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Which Internet Marketing Chores Have You Been Putting Off?

Most of us, if we're being honest, have a list somewhere in our home or office that basically amounts to a catalog of unfinished projects and unfulfilled expectations. Whether it's cleaning out the garage or losing an extra five pounds, a lot of us have unchecked items on our "to-do" reminders that always seem important enough to write down, but never quite critical enough to actually devote time and energy to.

Not surprisingly, we see the same kind of thing in the world of business web design and Internet marketing all the time. There are a number of small jobs that clients tend to put off taking care of, or don't bother sending our way. The difference here, though, is that failing to attend to them can actually create some long-term difficulties when it comes to attracting online buyers, keeping up search engine optimization, etc.

With that in mind, here are a handful of Internet marketing "chores" that you should make sure you're taking care of right away:

Getting rid of broken links and erroneous pages. Not only do broken links lead customers to dead ends in your business website, but they do harm to your Google search engine rankings. Now is the perfect time to prune them, and to get rid of any missing or out-of-date information on your web pages at the same time.

Finally putting your blog back on track. Most companies start their blogs with high hopes, but abandon them once they realize how much time and trouble it takes to keep generating new content. Few things are better for tracking search engine visitors than producing new blog posts, though, so it's time to get your content plan back on track.

Filling in your social media profiles. If you have incomplete profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, now is the time to put a bit of energy into each one. That's particularly true for Google+, which is largely ignored by businesses despite its extraordinary potential.

Uploading a new marketing video to YouTube. Besides being owned by Google and considered "the world's second-largest search engine," YouTube shows billions of videos a day and is a great way to introduce yourself to new potential customers. Isn't it time you uploaded a clip that shows off your products or expertise?

We won't lie: We could probably go on and add a dozen other items, but then most of you might not ever start on your list, much less finish it. So, why don't we get together this month and see what we can do to get your Internet marketing plan in order?

How Should You Set A Pay Per Click Budget?

Used correctly, pay per click advertising can be one of the best, and fastest, ways to bring qualified prospects to your website. It's not always as cost-effective as organic search engine optimization, of course, but it does have some distinct advantages: namely, that you can have it up and running in minutes, and that you can specify any landing page that you want, making changes and testing them instantly.

But one thing that a lot of online marketers struggle with is determining the right spending level for their PPC campaigns. Paying too much, and you're basically pouring money down a funnel; commit too little, and you'll never see results.

Here are three quick tips for setting your pay per click budget on Google, Yahoo, and Bing:

Measure sales closely. Ultimately, the decision about how much to spend should come down to the issue of how much you're earning in return. If it's coming back to you in new sales almost immediately, then don't stop as long as it's profitable; if not, then ask yourself why, and set your budget accordingly in the meantime.

Measure other activity. In some industries, a successful "hit" from the pay per click campaign might not lead to an immediate sale. That's why it's so important to track the source of new business, as well as residual effects over time. Just because someone doesn't call or pick up the phone right away doesn't mean they won't later. Often, a PPC campaign can be more profitable than you first think when you get the chance to look at the big picture.

Don't bid all out for no reason. Obviously, the first ad position on any page is going to get the most hits, all things being considered. But what a lot of marketers don't realize is that the second, third, and even eighth positions can get a lot of traffic too – especially in certain markets where there's a lot of competition. That means it doesn't always make sense to pay for the top spots. Try bidding for a few different positions and see how your results are affected – you might find that you can get a much bigger return by having your ad displayed a bit lower in the results.

Is Your Logo Building Your Brand… or Distracting You From What Matters?

It might surprise you to know this, but one of our least favorite questions is: “Can you design a logo for my company?”

As the head of a graphic design firm that works on dozens of logos every year,  what gives? The problem isn’t with logos themselves, or the process of designing logos, but the difference between what they are and what new clients sometimes think they mean.

To see why that’s so problematic, let’s take a look at a couple of important distinctions.

Your Logo is a Visual Component of Your Brand

New clients and inexperienced marketers love logos, and devote a lot of their time to them, because they are easy to understand. A good logo is more than a symbol, it’s a representation of your brand in a nutshell.

As such, it needs to not only have the right colors and graphical elements, but also incorporate fonts, styles, and even emotional elements that stand up for your marketing message on everything from a website to a business card along with the literally dozens of identity pieces that can come between.

Your Brand is Much Bigger Than a Logo

For all the praise and importance heaped onto a logo, however, it really represents the tip of the branding iceberg – something that’s highly visible, but that can actually obscure the more weighty and important pieces below.

For example, companies like Coca-Cola, Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks all have well-known logos; however, their brands aren’t successful because of those logos. Instead, the logos themselves reinforce strong, clear impressions that have been built one interaction at a time. The logo isn’t the company; it’s a reminder of the product, the customer service, and the emotional connection that customers have with their favorite businesses.

Reducing branding to a logo is like equating a whole pizza to a slice of pepperoni. It makes for a nice instant visual, but it only tells a small part of the story. If your brand isn’t bigger than your logo, you don’t have a brand at all – you have a visual identity and a lot of wasted opportunities.

Logos Matter, But They Aren’t All That Matters

By now, it should be clear what the ultimate message is: It’s great to have a logo, and perfectly acceptable to have one designed (or redesigned) for your company. If you make that the focal point of your branding efforts, however, you’re missing the point entirely.

Logos are important, but they aren’t the only things that matter.  The power of a strong brand is much more valuable than a catchy piece of art, no matter how effective you think it is at capturing your position in the market.

Social Media: A Force for Good! (Interactions with Customers, That Is)

As we pass the halfway mark in 2014, not much has changed this year in how social media affects our use of various outlets—perhaps with the exception of those taking part in the “99 Days of Freedom” experiment. The usual rules still apply, to post topics that are timely, emphasize the customer’s needs and building a relationship, make offers and information unique to the outlet, and, most importantly, use proper grammar!

While some companies fail to grasp these simplest of rules, others have not only embraced the use of social media to build their brand, they are taking innovative steps to connect with customers and offering unique incentives for those who interact. By integrating social media into their corporate structure and business plan, these companies are engaging with customers on a new level.

One such company is Whole Foods, who established a dedicated team responsible for monitoring social channels for customer questions, and concerns, as well as praise. After announcing in March that it would begin labeling GMOs, the company received a lot of customer questions and feedback, which it then used to create a initiative to educate customers and to answer the most frequently asked questions.

Hampton Hotels and Restaurants is another example of business getting to the heart of what matters to customers. The company employs a dedicated staff to listens to every single tweet, post, status update or comment about their hotels and restaurants—and for a chain of their size, that’s a lot of mentions.

Primarily, the staff members address the issues and complaints, but this company takes it a step further. In one example, a guest received a bowl of soup and a spot of tea. This may not seem terribly out of the ordinary. That is, until you consider that the guest, who was in a Maui hotel, had voiced her woes over social media that she was sick that day and couldn't go out. In addition to the thoughtful nourishment, the hotel included a get well card to her tray, for good measure.

Credit card behemoth American Express connects card members with merchant partners—millions of them—allowing a card member to load an offer directly onto their card via Twitter hash tags. Last March, the company launched a program with the functionality to tweet special hash tags to make purchases, allowing customers to buy products from companies like Sony, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Using social media in business is far from an exact science, and while the basic tenets may not change year to year, the inventive ways businesses engage with their customer base is evolving, creating its own niche.