Internet Marketing Tools Collection by TrafficMotion

This list is an ongoing work in progress. The goal is to provide a useful and broad list of internet marketing links. It will range from web analytics, to search engine optimization, social media, paid online advertising, conversion optimization, affiliate and email marketing, and more.

Online Marketing Tools from TrafficMotion

Stay tuned for weekly, if not daily, updates to this list of internet marketing tools.

Web Analytics

Competitive Intellligence

Call Tracking

Search Engine Optimization

Local SEO

Social Media

Paid Online Advertising

Keyword Research

Email Marketing

Conversion Optimization

Miscellaneous Tools

Assessing Internet Marketing Plan Resources

Assessing what types of resources you already have for your website marketing plan is a crucial part of the planning stage. If you already know what you want to accomplish with a campaign or fully integrated plan, and you have a goal for how the revenue should flow into your site, the next step is either utilizing resources you already own, or developing ones that fit into the plan but which you have not used in the past.

Marketing Plan Maze
Fit your resources to your plan, not the other way around.

The primary goal for any online marketing plan is making your company money. While social shares and new followers are a great way to measure engagement with your website, they are considered micro-conversions. Getting more leads, subscriptions, or ecommerce sales (all activities which are designed to increase revenue flows) are the macro-conversions and should be kept in mind at all times of resource assessment. Just because you have a tool or account doesn’t mean that it will fit the advertising goals.

There are five main types of resources that you should assess, according to Lynda.com’s Matt Bailey, who created the “Building an Integrated Online Marketing Plan” course. Let’s look at his five resource categories in more depth.

The first is time. Using any kind of social media in your plan will require time to keep on top of the conversation and monitor what is going on. Also, you will have to do follow-ups on all of your marketing, from choosing tools to execute to those which will help you measure the results. Sales cycles and information cycles will also take time, and can be highly dependent on the type of marketing you are doing, the channels you decide on, and the industry you are in. Finally, dedicate enough time to interacting with customers, some of whom may require immediate support and action to turn into sales.

Second, let’s look at the resource of money. How big is your budget, and should you consider outsourcing some of any of your online marketing? There are numerous agencies that handle parts or all of the process. Just remember to dedicate the time to measure and assess whether your outsourcing has had a positive ROI. If you are doing marketing in-house, calculate the salary and time you are willing to dedicate to the plan, as well as the cost of any tools or advertising itself.

Third, people are an essential resource for any marketing plan. What type of skills do you have available with either your in-house staff or your agency? Can they do mobile app development, or handle all of your pay per click needs? Or will you need to hire or contract someone new to achieve the goals you have set?

Fourth, consider the technological resources your company has access to. You may not be able to put a satellite into space to broadcast your marketing message, but you may be able to create products, graphics, audio/visual assets, or an application that you can utilize in the marketing plan. A lot of this also has to do with whether or not the people you have available can take full advantage of the technology, so plan for both.

Finally, the information resource a company has access to are usually not assessed, but ignoring them would be a huge mistake. What content do you already have on your website? Can you repurpose a blog entry or article into a video? Can you take a testimonial and make a full case study out of it? There are often easy ways to take your existing information and turn it into new content by utilizing it in a different channel.

The bottom line for resource assessment is determining what you already have access to, developing what you need, optimizing it all for your goals, and then executing and measuring the results. A few initial questions to ask at that point are what channel has the best return for your business, and which one is the most profitable? Then, it’s back to the drawing board to reassess, plan, and optimize.

What’s Working in the Real World of Internet Marketing?

What are other people doing out there? That’s one of the most fascinating questions that an internet marketer can ask, and provides the perfect opportunity for both introspection and gathering competitive intelligence. Over the past 5-6 weeks, I’ve spoken with a handful of companies that do internet marketing in one form or another, and gone into detail on their online advertising strategies.

Internet Marketing StrategiesOne company I spoke with stated that they have the best success with exact match domain names. No surprise there, as Google has claimed for years that domain match keywords are not important, but exact match domains with even a modicum of content on them appear at the top of search results. It’s not a guarantee to show up in the first or second position with an exact match domain, but a site with a handful of pages of relevant content on it seems to go a long way to outranking even the Wikipedias of the internet world.

