Welcome to My Blog

About me …

Jack Aston - E-commerce and Internet ConsultantI spent the first half of my professional life providing customer support for business management systems in the automotive industry. I soon learnt that what was most important to my customers was clear and honest advice, personal and jargon free. In 2006 I decided to use the skills I’d learnt managing a technical support team, both from the role itself and from the customers I supported, to set up my own business technology consultancy. Although I initially went in with a broad remit, I quickly found myself involved more and more with internet based solutions, most commonly e-commerce and internet marketing.

Since 2006 I’ve worked on a number of projects of varying sizes and across different industries. I’ve set up e-commerce businesses from scratch and guided them to success but also helped analyse existing systems and made improvements to increased revenue and reduce costs. Integral to building a successful e-commerce site is good marketing. I’ve built up a good understanding of the internet market as well as the key skills necessary to gain insight into specific industries and then convert those insights into measurable results. I’ve also been able to use my more general business and management experience to complement my technology based skills, providing interim management, assisting in recruiting the right people and advising more generally on the IT needs of my customers.

Over the years I’ve made a few mistakes but I’ve also learnt from them. I’ve learnt that, although most companies can gain from e-commerce and internet marketing, that’s not always the best way forward or the best way they can use limited resources. I’ve learnt that a fancy website isn’t as important as providing clear quality content and marketing that content well. What I’ve found overall though, is that the clear, honest and no nonsense approach I learnt in my early years providing customer support, works best whatever and whoever the client.

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Google Local

The Googles Move to Local
In 2009 Google changed its search algorithm to take account of a user’s geographic location and rank companies local to you, higher in its organic listings. For this to work, you don’t have to be logged into Google. If you’re not signed in, Google will locate you based on your computers IP address (often inaccurately).

How it Works
In the past, users have become used to searching for services by adding a location to their search query. The most common method is to suffix the location for example ‘Professional Photographer Derbyshire’ or ‘Indian Restaurant in Sheffield’. Needless to say, Google is wise to this and uses this kind of information as well. This means that if you’re sat at home in London but plan to visit Sheffield for the snooker, you will still get relevant results.

Local is Not Everything
It’s important to bear in mind that Local Search is just one part of the mix. The other parts of search are still vitally important and a highly regarded site (with many inbound links etc.) will still often outrank a locally based site. Still, as mobile search becomes more and more important and as directories on and off line become less relevant, Google Local seems to be getting more important.

Beyond Organic Search
Location isn’t just important for organic search engine results, it’s also essential for anybody advertising through Google targeting a specific area. Adwords allows for very specific geographic targeting and gives you the option between targeting based on specified/discerned location and the older suffix method described above (or both). The number of photographers, plumbers and florists advertising nationally, when they actually only server a relatively small area is astonishing. This is no doubt why so many locally based businesses become frustrated with Adwords quickly.

Location is also important because of its interaction with Google+. Try entering a search term like ‘Event Photographer Derbyshire’ and see what comes up. You’ll probably see paid ads at the top, then possibly some organic search results and then a long list of companies taken from Google+. It’s pretty clear that a local business can’t just rely on Facebook, even if Google+ is still woefully underused (at least in the UK).

More Insight
I have a couple of successful local marketing campaigns running at the moment and have just started with a new one Chris Webb Photography. Chris is a professional wedding, product and event photographer working in Worksworth, Derbyshire. The project is particularly challenging because his portfolio site is largely image based. It does have the advantage of having excellent social media opportunities and Chris has set-up Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts and populated them with excellent content. I set the site up a couple of weeks ago and picked a selection of target words, the first priority being ‘Event Photographer Derbyshire’ targeting the home page. I’m sat in Sheffield at the moment and have the site coming up forth for that term. In Derbyshire it was ranked third. I’ve just set Moz up to track a selection of keywords and competitors and hope to have some incites back in the next few days.

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Marketing on the Web – Feeling Overwhelm?

When deciding on a new marketing strategy you might think the path forward obvious or you might be overwhelmed by choices. Either way, it pays to consider all of the available options and to give proper consideration to their potential benefits. Any strategy will cost either in time or money and often both. Because of the open nature of the web, you also run the risk of looking bad in front of your customers and competitors, there is nothing worse than an untended Facebook page with customer queries and comments lying un-responded too.

I’ve come up with a list of over 30 different interrelated web marketing options and nearly everyone comes with a number of different methods of implementation. Some, like ‘offline advertising’ are just vague headings for a much larger number of options whilst others, like Search and Display ads fit together as different options in a larger marketing strategy.

