Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Portfolio Video

We added a new Portfolio Video to YouTube.

Why? Because it's important to use all the methods you can, including video to promote your business. The great thing about YouTube is that you can place tags on your video that will increase your visibility in a natural search result.

Anything you can do to promote your business for free is always a bonus!

Check out our new video...

video

Joanne

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

TV and Radio Advertising for Your Small Business

Broadcast advertising has traditionally been a highly effective way of reaching large numbers of people at once. Even with the advent of the Internet, television and radio advertising is still a great tool to use in your marketing efforts.

For the small business owner, broadcast advertising can be costly in terms of total dollars spent, but the cost to reach each prospective customer is often lower than other methods of advertising. It can also be somewhat intimidating to decipher jargon such as CPP, CPM, ratings points, and dayparts. For the purpose of simplicity, I always ask all media reps to provide a CPM, or cost per thousand (more on this later), so I can easily compare advertising costs across all advertising media.

I’ll outline the pros and cons of buying broadcast media, as well as explain some of the terminology commonly used by media salespeople.

Pros
The ability to reach large numbers of people at a time, while targeting who you want to reach by advertising in specific programs. For example, advertising beer during the Super Bowl. Also, having your own television or radio ad often creates a perception of credibility.

Cons
Can be expensive, especially when adding in the cost of producing your commercial. In the case of TV, it is difficult to make immediate changes to your ad.

Terminology

CPM — Cost Per Thousand
Refers to how much it costs to reach a thousand people in a given area or “market”. Cost per thousand is not affected by the size of the market.

CPP — Cost Per Point
The cost to reach one rating ”point”, which represents a percentage of TV viewers or radio listeners in a market. The value of a rating point is affected by the size of the market, e.g., 1% of the viewing audience in Los Angeles is greater than that of Providence, Rhode Island.

Reach — The number of unduplicated households or people exposed to an ad.

Frequency — The number of times a household or person is exposed to an ad.

Daypart — A programming time period, such as television primetime (8-10pm).

Obviously, I’ve just touched on the basics of buying television and/or radio advertising. I plan to address specific advertising topics for the small business owner in future posts.

Michelle Mizuno is the Vice President of Marketing for Complete Business Systems. Her experience includes media planning and buying, account management, advertising sales, and copywriting for advertising, marketing, and PR.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Good Stuff

Even though we are hard at work today, many are trying to beat the traffic and get to their Thanksgiving destination.

Unbuckle your belt and make room for grandma's pumpkin pie!

I'm keeping the post light today and including some great tools that you can use for your website for optimization as well as improving user experience.

Check your page visibility and importance at SEOmoz.org
Add a free web poll to your site at MicroPoll.com
Add your website url to Google
A great stock photography resource at Comstock.com
See how your website is looking at SiteReportCard.com or WebsiteGrader.com

Thank you to those of you who weighed in on our anonymous poll regarding Web 2.0, it'll be up for a few more weeks - go ahead and tell us what you think.

Happy Thanksgiving and we'll be back on Monday with more great business tips to help you grow your business.

Joanne

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Help with Analytics


Most businesses consider their website an integral part of their marketing campaign. However, simply putting up a website and hoping for the best just isn’t enough. It’s essential to track your site’s traffic. This will let you know which marketing campaigns are working. For example, is your new website copy helping you make sales, or causing people to leave your site right away? Without tracking your visitors, you’ll never know.

Once you have your website analytics installed, and can see all those visitors coming to your site, you need to interpret the visitor activity information. What does it all mean?

Let’s break it down:

Hits: Many people confuse hits with visits. They are not the same. Hits are the number of times that an http request is made to your server. For instance, if a single visitor visits several pages on your site and pulls up images and other files on each page, the visit can count as several hundred hits.

Unique Visits: Tracking a visitor’s IP address, browser and operating system will measure the number of actual unique visits generated on your website. A visitor can browse several pages on your site, but their activity will only be counted as one unique visit. This number is the one you want to pay attention to, as it will give you the most accurate representation of how much traffic your website is generating.

Bounce Rates: Pay attention to your pages’ bounce rates. This number measures the number of visitors who come to your site and immediately exit. A high bounce rate can indicate that your page isn’t capturing your visitors’ attention. The page is either in need of updating, or is attracting visitors who are actually looking for something else. You can experiment using A/B testing to see which designs, content, and graphics work to lower your bounce rate.

Top Entry Pages: Where are visitors entering your site? Often, you’ll see direct hits to your site without a referrer. You can use the top entry page statistics determine how your visitors are arriving at your site. They may be coming from an online article or blog you’ve written. Make sure that your visitors will be able to easily navigate your website, no matter which page of your site they arrive on initially.

Top Exit Pages: This statistic shows the pages from which the majority of your visitors are leaving your site. Factors such as page content, graphics, navigation, and even color can affect a visitor’s decision to exit a website. Altering your website’s pages can work to keep a visitor’s interest in the site. Again, using A/B testing will show which design works best to retain your visitors.

Traffic Sources: This is by far my favorite in the analytics toolbox. I love checking our analytics every day to see which one of our ads, articles, or campaigns is driving the most traffic to our site. Use this resource to find out which of your marketing efforts are most effective.

Keywords: Another fabulous tool that will let you know what search terms or phrases your visitors are typing in to arrive at your site. Use this information to create articles and page content to drive visitors to your website.

Map Overlay: This tool will reveal where your visitors are located geographically. You will be able to see if the majority of your traffic is coming from the United States, or other countries. It will even narrow down tracking to certain cities or territories. This is extremely useful for honing your marketing message, as well as for scheduling staffing and determining your business hours.

