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don't-let-your-web-designer-hold-you-hostage-blog

Every week, without exception, I run across someone who is being held hostage by their web designer. And this is what I mean by “being held hostage”.

Let’s say, for example, you become dissatisfied with your web designer. They are not returning your phone calls, not doing the work as quickly as you would like, or whatever the case may be. And you want someone else to take over the site.

Do you have access to all your usernames, passwords, and all your other online collateral so you can do this? Or do you have to go through your web designer?

Unfortunately, what usually happens is you have to go through your web designer, and they will not let you have your stuff. If that is the case, your only option is to start from scratch with a new web designer, which can cost more money and more time.

Be wary of any web designer who says, “Oh, I’ll take care of that for you” or “You own everything”. If you do not have access to usernames and passwords for everything, you do not truly own everything.

Here is how you can lay a solid foundation for your online marketing strategy and avoid being held hostage.

1. Register your domain name through GoDaddy. Create your own GoDaddy account. Do not use the web designer’s account.Go to my GoDaddy affiliate link at mikecolemanwebservices.com to set up an account with GoDaddy.

2. Set up a hosting account on GoDaddy. Same applies here. Create your own hosting account. Do not use the web designer’s hosting account. Go to my GoDaddy affiliate link at mikecolemanwebservices.com to set up an account with GoDaddy.

3. Use WordPress to create your site. You have much more flexibility and there are WordPress web designers everywhere.

4. Use Constant Contact or AWeber for your newsletter campaign. Click Here to go to my Constant Contact affiliate link and set up a trial account.

5. Set up your Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and any other social media profiles.

6. One other bit of information you will need is FTP info. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and allows you to access your files online. You use FTP to upload or download files. If they refuse to give you this info, find someone else to do your website.

7. Your web designer should give you a sheet with the following information: usernames and passwords for everything (domain name, hosting, social media, WordPress, etc.) and FTP information.

Take responsibility for your business early in the process to avoid pain and heartache later. It doesn’t take that much time to be aware of what’s going on in your business.

There is no excuse for not doing the things I outlined above. You do not need to be a “techie”. You just have to be aware of what’s going on in your business and obtain all the information listed above.

And if you are unsure about what you should do, turn to a trusted advisor who can point you in the right direction before spending your hard-earned dollars. If you do steps 1 thru 7 above, you will never be held hostage again.

seo getting found online mike coleman blog

Getting found online is key to your success if you are depending on your website, social media, and other online collateral to help market your business. Unfortunately, when it comes to creating a web presence that is search engine friendly, it can seem like you are trying to hit a moving target.

But if you follow a few simple rules, you can hit your target and win the game of SEO. Here are seven for your consideration:

1.  Create great content on your website. Google is always looking for “relevant” content, and a lot of it, so when someone searches on a keyword phrase, your site is found to be more relevant than your competition. This will also decrease your bounce rate, which is another key factor in your ranking. Change your content periodically and have a blog on your website that you update on a regular basis.

2.  Create profiles on the main social media channels – Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest. Make sure you place your domain name in each of your profiles.

3.  Place short (less than one minute) how-to, instructional, or informational videos on YouTube and Vimeo. Place your URL as the first thing in your video description and write a good description using your keywords. Also, use your keywords in the title of your video.

4.  Use your keywords in your domain name and in the title of your blog posts.

5.  Optimize your images. Use image editing software, such as Photoshop Elements or Gimp, to decrease the size of your images. This will also decrease the load times of your web pages.
Make use of and populate the “ALT=” tag on your images.

6.  Promote your website, both online and offline, on all your materials – business cards, store signage, networking events, direct mail, your social media channels, etc. Something as simple as driving more people to your site can improve your SEO.

7.  Use Google Analytics and Google  Webmaster Tools to track your progress and monitor your results.

Doing the things listed above will not “guarantee” your success, but doing all of them will increase your chances of being on the first page of the major search engines when someone searches for your business.

There are many other elements to developing a good SEO strategy for your website, such as link-building, but the steps listed above are a great place to start.

