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Marketing Tactics for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here and for small business owners this time of year can make-or-break when it comes to sales.

According to the National Retail Federation retail sales will climb 2.3% during the 2010 holiday season. How can you grab your share of those purchases?

More than ever before consumers will be researching products, comparing prices and purchasing online. According to the 2010 Consumer Shopping Habits Survey by ChannelAdvisor, 58% of consumers are “very likely” to purchase gifts online in 2010, while only 41% said they are very likely to buy at brick-and-mortar retail locations. That means even if you own a physical store, you also need to be selling / marketing online if you want to stay competitive.

What tactics should you expect this holiday season?

Email Spam

Heavily frowned upon by most professionals, this tactic is projected to rise by 15 to 20% according to Experian’s 2010 Holiday Marketer report. They will be trying to trick people into replying to emails with the following offers:

•Free shipping, rewards points, discounts or free gifts;
•Refer-a-friend e-mails that include a link;
•Reactivating inactive customers on your email list;
•A call to action with a time-limited offer or a countdown to shipping deadlines.

Reviews

With growing numbers of consumers going online to read other people’s reviews and ratings before they buy, online reviews on blog websites like Product Reviews Canada can be essential to small business success.

•Add your business to local search sites like Local.com and CitySearch, as well as shopping comparison sites.

•Monitor reviews of your product or service + respond quickly to bad reviews.

•Link to reviews from your website, or post them on your site.

Mobile

The % of consumers who make purchases with SmartPhones is still small (13% according to ChannelAdvisor) but it’s growing among people in the 18 - 34 bracket.

•Use location-based services like Gowalla, Foursquare, or Facebook Places;

•Offering limited-time discounts or special deals to mobile users only;

•Sending targeted e-mails or text messages to customers’ smartphones (spamming them is rude however!).

Timing

The busiest day for online retailing will be America's Thanksgiving Day; Boxing Day will come in second. More consumers have been shopping for deals earlier this year, and are still very price conscious so continuing sales after that actual date could pay off.

What happens when you Google google?

Recently (just as an experiment) I decided to go to Google images and Googled the word "google".

I got the following images, along with thousands of others. But theses ones struck me as interesting and thought provocative with respect to SEO and PageRank.





What it proves however is that many people out there want to learn more about Google PageRank and SEO, but they don't have a clue.

Here is the jist of it... PageRank is a measurement of 3 combined things: The quality of your website, the number of 3rd party links going to it, and how popular it is.

If a website is well-designed, content heavy and has a "fair chunk of links" going to it there should be no problem reaching a PageRank of 2 or 3 easily. Doing an even better job and you should be able to get to PageRank 4.

If your site is very popular you might be able to get to PageRanks 5 or 6. If you get to 7 or better then your success is practically guaranteed. ie. beatles.com is PageRank 7... and as you know, the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus".

No seriously, in terms of PageRank, jesus.com is only PageRank of 0 (it forwards to ufmcc.com). And that is just plain sad and pathetic. Jesus would be ashamed of ufmcc.com for co-opting his name like that.

More SEO advice, tips and observations to come!

When it comes to SEO... Think Local!

If your company is locally based (ie. Toronto real estate) then you need to be thinking locally when you advertise online. There is no point advertising on real estate websites that are overseas. Your goal should be to dominate the local market when it comes to SEO.

That means advertising on websites that are either about your product or service, or similar to it, that are locally oriented.

What you want is links to your website using keywords or combinations of keywords for that topic.

ie. Toronto real estate, Toronto homes, Toronto houses, Toronto homes for sale, Toronto houses for sale, and so on.

And on top of that you should be SPECIFIC. You want to advertise on websites about specific neighbourhoods that are close to your business. The names of neighbourhoods, streets, avenues, rivers, local parks, and anything in the region is a gold mine waiting to be exploited by you.

ie. If you're trying to sell a home in Rosedale Toronto, you need to be advertising on websites about Rosedale Toronto. Even better if its a website about Rosedale Toronto real estate, although that may be more difficult because it might be a competitor.

