an ebook can easily help you attract more potential customers to your business and help you build your reputation as an expert in your field. Write for your target audience. Think about your target audience and tailor the content to suit them. Include information they would be interested in, write for their level of knowledge on the subject, and/or answer some of their most common questions about the topic. Develop an interesting title. For best results, use a clear and interesting title to persuade potential customers to buy it or download it. Add visual appeal. Use subheadings and bullet points to break up large chunks of text. Use headings for each new article and include images to make it more interesting. Include the elements of a printed book, such as a title and contents page, author credits, page numbers and contact details. Repurpose content. You can use old blog posts, articles and/or whitepapers in writing your eBook. While you may need to rewrite some of your content to suit your purpose, you can save a lot of your time and effort since majority of the research would already be available. Promote your ebook. Let people know why they should buy your ebook and where they can get it. You can promote it on your blog, social media networks, email signature, and newsletters. You can even include it in your business cards to expand its reach.

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Whitepapers When written and promoted correctly, whitepapers can be a valuable tool in your content marketing arsenal. It can help you build trust and gain credibility and thought leader status, develop new leads and make them want to take the next step in the buying process, and pave the way for future sales. How to Write a Winning Whitepaper Focus on your audience. Instead of simply discussing the features of your products or services, you need to tell your audience what it can do for them. Tell them how it can help solve their problem or accomplish their goal and you can surely increase your chances of making a sale. Use a powerful title. Make your audience anxious to find out more about what you have to say. Write like you talk. While you wouldn't like to sound too casual, you need to use the language your target audience uses. Write your white paper as if you are speaking to your prospect in person to build your audience's trust in you. Avoid writing long sentences and paragraphs to keep your audience's attention. Make it extremely easy to read. Incorporate the elements of good copywriting. While you definitely need to sell your brand more subtly, you need to make sure that the sales and persuasion elements are still present. Don't forget to promote your paper. Consider promoting it on your blog, social media networks, email signature, and newsletters. You can even include it in your business cards to further expand its reach.

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Video Marketing Studies indicate that video marketing can help you convey your message across your target audience, earn their trust and confer you an expert status in your field. When added to your business profile, it can help increase the number of views by more than 100%, increase the number of profile clicks by more than 30% and increase the number of calls generated by more than 18%. Videos can also drive a wide range of customer actions. It increases number of visits to advertiser website by 55%, increases physical store visits by 30% and increases incidence of purchase by 24%. In addition, there is a remarkable increase in the number of videos showing up on the first page of Google and other search engines. Perhaps these are the reasons why 52% of marketers worldwide consider video as the type of content that brings the best return on your investment (ROI) and the reason why 64% of marketers consider video marketing as one of the top priorities when making their budgetary checklist. Make Video Marketing Work for You: Some Tips to Consider Get your point across – fast! Remember, you only have about eight seconds to capture your audience so get to the meat of your message during the first few seconds of your video and try to hold your audience's attention for as long as possible to increase your conversions. Be super creative. You need to spice up your video to stand up from the rest of the competition so try to create something memorable and timely. Narrow it down. Aim to attract the right audience and lose the random viewers by making the first sentences in your video very specific. Remember, you only need to hook those who are really interested in what you have to say. Customize it. Personalize your content and tailor your videos to suit all stages of the buying process.

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Plan a comprehensive distribution strategy. Take advantage of every location that makes sense for your content. Consider embedding your videos on your website, your blog, partner blogs and social media, and in press releases.

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Infographics Infographics are quickly gaining immense popularity. In fact, they are now considered as one of the best ways of sharing and promoting content online. So, if you are looking to drive more traffic to your blog or business website, you should seriously consider using infographics to help you attain your goal. Are you ready to get started? If so, here are some tips that you may want to consider. Provide great value. Not all data are created equal so create content that people want to know about. Start by setting your goal and objectives and you can be sure that you are on the right track. Keep it simple. Don't get carried away with the design elements of the infographic and lose the message along the way. Keep in mind that white space and readability are just as important as the design elements. Feel free to share. Use your infographics in your blog posts and share them on social media. Make sure they are easily shareable to encourage your audience to share them with their own networks and increase its chances of going viral. Use other people's infographics. Don't think that you have to create your own infographics all the time. Try to look for infographics that are relevant to your audience and use the embed code provided by the creator to share it with your own audience. Add some relevant information to tie it all together and you're good to go.

