Think about how many people you see out and about with smart phones in hand – checking emails on the go – texting friends and family – watching videos and surfing the web. It’s a growing trend and businesses who tap into the mobile communication stream are profiting and growing their businesses. There are many […]
Think about how many people you see out and about with smart phones in hand – checking emails on the go – texting friends and family – watching videos and surfing the web. It’s a growing trend and businesses who tap into the mobile communication stream are profiting and growing their businesses.
There are many different aspects of mobile marketing –
- Mobile Websites
- Text Marketing
- Mobile Coupons
- Mobile Tagging (QR Codes, etc.)
- Mobile Applications (Apps)
Businesses small and large are implementing mobile marketing strategies to bring in customers, move inventory, increase appointments and increase revenues. No matter what your small business is or does, you can profit using low-cost mobile marketing strategies. Here are some examples of the power of mobile marketing –
- Medical, dental, optometrists and chiropractic practices use mobile marketing to remind patients of appointments, follow up on office visits, provide wellness information and promote new service offerings to encourage ongoing use of the service provider
- Beauty salons, barbershops, health spas, massage therapists and aestheticians use mobile marketing to prevent cancellations by offering pre-appointment reminders, to fill open time slots or increase foot traffic on slow business days
- Retailers, whether clothing stores, accessories shops, bookstores, wine and liquor stores use mobile marketing to move dormant inventory through discounts offerings, promote new products and advertise special sales and in-store events
- Service providers such as auto repair shops, landscapers, house painters, handymen, HVAC, carpet cleaners and maid services use mobile marketing to promote services and offer discounts to increase their client base
- Restaurants, bars and nightclubs use mobile marketing to fill empty seats on sluggish nights with last-minute coupons and offers to bring in customers and invigorate profits on what would have been dead nights
- Movie theaters, stage theaters, comedy clubs use mobile marketing to offer 2-for-1 deals and last minute specials to fill empty seats that represent lost revenue at every performance
No matter what your small business does or where you are located, mobile marketing can benefit you. Mobile marketing is so successful because it is easy to implement, requires little technical knowledge and is one of the most affordable modes of advertising and promotion.
According to a recent Nielsen report, roughly 50% of all Americans now own a smart phone – that’s a nearly 40% increase from the prior year. Smart phones mean mobile web access – more people now use the mobile web on their smart phones to search for places to shop, dine, party and for service professionals – including home repair, medical, personal services, hair salons and more.
If your small business doesn’t have at least a mobile website, you will be passed over by consumers who shop for businesses on the mobile web. What’s more, people now ignore most promotional emails – they head straight into the spam folder! Direct mail flyers hit the trash can, unread, 84% of the time. Mobile marketing circumvents the normal filters that create barriers between consumer and service provider or retailer.
Mobile marketing can be easy to implement and is one of the lowest cost forms of advertising. Ignoring the mobile marketing trend can be hazardous to your bottom line and the likelihood of your small business either thriving or dwindling.
Ian Carrington, Google’s director of mobile advertising recently said, “Businesses need to get mobile in order to provide a positive user experience for their customers. At the moment, businesses are not keeping up with consumers.”
Mobile Websites Are No Longer Optional
The mobile web will soon be the dominant choice in internet usage, overtaking web browsing on PCs and laptops by next year. Given the clear supremacy and growth of mobile web browsing, it’s shocking to learn that 70% of businesses don’t have a mobile website.
Standard websites designed to be viewed on laptop and PC screens are incompatible for the smaller screens of iPhones, Androids and other mobile web devices. Even if your non-mobile website can be seen on a mobile device, that doesn’t mean it’s functional on a mobile device. Only 1% of standard websites will render on a mobile device.
Your standard website may feature high-resolution graphics, flash video and lots of interesting content. The very things that make your standard site so interesting are what will make it unusable as a mobile website. Most smart phones can’t play Flash programs, hi-res photos take too long to load and the volume of content will make the site slow to load and navigate.
Instead, you need to focus on the most critical information about your small business that a mobile web surfer needs. At a minimum, they need to know where you are, what you do, how to contact you and your hours of operation. For a mobile website, less is so much, much more!
Many of the best mobile websites launch with an opening screen that has just a few options that are large clickable buttons to easily navigate the user to the information they need including:
- How to Find Us – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page where they can see your address, click for directions or click to activate their smart phone’s GPS function to automatically navigate to your establishment
- When We’re Open – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page that simply lists your daily hours of operation – if there are holidays upcoming, you should also indicate whether you are open on the holiday as well as any days your hours will deviate from the standard
- How to Reach Us – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page where they can click-to-call your business number, click to send an email to you or click to send a text to you – just be sure that whichever option they choose is monitored so you can communicate on the spot
- What We Offer – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page that very briefly summarizes what you do, what you sell, what services you offers, etc.
- Special Deals – clicking this can take your potential customer to a page that offers them an incentive in the form of a discount or freebie to sign up for your mobile texting list – this captures them on the spot and allows you to reach out to them again to encourage a transaction with your small business
Two other options to consider when prepping your small business website are social media links and an option to link to your full website. Consumers are very engaged in social media and if you have a presence on Four Square, Facebook, Twitter or other media sites, you should include links to your pages so they can follow you if they like. Another option that many mobile sites don’t offer, but that may be desired is a link to your full website in case they want to browse all of your content.
No matter what, a mobile website, even a poorly executed one, is better than no mobile website at all. But it’s easier than you can imagine to set up a mobile website for your small business in just a few hours to get found on the mobile web and drive business to your establishment.
The Importance of Mobile Websites
Between 2009 and 2011, mobile web browsing grew by 1000%. It went from less than 1% to a 7% market share in less than two years. A recent study in March 2012 by Opera (a web browsing company) showed that 43% of respondents say that mobile web is their primary means of accessing the internet. If this trend holds out, the mobile web is set to almost entirely replace the traditional web by 2015 according to research firm IDC.
What these statistics translate to for small business owners is that a web presence is now mandatory. Traditional websites that were designed to be viewed on 10-15” screens are largely incompatible with the much smaller screen of smart phones and tablets. Not only will your standard website be difficult, if not impossible, to view on the smaller screen, the functionality will be unusable.
Websites that work well on mobile devices are those that have been designed specifically to function on the mobile web. Most mobile devices won’t load Flash graphics – a common aspect of traditional web design. Large graphics files are also incompatible with mobile web browsing. Your website is expected to load within 3-5 seconds on a mobile device and any load-time exceeding this leads to lower and lower browser satisfaction.
Bloomberg news reported last week that “twice as many mobile-phone users abandon a website for reasons such as sluggishness than their desktop counterparts.” If your site won’t load, 1/3 of users will try to reload the site and 2/3 will move on instantly. After another failed reload, all but 1% of browsers will move on, most likely to a competitor that has a mobile web presence that meets their needs.
The Bloomberg reporter then added that, “almost half of all mobile users are unlikely to return to a website at all if they had trouble accessing it from their phone.” This means that you have lost the opportunity to engage that potential customer, likely forever. But using a free mobile web converter or low-cost mobile web designer can prevent you from losing business you never knew you could have had.
The Bloomberg article cites one of the problems with slow load times is that “often it’s because the webpage isn’t designed to load quickly on a wireless device.” Mobile web design can be very thin and provide just the basic information about your business to your potential customer including:
- Location – preferably with click-to-navigate option for GPS navigation
- Phone number – preferably with click-to-call functionality
- Hours/Days of operation – in the easiest to read font and format
- Opt-in – a link or info on how to opt-in to receive text offers and information
- Calendar – if you offer special events or certain items on certain days, a simple fast loading calendar or roster is helpful
- Photos – if relevant, for menu items, inventory, etc. and if they are fast-loading, these can be helpful to customers
Whether you enlist the aid of a professional mobile website developer or decide to go it on your own with a mobile website builder utility, any mobile web presence is infinitely better than no mobile web presence.
Hard Facts about Mobile Marketing for Small Business
If you’re still not sure that mobile marketing is right for your small business, take a look at these results from several recent studies on small business mobile marketing to see why if you don’t already have a mobile marketing strategy in play, you’re significantly behind the times. Consider these findings and comments from top marketing surveys and sources:
- Out of 700,000 small-medium sized business websites 60% do not have even the basic information consumers using mobile web devices need to find their business.
- Over 93% of small-medium sized business websites do not properly render (appear) on mobile devices – including iPhones, Android phones or tablets.
- Of the small businesses surveyed that implemented mobile marketing, 84% reported an increase due to the initiative.
- 64% of small businesses plan on increasing their mobile marketing budget – this means your competition may be more effectively using mobile marketing than you are.
- While 60% of small businesses report they have a standard website, only 26% of these offer a mobile-friendly version and only 14% had a free-standing mobile website.
- Only 39% of small businesses have a mobile search strategy focused on getting them easily found on the mobile web.
David Brown, CEO of one of the firms that accumulated this data, Web.com, recently said, “With more and more consumers specifically searching for local businesses on their mobile devices, it is imperative that small businesses invest in a mobile presence.” He added, “Having a mobile presence can be a huge competitive advantage for small businesses trying to attract local customers by instantly introducing a potential customer to their business’ products and services in a mobile-enhanced way.”
Here are some more statistics showing why now, more than ever, your small business needs a mobile web presence and strategy:
- For small businesses who engage or plan to engage in mobile marketing, 34% say they do it to gain competitive advantage.
- For those small businesses already engaged in mobile marketing, only 1/3 of them plan to devote the same amount of funds and effort to it – the rest plan an increase. None plan to cut their programs.
- The longer your website takes to load, the more people you lose. If it takes more than 2 seconds for your site to load, you’ll lose 40% of mobile users.
- Almost 50% of consumers expect mobile websites to load within 2 seconds and 79% say a bad mobile web experience will keep them away from your site in the future.
- Over half of mobile web users have encountered sites that froze, crashed or returned an error on their mobile device.
- Nearly 75% of mobile web users have tried websites that were too slow to load on their mobile web devices.
- 23% of consumers say they are less likely to transact business with a company that gave them a bad mobile web experience.
- Another 40% of consumers say that a bad mobile web experience would send them to a competitor who offered the same or similar products or services.
These study results should convince you that if you don’t already have a mobile web presence and mobile marketing strategy, you urgently need one. For many consumers, your mobile web presence is the basis of their perception about your company. If you don’t have a mobile web presence, it tells customers you don’t care about their preferences. In contrast, a small business with a mobile web presence that engages the customer and enhances their experience will encourage both new and repeat business.
QR Codes Are Free Marketing!
You may have seen or heard about QR codes, but weren’t sure how they worked, what they were for and how they could benefit your small business. QR codes stand for “Quick Response” codes and are a matrix barcode similar to a barcode that’s on most every retail product these days, but holds much more data and information. Bar codes hold up to 20 digits, but QR codes are 2-D matrices that can hold thousands of letters and numbers of data.
Smart phones – whether iPhone, Android or Google branded devices – read QR codes and use the data to access a mobile website, mobile offer or other digital content. Companies and small businesses are using QR codes to link to sign up pages for mobile text lists, mobile coupon offers and mobile app downloads or contest pages on mobile websites or to send people to their Facebook page or to a mobile app or other download site.
QR codes have been used effectively for over a decade in Japan – their country of origin – by many different types of businesses. QR codes differ from other aspects of mobile marketing because they need to be placed somewhere that they can be easily scanned by mobile devices.
QR codes are perfect marketing tools for small businesses because they are free to create and use. Some of the places that businesses use QR codes are:
- On marketing materials like flyers and brochures – these can link to a specific page on your mobile website or a specific offer
- On business cards – on the front if there’s room, if not on the back – and links to a specific offer or opt-in page
- On sales receipts – offering a discount on the next purchase when customers opt-in to your email text list or other promotion
- On restaurant menus – particularly take-out menus – that can link to a page where people can order takeout or delivery on the go
- On vehicles – your company car, personal car, cars of friends and family – that link to your mobile website or a mobile opt-in offer
- On flyers – posting flyers on phone poles, bulletin boards or car windshields with codes that link to offers
- On packaging – these can link to information pages about the products or instant coupons to encourage purchase
QR codes are time savers because they allow your customers and potential customers to have instant access to your company’s mobile website, text opt-in page or mobile offers while on the go with a quick snap. Busy people won’t call a number and they may forget your website url, but they appreciate the instant gratification of clicking and getting information and access they want – when they want it and are in the mood to receive your message.
Because they cost virtually nothing to implement, there’s no reason not to try to integrate QR codes into every small business marketing strategy. QR codes are exciting, because there’s really no limit to what you can offer to your customers and potential customers using this low-cost flexible marketing tool.
Mobile Text Marketing – Tapping into Profits
As an adult, you may be warming up to texting in your personal life – a domain once dominated by teens with fast fingers. Beyond sending 160-character missives to friends and family, text messaging for business is now wide open as a potential source for revenue. Text messaging is also commonly called SMS (short message service) messaging or bulk texting or bulk SMS messaging.
In a recent report, CTIA research showed that last year over 193 billion text messages are sent each month for a total of 2.3 trillion texts sent last year. A growing number of these missives are from businesses reaching out to consumers.
Text messages have a 99% open and read rate compared to emails which, if they are not clogged in a spam filter, can hope for a 9%-23% open rate but only if they are extremely well-written, relevant and requested.
Mobile text marketing is used by small businesses to send mobile coupons, announce special events, sales, new inventory or programs announcements and special offers. In order to implement mobile text marketing for your business, you first need a set-up for mobile texting. You can try to do it yourself by downloading free text messaging software (just do a Google search for the latest versions.)
Otherwise, there are many companies that can send out text marketing messages for you for around 1 penny each while others charge a flat rate for a certain number of texts sent each month. Some of the current small business SMS marketing firms include:
It doesn’t matter what firm you use, so long as they aren’t likely to go out of business tomorrow and that you own your text database and NOT the firm. If you ever come to a parting of the ways with your text service provider, you should be able to take your list with you when you go. Read the fine print and make sure you won’t lose your database of cell numbers if you walk away at any point.
Once you’ve got the software or consultant set up and are ready to start receiving opt-ins to build your database, you must encourage people to sign up. The best and fastest way is to offer something free or at a great discount to encourage enrollments – here are some high opt-in strategies that have worked to build a customer text list rapidly:
- Redbox offers a free rental or cents off code to get people to text a keyword and be signed up for their mobile text list
- Ed Hardy clothing chain offered a 10% coupon that could be reused for a certain number of days to drive opt-ins
- Belle Tires got a huge opt-in rate by offering $20 off coupon on future purchases in exchange for opt-ins to their list
After you build a list of a couple of hundred numbers, you’re ready to send out your first offer! The key is to only tap your list when you have a high-value, relevant offer they are likely to be interested in and not too often. Depending on the nature of your business, once a week may be plenty, for others, twice a month may be more appropriate.
For restaurants, video rentals, dry cleaners, movie theaters or other entertainment, weekly texting may be appropriate since these are high-use industries. Spas, salons, landscapers and other occasional-use services may prefer once or twice per month texting. Clothing stores, tire shops, jewelry stores and other higher-dollar establishments may want to limit their offers to monthly or special event/special occasion texts.
Once you start texting out offers, redemption rates will help you analyze your customer preferences and tweak your text marketing efforts to maximize revenue while not treading on your customers’ patience for excessive texting.
No matter what strategy you implement, mobile text marketing will be a boon to any small business – people appreciate relevant mobile offers and respond at double digit rates to interesting offers!
Mobile Apps – Much More than Angry Birds – They’re Big Business!
If you’ve got a smart phone – whether iPhone or Android – you’ve no doubt got it loaded up with apps of one kind or another. Angry Birds and other fun and free game apps are enormously popular, but you probably also have apps from businesses such as Netflix, Redbox, eBay and many others, but you may have never considered launching a mobile application to promote your small business brand.
Both Android and iPhone offer low cost app-development tools that can be used by even a novice who just wants to try their hand at app design. Apps are broadly in a few categories – entertain, inform, shop and utilize.
Entertainment apps run the gamut from Angry Birds and iTunes to Netflix so you can amuse yourself using your mobile phone. Information apps include those that provide data on air travel, train and bus travel, wiki reference sites, news sites and the like. Shopping apps include eBay, Amazon, Red Laser and many, many more. Utilization apps are those like Google Translate, Dragon Dictation, iTorch (flashlight) and iHandy Level.
You need a creative idea that relates in some way to your business that people will enjoy using for one of the above reasons. And don’t even think about charging for your app to create a revenue stream – you’ll most likely just discourage any clients who were considering downloading. Once you have some ideas, you’ll need to check the app stores such as iTunes and Android Market to see if your idea is played out, still hot or emerging.
You may also want to bounce the concept off a few people you trust to give you feedback to see if your idea sounds interesting to them. Here are some ideas to consider:
- If you own a bar, you could offer a signature cocktail designer where people can mix a virtual drink, name it and submit it to your bar for a chance to be a featured cocktail – you could incent them to participate by offering a tasting party for semi-finalists in the competition – offer to post their picture – or free drinks for a night.
- If you own a movie theater, you could offer a make a movie trailer app that would allow people to upload video they shoot and add sound and voice over effects to make their own fun movie trailers – you can offer ongoing incentives for the best trailers each month in the form of a movie pack for two (tickets, drinks, popcorn and candy) and discounts for participants.
- If you own a gym, you could offer a virtual personal trainer that would allow consumers to enter their measurements, height and weight as well as interests and limitations and generate a training program that correlates to equipment in your specific gym and then offers a free trial to your gym – the app could prompt them to rotate through machines, enter information about reps and allow them to update their vital stats as they lose weight.
- If you own any kind of business, you could design a simple game that ties somehow into the theme of your establishment or is silly nonsense, but engaging fun where the consumer can accumulate points by playing and these points then translate into discounts at your business – people love free games!