Their strategy was to purchase an exact match domain, write 4-6 pages of content on it, and then go onto the next site, sticking to one particular niche market in the financial services sector. They had just a handful of high-paying clients and primarily used this tactic, with some pay per click sprinkled in when they had a particularly competitive local market.

Another company I spoke with was an internet marketing agency themselves, focusing primarily on social media. It was a fun couple of conversations, and they stated they get most of their business through referrals and pay per click. They also do an extraordinary amount of remarketing to anyone who comes to their website, which I discovered after checking out their site a couple of times. I was dealing with Google Display Network remarketing for a month afterwards.

Remarketing is one of my favorite tactics for keeping your brand in front of people. Depending on how far they get in your buying funnel, you can send them different messages. If they just saw the site, give them one ad. If they added a product to the cart but never checked out, send them a strong message. The brilliance of this tactic can be offset by showing your ad to them too much, so remember those frequency settings!

Another company that I spoke with was doing mainly pay per click, while another had spent years doing television and radio advertising, and had hardly any pay per click or search engine optimization strategy. This one was especially surprising as it was a huge name brand but had done no SEO over the years. In fact, it had fewer links than a website we worked on part time for the space of two years and helped optimize for numerous keywords.

The one thing that all of these companies had in common was a dedication to in-house internet marketing. While a few were using outside agencies for some of their pay per click campaigns, and one was an agency with several dozen clients already, they all had or were developing a dedicated internet marketer department.

It’s interesting to see what people are doing out there in the field, because the ones still in business have hit upon strategies that are working, at least for now. PPC is still a huge portion of internet marketing, which won’t change anytime soon. Social media is growing in importance for businesses. And exact match domains with a little bit of content are the latest under-the-Google-rader tactic, which is both surprising and not surprising at all.

Marketing and Internet Users’ Memory Capacity

I just started reading the book Affect Imagery Consciousness, by Silvan S. Tomkins, potentially the best face reader in human history. In just the first few pages, the book proves to be profound and, most important for marketers, actionable. One of his students, Paul Ekman, has written several books on face reading that have become some of the more popular and accessible in the field. I’ve browsed through those books, but have not yet read Ekman’s.

Memory and MarketingLet’s look at some choice quotes from the book, and how they mirror what we try to do in search engine marketing and conversion optimization.

This complex patterning of material we are defining as the informational aspect of the duplication transformation.

One of the most important parts of internet marketing is competing for the transfer of information in users’ brains. There are billions of webpages they could be browsing, and potentially hundreds they will want to remember for the short or long term. More than trying to just make a sale, we want to make an impression, and ideally cater that message to the users’ positions in the buying cycle.

Once the particular conventions [of language] are established, however, the use of language becomes more representational and less arbitrary.

This is a lesson I first picked up from Brad Geddes’ book Advanced Google AdWords, and is important to search engine marketing. Users do not type in the exact questions they have in their minds and for which they are seeking an answer. Instead, they tend to think in concepts, translate those concepts into words, more general or more specific as the case may be, and then hit the search button. Language is the tool they use to seek answers to questions they have about the experiences in their environment.

Transmitted messages are here further transformed by an as yet unknown process we will call transmuting, which changes an unconscious message into a report.

Again, another lesson for getting your search engine or display network or social media ads in front of users. In a split second or a few seconds at most, users will see your ad and already generate a “report” in their minds based on the look and feel of the ad. Is it poorly done? Have they seen it a hundred times before? Is there a misspelling? Is it a well-constructed ad with direct relevance to their situation? In some cases, we get the click and can continue helping the user transmute our messages into the report we want to give them. In other cases, they just click away or ignore our ads entirely as irrelevant or badly done.

There is, further, a rough match between the type, amount and rate of information which is received and the type, amount and rate of information which can be acted on.

Ever wonder, with billboards so huge, they often have very little actual text on them? On billboards, the rate of information is extremely fast due to the amount of information drivers are receiving and have to act on. There’s simply not enough time to read more than a few words, so the message has to be boiled down to an image and a couple short sentences, at most.

