All posts by clint

SEO and Google changes

There is a LOT of chatter going on about Google’s latest update. Google bragged about the number of changes they made in February  – they may be trying to surpass internally set goals.

Basically it means that you have to get back to basics.  I’ve discussed the elements for SEO that you need in previous posts.  Click on this link to download the latest copy of Google’s SEO Starter kit.   http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf 

If you go back to basics and play by the rules you should be safe.

Clint Hughes – Marketing Consultant

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Attribution in Online Marketing

For decades marketers have argued, “What is the value of a billboard on the side of the highway?” It is very hard (if not impossible) to attribute what revenue is generated by that billboard.

Now, we argue, “What is the TRUE value of the display ad that I bought on the XYZ web site?’ Few people click on display ads, BUT they do make an impression. Historically, Google has been “a last click in” attribution model. Someone might have visted your site numerous times coming from a display ad, or organic search results, or a PPC ad, or through a link on a blog. But if you were to look at your Google Analytics the revenue would only be attributed to the last way that person came to your site and converted.

So, if they came from a PPC ad you would be able to see revenue and conversion rates – then figure out your net net revenue. BUT, if they click on four different PPC ads and then came to you from an organic search result – the analytics would show low effectiveness of your PPC campaign but good results through organic search rankings.

To complicate the process even more – several of the anti-virus programs that your customer may have on their computer will erase the cookies after 28 to 31 days. Therefore, they appear as a new customer to Google Analytics when they are in fact a returning customer.

Google is now trying to address this with an enhanced program, with a considerable price tag. Omniture also attempts to attribute the proper amount of revenue to the different points of contact throughout the decision making process.

I have found a company that has a very sophisticated process to track the traffic to your site and keep that data for long periods of time. Since this product does NOT rely on cookies to track the customer, you can see the customers decision process throughout the sales funnel.

Would you like to drive BILLIONS in revenue using just a few million in digital marketing dollars? I can prove that it can be done.

 

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SEO and precious metals

 I apologize to you, my readers, for it being so long between my posts.  I have been extremely busy since accepting the position of Sr. Vice President of Marketing for the American Precious Metals Exchange

There is a whole different strategy that is needed when you have to optimize for very competitive keywords.  What I have said in previous posts hold true.  The execution is slightly different.

You need consistency without duplication, and variety within the consistency.  I know it sounds like a puzzle, but in a highly competitive market I can’t let the competition know my secrets.

You can always get to me through my contact page.  I’ll be posting again soon.

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SEO, SEM, PPC, email conversion rates

Last week I did some research on conversion rates for SEO, SEM, PPC and email.  I dug around through the following sources: the DMA (Digital Marketing Association), Marketing Profs, Marketing Sherpa, LinkedIn Answers, Fireclick, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Lyris, Adchemy, Conversion Chronicles, Jupiter Networks, Blue Corona Interactive, Statbrain, Alexa, Quantcast, the Web Analytics Association, Microsoft’s Atlas Institute – Digital Marketing Insights, CoreMetrics and eConsultancy.
 
The general “rule of thumb” is between 2 to 8%.  This holds true for people coming to your site from various sources for various activities – whether to register (for newsletter, webinar, etc.) through to purchasing from your site.
Caveat – if you are holding a special promotion or heavily discounted sale your conversion rate should increase accordingly.
Here are a couple of charts I found: 
 
Vertical Conversion
Rate (%)
Catalog 6.1
Specialty stores 3.9
Fashion/apparel 2.2
Travel 2.1
Home and furnishing 2.0
Sport/outdoors 1.4
Electronics 1.1
All verticals 2.3
Source: Fireclick Index
View Chart Online
Fireclick issues a weekly report gathered from the data of their customers – just Google the Fireclick Index.  Good info.
 
Here is what I could find for “rule of thumb” averages for email campaigns.

