Email Marketing – Getting Started

By Charles Mburugu

Email marketing is a great marketing channel which can be used to promote websites, make money through affiliate offers and interact with customers. However, most website owners and bloggers continue to neglect email marketing.

What is email marketing?

It is a kind of direct marketing where email is used as the communication channel. Email marketing basically involves gathering the email addresses of clients or prospects, and then sending those subscribers messages containing information about special offers, products etc.

Why is email marketing important?

Email marketing is one of the best marketing channels online. As opposed to banner ads, online articles or blog posts which require people to visit your site, email messages are sent directly to the subscriber. Furthermore, if your email newsletters offer valuable content, you will be able to establish solid relationships with the subscribers. This is likely to result in high conversion rates. Email marketing is also very flexible and can be utilized for many different purposes. It could be used to launch new ventures, to promote affiliate offers, to build relationships with customers and to generate more traffic to your site.

Unfortunately, many people avoid using email marketing since they think of it as spam. They believe that email marketing is just a way of spamming others while making money out of it. While it is true that email marketing can be used for spamming, it can also be used ethically and legitimately. Reputable companies, online marketers and bloggers usually offer quality content in their email newsletters. It is therefore very possible to engage in email marketing without offending your users. Just ensure that your email newsletter contains quality content which is relevant to the subscribers.

The following are steps that can help you get started with email marketing.

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Performance Marketing Expo

UPDATE: Performance Marketing Expo has canceled all Monday sessions, including mine, so I will not be attending. I’ll leave the discount code up, however, and will try to post what would have been my presentation here soon.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I’ve been slammed with work and preparing for my presentation at the upcoming Performance Marketing Expo, an affiliate marketing conference and exhibition at Miami Beach which runs September 27-29, 2010.

I will be doing my bit as SEO Manager of FramesDirect.com on Monday, September 27, at 1:30 p.m. in a Search Engine Optimization session. It will be based on my popular SEO Tips Even Mom Would Love post, but, of course, shortened to best practice basics for non-technical types.

Mercifully, I go on before Shari Thurow, who I often credit with my decision to move into SEO full-time and out of web design and part-time SEO a number of years ago after reading her book Search Engine Visibility. I absolutely devoured the book, thinking “Wow, I LOVE this stuff!” and knew SEO was what I was supposed to do.

Anyway, glad she’s following ME and not the other way around! Her presentations are always great!

And, no, I don’t run the affiliate program at FramesDirect.com, but I do work with our affiliate manager and frequently get questions from this blog from affiliates struggling with SEO.

Check out the agenda.

If you need a 20% off discount coupon for the conference, feel free to grab it here.

And keep you fingers crossed for me!

Later,

Richard V. Burckhardt, The Web Optimist

Your Customers are Researching You. Shouldn’t You Do the Same?

By Emily Thompson

Your Customers are Researching You. Shouldn’t You Do the Same?

Finding the right customers for your web site requires research.

In the realm of local and small businesses, the need for a targeted, effective online presence has gone from something you should do, to something you need to do.  According to a recent study by TMP Directional Marketing, “total U.S. searches grew by 31 percent across all platforms between June 2008 and June 2009 (21.9 billion total searches in June 2009), spurred primarily by a growing base of 202 million searchers.”* The Internet is the place to be. The challenging piece is developing a strategy and reaching the right people.

Part of developing that strategy is research. Search Engine Land had a great article recently by Debra Northart, discussing the importance of research to small businesses (http://searchengineland.com/research-the-key-to-smb-knowledge-37804). We all know that your customers are researching you- that’s often their purpose in doing a search on Google or Yahoo. So it makes sense that you should be doing the same. But what does that research really do for you? It’s all about figuring out what your customers need, and the best way to give them that. Taking the time to research helps you know where to find your customers, and what message you should use to engage them and get more conversions. Continue reading

Maybe We’re All Web Optimists?

Maybe we're all web optimist - what?It appears to me that “SEO” is going to have to be replaced by something else in the very near future.