On the internet, while people are less mobile physically, the speed at which they can click, browse, hit the back button, click again, and so on makes it even more important to have a concise message to send. People can click on your ad and, in 2-3 seconds, determine if the landing page is relevant to them or not, and go right back to what they were doing before clicking on your ad. Same with your position on the search engines. Just because you’ll get more traffic doesn’t mean people will take the time to process it.

Not all the information which bombards the senses is permanently recorded. Rather, we think, it is that information which in the competition for consciousness has succeeded in being transmuted that is more permanently duplicated.

This is the last quote for today, but I saved the best for last. In the competition for impressions, clicks, and conversions, our messages have to be the best out of all the competition. Don’t be another “LCD TVs: Low prices on LCD TVs” type of ad that all your competitors are also running. Don’t use dynamic keyword insertion all the time if it turns a standout headline into a generic one. Use a landing page where the call to action is clear and stands out from the competition.

In branding campaigns, this concept is even more essential. With brand awareness marketing, we want people to get a strong impression of us, and be able to remember our website or name and be able to search for us again.

UPDATE: Here are some more passages from Chapter 1, which I just up and decided to finish last night before falling asleep.

[T]he human being as we conceive him as purposes, intends to achieve these purposes and does achieve them through the feedback principle. His purpose we think is primarily a conscious purpose — a centrally emitted blueprint which we shall call the Image.

This reminds me quite of bit of von Mises’ axiom of human action. Not being an economist or expert on Ludwig von Mises’ particular philosophy, I can’t comment much on this. But it seems as if Tomkins is saying essentially the same thing: humans act, they act purposefully to achieve their ends.

A sign need bear no resemblance to what it signifies, so long as it does stand in an invariant spatial or temporal relationship of some kind of the significate.

This is Tomkins’ restatement of the lessons learned from Pavlov’s dogs. The bell ringing doesn’t need to represent food in any way, but as long as it is close enough in space and time to the event of receiving food, it can come to signify food. In the same way, marketing attempts to associate feelings of fulfillment, happiness, and satisfaction with products and services that companies offer. Just take a look at the common 60-second advertisements for pharmaceutical drugs, which overwhelm 45 seconds of warnings of side effects with 15 seconds of positive messages and 60 seconds of images of people being happy.

[In discussing the affective system] The price that is paid for this flexibility is ambiguity and error. The individual may or may not corretly identify the “cause” of his fear or joy and may or may not learn to reduce his fear or maintain or recapture his joy.

Tomkins is going into deep psycohistory of the individual experience here. Why do people associate good feelings with certain advertising messages or products? They may be able to tell us, but they may be completely wrong about the reasons given. Why are some people depressed or have trouble relating to others? There may be a reason buried so far back in their past that they can no longer associate their current feelings with their coping mechanisms as children, for example.

[W]here a way of life puts a premium on early dispersal of the young, maternal care and the social responsiveness of the infant to this care are minimal and are replaced by individualism and competition.

One of the great debates I have with myself is whether our society is getting more collectivized or individualized. Nationalism, patriotism, xenophobia, racism, and other tribalisms are still widely supported, yet all I hear on the radio is how isolated and competitive our society is becoming. I tend to agree with Stefan Molyneux that we live in a matriarchy of single mothers and fatherless children, where a handful of men in the White House and on bank boards rule the rest of us peasants who are in turned brought up primarily by women. Is this a reflection of the dispersal of the young, with decreasing maternal care and social responsiveness to children?

This is an extremely long book in four volumes, but it’s compulsively readable. I’ll post more choice quotes from it in the coming days, weeks, and months as I get through it. In the meantime, I’ll also be updating this blog as usual.

[As an aside, I’d also like to extend an invitation to anyone who wants to contribute a guest blog on any aspect of internet marketing. We’re always looking for great content to promote!]

Effective Calls to Action that Convert

On a well-designed landing page, perhaps the most important element is the Call to Action (CTA). Even if every other element on the page is done well, a poorly designed CTA may confuse potential customers as to the next step to become a client. If it is unclear what the site wants from its clients, then it becomes more likely they will hit the Back button rather than stick around on the site.

conversion optimization blog iconFor all practical purposes, there are a handful of different CTAs that most websites use to get visitors to the next step of the buying cycle. These are buttons, forms, and hyperlinks. We’ll take a look at each one of these in slightly more depth, but each one can be an effective Call to Action, depending on the goal of the website, whether it be to get a sale, get information, or provide momentum.

