If you are an ecommerce entrepreneur, you are hopefully using social media marketing, and it might be quite beneficial to you to stop, step back, and evaluate your efforts and strategies to see how well things are working for you.
Anyone who still doesn’t believe that social media is the wave of the future needs to join the rest of us in the 21st century!
Social media is not a flash in the pan or a passing fad. It’s big, it’s powerful, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.
If you are already leveraging the awesome power of social media, here are some tips to help you evaluate how well your efforts are paying off:
- Are you furnishing information and messages that your target market is interested in? Each niche has its own demographics, at least to some extent. In order to optimize the effectiveness of your social media presence, you should be gearing your efforts toward your own particular niche. Otherwise, it would be akin to setting up a Hawaiian Ice stand at the North Pole. No matter how tasty and delicious your slushies might be, it is doubtful you would get many customers up there.
- Are you on the right social sites? Again, the social communities you should be frequenting for your marketing efforts should reflect your niche market audience. For example, if your online dropship sales website sells Depends and other like products usually best suited for a more mature audience, you would probably be wasting your time on Bebo, where the demographics are mostly teens and young adults.
- Are you paying attention to what others are saying to you? Social media can be immensely helpful in allowing you to keep your finger on the pulse of your potential or existing customers who interact with you IF you listen when they speak! Some of these folks might have a valid complaint about your product or website—or a suggestion for improvement—that it would behoove you to listen and act on.
Social media marketing is a wonderful, free way to build your brand and promote your online business!
While social media marketing is actually a slow process that requires time, patience, persistence, commitment and diligence over the long haul, it is gratifying to know that there are a few things you can do that will bring you some fast ROI, or Return On Investment.
Here are some tips for social media marketing strategies geared toward fast results in terms of increased traffic and sales:
- If you don’t already have a blog for your ecommerce business—don’t put it off another day! Get a blog set up and begin posting entertaining, interesting, informative articles that will generate some buzz and interest within your niche. Make your blog posts share worthy and the rest will take care of itself. As more people share and pass along your blog articles, you will see an immediate increase in traffic to your website.
- If you have not already signed up for one of the free services available on the World Wide Web that help you streamline and integrate your social media presence across all platforms you are using—do it now! One very handy service is Ping.fm. Check it out and save yourself a lot of time and hassle, plus boost your exposure so that you get results soonest!
- Don’t ignore your audience! Be it a business blog, your Facebook Fan page or Wall, a Twitter tweet or whatever—never ignore people who reach out to you. If someone posts a comment on your blog, or asks a question; be sure to reply as promptly as possible. For one thing, if this person is a potential customer, what impression do you think it will make if you simply ignore them? Wouldn’t they have reason to be skeptical of your customer service if they did business with you? Sure they would! So, always reply when someone “speaks” to you online!
These three little things can help net you instant gratification with social media marketing by boosting traffic and sales!
The internet has opened the doors to a whole new world of opportunities for enterprising entrepreneurs who want to make a living online, and taking a few shortcuts will have you making a profit even faster in your home dropship business!
Time is of the essence for many “netpreneurs” who are starting and running a home business.
Most home business owners take care of every aspect of operations by themselves and consequently wear a lot of different hats. So, making every minute count is of paramount importance!
Save a little time with these shortcuts to success in an internet business:
- Use a free website design program. There are some great ones available online! Professional website designers spend a lot of time and a lot of money getting the right website design programs and learning all about how to use them. Face it, unless you are a wealthy home business owner, you probably can’t afford to hire one of these ultra snazzy design firms that produce the sophisticated websites for multi-million dollar corporations. So take advantage of one of the free sites that allow you to create a very professional looking website.
- Sometimes it is best to spend money by hiring a pro. You need the best content for your website that you can get. It should have effective SEO, as well. If you are not proficient at writing content and/or not good at SEO, then definitely hire someone to do this for you. This is not the area to cut corners and try to save a few bucks!
- Get started in social media marketing ASAP! Especially for a fledgling business, money may be in as short supply as time, so use the free marketing available from social sites and a business blog to drive traffic to your website. There are several free services and tools available on the internet for social media marketing that allow you to save considerable time by basically consolidating everything for you.
Success awaits anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort necessary to make it happen, whether it is an online dropshipping business or another ecommerce endeavor. Time is money, so saving time with shortcuts can help speed you on your way down the road to success!
According to internet marketing analysts, having a blog for your ecommerce business is a great addition to your social media marketing efforts.
If you don’t yet have a business blog, but are eager to get started, here are some tips that may prove useful for establishing a blog that will help build your brand and grow your online dropshipping business or other ecommerce website:
- Check out the fantastic FREE blog platforms available to you on the World Wide Web. The following three blog platforms have much to offer a blogger. Plus they’re all extremely user friendly. You can set up your blog and start posting in a matter of minutes!
