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My Website Bounce Rate Is 5%. Is That Too Low? Is It Too Good To Be True?

Bounce Rates A very low Bounce Rate such as 5% is an indication that there is probably something wrong with your website.

Anytime a Bounce Rate seems suspiciously low (lower than 10%), that should raise a red flag for you. If you see a bounce rate of 2% for example, don’t start celebrating. It is likely inaccurate, and it could be a technical issue with how your analytics tracking code was integrated into the site.

Before going further, let’s make sure we all know what Bounce Rate means. According to Wikipedia, “the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bounce_rate]. This is a metric used to gauge website performance and it is often seen in Google Analytics. Generally speaking, a low Bounce Rate means you are doing well and a high Bounce rate means there could be an issue with your website’s design, usability, SEO/content or functionality.

What’s a “normal” Bounce rate?

In our experience, we typically see Bounce Rates between 40%-60%. Lower than 40% is very uncommon and higher than 70% is alarming and requires action.

Whether or not the bounce rate is good or bad is relative to how well you are achieving your website marketing goals and the business outcomes (e.g. sales) achieved.

Lead generation sites and landing pages do tend to have higher than average Bounce Rates; however, if they are producing a healthy ROI and the financial outcome is strong, then a Bounce Rate by itself is not a signal of success or failure.

Still, if it is very low, such as lower than 10%, there is a very good chance the number is wrong and there is technical fix needed on your website.

What is the cause of a low Bounce Rate?

If your bounce rate is out of the expected range and seems “too good to be true,” it is often the case that somewhere in your website the Google Analytics code may have been inserted twice. Duplicate analytics code is often the cause.

This is especially common in WordPress websites that end up having analytics code inserted both in your template and also in an SEO plug in. Or, it can happen when analytics code is inserted both in your header and footer of the website. There are other causes, but they are rarer.

Luckily, the solution is usually simple: call your developer and have them remove the Google analytics code (the script they provide to you in your account) from showing up twice. Or, remove it yourself if you know how to do so.

That’s usually it.

Your Bounce rate should then adjust itself over the next 24 hours back to its “real” bounce rate.

Hope this helps!

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Do I Need To Submit My Website To Hundreds Of Search Engines?

SEO Myths In short: NO. You do not need a search engine submission service!
You may have seen tactics used by low quality SEO companies (they usually come as SPAM emails and they are looking to charge a fee) as follows:

  • Telling you that you must pay them to submit your website to dozens or hundreds of search engines or more
  • That you must pay them to make sure you get your website indexed
  • That they can get you tons of hits on your website
  • That submitting your website to search engines is critical to SEO

None of this could be farther from the truth.

The truth is:

You do not need to submit your site to the search engines because they usually find your website on their own. Indexing can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks. To see if your site is indexed type the following into Google “site:www.nameofwebsite.com”

Be sure to update www.nameofwebsite.com to your actual domain name.

If your site is professionally designed with unique, quality content, your chances of indexing are much higher. Your site also needs to be coded in a way that is readable by search engines. If it is not, it does not matter if you submit to a ton of search engines, your site will stay invisible. Most of the time, you have nothing to worry about.

If possible, the best way to get your website indexed quickly is to get a link from a reliable website (blog, website, forum, press release etc.) that is already indexed. If you can not, then you can still do the following below to get started.

1. You can submit your new web site to Google yourself at: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url

2. You can set up a Google Webmaster Tools account and submit a sitemap there. You can create a sitemap for free on a number of websites only (Google “free sitemap creator”). You can then upload it to your website and submit to Google via your Webmaster Tools account. This will help Google understand what pages you have on your website and maximize their ability to become indexed. More information: https://support.google.com/webmasters

3. You can submit to Bing here: http://www.bing.com/toolbox/submit-site-url

4. You can submit to Yahoo here: http://search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html

That is all you need to do.

Remember: The majority of search engines that do exist pull data from the top three (Google, Bing, Yahoo). As long as your site is indexed in these three, you should be covered. Est. 2/3 or more of all searches occur on Google anyway, so it is not necessary to be found in small, virtually unknown search engines.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at (516) 610-0922 or email: info@upsidebusiness.com.

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SEO Myth: The Way To Rank Higher Is To Use A Keyword Over and Over in Page Text

SEO Myth and TruthTruth: While the keyword should be on the page several times, it should be integrated in a natural way. Keyword Stuffing, the act of repeated and overuse of a keyword in a page to increase its keyword density (the proportion of words on a page that are a keyword to the overall number of words on page), can actually lead to penalizations.

If you try to over manipulate a search engine, they will almost certainly catch you. If not now, then later.

In reality, there is no ideal number of times to repeat a keyword on a web page, however many agree to cap it at 2%. The keyword should be in the Page title and page text at minimum so that people know what the page is going to be about.  Variation on your keywords is important as well as writing for people not search engines. Simply repeating your keyword a million times just won’t work! Doing so will make your copy sound spammy and turn people away.

With Google’s new search engine, understanding the searcher’s intent and the meaning behind their search term (intuitive search) is important. If you have one or two target phrases per web page and then build quality, unique content that is well written (multi-media such as video helps engagement) you are on your way. From there, each page should be built based on strong ethical on page SEO best practices. A careful, but well thought out link campaign can complement your on page efforts, but be very careful about what types of links you have pointing to your site. Work with a professional SEO company to determine how to build links without suffering Penguin update penalizations.

Focusing on outcomes and conversion (how you will get someone to take an action) when they actually get to your page is a more strategic way to think about SEO that will get you better long term results. Keywords are a necessary and important part of the process, but keyword rankings alone will not get you results by themselves, especially in a competitive market.

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Why Interruptive Marketing Doesn’t Work & Content Marketing Does

Content Marketing TipsDo you like being interrupted?

Few of us do, yet interruption has become so normalized in outbound marketing that some people forgot that it often leads to rejection and frustration by the very people you are looking to attract to your company.

In fact, there is almost no type of media that doesn’t eventually become interruptive in nature, even if it was once ‘pure.’ Take Facebook. Have you noticed how many ads and sponsored posts now show up in your feed?

The bottom line: Interruptive marketing (interrupting someone’s user experience to get their attention e.g. spam ads, pop up ads, video ads etc.) is a big turn off for many.

Consumers no longer want to experience interruptive marketing, the kind of marketing that constantly bombards you with advertising, promotions and sales gimmicks when you would like to be seeing something else. They have many choices of where to spend time online and they want to see what they expect, not what YOU want to show them based on achieving a marketing goal or a metric.

The key is to EARN their attention first by giving them content that they are actually seeking.

So what should you do?

Rather than selling someone something, create content that is meant to inform, educate, inspire and provide a point of view first. Build your trust and relationship with your audience before you ask for something. Sounds reasonable right?

What is Content Marketing Exactly?

It is a method of creating and distributing valuable content to engage and attract an audience – with the goal of compelling them to take action. Content marketing is non-interruptive marketing that is very informative and engaging. It also speaks the consumer’s language clearly. It can entertain, educate and captivate an audience (all at once) in order to build trust and relationships.

Examples of content marketing effective for small businesses:

• Creating a free downloadable eBook or guide
• Blogs articles
• Informative videos
• White papers
• How to guides
• Infographics
• Help posts (social)
• Email newsletters
• Case studies
• Online articles
• News
• Videos
• Podcasts
• etc. (what would you add?)

Did You Know That Content Marketing Can Jumpstart Your SEO Campaign?

There is one problem that many business owners are facing and that is converting traffic into sales. That’s because if you have nothing to offer, people may not stay on your website.

A common situation we have seen: a business may have a solid SEO campaign with great traffic results, but no one seems to want to buy. That means you are getting people to your site but it is not translating to new business.

Content marketing can help be the glue that keeps your website “sticky”. You need to actively give people a reason to stay on your site. Having a great product/service to offer and a well-designed website is simply not enough these days for many businesses. Good content marketing solves this ongoing problem.

Look at search behavior: the first thing 2/3’s of all online searchers do online is “Google it.” If your company produces engaging, problem-solving content that’s well-optimized, you will begin to get noticed within the search engines. An article you wrote, for example, can be the gateway to your site. You can start attracting people through your content, not just your homepage. This is good for SEO. Think about each piece of content as a potential bridge to potential customers. Better content ranks better. Better written content gets shared more and leads to more traffic. And Google considers a website with valuable content an authorative site. These are all good reasons to start.

Unlocking The Key To Content Marketing Starts With Your Customer

In order to attract people with your content, make sure your blog posts, guests’ posts, ebooks, whitepapers, copy and other forms of content are written with your target audience in mind. In other words, provide them with content they want to hear. This may seem obvious, but many people use content marketing to push a sales message, or in some instances, to impress their peers or competitors. If you don’t know what to write, ask customers what would be helpful, think about questions you have been asked and common problems facing your audience. Write about real issues they care about it and you will be on the right track.

Some Do’s and Don’ts Of Content Marketing

Do’s
Think ‘reciprocal relationships’: You want to give a little now to get a little later. It is a reciprocal relationship: if you show people how helpful you really can be, they may contact you to talk about your products or services. This process requires one to really know his/her target audience, which is critical to any marketing campaign. In our case, some of our clients want to understand content marketing a little better, so we have written this straight forward article to help. We are serving an actual need: the need for certain clients who do not know where to begin with content marketing to understand it a little better. That makes it a worthwhile investment for us.

Be unique: The content must be unique and original. Don’t use duplicate content or content used elsewhere on the internet. It won’t perform as well in search engines and in some cases can lead to SEO penalizations. If you are an expert in your field, write from scratch based on a concept or theme.

Have the ‘right’ intent: The key is, if your intent is to truly help someone, then you are on the right track. Optimize the content correctly but do not manufacture an article that is unreadable. Read your article out loud and ask yourself if it makes sense. Keep it understandable and “consumable” for them. Overly technical or jargon filled posts may turn away readers. Simple is better.

Make content easy to share: Also, make sure your content is shareable. Content marketing isn’t just about words thrown up on a page. It should inspire and enlighten your audience. When people find your content useful, they will share it on various social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). It can then become ‘viral.’

Make content consumable on the type of device it was intended: If you are targeting a mobile audience, make sure the content your create formats for the browser size on which it will be viewed.

Don’ts
Write just for SEO: Often times, many marketers will just write content for the sake of SEO. This method may have worked out well 10 years ago, but today, that has all changed. Keyword stuffed articles do not work because they are written for search engines, not people. People want well written, clear, original content that makes sense.

Is viral a goal? Your goal should not be to write something viral but to write something so good masses of people can not help but want to share it with people they know.

Don’t just create it, share it: Don’t just write a great article, be sure to announce and share it through your different marketing channels, whether it is on your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email blasts etc. also think about how you can reuse or repurpose it later to share again if it is not time sensitive.

In sum, be helpful and provide valuable, relevant content that truly helps your target audience solve a problem, overcome an obstacle, or make a situation more understandable etc. Be consistent, fresh, and always stand out from the competition. Your “voice” in your writing is part of your brand so be authentic, but professional; be informational but keep information easy to digest.

We hope this introduction helps you!

Join us on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/upsidebusinessconsultants) for original content, news, and online marketing tips geared towards your small business.

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5 Reasons Your Small Business May Need A Mobile Friendly Website

Mobile Friendly Web DesignIf you are wondering whether getting a mobile friendly website design is worth it, try the following 30-second ‘litmus’ test: Visit your website from a Smartphone or tablet. If it is “thumb-friendly”, you have passed the test. In other words, if you are able to maneuver through each Web page with your thumbs, without constantly pinching and zooming, continue reading.

If you find yourself struggling to navigate from a mobile device (e.g. iPhone, Android, Blackberry or tablet), imagine what it must be like for your visitors. Most visitors have one thing in common: when they become frustrated, they leave (bouncing back to the Search Engines to go elsewhere). That increases your website’s “Bounce Rate,” a metric usually indicating a lack of engagement. User engagement metrics are used by Google as part of their algorithm and they can either help or hurt your SEO.

Obviously, there are other ways to know it’s time to make your website mobile friendly. Here are five additional considerations:

1. Customer Behavior

Are your customers on the go? If your business is in an industry where people are constantly on a go, such as a restaurant, ecommerce business, etc., having a mobile friendly website is no longer optional. Mobile users demand instant access to a company’s website. If they are not able to view a website from their phone, they will abandon the site and go elsewhere. If you do not know, reach out to customers (ask on Facebook, do a survey, call key customers, etc.) and find out what they think.