User-triggered campaigns
Open rate: 27%
Avg. CTR: 9.3%
Avg. conversion rate: 2.3%

Lifecycle messaging campaigns
Open rate: 26%
Avg. CTR: 9.3%
Avg. conversion rate: 2.3

Click-stream based campaigns
Open rate: 33%
Avg. CTR: 14%
Avg. conversion rate: 3.9%

More as it develops.

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“Ontegrated Marketing” – the new buzz phrase

Ontegrated Marketing = SEO + SEM + SMM + PPC + Online Display + Mobile Marketing + Engaging the consumer.

Alright, you heard it here first.  The new “buzz” phrase is going to be “Ontegrated Marketing.”  This will mean integrating your online marketing to include a mix of organic search, pay-per-click, display ads and social media to build your brand and drive revenue.

First of all, thanks to iProspect and comScore for conducting the extensive Real Branding Implications of Digital Media – an SEM, SEO, & Online Display Advertising Study (November 2010)There is a lot of very useful information is this study.

Back in the Mad Men days your integrated marketing consisted of the prime trinity of TV, radio and print.  Today your marketing mix needs to include ALL channels – your customers are spread out everywhere. Now, consider how many pundits are saying that computers will become obsolete and everyone will be doing everything via their smart phone.  The new wild card in this deck will be Mobile Marketing.

Integrated Marketing will include Ontegrated Marketing.  You will need to integrate all your “traditional” marketing channels (TV, radio and print) together with email marketing and your digital channels (SEO, SEM/PPC, Online Display, Social Media AND Mobile Marketing).  The number and variety of online channels will continue to grow.  It’s time to accept the new world.

There’s even a formular for this new marketing buzz phrase: Ontegrated Marketing = SEO + SEM + SMM + PPC + Online Display + Mobile Marketing + Engaging the consumer.

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Why Consumer “Like” Brands on Facebook

Nearly 40% of Consumers “Like” Companies on Facebook to Publicly Display Their Brand Affiliation to Friends

As Facebook grows, we’re able to learn even more about the behaviors and preferences of its users. As Facebook continues to change, new stats surface to give us an even better idea of how consumers on Facebook prefer to interact with brands and companies. A new report released by ExactTarget and CoTweet found that discounts and “social badging” were the primary reasons consumers Like brands on Facebook.

Nearly 40% of Facebook users who become fans do so to receive discounts and promotions and 39% become fans to show their support for a brand to their friends. Just as interesting is how these stats compare to Twitter and email marketing. Only 23% of respondents said they follow brands on Twitter and about 10% say they subscribe to email notifications for the same reasons.

Here are some other interesting facts from the report:

  • 43% of the Facebook users surveyed said they Like, or are fans of, at least one brand on Facebook.
  • 34% of Facebook users say they Like brands in order to stay informed about company activities.
  • 33% say they Like brands to get updates on future products.
  • Among Facebook users who Like at least one brand, only 17% say they’re more likely to buy after Liking that brand on Facebook.

“Consumers use Facebook to interact with friends, be entertained and express themselves through their public affiliation with brands—factors that combine to create a potent viral marketing platform,” said Jeff Rohrs, principal, ExactTarget’s research and education group. “By engaging consumers on Facebook in a way that keeps them entertained, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to mobilize Fans and get introduced to their friends.”

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Social Media and Business

Gen X Driving Social Networking at Work – Not Gen Y, Citrix Online Study Finds

  • Global survey conducted by Forrester Consulting reveals a divide in how generations and nationalities in U.S., UK, France, Germany and Australia communicate and collaborate in business
  • Gen Y’s use of social and collaboration technology lags older workers
  • In-person meetings are still popular – particularly with Americans – but unsatisfactory
  • Significant rise in use of collaborative technologies, but the human touch is important

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.October 19, 2010 – A report commissioned by Citrix Online, a division of Citrix Systems, Inc., surprisingly revealed that Gen X workers – and not those in the younger Gen Y generation – make up the majority of those who use social networking for business, followed closely by Boomers aged 55 and older. According to the data, Gen Y’s use of collaborative technology also lagged others. The survey, conducted by Forrester Consulting, provides a snapshot of how the global workforce communicates as work becomes more distributed and usage of collaboration technologies increases. It reveals a highly-dispersed workforce still favoring meetings, but increasingly using tools such as social networking and video chat to communicate and collaborate.

