As more and more commerce and business moves into the digital realm it becomes easier to earn revenue online. The key is of course, deciding what your business model is and then working daily to build that out and garner an audience or following around it. So how does one go about this? The truth is that it’s a lot more simple than you probably realize and just requires a few core elements and consistent effort… So let’s get started.
By the most recent estimations roughly 63% of your digital traffic is going to be viewing you on a mobile device. This is hugely important and is also a ranking factor for organic SEO. Since the majority of web traffic is now mobile and Google values “user experience” over just about everything – it only makes sense. You need to make sure that your website is built to accomodate mobile users. When we get design jobs we now start with the mobile version of the site – desktop design is now secondary.
Social Media is no longer just a buzz word. It’s now a big part of our every day digital life. One reason we advise clients to create social media pages on as many platforms as possible is that, again it is helpful with organic search. If you are having daily interactions with customers, fans, etc. on social media channels that is relevant to search crawls. If you want to own the front page of Google for the name of your business having 6 – 8 social channels can be HUGE. If you do a Google search for the term “Holistic Wellbeing Expert” you will get one of our former clients Randi Ragan. She owns this SERP largely because of the way we keyword optimized her website & social media channels. At the time this article was published (June 27, 2016) She was the first 8 listings on page 1 of Google for the term “Holistic Wellbeing Expert” – The point is that Social Media channels are important to how you rank so create them and use them.
The tired old cliche’ “Content is King” exists for a reason – it’s true. The internet ecosystem models the television ecosystem in a lot of ways. Think about it like this – in order to have free content online, you have to have ads. There are also “paid subscription” or “premium content providers” where you pay a fee so that you have unfettered access to that content without ads – kind of what cable used to be – or premium cable like HBO & Showtime still is.
The point is that no matter what you do there is content to be made. If you’re a body shop that does great body work – have a blog and show before & after pictures of your work. If you run a gym, film daily segments of your training sessions and share them on Facebook. Google is essentially a content library and if you want to be found there you’re going to have to provide good content. The point I’m getting at is that if you run a daily business in most cases this content will create itself. Thanks to social “snippet” content it doesn’t have to be anything grand or epic. A 30 second clip of you punching a heavy bag will share on Instagram with the right hashtags and no doubt net you a few new likes & followers. As a wise brand once said: “Just Do It.”
The all important life blood of the internet is traffic – it’s like digital oil. Pretty much every terrible or great thing being done online is done to get traffic, increase audience, gain visibility. Everything we have just outlined in this post is designed to help you gain traffic and essentially, sales, ad views, etc. Whatever is going to make you more money online. Of course there are ways to buy traffic and advertising is a huge part of that but that is a whole other article.
Creating content around your business or service and sharing it daily on social media through a responsive website works. If you consistently do this each day, you will see growth. As you build out a web of content you will begin to see new traffic trickle in from the differnt keyword searches you are now beginnign to appear in and it spirals out from there.
As a final thought I want to leave you with this – it’s something I heard from a Stephen Covey course and I think it’s important. Content & Social Media work is like farming – it’s something you have to do every day consistently to see results. It’s not like cramming for an exam where you can wait until the last minute and then hurry and do a bunch of posts. It’s a daily incremental and consistent effort to stay visible in these different channels and build out that web of content. If you stick to it you will see results!
With social media marketing on the rise there are a lot of agencies out there with different methods to help you grow your audience. Some of them are extremely effective and others are not. When we work with companies on social media audience strategy we always focus on quality. Getting quality at scale is possible, especially if you have a decent advertising budget. Getting quality in social media marketing without a large ad budget is also possible though, if you are consistent and stick to best practices.
One of the more popular method in recent years is buying likes or followers. There are a lot of different services out there that can in fact grow your audience to be very large rather quickly. This comes at a price though and I often question whether or not that price is worth it.
The reason is that buying followers or likes is not a good long term investment. There are a few reasons for this, but in the interest of time I’ll give you the 2 most important.