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How to Measure Success You can optimize your content marketing program by monitoring the right metrics. Here are some of the things you need to watch. Engagement This concept aims to quantify your relationship with your prospects and customers. You can have a solid indication of your engagement by paying close attention to your page views (the total number of pages viewed on your website in a given period of time), the average time a visitor spends on your site, the percentage of users who visit your website and immediately leaves (bounce rate) and the average number of website pages viewed in a given time period. Leads and Conversions Since one of your most important goals is to drive leads and conversions, you need to know the number of leads that can be directly and indirectly attributable to content marketing, the number of sales that result from your content, and the number of people who express interest in doing business with you after consuming your content. You also need to understand how leads are interacting with your brand throughout the purchase funnel since it may takes a series of steps to convert a lead into a paying customer. Revenue You need to know how much of your bottom line your content marketing strategy brings in. To do this, you should be able to quantify the revenue your content program produces over a specified period of time. Lifetime Value & Customer acquisition costs You should be able to measure the cost required to acquire a user through content marketing and the average value each customer will bring in over a lifetime. You need to know these things to make sure that you maintain a positive ROI and not losing money from your investment.

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Virality You should likewise be able to capture the influence, distribution, and reach of your content to know whether audiences find value in your content. Your social media shares and the total number of unique visitors who come your website in a given time period can give you a solid indication of this important metric.

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Social Media Social media can expand the reach of your content, help you interact and build a relationship with your existing and potential customers, and significantly increase your profits. While you may be tempted to create profiles on every single social site, you should focus on a few key channels where your brand is most likely to reach key customers and prospects. For starters, you may want to focus on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Here are some tips that can help you get the most from these social networks. Facebook As of August 2014, Facebook has more than 1.23 billion monthly active users, 945 million mobile users, and 757 million daily users. Considering the vast number of users and its vibrant and consumer-focused nature, Facebook can definitely serve as a powerful platform for building a community of advocates and increasing word-of-mouth marketing. To get the most from your Facebook engagement, here are some tips that you may want to consider. Create a Facebook page. Keep in mind that profiles are meant to be for individuals only, not businesses. As such, business owners should create a Facebook page for public promotion of their businesses. Having a Facebook page gives you the opportunity to build a community around your business, learn more about your target audience, and add a public face to your brand. Learn what and when to post. You can increase your exposure and fan engagement by knowing what and when to post. You can use a third party service such as Edgerank Checker to help you determine the most effective keywords to drive engagement, the type of media that works best for your audience, the most effective day of the week to post your content and how often should you update your post. Provide local content. Nobody wants to read about an offer that is not available in their region or is written in a foreign language so use specific targeting information before you post your updates.

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Use the right apps. There is no shortage of apps that you can use in your Facebook page. There are apps that can be used to convert your Facebook page into an ecommerce site, post your RSS/Atom feeds into your wall, schedule your posts, and conduct face-to-face meetings with your fans. Twitter Should you bother creating a Twitter account for your business? Well, you definitely do since it can be a great way to connect with your target audience, promote and reinforce your brand, and improve your bottomline. It is also a great way to spy on your competition and gather valuable customer feedback. So, are you ready to get started on Twitter? If so, here are some tips that can help you improve your chances of success in this platform. Manage your profile. We generally recommend that you use the name of your business as your Twitter username and use your business logo or a high quality picture of the person managing the account as the profile image for the account. Consider creating a custom Twitter background to provide additional information about your business. Write a great bio. You should write a compelling bio (keep it within 140 characters!) to convince people why they need to follow you on Twitter. Consider using the right keywords and don't turn it into a sales pitch to accomplish your objective. Socialize. Twitter is designed for social purposes so be sure to socialize with individuals who share similar ideas with you. Beware of being overly self-promotional. Too much marketing can make followers to leave. Get into the habit of re-tweeting. Re-tweeting other people's posts can be a great way to promote your business on twitter and gain more followers. It also provides your current followers with good content that will entice them to have a look at your products. Be faithful to your brand. Twitter provides you the chance to add a sense of individuality to your business brand. Just make sure that your tweets and retweets that do not deviate from your individual brand. Use the right tools. Use tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck to determine industry influencers and potential customers that your business should follow.

