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.

AdWords Made Simple: Selecting Keywords and Billing Setup

To help you start the New Year with more traffic to your business website we’ve been showing you how to get started with Google AdWords. Last week’s AdWords blog post  covered:

  • Creating an Ad Group
  • Creating text ads

This week we’ll cover the last couple of steps in the process:

  • Selecting keywords
  • Entering your billing information

We’ve covered getting started with AdWords in 3 posts, but you may be setting AdWords up all at once. If so, the Keywords section is just below where you created your text ads. If you logged out before setting up your keywords, you can sign back in, click the Keywords tab, and then the green + Add Keywords button.

Adding keywords with different match types

Number of Keywords

The keywords you add determine which Google searches your ads show up for. Google says most businesses use 5 – 20 keywords per ad group, but there’s no one right number.

You want to cover the terms and phrases people would use to try to find the types of products or services you are promoting in your ad.

The more specific you are, the more likely your ads will show up to the right potential customers, but it will also limit your audience. Using more general or broad keywords will help you reach more people but that group may include people searching for things unrelated to your business.

Keywords Should Match Ad Groups and Ads

The keywords you use should be appropriate for the ad you are running. Using last week’s example, if you are selling 3D glasses and your ad is written to sell 3D glasses, your keywords should relate directly to 3D glasses, perhaps including active 3D glasses, passive 3d glasses, discount 3d glassesPanasonic 3d glasses. If you also sell 3D movies, you probably don’t want to include 3d movie related keywords in your 3D Glasses Ad Group. If you want to advertise using keywords that don’t apply to your ad, that probably means you need to create a new Ad Group with new ads that can match those keywords. But it’s up to you how specific you want your ad groups.

If you are, lets say, a general contractor, you may want to set up an Ad Group for your services in general, to capture people looking for a contractor in your area (you can either specify in setting that your campaign only run in a certain area or you can use geographic terms in your keywords). But you also may want to set up Ad Groups for the specific services you offer: room additions, kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, floor refinishing, window replacement, etc.

Keyword Match Types

By default, when you enter keywords without any specific match type specified, Google uses a Broad match to decide when to show your keywords. When set to Broad, your keywords will trigger your ad if someone types in any variation of the keyword, including misspellings, plurals, different word order, longer phrases containing your keyword, as well as synonyms of the keyword and related searches.

The Broad match type is the best to capture the most search traffic volume, but it is also most likely to trigger your ads for irrelevant searches. Using the general contractor example above, a Broad match on the term general contractor would trigger your ad when someone searches for best general contractor in Los Angeles but also how to sue your general contractor.

Other match types in addition to broad match are broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match, and negative match.

  • Broad match modifier: add a plus sign in front of your keywords to trigger this match type, e.g., +general +contractor. This type will trigger your ads for all the searches (misspellings, singular/plural, abbreviations, acronyms, stemmings, etc) that trigger the broad match except synonyms and related searches.
  • Phrase match: put quotes around your keywords to make them a phrase match, e.g., “tennis shoes”. This match type shows your ad only if the searcher uses your keywords (or close variants) in the order you specify. With a phrase match, there can be words before or after the terms you specify, as in buy tennis shoes or red tennis shoes for women but not variations such as shoes for tennis or tennis sneakers.
  • Exact match: Exact match gives you the most control but the least volume, since it only triggers your ads when someone searches using your keyword (or very close variants) without any other terms before or after. To specify exact match, put brackets around your keywords, such as [atlanta house painter].

Negative Match

Negative keywords are the exact opposite of your other keywords. All the other keyword types define they keywords that do trigger your ads. Negative keywords are what you specify should not trigger your ads. To create a negative match, use a minus sign (-) before the keywords you want to exclude. Using the tennis shoe example above, you would add the negative keyword  – nike if you didn’t sell Nike tennis shoes and didn’t want your ads to show up for searchers looking for that brand.