2. Overall Mobile Device Penetration

According to Forbes, 87 percent of adults in the U.S. use a mobile device. Approximately,
45 percent of these mobile users have a Smartphone and 90 percent use it to surf the Web. In addition, 74 percent of Smartphone users will leave a website if it takes longer than 5 seconds to pull up on a screen. These numbers are expected to rise over the next couple of years.

Mobile users are very active on social networks too (one of the reasons Facebook and others are investing so heavily in mobile advertising), so if your brand has a Fan page that posts content with links to your website, you want to provide a mobile friendly experience for them when they click thru to your site.

3. Your Competitor Has One and You Do Not

You want to have the edge over your competition online. If your competitor has a mobile friendly website and you do not – redesigning your website should be the first item on your to-do-list. A positive viewing experience on your website can result in more leads and interest in your company. Mobile users are more likely to revisit a website that provides the best usability.

4. Check Your Website Analytics Data

If your website is an important part of your marketing plan, the stats can help you justify an investment in a mobile friendly design. If your data (such as from Google Analytics, a free program you can use on your website to provide you with website performance information) shows that the percentage of mobile users visiting your website is trending up, this is a sign that it may be time to optimize your website for mobile. If only 7% of your visitors use a mobile device, it may not warrant the expense. However, we have seen many companies move from 5% in one year to 30% or more three years later. Especially, for ecommerce websites and lead generation sites, mobile can directly impact your top line.

5. Consistent User Experience Across Devices

The key to improving your website visitors’ experience is to provide them with an optimal and consistent user experience. People should be able to have easy access to information on your website whether they visit from a PC or a mobile device. Remember, you only have less than 5 seconds to capture your visitors’ attention. If your customer or visitor struggles to view your website from his/her mobile screen, you could potentially lose a sale.

If you do find that you require a mobile friendly experience, you have two basic options.

Option 1: Have your web marketing agency recode your site to be “Responsive” [more info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design]. A Responsive website itself will recognize the devices used by visitors and optimize the viewing experience (this is the recommended approach).

Option 2: You build a separate mobile website customers can use (this will require you to maintain two websites which may or may not be advantageous to you).
Your marketing agency can help you determine what is appropriate for you based on your needs.

To find out more web design and marketing tips, ‘Join In’ on the conversation on our Facebook page at: Facebook.com/UpsideBusinessConsultants

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21 Ways To Launch Your New Facebook Page and Grow Your Fan Base

Launch Facebook PageLaunching a new Facebook fan page is exciting but also daunting for many. Knowing how to promote your page is not always obvious, but there are some relatively simple ways you can actively increase the visibility of your page and your posts. Facebook’s internal algorithm continually updates and only a percentage of your Fan page posts are ever seen by your Fans (known as “Reach”).  That is why you have two jobs: 1) writing exceptional content. 2) promoting that content and making sure it gets seen by your audience.

If promoting your page and getting the visibility you want is important to you, try some of these tips below to help launch your page and grow your Facebook page:

1.    Artwork: First, make sure your cover art and profile image are professionally designed, branded and that they meet Facebook’s guidelines. The first time people go to your page, they will consider becoming a Fan based on what they see. Make sure your page communicates a strong image. Here is some information from Facebook’s site: https://www.facebook.com/help/492441920771107/

2.    Clean Url: Make your page easier to share by changing the name of your Facebook page’s hyperlink to a vanity url that is better for branding and print materials (go to https://www.facebook.com/username)

3.    Unique Content: Provide exclusive content Fans can only get on your page. While sharing content written by others is a good idea, it is also important to provide something unique, developed by your company. If people like the content and they know they can only get it on your page, your page can become a valued resource with a clear benefit.

4.    Consistent Execution: Be consistent with your execution. Stay on track and on schedule. A social media content plan you develop before your page launch will help you know how often to post, when to post, what to post etc. Executing posts consistently will show your community that you care, that you are reliable and that your are committed to them.

5.    Website Promotion: Add a Facebook icon/widget to your business’s website for clients to have easy access to your Facebook page. Cross pollinate your Facebook page on your website “hub” in high visibility areas in your website template.

6.    Cross Promote from Content Hubs: Cross promote your Facebook page by adding a sentence at the end of each new released article or blog post on your website with a call to action. For example: “Like us on Facebook to get important industry news, tips, and articles.”

7.    Email Link: Add a link to your Facebook page at the end of your email signature block.

8.    Email Blasts: Invite your e-mail contacts to like your Facebook page through e-mail blasts and personal e-mails as needed. It’s important to convey the value of the page’s content and center your message around “joining a community,” not “Liking” you. Remember, it’s about them, not you.

9.    Outreach To Facebook ‘Friends’: Also remember to invite your friends straight from Facebook through the Facebook Page admin panel. Try to focus on friends who you believe will benefit from the page.

10.    Mention on Citations: Include a link to your Facebook page in local business directories. Many allow you to post a link to your page.

11.    Use Shareable Images: Post images onto Facebook with text embedded in them. Create the image yourself and include your business web address as a watermark. People tend to engage, share and click on images more than other posts. When they do, your reach can increase as people see the original content creator.

12.    Leverage Business Partners: Get business partners to announce and/or share your page on their Fan Pages, on their websites or even on their own email blasts.

13.    Reach Out To Other Fan Pages: Like other Facebook pages who serve your potential audience. It’s important to be tactful here and not poach competitor’s Fans. We are talking about Fan pages that serve a similar audience but are non competing. Remember to be a helpful contributor and become a valued part of that community first. Once you have established trust with the page and its community, you can reach out to the page Admin and discuss opportunities for content sharing. You can share posts on each other’s pages. Getting on the phone and introducing yourself in person first (if you are local) are even more personal ways to build those relationships.  Spamming another page with your link on their Wall or in a comment thread will backfire and is not good social etiquette.

14.    Get Your Staff Involved: Add social savvy staff members as Admins to your business’s Facebook page to allow them to also post informative and captivating content. Have them invite their own contacts. It’s important to carefully select page Admins and their level of access to the page. At minimum, train all staff about how the page is used in your business and appropriate ways to share the page with customers with whom they interact.

15.    Facebook Advertising: Use Facebook ads, boosted posts and sponsored stories to build your fan base, if needed. Facebook is a public company and is aggressively promoting its advertising platform. Only a percentage of your posts ever reach your fans (called “reach). Reach can be expanded through Advertising on Facebook through boosted posts and advertising for Likes, to name a few. If you want to target specific demos, Facebook’s advertising platform can be a good resource if you have the budget.

16.    Good ‘OL Word Of Mouth: Tell family and friends about your new Facebook page offline (Word of Mouth) and get them to join by word of mouth.

17.    Cross Link on Other Social Profiles: Mention your Facebook page on other social network sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pintrest.

18.    Offline Promotions: If you have a Bricks and Mortar business, use print collateral such as business cards, flyers, bag stuffers, brochures, invoices etc. to announce your page.

19.    Contests: You can run contests on your page to attract more attention but beware. Offering a promo to attract initial attention may work but it may not sustain a long term relationship. If you provide an offer for a contest, be sure it helps forge a stronger long term relationship with your company or even leads to a potential sale. If you just offer a chance at a new iphone, for example, you may attract people who want a new iphone but have no interest afterwards in your content or your product/service. Avoid short term schemes that may lead to drop offs. Make sure you follow Facebook’s guidelines, which change over time.

20.    Press Releases: This one is not for everybody, but If you are doing something special and press worthy on your page, consider sending out a press release announcing that you have recently launched or revamped your Facebook page. Follow up with the news outlets and use a reputable press release distribution company (write to us if you need advice, we do not want to single any out here).

21.    Don’t forget about the basics: a successful page starts with good content that is consumable and resonates with your audience. Be different, be unique, try new things and always experiment (in a calculated way) to see what types of posts get the most visibility. Differentiate and never become a “me too” page.

Following some of these tips should help you get your Facebook page launch on its way. Have fun, be creative, be authentic and most importantly, always think about your audience first. Results take commitment, consistency and time. Hang in there. If you ever hit a wall, consider consulting a social media marketing company to help you overcome challenges.

[ join our community on facebook for online marketing tips: facebook,.com/upsidebusinessconsultants ]

 

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2014 SEO Tips To Significantly Improve Small Business SEO Performance

img-seoWe would like to share these ten key small business SEO tips for 2014. If you are looking for ways to obtain a higher return on investment (ROI) for your Search Engine Marketing program, Upside’s SEO consultants suggest focusing on the three C’s: Customers, Content and Conversion.

Read the full Ten 2014 SEO Tips article here.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and we wish you success in 2014!

 

This post by Doug Betensky

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The Difference Between SEO and Google Pay-Per-Click

seo-pay-per-clickWhen forming Internet marketing campaigns, there are many options that need to be taken into account. The clear goal is to get visitors to your site that are intent on purchasing the offered goods or services and to then convert them into paying customers or clients.

The methods on how to accomplish this vary, in serving different needs for business owners. To get search engine visibility, you can 1) optimize your website, or 2) put up Google Adwords pay-per-click ads, for example.
If you run a business on Long Island or in the New York City area, which is the right Internet marketing strategy for you? Here are some details that can help you decide:

What is Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC)?

PPC is a service that Google offers to companies, in order to get themselves and their websites prime positioning on the results pages for specific search terms. Here, companies literally pay Google for each user that visits their website, regardless of what the users are actually doing on the site. While the PPC method promotes companies by way of these ads to users, they don’t do anything for improving the quality or online presence of your site.

The actual price you pay-per-click has nothing to do with the sites’ overall conversion rates or the time users spend on the sites for that matter, with prices ranging anywhere from cents on the dollar to about $20 per click. These prices largely depend on the market you enter as well as your respective competition. If you’re willing to pay for it, PPC is quick to do and requires relatively little effort to get optimal positioning on results pages. It does not involve making beneficial improvements to your site or further establishing your brand, leaving the business owner in a win-lose situation, as merely obtaining better positioning doesn’t warrant any increase in conversion rate.

PPC Summary: PPC gains your website immediate visibility but you will pay per click. It is a great way to get your website visible to customers but you will lose your visibility the second you stop advertising. It is a great, nimble tool to get keyword rankings in a short period of time. If you do not have strong organic rankings, PPC can be an important part of your Internet marketing plan.

What Is SEO (Organic)?

Search engine optimization, SEO for short, is the processes by which one gets to be placed in top organic positioning for given search terms. Achieving SEO doesn’t have a tangible cost, in terms of dollars spent, but does require effort in campaigning. SEO campaigns involve creating an excellent site, building awareness about your site online through various platforms, and even optimizing your HTML code.

According to Ephricon.com, most studies show users are three to five times more likely to click on a site in the organic listings than to click on a paid advertisement, with all things being equal. There are no shortcuts in organic SEO, as you have to deserve to be the #1 organic result for a given search term in order to attain that positioning.

Many companies look to hire an SEO consultant on Long Island, ensuring that you get the wanted results without having to pay Google every time someone visits your site, including those visitors who have no real intention of making a purchase or contacting the company. Ultimately, you need to build a valuable site and influential brand in your respective market in order to succeed in organic SEO.

SEO Summary: Search Engine Optimization is a process and is not advertising. It is a strategy to organically rank your website itself. It is more sustainable and you do not pay per click. Though you need to keep up with optimization on your site monthly, once you achieve rankings, with properly “white hat” SEO tactics you should be able to maintain visibility and get higher ROI over time. SEO is an important part of ensuring that any website is visible to your target audience.

Which strategy should you use?

If you are not sure, it’s helpful to evaluate your marketing plan and to test different strategies to see which has a better result for your particular business. Many businesses use both strategies simultaneously or in combination.

The short answer: For immediate rankings use PPC. For better long term results use SEO.

To find out more information on Organic SEO services and Pay-Per-Click, call Upside at: (516) 610-0922.

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Upside Business Consultants Launches UpsideCreativePro.com

Video Marketing in New YorkWe are excited to announce the launch of our new marketing resource, UpsideCreativePro.com. Our video production website is dedicated to video marketing for Long Island and New York City companies.

