BLOG

How did your website perform in 2013? If you weren’t satisfied with the traffic it attracted, the amount of time your visitors stayed on the site, or the site’s ability to convert, now is the time to think about making some website updates. You may even decide to scrap your current site and start fresh with a new domain name and website design.

When deciding what website updates are top priority it is important is that you recognize what needs to happen to make the site better and take action to turn it around for this year. You don’t want to end another year wishing you had performed better, and the following actions will help you take your website development in the right direction.

Reconsider Your Design

If visitors aren’t sticking on your web pages or aren’t clicking around to visit additional pages after a search engine hit, you may have website design problems. Have a professional designer look at the site and help you determine the weak spots. You can then decide whether it is time to start over or fix up the site you already have.

If you didn’t invest in professional website development when you first created this site, chances are high that it does not feel professional or authentic to visitors. If you can’t create a professional website design that delivers a smooth, rewarding experience for visitors, make it your goal to work with a professional this year.

Update Your Content

Freshen up old content, even if it is evergreen. Make sure you are implementing effective SEO strategies. That means not stuffing keywords into your content unnaturally. Every keyword should fit the content and should flow seamlessly. Every page of your site should teach your reader something, make them laugh, make them think, or simply keep them thirsty for more so that they come back. If you can’t create that type of content personally, hire someone who can.

Content doesn’t stop with text. Think about incorporating videos, pod casts and other types of content. If you haven’t made a video yet, that might be a good goal to consider for this year. Finding fresh images may be another good goal.

Check the Technical Stuff

How much downtime did your site have last year? If you weren’t impressed with the number of site crashes you experienced, this is a good time to research a better hosting service. Go through your plugins and make sure they are all active and were updated within the past year. Consider whether you even need those plugins. Do the same with every link on your website to ensure you only link to high-quality, authoritative sites that are still active and relevant.

Come Out of Your Shell

Once you have improved your site or created a new site that you know will perform better, start reaching out to other people. Figure out who your target market is and find them on social media. Create guest blog posts with links back to your blog or website. There are countless ways to promote your website, but make sure you engage with other site owners within your niche as well. Get your name out there and focus on branding so that your site gets the attention it deserves this year.

While you are taking action to improve your website for the New Year, take the time to improve the security of the site. Select a tricky password and use a plugin to limit the number of login attempts allowed. A stealth login page plugin can help thwart the efforts of hackers as well. One final thing: don’t forget to backup your site on a routine basis.

Website updates are something that should take place throughout the year and not just every new year.  With a dedicated maintenance plan you can assess changes and website updates that you need to make throughout the year.  Having a current and up to date website makes your business look professional and keeps your customers coming back.

Read more

email-marketingSmall businesses can see incredible benefits from relying on email marketing. This traditional online promotion technique is still alive and capable of helping you meet your goals on a limited budget.

There are certain things you need to do when starting and email marketing campaign, in order to increase the chance of reaching and engaging your target audience. Here are some rules of email marketing for small businesses.

Simplify the Subscription Process
People will subscribe if the process is user-friendly. There should be signup links on your homepage, your blog and your social media profiles. If people have to spend a lot of time searching for the link, they will never subscribe.

Welcome New Subscribers
A welcome email adds a nice touch and reminds people that they are now included in your mailing list. It can have a personalized message or a special offer that is available solely for new subscribers.

Choose the Right Format
Good newsletters are easy to scan when it comes to some email marketing campaigns. People can go through all of the headlines and the points you are trying to make, choosing to pay attention to the content that they like the most. The creative use of fonts and font sizes can direct the eye towards the most important parts of the email and help the audience navigate.

Brand Identity
Use design creatively. It should be functional and it should correspond to your brand identity. If you are trying to increase your popularity and boost loyalty through email marketing, this approach will be vitally important. Your corporate colors and your logo should appear in the beginning of the newsletter.

Your Content Plan
Email marketing is dependent on the creation of a solid content plan. Many small businesses overlook the importance of sharing something unique and something that makes going through the subscription process worth the effort. You could share special offers or information about upcoming campaigns exclusively through your newsletters.

Test Your Newsletter before Sending It
There are so many mail clients and the appearance of your newsletter will vary greatly across platforms. Test through as many popular mail clients, as you can. Make sure that the design looks equally attractive in all.

Mobile Audiences are Becoming More Important
Many people are going through marketing emails on mobile devices. Is your design suitable for viewing on a small screen? Choose responsive design that look good on all kinds of media.

