THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sajeel Qureshi Headshot

Mailbag -- eCommerce, Digital Marketing on a Budget, Content Marketing and More

Posted: Updated:
Print

2014-07-18-ComputanDigitalMarketingSMBMailbag.jpg

Welcome to another edition of the Digital Marketing Mailbag! Thank you to everyone that asked a question and some will be used in future columns as well. Feel free to submit questions for future mailings!

"Forbes reviewed our product. How do we draw attention from new customers to it?"

Mitch Goldstone -- Scanmyphotos.com

Impressive reviews Mitch! Reviews are good indirect sources of new business. These reviews bolster credibility for you if someone is looking to have photos scanned. Publish them on your Facebook page and boost the post for extra recognition. Twitter ads also allow you to pay for engagement when someone retweets you.

"How do I measure digital marketing ROI for things like blogs, video and social media?"

Jason Fisher - The Life Insurance Blog

It's definitely trickier, Jason. With regards to life insurance:

  1. Identify what you want potential customers to do (eg; get a life insurance quote). Then, assign an intrinsic dollar amount to how much each quote you give is worth.
  2. Devise your tactics around that goal. Blog about saving money on insurance, how to negotiate a deal etc. Things that people need to know, but don't. This information is your 'give.' Then mention your free quote offer at the end of the piece. That's your 'take.'
  3. Use your website analytics to evaluate quote sources -- YouTube video, Facebook post, Tweet etc? Tally the quotes at month's end vs the production or advertising cost to calculate ROI. I see Google Analytics is installed on your site and you can actually set most of this process up in there.

"Beyond transactions - What are other key metrics an ecommerce site should be tracking, and why?"

Kevin Gibson -- Alpha Graphics

Kevin, below are some key metrics we suggest our ecommerce customers focus on.

  • Abandoned Carts - People that go to the site, add products to the cart, but leave before paying. That's money left on the table.
  • Profitability per conversion -- All ecommerce sites should use Google Product Listing Ads (easy and hassle-free exposure on Google). A cost--per-conversion ratio is in their dashboard. Track the product's actual profit margin against the cost-per-conversion paid to Google to come up with profitability per conversion. The same logic applies if your product feed is on Amazon, eBay or other commission-based sites.
  • Product/category page views -- How many people visit a particular product/category page? One hundred pieces of product sold is great until you see 1 million product page views.
  • Goal-Conversion -- Most analytic software (Google, Bing, Piwik and others) allow you to track what your customer's difficulty in checking out. If your checkout process is four steps you can see where people tend to get stuck or quit. You can also see how many people successfully checkout.

"How can I use digital marketing to promote my seminars to my target markets?"

Robert Smith - Publish a Book and Grow Rich Seminars

Hi Robert, trade information in your book or seminar for an email address. Then, every 2 or 3 weeks email subscribers a content piece - podcast, blog post etc. Mention your schedule at the end of the piece. Review what top speakers do and emulate in your segments.

"We've got great content, but how do we get people to share, link and most importantly to visit our site?"

Asher Weinstein -- Swimsuits Direct

Asher your content is great and proves you know women's swimsuits. Hashtag your Facebook posts to generate social media dialogue. Compare posts. Which ones have higher engagement (shares, likes etc) than others? That'll tell you the type and format of content to push. Also, try syndicating your blog to other sites in your category. Pitch to Women's Health Magazine or other websites that your target customers visit. Try sponsoring those sites in exchange for visibility.

"How do you encourage viral and word of mouth marketing?"

Helen Holden - Counting Candles

Honestly Helen there is usually a lot of PR behind most word of mouth marketing. Non-business related viral marketing is different. Content that makes people laugh, cry or supports their views is what gets shared. You can also give current customers a gift card from your favorite supplier in exchange for a referral.

"We are limited on manpower and resources. How much do we spend on social media or AdWords? How much content is enough for Google to like us? How do we sift through all these SEO company offers and figure out their value?'

Matt Herrera - Foiply

Hi Matt, unfortunately there isn't an easy answer to that. It's very different for all businesses, shapes and sizes. I'm a firm believer that your investment of time should be in content creation. That's what makes you great. Your investment of money should be in content syndication on whatever medium (video, infographic, webinar etc) and platform (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc) you choose. Small-businesses need to pick their battles. Yes, there are many digital marketing tools and thousands of experts. Simplify it. Map out the characteristics of your ideal customer, find out what they read, where they congregate (on and offline) and represent yourself in those places. Aspiring actors move to Hollywood; 90s rock stars moved to Seattle. I realize any business could use Foiply, but pick a vertical that relies heavily on fax (eg; Government). Then, reach out to them in your own unique and creative way. That will be cheaper and more effective then expensive paid search ads.

"What's the best way to nurture leads? What is the best way to stay on the lead's radar?"