The videos we create are high-definition, broadcast-ready videos designed to be web ready. We produce an array of videos, such as: Custom Videos, Documentary Style Branding Videos, On Location Videos, Product Demos, Short Commercial Spots and more.

How it Works…

The process is simple. When you need a video produced, Upside’s video marketing division will handle every aspect of producing your video. You will work one-on-one with an account manager and a professional videographer for production planning. Then we film your video on location or at our in-house photography studio at our headquarters in Hauppauge. The entire process is easy and the timeline is short. Go here to view our video marketing packages.

Advantages of Using Video on Your Website

If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth a million. Video Marketing is becoming more and more popular among web users. Here are a few interesting facts about video marketing:

  • Provides interaction and meaningful feedback. Consumers love commenting on videos. Business owners can use customers’ feedback to solve problems and fulfill needs.
  • Cost less than traditional print advertising or TV advertising. TV advertising alone can cost around $45,000 – $100,000, according to experts.
  • Video is social media friendly. People love sharing videos with their friends and co-workers.
  • Video is searchable and great for Search Engine Optimization. In 2012, online marketing videos have shown up in nearly 70% of the top 100 Google search listings, according to Marketing Week.
  • Product videos create higher conversion rates on websites. Nearly, 64-85% of viewers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video. 187 million Americans watched 48 billion content videos online in July, 2013, according to Comscore.

Upside Creative doesn’t just create visually appealing videos, we make sure the videos we produce are seen by your intended audience. Do you need a video produced for your company? Contact our Long Island video production team today.

Read the official announcement here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/video-production-company/long-island-web-video/prweb11269968.htm

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Does My Small Business Need Marketing or Public Relations?

Difference Between PR & MarketingWhen faced with the dilemma of how to increase traffic to your business, it may be difficult to decide whether you should take a plan of action revolved around marketing or a plan of action revolved around public relations.

Although some may think marketing and public relations are essentially the same thing, this simply is not the case. First take a look at these definitions of marketing and public relations to give yourself a better sense of what they really are.

Marketing: The activities of a company related to buying and selling a product or service to a certain target audience. To reach a target audience, different tactics are used that are associated with advertising, selling, and delivering products to customers. In essence, marketing is the combination of everything that a company does to gain customers and preserve a lasting relationship with them.

Public Relations (PR): The practice of communicating with the entire public. The main focus of public relations is to present your company (or person) in a positive light to create a strong public image for your company (or person). Businesses use various tactics through the news and the press to cultivate a good relationship with the public.

As you can see, marketing and public relations focus on two completely different areas, and therefore, create different outcomes. While marketing targets a specific audience to promote a product/service, public relations tries to highlight a company’s attributes to the entire public and project a desired image. In essence, marketing is closely tied to generating sales and revenues (tangible) whereas public relations works on bringing positive awareness and favorable attitudes to your business (intangible).

Ultimately, if your primary goal is to strengthen sales in a specific period of time, your best strategy is to focus on marketing, effectively maximizing the resources you are willing to invest.

Any questions? Feel free to email us your question at info@upsidebusiness.com. Stay tuned here for the answer.

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6 Ways Long Island Lawyers Market Themselves Online and Increase Their Web Presence

lawmkngIf you own a Long Island law firm and are looking to grow your internet presence, you are not alone. The adoption rate of online marketing for attorneys has been exponential in recent years.

Lawyers now market themselves using websites, social media, advertising and other lead generation tactics. Lawyers continue to invest in marketing strategies that differentiate them and expose them to new, untapped markets. While word of mouth referrals still remain a leader in bringing in new clients, firms that market themselves well online not only outcompete their competition but find new sources of revenue.

For attorneys where your reputation is your intrinsic value, it’s very important to have a strong internet presence and overall influence. The market is competitive and clients are constantly comparing and contrasting firm’s based on what they find about them online.

Is your firm’s reputation strong online?

Are you found in top positions for your practice areas in the search engines?

Where are you being outperformed by other firms?

If you are a leader in your niche, it’s important to demonstrate that online, where potential clients are searching for you on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Legal Directories and other sites.

Here are 6 practical ways that lawyers are marketing themselves online to ensure they are building their web presence.

1.    Utilize a User-Friendly, Informative Website with Quality Content: One of the most critical aspects to establish yourself as a powerful force on the web is to have an easy-to-navigate and engaging website with informative content. A crisp, clean website with useful information has great potential to captivate potential clients. Furthermore, make sure your website is fully optimized for your keywords and the respective cities you serve to maximize your online presence.

2.    List Your Firm on Local Business Directories and Legal Directories: Listing your law firm on local business directories and legal directories is not only incredibly easy, but is also a very effective marketing technique. Besides the fact that most local directories allow you to post some of your firm’s information for free, these local directories help you quickly grow your practice regionally. By placing advertisements for free over the internet, you have a much better chance to have increased traffic to your firm.

3.    Start a Blog with Relevant Information Related to Your Practice: Blogging and posting quality content allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your niche while proactively helping potential clients solve problems that are on their minds. A blog is a great resource for people looking for specific information about a topic and allows for a seamless transition between your blog and your firm’s website. Moreover, a blog is one of the best features to aid in search engine optimization.

4.    Create Informative Videos About Your Law Firm: With videos becoming such a strong presence in social media, engaging people with videos on your website has never been so important. Videos with a personal message from you to your target audience can be a powerful way to communicate to an online audience. Having great social content allows you to truly enhance your visibility over the web. They also rank better in search engines than static web pages do.

5.    Build a Strong Public Image: By having a strong public image, you can assert yourself as a dominant figure in the legal landscape you serve. Lawyers can do this through press releases that publicly declare their recent successes or talk about the community orientated work they perform. Having positive reviews online will allow others to see the benefits that can come about from working with you.

6.    Use Web Analytics to Help Drive Marketing Investments: Web analytics are a great tool to analyze data reports related to search engine optimization. By carefully examining web analytics you can see what your law firm does well and how you should improve your law firm marketing. By understanding the behavior of your audience, you can get a better grasp on what you need to do to attract more clients.

Are you doing all of these things, or should you be doing more?

Lawyers continue to increase their investments in internet marketing. Having a well optimized lawyer website, an appropriate social media presence, and a lead generation strategy in place helps many New York law firms grow. If you have any questions on how to begin the process, reach out to your lawyer marketing firm or marketing consultant. They will be able to put an appropriate program together for you that will achieve your firm’s marketing goals.

If you have any questions, call (516) 610-0922 or email info@upsidebusiness.com

 

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Five 2014 Marketing Plan Writing Tips You Don’t Want To Miss

marketing-plan-readyDo you have a 2014 marketing plan documented for your small business?  Do you know what you will do different this coming year to improve your marketing strategy?

It’s not too early to have a plan in place for how your business will market itself in 2014. In fact, now is the time to be making choices and figuring out how your business will hit the ground running come January 1.

Whether you have a marketing plan for 2014 in writing or it is understood as general knowledge, there are five core marketing planning questions you should be able to answer cold. They are:

  • “Why are you in business?” as well as “what core problem are you solving for your customers?” Can you clearly explain in one sentence what you do and how customers will benefit? Does your marketing convey these points consistently?

 

  • Can you define 1-2 groups of target customers in order of priority, based on which are most profitable and most easily reached? When you know the demographics, behaviors, likes/dislikes of your potential prospects, it’s a lot easier to understand what paths to reach them and what message to convey to them. This can help get better results, not to mention attract more profitable customers.

 

  • Do you really know who your competitors are? How you define your competition may vary depending on the circumstances. For example, if you are a bricks and mortar retailer you may have a competitor right down the street. However, if you also have an ecommerce part of your business, your competition might be more national than local, and based on where different websites rank for your target keywords. Before you answer the question “who is my competition?” think about the different ways you can first define your competitors. Then make a list of your competition based on the distribution or marketing channel you plan to use. Make a plan for how you will outperform each one and link it to specific actions you will take with a timeline.

 

  • Can you articulate concisely how you are different than other companies? Can you do it in a way that makes an impact on a prospect such that they are more likely to take a desired action?  Are the ways you differ from other companies important and essential to your audience? Are you conveying the message of what separates you from competitors effectively? Only being different is not enough. It’s important to be different in a way that others care about.

 

  • Can you commit to a budget? Many companies have a plan and no budget. Ideas are great. But brilliant ideas that cannot be practically executed collect dust. It’s important to look at your finances, discuss with your accountant, and make a budget for your marketing, both annually and monthly. A reputable marketing company will help you design a marketing program that meets your budget while maximizing results.

 

Now that you know what sets your brand apart and what you are going to say to a specific audience, determine which marketing channels are best to reach your audience and figure out how you will get them to take a desired action.

Bonus tip:

Map out what you will accomplish by month, from month 1 through month 12 and list all of the resources and staffing that need to be in place to accomplish those goals. Make staff accountable. Put a monthly budget together and make your plan as concrete as possible. Create mini marketing plans for parts of your marketing plan. For example, do you have a social media strategy mapped out? An SEO strategy? A plan for your traditional marketing strategies?

If you do all of these things you will be on the right path. Get to work on this TODAY!  You will thank yourself later.

Best of luck as we head towards 2014!

[And remember, it’s true: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin]

For more information, contact upsidebusiness.com at (516) 610-0922.

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5 Compelling Reasons Why Every Small Business Owner Should Use Negative Keywords In Their Google Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Are you looking for ways to use your adwords dollars more cost effectively?  Have you ever asked yourself “what can I do to make sure my ads are not showing or clicked on for certain undesirable keyword phrases?” How can I get my cost per lead minimized?

If you are looking to ensure that your Adwords campaign is attracting real, prequalified leads to your website (such as people with intent to make a purchase or transaction), it’s time to take a stand against irrelevant search queries.

Many business owners do not know that you can program your Google Adwords campaign in a way that prevents your ads from showing when certain undesirable keywords (irrelevant search queries) are typed into Google.

Words that people type into search engines for which we do NOT want to trigger our ads from showing up in search results (causing what is called an Impression) are called negative keywords.

For example, let’s say you provide a premium product or service. Words like “cheap” or “free” may bring in poor quality leads who will not pay your prices. Another example is if you are a general contractor and you want to bring in customers, not people looking for employment. Some negative keywords you might use are “jobs” “job” “employment” etc. If you add these to your negative keywords lists, your ads will stop triggering for these words.

Google does not go out of its way to tell you about negative keywords because the more keywords your ads trigger for, the more clicks you will get…and the more money Google will make! But, all of the tools are there for you to take control over your ad campaign.

A recent client worked with us to find out why they had spent thousands on Adwords but were getting undesirable inquiries. The keywords reports showed that 70% of all ads were being clicked on by people seeking employment! With some changes, the ads are much more targeted now; they are spending the same amount of money but getting twice the number of calls; the phone is ringing regularly; and the RIGHT traffic is coming to their website.

The lesson: Bringing in the wrong leads costs you money, waste resources and leads to poorer return on investment (ROI). Carefully constructing and managing your Google Adwords campaigns on an ongoing basis in a way that only triggers your ads from desirable keywords is very important to getting better results.

What you can do:. Make a list of all the words you believe could bring the wrong audience to your website and then go to your keywords tab in Google Adwords. Scroll down and look on the left. You will see an option for “Negative Keywords.”

negkeywordsbuttoncapture

Click on it. You will have an option to add negative keywords at the Ad Group level, or on the right, at the Campaign level.  If the words apply globally to your campaign, click “Add” on the drop down menu in the Campaign level area. Click on “Add keywords.” Then, add your negative keywords here.  Click save and you are done. In five minutes you can already be significantly upgrading the quality of your campaign. Use Google’s Help forum for more intricate details.

In case you are not convinced yet, here are five reasons why using negative keywords is a crucial part of the search engine marketing process and you should learn how you can use them (or have your internet marketing company do it):

•    Prohibit your pay-per-click advertisements from appearing to customers who are searching for a service that is different from what you actually offer. By using negative keywords in your search engine marketing process, you can better ensure that only prospects interested in your specific services are clicking on your advertisements.

•    Show your pay-per-click advertisements to an audience who is more likely to click on them. Negative keywords create a specialized target audience who has genuine interest in what services your company offers. By separating the market through the use of negative keywords, you can focus on a group that will not only go about clicking your advertisement, but will then make the effort to inquire more information about your company and ultimately benefit from the services you offer.

