4 Types of Online Marketing … and How We Can Help

EarthLink Web Hosting is designed not only to help businesses easily get a professional website online, but also to help them market their website and their business.

That’s why each of our web hosting and ecommerce hosting plans includes free online marketing tools.

In this post, we’ll highlight four types of online marketing – content marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing and email marketing – that are important for businesses to master and the EarthLink Web Hosting tools that can help you do just that.

1. Content marketing: Content marketing is a hot term these days, but it’s not always well understood – because it’s a very broad term. Wikipedia gives this definition of content marketing:

Content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers.”

The content marketing you are likely most familiar with is a business blog with regular text posts. But content marketing can take many other forms and formats, including videos, photos, PowerPoint presentations, infographics, white papers, case studies, webinars, podcasts and more.

What distinguishes content marketing from the more direct online marketing you do on your business website is that it focuses primarily on communicating with customers/readers/viewers rather than selling to them directly and overtly. Content marketing done well can generate awareness for your business, consideration of your products and services, and increased loyalty from current customers. Sometimes you’ll get direct sales from content marketing, but it’s usually a two-step (or more) process.

Content marketing can also help you with some of your other marketing efforts. Blog content can often be very helpful for your website SEO, part of your overall search engine marketing (SEM) efforts. It can also aid your social media marketing by giving you valuable original content to share with your social network followers. And it can likewise filter into your email marketing by giving you some non-sales content to include in email newsletters.

WordPress blogging software makes it easy to publish your first blog post

How EarthLink Web Hosting helps with content marketing: Our Web Hosting Control Center offers a simple WordPress installer to make it simple to add a WordPress blog to your EarthLink-hosted website. WordPress is the #1 blogging platform in the world. Your blog can then be the bedrock of all your content marketing efforts. See how to install a WordPress blog on your website and how to publish your first blog post using WordPress for help getting started.

2. Social media marketing: Let’s head back to Wikipedia for a quick definition of social media marketing:

“Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites.”

Typically it looks like this: businesses establish a presence on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ in order to engage their online audience, build a following, and drive traffic back to their website and/or blog. You’ve bee a part of social media marketing if you’ve Liked a company on Facebook, retweeted a company tweet, or downloaded an online coupon from another social network.

As we noted above with content marketing, success with social media marketing (SMM) can aid in other online marketing efforts. Social network sharing is an effective way to promote your content marketing efforts. Every new blog post, white paper, infographic or other form of content you create should be shared with your social networks. Social media activity can also help you with your search engine marketing’s SEO efforts. Though the major search engines haven’t specified just how much it matters, they’ve all said that social media “signals” factor into the search algorithms that translate into search engine rankings. In other words, if there’s a lot of social network activity around your brand, you’ll be more likely to rank high for relevant terms.

social media integration with SocialStream and EarthLink Web HostingHow EarthLink Web Hosting helps with social media marketing: All of our Web Hosting services include a free tool, found in the Web Hosting Control Center, called SocialStream, that can help you simplify and streamline your social media marketing. SocialStream gives you one easy-to-use dashboard to manage your social networks and lets you post to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn simultaneously. See our Social Media Made Simple for help getting started.

3. Search engine marketing: There are two main forms of search engine marketing (SEM): PPC, which stands for Pay Per Click and SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization.

When you do a Google search, you see results based on both PPC and SEO. Typically at the top of the search results page and along the right side of the page, you see sponsored ads. Businesses have used Google AdWords program to bid on this search engine placement and will pay money to Google for each ad that gets clicked on, which is why it’s called Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

All the other search results in the middle of the page are considered “organic” or unpaid results based on Google’s perception of how relevant those results are for the search. That’s where SEO comes in. SEO techniques can make it more likely that Google ranks your site higher in these organic search results.

basic-seo-easy-website-optimizerHow EarthLink Web Hosting helps with search engine marketing: While EarthLink Web Hosting doesn’t directly offer a PPC tool (you have to work with and pay Google or Bing directly), our website builder and other tools that help you build and maintain a quality website ultimately help you with PPC. Because you have to have high-quality website pages to link to from your AdWords and other PPC ads.

