Building a Website & Getting it Found Online is Not a “Once & Done” Tactic

I just read a great article about what business leaders must understand about SEO and Online Marketing. Here are a few of the things that the author discussed:

  • Offline and online marketing go hand in hand
  • Small changes to your site can have a big ripple effect.
  • Mobile is more than just making your site look good on mobile devices, it’s also about the user experience

But the quote below really hit home. This is the area where I spend most of my time educating clients and potential clients.

SEO isn’t just a one-time implementation of website changes. It’s a strategic initiative with many moving parts. Fixing things locally isn’t enough. Google looks at things like social signals, authority back links and user trust to rank websites. These can’t be easily manipulated or fixed through shortcuts.

Building a website and getting it found online is not a once and walk away tactic. There are many factors that go into keep your site at the top of search results: Search engines change their algorithms, competitors change their tactics, people change their behavior… Just to name a few. Building a site and letting it sit for several years, even several months can quickly ruin any success that you’ve seen.

seo management

Online Marketing, and in particular SEO, is like any other part of your business. You need to manage it to be successful. After all you wouldn’t let your accounts receivable go for months or years without looking at it would you???

So how do you manage your SEO? Here are few suggestions:

  • Implement a reporting plan. Make sure you are running some sort of website analytics on your site. Run regular reports and then study the data.
  • Monitor the keywords that are important to you and how you rank for them.
  • Carefully plan how to improve your ranking using tactics such as, onsite changes, blogging and content marketing, social media promotion, paid search, etc.

Is your head swimming? Not sure what to do first? Start with a Website Audit!

Read the full article: 7 SEO Truths Every Business Leader Must Understand

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…

5 Steps to a Successful Online Marketing Program

online marketing magnifying glass

  1. Be clear about your goals for the program. 
    If you don’t know your goals, you will never know if you are successful or not. Sit down and really evaluate what you want out of your online presence. Do you want more eyeballs? More sales? Are you trying to replace a channel you used previously.
    A good example of replacing a channel is with newspaper classifieds. Some time ago staffing companies realized classifieds were not as effective as they once were, so they needed to replace the channel with online traffic.
  2. Plan for the Long Run
    Marketing takes time. Moving your site to the top of search results doesn’t happen overnight. Connecting with your clients and potentials via social media takes more than setting up a Facebook page. You have to build relationships. Don’t look for a quick fix or always chase the hit “viral campaign.” That’s like throwing a Hail Mary pass ever play of the game. Plan to build a lasting online presence. Usually the quick solution is just as quick to die as it was to start.
  3. Be Creative in Order to Connect
    Think outside the box. The best way to stand out online in any field is to show your added value. Don’t do something just because everyone is doing it, leverage what your company does better than everyone else and get creative with how you present it.
  4. Follow the Numbers
    The proof is in the data. Make sure you have some sort of way to quantify your online efforts: Website analytics software, social monitoring tools, etc. If you aren’t tracking the response to your marketing you’re flying blind!
  5. Be Flexible
    Not everything is going to work all the time. However, if you’ve established your goals, you’re in it for the long run and you’re tracking your progress, you should be able to adapt to any changes or challenges that come your way. With this you will be able to create a successful online marketing program. So, remember: Evaluate and iterate, evaluate and iterate.

Your Turn

Do you have any tips for creating the best online marketing plan? Let us know in the comments.

return on investment roi

Internet Marketers Did Not Invent Content Marketing

Did you know content marketing is not a new concept?

michelin guide

 

In 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.

Jell-O Book of recipesJell-O had an earlier start with their book of recipes in 1906. This may have been recipes they created or recipes from their customers. The effort helped Jell-O push their sales to over $1 million, which was quite an accomplishment at that time.

 

So, what’s different about today’s “Content Marketing?”
  1. The scale of how many people you can reach and how fast.  The internet has made it easy to reach millions of people with out ever leaving your office. In the early 1900’s marketers were limited by distribution, how to get their books to the general public.
  2. The cost of producing content is much lower.  With the internet, there’s no printing cost, no shipping cost and no inventory to try to move. You can produce content yourself and the only cost is your time. Of course time is money, so if you don’t have the time you can pay someone like us to create great content at a fraction of the cost of a producing a book.
  3. Search brings your customers to you. With the invention of the search engine, it is now possible to get your product in front of people exactly when they are looking for it. The original guides and recipe books may have sat on shelves for months until someone found them or the right person walked past the shelf where they were.

The big question: Why should YOU use Content Marketing?