Remember, it does take time to develop an SEO strategy, so don’t get discouraged if in a couple of months you are still not on the first page of Google or Bing. There are a lot of factors involved, and it takes consistent, ongoing effort to make it work.

mike coleman nashville online marketing

One of the big mistakes many people make with their email and social media is trying to say everything. Remember, less is more when it comes to email and social media marketing. Your emails and social media are not for telling people everything that you do. Thats what your website is for.

Consider offering one thing at a time and remained focused on one topic at a time when it comes to crafting your blog post, article, newsletter, or social media post. By doing this you accomplish a couple of things:

1. You make it easier for your audience to digest the information you are sharing with them.

2. It takes the pressure off you to write a lot of content. And one more thing about content. You don’t have to be “original” and have something profound to say every time, but you do need to be delivering content that is helpful and applicable to the audience you are trying to reach.

3. It’s much easier to track your results. Anything is your online marketing strategy, just like your offline marketing strategy, should be measurable. You want people who read your blog post, article, or social media post to take some type of physical action. That physical action could be a click, a download, a phone call to your business, signing up for your services, or any number of other things.

mike-coleman-call-to-action-image

When it comes to writing sales copy, there is nothing more powerful than a strong call to action. Anytime you send an email or direct mail piece, the most important part of your communications is your call-to-action.

This is NOT a strong call to action: Call BR549

This is a strong call to action: Call BR549 before 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning to receive 15% off our services.

You’ve told your audience what to do, when to do it, and why they should take action. If you have these three things, you have a strong call to action. If you are missing one component, then it will not work.

I would like to hear from you. Send me a few of your calls to action you have used in the past.

 

Email marketing is still the best way to stay in touch and keep that top of mind presence with your prospects and customers. And when you use email marketing in conjunction with social media, you have a very powerful online marketing strategy that’s hard to beat.

But, it’s important that you launch your email marketing campaign properly. It’s equally important that you follow a few simple rules when composing and sending your email.

Here are eight tips for you …

1. Be consistent in your delivery. Whether you commit to doing a monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly newsletter, make sure you keep that commitment to your readership so they know when to expect your email.

2. Keep your text clear, concise, and easy to scan. Compose short paragraphs with maybe 2 or 3 sentences to make your point.

3. Place appropriate links in your newsletter. For example, you will need a link to your website, links to all your social media, and you could also include a special offer.

4. Deliver content that people want to read and possibly share with their friends. Also, make it easy for people to share your emails by providing a “share” link or a “Forward this email to a friend” link.

5. Send a test email to yourself to make sure your formatting is correct before sending it to your list.

6. Always ask permission before adding anyone to your email list.

7. Keep your list (or database) clean. After you send your email, take care of any bounced email addresses by entering the correct email address or removing them from your list.

8. Monitor your reports after you send your email to see how well it performed. Check your open rate, bounced email addresses, delivery rate, etc. If you are using a professional email marketing program, such as Constant Contact, it’s easy to do this.

The next step is to start your email marketing campaign, and I can help you get up-and-running whenever you are ready.

I have heard this phrase many times – “the money is in the follow-up”. When you think about it, this is very true when it comes to connecting with your customer, building the relationship, and making the sale. As you know, it generally takes 7 – 10 touches for a sale to occur. So following up with everyone is key to your success if you want to increase your revenue.

And, ideally, you will follow up with everyone you meet within 24 hours. But, even if it’s a few days after the initial contact with the individual or business, you can still maintain that contact. It’s never too late to follow-up or reconnect with someone.

One other thing to keep in mind. Don’t get discouraged when it seems you are wasting your time or don’t get a response. Following up with someone is never a waste of time. You will either close the sale or deepen the relationship or find more ways you can help them accomplish whatever it is they are trying to accomplish. So make an extra effort to stay in touch.

Here are a seven tips and techniques for following up:

1. Send a thank you note after a meeting. A handwritten note is still the best way to follow up with someone if you have their snail mail contact information.

