This is one of the most frequent questions I hear when I do public speaking on Internet marketing.
The falacy with optimizing for search is that “search” is not a customer. While it’s great (and certainly an ego stroke) to rank high in the search engines for keyword phrases (that you think are important) the reality is that keyword searches are not necessarily synonymous with customers.
One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make with their websites is thinking that they can figure out what keywords their customers are going to use. There are metrics that tell us what phrases and words are more popular than others… but this is not always the solution that we used to think it was. Here’s a quick example. We live in a area near Philadelphia, but really it’s South Jersey. It can be referred to as the Delaware Valley which encompasses an area that could be construed to include the Philadelphia metro. The reality is that customers don’t refer to themselves as living in the Delaware Valley, even though media does. I had a customer who had a telecom business who insisted that was where their service area was. It wasn’t until we started to divide the “Delaware Valley” into the smaller geographic areas, and referring to them as Montgomery County, Doylestown, Cherry Hill or Philly (versus Philadelphia) and using these phrases in our web content that we started to see results. Zip codes are also important if you have a business that services a very distinct geography.
But optimizing for your customer is a different process than optimizing for search, although by doing the first, you will succeed at the second.
What do you need to know to optimize for your customer? Well first, you need to know what your product is. Not what your product is to you but what your product is for your customer. A big mistake that many small business owners make it attempting to select their own keywords. This is a mistake because you are referring to your products and what you do by the terminology you use, which may be inconsistent with what your customer calls it.
When describing what your offer is, it’s ok to use several ways to describe it. There may be customers who refer to your product in different ways. Where you don’t want to use different phrases or looks is when referring to your brand. There is only one company that I know of that gets away with a ton of different treatments of its brand, and yet is incredibly recognizable, and that is Harley Davidson. You see their logo played with in many different fonts, sizes and even colors. If you had a marketing budget the size of Harley Davidson, you may want to play with your image that way, however, most companies pick a logo and brand identity, then reinforce it every where. If you take out your business card, any brochures you produce and put them in front of your computer screen, you logo should appear the same on all.
So, ask your customers – what is it that you are searching for when you look for what we sell. You may be surprised. Understanding what appeals to your current customers may not be what you thought you were selling. I spoke with one gent who thought he sold office furniture… and he paid someone to optimize his website for terms related to office furniture. That’s not what he was selling at all – he sells office planning and he is experienced in putting together efficient space for a new office. If you like the plan, he can spec and get excellent pricing on the office furniture, but he has no showroom and he is not competitive if you only want to buy a chair.
What is it you really do? What is your competitive advantage. How can you stand out from the crowd and help your prospects find you? That’s the real secret of search engine optimization. Once you understand why your customers want to work with you and do business with you, use their words to describe it, and you have a fairly strong foundation for building your SEO program.
Your SEO expert may be killing your business. Recently I’ve been receiving calls from friends and potential clients who have been referred to me for help or advice. In most of these cases, I am seeing a similar situation. There is a trend among small businesses to attempt to improve their business by hiring someone who has presented to them a rationale to “improve their SEO”. Most small business owners are adept at understanding their offer and their customer. They are not necessarily website experts, and when presented with a compelling marketing case to improve their website, they feel that they are embracing new technology. Especially if the website has been static for a long time, the buzzwords and inexperience in social media may entice the small business owner to agree to pay an “SEO” to “get me to the top of Google”.
First rule of thumb – anyone who wants your business and who promised to “optimize” to “make you number one on Google” is someone to be wary of. Not because having a high ranking on Google is not a good thing – it is a good thing, generally. What I object to is the charletan who sells a bill of goods about optimizing your website without any regard to who your customer is and how your customer shops, and most importantly, what would be the best type of business for you?
I think it may be clearer if I share some examples. Recently I was approached by a company that offers office furniture for business. The gentleman who owns the company was concerned because he recently spent “a ton of money” with an SEO company to optimize his website. His concern stems from the fact that before the optimization, he would recieve phone calls. Now, his phone does not ring at all.
Whether the website is coming up at the “top” of a search is irrelevant if it does not result in improved business.
The gentleman learned a lesson the hard way. The first mistake that was made was when the SEO (and I use that term loosely) told him that he had to completely re-do the website.
