Internet Marketing Strategy for Small Business

There are many resources about Internet marketing available on the web today, but few attempt to comprehensively explain the background, principles, and tactics necessary to build an Internet marketing strategy. Rasmussen College Online Marketing Manager Josh Braaten presented Turn Online Marketing Strategies into New Business on April 27, 2011 in Wausau, WI, as a part of the Wausau Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Week, sponsored in part by the Rasmussen College Wausau campus.

You can download the slides or view a recap of the Wausau Internet marketing event or view the rebroadcasted presentation below.


Hostess: The concept of growing your business using the Internet is vital to business success. Today, we will be discussing foundational strategies of effective online marketing, including search engine optimization, social media presence and more.

With us today is Josh Braaten, SEO Online Marketing Manager at Rasmussen College. Josh also is the Managing Partner of Big Picture Web Marketing in St. Paul, Minnesota. Josh excels in identifying online business goals and objectives and then creating projects and processes to support them. Combining project management methodologies with best practice knowledge of SEO conversion optimization and web analytics, Josh brings expert planning execution to his endeavors.

Josh holds a B.A. in Economics from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. He earned his Master Certificate in Applied IS/IT Project Management from Villanova University in 2007 and his Master Certificate in Interactive Marketing from the University of San Francisco in 2010. Please join me in welcoming Josh.

Josh Braaten: Hi. Thank you very much everybody. I would like to thank the Wausau Chamber of Commerce for inviting me here today. I'd like to thank the Rasmussen College Wausau campus for arranging this opportunity for me to come and speak, and I'd like to thank all of you for attending here today. We've got about an hour where we'll be talking about some of these online marketing strategies, and then we'll break for about a half an hour to talk about questions that you have, and I'll do my best to answer those.

First of all, thanks for the great intro, but I thought I would go a little bit further. I'm an Online Marketing Manager for Rasmussen College. I do mostly our search engine optimization, and I do our web analytics. I also am the owner and blogger of a boutique Internet marketing firm named Big Picture Web, and finally I'm an extremely frustrated Vikings fan. I feel I can say that here because you guys won the Super Bowl, and I'm sure you're all happy about that. Congratulations.

You all face so many challenges these days to get your business successful. You've got sales, repeat sales. You need to get referrals. You have to allocate your budgets, developing a marketing plan, executing the marketing plan, and that's before you even turn the lights on to your business in the morning, right? You have to wear so many hats, and now you've got this new hat of online marketer. For a lot of us, it's a new territory for us. And so, it can be a little daunting, but today's presentation is meant to help guide that path for you.

We've got three major sections to the presentation today, and that will cover our main objectives, which are, first, we want to examine the changing trends in media overall and the new business currencies that drove this change in the media landscape. Then, we'll also go on to define what is referred to as inbound marketing and understand the core principles behind inbound marketing. And then, finally, we will learn how to use some of these inbound marketing tactics to apply to your own business.

First of all, I'd like to just get into this decline of traditional media, and when I say decline I don't mean it's going away, I mean it's changed. It's not as important as it once used to be. You can see in the five year period between 2004 and 2009 that our habits for consuming media changed dramatically. We still watch the same amount of TV as we did five years ago. We love our TV, but we're using the Internet more than twice what we were five years ago.

In addition, a lot of our traditional channels, like print media and magazines, the radio, we're listening to them about 20 percent less in most cases. So we're using the Internet a lot more, and these other channels we're using a lot less. That's had really profound impacts on the way businesses operate. If you think about the printing press and the invention of the printing press and what a revolution that was in media, before the printing press basically the only books you could get were handwritten, and they were very expensive. Therefore, information and knowledge was very expensive. You couldn't afford it.

Then the printing press came out, and it completely changed everything. It democratized information, and it allowed access. The Bible was the first big project for the printing press, and then that was out and allowed them to get that information out. Really, that was the first form of mass media. You had the churches printing their Bibles and sending those out to spread the word, and they controlled that media. They controlled that message.

Fast forward to the invent of the Internet, and now it's like the printing press all over again, so the move from written books to printed books. Now, we don't even need to print books to share our thoughts. We can just simply go onto the Web, and in a lot of cases we can get a free blog or website publishing tools that cost, maybe, 12 bucks a month, and we're off and running. It's very interesting how these changes have affected the media. One of the things that did was we don't have four choices anymore.

When I was growing up in rural Minnesota, I only had three channels on TV. I didn't even have all four of the major networks because we lived so far out in the countryside we didn't get ABC. Those were the only options that we had, but now we've got 150 channels on TV, more if you have the premium subscriptions. You've got radio, satellite radio, Internet radio, podcasts. You've got every Internet blog website you can think of, and so there's so much more media out there. As a result, the media of yesterday is not as effective.