We do offer free SEO tools that help you submit your website to 60+ search engines and online directories, and SEO tools that help you optimize your individual website pages for search engines. See our SEO Basics posts to see how to use EasySiteOptimizer for SEO, how to create sitemaps and submit to search engines, and how to do code validation for SEO.

4. Email marketing: Because it’s been around for such a long time, email marketing doesn’t have the buzz associated with the marketing techniques above. But it’s been around such a long time because it works. As we reported in this previous blog post about email marketing:

    • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers
    • 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a marketing email

Email marketing can include customer newsletters, product offers, coupons, or more informational updates. Regardless of what type or types of email marketing you want to do, having an email marketing platform can streamline and simplify your efforts, and help you track your success.

How EarthLink Web Hosting helps with email marketing: All EarthLink Web Hosting plans include free access to our Announcer Pro email marketing tool. With Announcer Pro you can create graphic-rich emails, manage contact lists of email addresses, send email emails to these lists, as well as track and report the results. See this post for help getting started creating and sending your first marketing email with Announcer Pro.

Good luck with all your online marketing efforts. And let us know how you’re doing.

Your Business Website as a Labor Saver

1st Labor Day in NYCHappy Labor Day!

In honor of the holiday (and the fact that you’re not likely to be doing a lot of heavy web hosting reading today), we’re giving you a quick list of some ways you can save labor when creating your website, along with some labor-saving features of a business website from EarthLink.

  1. Professional website design: The ultimate labor saving strategy for you – have someone else do it for you. With this professional design option, our web experts take care of everything needed to launch your website while you take care of your business. Ongoing, monthly website design and copywriting maintenance is also included to save you the labor for upkeep.
  2. Website builder: The next best thing (in terms of labor) to having someone else create your website for you would be to use our super-simple, template-driven EasySiteWizard Pro website builder. Just pick a template that fits your business, enter some information about your business, and click to publish a good-looking 3-page site.
  3. Location information: When your website prominently displays location information, perhaps including online maps and directions, you not only encourage visits to your store or office, you reduce the need to answer the phone to provide this information.
  4. Hours: Questions about your business hours can drive calls and staffing needs. Offering this information online can cut phone labor.
  5. Mobile website: Mobile websites that offer smartphone users the information they need without calling you extends the labor-saving benefits of the previous two bullets.
  6. SEO: The more you are able to get your website to rank “organically” in the main Google or Bing search results, the less extra work you’re going to need to do to market your business. Our SEO tools help EarthLink Web Hosting customers optimize their websites for search engine rankings. Not only that, you can use them to submit your site to more than 60 online business directories and search engines all at once – saving you time and effort.
  7. Social media: Save time promoting your business on social networks. EarthLink Web Hosting customers can easily manage multiple social media accounts from one simple interface and post to Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn simultaneously.
  8. Email marketing: Announcer Pro reduces the time and effort needed to set up and track an email marketing campaign.

We hope you have a great Labor Day with family and friends.

Is Your Business Like Salad Dressing?

business tips from the salad dressing marketWhat can salad dressing tell you about where your business is headed?

Possibly a lot.

And the answer just might be in two directions simultaneously: up and down.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported (subscription required) about how the salad dressing market is a good indicator of how many markets in the U.S. economy are bifurcating – splitting into a discount market catering to lower income consumers and a premium market catering to the wealthy.

The middle, where you find the most popular brands, is getting squeezed as hard as an almost empty bottle of ketchup.

In the dressing world, the low end is represented by private-label/supermarket brands, while the high-end is represented by fresh and organic dressings and more upscale or exotic flavors.

Premium dressings that you find on refrigerated shelves near the produce section of the grocery store are growing two to three times faster than the regular brands.

If you’re one of our business web hosting customers trying to grow your business online, you might want to think about this up/down market bifurcation and how it may or may not be affecting your business.

Are you well positioned to appeal to the cost-conscious consumers looking to pinch pennies and cut corners? Are you positioned as a premium product or service provider able to command premium pricing? Do you offer options to appeal to both segments?

If not, you may be able to use your web site to test out some alternate products that appeal to either the high or low end of your market, or both.

For example, you might test offering product or service discounts through search engine marketing with Google Adwords (see our previous blog post about getting started with AdWords).