2. Connect with them via email. After a networking group meeting or meeting with someone for the first time, a short email can remind them of who you are, what you do, and give you the opportunity to ask how you can help them.

3. Connect with them on social media. Almost everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

4. Get them into your database or add them to your list. Your list is the most important asset in your business, and you must constantly be working on building your list. One way to do this is to offer them something of value for free in exchange for their email address. And they can subscribe to your newsletter. This allows you to keep that top of mind presence with them and puts part of your follow-up strategy on auto-pilot.

5. Phone call. Just picking up the phone and calling someone can be a great way to keep in touch. But don’t get long winded in your conversations, Just let them know you were thinking about them and want to see if there is a way you can help them. You may want to shoot them an email and schedule the call in advance.

6. Find a way to help them. No matter what you do, you are still in the service business.

7. Keep it brief. Keep all your correspondence as concise as possible.

Here is your homework for today. Think of three people you need to follow up with and either send them a letter or thank you note; call them; send an email; connect with them on social media; or think of a way you can help them.

In working with clients on their social media marketing, I have observed several key challenges most businesses face when implementing a social media marketing strategy.

Here are a just few of the challenges:

Measuring ROI. There are several ways to measure ROI – number of followers, likes, connections; number of visits to website; lead generation; sales. These are the basic ways to measure your results. And you need to get your base numbers before launching your campaign or you won’t know if what you are doing is working.

Managing and growing your social media presence. Most businesses lack the necessary resources needed to effectively launch a successful social media campaign. It makes sense to focus your efforts on your areas of expertise in your business and outsource your social media marketing.

Integrating social media marketing with the rest of your marketing. It’s important that you don’t forget the rest of your marketing when creating a social media marketing strategy. One of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make is focusing all their efforts on social media and forgetting the rest of their marketing.

Managing your content. Creating posts, tweeting, and engaging with your fans and followers is how you make social media work for you. Creating and managing content that gets your message across, informs, and educates your audience, while at the same time selling your services, can be tricky. You don’t want to be selling all the time, but you do want to grow your business. Learn basic copywriting skills. Keep a notebook or a file on your computer where you can write short notes for future posts. That will keep you from running out of ideas when it comes time to post something.

Monitoring your social media platforms. This can become a time-consuming task if it’s not managed properly. Set aside a few minutes every day to monitor comments and posts from others in your network. Block out, for example, 10 minutes just for this task and nothing else. Also, use tools such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to make monitoring your accounts easier.

A good social media marketing person will provide you with easy to understand reporting along with periodic strategy and brainstorming sessions to make sure everything that is being done is working. This will give you peace of mind and assurance that your marketing dollars are being spent wisely.

Social media marketing is not a one-shot deal or a campaign, it’s a commitment to posting, tracking, and measuring your results.

Even though social media has been around for several years now, I still get people asking me why they should use social media. And a lot of people still see it as a waste of time. But nothing could be further from the truth.

There was a time when just having a website was enough to support your online marketing efforts, but that is no longer the case. It takes a combination of both online and offline marketing strategies to successfully market your business or services. And using social media is just another online marketing strategy you can use to build your brand, build your list, and grow your business.

Here are three reasons for using social media:

Your competition is using it. How many businesses do you know who have a Facebook Page? Having a presence on social media sites is no longer an option. If you don’t have an active social media presence, you can bet your competition is using it to get customers in your target market.

Your target market is using it. Almost everyone now relies on social tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to learn more about a company and to share information with their friends and peers. If you are not on these social sites, you are not being taken seriously by the businesses and people you are trying to reach.

It starts the conversation. All of these platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) are great for starting conversations. On Twitter, you can build a loyal legion of followers by posting original and interesting content. On Facebook, you can invite people to like your page and to post comments. On LinkedIn, you can join groups, ask questions, and join discussions to share your expertise and become known as the expert in your field.

And one of the biggest excuses I hear for not using social media is, “I can’t think of anything to post.”

If you can’t think of anything to post, then comment on a post or retweet something one of your followers tweeted. Once you start doing this, you will start thinking of new things you can post.

