Online marketing blog

Online marketing blog – about SEO, Website Design, Graphic Design, and Inbound Marketing

Tony's focus is on developing leads for client’s with online inbound marketing strategies -- visual and written content creation, social media, and blogging. Tony is an active writer for the DeCarlo Studios Internet Marketing Blog, he’s an accomplished, web designer, illustrator and visual communications instructor.  


Tony has 23 years of experience creating marketing communications for Metro D.C. clients including the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Treasury Department, Exxon-Mobil, Time-Life Music and Books, Compaq Computer, The Washington Redskins, National Wildlife Federation, Amtrak, Arnold Worldwide, Inc., World Wildlife Fund, Fairfax County Government, and the U.S. Postal Service.


Tony’s work has been published in Parade magazine, Fortune magazine, Time Life Books, Air and Space Smithsonian magazine, Time Life Music, and Good Housekeeping magazine.


Tony started DeCarlo Studios in 1991 with a promise to deliver more than expected and to consistently WOW the client.

How to Create an Effective Business Website

How to Create an Effective Business Website

Here are the elements a business website should have to be most effective. An effective business website should be a win for the visitor and a win for the owner. The visitor wants a solution and the owner wants more business.

When someone visits a website they are looking for information, a solution, or a product or service. They are at a site to satisfy their needs. We call this being tuned into “WII-FM” What’s In It For Me?”   The site must immediately begin to provide a “WII-FM” value to the visitor or they will go away.

A lot of websites showcase the company, their mission, their knowledge, client list, their staff, the staff’s experience and then offer a contact us button. Most visitors who find the site through search engines are visiting for  “WII-FM”. This disconnect from the audience causes the website to be ineffective. An effective business website connects with its audience because it delivers “WII-FM”.

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Successful Internet Marketing Tips

Successful Internet Marketing Tips

Inbound internet marketing is much different and opposite to traditional outbound marketing. Today it’s about getting the consumer’s attention online. I’ll start with a description of traditional outbound marketing.

Traditional Disruptive Marketing

Outbound “disruptive marketing” used to be easier. Spend a lot of money on advertising, TV ads, promos, direct mail, newspaper and print ads, cold calls, radio spots, special offers and tradeshows, and watch the leads pour in.
Today it seems like everyone is bombarded with a million marketing messages per day and consumers know how to block out disruptive marketing tactics. The whole outbound marketing thing isn’t doing the job as effectively anymore because of modern defense tactics.

  • 4% of junk mail is discarded without being opened.
  • 72% of Americans are on the national do not call list.
  • More TV viewers are switching to online entertainment.
  • Paid circulation has fallen by 50% since the mid 60's.
  • We use DVRs to record shows and skip commercials.
  • We use spam blockers to purge email.
  • We screen our phone calls.

It's About the Internet

Today the internet is transforming how people shop and buy. It’s the great equalizer and has taken the power away from traditional marketing and sales and put it in the hands of consumers. Consumers find reviews and statistics, they research products and do comparative shopping online – at any time and any place they choose.

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How to Get Leads Online

How to Get Leads Online

When it comes to generating new leads on line, most business websites miss out on great opportunities to gain leads and customers. Let's discuss the essential things business websites need to put in place to get leads and customers. We begin by placing ourselves in the visitor’s shoes.

How Do Visitors Find Your Site?

A visitor is on your site, but how did they get there? Did they meet you and get a business card? Did they Google your business name because they met you at a networking event? Did they see a piece of marketing material or a commercial advertisement? Did they find you through a review site like Angie's List, Yelp, Facebook, social media, or did you come up in a search? There are many ways for visitors to find your site, but most new visitors who don't know your business should find you through an online search. I say "should" because your site should be optimized for search engines and should be registered with search engines. You need to have a way to keep track of how visitors find you online, like Google Analytics.

In 2012 Google had 1 trillion 817 billion searches. That is more than 5 billion searches a day. That's why search engine optimization is so important. A successful business website should do everything it can to make sure it's optimized for search engines. But great SEO can only deliver a visitor to your site. Then you have to know the answer to the following question.