Chris Kelly -- Survata

Congrats on being ahead of the curve and having leads Chris. Most businesses struggle with that. I'd suggest using marketing automation software or a CRM if you have no 'top-of-the funnel' challenges. There are varying degrees of complexity and price. InfusionSoft seems to be the cheapest. They do help with workflow and scheduling some of the follow ups. A technical group like Survata should be able to handle building campaigns using the app very quickly. Most software have simple APIs to pass data to and from.

"Our biggest challenge from a digital marketing perspective is maintaining the branding of our presence online while optimizing for lead generation. Tips?"

Emma Coulson -- 3D Product Imaging

Make sure that there is a paragraph or descriptive text with your rich media Emma. Infographics with descriptive paragraphs on the page with them do better organically then those without. It is becoming easier to design and be search-friendly simultaneously though (eg; links in YouTube videos and sign-up buttons embedded in images).

"How can we ensure that we don't waste our time and money on an email blast that doesn't make it through a recipient's spam filters?"

David Reischer -- LawyerReviews.com

David, send your email to a friend and ask if it looks like spam to them. You are good if you use proper email marketing software and send notes to subscribers that have agreed to receive email from you. You'll have a problem if you purchased an email list and are marketing a work-from-home pyramid scheme or about how the Sultan of Brunei is leaving you $10,000,000,000.

"How do you get sales and marketing on the same page when it comes to content marketing, digital marketing and social media?"

Tom Henell - North American Professional Liability Insurance Agency

Hi Tom, marketing's role is to generate interest in your product/service. Most marketers understand the buying process for everything starts online. That should justify the necessity to focus on content, digital and social media. Marketing helps sales with those top of the funnel issues and online is where most leads come from - people signing up for webinars, ebooks, email subscriptions etc. Those sign-ups become warm leads for the sales team to close. Companies that invest in marketing have more leads than those that don't. Sales and marketing need to work hand-in-hand with one another. Marketing sets the pins and sales knocks them down.

"Aside from call-tracking how can marketers measure online marketing campaigns if most actions or leads occur offline?"

Dustin Christensen - Jackson White Law

This is a common issue in service-driven industries or big-ticket/long-buying cycle items (automotive digital marketing, hiring a lawyer etc;). Encourage people to transact online with the first step. Dustin mentioned call-tracking which is a standard, but what if you offer an additional gift or benefit to individuals that schedule an appointment online vs. offline? If you are doing paid campaigns you can link to a booking page for immediate conversions. Try putting out a small playbook or podcast online that people can get if they sign up for something. Then, you have their name and can reach out directly.

"Where is the best place to allocate a limited digital marketing budget? Objectives are to maximize targeted impressions with the greatest CPM value. Our content marketing, social media and site optimization is good.

Brandon Esposito - Urban Darling

Congrats on taking things as far as you have Brandon. I would suggest Google Display or YouTube ads based on your current needs. Video ads are cheap (the average cost per view is around 0.20-0.30) and explain style extremely well. Leverage remarketing and interest targeting to get your videos seen by your segments. Don't get scared off by video's production costs. There are lots of things you can do to limit costs.

"What is your best suggestion for targeted, relevant and organic back-links that have a high PR rating for your website when you are Growth Hacking for a small business that has a limited marketing budget?

Michael Lazar - TrueShip Shipping Software

There are a couple of things that you can do Michael. First, list the sites you want links from - ideally websites your customers visit. The platforms TrueShip integrates with - Volusion, Shopify, Woocommerce etc all have big app markets that site owners visit and download add-ons from. Second, identify topics they share (ie; usually about online business development) and create similar content pieces. For example, how to reduce shipping costs and improve margins. Don't necessarily pitch your product, but pitch the problem that your product addresses. The reader will draw the appropriate conclusion. Third, go on LinkedIn, InMail the decision maker, show them your piece and how you promote their product. They'll probably share and, if not, just keep trying with different pieces until they do. The best way to get a person to link to you is to tell them how great you think they are.

"How can I keep on top of Google's Algorithm updates and compete against larger companies with the budgets to hire SEO firms? Would the investment in a marketing automation solution be worthwhile for a one-person business? Thanks again, I enjoy the column!"

Rick Bannerman - Plexkits

Rick, thanks for the compliment! Google's algorithm updates get whispered about online. Setup a Google alert for 'Google Algorithm' if you are very sensitive to this. Marketing automation works if you already have signup activity on your website. If not, then focus on how to get more people buying your templates or hitting the site before figuring out how you need to manage the activity. Consider publishing about efficiency in event management, conference project management and other topics that help your customers do their job's better.

Thanks everyone and we'll do this again soon! Questions welcome any time.

About The Author

Sajeel Qureshi is the VP of Operations at Computan, a digital marketing and software company. Computan serves as the digital department for numerous businesses throughout the globe ranging from start-ups to multinationals.

He has a degree in Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University and MBA from Eastern Illinois University. Sajeel plays tennis well enough to convince the untrained eye that he knows what he is doing and poor enough that the trained eye submits him to a drug test.