Second rule of thumb – if anyone comes in and tells you that they have to completely re-do your website, ask them why? What are they seeing that makes it important to rip apart what is there to create something new? If the website was built in an old technology, or had un-indexible content, that is a valid reason to re-do the website. However, care should be taken to preserve the SEO or any inbound links or references to the URLs of the existing site. If the web designer does not give a clear reason, then beware! Unfortunately, sometimes a web designer wants to re-design a website simply to bump up the amount that you will wind up paying over time.
Another reason you may wind up creating a new website is that you were with a service and no longer want to utilize the service. Some franchised web companies will get business by suggesting that they specialize in a specific business market, for example, there is one that I can think of that supposedly specialized in day spas. Another that I can think of specialized in real estate. A third ostensibly is expert with legal websites. Is there an advantage of going with an organization that has done a done of websites in your industry? Yes and no. The advantage is that they probably have done some research and know what keywords to pursue. The disadvantage is that they have done some research and know what keywords to pursue – and they have done the same research and keywords for every other client in the same industry. So, your website will not be unique, your keywords will be the same as everyone else’s, and you will wind up with a formula site and a high probability of being penalized by the search engines for duplicate content.
One scam I saw recently was a human resources firm that hired a company to “optimize” their website. The optimization agency only charges if they obtain first place ranking on Google for keywords that the client suggests. It’s not hard to see what could potentially be wrong with this picture. I happend to have visibility into the analytics, and sure enough, there was a ton of traffic when the agency started up. Ironically none of the traffic was from the trade area that the hr company draws from. Will they be paying for this optimization, you bet! But the price will not only be paying for placement, it will also be in lost business from true prospects who may find the company through organic search.
If there is a lesson to be learned, it’s that there are no shortcuts. Or perhaps, there are shortcuts if you know the right way, and they consist of doing the right steps, and not trying to ‘scam’ the system. Now that Hummingbird and symantic search have become the norm, it’s not as easly to stuff an article with keywords, or to pay for backlinks to your articles. That can and will be used against you. Instead, the important steps to creating a well rounded, content rich website remain doing things the right way.
This morning, as I am drinking my coffee and evaluating website analytics using Google Analytics website tool, I saw an interesting trend. Traffic comes from several sources, including organic search, direct traffic, referrals and social media. First, one of the most fascinating statistics regarding social media is that it contributed more traffic that any of the other channels. This phenomena may be due to the fact that I haven’t really worked on this website until recently, but I do have a fairly strong social media presence. Of the social media channels, the strongest was Facebook, followed by Google+. Surprisingly Twitter sent only a spattering of visits and even Linked In was much stronger than Twitter.
Of the traffic that came from social media, the quality of the traffic was better than the organic traffic, in that they stayed on the website longer, and they also visited more pages. It also out performed the referral traffic for the same metrics.
I’m not sure how much of this is due to the nature of the website, which is more along the lines of a personal blog than a company website. It could be that there is a correlation because the highest referral source, Facebook, does contain may people that I know personally. However, I also have a few pages on Facebook related to the company, my personal page, and a couple of podcasts that I co-host, so that may be part of the reason. I usually post on several Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and social media sites as blogs and other items are published.
What does all this mean? Here are my thoughts, and I’m curious if you’ve noticed these trends as well, and also if you agree with my analysis:
1. Social Media offers higher engagement. It appears that when someone finds my website through social media, they tend to visit more pages and also stay longer on the site. It could be due to the fact that most of the visits are due to blog posts. I am careful when writing blogs to try to focus on topcs that I feel would be of interest to potential prospects, and this appears to be an effective approach.
2. Social Media offers opportunity for sharing. Many of my posts wind up being shared or re-tweeted. I’d like to believe that is due to the quality of the content and that I offer some good advice. Regardless, it’s more likely to occur within Facebook and Google+ and Twitter than this re-sharing seems to appear in LinkedIn. That means that I will tailor content that is sharable more to the networks where sharing seems to be more popular, and unique, more intellectual content to LinkedIn where it may only be viewed by my immediate network and groups.
3. Social Media offers amplification. Another trend that I’ve noticed is that the new visits as a percentage of all visits is higher from Social Media than from other sources, like organic search or direct search. That makes sense to me. Social media sharing can create a way of amplifiying word of mouth recommendations though cyber space. In other words, when someone retweets a message or shares a Facebook post, it’s perceived as almost a recommendation for the content. In some ways, that amplification is more valuable than the intial post. Moving forward, one way I will utilize this knowledge is to be more concious of “influencers” who can share my message and who seem to have a fairly loyal following.