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Web Redesign Strategies

Web Redesign Strategies

Remember that your website is not for you. It’s really for your customers and prospects. If you don’t speak to them in their language and address their needs, then chances are you’re never going to achieve good lead conversion rates.

You only have seconds to engage new visitors on your website. When visitors arrive, they want to know what you do, why you do it better and (most importantly), what’s in it for them. You need to have a compelling and clear “unique value proposition” (UVP) that is reinforced and consistent through­out your website.

More often than not, companies create value propositions that use corporate-speak – thinking that bigger words and more intricate the sentences will impress the potential customer. This is just not the case. You need to identify with your customers and relate to their needs.

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How to Set Up a Lead Generation Campaign

How to Set Up a Lead Generation Campaign

Lets face it, all businesses need a website. A website is the perfect place to generate a continuous stream of leads for a business. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t see their website as a lead generation tool. Let’s explore ways to improve and automate your website lead generation.

Three Percent of Visitors are Ready to Contact

Three percent of website traffic is ready and interested in contacting businesses about helping them with questions or purchasing. So three out of 100 visitors are ready to talk to someone. Simple math says to double three contacts to six contacts, the site would need 200 visitors, etc. So, to increase the contacts we need to increase website traffic.

A few ways to increase site traffic are:

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How to Write Marketing Content that Works

How to Write Marketing Content that Works

Creating written content seems to be one of the common concerns of many clients. In order to present our businesses in their best light, we need to have quality written content to engage our customers. What happens when we get stuck with the dreaded "writer's block" and run out of ideas or just don't know how to get started? Don't worry, we have a few tips to help!

Create a Buyers Persona!

This is the foundation for effective marketing of your business and how you hit your marketing target. Your content should be targeted to a specific “buyers persona”. Buyers personas are fictional representations of your ideal customer. Take a look at your best clients and create a buyers persona. Maybe your current customers don’t represent your ideal customer. This is the perfect time to create your ideal customer and then write directly for them. Targeted buyers will seek you out online. Here is a link to a free buyer’s persona guide.
 
A buyer’s persona should describe in great detail your perfect client, including a person's fictional personal and business background. The persona should include demographics and any other identifiers including buzz-words and mannerisms. The persona should describe their goals, challenges and how your business can help them with challenges. You should include real quotes you gathered from them if you are able to interview them. Also remember any common objections they may have during a sales process.

Develop a Message!

Next, develop a strong marketing message based on the persona you created and have an elevator pitch ready. Your marketing message should speak directly to your buyer persona's wants and needs. This persona should be the basis for your marketing. Everyone in your company should be aware and focused on the persona. Many companies have more than one buyer’s persona and it’s not uncommon to have four or more. Now you are ready to create marketing channels based on specific personas. Here’s a free Buyer's Persona Template and Guide to get you started on creating a persona.

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What is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO?

What is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short), is a process of doing the necessary tasks to make your site known and easily crawled by search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. There are many companies that offer SEO, including DeCarlo Studios. We use special software and systems to help our clients. We would like to share the main tools we use so you can review them.

We use the enterprise version of SEO Power Suite by Link Assistant daily for our SEO clients. You can visit their website, go through a tutorial on SEO and download a free version. Link Assistant updates the software frequently and it provides excellent automation and in-depth reports that we generate weekly for our SEO clients. The reports give you exact, step-by-step instructions about what is needed to optimize your website.
SEO Power Suite is made up of four separate programs:

  1. Rank Tracker. We use Rank Tracker to run reports and closely monitor the keywords for which we are helping our clients rank. Rank Tracker checks our client's page rank on hundreds of search engines and reports the exact page rank for the keywords we are targeting.
  2. Website Auditor. We use Website Auditor to tell us what needs to be adjusted in the website's structure and content. Website Auditor gives us an in-depth report about what needs to be optimized for the web crawlers. It also generates XML sitemaps.
  3. SEO Spy Glass. We use SEO Spy Glass to find out what SEO our client's competitors are using. SEO Spy Glass provides an evaluation report which helps us create SEO strategies to the beat the competition.
  4. Link Assistant. This program works for all link management tasks from building link directories to establishing link partnerships. It includes exporting and reporting facilities.
  5. Check out SEO Power Suite by Link Assistant. http://www.link-assistant.com/