To promote your app, you can announce the launch via text to your opt-in list with links to download it from the app stores along with an offer tied to the download. In-store signage, stickers attached to packaging or products and reminders from sales associates can also trigger downloads.
Mobile apps downloads and usage are on the rise according to a recent study by Juniper Research. The firm estimates that by 2016, 66 billion mobile apps will be downloaded compared to 31 billion downloaded in 2011. 87% of these are free downloads.
Windsor Holden, who prepared the report for Juniper Research said, “Brands that wish to remain competitive have turned to apps as part of an integrated multichannel distribution system.”
Consumer Focused Mobile Marketing Drives Profits
A recently released survey by Web.com on small business mobile usage revealed that 84% of small businesses that use mobile marketing have seen an increase in business. But before you jump blindly into mobile marketing, you need to craft a strategy that will most effectively leverage your resources to increase profits.
To know how to effectively reach your target consumers, you need to understand their wants and needs. If you have regular customers, you can ask them what they would like to see on your mobile website, if they are interested in mobile offers and what they feel your business is lacking in terms of marketing.
Another good way to analyze your mobile marketing needs is to see how browsers of your full website navigate your site. You can use free tools such as Google Analytics to see which links are most often clicked on or try a low cost ($9/month) service such as CrazyEgg.com. CrazyEgg creates a heatmap of your site that will show you what parts of your site people hover on and click on, even if they are not links.
Even if you only sign up for an analytics service for one month, this should give you an idea of what people are looking at on your full site – this should give you some ideas of what to include on your mobile website. If you offer discounts or disclose pricing on your website and see heavy activity there, this can be an indication that mobile coupons and offers would be greeted eagerly.
By looking at what areas of your full site generate the most action, you can refine your mobile marketing strategy to be most efficient. For instance, restaurant websites may see a lot of action on their online menu or delivery/takeout options. Dry cleaners may see more action on their price list areas. Based on the analysis, you can design your mobile website interface to get the consumer quickly to their area of interest.
Equally as important, you can eliminate from your mobile marketing program, the portions of your full website that aren’t seeing any action. This will streamline your marketing approach. As well as considering your standard website browsing activity, think about what people ask when they are in your establishment and what they want to know when they call. Your mobile web presence should be designed to provide all of the information people seek via all of your communication channels. Here’s what you are likely to find:
- Callers may ask your days/hours of operation
- Callers may ask about special events
- Callers may ask about discounts or promotions
- Callers may ask about your inventory/menu/services
- Callers may ask for directions or landmarks to find your establishment
Once you’ve accumulated all of the input, you can devise a mobile marketing strategy that will meet all these needs using an easy-to-navigate format that will get them the information they need with the least clicks and least hassle possible.
When you meet the needs of potential customers by giving them a positive mobile web experience, you greatly increase the odds of them transacting with you. And if you don’t meet those needs, the results will be less in your favor. If your mobile website doesn’t load correctly or rapidly, 33% of mobile web users will immediately click off of your website and look to your competition and 57% of people will not recommend your business due to an unfavorable web experience.
So by all means, establish a mobile marketing plan for your small business, but be sure to do your pre-work rather than jumping in blindly – remember the customer is what matters!
Tapping Into Trends in Location-Based Mobile Marketing
No matter what type of device they use, more and more consumers are browsing the web on the go for places of business near them. Not only do consumers use their smart phones to find businesses, they actually use them while shopping, dining and spending.
A recent study showed that 34% of smart phone users will comparison shop on their device while in a store – nearly 30% will search for reviews while shopping – 21% searched for coupons to use instantly – 12% opted to buy online instead of in-store and over 5% searched for a recommendation on the business or product from their friends.
Consumers age 25-44 are most likely to comparison shop and search for reviews on products, services and businesses using their mobile devices. If these ages are in your target demographic, this lets you know that location-based mobile marketing services would likely be used by your target customer.
When it comes to location-based mobile marketing, coupons are increasingly popular. 34% of smart phone users have redeemed an online coupon and 18% have redeemed a mobile coupon. Another growing outlet for location-based mobile marketing services is QR codes. Over one-third of mobile devices have a QR code scanner.
In fact, all location-based mobile marketing trends are on the upswing. Last year, over half of all local business searches were conducted via a mobile phone or other mobile device such as a tablet or web-enabled iPod.
Location-based marketing services are now getting even more local with the emergence of proximity marketing. Already huge in Japan, proximity marketing is now trending in Europe and spreading to the US. Using proximity marketing, the nearness of a consumer to a specific object or physical location triggers a specific action.
NFC chips, QR codes and other new technologies can provide consumers with an interactive experience. QR codes in particular are attractive for both consumers and vendors because they are free to set up and easy to use. As more businesses use QR codes, their increased presence will increase consumer interest and use of the tool.
As more and more consumers seek to engage with local businesses, it will become more and more critical for business owners to equip their establishments to accommodate the increasing demand for mobile interaction.
Consumers now prefer establishments that offer free Wi-Fi and this baseline service will be a necessity if you want to expand your mobile strategy to embrace proximity marketing. By hosting Wi-Fi services for customers, you’ll be able to offer fast-loading content attached to proximity items such as QR codes and NFC chips.
More advanced proximity tools such as iSign allow you to ping a customer’s smart phone as soon as they enter or near (3,000 feet or less depending on your platform and technology) your establishment and ask if they would like an offer from your establishment. The mobile consumer can click yes or no. Current response rates are nearing 25% and may induce drive-by customers that may not have been planning a visit to your store to stop by and transact with you.
Mobile marketing is here to stay, is prevalent and constantly evolving. Ignoring this trend will be at great peril to your business. The good news is that many aspects of mobile marketing have a very low cost to use and a low barrier to entry. If you don’t have a mobile marketing strategy, now is the time to develop one.
Increase Business with Mobile Tagging – QR Codes, SnapTags and more!
Connecting the digital and physical worlds – tags are on tangible things – like products, signage, flyers, countertops, display windows, print ads (newspapers, magazines and more.) Scanning them connects the consumer to a relevant digital experience. Using tags allows you to measure response rates to a particular marketing effort.
There are a number of different mobile tagging apps that you can use to tie physical marketing materials to your mobile website, texting program or other mobile marketing services. Some mobile tagging services to consider are:
- QR Codes
- Microsoft Tags
QR codes are a type of 2D barcode made up of a series of square dots that encode alphanumeric data. When scanned, your smart phone reads the data and takes the action indicated, whether it sends the user to the home page of your website, to a special offer you’ve created or even your company Facebook page.
QR codes were created in Japan and have been widely used there and in Europe, but are just evolving into wide use in America in the past couple of years. The great thing about QR codes is that they are free to use and there are a number of free applications you can use to easily create them for your small business. The downside is that they are more functional than aesthetically pleasing.
Microsoft tags are much like QR codes in their functionality, but have more visual style. Another plus to Microsoft tags is that you can easily create a custom tag in just a minute or two for absolutely no cost. There are five different types of Microsoft tags:
- URL tags – these open a web page on the customer’s mobile phone and sends them to a specific page of your mobile site or a video or some other type of content.
- vCard tags – these open a virtual business card that customers can add instantly to their contact list.
- App Download tags – it recognizes the type of mobile device and sends the customer to the appropriate download source to get your mobile app.
- Free Text tags – this displays text of up to 1,000 characters, but is not an SMS/text message, it simply displays the text.
- Dialer tags – this automatically dials a specific phone number that you specify – it can be your business number, a help-line or even an automatic voice message.
SnapTags work in much the same way as QR codes and Microsoft tags, but typically take either your company logo or associated icon and convert it to an interactive tool that will direct people to your digital content. The upside of using a SnapTag is the advanced customization and visual appeal; the downside is that both creation and use of the tags come with a price tag. There are several different types of SnapTags:
- Branded SnapTags – these are tied to a particular marketing campaign and can take you to product information, a special promotion or something similar.
- Social SnapTags – these are linked to your Facebook or other social media account and allow the consumer to easily “like” you or “follow” you depending on which social media site it is tied to.
- Buy It Now SnapTags – these are linked to a specific product and take the consumer to an instant “buy it now” window where they can buy your product or service instantly.
- Action SnapTags – these initiate specific actions when scanned, such as getting a mobile coupon, emailing you, accessing your website, viewing video or requesting information.
- Mobile Giving SnapTags – these allow your customers to make a donation to a specific charity you have selected. You can even offer to match customer donations to promote your brand.
No matter which platform you decide to try, mobile tagging is a great way to make use of every inch of physical advertising space available. These can be created and placed on your checkout counters, takeout menus, packaging, posters, flyers, print ads, on your car or anywhere there is a physical surface and will increase your brand recognition.
Effective Mobile Coupons
If you’re a texter, you know that sometimes 160 characters are just not enough to communicate what you want to say. Spilling over into a second text is no big deal when you are texting with friends and family, but when you are texting a mobile offer to a customer, this is a big no-no! A single text – 160 characters (including spaces) – is what you have to learn to work within to craft effective text offers that consumers will rush to redeem.
When you hear “mobile coupon,” do you picture a paper coupon with dotted lines around the edges, ready to be cut out? Most mobile coupons – in reality – are simply texts from businesses with a code to provide at check-out or when ordering food, a product or services that generate the discount promised.
When you write a mobile offer to send out over text, you are sending a mobile coupon. Within the 160 character limit, you have to convey who the message is coming from, what you are offering, the time limit for the offer and the offer code. For instance, if you manage a pizza parlor, a text offer might go something like this:
Gianni’s Pizza is having a Monday Madness pie sale – $5 for a large 2-topping pizza – good today only 2 pm-10 pm – carryout only – discount code MONDAY5!
That’s 153 characters and it’s pretty good – it covers all the elements, but it can be improved – consider this instead:
Gianni’s Pizza’s Monday Madness pie sale is on. $5 for a large 2-topping pizza. Today from 2-10 pm. Carryout only. Use code MONDAY5 when ordering. 555-555-5555
This refined message is at 159 characters. By stripping out a few words and some punctuation, the text is more targeted and now includes the phone number which would be click-to-call to encourage on-the-spot ordering to take advantage of the time-sensitive offer.
By having the business name up front, you let them know who’s communicating with them – this is appreciated and will encourage them to read on and making the offer immediately lets them evaluate whether the offer is relevant for them. Next, giving the terms and limitations encourages them to act immediately if they are interested in the offer. Finally, providing a click-to-call number makes it very tempting for them to click to access the deal straight away. If they close the offer to look for your number, you’ll lose people who would otherwise have redeemed the offer.
This model is valid for any small business, whether you own a dry-cleaner, hair salon, yogurt shop or landscaping service. The components of an effective text message are the same, only the content relevant to your business will vary.
Once you start sending out mobile offers, you’ll learn which offers generate the highest redemption rates. If you approach your texting strategy like a science experiment, you’ll be able to most effectively hone your text writing skills. This means changing only one aspect at a time. For instance, if you send out a mobile coupon, be sure to keep the text to improve upon it.
Even if you get a good redemption rate, you can always tweak for better results. If your offer was a dollars-off coupon, consider trying a percent-off next time or a buy one-get one type of offer to see which type of discount engenders the best response from your customers. Then, you may want to tweak the time period your offer is valid for – same day offers may elicit a better response than a three day window – depending on your business – but you’ll never know unless you tweak.
When crafting your text message, brevity is key, but don’t use abbreviated lingo unless you have to – for instance “Call to order” is preferable to “Call 2 order.” When people scan texts, this can look like a typo or a spam message that can cause them to delete your message.
Mobile coupons are being redeemed at a rate 10 times higher than paper coupons and cost 1/50th the price of paper coupons. If you’re not using mobile coupons to increase revenues and profits, you’re leaving money on the table every day.
The Mobile Coupon Boom
In 2010, just 13% of mobile smart phone users were using mobile coupons –totaling around 7.2 million Americans. By 2011, this more than doubled to over 15 million smart phone owners redeeming mobile coupons. Growth projections indicate this number should reach 26 million by the end of 2012 and 34 million by 2013.
Mobile web analysts anticipate that over the next four years, annual mobile coupon redemption will top $43 billion in the US alone. Nearly 70% of smart phone users say that mobile coupons are useful and nearly one-third of Americans will search for mobile coupons using their smart phone or other mobile device. Over 25% of smart phone users indicate interest in proximity based marketing, saying they would like to get mobile coupon offers when they are physically in or near a business.
Booze Allan Hamilton, an international marketing firm, has this to say about mobile marketing, “As smartphones change shopping, merchants face a stark choice: Fall in behind their newly enabled consumers or fall behind altogether.”
Even if your target customer is an older adult, don’t assume they don’t own and actively use all the features of a smart phone. In fact, 83% of smart phone users are age 25 and older. Statistics also reveal that smart phone users are in higher income brackets – meaning they may have more disposable income – making them a desirable customer.
Among adults earning more than $75,000, 60% have a smart phone and in the $50,000-$75,000 bracket, nearly 40% own a smart-phone. Yet even high earners love to get discounts and mobile coupons and they have the money to redeem them and then, based on a positive experience, come back to your establishment and pay full prices.
When it comes to finding mobile coupons, smart phone users have very specific preferences. A recent study by Microsoft showed how consumers like to receive mobile coupon offers. The results are:
- Most prefer to receive them via text message
- The second most popular option is via email checked on the mobile device
- The third option is to be texted an offer while they’re in an establishment
- The fourth most popular is to find mobile coupons using an app
- The fifth most popular option for getting a mobile coupon is scanning a QR code
- The least popular option for getting a mobile coupon is in exchange for a social media check-in
However, what may not be evident from these results is that while QR codes and social media check-ins are the least popular methods in the survey, they are on the rise. Many survey participants may have rated these lowest simply because they are inexperienced with using QR codes and location-based aspects of social media.
Microsoft research indicates that mobile coupon use will have doubled between 2011 and 2013. Their recent study shows that 10% of all cell phone users redeem mobile coupons but the rate is 20% among smart phone users. They project these numbers to be 16.5% and 30% respectively by 2013.
Nancy Cook, Vice President at Valpak – one of the top firms in couponing, both mobile and paper – said recently, “A strong offer will work in any space and mobile even more so, because it can be relevant when a consumer may actually be ready to make a purchase.”
The numbers don’t lie – mobile coupons are a powerful and growing segment of mobile marketing and marketing in general. Tap in to this growing trend or look to find your customers tapping out on you.
Mobile Coupons That Work Like Magic
In these days of budget tightening in most American households, coupons are growing more and more popular. But beyond tedious clipping of paper coupons, is a growing trend for convenient and low-effort mobile coupons. According to research done by American Express, in 2009 mobile coupons redeemed across the US number approximately 200,000, but they estimate that by next year 70 million mobile coupons will be redeemed, worth $2.4 billion in discounts to eager consumers.
There is virtually no limit to the types of deals that your business can offer with mobile coupons. It really doesn’t matter whether you offer dollars or percent off, buy one get one or any other type of offer as long as it’s valuable to your customer or potential customer and is relevant and time-sensitive.
Coupons sent using mobile messaging are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than paper coupons of any type. Coupons in newspapers have lower redemption rates than those mailed directly to consumers, but mobile coupons trump these time and again.
Cost is another factor to consider with mobile coupons. Having a paper coupon mailed either directly from your business or as part of a bulk mailer such as ValPak costs you $.25-$.40 per coupon and these are redeemed on average at a rate of just 1%. By comparison, mobile coupons cost around 1 penny each and are redeemed at double digit rates between 11%-26%.
There are a couple of different options for offering mobile coupons, including:
- Posting them on your traditional or mobile website to either print or with a code they can provide at checkout or when ordering.
- Using an aggregator site such as https://getyowza.com or www.cellfire.com to offer your coupons on their sites. Yowza cost as little as $99 and Cellfire offers a variety of plans.
- Text them directly to customers who opt-in to your email text list. People will give you their cell number in exchange for an instant discount and this lets you easily build your database.
Zero coupon fraud is another pro of mobile coupons vs. paper. People try to sneak in expired paper coupons, print duplicates and all manner of sneaky methods to get more than their fair share of a discount. Mobile coupons virtually eliminate these issues because they are attached to an individual cell phone account and will clear out of the coupon cache upon expiration so customers can’t pull them up and try to pass the deal off as current.
Immediacy, relevancy, portability and ease of use are the big drivers in the double-digit mobile coupon redemption rates. Immediacy means that by setting a same day or 3-5 day redemption window, you encourage people to act quickly to take advantage of the deal. No one likes to miss out on a deal, so they will move rapidly to take advantage of a discount.
Relevancy is crucial. If you mail diaper coupons to childless couples, you’re likely to get a 0% redemption rate. However, mailing coupons to parents of a newborn will likely get you a much higher redemption rate. Because mobile coupons are driven by coupon searches or opt-ins to business text lists for establishments frequented, you can offer relevant promotions to drive increased revenues.
Portability is a big plus for consumers – if you forget your box of coupons at home or your flyer that offered a discount, your customer is out of luck. But everyone always has their mobile device with them, so mobile coupons are accessible anytime, anywhere which encourages redemption when it is convenient for the customer which means profits for your small business.
Ease of use is critical – many people don’t want to hassle with clipping coupons and may not even look through coupon mailers that come in their box because they literally have to sift through pages of offers that won’t interest them. Mobile coupons offer what consumers want with little to no effort on their part. They get a text or access a site and show the offer or code to the sales person or order taker and they’re done – coupon redeemed!
If you’re not using mobile coupons, the good news is, it’s easy to get into. Even without having a mobile website, you can start offering mobile coupons. It’s a low cost promotional tool that can drastically increase sales by improving your relationship with your loyal customers while expanding your customer base.