Facilitate Email Sharing
Enable subscribers to forward the mail and facilitate social sharing. There could be a link to a web-based version of the newsletter, as well as social media links.

Always Look at Email Marketing Statistics
Look at the statistics and modify your campaign on the basis of the response that you get. The open rate and click through (CTR) rate are two of the important metrics. Identify patterns and try to understand which parts of your strategy succeed and which ones are failing miserably.

Stop Sending Marketing Emails for the Sake of Sending Them
You should be sending newsletters solely when you have something interesting to say. It is a nice idea to stick to a schedule but you should also be sensible about the value of each newsletter. Send something interesting, newsworthy and fun to read. Don’t waste the time of your subscribers and you will maximize the results of the campaign.

Read more

Pay-per-click-advertisingYour pay per click campaign will fail if you don’t have an effective, well-written ad. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend researching keywords or how little competition you have in your niche. Your PPC ads must speak to searchers or they are going to scroll down the page rather than clicking your link.

You can find a lot of information about writing the perfect PPC ads online and in some books, but you probably don’t have the time to search out those resources and give them the attention they deserve. Bypass the work and pay attention to these five simple tips guaranteed to make your ad more effective.

1. Don’t use overly complicated words.

Stick with simple terms that most people will understand without too much thought. You want them to process what you have to say quickly and click without pondering the message in detail. Your content can fill them in on all the details and give them the technical terms if they are important, but you want your ad to be easily understood regardless of the education level or intelligence of the reader. You want to reach everyone within your market.

2. Use words that will appeal to the emotional side of your readers.

Put your personal touch on your ads so that your readers feel you are speaking right to them. Let them know that you understand their problem or know what information they need. Feeling words will help them make that decision to click your link. If your words just seem like words on a screen directed at nobody in particular, searchers will likely scroll past for an ad they relate to more.

3. Use your keywords in the proper context and focus on their deeper meaning. What is the message behind your keywords? Why are they important?

4. Tell searchers what you want them to do.

Let searchers know what your site has to offer, and then deliver a concise call to action. Someone reading the ad should not have to guess at what you need them to do. If you ask, you are far more likely to receive.

5. Keep abbreviations and punctuation to a minimum.

If you don’t need to cut words short, don’t do it. For example, you might spell out search engine optimization rather than using SEO. You may state that you sell Xbox 360 games rather than just stating that you sell games. The more specific and detailed you are, the more likely a reader is to quickly understand your point and take action.

Once you start applying these writing tips to your PPC ads, you will see what a difference they make in your campaigns. They can easily triple your click through rate if you successfully apply them all in every ad you write. Find an ad that is struggling right now and rewrite it according to these tips. You should see a dramatic difference in results.

Read more

Delray-Beach-Internet-Marketing“Should I use PPC for my business marketing plan?”While it is faster to get an ad listed in the search engine results through PPC then it is to get a link listed in the same search engine results through SEO, not every business will benefit from a PPC campaign.

You must ask yourself seven important questions before investing in PPC:

1. Is there an online market searching for my products and/or services?

This question will help you determine the relevancy of your business to what people are searching for online. PPC marketing only allows you to reach people who are actively searching for information, products or services through the search engines. If you cannot find heavily-searched keywords that relate directly to your business, then there is a chance that the online market just isn’t there at this time.

2. Do you need to boost traffic to your site as quickly as possible?

If you are in no hurry to build traffic to your site, then you can stick with SEO and social media marketing while spending less money. If you do want to get your website or online store off the ground as quickly as possible, then PPC is the fastest way to get the clicks coming in.

3. Do you want to attract local customers?

PPC allows you to target consumers within a particular geographical location or consumers that fit a variety of other demographics. If you want to attract locals from a particular region or consumers of a particular gender, PPC may work for your business.

4. Once you start your PPC campaign, what do the analytical tools tell you?

There are simple tools available to help you determine how well searchers are responding to your advertisements. If you aren’t getting the clicks that you know you deserve and/or visitors are not staying on your site very long, then you know there is a problem with the ad, the keywords, or the campaign in general.

5. Are you nervous about investing in SEO without testing your keywords?

PPC is a great way to test keywords without waiting months for your SEO campaign to deliver results (or not). If you want to use SEO but don’t want to waste your time, test with PPC first.

6. Do you know enough about PPC to manage a campaign successfully?

If not, it doesn’t mean your business is not suitable for PPC. It simply means you may need to hire professionals to look after your PPC campaign to ensure the best results possible. The other alternative is to learn more about this form of marketing, but that is more time-consuming than most business owners can afford.