•    Improve your conversion rate. In the realm of search engine marketing, a conversion score is the percentage of people who click on your online advertisement and then actually go about taking an action such as e.g. using your service, buying a product, calling you etc. A low conversion rate and not using negative keywords often go hand-in-hand since the room for random clicks is significantly higher. A higher conversion rate proves that the money you are spending on advertising is effectively being spent.

•    Prevent misleading impressions. If someone clicks on your online advertisement, yet realizes your service is not what they are looking for, they can become frustrated and bounce back to search engines. Keeping people engaged on your site is very much related to your user experience; however, it is equally related to meeting the visitor’s expectations in terms of what content will be on the page. Every click matters and negative keywords help guarantee that the impressions your advertisements make on people is solely positive.

•    Reduce costs by excluding keywords that do not pertain to your company. With pay-per-click advertising, you are spending money on every click of your advertisement, but you may not be getting a return. Sooner or later, each irrelevant click can severely add up to a large waste of money. The simple use of negative keywords can truly help your return on investment and ensure the money you are spending on advertising is well spent.

And this is what Google says about negative keywords on their website:

“With negative keywords, you can:

  • Prevent your ad from showing to people searching for or visiting websites about things you don’t offer.
  • Show your ads to people who are more likely to click them.
  • Reduce costs by excluding keywords where you might be spending money but not getting a return.”

So, if marketing your business better and saving money sound like something you would like to do, try using negative keywords going forward.

If you do not have time or this is not something you are interested in doing, call a professional internet marketing consultant who will help you. Feel free to reach out to us at (516) 610-0922 with any questions.

 

Good luck!

 

Doug Betensky

Upside Business Consultants

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11 Simple Ways To Boost Facebook Fan Page Engagement For Your Small Business

facebookengageIs your company effectively engaging your community on Facebook?

Are you getting the interaction levels that you want?

If not, you are not alone. Many small business owners struggle with creating content that fosters interaction and creates people-to-people contact on their social media pages.  If you are looking for specific actions you can take to increase Facebook fan page engagement, here are 11 helpful tips many small business owners find effective.  Try them out and see how your Facebook engagement improves! (this one goes to eleven)

  1. Use Photos: In the realm of social media, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Statistics show that including photos on your Facebook Fan Page will most definitely help overall engagement as it more likely that people will interact with a photo than a text post. “Caption this” posts showing images can be fun too. People love to share and like photos.
  2. Ask Questions: Questions are a surefire way to increase engagement since they openly ask for a response. Ask simple, short, lighthearted, easy to answer questions. Also try fill in the blank posts.
  3. “You” is Key: Try to use the word “you” in posts to make them more personal to the reader. The page is for your community so make sure you are not talking about “we” too much.
  4. Keep Posts Short & Sweet: Although you have 420 characters when typing a post, Upside recommends using fewer than 240 characters or 2-3 sentences max. Long posts may dissuade a fan from reading your post, so remember: it’s quality not quantity.
  5. Don’t Disrupt. Don’t Over Post: Communicating consistently is great; over communicating with too many posts per day/week can actually turn your audience off. It’s up to you to determine the appropriate quantity and frequency of posts. Avoid drop offs and “unlikes” by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask yourself how often you would like to hear from them.
  6. Post During High Traffic Timeframes: When planning out posts, try to take into account what time you think your target audience is checking Facebook. Make sure you put thought into what time your fans are on Facebook so your posts don’t get lost in a sea of status updates and pictures
  7. Respond Quickly: Be attentive. A Facebook Page that isn’t kept up-to-date may have fans thinking that the service you offer is as poor as your response time. Remember to respond quickly to show you care about your fans’ thoughts, even if you disagree at times.
  8. Address Comments Personally: Having a personal touch is one way you can make your company stand out against your competitors. Be friendly, be personable and be authentic.Use the Reply feature in comments to respond directly a member of your page. Sign your name at the end with a “-(name)“ or “~(name)” if you would like.
  9. Comment Yourself, After Others Have Commented: Throw in your own ideas and opinions to see what others think in respond to your comments. Join the conversation you begin when others are interacting.
  10. A Simple “Thanks” Goes A Long Way: Celebrate your fans and show them you care. Remember, your page is a page for them, your community. If a fan says something nice about your company or a post, be sure to respond with a simple “thanks” to show your appreciation; or make a gesture that makes sense for your brand.
  11. Surprise Fans: Sometimes it’s okay to stray a bit off topic and post something like an inspirational quote or photo to really boost engagement. Always stay ‘on brand.’ For example, a wedding caterers showing a dog in a funny outfit posing as ring bearer is lighthearted, funny and at the same time on brand. If you are not sure about a post, don’t post it!

Following these 11 Facebook page engagement tips will help you develop better relationships online.  Remember to tailor these tips to your business and to your audience. Always ask yourself, “will this post be meaningful to my audience? Will it foster a positive interaction?” Always start your Facebook campaign with a Facebook content marketing plan that describes your content strategy and calendar for making posts. Have structure and stay creative!

What advice do you have for others on how to improve Facebook engagement? Share some of your success stories with us. Thanks!

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What Small Businesses Can Learn from Seth Godin’s Purple Cow

Purple CowBeing exceptional is not so easy. For many, it’s the biggest hurdle to standing out in a crowded market place.

 

Staying exceptional in a world where culture, society and business evolve at a pace rapidly accelerated by technological innovation is even harder.

 

Nonetheless it is the pursuit of being exceptional that the Purple Cow by marketer and best selling author Seth Godin (http://www.sethgodin.com/purple/) explores. The book reveals a process that has the potential to transform your business by being remarkable. Godin exposes conventional “me too” marketing techniques to prove that being “very good” simply isn’t cutting it anymore. It is crucial that business owners stop solely focusing on advertising and marketing and really start to place an emphasis on innovation. After reading Purple Cow, here are our top 10 takeaways for Small Business Owners…

 

  • If you come to the realization that the product you are working with is outdated and no longer remarkable, it’s time to stop what you are doing and focus on changing your situation at hand. Rather than investing your time into a failing product, take your profits and what you have learned to reinvest in a new and exciting product.

 

  • All people are not going to eagerly adapt to your product, so seek out customers who like change, want to embrace your product, and ultimately will spread your ideas to others.

 

  • Since you can’t make everyone listen to what you are trying to say, you need to figure out who is listening in order to market yourself in a way that is truly captivating and will allow customers to come to you time after time. Remember you can’t cater to everyone, so hone in on the group that will make you most profitable.

 

  • Playing it safe and following the rules can actually lead to failure in the long run, so it is extremely important to think outside of the box and be willing to take risks.

 

  • Although it is important to take risks, your risks have to have purpose and shouldn’t be outrageous for the sake of being outrageous.

 

  • It goes without saying that doing something is better than doing nothing. However, marketing just to keep busy can actually be more damaging than doing nothing at all.

 

  • Being cheap is no longer a guaranteed way of claiming that your product is remarkable. Actually, being cheap can come across as being lazy and is increasingly becoming the last refuge of product developers and marketers who are running out of exceptional ideas.

 

 

 

  • A tremendous amount of marketing does not guarantee that customers will buy your product and moreover does not guarantee that customers will even notice your product. Services that are worth talking about will get talked about, so make innovation an even larger priority than marketing.

 

  • People are more commonly ignoring advertisements and thus can’t be easily reached by mass media. This being said, it is pivotal that your product is remarkable, not just your advertising and marketing.

 

  • Overall, if you want growth, it’s time to stop following basic marketing conventions and start embracing an exceptional mindset to create a remarkable service or product.

 

What would you add? How do you make your business remarkable?

 

Special thanks to Matt Traina for his thoughtful analysis and writing…and of course, Seth Godin, who is a marketing master and a real thinker we can all learn from.

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To Improve My SEO, The Way To Rank Higher Is To Use A Keyword Over and Over in Page Text: SEO Myths Debunked

Long Island SEO Company Exposes Seo MythsThrough the years, we have had lots of clients and prospects come in and ask all kinds of interesting SEO Questions.

One thing everyone has in common is that we all want to know “what works” and how to do SEO “the right way.”

Well, starting today, we are flipping that subject on its head and focusing on WHAT DOESN’T WORK first. Because sometimes what doesn’t work can actually harm your website rankings if you follow ineffective advice.

Join us here often as we journey through SEO myths and untruths. Write us and help everyone learn from others’ mistakes! Here’s the first SEO Myth.

SEO Myth: “The Way To Rank Higher Is To Use A Keyword Over and Over in Page Text”

Answer:

While the keyword should be on the page several times, it should be integrated in a natural way (think about how your page text would sound if you read it out loud to a customer or prospect.

Keyword Stuffing, the act of repeated and overuse of a keyword in a page to increase its keyword density (the proportion of words on a page that are a keyword to the overall number of words on page), can actually lead to a penalization.Using a keyword over and over may create more relevance to your page for that keyword, however it may also create red flags to search engines. If you try to over manipulate a search engine, they will almost certainly catch you…eventually.

Because many SEO companies agree that 60% of ranking factors (or more) are attributed to Off-Page SEO strategies (such as white hat link building etc.), unless you are in a niche industry with little keyword competition, you will most likely stay outranked by the competition if keyword density and stuffing is your central SEO strategy!

Remember, search engine spiders are not going to convert to customers, so focus on your true audience!

Would you want to hire an SEO Company located on Long Island, NY based on the following text, or would you prefer a more compelling, “natural” tone and style of writing that focused on what differentiates the company and what they do best?

“SEO Company Long Island provides top Long Island SEO. Our Long Island SEO Experts understand Long Island SEO strategies that work….” and so on… create a Google Alert (www.google.com/alerts) for “Long Island SEO” and you will often see these “spammy” keyword strategies used in content spread across the internet.

SEO Takeaway: There is not an ideal number of times to repeat a keyword on a web page. However the keyword should be in the Page Title at minimum and in your page text so that people know what the page is going to be about!  You should mention they keyword as many times as it makes sense to your readers to get your marketing message across and clearly explain your offerings. Your SEO strategy should also include gaining off-page links on quality, authority websites relevant to your business to get results. The links should include your keywords (we will discuss “anchor text” further in the future) and variations of your keywords.

FINAL NOTE: Remember, SEO can be a moving target. Algorithms change and what worked a while back may no longer be effective. Sometimes an SEO strategy is a myth because it used to work and does not anymore.  Other times, the concept is just ineffective or can actually harm your website rankings. Keep up to date with us here to stay on top of things.

If you have come across any SEO strategies and think they might be myths, send us a message below (or email info@upsidebusiness.com) and we will shed some light on them here…Don’t be shy!

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10 Practical Tips for Crafting Your Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch Putting together and then delivering a convincing elevator pitch (or sales pitch) is not easy. Making it “sticky” i.e. memorable and top of mind for your audience is also a significant challenge.

When you do get in front of your audience, you usually only get one chance to make a first impression. So, preparation is the key.

Whether you are pitching a business concept (getting people to understand what you do and why it is worth pursuing), looking to make a sales pitch (persuading someone to buy) or just trying to move a venture forward that requires interaction with other key decision makers (getting stakeholders on board), here are ten practical pitch tips to help you prepare for the big moment:

Goal: Get people interested and excited about your concept. Get people engaged with you. Get people to ultimately take a desired action e.g. invest in your company, move forward with a proposal.

1. What Is Your Most Important Point? What is the most important point you want to get across if nothing else is conveyed? Why is that the most important point? Will it get your audience to take particular action?

2.  Be Brief, To The Point: An elevator pitch is a clear, concise and well-practiced description of your company. It must be delivered in the time it would take to ‘ride up an elevator’ –45 seconds. That’s time for about 150-225 words. You should have a 30 second version.

3. Solve a Specific Problem or ‘Customer Pain’: In one sentence, how does the product or service solve a specific problem and how does it solve it better than anyone else can?

4. Say Something That Will Resonate With Them Personally: What will resonate most with this person (based on what you know of them)? Describe your product or service and its benefits succinctly. Depending on your audience, you may also have to:

•          the opportunity, define the market, the market size and market growth rate

•          how will you make money

•          who is operating the company & why that makes a difference

•          what is your competitive advantage

5. Speak Simply in Plain English: Limit tech talk or scientific language. Speak in plain words anyone can understand to convey your points clearly, the first time. Impressing someone based on your expertise with jargon can actually hurt you by alienating and confusing the person.

