ben smith
ben smith


Your simple introduction to online marketing

What is online marketing? – Getting sellers and their audience together

Making use of every on-line platform and trick to get your name and product on page one in the infinite web directory is crucial for web success.

Fully understanding, and then being willing to put in the effort to keep up with how things change in this incredibly fast moving media, will help you to harness some of its power for your own idea, product or service.

The brightest minds work in this field, so it is hugely challenging in its ant evolution, but at the same time full of huge opportunity.

If you have your hands full just producing your product or service and all the associated issues surrounding that, Then, why not get a professional to help you?

But before you embark on your on-line marketing campaign, or brief someone else to do it for you, you need to have some understanding of the tools available, right?

Below is a quick overview. Follow the links for some really useful information about each subject in greater depth, or you can also consult with Ben Smith to have examples explained and shown to you.

Search engine optimisation – what is that?

Search engines appear intuitive and very unlike most computers that insist on exactly the right command. Search engines can, as if by magic, guess what a person is trying to get at when they type in words to look for something on the web. Miss spelled words and words that refer to the subject can still take the searcher to the right subject. Amazing

It isn’t magic, of course, it is the clever web material publishers who understand how these programs work to harness them to their advantage.

Getting the SEO right is still the most important factor in successful online marketing. 93% of customers’ interaction with the internet is via a search engine and nearly 70% of click- throughs happen on the first five clicks.

So it is vital to get your name on that front page – or better the top half of the front page – without having to resort to paid advertising (re which see below) – when a potential customer starts looking for type your product or service, even though they may not know specifically about your product and have no idea of your business name.

How do you do this? By optimising your design, writing and links in over the 200 ways that search engines use to rank listings. See this site which reveals some interesting tips, facts, graphs and other evidence to set you thinking.

But hang on a minute, at this point. While you can play the computers and their algorithms at their own game, ultimately, it is important, if you plan to have a long-term relationship with search engines (which you do), to remember that you will need to appeal to the human users of the internet. Writing valuable copy and using attractive graphics are easily accessed and understood.

In addition to creating a clean and efficient route to your web-front-door, you don’t want people to run away once they arrive. The site needs to avoid getting a high ‘bounce rate’ which is to say viewers who come to your site because your SEO has been successful, but find what is there is completely uninteresting or unhelpful and go away having viewed only one page. Not only is that immediately bad for your business as a potential sale is lost, of course, but to add insult to injury it will also effect your search engine ranking.

Fantastic content is the key – in other words good old fashioned great value, achieved by a great idea in the first place which is then amplified, built upon and embellished by the hard work of site designers, builders and writers. This isn’t all you have to do to have a well visited and highly ranked site, but it is a vital foundation.

You might be wondering how to go about producing this, other than thorough knowledge of your product or service, a passion you can pass on clearly and convincingly to others about your subject plus the ability to string coherent sentences together.

Statistics show that graphics are crucial, as many people are attracted to eye catching graphics rather than stopping to read content. Additionally, an arresting memorable headline will attract other searchers, who again may see and share an article on its title alone, again without even reading the content.

You may be interested to see what everyone else is writing and how their work is being ranked and see how you can adapt, improve or update it for your particular enterprise. Why not follow this link, which, while US biased it still gives some sound advice about what is good content and how it does its job.

SEM – why is it a bit like gardening?

Search Engine Marketing is where you pay for your ranking rather than investing time and hard work. This is where instead of going organic (ie getting your ranking to grow through using the labour intensive, but essentially free optimising tricks) you add the equivalent of online artificial fertiliser – you pay for ranking and you should see satisfying results in the height of your ranking.

The downside is that every visit to your site from those lofty heights will cost you if you achieve that ranking by using Adwords.

Adwords and pay per click?

When you look at the first page when you type in a particular word into a search engine you will see that that top few entries are marked with the word ‘ad’. Some of the keywords that are used to bring up those ads can cost several hundred pounds for a single click.

Who could afford to pay that? Anyone who has a product so amazing that those clicking through would wish to buy it immediately and the investment would be immediately pay off.

Bear in mind though that any kind of advertising and marketing costs money, the average TV ad showing in the middle of a popular soap can cost £11,000 per showing (and this is without the costs of production of the actual advert). Additionally, such advertising is largely unfocused as to who will view it – or only very broadly so.

Read this link which explains more the way in which these entries come about . The amazing thing is that that ranking is calculated every time someone clicks through. If you type in Spanish Holidays, in the blink of an eye the search engine compares every enterprise that has made a bid for the keyword to decide on the ranking that then appears. This decision is based on the bid made, combined with the ‘quality’ of the site – ie its relevance and historic performance in holding visitors once they have arrived. The cost to the winner, is determined by a calculation based roughly on the quality and the rank of the site immediately below it.

Our seller of holidays in Spain would, of course, run scores of keywords referring to anything and everything to do with Spain, sunshine, beaches, family holidays, villas, hotels etc, A hefty bill for keywords, but with targeted visitors all primed to want to book a holiday somewhere hot, undoubtedly one that will yield a healthy return.

Given that this is the internet, where statistics are easily gathered, fortunately, you can track what you are paying for each key word you use and the returns you are getting from it and tweak your Adwords accordingly.

Or you can ask a digital marketing company to do this for you for a fee, but they can then take the time to monitor your results, help you to optimize your landing page, remove words that are not paying their way etc. The can help you produce different landing pages for different keywords to drive traffic to for different aspects of your product or service etc.

