The Web For Business.com Blog

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


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.


No Finish Line

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 09, 2016

There is no finish line in marketingMarketing is not a race. If you are in business, you should know and understand that marketing is a continuous process. If there is an end to marketing, there is also an end to revenue growth, new customer acquisition etc.

When it comes to marketing online, I've met a lot of business owners who have an online presence, but who aren't happy about it. They have "tried everything" from SEO to social media and nothing's worked, from their perspective. They're tired of the cost, and they're frustrated by the lack of results.

To be fair, that's a very reasonable outcome. If I asked you to spend $5000 and not have any measurable return on investment (ROI), you'd probably walk away. I would too.

The word "measurable" is important though, because you CAN measure many, many things when people are interacting with your online presence. On your website, you can use your analytics to see what people are clicking on and how they're coming to your site. You can use heat mapping to see where people are focusing their attention. Any reputable email marketing software will tell you your open rates and track what people click on in your messages. Social media tools give you metrics showing you what posts got the most attention.

Then the hard work begins. Analyze. Investigate. Uncover reasons. Ask questions. Tweak your site, your content, your next post, and then do it all over again. If you want better marketing, you need to have a better system.

Nobody can say for certain that creating and implementing a robust inbound marketing plan is going to be a goldmine of lead generation. However, it is true that not doing anything will very likely be worse for your business' lead acquisition. Even if you put together a plan and start implementing slowly, you'll be better positioned a few years from now.

Another Facebook Change to Adapt To

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Crying Baby Being Fed Food They Don't WantFacebook and Google. Two of the most powerful companies in the world. If you're an online marketer, you tend to pay attention to what they do.

Facebook announced a change at the end of June 2016 that will probably impact your business. Personally, I like the change because it favours humans over businesses. That being said, businesses may not be happy about it.

Simply put, the change is in Facebook's news feed, where there will be more focus on news from friends and family and less on news from pages you like (i.e. businesses). For businesses, this means you'll probably get less exposure for your posts. Oh joy.

Lots of business owners will be crying about this. Posts from pages have been getting less and less exposure since Facebook started. Advertising is an important revenue stream for Facebook, so this move has been seen as yet another way for Facebook to encourage businesses to pay for more exposure. Get people hooked on the platform, then take away what used to be free and make businesses pay. Perfectly logical move.

In their defense, Facebook did say this change will impact your business less if your content is shared more. In other words, if you craft wonderful content that people find immensely useful, entertaining, stimulating or enraging, if those people share your content then you'll likely continue to get decent exposure. Otherwise, chances are your reach will diminish.

This is nothing new. If you've known me long enough, you'll have heard me rant about how businesses rely too much on social media and the latest-greatest platforms to get more exposure. From my perspective, companies should be working diligently on creating an online presence that is under their control. Namely, building great, content-rich websites that serve the needs of their customers and prospects well, and building and leveraging their own email lists. Focus on the things you can control and improve the most, then use social media tools to further broadcast what it is you do.

I believe there is more inherent value in this approach. What do you think? Please let me know your thoughts.

If you liked this article and think others would benefit from reading it, please SHARE it on Facebook instead of liking it. Content that is shared will be seen more than content that is liked. Creating content that is share-worthy is how businesses will continue to get organic exposure on Facebook. There's your takeaway. Now go do something awesome!

Focus on the Fundamentals

Mark Kawabe - Monday, April 13, 2015

Your stories are the foundation of your online marketing program.The more I speak to people, the more I realize that in the past decade of helping clients market themselves online, much has stayed the same. Admittedly, the tools are different. Facebook launched in February 2004. YouTube started one year after that. Can you imagine the online world without social media?

Sure you can. It was dominated by search engines, portals and directories like Google, Yahoo and MSN. Blogging was also a relatively recent phenomenon. WordPress launched in May 2003. The tools and technology has changed but the stuff that matters hasn't.

This "stuff" is what I call "fundamentals". No matter the tools or tech, these fundamentals form the basis of successful marketing online. If you have it, you're starting from the right place. If you don't, you're starting off on the wrong foot. You might make a lot of noise, but you won't realize the success you want.

What are these mystery fundamentals? They're the stories you, your employees, your suppliers and your customers tell others about your business. Some people call it your "brand". Whatever you call it, these stories are the foundation for any online marketing campaign.

When talking to business owners, I find they have plenty of stories. There is always something going on in a business and in the industry and community the business operates in. In my opinion, there's always a story, but I often find people don't feel they have anything unique to talk about. That's a shame.

