Free II

July 14, 2010

Some months ago I wrote a blog entry here encouraging our readers and clients to consider the “free” approach to introducing/marketing their products. In the interim we at T.I.M. have been fortunate enough to work with some of our clients to use the “free” principles to promote their products/services.
However it came as a bit of a surprise when the best example of using “free” as a marketing strategy walked thru our door and wanted to work with us!
Bizztec Online has developed a business model that is ingenious in it’s simplicity and design. Their core product, BizztecAccounting, is fully functional SaaS accounting software, developed over the last 8 years, that is totally free for it’s users. It’s ad supported. Duh, why didn’t I think of that?
Everybody wins. Users get easy to use, fully functional accounting capability for free (additional accessory accounting packages (e.g. payroll, inventory, etc.) are available for very reasonable monthly fees. In line with a Freeium model. Yes, the user interface webpages do have banner ads on each page however the ads are very specific to the users business needs (and we still watch TV ads rather than pay extra fees for the TV content). Advertising get exposure to highly targeted business audiences. Bizztec Online gets revenues from advertisers to run their business and grow their market share.
The best ideas still walk in the door with our clients. !

Garry Wallace Toronto Internet Marketing

Content is King

June 14, 2010

What is the purpose of your website? Is the sole purpose of your site to provide a means for prospects to purchase your product or service? If so perhaps there is little value in reading further.

If however you wish to engage your website visitor and bring that prospect or client back again and again then content on your website needs to be the focus of your efforts. There must be value in revisiting a website for someone to spend time there again. What is the value of your website to visitors? What will bring them back which will allow you to engage them in a dialogue or allow you to build credibility for your product. Ask your self, why would they come back? What is your websites compelling attraction?

Let me go through some examples of strong content that brings visitors back to our clients sites:
A mortgage brokers website that features an easy to use mortgage calculator to illustrate how much can be saved over the life of a mortgage by using different payment approaches.
An IT services site that features excerpts from a blog written by one of our ghost writers. It shows expertise and offers valuable information for visitors learning more about this industry.
A naturopath that features videos explaining how certain procedures are done and the risk/benefit of each. Valuable stuff someone looking for answers.

No one knows your potential audience like you do. Put yourself in their shoes and ask what they might find valuable or interesting on your website. Make your site a destination!

Garry WallaceToronto Internet Marketing

Selling a niche product/service? Better find your tribe!

March 8, 2010

The Internet has changed the game. The current coterie of marketing pundits have all weighed in on the shifting landscape of reaching your audience/customers. Chris Anderson’s brilliant analysis of how the digital world has changed retailing is always a good starting point for a survey of the new marketing paradigm. Kevin Kelley’s – 1,000 True Fans sets an action plan for how even small niche products can be profitable. And Seth Godin’s musings on connecting to your following/tribe should be must reading for anyone who uses the web to market their good/service.

At T.I.M. we can assist you in connecting to your tribe.

Some examples of ways to connect: a company that manufactures scale model railroad collectables offers a photo gallery where enthusiasts can post pics of their layouts. A communications firm serving the food industry offers a recipe data base highlighting the products of their clients. An IT services company blogs on developments and advances within their industry to educate their customers/prospects.

Instead of broadcasting your message and hoping it falls on the right ears, make your website a destination for people with a common interest. Once your website is ready to educate, entertain and engage drive traffic to it by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to place your site high for the terms people use when seeking information or peers.

Your tribe may be already formed and waiting for you to connect to it or you may have to provide a focal point for it to coalesce but it is out there.

Your tribe awaits and they want what you sell!

Garry WallaceToronto Internet Marketing

How to Build Trust on a e-Commerce Site

February 17, 2010

Many internet marketing specialist will tell you that a really viable way to make money is to start an e-commerce site. see this thread or this website .

Unfortunately, if you build it doesn’t mean they will come. Even when the work has been put in to make them come, it’s hard to get them to buy. Most people are a little wary about spending money over the internet. Others only use website’s they see advertised on the internet. The bottom line is the hardest thing about making money with an e-commerce site is getting them to part with their money even if they are interested in your products. Also you have to compete with the other website that trying to sell the same products as your. All website that succeed have to answer the question; How is my site better than the competition’s? Building trust is huge component of a e-commerce site. Building trust in your website will increase your conversions and increasing you conversion ratio of viewers/buyers by just 1% can have an huge effect profitability whether you are getting 10 clicks a month or thousands.