No, it’s not that some folks who are not very Internet savvy think it stands for “senior executive officer.” Nor is it because one not-too-popular geek decided to try to trademark the term.

Search engine optimization, for which it stands, is, well, no longer just about search engines.

In the old days, everyone just wanted to be at the top of whatever search engine was the biggest at the time and we’d all merrily tweak and link and hold our breath whenever updates happened. In recent years, thie focus has been on Google updates, but several things are happening that are taking the “search engine” out of the picture. Among them:

    1. Although Google is still the biggest and baddest, ranking at the top is going the way of, well, Yahoo (as I duck and run for cover). Google’s increasing use of personalized search results means that a site can rank #1 for you when you are logged into Google, but #25 for someone else. Heck, you can even customize your own Google search results with their new SearchWiki.

    2. Search very often has nothing to do with search engines these days. Frequently, searchers are finding what they want through what are perceived as trusted sources on social media sites like Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg and so forth or through product reviews on shopping sites like Amazon.com. Rather than take what the search engines dish out, they get their information from friends or peers.

    3. Even Google thinks you want to socialize. For instance, Google Reader allows sharing with friends. Then there’s Knol, kind of Google’s version of Wikipedia.

Anyway, my point is that the web is heading away from searching through search engines as the primary way of finding information. Yes, we’ll still be using “Google” as a verb for years to come, but we as Internet marketing professionals will need to adapt. We need to know how to not just optimize for the search engines, but the entire web.

So let’s see. What can we call ourselves? How about web optimists?

I like the sound of that!

;-)

Happy holidays!

SEO 101: Beginning Viral Marketing

Give your viral campaign a shot in the arm with these tipsWe’ve all heard of something going viral, meaning it gets picked up quickly and spreads like crazy all on its own. Big companies pay big bucks for marketers to come up with viral campaigns, so how do you as a beginner viral marketer compete?

First, let’s take a look at the most recent definition of viral marketing on Wikipedia.

Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral marketing is a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message voluntarily. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages. The basic form of viral marketing is not infinitely sustainable.

For our purposes, using pre-existing social networks can be a key in getting started. One thing to keep in mind is that not every viral marketing attempt will take off, so don’t get discouraged if you flop the first time around. For the beginner, a lot of learning has to go into using social media in the first place, so cut yourself some slack and have fun with it.

Here are some ideas to give your viral campaign a shot in the arm.

Start with your blog. Post about your campaign on your blog to get the word out in your RSS feed and to e-mail subscribers. If you’re lucky, your posts will be picked up by other blogs and subscribers. Use a Twitter plugin like Twitter Tools to pass your post to Twitter at the same time.

Look for niches. Start out with big social media sites like Facebook and MySpace, but also look for smaller ones serving a niche. For instance, if your viral campaign would be attractive to baby boomers (I happen to fit into that category), look at sites like Eons.com, which is smaller, but like Facebook with a few age lines. ;-)

Make a viral video. Videos are hot and a great way to promote your campaign. Although YouTube is the biggest, also post to other video sites for the widest distribution. Try TubeMogul.com, which allows you to submit to several video sites at once.

Join in on forum conversation. Seek out forums related to your topic and get involved. Don’t just jump in and push your campaign, but provide feedback and information that is useful to the forum members. These communities can be passionate about their topics and maybe, just maybe some of them will pick up your news and spread the word. You can search for niche forums at http://rankings.big-boards.com/.

Join in blog conversations. As with the previous suggestion, find related blogs and jump into the conversation, providing good content and information, not sales pitches. Your comments can help you gain trust in the commuity, especially if you listen to and hear what the other community members want to know.

Bookmark it. Utilize bookmarking sites like Delicious and Digg where people can see what you are interested in and bookmark those links themselves. In addition to these two big sites, there are lots of niche bookmarking sites out there, too. Bloggers grab stuff off of these for content, others see it, bookmark or IM to others and if the stars are aligned right, it snowballs. The more eyes to your content the better.

Cross promote all of the above across social media sites. For instance, don’t just upload your video to YouTube, plug it at Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, etc.

