Archives for 2007

Landing Pages: An easy way to convert more online prospects.

If you’re looking for ways to increase your site’s conversion rate, consider creating simple landing pages. It’s fast and easy.
What is a landing page? It’s a page that may not be accessed through your normal site navigation, and is used specifically to convert prospects who have responded directly from your banner ad, Pay-per-click ad, or promotional email. It’s designed to direct visitors to take a specific action — purchase, registration, or subscription, etc.
Landing pages are a key part of your advertising strategy, yet a small fraction of advertisers actually use them. And then wonder why their marketing dollars are wasted. Think about it. Have you have ever clicked on Pay-per-click ad, and ended up not getting the information you requested? An average visitor spends less than 10 seconds looking at a web page before deciding whether to take action or move on.
What Makes a Good Landing Page?
The headline and copy connect to the ad you clicked — If your ad promotes inexpensive kitchen knives, your landing page should focus on inexpensive kitchen knives, not on superfluous information distracts from the main focus, such as pots and pans. Your landing page needs to deliver the information you promised they would receive. Nothing more, nothing less.
It asks the visitor to take a specific action — your landing page should be designed to do one thing: persuade the prospect take ONE specific action — purchase, registration, or subscription, etc. Make your offer very specific and offer both a form and a phone number.
Short, benefit oriented copy, relevant to the ad they clicked — Landing page copy is usually shorter and more straightforward than the copy on your homepage. Keep it to a few short bullet point if possible. Shorter copy works best for encouraging people to take action on free items, such as signing up for a free newsletter or registering for a free service. Don’t over sell.
Nix those distracting navigational links — When it comes to landing pages, choices are killers. Once you’ve convinced (and paid for) a visitor to browse your site, you want them to stay on the page and take a specific action on your behalf. Tests prove that landing pages with too many navigational links consistently under-perform when it comes to conversion rates. Keep it simple: a company logo or header for recognition along with a link to the homepage is all you need. However, Google could penalize you if you leave out ALL links. Include the links in the footer rather than the header of the page so you don’t distract your prospect.
gnremail

If you’re looking for ways to increase your site’s conversion rate, consider creating simple landing pages. It’s fast and easy.

What is a landing page? It’s a page that may not be accessed through your normal site navigation, and is used specifically to convert prospects who have responded directly from your banner ad, Pay-per-click ad, or promotional email. It’s designed to direct visitors to take a specific action — purchase, registration, or subscription, etc.

Landing pages are a key part of your advertising strategy, yet a small fraction of advertisers actually use them. And then wonder why their marketing dollars are wasted. Think about it. Have you have ever clicked on Pay-per-click ad, and ended up not getting the information you requested? An average visitor spends less than 10 seconds looking at a web page before deciding whether to take action or move on.

What Makes a Good Landing Page?

The headline and copy connect to the ad you clicked — If your ad promotes inexpensive kitchen knives, your landing page should focus on inexpensive kitchen knives, not on superfluous information distracts from the main focus, such as pots and pans. Your landing page needs to deliver the information you promised they would receive. Nothing more, nothing less.

It asks the visitor to take a specific action — your landing page should be designed to do one thing: persuade the prospect take ONE specific action — purchase, registration, or subscription, etc. Make your offer very specific and offer both a form and a phone number.

Short, benefit oriented copy, relevant to the ad they clicked — Landing page copy is usually shorter and more straightforward than the copy on your homepage. Keep it to a few short bullet point if possible. Shorter copy works best for encouraging people to take action on free items, such as signing up for a free newsletter or registering for a free service. Don’t over sell.

Nix those distracting navigational links — When it comes to landing pages, choices are killers. Once you’ve convinced (and paid for) a visitor to browse your site, you want them to stay on the page and take a specific action on your behalf. Tests prove that landing pages with too many navigational links consistently under-perform when it comes to conversion rates. Keep it simple: a company logo or header for recognition along with a link to the homepage is all you need. However, Google could penalize you if you leave out ALL links. Include the links in the footer rather than the header of the page so you don’t distract your prospect.

SEO Primer: Designing your site with SEO in mind.

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If ranking highly with Google is important to your business, here are some basics to follow when designing a website.

