Archive for Internet Marketing

Marketing: Why do we Try to Hide a Forest Among the Trees?

Posted on 02 July 2013 by John Britsios

Over the last couple of years, we seem to have been inundated in a swarm of new names for old things. Analog, digital, inbound, outbound, inside-out-upside-down-outboard marketing… enough already!

How about…

Marketing in a Plain Brown Wrapper

“Marketing is marketing” is a statement that many have made, and there’s a good deal of truth in that. But admittedly, marketing in a four-color glossy magazine does have subtle differences from that in a black and white tabloid. Online marketing brings even more differences to the table.

Radio vs. television, billboards vs. flyers, email vs. snail-mail and print vs. Internet… all have some subtle differences. A failure to be familiar with those differences and exploit them could make the difference between success and failure. Different channels offer different opportunities.

At the heart of the issue, however, the goal of marketing is always the same: convince the viewer, reader or user to perform some desired act. Buy it, subscribe to it, donate to it or talk about it – the conversion is what it’s all about to the marketer.

That said, there are styles of marketing that are distinctively different in their approach. In years gone by, for instance, the soft-sell vs. hard-sell was often thought to present the extent of options. But at the end of the day, it’s all marketing. You may use a little different style, some different techniques or a different approach… but it’s all still marketing.

Let’s not conflate styles and techniques with disciplines.

Why Give it a New Name?

It seems someone is always trying to give a new name to an old process or claiming to have invented a new process altogether. Those that have been in Internet marketing since the beginning often scoff at such efforts, while those that are very new to the business may embrace the changes. thinking that doing so puts them on “the cutting edge”.

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The idea that the “new SEO” is social media, content marketing, co-citation or any other of the myriad claims of various marketers is seen as ludicrous by most of us. Yet it seems that every such claim also attracts at least a few avid followers, the number of which is usually in proportion to the notoriety of the promoters of the claim.

Some that have made their name in SEO have gone so far as to remove any reference to SEO from their profile, company name or website. Whether that’s because of a genuine refocusing of their company’s thrust or simply an effort to divorce themselves from a field that has had its share of bad press… that’s anyone’s guess.

Unfortunately, whatever the reason, when a prominent practitioner, widely read industry blogger or otherwise well-known entity says or promotes something, there’s usually a flurry of camp-followers scurrying to take up their hero’s banner. If what is being promoted is crap, then the hero is being irresponsible. With notoriety comes responsibility.

Giving an old protocol a new name can be done for a few different reasons that come to mind:

  • Perhaps the field has changed enough that the old name is no longer accurate;
  • The new name will clarify the process;
  • Maybe it was difficult to get decent search rankings for the old name and a new one would be much less competitive.

I don’t think marketing has changed enough in the last few thousand years to warrant tossing the name “marketing” out the window. Maybe a decent argument could be made for differentiating between print and digital marketing, though. There are nuances to online marketing that aren’t as pronounced in print media – even a couple of unique factors in each.

But interruption vs. permission marketing? Both are simply variations of style. If you’re going to propose that they each need a unique name, then may I suggest work vs. home marketing, male vs. female, single vs. married, maybe even winter vs. summer marketing. A little ridiculous, right?

Yet that seems to be the direction that some would take us. New names keep popping up, as do new meaning for old names (inbound marketing, for instance, referred to call centers long before the Internet was around).

K.I.S.S.

Apparently, some folks just don’t see the irony of muddying the waters in an effort to “clarify” things. Given that most clarification is (or at least, should be) intended for the benefit of those for whom we perform our various marketing tasks, keeping it simple should be the focus, no?

I would suggest online and offline marketing. Both marketers and site owners can certainly understand the distinction. In one basket or the other, they encompass essentially anything any marketer might do. Paid vs. organic breaks down the online possibilities nicely, and requires no renaming.

If there’s confusion among marketers over the flurry of renaming styles and techniques, just imagine the consternation of those outside the industry. To some, it must seem like an effort to baffle them with B.S., rather than dazzling them with brilliance.

The upshot, in my opinion, is that B.S. is some very poor marketing!

Ooh! How about Upshot Marketing?


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There ARE no Shortcuts!

Posted on 07 September 2012 by John Britsios

There’s an old saying that says “You get what you pay for”. Very few people will argue the logic of it, but very few give it any consideration when selecting service providers.