If you are trying to get a message out, or to establish a brand, social media can be a powerful tool. I get a kick out of those businesses who are still avoiding social media because they think it’s not their “market”. The funny thing – your public and potential prospects expect you to be on social media, and to not only post, but also to be listening.
What do you think? Do you agree that social media is powerful for marketers? How have you utilized social media to amplify your messaging?
One of the questions I hear frequently when doing Inbound Marketing is how to create compelling Call To Action offers. The concept of creating usable informative tools is not difficult, but can take some time to come up with offers that are enticing and interesting. It also takes understanding who your audience is, and where they are in the sales funnel.
Just like keywords, you can determine where you customer is in the buying process by the types of information that they are looking for. For example, if your prospect is downloading very general information, they are most likely in the initial states of their search. If they keyword search is more specific, or a long tail keyword, then the prospect is further along in his or her research and closer to the buying stage.
Having offers at all the stages of the sales funnel will help potential customers find you, and also give you insight and analysis into the process that your client goes through. You may find that there are commonalities with regard to the questions that are asked by your customers. By offering information that helps nurture the prospect, you are developing the lead and helping them become a customer.
There are many ways to create content for website visitors to download. Downloadable content and offers that appeal to a target audience is a critical component of inbound marketing.
Creating a call to action is a way to help your prospects find answers to their questions, download valuable information (to them) and in doing so, self-identify as a potential customer or lead. There are many ways to put information together for your prospects. Here are a few of the the Best Call To Action ideas to enhance conversions:
- Whitepaper or eBook: You can also write a whitepaper or eBook from a previous research study or data set. Compile three (3) to five (5) blog posts that discussed similar topics and combine them into a whitepaper or eBook.
- Top 10 Industry Trends: Document the ten latest trends impacting your industry this year. Write a short summary on 10 new industry developments or write what you think will be the 10 biggest changes to your industry during the next year.
- How-To Guides: Create simple guides for your prospects to download and help them with a problem. For example, if you’re selling mortgages, create a guide to picking the right mortgage for you.
- Product Demo Video: Create a video that shows off all of your product’s features and benefits. At the end of the video give the lead an option to download a product tip sheet guide.
- Product Tip Sheet Guide: Create a product tip sheet guide that outlines how people could use your product or service to help them with their problem or need. For example, you’re selling backup software. Create a guide that outlines how people can use you’re backup software to decrease their backup costs and lower IT support time.
- Common Questions: Write down the 10 or 20 questions you most commonly hear and create a tip sheet or guide that answers each question.
- Checklist: Create a checklist of steps people could take to solve the problem that your product/service solves. For example, if you’re a moving service you could create a downloadable packing checklist.
- Case Studies: Show off your leading customers and share their success with future customer. Video record their testimonial for even more content and to build credibility. Offer the case study to be downloaded.
- LinkedIn Question and Answers: Go to LinkedIn Answers and find every question and answer that relates to your industry. Compile them together in an eBook format.
- PowerPoint Presentations: Use your PowerPoint presentations and turn them into compelling offers. Post the presentations on SlideShare and embed them into blog articles.
- Kits of Material: Compile some of your related eBooks, guides, tip sheets and blog articles into a compelling downloadable kit offer.
- Expert Interview Videos: Interview the experts at your company and have them answer common questions for prospects. Use the videos as a way to build credibility and a relationship with your leads
- Sales Team Materials: Work with your sales to determine what content they think quality prospects would like to download. This can really help you if you’re having a problem with creating
quality leads for your sales team.
The Golden Rule: Use each piece of content in at least four different ways. For example, you create a whitepaper and you promote the whitepaper by writing a series of blog articles, sending out a press release, using the whitepaper in lead nurturing emails, and adding it to your monthly newsletter
I am admittedly an Apple Fan Girl. While many of my tech friends have tried other platforms, in 2009 I got my first Mac, and never looked back. When it comes to the iPhone, the iPad, AppleTV or my MacBookPro, up until recently I would have adamently proclaimed the superiority of the Apple product. From packaging to product, the company had such allure and class and the perception of buying Apple was the perception of buying a quality product. Even the commercials with Mac versus a PC were believable to me.
But my perception is changing and I’m not quite sure whether Apple understands how their failure to live up to the experience is beginning to tarnish the future for their product line. In fact, I’m wondering whether the change may be the result of a lack of direction in the post Steve Jobs company.