6. If Appropriate, Use An Analogy To Position Your Brand: You might try to offer something familiar to position the company in the minds of your audience. E.g. “We are the Honda not the Lexus of XXX.”  Only use this technique if it clearly depicts your company. If there is no clear connection, skip this approach.

7. Tailor Your Pitch to Your Audience: Your pitch depends on your audience. Customers want to know what problem you will solve for them. Investors want to know why your team is the right team and how you plan to make money and grow. Business partners want to know ‘what’s in it for them’ and how a partnership can open up opportunities.

8. Show Passion With Humility: Your pitch needs to be based in your personal passion. However don’t confuse that with intensity. You want to show your personal passion yet stay on point, collected and professional. Show your excitement in a confident way along with some humility.

9. What Action Do You Want Them To Take?: Are you looking for a referral? A phone number? Specific information? A follow up meeting? Etc. Whatever the action is you are looking for, be clear about it, direct and polite. If it is an investor, you may want to directly ask them if they would invest based on what they know?

10. Be Consistent: If you have a partner or staff, they need to be able to deliver your message with consistency. The message conveyed should be clear and consistent across all communication channels.

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11 Big Reasons Why Video Marketing Can Improve Your Digital Marketing Campaign

Video MarketingToday, videos are used at many points in the customer acquisition and client relationship management process—from generating interest with prospects to communicating with loyal customers and providing improved post-sale service.

Videos are everywhere (in search engines, on websites, on every social media platform including YouTube etc. and in offline locations e.g. taxis). And while watching video has become ubiquitous, video marketing by small businesses is still a largely untapped opportunity for many local businesses.

If you have not considered video marketing before or are looking for new ways to market your business online, here are 11 reasons web video marketing is a great way to improve your marketing plan:

1.    People prefer to watch video over reading text—20% of visitors will read the majority of text on a website, but 80% will watch the same content in the form of a video (forrester research).
2.    Video marketing can be done cost effectively and is much less expensive than most print advertising .
3.    Video makes your website 6 times more likely to convert a “browser” into a paying customer (forrester research) .
4.    YouTube (not Bing or Yahoo) is the #2 search engine.
5.    Videos posted online can be tracked and measured—when measured, data collected can help you understand if video marketing is achieving your marketing goals.
6.    Video marketing can be highly targeted to your audience, including their geographic location. Given that most businesses are local and most searches are done for local businesses, video is a great media for local marketing.
7.    Video marketing is growing exponentially in volume, distribution and adoption. Forrester estimates that 90% of the online population will watch video regularly by the year 2017. Every minute, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.
8.    Video can improve one-to-one marketing. Video provides a deeper emotional connection between presenter and viewer, as well as a more personable message.
9.    Video is interactive and social media friendly— with little effort it is easily shared across social media platforms and embedded into any website.
10.   Video is fun. Reading text is (for many)…not as fun. If you make your business fun to engage with through media like video, you may receive more interest and more attention from customers.
11.    With the growth of mobile devices and the fact that video is more optimized than text for smartphone viewing (text is still small and difficult to read on most smartphones; tablets are better), videos are likely to increase in importance as mobile devices continue to replace traditional desktops. In the 3rd quarter of 2011, tablet users spent 30% more time watching video per internet session than desktop computer users. (source: Ooyala). The mobile video audience has gained 15 million viewers in the last two years, a 77% increase via Business Insider. [source: http://www.magnetvideo.com/content/online+video+statistics+for+november+2012/306349 for the stats]

As mobile marketing becomes increasingly important to your business, video marketing might be the right media for optimizing your visibility on mobile devices. In our experience, communicating to your customers where they are already spending their time through a media channel they prefer is an important part of marketing successfully!

The list goes on…

What would you add to this list? We know there are dozens if not hundreds of other compelling reasons to use video and web video to help grow your business.

Read this related video marketing article.

 

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5 Easy Ways To Use Online Video Marketing To Impress Your Customers

Video Marketing 5 4 3 2 1How Should I Use Video Marketing In A Meaningful Way to Market My Small Business?

…A question that is on many of our minds. Many of us have incorporated video marketing into our online marketing plan to promote our businesses. We have experienced the success that results from providing a richer, more interactive way for customers to engage with our brands. Some of us have not had the opportunity yet but could use a few ideas. Here are a few ideas to help your small business get involved:

 

  • Use a video to show your staff performing a service, demonstrating a product, or explaining a unique benefit that your business provides.  

 

If a picture says a thousand words than video can communicate much, much more. Visually demonstrating something important about your business that highlight’s how your stand out can influence a potential customer’s purchase decision and intent to buy. For example, a manufacturer may zero in on a part of the manufacturing process that leads to a better product or demonstrate an attribute that positions them as a leader in their category. If a bellman cart manufacturer has a cart that can spin on an axis and work seamlessly in both push and pull positions better than the competition, a video demo can make that clear in a few seconds of footage. It can also make a lasting impression.

 

  • Send a personal message to a customer.

 

Have you ever received a handwritten letter that made a big impression on you? Most of us have at one point or another. Receiving something personable that shows a great deal of thought and care is still a powerful way to make a gesture to customers, especially your top customers.  If you run a business, provide a holiday greeting and send out via email blast, send a personal thank you message to a client or customer, or provide an explanation or tip on something that they will find useful and meaningful. Be creative, be specific and be genuine! That’s great one to one marketing communication.

 

  • Get the word out to prospects and customers online by sharing video where your customers spend time online.

 

When you craft a social media strategy, you will know which social media to use and determine which content you will provide there. Video is great content to include in your social media marketing and they tend to be very visible across the internet.  Videos tend to rank better in Facebook newsfeeds, Linkedin allows company pages to feature videos on Products & Services pages, Twitter is a great way to provide a link to your video, and you can even “Pin” a video on Pintrest. In fact, according to Twitter “Links to videos from the sites listed here will display your media when a Tweet is expanded so that your followers can see your video without leaving their timeline.” Sites include YouTube, Vimeo, Ustream, Justin.tv, Twitlens, and Twitvid.  Videos  are really easy to share across all social media.

 

If you are not on social media or your customers do not spend time there, it is very likely that they use search engines to gather information (via mobile phones, tablets or desktops). An encouraging fact: Videos are 53 time more likely (source: forrester research) than static web pages to rank on page one of search engine results. If SEO is important to you, video is a great tool to use as part of your SEO Campaign.

 

  • Create a Video Blog instead of (or in conjunction with) a text based blog by embedding a video into your blog entry.

 

For example, if you are a dermatologist in Dana Point, CA, you can provide a weekly 30 second skin care tip video on a consistent schedule, cross promoting the video on a related blog entry.

 

At the same time, you will be building subject matter expertise and authority with your target audience (as well as increased internet exposure).  You may be a little shy about getting on camera. However, a little practice and some basic coaching on preparing for video shoots goes a long way. Or you can use actors, voiceovers and other methods. However, in a business where an specific individual is critical to the customer relationship (think doctors, psychologists, lawyers etc.) it might be worth taking the risk and giving it a shot.

 

  • Let your customers do the talking. Get social proof of your quality.

 

By now, you must have won the hearts and minds of some of your customers. Consider recruiting happy customers and produce professional video testimonials (they must be real, we think people can tell the difference! We sure can.)  Share them on your website, to potential buyers, and through other marketing channels. A video testimonial provides a deeper emotional experience and genuine way to help earn a prospect’s business. Nothing is more powerful than an actual testimonial referral.

That’s it for today. Try some of these out and let us know what you think. There are some many ways to use video marketing to improve your web marketing and to engage customers. We would love to hear your ideas, so feel free to send them to info@upsidebusiness.com or comment below and we will feature them here.

 

Happy video marketing!

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Long Island Social Media Agency, Upside Business Consultants, Has Been Nominated as Top Social Media Agency of Long Island for the Best Of Long Island 2013 Awards


Upside Business Consultants Nominated as Best Social Media Agency on Long IslandWe are very honored to announce that Upside has been nominated as Top Social Media Agency this year. According to the Long Island Press website, a nominations process resulted in the firm being selected as a top contender in the Long Island social media agency category. The Best of Long Island awards have been in place for the better part of the last decade and serve as a way to recognize outstanding product and service providers on Long Island, NY.  “Being nominated is a highly valuable distinction for Long Island businesses. We are very pleased to be recognized by our clients for the daily work we do to ensure that social media is a successful part of their overall marketing plan.”

Voting for best Long Island social media marketing agency runs through December 15, 2012, 11:59pm, according to the Long Island Press website. Official rules exaplain that each voter can vote once per day, even for the same firm.

To cast your vote for Upside Business Consultants as the top social media agency on Long Island, NY, voters can visit http://vote.longislandpress.com/engine/YourSubmission.aspx?contestid=71122}, scroll down to the “Social Media Agency” category and select “Upside Business.”

For the full press statement, visit here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/11/prweb10181011.htm

Thank you for your support!

Upside Business Consultants

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Don’t Outsource Your SEO Strategy To Your WordPress “All In One” SEO Plugin

SEO Strategy ComponentsYour WordPress SEO plugin can not bring in new customers and make you more money. True/false?

Well, it can’t on its own.

Don’t get us wrong, WordPress and Wordspress SEO Plugins are excellent tools for small businesses on Long Island and beyond. They help make it clear which basic SEO fields should be filled in on your website in a user friendly easy to digest format (e.g. most popular SEO Plugins really just help you fill in your website title, description, keywords, page/post formats and which pages will be indexed).

The issue: they are not exhaustive SEO tools. They are not comprehensive. And they do not get at dozens if not hundreds of other SEO factors that together outweigh the impact of the words you put into your SEO Plugins. Your Long Island SEO company can provide you with much more in depth information when you get in touch.

So filling in information is not an SEO strategy and it is not performing SEO. Here are four reasons why:

Off Page SEO
Off page SEO refers to SEO activities that happen external to your website such as link building activities. Building good quality links to your website from high quality relevant news and industry sources is essential to increasing your rankings. Many of you know that already but the question is “how?” and “where?”  Since the Panda and Penguin updates, we get more and more calls from prospects who have been hurt by algorithm updates. They have been penalized by black hat link building practices provided by other SEO firms. They have lots of questions we help answer.

Bottom line: SEO plugins don’t tell you what your link building strategy should be or how and where you should get the links you need. In fact SEO Plugins are simply not built to do your off page SEO and they do not obtain the links you need.

Website Content Quality
By content we mostly refer to your words and images and how they are packaged together to communicate to someone on your website.  If your website is not filled with unique, relevant content that targets your audience with a strong message, or if you website is too small and lacks content readable by search engines, no SEO plugin is going to help you attract new customers, because the search engines are looking for content.

Bottom line: SEO plugins don’t create unique ideas, inspiration and advice that demonstrates how you will help customers. People do. SEO plugins don’t do your thinking and content writing.

Website Conversion
Conversion just means achieving a certain desired action by the visitor on your website such as calling you or filling out your contact form or making a purchase, for example.

Bringing in high quality traffic comprised of targeted, prequalified leads with “intent” is tough. If you do not have a means of converting visitors to leads, all of the SEO in the world will not bring new business to you and your cost per lead will be much higher. Spending more on a lead with less conversion translates to less ROI (return on investment).

Bottom Line: An SEO Plugin can not create your landing page content, your offer or your promotional strategy to naturally move people toward becoming customers. SEO Plugins can’t do your cost benefit analysis and drive data based decisions on what “you should do next.” SEO Plugins can only bring a horse to water.

Website Branding
Who are you, and more importantly who do your customers believe you are?  If your business is undifferentiated in the market or if your branding is poor and does not resonate with your customer base, prospects online will go elsewhere. They have lots of choices.

Bottom line: An SEO Plugin is not branding. Branding helps drive up the perceived value of your business and helps create loyalty and awareness in the market.  A plugin is merely a tool to complete certain information in your website often overlooked by the do it yourself small business owner.

The list goes on.

In sum, SEO Plugins by themselves are not your marketing machine, your marketing VP or your marketing strategy. SEO done right is really just targeted marketing to get prequalified consumers interested in your products and services online.

