We Need Ideas for Entrepreneur Month

Based on input from readers, we have decided to make November Entrepreneur Month here at the blog.  This means we want input from you on topics you would like covered, problems you would like addressed, news or developments you want commentary on, and anything else related to entrepreneurship that you can think of.  So far, we’ve got plans to cover the following possible topics: Best Practices – We’ll have some articles that look at some standard best practices in the entrepreneurial world, with a focus on very small companies and startups. Running Your Own Business – We want to focus on some common issues entrepreneurs face related to running their own business and keeping the organization they build healthy from day one. Virtual Business – We’ll take a look at the technology and trends that are affecting business, with an emphasis on how virtual connections are changing the way things get done across the world, particularly for small business. Software/Gadgets – We plan on evaluating both software and hardware that are essential for doing business in the hyper connected business environment that exists within most industries. New Marketing Models – Looking at new and alternative marketing models that apply to …

The Next Big Development in QR Codes

Quick Response codes are kind of an interesting case study in the marketing world.  The possibilities and applications they can be used for are seemingly endless, but they haven’t really caught on in a massive way just yet.  Sometimes this is ascribed to smart devices not having reached a level of critical mass in the general populace, other times it is attributed to the difficulty of scanning the codes themselves, particularly when they are presented as digital media. However, this may be changing, as there has been a major development that could alter the nature of QR response codes in general, and will almost certainly cause a Renaissance of sorts in their employ over the coming months. The development comes to us from the University of Nottingham, in Great Britain.  Developed at the University’s Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, it has been dubbed ‘Aestheticodes’.  What makes this new technology so different? In a nutshell, it enables the information normally carried in a typical QR graphic to be encoded or displayed in visually pleasing pictures, instead of that strange looking black-and-white square we’re all used to seeing. While this does not seem revolutionary at first, you have to consider the applications …

Wal-Mart Believes Enough in Digital Marketing to Change Business Plan

If you have been following the news recently, you have likely read something in your local newspaper about the ongoing battle between retail giants Wal-Mart and Amazon.  Both are fixtures in everyday life for much of the population of the country, and yet they serve very different niches commercially.  Amazon is typically held as the king of online retailers while Wal-Mart is (debatably) king of the retail superstore. The big kerfuffle is over Wal-Mart’s plans to break into the sphere of online and digital marketing; earlier this week the New York Times ran a piece about Wal-Mart’s recent hires and developments in their infrastructure as they prepare to make this leap.  This will place them in direct competition with Amazon as they both try to capture more of the ever growing digital sales market. On the surface, this is just another conflict between two large retail companies, but for the shrewd observer there are some important lessons to take away regarding the future of marketing and sales in general.  What is perhaps most interesting about this confrontation from a marketing perspective is that is clearly demonstrates that the big money knows that online retailing is the way of the future.  …

Some Keyword Research Tips

Keyword research is the foundation of any SEO or inbound marketing campaign, in one way or another.  This is because it is the method by which you identify the target phrases you want to attempt to rank for, regardless of whether you buy PPC ads or are building organic rankings.  However, many companies get their keyword research wrong, and end up wasting large portions of their budgets targeting inefficient or non-commercial words.  Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when you review the keywords you have decided to target: Intent is Important – The commercial intent of a user is incredibly important in deciding how valuable ranking for any given keyword phrase is.  For example, consider two users, one of whom uses Google to search for ‘golf clubs’, and the other searches for ‘best deal golf clubs’.  Do you think one of these phrases may be more commercially valuable to rank for than the other?  The answer is self-evident. Longtails > Single Words – Single words (or two word phrases) are increasingly useless when it comes to actually earning conversions with modern marketing campaigns.  We’ll use another example; compare someone searching ‘couch’ to someone looking for ‘Woodbridge (a …