Browser/Capabilities: It is essential to know how your visitors access your site. Do you have a slick flash website with Javascript? If so, visitors who are using dial up, or don’t have Java installed won’t be able to see your site. Viewing browser information will tell you which browser the majority of your site users are using. You can then make sure that your site is optimized for that browser. It’s also important to note here that you should always test your site to make sure it has the look and functionality that you require, in all browsers.

If you’re using Google Analytics, you have the added bonus of the site overlay, which is a fun tool that shows you how visitors found your content, and moved through your site, as well as funnel visualization and conversion goals.

All in all, it’s crucial to have analytics for your site, so you can maximize your marketing efforts by determining whether you’re reaching your target audience and converting visits to sales.

Joanne

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not really a "Small Business Tip"...

But then again...

If you live in Arizona and you are in need of a corporate identity package, this could be a great business tip!

A small shameless self promoting blog post:

On November 7th, we opened our Arizona office. We had several existing customers in the region and we noticed that a growing number of customer inquiries were coming from the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Our main headquarters will remain in Capitola, CA.

You can read the full press release if you're interested.

Tomorrow I'll give you some help with Website Analytics while you start defrosting your turkeys.


Joanne

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What is Web 2.0?


The buzzword “Web 2.0” has been floating around for a couple of years now. Some define the term as a general description of the second generation of the web – moving away from “brochure type” websites through the use of interactive technologies. Other people use “Web 2.0” to mean a certain “look” for website elements, including 3D tabs and buttons, more cutting edge graphics, and a less boxy or grid-based website layout.

The attempt to clarify the exact meaning of this now ubiquitous term has caused quite a bit of disagreement between groups.

Whether you are gung-ho for Web 2.0, not too enthusiastic about embracing the concept, or have no idea of what it is — read on, so you can weigh in the next time it’s brought up at a business luncheon.

The term stems from O’Reilly Media in 2004. It suggests a new version of the WWW, yet doesn’t refer to any update of technical specifications – only to the ways the developers and users will use the web.

Technologies included:

  • Blogs
  • Mashups
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Wikis
  • Podcasts
  • RSS Feeds
  • APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)
  • Online Web Services

Many more technologies are included.

Characteristics often include browser-based programs, which allow :

  1. Interactivity
  2. Participation
  3. Syndication

Many people today are requesting website design that is Web 2.0 compliant. Often what they are referring to is a “look”. Examples are gradient boxes, shiny floor effect, and bright shiny plump logo design, rather than any specific functionality.

In a nutshell, the term “Web 2.0” means different things to different people. Like abstract art, it’s what you want it to be. Since there aren’t any set standards, you are free to interpret what it means to you and whether to apply the principle to your website design.

If you want to have some fun with Web 2.0, check out the fun sites listed below:

Web20Generator
Web 2.0 Logo Generator
Web 2.0 Company Name Generator

Joanne

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

I know I promised to liven up this blog, but today's post is a really important part of your website success and I want you to benefit from it! I can always sing and dance for you later...

I wrote a new article titled "Learning Search Engine Marketing (SEM)" and placed it in our articles section. Below is the first portion of the article for you to view and decide if you want to venture on to read the rest:

Wikipedia defines Search Engine Marketing as a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

I could go into the technicalities of SEM, algorithms, robots, etc. However, if you’re reading this article, you probably aren’t interested in me stuffing a bunch of technical terms down your throat. You would rather learn about search engine marketing and how it can bring you more business.

I chose this topic today based on a couple of conversations I recently had with new clients.

One of our clients had embarked on a small ad campaign with Yahoo before coming to us. He mentioned that when he was spending the money on Yahoo, the traffic to his site was much higher. When I asked how many sales he garnered from the advertising, he replied that he didn’t know. Website traffic and conversions to sales are two completely different things, with the latter obviously being more important. It’s crucial to keep track of your ROI (Return on Investment), if you are going to invest in online advertising. Make sure that you have the tools within your company—whether it’s your own database for tracking sales, or another form of tracking system—before you spend your first marketing dollar.

Another conversation I had with a client involved a Google Adwords campaign. He was bidding using every keyword under the sun. He had a huge CTR (Click Through Rate), but again, nobody was buying. At the end of the day, his budget was gone and he didn’t have anything to show for it besides lots of traffic and an empty bank account. Until I explained to him that he was paying for people to come to his site and quickly leave, he didn’t “get it”. Having the right keywords in your campaign and your ad copy, that are relevant to your product or service, will get you qualified click through to your site. You don’t want people to click on your ad, only to find that your site doesn’t offer the information they were looking for, and leave immediately. That will cost you wasted dollars each and every time they do that.

More Learning Search Engine Marketing...

Joanne

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Busy Times

Several good things are going on with Complete Business Systems...

* We added Snapshots to our website this week. We read about Snapshots and how Google is using them on its unbranded site called SearchMash (where it plans to test user interface ideas without Google's brand somehow skewing the tests), and decided to give it a whirl. Our visitor feedback has been excellent and of course we love anything new to play with.

* We are finalizing plans to open our Arizona office location.

* We received some excellent traffic from a recent article post and syndication. (How about them apples?) We even got a link off of the Forbes.com site and as you can imagine we were thrilled.

I realized today that our blog (although informative) really isn't very entertaining at all. I've decided to take it down a notch. I know that people want advice, but they also want to be entertained while learning - I know I do.

Starting next week I'll try to turn off my analytical mind and entertain you while giving you solid tips you can use. Those of you that prefer "just the facts ma'am" can bypass the clowns in the blog and go straight to our articles section.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Joanne Pele
Vice President of Operations