Is It Time To Rethink Online Marketing Strategies?

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The introduction of Bing to the search engine field has brought with it a flurry of new search engine features. Google, Yahoo! and Bing are all trying to out-do each other with the ultimate prize being an increase in search share. The question is, are they fighting the right fight? While they are busy trying to outdo each other, other online sites are quietly moving into the search field. YouTube is the second biggest search vehicle for users and Twitter and Facebook are not that far behind. The outcome of this increase in activity by search engines and social media sites may have serious ramifications for future online marketing strategies, particularly search engine marketing.

The recent introduction of ‘real time’ indexing of content will bring about a renewed interest in social media marketing. Search engines love to index fresh content and it has been noticeable that content that gains rapid prominence on bookmarking sites like Digg or StumbleUpon, has been indexed by Google quite quickly.  Twitterers and bloggers have already acted by putting their posts on ‘auto-Tweet’, thus being open to fresh content indexing. Twitter has become the most prominent instant communication tool around and while bloggers have been quick to utilize it, it has has opened up possibilities for many other areas of marketing.

What effect will this have when it comes to  online marketing? This is the gray area at present. Tweets that carry links to content may lead to that content being indexed quite quickly. This may help under-utilized strategies like press releases increase in popularity. It may also lead to content being accessed directly rather than through search engines. If that’s the case, will search engines become redundant when it comes to real time information?

Article marketing is another area that may gain in popularity. It has been the realm of spammers for a long time. However, if high quality articles can be indexed quickly using tools such as Twitter, spam may finally get the boot. Popular article sites like Ezine Articles are already undertaking tough anti-spam campaigns. This is even leading to paid members being removed.

Is it time to rethink online marketing strategies? Perhaps. The online marketing tools that have been successful in the past are still useful. Blogs, traditional social media marketing, article marketing, press releases, SEM, SEO are just some of these tools. What may change in the future is the mix. Up until now,  SEO has been the tool of choice by most web site owners. Many have dabbled with article marketing, even fewer have ventured into press releases – the time may right to revisit these and many of the other online marketing tools that may have been scorned in the past.

While it is hard to envision a time when the main focus wont be on search engines, I think we may in for a period where it’s dominance could be threatened by social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. What do think – are times changing when it comes to online marketing? Will the focus move from search engines to other media outlets?

Street signs, content and the art of stopping eyeballs.

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What makes good content? I can wax on and give you the latest ten tips for making great content, but instead I’m going over simplify it because I’m in that kind of mood. Content is just like art. There’s good art and there’s bad art, depending on your perspective. My perspective is I like the kind of art that takes an everyday object and gives it a twist that in turn gets a reaction out of me. Any reaction will do. Here’s an example; I came across a post that documents unique street signs in Lyon, France.   I’ve passed street signs with the international cross-out symbol like these in my travels abroad and here at home as well, yet I have never stopped to take notice of the design. In a matter of milliseconds, my eyes see the sign, synapses fire off registering it as a sign, I may or may not heed the instruction, then the eyeballs get bored and find something else to feed off of. Poof, forgotten seconds after the experience. But these French signs are memorable. There’s a lesson here. Content should be thought of in the same way. Why not approach your next article, newsletter, video, social media campaign etc., with the same kind of goal? Take the everyday concept and put your own personal spin on it. Recycling the same old information that anyone can find on the intertubes is easy. Coming up with a unique angle on a concept takes a heck of a lot more effort and creativity. Do the latter. If you do it right, people may just stop and take notice.

Article marketing with a hammer.

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Labor day weekend is typically set aside for BBQs, beach trips and hard labor around the house. If you’re like me, you’ll be slotting in some time for do-it-yourself repairs and a trip to the hardware store. Before heading out, you can bet I’ll do a little research and scan some “How-To” articles on the Internets to get me in the mood. Intelligent online marketing companies like Ace Hardware are hoping to catch folks like me online this weekend. In a recent press release , Ace Hardware will partner up with open content network company Associated Content to deliver rich media, banners and auto-play video in context with do-it-yourself articles. According to the press release, targeted advertising will display in conjunction with articles that cover the following topics: “How to Replace Your Shower Head,” “Build Shelves to Organize Your Closet,” “Trendy Outdoor Accessories For Fall,” “Outdoor Lighting Fixtures for Your Patio,” and “How to Lay a Brick Patio.” How smart is that? I can see how this can be an effective method and may attract potential customers by advertising to them at the right time and place. Compare this with a traditional TV media buy. Let’s say you’re watching football this weekend on the boob tube and on comes an Ace Hardware commercial. Not only are you not thinking about diy-type projects, but your mind is probably focused on what kind of cold cuts are left in the fridge. Targeting your advertising and coat-tailing them on to content-rich articles is both unobtrusive and relevant. But are these banners enough to get your attention? I visited Associated Content and did a search for three of the articles just to have a look-see at the campaign. On two of the pages, the articles were surrounded by various branded Ace banners; both static and interactive. The interactive banner on top was activated with a rollover. What I thought was impressive is the use of rollover technology to give the user a mini-shopping site experience. The banner in the left hand area of the article offered video tips when clicking on the “helpful video tips” button right in the banner. The banners also display relevant products that take you to the e-commerce site for that product when clicked on. I thought it was pretty seamless and effortless. In the third article, a nested video played in the left column of the article. It was simple and caught my eye. The best part of the experience was that it felt right for the brand. Ace Hardware uses the tagline “The Helpful Place” and it seems to fit right into their current strategy. Advertising to me while I am looking for information on how to fix a shower head or laying a brick patio is helpful. But will this campaign be effective? I appreciated the fact that I got something out of it besides a hard sell, so I think it will be a successful campaign for them. But for me, I wouldn’t mind a little more creativity. If it were up to me, I’d work a little more on the creative to make it fun like this one for Lego Star Wars. But then Ace Hardware would have to change their tagline to “The Fun Place” , and that may not fly over at corporate.