- Choose a name (web address) for your blog that incorporates the name of your online web store or product. For example, if the name of your ecommerce business is Better Ink Pens, then make the URL for your blog something like BetterInkPensBlog. You get the idea.
- Make sure to use images in your blog. Internet research has shown that viewers respond more favorably to blog posts with images, and that images do more to keep a reader engaged than a post without images.
- Choose pleasing colors, but nothing too busy or distracting. Human beings can most easily read a dark text on a light background, so bear that in mind. Don’t choose a font that is too fancy or off the wall because these tend to make your content hard to read.
- Don’t make your blog posts too lengthy! The average internet viewer only scans content instead of actually reading it. If you drone on too long, you will probably lose the attention of your readers and that will be that. If you have an exceptionally long piece to write, break it up into segments.
- To be successful in business blogging, you must provide fresh content on a regular and frequent basis. The search engines love fresh content, so make sure you have it for them! Getting noticed by the search engines is a must if you want to build your home dropship business or other ecommerce enterprise!
So, if you don’t have a blog for your business—get started without delay! It will be well worth the effort!
If you have dabbled in social media marketing with success, but would like to become an expert, what should you do?
First of all, regardless of how complicated and overwhelming the whole process of social media marketing might sound, it isn’t anything that can’t be mastered if you apply yourself and follow a few basic rules.
Even if you don’t become a Marketing Master and a true expert at social media, you can do well enough to reap rich dividends for your ecommerce business!
Here are some tips for mastering the mores of social media marketing:
- Regardless of how much you may think you’ve already learned about social media marketing, this educational process must be an ongoing thing. You should allot a certain amount of time at least every week to catching up on all the latest and greatest developments in the world of social media. If you want to stay on the cutting edge and keep pace with your competition, make it a point to continually add to your knowledge of social media marketing.
- Experiment! Don’t be afraid to try new techniques and strategies in social media marketing. It’s unrealistic to expect your marketing efforts to be perfection, because that won’t happen. But, only by striving for perfection and constantly trying to improve on your marketing skills and techniques will you be the very best you can be.
- Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help or suggestions from true experts in the field of social media marketing. These people are all active on the major social sites such as Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to include them in those that you follow, and pick their brains for useful tidbits of advice that will help you in your own social media marketing efforts.
- Be actively involved in the social sites you join. You can’t sit on the sidelines, you need to get in on the action! Once you have been on a social site long enough to understand its own etiquette and rules for behavior, start making an effort to contribute something of value to the community on a frequent and regular basis. The more you do this, the better you will become at social media marketing. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Practice these unwritten rules for social media marketing to grow your home dropshipping business or other online endeavor, and you may find yourself a social media guru someday!
When should you use push marketing, and when should you use pull marketing for your ecommerce business?
Let’s begin by defining both:
Push Marketing is when you actively push your product toward a targeted audience. In some cases, you literally create a market for your product. For example, you have launched a website featuring your own custom made and designed baby clothes….then you advertise this clothing and your website with PPC, display ads, etc. In this case, you are creating a market for your product and pushing consumers toward it.
Push marketing is usually geared directly to the buyer.
Pull marketing involves creating a demand for your product. A good example of this would be the infamous Tickle Me Elmo a few years ago, or the Zhu Zhu pets this past holiday season. Kids saw these toys on TV and wanted them. Usually, you sink a considerable sum of money in pull marketing because you must actively build a demand a desire for the product, which generally takes a lot of advertising!
There is a place for both kinds of marketing—both push and pull—to help grow your online business.
The best of all possible worlds, though, is to use both types of marketing side by side.
Here are some examples of push/pull marketing strategies you could use:
Pull: You create an online community associated with your online business. As more members join and participate in the forum, they become involved with your website and your product/s. In this way, interest is translated into buying, and buying into customer loyalty.
Pull: Start a blog for your business and consistently post good quality, well written and informative articles relevant to your industry in some way. By delivering information that is of value to readers, you attract attention to your business and products through people who read your blog.
Push: eMail marketing is a prime example of push marketing. Sending out email newsletters and emails telling subscribers about sales, specials, promotions, contests or other noteworthy happenings on your website that might benefit the reader is a great way to use push marketing without spending much money.
Push: Paid advertising such as pay Per Click and banner display ads is an example of push marketing, although not inexpensive.
You can use push and pull marketing to build and grow your online business!
Start your own online dropship business today!
Is your social media marketing campaign working for you, or is it more in the nature of a kamikaze mission?
Social media marketing on sites such as Twitter and Facebook can do wonders for your online business IF you use them correctly.
