Effective Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Keyword Advertising Without Losing Your Shirt

You may or may not know that traditional methods of marketing (emblematic items, broadcast ads, printed ads, etc.) can be integral to successful marketing on search engines. I will remain very broad in covering the topic because there are many options available to you, and some of them will be better suited for your particular goals than others. Up front, the best advice I can give is to talk over your specific goals with a qualified Website solution provider who practices SEM and is familiar with integrating it into Website design.

The ways to market your business (specifically your Website) via the search engines make up a lengthy list. The pay-for-placement methods are somewhat fewer, and can be broken down into three general categories as follows:

  • You can pay for the number one spot (in the page margins) of the search engines by individual keywords. Although this kind of placement may seem appealing, it is only as reliable as your advertising dollars allow. You can be outbid by someone who is willing to pay more for that position.
  • You can pay-per-click (PPC) for given keywords, and depending on your budget and the popularity of the word(s) you select, your positioning will vary. Again, this is effective in getting traffic, but there is a difference between someone who clicks their way to your site and someone who makes a purchase once they’re there. (You aren’t paying-per-click for customers who buy something. You are paying just to get the visit.)
  • You can pay to advertise on other peoples’ Websites by having the search engine companies liaison between you and the other site owners. This is a comparatively newer way to advertise, paying to put out an advertisement while other Website owners receive some search engine indexing and kickback benefits for allowing your ad to be on their sites. In theory (and usually in practice), this is a win-win option.

Of these three general methods, keyword ad campaigns can usually be limited to a pre-specified number of dollars per month (or until your account is replenished). So you aren’t really writing a “blank check” to advertise with keywords in these ways, but you do need to manage your budget and your account carefully. Buyer beware!

I have had several clients who came to me because of keyword ad accounts that were handled poorly by their previous service provider. In the worst cases, some of them were victims of out-and-out fraud. One case in particular stands out in my mind.

I had an accountant approach me with complaints that he had been spending $400 to $600 per month for the previous 6 months for 200 guaranteed clicks to his Website per month. “Wow… that’s a pretty good guarantee,” you might be thinking. And he received a report from his provider each month that substantiated that he was in fact getting that kind of traffic (more than 200 hits per month) from his keyword ad campaigns. His complaint, however, was that he had no new clients that came from his Website (otherwise called “conversions” from ad response to customer). The ratios of hits (impressions) to sales (conversions) seemed unreasonably low. I was suspicious.

I did a bit of research on his Website’s performance, and what I found was disturbing (but all too common). His account was set to automatically replenish (re bill his credit card) on the fifteenth of each month, up to his specified maximum monthly budget of $500 or so. That means that if his account balance was $250 on the fourteenth of the month, another $250 would be charged to him to restore his account balance to $500. Each click cost him money, and over the next 30 days his balance would incrementally be debited until it came time to replenish it on the fifteenth of the following month. If he ever hit zero, his ad would “fall off the map,” but such a billing plan assured him that he would never go beyond his budget. Sounds like a foolproof way to advertise, right? Guaranteed hits with no cost overruns! It gave him a false sense of security, and he was getting scammed!

When I did an analysis of his Website traffic, I saw a steady trend of visitors that came from a variety of sources, some of them from his paid-for advertising campaign. I counted about 20 to 30 hits related to his pay-per-click deal. Suspiciously, however, he had about 150 to 180 hits on the fourteenth of each month, the day before his account replenished. It never took him down to zero, so he didn’t think anything strange was going on. But it seemed apparent that whoever was managing his account was taking advantage of his trusting nature, and he was paying for artificial hits. His reports showed over 200 hits, just as he was promised, but he was unwittingly padding the pockets of his account manager!

Don’t let that happen to you! I didn’t relay that story to scare you or to deter you from using paid-for advertising. Really, paid ads are extremely effective in the right situations. I simply want you to realize that, like everything else with doing business online, there is often more than meets the eye. Forewarned is forearmed. Get into the game of marketing your Website, but do it with a wise eye and wary wallet. The best approach is likely to be one that combines the three types of advertisements bulleted above, so you can measure which one works best for your particular campaign. You might also want to try a Text Message Marketing (TMM) portal to supplement your variable advertising budget with a flat rate option! Text Message Marketing (TMM) is a relatively new marketing trend that appeals to millions of consumers for a number of reasons.

Most solution providers and SEM companies that have been around for awhile are reputable or they wouldn’t stay in business. But you must take an active interest in the management of your advertising budget. Ensure that your SEM provider gives you more than just a total-hits-per-month report and an invoice for recharging your account. You should require them to provide you with the Website analytics that show all of your traffic, the trends, the hits-per-page, hits-per-day, sources of hits (so you can ensure they’re from different addresses), keywords used to find you, and so forth. Even if you never look at the details of those reports, the fact that they are provided to you will be a deterrent to keep your SEM provider honest. They probably are honest anyway, but in the end you have to CYA (cover your assets).