We are losing our interest in the most traditional channels, and we are now more interested in the channels that interest us, which are the channels that are produced for us. Mass media has been successful for so long because they appeal to the common denominator. Shows on TV are successful because they appeal to the majority of Americans. On the Internet, you can have very specialized interests, and you can have a niche and you can create that niche. Basically, you are a publisher within that niche.

Let's say you have a passion for paper manufacturing. You can basically become a publisher in the area of paper manufacturing, and you are your own channel basically. That option did not exist even ten years ago. So, the changes are really profound, and the fundamental drivers of this change are what I like to call the new business currencies or the new media currencies. That's attention, trust, and permission, very important concepts.

First of all, all of these new channels that we talked about have created an explosion in content. We have more options now than we ever had in the past, and as a result, we simply can't consume all of the content out there. There's not enough time. In addition, our habits have changed in how we consume that content. So, for example, we don't have to listen to commercials anymore because there's Sirius XM radio that has no commercials, or there's TiVo where we can basically just record our favorite programs and fast forward through that advertising.

In addition, if I missed a TV show, I can either go to Hulu the next day and watch that, or you can do like I did and order all five seasons of "Mad Men" and have them come on Netflix and watch them all in one weekend. It's a great weekend. Then, finally, our attention has shifted because not only have there been more options, but there are better options in certain spots.

Take, for example, the Huffington Post online newspaper. They don't print. They don't send it out anywhere, and they're purely online. A very popular news source, and they just sold for $315 million to AOL. So, the ability to gain attention is harder and harder with each day that we have with the more content that's out there. So one of the first keys to new media is gaining attention, and we'll talk about that in a little bit.

Next up is trust, and trust is such an important concept. In the old days, trust was easy because you basically had your radio. You had the newspaper, and you had TV. If you bought advertising and if you had an effective PR agency, they would control the message for you. There were only so many channels of media, and people can't afford to put their own personal opinions out there. So it's only the corporations, the companies that can afford to advertise in those spaces. As a result, if you controlled the message, you protected your brand, and you were able to retain that trust.

Today, that's not the case. Every ma and pa blogger out there can now single-handedly bring a company down if that company is not honest and respectful and transparent in how they do their business. Take, for example, this study from Edelman. If you do not trust a company, you are more than likely to believe negative information about that company if you hear it. Contrast that with if you hear good information about that company, you're only about 15 percent likely to believe that information, even if it's true.

On the flip side, if you trust a company and you hear positive information, you're more than likely to believe it, whereas if you hear negative information, you're less likely to believe it. You're only about 25 percent likely to believe it. Facts aren't enough. You need to have that trust there, and for companies to succeed now, the way to build trust is through some of these online marketing channels that we'll get to talk about.

Then finally, there's the case of permission. When I was growing up, we had telemarketers calling all the time, and I was really excited because I got to answer the phone. I had a high voice back then, and they would say, "Hello, young lady. Is your mother home?" Embarrassing for me, but yeah, it was great because we had telemarketing. Then people got bored with that. We got too many calls during dinner, and then we put ourselves on the do not call list. Then we added ourselves to the cell phone do not call list. Then, a law came out in 2005, called the CAN-SPAM Act, basically saying that now we need to grant permission before people will even e-mail us marketing.

The landscape for permission has shifted dramatically. If you want to do business with someone, it's not enough just to send them a postcard or to just call them coldly and say, hey, let's do business. You have to earn that trust. You have to earn that permission. You have to gain that attention. Those are three very valuable business currencies that we'll talk about as we get into the different principles of Internet marketing.

These new currencies have driven a dramatic shift in how marketers invest in their businesses. This one might be a little hard to see, so I'm going to walk it through. Basically, this is a study done in September of 2010, by Marketing Sherpa, and they asked marketers, "What percent of you believe that you'll be increasing your budget, your spend, your advertising spend in these marketing channels?" You can see on the right there that websites, search engines, social media, e-mail, and public relations all have a much more positive increasing budget than they do have people planning to pull out of those channels.

You have online display ads and telemarketing pretty much even. People are still a little unsure of that. You've got some people investing, and some people pulling out of it. It's a little less clear there. But then you have channels, such as direct mail and broadcast ads and print ads, and people are pulling out of those like crazy. So the money is going from these traditional marketing channels into online marketing channels because they work, and they work to build that permission, that attention, and that trust that's necessary to earn customers in this day and age.

What is inbound marketing? You hear that phrase kind of tossed around a little bit. There are a lot of different definitions, but my very own personal definition that I've developed throughout the course of all of my learning and research is that inbound marketing is earning new customers by gaining attention, trust, and permission before the sale through the creation and sharing of engaging, entertaining, and/or educational content.

In a nutshell, all of the other channels that we talk about – search, social, blogging, webinars – everything like that can quickly tend to overwhelm us. Those are all just tools. The underlying message of all of that is create content that is interesting, that will engage your customers, and will teach them something, and they will reward you with their business.

