The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


Keys to Content - Survive and Thrive

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Growing plantsComing up with ideas for new, relevant content that will appeal to your customers is one of the ongoing challenges of content marketing. My business coach Dennis O'Neill shared an idea with me that I thought worth passing along. It distills the essence of what your content should be geared towards.

Simply put, your content should be information that helps your customers and prospects survive, then thrive.

Survive and thrive. Clear. Concise. Simple, yet sophisticated.

What does your target audience need to know, right now, that will help them solve their immediate problems?

Once their immediate problems are resolved, what knowledge will help them grow and prosper?

You've probably heard this said a bunch of different ways. "Be relevant". "Give people what they want." "Be timely." "Be useful." These are all good ways to say essentially the same thing, but I think survive and thrive is clearer and provides more guidance. Ultimately, you can say the same thing a dozen ways, but sometimes it will be the way you say it the thirteenth time that is the Eureka! moment for your reader.

For every piece of content you think about creating, see how well your idea stacks up against the survive and thrive principle. If it doesn't measure up, work on it until it does. If you're going to take the time to write, really try to help your reader get to where they want to go.

 

Cryptocurrency Mining, Your Website, and Hackers

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cryptocurrency Mining and Website SecurityJust when you thought there wasn't anything to steal from your website, those darn hackers are a step ahead of you - again. This time, it's your computing power, and that of your site visitors.

Why Computing Power?

Cryptocurrencies can be "mined". I won't get into detail on what this entails, but fundamentally, cryptocurrency mining requires a lot of computing power. That's where your website comes in. With a little piece of code, hackers can exploit not only the computing power of your hosting company's network, but also the computing power of your website's visitors. This kind of malware has been found on approximately 1.65 million users of the Kapersky Labs's security software.

This problem isn't just limited to small business websites. Enterprise networks that aren't secure are also a prime target. It's easy to see why. A large botnet of compromised computers engaged in cryptocurrency mining can make tens of thousands of dollars every month with little to no effort on the part of the hackers. Clearly, when one can make this kind of money anonymously, doing mostly nothing, there's a significant incentive for hackers to get hacking.

What's the Problem?

If your website gets hacked, you can expect to see significant performance hits as your host's server CPU resources get diverted to mining activities. Additionally, you'll be responsible for potentially distributing the mining malware further to your site visitors. In short, the only benefit to this is to the hackers.

Pay attention to your website security. There are plenty of resources available to help secure your website, most of them available for less than $1 a day. It's easy to do and can help protect you against existing and emerging threats to your online presence.

Don't Discard the Old Stuff

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, October 05, 2017

QuestionsRemember MySpace? Yeah, it's sort of lost the social media spotlight to Facebook, but it's not dead. 28 million users still use it. That's more than Pinterest (at 25 million users). Is it dead? Not quite. It's just not "cool" any longer.

The same can be said for other online marketing channels that a lot of people are writing off. However, there are still lots of businesses making lots of money using "old" techniques, so don't discard them yet. Here are a couple of thoughts to consider.

Email Marketing

With the rise of CASL and other anti-spam legislation around the world, marketers have to be more careful when it comes to marketing via email. While it's not new and shiny, email is still one of the most cost-effective ways marketers have to reach their prospects and customers. It's highly targeted, customizable, personalizable, and the tools to measure its success are easily available and understandable. You can also scale it up as needed. Email marketing's not dead. If you think it is, you should probably be asking yourself how you can use it more effectively.

Blogging

Content will always rule online. While social media is being used to get wider distribution, the content often still comes from blogs. It's just been re-posted to a social media channel. If you're going to participate at all in content marketing, you need to have content on your website. Guess what? It's probably going to wind up on your blog instead of on a static page of your website. Blogging is far from dead. If it hasn't worked for you, start asking yourself what you can do to improve your results.

Everyone has the potential to their own independent media company. Video blogs (vlogs), podcasts (audio blogging, so to speak) and other technologies are giving creators more choice on how to deliver their message. The challenge for you now is to create useful content that your audience will find helpful. That's the cornerstone of any online marketing campaign. Don't get seduced by the latest sexy technology when the old workhorses are still doing a great job. If they're not, then it behooves you to figure out how to do things better. Or, call a professional.


When Was Your Last Website Update?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, October 04, 2017

QuestionsFor small business owners, updating your website's probably not your first priority. I get it. I'm the same way. However, I'm here to remind you that updates are your friend for a number of reasons.

