Advanced Google Ads Features To Enhance Your PPC

The classic way businesses use the Google Ads platform is to bid on keywords with commercial intent which in turn convinces potential customers to click through to visit your website. Dermatologists bid for keywords like “cure my acne” and “dermatologist London” whilst a gardening business might bid for “grass cutting service.”

It’s quintessential cost-per-click (CPC) advertising, and it’s often a great way for business owners to allocate their advertising budget.

The only problem is that Google Adwords can get really expensive when your competitors are bidding on the same keywords with the highest commercial intent. The keywords “Insurance”, “Loans” and “Mortgage” were the most popular this year and all go for huge amount per click.

Behind the seductive simplicity of this input-output relationship lies a highly sophisticated technology – there are many alternative ways to use Google Ads (previously known as Google Adwords). Here are advanced features that can help you gain that vital competitive advantage.

Target those who are ‘undecided’

Most advertisers bid on high buyer-intent keywords because Ads is seen as a conversion engine. Instead, why not see Ads as a traffic engine? You can bid on lower buyer-intent keywords to bring traffic to your site, and put people into funnels to be targeted in other ways.

By looking at Ads in this way, a non-conversion on the first visit can be seen as an opportunity and not a loss. Ensure you have marketing funnels in place to capture and nurture your leads, you can get potential customers for a fraction of the cost.

Only target those you want to sell you

No matter how great your product is, there are some people you simply aren’t selling to. The trick is to work out who those people are and think of keywords around them. Ads lets you add them as ‘negative keywords,’ meaning they will not show your ad to people who use those search terms.

An example is if you offer retail training for small independent retailers. Using the keyword ‘retail training’ in Ads means you would attract all retailers, both the small and the large corporates. By using negative keywords such as “department store” and “large,” you can remove those people searching for your keyword but who you couldn’t provide a service for. Another negative keyword to use is “free” because that eliminates those look for a free service. Remember: you pay for each click in an Ads campaign. You don’t want to pay for clicks if the clicker most likely will never be a customer so by using these negative words you are saving on money.

Using negative keywords also improves the quality score Google assigns each of your ads. A better quality score means higher ad rankings and in turn a lower cost per click. The ultimate win-win!

Poach your competitors’ clients

When customers get close to making a purchase, they often Google the businesses they have found along the way to do some final comparing. But what if your business isn’t one of the businesses on their shortlist? Easy! Why not try using Google Ads to intercept customers during this final research phase. Instead of bidding on your industry keywords, try basing your keywords on the brand names of well-established competitors. This enables you to insert your business into the conversation when consumers are researching your competitors and gives you the opportunity to attract purchases from those who still haven’t decided.

This can all get extremely expensive, especially if other competitors are trying the same tactic, or if the established brand is protecting itself with its own Google Ads. If this means poaching is out of the budget, another option is to bid on misspelt versions of your competitors’ brand names. In some cases more than 10% of searchers misspell brand names – so why not capitalise on this with a relatively low ad spend?

Support your organic SEO initiatives

According to 2017 data, Google searchers click on Google ads about 15% of the time. The other 85% goes straight to the organic results i.e. the search results that are not Google ads.

Hence search engine optimisation (SEO) should remain a fundamental part of your digital marketing initiatives. By creating valuable content and optimising it to rank for carefully-considered keywords, you convince Google to rank your website for key terms and phrases in the long run without having to pay each time someone clicks. Adwords data is invaluable for SEO keyword research – if people are willing to pay for traffic from certain keywords, it’s worth making an effort to get that same traffic for free. Then, by determining which keywords are most effective in driving traffic to your website, you can double back and include those in your SEO strategy and create new content to reflect this.

Gauge customer sentiment

Another great way to use Google Ads is to test out new ideas. Want to see if your new brand messaging will resonate? Then Google Ads has this kind of data that may be more accessible than research.

Here’s an example. Before launching a new product or service, run several campaigns designed to test product offerings. Put ads next to similar products or in the broad category. Anything with over a 4% click-through rate is a great opportunity.” This is also great advice for start-ups, considering that 50% of them fail in the first four years.

Optimised ad rotation

Google made some very notable changes to its ad rotation settings in late 2017. In essence, ad rotation constantly tests different ad variations to find the optimal version for your audience and campaign KPIs. Google’s machine learning technology is rapidly developing, so it is no surprise that Google wants to take much of the ad rotation process out of the hands of advertisers and turn it into a slick, automated feature. To use ad Google recommends providing at least three ads in every ad group. Their official stance is, “The more of your ads our system can choose from, the better the expected ad performance.” Creating a range of ads provides the resources Google needs to run statistically significant tests.

Indeed, beyond getting the most out of Ads, the broader lesson to be taken should be that even the most advanced technology requires the right quantity and quality of inputs. Although more and more elements of Ads management can be automated, this doesn’t mean we can leave the machines to their own devices – have a look at our Adwords walkthrough to remind yourself of the best practices.

 

50 Best Strategies For Lead Generation

We create content and plan campaigns, analysing metrics such as impressions, likes, and a click-throughs and often forget about the end goal – generating new sales leads.  The art of lead generation is essential to every business, brand or organisation.  But, coming up with new and effective ways to attract and then convert new leads are tough. The quality of your lead determines how quickly profit is generated for your business – remember the goal isn’t the quantity of leads, it’s the quality.

So here’s some inspiration for you – top 50 strategies to help you generate new sales leads.

Gated Content – This is premium content like white papers, e-books or software tools that are available for free if the user provides contact information such as name and email. Users willingly become a sales lead in exchange for the value of whatever your gated content is.

Guest blogging – Although Google doesn’t recognise guest blogging for the express purpose of link-building, it does have SEO benefits. Target popular websites and if they accept guest bloggers, then write for them! It’s a fantastic way to push your brand and appear as an authority.

Video marketingVideo content improves SEO and increases conversion rates. Use high-quality, informative videos and add calls to action to help you generate leads. Product explainer videos can generate leads at a rate of up to 33%.

Landing page optimisation – Try using targeted landing pages with an impressive call to action. A page that has been tested and optimised can generate many more leads than a standard web page.

Exit detection – An easy technique for generating B2B leads from your website. When you suspect a visitor is about to exit your website, give them a call-to-action. Be careful about being overly aggressive though and don’t show the CTA each time the visitor visits your website.

Re-target marketing – This works by placing a small pixel of code on your website that attaches a cookie to every user who visits the site. When they browse the web elsewhere, that cookie triggers your ads. This means only users who have already been to your site and left will see the ads.

Curate resources – Find well-researched and produced content to curate and present as a helpful resource e.g. 5 best podcasts for an entrepreneur or 10 Instagram accounts every IT business should follow. It can help you gain visibility and leads.

Offer fewer choices – Limit the amount of options a user has to explore through your website. Too overwhelming and it gives a greater chance that they will leave.

Create exceptional content – and make this content downloadable in exchange for the user’s email address.

Blog, blog, blog – Blogging is effective for generating leads. Keep a strong and consistent content calendars, be patient and your traffic will come! Remember that once you’ve built up the traffic to your blog, you need call to actions to convert.

Optimise your about us page – This is where people see who you are and what you’re about. It’s also a great place to have a call to action. By optimising your about page, you will be strengthening one of your main connection points for customers and you will help to boost your lead generation efforts massively.

The subscription-plus model – Want newsletter subscribers? Then offer them instant gratification by including a giveaway when they sign up.

Survey – Contests provide the perfect opportunity to survey your audience and learn more about them for future marketing efforts. There are plenty of fantastic websites out there to create fabulous forms in – try tools like Wufoo and

Your website’s ‘dead pages’ – Traffic doesn’t stop flowing to an event or promotion page as when you pass the expiration. Make sure latecomers can stay connected by updating those pages with a tool like LeadBox. Offer a consolation prize or provide the chance to get notified of future promotions.

Relevant calls to action – When your customers visit web forms or gated content make sure the calls to action are relevant for to them.

Live chat – Try this on your important product pages. Having a chat system in place to engage people on your site after a set amount of time can convert some of those potential drop-offs into clients. It’s like having a real-time sales person available whenever you need them.

Offer a demo or free trial – Try advertising a free taster sessions on your site – after several CTAs, lead to a landing page with the offer. It’s an effective way of overcoming the hurdle of scepticism and to show the power of your service rather than explaining it.

Facebook ads – These are a definitive way to get a great return on your marketing investment and gather high quality leads. Facebook has incredibly detailed targeting capabilities, great page placement and an opportunity for a variety of calls to action.

Google Pay Per Click – Google pay-per-click advertising can be an extremely cost-effective way to generate traffic to a landing page. Custom ads are set up to display when certain search queries are entered and you don’t pay until someone clicks, as the name suggests. Target keywords with high conversion intent to funnel highly qualified traffic to your site.

Influencers – Influencer marketing involves identifying key individuals who can deliver important content to your target audience. Build these relationships with the ultimate goal being authority in your corner when you need promotion.

Don’t mention spam – Tests show that it’s ok to reassure a potential customer about privacy in a sign-up form, but do not mention spam (e.g. ‘we will never spam you’) where sign-up conversion rates were substantially lower.

Identify strong leads on Twitter – Tools like Followerwonk helps you make the distinction between useful contacts that may become leads and others that are not worth your time. Filter them out to generate new customers.

Linkedin as a publishing platform – People join LinkedIn to showcase their career, work expertise, and find content and information to make their professional lives better. So businesses who target other businesses will naturally find a higher concentration of their target market on LinkedIn.

Pop-ups – As annoying as they are, pop-ups have been known to increase opt-in rates. If you do decide to try them remember to make the pop-up as attractive to your lead as possible and make it easy for them to exit it if they aren’t interested.

Slideshare trafficSlideshare has more than 50 million monthly visitors and is a great way to generate leads. Post a presentation and link it to a landing page with a description and your profile. Referral traffic should then come your way.

Social listen on twitter – There is no other place to get this kind of real-time information of what people are currently interested in. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to engage with people who are mentioning your product or have a problem to solve.

Google+ communities – Google+ helps bring people with common interests together. Their communities offer opportunities to become an influencer and reach potential prospects to drive conversions.

Email signature – A good email signature with links to social media profiles can help your prospects easily find out more about your product. Make sure everyone you contact in the course of everyday business has the chance to learn more about what you offer.

Warm calling – Old School but effective! Try a call only after you have received a referral and if you do plan to call your prospects, do your research so you know who you are calling, what they are looking for and how you can help.

Event speaking – Speaking at a physical event gives you a position of authority and if the talk goes well, you are sure to find future prospects and connections.

Strategic partnerships – The key to finding and building partnerships is to find larger companies who need what you do, then build your product into theirs in return for your logo and product on their site. Once established, partnerships can drive great new leads for a long period of time.

Quiz – A simple, creative, and interactive way to earn your customer’s details through a quiz based on relevant subject matter.

Online learning – By offering potential prospects a valuable email-based course, you’re essentially providing them with free education – something that will prompt a great deal of customer leads. This technique works especially well for niche or particularly in-depth topics.

Start using QuoraQuora allows you to create a profile with links back to your site or landing page, so answering questions in a useful way gets you direct exposure to leads who are asking about your solution.

Host a how-to webinar – Huge numbers of people find video to be an ideal teacher of practical skills. If you have any DIY skills to teach that complement your business, capitalise on this by advertising a how-to webinar.

Host a Q&A – If you have specialised knowledge people want, let them opt in to ask you for it. The Q&A webinar is one of the easiest types of webinars to prepare for, and one of the most rewarding for attendees.

Provide real value – Even if you had nothing to sell or offer, this incentive should provide someone who joins real value. An easy test is if you removed all mentioned of your company/service/product from this incentive, would someone still find it useful?

Your business card – Do you frequently give out business cards to prospects? Help guide them toward the ideal destination by creating a landing page and printing the link on your cards.

Split test – Never underestimate how small tweaks to your site can affect if someone buys or gets in contact through your website. A different colour buy now button can increase the % of clicks.

Customer referrals – Leads generated through customer referrals are often very high-quality so think about how you turn your happy customers into promoters.

Plug your content marketing funnel –The middle of your funnel – between awareness and consideration – is where a lot of funnels fail. Use customer data to create segmented content so a lead sees more personalised content.

Industry forums – Try guest blogging on industry-relevant sites. In addition to helping small businesses build up their SEO through link-building, guest blogging can be an excellent lead-gen source with virtually no marketing budget.

Engage in with your sales team – Engage early with your sales teams and continuously seek their qualitative feedback, combining it with your own quantitative analysis to determine how you should adjust your targeting.

Use testimonials – These should be short and feature the name, the company and a photo of the person. Having all these elements makes the testimonial more credible and in turn makes your site more trustworthy.

The early adopter strategy – If you have a “coming soon” landing page, get more people to sign up for notifications by offering an exclusive discount on the to-be-launched product or service.

Use microsite audiences – A microsite is a brand-specific website that companies use to promote their individual products, events, or campaigns. They are information-laden sites, aimed at engaging as many users as possible.

Good conversations – Never rely only on one-directional communication such as website, blog posts, and videos. Try and have a real conversation with your prospects as often as possible.

Try a lead database – Use with caution! When using a database someone else has built, you can never be sure of its quality. If your business is new or you need a big bump to your lead volume, lead databases such as Wishpond or Futuresimple can provide that extra source of leads you need.

Be consistent! The most fundamental of these tips is to ensure there is one consistent message across all marketing channels—content, email campaigns, paid advertising, social media channels, and every page of your website. Unless you hit prospects with the same message over and over again, your value proposition will not stick – clarity of message is key.

Using Microsoft SharePoint for B2B Marketing

If you are unfamiliar with SharePoint and how it can benefit your small business, you are not alone. Here we’ll look at how Microsoft SharePoint can empower your organisation through using enterprise class business resources for your B2B marketing.

SharePoint is a content management system suite from Microsoft which has comprehensive tools that can assist you in your marketing efforts. These tools provide for end-to-end marketing strategy right from customer analysis, demographic behaviour analysis to targeted marketing communication and effectiveness tracking.

The Basics

SharePoint is such a versatile platform that can be used for many different business activities so it is very difficult to define. Fundamentally, Microsoft SharePoint is a browser-based collaboration and document/data management software solution that’s designed to connect all of your employees and business resources together. SharePoint allows everyone to collaborate and synchronise daily business tasks and responsibilities from a centralised software platform. SharePoint is accessed from either your web browser or the Microsoft SharePoint mobile app. SharePoint online is installed and managed on a hosted server, known as the cloud and is included in the Microsoft Office 365 business packages. The costs are also scalable – you only pay for what you use.  The solutions and functions are both flexible and scalable so you can scale up or down at a moment’s notice without having any upfront IT costs.

Security

SharePoint Online is actually more secure and cost effective than an on premise solution, especially for small business users. It is hosted from Microsoft’s datacentre which are required to meet security and compliance requirements and certifications. Comprehensive data protection services are included in your SharePoint Online subscription to prevent data loss.  Data protection includes regular backups and redundancy with a copy of data stored in different locations.

B2B marketing tools

SharePoint is powerful software that comes with a huge variety of features on offer. So are here are some of the best features available in the marketing suite:

Web Analytics Dashboard: Before you can make any sort of categorisation of customers, it is important to see what your existing customer profile looks like. The Web Analytics dashboard on SharePoint gives you real time analytics along with the ability to track custom events, paths and alerts. This helps you with building your customer profile and you can use the data export feature to perform further analysis through a spreadsheet program like Excel.

Campaign Tracker: If you are marketing campaign, the SharePoint Marketing Suite lets you track campaigns and analyse advertising effectiveness through the use of goals and funnels, similar to Google Analytics.

On-Page Optimisation: To understand which marketing communication works the best and which pricing bands bring you the most targeted leads try using the optimisation tools. These include services for multi-variate testing and behavioural targeting that your marketing team can use to create the strongest marketing messages.

Voice of Customer: Customer feedback and surveys are a crucial part of any marketing process. The SharePoint marketing suite includes tools that facilitate the implementation of customer feedback surveys and polls that you could use for future marketing changes.

Message Bars: The marketing suite gives the users an ability to display custom messages and links on banners on the top of the portal page. You can use these to make announcements instead of asking the web admin to make these changes every time.

Website Insights: Has your website seen an unusual dip in traffic or have visitors started bouncing more? SharePoint has the capability to automatically detect unusual changes in the usage pattern and provides instant notifications to the marketing team. It’s extremely useful to monitor usage pattern changes and ensure they do not impact the results of your marketing campaign.

CRM Plugin Integration: One of the most useful features of SharePoint that is not readily available with other competing platforms is the ability to integrate readily with your CRM tools and third party plugins. This gives you the ability to channel your analytics data into meaningful leads that you can readily engage with using the CRM platform.

SEO Monitoring: Monitoring SEO is tough work given that most of the changes are done in the back-end using scripts like HTML or PHP. SharePoint detects SEO coding errors as well as monitors page speed, website accessibility that help you ensure that your website is healthy from a search engine perspective.

Content Management: An employee intranet that offers improved content management and publishing with ease. With simple online collaboration tools, you’ll have better approval mechanism for your content while storing your digital assets into one place on a cloud-based server. This will allow your marketing team members to collaborate with vendors and customers simply and effectively.

Best Google Chrome Plugins for Digital Marketing

Google Chrome is one of the most widely used web browsers around – the latest usage share of all browsers shows it at over 63% with safari the 2nd biggest at just 18% (netmarketshare.com).  If you’re involved in the world of digital marketing, you know there are many tools out there that can make the day to day activities much easier and faster – these incredible extensions have emerged over the years and can drastically change the day-to-day task for Social Media, SEO and Design. It could take you hours to just scroll through the never-ending list of add-ons, so here’s a list of the best:

MozBar: This is essential for those working in SEO. Moz are one of the industry’s thought leaders and you can make use of Moz’s free plugin. It lets you create custom searches, delivers and compares link metrics, highlight links and keywords, quickly expose page elements, and access other powerful SEO tools—all in-line with your browser. It delivers instant metrics about any webpage you’re on all in one handy bar that appears at the top of the page.

SEO SERP Workbench: This tool is great for checking your Google position. Type in the keyword and website to see where you rank. It also lists the top 10 websites for your search query.

SEO META in 1 CLICK: Another SEO tool to save time. This plugin inspects elements and manually checking for meta-titles and descriptions, tags, H1 tags in one click.

Check my links: An extension developed primarily for web developers but it is a useful tool for link analysis. It checks all the links on your pages are working and highlights broken ones. Simple but effective.

BuiltWith: BuiltWith is a web site profiler tool. Upon looking up a page, it returns all the technologies it can find on the page such as content management system, analytics and widgets. Their goal is to help developers, researchers and designers find out what technologies pages are using to help determine which to use on their own sites.

Grammarly: This free spell and grammar checker is  simple but effective. Grammarly ensures that any emails or social posts to you write are clear and mistake-free.

Whatfont: This extension allows you to inspect web fonts just by hovering over them.

Hootsuite: A social media plugin which enables you to access and share content from anywhere on the web. Find photos, videos, blog posts, Tweets by location and then share through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter with one click. Hootlet is a free extension to the Chrome browser that brings the power of Hootsuite natively into the browser experience.

Pin It Button: Another social media must which allows you to save creative ideas with the official Pinterest button. When you click the links get saved as visual bookmarks which make them a lot easier to categorise and organise.

Ritetag: Perfect for Tweeters and Instagrammers. The RiteTag Extension provides analytics on the hashtags you use as your write your social media messaging. The six analytics categories appear right within your compose box, offering real-time insight into the hashtag’s usage within Tweets, the number of times it has been retweeted, its reach.

Windows Resizer: This extension re-sizes the browser’s window in order to emulate various resolutions. It is particularly useful for web designers and developers by helping them test their layouts on different browser resolutions.