Key Findings
The study asked information workers of all ages in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia about their business communication habits.

Gen Y does not have the monopoly on technology use and social tools during the work day. Meanwhile, the older generation is getting with the program.

  • Gen Y is least likely to share information via text message (26%, compared to 47% of those aged 55+), and least likely to use video conferencing, video chat and web conferencing tools.
  • Gen Y uses social networking the least frequently (40% of Gen Y workers who use social media for business do so daily, compared to 50% of those aged 55+).
  • Older Boomers (55+) have increased their business use of social media 79% in the past year.

The younger you are, the less you value meetings – and pay attention.

  • Gen Y is least likely to think meetings are efficient. Only 29% of Gen Y workers think meetings used to decide on a course of action are very efficient, compared to 45% of Older Boomers.
  • Gen Y is least likely to pay attention in meetings and barely half (51%) believe it’s very important to do so in meetings to decide a course of action.

Americans have more meetings – and pay more attention.

  • 90% meet in person to communicate and build relationships, more than any other nationality.
  • Of those, 51% meet daily, compared to a mere 31% of French.
  • 75% of Americans believe it’s very important to pay attention in meetings to decide on a course of action, compared to 50% of the French.

The in-person meeting is alive and well, but not necessarily effective.

  • 84% of all respondents have in-person meetings, but meetings often don’t achieve their goals.
  • Only 45% are very satisfied that planning meetings achieve the task in hand, and only 30% believe such meetings to be very efficient.
  • Across all categories of meetings for designated tasks (e.g. review of documents, plan projects or initiatives, decision on a course of action), less than half of respondents believe those meetings are very efficient.

In an era of multitasking, it’s still considered rude in a meeting.

  • 83% believe that side conversations are unacceptable during a meeting, and 77% frown on those doing other work on a computer or smartphone.

We still like to look each other in the eye.

  • Germans like to see others during meetings (75%), while Americans find it less important (55%) though they have the most in-person meetings.
  • 79% of those aged 55 and over think it’s important, compared to 65% of Gen Y.
  • Why? To read body language, say 78%.

Usage among users of collaborative technologies is rising fast.

  • 64% of those who use social networking tools in business use them more than last year. Video chat, team document-sharing sites and web conferencing also experienced significant increases in usage, with 56%, 55% and 52% respectively.

“We know from our own experience that the workforce is more dispersed and mobile than ever, and that people are increasingly turning to technology to help them collaborate with colleagues and customers many miles away. With this research, we aimed to discover exactly how business communication is changing because of new workstyles and tools,” said Bernardo de Albergaria, vice president and general manager, global marketing and ecommerce at Citrix Online.

“One thing is clear: the human touch is incredibly important: the desire to see each other and interact on a personal level is not going away any time soon. There is some tension with the findings between the way people actually work and the communication methods they think are most effective – a sign that things are in flux. Despite admitting that in-person meetings are often inefficient and don’t achieve their goals, workers still seem to like them. That’s probably because people are hard-wired to see people and read body language. This points to a real opportunity for virtual collaboration technologies, specifically video conferencing, to further complement the need for personal interaction, while reducing the inefficiencies of face-to-face meetings.”

Methodology
Forrester Consulting conducted an online survey in September 2010 of 797 information workers evenly split between the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia. Information worker is defined as anyone who uses a computer for work. Respondents were of all ages (Gen Y: 18-30; Gen X: 31-44; Younger Boomers: 45-54; Older Boomers: 55+) and from various industries.

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7 things to look for in a Social Media Specialist

Social media is still the Wild West to some extent, and a lot of us are still figuring out the rules. One thing is clear: Social media is here to stay.

Therefore, your social-media manager or director is a critical and strategic hire who will be responsible for formulating and executing your strategy, as well as educating your whole organization and aligning it with that strategy.

But a lot of people who claim to be social-media experts are far from it. How can you sift the wheat from the chaff?

Below are the seven killer virtues of a social-media leader. There are certainly more, but not all are deal makers.

1. Passion

Passion for the job is an important characteristic of any employee, but it’s fundamental for a social-media manager. Many public relations and marketing folks use social media, but they aren’t passionate about it.

Social media goes 24/7, so you need someone who can live and breathe it without burning out. A good social-media manager will have the drive of a sales representative but has a light touch that influences people without appearing to “sell” to them.

2. Credibility

Social media is not a silo. You need to balance technical skill with business acumen. Research the candidate’s professional credibility in your particular industry.

The social-media manager will become one of the “faces” of your company, so you need someone with a broad business background and a grasp of marketing, sales, operations, P&L, product management, business process, and customer relationship management.

3. Strategy

Because social media is fun, many people can get caught up in using it without a clear purpose. If a social-media program is implemented companywide, it can become a big time investment.

Therefore, it’s vital that the social-media director provide leadership for senior management as well, ensuring that they buy in to the program and understand its goals. Strategic, big-picture thinking coupled with a willingness for shirtsleeves implementation is a must.

4. Service-orientation

Because social-media managers are the face of a company, they need to be relentlessly committed to helping people in social channels. Customer service should be part of that person’s DNA. Customer interaction is not a bother; rather, it’s something to enjoy, it’s the new marketing.

Customers, partners, prospects, and analysts will need help and advice around the clock, which puts the social-media manager in a unique position of acting as an advocate for the company and brand, as well as the community.

As an advocate for the community, the social-media director helps the company design better products and services, leading to happier and more-loyal customers. And when the products and services are better, the social-media director can evangelize on the company’s behalf in a more natural way.

5. Risk-tolerance

The social landscape is changing at breakneck speed. The social-media leader must be comfortable with constant change and course correction.

Because many social efforts are in uncharted territory, the perfect social-media manager will be the proverbial self-starter, a true pioneer, unafraid to head into the darkness.

The social-media leader can’t wait for directions from the boss, since the boss may not know as much about social media. And if there’s a failure, the social-media leader must dust off and start all over again.

6. Decisiveness

It seems as if there’s a new social-media product every other day. Social-media practitioners must keep their tool set full of sharp new tools, but they need the wisdom and experience to recognize which trends have lasting power and which are ephemeral.

It’s also crucial that they commit to social-media programs and stay with them long enough to evaluate their success or failure, yet be willing to jettison what isn’t working.

7. Action hero(ine)

As noted earlier, change is the only constant in the social-media world. To say that the social populace expects real-time action is an obvious statement.

Although creating quality content is important, it’s equally important to avoid “analysis paralysis” or get caught in an endless loop of approvals.

If you wait to publish a blog post or tweet, it will be yesterday’s news tomorrow. The social-media director must strike the right balance between perfection and action, with action being paramount.

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The Top 7 SEO Friendly Free CMS Platforms

In Texas we have a saying – “It’s best to just cry once.” Before you get started with SEO, you need web content and the foundation of most company’s web content is their website.

Unfortunately most businesses only consider SEO after their website is built which can often be a hindrance to your ranking goals. SEO should be a consideration from the first steps of an online journey – most importantly in the construction of your website.

So to help those of you starting out on your online journey, or re-evaluating your web presence, I’ve provided a list of the best SEO friendly “FREE” CMS platforms available for building business websites (rather than just blogging).

1. WordPress

WordPress is what this site is built on. It’s very simple to set up and implement, but also because it has support from such a large developer community.

WordPress is a powerful yet easy to use content management system. While it was originally designed as a blogging platform, it has become a popular choice as a business website CMS.

However, I wish is was easier to modify the type font and make h1 and h2 headers.

2. Drupal

Drupal is a very popular free open source CMS framework written in PHP. It is used as a back-end system for many different types of websites, ranging from small personal blogs to large corporate and political sites.