The First Five Steps to Begin SEO

Here are the first five steps DeCarlo Studios completes to begin SEO. In addition to the five steps below, we also run reports with Link Assistant’s WebSite Auditor and Link Assistant’s Rank Tracker. These five steps will help get the SEO ball rolling:

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How to Get Your Business Listed Online for Free

How to Get Your Business Listed Online for Free

There’s a simple to use, free tool to help you get your business listed free on different search sites. This free tool also assists you with claiming your existing business listings on search engines and review sites that already have your business listed but are missing your details.

The online utility is called "Get Listed" and here is the link. https://getlisted.org/ It’s a free online tool and part of the SEOmoz tool set. SEOmoz is now just called MOZ. Here is a link to MOZ’s tools. http://moz.com/tools

b2ap3_thumbnail_get_listed_online_free-resized-600.png

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SEO Writing Tips

Understanding Meta Keywords, Meta Descriptions, and Title Tags

Here are some tips for using Meta Tags, Meta Descriptions and Meta Keywords on your web pages for better SEO.

The Meta Tags are a very important part of the HTML code of your web page. They are read by the search engines but are not displayed as a part of your web page design. Usually they include a concise summary of the web page content and you should include your relevant keywords in them. The most important tags are the description, keywords and title.

Meta Title

The Meta Title is one of the most important factors for a successful search engine optimi­zation of your web site. The title provides summarized information about your website and appears in the browser title bar. The title is what appears on the search engines result page (SERP). The title tags should be up to 75 characters but try not to exceed that amount.

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Why You Need a Business Blog and the Fundamentals to Get Started

Why You Need a Business Blog and the Fundamentals to Get Started

Take the Fear and Procrastination Away – Start Your Business Blog Today!

Starting a business blog can seem daunting. Here's an article to help take the fear and procrastination away and to help you get started! Because a business blog is a valuable marketing channel. It establishes you as an expert in your field and brings traffic and leads to your website. Businesses that blog get 67% more leads per month than those that don't, and blogs affect a buyer's purchasing decisions. A business blog will help you earn your website visitor's trust by showcasing your expertise and helping them solve their problems. Let's walk through the fundamentals of a business blog and show a few ideas to help you get started.

Why Does Your Business Need a Blog?

What Factors are Important in a Blog Post?

Simply blogging will not automatically transform your site into a marketing machine. You need to meet certain criteria to benefit from your efforts:
  

  • Frequency: The more blogs that you post, the more indexed pages you create for search engines. And businesses that blog 16-20 times per month get twice the leads and traffic than those who post 4 times a month.
  • Keywords: What keywords do you want to rank well for on your website? Take those keywords and write blogs about them. Make sure that your blog titles are optimized as well.
  • Calls to Action: Blogs should lead to Calls to Actions, to capture your leads and help your customers take the next step in the buying process. They can be banners or ads in the sidebar, or hyperlinks to offers.
    How to Generate Blog Content
    This is actually one of the questions that we are often asked – you are not alone if you are intimidated by the thought of having to generate blog content on a regular basis.

  • Repackage:  Take some of your internal content or communications and repurpose it for your blog. It's a perfect starting point to showcase your company. Consult with your customer service department and find out what types of questions they are asked on a daily basis. Blogs can answer these questions.
  • Brainstorm:  Start a brainstorming session. Write down every idea that comes to mind (even if it is outlandish). Let others build off of the ideas and add to the list. The idea is to keep creativity flowing, and then go back to your list and narrow it down for more concrete ideas.
  • Guest Bloggers:  Invite other experts to do a guest blog on your website. Look through your existing network. Check out college students who are looking to get experience. Invite trusted professionals in related fields to share their knowledge. Guest bloggers gain exposure for their writing and it helps them rank well in search engines.

Keep Your Blog Posts Organized

Use a calendar to keep track of your blog posts. Schedule them out a month or so in advance so that you are always prepared and can create a good balance of blog stories. If there is breaking news that you want to write about in a time-sensitive manner, move your articles around to accommodate this or leave room for such additions weekly. It's always important to be flexible in your schedule.