Zoom: It’s hard to find a reliable video conferencing tool, let alone one that’s simple and intuitive. But Zoom is just that. With this extension, you can instantly start a meeting, schedule a future one or share your screen.

CloudHQ sync: This extension is great for marketing and sales reps with files and folders scattered all across the cloud. Sync allows you to pull all your cloud-based files into Google Drive, so you can search and access all of your files in one place. cloudHQ syncs with Evernote, OneNote, Box, OneDrive, Gmail, SharePoint, Basecamp and Dropbox.

Linkedin Sales Navigator: This pulls up a contact’s LinkedIn profile in a Gmail sidebar as you’re composing an email so you can comment on the weather in your prospect’s city or refer to a mutual connection. It also pulls in links to any social media accounts or websites your prospect has linked to their LinkedIn account, so you can quickly and easily grab pertinent information to drop in your email.

Does Your Blog Generate Good Traffic?

The thing about blogging is that it is incredibly effective or incredibly not depending on what you put into it. Search engines love blog posts, but only if they appear regularly. Readers love bloggers, but only if they have something useful or controversial to say.

So, your blogging career is going to largely depend on your niche, your expertise, and your willingness to take the brand that is you and turn it into a megaphone for your business. Many people have trouble with this part of their marketing campaign and that’s not necessarily a problem, presuming you can create a second ego or have someone else become the face of the company. Regardless, the goal here is to put a face on your business and use that face to build trust, develop rapport, and streamline more traffic toward your website.

What Blogs Do

Blogs are great tools, but what do they really do? Here are a few very specific things a blog can do for you and your business:

Enhance Communication

To start with, a blog will help you enhance the communication between you and your clients. You can discuss updates to your products and services, ask for feedback, and answer questions that your customers and clients may have of you.

Personalisation

In addition, you can start personalising exactly how you conduct business. This goes right back to the social networking chapter where we discussed branding yourself as the face of your company. With a blog, you again are the drawing point. You need to sell yourself and your knowledge, and also your personality. A blog will vastly improve how your customers identify with you as an individual.

Getting Traffic

In the purest sense, a blog is a good way to get traffic for your main site. It draws regular readers and taps into traffic sources that your other marketing campaigns may not be accessing.

Building Trust

I cannot overstate how much value comes in setting yourself up as a trustworthy expert in your field. When people start coming to you for information in a niche, you can bet that they’ll buy pretty much anything you ask them to. That’s a powerful place to be and while a blog won’t do that entirely on its own, it is a very good starting place.

Quick and Easy to Maintain

A blog is easy to maintain and you can do it even with minimal website expertise. If you’ve never worked on a website before or have never worked with blogging software, it doesn’t really matter because most blogs are incredibly easy to use. They set up in 5 minutes and then all you have to do is write your posts.

How to Create a Blog

Now it’s time to put your blog together and see what we can make of it. This is actually an incredibly easy process, so I’m not going to spend all that much time discussing it. If you have trouble, there are simple video tutorials on both the WordPress and Blogger websites to help you get things set up.

The Platform

There are a lot of ways you can write a blog, but in my book there are two major ones that you can use – WordPress or Blogger. Blogger is the web based blogging platform that Google runs and that you can set up in less than 5 minutes with a Google ID. WordPress has both a web based service and an installable server side service that you can download and install on your own. If you can, I recommend using the self-install WordPress option. You may need a bit of help from your programmer, but it is a quick and easy installation and you have far more options to customise your blog. Blogger will work well for you though if you do not want to put a blog on your main domain name.

Setting up the Blog

Signing up for the web based blogging services is incredibly easy. The only thing you need to do is setup a profile for yourself when you create your blog. Additionally, make sure to play with the template settings until the blog looks right to you. Once you’ve done those two things, it really is just a matter of writing into a blank space and pressing “publish”.

Writing for a Blog

Now we come to the important part, where you start writing your blog. This is much more important than anything else we’ve discussed in this chapter and will require that you have a clear, very well developed idea of what you want to offer your readers.

I don’t recommend you use the same style or tone that you use for your article marketing. Blogging is a different beast altogether and requires that you are personal while informative. People come to blogs to receive regular updates as well as in-depth coverage of specific topics. To start with, you need to narrow in your coverage onto one topic. This should be easy because you have a niche already in mind with your business.

Next, you need to think of ways you can provide information in that niche that is unique and useful to your readers. This can be done with how-to write-ups, reviews of new products or services, announcements about your service, or news related to your niche.

Another great way to draw readership to a blog is to use the same information that you have been using in your email lists. Provide something very useful and free and people will come back regularly to read up on the newest free info you have to offer. You can even outsource this to content writers, having them write informal guides that can be very useful for someone interested in that particular niche.

In the end, refer to the article writing and viral marketing chapters to learn what people are looking for in content and how to format it. The biggest issue here is that you provide something useful whenever you post. Don’t write about your latest flight or your trip to see grandma. Unless you’re very funny, most people are not interested.

Comments and Engaging

The other thing about blogs that sets them apart is that they have comments, and you should take full advantage of those comments sections. To do this though, you need to encourage comments in your posts by saying things like “what do you think?” You also need to respond to comments that you get. If someone provides their opinion on a topic, respond to it and tell them your thoughts about their opinion. The more interactive you are, the more engaged those readers will become.

Creating Viral Content

Writing useful information is one thing, but creating viral content that will spread rapidly and draw huge volumes of links is another. This is where you may need to pour some serious effort into your blogging. Things like Top 100 lists are always incredibly successful. Other things like original strategies for various tasks or how-to guides with screen shots and a walkthrough also tend to go viral.

Getting Traffic to Your Blog

Finally, once you have a well written blog up and running, it is up to you to find and bring back traffic to your blog. Luckily, you’ve just read a book that tells you exactly how to get traffic to a website. However, there are a few things that are slightly unique to a blog that you should keep in mind.

Pinging

Every blog is built with an RSS feed, a technology that automatically sends out the new posts you put on it to various feeding services. You will however need to occasionally ping these sites and tell them to check your feeds. This is where pinging comes in handy. There are large blogging circuits like Technorati that are good places to do this. But, I generally like to ping as many services as possible each time. See Appendix B for a full list of pinging services that will help you increase your total traffic.

Keywording

Luckily for you, blogging platforms happen to be among the best SEO platforms on the Internet. They are built for the stuff and that makes them incredibly valuable for many people who are interested in getting quick and easy traffic. In terms of taking advantage of that, you should be sure to have keyword rich categories for your blog, as well as a glossary of keywords that you can use to integrate into your posts as you write. Every time you post something new, try to integrate a keyword somehow.

Directory and Social Bookmarking Links

You can gain quite a bit of traction by backing up your subscription feeds with links posted in directories and social networks like Facebook. Additionally, submit the posts that you are particularly proud of to sites like Digg and Reddit! where they can be spread around. This is especially important if you write something you feel could go viral like a Top 100 list. If you Digg it and three other people do the same afterwards, it could easily spread like wildfire just by pure curiosity alone.

Post Regularly

Blogging is all about syndication, which means you need to post as often as possible. The best way to stay on top is to try and post every day. However, if you are in a less competitive niche or one in which you can gain a lot of traffic from old posts over time, you can also post on a less regular basis – every two days or so. However, try to never go more than 3 days without a post to your blog.

Linking to Other Blogs

By citing sources and creating trackbacks to other blog posts, you can not only create a better network of links that the search engines will respond well to, but you can engage those other blog posts to check out your blog and see who is linking to them. This alone can help you create new links to your site.

Blogging is one of those tools that is effective as long as you use it. It is not like article marketing in which you can continue to gain valuable traffic from an article that is two or three years old. With a blog, you need to post as often as possible and stay on the cutting edge of your niche. However, if you can do that, the benefits of a good blog are tenfold times that of a good article.

Google Ads PPC Advertising Walkthrough

PPC Advertising is one of the most profoundly misunderstood aspects of online advertising. Millions of people pour countless amounts of money into online ads each year and waste what could easily be a highly effective advertising campaign.

The reason is simple – it’s about oversaturation. These days, finding the perfect keywords at a good price that will be marketed to the right people is extremely hard – it’s the crux of the entire PPC process and what a lot of this article is about.

Before you even step foot into the PPC advertising arenas, you need to be sure that you are 100% aware of what you are getting into – both in cost and in competition. You’re not just up against other people advertising for your keywords, you’re up against obscure, complex systems like Google’s Quality Scoring and the content network distribution model.

You cannot just throw ads in front of your viewers and expect to get a surge of traffic from ready buyers. You need to research, split test, and run small campaigns over time to get the kind of data that will allow you to create a truly effective AdWords campaign.

The Basics

So, what is PPC advertising? You probably already have a general idea of that if you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes searching through Google search listings. Those special sponsored ads on the top and right bar of the search listings are PPC advertisements. Basically, people pay a bid price for a keyword of their choosing. When someone clicks on their ad, they pay that bid price. Their displays of the ad are free, but they pay for every click.

The goal then for you is to find keywords that cost as little as possible but that target your specific audience as well as possible. You don’t want to get stuck with keywords that are too vague or too competitive because then you will either pay too much for each click or you will end up getting a lot of traffic from people who are not necessarily interested in making a purchase from your website.

There are a few specific things you should know about PPC advertising before you get started. On a very basic level, this form of advertising is extremely risky – it requires a great deal of foreknowledge about your audience and their search habits and it requires a good deal of planning on your part to ensure the money you spend on those ads is well targeted to your specific needs. If you try to spend money without planning a budget or pinpointing keywords, you are going to waste a great deal of it and get stuck in a rut very quickly.

The Innate Value of PPC Advertising

Before I get too carried away with all the reasons you need to be careful, I want to be sure you know just how powerful of a tool PPC advertising can be. Too many Digital Marketing courses these days spend their time focusing almost exclusively on the negatives and forget to mention all the good things you can get out of this style of marketing.

Near Instant Feedback

Feedback is an incredibly valuable asset to any marketer. It’s important to know that your marketing efforts are working and PPC advertising provides real time data that can show you exactly how well those efforts are working. When you set up a PPC advertising campaign, you make it so you can review exactly how each ad performs, how each keyword converts to sales and how much traffic is available for your keywords.

If you have a new page on your website and need to see how it performs, you can have a PPC campaign ready and drawing traffic in less than an hour. In 24 hours, you can take that data and analyse it to see just how well your new page performed. There are no other tools on the Internet that provide that much leverage in testing.

Numerous Testing Methods

Because of how easily you can create new campaigns, tweak those campaigns and shift your traffic to different keywords and ad variations, you can perform multiple testing methods at once without having to wait days or weeks to see how things perform. Your website may be optimised for one set of keywords while your ads are pointing in from dozens of different possible audiences. Then, you can take that data and analyse it using the huge array of tools provided by these PPC services.

Ultimate Flexibility

You have as much flexibility as you want when it comes to PPC. If you want to test how much traffic is generated by the keyword “Apple iPod 32 GB Touch” between 1am and 5am local time with three different ad variations, it’s very easy to do so. This kind of massive control over how your content is shown to visitors is ultimately what has made PPC advertising so dominant as a marketing method.

Unfortunately, the three reasons above are also exactly what have made PPC advertising such a dangerous avenue for a small business or an entrepreneur with limited funds. So, while you now know how many ways you can use this form of marketing to your benefit, you also need to know exactly how to use it so that you don’t throw money down a garbage chute.

Why to Be Careful

This is probably the most important section of this entire chapter because I want you to know very well why PPC advertising can be a dangerous form of marketing if you are not careful. To start with, it is very expensive – and deceptively so.

Many people think that because they are paying only for clicks, the £0.50 they pay for those clicks is well worth it. But consider this – you’re not paying £0.50 to make a sale. You’re paying £0.50 to get someone to your website. If your keyword selection or ad writing doesn’t draw in only people who will be interested in buying your product, you may have to pay for 25, 50, or 100 clicks before anyone even moderately interested in a sale appears.

Consider what happens if your products are £27 eBooks. If you had to pay £0.50 per click and needed 100 clicks to get one sale, you’d be spending £50 for every sale you made. That’s a significant loss. You would need to do a lot of work to make those numbers better.

The problem is that many advertisers don’t think of these consequences until it is much too late. They set their budgets high, don’t spend enough time choosing their keywords and then pour thousands of dollars into advertising before they realise what they’ve done. In addition, your competition is a thousand times more active than it was just 5 years ago. There are millions of people out there using PPC to sell their products. If you are in a competitive niche, it is going to be tough to pinpoint exactly what you need to succeed.

So, to help keep you from making the same mistakes, I’m going to present you with a series of stop-gaps that will keep you from overspending or mis-targeting your audience.

Small Budgets – By starting small and not over extending yourself financially off the bat, you can ensure that you never blow large sums of money on non-performing keywords.

Short Time Spans – Using short, very specific time frames of 2-3 days for testing can help you get enough data to work with but not so much that you must wait months to find the right formula.

In Depth Keyword Research – It all comes back to keyword research. For PPC advertising, you can never have enough high performing long tail keywords.

Split Testing – Testing is never done with. You’ll need to continuously tweak, test, and then retest your keywords for months to come if you’re going to land the perfect balance.

Constant Analytics Research – You should be looking at your reports every day to see what worked, what didn’t and what can be changed. This data is your best friend.

Using these five tools, you will learn exactly how to slow down your advertising campaign so that you can narrow in on exactly who wants to buy your product, exactly how to capture their attention and how to keep from spending all your money on meaningless keywords that will never pay off.

It might seem like a lot of work (and PPC was supposed to be fast right?), but trust me – if you can hone in on the right set of keywords and the right angle for your campaign, you will have a tool that is infinitely more powerful than 90% of the people out there using PPC advertising.

Starting with Google Ads

I have been using the general term “PPC advertising” thus far to describe what you’re doing with your ads, but the truth is that most advertising on search engines these days is done with Google AdWords – the largest and most powerful PPC advertising platform on the Internet. There are others, and we will discuss those other options shortly, but for now, let’s take a look at Google Ads (formerly AdWords) and what it has to offer.

Google Ads, as a service, is one of the most highly vaunted and often updated services Google offers, and for good reason. Their entire fortune has been made through their PPC advertising arm and it continues to be the biggest and best operated of any on the Internet. It is also the most competitive and sometimes frustrating of the options for a variety of reasons you’ll soon see.

Ad Targeting

There are multiple options on the signup page for how you will target your ads demographically. What you will choose depends largely on what kind of business you operate. If you are a local business, you will want to choose to limit your ads to locations that will be able to take advantage of your services. If you provide a product that is limited by language, make sure to choose the language set that matches your product. For most people, this will be English and English speaking countries and territories. But, don’t leave it as default if you need to expand your coverage.

Your First Ad

Google will have you create your first ad campaign while in the signup process. For now, just enter any information into these fields. We are going to return to this shortly and discuss exactly what your ad should look like and how you should build your keyword list. It can be a bit disarming to be asked for this information so early and many people end up creating underperforming ad campaigns because of it.

Your Budget

We will discuss your budget shortly, but for now, you should set it to something relatively small to get you started, so as to keep from accidentally overspending too early. I recommend £5 or £10. Later, when we tweak your campaign, you can upgrade that budget to match what you actually have to spend. Additionally, set your Cost Per Click (CPC) maximum bid to £0.50. Later you will specifically change your bid amount for every keyword you choose, but for now you can set a broad limit that will keep you from paying any outrageous amounts for highly competitive keywords.

Once you have finished signing up, you will need to pay a small activation fee to get started. This fee will be credited on your first bill for ads you showed, so it’s not an actual charge, but a means of keeping spammers from over using the service.

The Tools and Features of Google Ads

Once you’ve completed the signup process, you can start tweaking around with the various tools provided in Google AdWords. Keep in mind that the interface for AdWords changes regularly but generally, the tools are all the same. So, you may find that they have been moved on you at any given time. Don’t fret – just look through the new menus and they will still be there.

The Front Page

The front page of your AdWords account will include an overview of all your recent activity, including you recent ad purchases, their data and how much money you’ve spent. You can change your front page to display whatever information you like. I recommend minimising the sheer volume of data that jumps in front of you to your recent click thrus and cost. This will allow you to quickly and easily see exactly how many clicks you’ve paid for whenever you login to your account.

Campaign Optimiser

The Campaign Optimiser is a tool that will help provide data on how your campaign is performing and what specific actions you can take to improve it. By default, this service is not active, so if you want to use it, you’ll need to turn it on. Basically, what it does it tracks all of your changes to an ad campaign and provides feedback on which changes worked best. Unless you have a method set up already to analyse your changes, I recommend putting this tool to use to help you analyse your split testing later in the chapter.

Keyword Tool

We already discussed Google’s Keyword tool at length in Chapter 2, where we used it to analyse your various options for you website. It is going to come in just as handy for PPC research and provides quite a few very useful details that are targeted to exactly this type of work. I recommend refreshing on Chapter 2 and our keyword research a bit. We’ll go into your keywords a bit more in depth soon.

Ad Diagnostics

Google can run a diagnostic on your advertisements if they are not performing as well as you would like. There are any number of reasons why an ad might not perform properly or appear in the listings as it is meant to. By running the diagnostics tool, you can find out exactly what the problem is and target your efforts toward fixing those issues. Usually, the problem is related to budget, location, or quality score.

Conversion Tracking

You can keep track of your conversions through Google AdWords by defining a goal within the software. For example, if you create an ad that links directly to your homepage and your goal is to make a sale, you could define that to Google AdWords by telling it which page on your site the visitor needs to end up on after the sale is made. This might be a thank you page or a checkout page. Whatever page it is, make sure to describe the exact path and then install the snippet of code on that page so that Google can keep track of the tracking.

You will also need to tell your customers that they are being tracked – just for your own good and disclosure needs. I highly recommend implementing Conversion Tracking because it is the only real way to know that your ads are having a positive impact. If you don’t know that your ads are creating sales, you’ll never be able to know if your money is being well spent. Sure you may have gotten 100 hits from AdWords, but how many of your 40 sales were from those clicks. If only 3 of them were, you may need to tweak your advertising campaign slightly.

Insights for Search

Google’s newest tool for AdWords users, Insights for Search, is an intuitive search tool that lets you see a lot of interesting demographic data broken down over multiple lines including country, language, related terms and more. The tool provides category popularity, worldwide breakdowns by interest level, timeframes for popularity of those searches, and a variety of data that can be used to boost your keyword research and targeting.

Going over everything in this search tool would be hard, but if you are using every piece of data you can get your hands on effectively, this will be a highly effective tool for many things.

Search Based Keyword Tool

To help you stay within your quality score rankings, you can use the Search Based keyword tool to analyse which searches are actually made that match up to your content. This tool is relatively simple to use. Just enter the landing page you are going to advertise and then choose some basic keywords to link up to it. Then, do a search to see what real searches people are making that might match up to your website.

These are the most valuable tools that Google AdWords currently has to offer, but keep your eye out for new ones. It is in Google’s best interest to provide the most advanced and easy to use interface for their advertisers so new tools are constantly being added to make your job a bit easier.

Quality Score

One of the things that you’re going to get a good grip on early is the use of quality scoring for your website. Google uses this to decide how they will charge for your keywords and while most keyword costs are based on bids between you and your fellow competitors, Google will ramp up the cost on you if your quality score is not high enough.

A Quality Score is essentially a rating of your site to determine if the content matches up to the keyword you are using. So, for example, if you were trying to use the keyword “canon cameras” and your website only sold MP3 players, your quality score would be relatively low because there would be no related keywords on your page.

Quality scoring is done on a scale of 1-10 and in general, if you can get a quality score of 4 or higher for a keyword, Google will not influence the cost of your bid. However, if you have a keyword or set of longtail keywords that you want to bid on and that you do not have a good quality score for, you may need to optimise your site slightly with some new content to make it match.

