Business Strategy

Implement these 5 Marketing Intiatives to Jumpstart Your Business in 2012

jumpstart your marketing2012 should be an exciting year for small businesses. With so many low cost and high impact online marketing methods available, you can dramatically boost your business performances if you apply the best practices of these modern marketing methods and strategies.

Just implement the following marketing initiatives and watch your business explode with profits!

(1) Give your website a needed refresh

I still see lots of small business websites with that ugly 90’s design, look and feel. It’s time for a refresh! Seriously! With so much competition, your site needs to look sexy, professional, and attractive to stand out from the crowd. Look, you only have a few seconds to make a strong impression and captivate your visitor’s attention. So make sure you hire a professional designer to design you a professional and attractive looking site. Also, you might want to hire a copy writer too to help you craft stronger marketing messages and more compelling value propositions.

Things you absolutely need on your website:

  • Make sure that you clearly convey exactly what your business do, who your target customers are, and your business’s value proposition on the top of the home page. Your ability to craft a compelling value proposition will be key to being able to persuade your visitors to stick around to learn more about your business.
  • Have 1 primary “Call to Action” and 1 or 2 secondary “Call to Actions.” You need to have “Call to Actions” to lead the visitors to the next steps. After they land on your site, what exactly do you want them to do? Do you want them to take a tour? Sign up for free trial? Make sure your primary “Call to Action” is prominently shown in a strategic location (somewhere on top of the fold). Use a bright colored  button (test orange, red, and green colors) for your primary CTA.

Things to avoid on your website:

  • Please refrain from using fancy flash or slideshow.  I see so many sites that feature a rotating slideshow with all these images that don’t provide any value or clarity on the value proposition. Instead, they’re just slowing down your site’s loading time and annoying your visitors.
  • Refrain from making outlandish claims that are not substantiated. Don’t say you have the best products or the fastest delivery. Use specific numbers and data to substantiate your claim.

Check out my post on “how to create a sticky website” to learn more…

(2) Share Your Knowledge and Expertise with your Audience by Creating Awesome Content

Having awesome content on your site benefits your business in so many ways. For one, great content attracts free targeted traffic to your site. Secondly, it helps you build trust and authority. Having great content also keeps your audience more engaged.

The material in your content should not be full of fluffs or promotional messages though. It should contain material that is well thought out, well researched, and has the power to educate, inspire, or provoke your audience.

Think about the questions, pain points, problems, and desires that your target audience has and then create the necessary content to address each of these points. Be sure to use a keyword research tool and optimize your content accordingly for your keyword phrase.

The content could be in the following formats: blog posts, videos, articles, slides, infographics, white papers, and e-books.

(3) Use Social Media to Build Your Connections and Expand Your Networks

Social media is not just a fad. It is a powerful tool you can use to build your networks and generate massive number of leads for your business. Although the web is populated with gazillions of social networking sites, you should focus your time and energy on these 3:

  • Facebook – Facebook is ideal for B2C, although I do see a few B2B success stories. Start by creating a fan page for your business. The key to being successful with facebook is to engage your fans by regularly sharing content, asking them questions, and running contests and promotions.
  • Twitter – Twitter can help you generate lots of targeted leads. The key is to follow people that fits your ideal customer profile . You should also follow influential people within your industry. You can use and to find relevant people to follow. Once you find these people, you should start engaging with them and be able to drive them back to your website so they can learn more about your business. I recommend that you send them to a resource page where your visitors could sign up to download a free E-book or free report.
  • Linkedin – Linkedin is a great lead generation tool for B2B. Start by writing a complete profile. Make sure you include as much keywords that are related to your business as possible. Next, find relevant groups to join, especially groups that your target audience are most likely to spend time in. You can then answer questions posted by other members. You can also post questions or share your content. The idea is to engage with other members and be able to lead them back to your website where they can check out one of your blog posts or videos to learn more about your expertise. Again, don’t try to promote your products or services right away. Instead, promote your expertise and authority by sending them to a resource page or article.

(4) Automate Your Email and Marketing

You can dramatically increase your productivity and serve the customers better by automating your email and marketing. By using an autoresponder or a marketing automation solution, you could do things like automatically send follow-up messages to your prospects and automatically send an email blast to all your customers and more.

(5) Spend more time with your Customers!

Spending time with your customers and listening to your customers could help you uncover valuable business intelligence. First, you should ask for your customers’ feedback. Find out what they like about you, what they don’t like, how you can improve, etc. Pay attention to the exact words and phrases that they use.

Additionally, you should ask them where they spend their time and which websites/blogs they visit the most to get news and information on your industry.

After analyzing the data and information collected, you should be able to craft better copies for your ads and launch more profitable marketing campaigns.

Knowledge is Useless without Actions!

I’ve given you some high impact marketing nuggets that could provide your business with a big boost in 2012. But you need to take actions. Who knows, this might just be your year!

ips For Managing Negative Keywords In PPC Campaigns

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 is to do a better job of documenting our mature PPC campaigns, so that any new manager coming in can take advantage of everything we’ve already tested and learned from over the years, rather than repeating the same tests and/or mistakes we’ve already lived through.