A lot of different names for inbound marketing these days, so we'll go over just some of the nicknames. Some of these aren't exactly inbound marketing. They're very close or subsets of, but for the purposes of this discussion today, we want to talk about them as if they're all one. You'll hear them referred to as online marketing, Internet marketing, new media marketing, content marketing, viral marketing, and so on. We'll just assume that inbound marketing is all of these today.

Let's dive right in. For the next 45 minutes, we're going to talk about every single channel you can possibly use on a tactical level, and there we go. Just kidding. We're not going to do that. This is one of the biggest mistakes that companies and even individuals do as they're starting to build their brand online. They think, okay, well, obviously these tools are free. They're cheap. They're easy. I'm just going to go right in and start using them, and I've got my Facebook page up and my Twitter page up, and where's the business. It doesn't come in, and they wonder why.

Before we even talk about tactics, it's really important that we take a step back and we talk about the principles behind online marketing and inbound marketing. You'll see different processes or different people talking about these same principles, but by and large you're going to see that these are the same, whoever you get your online marketing information from. I like to think of it as a simple five-step process that repeats itself in the form of a cycle.

First, you identify, then you listen, then you create, share, and measure. Those five steps over and over again, regardless of tactic. Let's talk about what that means. First of all, identification. Our customers are online, but where are they? The identification process is about finding your online audience, people that are interested in what you have to say. Then, step two is to listen before you even start to create anything or start to try and market your business. You've really got to get in touch with the needs of your customers.

Third, create. So once you understand the needs of your audience, then you can publish what you know. You share that content that you've created, and that solves the problems of your potential customers. Then, finally, you can measure everything or nearly everything online as a way to see how effective you were in this process. You do it over and over and over again, and it's a continuous process of improvement.

Let's dive into some of these concepts a little more deeply. First of all, step one is to identify your audience. People are everywhere online, and it's pretty easy to find them if you have the right tools and the right approach. First of all, there's a soul searching mission of trying to find out who's your ideal customer. Are they men? Are they women? Are they young? Are they old? Are they interested in rock music? Do they like walking their dogs? What do they like to do?

Oftentimes, if you can find out what motivates that customer, if you find out who that ideal customer is, you can also find out where they hang out. For example, everybody loves Facebook. Everybody's on Facebook, so that's a really great place to start a search for anything. But then, beyond that, you can go even further. For example, if you know that your customer is a marketing executive or somebody in the flaxseed manufacturing industry, are there any flaxseed or flax websites or forums or industries or other online sources that folks in that industry gather at? Once you find those websites, then you can begin to do the next step, which is to listen.

But really, what you're searching for is online resources related to what you do, communities where your potential customers gather, and you're also looking for influencers. So, maybe competitors, maybe vocal individuals in the Web, but really understanding, okay, if I'm in the flaxseed manufacturing, in that market, where do all of those people hang out online? Once you do that, then you can listen.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they get online is they start to broadcast everything. They've got that Twitter account. They've got that Facebook account or that fan page, and you just want to start saying, hey, buy my product, come check us out. Do this, do that. But really that is an easy way to alienate your potential customers. Ultimately, that's kind of the old way of doing marketing. That's pushing your message out to people. Hey, I'm pushing this out to you, and I want you to be my customer. Be my customer. Be my customer. Whereas the inbound way is to first understand what your audience's needs are.

Has anybody ever read "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Steven Covey? Yeah, I see some heads nod there. Fifth habit, seek first to understand, then to be understood. How do you expect to market your product if you don't understand the needs of your customer? The listening process is easy. Once you've found where your customers hang out, it's a process of just listening. You go to that industry blog or that discussion forum, and you just observe. You'd be surprised what customers tell you.

It's the best market research possible because you'll see people saying, well, here's my problem. My problem is this, or gosh, I wish I knew how to do this, or boy, I wish I knew a way around this. Fill in the blank, whatever you do, whatever you sell. Whatever your business exists for, there are customers that are voicing their problems actively.

If you understand that, then you can get into their frame of reference. Well, how can I help them? Well, they're saying these are all the problems, and my specialty happens to be their problems. So then, the next step is to create. You found the problems. You found your audience. You know what their problems are, and the next step is to create content that will solve those problems for them.

When I was going through my Internet marketing Master Certificate course, one of my favorite instructors had a rule that he said. Content should subscribe to the three Es, entertainment, engagement and education. Anything that you create and publish basically on a website or through social media or through a blog should be either educational, entertaining, or engaging. Some sales messages in there, but first and foremost we should be looking to educate people, to engage them and entertain them.

When we do that, we are basically building inbound equity. Every single time you create content, it's another brick in your online store. Even if you don't have e-commerce on your store, it's another brick in your online business.

You found your folks. You found out where they hang out. You know what their problems are. You've created all this wonderful content, and now it's about solving problems. You've got these people out there with their problems, and you can reach out to them through social media or through search engines so they can actually search on their problems to find the content that you've created. They'll look at you and say, "Boy, I love that business. They solved my problem."