For the novice, Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the technique of publishing information and building links that makes search engines rank your website high in the organic search results. As more and more companies are seeking these desirable high ranks, SEO consultants are getting rich. No disrespect to SEO consultants, but these guys are not rocket scientists, just ordinary guys who understand how search engines work, and how to make them rank sites high.

SEO is not as hard as SEO professionals would like you to believe. Anyone can do it if you understand the basics. In a moment I will explain the fundamentals of designing a website with the proper search engine structure in mind. But first, I’d like to clarify a few common misconceptions about SEO in general:

You do not need to pay a small fortune to rank highly. If you know a few simple techniques, you can do a credible job of promoting your site. And if you still feel like hiring a consultant, remember, pricing for SEO can be all over the map. So shop around.

Here the top eight most important items to consider when designing your website, in order of importance:

  1. Keyword research – ideally, this is the best place to start when designing a site. Unfortunately this is not where most companies begin. Only by using keyword research will you be able to accurately identify and quantify your internet market niches. You can use a keyword research tool like wordtracker, for instance, to accurately show you which keywords are searched for the most, and have the least competition. For example, if you’re selling office lighting, the broad search term ‘office lighting’ is highly searched for, but a highly competitive phrase. Yet terms like ‘office ceiling grid lighting’ or ‘office fluorescent lighting’ may not offer the same high volume of searches, but have far competition.

Point to remember: keyword research is your foundation, or quantified roadmap to follow for internet marketing successfully receiving the most relevant traffic with regard to your target market.

  1. Domain – URL currently holds a lot of keyword weight. You may already have a URL, and it may or may not be descriptive or relevant. However, if you have the opportunity to start from scratch buy one that is short and somehow contains your most important keyphrase. As you probably are aware, there are not many short, descriptive URLs available these days. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create one. For example, for office lighting, you may be able to purchase www.officelightsweb.com or www.officelightsmn.com (localized) or other URLs contain your keyphrases. You’d be surprised what terms are still available.
  2. Title Tag – This is the 2nd most important part of design with regard to SEO. Your page title is what shows up in Google and shows searchers what you have to offer. That’s why search engines place so much value on this. Page titles should clearly reflect your primary key phrase and try to stay under 65 characters. Also, make sure every title tag is unique. So for www.officelightsweb.com/products/desk-lighting/ my title will be ‘Office Lighting | desk lighting, desk lamps’. For my root page www.officelightsweb.com it could be ‘Office Lighting Solutions for Business’.
  3. URL Structure – Simple and logical is best. Also always keep your keyword phrases in mind. In my example website, http://www.officelightsweb.com, because our product (and keyword phrase) is office lighting, I will probably have this URL structure: www.officelightsweb.com/products/desk-lighting/. I use dashes because most of the Search Engines see that as a space. The idea is to keep it simple, and straightforward so your site structure is easy for Google to navigate. You could add other pages in this fashion using more specific popular keyphrases in this fashion: http://www.officelightsweb.com/products/office-ceiling-grid-lighting.
  4. Content – Relevant content is king with search engines. The more content you have with your primay keyphrases included in a contextual manner, the more the search engines will value your site. Creating a blog, news, articles, and other sections of your site that are regularly updated with content is the foundation of a internet marketing website. The first 200-250 words are most important. Try to have your keywords phrase appear here at least twice. It does not have to be exactly the same and should not sound unnatural. See our section on content management to learn how to update your web content.
  5. Heading Tags – I try to match the h1 tag with the title tag. Which also happens to be your keyword phrase. Or at lease contain it within your h1 tag. Try to have it come right after your body tag so that it is the first thing crawled. It should only appear once on a page and corresponding h2, h3 tags should hierarchically relevant.
  6. Meta Keyword – This should simply reflect the keywords specific to that page. Not as important because it is only really used by yahoo right now. The more key words you have, the less value each one is. That is why each page should be very specific.
  7. Meta Description – Hard to say how much weight is put on here but it adds some value in click through rate. I usually try to put my keyword phrase in this twice. Once all together and once broken up.
  8. Images – If they are not in the CSS they should have alt tags that are descriptive and utilize some keyword phrase

Internet marketing 2007: Five critical, yet affordable, components for success.

