Wading through the marketing muddle
Editor’s note: The following article is the second in a series addressing the basics of Internet marketing. The first appeared on Page 24 of the January/February 2008 AutoGlass. Look for the next installment in the July/August issue.
If you understand why Internet marketing is important but still aren’t sure where to start, this article will walk you through the specific steps necessary to build an online presence.
First, have the proper analytics in place to track your marketing efforts. Most hosting companies offer free analytics with their hosting package. I recommend Google Analytics, available at www.google.com/analytics/. It’s free, easy to set up and offers great data to help monitor your Web site traffic and marketing results.
What you track largely depends on your personal preferences and business needs, but typical metrics include:
• Number of visits to the Web site
• Where visitors came from (Google vs. Yahoo)
• What search terms visitors used to find your Web site
• Which pages visitors looked at during their visit
• Conversion tracking. Did the visitor take a desired action during his or her visit?
To get started, go to www.google.com/analytics/ and follow the on-screen instructions for setting up an account. Paste Google code in the HTML of every page on your Web site. This is easy, but you’ll want to get help installing the code if you’re not familiar with HTML. Any Webmaster, Web designer, programmer or Internet marketing person with a basic knowledge of HTML can assist you.
Once the codes are installed, check out the Google Analytics Tour on the analytics setting page. It will walk you through the basics, giving you the understanding you need to successfully use the tool.
Now that the analytics are in place, you can move forward with a targeted pay-per-click, or PPC, campaign. Depending on your level of comfort, I recommend one of two strategies:
If you’re not comfortable choosing the right search terms or developing ad copy that targets your audience, look to outside resources. For example, the GTS do-it-yourself PPC tool at www.gtsservices.com/ppc allows you to launch your own PPC campaign with just a few clicks.
If you prefer to build a campaign on your own, go to www.adwords.google.com and follow the on-screen instructions for setting up an account.
Once you’ve set up an account, follow Google’s instructions and guidelines to create campaigns and ad groups. To make the process easier:
• Use the Google keyword tool to find search terms relevant to your business, but be careful with term selection. Choose only two- to four-word terms specific to your products or services.
• Build ad groups with titles and descriptions closely related to the terms themselves. For instance, an ad group with the terms “auto glass repair” should have ad copy specific to auto glass repair. The term “replacement” requires ad copy focused on replacement, and so forth.
• Turn on analytics and follow Google instructions for installing the code on targeted pages within your site. A targeted conversion page is a “thank you” or “confirmation” page displayed when visitors complete a task, such as a “contact us” form or the final page of a quote request.
When building a Web site, certain key steps can help ensure it generates as many organic listings as possible. First, determine the primary focus of each page and choose one search term for every individual page.
When creating the page title, use the following format: “primary search term–company name”. For example, if the primary focus of a page is “windshield replacement” and your company name is “XYZ Inc.,” the title for that page should read “Windshield replacement–
Next, place a page header on each page. If you know HTML, use a stylized “H1” for the header. If you don’t know HTML, simply place the text at the top of the page and make it bold. Keeping with the above example, the page header should say “Windshield replacement.” This ties together the page title with the subject of the page.
Lastly, create a sitemap. A sitemap is a page with links to every other page on your site. Put a link to that sitemap on every page. For now, it doesn’t matter where. It can be at the bottom of the page or in the left navigation bar, wherever it makes sense for your site design.
Once these steps are implemented, you’re well on your way. With analytics installed, you can track what is working and what needs to change. This will enable you to make smart online marketing decisions going forward.