My best advice here is to use the Ad Diagnostics tool and then make slight tweaks to your site as needed. If you cannot get the cost down of a set of keywords, you may just need to move one. Sometimes, certain keywords will cost upwards of £5 each with limited competition just so that Google can maintain the integrity of its search results. The process seems arbitrary, but it is a vital part of Google’s maintenance of their results.

Creating A Google Ads Campaign

It is now time to create your ad campaign, something that will involve three very important steps.

Creating Your Ad

Step one is to create your ad. Keep in mind that you’re going to be creating multiple ads over the course of this campaign because of our split testing, but you should still spend a great deal of time focusing on how to get the exact message you want into your ad. Each ad has four distinct parts for you to work on, with a limited number of characters to utilise. Here is a breakdown:

Headline – The Headline is the bolded, underlined link that appears atop your ad. This is the first thing anyone will see and needs to be the most important part of the advertisement. In general, it is good to use your root keyword here. Most ads will be attached to a longtail keyword set. When your ad appears in search listings, the parts of the keyword searched for will be bolded in your ad. Make sure to take advantage of this.
Line 1 – Your first line must always highlight benefits to the reader. It needs to tell them what they gain by clicking on your link. Never just list off features of your product in an ad.
Line 2 – The second line of your ad can speak more to the features of your product, but should still continue it in benefit language. For example instead of saying “32 GB MP3 Players” say “32 GBs to Hold All Your Music”. That is a direct benefit to the reader.
URL – The final line is the URL which will simply be what appears to the reader. If you are linking to a subpage of your website, just list the main domain and make sure to capitalise all the words within that URL.

To give you an idea of what a bad and good ad look like, here is a poorly written ad followed by a better, more targeted version of the same ad:

Bad Ad:

Best MP3 Players Around!
Apple, Zen, Creative and More
MP3 Players for Everyone!
http://www.mp3playerwizard.com

Good Ad:

MP3 Players and Video Players
Largest Selection with Apple and Creative
Carry More Music with Huge 32 GB MP3
http://www.MP3PlayerWizard.com

As you can see, the second ad is more targeted, with specific details and benefits to the searcher. It also looks more professional without unneeded exclamation marks and a capitalised domain name.

Setting Your Parameters

The next step in creating your campaign is to set the parameters. This includes the time frame, budget, and location of your ads. You should be sure to match up exactly where and when you want your ads to be shown. Keep your time frames short for the sake of split testing and always allow yourself plenty of leeway for a budget.

When you get started, you should aim for budgets of less than £10 a day, even if you can afford more. This will allow you to tweak your ads for as little money as possible while also getting a feel for how AdWords works. Additionally, you should keep your ads running for only 2-3 days at a time. This will allow you to get a solid 50-100 clicks on each ad without spending too much. In the end, you’ll find out what it takes to analyse each one more carefully.

Choosing Your Keywords

Your keywords lists should already be started (or even completed) from chapter 2. Now, you need to take those words you generated back in Chapter 2 and ensure that they are going to work for you here. Run them through the Google Keyword Tool and be sure that the costs are all good.

You are going to find that when you run a search campaign, the best way to go is to have hundreds of highly targeted longtail keywords that each garner extremely targeted traffic. This way, even if each keyword only gets searched for once a week, you will have hundreds to draw from. On the other side of things if you were to try and market for “MP3 Players” you would pay £2 per click and get hundreds of hits a day, but would likely never get the targeted traffic you need.

This is also where you should use the negative keywords tool to remove any of the words you don’t want to be searched for with. This includes anything like “Free” “Discount” “Import” or anything else that is going to lead people to your site when they are not actually interested in your product.

If someone searches for “free mp3 players” and sees your ad, they have no way of knowing that you don’t actually offer free MP3 players, so they’re still going to click on it. They won’t find what they’re looking for and will leave and you’ll lose valuable parts of your budget to meaningless clicks.

Split Testing

Split testing is the process of taking something and changing just one small part of it to see what happens. In this particular case, that testing is almost always done with your ads, though you may also decide to split test your landing pages to see how your visitors react to different content.

The goal here though should be to make small, tangible changes that can be measured against other changes. For example, if you produced two completely different ads, how would you know which part of the better performing ad was the important change. Rather, if the following two ads were your split tested content, you’d have a much easier time seeing what worked:

Ad A:

MP3 Players and Video Players
Largest Selection with Apple and Creative
Carry More Music with Huge 32 GB MP3
http://www.MP3PlayerWizard.com

Ad B:

MP3 Players and Video Players
Apple iPods to Match Any Tastes
Carry More Music with Huge 32 GB MP3
http://www.MP3PlayerWizard.com

In this case, the only thing that changed was the wording of the second line in Ad B. But, if you find that those changes actually make a difference, then you know you should go with Ad B and then make another small change, maybe this time to the headline. Split testing can seem meticulous and the changes may seem to cause very small tweaks to your traffic, but in the long run, those tweaks can have significant impacts on your sales.

Analytics

The last thing to discuss is the value of good, quality research for your keyword campaign. This is where analytics and split testing are going to come into play. In AdWords, you can run numerous reports that will provide you with endless pieces of data that can be used to take apart your efforts and showcase what worked and what didn’t. Here are some stats that you should be looking at as much as possible:

CPC
The average cost per click will tell you how much money you are paying on average to get one person to your website. This number should be as low as possible without sacrificing quality. Remember, if you sell a product every 3 clicks, those clicks can cost as much as they need to. If you only sell a product every 100 clicks, you cannot afford high priced clicks.

CTR
This is your click thru rate. This is the percentage of people who see your ad that click on it. Generally, the CTR is less important than the conversion rate from those clicks. However, if you are converting at 10% and only getting a 1% click thru rate, you should work on improving your click thru rate to take advantage of that high conversion percentage.

ROI
This is your return on investment. This is how much money you make versus how much you spent. For example, if you spend £500 in a month for PPC ads and make £2,500 in sales on those clicks, your ROI is 500%. You made 500% more than you spent – a tremendously good profit. When you first get started, just aim to have a positive ROI – once you’ve tweaked your account accordingly, you can start worrying about exactly how high those numbers can get.

Conversion Rate

The last number and the most important one is the conversion rate. You want to get as many clicks as possible to convert to sales. This number will tell you a number of things. First off, it tells you how effective your sales efforts on your website are.

If you are getting highly targeted traffic and are not converting that traffic, you may not have the right tone in your sales copy. You’ll need to check other things through Google Analytics like your bounce rate and time on page to see how those numbers are performing.

Additionally, this number can tell you how effective your ads are at grabbing the right people in clicks. For example, if your website has a 4% conversion rate from organic SEO traffic, and only a 2% conversion rate from PPC advertisements, it probably means that the traffic you’re getting through PPC is not as well targeted. That can mean that your ads don’t accurately describe what you’re selling or that your keyword are not effectively matched up to your audience.

As you can see, the numbers in your reports are extremely valuable in showing you what works, what doesn’t work and how to make tweaks. The important part is that you spend time looking at them every day. If you start glazing over the numbers, you might as well be throwing money down the drain, because there are always ways to do better and to improve. If you stop trying, you’re wasting a perfectly good opportunity.

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SEO Keyword Research

Whatever you may have thought of niche research, you absolutely cannot skip keyword research. This is the process that can make or break an SEO campaign. It will ultimately decide what you are capable of competing for when it comes to getting your name and your business name out there on the Internet.

And a little basic keyword research is not going to get the job done. You need to be thorough. These keywords are going to cost you money some day and are going to be an important part of everything you do from now on. So they need to be accurate and effective in matching your niche and your content.

In this article, I spend time discussing exactly how to dive deep into the world of keyword research with a number of free tools available on the Internet and basic research methods that will integrate well with niche research.

What Are Keywords?

The first thing you should know – what exactly is a keyword? Keywords are exactly as they sound. They are words or phrases that search engines recognise as unique queries entered by their users. Saying just “keyword” though is a bit misleading. Almost none of the marketing you will do involves a single word in that format. Rather, you will use the tools I’m about to show you to create keyword phrases, or a collection of words. After all, when you’re trying to find something on the Internet, do you type just one word? Or do you type a whole set of words?

For example, if someone were to type in “hotdog” on Google, they would get a whole number of different results, probably telling them what a hotdog is, and listing a number of companies that sell hotdogs. On the other hand, if you were to type in “how to cook hotdogs”, you will find a great deal of much more specific pages that actually show you how to cook a hotdog.

This is the crux of keyword research – finding the phrases and wording that your users would use when they search for your products or services. Not only are there millions of pages that will rank for a single keyword like “hotdog”, but those pages are all very general. People who search for that single word may be looking for anything. You could waste a great deal of effort targeting the word.

However, with keyword phrases, you could target more specifically people who are seeking out exactly what you offer. If you were selling hot dog cooking lessons, the longer phrase we just discussed would be a vital keyword for you to target whereas hotdog alone would not.

Incidental Targeting

Of course, there is another trade off to using longer keyword phrases. Not only do you target your audience more specifically, but you still get to use that single keyword. Of course, you’ll never rank for “hotdog” alone.

But, by using it over and over again in your text for longer keywords, you will integrate it in a number of ways throughout your page. This will benefit you in multiple ways that you’ll find in the rest of the book, such as for your quality score in Google Ads or for your article marketing.

Because of this effect, we do keyword research in a reverse pyramid of sorts, starting with one or two words and then finding as many keyword phrases that contain those words as possible and that market to the direct audience. By combining the two, you will be able to create lists of extended keywords you can use for multiple marketing tactics.

Basic Keywords

The first stop in keyword testing and research is to develop a list of basic keywords. Again, these are not words you will be using for your marketing campaign. Rather, these are the roots words that your phrase will be based off.

You should have a good idea of what sorts of words go with your product and website. While it is impossible to give you a general overview of every niche on the Internet, let’s take a look at a sample site, in a niche slightly more exciting than hotdogs.

Example:

William has a website devoted to selling MP3 Players and MP3 Player accessories. He sells iPods, but also a number of other products. So, it’s important that he use a wider array of keywords than just “iPod”. Upon doing some research into his niche, he finds that there are 5 different manufacturers he wants to promote through his site. He also finds that there are approximately 10 different types of accessories that he’d like to include as sections on that site. So, as a result, he creates a basic keyword list that looks like this:

MP3 Player

Apple iPod
Archos Gmini
Creative Zen
Samsung YP
Sony Walkman

MP3 Player Accessories

Batteries
Cables
Adapters
Cases
Chargers
Docking
AV System
Faceplate
Skin
Downloads

These lists are very basic starter lists for each of the different MP3 Players and then the different accessories that William will be selling. He cannot, therefore go out and start marketing his site with the keyword “adapters” or “iPod”. Not only are they much too broad, the competition is incredibly fierce.

But, even though his list is basic and will not necessarily allow him to start marketing just yet; William has a very good starting set of keywords that will allow him to create longer, more in depth keywords. By adding additional words or combining these basic keywords, William can start targeting very specific customers to his site. For a page selling iPod Car Adapters, he could use keywords like:

“iPod Car Adapter Set”
“iPod Car Accessories”
“iPod for the car”

And so on. The list of possibilities are endless, which can be a bit daunting, but that’s where the next section and the research tools I’ll show you come in handy.

Before we start on that research though, you should sit down and create a complete list of basic keywords for your site. Don’t worry about being complete – you may find dozens more when you start doing your research. However, by having a good list in hand to get started, you can save some time in your research efforts. Here are some ideas of what to write down:

Products you sell
Services you offer
Awards you have received
Certifications you hold
Popular models and accessories in your niche

Make sure to categorise those keywords as well, like William did above. That allowed him to keep the MP3 player brands separate from the accessories. You’ll find that by having separate lists of basic keywords, it can be easier to mix and match them later on to create longer, more specific phrases to target for your content. Additionally, it will give you a baseline for your website’s overall SEO efforts, such as the keywords you use on your homepage and for the main product or service pages.

Longtail Keywords

Now that you have a good deal of basic keywords in hand to work with, it’s time to start creating longtail keywords – those phrases that people actually search for. The key here is to find phrases and words that match up with what people search for when they’re actively interested in purchasing what you’re selling.

It sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised by the number of traps you can encounter when trying to get just the right keywords. So, to help you out, I’ve created a list of questions you should ask about your keywords as you research them, to make it easier to determine which are going to work and which may not:

Would someone ask this question?
Why would they ask this question?
How many other sites answer this question?
Are they ready to make a purchase?
Can this phrase be misconstrued somehow?

Basically, what you’re doing here is finding out what frame of mind your visitors are in if they use these words. Ideally, they should be ready to purchase something. A trap that many people fall into, especially with digital products and services, is that their visitors are seeking something related but free.

For example, if your company creates templates for websites, it might be tempting to optimise for a keyword like “website template”. However, you need to make sure you specialise that keyword a bit. Because, if you ask yourself the above questions you’ll find that many people are just looking for a quick, free template.

More often than not, people who are willing to pay for website design will use a different approach. You’ll find this soon when we do our research. In this case though, they might search for “premium website templates” or “quality web design”. Things like that will ultimately have a much greater impact on your traffic than a generic term that could easily have the word “free” or “download” added to it.

Keyword Research Tools

Now that you have a clear idea of what you need for your keyword lists, it’s time to figure out how to get those lists. This is where research tools are going to come in handy. Rather than just focusing on the ways to “guess” keywords, we’re going to look directly at how to find keywords that are highly searched, not overly competitive, and match up to the criteria we’ve already discussed.

The Competition

The first research tool you should use is your competition.  Look at your competition to get ideas about your niche with tools like Quantcast and SpyFu. However, now you’re going to dig a little deeper and do some keyword research on those pages to see how they are marketing their content.

Start by searching for the websites that you want to research. Do a quick read through of their content and see which words and phrases they use. Now, to dig a little deeper, you’re going to need the tools we are about to get into. These tools will all have a website analyser option that allows you to enter the URL of a site and then go through it to see which keywords are used most often.

You’ll find, when you do this, a listing of which keywords are used and how many times they are used on that page. Take notes of these numbers for now, just so you have a general idea of what your competition is doing. It will allow you to more easily adjust your own strategies, either to compete directly with them, or to shift your phrases a bit and target different keywords.

Google Ads Keyword Planner Tool

This tool is free and integrated into the Ads interface, all you need to do is visit: https://ads.google.com/aw/keywordplanner/home

This tool is not nearly as powerful or as accurate as some other tools, but it is free and if you’re just getting started, it can give you a rough idea of what keywords you’re dealing with. So, it’s moderately useful for a lot of users, despite its lack of advanced features.

Google will now provide you with a list of keywords related to your terms. These phrases are all common search terms that appear in advertising campaigns and websites with your original phrases. The majority of the phrases you will see are terms that are highly competitive and have high search volume.

For example, when you use the list of basic brand names that William wrote up earlier in this chapter, the first response is “mp3 player” with its very high advertising competition and 16.6 million monthly searches.

These numbers are again just rough estimates by Google based on their advertising data, but they are good for getting a general feel for how popular the phrases are. In this case, you can see you’re in a very competitive market that will probably take you quite a while to rank well for, especially if people are willing to spend large volumes of money to advertise instead of doing organic SEO.

Finding Keywords

Search through the list that appears when you do this search and choose any keywords that are related to content you want to sell. This might include product names, related longtails like “mp3 player comparison” or unrelated searches that work like “digital media players”.

Additionally, below that first search you’ll find a collection of “additional keywords to consider”. These keywords are related options that are very similar to the ones you entered in your search box that Google thinks you should consider.

Saving Keywords

To save keywords from these lists, just click on the “add” button located to the right of each keyword. It will create a list of those words on the far right side of the page. When you are done selecting keywords, you export that list of keywords to a TXT file for later use. Alternately, if you have an Ads account, you can add them directly to your advertising campaign without having to do anything else.

WordTracker

This tool pretty much does the same thing as Google Ads but uses a much more sophisticated database and provides much more direct matches and suggestions for your keywords.

The thing about WordTracker is that it costs money. However, if you’re only doing your research once and need a simple tool to get started with, you can sign up for a free trial that will allow full access to the software without having to pay for it.

Enter your keywords into the interface and start searching to gather recommendations for further words and phrases. You can add words to a cart that will allow you to compare them later and to get more suggestions based on those words you saved.

Keyword Discovery

Keyword Discovery is yet another paid research tool, but this one offers even more features than WordTracker.  You will find that Keyword Discovery tends to keep a clutter free database of keywords.  It’s not perfect of course – none of these tools are and none of them can be – but it is a very clean interface and relatively easy to use.

To use Keyword Discovery, do the same thing we did before with WordTracker. You will not get the same form of suggestions, but you will get more data options than you did before.

Premium Versions of Keyword Tools

If you decide to upgrade your subscriptions to paid software you will also get a much more detailed suite of tools, including the following:

Industry Keywords
Spelling Mistake Research
Seasonal Trends
Related Keywords
KEI Analysis
Keyword Density Analysis
Basic Research

SpyFu|

The last tool I want to share with you for keyword research is SpyFu. Until 2009, SpyFu was a free, relatively simple site that provided numerical data for Google Ads listings. Basically, when you typed in a keyword, it would tell you how many people had ads for that keyword, how much they were paying for their clicks, how many clicks a day were being made, and show you a listing of the ads.

Again, like the other tools, it was never 100% accurate, but it gave a vital snapshot of what you would be dealing with if you tried to pay for advertising with Google – something Google was never able to do (and still doesn’t).

What SpyFu Does Well

However, that’s not to say that SpyFu doesn’t pull its weight relatively well when you’re looking into your competition. Many people write off Ads data, saying it doesn’t have a tremendous impact on how you run your SEO campaigns. But, I beg to differ.

First off, you can usually tell right away how competitive your niche is by the number of ads listing for certain keywords. Think of it this way; if you were trying to compete for the keyword “MP3 player”, would you pay £5 per click when it was easy to get listed in the search engines organically? I don’t think so.

So, if you search for your longtail keywords and find that they are all very expensive and competitive, you can bet that it’s because the organic SEO is tough as nails to rank for. That may not deter you from trying, but it tells you that you’ll need to do a heck of a lot more work than you originally banked for yourself to get listed for those vital keywords.

On the other side of things, if you search for a keyword that has decent search volume according to Word Tracker or Keyword Discovery and find that the average cost per click for an Ads ad is only £0.50/word, you may have a good opportunity there to run a PPC advertising campaign without having to break the bank doing it.

I recommend running a SpyFu search for all of your basic keywords and your main longtails whenever you do a new keyword research campaign. It will help you get a much better idea of the market.

Implementing Your Organised Keyword Strategy

If you don’t have a good strategy in mind before using them, the keyword research tools listed are only going to give you a massive, overwhelming list of keywords that are hard to integrate into a real time campaign. That’s not very useful. You can’t go into a new website with 250 keywords and no idea how you will use them. So, here are some tips to help you slowly pare down your lists and start creating a keyword strategy for your site.

PPC vs. SEO

The first thing to do is to create two separate lists for PPC and SEO. It’s important that you keep in mind the difference between these two. For PPC, the more longtail keywords you have the better. The better targeted they are, the better. These keywords will help you reach as wide of a targeted audience as possible and get more click throughs.

You might want to consider Bings Ads v Google Ads and compare the two options for PPC.

But, for SEO, you need a different strategy. You need to create a list with hierarchies depending on the size of your site and how you plan on using your keywords.

To start with, keep that initial list of basic keywords handy. You’re going to use those as a basis for SEO work you do on your pages. Second, narrow down your list of longtails. You should have no more than 2 or 3 good longtail keywords with a few different variants per page on your website. If you try to do more than that, it can be hard to keep track of what you’re doing with those keywords.