There are a few ways to build trust in your site. The first way is to have trust marks on your site.

Trust Marks

Trust marks are a good tool to invest in for the following reasons:

  • 78 percent of online shoppers say that a seal indicates that their information is secure.
  • Only one in five shoppers did not know what purpose trust marks served.
  • The overwhelming majority of consumers feel it is important for sites to include a trust mark.
  • 88 percent of U.S. online shoppers say it is important for an e-commerce site to include a trustmark of some kind on its site.
  • 79 percent of online shoppers expect to see a trust mark displayed on a Web site’s home page. The majority of shoppers also expect to see trust marks displayed on the page where personal information is entered and where the final transaction is completed.
  • 71 percent of online consumers shop only at sites they know and trust, while 38 percent of online shoppers will only make purchases through sites that include a trust mark.
  • Nearly 70 percent of online shoppers have terminated an online order because they did not “trust” the transaction. In those cases, 53 percent indicated that the presence of a seal would have likely prevented the termination.

Another way to build trust is to be able to answer your customers questions. If potential customers questions aren’t answered on your site they may leave to find a better source. A highly effective tool to answer questions and build trust is an on-site assistant. On site assistant are some one who is able to converse with a prospective buyer through an instant message window on your site. The informed person to answer questions can be you, and informed employee, or contracted from a company. If this is not an option a prominent customer service phone number. A website must have an avenue to answer the questions of their customers.

Finally, as you compile information from the questions you receive from potential customers and customers a like it would be wise to ad these questions and their answers to a frequently asked questions or to relevant spots on your website. There are a lot of benefits to this kind of practice. Search engines love lots of fresh content on a website. It also makes your site more and more of a resource leader. A large website with lots of
relevant information impresses the new viewers of the site and brings customers back.

All in all, the way to build trust with potential customers is to build trust as a seller, answers their questions when they have them, and impress your viewers with a wealth of quality relevant information. Website that have these qualities have a good chance to sell their wares at a higher rate than the competition.

Stephen WallaceToronto Internet Marketing

New Orleans wasn’t the only upset at the Super Bowl

February 16, 2010

Perhaps you didn’t notice the other upset at Super Bowl 44 a couple of weeks ago. This upset was a big win for the internet. One of the stalwarts of Super Bowl advertising, Pepsi, took a pass on advertising during the big game this year. Choosing instead to take it’s multimillion dollar Super Bowl budget to an online cause related project (see Globe and Mail, ROB, Feb.1st). Notch one up for the Web!

Few would debate the fact that PepsiCo has a highly paid enormously talented marketing team (hell, they make billions selling sugared water to the masses!). So why did Pepsi make this switch in direction? I can only assume that this strategy makes sense because of its ROI. It marks an accelerating movement by untold companies in moving away from shotgun mass marketing methods and towards engaging in one on one (or one to tribe) dialogues with their customers to build brand loyalty.

Pepsi is shifting the saved millions into a online based project where visitors can apply on the website to have their project funded or vote for projects they believe are worthy of funding.

A bold risky move? Perhaps but Pepsi and many others don’t think so. Over the past 10 years companies have increasingly shifted from talking at their consumers to talking with them. The Internet has made this both possible and cost effective.

Smart Move? We at T.I.M. think so. We encourage all our clients to dialogue with their audience in multiple ways: foster debate through hosting a topical forum, put your inner thoughts out there for discussion by maintaining a blog, allow multiple points of contact through a social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc.) Most importantly make your website a destination for like minded people.

The move to targeted interactive online marketing is accelerating, how are you spending your marketing budget?

Garry WallaceToronto Internet Marketing

Dating or Married? What’s your relationship with your Internet Marketer?