Sharing my experience has always been something that I’ve loved to do. Every time one of my PC friends posts a PC woe, the knee jerk response has been “well you should get a Mac and you won’t have those problems”. However, now I don’t feel that I can confidently interject that remark.
Here is my recent experience: I have a MacBook Pro which I purchased in 2011. Since buying this computer, it’s had a lot of issues. It’s always been a bit slow to boot, but eventually I replaced RAM and it picked up a bit. Then the hard drive crashed, which was a pain, but since I bought AppleCare, the replacement of the hard drive was covered. Most recently, the computer would have a hard time booting, or would boot up and had strange lines across the screen. It was time to go see the geniuses at the Apple Store.
I decided to just visit the store to see if they were able to fit me in. IN the old days, you really did not need an appointment. Unfortunately, there was no time for genius to see me, so I figured I ‘d try again to make an appointment first. The experience of going to the store and being told that I was unable to see a genius was indicative of the change in the level of service. Let me explain…
Typically when you walk into the Apple store, there is a greeter who asks what your purpose to visit the store was, and then they walk you to another Associate who ostensibly can help you with your request. On this visit to the store, I was handed off four times before being told that I could not see a Genius without an appointment. I also was shuffled to several locations to ‘wait’ and the entire process had me in the store at various tables or desks for about twenty minutes. I love hanging out at the Apple store, but this was not my idea of fun.
When I came back in for my appointment, the greeter was about a third of the way into the store. I was told to go back to the Genius bar. I waited at the Genius bar where I was ignored for about eight minutes. Then a young lady came from behind me and lead me away to a table and told me to sit there to be helped. I told her that I was told to go to the counter, but she said that this is where they needed me to be. I waited at the table, finally pulling out my iPhone, logging into Facebook and posting several statements along the lines of wondering how quickly I would be helped. Another eleven minutes and then a young man said he was here to help me. I explained to the young man the same thing that I had put on the appointment about my computer not working. He then said Ok, and after typing into his iPad he migrated to another couple to help them. Another eight minutes and another young female Apple employee told me that I needed to stand at the Genius bar. Patiently I explained that I had been at the Genius bar and they told me to sit at the table. She said that NOW I was supposed to be at the Genius bar. Feeling a bit sheeplike, I wandered back to the Genius Bar, where I was studiously ignored for another eleven minutes. Eventually a young Genius came up to me and asked me the same question I had been asked when I first entered and again when I sat at the table. I just said “it doesn’t work” as I pushed my laptop over to her. It’s a brick.
“OK”, she brightly chirped, “Did you back it up?”
Hmmm. I found myself wondering when Apple had decided to hire Rocket Scientists for their Geniuses? “Um, it doesn’t work, so how would I be able to back it up?” I ask. Mentally I am kicking myself, but not terribly hard because I do have two back ups – both an “air port” and also a hard drive back up, but then again, despite my precautions, I am not sure whether either of the back ups worked because unless you check, you just assume they are backing things up.
“Well”, the junior Rocket Scientist says, “you have a choice. You can have us fix it here at the store, or you can have us send it out to be fixed. What would you like to do?”
If I had the idea that the question was kind of vague, it was not going to get any clearer when I asked what the difference is. “If we fix it in the store, we get the part and we fix it here, otherwise we send it to the Depot and we fix it there. Which would you prefer to do?”
When you are confronted with a choice like that, how do you make a decision? As it turns out the part that it may need was not in stock at the store, they would have to order the part anyway, so it just sounded faster to send the machine to the depot. I wound up leaving without my laptop, praying that the Apple Gods would shine favorably on fixing the ailing machine. One of the young Apple clan salespeeps wished me a pleasant day with a big smile as I left the store.
A few days later, I got a message that the laptop was back and I should come to the store and bring a picture ID to claim my computer. I headed to the store and this time, I walked in and was never even greeted. All the way to the back of the store where the Geniuses are, and not even a smile or acknowledgement – it was tantamount to the feeling of being invisible. As I waited for a Genius, or any Apple Associate to see me, I began to feel truly invisible. I was studiously ignored and couldn’t even get anyone’s attention as the hum of the store and the motion of the workers swirled past me. All I wanted was to pick up my computer. There were three associates standing by the door to the back room and making some plan, I think it was for their breaks. I tried to make eye contact to no avail. A fourth man wearing a coat, like he was heading out of the store, came out of the back room and stopped to talk with the three associates. He was the one who noticed that I was standing there and asked if I had been helped. I told him I was just trying to pick up my laptop that had come back from repair. He said he would direct me to someone who could help and we walked to about the middle of the store where he handed me off to a young female sales associate who graciously offered to help me, but then sat me again at the same table I sat at when I first came in.