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The good news, marketing isn’t nearly as expensive as it used to be. These days, it’s a small investment offering a big reward.

I often peruse the internet looking for new companies that market technology products and services. It’s a great way to quickly spot the truly serious and sophisticated online marketers. And, those that sorely need help.

What do I mean by sorely needing help? The websites of the technology marketers I refer to are lacking some or all of the five critical components for online marketing success:

  • Lead Generation
  • Brand & Message presentation
  • Positive user experience
  • Lead collection & conversion
  • Analytics/Optimization

The truly serious and sophisticated online marketers always, (without exception) have all these components working together like a well-oiled machine. As I surf through dozens of websites of budding technology companies seeking explosive growth, I witness many beautifully branded sites with consistent, compelling messaging. After a quick look at the source code, I notice that many of these sites are also optimized for search engines and powered by sophisticated lead tracking and data collection technology. On the other hand, I’m often shocked to observe many other start-ups, offering seemingly innovative products and services, that are woefully ill-equipped to compete in their particular marketplaces with their current websites.

These ‘ill-equipped’ sites are poorly branded with inconsistent messaging, and lack the most basic lead generation functionality and tracking. I see dozens if not hundreds of start-up companies relying on websites like this. I can understand that many technology start-ups are strapped for cash, but that’s no excuse. Until recently, a fully optimized, branded marketing presence could cost an arm and a leg, upwards of $100K or more. But in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace for branding and web development services, a savvy technology marketing company could build a powerful marketing presence with every feature necessary to compete for $25K or less depending on their particular needs.

With that in mind, here’s the question that every CEO of a technology startup should be pondering: what investment will take my company further, one new salesperson ($50K + commissions + benefits) or a fully optimized marketing web presence? To those serious technology marketing companies, the answer is obvious. Invest in a high-powered, fully optimized web presence.

So where do you begin? In today’s competitive marketplace, there are a number of mandatory website components that every technology marketer should have to achieve their business goals. So if you’re investing in sales growth, here are the five key components that your modest website investment should buy you:

1. Lead Generation – Attracting qualified prospects. You may have a beautiful website sporting lots of flash and such, but if no one in your target market can find it, it’s not a very sound investment. A fully optimized web presence is designed from the ground up with keywords and tags strategically placed in the overall site structure to achieve specific lead generation goals. Once this foundation is firmly in place, you can augment your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts with a variety of practical and inexpensive ways that drive qualified prospects to your website.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) Online marketing is not as difficult or expensive as you would imagine. Just determine a niche you can dominate. Many online markets are not crowded. And it’s a safe bet that there are qualified prospects out there searching for the technology product, service or information resources you offer. So, to optimize your site, you don’t need to hire an SEO expert – just make sure your web developers plan ahead to get your site highly ranked on Google, Yahoo and MSN.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising – Depending on your particular technology product or service niche, Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing offers instant, targeted and cost effective lead generation and outstanding ROI. The beauty of buying PPC adwords, is that you can set your budget for the number of clicks you want, and sit back and test the results. You can start with a budget as low as $200 a month. Plus, your PPC adwords will also help you build traffic which also helps your build your search engine rankings.
  • Online Newsletter Sponsored Links – Whatever niche your technology company serves, it’s likely that there are dozens of online newsletters with very high volumes of opt-in subscribers that may be looking for your product or service. These are not cheap, but produce high quality leads.
  • Banner Advertising – Let’s say your search engine analytics tell you that many of the qualified prospects that visit your site come from a particular website that offers banner advertising space. Running and testing a banner advertising campaign on a website with proven results makes sense.

2. Brand & Message presentation – First impressions are huge. And the moment a qualified prospect clicks to your site, it’s critical to establish your credibility as a major player in your niche.

  • Keep it simple – your message and brand presentation should instantly tell visitors who you are, what you do, and how you can offer value.
  • Graphic treatment and compelling value propositions combine to differentiate you from competitors and build credibility.
  • Aesthetically pleasing – consistent presentation of colors, graphics and images demonstrate your competence while adding to your credibility.
  • Unique selling messages speak clearly to specific target audiences, helping you compete for audience ‘share of mind’ much more effectively.