January 10, 2010

As more and more business transactions are driven to the internet the importance of your relationship with your marketing supplier is increasing. We at TIM have noticed a change over the last 6 months as some of our clients/prospects try a new approach. A growing sector of our clients want to partner with us instead of the standard fees for services delivered approach (the Dating approach). This isn’t happening often but the number of clients discussing and opting for this approach is increasing. In these case the agreement is crafted as a win/win with a some percentage of the fees tied to performance on our part. If we don’t perform we pay a monetary price. However there is upside as well. If we over achieve on our targets we can collect a bonus payment(s)(in effect we are in bed together on the upside and the downside so I call this the married approach). The measuring element of these agreements can be the tricky part as it is impossible to tie marketing strictly to sales coming from that effort. But that being said we have found proxies or more general measurements can suffice more often than not.

Is this an approach you should entertain with your marketing supplier? That is not an easy question to answer. What is the benefit to your ROI if more traffic, more leads or more visitors engage your website than planned? Is this benefit linear or exponential? Does your product/service enjoy high enough margins that allow this approach? Are you launching your product/service or is it well established? All questions that you may want to ask yourself if you think this may be right for you or your company.

This trend is rather new to us at TIM so I can’t comment on it’s validity as a approach but I can say we are open to having these discussion with our prospects and finding a way to bring their marketing plans to life.
Married or Dating??? I guess it depends on what your want out of your relationship.

Garry WallaceToronto Internet Marketing

Eleven Tips To Get More Leads From Your Real Estate Website

January 6, 2010

This post is geared to help real estate agent navigate their hyper competitive field. If you have a website you need to read this post.

1. A nice professional photo of the representative on the site. People buy from people. Don’t show just a Remax graphic.

2. A graphical way of finding listings segmented by area of the city.

3. A sales pitch on the home page as to why you should buy or sell with that Realtor. Think of all the reasons you separate yourself from other sales representatives in your area, or why you you work with you.

4. It may be best to implement the above reasons with a short professional video of yourself. Here at Toronto Internet Marketing we even have the ability to have this video just like our own walk-on video.

5. A testimonial box on the homepage. The testimonial should be random and refresh with every page click.

5. The DIRECT contact phone number well-displayed on the site.

6. Some sort of form that requires a person to fill out their contact information in order to see details of a listing (Webtech Dezine / MoneyMaker4Agents sites) or more than two photos of a listing (RealWebSolutions sites).

7. An automatic, personalized response to emails generated by (6) above.

9. Multiple ways of looking for listings on a site, including Google Maps interfaces.

10. Regularly add fresh new content to your website. Impress your viewers with Real Estate knowledge and build your internet presence. The more original content you have on your website the better the chances you will be found on the search engines.

11. Get involved in the internet community. You should get a Linked-in profile, Facebook fan page, twitter account, or even a blog. These links will help your sites ranking, continually build new fresh material, and build confidence in the viewer.

The ultimate Point of this exercise is to make your website as professional, trustworthy and informative as possible. The more you engage the in internet marketing for your website the better your results will be from your efforts. As a bonus your efforts will help you list and sell your listing through the internet as well as generate leads!

Stephen WallaceToronto Internet Marketing

The top nine reasons to join the wave, the Google Wave!

October 7, 2009

Business is about to get a lot more efficient. The people who brought you the fantastic application Google Maps, are updating outdated e-mail.

E-mail was invented more than 40 years ago, Before the internet and before web 2.0. Lars and Jans Rasmussen wondered what e-mail would be like if it had the benefit of the internet tools of today. They came up with Google Wave. Here is my list of the top ten features of Google Wave that will make your business tasks more efficient.

The major difference between e-mail and a wave is when you send an e-mail everyone gets a copy of the message, but a wave is a hosted conversation. In other words, a wave is one copy and anyone can contribute to it. Although the difference seems subtle it really is a powerful difference for the following reason and more.

1. Anyone on the wave can edit any part of the wave: This means if there is a question in the middle of a body of text you can ad your answer in the middle of the text where the question is, instead of in your reply like in e-mail. A recipient can also correct and errors, or misinformation in the original message. This helps the clarity and organization of a wave over traditional e-mail.

2. Participants can simultaneously edit the wave: A feature like this make the wave exactly like instant messaging except even better. In wave typing is loaded character by character. You will never have to wait for a return message again you will always be either reading or writing.

3. You can add people to the wave at anytime: It may happen that as a wave gain momentum it becomes relevant to people not added to the original message. thankfully any contact can be added to wave at any time. It it also possible to hide parts of a wave from certain recipient if need be (think Christmas present ideas!)