We haven’t found a plugin that can do that yet. Have you?

Focusing on your business model, developing a marketing strategy and putting the thought behind your campaigns is what will yield results in the long run.

Best of luck.

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Online Reputation Management: Part I

First impressions count. We all know that what we perceive becomes reality…sometimes whether or not that perception is true does not matter.

The business environment can be cruel at times, and people online can be even crueler when they can hide behind pseudonyms, fake accounts and anonymous profiles. We have all heard the term ‘cyber bullying’ by now. A related extension of that behavior is “character assassination” attempts by one person or a group of people directed toward another individual in an effort to destroy and tarnish an online image. Unfortunately, people do try to destroy their competitor’s images or take out a personal grudge by posting negative comments, spreading harmful press releases, posting blogs, leveraging social media and even building optimized websites, for example. The tactics to hurt someone’s image are virtually unlimited.

The bottom line is that attacks on your online reputation is a reality that many business owners, especially those involved in legal disputes, will experience.  While we at Upside support free speech by all means, unethical acts of spreading false information or information meant to specifically harm another person is unacceptable. In response, Upside has built an online reputation management program using search engine optimization strategies for individuals and small business owners who seek to proactively “own their voice” and image online, or to reclaim their image which is in the process of being destroyed.  If anyone has ever questioned the importance of SEO, talk to someone whose name has been marred on page one Google SERPS (search engine results pages) for searches on their name or their business name.

For now, you can find out some answers to some basic questions about online reputation here, or email info@upsidebusiness.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

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15 Ways To Lose Your Twitter Followers Fast: Why People Unfollow

Twitter comes with its own set of unwritten rules, etiquette and nuances.  Sometimes, it is not so obvious what you can and cannot do, esp. since so many behaviors and “rules” on Twitter seem to have evolved naturally by users and aren’t neatly packaged on their Help section.

No matter what you do, you will lose followers along the way. However, there are some common behaviors you can avoid that can help limit that drop-off list.  Here is a basic list of 15 Twitter scenarios to avoid:

  • You use Twitter automation software retweeting and reposting the same tweets and links every hour on the hour
  • Too many self-complementary announcements
  • Your bio has misspellings, poor grammar or bad language or is hard to understand
  • You send spammy direct messages (not personalized) to your new followers with a link
  • Your tweets are disproportionately selling or promoting a product or service
  • Your Twitter username and bio tout yourself as a self-made guru, expert, maven or any other  narcissistic term
  • You produce absolutely no original content and your Twitter account has been on autopilot since 2009
  • You tweet too much, crowding everyone’s timeline and eating up the “acceptable”
    amount of “real estate” – we call this ‘tweel estate’
  • Your tweets look good but the content you link to is very poorly written or unrelated to the user’s interest
  • Your Twitter account has the same content has your Facebook fan page and I already follow your fan page so I unfollow to avoid duplicate content
  • You are following 10,000 people and 5 people are following you; you are following 30,000 people, 25,0000 are following you and you don’t tweet
  • Your Twitter username has too many odd characters in it in order to get in some keywords
  • An overuse of shortlinks that look spammy
  • You tweet too little for the user’s preferences
  • You have no picture on your profile or an inappropriate photo that your audience can not identify with

Also, many people will unfollow you if they follow you and you do not follow them back. While it is common courtesy to follow someone back, we tend not to worry about tweeps whose motive is based on building their numbers and not engaging with your content.

We all have different tastes, pet peeves and preferences, so adapt this list to your liking if you are interested and hopefully it will help you avoid Twitter unfollows…

Related post: Is Facebook A Waste Of Time?

If you have a question or comment, please feel free to get in touch with our marketing consultants.

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What To Blog About:15 Blog Post Ideas My Customers Will Love

Some of you have recently asked “What should I blog about in blog posts?” Here are some blogging topics you might consider as you look to write engaging, interesting content that is reader-focused.

Fifteen Types Of Blogs Your Customers Will Want To Read

What To Blog About - Blog Post Ideas - Great Blog Ideas

What do you think would make a great blog post? Share your ideas.

•    Pose a question a customer has recently asked and answer it. If you do not have “real” questions, visit forums, LinkedIn questions, Merchant Circle questions or questions posed on other blogs/blog comments.  Whatever the source, start with real issues that are current.

•    Instruct your visitors how to do something. For example, this blog is instructing you on some basic topics you can blog about in an effort to help you write your own blog.

•    Write about what not to do. Although this sounds counterintuitive, there is a lot of misinformation out there. It can be helpful to debunk myths and warn your audience against taking actions that could harm them. One of our clients, a Long Island law firm, does this through blogging about common mistakes and misconceptions related to various estate planning subjects.  The blog entries are short bursts of “truths”that are extremely valuable to readers.

•    Review something. Review a company, a product, a service etc. that is relevant to your industry or closely tied to your customer base’s lives. Offer a unique perspective that is not found elsewhere online, or review features and benefits others have overlooked.

•    Compare and contrast. Compare several products or services in a way that others have not done so before. For example, a marketing agency might compare several email service providers to help their readers understand why they work with company X. The entry helps build confidence in the agency while educating customers.

•    Do a case study on a local company or organization with a topic that relates to your target audience. For example, we recently did a case study of a Whole Foods on Long Island in which we discussed some of the local marketing strategies they used to integrate into the Long Island community seamlessly. The article is geared towards small local businesses. People can often relate to local places, brands and those that they interact with (i.e. the characters in their daily ‘story’) in their daily lives better than they can with theoretical cases.

Offer a controversial viewpoint to a “hot” new topic. While this is not for everyone, to get attention some people choose to take a current story and debate it or offer a contradictory view. Our view is that as long as you are presenting an authentic viewpoint with a rationale rather than writing something simply to provoke visitors and drive traffic, you will be in a better position when people start commenting on your blog and expecting well thought out responses!

•    Share News and recently published information in your industry with your customers / clients. For example, a law firm or CPA firm might explain how a new estate planning or tax law in New York can save families $10,000 or more if they make X, Y and Z adjustments to their estate plans.

•    Simplify something technical and make it accessible. Take a technical subject and break it down into relevant bite-sized pieces for your audience. If it helps better communicate what your company does and the value it creates for customers, that is an added benefit! For example, while some clients are savvy in Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, others have never heard of it before. It can be very helpful to write posts that help prospects overcome obstacles and customers understand at a deeper level what you are doing for their business. This gets back to the importance of writing for your audience, not for your peers.

•    Perform and share research. Perform research on a topic and present it to your readers on your blog.  Demonstrate how your study proves your hypothesis (or “rejects the null” – that’s for the statistics gurus).  Data is your friend here. Make sure it is significant and substantiated.  Show sources.

•    Discuss a trend or forecast a trend. If there is a trend to discuss, present or debate, a blog can be a great place to start the conversation and see what is on other people’s minds about the same subject.

•   Spotlight a business or a customer that did something remarkable. We’re all looking for inspiration and like to hear about remarkable events and people.  Truly remarkable events don’t happen every day, so if you have a story to tell, it can make for a great blog entry.

•    Provide Subject Matter Expertise (SME) on a specific subject.  For example, one of our clients writes articles on parenting strategies related to managing ADHD children. Each article written substantiates the writer’s expertise and authority in her niche while giving her clients a complimentary  resource.

•   Summarize another blog or article you have read. Not the most creative approach, however if you take a long or complex article, or something not previously publicly available, you can add value to your audience by packaging the essence of the article and summarizing key points in a new blog entry. It is important to openly give credit to and link to the original source.

•    Relate a personal event to a business learning. Share a story that your readers can identify with –  a story that simultaneously adds personality and offers a more personal insight into who your company “is” at heart. Personalization can help earn trust and show a more ‘human’ side to your blog.

Take Away

The common thread to all of these blog ideas is to think about your audience first and blog about something you believe is important to them in an authentic way. Blogs are a social media meant to spur interaction and engagement. When you put the reader first and your aim is to inspire, educate, motivate and help your readers, you will find the process and the results more rewarding.

We will provide more tips on blogging best practices, blog optimization and how to take your blog and market it using online marketing tools in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned! If you have any questions, please contact our Long Island marketing consultants or reply here. Thanks!

Reference terms: What to blog about, writing a blog, starting a blog, blogging topics, blog ideas, blogging for customers, blogging best practices, blogging tips, how to write a blog

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2011 Marketing Plan Strategies: How To Write A Marketing Plan

“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

“Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”
– Paul “Bear” Bryant, football coach, University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide.

You’ve got to know where you’re going and how you are going to get there.  With the New Year weeks away, it is the right time to write your 2011 marketing plan and commit to the specific actions you are going to take in 2011 to grow and improve your businesses.  Writing a marketing plan will arm you with the confidence that you are allocating marketing dollars to the most productive marketing strategies.

While writing a marketing plan can seem like a daunting task, it does not have to be complicated or lengthy to be effective.  Often the most effective marketing plans are those that have been well thought out and then documented in a simple, brief and concise format.

2011 Marketing Plan, strategic marketing plan, Writing A Marketing Plan, Company Marketing Plan

Have your written your 2011 marketing plan?

A streamlined 2011 marketing plan could outline in five pages or less:
1. A summary of  industry /market trends that could impact how you market your business as well as an internal analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your company, your products/services and your marketing operations.
2/3. Customer profiles and key messages (who your different target customer groups are and what message you will use to communicate value to each of them).
4. Key marketing/communications objectives (what you are going to achieve and when).
5/6. Marketing strategies and marketing tactics (how you are going to achieve those goals and through what specific marketing and advertising activities you are going to reach them). With each tactic that you decide to pursue, be sure to outline the 1) rationale for pursuing that marketing tactic 2) person accountable 3) an allocated budget 4) a timeline.

7. Timeline (What is going to be achieved and which actions are going to be taken in a defined period of time). Using a one page Gantt chart can be very effective. Here is video Tutorial of how to make a Gantt chart in Excel.

8. Budget (How much money will be allocated to specific line item marketing activities).
9. How you will evaluate and measure your success at key milestones throughout the year i.e. performance measures

How do I start writing my 2011 marketing plan?

In its essence, the key to writing a great marketing plan is asking the right marketing questions. These are questions that provoke thought and reveal opportunities and gaps in your marketing plan.  From this phase, you will engineer an action plan that pursues each of those opportunities in a logical, cohesive way that fits your marketing budget.

Remember, things have changed a lot even in one year

It’s especially important to keep an open mind about how to integrate new media and new technologies into your marketing plan. The fact is although it has been one year, a lot has evolved in marketing.

The social marketing space has grown exponentially as well as the age and demographics of web 2.0 users. The way people search for products/services is increasingly mobile.  Key search engines have become more “real time” and “instant” in how they process searches. It has become increasingly difficult to have your website show up on page one of Google due to the millions of new websites coming online which has made search engine optimization an essential part of every businesses internet marketing plan.

And consumers are much less influenced by interruptive, traditional advertising vehicles than in the past.  Where and how you communicate with customers may need to be reevaluated.

So, what are some of the key questions I should ask myself to write a 2011 marketing plan?

Our hope is that by asking yourself some of the questions below you will be inspired to take time out of your busy workday and start reflecting, strategizing and planning for how you will market your company in 2011.  Add to or edit the list. Make it your own.