We discussed how the fraud ecosystem works at length in our video “The Wonderful World of Fake Traffic” a lot of the principals discussed here apply to social media.
“Long-term relationship building is the cornerstone of any business and brand. Here, I think more than ever, organic and authentic conversation wins out over forced social media sharing through strategic plans and content management systems.”
The above statement from Jeremy Harris Lipshultz’s recent article at Huffington Post sums up the key to great long term, effective social media marketing. We tell our clients “think like a farmer” because a farmer has to get up and do a long list of things every day to keep their crops growing and produce a good harvest. Social Media marketing & content are no different. There are key things that you should be doing each and every day to help grow your audience.
So while you can “cheat” and buy followers or likes the value in that is greatly diminished. The numbers are impressive on the surface but once you look past that you will clearly see they are not real people. For a business if you’re going to invest in real social media marketing, you will want quality over quantity. Real, genuine conversation and interaction between potential and existing customers will win the day even if it comes in small amounts.
According to AdWeek:
The ephemeral app didn’t throw a South by Southwest Interactive party, hire a popular band or even give away cool gadgets—it didn’t have a branded presence at the Austin, Texas, festival. Instead, it was a topic of conversation on nearly every marketing panel and was constantly used by attendees to document their SXSW experiences. In fact, it garnered more impressions on Twitter than any other brand, coming in with 192 million from March 6 through March 16, per Sysomos. Indeed, all Snapchat had to do to win SXSW 2016 was just be Snapchat.
AdWeek went on to cite Snapchat as the most talked about brand at the whole conference and was actually used by a lot of attendees to document their experience.
AdWeek has this and 6 other interesting marketing stats from the past week here.
The “blogosphere” remember that buzz word? It’s not one you hear a lot anymore, however it is more important than ever that you or someone you pay be creating content or blogging for your business.
Creating content that speaks to what you offer as a business is the best way to gain visibility on social media sites and in search engines. Additionally, it’s a way for you to showcase your expertise and earn the trust and awareness of potential customers.
It can also be profitable. According to Technorati (a popular blog network) blogs with 100,000 or more monthly unique visitors can earn on average around $75,000 annually.
So if you are not already doing it – it’s probably time to get started. At Apex Digital Media we offer basic business website packages that are reasonably priced and will enable you for blogging. You don’t have to go with us of course, we’ve also written a lot about how to pick the best design / marketing firm for your needs.
If you’re wading into the fray inexperienced and alone – we are here to help. Here are a list of important things to consider before you start cranking out content.
There are several reasons to own a website for your business but to be clear there are about 4 that stand out:
Building a Brand: Unless you are spending heavily on advertising, your website is likely the first impression a prospective customer will have of you. Make sure it looks professional and accurately represents your brand.
Generating Leads: Your business might not exist solely online. You may want to use it to drive consumer traffic to your store, you may want to use it to capture email addresses in the form of a mailing list. If you are looking to generate leads, make sure your site is set up accordingly with a clear call to action (ie. “sign up for our mailing list!” )
Generating Direct Sales: A fairly simple concept. Whether people buy on your website or its used to drive them to your store, direct sales are the goal.
Generating Advertising Revenue: On the other hand maybe what you are blogging for your business is extremely popular and your site gets a ton of traffic. If that’s the case placing ads and making revenue from them never hurts. It can however be difficult to try and run a site focused on direct sales while simultaneously trying to make money from advertising. Ad placements can cause the page load times to decrease and there is a chance a consumer could see an ad from a competitor and click off to somewhere else. Whichever of these items is your focus, be sure to keep everything you create geared towards it.