Maybe they just feel lucky.

The Economic Reality

It’s true that many of us need to save money whenever we can, and it’s also true that even if we can afford it, we usually like to pay as little as possible. But just as there are risk/reward analyses that we have to make every day, there are also cost/value analyses that need to be considered.

Whether we’re buying a house, a sports coat or paying someone to clean our carpets, we will subconsciously judge the cost against the value, and determine which option best aligns with our needs. That may mean quality, reliability, time-frame – any number of things – weighed in balance against the cost.

Sometimes, we have to settle for less in one regard, in order to satisfy a greater need. That’s fine. We look at the cost vs. value, make our decision and live with the consequences. But other times, we may have to pay a little more in order to get the value we really need.

So why do so many companies take the cheapest way out, when they’re investing in an important aspect of their business? Do they not recognize the value?

Do they think they’re lucky, too?

The Necessity

These days, most successful businesses have a web presence of some sort. Some are highly sophisticated ecommerce sites and some are very basic blogs. The extent of their effort may depend on the nature of their business, their financial ability or their goals.

But talk to the CEO of any successful on-line enterprise, and they’re likely to tell you that they invested significant time and money in developing their website, and they’re not sorry they did.

There are many costs that can go into putting together a vibrant web site. Designers, coders, graphic artists, copywriters, domain registration, hosting, in-house administrators… it can be a long list and none of them are free.

Once the site is launched, there’s blogging, social media management, outreach, SEO (search engine optimization), conversion optimization… yet another long list to run up costs. To be a piker on any one of these items can turn your investment in the others into a waste.

ShortcutA person would think that any business would refrain from publishing poorly-written, ineffective copy on their site. Yet millions do it every day.

A person would also think that no business would hire an inexperienced SEO to put their site in front of the public. Yet millions do it every day.

And you’d think that no business would settle for third-rate work on the design of their web site. Yet millions do that every day, too.

Are those that took the cheap route surprised when they get less than stellar results from their investment? Almost invariably, yes.

Yet, each of those surprised managers, CEOs and business owners has almost certainly heard “You get what you pay for” more than once before they made a decision based solely upon cost.

And many of them will make the same mistake, over and over again.

Making the Right Impression

As long as we’re bringing up old sayings, how about “First impressions are the most lasting”? There is much truth in that one, as well. That being the case, is it wise to introduce our business to the world like a vagabond, dressed shabbily and needing a bath?

For most businesses, possibly excluding the most prominent brands, the web site is the first impression a prospective customer will have of the business. Favorable or not, that impression will stick in their mind, and it will affect their decision to buy… or to go elsewhere.

So it makes good sense to present our business as well as we possibly can. Leaving them with the impression that we’re cheap, semi-literate or just uncaring is not the way we want to be remembered.

The Consequences of Being a Piker

Shoot in the footTaking the piker’s way out can have very unpleasant results, regardless of what area you decide to cut corners. Low quality copywriting, ineffective SEO techniques, toxic link building methods, and an in-your-face social media style can all contribute to wasted time and money, and an ineffective web presence.

It can get much worse than just ineffective, of course. Google has become very critical of what they consider to be “spammy” techniques of web site promotion. It’s nothing new that they frown on it… the news is how much more aggressively they’re going after it.

The Penguin algorithm unleashed earlier this year made link building a hazardous profession.

Webmaster now must be extremely careful about anything that can flag their link profile as suspicious. Penalties recovery takes a lot of time and effort and can be an extremely difficult process.

The “O.O.P.” (over-optimization penalty) is a manual penalty, and seems to often hit sites in conjunction with the Penguin penalty (which is algorithmic, rather than manual), complicating the recovery process even further. If your optimization efforts are too obvious, you may be vulnerable.

And the Panda algorithm, introduced last year, specifically targets “thin” or low-quality content. Panda wiped out a lot of low quality sites and networks.

All three of these have made web site promotion more challenging and have accented the absolute necessity of using only providers that are current on the “safe techniques and won’t get your site penalized.

If you insist on taking the cheap way out, and using low-dollar providers for your design, copywriting and SEO, be prepared to pay the consequences. At best, you’re throwing money away and wasting your time and energy, while your competitors outdistance you.