•    Did I reach my 2010 marketing goals? If not, do I know why? Am I investing in marketing / advertising activities that can be measured in terms of performance?
•    What industry and consumer trends might shape my 2011 small business marketing plan? Here is an interesting article about 2011 consumer / marketing trends.
•    Is my product or service still in demand?
•    What are my marketing goals for 2011? Are they Clear, Quantified, Achievable, Realistic, Timely, and Agreed Upon) goals?
•    What is my budget for marketing in 2011? How can I shift my marketing dollars to higher return, more measurable marketing tools to grow my business?  On a monthly basis, where will my marketing dollars come from to fund marketing activities e.g. by decreasing inventory, ST loan, projected cash flow etc.
•    Who are my competitors in 2011? What are their weaknesses? Who has entered the market in 2010? Who has left in 2010?
•    What needs are not being filled in the market right now by my competitors that I can fill in 2011? Is there an opportunity to introduce a new product or service?
•    Do customers know what is unique about my business? Where am I positioned in the market e.g. price leader, specialist/generalist, service leader etc.?  Why should a customer buy from me instead of my competitors?
•    Am I pricing and packaging my products/services in the most profitable way?
•    Can I accurately describe each of my customer segments? Who is my most profitable customer segment? Can I really create a clear customer profile with what I know today?
•    What am I doing to maintain and deepen relationships with existing customers/clients?
•    What feedback do I have from customers that can shape my 2011 marketing plan?
•    What insights are revealed? What specific actions can I take to better serve my customers in 2011?
•    How have behaviors of my target audience changed? Am I using the right media to communicate to my audience?
•    Have I taken advantage of the many “free” marketing tools available online such as Social Media Marketing with Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube Video Marketing, Social Bookmarking, Forums etc. to build my marketing program?
•    What am I going to do to “wow” customers and stay memorable? What are some low-cost, high impact strategies I can use?
•    Who is going to be accountable for which marketing activities?
•    Can I reach my marketing goals with in-house resources or do I need to consider getting expert help from a marketing consultant?

What questions would you add to this list?

Going through the Discovery process and looking at your company marketing plan with a fresh set of eyes before allocating precious marketing dollars to the same activities you did last year can be the difference between being in the red or the black next at the end of 2011. Spending the time now to plan and make strategic decisions can save you a lot of money and missed opportunities this year as well improve your results significantly.

Once you have written a streamlined marketing plan for 2011, just remember that it’s acting on what you have learned and executing those ideas flawlessly that separates the successful from the unsuccessful.  If you’re not sure what to focus on, put resources toward marketing to the 20% of your customer base / target audience that will generate 80 % of your revenue. If you have questions that you cannot answer, it can make sense to engage a marketing consultant to work with you as you plan for the coming year.

Best of luck marketing in 2011! Feel free to share comments here or with our marketing consultants. Thanks.

Blog reference terms: marketing plan, strategic marketing plan, writing a marketing plan, company marketing plan, marketing planning process, tactical marketing plan, how to write a marketing plan, 2011 marketing plan, marketing consultants, simple marketing plan, creating a marketing plan, marketing plan help

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Not Just Video Marketing. Tips On Video Storytelling Your Long Island Business.

There are hundreds of social media and social networking sites, and the number is growing exponentially.Faced with a long list of potential new media opportunities, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, which ones should you use?

Today, we zero in on some basic reasons you should give YouTube video marketing a try and show you how some local, Long Island small businesses are using video marketing as a powerful marketing strategy.

YouTube Marketing | Video Marketing | Video Storytelling | Video Promotion | Long Island

Have you tried video marketing?

The list of strategic marketing reasons to have video online goes on and on, including having a 24/7 salesperson, personalizing your brand, and being able to convey a powerful 3/D marketing message through a very engaging medium that is not static such as a regular webpage. Plus, data shows that sites with video tend to convert more prospects to customers.

Are all of these supporting reasons to consider video marketing reason enough for Long Island businesses to invest in a campaign that includes YouTube?
Some research into local videos shows that while the web is certainly not saturated with Long Island videos there are a number of companies taking advantage.  If you are thinking about jumping on the trend, here are a few ideas to help you stand out:

Make it Interesting
- Show how it’s done. A company video can show something customers can’t usually see, such as how a product is made or where ingredients come from.  Reinwald’s Bakery in Huntington uploaded a video showing how they make one of their famous holiday treats, a gingerbread house.
- Tell a story.  For service-oriented businesses, it can be more important to showcase your talent. Compelling personal narratives or quirky stories can favorably present your brand.
In a video showcasing Satur Farms on the North Fork of LI, the owner explains why she would leave a comfortable job as a wine distributor to manage her own farm.
- Make it short. A quick, fast-paced video is key for YouTube audience’s attention span. If possible, keep it to 3-5 minutes.

Make it Relevant
- Give new information. A potential customer who is not familiar with your company could benefit from facts about your location, social spaces, new products, or procedures. For example: The Long Island Marriot shows off its best rooms and conferences center, the Center Yacht Club in Center Moriches shows the specification of the docks, and the Eastern Long Island Hospital explains certain pain management procedures.
- Share an event. A great way to follow-up a successful event is to a short video. It’ll also prove useful when it’s time to publicize next year’s repeat event. Check out how the Long Island Car Show or how the Riverview 2008 Striped Bass Tournament is caught on video.
- Link to others. A video will get more exposure if it’s linked to a popular video.  Find a useful How To video and link to share your company’s advice. (Just remember to give credit to the original).

But most important: have it fit your brand’s strategy.  A YouTube video marketing campaign should serve the same purpose as any other marketing effort—it should first be a way to promote strategic interests like repositioning your brand, enhancing your marketing plan or reaching a new customer segment in a new way.

The last thought I’ll leave you with is the Long Island Rail Road’s foray into YouTube music video-making. Judge for yourself: LIRR “Gap Rap.”

Feel free to comment below to the Long Island marketing blog, contact our marketing consultants with your comments, or join up on Twitter @upsidebusiness. Special thanks to Kyra S. for her contributions, research and diligence.

Reference Terms: video marketing, long island video marketing, video storytelling, how to use video to promote your business, reasons to do video marketing, video marketing for the search engines, how to increase visibility with video marketing, how video can promote your brand, video marketing tips, Long Island NY businesses doing video marketing.

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How do I get my video found online in top positions? Long Island Video Marketing tips.

Attn: Long Island small business owners. This is part II of our three-part video marketing blog series. In case you missed part one, read about the search engine marketing benefits of video marketing here.

How do I get my video found online in top positions?

To get your video found online, many simply submit it to video sites such as YouTube through a registered account or through a business partner who manages your online marketing program, such as a marketing consultant. This can be effective when the keyword phrase is not very competitive, however it is certainly not optimal, especially for those that do not know how to search engine optimize the video.

The surest way to achieve higher video rankings is to 1) optimize the video itself (e.g. title, description, etc.) and 2) make sure that you create and submit a video sitemap (this very much like a sitemap you would make for your website online however it pertains to video only) to Google.  Submitting your video sitemap to Google is an important step often overlooked. The reason that video sitemaps exist because they can contain important descriptive information about your video that will make the search engines find your video easier and help position your video online where you would like it to be seen by your target audience.

Video sitemaps also contain information that can not normally be included in regular search results. This additional information helps search engine optimize your video and maximizes your possibility that it will rank high in the search engines.

Make sure your webmaster has your website listed on Google Webmaster Tools (a free resource provided by Google). Through Google Webmaster Tools, you can then submit your sitemap and get a very robust operational look at your website performance that extends well beyond what is available in a website analytics program such as Google Analytics alone.  You can read more about what Google has to say directly from Google’s mouth here at Google’s Video Best Practices.

How do I get my video found online in top positions?

Attn: Long Island small business owners. This is part II of our three-part video marketing blog series.

Work with your webmaster or marketing consultant to make sure that your videos are not just produced professionally but that they can actually be found on the internet. To get your video found online, many simply submit it to video sites such as YouTube through a registered account or through a business partner who manages your online marketing program, such as a marketing consultant.

The surest way to optimize your video and maximize your video’s visibility online is to make sure that you create and submit a video sitemap (this very much like a sitemap you would make for your website online however it pertains to video only) to Google. This is an important step often overlooked. The video sitemap exists because it can contain important descriptive information about your video that will make the search engines find your video easier and help position your video online where you would like it to be seen by your target audience.

Video sitemaps also contain information that can not normally be included in regular search results. This additional information helps search engine optimize your video and maximizes your possibility that it will rank high in the search engines.

Make sure your webmaster has your website listed on Google Webmaster Tools (a free resource provided by Google). Through Google Webmaster Tools, you can then submit your sitemap and get a very robust operational look at your website performance that extends well beyond what is available in a website analytics program such as Google Analytics alone.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Feel free to comment below to the Long Island marketing blog, contact our marketing consultants at Upside Business Consultants with your comments, or join up on Twitter @upsidebusiness.

Reference Terms: video marketing tips, video sitemap, video search engine marketing, video search engine optimization, long island video marketing, why I should optimize my video for Google, how to increase your video search engine rankings, video marketing strategy.

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Featured post

Long Island Small Business Owners: Why Spelling Correctly Is Important To Your Customers.

We were just reading a marketing blog geared towards small business owners on Long Island, NY. This particular entry was written by a local marketing company looking to advertise its article writing, press release writing and blogging services.

To our surprise, the blog as well as the entire website was filled with spelling errors and an overwhelming amount of grammatical mistakes.

Would you pay a company that was unable to write properly on its own marketing blog to create marketing communications for your business?

This experience made us appreciate the connection between spelling / grammar and building relationships with customers and prospects. Here are some reasons why writing correctly is still very important, especially in customer-facing materials:

•    People form opinions and assumptions about your business based on what they read
•    Spelling correctly imparts credibility and professionalism
•    Spelling errors annoy people
•    Spelling errors can influence attitudes toward you and your business
•    Spelling incorrectly shows a lack of attention to detail
•    Errors can be perceived by readers as a result of carelessness and  laziness
•    People expect consistency and accuracy from you
•    Typos and errors leave the impression that the organization does not care

The bottom line is that we would all like our readers to absorb our marketing message and act on that message. When mistakes are made, we distract and confuse people. The worst types of spelling / grammar mistakes are those that lead to misunderstandings e.g. errors in phone numbers, addresses etc. and lost business opportunities. Less serious errors still impact your business because they impact perceptions and buying behaviors.

In our opinion, 90% of mistakes can be avoided when you stay customer-oriented and make quality a priority. Here are some of the questions we ask ourselves to stay focused and as error-free as possible:

1.    Do our readers care about proper grammar and spelling?
2.    What do we want readers to feel when they have finished reading what we have written?
3.    How would a reader describe our communications to others?
4.    What steps have we taken to ensure that our readers will form positive attitudes about us after they have read what we have written?

Happy writing!

Feel free to comment below to the Long Island marketing blog, contact a Long Island communications consultant at Upside Business Consultants with your comments, or join up on Twitter @upsidebusiness.

Reference Terms: typos, grammar, spelling correctly, marketing communications best practices, long island small business marketing, what customers care about, how proper grammar impacts your customers

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Four Search Engine Optimization Reasons To Start Video Marketing That You May Have Overlooked

“Why should I do video marketing?”

A great question from one of our clients the other day. It made us realize that some small businesses may not have had the opportunity to learn about some of the benefits of video marketing in terms of reaching their internet marketing plan goals e.g. 1) increasing visibility online 2) achieving higher search engine rankings 3) attracting new leads in new places 4) outperforming your competition.

To help demystify video marketing a little, here are four search engine optimization (SEO) related reasons to start video marketing:

1. Boost Google and other search engine “organic” rankings.

Did you know latest data shows that videos are fifty times more likely to show up on page one than a text-based html web page?  That’s 50:1.

Google controls through its own algorithm which types of content on the web become more visible than others, and that algorithm evolves constantly. Right now, videos, news, social media sites and local listings are continually getting higher rankings than traditional online media like static websites. Video marketing is a booming, growing industry because of its unique impact on marketers ability to achieve their online marketing goals and its ability to solve a problem that a traditional website can not always solve: obtain exposure and visibility online immensely. Combine that with the viral potential of videos (through social media they can be shared easily and spread virally across the internet through networks) and you can quickly see why YouTube grew to what it is today.

2. Attract attention away from other listings with text plus a picture.

Bottom line: videos have great visibility and stand out in the search results. Where a website listing only shows text (the title of your website and description) in the search results, video also shows a picture or “thumbnail” in the search results, in color (see below image). This means with video you have a  higher chance of catching someone’s eye, engaging them, and getting them to click on your video when they are deciding which web content to click on.

Plus, videos are most frequently found on page one results in top positions, and they can easily be searched for through Google’s updated search format which includes a “Videos” link in the left margin. If you are skeptical, type in “Decorative Painting” and you will see videos show up in high places online for those keywords. Would you rather look through every website or do think you are likely to click on a video? Now put yourself in the shoes of your prospects.

Video MarkeTing Google Search Results Example | Videos In High Visibility Positions

What stands out more, a video or a web page? Which would you click?

3. Videos show up in Google faster i.e. they tend to “Index” quickly.

Especially if you have a campaign that is on a short timeline or you just need to get your web presence significantly improved quickly, video marketing is a powerful internet tool.