When you run out of websites that are local that you can advertise on your only option left is to increase the content on your website. In which case you have to remember that its the keywords and the quality of the content that will bring in the users.

Definition of SEM

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is advertising via Pay-Per-Click (ie. Google AdWords) by bidding on the top advertising slot for specific keywords.

SEM differs from SEO because you have to pay for every click you get. If you are in a hurry and want to get sales right away, Search Engine Marketing may be worth it... but it really depends on the market keywords you are fighting over.

ie. Lets say you are trying to sell real estate in Toronto. There are a lot of real estate agents out there doing the exact same thing. The bidding is going to be high, in the range of $2 to $10 per click, and there is no guarantee that people clicking will actually buy.

However, depending on the topic you are competing for, SEM can be worth it. If the price of bidding is quite low you can get lots of potential customers that way.

My recommendation is that people test SEM out for themselves or higher a SEO/SEM expert to do it for them. The advantage of hiring an expert to do it for you is that they can carefully pick the right keywords, the right bid range, do it on a budget and provide statistical analysis.

Its always cheaper to do it yourself, provided you have the technical know-how to do it properly and aren't overbidding.

HOT TIP #1: Set a maximum bid of 10 cents and don't limit yourself to Search Engines, but instead use the ENTIRE network of websites for those keywords.

HOT TIP #2: Don't forget mobile advertising, ESPECIALLY if you are advertising a place.

HOT TIP #3: If your business is a specific place (ie. a restaurant) remember to limit the location diameter to 50 km.

HOT TIP #4: You can also bid on specific websites. (Or go to that website and ask them directly for advertising rates.)

HOT TIP #5: The more specific you are, the cheaper it will be and the more likely you are to get a customer.

Definition of SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the process of making a website appear higher in search engine rankings. Ideally you want the top spot for specific keywords. ie. If your website is a Toronto hotel, restaurant and spa, then you want to focus on those keywords. That way its easier for people to find your website when searching for "Toronto hotel", "Toronto restaurant" or "Toronto spa".

Accomplishing this has three major factors:

#1. Your website should be Search Engine Friendly (SEF).

#2. Your website should have lots of appropriate content. The more content the better.

#3. You need to advertise your site using the appropriate keywords.

If you are higher in the rankings you get more visitors, more customers to your business and more profits.

SEO / Search Engine Optimization in Toronto

I've started this blog because its become evident that there are a lot of people out there who want to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but are unfortunately clueless.

I recently quit my job at an advertising agency, and although it wasn't my primary reason for quitting, the fact that my boss there was clueless about SEO was certainly a factor.

What was worse is that he didn't even want to LEARN the basics of SEO. He didn't care. He was an old dinosaur who would lie to clients about how the internet works because he frankly didn't understand it and didn't care.

Another factor was that he would promise clients the moon, and then complain when the SEO expert (me) couldn't deliver it automatically.

Therefore the first thing I want to stress is that SEO doesn't happen overnight. Its a slow, gradual process and it requires PATIENCE. It takes time to make a website popular.

One of the things he kept fussing about was how he wanted our websites to go viral. He was dreaming! Your website will not go viral unless your product/service and/or presentation is actually REALLY, REALLY GOOD. It doesn't matter how much you advertise your crappy website, if its crap its crap.

But you can fix that so at least your website is presentable. One of the things I will talk about on this site is SEF: Search Engine Friendly(iness). SEF website design can make a big difference in making your site popular, but its also a matter of presentation, aesthetics, user friendliness and "the FUN Factor".

These topics and many more are on the horizon. Please follow/bookmark this blog and come back for more SEO advice and tips in the future.
If you need SEO, SEM or SMO help in Toronto then you need to contact designSEO.ca
Get started by emailing contactus@designseo.ca.
Consultations are $30 per hour.