Google Launches Another Penguin Update

If you follow developments in the world of internet marketing, you may have heard that Google launched another update to their Penguin algorithm earlier this month.  In case you are unaware, Panda and Penguin are the two named Google updates that have wreaked havoc across the world of online marketing in recent years.  Conceptually, they are designed to combat the ever increasing tide of low-quality websites that proliferate just to be used as link banks or the sale of affiliate products. The volume of content that Google and the other search engines have dubbed ‘poor’ has been increasing at an exponential rate, and measures to combat them were necessary, unless everyone wants to see the internet turned into a piece of giant junk mail, but these updates have affected real, legitimate businesses as well.  We’ve got some tips for you to keep in mind regarding your own site that will help prevent you from being penalized in these, or any future updates the search engines might make: Content Remains King – The quality of the content on a website will continue to remain the most important factor that search engines look at, and their algorithms will only get better at …

Three Ways to Improve Your Conversion Rates

If you understand your web statistics and analytics, you realize that your conversion rate is one of the most important metrics you have available to gauge the success of your online marketing campaigns.  However, most people do not understand that with dedicated time and effort, businesses can do several different things to fundamentally improve their conversion rates, which will have a dramatically visible effect on their bottom line.  Here are three ways in which almost any business can improve their conversion rates: Improve Your Content – The simplest and perhaps most effective long-term method to improve your conversion rates rests on you improving and adding to the volume of content on your site.  Adding features that are truly engaging and entertaining will help to draw in sustained traffic over time, and the better the content, the more likely it is that people will be interested enough to convert into a sale, no matter your product. Perform More Market Niche Research – Another great way to improve conversion rates is by performing additional in-depth keyword and market niche research.  For example, you may discover that some of the words you have been targeting have low commercial intent compared to other phrases, …

Apple Passes Coca-Cola as World’s Most Valuable Brand

For the past eight years or so, Coca-Cola has been considered by most to be the world’s most valuable brand, according to Interbrand, a large marketing research firm who releases an annual report on the subject.  It has been tracking statistics since about 2000 and uses these stats along with its own secret proprietary formula to compile the “Best Global Brands” list, in which it evaluates the world’s largest and most popular brands. So how did Apple dethrone Coca-Cola to take the crown? While the formula Interbrand uses is secret, certain elements of it are known.  There are essentially three elements to the rating: operating profit, RBI (Role of Brand Index), and Brand Strength.  It is no secret that Apple has been earning incredible operating profit ever since the time of the introduction of the original iPhone.  RBI is meant to reflect how much of that profit can be directly attributed to the strength of the brand, and is an arbitrary number from 0 to 100 assigned by an expert panel who participates in the process.  Brand strength is the ability of the brand to generate profit into the future along with creating customer loyalty. Most experts, including those at …

Paid Search Advertising – A Tool Any Business Can Use

Today we’re going to discuss how any business can use paid search advertising to help sell their products and services, and why it is a good idea for nearly everyone to make at least a modest investment in the service.  Paid search advertising is capable of being a huge revenue channel for businesses; indeed, some entire business models are constructed on the revenue generated by paid search models, and don’t even utilize physical storefronts or other sales channels at all.  However, most businesses are looking to use paid search in a more modest way, and that is entirely possible.  Here are some of the reasons it is a powerful tool that can be used in nearly any sales environment: Incredibly Flexible – One of the biggest benefits to using paid search advertising is that any program you make is going to be incredible flexible.  Paid search is completely modular and scalable, meaning you can directly set the financial parameters of any campaign.  Want to run a $50 paid search campaign?  You can.  Want to run a $50m one?  You can do that too. Easy to Measure ROI – Another big benefit of paid search advertising is that it is incredibly …

Every Retailer Should Use Affiliate Marketing

We’re going to move on and switch topics away from branding, having spent almost all of last month on it, and go to a quick money-making technique for any business owners who sell products retail.  If you own such a business, no matter what your product is, you should be taking advantage of affiliate marketing. There are a few reasons this makes great sense for basically every retailer: More Mileage Out of Website – Almost every business already has to go to the expensive of setting up and hosting a decent website anyway; why not plug in an affiliate program and turn your static web site into a dynamic channel that actually earns revenue?  The cost to deploy e-commerce is just an add-on considered to the development of the whole site. Affiliate Managers and Companies – Another big advantage is that you can have as much or as little control over the process as you may wish.  In fact, there are even affiliate companies and managers out there that will make the entire process essentially fully automated as far as you are concerned.  They will take care of the sourcing, sales, shipping, everything.  The more steps of the process you …