From my perspective, it is the stuff that happens "day in and day out" that is the foundation of a successful online marketing campaign for any business. The minutiae of one's work is interesting to people who don't do that work. Whether you make sausage or weld wind turbine blades, what you do is interesting and there are going to be people who want to know about it.

If you want to be successful online, you need to figure out what your stories are and then share them with the people who care. Who are those people? They're the ones who visit your website, sign up to your email newsletter, check out your social media profiles, belong to your networking groups. The people who celebrate your existence by paying attention to what you have to say are the people you need to connect with. They will, in turn, reward your efforts with more attention, in the form of comments, likes, shares, links, pins, retweets and more. Additional attention can in turn be rewarded with more opportunities to tell your story to people who make inquiries about your company, products and services.

Humans have always been storytellers. Giving us new tools to tell those stories is nice, but technology alone will never be the answer to your marketing challenges. Focus on sharing the stories in your business that reveal to the world your talents and your unique approach to solving their problems.

 

Analytics Aren't the Whole Story

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, January 15, 2015

One of the strengths of online marketing is the ability to analyze what works and what doesn't. You can see how many people visited your website from Google, from other websites, from social media etc. One problem though: analytics don't capture everything, and some of the things they don't capture can be your biggest sources of leads.

Take word of mouth marketing. You don't know if it works unless you ask each and every lead how they found out about you. Sometimes that doesn't work either because they'll say they were reading about you online but they won't say their friend told them about you first - unless you ask the right question.

That's great if you have the kind of business that still operates in a face-to-face fashion. It's more difficult if you're running an online business, or if your leads come in through a call centre or via head office. Then you may never know.

For those who aren't old enough to remember the time when word of mouth marketing was the "in" thing, here's the modern terminology: social media.

This is the fly in the social media ointment.

As a digital marketer who believes in the power of social media, this is vexing. Customers expect results from their online marketing, and they expect that those results will be able to be measured against some definable number. The numbers available will never fully capture the benefit social media brings to your business.

Keep that in mind when you put forth your next social media campaign. The whole point of social media is to leverage people's inherent desire to communicate. Your challenge is to give them something worth talking about.

How's that strategy working out for you?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chess - all about strategyStrategy can be defined as "a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim."

How is your online marketing strategy doing for you? This is a question you should ask yourself regularly. Things change quickly online and what may have been a great idea a year ago may not be so hot now.

Four points to consider:

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not dead. Doing it well can take time, especially if you are trying to achieve top rankings for a competitive term (think "Niagara Falls"). However, if you've determined what the appropriate keywords are for your business to target, it can be well worth the effort.

  2. Email marketing is still effective. For those of you who do not regularly put out an email communication to your clients and prospects, this may be an area you want to reconsider.

  3. Social media is not a replacement for SEO, nor does it particularly help your SEO efforts in and of itself. Social media is about engaging with people. It requires as much time (or more) as SEO but it can also work well when done properly.

  4. Whatever you're doing with SEO, email marketing or social media, remember to track your website's performance. If the site has a high bounce rate or does not convert visitors to inquiries or sales very well, you're ultimately wasting your marketing efforts. If you don't know how to measure your bounce rate or your conversion rate, take the time to learn or seek professional help.

Our business slogan used to be "Making the internet WORK for business". That can be read two ways - to make it more effective or to make it more work. It reflected the reality that to get results there is an investment required. Either you invest your time or your money, but if you do nothing, that's generally what you'll get.

Enlightenment for Everyone

Mark Kawabe - Friday, November 08, 2013

EnlightenmentIt's Friday. The week has had its challenges. People are looking forward to the weekend. That's the rhythm of many people's lives. Work hard during the week and take the weekend to recharge.

Recharging is great. My question to you (and to me) is this: What am I recharging for?

I have been building websites and marketing online since 1997. Much of my time has been spent educating others (and myself) about the ever-changing online landscape and how a business or organization can use it to their benefit. I've had lots of successes and challenges during that time, but one thing I have come to realize lately is this: I am more than the sum of my accomplishments.

During chats with clients this week, I encountered surprise from several who recognized that I do more than just design websites. It wasn't just that I also help with social media marketing or PPC campaigns or anything like that. They were surprised that I also teach martial arts. They were surprised that I am dipping my toes in the pond of public speaking on topics that have nothing to do with the internet. They seemed surprised that I am a multi-faceted individual.

They were surprised, but I wasn't. Moreover, despite my multi-facetedness, my talents are all related. There is a common thread that ties them together. I believe that thread to be enlightenment.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that I have all the answers to everything. I know I don't. I just have a perspective that there is much more within all of us than what we allow ourselves to be. To put it into a visual perspective, there is a light within all of us that is obscured to a greater or lesser extent depending on our own experiences and perspectives on our selves. This manifests in many ways in all areas of our life, including our work.

