Utilizing Facebook for your Marketing Needs

do-you-have-facebookFacebook … it’s not just something our daughter uses to keep in touch with her friends.  For instance, she’s always praising its ability to send and receive up-to-the-minute status updates.  She recently got her first cell phone and within minutes of posting this on her Facebook account, she had at least six replies from her friends saying things like, “Wow!” “That’s so cool!” “Text me!” If she can use this platform to keep her friends apprised of her social life, you too can use it as a marketing tool to share your business’s story and vision with the world.

Consider these facts for why Facebook is a great marketing platform:

  • More than 400,000,000 people are active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook on any given day
  • More than 35 million users update their status each day
  • More than 60 million status updates are posted each day
  • More than 3 billion photos are uploaded to the site each month
  • More than 5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each week

These figures alone demonstrate that millions of people turn to Facebook on a daily basis to keep in touch with the world around them.

Another great thing about Facebook is that it’s free.  I hear many retailers say they are currently spending around $25,000 a month to advertise in the print, radio, TV and online media.  But with Facebook, you can display your business’s vision, values, service standards and procedures to your customers at no charge.  It even allows you to add your company logo, upload video and audio content, and even post blogs to your account.  These are the exact same marketing strategies you’re probably spending a lot to implement.  Therefore, it makes sense to compliment your current strategy with a free marketing tool.

Just because you have a Facebook page, people will not automatically visit it.  Make people aware of your page and draw them to it.  Begin by inserting your Facebook logo on all of your current ads, brochures, emails and even business cards.  You’ll quickly notice an increase in your online ‘friends.’ Take the opportunity to utilize Facebook’s many features – mailing list, sharing videos, importing blog posts, listing events, conducting polls, starting conversations – to share your business’s goals with your new online friends.

Facebook has helped facilitate growth and proven to be a key marketing tool for numerous businesses.  Because of this, I’m confident Facebook will allow your company to reach a broad demographic that traditional marketing may have missed.

This article was authored by David Lively, a contributor for publications such as Western Retailer and Furniture World, for Imagine Retailer.

SEO Strategy

Part 3 of 3

seo www

Beyond technology, here are three principles to remember when planning and executing an SEO campaign:

Flow

Remember, the reason you are trying to get your website to the top of the first page is because you want people to come to the site and look at your content, then buy what your selling. Don’t get so involved in SEO that you junk-up your site with links and keywords beyond the user’s ability to read the page. Balance your site design your site between bots and people. Don’t lose your users for the sale of search engines. Remember, bounce rate (the time your users spend on your site) is a part of SEO as well.

Patience is a virtue

SEO campaigns are not for instant gratification junkies. Give your site about three months to sink in. Check your analytics, watch to see how the site is doing and adjust accordingly. Keep your efforts simple; make a minimal amount of changes so that you can accurately see what works and what doesn’t.

Updates

Stay on top of things. Keep an eye on the search engine guidelines to ensure your SEO is always up to date. The last thing you want is for your long sought efforts to slowly wash down the drain as technology advances.

By applying different techniques used to achieve organic search results, you’ll find online marketing to be a cost-effective, simple solution to promoting your business and products.

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 2 defined a Glossary of Key SEO Terms. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

Glossary of Key SEO Terms

Part 2 of 3

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Understanding these key SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ideas and terms will help you make the best decisions for your search marketing strategy:

Title

Each page on your website is coded with a unique title that is different than the page name. Depending on your internet browser, check the name of the tab or the command bar to see if your site optimizes titles. The title should contain carefully chosen keywords, because this is the first thing search engine web crawlers, bots and spiders read (these are automated computer programs that methodically browse the web gathering information). Your titles should be no longer than 100 characters; however, Google will truncate the title if it is more than 60 characters including spaces.

  • Example: “Home Furnishings, Home Décor, Outdoor Furniture & Modern Furniture”
  • Example: “Bedroom Furniture, Dining Room Furniture, and more quality Home and Office Furniture”

Keywords

Keywords and phrases drive SEO campaigns and fuel your site’s success. Keywords are a tricky business though so take your time, research your keywords and make sure you select keywords that are in your niche. Often amateurs will not take much time in this area, simply plugging in obvious words. For example, suppose a small store called ABC Furniture automatically chooses the key phrase “furniture store.” They’ve unwittingly gone to head with major players who are throwing big bucks at the “furniture store” key phrase. While not impossible, it will be very difficult for ABC Furniture to outspend these players and reach the first page of the major search engine search results. Unique niche phrases can yield effective results and cost pennies by comparison.

  • Example: furniture store, sofas, dining room furniture, mattresses
  • Example: “pillow-top mattresses Oakland CA” or “leather rocker recliners Oakland CA”

Body text

The main content of your website should also contain keywords. The keywords should be used naturally to avoid being pegged as a “keyword spammer,” someone who uses the word “sofa” 48 times on your living room page in attempt move your site up in the rankings. This will get you booted from Google and other search engines, who carefully measure your “keyword density.” Too low, and you may not achieve optimum results. Too high, and you’re considered a spammer. Google will only tolerate a 2% keyword density; Yahoo and MSN are considerably higher at around 5%. Qualified web designers who use qualified and trained copywriters can help creatively optimize your keyword density, unlike hackers who jam nonsensical words into your body and footer.