If you can’t (or don’t want to compete on price), you may want to see if you can put together a more premium package that you try to upsell to current customers via email marketing (our previous posts about getting started with email marketing and tracking your email marketing results can help you with that).

See how you can innovate with your product or service (or your marketing) to set it apart from the shrinking middle and help you generate increased growth and higher margins.

Good luck. And let us know how you’re doing.

How to Keep Your Email Marketing from Being Labeled as Spam

email marketing tips, advice, and warnings about spamEmail marketing is still a very effective way to generate sales and enhance loyalty.

But here are some statistics (from ConvinceandConvert.com) about email and spam that should worry you as a business owner using email to market your products and services:

  • 21% of email recipients report email as spam even if they know it isn’t
  • 43% of email recipients report email as spam based on the email from line or email address
  • 69% of email recipients report email as spam based on the subject line alone

However, here are some additional stats, from the same source, to keep you motivated as an email marketer:

  • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers
  • 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a marketing email
  • 35% of email recipients opened an email based solely on the subject line

The first three stats should tell you loud and clear to be careful about your email marketing being labeled as spam because people are sometimes quick to hit the spam button. And that would mean at least losing a customer for your business (one that may spend 138% more than other customers) and at worst losing your business reputation. Not to mention the $11,000 per recipient you could be liable for based on the CAN-SPAM Act.

So, what can you do? Here’s some advice to help you steer clear of the spam button:

  1. Make your promotional emails and newsletters Opt In, so that customers have to actively sign up vs. Opt Out if they don’t like them (they may opt out by labeling you a spammer).
  2. On your email sign-up forms, clearly state your newsletter or marketing email name so customers will later recognize it.
  3. Make it clear what frequency you will be emailing customers: if they think they’re getting a once-a-month newsletter and it comes weekly or (worse) daily, they may decide it’s spam.
  4. Make it clear what the content of your emails will be: if customers think they’re signing up for one thing and they get another, they’re more likely to label it spam.
  5. Try to match your online branding in your email (graphics, logos, tone) so your customers feel more at home and trust your emails more.
  6. Use a familiar or easy to understand email address and From line. You could choose an address like like NewsletterName@DomainName.com or Customers@DomainName.com or CustomerOffers@DomainName.com. The From line could be your newsletter name, your business name or your name if it is well known to your customers.
  7.  Make sure your headlines aren’t deceptive (that goes for from lines and email addresses too): If people feel deceived, they’re more likely to lash out and label you a spammer.
  8. Keep your subject lines as short as you can: best practices typically is 5 to 8 words and about 40 characters long because many email programs will cut off the rest.
  9. Make sure the most important words in your subject line are towards the beginning – or at least not at the end where they could be cut off.
  10. Take time writing your subject lines: think about customer needs, hot topics or products, what’s in the news, etc. Think about what you might respond to (make a list of subject lines you’ve received that you liked and clicked on).
  11. Take time writing your emails. Edit them. Proofread them. Ideally get more than one person to look at them to help find potentially embarrassing mistakes. Sloppy emails may be more likely to be identified as spam.
  12. Test your subject lines. If you can, create multiple subject lines and send out a small group of emails with each subject line. Monitor the results for opt-outs, clicks, purchases, etc. Then send the winner out to the whole list.
  13. And finally, be careful with spammy sounding subject lines since most people will mark an email as spam based solely on the subject line. That’s a difficult thing to balance if you are trying to promote offers with your marketing emails. But here are a few best practices:
    • Avoid using ALL CAPS
    • Avoid multiple exclamation points!!!
    • Avoid over-the-top sales phrases
    • Avoid repeating words like FREE FREE FREE
    • Be clear about benefits and drive urgency: promote your latest sale, highlight free shipping or new products, and specify what % OFF customers can get now.
    • According to a 2013 report by Adestra, the words AlertBulletin, and News in subject lines drive more opens and clicks than LearnReportNewsletter or WebinarSale seems to be working better than Free but Free Delivery is very effective.

If you’re an EarthLink Web Hosting customer, don’t forget to try our AnnouncerPro email marketing tools. Read this previous blog post to learn more.