How to Combine Social Media Marketing and Mobile Marketing
With people today busier than ever and on the go with smart phones in hand, your small business needs to be able to integrate the technology your customers prefer into your marketing strategy. Two of the biggest growth areas are social media and mobile marketing.
Social media apps account for 30% of the time smart phone users spend accessing apps from their device. Facebook and Twitter account for a great amount of this time, so your company needs a profile and activity on both of these. Here are some of the other social media sites you may be interested in establishing a presence on:
- Google Plus+
Your social media presence will feed into your mobile marketing strategy and vice-versa. Using multiple channels will enable you to increase your brand recognition and bring in more business which translates to increased revenues.
Here are some specific ways to integrate social media and mobile marketing:
- Facebook – Your Facebook page should have a clickable link to your mobile website and a discount offer tied to a text code that will sign the texter up to join your mobile texting list for offers. You may want to establish a different code for each media site so you know which outlet is bringing in the most opt-ins.
- Twitter – Your Twitter page should have a link to your mobile website in the banner area and you should post frequent tweets offering a discount or promotion to encourage people to text to opt-in to your mobile texting list.
- LinkedIn – Your LinkedIn page should have the basic information about your business, including a link to your mobile website and basic information about the business. As the owner, you should also have a LinkedIn page so people can search by either you or the company name to access your profiles.
- MySpace – While MySpace is not the big deal it once was, it won’t hurt to set up a page for your business including photos and interesting information about your business. Links to your mobile website and a text to opt-in code should be included as well.
- Google Plus+ – Setting up a Google Plus+ profile will allow you to interact with customers in one circle, vendors in another and employees in yet another. When you set up the page, include a link to your mobile site and a link to opt-in to your text list.
- myLife – This tool can allow you to manage several of your social media profiles in an easy to use dashboard and allow for local searchers to find you. Always include a link to your mobile website and text opt-in offer wherever you can. Be sure to set up both a business and personal profile that are cross-linked to maximize your presence.
- FourSquare – When you set up your profile here, be sure to include a link to your mobile website and text opt-in offer.
Once you have a social media presence, you can work in the other direction and link your mobile marketing back to your social media profiles. On your contact us page of your mobile website, be sure to have icon links to each of your social media profiles (you don’t have to include myLife, that’s more of a utility for you than your customer.)
Next, offer special discounts and promotions on your mobile website and through your mobile texting program to get customers to recommend you on LinkedIn or Google Plus+ or to “Like” you on Facebook or to check in with you on FourSquare.
Social media is social proof that your establishment is a place that others should frequent – by combining the accessibility of mobile marketing with the popularity of social media, you can most effectively promote your brand and increase your bottom line.
Using Location-Based Web Services to Amplify Your Mobile Marketing
Today, 97% of consumers use the web to search for local businesses – many of these on their mobile devices while they are on the move. If your business doesn’t have a profile or page on the most common location portals, you are leaving money on the table for your competitors. Even if you have a mobile website, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a top result on a local search for businesses of your type in your area.
But, by enrolling yourself on the most popular location services, you will enable consumers to find your business and more effectively rival your local competition, expand your customer base and increase revenues as more consumers discover your establishment.
A recent survey by TNS found that 66% of mobile users want to use location-based features such as check-ins, mobile maps and local business searches. The survey said that of this 66%, only 19% are already using location-based services, but this number is on the rise and now is your chance to get your small business on the mobile web map.
It will only take a couple of minutes to get your business listed on each of these sites. Your business may already be listed because you probably have a land-line that triggered a listing, but it will only have basic information such as your business name, number and perhaps address, but it won’t have critical information and be location optimized so customers can find you.
Here are the top services you should create a profile on for your small business – be sure to include all the information consumers need to find you – and activate all options that will enable mobile web searchers to find you easily.
- YP.com – This link will take you to an “Improve Your Listing” page where you enter your business number. From there, click to go to the Business Representative page. From there, you can enter hours, website, social media links and more.
- Yelp.com – This link takes you to the page where you can register your small business for free to be displayed on this popular location-based site where consumers love to check-in (i.e. log their visit) and review your business.
- GooglePlaces.com – This link will take you to a page to create a profile for your business on Google’s free local platform. There are a number of special features you can use to bring more attention to your business and get found.
- Foursquare.com – This link takes you to the foursquare for business portal where you can set up a profile, called “Claiming your Venue.” Foursquare is a popular location-based social site where consumers can check-in and chat about what they’re doing at your establishment.
- Facebook Places – This link will take you to Facebook’s location services home page. From there, click on “Claiming a Page for Your Business” to get started. The mega-popular social media site is now expanding into check-ins to allow users to share where they are.
- Loopt – This site works a little differently because business owners can’t maintain their profiles directly with Loopt – instead, Loopt pulls profiles from CitySearch.com (which is fee based) and Bing.com (which is free.)
You should be able to update your profiles on all of these sites within an hour or two and should begin to see an immediate uptick in business as consumers browsing the mobile web for local businesses can more easily find you.
As a final thought, be sure to post information on both your mobile website and in your establishment encouraging people to “Like” you on Facebook and check-in on foursquare and other check-in services. You can even offer a discount or other incentive to encourage them to do so – as you start to get more check-ins, more traffic will follow as you establish credible social proof for your business.
If you’re like most bloggers you want to make money with your blog. The good news is you can. It’s possible to earn a couple hundred dollars a month, some even replace their job income.
Truth be told it’s unlikely you’ll earn a fulltime income overnight; heck you probably won’t do it next month. But, if you treat monetizing your blog like eating an elephant, one bite at a time, you can reach your income goals rather quickly.
There are two general ways to make money with your blog; through your blog or because of your blog. You can blog by taking paid advertisements or selling products and services. You can make money because of your blog by being hired for writing assignments, speaking engagements, or you might be given a new job.
This report will show you many different ways to make money with your blog. Pick a couple, mix and match, and you’ll be making money in no time.
One of the most lucrative ways to monetize your blog is by selling advertising space. Selling your own ad space gives you the advantage of setting your own rates and cutting out the middleman (which puts more money in your pocket.)
Before you rush out selling advertising there are a couple things to consider; first you must have a large audience in order to get qualified advertisers. Second, it takes time to manage sales, payments, ad design, placement etc.
If you aren’t an experienced online marketer and blogger you will save a lot of time and money by using one of the many advertising services available to monetize your blog. For a small share of your commission an advertising service will take on the administrative headaches and marketing woes so you can concentrate on blogging and making money.
There are several types of ads available for you to put on your blog. The most common are pay per post, pay per click (PPC), cost per impression (CPM), and text-link ads.
Pay Per Post
We love to give our opinions, don’t we? And, just as true, we rely on other people’s opinions to give us insight when deciding on which big screen T.V. to buy or who we have work on our car.
Twitter reported that 34% of bloggers post opinions about products, brands and services. The principle idea of pay per post is to bring something very popular to something highly sought after and make a win/win situation.
Pay per post is an advertising program that works by bringing advertisers and bloggers together. The advertiser pays the blogger to write reviews about their services or products and post those reviews to the bloggers site. The blogger gets paid for the review and the advertiser gets another promotion for their product, as well as a link to their website.
You write the review in your own tone. Constructive criticism is encouraged, but rude or hateful reviews will usually be declined. Pay per post sites or services give writers and advertisers a meeting place. They give them a place to come together and negotiate.
After the advertisers and writers agree to terms, payment is made by the advertiser to the pay per post site. The advertiser gets their review and the blogger gets paid (by the pay per post service). The pay per post service collects a cut of the earnings for their efforts.
Payments range from as little as $2, to as much as a $1000. $1000 is a pretty good ‘extra’ income, wouldn’t you say?
5 Top Pay per Post Sites
Sponsored Reviews works in two ways, you can create a profile of your blog to attract advertisers or you can search for advertisers and bid on jobs. The ability to find your own customers is a favorite feature for many bloggers who go to Sponsored Reviews.
Sponsored Reviews pays publishers with PayPal every two weeks, and they are always on time with the payments. Some blog owners don’t like that you are required to keep the review on your site forever. Truth be told they should be glad to have the extra content.
One other distraction for some bloggers is that in order to land any jobs worth doing you will need at least a page rank of 3 on your blog.
Blogsvertise has been in business since 2006. Blogvertise declares their payment rate for new blogs/accounts is $4 – $25 per entry. Most fall in the range of $ 5-$15. They say that payout rates vary and are often based on the popularity (i.e. traffic) of the blog. Traffic is measured by an independent third party.
Payout, which can be made through PayPal, comes 30 days after your assigned task has been approved.
In my research I only found one person who claimed they were dissatisfied with Blogsvertise. The complaint was that each time they called support they had to talk to a different person. Compounding that frustration was that several times the answers conflicted with an earlier conversation.
LinkWorth products include text link ads, paid blog reviews, in-text links, in-content pay per click ads, rotating text ads, hosted content pages, article submission, directory submission and many more.
Bloggers who use LinkWorth for paid blog review say they like how easy it is to register and get their blogs accepted. Another plus that many like is the no minimum earnings for payment. In other words even if you only earned $5.oo this month you will be paid that …………$5.00.
The most common complaint against LinkWorth is that the many advertising opportunities it offers can make navigating around the site difficult and confusing.
ReviewMe pay a minimum of $20 and up to $200 for writing a review. The rules say that blog posts should be a minimum of 200 words, but the average accepted review is 300 words.
One big plus for ReviewMe is that you are not obligated to write a positive opinion. You will still get paid for the review if it’s negative. The most common complaint is that at first it is hard to get your blog accepted. But, they give you some great advice on how to improve your blog to get it approved.
ReviewMe will share a whopping 50% of your earnings; however they do pay a minimum $20 which is better than most other services.
SocialSpark claims, “Our mission is to empower everyone to value and exchange content, creativity and influence.” SocialSpark pays by a “point” system, which at first may draw concern. But the conversion is $10-$60 for a 300 word blog post. You’re paid your points 30 days after your review is accepted. You can then convert your points directly in to cash and receive payment via PayPal.
The only complaint I saw was that IZEA is very particular. There is a certain code that must be placed in the post that is sometimes confusing to configure. However, IZEA support will help you get it right.
Pay Per Click
Pay per Click (PPC), sometimes referred to as Cost per Click, is an Internet advertising system where advertisers pay blog or website owners for “leads.” A product owner or service provider will have an advertisement that promotes their goods. A blogger puts a copy of that ad, or a link to it, on their blog. When a visitor to the blog clicks on the advertisement the blogger gets paid by the product owner or service. Payment is made regardless of whether a sale is made or not.
Tracking clicks and ensuring there is no click fraud takes some pretty sophisticated software, which makes running an individual pay per click operation a bit advanced for the normal blogger. However, there are PPC providers who make this model of monetization possible for mere mortal bloggers.
PPC Providers for Publishers
Google Adsense got its start in the late 1990s. It actually started as only a search engine. It was such a good search engine that it became the primary search engine on the internet. Since searches were free Google developed AdWords. AdWords is the system that produces the advertisements in Google’s search results pages. Advertisers paid Google for prime placement of their ads.
Google saw they could get more ad exposure by letting bloggers and websites display ads. Adsense was born and blog/site owners were paid an undisclosed percentage of Googles AdWords fees.
As with most good things some not so savory characters started to “game” the Google system and Google went on the offensive. Many Adsense accounts were closed and the rules tightened. Most bloggers find that their Adsense earnings amount to a nice additional income. It is rare to earn a job replacing income from Adsense alone.
Chitika charges advertisers to be featured alongside your site’s content. At the end of every month you are paid based on the previous month’s earnings. Payments are sent after your account earns at least $10.00 for PayPal payouts or $50.00 for checks.
Chitika ads are not contextual they are search targeted. Contextual advertising is a form of targeted advertising in which the content of an ad is in direct correlation to the content of the web page the user is viewing. Search targeted advertising is a type of advertising where ads are placed to reach consumers based on various traits such as demographics, purchase history, or observed behavior. Since Chitika ads are search targeted you must know your readers for optimum click through.
Chitika works only with US and Canada based visitors, so your international traffic is just ignored. Chitika has variety of ad sizes and formats. They offer a list format where maps or images are automatically displayed alongside the ads. This is a real plus if you have a site that may benefit from location based ads.
Bidvertiser is a pay-per-click advertising network that works a bit different from other pay-per-click programs. You make money from clicks and conversions. You get paid for every visitor that clicks on an ad and extra revenue if the click turns into conversion.
Ads look too much like AdSense ads and apparently you are not allowed to run both programs on your website.
Bidvertiser has a good reputation, the people running Bidvertiser work hard to keep the advertisers and the publishers happy. Bidvertiser pays but has one of the lowest payout in this industry but at the same time it is consistent.
Clicksor Inc. is another leading Contextual Advertising Network (PPC). You can earn up to 85% revenue share, depending on the performance the advertisers reach from your Web site ad placements.
Payout is every 15 days via check or PayPal. But, no payments will be issued for any amounts less than $50US. Any publisher payment that is unclaimed 6 months after the issue date will not be compensated”.
Cost per Impression
Cost per impression (CPM) is an internet advertising model that is related to web traffic. It refers to online marketing campaigns where advertisers pay for ad impressions. An impression refers to an advertisement appearing on your blog. The higher the number of impressions, the more money you make.
For example – if a blog generates 100,000 page views each month and displays an advertisement with a $2 CPM, it will earn $200 monthly. CPM campaigns pay from 20 cents to 15 dollars per thousand impressions.
Cost per Impression differs from Pay per Click because visitors don’t need to click on the ads for you to get paid. CPM pays based only on the number of impressions your blog generated.
Popular CPM Providers
Tribal Fusion is a division of the Exponential Group which has headquarters in Emeryville California.
Most of the complaints about Tribal Fusion are that the control panel is hard to navigate and their pay is at the lower end of the industry standard. A plus for Tribal Fusion with publishers is the great support offered and the fact they always pay out.
Value Click is a division of ValueClick Incorporated that began performance based advertising in 1998. There are two ways to earn revenue through ValueClick Media – you can place advertisements on your website or generate leads with the affiliate and co-registration platform.
Many publishers report that the ValueClick dashboard is well organized and very user friendly. The one complaint that I found was that they run ads in spurts depending on time of year and the advertisers. But the quality of the advertisements is superb and the payout is great.
Vibrant Media is a leading advertising network that has over 3000 partners. Vibrant Media’s platform allows publishers to manage the number of links that can be displayed and which keywords are used on an individual, per-page basis.
Some publishers report that their earnings are lower than expected and other contextual networks are paying off better. Others are impressed with Vibrant Medias enhance hyperlinks, which the company says, “Bring(s) content to life by conveniently delivering relevant previews of videos, articles and information, and allow users to discover more editorial information from words within web content.”
Burst Media was founded by internet entrepreneurs Jarvis Coffin and David Stein. One thing that sets Burst Media apart from other CPM providers is their dedicated sales force both in the UK and United States that work with advertising agencies to promote advertising for their website publishers.
Publishers’ blogs must contain original, regularly updated content and content must be in readable English. The blogs cannot just be portals for other websites and they are required to have specific themes.
Their rates aren’t as high as other sites, but the minimum traffic requirement isn’t high either. Most bloggers report that they are seeing good results from the ad placements.
AdBrite is the largest independent ad exchange, reaching 300 million global unique visitors every month, including more than 150 million in the U.S. As the publisher you decide which advertisers may advertise on your site. You have the option to manually review and approve or decline every advertiser prior to any ads appearing on your site.
AdBrite gives its publishers 70% of the revenues generated from their ad spaces and keeps 30%. The minimum payment amount is $5, but you will have to change the $100 minimum in your account settings.
Text Link Ads
Text link ad is a text placed on a website which is hyperlink to some other website page. The advantage of the text link ad method is that it isn’t intrusive. You can sell text links directly through your blog or use networks to automate the process.
Text Link Ad Networks:
Digital Point ad sales are completely market driven with advertisers bidding for ad space (or on keywords). Blog owners can set minimum bids they are willing to accept.
To start making money via Text Link Ads you put a script on your blog, one time (don’t worry they have support to help if you need). When an advertiser buys a link on your site TLA and you split the earnings 50-50. Ads a paid at a flat rate for a 30 day period, which means you don’t have to worry about clicks and all that.
You are paid anywhere from $10-$50 depending on the PR and traffic your site gets. Payments are sent the first day of the month via check, PayPal, Payoneer or Text Link Ads voucher. The one bad thing about the system is that getting advertisers can take some time and the text link widget is left blank until somebody buys links on your site. I wish TLA gave you some way to monetize this space until advertisers come in.
TNX.net allows advertisers to place links on individual pages instead of the entire site, that gives you more opportunities to monetize your blog. If your Google PageRank for the page is above zero, an ad can be placed on it. TNX.net collects a mere 12.5% commission. Code installation is easy with their “copy-paste” method.
RSS Feed Advertising
RSS or feeds are a way for blogs to instantly distribute their content far beyond visitors using browsers. Feeds allow visitors to subscribe to updates that are made to the blog. The updates are delivered to the visitors automatically via a web portal, news-reader, or email.
You can monetize your blog by including PPC or CPM ads in the footer of your feed. If you are using the WordPress blogging platform or publishing tool you likely publish a feed automatically.
Feed Management Tools
Feedburner was purchased by Google in 2007. Google AdSense integrates easily with FeedBurner so users can monetize their RSS feeds.
While Feedburner has feed statistics for subscriber trends, clickthroughs, breakdowns of feed readers and email services; the data changes significantly and frequently rendering it unreliable. If accurate data isn’t important to you, FeedBurner is a great tool to create and manage your blog’s feed.