3. Create a positive user experience – Now that you’ve attracted a qualified prospect to your site, you have to make it easy to find the information that attracted them in the first place. If your site navigation is difficult to understand or it makes their life difficult, your hot prospect will simply move on and start searching for another source. Anyone who has searched the web for information can sympathize with that.

Also, you can easily scare off prospects with content that’s poorly written, too technical, or just plain confusing. Here are a few suggestions for designing an intuitive user interface that keeps your prospects engaged:

  • Keep it simple – use clear, consistent navigation that makes it easy to find content quickly and easily. It doesn’t hurt to make sure it’s enjoyable to use.
  • Design for the way people like to read on the web – short concise sentences, bullet points, animated diagrams, whatever makes the information more
  • Give the user multiple ways to find the same content.
  • Keep your shopping process simple and seamless.
  • Design so that your site functions consistently across all platforms and browsers.

4. Lead collection & conversion – OK, so let’s say your prospect has found you, is convinced you’re a credible company, has easily found the information they were looking for, and is now ready to take the next step in the sales process. What now? The tools you’ll use are slightly different depending on a couple factors:

  • You’re selling product directly on your site – The days of expensive development for ecommerce shopping carts are over. You have numerous choices of companies who offer shopping cart services that are easy to set-up and tailor to your needs.
  • You want to prospects to qualify themselves – For example, a common strategy is to give away a Free Whitepaper in exchange for a prospect’s name, job title and company information. Your website should have simple forms asking for minimal information. You don’t want to bog your prospects down and make them think too hard.

Whether you want leads or sales, or both, information from prospects and customers should flow easily into a database that sales and marketing management can access. If you have fairly simple product or service offerings, this should not be a major undertaking. These days, it’s just part of doing business on the web. The cost of automating your sales process in this manner can easily pay for itself in no time.

5. Analytics/Optimization – Now that you have a steady flow of site traffic, it’s time to consider ways to optimize your site and generate even more prospects of even higher quality. There are many analytics tools available to you that tell you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. Using analytics tools you can:

  • Track and compare all of your marketing initiatives including banner ads, email newsletters, paid links, and keywords.
  • Discover where prospects are entering your site, and where they’re leaving, so you can make simple adjustments to keep them interested.
  • Set up goals to track prospect conversions.
  • Focus your marketing budget on revenue-generating campaigns.

Conclusion

If you want to increase sales for your company, don’t spend another dime on brand advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, or sales staff until you make sure that your website is pulling its weight in your marketing mix. As I mentioned earlier, online marketing is not as difficult or expensive as it used to be. With a website equipped with the tools I’ve described, all you have to do is zero in on your particular niche and dominate. Done correctly, it’s a small investment offering a big reward.

Jump the Curve

Jump the Curve
Jack Uldrich is a renowned global futurist, sought-after business speaker, and best-selling author. His books include the best-selling, The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business, and the award-winning, Into the Unknown: Leadership Lessons from Lewis & Clark’s Daring Westward Expedition. His latest book is Jump the Curve: 50 Essential Strategies to Help Your Company Stay Ahead of Emerging Technologies. Uldrich’s website not only promotes his recent books, but helps him generate high-paying speaking engagements all over the world.
JACsite
Jack Uldrich is a renowned global futurist, sought-after business speaker, and best-selling author. His books include the best-selling, The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business, and the award-winning, Into the Unknown: Leadership Lessons from Lewis & Clark’s Daring Westward Expedition. His latest book is Jump the Curve: 50 Essential Strategies to Help Your Company Stay Ahead of Emerging Technologies. Uldrich’s website not only promotes his recent books, but helps him generate high-paying speaking engagements all over the world.

Thermal Remediation

“Since we launched our new website, we have had a huge influx of highly qualified leads for our diverse product line. If you need a true internet marketing machine, ZoselCo can get the job done, no doubt.”Gregory Grabow, Thermal Remediation, Temp-Air Sales Manager

Making sense of complicated a situation.
TEMP-AIR had a new line of products to promote, all with different benefits to different prospects, each in vastly different markets. Plus they needed to start generating leads immediately. Using simple brand planning processes, Zosel & Company helped the marketing and sales team at Temp-Air sort out the different features and benefits, and create a website that communicated to three very different prospect groups. The result over 50 highly qualified leads in a short four month. The site also featured a easy-to-use content management system so the staff could contribute to a Resource Center for press releases, articles, and more.