The AdWords and AdCenter change history reports provide a great documentation trail, but they don’t tell the whole story. While they do summarize what’s been changed and when, they do not provide insight, or explain why any particular change was made. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve muttered “Why the heck did they do that?” or more often, “What in the world was I thinking when I made that change?”

Whenever I am asked to audit or manage an existing PPC account, one of the areas I often find lacking in sufficient context is the inventory of negative keywords and in this column, we’ll take a look at how negative keywords can grow out of control and a simple documentation framework for managing them more effectively.

Are Your Negative Keywords Out Of Control?

I am guessing that just about every PPC campaign manager is well aware of the importance of negative keywords and how they reduce unproductive ad impressions, clicks and cost. The topic is written about so frequently in the trade press, that finding and adding negative keywords seems to be everybody’s favorite ‘quick and dirty’ PPC optimization tactic.

Because it is so easy to find and add negative keywords, negative keyword lists tend to get bigger and bigger over time. On top of that, PPC managers often copy and paste negative keyword lists from one ad group or campaign to another and from one network to another, without much forethought, which increases the number of these large, bulky keyword lists you need to manage.

In audits I’ve conducted, I often see substantial numbers of negatives keywords in these lists that have nothing to do with the ad groups/ campaigns they are applied to!

One problem with this sort of sloppy management is that one misapplied negative keyword can instantly kill legitimate impression and click volume. But you are actually lucky if you have that problem because it is easy to detect and fix. A more insidious problem of poorly-managed negative keyword lists is a slow, death-by-degrees decline in performance that is much harder to spot.

The Challenge of Managing Large Inventories of Negative Keywords

One of the challenges with managing negative keywords is a negative keyword may apply solely to a single keyword in your account, it may apply to a group of keywords, or it may apply to all of your keywords. This means you need to deal with each potential negative keyword individually and make a decision which keyword or keywords it applies to and how to apply it inside to your account.

Options include:

  • applies exclusively to a single keyword
  • applies to a group of keywords
  • applies to all of your keywords

You not only have to make this decision for every negative keyword you want to add, but you have to keep track of your decision, so that you don’t find yourself re-examining your decision every time you add a new set of positive keywords.

As you can see, the more negative keyword you, add the more management overhead you have to deal with them.

A Framework For Documenting Negatives

One of the problems with managing negative keywords is that as soon as you add them to your account, you lose track of their association with the positive keywords or search queries they pertained to in the first place. Your positive keywords and your negative keyword lists live in different areas within your campaign structure and can’t be viewed at the same time.

To illustrate, lets take a look at how you find and select your negative keywords. The first step in that process is usually to run a search query and/or analytics report to identify the non-productive queries that you want to prevent, as shown below in an excel spreadsheet:

AdWords Search Query Data 

Finding New Negative Keywords

The purpose of this campaign is to attract people who need help with addiction and are looking for drug rehab facilities in Texas. The primary keyword in this ad group is broad-matched, rehab facility, and so you decide you want to prevent clicks when for some of these search terms (marked in red):

Selecting Negative Keywords from AdWords Report 

Selecting Negative Keywords from AdWords Report

Selecting out just the negative keywords, in this hypothetical case, you now some words that are completely unrelated to what you do, (nursing homes, full time work and hillsburg ave) which may be campaign level negatives and universally used to block and search queries that contain those words. The other queries that are not directly related to your offerings for this ad group, but they may be applicable for other ad groups.

The next step is to expand your list of possible negatives using synonyms and stemmed versions of your proposed negatives. Including the plural and singular versions is important, especially with AdWords, since negative broad match doesn’t expand its matching to stemmed versions.

This is your potential list of negative keywords to add into your account for this ad group:

Negative Keyword List Expanded 

Negative Keywords Lists Expanded with Synonyms and Stems


Now that we have a list of negatives  and a list of reasons we are interested in these keywords, we are ready to add them into the account.

Negative Keywords Final Selections 

Negative Keywords Final Selections

As shown below in the AdWords Editor interface, all you can see that once you load your negative keywords into your campaign, is your list of negative keywords. The context of why you selected them is lost unless you document it yourself either in a spreadsheet or using comments within AdWords Editor.

Negative Keyword List from AdWords Editor 

Negative Keywords Listed in AdWords Editor

So the next step in this process is to finish up the documentation of your in Excel or even within AdWords Editor. Using Excel is simple and you can additional columns and headers as you see fit.

Documenting your Negative Keywords 

Documenting your Negative Keywords


In this Excel worksheet version of this documentation, the primary goal is to create a simple context for the selection of the negative that maintains the association with the original type of query that let to the negative keyword.  We could also add match-type and other data as the need arises.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Peter Nguyen
I'm an Interne/online marketing expert with a strong blend of creative, technical, and analytic skills. I have over 6 years of experience doing online marketing for B2B as well as B2C Ecommerce. My expertise is in SEO, PPC, Social Media, Analytics, Copywriting, Landing Page Design, B2B Lead Generation, Conversion Optimization, Web Design, and project management. I am passionate about online marketing and I am constantly learning and keeping up to date on the latest advances on online marketing and social media marketing.
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