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Turn Facebook Fans into Paying Customers

Turn Facebook Fans into Paying Customers

Businesses who want to leverage social marketing need a Facebook page in addition to a great business website. Let's learn how to turn Facebook fans into paying customers.

Plan Your Facebook Strategy

It pays to have a marketing plan for Facebook instead of posting and reposting random pieces of information. Facebook is about more than just having a large fan base – you need to see the benefits of having those fans become actual customers. A great place to start is with your current Facebook analytics. Look at your current traffic and visitors to create click through goals, prospect to lead goals, and lead to customer goals.

Make sure that your page is connecting with your target audience. A great way to help you determine your target is by creating a buyer's persona. Here’s a free buyer's persona template tool. Once you know your target audience, you need to create a unified Facebook campaign that works with the rest of your marketing.

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Top 3 SEO Questions and Answers

Top 3 SEO Questions and Answers

These are the answers to the top 3 SEO questions we’re asked about getting found online.

1. “How Do I Get Found on Search Engines Like Google Bing and Yahoo?”

Everyone wants to be found on the top of search lists for their keywords. An immediate way to get found at the top of search engines is to sign up for a Google pay-per-click Adwords account choose your keywords and you will be at the top of searches because you are paying to be there. Here’s how to get started with Google Adwords. ‎If you are interested in getting found organically on search engines, please see the 8 steps below. 

2. “Why Doesn’t My Web Site Get the Phone Ringing With New Business?"

This may not be the fault of poor search rank. A website can rank well but not help visitors find the answers they’re looking for, and the visitors will bounce on to the next site in their search for their answer. Remember that only 3% of visitors are ready to make contact with you from your site.

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Is Your Website a Marketing Funnel?

Is Your Website a Marketing Funnel?

A marketing funnel is a must-have if you want to generate new business from your website. Here is a look at a successful marketing funnel model.

Top of the Funnel

The top of the funnel is the part that draws online traffic to your site. Here are great top of the funnel tools and offers that draw visitors to your website:

Blogs

This is a great way to get found on search engines and to become a thought leader in your industry. A blog is great for boosting your search rank. The blog should be helpful and interesting to people searching for solutions you provide. The blog should be optimized around the keywords you want to rank for, but remember that you are writing for people first, then search engines. Free Ebook Learning SEO from the Experts.

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6 Steps to a SMART Online Marketing Plan

6 Steps to a SMART Online Marketing Plan

Here’s a quick 6-step plan to get you started with your smart online marketing plan.

1. Define Your Objective

What is the goal or end result you expect your online marketing plan to achieve? Write the goal down but take your time and think about it. Define your objective on paper and make it simple and clear.

2. Define Your Target

Who are you marketing to? Be very specific about identifying who they are. Is it more than one type or kind of target? How does your product or service benefit them? Where do you find your targets “hanging out” so you can get your message out to them? The clearer you are about describing your target, their habits and hangouts, the better your message will be received by your target. Here's a great power point template to help you define your marketing target. It's called a Buyers Persona Template and it’s designed to help you clearly define your target audience. 

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Why Website SEO Does Not Work!

Why Website SEO Does Not Work!

I admit that I've spent a lot of time and money researching, learning and employing search engine optimization for my business. I've also optimized many webpages for other businesses. For a lot of businesses, SEO does not work.

I Want To Be On the First Page of Search Engines!

Some businesses have the impression that being on the first page of search engines is like being on the first page of the Yellow Pages. Their phone will start to ring because they are top of the list. The problem is that the phone book is used with a telephone to make a call and the Internet is not.

Today buyers only talk to a real salesperson as a last resort, not as a first step. Buyers have the knowledge of the world at their fingertips and use the Internet to search for information online instead of calling a salesperson. The Internet has empowered buyers with the ability to bypass sales people and find what they’re looking for themselves. They expect to find any answer they need online. Don't know the answer, Google it! This gives businesses that know this fact a great opportunity to be a truly helpful resource to potential buyers.