However, if you are making major mistakes in your social media campaigns, you might be on the fast track to the ecommerce graveyard!
Here are some common mistakes that you don’t want to make in social media marketing:
- Too Many Advertisements. This is a huge no-no! Internet users in general and social site members in particular find pop-up and flashing ads extremely annoying. Ditto for too many ads of any kind! If you have any sly thoughts about disguising your ads as regular content—forget it! Web folks are savvy to that sort of subterfuge and you will find yourself a social site pariah in nothing flat by using those tricky techniques.
- Spamming. Never, ever spam! Don’t send blanket messages to every one of your followers or people on your Friends list, either, or this can be considered spammy behavior. Only send messages where they are relevant. Every one of your followers may not be interested in the same things, so try to keep your messages pertinent to the recipients.
- No option to share. Make it as easy as possible for your content to be shared. On Twitter, for example, you can ask for your message to be shared by including “Please RT,” which translates to “Please retweet.” The best and fastest way to get your content passed along is to make it easy and painless for readers!
- Being selfish. Don’t just share your own content! Pass along any message or post by other users that is interesting, entertaining and/or informative to others.
- Only using one social site. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin and wind up not doing a good job of marketing at any site, but it doesn’t pay to put all of your eggs into one basket, either. Try several of the most popular social sites, and then narrow it down to two or three that work best for you.
Don’t make mistakes that amount to social media marketing suicide!
Start your own online dropship business today!
Did you know that email marketing with newsletters is one of the best and most effective methods of growing your ecommerce business?
Here are 7 handy tips to help beef up your email subscription list:
1. Ask your current subscribers to refer others. To do this effectively, you should offer some sort of incentive. You don’t need to give away the store, but do make the offer something of perceived value to the average person. It might be an informative e-book or whitepaper, a discount on a purchase or shipping, etc.
2. Make it easy for your current subscribers to forward your email newsletters to others. Have a clickable button that makes it plain it’s for forwarding.
3. Always ask every visitor to your site to opt-in to your email subscription list. It makes no difference whether they are a customer who actually completes a purchase, or not. You should offer an incentive to sign up for your mailing list!
4. Make your subscription and opt-in form very prominent and unambiguous so that each visitor is clear about what it is!
5. Keep it simple! While it’s nice to know the date of birth, gender, etc,–it isn’t really necessary and trying to get too much info up front not only irritates the average person, it will make a lot of them suspicious and they’ll wonder why you want to know all that. Have you ever bought something in a department store and had them ask for your phone number at checkout? Don’t you immediately wonder WHY they want your phone number and if they’ll be pestering you with nuisance calls if you furnish it? Same principle for your opt-in email list—keep it short and sweet!
6. Be sure to archive past issues of your email newsletter on your website, with the expired offers removed, naturally. The search engine crawlers will pick up these back issues and you can get a goodly bit of traffic and new subscribers from the archived issues. Be sure to have an opt-in form at the top and bottom of the back issues.
7. If you have a blog for your business, which hopefully you do, include an email opt-in form on each page. If you post good, informative blog articles, you can pick up quite a few new email subscribers this way because the search engines will crawl your blog articles.
eMail newsletter marketing is one of the most effective and cost efficient marketing methods you can use for your ecommerce business!
Start your own online dropship business today!
Start your own online dropship business today!
Posted by randfish
Last week at Pubcon Las Vegas, I presented on How to Buy Links with Maximum Juice and Minimum Effort with fellow panelists Roger Montti (Martinibuster), Aaron Wall (SEOBook) and Todd Malicoat (Stuntdubl). I was a bit of an odd choice for this discussion, as I’d only recently announced SEOmoz’s Stance on Paid Links & Link Ads, but Pubcon’s organizers decided it would be interesting to have a divergent point-of-view.
Below is my presentation, which covers the perspective I come from and why I’m so risk-averse as well as strategies I recommend to capture value from investing in link acquisition campaigns:
Not surprisingly I had a lot of people talk to me (and email me) after the presentation and express some really valuable opinions and questions. The presentations started late due to a misfunctioning projector, meaning there was no time for formal Q+A. I thought I’d take the opportunity in this post to address some of those missed questions.
Do you ever recommend link buying for any site? What about hyper-competitive industries?
Because of my distaste for risk of any kind when it comes to Google’s webspam team, my answer is consistent – no. I don’t ever suggest that businesses buy links from brokers or in the form of link ads that carry the primary intent of boosting a site’s ranking. To be fair, many of my colleagues who practice SEO in competitive industries (dating, gaming, pharmaceutical, real estate, e-commerce, etc.) don’t agree and do engage in buying links to boost their rank. I even know folks at Fortune 500s who use link brokers successfully for specific pages and targeted keywords (this group is probably in the lowest risk category).
