Archive for 2013

Make Your Website SEO Friendly!

Your website is the equivalent of a physical storefront. If visitors can’t find it through the search engines, they are not going to translate into sales for your business. This is why it is so important to have a website that is SEO-friendly. This will increase your search engine rankings and help you drive more traffic to your site.

Crawlable Link Structure

The search engine spiders are constantly looking at new webpages to determine how to rank them. However, it is also important for the spiders to find more than one page on your website. This means you need to make sure your website is structured in a way where the links create a natural flow for the spiders to follow. This will increase your search rankings.

Proper Keyword Usage

This can be one of the most difficult aspects for many web designers. When they are creating content for a website, they may think the more often they use a keyword, the better the site will rank. Today, search engines look at quality, as well as which keywords are used. In addition, the search engine spiders work hard to identify websites that overuse keywords. There is a delicate balance in the number of times these words should be used to attract the attention of the search engines.

Tags

Tags are extremely important to the success of your website on the search engines. For instance, you title tags should run about 65 to 75 characters long and include the keyword near the front of the tag. Meta tags should also be used to increase your rankings on the search engines. These tags should also include the keyword and provide a good description of what the page is about.

When you make use of these important SEO elements, you will increase the rankings of your page. when your site ranks better on the search engines, you will generate more traffic, which in turn will equal more sales for your business. This will help you build a productive business online.

[Source: http://ilnk.me/15592]

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Establishing a Successful Direct Mail Campaign

Although they are often overlooked, direct mail campaigns are one of the most effective means of promoting your business. In order for it to be successful, however, there are a few key elements you should incorporate into the campaign.

Research your target area. Choosing the right target area for your mailing is critical. Make sure the recipients are ones most likely to benefit from your products or services. For example, a roofing and siding company would not benefit by targeting newly built homes.

Create a mailer that stands out. Whether it’s a post-card, flyer, brochure or letter, your mailer needs to be eye-catching and attract the reader’s attention immediately. Grabbing the recipients’ attention will be the difference between having your mailer be read or tossed into the trash without a second glance. Use bright and bold colors, easy to read text and an opening sentence that makes them want to read more.

Make an offer. The point of a direct mail campaign is to attract business. Give the customers a reason to want to do business with you. For example, a service based company can give a discount offer on services performed, a product based company can offer a free item.

Provide company information. This is key! Customers can’t contact you if they don’t have your contact information. Be sure to supply a range of methods including your business location, phone number, website and social media platforms. Consider placing a QR code on your mailer if it fits with your target audience.

Send multiple mailings. Sometimes, your first mailer is cast aside. Maybe even the second. It often takes several mailers to obtain a response.

Track your results. Develop a way to track the results of your direct marketing campaign so that you can measure its effectiveness. This information can be used to improve future direct marketing campaigns.

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Thinking ease of use

Maybe it’s just me but there is one thing about our Disney experience that I found disconcerting … and that was the park maps. They were bright, artistic, enticing, and well-labeled but I couldn’t use them the way I expected, and therein lies the problem.

Disney did not accurately anticipate how I, the guest, wanted to view the maps. So I found myself constantly having to rotate the map to see the route as I was seeing it and then back again to read the descriptions.

Most maps are designed for compass directions. But when we are on foot in the park we think in terms of left, right, straight ahead or perhaps “at 11 o’clock” rather than east, west, etc.  We expect the entrance (or start) to be at the bottom and the farthest point at the top just as we would be seeing it spread out in front of us as we stand at the entrance. Then all the descriptions should face the start so they will be easy to read with no awkward turning of the map and we can easily find our way to all of the attractions.

… I wonder if Disney tested the maps out before they put them out for use. Just a thought … it’s always a good idea.