Maybe if you're in the construction business and somebody says that they're trying to fix their screen door, whatever, and you put on an article on how to fix a screen door, boy, that's awesome. The next time they want to put an addition on their house, they know about you because you've shared that content with them and you've solve the problem. The idea is to solve problems. They're sharing your content, and then as a result building relationships through the solving of those problems.

Then comes my favorite part, measuring everything. When you create a new blog post or create an article or you publish a web page or you are active on social media, there are tools that allow you to measure. You can say, well, if a hundred people went to my website and five people bought my product, that's five percent of all the people on my website end up being a customer. That's pretty cool.

Now, I'm going to try something different. We'll see what happens next month. Well, then next month you get 200 visits and ten customers. Okay, great. Well, my efforts this month, I got a lot more traffic, but the content is just about as compelling as it was last month. I got new customers at the same rate. In the end, I got more customers. It goes a lot deeper into that, but the important concept here is that for the first time we have the ability to know what happened with our marketing.

Oftentimes, you might have a TV commercial or you have a radio ad or you'll send out some direct mail, and while there are ways to create special phone numbers or there are ways to create special URLs for people to find and say, well, yeah this call came from this number or this TV ad or whatever, it's not perfect and it's not universal. Whereas with the Web, if I send you a link and you click on it, I can put tracking in there so that I know you came to the website, not you personally. There are rules against that, but a person came to the website from here. They did this, and this happened. So you know that.

Not only do you know that, but you're able to make better decisions moving forward. Instead of just releasing a commercial and then another commercial or another post card or another flyer, you can actually say, "Well, gosh this one went out and it performed like this. What can I do to make it better?" Then, the next time you develop a theory about how you can make it better, you push it out there. You can see the results, and there you go. So you have the ability to measure, to improve whereas you haven't had that before.

Those are the principles. Identify, listen, create, share, and measure. Before you do any online marketing, before you create that Twitter account, before you create that Facebook fan page, before you go and redesign your website, please take a while to really understand those principles of inbound marketing, because if you do that, then all of these tools become very exciting because you say, "Well, gosh, I'm going to use the social media tool to listen. I know where people are on social media. I'm going to identify where they, and then I'm going to listen to them. Then I'm going to go to my blog and create a blog post that solves their problems. I'm going to share it with them through those same social media channels. Then, I'm going to measure everything so that I know how I did." That way all of these tactics of Internet marketing become a lot less overwhelming because they're not just a bunch of new tools on the Web. They are specific tools that you can use for principles that are much easier to understand.

We're going to switch gears now, and we're going to get into the actual tactics of inbound marketing. You can see here this is a screen shot from one of my very favorite sources of information on the Web, SEOmoz. It's very good for search engine optimization information. There are so many different types of inbound marketing. There are the more well known ones, like search engine optimization and social media and e-mail, but then there are also more obscure ones that you probably never think to use. Webinars, okay, maybe we've seen some, but we've never though to have one. Podcasting, right? Does anybody here listen to podcasts? Okay, great. That's awesome to see. I love podcasts.

But there are so many different types of inbound marketing channels, and we're really going to focus on a few today, some of the main ones. Let's get right into it. We're going to start with social media, and I think this is one of the first channels that people can use in online marketing because the barriers to entry are few. The cost of entry is nothing, and the utility that social media has is [inaudible 0:27:29]. Now, you'll notice that one of the principles here is grayed out. The reason for that is while every principle somewhat applies to every marketing tactic, there are some marketing tactics and channels that support certain principles better than others.

For example, with social media, you're not going to use the measurement tools to get Facebook and Twitter all that much. You're going to rely on your web analytics, which we'll talk about a little bit later. But social media is amazing for identification, for listening, for creation, for sharing. Let's talk about that a little bit more.

So identification in social media, Twitter and Facebook and almost every other social media website in the social network that is out there has a search engine, and you can search for just about anything. For example, I love the web publishing software named Squarespace. It's a content management system. It's a software that lets me blog and build websites. I've got a search that I perform on Twitter for anytime somebody mentions the word Squarespace, and I can see every one of those tweets that happen. I see some comments that are positive, some that are negative, and I see a lot of folks that say, boy, I have this problem with Squarespace, or boy I wish I really knew how to do this with Squarespace. That gives me really great ideas.

That actually feeds into the next step, the listening part. Through those social networks, I've identified those audiences through those search engines, but then the results of those searches allow me to listen and understand what their needs are. Then, when I blog, I blog every Monday and my content just about writes itself because the people that have created these needs, they're saying, well, gosh, I wish I knew how to do this. I wish I knew how to do that. Basically, my editorial calendar writes itself because I know how to do these things. There are plenty of people that are asking how to do that. Why don't I just write an article that helps them do that and then share it through those same channels?

