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Building an Online Community: Part 2

by Admin 7. May 2009 09:05
Our first post in this 2-part series talked about the use of forums in buidling an online community for your current and prospective customers. In this post, I will discuss how a blog, together with a forum, can be great resources for small businesses and serve your customers better.

 

Blogs can be used to build relationships with customers, as well as help you in product development by sharing new features and welcoming ideas and feedback from the readers. Blogging can also be used for viral marketing, as the posts can create a number of responses from other bloggers, bringing traffic to your blog and improving your SEO.

 

Blogs can help you improve your operations and this is where running a forum parallel to a blog can really benefit your customers. Blogs and forums can both give support to customers; blogs through the article format and forums more through a question and answer(s) format.

 

Although all the above are true benefits your company can experience from blogging, perhaps the biggest one is the ability to create brand awareness and set yourself apart from your competitors. At OfficeClip, we have chosen to use our blog to help other small businesses become more efficient. We do this by sharing tips on marketing and advertising techniques, technologies and strategies, and by explaining the benefits of our timesheet software, web contact manager and issue tracker.

 

Blogging is a way for us to share what we know and what we struggle with, so that we can help our current and prospective customers. Hopefully, they'll leave comments and suggestions for us too!

 

As far as platforms for blogs, we use www.wordpress.org and this is probably better for a business than www.wordpress.com because we have more control over things like widgets, adding features, changing the design, etc. to fit our specific needs. Also, we get to have our own domain name, which is very important for SEO.

 

Online communities connect us to our customers in ways that most could not have even imagined a few years ago. Building one by being transparent, honest and creative can help you establish your company on the web.

SEM is still bigger than Social Networking

by Admin 2. April 2009 12:04

...But for how long?

CRM Magazine concedes that social networking is becoming bigger and bigger by the day but holds firm to the idea that SEO and SEM are still holding their ground. Social networks, according the article, have yet to lead to a true revolution but consumers are changing how they are searching, so marketers need to be involved and ready to adapt quickly.

5 Strategies

The article then goes on to give 5 strategies to improve your SEO and SEM by including, not excluding or ignoring, your social networking efforts.

The first one is to start preparing for mobile search. Jon Diorio of Google Adwords pointed out that people have a different mindset when they are using their mobile device for search than when they are sitting at a computer and searching. Bottom line: get ahead of the game and start devoting some of your marketing budget to this because by 2009, almost 90% of mobile internet users will be searching, compared to 13% in 2007.

The second point mentioned was to make sure that your social content is searchable. Optimize it because if you don't, there could be unintended consequences, such as searchers being attracted to your competitors whose social content is optimized.

Strategy #3 advises marketers to use brand awareness as a selling point and only 25% of marketers currently track brand awareness. 98% of ads aren't clicked, so their only real purpose then is is to create and extend brand awareness. People can be encourged to perform searches after viewing some kind of online or offline marketing. Your paid ad may not get the click, but that person may search for you later, which is even better since you won't have to pay for the click! Online and Offline campaigns can be used in combination.

This 4th strategy suggests that a TV, newspaper or radio ad could be used to drive traffic to your website by getting people to search for you.

The final idea was for companies who have ideas and budgets, but not enough personnel to manage the intiatives, to use technology.

Things like CRM software, which OfficeClip offers, can help you do this by managing campaigns and contacts. Other marketing technologies are constantly evolving and can really help you manage your programs.

So are you implementing any of these strategies? How are they working for you? What would you add to this list? Please leave comments for us!

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