Video marketing. Not so different than article marketing.

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Article marketing involves writing informative articles that engage and inform your target audience, then distributing them out to the world over multiple media outlets including both print and online publishing. Online publishing alone offers a whole slew of article directories. Some of the top article directories are ezinearticles, Buzzle, and The Phantom Writers, but there are literally hundreds more. Getting your articles out to as many media outlets as possible means the chances of your articles being read are more likely and the chances of track backs to your site are also more likely.

So what do you do when you want to distribute a video? Well, there’s YouTube of course. But to get the most bang for your buck, you have lots of other options at your disposal. If you want to enhance Search Engine Optimization for your site or blog, consider more than just Youtube. Below is a list of video to use the next time you want to distribute your next videos online.

1. Blip.tv
In a recent blog post I discuss how blip.tv offers distribution across multiple channels, including TiVo. You’ll find a lot of indie-type entertainment and videos on this site and they like videos that come in a series bundle. So if you have a one-off, this may not be the best route to go.

2. Flikr
Everyone knows Flickr is a great way to share your photos with the people that matter to you. But did you know that you can do the same with videos? For more on Flckr, take the Flickr tour .

3. Hulu

I have posted about Hulu before. Hulu is well-known for professionally filmed content or content that already has a following. However, Hulu also caters to the little guy by offering widgets and player embeds. For more on  different Hulu distribution options, click here.

4. Photobucket
Photobucket is similar to Flickr. You can share both videos and photos here. What I like about Photobucket is you can search videos by most popular, newest, most viewed and most commented. The “Most popular right now” functionality keeps me coming back for more.

5. Trueveo
Truveo is one of the largest video search distribution networks, reaching roughly over 40 million unique visitors a month. If your video is already on the Internet, you can submit it via an RSS feed. If your video isn’t already on the Internet, you can upload it via AOL Video. Either way, Trueveo is one monster of a video portal.
6. Viddler
Viddler is both for the novice and for the savvy video marketer. Viddler offers powerful integration if you want to brand your video with your company voice. For example, you can add your logo to their player, change the player’s color to fit your company’s color scheme, and even have the player link back to your website when it’s embedded somewhere else on the web. You can also “time tag”    your videos with comments from other viewers.

7. Yahoo! Video
Y! Video offers both professional entertainment alongside user-created content. The cool thing about this is you get to share the stage with Television shows, movie clips, news segments and more. Pretty cool.

Remember, distribution is key if you plan on implementing a Brandcasting campaign. More than one video outlet is a good idea if you really want to get the word out on your video.

Brandcasting. Article marketing goes a long way. (Part 4 of 7).

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When you market yourself as an expert in any field, chances are that people will want to buy from you. An excellent way to do this is to write articles and about your industry then distribute them both online and in print publications. Both Ezines and print publications are hungry for fresh content, so submitting a good article to them is a win-win situation; they get fresh content and you get exposure. Keep in mind that it’s very important that your content is engaging and informative so that readers will seek your articles out and publishers (ezines and print publications) will come back to you again and again for that golden content. Article marketing can really establish a lasting footprint online for your brand because useful information tends to have a longer shelf life. Articles should be in-depth and informative and rely less on opinion and more on facts. Here are some simple guidelines to help you get your articles the attention you seek.

“¢Â How-to’s are great subject matter when creating an article. A succinct list that explains how something is done in a step-by-step manner can be an enticing read. For example, say someone bought a low-quality “widget” from a competitor and you write an article on how to make a high quality “widget” in a step-by-step format. First, the reader will feel empowered with the knowledge of what makes a great widget and may use that knowledge to question the competitor. Secondly, you become the quality “widget” master in that person’s mind and the next time they’re in the market to buy a quality widget, they just may think of buying from you.

“¢Â Make good use of the resource or bio section under the articles you write. The submission box appears after your article and is where you can promote your brand as well as offer contact information for the author of the article. You should include a short bio and a link back to your main site and blog. If your content is good enough, you can be sure people will click on your links thus increasing your website and blog visibility.

“¢Â Use keywords in your articles that are similar to the ones you’re using on your main site. Remember that SEO expert you hired when you built your website? You can use that same keyword strategy with your articles too. This will help your search engine rankings when your articles are linked back to your main site. Good thing you hired that SEO expert, right?

“¢Â Publish your articles to submission sites and have them distribute your content. Submission sites collect articles and also allow for you to add a bio-section at the end of your articles that can link back to your brand site or your blog. A few of the more popular ones are ezinearticles ,   goarticles , thephantomwriters and buzzle.  To find the best fit for you, do a search for online article marketing distribution and you’ll find lots of options to choose from.

Want to read more on article marketing, visit my article on the subject by visiting this link