Here at Silicon Cloud, we believe strongly in the power of content creation and inbound marketing. But we don’t expect you to just take our word for it. So we’re going to let someone else talk about it for once. Daire McCarthy is an online entrepreneur, who runs a number of successful consumer savings websites including; d3als.ie, 5hop5.ie and mobilephonedeals.ie. He has been running various online businesses since 2005 and is currently working on a new venture for 2013. We asked him to share a few insights on how he has promoted his businesses and how online businesses can grow in the current online climate.
What kinds of marketing methods do you use to promote your websites?
Email marketing is huge for us. With smartphones people will check their emails on the way to work. That’s big for d3als. We do a good bit of social media promotion for each of the sites. We’ve done promotion through Facebook and Twitter mainly. We’ve found, for our business, that Twitter is a lot more valuable. Twitter users tend to be more responsive to deals and online discounts. The conversion rate on Twitter is quite high for retail. On Facebook, the direct conversion rate is almost non-existent.
What’s the value in producing unique content for a site like D3als?
It’s how we differentiate. When we talk to deals providers, that’s one of the things that always stands out. The likes of Groupon are very keen that you’re not just showing their deals but actually adding value on top of that. We’ve created content for our own site and other promotional content that’s gone to newspapers and other media outlets. It’s important that we’re seen as more than just an aggregator of deals. We need to be a knowledge resource too. The theory is, people either find the deals and then come back for the content or they find the content and then they might purchase a deal.
Do you think that content marketing will overtake SEO?
We spent a lot of time and money on SEO, but we’re starting to move away from that now. We were targeting specific locations, because that’s the way daily deals are focused. So we had a lot of success targeting those geographic keywords. On Yahoo and Bing, because they were more content focused we were able to generate plenty of keyword traffic.
With Google, because it appears to be more links based, we found a lot of people used to game the system. In Ireland, which used to be our core market, nobody was doing SEO right, and the rest were just gaming the system. Usually through a lot of shoddy overseas based SEO companies working in the industry We used to focus on brand names, because that’s what people look for in retail, and we got some success doing that. However with the multiple Google algorithm changes this year, this doesn’t work anymore – there is a change in focus of what Google is displaying for brand name searches. Google’s focus appears to have changed and the tactics that were being used by some in the SEO industry, such as article directory submissions, no longer works. Most of those links are now devalued, so you need to be more creative now.
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The interesting thing is, our traffic has fallen over the last 6 months but our revenue has remained steady. Which means we probably only lost the traffic that was offering very little value.
Do you think that means Google works?
Yes and no. When I started out, I needed to use those brand names to get the name out there and build core traffic. Now that traffic has dropped off, I have a base to build from. If you were starting out tomorrow, with no subscriber base, it would be very difficult to build a user base. Unless you spend a fortune on Google ads. Which might be what Google wants, but it makes it difficult and extremely costly for a new e-based business.
If you can’t afford aggressive advertising through Google, how do you grow businesses?
What you need to do now is design unique content like infographics and blogs. Or, the next big thing will be to find a way to add value for other content creators. So if you create a plugin that adds value for a blogger or content provider, that will create a mutually beneficial relationship that creates good quality links for you. I think adding value really is the key. Both through your own content and through things like plugins and widgets for bloggers.
So, what does the future hold for you and D3als?
I think we’ve developed a good group of websites that offer real value to consumers. And we’re building good quality knowledge resources around those. I think the future may be to bring those together and create a big value resource. If we can pull together all of that into a single location that offers money saving deals, knowledge and advice, we can provide real value for the consumer. These days, that’s the best way to build traffic and grow business.
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