Archive for online marketing

What is a Landing Page?

landing page

Landing pages are an important, powerful, and often underutilized component of a small business marketing system. They are so important that, as Oli Gardner of UnBounce says, you should “Never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page”.

The term “landing page” has different meanings depending on context. In general, a landing page is the first page someone lands on when visiting your website. This is how the term in used in Google Analytics.

Landing pages are also special types of web pages designed for specifically for one of your marketing campaigns. Landing pages are designed around a single goal – the goal of your campaign. One of the reasons landing pages are so powerful is the provide a feedback loop for your campaign – giving you the ability to measure, test, and optimize your marketing efforts. These are the types of pages I’ll be focusing on in this psot.

Types of Landing Pages

While the possible uses for landing pages are limited only by your imagination, in B2B marketing we typically think of landing pages in two broad categories – lead generation and “click-through” pages.

Lead Generation Landing Pages

Lead generation pages (sometimes call “squeeze pages”) are probably the most common type of landing pages. The goal of these pages is to get someone to share their contact information with us and give us permission to have a [marketing] conversation with them. This is done by offering something the prospect will find valuable enough to “purchase” with their contact information. These offers can take many forms; here are some examples you have probably seen (or used):

  • E-books, Reports, and Whitepapers – containing anything from industry facts to comprehensive “how to” guides.
  • Newsletters and/or Blog subscriptions – providing news, tips, and advice related to your expertise.
  • Webinar Registrations – for live and/or recorded online events.
  • A free e-course – lessons delivered over a period of time
  • Resources – Checklists, ROI calculators, scorecards, and forms
  • Free consultations

Once you have interest and permission, you then try to continue the conversation. This conversation often includes directing prospects to other landing pages where they can find additional useful information. These additional landing pages also provide you with the opportunity to continue collecting information that you can use to tailor your message and qualify your prospects.

Click-Through Landing Pages

As mentioned above, lead generation pages are used to collect information and start a conversation in order to nurture a lead until they are ready to buy.

Click-through pages (sometimes called a “jump pages”) are often used in cases where don’t need a long nurturing sequence, but we do need to  “warm-up” the visitor, or provide them additional information before we try to make the sale.

For example, many business use pay per click ads, magazine classified ads, or postcards to help drive traffic to their website. The “short form” ads may not provide all of the information your prospects need to make a purchasing decision. Rather than directing them from the ad to shopping cart, you can direct them first to a click-through page. The click-through page provides them with the information they need to make their decision and then directs them to the shopping cart where they can complete their purchase.

Click-through pages aren’t limited to companies that sell their products and services online. In the lead generation examples listed above, your prospects are “buying” your offer using the currency of their contact information. Using click-through pages to provide additional information and/or examples can be a great way to improve your opt-in (sales) rate.

Wrapping Up

Landing pages are a vital component to a successful small business marketing system. They help you identify people who are interested in your products and services, allow you to begin a conversation with your prospects, help you learn more about your prospects and customers, and help you measure and optimize your marketing campaigns.

10 Email Service Providers for Small Business

email-marketing

Email marketing is an essential component of your small business marketing system. Email Service Providers (ESPs) come in all shapes and sizes. In addition to price, here are a few questions you will want to answer when evaluating ESPs:

  • How easy is the email creation process? Do they have a variety of templates to choose from? Are templates easy to edit? If I already have a template, can I import it?
  • How easy is it to import my existing list of contacts? What are the rules for importing, i.e., do I need to make all of my contacts confirm they have opted-in?
  • What other features are offered (i.e. event marketing)? Do I need those features?
  • How flexible is the reporting? Can I get all of the information I need?
  • Do I have other systems that need to integrate with my email marketing system? Does this ESP work with those systems?

Once you have your criteria checklist defined, you can start investigating solutions. Below is a list of 10 popular (there are many others) email service providers for small businesses to help you get started:

aWeber

AWeber’s email marketing tools like professional email signup forms & autoresponder services make it easy for you to build your email list and stay in touch with prospects.

Getting Started – aWeber let’s you create a trial account for $1 for your first month, and $19 on a recurring monthly basis after your trial. Learn more about aWeber

CampaignMonitor

CampaignMonitor is simple to use and provides great reporting.

Getting Started – create your account for free, you only pay when you send emails. Per send and monthly plans are available. Monthly plans start at $9 month. Learn more about CampaignMonitor

Constant Contact

Constant Contact offers email marketing, event marketing, online surveys, and social campaigns along with a robust learning center.

Getting Started – 60 day free trial. Pricing starts at $15/mo. Learn more about Constant Contact

Emma

Emma is famous for their customer service.

Getting Started – 30 day free trial. Pricing starts at $30/mo. Learn more about Emma.

GetResponse

The self proclaimed “World’s Easiest Email Marketing”, GetResponse had everything you need to get started with email marketing.

Getting Started – 30 day free trial. Pricing starts at $15/mo. Learn more about GetResponse.

iContact

Recently purchased by Vocus (the folk who own PRWeb), iContact provides email marketing services for small businesses as well as agencies who support them.

Getting Started – 30 day free trial. Pricing starts at $14/mo. Learn more about iContact.

MailChimp

MailChimp is simple to use, provides great support, and integrates with a ton of other applications.

