Archive for November, 2009

Content Is King Online

You’ve undoubtedly heard that phrase before. And it makes perfect sense when you consider that your content is the thing that attracts your customers to your product or service, and then retains their attention. With clear, concise and compelling information about your company, your products and your services, presented in the most effective and efficient way, you hope to move the visitor to view your offering in a favorable way, and then take action as they make their purchasing decision.

The primary goal of your online content should always be to drive these key purchasing decisions and responses, since after all, this is the reason you’re in business, right? But there is an added benefit to having great content online.

You are also affecting future inquiries and sales by virtue of improving your online search engine ranking, or SEO (search engine optimization) results when you have great content. The algorithms used by Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. are far too complex and have too many variables to be discussed in this article, but suffice it to say that the quality of your content – meaning the inclusion of keywords that are relevant to your product category and the frequency of their use – as well as the number of external links from other online sources to your content AND the frequency of your web updates or postings are all quite important for creating a good SEO ranking for your website.

And the higher your score, the more likely it is that you will be found in “organic” search engine results and be higher up on the list of results – which means more visitors to your site, and which also means more business for you. There are a number of effective ways to create and share your content online. The most important categories are:

E-NEWS

E-Newsletters, or email marketing, are one great way to share valuable information, advice, special promotions and offers with your customers and prospects. This method is dependent on you having a good list of email addresses, of course. (If you do not track email addresses for your customers or business contacts, now is a great time to start! This list is one of your most valuable resources for future business.)

There are a number of tips you can employ to increase the “open” rate of your email newsletter, and the “click” rate, or those that take action after reading your message. Most distribution vendors provide information not only on open and click thrus, but also things like email address bounces and unsubscribes. Other details such as the subject line, the use of graphics, and keeping important links “above the fold” in your message can increase your readership and your response rates.

PROFESSIONAL BLOGS

For those that do not have a viable list of email addresses for their customers, a professional blog is another way to communicate with the masses and get the word out about your service or product. A well written blog can establish you as an expert within your business category, a “trusted advisor” that readers will consult before making their purchasing decisions. Promoting your blog is vital. Not only should your official blog be prominently featured (and hosted) on your website, but also social media sites and other online venues. (Why host on your website, as opposed to a blogging site like blogger.com? Because you want the “juice,” or the boost in SEO score, to apply to YOUR website, not the website of an external entity. We have the capability at Hat Trick Associates to install a WordPress blogging script within your website – like this one – to generate the additional web content benefits for your own site and not someone else’s.)

One of the many great aspects of a blog is the ability to receive comments back from your readership, which creates a more collaborative and interactive environment for your communications. This type of feedback is vital to understanding the changing wants and needs of your customer base, and responding appropriately.

FACEBOOK, TWITTER, LINKEDIN

Social networking sites can be another important and growing tool in distributing your content online. Facebook fan pages, Twitter feeds and other networking sites such as company pages on LinkedIn provide a great platform not only to connect and communicate with your customer base, but also gives them the opportunity to provide feedback and spread the message about your organization to all of the other connections they have on these social media sites. And the usage of these sites is rapidly increasing, and not just among the younger generations. The fastest growing segment on Facebook you may wonder? Women over the age of 55.

HAT TRICK ASSOCIATES: We. Create. Content.

Hat Trick Associates specializes in the creation and distribution of web content. Whether it be a custom E-Newsletter template and unique content researched and written every month for each issue; a professional blog created for you, with 100% original blog posts researched and written for you and published on a pre-determined schedule; or a social networking account such as a Facebook fan page or Twitter feed set up and content-managed for you, we can help.

25 Great Questions For Entrepreneurs

Some more great entrepreneurial advice from David Garland, of The Rise To The Top show here in St. Louis. These are questions you need to be asking yourself as you contemplate or begin your own business, some good stuff here.

1. Can I remove myself from this business or will I always be a part of it?

2. Can I work “non normal hours” including nights and weekends if necessary?

3. Do I have 6 months extra cash reserves?

4. Do I have a list of trusted professionals (lawyer, accountant, etc.) or do I need a referral?

5. Can I take criticism?

6. Who are my mentors and go-to people when I need help?

7. How will my business make money and what are the alternative revenue streams? (*Seems obvious of course but many have made this mistake, have you?)

8. Do I work better alone or in groups?

9. What things do I LOVE to do on a daily basis?

10. What things do I HATE to do on a daily basis?

11. Who is doing the books and keeping finance in order?

12. How far in advance am I planning? 6 hours? 6 days? 6 years?

13. How much time will my business require of ME?

14. Do I plan on on selling your business?

15. What is your web strategy?

16. Am I also marketing my business, product or service or soliciting help?

17. Do I have a plan for hiring your first employee?

18. How am I going to generate buzz for your business?

19. Where is the start up capital coming from?

20. Will I be investing my own money?

21. Am I prepared to deal with the emotional toll of the ups and downs of businesses?

22. Where am I getting answers to my entrepreneurial questions?

23. Who are my favorite entrepreneurs and why were they successful?

24. Why is my business unique?

25. WHY am I starting my own business?

Some Fun Statistics About Email

By now you’ve certainly read or heard about the incredible statistics that surround social networks. Social networks and blogs are the 4th most popular online activities, and 67% of global users visit member communities daily, and 10% of all time spent on the internet is on social media sites. Another interesting fact is that 80% of companies use, (or are planning to use), LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees this year and into 2010.

Impressive stats for sure. But what about social networking’s older brother, the venerable email? What are some fun statistics that you can throw around at your next cocktail party? Well, how about:

If email was a country, its 1.4 billion users would make it the largest in the world. Bigger than China, bigger than the populations of the USA and European Union combined.

247 billion emails are sent each day. That’s one email every 0.00000035 seconds.

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, some 20 million emails entered cyberspace.

Every second, the world’s email users produce messages equivalent in size to over 16,000 copies of the Complete Works of Shakespeare (assuming a 30KB average email size).

13.4 billion: the number of direct marketing dollars forecast to go on email in the US in 2009.

$583 billion: the return from that investment if you use standard figures on email marketing ROI. That’s four times the market value of Microsoft.

181: the number of marketing emails it would take to produce enough revenue to buy one share in Microsoft.

83,689,738,832,367: the number of marketing emails it would take to produce enough revenue to pay the US National Debt.

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