Harness The Cloud With Little Technical Know-How
As Published In iMedia Connection:
It was not so long ago that online marketing required access to heavy duty database administrators, web developers, and seriously overpriced licenses to software and hardware platforms. The result was that it was nearly impossible for small and growing companies to compete online versus the big boys. Fortunately, now any web publisher or marketer, even those with little technical background, can access and use new Web 2.0 tools to improve their business. It is now easier than ever to start and promote a company with less capital and in a more professional fashion.
The cloud makes it possible. Although nearly everyone has a different definition for cloud computing, it is clear that it equips users with access to technology that previously would have required sophisticated IT and programming knowledge. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a type of cloud computing. SaaS delivers applications through the browser, which enables even the smallest businesses interested in accessing Web 2.0 applications to publish websites, mash-ups, widgets, toolbars, gadgets, and entire downloadable applications.
But don't think because they are easy to use, that they aren't powerful. There is no limit to how much you can scale your marketing efforts. A widget or a toolbar will be just as effective with 100,000 users as with 100. The following is a list of six tools that are on-demand, free, secure, and made for anyone (no software):
- Tools that put your site on the move -- with your users. For instance, if you put the best elements of your website on a community toolbar that sits in the browser, then your company goes everywhere on the internet that your customer does. This enables a persistent brand relationship, which enhances the overall user experience for your customer.
- Dynamic tools that offer access to rich technologies such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, audio streaming, and more can easily be added to your web marketing efforts. The internet is quickly becoming more multidimensional, and these tools enable publishers to follow suit. They deliver more interactive experiences, better content delivery, and richer user engagement.
- A gadget or widget is a simple distribution mechanism, because it can be hosted on any website and is easy to install into a browser, social networking site, personalized start page, or toolbar. The advantage of widgets is that they improve the functionality and appearance of web applications, are easy to implement and are fast to deploy. Check out Widgetbox where you can easily make your own widgets.
- Stay in touch with prospective or existing customers by creating additional channels for dialogue. This can be highly beneficial as customers increasingly rely on more venues for communication. Create a page on Facebook or MySpace for your company or product. Or you can create your own social network at Ning. Be sure to populate your page with gadgets and fresh content.
- Visibly increase your reach with syndication tools. Syndicate your blog or your website with an RSS Feed. Most blog tools include an RSS creation tool. These feeds can also be hosted on a social community page, community toolbar, and personalized start pages. Your reach will improve as you provide better content, more frequently to a wider audience.
- Share content, such as product announcements, press releases, blog updates, media coverage using tools like ShareThis. It's a better delivery mechanism than simple email because it delivers your content to myriad places, like email lists, your Facebook page and more. It can even track and measure the entire life of the information.
Marketing in today's climate is not easy, but the wealth of online tools available helps to assuage some of the pain. Thankfully, SaaS brings various tools to the fore that would otherwise be out of reach for many marketers.
About The Guest Author: Adam Boyden, president of Conduit, is responsible for the strategic direction, marketing, business development, and U.S. operations for the company. Boyden is an expert in online and Web 2.0 marketing and a well-published author.