Getting Started – MailChimp has an incredibly generous free account providing up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails/month. Paid plans start at $10/mo. Learn more about MailChimp

Mailvu

Mailvu gives you a simple way to create videos and share them via email.

Getting Started – create a send a free video message on their homepage. Monthly pricings starts at $5/mo. Learn  more about MailVu.

Swiftpage (Sage eMarketing for Act)

Users of ACT! will want to check out Sage eMarketing (Swiftpage) for it’s tight integration as well as the ability to create drip marketing campaigns.

One note about pricing – while many services quote a price based on emails sent per month, Sage eMarketing quotes messages per day. This is probably due to their drip marketing capabilities, but it also let’s you use scheduling to control your costs.

Getting Started – 60 day free trial. Pricing starts at $15/mo. Learn more about Sage eMarketing

Vertical Response

In addition to your typical email marketing features, VerticalResponse also allows you to send postcards.

Getting Started – 30 day trial period. Pricing starts at $8.50/mo. Learn more about Vertical Response

I have had the opportunity to use several of these services including aWeber, Constant Contact, iContact, MailChimp, MailVu, and Swiftpage (as well as a few others not on this list) so if you have any questions about selecting an email service provider, feel free to contact me.

5 Questions That Lead to Better Landing Pages

Landing pages are an important tool for small business marketers. A landing page is a web page that allows you to capture a visitor’s information.  You can build landing pages that allow visitors to exchange their contact information for your content offers (eBooks, webinars, etc.), or sign up for offers like free trials or demos of your product.

The goal of your landing page is to make a sale – you want visitors to “purchase” your content using their contact information. Here are 5 questions to ask before publishing your landing page that will help you close the deal:

  1. Does your landing page have a clear title and description? Does the  layout help visitors quickly recognize the value of your offer and give them a compelling reason to sign up for it?
  2. Is your landing page free of navigation links and other items that distract visitors’ focus on filling out your form?
  3. Do your forms capture the information that you need in order to follow up with and qualify the lead?
  4. Is your form not too long or invasive?
  5. Do you have a mechanism in place that will allow you to track your conversion rates?

Remember that your landing page is not giving something away for free; your landing page is trying to make a sale. Make sure you give your visitors a compelling reason to purchase your offer using the currency of their contact information.

Marketing Strategy and SEO Best Practices

In Duct Tape Marketing, we often talk about the importance of strategy before tactics. When you start with the right marketing strategy, almost any tactic can work. When small business owners jump straight to implementing tactics without a strategy, they typically end up frustrated by the (lack of) results they receive from the time and money that they spent.

Launching a website used to be viewed as one of those “let’s hurry up and get it done” tactics small businesses rushed into to. Today, some are taking a similar approach to tactics related to social media, mobile marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Saavy business owners, however, are adopting the point of view that they don’t need a “web strategy” and a “social media marketing strategy” and a “mobile marketing strategy”. The realize  they need an overall marketing strategy that takes into account these different ways of communicating with prospects and customers.

When it comes to SEO and your website, Google seems to agree that tactics alone are not enough. Listen to SEOmoz’s Rand Fishkin explain how the “job of SEO has been upgraded from SEO to web strategist” by Google’s Panda update.

Wistia

As Rand explains, having content and incoming links is no longer enough. The overall user experience is becoming more. As the SEO expert becomes more of a web strategist, her job will be easier if there is an overall marketing strategy has been defined and shared with everyone in the company.

I think the approach that Rand describes fits in very well with our concept of the Marketing Hourglass. The marketing hourglass  helps you understand what prompts prospects to look for your solutions and how they go through their decision making process. The more closely you can match your content to the information your ideal customers need to make decisions, the better your site will do in the usage metrics mentioned in the video.

Has your approach to SEO changed since the Panda update? After watching Rand’s explanation, do you think it should (or will) ?

Google AdWords Express

Small business marketers have a new option for online advertising with Google’s AdWords Express.

AdWords Express works to make Search Engine Marketing as simple as possible for small business owners. With AdWords Express,  you simply set up a monthly budget for your ad, and Google determines what search keywords trigger your ad based on the categories that you select. Just like a regular AdWords account, you’ll only pay for the clicks that your ad actually receives.

If you haven’t already set up a Place Page or Google+ Page, do that first. By creating a Places business listing, you can make sure new customers will be able to find you when searching for the products and services you offer.

When you add AdWords Express, you can advertise your local business on Google and Google Maps (including mobile devices) and attract more visitors to your website, Place Page or Google+ Page. That means that even if you don’t have a website (even though you should) you can still advertise on Google and drive people to your place page.

AdWords Express can be the perfect solution for small businesses who have limited budgets or don’t have the time learn how to set up a classic AdWords campaign.

This table from Google shows some of the main differences between AdWords and AdWords Express:

AdWords Express AdWords

Designed for Local Businesses

Advertising that can be seen globally
Quick and simple setup Greater control and advanced features

Automated daily management

Full reporting and tracking tools
Available for customers that don’t have a website Various display formats possible

Here is a short video overview of AdWords Express

AdWords Express is only available in the US for now. Google plans to roll out AdWords Express to Canada early next year.

Free Online SEO Tools

Last week I pointed out some quick SEO tips for small business owners without a lot of time or inclination to learn about SEO. If you do have time and interest to learn about SEO, check out this article by Ann Smarty where she lists more free online SEO tools than you can shake a stick at (do people still shake sticks?).