Fresh Content attracts search engines —
With the ability to add content, the Thermal Remediation site picked up additional traffic from prospects looking for their products.

Click here to launch site.

Marketing vs. Sales debate: which is more important?

If you’re a sales-driven company, you may tend to view sales as the moneymaker and marketing as the money spender.
There’s some truth to that, but to be fair, the real role of marketing is to get the most appropriate customers and prospects to decide that your business is the best place to buy the products and services you provide. The tools available to accomplish these marketing tasks include print and broadcast advertising, the Internet, direct mail, telemarketing, public relations and sponsorships, among others.
Marketing and sales have a common goal of increasing revenues, even though they play separate and distinct functions. The following table compares the roles of sales and marketing:
The Sales Role
Overcomes objections
Convinces
Closes the sale
An event
Very high cost per contact
Reaches a limited audience
Short-term results
More customer resistance
Encourages allegiance to the salesperson
The Marketing Role
Heads off objections
Motivates
Paves the way, but doesn’t close
A process
Lower cost per contact
Can reach a large audience
Long-term results
Less customer resistance
Encourages allegiance to the company
Successful companies develop a complete strategic Marketing Plan that coordinates and drives the efforts of both sales and marketing. Your Marketing Plan is the roadmap for how your organization will achieve its goals by satisfying customer wants and needs, now and in the next few years. It will answer the WHO, WHAT, and HOW of your sales and marketing programs.
Your Marketing Plan should include a thorough analysis of WHO will be the focus of your marketing efforts for each product and service your dealership offers. This means developing a detailed profile of your most valuable customers–those who generate the greatest total profits for your business. You can then target your marketing and sales activities toward the most appropriate and interested customers and prospects.
The Plan will then identify WHAT messages will be conveyed to these target audiences. The messages should focus on benefits that are important to each specific target group. Some will focus on the benefits of a tangible product or service (special offers or pricing, new products, added services); others are intended to build the customer relationship or enhance the image of your business (thank you notes, writing and speaking, and post-transaction follow-up). The use of marketing tools to boost your company’s image and reputation is an important element of your Marketing Plan. Studies have found that between 70% and 90% of buying decisions are influenced by the reputation of the business.
In the tactical section of the Marketing Plan, HOW these messages will reach the target audience is defined. This includes various marketing tools such as advertising, trade shows and direct mail, as well as personal selling activities
Once the Marketing Plan has been developed, communicate it throughout the organization. This will enable sales and marketing to coordinate their efforts and consistently reinforce themes that are most important to your targeted customers.
pic_int_marketing_thumb

If you’re a sales-driven company, you may tend to view sales as the moneymaker and marketing as the money spender.

There’s some truth to that, but to be fair, the real role of marketing is to get the most appropriate customers and prospects to decide that your business is the best place to buy the products and services you provide. The tools available to accomplish these marketing tasks include print and broadcast advertising, the Internet, direct mail, telemarketing, public relations and sponsorships, among others.

Marketing and sales have a common goal of increasing revenues, even though they play separate and distinct functions. The following table compares the roles of sales and marketing:

The Sales Role

  • Overcomes objections
  • Convinces
  • Closes the sale
  • An event
  • Very high cost per contact
  • Reaches a limited audience
  • Short-term results
  • More customer resistance
  • Encourages allegiance to the salesperson

The Marketing Role

  • Heads off objections
  • Motivates
  • Paves the way, but doesn’t close
  • A process
  • Lower cost per contact
  • Can reach a large audience
  • Long-term results
  • Less customer resistance
  • Encourages allegiance to the company

Successful companies develop a complete strategic Marketing Plan that coordinates and drives the efforts of both sales and marketing. Your Marketing Plan is the roadmap for how your organization will achieve its goals by satisfying customer wants and needs, now and in the next few years. It will answer the WHO, WHAT, and HOW of your sales and marketing programs.

Your Marketing Plan should include a thorough analysis of WHO will be the focus of your marketing efforts for each product and service your dealership offers. This means developing a detailed profile of your most valuable customers–those who generate the greatest total profits for your business. You can then target your marketing and sales activities toward the most appropriate and interested customers and prospects.