Buttons

When designing a button for visitors to click on to purchase something, it is useful to test different wordings, shapes, sizes, and styles. An image can be used as an icon on either end of the button, and buttons with nonstandard designs can convert better than a simple circle or rounded rectangle. The legibility of the button should be high, so stay away from strange fonts, and give the button a prominent location on the page.

Forms

With forms, the key is the size of the form and how many fields are required to submit it. Longer forms convert less than shorter forms. Labels should be used to explain the form in clear terms, but form legends can also use benefits language to reinforce the marketing message. The form should also be prominent on the page if that is the purpose. Sites can also structure some confidence building elements around the form to increase conversion rates.

One thing that should be noted about both buttons and forms is never to use the word “Submit” on your page. This is for two main reasons. First of all, your visitors do not want to submit to you or your company, so avoid using this language. Second, take the opportunity to provide more beneficial language about your product: “get your free download now” reminds visitors why they are on your site to begin with.

Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks may not seem like a standard Call to Action, but they are important for some types of purchases. Items with a high price may be able to increase conversions by including some links to “customize your product,” building momentum towards a final purchase. This building of momentum is the best reason to use hyperlinks as a CTA, rather than a purchase button or contact form.

Buttons, forms, and links are the backbone of any well-converting webpage, and should be designed with the intent to make them easy to access and follow. There are a number of ways to style these page elements, so make sure that they match the look and feel of your website, while also being prominent enough to draw attention to themselves.

Five Dimensions of Landing Page Design

When putting together the nine elements of a landing page, which we discussed in a previous article, there are another five dimensions that go into the design. These concepts should be taken into consideration for any landing page that is designed to convert visitors to sales, but are more philosophical in nature than the elements that must be included.

conversion optimization blog iconThe first dimension is relevance. Everything important on the page should be relevant to the search query that the user typed in, as well as the ad copy that brought them to the website. Irrelevant information may cause visitors to ignore sections of your page or website, or simply assume that your site’s purpose is not to solve their problems but to promote something else.

Second, the quality of the page must be taken into account. Use high quality images, a professionally produced video, and attention-grabbing text decorations. The landing page should have enough going on to draw attention to various aspects of itself without becoming too busy. Quality can also take into account aspects such as page load times and scripts running that may slow the page down.

Third, the location of the nine elements on the page is important. While some elements will usually appear in the same place across multiple websites, such as the logo on top and template elements at the bottom, designers and marketers should play around with the location of other elements on their pages. Structuring these elements on the page is hugely important for conversions.

Closely related to location is proximity, the fourth dimension of landing page design. Should the Call to Action be closer to the testimonials or to the logo? Where should the offer be placed relative to the presentational elements? Prioritize the elements and arrange them on the page in the location that makes the most sense and draws visitors’ eyes to the next step in the buying cycle.

Finally, prominence should be taken into account in creating a landing page. Obviously, the header and logo may be prominent just because of their location on the page, but focusing on other elements more than others can bring them out. If the company has a large community of satisfied customers, making confidence building elements more prominent may make sense, for example.

Taking these five dimensions of landing page design into account when attempting to turn a simple page into a conversion machine can help focus a marketer’s efforts. In our next article on conversion optimization, we’ll take a look at a few particular sections of a landing page, including buttons, forms, hyperlinks, and other Calls to Action.

Nine Elements Necessary for Any Landing Page

In our last article on optimizing conversions, we looked at nine elements that need to be included on any sales page. When creating a new landing page (or changing an existing page into a landing page), whether it be for Pay Per Click or social media marketing, you should run down a checklist of these elements so that you can cover all of your bases.

conversion optimization blog iconCompany Logo

This one should go without saying, but you need to put your company’s logo on your page. This is usually up in the header section of the website anyway, but if you are using templates that generate a sales page, for instance, remember to include your company’s logo. Especially because this may be visitor’s first impression of your site, you want them to know who they are dealing with.