Negative match can help you filter out irrelevant searches and prevent unwanted clicks, especially if you are using broad match or if you know of totally different types of products that share the same keywords.

On one of our business high-speed internet access AdWords campaigns, we were promoting T1 and T3 internet access. Before we added negative keywords we found lots of irrelevant searches were triggering our ads. There was the Terminator 3 movie, a t3.com gadget website, a t3 spinal nerve, a t3 thyroid hormone, a t3 magazine, a t3 rapper, a t3 “personal transportation vehicle,” Tylenol 3, and others. So we added –movie, -terminator, -gadget, -thyroid, -magazine, etc. to filter out those irrelevant results.

The screenshot above shows an example of different match type keywords, including negatives, entered for one ad group.

When you are finished entering your keywords, click either the Save button or the Save and continue to billing button (depending on where you are in the process).

Set Up Billing

AdWords billing setup is very straightforward. Just follow the prompts to fill out your business information, how you want to pay, and accept the terms and conditions.

One caution: If you want to complete your AdWords setup but you aren’t ready for your ads to start running and generating costs, make sure you go back and pause your campaign. If you complete billing setup with automatic payments set up, your ads may start running immediately.

To pause your campaign, click back to the All online campaigns page and click the drop-down next to the green dot to the left of your campaign name. Green means the campaign is Enabled. Select Paused from the list until you are ready to start running your ads.

We hope this introduction to AdWords has been helpful to you. We encourage you to take advantage of all the additional help resources Google offers in AdWords. And remember to keep monitoring your campaign’s performance and adjusting it as necessary. You may need to change keyword match types, add more negatives, limit the geography your campaign runs in, modify you ads, etc. Google makes it fairly simple to refine your campaign to achieve better results.

AdWords Made Simple: Creating Ad Groups & Writing Text Ads in Google AdWords

To help you start the New Year with more traffic to your business website we’re showing you how to get started with Google AdWords. Last week’s AdWords post covered:

  • signing in to AdWords for the first time
  • setting your time zone and currency
  • selecting all your AdWords campaign preferences

How to write your first Google AdWords ad

Today we’ll cover the next couple of steps in the process:

  • creating your first ad group
  • writing  your first AdWords PPC ad

We’ll assume that you chose Search Network only in your AdWords campaign preferences since that’s the simplest and most common choice.

Creating an Ad Group

Ad groups are just what they sound like: groups of ads, plus related keywords. It is simplest and most effective if you start by creating one ad ground for one product or service rather than trying to sell many products from one ad group. Trust me. All you need to do is enter a name for your Ad Group #1. Don’t go crazy. Make it clear, concise and descriptive so you’ll be able to easily tell what that group is for later when you have many other ad groups.

Writing Your First Ad

I’m sure you’ve seen them when searching on Google, but you may not have paid close attention to the structure of AdWords ads. You may actually want to pause here and go do a search and look at the ads in the results. Better still, do a few searches using the same kinds of keywords you think you’ll be using in your campaign. That way, you’ll not only get familiar with the structure of the ads, but you’ll get an idea of your competition and what they are saying. Google AdWords ads have a very specific format with rigid rules, but don’t worry, they’re pretty easy to create. You can’t really get it wrong since Google will stop you from writing too much and warn you if you make other mistakes.

You will need to fill in 5 fields to create your AdWords ad (see the screenshot above):

  1. Headline (up to 25 characters long)
  2. Description line 1 (up to 35 characters)
  3. Description line 2 (up to 35 characters)
  4. Display URL (up to 35 characters)
  5. Destination URL (not shown;  it is the actual URL you are sending people who click to)

Headline Tips: Though you may be limited based on the length of your business name or product name, a common AdWords headline tactic is to use Keyword(s) + Brand/Business name or Keyword + Deal/Offer. I just did a search for 3D glasses (my daughter said she wanted them) and I many ad headlines that fit this model: 3D Glasses at Walmart, Glasses 3D at Amazon, 3D Glasses for Less, and 3d-glasses on eBay. Including your keywords in the headline is typically very important. If you don’t, searchers may glance at your ad and assume it isn’t really relevant. Plus, keywords get bolded by Google in the ads, making them stand out.