Article WritingAmazon Lists and Reviews

Bebo

Blogging

Deal Sites

Display Ads

Directory Listings

Email Marketing

Flickr

Foursquare

Facebook

Google PlusInstagram

In Store Advertising

Lead Generators

Link Building

LinkedIn

Local Info Sites

Local SEO

Loyalty Programs

Marketplace Utilization

News Releases

PinterestOffline Advertising

Q&As and Forums

Review Sites

Search Ads

SEO

Social Media Ads

Tagged

Text Message Marketing

Twitter

Video Marketing

This list only contains the largest and most effective social media networks and only those big in the English speaking world. If you’re operating in a specific niche then you might need to target a specific social network like Habbo (kids) or Last.fm (music). If you’re doing business in China then you’ll want to be taking a look at Qzone and Sina Weibo whilst Friendster is still popular in Southeast Asia.This list is extensive, although it could be easily enlarged. Even with limitless money and time, trying to cover too many marketing channels would be a bad idea, your message is likely to become unclear and your customers will feel overwhelmed. Better to pick a few key channels that you know you can keep across, even at busy times.

When choosing the marketing mix which is right for you, it’s important to not only consider direct costs but also how to minimize the amount of time you’ll need to keep your various channels running. Some channels will utilize the same resources and so minimize costs. Keyword research for example, is time consuming but can facilitate a number of different marketing strategies whilst SEO is essential for Google SERPs but equally for at least half of the marketing channels I’ve mentioned.

One great way to cover a number of different channels easily is to repurpose content. You can often use copy written for your website or blog across other channels with minimal changes. On this site for a property maintenance and window restoration company, I’ve essentially used the same copy to create a company LinkedIn page. I’ve decided to change the copy around so that Google and the human reader don’t find it too repetitive (if you want to use exactly the same copy, make sure you use rel=”canonical”). I’ve also used an image from the site, cropping it to meet LinkedIn’s requirements.

In summary then, remember not only to target channels that will work well in your industry but also those that complement each other. And remember, don’t over stretch yourself. Better to start too small and build then to take too much on and end up failing at it all!

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Don’t Let Google Change the Way You Think – They’re Not the Only Name in Search

http://www.wordtracker.com/academy/facebook-graph-search?utm_source=Subscribers&utm_campaign=1f989f05ad-Newsletter_206_small_image&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6cdc864080-1f989f05ad-287133821

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What is Content Marketing?

With each subsequent Google update, website content becomes more and more important in getting notices online. In this video freelance marketing consultant C.C. Chapman explains what is meant by content marketing.

 

What is content marketing?

This video is from the online training site Lynda.com where you can see the rest of the interview, monthly membership is about $25. C.C. Chapman’s site is here: http://www.cc-chapman.com. (I have no affiliation with either of these parties.)
View this entire Insights from a Content Marketer course and more in the lynda.com library.
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Getting to Know the Online Market

Investigating an Online Market

If you have a product or service you want to sell online, or if you are already selling online but would like better results there are several ways you can investigate your online market. Once you have a broad understanding of the market you will have a better idea of how easy it will be to market your goods/services and suggest ways to compete with competitors already in the market place. Once you have an understanding yourself, you will feel more confident about getting professional help.

Key Steps to Assessing the Online Market

Make Sure Your Expectations are Realistic

It’s easy to think that the internet can provide an easy cheap alternative to main stream marketing. You may have read about the success of some company in the paper or even know of companies yourself who talk about the how online marketing worked for them. You may even have ideas for some new viral video or iphone ap that you think might take off. The truth today is that, unless you’re really lucky, there is no cheap and easy way to have an impact on the net.

Anyone planning a new online marketing strategy needs to understand both the limitations and the opportunities the internet provides. Most internet marketing strategies take time to implement and may also have a monetary cost. Generally cheaper strategies take time to start to have an effect whilst a paid advertising campaign can deliver fast results if it’s run right. Furthermore, what works for some companies won’t necessarily work for others, copying an existing strategy from a competitor is unlikely to yield the same results. And as for being the next big internet craze? In today’s congested internet you’re unlikely to stand out no matter how good your idea is.

So there the limitations, what about the opportunities? Well, although getting new marketing strategy up and running may cost time and money, because the internet offers incredibly powerful methods of tracking your online audience customers and prospects, over time you can not only reduce costs and ensure good return on investment, but also gain invaluable insight into your target audience to inform you on future initiatives both on and off line. The opportunities the internet offers for gaining market insights and spotting trends, and at low cost, is simply not possible off line no matter how much cash you have to spend.

The internet also offers a number of excellent ways to acquire new customers and build your brand not only online but offline as well. Today large numbers of people are moving from traditional ways of investigating the market (magazine reviews, showrooms) to researching products and services online. What is even more important is that, with the rise of the internet, traditional media is becoming less and less trusted. Modern, techsavie people are far more likely to trust the informal reviews of their piers than a magazine advert or even an editorial.

– This is a draft of a fact sheet which I’ll be making available on www.sbat.co.uk

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