March Tweetup – Thursday 3/27/14

Lancaster Tweetups March Tweetup

Don’t forget this Thursday we’ll be co-hosting this month’s Tweetup at Commonwealth On Queen.

We had a small group at the February Tweetup, but it was a good start and great conversation.
If you didn’t make last time, come out and join us for some coffee and networking.
Hope to see you there!

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BbeS

Here are the details:

When: Thursday at 7:30am
Where: Commonwealth on Queen
Want to join? Let us know! Follow the link to RSVP: March Tweetup

 

 return on investment roi

How to Follow Through on Your Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions

Internet marketing New Years Resolutions post its

2014 is in full swing and we all made our new year’s resolutions, but by now some of the novelty may be wearing off. How do you keep your marketing and sales goals from following the same path as that gym membership you bought? Yep remember, you swore this year you would go every morning before work. You’re still going, right?

Guess what, you’re not alone! Sticking with resolutions is tough.

Let’s take a look at what resolutions marketers have made for this year. In the recent study, 2014 State of Marketing from ExactTarget that polled 2.600 mid- to senior-level marketing managers across all industries. The study found that

  • 98% of marketers plan to increase or maintain the amount they spend in 2014
  • 67% of those surveyed, said their top priority is to increase sales directly tied to digital marketing campaigns
  • 64% are focusing on increasing engagement with emails (clicks and open rates)
  • 61% want to increase their return on investment

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

In general 2014 will be a more data driven year then possibly any before.

The top executives in most companies want to see the data that supports and justifies the money they are spending on digital marketing.

I bet that sounds familiar.

So it comes as no surprise that the area that most participants of the study reported they are planning to increase their spending is Data & Analytics (61%).

How can you make sure you follow through on your digital marketing and stay on track?

  1. Make a plan – If you haven’t already, you’re late… Do it right now!
    Do you think Olympic athletes got there because of a New Year’s resolution? No! They had a plan to get to the fitness level where they can compete, and so should when it comes to your online marketing.
    Lay out you plan for 2014, include a schedule for content creation, how you’ll respond to inquiries and questions, who will be involved and the best channels and platforms that work best for your company. Don’t forget mobile!
  2. Focus on your customer and what they really want.
    I know this one sounds too obvious, but so many companies miss this one. The objective is to increase engagement. Whether that’s “likes”, followers, discussions or clicks and open rates, always think from the customers perspective and what they want, not what you want to give them. Think about personalizing
  3. Analyze the data and set periodic goals for throughout the year.
    This doesn’t mean just set up website analytics and look at them every once and awhile to see how many visitors you have. You need to set up measurable goals and periodic milestones for throughout the year. To do this you need to define what a conversion is (a new client, a whitepaper download, a newsletter sign-up, a lead capture submission, etc.),   define what each conversion is worth to you in real money and calculate how many leads or new visitors you need to achieve your goals. This is the only way you can truly understand the ROI of you digital efforts.

The good news is that if you follow these steps you will know exactly where you stand with your digital marketing goals, because you’ll have the incremental data that supports it.

Now, to apply this to my gym membership…

We’re Co-hosting the Lancaster Tweetup This Thursday 7:30 AM

Lancaster Tweetups February Tweetup

Tweetups are back!

We’re bringing Tweetup back to Lancaster. This Thursday morning at 7:30 at Commonewealth On Queen, 301 North Queen St. Lancaster.

Special thanks to Mark Reinmiller for offering his cafe. For more info and to RSVP: Lancaster Tweetups February Tweetup

Join us for breakfast, coffee and good conversation from 7:30 until as long as the conversation keeps going!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @BbeS

Top 3 Ways to Get Punished by Google

Getting punished by Google can be tragic. It could not only slow down your incoming traffic,  but even worse it could halt it completely. Search engines are always looking for ways to improve their search results because they know that the search algorithm with the best results wins. In the past couple of years Google has made pretty big changes to improve their algorithm and stop people from tricking them for better rankings.

There have been several well-known companies that have recently fallen victim to Google’s wrath because of link building scams: iAquire, JC Penny and Forbes. Just to name a few. Some will argue that Google was too harsh or that these companies were punished for mistakes or not understanding what was considered a bad tactic. But, like it or not everyone has to follow Google’s rules, but for the most part though I think they have made changes with the idea of cleaning up search results to make them better for users.

google penguin update ninja

Below are 3 tactics to avoid so that you don’t fall victim to the Google search results ax:

1. Joining Link Farms and Bad Link Neighborhoods

When you include a link on your site to another site it is similar to a recommendation. You’re saying, “I think this is a quality site and I recommend it to my visitors.”

So linking to a bunch of low quality site can damage your reputation. Plus, on the flip side Google looks at outgoing as well as incoming links. If shady sites link to your site Google will start to think you are shady too. Start paying for links or use Link Schemes and you will start to hear the whistle of the ax as it chops down your site.