7. Will your marketing budget accommodate the expense of PPC marketing?

Some PPC campaigns are more affordable than others, but you will never know what your expenses may run until you do a bit of keyword research. If you find that there is heavy competition for the keywords you need to target, then you will need a more sizable marketing budget.

This question was placed last because you have to think about your budget in terms of the other six factors. Considering your answers to all of those other questions, think about your chances of getting a great ROI from a PPC campaign. If there are enough people searching for your keywords yet your niche is not overly competitive, then you may find that PPC is your fastest and most affordable strategy for marketing online.

Read more

Marketing to Christians

One thing we specialize in here at BMGcreative is helping new businesses and ministries get off the ground. It is actually one of the things we love to do. Start-ups are always exciting because we get to create something new.

But how do you market a new Christian business or ministry? Many eager new business owners want to push their faith through their business. While being “in your face” with a blatant Christian message usually isn’t the best route to take, we always encourage Christian business owners them to live their faith through their business.

Christians who do marketing
In the simplest sense marketing is advertising, promoting or telling others about a service, product or idea. So if we were to mix in Christian with marketing we would get someone who believes in Jesus that does advertising or promoting.

There are a lot of companies that are owned or run by Christians, but you wouldn’t know that overtly by their branding or marketing. However, once you get to know them, you can clearly see Christian principles in action rather than in their logo. Most of the successful Christian-owned businesses that I know operate in this way.

Christianity in marketing
One big mistake we see often are business owners that feel they need to proclaim Jesus and honor God by plastering Christianese and Christian symbols all over their business materials. I strongly agree that we need to honor God in all we do. However it may not be the best practice to put verses, icons and Christian wording all over our business collateral.

Please don’t get offended, but when people see crosses, Jesus hanging on a cross, and all other kinds of Christianese on your business materials, this almost always turns them off to your business. If you are truly trying to reach people with the message of the gospel, then build a relationship and be a witness to them. If you are trying to promote your business or ministry to others, not just Christians, then do it in a professional clear way that others can understand and won’t get turned away or confused by. God calls us to be salt, something that is palatable and tastes good. We are not called to be a red hot pepper. Use common sense in your marketing efforts in order to help attract people to you rather than making them run away.

Marketing to Christians
Now there is another way we can look at Christian marketing in the sense of actually marketing to Christians. If you are trying to reach only Christians, or any target market for that matter, you can break some of the typical marketing rules. Keeping the same message contained to a target market allows you the freedom to use language that you shouldn’t use when marketing to a general audience.

Keep your audience in mind
Whether you are a Christian in marketing or trying to market to Christians keep in mind who will be seeing your ad, brochure or billboard and ask how someone that doesn’t know you could interpret it. Oftentimes, seeing things from others’ perspective is difficult. For that reason, most companies hire marketing and branding agencies to make sure they have the most effective message developed to reach the right group of people.
It’s better to ask others that will give you honest advice than to waste efforts and resources on the wrong message reaching the wrong people.

For more information and a how-to guide visit BMGcreative.com/OneToday.

Grif Blackstone is the publisher of the Good News, the largest Christian newspaper in Florida and the president of BMGcreative, a full service web design and marketing company. Grif has helped hundreds of organizations build an effective brand and help them communicate who they are to their target market. Writer, speaker, and consultant, Grif is known for technology and business and is highly caffeinated. Contact him at: grif@bmgcreative.com or 954-229-2256.

Read more

selling products online

The First Steps You Need to Undertake
Before examining online shopping carts, you will have to find your niche and buy the right domain. Doing research before selling products online is essential for maximizing profit. Trying to enter an overly competitive niche that has numerous strong players will decrease your chances of selling products online.

Figure out whether there is a relatively empty market niche. Is it possible to address a current consumer need? If not, you may work on creating a new need and building your own niche.

After picking up your target, it will be time to choose a domain name. It should be memorable and descriptive of your business idea. The domain name plays a role in search engine optimization, so think twice.

Find the Best Ecommerce Platform
Building an ecommerce website depends on finding the right software and online shopping cart. There are many services you can try, each one of these facilitating website development and optimization.

Here at BMG we love Magento for selling products online because of the customization possibilities, the numerous professional designs and the ease of adding new functionalities to the website. Magento makes it easy to showcase your products, to keep track of inventory and to do promotion in the most adequate ways.

When thinking about selling products online, you have to develop a website that is functional and innovative. Customers have many possibilities to choose among. If your website fails delivering the best performance, clients will simply spend their money elsewhere. This is why choosing the best online shopping carts is so vitally important.