3. Joomla

Joomla is an award-winning free open source CMS. It allows you to build highly interactive websites and online applications. It’s well documented as an easy to use system with a strong collection of extensions to enhance your web presence.

4. Frog CMS

Frog CMS simplifies content management by offering an elegant user interface, flexible templating per page, simple user management and permissions, as well as the tools necessary for file management.

5. SilverStripe


SilverStripe CMS contains a powerful PHP5-based programming framework, Sapphire. Sapphire brings immense flexibility and ease in customising your site and provides fundamentals such as security models, workflow, caching, and multiple language and subsite support.

6. Concrete5

Concrete5 is a free open source content management system written in PHP & MySQL. It’s a modern, powerful and extendable framework for building CMS add-ons and complete web applications. concrete5 features a simple-to-understand but very useful model-view-controller architecture, web helpers classes, powerful file handling, complex users and group permissions.

7. Textpattern

Textpattern is an simple content management system that is free, open source software. It has a powerful, sophisticated engine that can be tuned to suit whatever type of web site you can imagine.

Of course, there are plenty of other CMS options available – and choosing the right one will depend on you having a clear idea of your website needs.

Importantly – whichever option you choose, make sure it is a trusted solution, has extensive support and a strong community and ultimately is easy to use. And of course – make sure it gives you the features to ensure you’re on top of your SEO.

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Five Tips for Writing Search-Engine-Friendly Content

Words of wisdom from the Whole Brain Marketing Blog

Five Tips for Writing Search-Engine-Friendly Content

You have a great website. It has beautiful images, a compelling theme and intuitive navigation, all designed to take eager visitors to complete descriptions of your proprietary products and services. The only problem is your website shows up somewhere after page 10 on search engine results. Since most referrals to sites come directly from search engines, search-engine-friendly content is imperative.

Here are five tips to make sure search engines love you and your prospects can find you.

1. Clearly identify your SEO goals. SEO isn’t about ranking first on every area and page on your website. Rather, the goal should be to incorporate search-engine-friendly content that performs well on the most important “money phrases.” These are areas that you’ve identified that typically lead to additional action by visitors and prospects (or, make you the most money!).

2. Choose Important Keywords. Using your “money phrases,” identify and analyze a list of possible keywords that users may search to find your information. The word “keyword” is a bit misleading because this list should not be individual words. Try to develop very specific phrases that relate to your topics. For example, if you sell doors, your keyword shouldn’t be “doors,” that’s too vague. A better keyword phrase would be “aluminum exterior house doors” or “solid core wood doors.” search-engine-friendly content will flow simply from expanding on each of these phrases.

3. Organize your content. After you’ve identified the appropriate keywords you want to use throughout your site, group similar keyword topics into silos. Using the doors example above, silos may be interior doors, exterior doors and garage doors with the specific types of each category being grouped together. This also simplifies your website’s architecture if it isn’t already in place.

4. Write for the audience, not the search engines. The actual content writing itself becomes an art of balancing the technical needs to make the search engine spiders happy and the clear, concise, benefit-focused information needs of your audience. When in doubt, err on the side of your audience. Search engines may love you but if your content isn’t attractive to your visitors and they choose to leave your site, all your work is for nothing. Write page copy with enough specific keyword density to be search-engine-friendly but not so dense that it becomes meaningless. After your first draft of copy for each section is written, use one of the many density tools available to evaluate each of your pages. A good rule is 3-5% saturation on each page.

5. Expand the reach of your keywords. After you’re satisfied with your content and your keywords are loaded into title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags, etc. Focus on driving inbound links from reputable sources. For example, make sure your search-engine-friendly content is included in all of your PR activity and encourage media outlets to link to you. Strive for inbound links direct from industry resources or organizations. The more links to your site, the more important you’ll look to search engine spiders.

Keep in mind that your results won’t be instant, they’ll improve over time. Search-engine-friendly content is just the start.

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