There have been times in my life where the challenges of running my own business seemed enormous and overwhelming. Looking back, most of that was not because they were truly so, but because my perspectives on my self were such that I didn't see that I had the ability and strength to overcome them. Through changing my perspectives, I have rediscovered the joy in my work as it is a reflection on the joy I feel about my self. It's not just the joy in my work that has returned, but the joys in my life are more apparent to me now than they were in the past.

These new perspectives have helped me recognize my own light, my own abilities and strengths. I have new perspectives on my work and also on how I can help my clients achieve their own goals and allow their own lights to shine forth. Having perspectives based on Truth, love and compassion have changed how I see my self and how I see others around me and this has given me new insights into how I can help my clients, students and others delayer and unlock their own potentials.

So yes, I am a website designer and internet marketer. One of thousands like me. Yet, there are none the same as me. We are all here with our own unique abilities, to experience our own challenges and to evolve and grow. I am here to be of service to those who need my abilities in website design, online communication and all that other stuff I do for work, but I also know that no matter how awesome I am at my job, that I am much more than the sum of my accomplishments and that the same is true for each and every one of you who has invested energy in reading this blog post.

Everyone deserves enlightenment. In this blog I help shed light on the online world and share positive perspectives on how to let your light shine online. I hope you've enjoyed the read and I hope you'll keep enjoying my perspectives on how to move forward online.

Have a joyous weekend.

Attention: You don't have to be perfect

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, November 07, 2013

Gasoline pump price $20.00The internet seems to work in a "ready, fire, AIM" mode. Nothing is perfect the first time around. There are always updates, version 1.3, 2.4 and 6.7 on the way.

Microsoft Internet Explorer is on version 10. Mozilla's Firefox is at version 25. Google Chrome is on their 30th iteration.

What makes you think you need to get things right the first time around? It's okay to pay $19.99 or $20.03. You've still put gas in the vehicle and put effort into your goals.

Continuous change is the hallmark of the web. Something that is new today is forgotten next week. People's memories are short, and even though mistakes get made, companies are judged by what they are doing today instead of what they did last year.

This is good for the entrepreneur. You can have made mistakes and yet those mistakes don't have to define you. They are part of your growth. You can acknowledge them and demonstrate you've learned from them and then show the world what you're made of.

Your social media and other internet marketing endeavours fall into that category. You don't have to be perfect. Your attendance doesn't have to be 100%. More doesn't always mean better, but none won't do either. The balance between time, results and your audience's demands can be tricky to find, but when you find it, it will be worth it. Keep moving forward and giving it your best effort each time you do something. It may not be perfect, but it's better than doing nothing.

What could you gain from a one-on-one with a web specialist?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, November 01, 2013

If you had an hour (or perhaps two) to ask someone with a heap of experience building websites and marketing online, would you have any questions for them?

What would you ask? Any ideas?

If you have questions, here's your chance. Just share, like or comment on any of my recent blog posts to enter a draw for breakfast or lunch with me :)

You can ask whatever you like - and even better, breakfast or lunch is my treat!

I hope to be answering your questions in person soon!

Getting you found more easily

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In the "good old days", how did companies get found?

Lots of advertising dynasties were built on the need for companies to get noticed. Direct mail, phone directories, TV, billboard and radio stations were the recipients of billions of dollars of advertising revenue for decades. Now that it's dropping off due to the internet, what does that mean for smaller companies?

It means there are opportunities right at your fingertips. All the time. Every day. All you need to do is . . . think . . . and type . . . and express . . . and edit . . . and write . . . and then . . . sometimes you'll still get nothing.

Just because the tools are available doesn't mean you're going to have overnight success online. Most of the time, your efforts will be barely noticed - unless you do something to get them noticed. This means that not only do you have to make an effort, but you have to let people know you're making the effort.

The most insightful / entertaining / enthralling book ever written may well never have been read if its author didn't market it. It could be sitting in a drawer or chest somewhere, but it will never see the light of day. If you're intent is to get people to pay attention to the great content you're writing, you have to a) continually produce great content and b) let people know about it - or even more beneficially - make it easy for THEM to let other people know about it.

See the icons below? That's what they're there for. To make it easier for you to share, tweet, link etc. to your friends and colleagues online. "Word of Mouse" is an incredible tool to spread the word about the great things you're doing online.

If you use the tools available to you to also promote what you're doing, you'll have a better chance of success than if you don't. They're at your fingertips. All the time. Every day.

Use them and you'll be on top of the haystack where everyone can see you instead of buried under the haystack wondering if your efforts will ever be noticed.