Unfortunately you can’t always control who links to your site, but Google does give you some recourse. Make sure you sign up for Webmaster Tools and links you can’t get removed you can notify Google and ask them to ignore them.

So the old saying “You’re only as good as the company you keep,” works online too.

2. Duplicate Content

This is a pretty old tactic, but many people still fall for it. In the old days black hat SEOs used to create multiple pages with the same content hoping that it would increase the chances of getting ranked for keywords. One typical use was to use a page for every city a company serves using the same content except for the name of the city. Google picks up this duplicate content before most of us get out bed in the morning.

A tactic like this will likely get you served to the back of the line in terms of search results.

One thing to note it is possible to inadvertently create duplicate content with your blog via categories, tags and archive pages. This most likely won’t ruin your site, but it might be penalized.

3. Writing Content with a Machine

Let’s face it, it would be great if we never had to produce our own content and it just appeared on our site. Lazy marketers love this one.

Usually this content is created by scraping content from existing sites and re-posting it. Sometimes it is modified slightly, and sometimes it’s not. Either way, Google will punish this sort of content.

 Conclusion:

The rules of online marketing can be tricky and using tactics like these or a variation can be a slippery slope that could drop you in the abyss. In the end is it worth the risk?

The best thing you can do is pay attention to any notices Google Webmasters account and produce unique and useful content.

return on investment roi

Our Best of 2013 Online Marketing Posts

2013 was a turbulent year for Online Marketing. We saw more dramatic updates to Googles algorithms, Google decided to make all search traffic secure, social media data became more important to search, Marketing Automation software exploded as an industry and many other changes to online marketing tracking and techniques.

At Blackbird e-Solutions we followed the news about trends and changes as well as made some news ourselves. Here’s a run down of our best of 2013 from our blog e-Life.

We started the year off with ways to help businesses get their online world in order with a few interesting “How To” posts:

ready, assess, fire, aimReady, Assess, Fire, Aim – Laying the Groundwork for Online Marketing 

Nobody (especially your client or boss) wants to waste money. So the first part of our series is about seeing if you’re ready, by assessing your current situation and laying the groundwork for online success. We see too many people that just start firing away without any idea about where they currently are or a plan for what they want to accomplish. Usually they get frustrated quickly and give up with the complaint, “online marketing just doesn’t work for me.” We don’t want that to happen to you! 

How to Set Up Google Analytics on Your Website

google analytics logo

Let’s assume you’re not currently tracking what happens on your site. There are many different website analytics programs out there, but we recommend Google Analytics to most of our clients. It is cost effective (Who doesn’t like free?!?) and very powerful. In this post I’ll walk you through how to set it up on your website.

Onsite SEO – Best practices. What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

Even with all the changes in the industry basic SEO practices are still important. Many times we see websites that are beautifully designed, but the designers either neglected SEO completely or they may even be doing things that go against simple best practices. We’re going to look at some basics.

meta-description and meta-title

 

How To Find Your Target Audience Online

Online persona exampleOne of the things you need to understand early on in your online marketing plan is where your target audience hangs out online. This can vary from industry to industry. Maybe you’re selling to teens, retirees, businesses in the manufacturing industry or maybe businesses that are just starting out.

Whoever your potential customers are, if you are putting your money and efforts into the wrong place you won’t see the results you want from your online marketing.

We’ve created a list of tips and tools to get you started finding your audience.

 

Do You Know What Keywords Your Target Audience REALLY Uses for Search?

A great example is a recent project we were working on for a staffing firm. The company was strongly against using the word “temp” or “staffing.” as keywords. They said we could get away with using “temporary”, but definitely not “temp”.  His reason was something along the lines of people aren’t looking for staffing anymore, they are looking for employment and employees. Not temp workers because “temp” has a bad connotation.

When this discussion came up, I went to my tool set to find out the truth about search. This post tells you what I found…

temp vs agency vs staffing

 

The second half of the year we looked at things in a bit more strategically as well offered advice for moving forward.

Online Marketing – What’s The Point? 

calculating your ROI diagram 445

Or better said what’s your goal? What are you trying to achieve with online marketing. Unfortunately too many online marketing campaigns are started with out a clear goal or set of goals in mind. If there are goals in place often they are too vague to be meaningful.

Let’s look at an old favorite. “Our GOAL is to sell more stuff.”

That’s great! You and everyone else, but we need to dig deeper to get any meaning out of this.

 

Internet Marketers Did Not Invent Content Marketing

michelin guideIn 1900 Michelin created the Michelin Guide. This is an actual book of content that was used to inform and educate customers. They created a value to customers and potential customers, which in turn created trust. The books included ways to maintain your car as well as travel tips and help. In 1906 it was Jell-O.

So, what’s different about today’s “Content Marketing?”

 

Close The Loop on Marketing and Sales With Marketing Automation

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” –John Wanamaker

Nearly half a century ago John Wanamaker made this comment. Sadly many businesses still feel this way. However with today’s technology including Marketing Automation and visitor tracking, online marketers have the tools to “close the loop” so they can effectively tie every lead and sale back to the dollar amount to the marketing initiative that produced them.