As far as social media goes and creation, I debated on whether social media was primarily like a creation channel, but there are plenty of people that create interesting Facebook posts and tweets. You don't always have to create an article and share it through social media. Oftentimes, a tip on Facebook or a tip on Twitter can be great content to create as well. So you don't have to get a website and create a bunch of stuff. You can just start off easily with some of these social media channels and use your posts and updates and tweets to create that content.

Then, finally, sharing it. Once you have the information, social media is a great sharing channel. If you're doing your job connecting with people, identifying with people, following them, having them follow you back, then the more you share, the more they'll share that for you as well.

Why use Facebook? I think that chart speaks for itself. Everybody is on Facebook. Is anybody here not on Facebook? That's interesting. There's always usually someone. My stepmom is a perfect example. She hates it. She will never get on it. She yelled at me for putting a picture of her up on there once, too. Facebook has exploded in growth since its start in '04. At this point now, we're up to 700 million users. There are more than twice as many people on Facebook as there are in the U.S. It's crazy, isn't it?

Next is Twitter. Now, a lot of people are skeptical of Twitter. It's new. It's fun. It's interesting. Maybe some people just sign up to be narcissistic, like Charlie Sheen. He had a Twitter account and he had like 1.2 million Twitter followers in a day. That's not typical. Your mileage may vary, but there are 27 million people projected to be on Twitter by 2013. The nice thing is that while this is one of those examples where you have a channel that people are adopting more and more and more each day, and if there are no people yet in your industry in that area, then it's a ghost town.

You can corner the market if you're the only person talking about how Wisconsin is the number one exporter of canned cream corn. If you do cream corn, if you produce that, you can own the market in social media for cream corn because there's nobody there yet. It's counterintuitive for a lot of people. Why should I be on Twitter? Nobody wants to be there. But if you use that knowledge to your advantage, you can be the only person there and you can become the source of information for whatever it is you do.

Let's talk about a subject near and dear to my heart, search engines. I love doing search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising, and I find that this channel is extremely good for number one, identification and then creation and sharing. How can you use search engines in the identification process? Well, oftentimes when we have a product, we've looked at that product, dealt with that product. It's taken us years to understand what that product does and how it can help our customers, and we have looked at that product so long that we begin to see it differently than our prospective customers.

I'll give you an example. I used to work for a medical distribution company, and the name for the product was a dental towel. That's the towel that the dentists put on so while they're doing the work you don't get messy, but dentists don't call them towels. They call them bibs. So, if you go onto the website and you search for dental bibs or dental towels because that's what the manufacturer calls them, but the dentists aren't looking for towels, they're looking for bibs, well, you're missing a huge opportunity.

So the opportunity with search engines is that you can do research, and you can understand the exact terminology that people use when they're looking for your products and services. If you can understand the language that your customers use, then you can begin to speak in those terms. You begin to create content in those terms, and it makes it a lot easier to find them.

Let's say, for example, one of my best blog posts that I've written, I did a comparison on Squarespace and another web publishing software called WordPress. A lot of people have heard of that. I did Squarespace versus WordPress, and I found out that the search demand was there. I think there were 1,600 people every month that search for the term "Squarespace versus WordPress." So I was like, "Well, that's easy." So I went to my blog. I got with a WordPress expert that I know, and we talked about what are the most important things to have in a web creation software, and then we did a comparison. He said why he loved WordPress. I said why I loved Squarespace, and to date it's been the most successful blog post on my entire blog.

Some of the free-lance customers that I get or clients that I get, I get phone calls or e-mails or whatever and they say, "Hey, I was reading this article that you wrote about Squarespace and WordPress. I've got this Squarespace blog, and I need help with it. Can you help me out?" So, I didn't do my marketing, or did I? I wrote the article. I used the words, and then I shared that through publishing it, and then Google did the rest. Somebody searched for it. They used the terms that they use to express the problem that they had, and lo and behold they found the article that I created to solve that problem.

That created a new business for me, which brings us to blogging. Now, how many people have a blog here? Anybody? Okay, great, great. A couple. Blogging can be, but is not always, and especially for small businesses is not talking about recipes that you liked, pictures of the kids, your personal thoughts, pictures from your vacation. A lot of folks think of blogging and they're like, "Why would I want to just share my personal thoughts?" Well, that's really not how businesses use blogs. Basically, they use that as a way to create these conversations with potential customers through the identification of the customer and what their needs are, and then creating all of this content. Every time you create a blog post, you create another brick in your online business. Then, sharing that out there is one of the ways to get that blog content out into the Internet.

I want to take a look at a few slides about blogging because I think it's one of the channels that people kind of discount the easiest, but in actuality it's one of the best things you can do for your business. In 2009, this is from HubSpot. It's a big marketing source of information. They do an annual survey, and they asked folks how many businesses have blogs. These marketers reported about half of the businesses had blogs that were surveyed. Fast forward two years, now it's two-thirds of them. Two-thirds of businesses with websites have a blog because they've seen the benefit.