Pheedo’s state-of-the-art RSS ad serving platform enables the delivery and tracking of ads alongside your content, anywhere it goes. Payments are made via PayPal or Check. Minimum payout is $50 but publisher can request a lower payout by writing in.
If you don’t want to put ads on your blog, or you are looking for an additional way to monetize your blog, affiliate marketing is a good way to make money. Affiliate marketing generally pays more per sale than you would make per click with other forms of advertising. But, affiliate marketing requires visitors to both click your affiliate link and purchase the product or service before you to get paid.
Don’t let that dissuade you; affiliate marketing is still very lucrative.
Affiliate marketing opportunities are all over the internet. Many websites and companies have affiliate programs or you can use affiliate networks. These networks specialize in connecting companies with publishers (bloggers). It’s a win/win, the company gets a sales team without the human resources nightmare and the blogger gets a way to monetize their blog.
Commission Junction manages one of the largest, most diverse and productive publisher networks in the industry. While the products and services of the merchants are well known and reliable. Many offers need to be “approved”, which means you apply to the merchant who may reject your blog. Asking and waiting for approval can be a bother.
The ShareASale Network has over 2,500 merchants to choose from. A unique feature ShareASale offers is affiliate tracking via telephone calls. One big concern of affiliates is losing sale commissions because a referral orders a product or service by telephone on the vendor’s website. Pay per call eliminates this loss.
ClickBank has tens of thousands of digital products to promote online. Commissions of up to 75% are paid weekly and direct deposit available. Warning…Before you can collect your first affiliate commission you must make 5 different sales. One sale must be paid with a Visa and one with MasterCard, before you can be paid as an affiliate. To complicate things more debit cards do not count as credit cards.
PayDotCom pays sales commissions of from 5% to 80%. Merchants, called vendors, offer both physical and digital products. There are over 75,000 products and services to choose from in the marketplace. PayDotCom charges the affiliate (you) $0.50 to $1.50 for each transaction. Another potential drawback is that the vendor pays you. Be sure to check the payment methods available for each product you promote.
More Affiliate Networks
Individual Affiliate Programs
Many businesses have affiliate programs. Did you know you can be an Apple Store affiliate? In fact you can earn up to 2% on Apple products.
Think of your favorite place to shop. Does it have products that are consistent with your blog? Look at their website, do they have an affiliate program? You may have to scroll to the bottom of the page and check the small links to find a link. Or google the store name + affiliate program .
Amazon is the most recognized retailer on the internet administers its own affiliate program. You can find everything from books to diapers on Amazon. Joining Amazon Associates is free and you can earn up to 15% on everything your blog visitors buy there. Amazon uses a sliding scale where the more you sell the higher your commission. For example sell 1 item and your commission is 4% sell 7 and it jumps to 6% on all 7 items. Hint: Mix some lower cost items in with higher value products to boost your commission point.
You can create merchandise that contains your blogs logo or other graphics, and every time a reader wears it you get some free advertising.
It’s not as hard as it sounds to create merchandise to sell on your blog. There are websites that give you the ability you to create t-Shirts, mouse pads, mugs, hats, and other things that you can personalize any way you wish and sell for a profit.
You don’t need to have a manufacturing plant, shipping facility or order department. These websites handle orders, payments, and shipping, leaving you to do nothing but design your merchandise and profit.
At Café Press basic membership is free and even includes a simple online store hosted on Cafepress. The merchandise you create has a base price and you mark it up to the price you wish and keep the profit. They handle orders, payments, and shipping. Each item is printed as it’s ordered and shipped directly to the customer. Most orders are printed and shipped in 24 hours. You make the design and they take care of the rest.
Spreadshirt is like Café Press. You can make your own designs, build a free virtual store and direct your readers for ordering. A disadvantage of Spreadshirt is you only get paid quarterly.
Zazzle is more geared toward individuals rather than people trying to sell their products online. And, you cannot print on dark apparel. But, Zazzle gives you the opportunity to make money for your designs in two ways. First you earn a fixed percentage when one of your designs is sold on your product. And you earn 10% if your design is used (even if it has been modified) by another user.
If you are writing your own content for your blog you can write a book and publish it. Three of the top companies that help you self publish are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Amazon and Barnes & Noble are probably pretty well known. Smashwords is very well known amongst indie (independent) writers.
CreateSpace, another Amazon company, will produce your books, DVD’s, CD’s, videos and MP3’s. CreateSpace uses the manufacturing-on-demand model, which means your products will be produced as customers order.
You can also make your book available as an eBook on Amazon.com and reach millions of Kindle readers with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). KDP gives you everything you need to become your own publisher today. Once your product is produced the marketing machine of Amazon goes into gear and helps you earn money.
Barnes & Noble has PubIt! that works like Amazon’s CreateSpace. Through PubIt! your digital files are converted to be viewed on Barnes % & Nobles’ tablet the NOOK as well as other computing devices.
Smashwords is the world’s leading eBook distributor. This free service helps you publish, distribute and sell at eBook retailers including the Apple iBookstore (in 31 countries), Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Baker & Taylor, the Diesel eBook Store and EbookEros. Smashwords gives you access to free, do-it-yourself sales and marketing tools to help you promote your book. You receive 85 percent of the net sales proceeds from your titles (70.5% for affiliate sales), and 60% of the list price for all sales through their major retailers.
If your blog is successful and you have a large reader base, consider making money by adding a newsletter. Yes it will add a bit more work, but can be very lucrative for you. Content for your newsletter could be other information about your blogs topic or more in-depth information for a post that was public.
Making money with your newsletter is similar to making money with your blog. You can sell ad space, use affiliate marketing, promote your own products etc. Warning: Be sure your newsletter concentrates on good content and not asking for money. Content is what will get your subscribers and keep those you already have. It will also win you the right to ask for a sale.
You could give away part of the content on your blog for free, and charge for access to premium content and exclusive tools. Your memberships and subscription service does not have to be limited to text only. You can offer podcasts, video-casts etc. Any way that you transmit information can be through a member’s only page on your blog.
There are several paid and free plugins for setting up membership areas on your blog.
Sell Your Skills
Your blog is a great way to showcase your skills and make money from them. Use your blog as an online portfolio. Post text files, pictures, audio files and video. As you can see there are many ways to show your customers what you can do for them.
Let’s say that you have a way with words. You are able to write entertaining informative blog posts. Show your client by posting entertaining informative posts, there is no better example than a living example. Then promote your skills with a text ad or graphic in your sidebar or maybe a note under each post, hyperlink the graphic or ad to a page that outlines your services.
Remember to show your customer how your services will benefit them. Include your pricing structure and contact information. Services and skills you could offer include; guest blogging, consulting, speaking, workshops/seminars, podcasts, video-casts, coaching/mentoring, web design, marketing, SEO, social media .
Education is a large industry and it is not limited to brick and mortar. Many people want more than just information. These people are willing to pay to have someone or something teach them.
A mentoring or coaching program related to your blogs niche can be very lucrative. You can coach and teach in a number of different media, from articles to audio and video lessons.
There are many people who are poor writers, or don’t want to take the time to write, yet they want their own web real-estate. You can make money blogging by setting up 10-15 page blogs on a specific niche and sell them.
5 Key components that will give a blog more value:
1) Has the blog made any money?
Of course if you are setting them up in the morning and selling them in the afternoon they won’t show an income. But, you can work around that by having them optimized for monetization by any of the ways already listed.
2) Is the domain name keyword related?
If you have the keyword in the domain name it will help search engines see the blog.
3) Does it have good original content?
There is a lot of banter about duplicate content. Take the time to write original content so it’s a mute point. The blog will be more valuable to more potential customers.
4) Is there traffic to it?
Ok, hard to have traffic figures on a new blog but having traffic to the blog will increase the value.
5) Does it have an original or premium theme?
An original or premium theme that is niche specific will increase the value of the blog. It will make it unique and stand out from the crowd to be recognized.
Where to sell your blog?
Ebay is a great way to turn blogs into cash. Get started by following their 3 easy steps here. When you list the blog on eBay you’re charged an insertion fee. If the blog sells you’re also charged a final value fee.
Flippa exposes your blog to one of the world’s largest audience of website buyers. You’ll need to pay a fee, around $50, to list your site there, but your guaranteed that your listing will be exposed to many site buyers.
Warrior Forum is a membership forum. It costs $35 for a lifetime membership. It’s $20 to have your blog listed on the front page of the Complete Websites For Sale Forum. When your listing falls from the first page you can “bump” it back by paying another $20.
Site Point requires you to be a member of their forum, but you can list your blogs for sale for free. Oh yes, and membership is free also.
Other places to sell your blog:
It may seem silly; most of the simplest things do, but consider asking for donations to make money from your blog. True this method is not for everyone, but if your blog is informative your readers will not have a problem donating. Not everyone will donate, but those who do will do so from their own free will because they enjoy reading your blog and wish to see it continue.
Setting your blog up for donations:
If you have a PayPal account, you simply insert a button into your blog that users can click to make donations via Pay Pal.
We have looked at 15 different methods you can use to monetize your blog. In addition you have been introduced to 92 different places you can partner with. Now it’s time for you to take action. You will not earn one dime only planning … yes, planning is essential to success but you must take action!
Today we are going to go through the process of building a new website from beginning to end starting from scratch and ending with a site that has good solid content and the ability to have monetization channels for revenue.
Getting started in niche websites can be a struggle and getting a first site up gives you the confidence that it can be done and that is what will be our goal at the end of this series. This article will also be helpful for those who already have sites up and running as it will cover a solid foundation of information. Even though we will start at ground zero and end with a fully functioning site it will provide value for both beginner and intermediate level readers.
Our goals are:
1) Educate the reader about and document the process of building a niche website from start to finish.
2) Determine how to pick a site that has good search traffic that has potential to rank well in the search engines and obtain organic, not purchased, traffic
3) Discuss the potential for adding monetization strategies. While the goal will to build a solid content site that adds value to a reader, we are also investing time and resources in building the content and traffic so there is a reasonable desire for monetization possibilities.
4) End up at the end of the series with a solid website property.
As a general reminder, it is ok to focus on a topic that interests you as the guiding principle in this website building case study, as long as it has some commercial potential. While there is nothing wrong with selecting a topic for your niche based solely on monetary factors (we are talking about web “business” after all), when possible it can be helpful to select a niche that you do have some interest in or knowledge about to get started. This can make it easier to maintain interest in the project as well as making it easier to add content on your own.
Keyword research is the process of finding the words and phrases that you will target for ranking in the search engines. Ideally, keywords with high search volume and low competition are what we are looking for here.
As mentioned in the introduction, we can look for a keyword that is primarily based on commercial intent and target easier monetization, or one that covers a topic of personal interest or knowledge to help retain motivation and allow for easier content generation on your own.
As you are thinking about this, brainstorm on things you like to do, read, or watch. Look at your bookshelf and movies, etc. What do you like to look at on the internet? These can all give you ideas for possible keywords. What have you purchased lately in your Amazon shopping cart? How about a hobby that you spend a lot of time on? All of these can get you started.
Take a look at some of the popular websites like Amazon and look in the bestseller area for ideas on items that are popular or trending. Another option is to browse on Flippa and see some websites that are up for sale or recently sold that could spark some ideas.
Make an initial list of keyword ideas in a few broad areas that interest you, and then next to each keyword expand a little more with a more narrow idea to get some creative juices flowing.
At this point you will have a nice starting list built up and we are ready to move to the next step which is seeing how often our target keywords (and related ones) are being searched in Google.
Google Keyword Tool
You will need a free Google account for several of the next steps, so to follow this process go on over to Google.com and sign up if you don’t have one. The starting point for our keyword research will be Google’s own <a href=”https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal” title=”Keyword Research Tool”>Keyword Research Tool</a>.
Using this tool, potential keywords can be researched and the average monthly searches can be found along with some other relevant data such as the estimated average Cost per Click (CPC). Start off with one of your broad and narrower keyword sets and enter them and hit search so we can see some results.
Note: Let’s talk about broad, phrase, and exact match for a minute.
Broad match results give the number of searches regardless of the order or words that may be between a search phrase.
Phrase match gives the number or searches for those words in that order but can be part of a larger query.
Exact match gives you the number of searches for the keyword or keywords as entered exactly.
Example: Using the phrase “Make Money Online” as your keywords would give:
– Broad match for any of these searches: Make Money Online Fast, How to Make Money Online, How to Make Fast Money Online Now
– Phrase match for these searches: Make Money Online Today, The Make Money Online Answer
– Exact match for only: Make Money Online
It is important to pay attention to the type of match selected as broad will give the largest search numbers, but is quite misleading at times. Exact match is considered the standard to judge potential search traffic by, and will be the lowest number of these three with Phrase match somewhere in the middle.
This is important, as many people have chosen what they thought was a great niche only to realize they have been hit with the Broad match overstatement. Google will also list some other similar words to your listed keywords in related that you can review.
There are tons of tips and tricks for how to determine if a number of searches is high enough to tackle with a niche site, but one rule of thumb for starting is to go with a keyword with at least 1,000 local searches a month to target a keyword with enough traffic to make it a minimum for viability.
That gets us to the point where we can identify how many searches there are for a keyword, next let’s take a look at some competition analysis.
Competition & Monetization
At this point after reviewing the keywords on your list, hopefully a few of them will have passed an initial screening of meeting a minimum level of searches and you will have a couple of favorites. At this point there are still a few more things to consider.
First and foremost, what is the possible competition to rank highly for this keyword? Second, does the potential site and content offer a possibility to monetize in the future?
There are multiple tools to do competition analysis available on the internet, but one that has a nice free version is Traffic Travis which offers both a free version and a paid version. You can have some initial success with the free version, but can consider the paid version if you like what you see.
In this program, going to the keyword tools section will give you an average daily search result including multiple search engines (Google, Bing,Yahoo, etc) and the totals so you can see an idea of what other search engines may bring you in addition to Google (these are broad match results). The real meat for us in this program though is in the SEO analysis section, you can enter your chosen keywords and the program will go grab the top 10 or 20 search results for that phrase and provide you its analysis of the relative difficulty of ranking for the keyword as well as details on the competing sites in the top 10 or 20 results.
The program will give you its rating of the difficulty of ranking for the keyword, and you can also see some of the key data on the top ranking sites for your analysis.
Another popular program that is also used by many is Market Samurai which has a free trial offer as well, then becomes a paid program if you want to continue using it.
If the competition seems reasonable, make sure that you do some brainstorming on possible monetization strategies. Most sites will have something available whether it is is advertising, digital products, or physical products as affiliates. As a solid content site, advertising is always a possibility, but the payout could be low. Using Ebay or Amazon affiliates for any site talking about physical products seems reasonable as a possibility. Just make sure you aren’t in a completely non commercial niche before going any further.
In the last three posts on keyword research we walked through how to select a keyword and now we will talk about selecting a domain name and how we will go about registering it. Godaddy.com is a popular site to register domains and many people have had a good experience with them overall and they are a huge domain registrar. They are an established and reputable company.
To have a website, it must have a domain name which is the website address that is used to reach the site. Domain registration is relatively simple. To get started, click on over to Godaddy.com to get to the domain search at Godaddy on their homepage. Once there and at the search box, type in the domain name that you want in the search and it will return the result of whether it is available, and if not will give some suggestions for alternatives.
It is most commonly recommended that if at all possible for a niche site that you get the Exact Match Domain (or EMD). This means the domain name is the exact same as your keyword. If it isn’t available, it isn’t a dealbreaker, but it is generally accepted that it gives you some initial boost in the search rankings. If you find that the EMD isn’t available, then adding something as a prefix or a suffix can get you there. Try searching with best or top on the front or HQ or reviews at the end of your keywords. The key is finding something that fits, but that gives you a keyword rich domain.
Once you have found the domain you want, add it to your shopping cart. At this point, you can add additional domains or go to the checkout (you will need to register an account to buy domains just like any online store).
There will be options offered to you to make several upgrades and upsells which can usually be safely declined except for one. The one that can be added and many do is Private Registration which helps protect your personal information from public searches in Whois. If you want to host with GoDaddy they do offer hosting, but the next post will cover another web host and the recommendation is not to use Godaddy hosting.
One quick tip on private registration is that if you add 5 or more domains to an order, then the private registration is added at no charge to the initial order. They call it bulk pricing. If you have five names you would like, then this approach can save some money on private registration. Now that you have a domain name, you need a webhosting service…
Now that you have a domain name and an address on the web for your site, it needs somewhere to be hosted at on a server so that people can access it. The domain name is just the address, but the webhost is the actual home of the website.
Hostgator is topnotch website hosting and they have a long history and lots of solid reviews over many years around the web. Hostgator offers two “introductory” hosting plans at a reasonable price. Their “Hatchling” plan is currently $4.95-$8.95 per month and the “Baby” plan is at $7.95-$9.95 per month depending on the length of the initial signup. The key difference between these two plans is that the Baby plan allows you to host unlimited domains on their shared servers while the Hatchling plan only allows one. If you are planning to expand to multiple websites the Baby plan seems to make more sense.
If you get big and have a larger traffic site, they do offer more extensive plans, but the shared server solutions should be adequate for your starting traffic and is a good place to get started.
Note: They also offer Reseller Hosting plans if you want to go the route of reselling your own hosting as a part of a way to start a web business, but that is a different business model.
After you have obtained your webhosting, then you are ready to setup the domain name on the web hosting account, setup an email address, and change the domain nameservers to your hosting account nameservers which is the subject of the next post.
Setup domain & nameservers
Now that you have a domain name and webhosting then we need to setup the domain name on the web hosting account, setup an email address, and change the domain nameservers to the hosting account nameservers.