Now, create a longer list of longtail keywords for each of your pages that you will use for outside SEO. This includes the article marketing, blogging, and other tools we’re going to use throughout the rest of this book to target more areas of your niche. We’ll get into more on how this works later in the guide, but for now, just make sure you have a list that looks something like this:

Root (Basic) Keywords
Main Longtails for Each Page
SEO Target Keywords for Each Page

You may not use all these words, and you may end up cutting some out on purpose as you do more research, but for now it’s good to have a solid, well organised list that you can use a basis when you move forward. It will come in especially handy if you start outsourcing your content creation and website design.

Keeping Up with Keyword Research

Digital Marketing is a very dynamic place full of constant changes and adjustments. If you’re serious about your SEO, you’ll continue doing keyword research regularly, seeing what changes occur, what new aspects of your niche become prevalent and what your prospects are searching for on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Some niches may never change, but many others – including anything related to technology – will shift constantly and require you to keep making new keyword lists and adjusting your SEO strategies in real time.

FREE SEO Audit

For a free audit and detailed recommendations for your SEO campaign, take a look at my SEO Consultant offer

 

 

 

 

 

GDPR – Did All The Fuss Screw Your Business?

Those GDPR emails you got… all for nothing!

Or the GDPR emails you sent to get re-consent – which maybe you regret?

Is there any good news?

Yes! You don’t have to worry about not ploughing through the 50+ emails you got in late May asking if you want to “stay in touch”. How annoying and so non-GDPR all that malarkey was… Those companies can, and probably still are, mailing you. I know I’m getting tonnes of email and I didn’t re-consent to ANY of the re-consent emails I received.

So what’s the bad news?

You shouldn’t have received most of those emails in the first place.

It’s not new for me to say this but I’ll remind you again… at the time, and still now, experts and legal beavers said European consumers didn’t need to be on the receiving end of the avalanche of emails which landed in their inboxes.

A large number of businesses who were clearly uncertain (or mislead?) about the implications of the new rules asked their whole customer databases to re-confirm already given consent. The first trouble with this is they already had given their consent by being a customer. ICO guidance suggests the customer relationship can be used as one of the forms of consent if the purchase was within a 2 year period.

If you gave your consent to receive marketing emails from a company in the past then that consent is still valid.

But perhaps most importantly… Companies don’t need consent to send marketing emails to existing customers.

“There is a lot of fuss about this … In a lot of cases they don’t need this consent,” said Willem Debeuckelaere, Belgian data protection chief and deputy chair of the newly created European Data Protection Board that coordinates privacy enforcement across Europe.

Businesses do not don’t need additional consent to send marketing emails to existing customers.

Are you regretting falling for the myths and following the mass exodus? 

The only situation in which a company needs to ask for additional consent or look to apply one of the other forms of consent, is when it sends marketing emails to contacts that are NOT existing customers.

The exceptions to this rule are organisations holding large troves of email addresses but never asked recipients if they wanted to be included on email lists. Such “spammers” could face fines and enforcement action — but would have already been in breach of EU law (and specifically the e-Privacy Directive) before GDPR and the new data protection rules kicked in. So that’s really a moot point.

The companies who did send emails asking for renewed consent might be in a difficult situation now. In most cases, the email was unnecessary at best and a poor business decision at worst. The net result was they found their marketing database was decimated and one of their largest assets unavailable.

Many of the companies who sent out emails asking for consent lost a sizeable portion of their mailing list. While some people did willingly respond and provide the sought after re-consent, there were plenty of customers who said no, with the sizeable majority not responding at all. The latter is hardly surprising as its estimated the average user had 50 of these (I got a lot lot more I can tell you!)

GDPR: mailing lists – the myths

GDPR and the rules surrounding existing mailing lists have become a regularly raised question.

So, let’s look at the key questions…

Did you have to delete your existing mailing lists and start from scratch? – NO

Did you need to contact everyone on your mailing list before 25th May and their consent to be contacted? – NO, not everyone.

Can you continue to write to businesses as they don’t have to have given consent to email them – YES you can write to B2B customers, limited companies, limited liability partnerships as long as you give them the opportunity to opt out of contact every time you send them an email. Sole traders are considered an individual.

Having addressed the myths, let’s look at the options available to secure the consent required.

Firstly, it should be noted any form of consent must be audit-able and should you be required, on a case by case basis, to show the evidence of the form of consent for a given database record you must be able to do this. For customers this is often easier as you will have some form of account or order history.

The key to understanding who you can contact means you need to appreciate the lawful basis for processing personal data.

There are six lawful basis in total:

Consent
Contractual Necessity
Legal Obligation
Vital Interest
Public Interest
Legitimate Interest

GDPR was never designed to ruin your business, so each of these lawful basis covers different cases and simply needs to be applied correctly.

For paying customer data, we are looking at FOUR of these: Consent, Contractual Necessity, Legal Obligation and Legitimate Interest

Here are the legal basis to process customer data:

Legal Obligation

You may have to hold onto contracts, invoices, etc., for legal reasons. This would include audit or tax purposes. This means you can use customer data for this purpose. This lawful basis only applies if it’s dictated by EU or member state law.

Contractual Necessity

When closing a contract or sale and while fulfilling the contract / ongoing sales relationship, you are in your right to create a data process for handling customer data. For this legal basis the customer must have paid for their goods to services.

Consent

Under the existing ePrivacy directive you require opt-in to send any direct marketing emails (watch out for local laws, in Germany you have the double opt-in whereas in other countries you do not require opt-in for B2B marketing emails).

Some companies opt for legitimate interest as the lawful basis instead of consent for marketing purposes.

There are quite a few things to consider including a legitimate interest assessment, a potential Data Privacy Impact Assessment and informing data subjects about your intentions. Legitimate interest can be used as a form of consent for existing and regular customers.

Let’s finish with 10 more myths about GDPR…

Myth 1

GDPR only applies to EU citizens so you just need to segment your list.

>> No! The regulation applies to anyone who finds themselves in the EU, also travellers.

Myth 2

You‘ll be fined 20M€ or 4% of your worldwide turnover.

>> No! It’s unlikely you’ll be fined at all. If somebody complains about you then it doesn’t mean that the data privacy authorities will immediately start an investigation.

Myth 3

You have to ask everybody on your list to opt in again.

>> No! You do not need to ask previous and current clients or customers to opt in again as you can use the lawful basis of a contract and legitimate interest to keep your clients up to date and send marketing emails until they decide to opt out.

Myth 4

You cannot offer freebies any longer to build your email list.

>> No! The regulation states you cannot bundle offers but doesn’t mean you cannot offer free gifts or downloads anymore.

Myth 5

You have to use a double opt in.

>> No! The regulation does not mention double opt in and there is no need to start to use a double opt in if you weren’t using it before.

Myth 6

You need to use tick boxes.

>> No! The regulation does not mention tick boxes or insist on their use. A clear and unambiguous statement of consent at the point of registration or purchase is sufficient.

Myth 7

You need a cookie bar

>> No! There is no mention of a cookie bar in the regulation because the whole discussion around cookies is covered by another law, PECR, due  in 2019.

Myth 8

You cannot use Facebook retargeting ads.

>> No! Using Facebook ads is based on legitimate interest. This means your subscriber has shown interest in a product or a service and you are now reminding them with your retargeting ads. The same is true for Google and LinkedIn retargeting.

Myth 9

You cannot use Google Analytics any more or other anonymous tracking.

>> No! Google Analytics, like most tracking tools, anonymises IP addresses of website visitors.

Myth 10

If a client asks you to delete their data, you need to comply.

>> No! Not necessarily. Some company law supersedes data privacy laws in a sense that you need to keep records for a certain number of years.

Read more of my articles on GDPR:

GDPR = Got Desperate People Rich(er)
How You Continue To Use Your Bought-In Mailing Lists After GDPR 

 

 

 

The Importance of SEO Brand Familiarity

Many factors come into play when trying to gain a user’s attention on search engine results pages in order to get that all-important click-through.

In search engine optimisation, we tend to focus on ranking – with the best positions 1-10, to determine whether your brand will attract search traffic. However, a brand new study, Secret Life of Search’ by Red C has discovered that brand familiarity may play a far greater role in search click-through rate than marketers had thought.

Based on eye tracking over 400 search journeys across more than 40 search terms, they studied how searchers interact with the Google search, Google Images, Google Shopping, and Google Maps, when carrying out shopping-related searches.

When asked to perform a research task such as shopping for a party dress or searching for a cruise holiday, 82% of participants in the study selected a brand that they were already familiar with. This is regardless of where it ranked on the search engine.

The study’s findings lend a new weight to the importance of brand recognition and trust on search results page.

The power of brand familiarity

The study used 3 demographic groups “pre-family” participants, who were younger and had yet to start a family; “family” participants, who had children living at home; and “post-family” participants, who were older and had children aged 18 and over who had left home.

They found that 82% of study participants who were asked to carry out a shopping-related research task on Google chose a brand that they were already familiar with for their “purchase”. Only 16% of participants chose an unfamiliar brand. These percentages did vary amongst the three demographic groups the younger pre-family participants were the most likely to choose a familiar brand in their search, with 91% making their first click on a known, trusted brand. The paper notes that noted that a brand’s familiarity was far more persuasive than how highly it ranked on the search engine page – indeed participants willing to scroll down to position 8 or 9 just to find a familiar brand. The study also found that searchers who click on a familiar brand in search results tend to do so quickly – taking an average of 10.53 seconds to click on a known brand on desktop, and 9.26 seconds on mobile.

The researchers posed follow-up questions to participants to find out what their motivation was for clicking on these brands. Nearly half of participants (47%) said that it was because they were a past or present customer of that brand, while a fifth (20%) said that they trusted the brand.

So now let’s look at how can to adapt your marketing strategy to take into account these findings.

How can retailers win more search traffic?

This study has shown that the battle for search clicks is often won before the consumer gets to the search engine. However, there is still that 16% that clicked on a brand they didn’t recognise.

Great Images

When participants were asked why they chose the unfamiliar brand that they’d clicked on, 42% said that they were persuaded by the content of the Google result, while 33% were won over by a PPC ad. The study’s findings reinforce the importance of visual content in searches where shoppers are looking for inspiration – something that visual social networks like Pinterest have built an entire business model around. Many participants reported using the Shopping tab or Google Images to inspire them before continuing their journey on the main SERP, and some habitually used these tabs in order to find new brands to buy from.

Great copy

Creating compelling copy is also important in winning over customers who aren’t wedded to a particular brand. Organic search presence and PPC ads between them capture 75% of customers who are open to trying a new brand, and these customers are also taking more time to carefully browse the search engine – giving you the opportunity to grab their attention.  Make your headlines compelling and distinctive and use memorable, stand-out words to interrupt scrolling – they will hunt for words and phrases that resonate with their search objective.

And finally, some key takeaways from the researchers…

“It’s clear that raising awareness and trust in your brand is an essential part of getting clicks on the search engine… You need an integrated approach to be in the frame. So while effective PPC and SEO strategies are key in ensuring your brand is high in the results when a consumer is searching, being in the consideration set in the first place requires marketing away from the SERP.”

How to Build Diverse and Healthy SEO Links

Whilst Google still penalises us for what it sees as ‘artificial link building’, the ranking algorithm still places a heavy emphasis on links and they remain a powerful ranking signal for search. The engines themselves have refined the use of link data to a fine art, and use complex algorithms to perform nuanced evaluations of sites and pages based on this information.

They are constantly testing and experimenting with how they use links and therefore it is very important to diversify the way we secure links to create a many-sided backlink profile for our websites that can hold up to the tweaks by search engines.

So how do you build links in the safest possible way to boost your visibility without falling into the ‘outreach/PR’ trap?

There are a many link building tactics out there, but all of them essentially sit under three categories: natural, manual and self-created. These categories cover all the ways to earn links to your site – ideally as a business you should employ a mix of the three to ensure your backlink profile is healthy, diverse and profitable.

Natural Editorial Links

These are links that are given naturally by other sites and pages that want to link to your content or company. These links require no specific action from the SEO, other than the creation of great web content and the ability to create awareness about it.

Manual Outreach Links

These links are created by emailing bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings of any kind, often creating a value proposition by explaining why creating the link is in their best interest.

Self-created, Non-editorial

Many, many websites offer visitors the opportunity to create links through guest book signings, forum signatures, blog comments, or user profiles. These links offer the lowest value, but can still have an impact for some sites. In general, search engines continue to devalue most of these types of links, and have been known to penalise sites that pursue these links aggressively. Proceed with caution as these types of links are often considered spam. Websites caught buying links or participating in link schemes risk severe penalties that will drop their rankings into oblivion.

Unfortunately, link building is one of the most difficult activities to measure as engines internally weigh each link with precise, mathematical metrics. Try using some of the following metrics to determine which links are best for you.

Ranking for relevant search terms – one of the best ways to determine how highly valued your page is in a particular search engine is to search on it using the keywords and phrases from your page targets.

Competitors backlinks – By studying the inbound links of a website that rank well with your keywords, you can gain valuable knowledge about the links that are helping to achieve this ranking.

MozRank –this site shows you have popular a given web page is. Links from important sites increase a page’s popularity.

Number of links on a page – if your page is linked to a page that is diluted with links, your link to that page can also be ranked lower –so try to link to pages with fewer links rather than many.

Success comes when you see increases in search traffic, higher rankings, more frequent search engine crawling and increases in referring link traffic. If these metrics do not rise after a successful link building campaign, it’s possible you either need to seek better quality link targets.

And finally, here are some solid day-to-day examples of how to grow your links:

Start blogging – through an informative and entertaining company blog, you have the opportunity to contribute fresh material frequently to you site, participate in conversations and earn listings and likes from consumers and other blogs. It’s a very valuable strategy.

Use your customer’s loyalty – capitalise on your loyal clients or suppliers who can show your logos or business name on their sites.

Guest post – a highly effective tactic for earning links and exposure. Along with offering content, you can leverage the content on your own site for links. A high quality infographic can attract a large number of links, but executing this requires proper investment.

Digital Marketing For B2B Manufacturers

Most manufacturing companies believe there is room for improvement in their B2B marketing activities.

The UK Manufacturing Landscape report by Cognition has found that, even though the majority of manufacturing companies use online advertising (74%), have a social media presence (68%) and create online content (65%), more than half think this output could be better.

A common explanation from respondents was the lack of dedicated marketing teams within manufacturing organisations. In addition to this, one in three felt their marketing processes were outdated.

A third of respondents thought their marketing processes were outdated despite most manufacturing companies having increased their marketing budgets in the past five years. There was a slight aversion to digital marketing too – print was thought to be the most effective marketing method. It’s clear that new marketing strategies need to be implemented and the important of digital channels needs to be realised.

Your website

First, you need a ensure that your website is a mobile responsive design containing the most basic of information such as products and services, including pictures and videos, your company details such as history, mission, vision and differentiators, your team (remember to highlight key management and employees) and contact details.

Ideally you should also have a news blog – to enable writing stories of how you have and can help business customers – and descriptive meta-tags.

Google Pay-Per-Click ads effective for manufacturers

The text ads that appear at the top of Google’s search results are golden territory – if you find the right keywords your prospective buyers are likely using to look for your products and your ad is compelling, then they may click on it, you have a conversion. An important part of running a results-oriented Google Ad campaign is to have the keywords, the ad, and the website landing page you are sending them to synced to each other and to the searchers intent.

To enhance results, have separate ad groups for each product or equipment line you want to advertise. Start with one or two groups, see how they do, then add additional products. The types of keywords a prospective customer would use to find each type of equipment should be as unique as possible. An example is using search ads, which can reach users at their specific time of need. An engineer, may turn to search engines to answer questions and find solutions. Your ads can reach these people when they are searching and ready for an answer.

Remarketing Ads

Remarketing ads, text or display ads shown to people after they’ve visit your website, can remind them why they came to your website in the first place. In most cases, you can segment your remarketing ads to show certain ads to specific audiences that meet the criteria of your prospective customers. This type of ad can generate new traffic to your website and bring back visitors who may have viewed the particular product page on your website recently.

Fresh Content

To get found on Google or Bing organic search results you have to be prepared to invest in developing a solid content plan and writing new compelling customer focused content on a consistent basis – at least two blog posts per month. Other solid content you could use on your website are case studies, Thought leadership such as white papers and professionally shot product images and videos. All of this content can also be shared on your social media pages

Email Marketing

Email is still one of the most effective ways to reach your target market and keep your customers informed of your new or updated products and where you are going as a company. Since many manufacturing companies attend trade shows, it’s also a great way to leverage the contacts you meet and gives you a tool to follow-up with them on a consistent basis. According the Content Marketing Institute, email is the number one way manufacturers distribute content.

Your marketing goals

The ideas above represent some of the most effective manufacturer marketing strategies to attract new business prospects, and retain and sell more to existing customers online. However, you don’t have to do all of these straight away. Start with one or two and layer in the others when you are comfortable and have the resources and marketing budget to do them consistently and with high quality. Whatever digital tactics you utilise, the goal should be to provide solutions to the problems or situations your prospects are trying to solve.

What The Rise of Virtual Reality Means For Digital Marketers

Due to the constantly changing digital landscape, advertisers have had to get more and more creative with their advertisements and concepts, As Virtual Reality (VR) hits mainstream it provides an all new era for marketers

Although it’s expensive to get started in VR, there’s a lot of money currently backing it. Big companies like Facebook, Playstation, HTC, Google, and Samsung all have plans for VR headsets. Despite the costs, publishers and advertisers are already buying in. In the US, The New York Times has a VR Editor, CNN has streamed political debates in VR and the rise in platforms supporting 360-degree video has also upped the appeal for virtual reality. YouTube launched it’s 360-degree video channel in 2015 and followed that by rolling out support for 360-degree live streams and spatial audio in 2016. Facebook also supports 360 video.

VR methods in combination with digital marketing strategies can help mold the future of marketing for your brand. For advertisers, the appeal of VR is clear. In an age of ad blocking, VR offers a fully viewable and entertaining experience— but only if it’s done right.

Here’s some ways to embrace VR in your marketing.

Focus on Storytelling

The big advantage that VR has over other forms of media is the immersiveness. When you are in a VR headset, you feel like you’re actually in another place. Use this to your advantage; tell a story, get people interested and let them lose themselves in your content. And make it interactive; engagement in marketing material is much easier to foster with VR as compared to other mediums since there is real interactivity. We retain much more of what we experience in VR than traditional mediums; use this to your advantage!

Education over promotion

For startups, the suggestion is often made to focus on education over promotion. The reason for this is that as a startup your product would often be significantly differentiated from the major players and at that point, target customers learning of the product would buy it regardless of the promotion. This advice isn’t limited to startups though; it is limited by product differentiation.

A VR experience gives your product a differentiation all on its own. When you get your customer into a VR headset and teach them about what they’re buying, the industry, a relevant skill, you become invaluable to the customer, differentiating yourself to a large degree. It is even possible to integrate a social element to the learning process. In this scenario, the customer remembers your message better, and the customer gets to have a lot of fun and learn something at the same time.

Showcase

Remember always, to protect your brand image. Only use VR to showcase the most interesting aspects of your product or service and do not do not cheapen your brand badly thought through VR marketing.  VR is not meant to replace real life; it is supposed to make traditional media more immersive and experiential. Use it as such to increase awareness of and engagement with your business.

Use it to collect data real-time

It is estimated that there are 171-million people worldwide actively using virtual reality in some way- a growth of 168 million since 2015.The VR market is set to grow at an extraordinary rate and therefore the potential for real-time data collection is bountiful and can help businesses make faster changes to marketing decisions.

For example, if a VR-driven marketing campaign produces unfavourable results, a brand can quickly create a digital option that is more suited for the general audience.