Despite these examples and my respect for my colleagues, whenever I’m asked, I’m going to give the same reply – it’s my belief that in the long run, your money will be better spent on link acquisition that runs no risk of being flagged as manipulative by Google. The penalties and problems of link buying simply outweigh the benefits in my mind, so while I have no problem with paid links from a moral, ethical or legal standpoint (nofollow is most definitely not a way to disclose advertising to consumers as per the FTC’s guidelines), the pragmatist in me says link buying isn’t the way to success at Google.
What about directories that require a payment?
The short answer is – it depends. I’d wager a lot of money that some directories which do require payments pass great link equity. These include sites like:
- The Yahoo! Directory
- The Better Business Bureau Directory
- SEMPO’s Member Directory
- Apple’s Web Apps Directory
Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum of directories that exist primarily for the purpose of selling PageRank. Google took action against many of these a couple years back and I suspect they continue to identify and discount their links as new ones crop up. In 2007, I wrote a lengthy post on What Makes a Good Directory and I’d still stand by nearly all of that today.
The message here is that just because a site requires payment to get a link doesn’t make it a “paid link” that Google will penalize or discount. As with many things in life, SEO and the web, there are shades of gray and nuances that require paying attention. If stuff like this were simple, SEO would be, too, and we know that’s not the case.
If I see my competitors engaging in link buying, how can I compete if I don’t do it, too?
I think a big misnomer with link analysis comes up when people scroll through a list of their competition’s links via something like Yahoo! Site Explorer. There’s no metrics indicating whether the link is passing juice, no metric for trustworthiness or quality, just a notation that a link exists on the page. Even if you’re using something more advanced like Linkscape, there’s nothing to say which links Google counts and which they don’t. You can easily get pulled into the idea that paid links are what’s propping up the competition’s rankings, when in fact, it’s a few great natural links that are doing all the heavy lifting.
I remember a site clinic several years back featuring a Google’s webspam chief, Matt Cutts. He was reviewing a site’s link profile on stage using an internal tool and commented that while Google saw several hundred links to the site, only three (yes 3 out of hundreds!) were passing link equity. Cearly, the search giant does a tremendous amount of filtering on the web’s link graph, so don’t presume to be sure which links are passing value.
Even if you feel very confident that paid links are winning the battle for your archnemesis, I recommend taking the low-risk road. In the long run, they’re likely to get penalized/devalued and you’re likely to overtake them with a link profile that’s clean and continually increasing in value.
Where do you draw the line between money that’s spent to acquire a link indirectly (as with event sponsorship, ads that turn into links, etc.)
This gets at the crux of the issue, but I think I’ve got a reasonably good methodology for determining which links requiring funds fit with Google’s guidelines and which violate them. I like these three questions:
- Does the organization offering the link tout SEO, PageRank, customizable anchor text or Google rankings as either a portion or the whole of the benefit you’ll receive by paying this money?
- Does the money go towards little else besides the link itself?
- Does the organization/website provide links via this acquisition methodology (whether that’s an event sponsorship, a charitable donation, an advertising relationship, etc.) to the more aggressive side of the SEO/web marketing field (niches like porn, pills, casino, legal, real estate, etc.) often with anchor text heavy links?
If the answer to any of these is a definite “yes,” the source is likely to fit into Google’s “suspicious” pile and possibly will lose the ability to pass link equity in the future (or already has).
How can you be sure that linkbait and viral content won’t be treated the same as paid links by Google in the future?
Just a couple months back, I wrote about Why Linkbait is a Tactic the Search Engines Will Always Value, so it’s probably not worth re-hashing here. Certainly, there are ways to be manipulative about virtually anything in the link acquisition world, and Google may well take action against some forms of these, but I believe natural links acquired through great content are going to stand the test of time (and are likely to benefit from future ranking signals, whatever they may be).
This is just Google FUD – we shouldn’t let them dictate how to do our jobs!
But we already do! The only reason we try to build these links, research the right keywords, create and submit XML sitemaps, etc. is because Google is dictating the way their crawling, processing and ranking systems work. In their ecosystem – the one that drives 85%+ of all search traffic on the web – there are guidelines, best practices, rules and regulations. If you want to play on their court, you’ve got to abide by those rules or be ready to face the consequences. I’m not ready for those consequences and thus, have low risk tolerance and the attitude you’re reading about.
None of this is to say that a more risk-heavy appetite and more gray-black hat methodologies for link acquisition aren’t worth trying; just make sure you do it on sites you’re willing to get tossed out of the playground.
As always, I’m looking forward to the conversation in the comments.