As I was sitting at the table, I could not help but overhear the couple who was also seated at the same table. The dilemma that they had was that they had purchased an iPad, and after 1 year and 1 month, it stopped working. They acknowledged that they were 1 month out of warranty but felt that there must be something that the store could do to help them. My impression was that they were being told they could purchase a new iPad because without the AppleCare, and being out of warranty there was no break in price to fix their iPad.
To my right, I heard another story where a customer had an iPad with a cracked screen. Same thing, no assistance – they could buy a new one. The iPad was just about a year old… and the family did not purchase AppleCare. Is buying the extended warranty now almost a requirement? What happened to the concept of standing behind the product.
About twenty minutes later, the associate returned with a paper wrapped package. She handed me her iPad and said there are two pages, sign at the bottom. I read through the legal language, but there was nothing that said what had been done with my laptop. “Its in the paper inside, just sign the second page”. Wow, another helpful sales associate. I glanced through the document and signed it with my finger (again, not explained) and unceremoniously handed the paper that ‘explains’ what was done with my computer. “Do you want a receipt or can I just email it to you?”. I asked for a receipt and with a look that implied I was disturbing her, the sales associate trucked off for another ten minutes, leaving me sitting there. I asked her if there would be any problem with the computer, and she said no, it was all fixed. “”Buh bye”.
As I left the store and got into my vehicle I realized that no one had opened the computer to even see if it was working. I opened it in the car, and since there was not a lot I could do at that point, I drove away.
When I got home, I discovered that the entire system has been erased. A new system was installed. The good news is that it doesn’t appear that I have lost any software. The bad news is that it looks like the documents are either hidden or gone. So, now I have another dilemma – of trying to reload my documents and information that had been on the computer. As mentioned, I do have two redundant back ups, but nonetheless, it would have been helpful had someone at the store taken a moment to explain what I would need to do to restore the old hard drive. Or even CHECKED the computer in front of me before I took it and left.
Incidentally, no one ever asked me for the photo ID to pick up my computer.
So, why do I feel that this is important to the story of Apple the company? Isn’t this just a consumer crying sour grapes, and after all, things do break and even Apple products can fail?
The reason this is important is because a company lives or dies by it’s reputation. It’s no longer an option to advertise and say you are great, then have your customers have lousy experiences. If you do a simple search on “repair iPad” you will see that there is an entire industry that is taking up where Apple left off. What this means is that Apple had done a good job of getting people to buy into the product, however if people are having a problem and you don’t help or take care of the problem, there is a possibility that you will not have repeat business.
The people who’s iPad quit one month after the one year warranty ended are not going to buy another iPad. Why would they? If the product was manufactured in such a way as to just stop working, why would they invest again in the same product and hope for a different result? For less they can buy a similar product – an Android, a Windows Tablet, an Amazon Fire HD. If Apple was the only game in town, things would be different, but that’s not the case.
When Steve Jobs was at the helm Apple was not perfect, however one thing you could count on was innovation. New products were being introduced and disruptive technology was the name of the game. The last iterations of the iPhone and iPad had improvements, however these were not disruptions, nor were they innovations. They were improvements, which is to say they are better, but perhaps not enough to have consumers ditch their existing product to move to a new version.
Apple has always had a reputation for quality and for customer service. I responded to a survey regarding my experience with my recent visit to the Apple Store. Of course, I told the survey that I am not happy. I’m curious to see whether there will be a response, and if so, how Apple intends to fix the situation. They do have another shot – but based upon the situation so far, this is the Apple we have come to know and love.
I cannot help but extrapolate and consider my experience to be less than unique. After numerous searches I’m seeing a groundswell of unhappiness by consumers with the Apple product and Apple service. How will this translate? I think we are already seeing the effect, an erosion in confidence and also a migration of fans away from the product line. When it becomes more cool to be an Android Fan than an Apple Fan, then Apple should go out of their way to please their customers. After all, it is harder to win a new customer than to retain an existing one.