Description Tips: There are too many strategies for all the different possible products to list here, but you will typically want to include prices, discounts, offers and promotions if possible. Include some reason to select YOUR ad/website over all the competition, and a strong call-to-action: buy now, save 25% today, call to order, etc. You may also wish to include your keyword a second time (or a variation of what you used in your Headline); again, keywords get bolded in search results, so including them in your description can help attract attention.

Display URL Tips: The display URL needs to show people what website they’ll be going to, but you can show a shortened, customized URL that’s not the complete URL of the landing page. Let’s assume I want to promote 3D Glasses on my fictional TomsTechGoods.com website. I can’t show www.3dGlassesOnSale.com as my destination URL (since that’s not the website I’m actually sending traffic to), but I can use TomsTechGoods.com/3D-Glasses or TomsTechGoods.com/3d-Glasses-Sale even if the actual landing page URL is www.tomstechgoods.com/products/tv/hi-def/accessories/glasses/3dglasses. Some big, well-known brands will simply show their homepage URL (www.Amazon.com) as the Display URL, but most others will add either keywords or some offer-related text to the URL to make the URL look more relevant and compelling.

I also want to leave you with two important general tips for writing and running your AdWords ads:

  • Match the Landing Page: Make sure you are promoting the same products with the same offers in your AdWords ad copy and the landing page you are sending your search traffic to. If your AdWords copy says Save 30% on Samsung 3D Glasses than anyone who clicks on your ad should see Samsung 3D glasses on sale for 30% off. And make sure you use the exact keywords whenever possible. It’s not as effective, for example, to advertise about 3D glasses and then use the term 3D eyewear on your landing page, even if it means the same thing.
  • Test, Test, Test: One of the great things about Google AdWords is that you don’t have to have all the answers right away. Don’t worry that your very first ad isn’t the best possible ad. You can (and should!) test to see what works and to constantly improve your results. Simply write a few different ads where you vary the language you use. Vary the headlines, description, and display URL and see which one gets the most clicks. You might want to test putting an offer in the headline vs. in the CTA in your description. Or highlight different benefits of ordering from you. Let the ads run long enough to see that one is the clear winner and then pause the others. Then you can write another new ad to see if you can beat the first one.

Here are some additional tips for creating successful text ads from Google.

Next week we’ll cover AdWords keyword selection.

AdWords Made Simple: How to Get Started with Google AdWords

How to Create Your First Google AdWords campaignIs your resolution to drive more customers to your business website in 2013?

To do that, you may want to experiment with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, also called search engine marketing (SEM). Google AdWords is the biggest player in PPC, so we’ll use that service as an example to show you how easy it is to get started.

Why Use AdWords or Other PPC Services?

AdWords lets you create your own online ads and deliver them to your target audience right when they’re interested in the products or services you offer: that is, when they are searching Google with keywords that describe your business’s offerings.

In addition to helping you sell products, you can use AdWords to promote your business, raise awareness, or increase traffic to your business website.

One of the great things about AdWords is that you can spend as much or as little as you want. There’s no minimum spending commitment.

You set and control your daily budget from your own online dashboard, which is also where you set up and control your ad campaigns.

You’ll also be able to measure the results of your AdWords campaigns and make adjustments to optimize your results. You can change your ad campaign at any time, including your ad text, settings, and budget.