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Five Disney-inspired resolutions for 2014

Looking back again on our Disney holiday I wanted to distill what I had seen into a few ideas that any company could use as guidelines for a successful new year. Here they are:

  • Focus on your customers. Identify their problems and find ways to solve them. Make them feel special. For example, Disney takes the “work” out of purchasing, paying, and carrying purchases. What can you do to make your customers’ experiences easier and more enjoyable?
  • Think information as well as sales. Educating in a fun way will give people the desire to return. Is your website a resource for your customers? Should you provide new or improved instructions or product literature?
  • Be prepared to change with the times. Disney constantly adds current themes to entice new generations to visit and share their experience with their families. How can you attract new customers … or encourage current customers to try new products or services?
  • Look for and accept new ideas. Socially popular programs for recycling and conservation are evident throughout the Disney parks. Disney sends recycled paper from brochures and maps to Uganda, Africa for African women to make paper beads that are sold in the park. These women are then able to feed their families. This is a great way for Disney to give back to those less fortunate. How can you support programs that your customers support? How can you involve your customers as a partnership effort?
  • Develop a strong, identifiable image and then carry it through all marketing projects. Every Disney park has its own distinctive theme that assists visitors in navigating their vacation. You can do the same for your company. Think all marketing projects: literature and packaging ­­– signage ­­– staff, vehicle, building appearance – holiday messages – and more.

Now is a great time to identify some goals to implement in 2014.

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Put your best face forward

Disney is all about people.  Disney staff (thousands of them) are extraordinarily courteous and focused on making guests feel special. It is customer service at its best.

Clearly it pays to take the time to properly train your staff … and then to retrain or refresh them constantly. Disney maintains regular contact with staff through electronic and print media so that everyone is always “on board” with company practices and policies. It is also good for morale.

Taking advantage of staff expertise, the employees at Epcot – World Showcase – are from the countries represented. This is a great opportunity for young foreigners to have Disney training while bringing the world to the park’s guest.

Disney also has internship programs that provide a steady flow of enthusiastic people with bright new ideas in return for the Disney training and experience. Internships are a good way for even small business to cost-effectively “trade” fresh ideas and perhaps technological know-how for solid resumé experience.

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Market for effect

Disney World is truly a magical place with a dynamic marketing engine!  I commented in an earlier blog that Disney pays attention to everything, and they do. We can all take a lesson from this attention to detail. Some examples:

  • Park layouts are designed with marketing in mind. Rides end and visitors exit into themed gift shops. This is great marketing to Disney’s youngest guests along with their parents and especially the grandparents who can’t say no to those sweet little faces. Dan and I were glad we gave our girls their own gift cards to spend any way they wanted.
  • Signage is clear, bright, and themed throughout the parks. This assists guests on the journey through the adventure of Disney.
  • Having the park decorated for the holidays put guests in the spirit and allowed the marketing staff to present merchandise in engaging ways.
  • Literature is available in multiple languages and multi-lingual staff are available to ensure that visitors from all over the world can indulge in the Disney experience.
  • And, of course, there is a great website tying it all together and enticing guests into the Disney experience.

I do not suggest that we all redesign our premises or decorate for the holidays, but I mention these examples to show the breadth of concerns for the Disney marketing staff. No aspect is “off-limits” when it comes to the company’s image … a good lesson for us all.

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Customers First

My family and I have just come from a wonderful Thanksgiving week at Disney World. We all enjoyed the shows, rides, and the variety of the Disney experience. But I was also fascinated by the marketing strategies I could see everywhere. It is little wonder that Disney is such a success; they pay attention to everything!

I came back so inspired that I decided to share my observations over a series of blogs … starting with the fact that Disney never loses sight of their target market. They are clearly focused on making customers feel special by giving them the best experience possible … and then improving on that.  For example:

  •  Innovative problem-solving: Disney’s Flash Pass is a neat new concept designed to cut down on the wait time for the busiest attractions by allowing guests to come back during a specific time frame. What can you do to make your customer’s experience easier and more pleasant?
  •  Rewarding customer loyalty: On busy holiday days Flash Pass option is available only to Disney Resort guests … Disney’s way of taking care of their best customers. How can you make your best customers feel special?
  • Making the experience easy: Resort guests also take advantage of charging purchases, merchandise and food to their room, as well as the option of having purchases delivered direct to the room so that you do not have to carry them or remember all that you purchased. What can you do to anticipate customer needs and simplify delivery and record keeping?
  •  Providing something for everyone … from the Safari of Africa in Animal Kingdom, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom, a live performance of Beauty and the Beast in Hollywood Studios, to the Chinese acrobats in Epcot’s World Showcase. Literature in the parks is available in many languages to reflect the diverse park audience. Are you finding ways to appeal to your own wide potential audience?