Improve your consumer experiences

Improving consumer engagement involves multiple factors and virtual reality is one of those factors. When implemented it can help consumers experience how a product or service works – something as simple as creating a 3D advertisement with the suggestion of using 3D glasses brings boring, flat advertisements to life. Indeed, for startups that are considering virtual reality marketing, 3D options may be a good place to start. It will help your audience learn what to expect in the future and decide if it is the way they want to be marketed to in the digital world or not.

Virtual reality is quickly pairing with digital marketing to become the future of marketing as a whole. Nearly every brand can implement virtual reality in some way to market products and services to consumers. Try to use examples from some of the most impactful virtual reality inclusions by brands as references for implementing real-life simulations into your campaigns.

Using Instagram On Desktop PC or Mac

So you want to use Instagram on a computer instead of just a mobile device?

You want to be able to upload photos to the social media app from your desktop PC or Mac?

No problem…

Well there is a problem! But one that can easily be solved. Instagram lacks a desktop experience. It was never designed to be used, other than for browsing, on a desktop. It limits desktop users on how much they can post, see and engage with if they’re logged in on a PC or Mac.

You see…

Instagram was designed to have you share instant photos and video clips of your everyday life. It was never supposed to be used properly on a PC or Mac.

But…

Most people who manage marketing campaigns, in particular, really need to be able to use a desktop to upload new photos and share content online. Also, users would love to use their PC or Mac to access the effects or filters for enhancing pictures.

The Basics

Instagram does allow a Desktop user some basic functions. For example, logging in to Instagram on a browser will allow you to scroll through your feed and like all of your friends’ photos.

You can also read your notifications and explore the platform content but there is no function to upload photos or watch Instagram stories. Well not unless you know how!

Instagram users have had access to their Instagram feed on the web, and they’ve had some capabilities for saving photos from Instagram.

But Instagram’s website does not allow uploading images directly from a computer; they’re simply designed to display what people have uploaded.

A lot of people enjoy Instagram so much they really want to be able to use a full-featured version on their laptops or desktop computers. Instagram did start changing this in early 2016, by offering the Instagram for Windows app in the Microsoft Store. Of course, it’s still only available on Windows 8 and Windows 10 PCs, so older computers and Apple Mac devices still need a workaround.

To Upload Photos to Instagram using Safari

If you’re using Safari go into Preferences and select Advanced.

Next select “Show Develop menu” in menu bar that shows. Its usually at the bottom of the menu options.

You then should open a private Safari window, go into Develop, then User Agent, and select Safari > iOS 10 and onwards > iPhone.

By putting Safari into this mode, it will let you view any website as if you were on your phone. When you log into Instagram you’ll now see the camera button at the bottom of the screen and you can upload photos by selecting this icon as if you were on a mobile.

If you’re on a PC or Mac and using Chrome

More often than not, using Chrome to access Instagram on a Desktop is a bit easier. The trick you are looking to achieve to be able to post Intsgram photos is to get the camera button to appear in its usual mobile device place at the bottom of the screen.

So here’s what you do. Log into Instagram via Chrome and then right click the page to get a drop down menu to show on the screen. You can noramlly right click anywhere on the page to get this to show. Then select “Inspect” and on the expanded developer screen that shows click on the small Tablet icon near the top of the screen. It looks like a small Table / mobile device.

This will automatically switch your page to mobile view, which means that you should then see the Camera button at the bottom of the screen. Job Done!

If for any reason it doesn’t show first time, browse away from the page and come back and retry.

To View Instagram Stories on Desktop PC or Apple Mac

The Instagram Stories feature is not automatically available on a desktop either.

However, if you install a Google Chrome extension on your web browser you will also be able to watch these as if you were using a mobile device.

The Chrome extension is free and it’s really simple to use. Simply visit the extension store and browse for Chrome IG Story and install this.  You will then be able to see all your friends’ stories in their normal place at the top of the screen.

Workarounds for Instagram on Older PCs and Macs

Here’s some workarounds for PCs that don’t have access to the Windows Store but they do require some technical knowledge and experience. One solution is to install a programme to simulate a mobile phone operating system on your computer, called a phone emulator. This will allow you to run mobile apps on your Desktop PC or Mac.

One emulator is the BlueStacks App Player. You will need to download the app and install it to your machine and then search for “Instagram” using the app’s search interface.

To upload the photos via this approach you will need to install a seperate media uploader. One programme that will provide this option is Flume (for Mac). If you’re a Windows user, the app Gramblr offers an uploader that is simple to install and use.

Perhaps the most basic way of overcoming the problem, and the lowest tech solution is to just email the photo you want to share on Instagram to yourself or a colleague. Then you can pick up the email on your mobile and share the photo via the mobile app as normal to Instagram.

Obviously you can also use the cloud to share photos from your Desktop PC or Mac to a mobile device and upload that way. For example use Dropbox. Make sure your photos are uploaded to Dropbox, then using your mobile find the photos you want to share in your Dropbox account and share them on Instagram. This will not allow you to access to Instagram’s photo filters but does at least let you share them on Instagram.

There are a range of Instagram related programmes and apps for desktop computers. The only hitch is none of them provide the function to upload photos to Instagram. However, some of them are useful for other Instagram tasks. One such app is called Instagram for PC.

Instagram FAQs

For more information and any changes to their platform I suggest you check out the official Instagram FAQs and User’s Guide on its website.

Instagram Marketing For Businesses

With Instagram recently announcing that they’ve reached a huge 1 billion monthly users and 500 million daily active users on their platform – bypassing Twitter’s 335 million monthly active users – all businesses should look at how they can benefit from some of the features of Instagram ads for businesses. Instagram is a complete powerhouse amongst rival social networks. Indeed, there are 8 million business profiles on Instagram – an estimated 71% of US businesses in the US use it and there are more than 1 million monthly advertisers (Source Omnicore).

Things like visual aesthetics and ease of use make Instagram marketing strategies essential for businesses. It’s important to know what makes Instagram tick so you effectively target, engage and sell to your customers.

The increase in the number of businesses that use Instagram has a lot to do with the release of Instagram business profiles and new ad platforms. Many businesses now use key features like prominent contact information, powerful analytics data and the ability to create new Instagram ads.

According to Instagram, 80% of users follow at least one business on the app, with 60% hearing about a product and service through the platform. As of March 2017, over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, called a business, emailed or direct messaged a business.

Each of these activities signifies some level of interest, and in many ways, these Instagram fans can be considered as customer leads.

What Are Instagram Ads?

With Instagram analytics (via Business profiles) all businesses using Instagram now have data about impressions and reach per post, as well as follower demographics, which shows how posts performed and what their audience is like. Prior to 2015, Instagram ads were only available to big brands with big budgets, but now they are available to all. If you use Instagram ads, you also have access to data about how your ad performed. These Instagram stats are important to know so that you can create posts that your followers will like and respond to.

Instagram ads typically come in the form of a photo or video. An Instagram ad has the “Sponsored” tag, which sits at the top right-hand corner of the photo/video and can be shown from an account that you don’t necessarily follow. The user being advertised to can follow the brand’s account and can like and comment on the ad.

Instagram Ad Formats

Instagram Ad Formats come in three different formats – Images, Videos and Carousel Ads.

Image Ads – Image ads normally consist of one clear image with a call to action button at the bottom of the ad, such as “Shop now”, “Learn more” “Install Now” or “Sign Up”. When posting an image ad, use a filter. There are over 40 unique filters to choose from on Instagram but the most popular is Clarendon probably because of its use as an all-purpose filter. It brightens, highlights and intensifies shadows. Another reason may be ease of use it’s the default filter after the Normal option.

Video Ads – Video ads enable you to share videos up to 30 seconds long with the power of sight, sound and motion. Videos can be uploaded in portrait, as well as landscape format. While photo ads are the most common on Instagram, video has gained a lot of traction. Recent figures show 25% of Instagram ads are now single videos. Video ads can be up to 60 seconds long, but drop off in engagement occurs quickly as length increases. If you can hook the audience within the first 30 seconds, they are likely to stick around and watch.

Carousel Ads – This is a multiple image ad in which is the user can swipe the ad to see additional images. A call to action button can also be installed, which takes the user to a landing page of your choosing.

Remember hashtags!

7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded – hashtags are everywhere, from casual conversations on and offline, to TV commercials and billboards. Hashtags for Instagram help in content discovery and optimisation. Can you imagine the state of social media marketing in 2018 without hashtags?

Not only do hashtags help social media users organize and categorize content, but they’re also one of the driving forces behind some of today’s best marketing campaigns. As brands increase their dependence on user-generated campaigns, hashtags continue to be important for the acquisition and promotion of Instagram content. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without.

Potential revenue

Instagram ad revenue is now expected to reach almost $7 billion in 2018 (Statista) – that’s nearly a $5 billion jump in 2 years. In 2017 new features were released such as Instagram Stories which attach to feeds and new advertising methods like Instagram Shopping. Both updates have boosted the value of advertising on Instagram. According to data (Klear) , there were 171,000 Instagram ads in December 2017 compared to 134,000 in July the same year – a huge 28% growth in just six months. Instagram is continuing to prove itself as an extremely valuable advertising avenue for marketers.

Content overload?

In the social networking world,  Instagram boasts the highest engagement rates, however, Instagram it does also deal with content overload and saturation.

Look at the stats – over 95 million photos are shared on Instagram daily and 70% of these posts aren’t actually seen. Instagram’s new algorithm focuses more on past-page engagement when choosing what content people will see which means it can be hard for current and potential customers to find your posts.

Although disheartening,  you can fight back. Be different than other businesses on Instagram and use Instagram Stories ads or Live videos to tell unique brand experiences. Also try using the geo-tagging feature – posts with location have 79% more engagement than those without. And remember the 80/20 rule. It states approximately 80% of your content should be focused on educating, enlightening and engaging your audience, and only 20% should be self-promotional.

Knowing and understanding Instagram and its stats is useful, but it’s what you actually do with the information that makes a difference. So instead of just gathering these up to refer back to at random, take the time to determine how each Instagram stat might help to improve your business.

Should Your Site Have Live Chat?

When navigating a company’s website looking for support, how often have you been given the option to “Live Chat” with a customer support representative as an alternative to calling an expensive 0800 number and potentially being on hold to speak with a support representative.

The norm is certainly now for big brands and businesses to offer Live Chat support on their websites – in fact it often feels strange now if there isn’t that capability.  It is a far better way for companies to communicate with customers – in a result poll consumers used the phrases ‘instant support’ , quick and efficient’, excellent customer service; and ‘on hand to help’ over and over. If you look at the basics who wouldn’t want instant support, at no cost to themselves and the ability to get an issue fixed there and then?  And customers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from Live Chat. Marketers too can see a huge increase in leads and sales.

First let’s look at what Live Chat actually is.

What is live chat?

If you’re not familiar with Live Chat software it’s simply a chat feature or plugin that you can add to your website that allows you to have a live discussion with visitors to your website. Despite there being many options to choose from, they all offer the same basic functionality. The site visitor sees a small chat box that they click on so they can have an online chat with you. They may need to enter some basic details to start the chat like name, email address and outline query.

Additional features are things like the ability to monitor chats so that more experienced team members can train junior staff more effectively and many chat systems will also have the ability to email the visitor a chat transcript so that they have a record of their online chat.

Some software also offers chat statistics enabling you to identify any common issues and improve your offering or your support.

Benefits of Live Chat

There are some really strong benefits to utilising Live Chat on your site such as:

Instant, fast customer service – Live Chat states you mean business and you are available

Reassure your customer – you are there when needed

Live Chat is anonymous – a lot of people don’t like to pick up the phone

Low cost – it’s free to your customers and cheap for your business – one Live Chat person can easily manage several chats simultaneously.

Lead capture – use it to capture email addresses pre-chat

Identifies common issues – you can review transcripts and use it to improve your website content or support materials

Objectives and outcomes

Let’s take a look at some potential outcomes you may be able to achieve by installing Live Chat:

1) Convert more visitors to leads (and possibly automate this with chatbots)

2) Introduce a new channel to engage with hot prospects that are actively seeking answers and evaluating our product

3) Discover what information our website might lack or bury from our visitors – regardless of how much content you’ve created, visitors still have questions, which makes a live chat feature to get instant answers, very useful.

Which web pages should I put Live Chat on?

Your homepage probably gets the most traffic, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right place to add live chat. Consider key action pages like a pricing page, contact page, or a trial landing page. These are the right places to try messaging because this is where visitors will have questions and have expressed some level of interest in your company simply by navigating there.

Who will work your Live Chat?

According to Drift , the magic window to respond to a lead is 5 minutes. Chatbots are also helpful to extract information from a visitor, but having a real human to answer questions is necessary so try and use one or two individuals on your team to work chat to evaluate its benefits.

Measuring success

Getting many visitors to chat with you might not be the only measurement of success. Consider the other objectives we outlined above. What do you really want to conquer with chat? And what are the early indicators of success so you can determine if messaging is worth scaling? Live Chat certainly holds a lot of promise for marketing and sales teams. It’s new and exciting, but is still unproven.  Overall, live chat can dramatically increase your number of leads and sales by eliminating friction and building trust.

CRMs – Everything You Need To Know

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyse customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle – all with the goal of improving customer service relationships, customer retention and driving sales.

CRM systems compile customer data across different points of contact between the customer and the company, should as the company’s website, phone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social media. CRM software can also give customer-facing staff detailed information on customers’ personal information, purchase history and buying preferences.

A brief history

CRM hasn’t always been the stand-alone software that so many businesses rely on today. Over the past four decades it has evolved dramatically, from the original Rolodex of business cards, through early content management and sales software from such vendors as Oracle and SAP, to the CRM systems we know today as a fully realised sales and marketing enablement solutions based both in the cloud and on-premises. Big names today are Salesforce, Zoho, Hubspot, Oracle and Microsoft.

Three Types of CRM

There are three types of CRM: operational, collaborative and analytical.

  • Operational CRM refers to products and services that allow an organisation to take care of their customers. It provides support for various business processes, which can include sales, marketing and service.
  • Collaborative CRM is communication with customers and covers direct interaction with customers including feedback and issue reporting. Interaction can take place through web pages, email, Automated Voice Response. Collaborative CRM greatly improves on services offered.
  • Analytical CRM addresses the analysis of customer data for a host of different purposes. In general it is used to design and execute targeted marketing campaigns that optimise marketing effectiveness.

CRM Components

At the most basic level, CRM software consolidates customer information and documents into a single CRM database so business users can easily access it.

As markets grow and fragment, and consumer behaviours and technologies evolve at a rapid pace, CRM must keep up with those changes in order to remain valuable to sales-driven organisations. Additional functions have been added to CRM systems such as recording various customer interactions over email, phone, social media, automating various workflow automation processes such as tasks and alerts and giving managers the ability to track performance and productivity based on system data.

Automation

Indeed, marketing automation is now something that is expected from a CRM. The CRM software can automate repetitive tasks at different stages of the sales cycle, such as when a new sales prospect is entered into the system, it can automatically send out marketing materials to them via email or social media, with the goal of turning a sales lead into a customer. Sales, workflow and service automation capabilities can also help businesses by allowing them to streamlining standard workloads, which in turn enables employees to focus on more high-level tasks.

Some CRM systems include geolocation technology so they can create marketing campaigns based on the customer’s physical location. It can also be used to find sales prospects within a certain region or area.

CRM challenges

For all of the advancements in CRM technology, without the proper management, a CRM system can become little more than a glorified database in which customer information is stored. Data sets need to be connected, distributed and organized so that users can easily access the information they need. Challenges can arise when systems contain duplicate customer data or outdated information. These problems can lead to a decline in customer experience due to long wait times during phone calls, improper handling of technical support cases and other issues.

Future trends for CRMS

All-in-ones

Integration of tools, features and services is a trend across every digital discipline and software, in particular, is seeing a high demand for all-in-one CRM software solutions due to the dozens of different data points that must be tracked for hundreds to thousands of customers. A key benefit of CRM is the ability to build operational efficiencies through data analytics, so it is vital that all of the customer information, including the up to date customer lifecycle, is housed and available to view in a single system for the entire organisation.

Customisation

Every organisation is different – from your customers and your sales teams to your sales and growth. For a long time business owners have complained about the rigidness their existing CRMs and how difficult and expensive, they are to customise and adjust to their particular needs. Businesses often end up having to pay extra for additional features and setup and, in some cases, have to abandon a decision if the implementation does not go as planned and there isn’t high adoption.

However if a CRM is designed with customisation in mind from the start, businesses can easily make whatever tweaks they need and ramp up without external support resources or excessive downtime.

Speech recognition

A speech-recognition-enabled CRM works in much the same way as Siri, Alexa or Echo, allowing you to dictate notes after calls with customers and prospects, send timely emails and social media communications, as well as performing database searches in an instant. Speech recognition ultimately increases productivity for people who want to work more quickly and efficiently, without being limited by how many words per minute they can type.

Which CRM to choose?

Finally, how do you choose which CRM is right for you and your business?

Firstly download free trials of all your potentials and try out their features and tools. Ask questions on the support chat about how it can help you and the way your business works. The more you use a CRM, the more you will come to understand which features are best suited for your workflow.

As with any new technology, the main hurdle is adoption and getting your team to use all of the available features to their fullest. As with any change programme, you will find people who are reluctant to move away from their existing processes and adopt a new CRM platform. However, with investment of time in on-boarding and training, the benefits of today’s CRMs should be are almost instantly apparent.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Facebook for Business

Facebook continues to be one of the best social networks to set up camp as a business – with 1.19 billion users your potential new customer reach is enormous,  but the challenge of breaking through the noise of your followers news feeds and getting the marketing right is a whole other story. Here we look at some hints and tips to help you navigate around Facebook marketing and make the most of it for your business.

DO – Use a recognisable profile picture

Being recognisable on Facebook is key to being found and Liked. Therefore your profile picture which features at the top of your page and is used as your thumbnail is incredibly important.  Also make sure that the cover photo coordinates with this – these two things are immediately visible on the page.

DO – Populate your company’s ‘About’ section

Beneath your profile image is the ‘about’ section – it is one of the first places your potential customers will look at when they are scanning your page. It needs to contain up to date and relevant information.

DO – Tailor your organic posts

Facebook has some great tools to enable you to segment your audience and target your posts by age, gender, education etc. By using these tools you will engage the right audience with the right content.

DON’T – Post too frequently

By posting more than a few times per day, you may overwhelm your followers, which leads to fewer interactions. Instead, ensure that you spend time crafting high-quality posts that deliver your marketing message.

DON’T – Forget about multimedia

By using compelling graphic and visual elements such as videos you can generate up to 94% more views and 65% more engagement than a post with no visuals.

DO – Use Facebook insights

Insights is provided on the business pages of Facebook – they are easy to understand and provide great information for business owners such as how many page likes you have, the reach of your posts and pages, engagement of the page and post-performance.  You can dig around and find out how specific posts are performing and discover the demographics of your followers.

DO – Use strategic post times

Finding the best time to post to Facebook can massively help your business stand out and reach more of your audience — even as Facebook organic reach continues to decline. Research shows that posts published between 1-4pm have the best click-through and share rates but remember this is just a pointer. Instead of looking at a universal best time to post, try focusing on when is the best time specifically for your brand to post.

DON’T – Be slow to respond

These days’ customers reach out to companies directly if they have a problem or complaint and to get the best response people use social media more and more.  However it’s a frustrating feeling for the customer when you get zero response or results. 42% of consumers who complain on social media expect a response within 60 minutes. So whether your audience posts a negative or positive comment, ignoring them only creates more negative feelings towards your brand.  If your followers see you being active and responsive, they are more likely to do business with you than a company with no Facebook presence.