4. Playback: New recipients who are added to a wave after the original message will see the current state not what has occurred or how before hand. The Google Team has thought of this though and have made a playback feature. the playback feature allows any user to go back and check all of the history of a wave.

5. Waves can have gadgets added on: Gadgets are a fantastic feature of waves. Gadgets are add-ons that can improve a wave in numerous ways. The yes no maybe gadget is very similar to events in Facebook. Say you are trying to organize an event with a wave, the yes, no, maybe gadget will let you easily identify your recipient response to your event. The Sudoku gadget will let you play Sudoku with some one competitively with a scorecard.

6. You can drag and drop files into the wave: This feature just makes the processes of adding files a lot faster.

7. Waves are embeddable: This great for adding content to a blog like this one. you could add a wave that you wrote as a blog. all the comments added to the wave would be also added to the wave in your wave client. This would make tracking and responding to comments a lot easier.

8. Robots: Robots are programs that sit on the server that have same capabilities as any participants. For example Polly the Pollster can easily add a poll form to the wave and would track the responses. Another Robot, my personal favourite feature, Rosie will track all the text and translate it into one of 80 different languages character by character. A feature like this has the potential to really make an impact on international business.

9. It is open-source: Possibly the best thing about Google Wave is it is completely open source. Other companies can build a better one, developers can add their own gears and robots and the user can continually find new ways to use wave in innovative waves. As good as Google wave is already it will be even better with with time.

I am anxiously waiting the official release of Google Wave, if still aren’t convinced that Google Wave will make your business more efficient watch these videos.

Stephen WallaceToronto Internet Marketing

Why would you jump in front of a train?

September 28, 2009

Well, to throw the switch that deflects that train (a massive traffic surge) into your switchyard (your website).

So, if we extend the metaphor – how do we know a train is coming?
You listen to the telegraph.

And since that feature isn’t on anyone’s iPhone – what we’re really talking about here is listening acutely to the media.

Television, radio, web news outlets – these are all conduits for massive amounts of public (or business) attention.
Attention means traffic.

There is an opportunity to bend public attention to your benefit – but it requires nimbleness – a good reaction time.

For example; a financial planning client is offering a service related to investments.

Careful monitoring of the news reveals topics that are not quite on the public ‘radar’ (a new program proposed in a government budget, for instance). However, if you were to put out some feelers (perhaps a very low-bid paid search campaign) – you would be monitoring in near-real-time what search traffic is searching for.

When search heats up on any of these terms you have staked out – you can then respond by creating a more robust response by beefing up content on the site, having a specific landing page with relevant actions.

These strategies are persuasive arguments for;
1) employing a long-tail approach to keywords in your paid search efforts
2) quick turnaround on producing content, and
3) frequently reviewing website analytics

So next time that train is a-comin’, you get some heads up – and are even awake at that switch.

Warren HuskaToronto Internet Marketing

Tweets or Twits?

September 28, 2009

Buzz is what people are paying attention to – and the buzz in online marketing is social media.

If we take the leaders, like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, you get a cross-section of the concern – is this social or is it media? Mixing the two is an exercise in discretion, inclusion and public relations. Who says business and pleasure don’t mix? Well, social media are the playground where you can work out the mix.

Social Media are largely unbound by convention – and that’s not such a bad thing. Advertising with long hair – well, not advertising exactly, but promotion. If you ever wondered what the ‘voice’ of your brand is, now is the time to work it out. Test it out. You will probably get lots of feedback (or worse, none, a message in itself).

MySpace tends to the younger demographic, and lean towards music and lifestyle. Our client Tritickets is an obvious match.

Facebook is the more middle-of-the-road community- half the size of MySpace’s, but very lively and online-saavy. This is core audience for which an event tickets blog would be an ideal diversion.

Twitter, the micro-blogging tool – now that’s a way of harnessing the power of PR and making it personable. ‘Tweets’ done well are informative and convey your voice. Done less well, they can occur as annoying chatter that will get people hitting that dreaded ‘unfollow’ button.

User-generated content – i.e. the feedback from your social marketing – can form a crucial part of your strategy. Bring your business case. Be prepared to be responsive and adaptive. And welcome to permission marketing.

Warren HuskaToronto Internet Marketing