Adwords are also available on Facebook (where you can tailor make your adverts even more specifically because users interests are known) and you can tailor an advert to look like a status update. Read more here So, clearly, in the web environment you can target very specifically the types of customers you want to come to you and your digital marketing company can help you to tailor make the perfect campaign, via the search engines or social media.

Using content marketing

This works in a more subtle way than SEM, in that you put your content out there, relevant, frequent and of a standard that makes people want to find it and to stay with it once found – and hopefully come back for more. A lovely idea and so much more satisfying than having to pay. However, it is all but impossible to say anything completely new and it is hard to know how you might break into the world of the 2 million blogs that are produced every day.

Given the lively and audacious minds that create weird, wonderful and original content out there in webland, where to start can be daunting. It involves hard work, the ability to intrigue the potential audience and keep their curiosity, the ability to make them feel like they are getting value ‘for nothing’ from you.

Tuning in to their needs and interests is important and being relevant and up to date crucial, particularly if you are wanting to inform about a product and service now. There are some quite fun and also helpful tips here

Don’t be too daunted though, you are not competing with every one of the the 2 million blogs published, you just need to know your product or service and – most important – your target audience. If you are a firm wanting to appeal to local people, you can make use of geographical references, if your products aim for a niche market, then clearly you can make use of the shorthand of that particular field.

As well as blogs there are other ways to offer content to the internet. Using graphics can illustrate a product or instruction more than words can. Though usually the combination of words and images is the best recipe. The ‘ before and after’ transformation type scenario is powerful, ‘you won’t believe’ this also draws people in – curiosity again – as do invitations to ‘look at how lovely, awful, huge, tiny’ etc.

We love instant access to images as they immediately feed the imagination. Pinterest is an excellent platform for images. Facebook is great for short punchy words and pictures combined. The images create a mood, the words can explain and most importantly give instructions as to how to acquire a product or service.

Meme’s using funny images and apposite words are very popular particularly on mobile devices. There is also the opportunity to create moving images and these are incredibly attractive to certain audiences for certain products.

Younger generations love their six second posts on Twitter’s video platform Vine. Like YouTube this is an effective, user-friendly democratic vehicle. Your SEO partner will help you to plan a campaign that makes use of all online marketing vehicles, which brings us nicely on to…..

Making use of social media

Any kind of marketing, whether traditional or on line relies on and networking and working connections. You no longer need to be a smooth-talking extrovert with a firm handshake and winning way, however. You just need to get out there and make your presence known and then work at it.

Take a look at this link to see the amazing array of social media that is available out there as well as the famous household name giants there are others who may also give you a healthy return in viewers from engaging with them. The key thing with social media is to ensure that as well as having great content, you also tailor it to the particular strengths and restrictions of that particular platform. No good writing an essay for Twitter is a very obvious example.

You can use the traditional sales skills if you have them, and if you do why not make a pod-cast of one of your skilled sales people at work, if this approach will bring visitors to your site? Words can be brought alive rather than them having to be read by the viewer. A good podcast is an exciting medium for learning, iTunes or Googleplay for example are ideal media for such content. A video podcast is the most compelling because again you can show people what you are talking about, and YouTube an ideal vehicle, depending on your product.

By the way – far fewer podcasts are produced than blogs! See this useful link There are plenty of examples out there from the famous giants such as Facebook or Amazon which started with a couple of computer wizards in a garage, and there are thousands of others, less well known to the general public who do very nicely thank you running their businesses and marketing entirely over the internet. Take some ideas and inspiration from this link or this one

Using Affiliate Marketing

This is a tool which once set up correctly will earn you money while you sleep and other times when you are not thinking about it. The basic idea is a kind of commission rewarded relationship based on referrals between sites.

The most obvious one is becoming a partner with Amazon whereby you can create links to any products on their site, but via a special affiliate URL which, if clicked on by your readers and leading to a subsequent purchase on Amazon will lead to a small commission being paid on your account.

Of course, not just anyone can do this. The site offering affiliation has to be convinced that it has not linked itself up to something toxic and, of course, the favour may not be returned back! The rewards are tiny individually, but it is a question of building up links over time and shifting traffic down those links.

Those in the know say that for this type of income to work for you, it would be best to get your website created rather use one of the do-it-yourself template providers. The one of the reasons being that your domain using these systems is an extension of the main company from whom you obtained the template. There are also restrictions in advertising on some of these pret a porter platforms. For more information on this source of income see

Email Marketing

Rather the aged relative of the internet, email is still the most used method of communication and by all age groups, so if you are marketing to anyone 50 plus, this is a reliable form of electronic communication and invites and facilitates instant engagement from the recipient.

We’ve talked a lot about writing and we are not going to tell you how to write a good email here because you will know how to do that, what is more important here is thinking of ways to grow your email list and use it without being complained about by those who think your fabulous idea email is simply spam and they don’t want it.

You need to know the rules. Follow this link, the site is American but the ideas for building your list that are readily transferable to the UK, the enthusiasm is good and the tips are genuinely useful, unlike a lot of content about making money on the internet. Bryan Harris suggests that you start with existing customers or other businesses and then turn to friends/family/contacts if you are just starting out in your venture) and work onward from there. Asking for advice and posing questions is a good way to start pricking people’s curiosity about your email, as most people if they are the responding kind, like to be helpful and offer input.

What’s next?

There is it in a nutshell. If you are confused as to where to start with your campaign but know that you will benefit from this type of marketing in one shape or another why not talk to Ben Smith today about your product, needs and aims and let them help you draw up an appropriate campaign.

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