DO – Check out your competitors

There is a feature on Facebook that lets you keep tabs on your competitors – it’s a great way to see how others in your business area are doing things. Just above your cover photo there is a ‘Pages to watch’ tab where you can add 5 pages. It then tracks the progress of these pages and shows you how many Likes they get each week. This may not be a huge amount of insight, but it can be quite motivating to improve your postings.

DON’T – forget SEO

The topic of SEO and Facebook gets debated a lot but just like traditional websites, keyword optimisation is the most fundamental form of on-site SEO. The most important pieces to pay attention to are the About section, Mission, and Company Description, since these areas are actually pulled from your page as SEO elements. Remember to optimise your page for local searches by including your business address and location.

Finally, remember not to make assumptions. Test your Facebook marketing strategies, including the ones above, to see what actually works for you and makes a difference to your business.

Planning and Creating the Perfect Landing Page

Landing pages can make or break your digital marketing. Too many marketers put all their efforts into creating beautiful landing pages, and prioritise the copywriting (where the conversion happens) as an afterthought.  This is where the problem arises as it isn’t enough to simply get visitors to your site – you need to give them a compelling reason to stay on your site and engage with your business.

Statistically, the average conversion rate for a website is between 1% and 3%, which is a tiny portion of site traffic.  A landing page is a crucial must-have for any website because it provides a targeted platform for converting higher percentages of visitors into leads, on average 5-15% conversion rate. But often the landing page is overshadowed by a homepage. Let’s look at how to start creating the perfect landing page.

Ask yourself questions

Where did your site visitor come from? Social media visitors should have different landing pages than PPC visitors and it’s important to meet visitors’ expectations when they land on your pages.

Then look at the demographics of those visitors from certain traffic sources – do they have familiarity with your brand or is it their first exposure to your business? Understanding more about who your visitors are and what they know about you will help you decide what pieces of content to include.

Next, ask yourself what you want these visitors to do when they arrive on your landing page – Opt-in to your email list? Download a free report? Or buy a product? Try and structure your landing page around this one action and eliminate any distractions which may stop this.

Once you have a general idea of who your visitors are and what type of landing page environment will be best for them, you are ready to start planning your page.

Your call to action

A landing page should be composed of a single call to action – don’t muddle it up with too many other things such as trying to tell them everything about your business. Your call to action should feature the following 5 elements:

A headline – this needs to give the benefits from the objectives of your landing page, for example, “Click now to download our free report – don’t miss out!” A powerful headline is a must. Remember that you have a limited amount of time to capture your visitors’ attention, so your headline must be intriguing enough to encourage them to explore your landing page further. Try using powerful words to integrate into your too.

A brief description – this expands on the benefits of your product or service and gives readers additional information on why following through is the right thing to do. Use correct spelling and grammar. Think of your landing page as your first impression to a visitor so take the time to proofread your landing pages for errors before going live.

Supporting images – these images will visually demonstrate the benefits of your landing page’s offering and subconsciously structures the page towards conversions.

Testimonials – these provide proof and support for the claims made in your call to action such as big name clients.

An opt-in form, download button or clickable feature – these additions allows users to follow through on your call to action.

Elements that traditionally appear on your home page such as your site’s navigation structure, social networking “Share” buttons and other items that may draw visitors’ attention away from the main goal on your landing page should be left out in order to maximize conversions.

As you begin to create your landing page according to these criteria, remember how important it is to integrate compelling copywriting and sales practices into your text and graphics choices.  It is a lot of work to set up these specific landing pages for every type of visitor; however, when used correctly, landing pages can be tremendously powerful in boosting your conversions, your profits and growing your business.

Using Social Listening For Content Marketing

Social media marketing is poised for another huge year of growth. Magna part of IPG Mediabrands,  predicts investment in social media marketing will rise by 18% this year, citing the rise of news feeds, diversification of social platforms and increased mobile usage as key drivers in the growth.

Using social analytics, the process of gathering, monitoring, measuring and interpreting digital data, can prove to be a very powerful aspect of your marketing strategy. And one of the best ways to figure out what your customer wants, is to ask them.  Combine this with your social stats such as likes, click-throughs, subscriptions and you have some even more powerful data.

This ‘ask the audience’ technique really isn’t hard to plan or initiate as you don’t need to approach individuals directly such as face-to-face or via email.  Instead you can get direct customer feedback the simple way – through surveys.

Here we look at why surveys are valuable for your content marketing.

Fostering engagement

More than ever, content marketing is about conversation and engagement with your audience. It’s about starting a dialogue and keeping that dialogue open – such as answering questions and offering information. Remember it can’t be one-sided so by using surveys you are checking in with your audience to get them to respond to content, and guide your future content.

Valuable insights

Surveys give you an avenue for customer insights. Your statistics give you a picture of what your customers are doing but not why they are doing it – asking your audience can give you priceless data that stats can’t.  So with a survey you can ask about brand expectations, brand perceptions and your customer’s decision making is affected by your content.  Try questions like “how can we do better”? in regards to a poor customer service review on social media or information about why they prefer your competitors.

Now let’s look at some simple steps on how to create an effective survey.

Set a goal

Your survey is there to answer a broad question about your brand’s social media reach or its reputation such as Is your content influencing customer decision making?

Choose a tool

The platform you use to create your survey is important – it needs to be easily accessible and easy to navigate for your audience. SurveyMonkey or Google Surveys are great for in-depth questionnaires. However if you want something a lot more simple then try using  social media in a forum-like strategy to open up discussion. Examples of this are

Ask a question to your followers on Instagram about one of your images

Put out a question on Facebook to your followers

Do a quick Twitter poll using a multi-choice question

Put a question at the end of your blog post and ask for comments

Short and sweet

Remember that you are asking for some time from your audience – therefore keep it as short as possible by making questions easy to answer. If you overwhelm your audience with long questions or demand a long timespan they may switch off and not complete it.

Closed questions

To collect data quickly and efficiently remember to ask closed, rather than open questions. By setting limits on possible answers, it will limit the amount of data you have to process and will make it easier to analyse. So, as an example, instead of asking ‘What do you think of our brand?’ try asking ‘Which of the following best describes our brand?’ and give them some multiple choice answers.  Try also asking about past behaviours, something your audience have already done, rather than something they might do. Again you will get much clearer answers.

Timing

Timing is key in social media posts, and it is the same for survey invites. If you send them at the wrong moment, people will ignore them. Use your stats and data about when emails are opened or impressions are made and follow that through with your survey timings.

Publish the results

People love to know where they opinion or behaviour fits in with others. Twitter is a great way of showing a ‘live’ poll on a simple question – as soon as you have answered it you can see what the simple stats are from others. Or try turning your survey content into some great infographics to use as a blog post or your next post.

The bottom line is that surveys in content marketing are really worth your time.  Combining the stats from your blogs, email newsletters and website hits with answers to survey questions like why that piece of content works, why are people buying from one page and not another, what were the purchasing decisions your customer has made, and you have a great strategy for your content marketing on social media.

Why Relationships Are Key In Digital Marketing

The client relationships you build in your business should play a key role with your overall digital marketing strategy and campaign. Simply, if you didn’t have any relationships with anyone, you wouldn’t have a successful business.

But when it comes to the non-PR side of marketing, the SEO side, that doesn’t interact directly with the consumer, it suddenly becomes less personal – more about reaching targets such as how many links you have, what does the backlink portfolio look like and what is the domain authority score? All of these factors are important considerations, but where is the relationship building that marketing was built upon?

As there is so much overlap between what SEO professionals do and what PR professionals do, it seems only right to combine each other’s strengths to overcome weaknesses. While SEOs may put too much emphasis on statistics, numbers and links, PRs often don’t put enough emphasis on this. And while PRs focus on building relationships, positive coverage and brand awareness, SEOs often neglect this aspect, focusing on efficiency and targets instead. Whatever you call it – linkbuilding, authority building, media outreach, profile building, content amplification, influencer marketing or network marketing, one thing is clear – relationship building really should play the main role in activity if you want long term success. Trust and credibility are the two pillars of the clients’ relationship. So, read more to know how you can build the relationship and take it forward to enhance business growth.

Find influencers & create relationships

Finding influencers in the industry you’re targeting isn’t difficult, it’s just time consuming. But take the time and it will pay off in the long run. You’ll find that focusing on people as opposed to your website is a much better use of your time. Once you find these influencers, try and engage with them, not by spamming their inbox but by actually reading what they have written, commenting on their content with insightful opinion, checking out their LinkedIn or Twitter accounts i.e. get on their radar. Then, when the time is right, your content will be the perfect fit for them and by that time you will have built a solid relationship.

Use current industry events

Always be ready to provide content or comments on something that is happening now in your industry. It will pay off! If you take your time to write a piece around a topic using keywords, you can become a reliable source that people can turn to when they need instant expert commentary.  Remember – be quick, relevant and there.

Leapfrog the media

If your press release is news worthy enough and it is shared across the right platforms, then other sites will pick it up. If you’re issuing press releases but finding they don’t get picked up – ask yourself, ‘is this even newsworthy?’

Unlinked mentions

Try using a competitor research like AHREFS, to monitor where your brand is being mentioned without being linked. This could be your opportunity to build an initial relationship with someone who is already familiar with your brand. Then try using a shout out or some unique content so instead of just having a mention with a link, you could have tailor made content on their site that portrays your brand in a positive light and showcases your authority. Plus you’ll be building a relationship with the author, who may be interested in even more content further down the line.

Keyword mentions

When you see a great piece of content that mentions your target keywords via a tool like Google alerts, most digital marketers will make contact with the author and offering up a quote in exchange for a mention or link. This tactic is one that focuses on quality over quantity. How about instead striking up a relationship with the author, offering them some unique stats or an interview with the CEO to delve further into the issues? Thus you provide a voice of authority on this topic. And not just as a one-time-thing, as maybe your brand could become a spokesperson or a regular contributor on this topic.  The other option here is to suggest working together on a joint event so both parties gain.

So, in summary try looking at digital marketing in the same way as a PR executive would and realise how important it is to build a trusting relationship with current and potential customers. As marketers, we spend hours perfecting the customer journey, analysing the data to find out more about their customers so they can target them more effectively. But relationships are key here – you may have to work at it,  but in the long run they can be it.

The Importance Growing An Email List With Engaged Subscribers

Back in the day, the key role for marketers was to grow large lists – in theory, the bigger the mailing list, the more people who saw your message and could interact with you. However we now understand a lot more about email marketing – savvy marketers know that a smaller but engaged list is far more important than a huge list of email addresses of uninterested people who never open an email. Those engaged people are interested in your business and far more likely to become loyal and engaged customers.

Email list subscribers are the biggest asset for any online business. Despite the emergence of social media and other marketing channels, email marketing is still an effective way of reaching your prospects. It’s much easier to build relationships, generate regular returning traffic and make repeat sales to your list subscribers as compared to normal visitors.

Some businesses focus so much on list building that they lose sight of their actual objective, which is to make money from the list so it is critical to balance list growth with engagement and to sign up people with the buying intention.

Inbox delivery

Globally, 20% of email are not landing in a subscriber’s inbox (2017 Deliverability Benchmark). Most ISPs and email inbox providers analyse subscribers behaviours such as if an emails is opened, if a link is clicked or if an email is moved to a folder to be saved and then use this information to determine if an future email will be delivered to the inbox or go to junk. All these behaviours are considered positive email engagements and therefore customer engagement is key, not only for getting your emails delivered to inboxes, but also for building brand engagement and long-lasting relationships.

Subscription opportunities 

Start to think about how to collect signups for your email list. Create a signup form and ask for data that you can use now and in the future such as date of birth and location that you can use to segment the data. The signup form can appear in various places across your website. Another tactic is to ask people to sign up for your emails at the checkout – these people are already engaged.  Social media is also useful to convert your followers to email subscribers.  Remember the good data end goal – people who want to hear from you and are interested in your business.

Converting subscribers into customers

Once you have the right people subscribing to your email list, more than half of your job is already completed. Your subscribers have the buying intention and, hopefully are interested in your business. Your only challenge now is to convert this buying intention into a real sale.

There are two key components to trigger this action:

An intelligent auto-responder sequence

Once you have the subscriber on board, a series of automated emails should be sent to them, aimed at nurturing the lead and triggering the sales action. The key here is to create a combination of engaging, convincing and direct sales emails such as the thanks for subscribing email (to build confidence and establish trust), the information email (telling the subscriber about your company, what other customers purchased to solve a problem they may be having), the sales email (more direct tone) and the warning/ last chance email (a simple reminder that an offer is about to finish). You can use paid auto-responder services like MailChimp to configure this sequence.

A simple and convenient buying process

Almost 68% of online shoppers abandon product purchases just because of a poor buying experience. So you need to make the buying process as simple as possible – make sure you checkout phase is optimised for mobiles, make sure it is secure, involves minimum redirections and offer as many payment options as possible. There are moany popular digital ecommerce tools that can help with this such as Selz.

So as marketers, we must always be mindful about how our lists are built and by starting with a few essential methods, we can create valuable email lists of very engaged subscribers.

Optimising Your Website for Audio Search

The voice-search enabled digital assistants of the world such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are quickly becoming the go-to search mode for consumers everywhere.  ComScore says that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches and Gartner predicts that 30% of web-browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020.

Indeed, digital assistants are now going beyond voice input, and are evolving to understand user intent and behaviours through available data and information to help consumers take actions. Voice Search is also very mobile – and part of your everyday life.

With this recent rapid adoption of in voice-activated search and assistance, it is now becoming increasingly important to optimise your website pages for audio search.

It’s all about the conversation

When someone makes a voice inquiry, they are more likely to speak like they are speaking to someone else with a conversational inquiry, not just the few words they would have typed into a search bar. They are also more likely to ask questions and these common question words (namely who, what, how, when where, why) will help indicate the searcher’s intent.

For example, if someone asks, ‘What is the difference between a stand mixer and a food processor?’ they are likely just researching. However if they ask, ‘How much is a KitchenAid?’ or ‘Where can I buy a Cuisinart mixer?’ they are much closer to making a purchase.

And remember, not all queries that start with a term are created equal. “How much is” shows more intent than “What is” and is far further down the purchase path. Understanding the nuances between conversational search queries can help you discern consumer intent and ensures that your website contains the right content to adapt to voice search and match the right level of user intent.

So whilst you still need to maintain your SEO techniques you have built up through your own data and research, you also need to adapt your strategy and create content that the voice searcher wants.

Tapping into voice search

Here are 3 top tips to improve your site for voice searches

Optimise for load speed

Google uses speed as a rank for all sites, but especially for voice searches as people who use voice search often are mobile-based, not necessarily connected to a broadband networks and therefore want websites to load fast and deliver results right away. Make sure you check your site’s load times and implement suggestions on how to improve and optimise.

Focus on content

Write content in a natural, conversational voice that answers the questions your consumers are asking – website content in the era of voice search isn’t simply about keywords; it’s about semantic search and building the context related to answering a question. Since people more often ask questions in voice search, they seek content that delivers efficient, intelligible, and comprehensive answers. Also, don’t write-off using longer content either – longer articles are more likely to be visible in rankings because they contain a high concentration of diverse keywords and outbound links that may trigger responses for several searches.

You could also consider incorporating an audio version of your text-based content such as a podcast – a mobile searcher may have time on the move to listen to an audio file rather than reading an article.

FAQ pages are also a great addition when optimising for voice search. Use the most important questions related to your business or product and develop answers to include longer tail keyword phrases to reach users at each stage of intent.

Optimise for mobile

As voice assistants are primarily used on mobile devices, it’s very important to optimise your pages for mobile. Your website should be a responsive design and remember to check your site’s content to see how it displays on several types of mobile devices with different resolutions. Also, if needed, adjust your typography for better readability.

By applying these steps, keeping voice searches in mind when creating content, and remembering not to solely focus on audio SEO to the detriment of non-audio SEO, your website should be in good shape to move forward as the audio-search revolution rolls on.

Getting to Know Your Online Audience

The first step in any shift to the Internet is getting to know who exactly you’re marketing too. After all, what good is spending time, money, and a whole lot of effort on a marketing campaign if you’re not 100%, crystal clear on who you’re trying to sell your products or services to?

On the Internet, this is even more important than it might be in other venues. To start with, search and advertising online are hyper targeted. Let’s look at Google Ads for example – the mega successful advertising arm of Google. When you place an ad via Google Ads, you must choose which country it will appear in, which languages it will appear in, what time it will appear, which devices it can appear on, and finally which keyword searches you are bidding for. Those searches require that you research and develop a list of dozens or even hundreds of very specific keywords that will target your desired audience.

If you don’t know who your audience is, how will you know where to place your ads?

That’s where niche research comes into play and that’s what you’re going to be working on in the next two chapters. First, you should learn that niche research is important for not just advertising. You will use the information you glean about your audience to develop your domain name, the look of your website, the content you write, and the search engine optimisation you perform.

Second, you should understand that you can’t cling to whatever preconceptions you have about your audience. It might help in getting you started, but you need to keep an open mind. Measuring behaviours and their impact on sales online is an entirely different process than it is offline. Any preconceptions you have about your audience – their age, their gender, or their general desires – should be tossed out the window, because when you go into an anonymous space like the Internet, there’s a good chance you’re missing part of the picture. Start from scratch and you’ll be surprised what you can learn.

Where to Begin

When it’s time to start your research, you need to simply sit down and brainstorm. Presumably, you already know what your product or service is. You might even have a very good idea about who might be interested in it. That’s good, just make sure you keep that mind open and do your due diligence. Don’t start rushing the process because you think you already know something.

Start out by brainstorming a few things about your potential audience. Write down everything you already think you know. Write down which websites they might visit, how much time they spend on the Internet, what other products they might purchase. For now, you’re just doing a very general brainstorming – don’t worry about being thorough.

Next, you need to start doing some actual research to see what you were right about and what may need to be fleshed out. The easiest way to do this is with some basic case study research using some of the tools you’ll be marketing through later in the book. Hop onto Facebook and start searching for products in your niche that are similar. Look for people who use what you sell and see what they’re interested in. If you provide a service, try to think of what they would need your service for and search for those things.

Facebook is not the only site you can use to do this form of basic research either. Try Twitter as well as YouTube or MySpace. When you decide you want to look at more specific interests, go to forums and chat rooms that are similar to your niche and discuss your products. See what people discuss and how they discuss it. For now, this is good general research because you’ll start seeing how you can talk directly to your audience in the same voice they use.

As you can see, this preliminary research is all very basic and not very scientific. We’ll save all the scientific work for when we get into keyword research, but for now, it’s important to get a good idea of the people you’re dealing with. Too many website owners attempt to target intangibles rather than people. They forget that their customers have needs and desires. You need to not only know what those needs and desires are but learn how to tap into them directly by talking to your audience in a way that will engage them.

Research Your Competitors

The next step to your basic niche research is to wade knee deep into your competitors’ space and see what they’re doing. You might have grandiose plans for your website and how you’ll implement your sales strategies, but before you do any of that, take a look at what other websites in your niche are doing to make money – how they are connecting with the audience you hope to target and what you can learn from their strategies.

The easiest way to find these competitors is to start out with some basic Google searches. Google your product name, or the service you provide. Look for who shows up first in the listings. Here are some things to consider when you view their sites:

What style of layout do they use?

What kind of content do they provide?

Who do you think they’ve chosen as their target audience?

What mistakes do you see on their sites?

What would you do differently and why?

By reviewing competitor sites and asking these questions (take notes of your answers), you start to see what other business owners have decided your ideal audience wants to see in a website. Does that mean they are right? Not necessarily, but it does give you a place to start.

