Entrepreneur Resource : The Importance of Online Marketing (SEO, PPC, Social Media, Blogging) for Start ups + practical advice on where to start!!

images/stories/resources/socialmedia.jpgThis is a Guest Post by Suresh Babu, a certified independent SEO/Online Marketing Consultant.

Let’s face it we all have heard about SEO, Online Marketing; Social Media is the buzz word today. Those all sounds fancy and technical but as a start up and with minimum budget which channels will make sense to your business? Well let’s look into each one of these and see which one will work well for your business.

Your target audiences are online and spending a lot of time there and in popular social media sites, so if you are not embracing SEO, Social media, you and your business will be lacking behind and sooner or later you have to do catch up with your competitors. And to be in that space it doesn’t take much time or money.  Let’s discuss the action where to get started with SEO, Social media.

So you have your goals, objectives. Have you set up your KPI’s ? KPI’s are nothing but “Key Performance Indicators” or KPI’s are indicators on how good are you performing against your goal. Example: # of newsletter sign ups, # of Face book Likes, # of followers in twitter. Business objective could be why your business/website exists? Goals can be strategies to accomplish your business objective. Example: To Increase sales. After setting it up what are the next steps and how can you use online marketing?

Tools and Actions:

1. Listen!!

  • Tool 1: Google Alerts – Free. Time to set up – 2 minutes

http://www.google.com/alertsSends you email updates and links to your inbox of your choice of  keyword, query , topic or your business when someone mentions that particular term in a website, blog, news etc.

  • Tool 2: Back Type – Free. Time to set up – 2 minutes

http://www.backtype.com/ – Send you email to your inbox when someone comments or tweets. Google alerts will send if someone posts but Back type will send email if someone comments in a blog about your business. When someone comments in a blog about your industry or business you get an alert, how cool can it get

  • Tool 3: DISQUS – Free. Time to set up – 5 minutes

http://disqus.com/ – Similar to Back Type lets you monitor and connect with your commentators online

So what do you with these tools? Well, you will get insights about your industry; business and what people are talking about your industry. Use it for market research, to connect, surveys, feedbacks you name it, you can do it all. By listening you know what are the problems your target audience are facing, you can give solutions, how about collecting all these information build a database of potential audience or come up with interesting blog posts about these comments, discussions, indulge, be part of the conversation, share your thoughts and if you are an expert give expert advice on the given topic, be known and increase brand awareness. And how much you are spending in these tools?? Yes Zero , Its all FREE.

Tip: Set up alerts for alerts for competition and their site, so that you can also monitor what others are talking about your competition.

2. Research!!

  • Tool 1: Google Trends – Free.

http://www.google.com/trendsProvides insights into broad search patterns during any given period. Get some cool advanced features like comparing two terms. Search by region, year. What is trending online, news and see how your industry or business is trending.

  • Tool 2: Google Insights – Free.

http://www.google.com/insightsCompare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. Anticipate demand during particular season for your business so you can budget and plan accordingly. Custom date range allows you to set and compare patterns

  • Tool 3: Twitter Trending Topics– Free.

http://twitter.comLook for trending topics and see if any trending topic is relevant to your industry, if you find relevant why not write a blog post or tweet about how you can solve a problem

  • Tool 4: Google News – Free.

http://news.google.com/newsLook for trending topics, most popular news, around your location news and see if any topic is relevant to your industry, if you find relevant why not write a press release about that topic or share your story about similar incident

Tip: Useful for entering new markets, so that you can see how the market for your product or services is in that region or see which time of the year you should start to advertise or promote. Product launch and more. I recently helped my friend and we were searching for Summer Camps Bangalore in Google Insights and noticed that during 2009 people started to search for Summer Camps during the month of February but in the last few years, the trend or the search started only in the beginning of March, so we decided to start the promotion earlier for 2010.

3. Get Found!!

  • Tool 1: Google Places – Free.  Set up time less than 20 minutes

http://www.google.com/placesGet your business found on local search results on both Google Search and Google Maps. One of my favorite tools. If your business has a physical location, this tool is for you. Did I mention, you don’t even need to have a website to get listed in Google Maps, Local? Simply fill out the form and get verified.  Google will give you a pin number to verify your business. Use your mobile so that you can get verified right away thru SMS or phone call.

Tips – You can add up to 10 images, use your creativity. Use pictures of products, price list, menu, store location, customer pictures, QR codes. Add You Tube videos. How about interviewing your happy customers, product demo and add it here, driving directions. If your customers are happy, ask them to write a review, which will also help in the search engine rankings. You have options to add coupons, discounts and events. Come up with events that will bring customers to visit your store.

  • Tool 2: Blogging – Free.  Set up time less than 30 minutes

Blogger https://www.blogger.com/start or WordPress http://wordpress.com/Free Blogging software lets you create blogs. Don’t have a website ? Create a blog and convert your blog to a website, you can do so by redirecting your blog to a domain name. I use blog for my website http://searchenginedetails.com/ this is a blog but I did a redirect and the blogging platform is easy, simple and you save money by hosting it free. The CMS system works like a charm and easy to update.


4. Publicize!!
Let’s look into each and see which one works best for you.

  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization – The art of bringing your website higher in the search engine for your industry keywords. Use SEO for your long term results. Absolutely necessary for any business. Helpful in the long run. It could cost you between Rs 15,000 – Rs 25,000 a month for decent SEO activities. If you have the money to invest, this is one of the best investment, but it takes around 3-6 months to see the results. Options: Hire a SEO consultant or Freelance SEO expert. Once you know the power of SEO, you will eventually end up hiring an in house SEO expert. Hire a consultant to train your existing staff so that your employees can work on SEO or have an intern who can do the work for you.

Tool: Google Keyword Research Tool – Free.

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal A great tool to find out how many people are searching for any given keyword in the last month. Keyword volume gives you an understanding on what are the keywords that you can use to optimize your website.

  • PPC – Pay Per Click/Google Adwords/Sponsored Ads- Internet advertising model used on websites, search networks in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. Google Adwords is a good example. Use expert help to set up, once its up and running you can manage with one of your employees or hire an agency, freelance PPC expert, Consultant. Advantage include: Fast, up and running in 30 minutes. Measurable, you can fix any budget and limit, you can start with Rs 1000 a month. Use PPC for immediate results, short term, if you launching a product, press release use PPC, helpful during crisis.

  • Social Media – Similar to SEO, Social Media Marketing is absolutely necessary. It’s Free. Do it yourself or a intern can do the work, if you have reasonable budget, you can also advertise in the social media sites such as Face book, LinkedIn and vertical sites. Good to create a buzz, contest, brand awareness, employees could be brand ambassadors. Use your creativity.

  • Google Ad sense/ Affiliate Marketing – Get paid for displaying targeted Google ads on your site or use Affiliate marketing, where you get paid if someone clicks from your website and buys something, Example – makemytrip, amazon has got their affiliate program where if you are a blogger, content provided, you can sign up for free and advertise their product and earn money. This works well when you have a good number of visits to your website daily.

Hope you find this post useful. Feel free to send me an email if you have any question.

SureshExclusively for Your Story.in members: Free Initial Consultation with resources, tools to market your business, mail him at suresh941@gmail.com

Suresh Babu is a certified independent SEO/Online Marketing Consultant, speaker and corporate in-house SEO trainer in Bangalore helping, educating and training small business in and around Bangalore with their SEO/Online Marketing Strategies.

Co- Founder of Online Marketing Enthusiast Community. A Community of passionate online marketers, who come together every month to share and network.  He works closely with NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore and shares his expertise with start ups in NSRCEL.

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