 

Why a Regular SEO Audit is Important for Your Website

Regular SEO Audit CycleThere are also lots of excuses for why not to do regular a SEO audit; you need to close that sale you’re working, training new hires or staying on top of customer service, whatever the reason, often the website audit gets postponed. Plus, many companies subscribe to the “do it once and forget it” plan, but just like your car an SEO audit is important part of a long-term success plan.

 

We also showed that we have a sense of humor throughout the year.

An SEO Expert Walks Into a Bar…

bartender cartoon

Simplified Blogging – Blogging Before the Internet Age

simplified blogging

And finally The World Has Gone #Hashtag Crazy – Justin Timberlake Video

#Hashtag with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake

Looking back we hope everyone had as good a year as we did and we wish you a happy successful New Year!

Happy Holidays from Blackbird e-Solutions, LLC

 

holiday ribbon

The end-of-year holidays are here at last,
That bright, happy time when we have a blast!
Our wish when your new year has finally begun:
That you look back at months full of pleasure and fun.

Happy Holidays!

holiday ribbon lower

Cyber Monday Deal – Get Your Free Website Audit

Cyber Monday business to business

Cyber Monday isn’t just for consumers! Your business can enjoy the spoils of the day too!

We’re offering businesses a free Website Audit today!

Why do a website audit? Most companies build their website and forget about them. A website audit will check the health of your website to see if it follows today’s SEO and webmaster guidelines. Search engines regularly update the way the view and rank your site. In fact in the last year or two, Google made some of the most drastic changes in its history.

Here are a few points that will be checked in the audit.

  • Does your site follow the latest webmaster guidelines from Google and Bing?
  • Have any changes the search engines made to the way they rank sites, hurt your site?
  • Are there “bad” or “low quality” sites linking to your website?

Read more about website audits check out our post: 5 Reasons Why a Regular SEO Audit is Important to Your Business

Want to see an example summary? Example Audit Summary

When was the last time you checked the health of your website? 

Here’s your chance! Just fill out he form below and we’ll run the the audit and get it out to you right away. 

Happy Halloween!

It’s trick-or-treat time! Happy Halloween everyone!

blackbirds and pumpkins

“Being Sought” is Only ONE Way to Achieve “Being Found”

I just read a post from Seth Godin the respected blogger and modern marketer:  Being found vs. being sought  In his post Seth pits the two ideas or techniques against each other.

Yes there is a difference between just dumping keywords onto a site and hoping you will get found, and creating a product and experience that makes people talk about your product. However, you can have the greatest idea or product in the world, but if no one finds your product guess what… no one will talk about it either.

successful marketing

So success is a combination of both. This is not a “versus” equation. Marketing, online marketing, search and SEO are all evolving. There is no single act or silver bullet that is going to make your product the next break through. You need to create your success holistically.

“Nice to be found. Essential to be sought.” – Paramount to understand and use a holistic approach for success. 

TriStarr Staffing Launches New Website With Blackbird e-Solutions, LLC

We are excited to announce TriStarr Staffing’s new website! www.tristarrjobs.com

TriStarr Staffing new website screenshot

TriStarr is one of our oldest and best clients. We started working with them in 2006 to help them with their SEO and Website Analytics. Over the years the relationship has grown and we are now an integral part of their online marketing efforts.

TriStarr was not satisfied with their previous site because of navigation issues, updates were difficult and the old site generally needed a refresh to catch up with other modern websites.

TriStarr Staffing old site screenshot

The first step was to bring the site into a content management system, which makes updates and changes much quicker and easier. It also allows TriStarr to make updates themselves.  After that we looked at the aspects of online marketing that needed to be included in the new design.

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Paid Search & Social Advertising
  • Website Analytics and Reporting
  • Responsive Design

The final result was a holistically designed website which combines modern design with functionality. Whether you are an employer, job seeker or current employee at TriStarr, the new site contains targeted areas for each audience as well as secure access to employee and customer accounts.  Navigation was streamlined to make it “dead simple” for visitors to find the information they need.  Plus, using responsive design the site looks great no matter what device you are using.

“We are very excited to launch this new site,” says Joan Paxton, President of TriStarr Staffing. “TriStarr Staffing has so much to offer and our goal was to provide a website that simply and quickly gets job seekers, employees and clients the information they need to make informed decisions.”

Furthermore we developed the new site with the future in mind.

“Several new web based services will be rolled out in the coming months and the improvements in this new site are integral to their success.  These tools will improve the client experience and further differentiate TriStarr as the leader in our market,” says Scott Fiore, TriStarr’s Vice President

The site officially launched September 5, 2013. We are looking forward to the reaction and feedback from TriStarr employees, job seekers and clients, as well as continuing to provide great online marketing solutions for the company.

Want more information about the new site or how we can help your company build a great online presence?
Contact Bryan Coe 717-406-3900 or via the web: Contact US