Good research of competitor sites is important, but also remember not to start assuming your competitors are infallible. They make mistakes, and it’s quite possible they didn’t bother to do the research you’re doing now. Just because they show up at the top of Google for whatever keywords you searched for doesn’t mean they are marketing geniuses. Maybe their products still don’t convert very well. Keep an open mind, borrow ideas, and do your research, but don’t assume everything you see is perfect. There are always ways to improve.

Other Niche Research Tools

Social Networks and Google Searches are well and good, but there are plenty of other tools out there you can utilise to develop your research and learn more about your target audience. Here are a few basic sites that provide a slew of information for anyone skilled enough to sort through it:

Google News – Google news will display a wide array of news stories from throughout the world. When targeting your audience, finding news stories and current events in your niche that can be leveraged into content is a major plus.

Google Trends – Google keeps close track of the trends in their search terms, showing spikes in searches, current popularity, and shifts in interest throughout the world. Keep track of keywords you’ll be researching soon and see how the interests of your audience ebb and flow. If you can stay abreast of these trends, you can be quite successful.

Quantcast – Quantcast is a tool that will allow you to see what the demographics are for a given website. Take the competitor sites you gathered earlier and start looking them up here to learn gender, age, family, income levels, and educational breakdowns for the site and its niche.

Product Searches and Reviews – If you’re selling a product or a service that is often reviewed or discussed on sites like Amazon, look through the reviews of that product. You may not find any specific information pertaining to your products, but you will quickly learn what it takes to make your audience happy.

These tools, while extremely useful, are not all of the options you are going to have when it comes to effective niche research. Most of the data you gather will actually come from keyword research tools that will be discussed in the next chapter. However, having a clear mental picture about who you are selling too and more importantly what they want from you is incredibly important.

Why You Never Know Enough about Your Niche

You’re never going to learn enough. Even after hours of research, dozens of marketing campaigns and 10 different websites, you still won’t have a complete grasp of your niche. The reasons are many, but mostly it’s just because people change and technology evolves. Getting your finger firmly on the pulse of anything these days is next to impossible.

Don’t let that deter you though. The more you keep up with your audience, delving deeper into their needs, desires, and wants, the more effective your marketing strategies will be. And if, by chance, your strategies don’t work, having that research in hand is going to make split testing and adjustments infinitely easier to accomplish than if you were going in blind.

Niche research may seem redundant. It may even seem a little silly. But, when you sit down in a few chapters and start integrating everything you’ve just learned about who you’re selling to into your articles, blogs, and social networking habits, you’ll find immediately that you have a closer, more effective link to your niche than you ever would have before. Selling something to someone is entirely different from understanding them. When you can grasp that concept and start to take advantage of it, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful marketer.

Effective Use Of Abandonment Emails in eCommerce

Recent research shows that nearly 74% of retail shoppers will abandon a purchase after adding an item to their online shopping cart – the highest abandonment rates being for consumer electrical products at 78%.

There are multiple reasons why this can occur, ranging from shipping rates, to the customer simply wanting to compare prices or deciding to buy in-store. Luckily, email is a great way to win these customers back. This type of email campaign can be fiddly to set up and monitor, largely due to the ambiguous levels of purchase intent, the customer journey and the need to integrate this with your on-site data, but it’s worth pursuing.

Clear call to action

First, think about what you want to achieve with your browse abandonment campaign.

Drive a purchase – your email will serve as a reminder of the items the consumer was interested in and hopefully tempt them back

Return to the site – your email will lure the consumer back to the site, even if they are not interested in the original product

Great customer service – your email will show the consumer you care and want to know “why”.

When creating your email campaign, there are six key elements to bear in mind.

Align with the customer intent

Before you start creating any emails, it’s important to establish exactly what you’re going to consider ‘browse abandonment’ to be.  Remember to set criteria that govern whether someone qualifies for your browse abandonment campaign such as:

looking at an item more than once

browsing several items in a specific category

clicking through from an email a specific product

using the site search to search for a specific product or category

It’s also important to try and look at purchase intent a little further such as, did the customer visit one product multiple times, or visit multiple pages? By looking at this data, it is possible to ensure that the tone of the email aligns with their level of investment.

Personalise

Campaign Monitor’s recent study shows that emails with name personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Using this method, we can reference the person’s shopping journey in the abandonment emails but remembering to be not too direct. So instead of saying “Navy Leather Shopper is still in your basket”, try using a subject line like “Did you see something you liked?”. This may be enough to create intrigue and subtly prompt the user to open, without appearing overly intrusive.

Use related products

It’s also helpful to include product recommendations or alternative products to the one they looked at. Try including products in the email that are frequently bought together to widen their purchasing consideration and increase the order value.

This is an effective form of personalisation (your brand knows and cares about their tastes and preferences) and makes the message feel more relevant and timely.

Great customer service

As we have already discussed, there are many possible reasons why a customer may have abandoned a cart that the retailer has little control over such as the just browsing for price comparison, however, these is also the possibility that it was due to a perceived fault such as negative customer reviews, or a lack of payment and delivery options.

Create abandonment emails using customer-centric copy – to convey a caring and understanding attitude from the retailer and to reinforce the positive elements of a brand’s customer service such as fantastic reviews (both product and retailer), highlighted quick pay options (such as PayPal or Apple Pay), or free returns. Try using phrases such as ‘How can we help?’ in the subject line.

Provide an incentive

23% of shoppers say they have abandoned carts due to high shipping rates – it can therefore be effective to offer an incentive to entice them to return. This could be free shipping, or a more obvious incentive like a money-off discount. Again, remember subject lines are important, where including the offer is likely to increase click-through rates.

Great timing

When is the right time to send a browse abandonment email? Waiting too long will decrease the chance of conversion – so aim for sending out your emails within 2 hours of the cart being abandoned and a maximum of 24 hours. Try different timings and see what conversion results are generated.

Conclusion

If they have dropped off the radar, using a consumer’s on-site activity (plus as everything else you know about them if they are a subscriber) to personalise browse abandonment emails is a powerful way of getting them back.

Finally, remember to ensure that your browse abandonment campaign works within the context of the other emails that you send – make sure that there are checks and balances in place to stop a prospect from being overwhelmed with your emails.

Utilising LinkedIn for Trade Shows

It wasn’t long ago when an attractive sign and graphics, some demos and some great team were all that was needed to have a successful trade show exhibit.

We now live in a different world with advanced technology and an app for everything, and so trade show attendees have a whole new set of expectations.  They want easy navigation, dynamic content and to be in charge of their own learning experience – the bar for capturing their attention just got much higher.

According to a recent study by Oxford University, trade show marketing can result in an average of 4x return on investment for exhibitors. Combine this with figures showing that 40% of trade show prospects become customers after a face-to-face interaction and it seems a no brainer but to go and exhibit. However, when your competitors are also vying for your customers’ attention, and all in the span of a few days, this can be difficult to achieve.

Staying memorable for prospects who may want to know more and weigh up their options is tough, especially as many will forget you even exist once they return home.

LinkedIn dialogue can help with this and improve your trade show marketing ROI.

Pre-event

Priming your audience is a key conference technique and is often underused and underrated. First, compile a list of your competitors at the show to help you weigh up your competition and their marketing messages. LinkedIn is a great tool to gather sales intelligence like this. You can use this data to create your own trade show marketing strategy such as competing on price or highlighting a unique feature. Getting to know the competition is always a great way of putting your best foot forward.

Next get a list of those attendees who have registered and use your LinkedIn contacts to connect with key people head of the show. For your very best prospective customers, try sending personalised messages to introduce yourself and let them know you’ll be exhibiting.

Follow this by contacting other businesses and people that you’re unsure about but may be useful for your next wave of contact requests. This is also a great time to get a mention or to get introduced by mutual LinkedIn connections.  Think about connecting with those influencers at a tradeshow too – the speakers, the event planners and reps, maybe industry non-profits. Non-sales related networking can open many doors, even if it’s a re-post from someone that all of your prospects know and value.

Once you’ve connected, you need to request a quick meeting at the show – it sounds daunting but many, many opportunities are lost at this stage if you don’t pencil a time in – people don’t want to be waiting around a show for you to finish talking to someone else. Make sure you both get the invite in your diaries.

Finally, pre-event, it’s really useful to find and connect with all your new prospects across your social media channels – this will come in very useful on the day.

At the event

You now need to use all your social media channels to the max – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Live Posts are great to capture onlookers – remember to always use pictures and videos, plus the event hashtag to increase your reach. Continually monitor the event hashtag on all channels so you can comment on and reply to activity from attendees to help spread your marketing messages.

Remember the content on your stall is also key to attract attendees – they don’t want static content, they want to play a new game, design something, compete in a cool way, learn about themselves, engage in a social media dialogue or put on a headset to be transported to a new place.

Try having iPads on your stand with a lead-capture app. This makes it easy for people to sign up to your list and for you to gather data and access.

Post event

The most important step in trade show marketing is post event – to follow up on all of your leads in the next 48 hours. For any new prospects you met at the show, connect up with them on LinkedIn, referencing the trade show. Remember to personalise your follow-ups based on what you discussed at the show to help build a strong rapport with your leads.

Spend time sorting and curating the content you have from the show and posting the best quality images, videos, and discussions from the conference whilst tagging those you met.  Capturing people’s attention will position you better for future opportunities. Using inbound event-triggered techniques should help you increase your response rate.

By doing all of these steps, you should now have a solid network of attendees who you can continue to connect with and use for your future trade show marketing strategies whilst hopefully seeing an improved trade show ROI.

The Best Time To Post On Social Media

As a digital marketer, at some point during your social media planning, you have most likely asked Google, ‘when is the best time to post on social media’ to find some studies so you know when is best to post for your brand. However, maybe it’s now time to reconsider these studies.

Whist the concept of ‘best time to post’ is still very relevant, some studies may give you a poor insight into the best time to post and therefore leads to bad decisions made in regards to your marketing strategy. Whilst the studies are well-intended there are a number of issues that can affect the data.

Your unique audience

Many of these studies suggest best times to post based on grouped data – it includes businesses and customers from varying locations and industries and is giving you an average of times. However your audience is unique to your business so the average time may not be relevant to you.

For example, if your brand wants to target new mums, it may make more sense to create engaging content at 2am when mums are awake and alone with their babies. Or for a brand targeting football fans, you may want to post a half-time or full-time.

Outdated studies

Many studies were conducted when Twitter became mainsteam from 2013 onwards. A lot has changed in social media since then in regards to social media usage. And even recent studies use old data as their primary source. So remember to check the date of the published data before you use the recommendations of a study.

Look at the whys

Studies about timings shouldn’t be discarded altogether – they should be seen as a base to work from. Instead of just looking at the best times, try to understand why those could be great times to post such as because teenagers are on Instagram late at night or commuters are on Twitter before and after work.

What is more important is to gain a better understanding of your brand’s unique audience such as their social media usage patterns. To provide a personalised experience to your audience, you need to post according to their social media behaviour to engage with them. So how can to find your best time to post on social media?

Start with informed guesses

If your brand is new to social media, then think logically about when your audience may interact with social media such as commuting times and lunchtime if you are a B2B brand and weekends and evenings if you are targeting consumers as a B2C brand.

Test a posting schedule

To test your estimates try experimenting over a few weeks, posting at those particular times you have identified. A few weeks of posting should give you enough data to work with and find your best times. The easiest way to schedule posts is through software such as Hootsuite which manages your social media content in one place.

Use the analytics

Once you have a few weeks worth of data, you can start to analyse your results. Look at link clicks, impressions and conversions.  Once you have your figures,  look at your posting schedule, get rid of the poor ones, add a few more times and repeat. A good rule of thumb going forward is to use 80% times that are tested and 20% times that are experimental.

Remember that your best time to post could change as your following grows so try and relook at your timings and experiments every 3-4 months.

The key thing to bear in mind, throughout this ongoing trial and analysis, is that every brand has a unique audience and what works for other brands might not work for you.

What Search Engines Want In SEO

Whereas many of the other advertising strategies are rather short lived and don’t benefit you beyond the handful of visitors you gain from them in the here and now, SEO is much more important. The goal of SEO is to implement a number of strategies that will help you rank higher in Search Engines naturally.

The most important thing here is that once you are able to rank well for those keywords, you can maintain that ranking and continue to gain what is called organic search traffic each and every month for no additional cost. That alone is the main reason that I’m going to harp so heavily on the value of your SEO efforts.

This article is going to focus intently on the search engines themselves and what they’re looking for. By getting a general understanding of what they want from you, it will be easier to point your efforts in the right direction and gain the benefits of that optimisation.

The Things Search Engines Look For

I’m not going to break down how a search engine works or what it’s many, many working parts do, but I can give you a general overview of what those search engines are looking for and what you should be doing to point your efforts in that direction. Here’s a list to get you started:

Keywords
Links
Content

This is a very simplified list that generally covers what the major search engine spiders look for. Within those categories however, there may be dozens of different little details that those search engines will start to analyse.

And by “search engines”, I want to make sure you know I mean Google first and foremost. While the other two search engines of note – Yahoo! and Bing – are both highly regarded and have a lot of search traffic on their own, the majority of website owners focus their SEO efforts toward Google with its nearly 70% market share of online search. Also, if you rank well for Google, there is a good chance that you will also do well in the other two search engines.

Let’s start to break down a bit of what those three categories are going to mean for your website when you start optimising your content.

Keyword Rich Content

The first thing that everyone thinks of when they hear SEO is keywords. Ironically, keywords – while important – have been lower on the list than both linking and content for the better part of the last decade as Google has moved toward ranking methods that are harder to manipulate by spammers. That said, there is still quite a bit to be said for effective keyword optimisation in your content.

Title Tags

Your title tags are what will display text at the top of the browser. Most search engines place a high value on this because it basically describes what your website is and how it will be displayed in the search engines. It’s important to make all of your titles unique and to include a number of keywords in each of them.

Headings

On your page, there will be some text that holds more value than the rest. This text is usually in the headings that describe your content. You will have headings at the top of your page, as well as throughout the rest of your page as subheadings. There is a special HTML tag for these headings that will tell the search engines that the text is more important than the rest.

Alt Text

The ALT text is the little line of text in the white or yellow box that pops up when you put your mouse over an image. This text is considered a required part of HTML coding and helps the search engines to know what an image is of when it is scanning your page. This is especially helpful because images are so much harder to analyse than standard text on a page.

META Tags

Your META tags are special tags at the top of the HTML code for your page that describe the content of your page in a 160 character description and provide a listing of keywords for search spidering. They are important, but not overly so and if you stuff your META tags with too much content, you can trigger a spam reaction, so you must be careful here.

Placement of Words

Word placement is important when keyword optimising. Because of special indexing methods that most search engines now use, you want to try and place related words near each other whenever possible. Additionally, while you may not be able to have keywords match up exactly, placing them on the same line is still helpful. For example, if you wanted to try and optimise for an extra phrase like “Apple MP3 Player iPod”, but find that it is a bit too unwieldy to just use outright (grammar is an issue these days), you could write it as “Apple has a new line of MP3 Player in its iPod series”. This sentence contains all of the words from your phrase and while it does not necessarily get the exact phrase in there, it does provide enough to be considered in the rankings.

Proximity

The proximity of your keywords is another small thing that can be helpful to you when taken advantage of properly. However, it’s important to be careful when trying to tweak and move your keywords around. Having a couple of high value keywords atop your page can be very helpful, but it can also be seen as spam if you over do. This is where using your headers and title tags come in handy.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text used to display a link. For example, if you were linking to www.google.com and your link looked like this: Google, then the word “Google” would be your anchor text. The search engines look at that anchor text and give it a bit more credence than any other text because it is attached to a link – something that those search engines downright love.

The importance of anchor text comes into play in a few different ways. First off, when you get links from other sites, having anchor text involved is a great way to help yourself out. We’ll discuss it some more when we talk about Article Marketing, which is a task that you can control the anchor text in, but you will also find that it is possible to ask your fellow site owners when you place links to use certain keyword specific anchor text.

Another use of anchor text is in your own navigation structure. Remember when I said not to use too many images for your links? This is why. When you link to your own pages, having anchor text there that will allow you to quickly and easily integrate keywords into internal links on your page can be tremendously useful for SEO purposes.

Frequency on All Pages

While keyword optimising your homepage is important, something that many search engines will keep in mind is how often those keywords are used on the other pages of your site as well.

This is important because it shows how much information and authority on that subject you have to offer. For example, with William’s MP3 player site, he is going to rank better for general terms like MP3 Player or iPod because they will appear on multiple pages on his site, whereas very specific terms like “video transfer cable” will probably only appear on one or two pages and likely within a very specific context.

If you have keywords that you would like to be highly optimised on your site, keep in mind that they need to appear many times throughout the site.

This is another place where your navigation structure and anchor text can help you out as well. By having links to multiple other pages on each page, you will be able to integrate the anchor text that we discussed above, highlighting those keywords without spamming them.

Keywords in URLs

The URLs and filenames of your website can have an impact on SEO as well. If you’ve ever seen the file structure for a blog, you will notice that it is broken down multiple times through to include a number of extra keywords in the URL. For example, a single post about an iPod might look like this:

http://www.mp3playermadness.com/mp3players/ipods/apple-ipod-touch-32-gb

That link includes multiple keywords stretched across it, and it gets away with it because it’s a sound file structure. I recommend never going more than two slashes deep. You never want any pages on your website more than two directories below the main URL.

If you can do this properly however, you’ll find that everything works like a charm. Do the same for your image files as well as it is one of the few ways to get credit for them in terms of your SEO efforts.

These are just a few of the many factors that will directly affect how your website is seen by search engines. Because services like Google will never reveal their exact algorithms, we must guess at how much of an impact these factors have on your rankings. Take them seriously, but don’t overdo it. You should never over optimise for anything on your page, as you’ll soon see.

Navigation and Good Linking

The next thing your website needs to incorporate as a strategy in ranking for search engines is linking and navigation. This is what made Google such a major force in search technology back in the late 1990s when the engine was first launched. Up to that time, many search engines were META and content search engines. They looked for keywords and content on the page of a website to decide where it ranked. That resulted in very hard to distinguish results with a whole lot of spam.

So, Google’s founders thought it would be better to have a search engine that used a ranking system for its listings. In the Google algorithm, sites would be given a sort of internal ranking based on how many inbound links they received from other sites. What’s more, the higher ranked the pages that linked to a page, the more value those links had. Basically, the more friends (links) in high places (other sites with good ranks) you had, the better you ranked.

This method of measuring the value of a website is still in effect today and is used by most of the major search technologies as a primary tool of search engine ranking. What this means is that you cannot just stuff your page full of keywords. You need to go out and earn links from highly regarded sites to your site. In turn, you will rise in the rankings based on those links.

Of course, it’s not as simple as being linked to by a lot of outside sites. You need to make sure those links are keyword rich and that they are on sites with related content. You also need to be sure that your own website is well linked, both internally out externally.

This is the navigation aspect of your website. If you don’t provide an easy navigation structure that cross links well within the architecture of your website, the search engines may penalise you for having a site that’s hard to get around.

Here are some of the factors that Google will consider when ranking the links and navigation of your website:

How Many Links Point to You?
Are they related sites? Are they valuable resources?

There are a number of specific details that are involved in determining how valuable any one link that points to you is. To start with, how many links do you have pointing to you? Next, are those sites related in any way to your content? Finally, do those sites provide valuable resources?

Essentially, what Google thinks of another website will determine what they think of your website. Thankfully, this rarely harms you if you have links coming in from low grade sites. After all, you cannot control who links to you. You can, however try to get better links from authority sites that are related to yours in content.

Email Addresses on the Page

If you have any email addresses on your website, make sure that they use the same domain name as your web site. Not all search engines, but some of them, consider it a spam signal if your email addresses are off-domain, meaning they don’t match up. Also, it reiterates the keywords you’ve used in your domain and ensures easier spidering.