The Plan will then identify WHAT messages will be conveyed to these target audiences. The messages should focus on benefits that are important to each specific target group. Some will focus on the benefits of a tangible product or service (special offers or pricing, new products, added services); others are intended to build the customer relationship or enhance the image of your business (thank you notes, writing and speaking, and post-transaction follow-up). The use of marketing tools to boost your company’s image and reputation is an important element of your Marketing Plan. Studies have found that between 70% and 90% of buying decisions are influenced by the reputation of the business.

In the tactical section of the Marketing Plan, HOW these messages will reach the target audience is defined. This includes various marketing tools such as advertising, trade shows and direct mail, as well as personal selling activities

Once the Marketing Plan has been developed, communicate it throughout the organization. This will enable sales and marketing to coordinate their efforts and consistently reinforce themes that are most important to your targeted customers.

Print advertising, who needs it anyway?

Print ads are an excellent investment if executed correctly.
If you’re looking for a dramatic way to make a big splash in your marketplace, print advertising is a great way to get the attention of your prospects, and your competitors. But before you go down this road, take a deep breath and read a few rate cards from your industry publications. If you haven’t looked lately, you might be in for a shock.
If your publication’s circulation is in the 150,000 range, plan on about $10,000 or more for a full page ad, or roughly $2,500 for full page in a publication with about 20,000 circulation. This ads up very quickly. And, most important, if you’ve got your heart set on print advertising, make sure you budget is set out for at least six months to see any real results. In other words, unless you have $75,000 to invest, print advertising is not the best marketing option for a startup technology company.
How to use it successfully:
These days, if you simply want to generate qualified leads, there are many other more reliable and cost effective methods like sponsored links in highly targeted online newsletters, adwords and many other cost per click online options. The most effective use of print advertising in technology marketing today is simply for branding. Sure, running print ads in a large horizontal publication with 250,000 readers can net a truckload of quality leads, but the cost per lead can be staggering.
If you’re a marketing or brand manager for a large, well funded technology organization, print advertising is the perfect solution for quickly generating millions of impressions among your target audience. But it’s true role is to support other lead generation campaigns you would be running such as banners, sponsorships, adwords and other that are pointing qualified prospects back to your website where the real customer relationship starts to bloom.
Simply put, when prospects see your big, beautiful four color ad in a major industry publication, it gives your company instant credibility in your category, provided the ad was created by design professionals who understand your business. But that’s another story.

billboard

Print ads are an excellent investment if executed correctly.

If you’re looking for a dramatic way to make a big splash in your marketplace, print advertising is a great way to get the attention of your prospects, and your competitors. But before you go down this road, take a deep breath and read a few rate cards from your industry publications. If you haven’t looked lately, you might be in for a shock.

If your publication’s circulation is in the 150,000 range, plan on about $10,000 or more for a full page ad, or roughly $2,500 for full page in a publication with about 20,000 circulation. This ads up very quickly. And, most important, if you’ve got your heart set on print advertising, make sure you budget is set out for at least six months to see any real results. In other words, unless you have $75,000 to invest, print advertising is not the best marketing option for a startup technology company.

How to use it successfully:

These days, if you simply want to generate qualified leads, there are many other more reliable and cost effective methods like sponsored links in highly targeted online newsletters, adwords and many other cost per click online options. The most effective use of print advertising in technology marketing today is simply for branding. Sure, running print ads in a large horizontal publication with 250,000 readers can net a truckload of quality leads, but the cost per lead can be staggering.

If you’re a marketing or brand manager for a large, well funded technology organization, print advertising is the perfect solution for quickly generating millions of impressions among your target audience. But it’s true role is to support other lead generation campaigns you would be running such as banners, sponsorships, adwords and other that are pointing qualified prospects back to your website where the real customer relationship starts to bloom.

Simply put, when prospects see your big, beautiful four color ad in a major industry publication, it gives your company instant credibility in your category, provided the ad was created by design professionals who understand your business. But that’s another story.

Internet Marketing Through Social Networking.

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By Bobette Kyle

Social networking online is one of today’s hottest trends. Many, however, wonder how social networking can help their careers or businesses and exactly how to get started with this online marketing technique.