What do you think? Do you have a situation where you have not been happy with the product or service for an Apple product? Or any product. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please use the comments below and let me know what you think.
Internet marketing trends continue to evolve and as we enter the new calendar year we evaluate what the Internet marketing trends will be, and what the impact will be on social media marketing or inbound marketing. Some of the changes we are tracking will have great impact on the way we communicate using the Internet.
- Semantic Search Yields Improved Results. The world of Google and search changed with the introduction of Hummingbird and the birth of semantic search. What this means is that search is more intelligent and adaptive. The old days of matching specific keywords for “optimized search” results are hopefully dead. Long live the new SEO and semantic search results. With a more intelligent and personalized result, the old days of ‘gaming’ the search engines are hopefully over. A new dawn of improved search results will dictate that websites become more serious about improved and helpful content. If the information is simply ‘marketing pablum’ with keywords sprinkled through the text, it will no longer garner top placement or search engine rankings.
- Mobile’s Influence On Responsive Web Design And Marketing. It still amazes me when I am searching for a company or service or product on my mobile device and the result is difficult to read or evaluate. More and more, mobile has become the way we find what we are looking for, and if your website is not mobile enabled, you will be knocked out of the game. Google Webmaster Tools even offers some best practices for mobile websites. This past Holiday season, statistics show that over 25% of online purchasing was done on a mobile device. With the increasing number of transactions and searches being performed on mobile devices, mobile responsive web design will be a huge factor for online marketing success moving forward.
- Social Video, Real Time Increase In Offers And Adoption. Google+ was revolutionary with the Hangout and Hangouts On Air platforms. Integrating with YouTube (the #2 search engine) makes G+ Hangouts an important tool for 2014 and beyond. Many traditionally audio podcasts have made the transition to video. In fact, video production and embedding have become relatively easy. There are tremendous advances in editing software that makes video production more attainable for the general population. Apple has proven that you can use an iPhone as an all in one video capture and editing platform for creating surprisingly professional results.
- Wearable Technology And The Dick Tracy Era. Wearing your heart on a sleeve will take a back seat to wearing your phone on your wrist. Jewelers who lamented the fact that no one wears watches any more are now excited about trends in wristwear that incorporate technology. Whether it’s a watch that monitors your phone messages or records video or monitors your exercise, the way that we will communicate in the future is making great changes. Google glass has had it’s blips and false starts, but generally its an exciting new technology. At $1500 a pop, people have to wait to get an invitation to even line up to purchase the device. Seems a bit expensive to have glasses that take pictures or record video, and perhaps the early adopters are reluctant to share the Emperor’s clothing scenario, but it’s definitely a trend to watch.
- Business Networking Expanded. In the age of Linkedin, Quora, Google Plus and other networks that have a business edge, the importance of business networking, both online and in person has been escalated. No longer can a company grow without a network of evangelists. Brand evangelists will do the job of spreading the word better and faster and with greater credibility than the company can through advertising or other methods.
- Consolidation of Social Platforms. As social media platforms evolve, there is a tendency for them to become more and more similar. When LinkedIn and Facebook added a Twitter-like stream, then when Twitter added a new improved Facebook-like wall the fuzzy differentiation became even more diffuse. As Google+ and Facebook vie for social dominance with the newer entries like Pinterest and Jelly, the delineation will become blurred, and the fast pace of absorbing the newer, successful social channels will increase. The good news is that the same skills for engagement and sharing social content that have helped to develop associations in the past will continue to be important, and those who have mastered the ability to identify and connect with influencers will continue to have success.
- Analytical Information Gains Importance. Does your social media program work? How would you know. Identifying measurable goals then finding a way to determine progress towards those goals will be the lifeblood of any social media program. If a company is involved in social media, it’s not to say that every tweet or post or like has to be a contrived part of a plan, however the messaging and momentum should be consistent, especially in organizations where there could be more than one voice for the company.
- Sharing is the New SEO. While Facebook celebrates its tenth birthday, social media and the era of engagement and sharing has blossomed and in some cases, social sharing has greater credibility than the old formula for inbound links. The age of semantic marketing, of creating content that is meaningful and not just a mish mosh of keywords has begun. For your web presence to be important, you must contribute and those contributions must be recognized by third parties. To the extent that you are tweeting or “liking” or “plussing” or being tweeted, liked or plussed, that is the way your authority and web presence will grow.