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LinkedIn LinkedIn is a social networking platform that enables you to make better use of your professional network to connect with people and find potential customers online, and help the people you trust in return.

To get started with LinkedIn, you need to set up two separate profiles – a personal profile and a company profile. Optimize your information by adding links to your website and blog. You should also make sure that your business description is interesting and an accurate reflection of your experience, knowledge and passion. Here are some tips that can help you generate new leads using LinkedIn. Create a LinkedIn Group. You can use it to demonstrate thought leadership in your market. Use LinkedIn's DirectAds. Similar to ad targeting on Facebook and Google Adwords, LinkedIn DirectAds allow you to push relevant ads to LinkedIn subscribers targeted by profile demographic information. Answer Questions on LinkedIn. Ask and respond to relevant questions in the "Answers" section. The great thing about it is that your question and answer shows up in the Network Updates feed of all your connections. You also gain expertise points in your category if your answer is chosen as the best answer for a particular question. It also gives you the opportunity to build links and bring people back to your website since you can leave links to relevant articles, landing pages, or blog posts on your website every time you answer a question. Integrate LinkedIn into your marketing strategy. Invite your audience to network with you or join your group every time you do a webinar or present at a thought leadership event. You can also use LinkedIn to notify all the members of your group about an upcoming promotion or event. Don’t spam. Don't try to reach out to your LinkedIn contacts directly since it can be considered as spamming. Make sure that people you contact want to hear from you and that your message is relevant.

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Media Coverage and Press Releases After launching an amazing product or service, you need to let as many people know about your offering and the benefits that they can get out of it. And this is where press releases come in quite handy. You may not be aware of it but press releases do so much more than simply get the word out about your business or latest product or service offering. It can help you reach your target audience and gain immediate visibility, generate traffic to your website, build valuable inbound links, and increase brand awareness. To get the most from your efforts, here are some useful tips that you may want to consider. Write about a newsworthy topic. Not every aspect of your business deserves a press release. To catch your target audience's attention, write about things that provide the most value. Develop stories on how your business is helping your customers solve their most pressing problems. Tell them what motivates you and your team to go to work every day and share your emotional journeys along the way. Journalists love compelling stories so give them what they want. Focus on building relationships. If you want journalists to give you the attention that you want, you need to start a meaningful conversation and let them ask questions. Start cultivating a genuine relationship and you will surely get what you deserve. Use the right PR tools. Use services such as Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to monitor journalist queries and join the right conversation.

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Email Marketing When executed properly, email marketing can be a great way to nurture leads and generate more business without spending a lot of money in the process. It can establish your authority in your field, help your business remain on top of your consumers' minds, and keep your customers coming back for more. Unfortunately, email marketing gained a bad reputation over the past few years since most marketers use it to bombard people with spammy messages. So, should you still consider email marketing? Well, you definitely should. Experts agree that you need to nurture your leads through email marketing since not everyone who visits your website is ready to make a purchase or do business with you. As such, you need to send targeted messages to make sure you stay on top of their minds until they are ready to make a purchase. In addition, studies reveal that about two thirds of marketers rate the ROI from email marketing as good or excellent. This is really quite impressive considering the amount of spam messages in everyone's inbox. Despite its tarnished reputation, email marketing remains to be an incredibly powerful marketing strategy – especially if you choose to prioritize human connections over promoting your business or making a sale. To make email marketing work for you, here are some of the best practices that you need to keep in mind. Keep it simple. Make it easy for your visitors to subscribe to your list. Post a signup form where your customers and fans are already active. Consider putting one on your blog or business website and another on your Facebook page. Don't ask for too much information or you may scare them away. A name and an email will do. Let your subscribers know what to expect. Tell your readers what to expect and how often to expect it. Give them as much information as possible on your signup form so they can decide whether they want to be on the list or not.

Make sure it fits your brand. Your newsletter's design should match your brand's look and feel. Customize your template to include your company's logo and colors to make your readers feel more familiar from the start.