If your goal is generating leads you need to have your page & posts optimized to push people to fill out a form or make a phone call. If you are trying to make money from advertising you will need to do everything you can to drive traffic. There are a myriad of reasons to create content around your business but make sure you have complete clarity on why YOU are doing it. Also, set benchmarks for yourself and goals to achieve. If you are doing lead gen ask yourself “How many leads do I want per month?” If you are trying to make revenue from advertising you will need to find ways to push traffic to your site. (Hint: Social Media is a great place to start)
Once you have a goal set and have answered the “why” you can start to think about creating content for your business or the “how.” If you sell cars maybe you want to write about which new models on your lot have the highest consumer favorability ratings. If you are a restaurant you might want to talk about how your ingredients are sourced from organic local farms. Do your best to find your niche and run with it.
Frequency – Will you post Daily? Weekly? Monthly? The more frequently you create content and share it on social media channels the better visibility you will have. Google loves “fresh” so your chances of being seen by a large audience is much better if you crank out the content daily or even several times a day. Weekly is adequate too but think of how you feel when you look at a brand’s Facebook page or blog and it hasn’t been updated in a month. It seems like the lights are off.
Creating Content Ahead of Time – If you are a busy business owner, chances are good you aren’t going to have a couple hours to sit down and compose a new blog each day. You have a couple of options here. Create 5 – 10 posts in advance and then schedule them. If you can stay ahead of this schedule you will be able to continually have fresh content each day. The second option is to hire someone to do the writing for you. If you are bootstrapped there are plenty of college kids and people who will write for you at a reasonable rate or even for free. Never hurts to check your options.
Include a Call to Action – If you are doing this to drive new business, don’t forget to include a call to action! Most people aren’t just going to magically sign up for your mailing list or download your e-book without being asked to. If they are interested in what you’re doing though, the chances are good if you dangle that carrot in front of them they will go after it. Here are a few examples of worthwhile calls to action:
• Join my email list
• Download my ebook
• Buy my product
• Sign up for my service
• Call or email me for a consultation
• Buy advertising on this blog
• Connect with me on various social sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace etc.)
• Visit my store or office
• Come meet me at this live event
These are just samples – depending on the nature of your business you will want to come up with something that fits best with your site or blog.
As mentioned earlier, Apex Digital Media offers small business website packages at reasonable rates. If you are working with a smaller budget of less than $3 – $5,000, we can help! If you are intrepid and self-motivated you can also save money doing it yourself. Wordpress has free options for blogging as do several other platforms. Of course, if this is for a professional business using http://wordpress.mybusinessname.com might not have the professional sheen you’re looking for. So keep that in mind, your website is your first impression – having a professional design reflects upon your business. Think about it – if you go to a company’s website and it looks like it was designed in 1998 and is not mobile responsive you think less of them. Don’t be that business.
Social Media is hands down the best way to advertise content you create for your business. Here’s why: Relevant audience. Facebook gives you the ability to directly target users by all sorts of data points including “Likes” – so if you’re a website targeting comic book fans, Facebook will allow you to target people who have “liked” Marvel or DC’s fan pages. That’s only the beginning though – you can also add additional layers of targeting in the form of gender, age, zip code and more.
If you don’t have a budget to pay for advertising – social is still the answer. We have found that simply by tweeting out content or sharing it on Linked In & Facebook we have generated a lot of new business. This also goes back to frequency. If you are frequently posting / sharing content on social platforms the relevant audience will find you. Think of platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram as “Discovery Engines” – a theme we will cover in more detail in a later post. Discovery engines allow users who are interested in a particular theme to easily find you. Take advantage of this!
There are so many free online tools for analytics it’s ridiculous – the pinnacle of course being Google Analytics. Make sure you install Google Analytics and scour your data regularly. You will see which pieces of content are being read by viewing the “Time Spent” metric. If users on average are spending 5 – 1o minutes on a page, it’s a good sign they are engaged and reading. You can then use this data to create additional content in a similar vein that users will enjoy.
Quantcast is another fantastic benchmarking tool that will allow you to see how you rank with other similar content creators. It also has in-depth statistics on the types of audience that likes your content and frequently visits your pages.