- Demands for Privacy Escalate. (The Downfall of Big Data). Eric Snowden may have brought new focus to this issue, but it was there before the NSA backlash began. In fact, there have been waves of people proclaiming loudly that they are leaving Facebook due to concerns about privacy, only to be lured back and lulled into ambivalence by the comforting presence of their peers. Just because other people are doing it, does not make it save and more and more the call for the opportunity to hide or block information has become louder and more strident.
- Accountability Of Individuals. (Reductions in Cyber threats, anonymous trolls, spam) Recently Google made a rather bold change in they way comments on YouTube videos are posted. The comments are linked to a Google account and appear on Google+. The anonymous troll who used to post derogatory and inflammatory comments is limited to a greater extent than ever before. Whether the individual tries to obscure his or her identity or creates pseudonyms, the fact is that this is getting harder and more difficult than ever before. Perhaps by making individuals accountable for their actions and words, we can begin to put a stop to cyber threats and online harassment. Then again, if the person is truly “off their rocker”, its evident by their posts. Well, more appropriately clear to everyone except the perpetrator… The good news is that the public is demanding great accountability of organizations and individuals, and decrying those cowards who troll the Internet with the intent to do harm.
Have you identified additional trends? I’d love to hear about them and learn your thoughts – please share you ideas with whether you agree (or disagree) with these trends, and also whether you feel that there are even greater waves of change coming?
Giving the One, Two Punch to Improve Web Marketing Communications.
With an indoor office sometimes the lack of an exterior wall can result in seasonal affective disorder. A remedy is available by using a full spectrum light. One of my office mates has one of these Happy Lights and after a few weeks, he says it seems to work. He feels more focused and balanced. So, I ordered one of these lights and it’s just arrived. I have it hooked up and it’s really quite bright. I’ll let you know how it works.
According to the packaging, this light can improve your mood. It can also make you smarter. What I will attest to, is that you do feel more upbeat and see more clearly – so to the extent that this can be a way to enhance your intelligence, it’s a great idea!
If you decide to get one too, let me know what you think? I got the compact one which seemed to be the best size for a desk, but they come in larger versions as well. In fact, I already placed an order for another one, and I’m probably going to get more than one more.
Apple is brilliant when it comes to smartphone product launches and marketing strategy. Already people are lined up and camping outside of their stores. Why? A new iPhone was announced earlier this week. SO why then did the stock market pricing for Apple drop? Immediately after the announcement of the new Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, the market price dropped by about 5%. Some of the social media techno geeks immediately started to belittle the latest iPhone and express their opinion that Apple has stopped being a force to reckon with in the smart phone marketplace.
I say they are wrong.
What’s amazing with the new iPhone 5s is what’s under the hood. I have to say that the 64 bit processor, the first of its kind in the industry, may have been missed by the naysayers. Also, the m-7 processor was mentioned, but I’m thinking that there is more to this little device than meets the eye. Apparently the purpose of the m-7 is to evaluate all the little datapoints captured by the gyro and other spatial metrics to do something with them. My guess is that the apps to take full use of this feature are in development and not ready for prime time yet, which is disappointing, but not unheard of in a product launch.
In fact, I bet there were a few things that were not ready for the launch, such as a new Apple TV, which has been rumored, or the software update/upgrade to the current Apple TV. Also new iPad models, sizes, or improvements. Notably the event was limited to just the two iPhones.
And while the iPhone 5c may seem silly, there is a whole audience of parents who are supplying these devices to their kids, for whom a colorful, perhaps more durable version would be very welcomed. I know my daughter is using a 4s, so the 5c would definitely represent an upgrade for her (she’s not reading this, right?).
The fingerprint security is a welcomed improvement. I am guilty of not using the two step verification or locking my phone because it’s a pain in the bottom. This fingerprint swipe seems a lot easier and a lot more reasonable. I also am intrigued with the improvements to the camera and the flash. I use my iPhone as a camera all the time. Yes, I have a DSLR, but it’s big and awkward – using it is a dedicated photography adventure. My iPhone is always with me and in a snap, I can have the photo app up and snag those pictures. I am not sure how I feel about the burst determining which picture will be the best, but for most consumers, I think that’s a brilliant feature.