If you just registered your webhosting, you should have been run through the request for your domain name at registration and already have the domain name setup on the Cpanel account at the webhosting provider. If this is an additional domain, then in the Cpanel account, we will add it as an add-on domain. To do this, in the lower section of the Cpanel, click on Add-on Domains, and add your domain name and password and hit the add domain button on the next screen. Now the domain name should be registered with your webhost.
I like to go ahead and setup an email address at my new domain, so go back to the Cpanel home, click on email accounts in the email section, then at the next screen add a username and select your domain name and hit Create Account. Now we have a custom email address.
Next, to have your domain properly forwarded to the webhosting provider, the nameservers must be set to the ones provided by your hosting company. You should have received these from your webhost at signup. Make note of these, and then we will go back over to our domain registrar (GoDaddy) to set these.
Once there, go to your account, and the Domain Manager. Click on the domain information for the domain you are changing, and hit the Nameservers link/tab. At this screen, overwrite the default nameservers with your hosting provider’s nameservers that they provided.
It can take a few hours for the nameservers to populate, but at this point you are really close to having your home on the web setup and started, but there is still some more to do to get where we want to be.
Now you have a domain name, hosting, and have basics configured, the next step is to install WordPress which is a great blogging/web platform. We will be using WordPress in this study and will discuss installation in the next post installing WordPress.
Next up we will install WordPress and also an FTP program that we can use to upload files to our webserver. The good news is that WordPress has a simple installation with Hostgator. The Cpanel at HostGator offers a great one click installation of WordPress via a program called Fantistico. To get there, go to the lower section of the Cpanel and click on Fantastico. Once there, a menu will appear on the left, and select WordPress. At the next screen, select New Installation.
Now there are three steps left. On this page, select the domain to install WordPress on, then select a username and password and the other fields and click Install WordPress. At the next page, confirm the information, and click Finish Installation. WordPress will now install, and you will get a note with the key information about the install. You can enter an email address to send the install information to and hit send. That is it. Now you have WordPress installed on your website and you have a home on the web!
An FTP program allows you to link to your webserver and upload files from your computer to your websites. While not necessarily required as many themes and plugins can be installed directly from WordPress Admin area some have to be uploaded because they aren’t in WordPress’ hosted database.
If a user of the Firefox web browser, the FireFTP addon is recommended. If you haven’t setup FTP, go to Cpanel and click the FTP menu and setup a user name and password.
Once FireFTP is installed, it can be found in the tools menu. Create an account and give it a name. The host is ftp.yourdomainname.com (where yourdomainname.com is your website domain) and add your username and password. Connect and you will see your computer files on the left and the server on the right and can upload to them as needed in the future. Next up we will add some plugins to our WordPress site.
One of the great things about using WordPress is that there are thousands of plugins available to expand the basic WordPress installation. In fact, there are plugins for almost anything imaginable that make building up a site with it much easier than having to code in HTML. To learn about how to add new plugins read the below. There are both paid and free plugins available for WordPress, but these below are all free as of the time of this writing.
In the WordPress Admin area, click on the “Add New” link under Plugins and search for the plugins desired. When you find one to install, click install and it should be installed and added to the plugins menu for activation and setup as needed. Plugins can also be added via FTP after being downloaded to a local file and then uploaded to the plugins folder on the website server if they are not available inside WordPress (usually this is more common with paid plugins).
On a new site setup, the following are the plugins that are commonly recommended to install at startup and cover much of what is needed for a new site.
All in One SEO WordPress plugin
This plugin is a strong plugin to help Search Engine Optimize your site. It adds options for adding additional information to page and post headers, descriptions, keywords, etc and is a top add plugin for your site.
Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin creates a XML sitemap and submits it to Search Engines based on the options selected and can help guide the search crawlers as they index your website.
Contact Form plugin
An easy automated plugin for adding a web form to send an email to you directly from the website.
The Sociable plugin adds social networking icons to the end of your posts and pages so that readers can easily Tweet, Digg, Bookmark, Stumble, Facebook, etc your post and hopefully drive back social media traffic to your site.
Another solid option for sharing is a plugin called SexyBookmarks, which isn’t adult even though the name makes it sound like it might be. They are just another icon set with a different look that does basically the same thing as Sociable in function.
This plugin allows you to schedule automatic backups of your WordPress site and have it emailed to you. This can help make sure that you never lose your entire site as it can be restored from the backup files. These are some great plugins to get started with. Next up we will look at some WordPress theme options.
Like plugins, there are also thousands of themes available beyond the basic WordPress default theme. As the basic look of your website, the theme will define the header, the sidebar menus, the colors, etc. It defines what the site will look like. To learn about how to add new themes read the below.
In the WordPress Admin area, click on the Themes link in Appearance and select”Add New” to search or browse for themes on the WordPress site. When you find one to install, click install and it should be installed and added to the themes menu for activation and setup as needed.
It is also common for themes to be added via FTP after being downloaded to a local file and then uploaded to the themes folder on the website server. Then they will show up in the Themes menu as available to preview or activate.
Some themes have customization menus in the Theme options, and others don’t, only allowing easy customization via widgets, with any other changes requiring some php code editing. Themes with good customization options are preferable for most, but a nice clean look is a main factor regardless of the customization available.
Some popular free themes to check out are:
– Semiologic WordPress theme (Highly Customizable)
– Lightword WordPress theme (Modest options support, nice clean look)
– Simple Balance WordPress theme (Highly Customizable)
– Vigilance WordPress theme (Modest options support, nice clean look)
– Pressplay WordPress theme (not a lot of customization options, but like the look and flow for certain sites)
– Tarski WordPress theme (nice two column clean look, not alot of customization options)
Hopefully this list will help you speed up the search process. You can easily spend a lot of time looking for and browsing for themes that look good and give you the functionality desired.
There are also paid themes available that have many options and customization built in and these are another option. Next up we will discuss setting up tracking for traffic on your website and using some of Google’s tools for website management.
Google Tools & Analytics
Installing <a href=”http://www.google.com/analytics/”>Google Analytics</a> on your websites can be a good way to track the traffic coming to your site. Once signed up with Analytics you will receive a block of code to include on your website that will allow Google to report to you on the number of your website visits, how people got there, which pages they visit, and how long they stay.
You can see traffic numbers from search engines including what search words drove the traffic. If the traffic came from a referring site you can see that also, so for example if you post your link somewhere to drive traffic you can measure its effectiveness. Also available for research is to see what pages are visited from all of your pages and posts so that you can see what content is bringing people to your site.
Google <a href=”https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/”>Webmaster Tools</a> also provides data that can be used to evaluate a website’s performance. While somewhat more performance focused as it shows things like errors and possible search crawl errors that can be relevant for search engine indexing, it does also show a listing of queries for your site, a list of backlinks to your site, and if you have a sitemap it will show you how many pages are indexed in Google.
The combination of these two free Google tools will help to give you guidance on your website’s performance and a view into your traffic statistics.
Links are included below in addition to the clickable links above.
The next part will discuss some standard pages to include on a website.
Standard Pages (Privacy, Disclaimer, Contact)
An earnings disclaimer is quite common on sites discussing how to make money to indicate that you may not make anything at all, and may lose money.
The contact page will list how to contact you via a web form on the page that will send you an email.
The about page will give information about what your website is about and what is its purpose.
Other general information is also often included about the site on a general page. It may discuss anything wanting to be listed for possible site readers. It is common to talk about information being the reader’s responsibility to use properly for example and that posts aren’t medical, legal, or financial advice, and other general terms of service.
One of the plugins recommended earlier is of great use in building the Contact page.
-Contact Form 7 allows a very easy setup of the web form that will allow you to be contacted from the form that it can create on a page.
With this done, we now have most of the basics of building the website framework in place with just a few more housekeeping items to go. Continued next is some basic WordPress setup advice.
Basic WordPress Setup
To start, a quick note is in order about the difference between Pages and Posts in WordPress. Also a couple of important WordPress Settings will be discussed also.
A page in WordPress is a static document that doesn’t go into the feed and stream of posts that is typically associated with a “blogging” style layout.
A post in WordPress goes into the RSS feed and usually goes into the stream of posts on the homepage based on date published with the newest post at the top. This can be modified on a post by post basis by making a post “sticky” in the admin panel to keep it on top.
A decision can be made in the Settings for Reading to have the front page display a static page of your choosing with your post stream on another page of your choosing instead of the default option. If that style fits your website design better than a homepage that is in a more blog feed format, then feel free to use it.
Two other WordPress settings that should always be checked and changed if necessary are under Privacy Settings and Permalink settings.
Under Privacy settings, if you want to be able to obtain search results and rankings, then the blog needs to be set to be visible to everyone including search engines. This is typically the default listing, but always check to be sure.
Under permalink settings, change the Common Settings to Custom Structure and use /%postname%/ in the entry box. The default WordPress url structure is not very SEO friendly as it would assign your posts a number or letters, etc instead of whatever your post title is listed as. Making this change puts your post name as the url which is much more search engine friendly
Now that WordPress is setup with a basic configuration and there is a general knowledge of pages vs posts, we will move to submitting our site url to the search engines to get indexed.
Submit to Search Engines
After a long hard climb through the first 12 posts with a lot of actions and a lot of learning, especially if this is the first site you have ever built, this short action of how to submit the website url to the major search engines (Google and Bing) will be a much easier task to accomplish.
There is some debate over whether this step is necessary, but since it is quite easy, and gives us a breather from a lot of heavy lifting, then it can’t hurt to do it and maybe speed up the site indexing process.
Although it is common, especially for WordPress sites, that most of the major search engines will find your site on their own, submitting to their submission pages notifies them of your website and its url address so they know to come crawl it and add it to their index of sites.
Submit URL to Google
Submit URL to Bing (signup required)
Next up we get going again with building things up by learning about adding content.
Content is king. Or so say the current rules of the Internet. Starting up a content based website for is what we have been discussing and so far, not a lot in this series has been about content just yet. That must seem strange, but we had to lay the foundation first.
A couple of notes on that. First, this is assuming a step by step walkthrough, and after doing some of the ground work once it will be a lot easier the second time around. This means that in the future the content creation will be able to start faster. There is also nothing to say that things must always be done in this order because there is definitely nothing wrong with getting some content in work or on the site before everything else is 100% in place. In fact, it is taking actions like that which will help you persevere through the tough times.
Writing good solid content can take time and focus, and at first just getting everything together and setup may take all of that concentration which is why we have focused on the foundation pieces for your website which will be one of the pillars of starting an online business.
But yes, it is now time to focus on content creation. Whether taking the form of articles, blog style posts, how to’s, informational posts, reviews, etc. the meat of a website is its content and without it the search engine rankings and traffic will not come.
If you have chosen a niche that you have some familiarity with, then selecting some topics to write about may come easier than if it is an unfamiliar niche topic. Either way, some other suggestions to find topics to write about are below.
Google’s Keyword Tool – Using the related keywords from the keyword research earlier, other similar and related topics will have presented themselves in those other keywords.
Google Trends – If looking for things to write about that are currently hot, then looking at the Google Trends can show you what is trending up.
Search Engine results – Searching for the related keywords in the search engines and seeing what results come up can give you an idea of what the competition is ranking for and can give you ideas of what content is ranking highly.
Article Directories (ezinearticles.com) – These will come up again later as part of driving traffic and building backlinks, but can also give ideas for what topics people are finding interesting.
You can start out with posts closely related to the topic, and then expand the site over time to cover more related topics that can flesh out the site.
In a topic that could be its own course, if your budget can afford it or you want to speed things up, you can utilize an outsourcing service to create the articles and posts for your site. Textbroker.com is a solid article writing service that has reasonable prices and lots of authors in the system. The service runs the articles through a copy checker for you prior to releasing them for review and acceptance, so the content you get is has a better proof of being original for your use and there is an option to send back for revision prior to acceptance if it doesn’t meet your requirements. Next up we will discuss getting a Twitter account and RSS feed through Feedburner for your website.
Getting a Twitter account for a website is a step to take next, even if it doesn’t seem like it will be used a lot at first. At a minimum, the account can be used to send out tweets announcing new posts on your website which will get your site in Twitter’s search stream, and possibly create some traffic. At best, if in a niche where posting is frequent and many followers end up on your account, it can be a key traffic mechanism and lead generator similar to an email list.
Since it is easy to do and may be great as a future piece of the website strategy it is a piece of new website setup that should be done and then automated as much as possible. As it is being regularly discussed that social signals such as Tweets may be being considered as ranking factors in the search engines, that is another reason to do it. To setup an account, just go over to twitter.com and open a new account (it’s free).
You may also want to consider setting up a Feedburner RSS feed instead of just using the default WordPress feed. The default WordPress feed is ok, but the Feedburner feed can provide a little more detail about subscriber stats over WordPress, but this can be considered more of an option than a necessity. Unless the Theme offers the ability to include an RSS subscribe button that can be pointed as you define, a plugin such as the “Subscribe” plugin must be used to add the Feedburner feed to the site for subscribers.
To setup a Feedburner feed requires a free Google account which is also needed for Analytics and Webmaster Tools, so if following along you already have this. Go to http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/myfeeds to create a Feedburner feed.
There are some nice plugins for WordPress for Twitter and RSS integration that can be used in conjunction with these. There are tons of Twitter plugins that can do everything from including your Twitter feed on your homepage to posting a new tweet automatically when a new post is published. One plugin mentioned above, the “Subscribe” plugin, can add a widget to the sidebar which will allow people to follow your Twitter account or subscribe to your RSS feed from the homepage sidebar. Next up adding video to your site will be discussed.
Adding videos to a website can be a strong draw for visitors to your site, and can also add to the feeling of a well planned and developed site that can get natural search engine results. Video has exploded as a medium for communication on the web. Youtube is one of the largest and most visited sites on the internet with tons of videos to view and share as well as providing the ability to upload your own content.
Video has become a big enough topic that it shows up separately in many search results by default, and has its own video section in search engines as well. Ranking well in these search results for videos can be an important driver of traffic as well as the normal text search results.
Ideally you would create brand new original content in video form. This could then be uploaded and then shared on your site with a link back to your site from Youtube (or other video site like Vimeo). Also, when creating your own content from something as simple even as Windows built in Movie Maker a visual of your site name and address can be added to the video thus making more exposure possible in case other sites pick up and embed your video on their sites.
Making a video to upload doesn’t have to be complex. One simple approach is to take relevant image files that have been merged together in slideshow form to make a video. While this probably isn’t the ideal way to make a video, depending on the topic it may work well and should at least get exposure and links. Most digital cameras and many phones include a video capture component that can be used without buying expensive or extra equipment.
Youtube videos can often be embedded based on the video settings, and can be added to your site as well. Next up is a similar topic to using video in your website efforts by using pictures and images on your website.
Adding images to a website is another solid method to attract visitors to your site. Much of what was said about videos applies to images as well.
Images and pictures are another large content area on the web today and like video they also have separate search results and areas in the search rankings.
The image content can also be either original and created by you or used from shared content from sites such as Flickr.com if the image has been shared with a license allowing it to be used (check licenses on Flickr). The images can be hosted on your own webhost or linked from a site such as Flickr.
Images are even simpler to create than video as all you need is a digital camera and the shots can be uploaded with only any minor editing that is needed. This can be an easy way to add original content to a site especially if the site is on a topic you are personally involved in since the pictures of normal activities and hobbies could become original content for the search engines to index and display.
Flickr images can be searched, and there is an option to search for images available under licensing that allows it to be added to another site, usually with a link back as photographer credit. There are also paid image sites available where you can buy rights to use images from an available selection. This may allow you to find a larger selection of images. Istockphoto.com is one of these options that it popular to use. Next up we will be discussing backlinks which will lead into other traffic strategies.
Obtaining links from other websites on the internet to your website is an important part of gaining search engine rankings as well as referral traffic (ie visitors from the linking site). Google and other search engines use links from other websites along with many other factors in making its ranking decisions. These links from other sites are called backlinks and account for the “off-page” portion of search engine optimization (SEO). (“On-page” factors are similar to what they sound like including the content, keywords, title, url, etc. of your webpage and are the other part of SEO). Backlinks are like a vote for your website from the linking website and help to establish credibility with the search engines.
There are numerous ways to attract and/or build links to your website or other web properties. Several of the next posts will discuss some of these different types of links and define what they are and what to consider in approaching link building. Each type of link can be considered to have a use in a link building strategy, but some links can be overdone as well and look bad (spammy) to the search engines.
First, a couple topics to address briefly are anchor text and follow vs nofollow.
Anchor text is the linking of a website with the use of a word or phrase as the clickable link. Often, the desired keywords are used as this anchor text which is supposed to help a search engine crawler obtain more information about a site’s content. A regular (naked) link is a clickable format of the full url. So for example, see the below examples:
Anchor text link for a website in HTML:
<a title=”Your Domain Name” href=”http://yourdomainname.com/” target=”_self”>Your Domain Name</a>
Naked link to a website in HTML:
Using good anchor text is important, but it is considered good practice not to overdo it with one anchor text to avoid search penalties for over optimization of anchor text. Some people even recommend using a few anchor texts like “click here” as anchor text as it helps make for a more natural link structure.
A link can be a “nofollow” link or a “follow” link. Nofollow is an attribute that can be added to a link to tell a search engine not to pass any of a site’s page rank to another site (or “nofollow” the link). Nofollow links are often considered to be less valuable than a follow link because of this, and comparatively that is often true, but others believe that a link is a link and thus a possible source of traffic even if it doesn’t pass pagerank. In building backlinks it should be an issue to be aware of and consider, but a natural link profile would likely include a mix of follow and nofollow so it should be ok to mix it up.
Web 2.0/Blog sites
Web 2.0 (blog) sites such as tumblr.com, squidoo.com, over-blog.com, insanejournal.com, or wordpress.com can be a great source of links that can be built up over time and really send your site some good links. This post is about using these web 2.0 sites to get links back to your site which will help in ranking in the search engines, but can also drive traffic to your site through referrals as these sites can rank some themselves (although this isn’t their primary goal).