  • Content marketing is a great way to build trust with your customers and potential customers. Just thing about the Michelin Guides. If I’m an avid user of the guide books. I’ve seen that the tips they’ve given me about lodging, or the best tourist sites in Vancouver. Plus, I found great tips for taking care of my car during the long drive to get there. What company do you think will be top of mind when I need tires?
  • Plus, when you start creating great content around your products and services, the search engines will start showing your content to searchers when they are looking for services and products like yours. This gives you exposure and because you created useful interesting content people are more likely to read your content as well as share it. This will keep them coming back and build the trust that makes them think of your company when they are ready to buy.

How Well Do You Know Your Brand?

I came across this image today of an advertising campaign from Jeep. It’s very simple, but brilliant!

how well do you know your brand - jeep ad

When you see the simple box, never on a flat surface (which is the key to the campaign), with a P and Jeep written inside, what comes to mind?

Maybe:  The idea that Jeeps are so rugged that they can be parked anywhere.
Or: If you own a Jeep you don’t have to follow the normal rules of parking.

This is the Jeep brand.

The campaign is a great example of knowing and understanding your brand. I speak with many business owners and marketers that don’t understand their brand. When I ask them about their target market, I often hear: “Are target market is everyone.” Which is then typically followed with, “We don’t want to limit ourselves.”  To me this tells me they don’t have a solid idea of who their products and brand would appeal to.

Not too long ago I had a meeting with a potential client and after the 1.5 hour meeting, I left still not really knowing what the company brand meant to the owner. This was the owner. Do you think his employees understood the brand?

To go back to the Jeep campaign. It didn’t take a lot of money or a lot of show. It’s just plain and simple, and yet it exemplifies the Jeep brand. Advertising like this can only be achieved when you fully understand your brand.

How well do you know your brand??

Be Extraordinary

In today’s fast paced world it isn’t enough to be ordinary. People aren’t responding to the old ways of marketing. Whether you’re marketing yourself or a million dollar company, don’t be ordinary…

Be Extraordinary. 

How To Find Your Target Audience Online

This is the latest post in the series Killer Online Marketing for 2013 Want to receive every update in your inbox? Sign up for our Killer Online Marketing for 2013 mailing list.
Online persona example

One 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.

Competitors

Probably the number one source that most companies miss is their competitors. First thing you should do is check where your biggest competitor is setting up shop. Are they using Facebook, LinkedIn, Paid Search or something else? Next you should look at how they are doing in this space. If they are on Facebook and have tons of engaged followers, you should probably be there too.

Search and Social Monitoring

Use search and social monitoring tools to monitor your brand, industry and competitors.  By monitoring what’s happening on social media and throughout the internet you can see who the most active/affluent people are in your industry and see who’s talking about your products and other products like yours, as well as where they are talking.

Then you can tune your marketing to take advantage of the various networks and hone in people that are already interested in products like yours.

There are plenty of tools out there are a few of your favorites.

  1. Google Alerts – With Google Alerts you can have Google search for your brand and report via email anywhere it finds your brand online. You can set where Google looks, the frequency and the number of results you would like to receive.
  2. Social Mention is a social search engine that searches for social media platforms including blogs. You can choose specific types of content (blogs, Twitter, comments, events and more) or all content and set up notifications for the results.
  3. Use Twitter Search to monitor what’s trending on Twitter.
  4. There are also other pay tools such as, Percolate & Raven

Surveys and Questionnaire’s

Surveys on social networks and blogs can be a great source to attract and engage potential buyers as well as to gain insight into the market.  Use tools like SurveyMonkey to help you set up your surveys.

Industry News and Trends

This one is definitely not a new concept, but keeping up with news and trends in your industry and competitors will help you understand what products your target audience is interested in and where they are spending their time.

Try news aggregators like Netvibes, the FlipBoard App or Currents App. There’s also a flock of others out there.

Create Personas

As you start to get an understanding of where your target audience spends their time online, you should be able to create “personas” of your ideal customers from the data. Create personas for each segment and give them names photos and attributes such as age, gender, social networks, how do they search, etc. If you need some help download our “Personas Template” to get started.

Create Your Online Marketing Campaigns with Your Target Audience in Mind

Now that you have some idea where your audience is you can start creating a marketing strategy that focuses on the right online platforms and speaks to the right people.

This will make your decisions easier for where to advertise. It will help answer questions like: Do we need more likes or followers? You’ll know the answer because you know where “your people hangout.”

Knowing the personas of your potential clients will help you be more in tune with their needs, helping you be more exciting, engaging and hey, maybe even sexy.

So download the Personas Template and get started today!!!

How to Set Up Google Analytics on Your Website

Last time we looked at your Current Online Presence and discussed some basic questions.

  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you or your organization have full control this site?
  • Do you have access or do you have someone that can quickly update your website?
  • Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

Now let’s assume that you answered yes to the first three points, but 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.

Let’s get started!

