Being An Author Can Help Your Business

Since the advent of the Kindle in 2007, there have been thousands of people go on to being successful authors and making millions on their books. But you don’t have to quit your day job to be a successful author. In fact, if you own a business of any kind, then you can build yourself into a successful author and use that newfound authority to promote your business.

If you have been in business for a few years, then you likely have something of a platform. Even if it’s a small one.

You have an e-mail list, right? How about regular customers who walk into your business’s front doors? There’s your platform.

The first step is to write a great book. Jot down some ideas on topics you can write about related to your business. Then write the book and hire a cover artist to create a great cover. Then upload the book to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. Next, you want to promote the book.

Promote the book the way you would your business. Put a display ad with a link to your book at Amazon on your website. Write a blog post about it. Send out e-mail blasts to your e-mail list. Hold events and seminars to discuss the topics you write about in your book. And promote your book through social media.

If you set your book at the right price, promote it well, and provide value to your readers, then you’ll become a successful author. And you can use that to bring in more business for your Scotland business.

May 5th, 2012 / Online Marketing

How To Make Online Marketing Easier

To businesses just getting started with online marketing, it can seem like an impossible task to perform. Where do you start?

There are so many marketing strategies online that it can seem overwhelming and many business owners simply don’t get started because there are too many menu items to choose from or too many options to consider. You have search engine optimisation, e-mail marketing, PPC advertising, video marketing, social media marketing, iPhone apps development, and so much more. Which ones are right for your business?

The first step, of course, is to build a website. It doesn’t matter what else you do online, you need a hub. Your website is your company’s hub, the central office of your online suite.

Make your website your central base of operations, then do some research. Research will eliminate a lot of options for you. Study your market, your competition, and your online niche.

Who is your competition online? It’s likely different than it is off line. What are they doing? How are they doing it? And what can you learn from them? These are all important questions.

When you do a little competitive research in your niche you will see that some of the options you thought you had in the marketing realm aren’t really options for you. They may not work, be too expensive, or price your products and services out of reach for the consumer target you are trying to reach. If any of those scenarios play out, then you eliminate options that will make your online marketing a bad business decision.

Every business needs a plan and your plan should start with research. It will make your online marketing a lot easier.

April 29th, 2012 / Online Marketing

Best Free Internet Marketing Tools

Can you run your online business with free tools? Absolutely. In fact, some of the best Internet marketing tools are completely free.

Wordstream, a company that provides PPC management tools, has created an infographic that includes some of the best Internet marketing tools in each of 10 categories. Interestingly, there is at least one company in each category that is totally free or that offers a free basic service for startups and small businesses. It’s worth a look just to see the list.

The following free services, or companies that offer a free basic service, are a part of the list of best Internet marketing tools.

  • Google Analytics for web analytics packages
  • HootSuite for social media management
  • WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal for content management and blogging
  • Google Webmaster Tools for search engine optimisation
  • WordWatch for PPC management
  • Google Website Optimizer for conversion rate optimisation
  • evly for crowdsourcing
  • NetProspex for e-mail marketing
  • Vimeo for video hosting management
  • and for marketing automation

It’s important to point out that these services offer a free basic limited service for free. I’m not talking about a free trial, though I’m not sure about the service. It’s free to sign up.

Even if you opt for a paid service in most of these categories, you can find one that offers a minimal fee – $10 to $20 for a basic small business service. But, again, most of them offer some kind of free basic service.

You can start your online business marketing using free Internet marketing tools and if you need to upgrade later, it’s real simple. It’s the best way to start an online marketing venture for your Scotland-based small business.

April 27th, 2012 / Online Marketing

A Brief History Of Online Marketing

If you are new to online marketing, you might be wondering how we got from the early bulletin board systems to modern day search engines and social networks, neither of which were available at the birth of the World Wide Web in 1990. Today, I’m going to give you a brief glimpse into the history of online marketing.

  • 1990 – World Wide Web started
  • 1993 – The first search engine, Excite, launched
  • 1994 – Yahoo!, the world’s first Web directory, started
  • 1995 – GeoCities becomes the first online Web community
  • 1997 – kicks off the first pure online social network
  • 1998 – Google becomes the first search engine to rank web pages based on link data
  • 1999 – Pay-per-click advertising born when Overture begins to offer it as a service; the first blogging service is started
  • 2003 – MySpace launches; Google introduces Google AdSense allowing webmasters to earn income off Google PPC service Google AdWords
  • 2005 – Enter YouTube
  • 2006 – A new microblogging start up catches some buzz; it’s called Twitter
  • 2008 – Facebook overcomes MySpace as the most used social network
  • 2011 – Google+ becomes the fastest growing social network in history

So what does all of this spell? In my mind, it means that online marketing is becoming the No. 1 marketing channel and will soon be the preferred method of marketing for any start up, online or off line, that wants to make a big splash.

In the future, online marketers will have a multi-channel online marketing approach consisting of videos, mobile, search, and social. But these channels will be more integrated and more sophisticated.

April 14th, 2012 / Online Marketing

Bing And Skype Integrate Themselves

It’s no secret that Google is creeping upon the 70% mark for share of the search market. Bing is close to 20% and Yahoo! has almost as much. Of course, Bing has been gaining ground while Yahoo! has been losing ground. One of the things that has been working in Bing’s favor is strategic partnerships such as the one it has with Yahoo! over search results and advertising, with Conduit over exclusive search results, and now with Skype (Microsoft purchased the service last year).

Skype is going to be a major feather in the cap for the search engine. Google has Hangouts, which allows users to meet one on one or with a group in realtime video chat. Skype is going to be Bing’s answer to Hangouts.

If you use Internet Explorer, then you can enjoy free Skype call time. If you call another Skype user, no matter which web browser you use, you get free Skype to Skype calling. And that includes group calls too. I think it’s just a matter of time before Skype and Bing are fully integrated to allow the search engine a more competitive position against Google. But what about search?

Microsoft also reportedly is adding a Bing bar inside of Skype. That means if you conduct a search from within Skype, then you’ll also be seeing ads in your search results. This isn’t just another opportunity for people wanting to use voice over Internet communications. It’s also an opportunity for business who want to reach new customers through Bing’s search engine – whether you do so through organic search or paid search.

Bing is already a major player in search, but it’s status is growing. We might actually someday see real competition between the search engines.

April 6th, 2012 / Online Marketing

Should Your Scotland Website Stay Local?

You’ve been doing business for a long time locally. Maybe you’re an Ayrshire-only business, or maybe you service all of Scotland. You’ve got happy customers and they keep coming back for more of your goods and services. Should you branch out to a global marketplace?

There are pros and cons to taking your local Scotland business global. For starters, global competition is much more fierce than local. That doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.

If you’ve done a good job of promoting your business locally – both offline and on line – then you probably have good website rankings for local Scotland-based search terms. Those search terms may or may not translate well globally. You’ll have to start with some keyword research.

If you find that keywords that attract good business locally aren’t as profitable on a global scale, then you’ll likely have to start targeting synonymous terms. Be prepared for that.

Another thing to watch out for as you take your Scotland business global is that your website might best be optimized for local business. It could hurt you if you try to go global with that website. You don’t want to water down your local SEO as you strive to position yourself competitively for the global market. In that case you do better to build a separate website for global competition.

But there’s one more alternative as well. Why not build separate websites for each local or regional market you want to serve? You could have a U.S. website that targets U.S. prospects, an Australian website that targets the land down under, an Asian website, an African website, and a European website that targets the whole of Europe separately from your Scotland-based website.

Would that strategy be more expensive? Likely, yes. But it could also be more effective. It doesn’t hurt to do a little testing and find out if that might be the way to take your local business global.

March 25th, 2012 / Online Marketing

What Do You Make Of Inbound Marketing?

Have you heard the term “inbound marketing?” If so, what do you make of it? Does it work? Should you concern yourself with it?

Let me tell you why you should spend more time learning about inbound marketing and how to incorporate it into your content marketing strategy.

Since the advent of the Internet, people have gone online primarily to do one thing – search for information. Now that Facebook is the most trafficked website online, people are now going online to play games and interact with their friends more. Still, they often take time out to search for information or to ask their friends for recommendations.

The old paradigm of doing business was to interrupt people when they were busy with other stuff. They sat down to dinner and you called them with a sales pitch. They sat down to watch TV and you interrupted the programming with a commercial. They were driving to work so you shouted at them through their radios. Here’s the problem: People are tired of being interrupted.

The Internet has put more power into the hands of the end user. They are bypassing the ads and overlooking them. Interruption marketing isn’t as effective any more.

An alternative to the old paradigm is to let people find you. But to do that you have to be available. You make yourself available by producing high quality content that addresses their concerns. Through that content they learn to trust you as a source and then seek you out to do business. That’s inbound marketing. And it works.

March 23rd, 2012 / Online Marketing

Should Online Marketing Be Standalone?

When you start to take your business online to market it, do you need to convert over completely from traditional marketing or can you mix it up? I think, for most businesses, the solution is to mix it up.

However, there is one time when I think pursuing online marketing as a standalone strategy is apropos.

If your business is an online-only business and you don’t plan to offer any products or services in the physical world, then strictly marketing online can work for you. Build a website, optimize it well for traffic, promote it through social media, link building, pay per click advertising, and various other online marketing tactics.

But what if your business is a local business with a physical presence and most of your clientele is local? In that case, you should use online marketing techniques solely as an adjunct to your current marketing plan.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t divert some of your traditional marketing dollars to online marketing. You can, and probably should. If you find certain marketing channels – such as the phone book – aren’t doing it for you any more, then by all means you should do some online marketing. Cut the ad spend that isn’t bringing in dollars and focus on stuff that will bring in dollars.

Very few businesses today can’t benefit from online marketing. But not many will benefit from going strictly to Internet marketing. You shouldn’t either.

March 17th, 2012 / Online Marketing

5 Online Marketing Tactics That Work Well Together

When it comes to marketing content there are some ways that work really well together and then some that don’t work so well together. Here are 5 online marketing tactics that work well together.

  1. Blogging – Blogging is one of those activities that works well with any other tactic. Whether you are driving traffic to your website with pay per click advertising or undergoing a massive link building campaign, blogging should be a fundamental part of your ongoing marketing strategy.
  2. Social Media Marketing – Blogging and social media go hand in hand like a finger and an engagement ring. In fact, if you are not promoting your blog posts through social media, then you aren’t taking full advantage of your blog’s power and influence.
  3. Article Marketing – Article marketing is great for building inbound links to your blog and your website. But I’m not talking about mass submission articles. Today, effective article marketers are using Squidoo and HubPages much more effectively. You can drive traffic and build solid links if you use these tools effectively.
  4. Forum Marketing – Forums are still great marketing tools. You can pick 2 or 3 forums within your niche to frequent daily and engage your audience and peers in direct conversation.
  5. Mobile Marketing – Believe it or not, mobile marketing is offering unique opportunities for businesses all over the world. If you build a helpful iPhone app for your target audience and keep it updated, it can be a useful branding tool as well as a means of staying connected with your audience.

Not only do each of these online marketing tactics work well together, but they’re also all pretty powerful on their own.

March 3rd, 2012 / Online Marketing

Do You Have A Written Online Marketing Plan?

Sometimes, business owners know what they want to do and just go with it. This could be a business killer. You probably want to write out your online marketing plan and see what it looks like on paper.

Why would you do that?

One reason is because writing down your plan can keep you focused. If you know, for instance, that you should be creating 10 new articles per month and distributing them to various places around the web, it’s a lot easier to manage the process if you have something in writing to remind you of your goals.

Another reason to write out your marketing plan is so that you can see if it makes sense. Putting something in writing has a way of forcing you to shoot holes in it.

Thirdly, it’s easy to leave something out. If you write your marketing plan down and look at it periodically, then you can see what you are leaving out. It isn’t written in stone just because you put the effort into putting it on paper. Review it periodically to see if you can improve it. If you have left something out, it’s easier to put it into your online marketing plan if the plan is in writing.

Successful people write down their goals. By committing your plan to writing, you can ensure that you have some accountability to complete the tasks that you know you should be completing.

Your online marketing plan should include, at a minimum, a web design plan, an SEO plan, social media plan, video marketing plan (if you plan to do any video marketing), iPhone app plan, paid advertising plan, content distribution plan, and anything else that you think is appropriate for your online business. Why not start today?

February 12th, 2012 / Online Marketing