Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Improving the ranking of a website in search engine listings should be of paramount importance to any serious online business.

Search engines display different kinds of listings in the search engine results pages (SERPs), including: pay-per-click advertisements, paid inclusion listings, and organic search results. SEO is primarily concerned with advancing the goals of a web sites by improving the number and position of its organic search results for a wide variety of relevant keywords.

For competitive, high-volume search terms, the cost of pay per click advertising can be substantial. Ranking well in the organic search results can provide the same targeted traffic, potentially at a lower cost. Site owners may choose to optimize their sites for organic search, if the cost optimization is less than the cost of advertising, choice is yours.

Not all sites worked on in the past have had identical goals for search optimization. Some sites are seeking any and all traffic, and may be optimized to rank highly for common search phrase. A broad search optimization strategy can work for a site that has broad interest, such as a periodical, a directory, or site that displays advertising with a CPM revenue model.

In contrast, many with many businesses Itry to optimize their sites for large numbers of highly specific keywords that indicate readiness to buy. Overly broad search optimization can hinder marketing strategy by generating a large volume of low-quality inquiries that cost money to handle, yet result in little business. Focusing on desirable traffic generates better quality sales leads, allowing the sales force to close more business.

Basically good SEO strategies can increase the number of visitors, and the quality of visitors, where quality means visitors who complete the action the site intends (e.g. purchase, sign up, learn something).

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a method of promoting web businesses in which an affiliate is rewarded for every visitor, subscriber and/or customer provided through his efforts.

It is a modern variation of the practice of paying finder’s-fees for the introduction of new clients to a business. Compensation may be made based on a certain value for each visit (Pay per click), registrant (Pay per lead), or a commission for each customer or sale (Pay per Sale), or any combination.

The most attractive aspect of affiliate marketing, from the merchant’s viewpoint, is that with this pay for performance model, no payment is due to an affiliate until results are realized.

Some e-commerce sites run their own affiliate programs while other e-commerce vendors use third party services provided by intermediaries to track traffic or sales that are referred from affiliates. Some businesses owe much of their growth and success to this marketing technique, although research has shown in general the increase to be approximately 15-20% of online revenue.

As an advertisers you can offer multi-tier affiliate programs that distribute commission into a hierarchical referral network of sign-ups and sub-affiliates. In practical terms: publisher “A” signs up the affiliate program with an advertiser and gets rewarded for the agreed activity conducted by a referred visitor. If publisher “A” attracts other publishers (”B”, “C”, etc.) to sign up for the same affiliate program using her sign-up code all future activities by the joining publishers “B” and “C” will result in additional, lower commission for publisher “A”.

Snowballing, this system rewards a chain of hierarchical publishers who may or may not know of each others’ existence, yet generate income for the higher level signup. Most affiliate programs are simply one-tier.

If you are considering adding an affiliate strategy to your online sales channel you should research the different technological solutions available to you. Some types of affiliate management solutions include: standalone software, hosted services, shopping carts with affiliate features, and third party affiliate networks.

Email Marketing

Reinforcement of identity – Every email campaign is designed to meet this objective. Identity is not just a “look and feel” an email allows you to reinforce that with text and graphics.

Identity is also…

– the quality of service delivered
– the sense of value you create
– the benefits you provide your customers

Email marketing allows you to reinforce all these messages. Timely confirmation notices, special offers to your online customers, quick handling of email requests and responses, and conveniently delivered information are paramount ways to build an identity through email.

Growing customer loyalty – Unless an email program is aimed solely at new prospects, developing customer loyalty will be one of the main objective.

List Building – Opt-in email list operated by a third party opt-in email company and leveraging existing names to grow your customer base through viral marketing programs.

Convert prospects to customers – Excite them with something. Obvious examples include free shipping offers and percentage or ‘money-off’ discounts. Other examples might include gifts with purchase, bonus points, or special offers targeted to your consumers interests.

Cross-sell or up-sell to current clients, customers or registerd viewers – Maximizing the value of current customers can often be overlooked but they can be the most valuable sales prospects – and the most highly qualified leads.

Driven subscription renewals – Email is a low-cost method to deliver subscription renewal notices. A URL in the message linking subscribers to a pre-populated Web form delivers an additional measure of convenience and service.

Above all: All emails built will educate and inform your prospects and customers – There does not have to be an obvious commercial objective to every communication sent. In fact, by providing useful information you will probably meet some of your other objectives such as customer loyalty and possibly even build your list through word-of-mouth. Consumers may be more likely to “stay tuned” to messages if they are not always exclusively promotional.