At worst, you’ll spend months trying to get your website back in a position that any potential customer – if you ever can.

The lesson to be learned here is “There ARE no shortcuts!” Delivering quality is the safest way going forward, and will yield the best results.

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Inbound Marketing? What Exactly IS That?

Posted on 31 August 2012 by John Britsios

Trying to wrap your mind around the term inbound marketing may give you a headache, so consider yourself warned. But to simplify it (a LOT), outbound marketing attempts to create a need or desire for what is offered, while inbound marketing attempts to satisfy an existing need or desire.

Examples of Outbound Marketing:

  • You’re sitting down to dinner with invited guests, and precisely at the dinner hour, an annoyingly persistent telemarketer calls, and begins reciting his 714 page script, ignoring all your attempts to express a total lack of interest;
  • You walk into an appliance store, curious to see how much a new washing machine would cost you. Before your body clears the entrance, a herd of sales associates leap to their feet, and rush you like the front four of the Green Bay Packers. The first one to make eye contact claims you as his prey, and two others move past you to block the exit;
  • Stepping outside to your mailbox, you find 17 pieces of junk mail with your name as addressee, peddling anything from lawn service to plumbing repair.

You have just been outbound marketed. The possible variations are endless, of course, and can occur face to face or via virtually any media. Every marketer has his own shtick, and some are more intrusive than others. What they all have in common is that they were unsolicited.

Examples of Inbound Marketing:

  • After filling out an entry for a prize drawing at your local hardware store, you receive a notification in the mail of an upcoming “Gigantic Clearance Sale” the following weekend;
  • After recently purchasing a new car, you begin receiving personally addressed ads for auto insurance, bad-credit/no-credit loans and extended warranty packages;
  • After visiting a friend’s photography web site, you find that every time you view a YouTube video, the popup ads are pushing cameras, film, accessories and photography services at you.

In these instances, you have been inbound marketed. In some fashion, however innocently, you made your identity and presumed interest known, and it is being taken full advantage of. The companies behind these marketing efforts will usually characterize your targeting as having been solicited.

There are also much more subtle examples of inbound marketing, which may be driven by exposure within a niche, a word-of-mouth recommendation or simply being in the right place at the right time. Blogging, Social Media or PPC advertising could all fall into this category.

But Why is it Called Inbound?

That’s a question that’s been argued on many fronts, sometimes amicably, sometimes heatedly. To me, it makes no sense. It seems to just compartmentalize several aspects of internet marketing into a new bundle and apply a meaningless new name to it.

One explanation offered by those that don’t see the necessity for yet another name for what marketers do, is that the name was simply created because it was a zero-competition term for which they could optimize and rank, if it caught on. That’s certainly a possibility – it’s been done before.

Of course, defenders of the term claim they were simply trying to bring clarity to what they do. I’m sorry, but I’m afraid that just doesn’t hold water. Installing an unknown and ambiguous term doesn’t bring clarity, it brings confusion.

Face it – if it brings confusion to a large number of professional internet marketers, imagine how much clarity it won’t bring to the people that are already puzzled by the inner workings of Internet Marketing!

It seems to me that rather than creating new terms to identify old practices, it would make more sense to concentrate on educating people about what the old terms address. Muddying the waters is just counterproductive.

Will it Stick?

That remains to be seen. A couple of prominent names started using it, and their friends and followers naturally followed suit. So it has become a fairly common term to see, at least within the Internet Marketing industry.

In all probability, those that are already using it will continue to do so, and those of us that prefer a more obvious and transparent name for what we do will stick with the terms that are more widely understood, even if less trendy.

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RDFa Rich Snippets can Boost your Business

Posted on 13 June 2011 by John Britsios

You have probably seen RDFa rich snippets, without realizing it, when using your favorite search engine. You were shown a series of listings with short summaries of what each listing contains.

Increasingly, the SERPs are returning results containing these rich snippets, which provide a great deal more information to the users, to help them select the site best suited for their needs.

RDFa allows you to suggest to the search engine what should be shown for your webpage when a particular search term comes up, in order to show the most pertinent data.

This can be especially helpful for a catalog, where sizes, price, color and other information can now be listed in the SERPs for the user.