First thing you need to do is head over to the Google Analytics site: http://www.google.com/analytics/

If you already have a Google Account go ahead and sign in, if not, create an account.

google anaylitics homepage

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Once you’ve created an account or clicked sign in, you’ll be greeted with the following screen.

login to GA

Click on the sign up button.

Next you’ll have to choose what you want to track: “Web site” or “App.”  Choose “Web Site” and fill out the form. *Make sure you choose the correct time zone or your timing will be off. This could affect your reporting later.

Since this is also a new account make sure you set up the account name. This can be the name of the web site, the name of your company or anything else you would like to use. Don’t use your name though this might cause confusion, unless of course this is the name of your company too.

Lastly choose your Data Sharing Settings. We recommend keeping these checked. This way you can link/share data with other services from Google such as Adwords as well as receive benchmark data from other websites in your industry.

Then click “Get Tracking ID” and agree to the terms and conditions.

  GA set up form

Next you’ll be put into the “Tracking Info” section of the Admin Panel. This is where you set up what type of website tracking you would like to use.

  • Subdomains
  • Multiple top-level domains
  • Display Advertiser Support
  • Custom campaign tags (we’ll discuss custom campaigns in a later post)

You can see the full descriptions in the image below.  I you are only using one top level domain (i.e blackbirdesolutions.com) you can leave this section the way it is and go on to the next step. If not chose the appropriate options. Our site uses Subdomains so I clicked on the “Subdomains of blackbirdesolutions” toggle and switched it to “On.” As you do this you’ll notice the code changes in the box under your selection. It adds the line of code:  _gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘blackbirdesolutions.com’]);

GA website tracking setup page

Once you have your code. Copy and paste it into your site. You can do this manually by adding it to the <head> section of every page right before the closing head tag: </head>

Example:

<head>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″ />
<title>Untitled Document</title>
<script type=”text/javascript”>

var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-xxxxxxxx-1’]);
_gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘blackbirdesolutions.com’]);
_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]);

(function() {
var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-
analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
})();

</script>

</head>

In our last post I recommended using a content management system or CMS. Most of them will have a plugin or section in their setup to add Google Analytics code. Our recommendation, WordPress, uses plugins. We use a plugin called Google Analyticator, which allows you to authenticate with your Google login. So there’s no copying and pasting needed.

Once you’ve copy and pasted or linked your account to your CMS, you’re all set!

You can now track what visitors are doing on your site. Later we’ll help you with reporting and understanding the data in Google Analytics.

google analytics report overview

 

Happy tracking!

Full Screen Ads? Bad, Bad Idea!

We work with our clients to help them get found online. That often means using paid search or media to get their message out. These avenues work very well and are great way to track who’s seeing your ads and the ROI (return on investment).

We’ve seen many different ways that advertising platforms have tried to grab people’s attention online:

  • Text ads,
  • Banner ads,
  • Banners that slide down to take up more space,
  • Videos that auto start when you hit a page.
There are also many other variations of these out there too. But this relatively new form has to be the most obnoxious. 

What happens is when a site loads a layover slides across the screen and covers the entire screen. You can even buy a video version. If you were about to click on something as it slides out, you’ll end up clicking on the ad. I get that websites owners want to try and monetize their site, but every time I’m forced to view one of these ads I simply want to leave the site. It definitely DOES NOT make me want to buy the product in the ad. 

undertone-full-screen-ad

So far I’ve only seen ads like this from Undertone, but their may be other companies offering such ads. This was seen on weather.com.

My advice to site owners as well as companies looking to market their products, don’t use this format.

For advertisers: I would guess there that these ads end up with a lot of clicks from people that really didn’t want to click on the ad. Plus it is highly likely that you will just be annoying your prospective customers more than anything else.

For site owners: You only have something like 3 seconds for someone to decide if they like your website before they leave. Do you really want that 3 seconds to be controlled by an annoying ad?  

It may be creating a “Standout Brand Experience,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a good experience…

Does Search Traffic Show a Decline in the Power of TV Commercials

retro tvI’ve been working on an SEO project for a client that has a variety of websites. One aspect the project entails going through multiple sites and making sure they are following onsite SEO best practices. Keywords include product names, brand names as well as other related phrases. Many of the sites have a page of videos with their latest TV ads. So, I was curious to see the trend comparison between “tv ads” and “tv commercials.” Basically to see if one is a more important keyword phrase than the other. What I found was quite interesting.

For a long time we have heard that online marketing is replacing TV marketing. There are plenty of people on both sides of this argument. If you look at the chart below, you’ll see that from 2004 to September 2012 there has been a steady decline in Google searches for both keyword terms.

What does this tell us? Does it tell us that less people care about tv ads? Does it mean tv commercials are making less of an impact? Maybe that TV in general is on the decline.

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments.