Leveraging the Internet in the 21st Century


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By Carl Weiss

Courtesy of www.cnbc.com
In the 20th Century, businesses used print, TV and Radio as the preferred advertising mediums to take their products and services to market. To flex your advertising muscles today, you also need to add the internet to the mix.  Unlike traditional forms of advertising, the internet easily crosses most borders and allows businesses “in the know” to Geo-target their ads to any regional or local level they desire.

Every business today is trying to take advantage of the leverage that the internet provides. This process is made more complicated because the internet is a multi-media platform. Not only can it provide a media-rich experience on every page, it can also provide access to many forms of marketing that even includes analogs of their traditional counterparts like TV, Radio and print. Better still, it also provides superior tracking and analytical feedback to make sure your marketing is actually working!

Birth of the Internet 



Before the 1990’s businesses were relegated to using only print, TV, radio, billboards, etc.… to advertise their wares. Then came the Internet in the latter half of the 90’s and suddenly businesses had a completely new vista of opportunities open up to them, along with a new set of skills to hone.
Courtesy of www.cnbc.com
 Because when it comes to promoting products and services online, there is no such thing as one size fits all.  Far from it. 


Before the turn of the century web advertising was a bit simpler, due to the fact that it all came down to two things: a website and a search engine.  Back then, there weren't any such things as blogs and social networks.  Video was something that was worse than useless, due to bandwidth considerations.  Web designers back then had to selectively choose images due to the slow loading speeds that dial-ups provided.  Too many images could cause a site to load like molasses, or even freeze the screen solid. 

Then Came Broadband 

Then came the development of broadband and suddenly it was a whole new ballgame.  With that ballgame came an entirely new set of rules.  Instead of relying almost exclusively on text, many sites began experimenting with podcasts and video.  With the advent of YouTube, where anyone can post and host videos galore, multimedia went from being an anomaly to being practically a requirement. 


broadband
broadband (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
Search engines as well began to capitalize on the multimedia nature of the Internet, with many of them adapting their search algorithms to take into considerations all the latest online offerings.  Several, most notably Google, went one step further by developing their own brand of blog, social network and video portal.  This meant that website owners and optimizers had their hands full feeding all these additional mouths.  As a result, many sites that previously dominated the search engines were relegated to its backwaters.  It also meant that SEO was no longer SOP (standard operating procedure.)  Whether you choose to administer your web presence yourself or outsource the task, there are a number of factors you need to take into consideration if you hope to succeed. Here are none of the most important ones:


New Google AdWords Geo Targeting Interface
New Google AdWords Geo Targeting Interface (Photo credit: rustybrick)
1. Advertising via Geo-Targeting – One of the things that has changed in a big way is the ability to geographically target online ads. Unlike in the early days of the web where global advertising coverage was the norm, today's online ads can be directed to targeted regions, statewide or locally for both pay-per-click and organic search.

2. The State of SEO Today – When I hear people conversion about search engine optimization, I ask them to define the term SEO. Before the turn of the century everything a search engine needed to determine who ranked best resided exclusively on the website. Today, only twenty five percent of the criteria used for ranking purposes is contained on-site. The remainder consists of everything from blogs and social networks to videos and podcasts.

The other thing that has changed in a big way is the acumen of search engine spiders. Not only can the spiders read, they can understand how well your website, blogs and social posts are constructed. They are also programmed to look at how often you post as well as how much engagement this content generates. The only things they can’t understand are your images and videos. This is why it is so important to make sure your ALT tags are filled in and the text and tags used to wrap your videos is complete.


Citizen journalism / blogger card by Pinseri-blog
Citizen journalism by Pinseri-blog credit: Wikipedia)
3. Blogging is a Must for BusinessBlogs are without a doubt one of the least understood of all web assets. Most people treat them as a bastard stepchild of the web, not realizing that blogs can not only achieve search engine ranking on their own, but you can also sell products directly on your blog. Add to this the fact that a well-written blog post can be far more engaging than any websites since they change more often than websites. (The average website is updated quarterly, whereas the average blog is updated weekly.) I have known clients who literally generated more traffic and sales from their blog than they did on their site, even when their site had page-1 ranking on Google, Yahoo and Bing.


Social Media Landscape
Social Media Landscape (Photo credit: fredcavazza)
4. Social Media is your Business – There is a big difference between having a social presence and feeding your social presence. If you hope to turn Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other social networks into a way to promote your business you need to understand a couple of things. In the first place, social nets are all about telling as opposed to selling. This means that for every attempt to display ad copy on your nets you need to deploy at least twenty pieces of information that would be of interest to your followers. And by “information” I don’t mean ad copy. The second factor is that social nets are all about your followers, not you. If you provide them with useful information and prove that you are an authority in your area of expertise they will inevitably buy from you when they are ready. However, if you rarely feed your nets or if you bombard your followers with ad copy, then don’t complain that social networking doesn't work.

YouTube for television (beta)
YouTube for television (beta) (Photo credit: francescominciotti)
5. Get Your Own YouTube Channel – YouTube is another area that most businesses do not really get. Look at it this way; If your local TV station told you they were giving away space for free TV spots and that they were looking for programming to fill air time, you would probably bust a gut to provide them with as much video content as they would accept. Then why is it that the world’s largest Superstation is not on every business owner’s radar in a big way? Not only does YouTube stream more video than all the other TV stations on the planet combined (4 billion videos per day), but they provide free hosting and broadcast, plus they are owned by the world’s most popular search engine (Google).



YouTube is much more than just a video portal. It is a search engine, it is a social network and it is a free web TV station that can place your videos on page 1 of Google. How cool is that? Yet most businesses are not taking advantage of this free marketing powerhouse. By taking advantage of it, I don’t mean having one or two videos on YouTube. What I am talking about is having dozens or even hundreds of videos on YouTube. Better yet, why not start a channel that focuses on your business? Don’t think that’s practical? Think again. We have shown all kinds of businesses from chiropractors to plumbers how 2-minute micro casts can be used to generate a following and turn their owners into rock stars. Shooting 2-4 short videos each and every month isn't all that complicated or costly. All it takes is a little imagination to turn the world’s largest superstation into a business asset that’s hard to beat.


English: Reputation management graphic that br...
 Reputation management graphic that breaks down the elements of reputation management and how they fit together. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
6. Manage Your Reputation – In years past it was all too easy for companies that produced slipshod workmanship and poor customer service to remain below the radar to consumers. As a result, it was very difficult to judge a business’ reputation until after the fact, by which time it was too late. With the advent of online reputation management all that has changed. Today the emperor wears no clothes and it is simple for the public to find out how your customers perceive the quality of your company. Whether they use Google Local, Yahoo, Angie’s List or any of the hundreds of sites dedicated to broadcasting reviews good and bad about a business, this is generally the first place that consumers go to check out a company with whom they have never done business.

Example of search listing showing a 5 star rating
That being said, many businesses have no system of encouraging satisfied customers to post positive reviews. What this means is that for the vast majority of businesses, all there is to be found are negative reviews. I don’t care how capable and courteous you are, as they say you can’t please everyone all the time. So it’s a foregone conclusion that sooner or later you will rub someone the wrong way. That someone (or even a wily competitor) can sully your reputation at the click of a mouse if you aren't actively encouraging your best customers to submit positive reviews all the public will find are complaints.

One of the things we use to promote our business as well as those of our clients is to ask your best customers if they wouldn't mind telling the public what they think of your services on video. By shooting a 2-3 minute interview and then cutting this down to 60-90 seconds not only will you have a powerful endorsement of your business, but while they are there you can then have them submit a positive review on Google+ that will go a long way toward helping you prove once and for all that you are the man or woman for the job.

7. This is Not Your Daddy's PR – Press Releases have been around for a long time. Today, internet press releases are much more effective at promoting your company via the World Wide Web. In the old days you would type up the press release and then mail or fax it to as many media locations that you had contacts for. Today however, there are many aggregation companies that specialize in digital press releases. They have access to hundreds, if not thousands of media outlet sites.

One click of a mouse and your press release can be sent to either highly targeted media companies or you can opt to do mass broadcast to as many outlets as you can afford. Press releases have also changed radically as well. Before, press releases could only included text information and maybe a picture or two. Today your press release can include slide shows, pictures, videos, podcast, social links and links to your website or eCommerce store. Press releases also provide ranking effects and show up in all search engines list as well.


Google AdWords Optimization - Case Study
Google AdWords Optimization -  MetroAtlantaMarketing
8. Pay Per Click Can do the Trick – Pay Per Click or PPC as its sometimes referred to is one of the only quick ways a business can get onto page one of search. However, it's not as easy as it sounds. It's very easy to waste lots of money if you don’t know what you're doing. And letting Google manage your AdWords account in the long run will cost you more than if you hire a professional firm to set up and manage your auction purchases and paid ad campaigns. In short, it takes an entire skill set of its own to employ PPC successfully, there is no shortcut to online success.

9. Who Can You Trust to Call? - Obviously creating and distributing everything from daily social posts to weekly blogs and monthly videos takes time. And time is something of which no business owner or manager has enough. So outsourcing some or all of the above mentioned tasks is the path of least resistance for many businesses. That being said, you need to be very careful who you allow to promote your business online. While there are a number of legitimate digital marketing agencies, there are also thousands of shortcut artists that can do more harm than good.
In past blogs, we have written about Black Hat tactics that can put your website between a rock and a hard place. It isn't at all unusual for a search engine to de-list or even black ball anyone caught using black hat techniques. While it would take more than a blog to cover them all, the biggest red flag to watch out for is anyone who claims they can get your site listed organically with Google or any other major search engine within 30 days or less. Depending upon the competition involved with any keyword or phrase it can take anywhere from four to six months or more to produce enough compelling content to leverage page 1 on any of the major search engines. However, the results can be well worth the effort.

In this article I have covered how to leverage the internet to market your business. It includes discussions on how advertising has changed from centred on conventional media to one that is internet centric. I have provided information that includes how you can use the different internet venues to leverage your advertising and marketing to grow your business. Included are discussions on the leverage provided by Geo-Targeting, SEO, Blogging, Social Media, YouTube, Reputation Management and Digital Press Releases. I also provide tips on what to watch out for when selecting a digital marketing agency.

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If you like this article, you can find more by typing “advertising” or "Internet" in the search box at the top left of this blog.

If you would like a free copy of our book, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we will send you this free eBook. Your information is always keep private and never sold.




When he isn't surfing the web, Carl is Working the Web to Win, which is both a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida and a weekly online radio show on BlogTalkRadio.

6 comments:

  1. The web won't work for you unless you wok the web.

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  2. No wonder these guys won an award from the "Jacksonville Business Journal" last year. They truly know their stuff!

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  3. It's amazing what I learn from following this blog and radio/YouTube show. As soon as I've the time, I'm going to check out their new book, too.

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  4. Great information! The problem is that social media marketing is easy. That's why everyone is trying to do it themselves but because of time the constraints of actually running a business they don't have the time to do everything correctly. That's what I love about you guys, you save me time and money by doing all this for me so I can focus on running a profitable business that can work without me.

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  5. wow, so many parts to manage to make internet marketing successful. It's best to hire someone that knows what they are doing!

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  6. Good review. I wish more companies with Web sites would read this because they are missing opportunities and leaving so much money on the table.

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