Build Your Website and Get Started
Building a functional website is essential but you also need a merchant account to get started with selling products online.

A merchant account will allow you to accept online payments, whether these come from a credit card or a payment system like PayPal. To set up a merchant account, you will need to contact a local bank or another institution that deals with online payments. There are particular fees and conditions you need to research before you pick the bank to work with.

Next, you need to complete the application process. Websites like PayPal enable you to set up a merchant account there, as well, in case you want to solely accept such payments without having to deal with credit cards and banks.

Remember that the beginning steps are important and having professionals by your side can make this process run smooth! Here at BMG we pride our selves on creating customized and themed shopping carts that will help sell your products online!

Read more

onlinereviews_thumbsOnline Reviews are promotions for your business written by your current or past customers. Some reviews are delivered through online video, but most are written and presented through websites, blogs and social media accounts. Your customers share their experiences with your products and services in order to help other consumers make educated buying decisions.

Online reviews are powerful promotional tools because they backup the claims you make about your own business. You can tell potential customers how great your products are and how reliable your services are, but they are going to listen to the experience of another consumer before they take your word for it. This is because you have something to sell them, but your customers have nothing to gain by telling the truth about their experiences.

What about Negative Reviews?

Even if you have an excellent product or service, you may run into a dissatisfied customer or two. You may not know that they are dissatisfied until you convince them to write a review, and you won’t like what you read in that review. Rather than getting mad or acting defensive, use this as an opportunity to correct your mistakes and win them over.

Consider the validity of the negative review and offer complimentary products or services. Open a dialogue with the customer by asking what you can do to correct their experience with your business. You may turn that negative review into a review that glows with positivity if you react in a professional manner.

Promoting Reviews for Business Growth

Encourage your current and previous customers to write out a review regarding their experiences with your company. Even if they only write a few words or a couple sentences, their support for your business is valuable when new customers come along and wonder about the legitimacy of your business. You can give incentives to those who write reviews, but never withhold that incentive if you receive a negative review.

Promoting reviews from your customers is easy. Display the reviews on your website or allow customers to enter their reviews directly onto your website. Promote the reviews further by using them in social media and blog posts. This gets the word out that your business is legitimate and has a lot to offer customers.

Consumer reviews are excellent market research tools. If you find customers routinely complaining about the same thing, you know that area of your business needs improvement. When you receive compliments on one area of your business on a routine basis, then you know that area is one of your strengths.

If you pay attention to the opinions expressed in these reviews, you can use this insight to make important decisions regarding your business. For instance, you may go ahead with a new product because a similar product was wildly popular with your customers and you see that demand is high. You may also decide to invest more money in customer service or packaging if those areas are routinely criticized in customer reviews.

Yes, there are some fake reviews floating around online. That does not mean that reviews are not powerful resources for your business. Embrace real online reviews, listen to your customers, and watch your business grow.

Read more

Linked In is often grouped with Facebook and Twitter as a social media website, but it is quite different from most sites within that category. While you can connect with past, current and future customers through Facebook and conduct valuable market research, you can use Linked In for your business in many other ways:

  • Perform competitor research by connecting with professionals from competing businesses.
  • Learn more about job applicants before you interview them.
  • Connect with talented people from around the world who might become investors, employees, partners or simply inspirations for your business.
  • Listen to viewpoints from professionals around the world concerning critical aspects of your industry.
  • Expand brand awareness through effective online marketing.
  • Get your company name in the minds of influential people within your industry.

In order to get these benefits from Linked In for your business, you need to actively participate on the site. This takes time, but if you dedicate even 30 minutes several days a week, it will help your business over time. It all starts when you setup your profile. Complete it thoroughly, including a professional, recent picture of yourself or someone who represents your business well. Your profile should share recent or upcoming events that are newsworthy. All information should remain up-to-date and accurate. Pay attention to the description of your business because the beginning of that section will show up in search engines when your Linked In page is displayed in search results. Make every word say something substantial about your company. Add links to your business website and blog along with compelling descriptions for those sites. Use the space for descriptions and resumes to present samples of your work and highlight the strengths your business has to offer. If you’re going to mention your weaknesses, turn them into strengths. Imagine this profile will become your first impression to millions of people around the world. What do you want them to know about your business? That is what should be the central focus of your profile. Time to Integrate Into the Community Once you have a powerful profile ready to present your business to the world, it is time to become an active member of the community. Start with the following actions:

  • Search for professionals you already know and invite them into your network. Do not include friends and family members unless they work within your industry or are somehow connected to your business.
  • Seek out other professionals you may want to get to know and invite them into your network.
  • Explore Linked In groups and join those that catch your interest. Look for discussion and networking groups dedicated to your industry, professional organizations and regional networking groups. Actively engage in these groups so you become known.
  • Start updating your status with exciting or interesting news related to your business or industry.
  • As people join your network, look at their connections and invite some of them to join your network.