As a matter of fact, if you blog once a month, you're about 50 percent likely to get a new customer from that blog. If you blog once a week, you're about three-fourths likely to get a new customer from that blog. If you blog multiple times a day, which is unrealistic I think, depending on what type of business you are, but for most people it's pretty unrealistic, the odds are extremely in your favor that you'll be getting new customers.

Try not to think of a blog as just a way to share your thoughts and stream your life and all of that stuff. It's really a golden opportunity to create tons of content, and every blog post that you create is like . . . let's say you're in a fishing boat, and you have an unlimited amount of fishing poles in the boat. Every blog post that you write is another baited hook that you put out there, and over time you've got hundreds of baited hooks that are out there. You've got hundreds of problems to solve. You've got hundreds of opportunities to build new relationships, and you've got hundreds of opportunities to gain attention, build trust and get the permission you need to market to people.

Videos are pretty much the same as blogging. It's content but it's video content. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a two minute clip on YouTube is worth 3.6 million words. I did the math. There's 30 frames per second. It's amazing, and the tools to create video content are getting easier and easier every day.

For example, gosh I hate to use Flip as an example, the flip phone or the flip camera. It's not a phone. It's a video camera, consumer camera. It can get pretty high HD quality film or video, and it's 150 bucks maybe. Now we as consumers have the ability to just sit in front of a camera and talk, just talk about the things that you know as a business owner, the things that you utter out in your sleep from time to time because you're in it every day. But these are the things that your customers don't know.

As a matter of fact, the best types of blog posts and the best types of videos to create, especially when you're getting started is the most common sense stuff out there. If you're a business owner, what's the question that you get from every prospective customer? You write that in a blog post. You'll never have to answer that question again, if you didn't want to. You can put it out there once. You can send somebody a link. You can spend time on an e-mail saying, this is great, wonderful. I'd love to have your business. Check out this link. It'll help to explain your problem or whatever.

A lot of people are like, gosh, I don't have anything to blog about. Gosh, I'll really have to strain to really think of something great to write about. No. You just have to write about the questions that your customers have, and it's oftentimes the softball pitches for you as the business owner because you know this information just straight.

To further talk about YouTube or video, I want to talk about YouTube. YouTube is just explosive in growth right now. There are 35 hours of video being uploaded every minute on this website. It's crazy, right? It's also the number two search engine in the entire world. You think Google. There's Bing. There's Yahoo. No, Google's number one. YouTube is number two.

YouTube has over two billion daily video views, two billion, and they reported recently that in the year 2011, they plan to increase their staff by 30 percent. They are going to increase their staff by 30 percent. That's a big hiring year, and the reason they are going to do that is because they have even bigger plans for YouTube. They are going to be starting to create their own content, so they'd be creating videos to put out there that they produce.

They're going to be creating much more helpful organization capabilities, so they're going to have channels on YouTube now. So YouTube is almost evolving into its own TV station or a cable network that is going to have channels that you're going to want to go to. Then finally . . . there's no finally. Sorry about that. So video is big and it's a great opportunity.

I know what finally was. If you create a blog post, that's one piece of content. If you create a video and then write everything that you said or send that video off for transcription services, there's a great company called, where for $1 per audio minute they will take any audio file that you give them and send it back perfectly transcribed human text. So then, you can create that video, and then you can put the whole text from that video on your blog post. So that's one piece of content that's getting search traffic.

Then, you can turn around and put that video on YouTube. That's another piece of content for you to get that traffic, that search traffic. Think of video, think of audio, think of text. They're all great, and if you can create a piece of content once and then leverage it across those multiple mediums, it's even better. Your cost of creation of content goes down.

Then finally, let's talk about web analytics. This is the second tactic or channel that's particularly near and dear to my heart. If you have a free web analytics tool on your website, such as [inaudible 0:43:07] of measurement, identification and listening opportunities, you can, first of all, understand who is coming to your website, where they're coming from, what they're looking at, how they got there, and that can be really illuminating for you in running your business.

So, for example, those blog posts that I create, I created a blog post every week for the last year and a half, so I've got about maybe 75 in the can. I know exactly which ones are the most popular because I know how many page views each one of those got and how people got there. I know that about 60 percent of my traffic comes from search engines because I create content, optimize it, and I get searched. But then I get some traffic from social media. I get traffic from other websites, and then I get, sometimes, people type it into the browser,

I can understand all of that, and when I do, then I can identify patterns. So I can say, "Well, gosh, it seems like this type of content is doing better. I've really identified a new medium. I've identified a new type of customer. So now I can begin to create more content for them, or I can develop a strategy for outreaching to them or building relationships with them.