Social media is not the answer to all your marketing challenges, but it is an essential part of your overall marketing strategy. So, spend a few minutes every day to post something, connect with people, and join conversations.

Harry Chapman, a local TV personality, hosts a show at Belmont University on PBS called “The Insiders View” where he interviews music industry insiders on current trends in the music industry. Harry recently interviewed Ian Rogers, CEO of Topspin, discussing the effects of technology (and social media) on the music industry. Ian said, “You want to make the unaware – aware; make the aware – fans; and make fans – customers. Those are the people who become evangelists and say you gotta see this. It takes a long time and you can’t skip steps.”

It takes time to find the right connections on LinkedIn, get the right followers on Twitter, and to get the right people engaged on your Facebook Page. But this is not rocket science. It simply requires a little effort on your part. Here are a few steps you can take to implement what Ian Rogers summed up so well.

1. You want to make the unaware – aware. One way to do this is to be consistent and proactive in gaining followers, likes, and connections. Use the search feature of each of your social media tools to find the right people to connect with. For example, if you are a professional speaker and you are seeking gigs with local companies, you can start following companies in the industry in which you want to work using LinkedIn. After you log into your account, click on the Companies menu option. From here you can do a search by industry, company name, or keyword. Start following companies within your industry to find the movers and shakers within the company and send them a personalized invitation to join your network. You have now made them aware. (And you can do basically this same thing in Twitter and on Facebook by using the search feature on each of these platforms).

2. Make the aware – fans. Now that they are aware, it’s time to make them fans. The best way to do this is to consistently provide relevant and interesting content in your posts that your target audience will want to read and, most importantly, want to share.

3. Make fans – customers. Now that they are following you, reading and sharing your posts, you have the opportunity to get them into your pipeline, add them to your database, and convert them into customers. To do this, you will need a way to collect email addresses on all your social media using an email marketing program such as Constant Contact so you can engage them directly on a more personal level. You will also need a strong call to action (CTA), such as, “Click Here To Get Special Pricing On Our New App” or “Enter Your Email Address For A Free Copy of Our Newsletter” placed strategically on all your social media platforms. Facebook Tabs in the new timeline are an excellent place for these.

That is social media marketing in a nutshell.

It’s important for you to have a periodic marketing strategy review. You may even consider evaluating your online marketing strategy every 30 days. Here are a few questions to ask when doing your review.

Have you checked the metrics on your site and is it promoting the right message to your target audience? You should have your site set up in Google Analytics and be using Google’s Webmaster tools to monitor the performance of your site. Your content should reflect the wants and needs of your core audience. Make sure your site is search engine optimized for long-tail keywords. Research the keywords that fit your needs by using Google’s free keyword tool. And use lots of them. Don’t depend on one or two keywords for your SEO.

Are you leveraging social media in the most effective way possible to engage your target market? At the very least, you should have Twitter and LinkedIn accounts along with a Facebook Page. The key to success in this area is consistency. Post a few times per week or once daily. The optimal time to post to social media is generally early to mid-afternoon during the week.

Do you have a blog on your website that provides useful information? Posting short 200 – 300 word blog posts is a great way to build credibility and become the expert in the eyes of your clients and prospects.

Are you using article marketing sites to educate and inform people in your target market? Some people say article marketing is dead, but I know firsthand that it still works. It also helps you get more content to rank well on Google if you are using one of the better article marketing sites, such as ezinearticles.com.

Do you have a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter? This is a great way to maintain ongoing contact with the marketplace to keep that top-of-mind presence. Email marketing tools, such as Constant Contact provide easy to use templates for creating professional quality emails.

How do you compare to your competition? Find the keywords they are ranking on, study their content, and ask yourself if there are missed opportunities in your current business model when compared to your competition.

Are you using offline marketing strategies? Direct mail, networking, making phone calls, making appointments are all part of your overall marketing strategy. Just because you have online tools in place does not mean you can ignore traditional marketing.

If you do everything I listed above, you will have a great start on assuring your online marketing success.