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Make it easy to read. Break long chunks of text into shorter paragraphs and include subheadings to make your email easier to read. Add a teaser at the top of your newsletter to tell subscribers what your email is all about and consider inserting a "read more" link so they can read the rest of your message at their most convenient time. Be friendly. Use a casual tone in your emails since an overly formal voice can seem out of place. Send relevant content. By using the group and/or segmentation features offered in some email newsletter services, you can send your subscribers the content they want. This can help keep your readers engaged, make them look forward to your newsletter and make them want to share it with their friends. Abide by the spam rules. You need to know that you are only allowed to send bulk emails to people who specifically asked to be on your mailing list. Include an unsubscribe link in every email, and remind them how they ended up on your list. Read up on the CAN-SPAM act to avoid any trouble.

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Mobile Marketing Studies indicate that about 1.2 billion people access the web from their mobile devices. About 58% of these people have used their smart phones for store-related shopping while an estimated 63% are expected to do more shopping on their mobile devices over the next couple of years. In addition, 88% of people agree that having a mobile device with real-time information makes them more open to discovering new things and more spontaneous with their shopping. Taking these figures into consideration, no one can deny the fact that marketers and business owners need to optimize their web properties for mobile devices. They need to make sure that their blog and/or business website are easy to access and view on these platforms. Basically, you have two options in optimizing your web properties for mobile. You can create an entirely different version of your website for your mobile audience and set up mobile redirect. Alternatively, you can use mobile CSS to change the way your website is organized and displayed on mobile devices. So, what do you need to know before you get started? Here are some tips that can help you launch as successful mobile marketing campaign and get the most from your efforts. Explore existing data. Use Google Analytics Mobile report to know how much of your current traffic is mobile. This can help you determine if you need to put a mobile strategy in place. (CTA) more obvious and easy to click. They may also want to call you so make sure your phone details are easy to find. If you operate a brick and mortar business, make sure that they can find you in Yelp.

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Analyze and Refine Strategies After designing your marketing strategy and putting all the pieces in motion, the next thing you need to do is to measure your results. You need to review the performance of your various marketing activities and identify which works and which doesn't. This can help you determine which activities to keep, which should be modified and which should be eliminated altogether. In analyzing your online marketing strategies, you need to have an analytics program in place and set a metric to measure your success. You need to monitor your traffic, the number of leads and conversion rates, the number of new and repeat visitors, amount of sales generated per month, and the amount you need to invest to generate a new customer. You also need to monitor which keywords and promotional channels are bringing in the most visitors.

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Glossary ALT text – HTML attribute that provides alternative text when non-textual elements, typically images, cannot be displayed. Analytics (Web Metrics) – refers to collection of data about a website and its users. Autoresponder – a program that sends an automatic form response to incoming emails. Banner ad – a graphical web advertising unit, typically measuring 468 pixels wide and 60 pixels tall. Call to action (CTA) – the part of a marketing message that attempts to persuade a person to perform a desired action. Conversion rate – the percentage of visitors who take a desired action. Customer acquisition cost – the cost associated with acquiring a new customer. HTML (HyperText Markup Language) – the programming language used in websites. HTTP 301 or Permanent Redirect – a standard response code indicating that the URL has moved permanently to another location. HTTP 404 or Not Found error message- a standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with a given server, but the server could not find what was requested. Inbound link – a link from a site outside of your site. Keyword stuffing – the practice of using a set of keywords, often with high search volumes and no relevancy to the site, into the title, description, and keyword tags. META tags – tags to describe various aspects about a Web page. Return on Investment (ROI) – the ratio of profits (or losses) to the amount invested. Search engine – a program that indexes documents, then attempts to match documents relevant to the users search requests. Examples: Google.com, Bing.com Search engine optimization (SEO) – the process of choosing targeted keyword phrases related to a site, and ensuring that the site places well when those keyword phrases are part of a Web search. Social Media - A type of online media where information is uploaded primarily through user submission.

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Spam – inappropriate commercial message of extremely low value. Unique visitors – individuals who have visited a Web site (or network) at least once in a during a fixed time frame. URL (uniform resource locator) – location of a resource on the Internet. Usability – How easy it is for a user to navigate a website and find the information he or she is seeking.

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