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Conducting Your Online Marketing Symphony

Conducting Your Online Marketing Symphony

Marketing, when done right, is like a well-conducted symphony orchestra. It's sweet music to the ears of prospective customers because it engages them and touches their emotions. 


The keys to a successful orchestra are: 1. musicians knowing how to play their instruments well; 2. playing together in the correct key; 3. reading the music; 4. playing well with the rest of the orchestra and – most importantly; 5. following the conductor. How does this relate to online marketing?

Marketing Instruments

Today, marketing employs many different instruments like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, SEO, pay-per-click, websites, e-mail marketing and more. These modern marketing instruments should work together in harmony to draw the consumer in. When conducted correctly, great marketing causes people to take action, rise to their feet, call for an encore and return wanting more!

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Let’s Start Lead Nurturing

Let’s Start Lead Nurturing

Now that you have a name and e-mail offered to you by a prospect, what’s next? Automated lead nurturing!

If you don’t have a lead to nurture, please read Part 1: How to Get Leads On Line

Here's an Example of How an Automated Lead Nurturing Workflow Proceeds:

  • The contact information a lead submitted in exchange for valuable content goes into an automated lead nurturing workflow.
  • The workflow automatically sends the lead a customized thank you e-mail letter with a link to the content they just downloaded in case they need it again.
  • The e-mail thank you letter should also contain your contact information, your photo and a next step offer, with a  “call to action” directed to a lead form containing deeper information about how to solve their problem. Example information may be case studies, performance reports or webinars.

This middle of the marketing funnel information should begin to suggest why you may be a great solution for their problem by demonstrating how you've successfully solved the problem for others. Remember, your content should be focused on helping them solve their problem. Now your lead has a choice to make, and the nurturing workflow continues in two directions from this point – we’ll call them "A" and "B". 

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What is Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing and Online Marketing?

What is Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing and Online Marketing?

As the web continues to become the main way we search for information, more and more businesses are focusing their efforts and dollars at online marketing and with good reason. Let's explore how smart businesses market the inbound way.

What’s Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing is about earning the attention of prospects online, making yourself easy to be found online and drawing people to your website by producing useful content they value. The goal of Inbound Marketing is to position a business as a thought leader and expert in their industry while building trust to make them the obvious choice with whom to do business. This is in contrast to conventional outbound disruptive marketing such as buying attention, cold calling, direct mail, radio, TV ads, sales flyers and spam. Unlike outbound methods, Inbound Marketing’s goal is to earn their way into prospects minds instead of begging or buying their way in through advertising.

The Inbound Marketing model is illustrated in five separate stages:

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Business Blogging Tips

Business Blogging Tips

What is a Business Blog?

A business blog is a collection of written articles to help educate with helpful, valuable content for a specific target audience. Business blogs are designed specifically to draw prospects and customers to your website. Successful business blogs use buyer’s personas to focus their writing on  their target audience. For more info, check out our free buyer’s persona guide and template file.

Why Does Your Business Need a Blog?

Well, do you want more web traffic, leads and customers? Here are some numbers:

  • Companies that blog get 55% more website traffic than those that don’t blog.
  • Companies that blog get 70% more leads than those that don’t blog.
  • 57% of companies have acquired a customer through their blog.

How Does Blogging Work for Me?

Blogging influences SEO. Every blog page is indexed and counted as a webpage on your site by search engines. So each and every post you write gets published as its own, individual indexed page on your website.

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Website Optimizing Tips that Work

Website Optimizing Tips that Work

Optimizing your website is about setting up your website for success — but how do you get people to your site and what do you do with them once they are on your website?

The dictionary meaning of Optimization is: OPTIMIZATION -Noun: An act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional or effective as possible. Derivative of the verb optimize |ˈäptəˌmīz | verb [with obj.] make the best or most effective use of (a situation, opportunity, or resource): Computing rearrange or rewrite (data, software, etc.) to improve efficiency of retrieval or processing.

What Should I Optimize My Website for, Specifically?

You should optimize your site to get;
    1.    Website Visitors, to visit your site.
    2.    Search Engines, to take note of your site in the search.
An un-optimized site does not attract, convert, close or delight customers. A well optimized site should attract your “ideal customer” to your website.

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