Email Advertising

Email advertising has become almost as common as TV, postal or any other advertising. Each day, every mailbox is filled with hoards of information about product offers. Everything from credit cards to mortgage loans to personal enhancement offers is publicized. Though no one is sure whether viewers really acknowledge these offers or not, email advertising has become a very important part of the marketing mix.There are many advantages to email advertising. It is a very cost-effective and efficient way to keep in touch with existing customers and provide them information about products or services in which they may be interested. It helps to improve a company’s brand loyalty. It saves a lot of time as compared to traditional direct mail advertising.The results are also measurable, as nearly 80% of the responses arrive within the first three days after sending the mail. It is also very easy to track, as bounce-backs, click-through and other responses can be tracked immediately. Email advertising is ideal for certain products like downloadable software, online conferences, up selling to higher-priced products, or cross-selling.Email advertisements are generally treated as “spam”. Spamming is the process of sending out advertising messages to millions of mailboxes through email. These messages are unsolicited; the recipient does not invite them. However, now spamming has been outlawed as a criminal offense. Besides, each advertising message should have an “opt-out” option, which will allow the recipient to block any more messages in the future. The reason is that, spamming causes servers to get clogged up, restricting important messages from passing through. Besides, spamming is also causing companies to lose their image. Hence, most companies are restraining themselves from sending spam messages. There are spam filters available that can effectively block emails from a certain email account.Just like any other kind of advertising, email advertising also has to be attractive enough to grab the viewers’ attention. Ignoring an email advertisement is very easy for a user, as it just involves a single click of a button. The user can sift through several emails without even opening them. This is the reason email advertisers try to attract viewers with attractive subject lines. Most email advertisements use special offers, attractive discounts and other promotional gimmicks to attract viewers’ attention. Some advertisements are also designed to attract certain target groups like older people, women in a particular age group, or teenagers. Companies obtain this information from databases, which the viewer might have provided sometime in the past for any other reason.Companies most commonly use opt-in email advertisements. In such advertisements, the mails are sent only to those recipients who have given permission to receive such emails. Another kind of email advertising is sending informative newsletters that contain useful information about any topic that the viewer might have expressed interest in. These newsletters contain advertisements of various products, which the viewer can click and access if they are interesting enough. Other forms of email advertising include online surveys and questionnaires, free offers for a limited period, offers of “winning a prize” and so on.Email advertising messages have to be short and crisp enough to attract the viewer’s attention. The URL that links to the company or to the product has to be clear and visible to the reader, as most readers generally do not bother to read through the end of the message to find the URL. The language has to be upbeat and interesting, to hold the reader’s attention. Overly short messages are also not effective, as they are not taken seriously.There are email advertising software tools available that make email advertising much easier. These are many kinds, such as email address extraction, bulk mailer programs, newsgroup extractor, email verifier, list manager and others. Prices start at $30 and may go up to $80 or more depending on the options available. Free trial versions are also available. The Internet is a great source for these software tools and the companies that provide them.

Basic Knowledge of Free Online Advertising and Marketing, Website Optimization and Promotions