Most of these sites are community type sites in which users register for an account and can then add their own page or pages on whatever topic (with the usual exceptions for adult and other prohibited content) they want to. You will need the typical information for signing up for an account on the web, but it is pretty easy to do. This process can even be outsourced (fiverr.com, odesk.com) or automated with the right software (SEO Link Robot, SENuke), but the software can be pricey and not really needed unless you are going to use a ton of links which may not be best for your site anyway.
At present, many of these type of sites are receiving good authority from Googleand they are crawled and indexed by Google quickly so a link from them can help get your site indexed by the search engines as well as help in ranking although this is a secondary concern. A link here back to your site also gives you the first opportunity to create some “anchor text” which is the keywords that are used for your link. For example, instead of “click here” and a clickable link, it will be “your keyword” and a clickable link. As we discussed in a previous post, anchor text helps tell the search engines what the link is about and helps in search engine ranking.
As an example, to setup a Squidoo lens head over to squidoo.com and sign up for a free account and select the option to create a lens. A lens must contain some content and add some value to a user so write some words and text about your subject. They also have some cool options to add different things to the lens to make it a general aggregator page. For example, you can feature polls, blog searches, Twitter feeds, picture search, etc. In addition, there is a link back to your site that traffic is being driven to and since it is a related site with more information on the subject, anyone clicking through will find good related information. Once you are done click publish and the lens is live. Squidoo offers the option to share in the revenue by adding the standard affiliate and advertising options so it is also a possible revenue source in addition to the main website.
The other sites all have the option to create the account on their site, write and post an article, and add a link, so check out the others above and do some searching for many more.
Web 2.0’s make a great “1st tier” set of backlinks. A tiered linking structure has lower quality backlinks (discussed later) pointing to higher quality links which point back to your main website. This strategy is believed to help lower the chance of receiving any ranking penalties while adding authority to the web 2.0 sites that have been created. The next post will discuss using article directories for linking purposes.
Article Marketing (Tier 1)
Article marketing refers to the strategy of writing articles for distribution on an article directory on the internet to drive traffic as well as obtain backlinks to a website.
There are many, many article directories available to post articles to (which will be discussed in more detail as second tier links in a later post), but the ones that are the subject of this post are Ezinearticles and Goarticles which are two of the higher quality article sites. (two other options are Articlesbase.com and Articledashboard.com) Ezinearticles is considered one of the top directories since they follow a stricter standard for article approval and editorial quality. They are considered to have the highest overall quality articles in general for article directory sites.
It is a good idea to pick these or a few other upper tier articles sites and use these like the web 2.0’s as part of a first tier that you will link back to with some lower quality links.
At Ezinearticles as at any of the article directories, the main benefit to the author is that at the end of the article in the “resource box” a link back to a website along with anchor text is allowed. The benefit to the directory is that they get an article that will attract people to their site, so it is theoretically a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.
Be aware that at all of the article directories the submission rules should be read and adhered to in order to make sure that your articles are accepted and published with the least amount of time and revision possible. Most of the directories have limits on how many links can be in the body of the text (if any) and how many can be in the resource box. Most will not allow direct affiliate links in the resource box although some do allow linking to a sales page, but not always.
The opportunity to get quality links and traffic from an article marketing strategy shouldn’t be overlooked. It can be somewhat difficult as when you write a nice article, the instinct will be to want to put it on your main site, but one or two articles should be written specifically to be listed on article directories. It is recommended not use your best content on this, and not to post it on your site after posting it to an article directory. Next up is social bookmarking.
This post and the next four will talk about some additional different traffic and linking methods that can help in driving both direct traffic as well as building up backlinks. These will both aid in and supplement the search engine traffic that will hopefully be the backbone of your traffic, but all of these other methods can help, especially when a site is new. These link types can be used as either links to your main site or your tier 1 sites, but it is recommended not to go to heavy on links to your main site, especially at first. A common approach is to use only the higher quality versions of these links to the main site, and the lower quality ones to the tier one sites. In this way you get some diverse links without overdoing it, and building up the tier 1 sites at the same time.
This next link strategy will be the use of social bookmarking websites. These are community type sites where a user can post a link and then other users can vote on it. The higher the votes, the higher the chances that the link gets visited by the site’s users. In addition to this direct traffic from the site referrals, if a user likes the content there is always the chance that they will send it out as a tweet in Twitter or post it on Facebook or other similar sites thus giving the added benefit of social media exposure.
Three of the biggest players in this arena are Digg.com, Stumbleupon.com, and Reddit.com.
Almost all of these sites do require a free registration, but after that submissions can be made just by logging in. it is a good idea for you not only to add your site or sites, but add other interesting content found on the web so that you are a valuable user who won’t be seen only as a self-promoter. If you regularly add interesting content users on some of the services will be able to start following your updates and thus helping to get more traffic to your site. Also recommended is not to submit just every single post that is made so it doesn’t look like you are spamming the service, but are sharing your quality content as well as other sites that you enjoyed.
The below are some other sites in the social bookmarking arena. Also, remember that by adding the Sociable or SexyBookmarks plugin to your site then sites can be submitted from your posts and pages by the visitors to your site easily.
There are dozens more out there for use, but this is a good start, especially if you will be doing this manually. Like all links, this one can be outsourced (Fiverr.com) or automated (Bookmarking Demon). Next up is blog commenting.
Another way to build up traffic to your site or blog is to use a strategy known as blog commenting. Blog commenting is pretty much what it sounds like. You will go to other blogs and post a comment in the comments section of one of their posts and then list a link back to your site when doing so.
We will be assuming in the notes below that you are building blog comment links directly to your main site, so you want them to be good quality. If you are using any of the automated programs (Scrapebox, etc) it is probably best to send those links to your tier 1 sites and not your main site.
Some keys to successful blog commenting are to choose a blog to comment on that is in your relevant subject area and also to make a good valuable comment, not just a spam note and a link. If your comment makes it clear that you didn’t even read the article, then it often will not be approved or will be deleted by the website owner.
To make a good comment, don’t just throw a generic “good post!” For one reason, this isn’t likely to attract any clickthrough back to your site, and it increases the chances of a comment being seen as spam. Give the article a quick read, make at least a couple of sentences of good feedback and post the comment and it will be more likely to be a good comment.
Also important if looking to get clickthrough and not just build a link is to select a blog in your topic area. One of the ways to do this is to do a regular Google search for your keyword and then the word “blog” or to do the regular keyword search, then on the left side of the page on Google to click on the blog link to give search results from blogs. This is a good way to find some relevant blogs that have at least a couple things going: 1) they are related to your keywords, and 2) they have enough Google respect to rank for those keywords.
Spending a little time doing some quick commenting each day can become an easy 10 or 15 minute habit that isn’t difficult to accomplish and over time you can build a nice following in your niche along with some nice links. The next post covers a similar topic area which is forum commenting.
Much of what was just posted about blog commenting also applies to the strategy known as forum commenting. With forum commenting, you go to a forum related to your topic and post questions, answers, posts, or replies and leave a link in your signature block and/or profile back to your website.
As mentioned with blog commenting, pick a relevant forum and add a good post with value to a reader. A good answer or interesting post will make it more likely for a reader to click through to your site.
When looking for forums to comment on, you can do a Google search for your keyword plus the word “forums”, or do a regular Google search and click the link in the left side of the page for “discussions.” This will usually list some good forum links with discussions about your target keywords.
While maybe not quite a forum, adding answers to Yahoo Answers is another way to comment and get traffic and is a link type that is worth mentioning in this post.
This one is a little shorter than the others due to some similarities and crossover with the previous post in blog commenting, but both can be valuable strategies that will reach different audiences.
Note: It is important to mention that this is not meaning forum profile links, which are typically built in large quantities and if used at all should be used only to tier 1 sites and not your main site. Next up is more on article marketing, this time as it relates to articles pointing to your first tier instead of your main site.
Article Marketing (tier 2)
In an earlier post we discussed article marketing in general and specifically using a few higher quality sites as tier 1 sites to use to link to our main sites.. We focused on those first because of their importance in creating the tier linking structure.
So, at this point, if you have submitted an article to Ezinearticles (and a few others) then hopefully it is approved by now and it is live with a link to your site in the resource box. If not, then the suggestion is to wait until it is before sending it in to any of these other sites.
For creating these 2nd tier article marketing links, it is going to be recommended to use either outsourcing (Fiverr.com, etc) or to buy some software (Article Marketing Robot) because you will be submitting to hundreds of sites for this purpose and probably spinning your articles. If this isn’t something you want to do, then you can skip this step or just pick a dozen or so if you still want some tiered linking from article sites.
This is one of the steps that you will probably not want to send directly to your main site, especially not at first since this step creates a lot of automated links, which is desirable in tier 2, but not in links to your main site. Next up we talk about using directories to get links.
Listing your website or blog in directories can be a way to build backlinks and some traffic although with a lot of directories the traffic will be secondary to the link building.
There are thousands and thousands of directories that are on the web. Finding a directory for your niche can be done by Google searching for your topic or keywords plus the word directory.
In general a directory is just a site that has categories and then allows for submission of a link back to your site. There are general directories and topic directories. They can also be free or paid. Be aware that some free directories will want a link back to their site and that some directories are full of spam sites. It is always a good idea to take a look around the site before submitting your site to a directory when doing it manually or to your main site.
A lot of the better directories will have someone at least take a look at your site, and some of them require a blog to have been around a certain number of months or have a regular posting frequency to be listed. Like all of the other linking strategies, using directories will require some investment of time and energy to see progress when being done manually and to the main site. It can be a little bit harder than some of the other link strategies, but could result in what is considered a higher quality link if getting into the better moderated directories.
As a note here too like with the second tier article sites, with the exception of finding a couple dozen manual directories, this is a task that is well suited to outsourcing or buying software for, and if done in any volume should also be sent only to the tier 1 links, not the main site.
It is worth mentioning the directory that is considered the big daddy of directories even though you probably will never get in. 🙂 That is DMOZ.org and it is considere the premier directory at the present time. It is a free submission directory, and each submission is moderated by a human being who is a volunteer for DMOZ. It is often discussed online about how long it can take to be approved for inclusion in DMOZ, and some sites never are. Even though it can be a long shot or take a long time, the possible advantages of being in DMOZ are worth making a onetime submission request and then moving along to the next one
Take note of the DMOZ submission guidelines and follow them when submitting your site. Make sure to list your site in the right category and comply with all of their other requests to help aid in an approval. It may seem strange since it takes so long to get approved and may not happen anyway, but because of the potential benefits it is best to only submita site once it is either fully built, or if it is going to be regularly updated and has some substantial content. Having a good site with good content should aid in DMOZ approval.
Give directories a try for some link diversity, and remember that if sending links to directories by automation to filter them through your tiers, and if going with manual and higher quality directories to go ahead and link to your main site. The next post in the series is about adding a forum to your website.
Add a Forum
Adding a forum to your website is definitely not for everyone, nor is it the right move for every site, but it is worth discussion because it is something that should be considered depending on the niche and the site. In addition to allowing post and page comments from the readers of a site, having a forum can be an additional way to drive user engagement and community building on your site.
By adding a forum, the website becomes more of an interactive community where readers can log in and not only comment on existing posts, but add their own content, questions, and answer others questions as well. If a forum takes off on your site it will help build up its credibility and will make it more likely that the forum users will return as well as adding content to your site that is created by others.
One way to add a forum is with SMF (Simple Machines Forum) which if you are using Hostgator as discussed earlier in this series will be available to install via Fantastico and the SMF link on the left side of your screen much like when we installed WordPress earlier in the series.
If adding a forum in this manner, it will ask where to install it, and if it is going to be an add on to an existing site then adding a /forums directory after your domain name is a good suggestion. Setup a username and pass as requested and then add the forum via the Fantastico install. Forums can be a little harder to get used to and manage than a WordPress site, but can add value to a site as mentioned above and aren’t that tricky once you log in a few times.
However, they can be hard to get going as at first the forum will be empty and have no posts or active users. Expect it to take some time to get an active forum going. Making a serious go at creating a forum may be more appropriate once a site is drawing steady traffic or if the webmaster is prepared to put in a lot of initial time while it builds a solid audience. Also, be aware that a forum can be a spam magnet as many of the automated softwares post links to forums on the web, so you will need to be committed to moderating it to keep it clean.
Now that we have covered adding a forum as a possible feature of your website, the next post up is gets us moving into monetization methods.
Up until this point, everything in this series has been about building the infrastructure of a website, adding top quality content, and how to get traffic, links, and search engine rankings. Nothing about monetization yet. That is because without those things it is unlikely that a monetization strategy would matter because no one would find your website without them, and even if they did there would be nothing there to keep them around and coming back for more. This is why the series has focused on the things that will build up a good quality website which is the basis for building any future business and traffic on.
But now at this point with a good website that is hopefully starting to see some visitors and some search results it is time to start thinking about how to add some income streams to the site. There are several ways to go about doing this, and some of the top ones, especially to get started with, are listed below.
Google Adsense is the advertising arm of Google. By signing up as an Adsense member you will be allowed to display ads on your site for Google publishers and be compensated each time a user clicks an ad served up on your site. Google is one of several advertising partners available to use, but is a major player and is relatively easy to sign up for and get started using. If you have your Google account like discussed earlier in the series then head over and sign up.
It is recommended to not include Google ads on any so called made for Adsense sites (low quality one or two page sites that don’t have much content for example) or any low quality site as Google has been known to ban Adsense accounts of users using their ads on sites such as this. Adsense is a common method many people get started in monetization while testing other methods.
Amazon Associates is the affiliate program of Amazon.com. By signing up to become an affiliate, you will be able to add text and image links back to products on Amazon that your website readers may be interested in. If they click over to Amazon and make a purchase, then you can get a percentage of the order as commission for the referral. Approval for Amazon’s affiliate program is usually relatively quick and easy.
Ebay Partner Network
The EPN (Ebay Partner Network) is Ebay’s affiliate program. Using this program allows you to add text or image links to Ebay auctions and you can be compensated by users who click over and bid on or buy the products. EPN pays out on a per click basis, not on a commission basis. It can be difficult to get approved for EPN compared to other programs. It is recommended to apply only once a website is fully created with some good content.
Clickbank is the most commonly known information product (ebooks) affiliate program on the web. Signing up with Clickbank is quick and easy and you can get an affiliate link to place on your website very quickly. Clickbank is a marketplace for people who list their information products for sale through their website. These products are all also available for selling as an affiliate and you will get a commission for each product based on what is listed in its description. If you are a creator of information products, you can list your product here and make it available for others to market for you for a share of the sales value as well.
Commission Junction is another affiliate program that includes lots of companies with lots of different products and offers for sale. CJ includes different payment structures including commissions for product click-throughs followed by sales as well as cost per action programs where compensation is gained when someone signs up for something (a free trail for example) or performs a similar action.
There are a lot of other monetization possibilities including other advertisers and other affiliate programs in addition to selling your own ad space and your own products or services, but this should give you options to evaluate and consider for use on your website.
Remember the user experience when placing offers or ads and make sure that they don’t override the content. After all of the work to build a quality site it could be ruined as a ton of different monetization strategies could make the site look too much like one of those spammy sites we have all run across and ignored. Next up in the series is making a decision about the future direction of the site.
The Future of the Site
In our most recent post in the series some methods for monetization were discussed. At this point in the process of launching a site, the site is built, indexed, has some links, some search results, and is probably getting some traffic. After the last post, maybe you added one or more of the monetization strategies discussed and are hoping to see some clicks, commissions, or sales. So now, at this point, a common question is what happens next with the site? Build it out, move on to the next site, focus on links, etc?
One question needs to be answered first that determines the detailed answer to that question. Is this the end of your updating of this site except for maybe one or two posts a year? Have you said what was needed and made a nice resource site for the niche? If so, then maybe you don’t plan to do much except monitor the site in Analytics and Webmaster tools to keep an eye on it and monitor and test your monetization results for optimization of conversions. There is nothing wrong with this approach. As the site ages and gains more authority it will just set on autopilot and (hopefully) gain even more traffic. Maybe one or two posts a year help keep it from being completely stale, but mostly maintenance free. A lot of smaller sites in more static niches can fall into this category.
However, if this is going to be a site that has more future potential or is in a topic you are interested in, then you will want to post to it more regularly (multiple times a week or month) and keep the content fresh and the traffic increasing. If the site has a lot of untapped potential left then this is a good strategy. Many people currently believe that this model is the future of website building, and if you have identified a good niche, then really building it into a big authority site may be the best way to go.
If you are going to continue updating it, then a recommendation is to go ahead and lay out that plan so it doesn’t get lost as you move to building the next site or any other online endeavors. Go ahead and write down traffic plans, any ideas for great posts, any seasonal ideas (Halloween/Christmas/Holiday articles), basically any suggestions that come to mind to avoid any future writer’s block. Keep this a running list so that ideas can be added in the future. Keep in mind that to build a site that is considered authoritative in the future and gets good page rank (PR) then growing the site past 6-12 posts total is going to be needed, so adding to the content regularly is needed if this is what you decide is a goal with the site. Next up is a post about what many consider the holy grail of the internet marketer which is getting opt in’s and building an email list.
Building an email list through an opt in form on your website is a tried and true principle of internet marketing taught by almost everyone as a method to use in growing your brand and adding monetization to a site. An email list can be used to send information about your site’s updates, send a newsletter, and market to the list by affiliate offers or in email advertisements. It can increase the “stickiness” of your site and keep users coming back for more as it can also be an avenue to let people know about new blog posts or new products.
Aweber is considered to be the premier email list program. It has a lot of the features that are desired in a mailing software including building the forms and code needed to add to your site as well as templates for different types of mails and newsletters.
With the autoresponder features of a mailing list management program like Aweber, it can be configured so that new subscribers receive preset emails after they sign up in the order and days apart that you set. This is in addition to any on demand emails you would like to send to your list.
This type of opt in and email functionality is often used to offer a special report, free mini ebook, or a several part tips or training course that offers a good free incentive for signing up. This way both parties gain value. The user gets some valuable content that can help them in the search for information they were looking for, and the website owner gets a subscriber to their email list that can potentially become a long term reader and customer.
If you use the signup form on Aweber’s site, then you can get Aweber’s test drive email campaign and you will get a series of emails from Aweber which will answer questions about Aweber, and why they should be the ones to manage your email marketing.
Almost anyone in the internet marketing world when asked says that their number one mistake was not starting to build a list soon enough. Keep that in mind and consider getting an email capture form added to your site.
And now coming up is the final post with closing comments.
Now lets close out our post on building a niche website starting from ground zero and ending with a functioning and fully built website. As we moved through this series a lot of ground has been covered and a lot of information has been shared. Here is to the hope that your startup site is already starting to see some good solid traffic, that backlinks are being built, and maybe you have seen clicks and earnings!
This final post closes with a couple of solid tips. One that can add to the revenue streams of a site and another that can help build traffic and backlinks.
Adding an advertising page that lets people know that you will consider taking ads on the site as direct placements is a way to put that idea in front of potential advertisers who may not have otherwise contacted you. Having the Contact page and Contact Form plugin installed as recommended earlier in the series does give potential advertisers a way to contact you without a separate page, but listing it separately can give it more exposure. In addition, if you choose to do this, you can go ahead and list desired pricing for different types of ads (text, banner, sidebar, etc). If your traffic warrants it, then traffic numbers can even be added here. This approach won’t be for everyone, but for some sites, this page could help bring in advertisers who otherwise wouldn’t think about advertising with you directly.
Next up, getting user generated content in the form of either guest postings or picture and video submissions can help to add some solid original content to your site while helping to engage with your user base. You can offer a link back to someone’s webpage when they provide a guest post on your site and this is a win-win for both users. One person gets some good original content and the other person gets a link. This is basically what article directories do, but on a larger scale.
This approach can also be carried out with other sites in your niche if you want to do so. If it isn’t necessarily a direct competitor site, then you could contact the owner and ask if they wanted to write a post for your blog (or you could offer to write one for theirs).
Other user generated content can come in the form of pictures or video. If your site has a gallery area or otherwise uses images and video, then a call for user submissions may get you something to add to the galleries.
User generated content in the form of posts, pictures, video or any form can be a help to a site as it provides new content while engaging the readers of the site and giving a sense of community. It may also help in social media and bookmarking traffic as the users who have submitted content share with their friends and contacts, and if they are website owners themselves with their readers.
Use these final two tips to put the finishing touches on your website strategy.
Staying on top of the newest social media marketing methods can be difficult and down right maddening. Everyday a new social media site appears and it can make any small business owner shake their head and wonder how will they ever utilize this new one.
The newest one to hit the market of course is Pinterest and this is a great little site because for just a few extra minutes each day you can substantially expand your reach to new potential customers and build your online brand even further.
If you’re just checking out the site for the first time you’ve probably come to realize it is full of wonderful, interesting pictures; literally, all over the place. And essentially this is what the site is. An entire webpage of pictures linking back to the sources and companies that pinned that picture.
What does this mean for you?
Well first off it means more exposure and more exposure is always good for your bottom line. Secondly it means that with some creative skills you can easily captivate an entirely untapped market. All you need to do is figure out what pictures best represent your company and go from there. We’re not talking run of the mill boring pictures. In order to best benefit form the site you really need to have the pictures that make people stop and go awe or I have got to have that.
Once you’ve gotten a batch of pictures that match that criteria all you have to do is start pinning them to your own boards and then those who follow you (much like friend on Facebook) can take your pictures and repin them to their own boards and the viral effect of Pinterest can then take place. Each and every time your picture is pinned and repinned you gain yet another link back to your website, your business and another link to new potential customers.
Free Marketing At It’s Best
Free marketing methods are an important aspect to any business, especially in the current economic times. Pinterest is just one such free marketing method that you should be using if you are hoping to capitalize on well, a lack of capital for marketing.
Pinterest is one of the newest social media marketing sites to take the internet by storm and it really is taking the internet by storm. In the under two years the site has been around it has been rapidly grabbing the attention span of consumers world-wide (especially females in the twenty to thirty year old range) as well as raising itself in the search engines, which of course means plenty of backlinks to your site if you do it right.
All the pictures on the site drive traffic back to the images source, which means if the picture is of your product or your brand it drives traffic, and therefore potential customers back to your site. It does take a little work though.
As with any method of social media marketing one of the important aspects to do it successfully is to engage and interact with the network. You need to be a member of the site and actually pin and repin others pictures as well if you want to see any results with your own pictures and boards. Now before you think that this will end up being another time suck, think again. Just like Facebook fan pages and other social media sites it really only takes a few minutes a day. Of course if you want to see faster results you can always do more work earlier on to start that snowballing effect but it is not necessary in order for it to work.
Pinterest really is a free viral method of building traffic to your site, just a few moments of time each day can pay off substantially in the long run.
A Picture Can Be Worth Thousands To Your Business
The saying a picture is worth a thousand words has never meant so much to online marketing as it does today. A single picture you could say is worth a thousand dollars if used properly. That is if the picture is “pinned”, “repinned” and “repinned” some more. If you’re confused you’re not alone. Many business owners have yet to realize the potential that lies with the newest picture sharing site Pinterest.
You may be wondering how sharing a picture can help your business. Or you may already know what Pinterest is but are unsure of how it can benefit your business on a marketing level. The simple answer is that it is a social media site and social media is currently one of the fastest growing marketing techniques for any form of business.
Social media marketing takes advantage of one of the greatest methods of marketing that has been around for years, word of mouth. Nothing sells a company better than word of mouth advertising. Hearing from a close personal friend or family member that you’ve got to have this product will outsell some stranger telling you how great it is.
Pinterest capitalizes on this. It allows you to have word of mouth marketing using pictures of your products. All you need is a picture that represents your business or products, a few “pinners” following your account and you are set to go.
You post a picture of your products on one of your boards (much like an online cork board) and other pinners are able to take that picture pin it to their boards and spread your product like wildfire. Your picture has a short blurb and a link back to your site where they can purchase your product or get more information. And suddenly you have an entirely new form of bringing in customers and traffic!
The Facebook Of 2012
If you’re already utilizing Facebook fan pages and groups there is a great little (or not so little) new social media site that you should be using as well. You may have heard about it by now, it’s called Pinterest and in many ways functions in the same ways as Facebook.
To begin, just like in Facebook, a lot of the power of the site lies in the number of followers you have. The more followers you have (and the more people you follow who may in turn follow you back) the better chance you have of your Pins going viral and your business getting the attention it deserves.
You see just like a post in Facebook that is placed in everyone’s feed a Pin (an image you pin to one of your boards) is posted in all your followers feeds on Pinterest. This means that they may see your products image and pin it to one of their boards and so on and so forth until your reaching as many possible Pinners (a Pinterest user) and potential customers. From there the viral effect takes over and your image makes it way through the 10 million current users.
It also allows you to Pin videos as well, which means it takes you video marketing to a whole new level. If getting your videos on Youtube seen has ever been an issue for you, Pinterest can take care of that as well. Just like the viral effect can occur with your images, it can also occur with your videos. This means you’re now able to take advantage of more methods of marketing then ever before, and the greatest part is that it is free, it relies on social media and the addictive power of it, and it takes very little time to put into effect.
Viral Marketing At It’s Best And Simplest
Viral marketing is one sure fire way to gain exposure for your company with minimal efforts. Getting your site and products to go viral though can be difficult. Or at least it used to be. Now with Pinterest you can get your products, brand and site to go viral with just a few clicks of your mouse and the odd interesting photo.
That’s right. You can now take advantage of the viral nature of social marketing sites without having to put in excessive efforts and/or time. All you need to do is spend some time seeking (or getting created for you) some pictures that represent your brand in an interesting and eye catching way. You can then take your pictures, pin them to a board on Pinterest and watch the viral effect take over. It’s really that simple.
Like any social media marketing method you will have to engage the community. The more you engage the Pinterest community the more followers you’ll get and with more followers will come more repinning, and with more repinning comes more customers and visitors to your sites! It’s that simple.
As long as you spend 10 minutes or so a day on Pinterest pinning pictures of interest to your company and adding new pictures you’ll be able to take advantage of a ground floor social media marketing method.
When other users repin your pictures, their followers will see them and if their followers like them they can also repin them and before you know it your brand or product is in front of a much larger market then you could have ever done on your own, all for next to no money or time output.
In fact, in the time it’s taken you to read about Pinterest, you could have already gotten your pictures up and posted to your boards and started taking advantage of Pinterest and all it has to offer your company.
Marketing With Pinterest
If females in their twenties and thirties are your target, then Pinterest better be in your marketing arsenal. If you’ve been anywhere online as of late you’ll already be well versed in what Pinterest is, if not, stay tuned.
Pinterest is a social bookmarking site that is taking off in leaps and bounds, but it doesn’t work quite like other social bookmarking sites you may already be familiar with. Instead of using urls and articles like many other sites, Pinterest is based solely around pictures and “pinning”. With the picture, users get to add a link for more information. Are you beginning to see how this can work for your business?
Essentially what you need to do is find pictures that are eye catching and attention grabbing (and of course relate to your topic) and pin them. When you pin them you link back to your site and thus grab traffic and a whole new surge of customers.
What sort of pictures will work? Interesting pictures to start. Any business can have pictures that will work for them. A martial arts studio can post pictures of their fighters in combat (remember this is a majorly female based network) with a link back to their studio website. A flower shop could post pictures of their best arrangements with a link back to the sales page. A dog grooming studio can post pictures of cute cuddly puppies. The options are endless. All you need is a little creativity to capture your portion of this audience.
And the best part is that other users can take your picture and “repin” it to their own boards which will expand your reach even further (think of it like Facebook’s share option) The more users share or repin your picture the more marketing you get done for just a few moments work.
If you’re not yet using Pinterest you should be. Any business whether based online or off can benefit from the social interaction of Pinterest and spreading your marketing through new methods with minimal work.
Pinners, Pinning, Repinning – Understanding Common Pinterest Terminology And It’s Uses For Your Business
As with any social media marketing site being used for business the basics always require you to understand the terminology being used and what it means. Pinterest has just become one of the top ten social media sites and thus deserves a place in your marketing arsenal. In order to do that you need to understand exactly what is meant by pinning, repinning and all the other words that have evolved as a result of Pinterest.
Board – This is the place where you “pin” your images. Just like a cork board in real life a board in Pinterest is where you post your images and can remove and repost them as you see fit.
Pin or Pinning – The action of posting a picture to your board. (Hence the sites name Pinterest, the pinning of interesting images.)
Repin or Repinning – What another Pinterest user does with your images. This is when they take an image from one of your boards and repin it to one of their own boards.
Pinners – The common term used for members of Pinterest. Pinners are like Facebook fan page followers.
So now you know the terminology, what’s the next step?
Well, right now Pinterest is by invite only, so you either need to know someone who uses it already or request an invite from the site. Chances are a simple post on Facebook or any other social media site you are already using will get you an invite quickly. Then the fun can begin.
Prepare to lose large chunks of time as you learn the site and it’s rather addictive ways (which is part of the reason all businesses should be on it.) Addictive plus fun equals time suck and users who become die hard fans quickly.
From there you simply need to start posting your pictures and links to your sites and products and watching your traffic and bottom line grow.
Pinterest And Videos – It Can Be Done
Many people know that Pinterest is a social media platform that is also a photo sharing site but what a lot of people don’t realize is that it is also a video sharing site. That is, if you share a video link on Pinterest the video will become embedded into your image for Pinterest and you’ve got another great traffic source.
What does this mean for your business? Well first off it means if you don’t have pictures readily available but have videos already on Youtube and the internet, you’re already good to go. No time wasted looking for photos, you can start pinning right away and begin utilizing Pinterest and all it’s traffic goodness!
It also means that you can maximize on Youtube as well. Look at it this way. If you already have a Youtube account that is doing fairly well and has been accepted to have ads, you can further capitalize on it by posting your videos to Pinterest. Then you have yet another source of traffic and another source of income for your business. Utilizing both sites to their full potential will only mean major traffic and rewards for your business and your pocket book.
Another great side effect of doing this is getting high quality backlinks to your videos, which will further help your cause by getting them better rankings within the search engines. Nothing like doing double duty with no added work!
And of course you can also use Pinterest in the traditional way with pictures and images as well. Mix up your boards with a healthy combination of both images and video and your traffic should surge and you could end up with more customers than you know what to do with.
The time is now to begin using Pinterest. With more than 10 million users there are plenty of customers waiting to discover your business and your product, all you got to do is go out there and do it.
Using Pinterest To It’s Full Potential
As a business owner one of the first things you should focus on is getting the best results from your current marketing methods and marketing with social media and more specifically Pinterest is no different. There are many ways to go about marketing but the best ways are those that take full advantage of all the sites have to offer.
So how can you best take advantage of Pinterest?
Start with emotionally driven pictures that represent your brand and product. Humans are very emotional creatures and are more likely to share items that strike an emotional cord with them. Look at Facebook for example. How many times do you see pictures that are emotionally driven shared and gone viral, now imagine that times 10 on a site specialized in picture marketing.
Find ways to connect your product of brand to females. If they aren’t your demographic, find a twist or angle to make them your demographic. Reason being is the majority of Pinterest users are younger females. If you can find a way to strike a cord with them, you’ve got it made in the Pinterest universe.
Engage the consumer. Don’t look at it like a money tree. Look at it as another way to engage your customers. Another method to reach out to them and build your brands reputation. Don’t be spammy about it. Simple engage the community and make the most of your time and efforts spent there and see an increase in market base as a result.
Be creative. Pictures need to grab attention if you want them repinned and to take on a viral life of their own. Boring pictures are just that boring. No one is going to share some boring picture but they will share a vibrant interesting picture of your product.
Think outside the box. You don’t need to just put pictures of your product. For a pots and pan company you could post pictures of delicious recipes and food that can be made with your products. Or for a pet store you could show pictures of exotic animals you carry in their natural habitats. Imagination is key.
Why Your Business Needs Pinterest
Every time a new social media marketing method comes out we’re told we must be apart of it. It’s going to be the next big thing and sometimes it is, other times not so much. The newest big thing your business needs to be a part of is Pinterest. Why?
It’s addictive. And addictive social media sites (think Facebook games, apps and all that fun stuff) live, grow and become giants. Woman from the ages of 18-40 already know how good this site is, are in love with it and are already addicted to it. It’s simple, it’s fun and they love using it, which means it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
It’s a traffic monster. Although it’s only been around for about 2 years it’s already got over 10 million users. You read that right, ten million! That’s ten million potential customers for your business, your site and your bottom line.
Pinning is simple and can be integrated to your website easily. Just like you can place the Twitter with us button, the follow us on Facebook button and other easy to use social interaction buttons, you can place a Pin It button on your site making it easy for pinners (Pinterest users) to pin your site and spread your brand for you.
Pinterest is perfect product placement. The place where you want your product is right in front of your consumers. With Pinterest your consumers see your products as they spread across pinners pinboards and in front of the eyes of new people who may have never before heard of your brand or product.
If that’s not enough reason to get your business onto Pinterest than the simplicity of it should be. It’s not a social media marketing method that you have to pour endless hours into. Simply placing the button on your site can gain you exposure, as will having our own Pinterest account that posts pictures of your products and business. Social media marketing has never been easier and more effective.
When using Pinterest for business
The fastest growing social networking site is Pinterest. This site broke all records when it reached 10 million users in less than 2 years. In a very short time, it outbid Facebook and YouTube. Let us first understand what Pinterest is. Well, it’s a website which is a pin board and it allows its users to share and organize the good stuff that they discover on the internet. This is a fantastic concept. You can pin interesting visuals and photographs, which belong to you or which you discover on the internet. You can also check what others are up to and share or publish their interests if they are similar to yours.
Brands and celebrities have already started using Pinterest for their online presence. In this article, we are going to learn how companies and corporations can use Pinterest to their advantage.
Things you need to remember
1.) Pinterest is a graphical twitter. What I mean is that the site is run on images. Because of all the interesting images on this website, it’s addictive and people spend hours of time on it. The Pinterest interface allows any user to add images into a collage. These images are subsequent to each other. This is the best part of Pinterest. Whenever you see an interesting, funny, motivational or any other kind of an image related to you, you can pin it on Pinterest. If you have something interesting on your hard disk, you can upload that to Pinterest too. You can add tags to your pin boards, so that people can find them when they search.
2.) You must remember that if you are using Pinterest to target customers, you should keep the end-consumer in mind. Think about what your clients might be thinking. If you are planning to pin things related to your business, you must make sure that you should know what exactly your customers might be looking for. Try to make them curious about your business through you pin boards. Get them excited.
3.) Allow all your clients to participate in your pin boards. This will help a lot; there is no doubt about it. One good thing about Pinterest is that people can give you feedback, they can share your pin boards and they can look at the things you’ve pinned. If they share it, it will be shared amongst their network, and if it’s really good, it might even go viral and by doing this you are crowd sourcing your organization.
4.) When you are publishing pictures on Pinterest, remember that you are letting people use them however they want and share them wherever they want. They will be sharing this with their friends. This helps your brand grow but you should be careful about what you share.
5.) At the end, you need to be quick and fast. Right now, Pinterest is in its starting stages, its young. It is growing very fast and can be the next big thing online. Sign up on Pinterest and be the first in your business to use Pinterest for business.
How can it help small businesses?
Social media changes fast. If you are not a professional, it can be difficult for you to stay updated. Every small business these days has a Facebook page and a twitter feed. Here is something more in social media that will keep you busy – Pinterest.
When you first take a look at Pinterest, you might not understand what’s going on. If you are one of those who has spent a lot of money on getting Myspace site designed, and found out that your customers have moved to Facebook and thinking that the same might happen with Pinterest, your fears are rational.
Pinterest is a site where you can upload interesting graphics or photos from your hard disk or anywhere from the internet. Pinterest is where you stick the items you’d have stuck on your real pin board or a freezer. No, it doesn’t mean that you can stick something like “Buy Sugar”. Your stuff has to be creative/beautiful/ inspiring and interesting. Let’s assume that you are getting married and you come across a great idea for flowers or your hairstyle; you can share that on Pinterest.
When you upload or pin your interesting photos on Pinterest other users can comment or share the pin boards. So when you uploaded your wedding flower idea, your friends and others who look at your pin share it with their friends.
So if you own a company, and you do something unique, you can upload those photos on Pinterest. Your friends can share it, and it might go viral. This will help more and more people know about your company, and if they like yours, they will become your customers. Very few people use Pinterest for business. You can be the first one to do it in your business.
Some profiles on Pinterest are private, but most of them are public. A user can follow other people just like on twitter. The user interface is easy to use and navigate. This site is full of young people posting stuff on their favorite topics. The interface is fast too.
When you visit Pinterest, you’ll notice that the homepage is filled with interesting and beautiful photos of different categories. Food, art, architecture, apparel, hair and beauty are some of these topics. It is the most visual social network on the internet. Once you take a look at it, you’ll get an idea of what type of business works best on Pinterest.
Most of the businesses should do well on Pinterest. If you sell goods online, Etsy added a Pinterest button on their listings. So your products can now easily be shared on Pinterest.
Mostly, business in the creative field would do the best on Pinterest. If you do anything creative, don’t miss the opportunity to market yourself on Pinterest. If you are in the wedding industry, definitely look into it. Thousands of people are looking for wedding plans and ideas. If you are a hair stylist, upload some photos of your work, and if people like it, they will visit you. Take these pics with a good professional camera.
A year ago my wife introduced me to Pinterest. It’s a social media site she and all her friends loved. The site was genuine. After going through the website I realized that it’s possible to squeeze some profit out of it. The amount of money you make through Pinterest depends totally on the amount of time you put into working on the site, your creativity and the amount of content you upload.
1. Growing Fast
It’s easy to get addicted to Pinterest. That’s why it has grown so fast. It got around10 million users in 2 years. Pinterest is a website where you can share interesting images you have or interesting images that you find on the internet. It has a lot of traffic, and has grown up 50 times in the last 8 months. Its growth is mainly mouth publicity. The site has already made it to top 10 social networking sites getting around 11.5 million visitors per/week. Not month, week. Its growing faster than Facebook and YouTube grew when they were launched.
2. It’s easy to go viral, if you are innovative
When you upload an interesting image to your pin board on Pinterest, and if other people find it interesting, it is going to go viral. If anyone who follows you shares the Pin, their friends are going to see it. They can just click on the like button for their friends to see it, just like in Facebook. Data says that 70% + pins are repins meaning that they are not created, but shared. Can you now see the potential for marketing? All you need to do is be a bit creative or find something creative, relate it to your business and post it.
3. Visual Engagement
Pinterest is twitter, but with some visuals and graphics. Humans are visual animals and this works globally. Images are the best and the quickest way to spread your msg. Your challenge is to create or search for the best, most innovative images in your category and spread them around the world. For example if you are selling a weight loss product, you can come up with some really good before and after photos of people who have lost weight and built muscle. You can send Pinterest users to your site through this image.
4. This site is new; make the most out of it
Research says that 30% affiliate marketers advertise on Facebook and 25% use twitter to promote products. Pinterest is new and you should tap into its full potential before it changes. A friend has to refer you to this site if you wish to join. This creates urgency and buzz as many pinners wait for their invitation. Most marketers haven’t thought about using this for internet marketing purposes. They are simply clueless. The site is addictive and you should make hay while the sun shines.
5. Uploading messages from your computer
An awesome feature on this social network is that you can upload messages from your hard disk to your Pinterest pin board. This can be a video or a photo. The better your imagination, the more you can use it in internet marketing.
4 ways to use Pinterest to your advantage
We all know the fact that Pinterest is fairly a new social media platform which is growing quite popular and this has actually made it fall in the eyes of marketers too. The rising number of its users also contributed to the increased time that most of the people spend on this site. Many studies also show that the average time spent by the users has increased by 500% which is a very impressive number. Though it is an image sharing place on the net, its growth is tremendous and it has lots of potential when it comes to marketing.
Now, let me explain how you can actually use this potential to your advantage:
Start promoting your products: Though you are not able to sell any product on this site, you can still show your stuff to people and brag about it. You get an automatic price tag and when users come across your stuff, they can also use your link to reach your site and buy whatever you have to sell. Great isn’t it?
Contributions of fans: The boards which reflect your customers do have some advantages. Your fans do wish to stay connected to you and they are like your supporters. You need to make them feel special and also keep them well involved. This will inspire them to promote your products further. Satisfied customers are your biggest asset.
Come up with a Contest: There are immense opportunities to come up with contests which will help you to engage your fans. You can invite your fans to come up with innovative and stylish banners for your products or anything like that so that your fans feel involved. They surely get excited when their voice is heard and their ideas considered.
Use the platform for research: This site would be the best place to do market research or analysis. You can post about your upcoming product’s description and see what people’s reactions are. Read all the comments that people place there. You will surely get a basic idea about what other people think about your idea or new concept and this would surely help you a great deal when you are developing something new. You can make changes or modifications accordingly once you know about your fans feedback. Is it not great?
This way, there are lots of advantages if you actually know how to use this site in the best possible way to promote your products or concepts. If you are into business, it is a necessity to explore new ways to reach people because only then you would be able to expand the reach of your business. If you lag behind in this process, the growth of your business suffers a lot and this is the reason why it is very important to explore constantly.
So, make sure you understand all the above advantages of Pinterest and make sure that you utilize this platform in the best possible way in order to promote your business.
Why people get addicted
Only if you have been living under a rock since long you would be unaware of the popularity of Pinterest. This site has turned out to become the fastest growing site of social networking. It started in the year of 2009 and the number of its users skyrocketed in such a short span of time. You can check out a lot of information available out there which explains how this site can be helpful in promoting anything. But I would like to explain why this site has become an addiction to its users. Why are people going crazy about this site? This is the topic about which I am going to explain here.
1. The first and the foremost reason why people are showing interest in Pinterest is one simple reason: its simplicity. The layout of this particular site is so simple to the eye and it looks quite clean that way. The white background of the site allows the beautiful images to slowly pop out and appear cool on the eye of the viewer. Many site owners do not know the basics of display but frankly speaking, this particular feature really helped a lot for this site.
2. Apart from that, this site also grabs the attention of the user and retains the attention span for a long time which makes people stay on this site for a long duration which increased its popularity over night.
3. The navigation is also quite smooth and easy to handle without any clutter on any of its pages. Doesn’t it sound great? Of course yes and this could be one of the reasons why Pinterest becomes an addiction to its users.
4. The steps involved in the process of pinning up an image are very easy and they are just 4 simple steps. If things are so easy even kids can handle the process, am I right?
5. The look and feel of this site is so pleasant and apart from that its utility is what attracted most of the people. This also contributed a lot to its ever increasing popularity all over the globe. It goes without saying that some people’s daily routine starts with logging on to Pinterest nowadays. No, I am not kidding.
Frankly speaking, these reasons are not enough to completely explain why people are going crazy about this site, but still I think I could analyze things up to a certain extent in the best possible way. All of us are human beings and we tend to have certain qualities which are quite common in all of us. One such quality is to be identified by something and display it to fellow human beings. This quality is what makes people crave for such social media platforms because they give them a chance to show off stuff to their friends and others in this world. This quality is being used by most of the platforms like Facebook too and this explains the success rate of all of these social platforms. They simply give us a chance to get noticed and this quenches the desire or the craving inside all of us. Now, did you understand the reason behind the addiction to Pinterest?
How to use it?
When anyone first comes across Pinterest, one would surely fall in love with it because of its sheer simplicity and superb functionality. The site looks clean and pure, which is what almost all sites on the internet lack. Now, consider the idea of driving traffic to your own web site from such a popular website like this. Isn’t it awesome?
Well let us take a look at it.
The main way to exploit the benefits of this site would be through the click throughs. If the number of people who get connected to the stuff that you post is more, then the number of people coming to your web site through this site will also be more and this helps you a lot as this is what you are looking for. All you need to do is to create some content which gets you some following and that’s all.
The process is quite easy and you don’t need to study rocket science now. Make sure that you pin more and ensure that the quality of the content that you pin is high and you will observe the fact that more number of people will start following you. Just like in twitter, here also you can re-pin something like how you re-tweet in twitter. This would help you a lot if you catch someone with more number of fans.
You also need to build the trust of your followers. If you don’t capture their interest or retain the attention they will start un-following you. So don’t spam at all.
Make sure that you link to your own site and ensure that whatever you have to show is engaging to the average viewer and you have done the job well.
Ensure that your content is completely unique as people hate to see imitators.
Make sure that you link to several banners which have the promotional content. But don’t just overdo any of this stuff as people might feel like un-following you at the earliest if they hate what they see.
Make sure that your graphics emotionally connect with each and every viewer. This would make them glued to you and your concepts. Remember the fact that such social platforms are popular in the young circles and this is the reason why you have to target them always.
This way, there are several excellent ways which help you promote anything through this awesome site called Pinterest. Make sure you study several ways to exploit the potential of this site so that you can surely reap all its benefits. You already know the fact that it would be quite difficult to get some traffic to your site by any other means. Some people spend a fortune to just do that and now imagine if you can use this platform and get a lot of traffic; isn’t it great? Try this beautiful platform called Pinterest and enjoy the myriad number of its advantages and expand your business in the best possible way.
Promoting your business
Pinterest is a very good social media site for promoting business. You can post various images and when the images are pinned your followers can see those images. People who like the images can comment and in this way you can interact with your followers. This site can become a very useful tool to attract new customers. Based on a theme or a topic, anyone can create a board. For promoting your business, you must know what your customers are interested in and should create a proper plan to attract them.
You need to observe several things on the website to understand how it actually works and then start building relations. Big business owners are already using this site. There are more than 500 million users and the number is growing. The graphics you create should be attractive so that customers get attracted towards them. When any other customer likes your pin there are chances that he visits your site. This will bring traffic to your site. There are some steps which you can consider to promote your business.
Advertise your product
You can advertise your product by describing its features and some advantages. You can group your products by size, theme, etc. and describe your image very well so that customers can understand properly.
Use the price tag to your advantage
There is a feature on Pinterest which helps you add a price tag on any item and a link back to your website. When you insert a price tag, it is by itself added to the gifts page. Customers can directly click on the gifts page to find your product with a price tag and a link.
Market your Services
If you do not have any product which you can sell then you can market your services. If you are an interior designer then you can post your favorite rooms, if you are a painter you can post your paintings. This way, it gives you a platform to showcase your work so that you gain exposure and may be some work too.
Give discounts to boost sales
Inserting a price tag on the product and a back link to your site makes people understand that your product is for sale. Hence use the correct keywords and boost your website traffic. If people come to your site, offer them a Pinterest user discount which can make them happy and that makes them visit your site again and again in the future.
Just pin out other items which are related to your product so that people see that as a precious source.
Connect with Users
Link with other users and make business relations to create a community. When you sell any product, request for customer feedback so that in future, you can make certain improvements to your product. Just like any other social media site, it will take time to reach targets.
This way there are some ways through which you can promote your business through Pinterest.
All about Pinterest
Pinterest is a social media site where users can create and share their own pin boards. It is becoming popular these days. All the online businesses are trying to use this site as there is a lot of scope to gain tremendous exposure through this site. There are a few things which are necessary to be considered before getting into this site.
It’s all about sharing visuals
Pinterest is all about pinning images. Through images, it is very easy to sell your concepts or products. If you create boards and content on this site then it would be a good place to begin.
Spend enough time
The activities on this website cannot be automated like any other social networking sites. A person should spend time adding comments or images and it can be good for marketers who want to market their products. So, you have to spend quality time on this site or you can even hire any person to spend time on this website.
Doing online marketing on this website is good and mostly women whose age is between 18 and 40 are using this site more. It is necessary to target the right audience to grow your business. Till now, there are no complaints against this site from any business owners. The website keeps spammers away from it.
In the last few months, Pinterest has done a very good job with 10 million users using this site which is a record. There are certain steps you should consider while doing business using this site. Promoting any business is the most important use of this website. You can easily pin your products and can share them.
Some of the users re-pin the items and so you must comment and thank the users. This site acts as a customer feedback tool. Make a community where you can meet people who are interested in your products and follow other users as well.
Connect with different Social Networks
You should meet customers in this site from other social networking sites. You can meet customers in a new way and can develop your business.
Holding contests can be quite good and you can prepare for some modern contest ideas so that your customers feel interested and involved.
This website has a section called gifts where business people can gain more customers if they put their products in that section. The items which you pin should be price tagged with the website link including it.
Search Engine Optimization
You can do SEO by using this website as it is search engine friendly. When you or other users link to your products you can get high quality back links. The main thing you must always remember while doing SEO is you must use the right keyword and description.
The content you share with the users must be exclusive. Pinterest is a new social media site and hence you must promote your website in a way that customers get attracted towards it.
Simple tips for using Pinterest
Pinterest is a famous social bookmarking site. You can share photos on this site and gain exposure to your products and services. If you have experience of using Digg and StumbleUpon then you will know how to use this website. If users like your image, they will re-pin it which will give a link to you. It is very easy and simple to access this site and quite fun as well. There is no specific way to define Pinterest but we can say that it is a mix of Tumblr and Delicious which are full of graphics. Many people find this site interesting because they have the stuff in which they are interested in; not for finding friends.
More and more people visit this site to find a recipe or food in which they are interested in. People share their items on this website which makes it likeable to everybody. There are a lot of tips which you can go through and they are as follows:
If you install a pin it button then visitors will visit your website. You need to follow some steps to insert a pin it button. Just check out the goodies section and follow the steps given.
A person having small business can join Pinterest to share several items so that they become popular. You know the fact that if you visit Google shopping site, you will see only branded items whereas in this site, you can see all the popular items and the items which are being shared by people.
The items which are pinned from your site pull the image and link from your site. The pinned items can be re-pinned number of times which gets more back links for your website.
People can offer a whole board to your brand if they like your stuff. There are so many social bookmarking sites but some of the sites have failed to get more traffic and users. However, Pinterest has millions of users available and is considered as top 50 websites of 2011 by Times Magazine. Hence, it has become a popular website.
As a newcomer to the site, your brand cannot become popular but when your brand is checked out by some visitors on this site then you can start advertising your product on the site.
You can do your advertising hugely. Many people are looking for attractive content and they check what their friends are sharing. It is necessary to market the pin board in order to become popular. The pin boards which are used on this website should be promoted in other social bookmarking sites as well. The manner in which you are advertising your product should not be changed in any site. Whenever you promote your product it should be pinned with images. If the image is not available then, it will not be pinned. Therefore, pin the items and keep your followers updated with current news in Pinterest and try to make the image and content both attractive.
SEO advantages through Pinterest
Pinterest can be called as a social media site or social bookmarking site as well. Some people do not know about this website and its advantages. Hence, I shall explain you what it is and how it can be useful for everybody.
What is Pinterest?
If you take a look at this site, it is quite easy and simple. Any person who joins this site is able to create pin boards. People can share and can gather items which interest them. The items which are shared are put in different categories. When the items are shared and users check out the items, Pinterest drives traffic and hence marketing of business becomes successful. There are lots of SEO benefits and they are as follows:
This site has become famous because of more traffic to the website. New customers can visit your site through this site. It is necessary to attract visitors so that they become interested in your product.
Optimize your website and blog in such a way that it gets focused on some keywords. Each and every pin board is indexed separately by Google and so a descriptive title having keywords is necessary.
This site’s domain authority is good. All the new contents are indexed more by Google and when more items are posted by you, people will link to it and you will get good amount of traffic. Individual pins should be tagged with hash tags and links should be included in your blog and website.
Search of Image
Pinterest focuses mainly on images. Hence, whether you need to upload an image, poster or a video you have to attach a stored link to it. The ALT tags should be used in the images to become searchable in Google. Just check out your website or blog to find a pin-able image and content that interests your customers.
In the traffic analysis report, Pinterest website will specify which content produced a click. In this way, you can get a detailed report. This will help you understand which type of pin is the one that most of the people are interested in so that type of content can be created more.
Insert Pin Buttons
This site has pin buttons which are widgets and these widgets can be put on the web content. The visitors who visit your website can click on the widget and can add your data on their pin boards. Another widget is ‘follow me’ just like the one on twitter. Hence, the pin buttons are more useful.
Since the last two years, this site has earned millions of people. It is almost important as any other blog, or sites like Facebook, twitter, etc. People visit this site more and from here they can come to your site if they like the pinned items tagged by you. Therefore, sales increase and your business will become successful. Pinterest is better for raising brand awareness. The published links on this website are called as ‘dofollow’ links. When you post your images, people come to know about your business and what it offers.