When you make a promotional video and submit it to video marketing sites like YouTube, Viddler, etc. often the videos will show up in Google search results on page one within a matter of hours or less than a business day. With the exception of sites such a Twitter that allow people to search in real-time, getting this faster visibility and results is normally not possible unless you put up paid advertising, which can be very costly.

By contrast, when you make an update on your website or put up a new webpage, it often takes weeks for Google to visit your page, acknowledge updates and then present them to people in search results. Video = Faster Marketing.

4. Multiple listings on page one of Google means fewer for your competitors.

The more real estate you have on page one, the higher the chance people searching online will find your business first. With proper internet optimization, you could have your website, a local Google/Yahoo/Bing business listing, and a video, all on page one for your keywords. You could also have a press release and article show up as well, creating a dominating “all roads lead to you” effect.

Video marketing is one piece of this puzzle that can help you stand out from among your competitors, many of whom will have limited their search engine optimization strategy to optimizing their website only.

Bonus benefit: When you dominate the first page with several listings, you have the added benefit of moving your competitors down the page, or off the first page entirely.

Please stay tuned for upcoming posts on video marketing to complete our video marketing blog series.
Post 1: Why you should do video marketing
Post 2: How to make sure your video is found online
Post 3: How to do video marketing right learning from real, Long Island small businesses

Feel free to comment below to the Long Island marketing blog, contact our Long Island marketing consultants at Upside Business Consultants with your comments, or join up on Twitter @upsidebusiness.

Reference Terms: video marketing for small businesses, long island video marketing, why should I do video marketing, video seo, reasons to start video marketing, video marketing for the search engines, how to increase visibility with video marketing online.

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Making Grocery Stores the Place to Be: Strategies from Whole Foods to Long Island Businesses About Local Marketing

While the new entry of a Stop and Shop might be bemoaned as a big chain disrupting local grocery stores, the expansion of Whole Foods rarely receives anything but positive reviews. So unsurprisingly, Whole Foods just opened its third Long Island store in Suffolk County a few months ago amidst positive press and favorable reactions from loyal customers.

How does Whole Foods Market ease itself into a new location so naturally? Well, the franchise has the ability to quickly put down roots in a new community using a few key strategies. But more importantly, these methods aren’t just for corporate chains. Small businesses on Long Island have the ability to co-opt these strategies to emphasize their local advantage.

1) Whole Foods: The Local Vendor Connection
Although Whole Foods locations contain their standard collection of imported goods, alongside typical brands appear local wares. Manhasset’s (Long Island, NY) branch sells local tomato sauce, pizza dough, and fresh fish from Long Island’s waters. The process of accepting local suppliers is also open and transparent, with contact information displayed online and in-store. Whole Foods is no Wal-Mart; the inclusion of local products helps integrate a large chain into a small community and helps justify the overall higher prices.

Example Of Local Marketing By Whole Foods

Photo Credit: Katy Raddatz

Long Island: Local Partnerships
Small businesses can twist this idea, including local products and services through partnerships. Partnerships can be beneficial to both parties, as long as it’s a good fit. For example: a coffee shop displaying and selling local artwork, a hotel offering discounts on local entertainment to visitors, or a pet-food store offering a start-up kit for new pets from a local adoption center.

2) Whole Foods: Creative Participation
Whole Foods has certainly moved in a new direction since it first moved into Long Island through the acquisition of Fresh Fields in Manhasset. The new location in Lake Grove has a café, cooking class facilities, and a calendar of in-store events. A farmers market takes place in the store’s café regularly where customers can meet local farmers and artisans. The store will even host two kick-off events for the community-wide “Long Island Food Challenge.” A Long Island Facebook page publicizes these events (such as “Grilling & Chillin At Whole Foods Market”) and connects enthusiasts. Whole Foods newest location makes community participation a priority by turning a grocery store into a social space.

Long Island: Community Events
A vibrant, social atmosphere could benefit many of Long Island’s service-oriented businesses. If a grocery store can sponsor fun, engaging community events, the possibility must be open for other types of businesses. For example, a music store could host guitar demonstrations by local band members, a hardware store could create a how-to workshop, or an ice cream store could host an online event to vote on a new flavor.

3) Whole Foods: Lending a Hand, Locally
Corporate giving has become standard among global companies but Whole Foods stands out for its extensive local charity work. Individual stores hold 5 Percent Days (or CommUnity Giving Days), donating 5% of that day’s sales to a nearby non-profit. Local nonprofit work not only improves the company’s image but also creates ties to local organizations.

Long Island: Proactive Giving
Many Long Island businesses will generously support educational or nonprofit programs if asked to lend a hand. But why shouldn’t a company actively search for a great way to donate its services? Proactive ways to support your community could include: a pizza place giving a local sports team 15% off after a winning game (or losing game…can’t hurt team morale) or a tutoring company offering free after-school help to public school children.

With all this obsessive attention on community development, Whole Foods can start to look more local than Main Stree’s own convenience store. But small businesses, which are actually local always have the opportunity to increase business through stronger community ties.

But keep in mind, local activities are first about the community and second about profits. If any new program does more the company than it does for the local area, it could look suspiciously self-serving. Instead, local enterprises should avoid quick schemes and focus on developing longstanding, authentic community relationships.

What other Long Island small businesses or organizations do you know that are doing local marketing well?


Feel free to comment below to the Long Island marketing blog, contact our Long Island marketing consultants at Upside Business Consultants with your comments, or join up on Twitter @upsidebusiness.

Reference Terms: Local Marketing on Long Island, Small Business Marketing Strategy, Whole Foods, Marketing Case Study, Local Marketing Strategy, Long Island Business News. Special thanks to Kyra S.

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A Local Long Island Business Makes Waves With Social Media Marketing

How many of long Island’s small businesses can boast over 5,000 Facebook fans?

Seals | Atlantis Marine World Aquarium | Social Media Marketing Case Study | Long Island Marketing

At 5,317 fans and counting, Atlantis Marine World Aquarium in Riverhead, NY is ahead of the curve in attracting virtual fans on Facebook. How was Atlantis Aquarium able to achieve such Facebook popularity in a less than year since the page went up? Well, what seems to have come naturally to the Facebook page’s owners are a few great social media marketing strategies:

Creating a Voice:
The worst thing a company can do on a community-oriented site like Facebook is overtly sell, sell, sell.  Atlantis Aquarium avoids this fatal error by creating an authentic, friendly voice that fits their business.  Playful posts that mention “Feeding Nemo!” or an otter’s “mid-summer’s day snooze” create a wholesome, humorous voice for their brand. This especially helps market visiting the aquarium as a kid-friendly activity.

Interacting: A Long Island business has the benefit of having a relatively small, manageable group of customers. While Pepsi Co. couldn’t possibly respond to 50+ comments on every status update, a small business can easily manage a few Facebook posts a day.  Atlantis Aquarium takes this approach, responding to many comments—including those from children—answering questions and encouraging more interaction. Even posts such as “Thank you for posting! We want to hear more – keep writing!” show that the company is listening, which encourages more participation.  The aquarium even responded to criticism about the price of parking with helpful suggestions!

Exclusivity: If you can get all of the information you want on a corporate website, why go to Facebook? Atlantis leverages Facebook to take you behind the scenes of, for example, their Shark Week, showing pictures of how they prepared the exhibit. This is information you cannot get anywhere else.

Media Integration: As witty as the creators are, their posts alone couldn’t sustain that kind of fandom if they didn’t integrate interesting content.  The posts include pictures or videos of their animals, information about upcoming shows, and discounts. Families can also upload personal pictures to an appropriate album. Events are added to their Facebook page and links to relevant articles are displayed. All of their advertising efforts (discounts, promotional materials, videos) are integrated into the fan page in a cohesive way. They are also integrated into additional social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube.

Atlantis Aquarium’s growing number of fans is certainly impressive. More importantly, the company’s Facebook strategy is admirable because it is increasing engagement with loyal customers and deepening relationships with two generations of customers simultaneously in a meaningful way.

What other Long Island small businesses or organizations do you know that are using social media marketing well to build their brands?

Feel free to comment below to the Long Island marketing blog, contact our Long Island marketing consultants at Upside Business Consultants with your comments, or join up on Twitter @upsidebusiness.

Reference Terms:
Long Island small business marketing strategy, Facebook marketing, Aquarium marketing, social media case studies, social media marketing, Facebook, Long Island Blog Posts, Long island Business News, 452da3d3f4bd4117bf325ffd55366b97. Special thanks and credits to Kyra.

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Five Email Marketing Tips To Improve Your Email Campaign Execution

Last week, one of the largest wireless phone service providers in the world (see screen shot below) sent us an email inviting us to visit one of their newly remodeled ‘brick and mortar’ retail stores. The email body was well-designed, on-brand, colorful, and streamlined…plus, a 25% in-store coupon! We almost clicked through out of sheer excitement when we stopped in our tracks.

The culprit: a completely irrelevant message. The email was intended to go to Angola, Indiana residents / local customers and its subject header and email body screamed “Angola.” Upside Business Consultants is over 650 miles away (11+ hours of driving), located on Long Island, in Hauppauge, NY.  Other than the incorrect geo reference, we would have been happy to learn about their upgraded stores.


The experience reminded us of some of the less glamorous but important components to successful email marketing that can help avoid execution mistakes like this one:

1. Scrub Your Email Marketing List. Scrub well, scrub often (and don’t miss behind the ears). People move, people travel, mobile devices are used to check email, preferences change, names change etc. many data points in your database can become moving targets. Especially if you are going to make a geographic reference, you’ve got to have controls in place to assure yourself that you can reach them in the right location.

2. Think Through The Risks. Mitigate The Risks. Using this case as an example, proceed with caution when personalizing or geographically targeting your emails. Segmenting is a great strategy in targeted email marketing, but only when the execution is flawless. Are the costs of making yourself irrelevant by e.g. sending emails to the wrong zone or having an error in your customer profile greater than the benefits? Could a more general message sent to a larger email list achieve the same goals, such as “See how we’ve improved our stores for you. Is your store on this list?” You decide. You know best, it’s your business and your customers.

3. Test. Then, Test Again. Although email marketing service providers have really improved their testing capabilities, most email testing still focuses on email deliverability, whether all of your links work etc. Testing does not always find human errors made during communications, email coding or the mail merge process. If you are using an email service for blasts, make sure you really understand what they are and are not testing. Find a way to fill in the gaps with your own quality checks. Some reputable email companies recommend sending a minimum of 3-4 tests to yourself and setting up free test email accounts on different email provider’s sites (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail etc.). Testing your emails in different email programs will help reduce errors. Make sure your email is not sent to spam, that all images are showing up, that formatting is correct etc. Review content and anything mail merged from a database again too.

4. Use Email Analytics. Look At All Relevant Metrics. Tracking email marketing metrics to measure real events that took place and not just planned events is essential. Review performance metrics beyond open rates and click thru rates to help you identify any problems. For example, here, I would also look at the number/percentage of email unsubscribe requests and email “complaints” i.e. if people clicked “spam” or “junk.” It is very likely that these spiked compared to previous email campaigns and could be a red flag that something went wrong.

5. Ask Your Customer If The Email Is Relevant. All of us can agree that good marketers listen and react to their customers. We’ve seen email marketers integrate quick rating tools (e.g. a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” button) into the body of their emails that link to more detailed surveys or contact information/preferences forms. With direct feedback, you can go beyond personalization and geo targeting and start segmenting by data points that will directly benefit the customer first, then you. e.g. types of products the customer is interested in, types of offers they want to receive, whether the customer has visited your website, shopping habits etc. Which is more important to your customer, seeing his/her name, for example, or receiving an email built around his/her actual shopping preferences? You decide.

What type of email marketing process does your company have in place to make sure you are executing well and adding value to your relationship with customers? Drop our marketing consultants a note. We would love to hear your stories.

If you found our Long Island marketing blog post helpful, feel free to reply with your comments, follow @upsidebusiness on Twitter, or hit the retweet button. You can also subscribe to our Long Island marketing blog RSS feed. Happy marketing!

Key Terms: Long Island email marketing, Long Island email campaign, email blast, email marketing list, email marketing tips, K43DY92JMX4F

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