SEO

Let's face it. Google's the main game in town when it comes to being found in search. What does Google like? Current information, among other things. If there's no new information on your site, it may slide in the SERPS until one day you wake up and realize you're not on the first page anymore. If you want to have a better chance of top rankings, update your site regularly.

Humans

How do you feel when you visit a site that's advertising a sale from 3 months ago? Does it give you the warm-fuzzies about that business? Chances are it doesn't. If you've created a website with no dates, that's fine. It probably won't hurt you, but it may not help you either. If you want to stand out from the crowd, update your site regularly with useful information and perspectives. Chances are you'll be one of the few in your industry who does.

Creating Content

Don't worry so much about being a creator. Most of the topics you can think of have already been talked about elsewhere. Fortunately, your customers and prospects probably haven't done much reading on those topics yet, so your information will still be new to them. Another thing you have going for you is your experience and perspective. You will likely convey the same information in a different way than your competition, and it might just strike a chord with your reader in a way that someone else's article on the same topic didn't. Being creative often just means being you.

Frequency

So many people want to know what the "right" frequency is for posting new material. The short answer is it depends on who your target audience is. If you're in the wine business, posting every 30 minutes about a different bottle of wine is going to overwhelm your audience. Similarly, posting once a week when you're running an entertainment website isn't going to be enough. Professionals can probably get away with once a month, or even once a quarter, as long as the information is solid and useful. Of course, keep in mind that if you're going for some SEO frequency benefits, you'll want to post more often than quarterly.

Your website is your digital storefront. Keeping it updated shouldn't be considered a chore, but rather, a necessity. Be engaged with your website to be considered more relevant to the robots and humans who visit you online. If you're not relevant, what are you?

Ripples

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Ripples In the SandYour actions online matter. Every post, tweet, share, every opinion you express leaves a lasting impression about you and your business. As a business owner, your goal is to ensure the consequences of your actions are positive, or at least aren't going to harm your business.

This is more important for small business owners. In general, a small business' fortunes are tied to the relationships they've built in their community. Those relationships are your business' assets, so when you damage those relationships, you can potentially damage your business.

If you're a restaurant owner with very liberal political views that you share frequently and passionately online, you run the risk of alienating your conservative customers. If 40 percent of your customers are conservative and you annoy 50 percent of them enough that they never come back, that's a 20 percent drop in your customer base. It probably won't happen all at once. Worse, it will happen over time and you'll probably miss it. They have the right not to patronize you, of course, and they won't if they've been offended by what you've said about conservatives online. What does a 20 percent decrease in your customer base look like to you, or your accountant?

Thanks to the internet, we can dig up years of information on businesses and people. What you say now can come back to be used against you a year, two years or even five years from now. With every word you type online you're creating a legacy. My suggestion to all small business owners is that they carefully shape their online presence to be leave a positive impression upon everyone. 

I'm not suggesting that you don't express support for the things you believe online. Just do it in a civil, respectful way. This takes more work, but you're creating a legacy so I think it's worth it. When it comes to what you say online, your words don't just fade away, like ripples in a pond. Your digital footprint isn't permanent, but it's effects are long lasting, so choose your words wisely.

Calling Bullshit on Bullshit

Mark Kawabe - Monday, October 02, 2017

Manure spreaders onlineYou don't see large brands sabotaging their online marketing efforts. Messages are carefully vetted in order to preserve the brand image. Small business owners aren't nearly as careful about this, but it might be in their best interests do pay more attention to what they post online. Here are some thoughts.

Credibility

Posting information that is demonstrably false or, at the very least can't be proven true will lead some people to question your judgement. After all, if you're not aware you're spreading lies, what else don't you know? Your credibility is one of your most valuable personal and business assets. You should be jealously protecting it.

Connection

Business is built on connections and a perception of shared values and trust. Posting information that's not true will lead people to trust you less. Every message you post has the potential to weaken or break the connections you've made with the people who choose to spend their time and money interacting with your business.

Small business owners are more connected with their customers and communities than big brand stores. If your personal social media presence is available to your customers and prospects, you may want to keep in mind the potential downsides posting erroneous information can bring. While nobody expects perfection, a simple fact-check before posting / re-posting / sharing a meme / infographic / statistic can be a serious credibility saver.

As a small business owner, you have enough issues to worry about. Lazy posting on social media can have unintended consequences for you when the information you're sharing is wrong, either by accident or design. Just remember: whatever you post is a reflection of you, which is in turn a reflection of your business. Accuracy matters.