Then, it's a great listing tool as well because the popular blog posts are the ones that can be very surprising, which content is effective. Sometimes, you think, oh, gosh, this will never go anywhere, and it's extremely popular. Unless you have these great free web analytics tools in place, you'll never know.

Then, expanding that even further, let's say you have an entire marketing campaign. Let's say I'm going to do some stuff in Twitter. I'm going to do stuff in Facebook, and I'm going to drive traffic to my blog from those areas. Then, hopefully, the people that read the blog will then start to explore further into the website, the more commercial aspects, the product pages, the services section, the Contact Us page, which is the best page to get people to. When you have this web analytics framework in place, you can start to see the progression from Twitter to the website to the blog to the Contact Us page, and you can basically open and widen the funnel with your efforts by this measurement.

There are plenty of other marketing channels out there. We just talked about a few today, but there's e-mail, press releases, white papers, and e-books. White papers and e-books are just a fancy way of saying I'm going to put a PDF out there that's maybe 20 or 30 pages. For example, on my website I have the "Complete Guide to Blogging with Squarespace."

So people that are on my website, not only are they there to see the article that they came to see, but they have this e-book that they can download as well. If they sign up for that e-book, then I subscribe them to my newsletter. Now, I've got people subscribing to my newsletter, and they've given me permission. Now, I can start e-mailing them, and that's another channel.

It's thinking back to those principles that we talked about. Use all of those principles. If you understand where you are with those principles, then you can pick each one of these tools kind of a la carte as you plan your marketing strategy. I'm going to use this for this. I'm going to use this for that. I'm going to use this for this. Then, at the end of the day, watch the business come in. It doesn't always work like that right away, but we hope.

We talked about this a little bit, so I'm going to go right past it. Here's a visualization, and this is something that I think is really helpful. Basically, you've got people out there on the Web doing their thing, and it's a process of slowly pulling them. Instead of pushing, it's slowly pulling them through the search engines, on the left, through the social media sites, on the right, to your website often by means of your blog and then into the deeper content portions of your website.

The thing about e-mail marketing is that it's a slow sale. It's taking time to build that relationship before you ask for the sale. One of the great metaphors that I've heard before is that this inbound marketing and social media and all of these new media channels is like a young man going to his girlfriend's house to have dinner with her parents. Everybody at the table knows the intentions of the young man, but nobody is going to say it.

Inbound marketing, you're not going to say it right away. Everybody knows what the intention is. You're not creating this content out of the goodness of your heart. There's some of that, too, but at the end of the day we have intentions. We want business. That's one of the great things about inbound marketing is that if you go out and you solve all of these problems first, then there's a good chance that at the end you will have gained that permission. You'll have earned that trust, and you'll have earned the attention that you receive.

A lot of you might be saying, "Well, gosh, that all sounds well and good, but it's not right for me right now." In 2007, there were 33 percent of small businesses with websites. Fast forward two years, you had 45 percent of small businesses with websites. Fast forward to today, and that number is close to about 60 percent. You have small businesses out there, and 40 percent don't have a website. There's still a lot of opportunity out there, and this space is so new that the space just hasn't reached the point of saturation. There's still plenty of opportunity. Some of the biggest reasons that people have for not doing it are, number one, I don't need a website. I'm not in the mood. I live out of town, ten miles or I'm in a community, maybe 15 miles out of Wausau. Nobody sees me and whatever. I don't need to have a website. That's the biggest point of resistance for small businesses that don't have a website.

Second, there is cost. A lot of people are concerned about the cost. We are in a different day and age now. In 2000, to get a web developer, to get somebody to build you a website, it was a huge investment. Today, you can use tools like Squarespace, like what I use, for about $12 a month, or you can use a tool like WordPress. It's free. Often, these tools require a little bit of knowledge, but there are people out there that have the knowledge as well. It's not the knowledge that was required, let's say, by a programmer or a developer to build you something completely from scratch. These new tools are quicker and easier to put together, and you can end up with a pretty slick looking website for often well under $2,000.

The other concern that people have is, "Gosh, you know what? It's a lot of work, a lot of work. I don't want to do it. It's too expensive to create all this content. What are you talking about? I don't want to get a video camera and write all this stuff down and pay for web subscriptions and all that stuff." Well, actually inbound marketing is reported to be 62 percent cheaper than outbound marketing.

So the ability to get new customers, this is another HubSpot chart that they have. In 2011, the respondents to this survey said that the average outbound marketing cost per lead was $373. The average inbound cost of new leads was $143, 62 percent cheaper. If you create a new blog post every week, maybe it's an hour of your time, or if you do it a couple times a week, a couple hours of your time, that's going to start to roll in. It's not like radio advertising where you pay for it once, that money's gone, and hopefully you've got some customers.

This inbound marketing, this creation of content, getting it out there, that content is out there forever, right? Oftentimes, we see that the cost per lead tends to decrease over time with inbound marketing because the more that you create, the more that that content begins to get you new business over time.