I have my own impression of why the stock market tanked immediately after the presentation. In my humble opinion, the marketplace was looking for more products. I don’t feel it’s a reflection of the iPhone or the new features or whether it’s a vast improvement over the existing iPhone 5, I think it’s because we are spoiled and we want more toys to drool over. What about the watch? New iPads? I betcha there will be another announcement soon and before Christmas about some of these. Why give the competition all the information. After all, Apple has been brilliant in marketing and product launches. We have come to expect so much from them, that even with an exciting new powerful device being launched, some folks says they want more.
What do you think? Is Apple brilliant or have they lost their luster? Will you be waiting in line on the 20th of September to nab a new iPhone? Or are you contemplating that your Droid or Blackberry or Windows Phone will be good enough. Aren’t you even a bit jealous of that 64 bit processor? Or the fluidity of the iOS platform versus the Apple Wannabe interface?
As for me. I am thinking that Champagne Gold will look good on me…. Stay tuned!
Internet marketing without goals, or traditional marketing without goals is a crapshoot. It’s throwing stuff at the wall and hoping it sticks, without a guide or way to measure whether you are effective or not. One of my favorite expressions is the definition of insanity – you know doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result? Well if that describes your marketing efforts, you should stop, take a deep breath and resolve that today is the day you are going to do something different to move the bar farward.
We used to refer to our marketing goals as Key Performance Metrics or KPI’s. If you were rating your employees, you would put together a list of the metrics of what would constitute success in that role. Why would business marketing be any different? If you don’t set goals, then you have no idea whether you’ve made progress or not.
Ironically, many of the marketing agencies that spring into existance offer to help you with your social media profile or build you a website, without starting with the reasons you need marketing in the first place – and that is – to generate business. If you take it a step farther and start to evaluate your online business, you will see that it becomes even more important for your marketing to be held accountable to the metrics that you establish. So, how does it happen that so many companies practice buckshot marketing and roll the dice instead of being laser focused on their goals?
I was recently consulting for a company that had a marketing crisis. They had an internal goal that a specific email campaign would be launched by a date certain. They contacted me, and asked whether we could meet their goal. Eager to help them, I assured them we could. This was a mistake. We got stuck in the tactics of getting an email campaign out the door and doing buckshot marketing, instead of defining what we hoped to achieve and then plotting the best course of action to achieve that goal. The email went out, the results were OK, but to tell you t he truth, we got lucky.
Inbound marketing should be goal driven and a great way to remember how to define those goals is to use the Smart Marketing method. S.M.A.R.T. is actually an acronym for remembering how to craft a goal that makes sense. We want to be sure that our goals are:
- Specific – The more specific the goal, the better we can define the process needed to achieve it. Having a vague goal does not give you a target to shoot for. The goal can target specific behaviors, such as visits, leads or customers, but there should be a target for the action.
- Measurable – The number or percentage of improvement should be stated in the goal as well. If the goal does not have a way to measure it, you won’t know how close you came or whether you achieved the goal or not. It’s permissible to have a goal of 1 if you are doing something you’ve never done before. You may not know how many to anticipate, but when you have a history and benchmark to work from, you can set quantifiable results to be targeted.
- Attainable – Just stating a number or a percentage increase is not helpful if that goal is not realistically achievable.
- Relevent – If your goal is to increase traffic and the traffic does not lead to conversions, the question that raises is whether the goal of improving traffic was even relevent to the overall goal of driving conversions and sales. If the goal cannot be correlated to something that is relevent for your business model, then it’s not a smart marketing goal.
- Timely – for a goal to be a metric, you need to set a time frame. Establishing a reasonable time frame based upon historical information will determine whether your goal is attainable. Just having a goal without a deadline is not setting a standard for achievement.
The types of goals that would fit into the “smart marketing” metrics would include things like:
- Improve site visits by 25% for the next quarter.
- Increase leads by 10% over the next six months by adding 4 new call-to-action devices and improving landing pages.
- Generate 3 new customers in the next thirty days for the new platform just released.
If you need help creating and defining goals, it’s sometimes helpful to evaluate your current metrics. Often I have tremendous inspiration when working with clients and evaluating how their site is currently performing. If we see that there are more visits than usual for certain keywords, or higher visits than normal, we then evaluate why that could be and that may lead to a new opportunity or goal. Conversely, if we see the bounce rate on specific pages of the site is very high, we can then work to identify the cause of that bounce rate, and create new content that is better aligned with our customer’s expectations.
How do you create marketing goals? How do you measure your progress towards achieving these goals. Do you find goals to be helpful and motivational or demotivational?