Develop relationships. People with influence can get your information in front of more eyes. Create a relationship with these folks. Send them information that will help them. Later, you can send them information that will help you, after you establish trust. For example, you could approach a respected blog and offer to write a good guest article for them to get your foot in the door.

Contact by name. Nothing worse than trying to cozy up to one of those persons of influence using “To whom it may concern” or whatever. Send them an individual e-mail. Make sure you are pitching something relevant to their blog/site. Read their blog/site first!

Buy advertising. No this isn’t for SEO ranking purposes. Buying advertising to promote something simply is another way to open a dialogue with the blog/site owner, that person of influence.

Spread the word. Utilize your customers to get the word out through your web site, customer service e-mails, letters and newsletters.

Free is good. Give away something as part of your promotion – a white paper, resource, video, widget, etc. Make it great, quality, quirky, fun, whatever you can do to make it a desired, wanted freebie. Other attractions include how-to videos and articles, surveys, lists and tools.

Make sharing easy. Put up links to aid your visitors and readers in sharing the wealth – a bookmark this page link, forward to a friend link and social media links. See addthis.com for easy to use and build bookmarking chicklets.

Get recommendations. Getting these from consumers is gold and where better to get them than on the web, which is top heavy with consumers. See my previous post on user content generation for tips on getting reviews and ratings.

Remember, most viral campaigns don’t take off. Learn from your efforts and try, try again.

Director of SEO

Here’s a great job opportunity in Minnesota that I thought I would share:

Job Title: Director of SEO

Description:

Our client, the world leader in online legal information and interactive marketing services is looking for a Director of SEO to manage a team of 35 SEO professionals and continue to build a world class internal SEO department. This person must have proven experience of being able to influence internal stakeholders throughout the organization on the importance of SEO and it’s effects. They must be independently driven with the ability to lead many people.

About the Role:

The Director of SEO will be responsible for leading the fulfillment of all SEO projects and initiatives across all brands. They will need to strategize with the various teams throughout the company and develop education tools and guidelines for the organization in order to optimize every element of their SEO strategy. In this position you will also be responsible for staying current with the Search Engine community, by attending conferences and analyzing the risk/reward associated with new pursuing trends.

Requirements:

Our client is looking for someone with at least 5 years of experience within the search industry to lead a team of 35 search specialists. You must be a strong leader who can manage multiple priorities across multiple business areas. The ability to influence your peers and act as an agent of change is critical to this position.

Major Areas of Accountability:

• Responsible for the leadership of SEO fulfillment for all products.
• Responsible for leading and setting direction for SEO data analysis and reporting.
• Develop research, analysis and strategy initiatives and strategy, and development of the team to execute on those strategies.
• Collaborate with Product Development, Portal and Engineering teams. Provide leadership to optimize various site elements, site structure, architecture, linking and content, and to ensure that new products and enhancements meet SEO requirements.
• Provide leadership for the creation of educational tools and guidelines across the organization.
• Research current trends within Search Engine community – Attend relevant conferences to gather insights from search engine representatives and professionals. Continually monitor new advancements in SEO and evaluation the risk/reward of integration.
• Communicate specific SEO requirements to business/product stakeholders.
• Research emerging technologies for opportunities to expand.

Responsibility for the Work of Others:

• Team of 35 Search Specialists executing SEO fulfillment and analysis.

Financial Responsibility:

• $3 million

Requirements:

Education, Knowledge and Skills

• Minimum of 5 years experience within the search, SEO/SEM, or web analytics environment
• Demonstrated leadership experience of direct and indirect staff in a Web environment with time sensitive responses to changing market trends.
• Strong leadership skills and proficiency in leading multiple priorities across organizations.
• Strong influence and change skills and demonstrated ability to articulate and gain support with leaders across a business.
• Excellent written and verbal communication.
• Proven leadership to lead and influence a wide variety of constituent groups.

Contact: (800) 829-0072, jobs@onwardsearch.com, http://www.onwardsearch.com/jobs/search_marketing_jobs.aspx