Anchor Text of Inbound Links

We already mentioned this before, but I’ll do it again because it’s so important. When you get a link from an outside website, having anchor text that matches your keywords can be a huge boon. It’s hard to do most of the time because you’ll need to somehow convince the other site owners to change how they link to you. But, if you have any control over your anchor text, make sure it is a valuable keyword phrase.

Don’t fret though if you cannot get anchor text that you like. Any link is a good link, even if just says “cool site”.

Rating of Pages Linking to Your Site

The individual rating of any one page that links to you is also taken into consideration. For example, if a website has a Page Rank of 4 on its index.html page, but you get a link from a different page that has no Page Rank assigned, you will get a sort of half credit for your link. Ultimately, you want even the exact page that you are linked from to be well ranked by Google or the other search engines to receive the most possible credit toward your own ranking.

Directory Listings and Authority Sites

One thing that you can directly affect is whether you are listed in high quality directories that the search engines look at highly.

Authority sites are equally valuable for linking. It’s hard to discern what an authority site is to a search engine, but basically – if you type in your main keyword phrases, the pages that appear on the first page of Google are authority pages, providing a high bevy of information. This is not always true, especially with some very commercial keywords, but it holds mostly true for more queries.

URL Quotation

If someone mentions your website but does not actively link to it, you will get a bit of credit for that mention. This is called URL quotation and most of the time it doesn’t necessarily provide that much of a boost, but the search engines do see that your website URL was mentioned and will take note of it.

Number of Links on a Linking Site

This is an important factor that has become more important in recent years as the search engines cracked down on things like link exchanges. Essentially, the more links someone places on their website, the less value those links have for their owners. If you get linked to on someone’s blog roll of 1,000 people, you’re not going to get much credit for that link.

However, if you are the only site linked to by a high authority site, you will get a tremendous amount of credit for being cited by them. Rarely are you punished for appearing on long link rolls, but try not to exchange links in them. If Google presumes that you are selling or buying links, they may hit you for it.

Freshness of Links to Your Site

If every link pointing to your site is on a blog from three years ago, those links are not nearly as valuable. This is an important ranking factor, not because those links were any harder to get or any less prescient, but because there are so many websites out there and if your site is so inactive that it hasn’t been linked to in three years, the search engines will assume another site is more worthy of their rankings. Having fresh content as well as fresh links will help to improve your rankings.

Reciprocal Links

To a certain degree, reciprocal links between authority sites can be helpful. This needs to be used carefully though and can hurt you if done improperly. As a site trying to boost your SEO, make sure you only ever link to pages that contain similar content. Additionally, be sure that you don’t exchange links in large numbers or create a “links” page loaded down with meaningless outbound links.

However, if you get a link from a major blog or information site, link back to them in exchange and the reciprocation will do you both well in the eyes of the search engine spiders.

Linking between pages is extremely important for anyone trying to get a better position in the search engines. This will become markedly more evident the further along you get in your search engine efforts, especially if you have highly competitive keywords in your niche.

Good, Reader Friendly Content

The last thing I want to discuss in regards to what search engines look for is probably the most important these days and one that is directly related to the advent of technology that can more effectively analyse the content of a page rather than its technical components.

Whereas old technology was focused on counting up keywords, links, and code, the new technology that the search engines tend to be favouring works more intently on dissecting what you are writing and deciding whether or not it actually holds some value for your readers. This means it needs to be original, well written, and contain a wide array of different content. Here are the things that Google and the others are looking for when they consider the readability factor:

Original Content

Original content is hugely important to the search engines. If you just copy and paste free information from sites like Wikipedia or the article directories, you may be offering “useful” information, but you’re not offering anything that cannot be found elsewhere. In addition to usefulness, the search engines want to be sure that you are providing value to your readers.

If you must use other content that is not original, spend some time rewriting parts of it to at least keep from it being duplicate content. For Google, it only needs to be 30% original to pass this test, which can be done by rewriting titles, headers, and a few sentences in each paragraph.

Frequently Added Content

The more often you add content to your website, the better it looks to the search engines. This is a vital aspect of search engine optimisation, especially for a new site. You want to remain fresh in the spiders as long as possible, so having new content on your site every 2-3 days will keep you there.

If you own a blog, this is the easiest way to provide fresh content regularly. Just post a new blog entry every 48 hours or so and you’ll be re-indexed with new content frequently. You’ll also get credit for additional keywords, have more links to you and provide more value to your readers by doing this.

If you have a static site such as William’s MP3 Player site, you may need to add articles every now and then and rotate your stock of available products once a month to maintain your fresh content.

There are some sites that will never be able to maintain fresh content – such as mini-sites or squeeze pages. These pages however are going to rely less on content optimisation for SEO and more on active marketing, which will be discussed later in the book.

Outbound Links to Authority Sites

By linking out to sites like Wikipedia or Amazon, you are referring your readers to valuable information that will only help them. The search engines recognize this as being actively useful to your readers and will reward you for it accordingly. To take full advantage of the outbound linking process, be sure to provide context for every link you send. Blindly linking is still not very useful. Linking within the text of your page is much more useful and will garner you more credit for your rankings.

Fewer Advertisements

While advertisements by their very nature have very little, if any impact on SEO, they can have an impact if you overdo it. The reason is that the makeup of the page starts to become more focused on selling things than on providing valuable information for readers.

The key here is to find a good balance of advertisements to content. A few banner ads are not going to hurt, nor are AdSense modules. However, if you place ads within ever page on all four sides of the page and it is hard to find content, you may find that boosting your search engine rankings becomes slightly harder.

Natural Language

This is a big question mark for a lot of people, largely because no one really knows how the algorithms work in the first place. But, Google has striven hard in recent years to integrate LSI and natural language filters into its indexing methods so that it can tell when you’re trying to be manipulative.

Without getting too complicated, this means that Google can tell if you’re using keywords that don’t make sense, or if you are trying to over optimise a page rather than offer useful information. It also means there is a growing trend to discern whether content is “useful” or not. How much power

Google actually has to determine the meaning of your content is questionable, but many site owners have shown that offering useful, well researched content helps them a lot more than keyword stuffing and link harvesting.

Keyword Frequency and Integration

There are a number of tricks that people have tried to use in the past to boost their keyword integration and rank better. The search engines almost universally recognise these tricks now and make it so that if you’re not using keywords as an integrated part of the page, you’ll get in trouble for it. Here are some of the methods black hat SEOers were using that no longer work:

Hidden Keywords
Invisible Text
Very Small Text
Link Clouds on Every Page
Meaningless Paragraphs

The common thread in these methods is that they were trying to find places to hide their keywords in plain sight so that they got the SEO benefits without really getting in the way of the readability. Unfortunately, it is still a sneaky tactic and it doesn’t work anymore.

When writing your content, strive for effective integration of keywords into your text. They should fit naturally and make sense in context. They shouldn’t feel awkward or forced. You may get away with it, but you may also get tagged for spamming and the impact of that can be devastating for months.

For those with logic based brains, it is hard to wrap your head around exactly what a search engine is looking for when it wants “content”. But, think of it this way. What Google is essentially saying to you is “write for your readers not for us”.

They want websites that actually provide high quality content to be at the top of the listings. This makes good sense and if you look at their listings for many popular topics, this is exactly what happens. Wikipedia appears atop the listings for thousands upon thousands of nouns – because it is an authority site with information those searchers are probably looking for. It makes good sense.

To adjust your strategies to this, you will need to do three things.

Put a solid framework in place that supports SEO. Use keyword rich links, optimise your layout with lots of internal navigation and all the necessary META and title tags.

Build backlinks through article marketing, social bookmarking, and viral marketing. Build awareness and create a series of valuable backlinks through that awareness.

Forget about SEO and provide valuable content that matches what your readers are looking for. Produce original articles, buyer guides, blogs, and rotating product descriptions that are actually helpful for your readers.
If you follow this strategy and create an SEO strong foundation, then fill it in with the necessary content to make the search engines happy, you will find your efforts much more effective in the long term. It might take a bit longer than the blackhat methods that have you manipulating the rankings, but it will work better.

SEO vs. LSI

You may have heard some talk lately of LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing, a new search technology that many marketers are trying to get a jump start on. While SEO is a bit less complex than some other technical issues on the Internet, LSI gets complex. Its very name sounds complicated.

But, it really isn’t all that tough to understand what LSI means and what it can do for your website. Essentially, LSI comes back to the natural language issues we discussed when talking about the content on your pages. Whereas normal search routines will count up keywords and links, LSI works on comparing the relationship between words on your page. It analyses the paragraphs of your web pages and then decides what words and searches those word patterns are most like.

Essentially, it tries to discern what your site is about technologically and then match up the content with those searching for it. If you searched for “front canines” and got both dog and tooth related websites, it’s because a computer cannot discern between the two meanings naturally.

It is a logic based system – with either “yes” or “no”. LSI attempts to extend that system to look deeper than one or two immediate yeses or nos. It will analyse pages and determine, based on the words in your search phrase, what you are most likely searching for and then try to find web pages that match up.

Free SEO Campaign Audit

To get a free audit and detailed recommendations on your SEO campaign – take a look at my SEO Consultant offer

A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It launched in 2005 and is now the most widely used web analytics service on the internet.

If you have a website or a blog then you need Google Analytics. It helps answer many questions such about traffic (how many people visit my website? do I need a mobile-friendly website? which websites and marketing tactics send traffic to my website?), pages (which pages are the most popular? how long do they spend on each page?) and conversions (how many visitors have I converted into leads or customers?).

Tracking Code

Google Analytics is implemented with “page tags”, in this case, called the Google Analytics Tracking Code – you need to add this to every page of your website. The tracking code runs in the client browser when the client browses the page and collects visitor data and sends it to a Google data collection server.

Goals

After you install your tracking code on your website, you will want to configure a small goal setting in your website’s profile on Google Analytics.  Goals tell Google Analytics when something important has happened on your website. You can create up to 20 goals on your website so make sure that the ones you create are highly important to your business such as lead form submissions, email list sign ups, and purchase completions.

Site search

This will allow Google Analytics to track any searches made on your website so you can learn more about what your visitors are looking for on specific pages. This provides you with valuable data and can be used alongside your keyword research.

Report features

Once you start getting in Google Analytics data, you can start learning about your website traffic. Each time you log in to Google Analytics, you will be taken to your Audience Overview report. This is one of over 50 reports that are available to you in Google Analytics.

Most of the standard reports within Google Analytics will look similar to this. At the top right of the report you can click on the dates to change the date range of the data you are viewing. You can also check the compare box to compare your data from one date range (such as this month) to a previous date range (such as last month) to view your data.

Below the main metrics, you will see reports that you can switch through to see the top ten languages, countries, cities, browsers, operating systems, services providers, and screen resolutions of your visitors.

Here’s a quick overview of the main reports.

Audience reports

These reports tell you everything about your visitors. You can find detailed reports for your visitors’ demographics (age and gender), what their interests are, their location and which language they speak, their behaviours (how often they visit your website), and the technology they use to view your website.

Acquisition reports

These reports provide you with information on the traffic i.e.what drove visitors to your website and can be broken down into categories such as channels and sources. You can also find information about traffic from social networks  and PPC campaigns.

Behaviour reports

Behaviour reports tell you about your content, in particular the top landing and top exit pages on your website. You can view number of sessions, average session duration and bounce rates. If you set up Goals within your Google Analytics, you can also view conversion rates and which path the visitors took to complete the conversion.

This is just a very brief overview of the basics of Google Analytics – however if you don’t enjoy viewing your reports, then why not try a tool like Quill Engage, which is a free service that will take your Google Analytics data and summarise it into insightful and easy-to-read reports that are delivered to your inbox.

If however you’re ready to move to the next level in Google Analytics then take a look at Custom Reports, Dashboards, and Segments. This allows you to create reports using the exact metrics you want to view. The more you use them, the more you will get more familiar with the way reports work, so you can create new ones on your own.

Best Practices for Brand Mentions

Brand mentions are the new links that sit alongside backlinks, both playing a huge role as a ranking factors in SEO.  Google is getting better and better at associating brand mentions with your site’s content which may (and should) impact search.

Remember, someone, somewhere is discussing your brand and you therefore you need to be there to track and use your brand mentions and then to create content assets from it.

Here are 3 steps to using that content:

Promote your promoters

Rule one is the fundamental tactic behind monitoring your brand – use your social marketing channels to drive traffic to content that promotes your business. By nurturing your relationships with engaged influencers, who have mentioned your brand, you can develop them into loyal members of your brand community. This is an incredibly powerful benefit. By generating exposure, you are creating powerful digital content around your brand.

To use these mentions, introduce a ‘featured in’ or ‘round-up’ page on your site to incorporate these web mentions. By doing this you are encouraging those who mentioned you to engage with your site, building SEO authority of your pages and therefore encouraging other sites to mention your brand.

Tweets into testimonials

An easy way to collect and publicise mentions is through social media testimonials. Twitter is the most effective and productive way to collect and promote those testimonials because most tweets are public. You can easily embed tweets to your site and they are instantly verifiable because anyone can see right away who posted them.  Try using tools like TweetDeck to curate brand mentions – you can receive desktop alerts for Twitter mentions so you can response instantly.

Another useful tool is Social Mention. It’s simple, free, a great tool for basic monitoring and tracking using top keywords, links associated with your search, and the strength of that mention.

Using social media questions for an FAQ section

It is far easier now for a consumer to post a query or comment on social media in public, rather than contacting a business directly via email or phone and waiting for a reply. Therefore it is crucial to monitor those conversations to avoid any negative brand issues, fix issues promptly and to ensure unhappy customers are given direct communication channels with your brand to address issues and concerns.

Remember it is also a great idea to monitor mentions of your competitors and their products, so you know what questions their customers are asking (and maybe you can give them a better and quicker answer.

Once you have a number of questions that your customers have asked, try building a FAQ section on your site to create a knowledge base – remember this should evolve with your market, product, and brand.

Having The Best Engine Doesn’t Make Them The Fastest On The Race Track

To be consistently competitive in a motor race you must have one of (if not the) best engines.

Having a book, becoming an author, to promote you and your business puts grunt in your engine whilst your competition struggles around on two-stroke “put-put”. So yes, your book is a significant leg up the starting grid.

However, unless you happen to be JK Rowling or Tony Robbins – people are not going to flock to your latest pride and joy and the “click to add to cart” button to become the (hopefully) proud new owner of your latest hardback. 

Indeed, simply having grunt doesn’t mean you will be the first to the chequered flag – or anywhere near it for that matter.

The maxim goes “To finish first, first you must finish”.

Consuming all your fuel pumping (or is that “pimping”) your book will almost certainly mean you’ll be out of power, resources and strength likely giving up frustrated before the end of the first lap.

You see…

It’s all about where “the rubber meets the road”.

Simply having grunt yet then failing to translate this into traction is the most common author mistake. Instead the new author needs to be “canny”.

The famous F1 Team Owner of Lotus, Colin Chapman, said “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”.

So just having a book might give you the grunt when your accelerator pedal is able to be pressed hard to the metal – when the cars in front move out of the way and you can storm right through the gaps. Just like the occasions we’re sat in front of our perfect prospect – who has invited us into their office to discuss how we can help them. We could call this a “home run” sales opportunity.

The trouble is…

Life isn’t always a home straight.

There are many bends and twisty sections ahead.

That’s why we all need to add “simplify, then add lightness”.

The biggest mistake new authors make is…

Promoting the book!

They rely on grunt alone to get them round the twisty sections when the serious players on the grid are coming flying by, crowding them out and dropping them down the field. Having the best engine on the grid doesn’t make them the fastest on the race track.

Rowling and Robbins sell books, and make money, because of who they have become.

Successful new authors make their money from opportunities by using it for traction not grunt.

This is the harsh truth…

People probably don’t know about you or your book.

Those that buy your book probably won’t even read it.

Pressing the pedal down on the straights might feel exhilarating but you’re never near the front when it comes to handing out the trophies.

So here’s my advice…

If you’re in the race to make money from your book you should pull over now. That’s a race to the back of the grid.

If however, you’re in the race to use your book to create opportunities then you need to “add lightness”.

The pleasant truth is…

Your book opens doors,

Your book generates leads,

Your book gives you authority,

Your book gives you a vault of re-purposable content

Firstly – this is how we subtract weight

Take the focus away from the book.

Yes – stop selling the book. Put the book at the back of the marketing not at the front.

The book isn’t the factor why someone “buys” you or your product / service; its merely a factor why they do.

Leading with, and therefore promoting, the book is the single biggest mistakes new authors make.

Instead use it to position you. Make yourself appear fitter than your competition. Use it to create an “edge”.

Secondly, build a brand around the book.

There are probably only 3 reasons why someone “buys” a book.

1)    The book cover looks fabulous – we all know the old saying.

2)    The book title

3)    The author

Now we probably can’t play with number 3 too much unless you happen to be called Rowling or Robbins.

However, we can create fabulous visuals for the cover and an engaging book title. Use this within your personal / business branding. Make it noticeable. Make it memorable. Seek advice and counsel on this from a mentor who knows how to cut through the noise.

The brand you create gives you the opportunities later. Missing this step means you will have wasted every ounce of the sweat and tears you used writing the book in the first place.

Thirdly, get the foreword written by someone more well known

One way to influence others is via association and endorsement.

Having your book foreword written by someone known to your audience will allow you to leverage their endorsement.

Furthermore, you can use it – in a wider content – as one of your flagship testimonials.

Fourthly, make this about them not you.

Remember, success is about having the most opportunities. I hear too often “if I had more opportunities to… I would double my business… sell more”.

The book is your opportunity making machine – a “light” machine, of course.

If you look to promote the book you’ll spend frustrating amounts of time and shed loads of money getting “eye balls” to look at it.

The trouble with that approach is it increases resistance at the wrong time.

Leading with the book will likely dump you, trapped, in a wet gravel trap – suffering with a 0.001% conversion rate from eye ball to sale and out of the running in the race.

Instead use the book as part of a “lead magnet”. Give away the first few chapters to build a prospect list you can nuture via a marketing sequence.

You build a following of targeted people, interested in your subject matter. Make it a relationship building exercise not a soulless “add to cart” transaction.

You may promote the book later in the marketing sequence – when the prospect knows you better and you’ve established credibility far further.

Fifth, use it for reciprocity

Adding resistance at the wrong time decreases sales –  adding it at the right time generates opportunities.

Using well branded digital ebook versions of your book (at no cost to you) in return for prospect completing an online survey – will generate leads in a systemised tap you can turn on or off whether you’re on the home straight or battling for grip in the twisty sections.

Furthermore, using a physical book as a gift you deliver in person if they opt for a free consultation to go with it. The free consultation is worth at least 30 times the cover price of the book. But it will mean you’ll be sat in their office on that proverbial home straight.

The consultation itself must be offered as the last question in the survey in a simple technique I call the “Double Yes Technique”.

Sixth, turn the book into a branded seminar

In short – sell the seminar and give the book away!

People will pay you 10 times the cover price of the book to turn up to a seminar about the book. Give everyone that buys a ticket a copy of the book.

A room full of people generates opportunities more than a gaggle of secretive Amazon buyers.

Lastly, remember “to finish first, first you must finish”

The race hasn’t finished when you’ve written your book – it’s just about to start.

For many, writing thousands of words and toiling over the edit seems the greatest challenge and one less item on their bucket list.

These are the ones running around at the back with two-stroke “put put” engines – battling over the scraps they can pick up, fighting over a diminishing amount of opportunities that arise.

To race at the front – you need to get your head up and realise you’re now sat a little further up the grid, at the start of a new race, with a new engine capable of racing clear of the remainder of the field.

You’re now the fuel. You’ve been given the machinery.

You now go and drive.