While there is no guarantee that the search engines will use your suggestion in their results, Google has made a commitment to use RDFa technology whenever possible.

How are these helpful to my site?

Envision a typical page of site listings. Even if your business ranks very highly, it may not stand out on the page and can be lost in your competitors’ listings.

Now picture your business listing with all the information a person needs to find you or to know that you have the information or products they need. You can accomplish that with either RDFa or microformats.

Additionally, these rich snippets create better connections with other websites. Semantic web technology allows the search engines to understand your content better, linking your page to other relevant content.

Each time the search engine crawlers go through your page, more connections are made, increasing the reach of your website and thus, your business potential.

What can they do for my ROI?

Your visitor count may decrease, especially initially, but your CTR (click through rate) will simultaneously increase, because of the increased relevancy to the search term.

In addition, those people who do click on your page are more primed to convert. Because they know exactly what your website contains before selecting it, they are more likely to want what your business offers.

Your ROI (return on investment) will therefore increase and the bounce rate will decrease, because there will be fewer users finding that your website wasn’t what they expected.

As the web crawlers continue to link your webpage to other relevant content, the search results they return will become increasingly relevant to your potential customers.

Users will arrive at your site more quickly in their search process, translating into greater conversion, as they have already had a more positive experience with their search.

How can I implement them?

Implementation is too detailed to be discussed in this short article. While it is not nearly as complex as some may think, it’s still a technique that must be learned in order to utilize it properly.

The best way to quickly implement RDFa on your site is to hire a search engine marketing expert skilled in its use, as improper utilization could do your site more harm than good. Thus, an expert is the best way to proceed.

Make no mistake, websites with RDFa rich snippets will attract more business than those not offering them. Don’t be left behind as the web evolves. Take steps to implement this powerful tool today.

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How to Tell if You Need Internet Marketing Services

Posted on 29 December 2010 by John Britsios

Not everyone needs professional Internet marketing services. Some online entrepreneurs already possess the necessary skills. If you know what you are doing, there is no need to pay others.

In order to know for sure, study Internet marketing strategies. There may be marketing solutions that are unfamiliar to you. Unless you have extensive experience, you may be very surprised.

Building a solid business model may be what you do the best. However, Internet marketing tactics change on an ongoing basis. Do you have the time and expertise to devote to these changes?

Success Requires Expert Internet Marketing Strategies

Do you have time to research and closely study your competition? Are you proficient at keyword, niche, and promotion research? This is only the tip of the iceberg of Internet marketing strategies.

You will also need to design and build one or more websites. Then you will need to fill them with fresh and relevant content. Ensuring consumers can find your online business is the next step.

Realizing how many steps are involved can be incredibly overwhelming. Most online entrepreneurs possess a varied assortment of skills. However, most marketers do not have all of the necessary skills.

Search Engine Optimization Takes Time, Effort, and Skill

Search engine optimization is just one aspect of Internet marketing. Yet it can take a great deal of time, especially in the beginning. Do you have the time to devote to just one aspect of online marketing?

SEO requires more than refined keyword research and placement. Most new marketers do not fully understand the entire concept. This is when Internet marketing services is well worth the price.

Search engines are very important to your online business model. Organic search engine results will not cost you advertising fees. Therefore, understanding how search engines operate is crucial.

Internet Marketing Solutions Incorporate Multiple Techniques

Implementing Internet marketing solutions is a full-time job. Most Internet marketers need this time to devote to business. Even if you have the advanced skills, where is the time for marketing?

Research, promotion, and writing fresh content take time and effort. How can one Internet marketer wear multiple hats at the same time? The truth is that none of them can, although many try, often in vain.

If saving money costs you business, where is the real savings? Instead of trying to do everything yourself, identify key areas. Then outsource the areas for which you have no time or skill.

Consult With Professionals at Internet Marketing Companies

Let the experts handle the tasks that require advanced skills. Hiring an Internet marketing company frees you to run your business. There are some business-related tasks that only you can perform.

By concentrating on what you do best, your business will thrive. Outsource mundane tasks, and let experts handle the advanced ones. Investing in your business marketing will bring desired results.

Most Internet marketers are bursting with creativity and energy. Instead of getting bogged down with the urgent, enjoy the creative. Choose your role, and let Internet marketing services do the rest.


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