Once you become active on Linked In, you will start to receive invites to connect with other networks. Don’t get desperate and connect with everyone. Select those that will help you benefit from Linked In for your business. As you speak out in forums and engage other professionals, you will receive higher quality invitations. You never know when one invite could become a positive turning point for your business.

Read more

One Today by Google

We love Google but we love supporting non-profits even more. Here are 2 links to posts that can help you engage or get started with One Today by Google.

 

Google One Today, Where Social Networking and Environmental and Social Responsibility Meet

Today with so many good causes and so many things that require our attention, finding the best non profit to which we’d like to donate is becoming more difficult. Information overload is the order of the day if you simply search out a non profit or a cause online.In many cases the information is not entirely correct and we may end up donating to causes which are not as legitimate as we might wish them to be.

Getting Started With Google One Today – Social Networking for Non-Profits from Google

Google Non Profits has recently opened a new way to get noticed and a innovative way with which to raise funding for your non profit. With some minor restrictions as to which non profits may become involved, Google is now inviting new or aged nonprofit companies to create their own projects and to register to use One Today. One today is the ultimate in fund raising by the use of social media and social networking campaigns.

Read more

why-your-businesses-should-embrace-email-marketingSo, does email marketing still work? YES! Email marketing is one of the best and most promising methods of getting your message out to the people who want and need to see it. The problem is that getting people to give up their email these days can seriously cut into your time and require a great deal of energy.

People are sick of getting email that they don’t want to the tune of several thousand a day. Add to that the new laws that are in play now as well as restrictions in other areas and you’ll get why so many people have given up the very thing that can make them the most money.

How Profitable is Email Marketing?

When done correctly, that old adage “the money is in the list.” is still true. Your email marketing can be as profitable in many cases as your sales website. The problem is that many people don’t do it correctly and when the don’t , the result is that your products don’t sell and your name is mud.

Email Marketing Rules.

The changes in online marketing are more than just minor. Regardless of what you’re doing, the rules by which you’re doing it have changed dramatically. The penalties for accomplishing things incorrectly can be rigid. In some cases they will amount to no more than a loss of your website, your livelihood and your money. In other cases they can rack up fines in the thousands of dollars and may actually cost you jail time and earn you a record.

One of the things which has changed is email marketing. Where once it was the powerhouse of the internet and the major saying was, the money is in the list, today that is only true if the list building and the email marketing are correctly and legally accomplished.

Email marketing laws have changed.

The Can Spam Act which was passed into law in the United States in order to proved the means for people to halt the email influx from marketers has some specifically requirements for email marketing and provides for specific penalties if these methods are not strictly adhered to.

In spite of the name, the Can SPam Act doesn’t just cover email that is sent it bulk. It also covers individual commercial messages–that is to say any message that offers information about a product or service. This means that you are going to have to be very careful with the email that you send out. The specific requirements are that the emails must not be false or misleading in the header, they must not use a subject line that is deceptive, you must offer your personal location and you must immediately identify your message as an advertisement.

Whats the Bottom Line?

In light of all of the things that are different about email marketing, one of the best things that you can do for yourself if you’re still interested in reaping the rewards that email marketing can offer is to get thee hence and find a campaign manager and a marketing company to give you a hand with all of those things.

While email marketing is hugely profitable, if it’s done incorrectly–and make no mistake, many companies will do it incorrectly, it reflects badly on you in a big way. Just because the tools are out there to let you maintain a list and to send out regular emails to your list members doesn’t mean that you’re doing it correctly and it doesn’t mean that you’re an email marketer.

If you wouldn’t try DIY surgery, why would you try to send out your own marketing campaign when the good name of your business could depend on it?

Hire a Professional!

Professional campaign managers and email marketers have a few things that the rest of us don’t. Professional sales campaign writers who are going to create text for you that pays off in a big way and a great deal of experience in the best way to set up a campaign to make money for your company while saving time in the process.

If your email campaign is correctly accomplished the result could be amazing and the rewards infinite. When done incorrectly, the results could be a big fine and a big headache. The next time you’re considering an email campaign, consider an expert to handle it for you.

 

Read more
-->