So, let’s get started…

How to Get Started – Create Your  AdWords Account

  1. Go to www.google.com/AdWords/ and click the Get Started Now button.
  2. If you have a Google email address and password (from Gmail or another Google service), click that radio button and decide if you want to use the same login for AdWords or create a new account. You can also create a brand new Google Account for use with AdWords if you don’t have one.
  3. Set your time zone and currency preferences. Note: you cannot change these currency and time zone preferences later. Currency should be simple: you’ll be paying Google in dollars. The time zone you enter affects reporting on your AdWords ads (which days you got clicks and what times during the day or night you got clicks). Entering Pacific vs. Eastern Time will change your reports by 3 hours (and potentially move some clicks to another day).

This is all you need to do to create your account. Click the Sign in link to go to AdWords and create your first ad campaign.

How to Set Up Your First Campaign

Today, we’ll give you a general overview and tips about the AdWords campaign settings you will need to choose to get started. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks with additional posts to help you finish setting up and launching your campaign.

When you log into AdWords for the first time after you create your account, you’ll go to a custom landing page for first time users prompting you to get started (see screenshot above).

You may want to first explore some of the helpful information offered on this page. There’s a 3 minute introductory video as well as links to a Beginner’s Guide and common questions.

When you are ready to get started click the Create your first campaign button.

Select Your AdWords Campaign Settings

This page lets you specify setting for your whole campaign. If you’re not sure about what certain terms mean, hover your mouse over the question marks for an explanation.

Don’t worry, although some of these settings seem like very big, broad decisions, you can come back and modify your settings at any time (unlike the currency and timezone preferences above).

  1. Campaign Name: choose a name for your first AdWords campaign. We recommend you keep it simple. Focus on one product and name the campaign for that product (or perhaps a location if you are only going to advertise in one place).
  2. Type: The default setting is for Search & Display Networks. Display means text ads that are displayed on relevant pages like banner ads are, as opposed to ads that show up when people search. Many people like to test one of these at a time. To do that, select Search Network only from the drop-down menu. You can also specify Standard or All features at this point (keep at Standard for now unless you know you want to use some more advanced AdWord features).
  3. Networks: Here’s where you decide if you want to include Google’s search partners or just the Google Search Network. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, uncheck search partners. If you want to advertise more broadly, slick to include partners.
  4. Devices: Leave the radio button selected to have your ads show up on all kinds of devices (desktop & laptop computers, tablets, mobile devices) or click Let me choose… if you want to narrow your focus (some new advertisers like to wait to add mobile after some initial results with regular computers).
  5. Locations: This setting is very important. You want to make sure your ads show up to potential customers without wasting your budget advertising to people who can’t buy from you. Unless you operate internationally, you will either select United States or the Let me choose… option. For Let me choose, enter a country, state, city, region, or zip code. If you are an accountant in Los Angeles, you might want to enter Los Angeles as your location. After you click to add one location, you can add others or exclude other locations. For example, you could add the state of New York but exclude New York City if it doesn’t apply to your business. Some businesses like to start as broad as possible (to reach the widest audience) and then refine the locations later. Others like to start with the most focused location possible (where are your very best customers?) and expand from there later.
  6. Bidding and budget: It’s money time. First you need to choose how you will bid for your ads. The Basic options are that you will manually set your own bids (what the maximum you will pay for any click on your ads) or have AdWords automatically bid to try to maximize the number of clicks you get based on your budget. Enter the maximum amount you want to spend per day (the actual amount may vary up to 20% on any one day, but over the month it will even out). Click the Advanced options if you want to bid based on conversions (if you have Google Analytics set up). You can also bid based on impressions if you are using the Display network.
  7. Ad extensions: Extensions are optional. Click Location to have your business address and phone number show up with your ad (good for local search). Click Sitelinks to have multiple links to different pages/sections in your site show up as options to searchers (you may get more traffic but it may be less targeted). Click Call to have your business phone number show up on iPhone/Android mobile phone searches. Click Social to allow people to be able to +1 your business’s Google + Page from the ad results.

Click the Save and Continue button when you have finished making all your settings choices. Remember, you can go back and change these at a later time.

Creating your first AdWords Ad Group and writing your first ad are the next step, which we’ll cover next week.

Happy New Year!