Headline

Every good sales copy needs a headline, and online sales pages are no different. In a PPC campaign, the landing page should have some echo of the ad copy that brought in the visitor to begin with. It doesn’t have to be a long headline, but it should introduce the product or service that is being advertised.

Product or Service Offer

Potential customers need to know what a website is selling or offering to know if it will even begin to meet their needs or not. This is the section of the page where you showcase your product’s unique property – what they should buy and why. This message can be conveyed in a small image or subtitle of the heading, in many cases.

Description

This is another fairly obvious element that needs to show up somewhere on a sales page. Visitors need to know the relevant information about your product in order to determine if they can use it or not. This is also an opportunity to describe the product’s features and benefits and begin selling more directly to the potential customer.

Presentation

This is largely an image-based element that should be on your page, but larger colored text can also work. Show why the product or service will meet their needs by demonstrating how it currently works in some fashion. Even a picture of a plumber fixing a pipe, or people moving into a new home can be effective for presenting your product in a particular light.

Call to Action

Even if the visitor comes to your page through an ad, and they are enticed by all of your other elements, you need to give them some action to take to reach the next step in the buying process. This may involve signing up for a free newsletter, watching a video, filling out a contact form, or making a phone call. Do not leave out this important element, or your webpage’s purpose will be unclear.

Trust Building

Do you have testimonials or reviews from former clients? Are you certified as an expert on some subject relevant to the site? If so, display a few of these elements here. This is a way to build trust with potential clients, and show them that you are engaged in a larger way within your industry and with your past customers.

More Information Link

You should include some way for customers who are interested but not quite ready to buy to get more information. Landing pages designed just for PPC or social media marketing can be heavy on promotion but light on information. Thus, sending a visitor to a section of the website that gives them more details related to their original search can help them become more familiar with and comfortable using your company.

Template Elements

A landing page designed to make a sale should still have some navigational elements that point back to other pages on the site. Search engines do not particularly like dead end pages that are designed either to make a sale or force clicking the Back button. Including some nominal amount of navigation will help with search engines and with conversions.

So those are the nine elements that need to be included on any landing page. Leaving even one of them out can dramatically decrease conversions, while arranging each element on a page can either boost or reduce sales. Look at your sales pages, determine which, if any, elements are currently missing, and play around with the structure of those pages to emphasize one element more than another. Then, begin testing!

You Have a Conversion Problem, Not a Traffic Problem

Most websites do not have a problem with traffic, and that’s no surprise. It is relatively cheap and easy to get traffic to a website, with even a small budget for Pay Per Click advertising. Other traffic can come through a company’s official Facebook page, Twitter feed, or through search engine visitors. The problem that websites have is getting those visitors to convert into sales.

conversion optimization blog iconThe problem is that, on average, only 2-3% of all visitors will convert, no matter where they come from. Companies may spend over $90 to bring a visitor to their website, but only $1 to make them convert. There is obviously a disconnect there, as businesses have a lot of growth potential for turning their Pay Per Click advertising campaign into a conversion machine.

There are nine different elements that should be included on any landing page, but these elements especially need to be there in a PPC campaign where visitors are directed to a particular destination URL. We’ll look at all of these factors in more depth in a future article, but a list of these nine elements is here:

  1. Company Logo
  2. Headline
  3. Product/Service Offer
  4. Description
  5. Presentation
  6. Call to Action
  7. Trust Building
  8. More Information
  9. Template Navigation

Focusing on these elements and their arrangement on an individual webpage is a great starting point in optimizing a website for better conversions. There are also five dimensions of landing page design that need to be accounted for: relevance, quality, location, proximity, and prominence. We will look at all of these dimensions in more detail in a future article, as well.

The bottom line of this short introduction to conversion optimization is that you need to begin putting some resources into testing different types of landing pages. Even small variations can lead to vastly different sales figures. If you have done a lot of work on testing PPC ad copy, headlines, destination URLs, and other factors, it may be time to shift some money into testing different variations of your landing pages.

This article will serve as the basis for more in-depth articles on optimizing conversions through Pay Per Click, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and other forms of online advertising. But for now, just begin thinking of ways that you can shift around some of those nine landing page elements to make them stand out a little differently.