Disney is constantly striving to improve their guests experience and we too should look to do the same in our businesses.

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Incorporate Marketing into Your Printed Materials

Social media marketing is one of the hottest marketing trends. There is a huge amount of people using social and nearly every company has a marketing scheme designed to conquer different social media platforms. With the shift towards social that does not however mean that traditional print marketing should be abandoned altogether. Rather than ignoring print marketing it is now important for marketers to adopt a system that incorporates social media marketing into print. Making sure branding of social platforms and tags are all made available through print is a must as the social world progresses and people start looking for new ways to advertise themselves.

Combining both forms of advertising is a must as print media previously was self-reliant. Social can be self-reliant but it is more beneficial for a company to allow both users of social and non-social to know about each other. The goal is to market the company or brand and incorporating social branding into a print campaign can save a great deal of money and increase an ROI altogether. Incorporating marketing into your printed materials is a fantastic way in which to establish new customers by tapping into the vast potential of people who didn’t previously know about your company and its functions.

Print marketing still reaches a huge amount of people. People like to hold and possess physical objects and always will. By providing a physical printed sheet full of your company’s information, you can easily reach a new potential number of customers that previously seemed out of your grasp. Utilizing print marketing is a must to go beyond the traditional set barriers of marketing and merge the old and modern world together for huge results that are beneficial towards a companies growth and help to maintain sales and influence within a market in an industry.

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5 Tips for a Successful eNewsletter

There’s no doubt eNewsletters are highly effective ways to market goods and services to both existing and prospective clients. But how do you create a successful newsletter that customers will read and respond to?

Here are some tips to consider.

1. Write an effective subject line.

The first thing the reader sees is the subject line. Make sure it’s enticing and lures the reader into your content. Otherwise, the piece get sent straight to the trash folder.

2. Use the masthead appropriately.

Make sure your masthead includes your logo (linked to your site, of course) as well as a catchy name for the newsletter. The masthead shouldn’t take up too much space either. You want your content to be prominent and not “below the fold.”

3. Include a table of contents.

The average reader will spend less than a minute deciding if he or she will read your content. Make certain you’ve given them a clear picture of what’s in store if they investigate further. Oftentimes, a reader will use the table of contents to select the content the want to read instead of reading what you’ve placed at the top. The result? More clicks for your site.

4. Avoid sales speak.

Newsletters are supposed to contain just that – news. Readers don’t want a blatant sales pitch. Include facts, figures, photos, infographics, statistics, how-tos, tips and other helpful content that a reader can actually use. Sales pitches should be made in separate emails.

5. Highlight clients.

Incorporate testimonials and client spotlights so readers know your business is a quality outlet. Plus, by highlighting a client in your newsletter, you’ve secured your relationship even further.

Use these tips to create an effective eNewsletter for your customers and prospects. You’ll enjoy greater client engagement and increased sales thanks to a little forethought.

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Best Practices for Successful Facebook Marketing

Facebook has become one of the most dynamic and profitable advertising venues in the history of advertising. In just the third quarter of 2013, Facebook earned over $2 billion in revenue thanks to its successful advertising model. There is a reason why Facebook has been able to generate so much revenue: advertisers on Facebook have access to a large and captive audience that can be narrowly targeted based on income, interests, location, etc. for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.

However, not everyone that advertises on Facebook is getting their money’s worth. There are certain tactics and strategies that can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your advertising dollar. The following are some best practices everyone should adhere to:

Write simple and straightforward copy: The content of your ad should be simple and easy to understand. People on Facebook aren’t looking to read a long treatise, especially when it is an ad, so make sure your message is clear, specific, and simple.

Include a call to action: This advertising technique has been used for decades, and it remains true today. Every ad should directly ask the viewer to act. Whether this is visiting a website, taking advantage of a limited time offer, or anything else, make sure everyone that sees your ad and is interested in it knows what the next step is.

Narrowly target your advertisement: Facebook offers an advertising experience that traditional outlets like TV and radio simply cannot. With Facebook ads, you can drill down to a very specific audience. This means that an 19 year old single boy will not receive an ad for a retirement home.

Track the data: Facebook offers a suite of tools to track how each specific ad is doing. Use these tools to divert advertising funds away from campaigns that are not working and towards campaigns that are.

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