  • Example: Central Oklahoma Furniture. ABC Furniture is a family company. Browse our selection of Central Oklahoma Furniture or visit our store to sample Central Oklahoma Furniture. You deserve Central Oklahoma Furniture form ABC Furniture!
  • Example: From San Antonio to Austin, ABC Furniture delivers beauty, quality, and value to your home.

Heading Tags – Each page on your website has a heading tag that should also contain your keywords. Ideally, the tag should be right up there at the beginning of the page, as close as possible to the top of the page.

  • Example: Living Room Furniture
  • Example: Directions to ABC Furniture

URL

Consider purchasing a domain name containing your keywords. If ABC Furniture sells solid wood furniture in Columbus, Ohio, they should consider columbussolidwoodfurniture.com. Search engines use the domain name as an SEO qualifier so keep that in mind when choosing your domain names. With a little savvy programming, keywords can also be incorporated into the URL of each page. If your keywords for a particular page are solid wood bedroom, the page name should be www.abcfurniture.com

Links

Make sure there are no broken links in your site. Search engine algorithms consider broken links as incomplete, so the overall rating of the site is affected. Restrain yourself from the traditional “click here” link. When web bots, crawlers and spiders come across a “click here” link, they will associate the destination page with the words “click here” instead of your valuable keywords. Instead, optimize your site’s searchability and usability with full-sentence links that use verbs to direct the user what to do.

  • Example: “Click here for a price quote.”
  • Example: “Explore your furniture design possibilities.

Inbound links

Links from other websites are supreme to the rating of your site. Inbound links are like personal referrals, so these links should be from sites that are of high quality. The higher the rating of the sites that link to yours, the higher search engines will rate you. Getting inbound links is the hardest part of SEO by far. You can pay for quantity, but quality is often compromised if you do so.

  • Example: www.popularlocalblog.com/abc-furniture-is-the-place-to-shop
  • Example: www.marketplacespammer.com/abc-furniture

Part 1 of this 3-part series explained why SEO is the new normal and how companies can budget for search engine optimization campaigns. Part 3 will outline an SEO Strategy. This article was published in its entirety in the March 2010 issue of Western Retailer magazine, a publication of the WHFA.

How To Make Your Website Stick

Room with a wall of tv screensConsumers have a lot to look at these days. We’re exposed to several thousand advertisements and websites each day, yet we remember very few of them – despite billions of dollars spent on advertising.

How can you do a better job than your competition at attracting your consumer’s attention?

  1. Be brief. Decide what to leave out. Be selective about what you say. Pick one point and stick to it, because that’s all the consumer will remember anyway.
  2. Be bold. Have you ever surfed the web while listening to music, or watched TV while eating dinner? On your usual drive home from work, you can easily chat with an old friend. But while driving on an unfamiliar street in a strange city, we need to stop talking and take in what’s going on around us. Your consumer may be multitasking, too , and is likely to ignore the expected. An unexpected element grabs attention.
  3. Be clear. The Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams, once said, “The price of clarity is the risk of offense.” Clarity leaves little room for vague impressions and enables your consumer to see your brand real. Posing and hype don’t hold up in today’s marketplace, yet many marketers fear telling the truth. Would you dare say who your brand is not for?
  4. Be sustainable. Once you’ve attracted attention, you must sustain it. Your marketing must grab the consumer and never let them go. Continue to make your website interesting, or consumers will go somewhere else.
  5. Be relevant. Make sure the attention-grabbers on your website and advertisements are relevant and don’t distract from the main point you want consumers to remember.

What do you want your customer to do? You want them to focus on your brand and your message. You want them to think of you first and best when they have a need for your particular product. You want them to remember why you’re different and how you’re better than your competitors.

Let us help you be attractive.

Old Advertising Formulas Aren’t Working

Old FormulasThe last time paid newspaper circulation in the United States was at its current level, a new house cost $4,600, a gallon of gas was 15 cents and the average annual wage was $2,400.  Clearly a lot has changed in the past sixty-four years.

Unfortunately, furniture marketing is stuck in this mid-20th century fantasy land. Print media is still the dominant media choice for family-owned and family-run furniture companies.

According to the 2009 ABTV industry watch report, the Top 25 sources experienced an average drop in sales of 10.4% last year. According to this same report, “Marketing holds the hope for revival.” This is a scary proposition, because as the report points out, “In furniture companies, of course, marketing has traditionally been weak.” It goes on to say, “Even dire circumstances have not induced furniture companies to try to learn from other consumer goods sectors” (page 15).

Marketing in today’s environment is confusing and difficult. Retailers and suppliers alike are trying to find enough consumer money to keep the lights on. Marketing professionals are paddling beyond control to learn and implement emerging media in a way that benefits their clients.

At the same time, even the studies are confusing and conflicting. While newspaper websites report that 43.6 of all U.S. internet users visit their sites, newspaper page views are less than one percent of total U.S. page views. In minutes, newspaper sites get the attention of the U.S. online audience just 1.2 percent of the time.

The conclusion of the ABTV report and my point are exactly the same: “The furniture industry needs to reject the old formulas that no longer get results, to replace the old dogmas that have lost their meaning, to refuse to settle for mediocrity, and to insist on world-class performance. It’s the only way to survive.”