This is one of my favorite slides. These folks were asked to report what channels typically brought them lower than average costs per lead and new customers. Blogging, one of the lowest costs per lead, then social media, then search, telemarketing, direct mail, pay-per-click, trade shows. Again, I know that a lot of people are resistant to blogs, but just go out there and create one. It'll be great, I swear.

I want to pause just a second here before we start to get some questions and answers and really just take a look at a few brief case studies about people that have made this work for themselves.

This is a guy named Gary Vaynerchuk. He's the founder of Wine Library TV. He's the writer of the book, "Crush It," and he's the owner of plenty of other things. In 1978, he came with his family, at the age of three, from the former Soviet Union in what's now Belarus, and they opened up a small liquor store in New Jersey. In 2006, Gary said, "Gosh, I'm facing all these challenges. I'm going to take this on the Web." He started doing this weekly show called "Wine Library TV."

Now 1,000 episodes later, this guy has gone on to write books. At this point, it's not even about the liquor store because he's gone much past that. His family is well off. They don't have to worry about anything. He's written, like I said, "Crush It". He's got his own media company called Vayner Media, and now he's got a new project called the Daily Grape which is kind of like a local deals type of thing for people that are interested in wine. I want to just play you a few minutes from this clip just to show you the type of content that Gary created for wine enthusiasts.

Gary Vaynerchuk: Hello, everybody, and welcome to Wine Library TV. I'm your host, Gary Vaynerchuk, and this, my friends, is the Thunder Show, the Internet's greatest wine show, and this is Episode 1,000. So, this is seriously emotional for me, 1,000 episodes, an amazing journey. There are so many people I want to thank for this show from Erik Kastner, who was the original Chris Mott. Before there was a Mott, there was a Kastner.

Josh Braaten: Surprising enough, that's all I needed to show you to get my point across. He had a great intro, right? You don't need to have that great of an intro. He paid somebody money to do that, but how many people noticed that he's just sitting at his desk, right? You don't need to have a set. How many people heard the paper crinkling in the background? You don't need to have professional audio. It helps, but you don't need to have that. Then also, how many people noticed that he stuttered and was all over the place? It helps to have something scripted and to plan it out and not to stutter, but this guy has built an empire through that level of production quality.

Now, a lot of you are saying, "Well gosh, this guy got in five years ago, and I can't do that at all, or this is just an exception." But I want to show you a story that was in the Star Tribune two weeks ago in the Twin Cities. This is the story about a local social media firm that helped a woman named Deborah Dolan. She owns a company called Senior Life Transitions. She more than doubled her business in one year by the creation of a blog, a podcast, and search in social marketing. She did this by talking about aging issues to care givers and to folks that were getting older. If you can make new media work for that demographic, you can make it work for anyone. The surprising fact is that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is the 55 to 65-year-old age range. So if you can make online marketing work for that demographic, you can make it work for anyone.

Before we get into questions and answers, I wanted to just quickly plug a few opportunities for additional knowledge and information on Internet marketing. First of all, there's the Rasmussen College blogs which we publish quite often. We have ten of them, actually, on the website. They range from our six schools of study to career services, online learning, and student life. We often put lots of great Internet marketing content on our School of Business blog, so it's a great place. I'd like to extend the invitation for you all to visit.

Also, I'd like to encourage you to follow us on Facebook on Rasmussen College's Wausau Facebook page, so If you do that, then we'll be able to share the links for this presentation with you tomorrow. We're going to be putting on all of the slides. I'll be putting a recap so that you can reference it in the future, and then within a week, we're also going to be posting the full video with all of the sound.

So, if there's a section that you thought was particularly good, or if you just want to go back and forth where I stumbled and laugh at me, I'd be more than happy to have you do that. But we'd please like you to come and explore Internet marketing with us, and we'll be able to share this content with you if you're on the Facebook Wausau page.

Then, finally, you can always look for me individually at or on Twitter. My Twitter handle is JLBraaten. I talk mostly about SEO, web analytics, and the Squarespace blogging tool. If you're looking for more general information about Internet marketing, check out the Rasmussen College School of Business blog.

If you're in the mood for something a little bit more hard core, a little bit more structured, I would encourage you to check out the Rasmussen College Business Management Degree with a specialization in Internet Marketing. We offer an Associate's Degree and a Bachelor's Degree. Our Bachelor's Degree is backed by content from Market Motive, which is one of the most prestigious industry recognized source of information. They've got experts, such as Avinash Kaushik, Bryan Eisenberg and more, and if you don't know who those folks are, well, they're a pretty big deal. They're big idols to me. Feel free to check that out as well.

The time is now, and I hope that you enjoyed this presentation. I really encourage you to just familiarize yourself with those principles and then tackle those tactics that we talked about.

External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

This article was transcribed by the Rasmussen College Blog team. Are you ready to take the plunge into a new, successful future? If so, learn more about our degree programs today.

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