This article provides basic knowledge about free web site advertising and marketing, beginners to expert. Internet gives us very different knowledge about website promotion and development. Approaches can be quite different; it takes time and awareness to understand the methods of online advertising and online marketing that provides us the long-term success and helps us reach our goals on the web.Why promoting a website is a must? Awareness is one of the primary reasons to advertise, because you need to make yourself visible and let others know that you exist, nobody knows about your website. Advertising is essential to every site owner on the internet. Businesses can’t sell their products and services without advertising. Site owners can’t make offers, spread the word, and provide people with information without advertising, website promotion. Advertising plays an important role in shaping the website image.Internet Advertising: The LandscapeInternet provides us with many different ad solutions, there are expensive methods, inexpensive and free methods, some are efficient others are not that efficient and some just waste our time and it is better to keep you away from them, internet is spotted. New advertising solutions are forming every day and most of them are duplicates of an existing program.Most popular advertising methods of all time have been and are search engines and web directories because they are providing to web sites the valuable targeted visitors. Search engines are the primary source for quality targeted visitors, most used source in the web (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc). It is very important to understand how search engine search results work to get your site a good placement. Web Directories are secondary source for quality targeted visitors. Web directories help us build permanent links to our site. Building links and improving our site search engine ranking is the primary prospect that we must follow, after doing this it will provide to our website the long-term proper web traffic. This is called Search Engine Optimization.Excellent way to reach people is when they are searching and surfing the web for products, services or offers relevant to our site. You can reach these people through advertising networks and search networks. These Networks display your site ads on other relevant websites and delivers searches to your site. Google Ad Words, Yahoo SM are the biggest ones around, but they are not free, you need to pay for every click (PPC). However there is a free alternative to these paid advertising networks, instead of paying for the clicks you can join the network by displaying relevant ads or search engine on your site, it’s called Free advertising network.Social media is very effective free advertising method; people are marketing themselves and building contacts. You can send in one click, information to all your Facebook friends in friend list, reach thousands of people at once. It is called social media marketing.Advertising is growing competition between websites and most successful advertisers reach the biggest goals.Search Engine OptimizationMake your site more search engine friendly to improve your site placement in search results. Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) starts from our site design, contents, and making ourselves clear what keywords people will use to find our service, offer or product. To find keywords we can use Google keyword tool. Choose the most used keywords related to your site. By writing your site contents; do not forget to use these keywords in the headers, text links etc, but do not overdo it. Write informative articles. Use one to two keywords in your page title and in Meta description, about ten keywords in your Meta keyword tag. All headlines must be in “headers tags” and headlines contents in “paragraph tags”. Use CSS to style your site headers and text. All images must have description in “alt tags”. It’s recommended to use one or two keywords in your filenames, example: “about_flowers.htm”. Our site should have a sitemap where we link to all our pages. Related keywords in the links are recommended. There are many different words to describe your site, use words that others would use.Building links to your site is also important. We can do this by submitting our site URL to web directories, write articles and publish them on article directories, use any other free web source to write about your site. Submitting your site to popular sites will improve your results greatly. Google uses PR (page rank) to define site popularity, based of links that refer to your website. PR is also used in Google search engine, higher rank means better placement in search results. This is one of the many reasons to build links to your site, to get higher rank.Web Site PromotionPromoting your site is a must. How to choose the right advertising program? Analyzing and tracking your advertising results is one smart way to go. You need to know the quality of your visitor; there are visitors who are interested in your site offer and there are others that are not. You need to be aware of advertising programs that are forcing people to visit websites (example: traffic exchanges), sites that are full of ads so the visitors accidentally can click on them.How to find the right visitors/audience? First important part is to ensure that your advertisements accurately represent what users will find on your site. You do not want to disappoint your visitors. Reach your audience when they are searching and surfing the web for products, services or offers relevant to your site by using advertising networks to reach people online, example advertising network.ConclusionThis article demonstrates that there are great free ways to market and advertise your site; there are free web directories and free advertising networks, social media sites, forums etc. Making your website search engine friendly is the most important part after all (SEO).

5 Outdoor Advertising Mistakes

Feeling like you’re not getting your money’s worth on advertising and marketing? Then maybe you’re doing it wrong. Take a look at these questions and see for yourself.5. Are you advertising enough?Effective advertising does not happen in an instant. It actually requires constant advertising to make sure that your advertisements really sink in. Don’t be afraid to keep repeating on advertising. You may consider Digital Outdoor Advertising since it offers a repetitive means of capturing audience attention. Grab the opportunity and make the most of it.4. Are your advertisements clear and easy to understand?Don’t forget what it is you are advertising. If you want your customers to buy your products and services, then make sure you tell them what it is. It’s the simplest things that could cause huge damages to your advertising campaigns.3. Are you engaging the audience with your ad?What makes a successful outdoor advertising campaign is how it motivates the consumers to take action. It’s that strong sense of desire an advertisement brings that moves the customer from knowing about a movie to actually watching that movie. You have to make them feel like they really want and need your products or services so that you’re able to reap the benefits of your Outdoor Media Advertising advertisements.2. Are you aware of your target audience?Do take time to research on your consumers. In order to effectively convince them that they want your products or services, you have to know what it is your consumers exactly want. Find out what will motivate them to buy what it is you’re offering.1. Are you advertising at the right place?What makes an ad really effective is being in the right location at the right time. Knowing your target audience also means that you have to know where they usually are. If for example you’re targeting commuters, then the last place you’d want to advertise is on a highway. Yeah sure, chances are that commuters will pass by. But examine the percentage of commuters that pass by highways than non-commuters. Put yourself in your consumers’ shoes and think outside the billboard box. The best place for you to advertise would probably at transit systems. Not to worry, there are a lot of Media Owners out there that offers these kinds of services. Like SMRT Media who offers one of the largest outdoor advertising solutions and network in Singapore. Make sure your target audience actually sees your Outdoor advertisements and Outdoor Digital Media advertisement. Otherwise you’re just wasting money selling make-up in front of an all-boys school.If you answered mostly “no” to these question then you definitely need to rethink your advertising campaign. Advertising and marketing is an investment and in order to get all the benefits, it’s important to be strategic about it. Plan ahead. Taking time to plan how you advertise will increase the chances of your advertising success.