What is Online Social Networking?

From a conceptual standpoint, online social networking is no different than traditional networking and socializing. You meet people and get to know them by sharing information about each other. Those you like and/or share interests with become part of your “network.” The marketing magic kicks in when those in your network start talking about you. Your reputation spreads by word-of-mouth.

The Internet and related technology have taken networking to the next level, expanding each individual’s reach and exposure through online marketing. Where traditionally people gather in person to network — at the same time and place as others — members of online networking groups are not limited by time or geography. Each group member can interact 24/7 from any location worldwide. Consequently, online networking techniques are very different from in-person networking.

How To Interact Through Social Networking

Ways to interact are numerous. The first order of business is to decide what your marketing goals are with respect to social networking. While “finding new friends” is a sufficient personal reason for social networking, business marketing goals need to be more specific. Are you an individual looking for a job or freelance work? Do you want to gain exposure for your product, band or company? Are you looking for potential employees or contractors? Do you want to get prospects interested enough to visit your Website or contact you? Your goals will dictate what you put on your profile and social networking home page as well as who you look for the become part of your network.

After you’ve decided on your purpose for online networking, choose which social networking Website(s) you will participate in.

Where to Network Online

You can find a comprehensive list of social networking site at Wikipedia here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites. I am familiar with those listed below. They will give you an idea of the range of opportunities you will find at social networking Websites:

  • Yahoo! 360 (360.yahoo.com): Yahoo!’s social networking site is in beta as of this writing. The unique feature here is your Yahoo! 360 space is cross-promoted with other Yahoo! products, such as with your reviews on Yahoo! Local and your Yahoo! Groups. Like many social networking sites, you can also host a blog on the server.
  • MySpace (myspace.com): This is the mother of social networking sites. Originally dominated by teens, there are reports of the “graying of myspace” as older people and businesses are also networking on the site. It may be worth your while to spend some time there to see if your target customers hang out there.
  • LinkedIn (linkedin.com): LinkedIn is excellent for professional, career-related online marketing because it focuses exclusively on business and professional networking. You will find interfaces to connect with classmates or colleagues (both past and present); find service providers or clients; post or find a job; and ask or answer business-related questions.
  • Gather (gather.com): This network incorporates user publications (in the form of articles) and a points reward system into the usual social networking activities.

Each social networking Website has it’s own “personality” and a different mix of people to interact with. Before signing up, go to each site and explore a bit — search on keywords related to your goals and interests, check out the different groups, the activity level, etc. This will help you determine if a site will be beneficial to you. Once you find a site that interests you, establish your presence by signing up and filling in the questions for your profile and site home page. Once that is done, you are ready to interact.

Whom To Interact With

  • The people you want to associate with (i.e. make “friends” or be “connected” to) will depend largely on your goals. There are several types of people you will want to consider contacting. Each can help you in different ways, so consider looking for more than one type of “target friend:”
  • Customers and Consumers: People who will benefit from what you do, consume or buy your products or services, and rave about you to their friends.
  • Others Within Your Industry: People with whom you can network, share resources and cross-promote with.
  • Media and Publishers: People who work for or can influence publications you would like to be mentioned in (e-zines, newspapers, Websites, etc).
  • Consultants: People who may want to hire or purchase products from you.
  • Event, Company or Organization representatives: People who operate business and associations that support your industry.

How To Find Friends

A few people will find you based on your profile, but you will want to actively seek out quality friends. You can start to find friends by joining groups related to your expertise, that have members who match your target friend profile or interest you in general. You can also approach individuals and ask them to become a friend and/or part of your network.

Shavlik Email Marketing


Shavlik has a large database of customers and prospects who register at their website that receive regular HTML emails promoting new products, discounted offerings, and more. Zosel&Co has created dozens of HTML emails that they use on a routine basis to communicate with customers and prospects.

Rockford Inc: letter perfect brand development.


Rockford Inc. is a Minneapolis base property management firm that manages condo and apartment complexes throughout the great metro area. Zosel&Co designed a new brand for the company the incorporates Principal Pete Rocheford initials P and R together in one symbol. The brand was incorporated across all collateral, stationery, business cards, website and more.