THE MAGAZINE FOR ONLINE MARKETING STRATEGIES
“Apptrophy” & The Need for Mobile Visibility By Jeff Rohrs
Winter 2011 | $9.95
Five Tactics to Ensure Local Merchants Succeed Online By Bruce Clay
The Human Part of Search Engine Optimization Understanding Searcher Goals By Shari Thurow
Should They Stay or Should They Go? Tips for Turning Website Browsers into Buyers By Tim Ash
06 Editor’s Note
Read all about the latest happenings with this growing magazine.
08 FEATURED CEO
An innovator in the true sense of the word, Diana Middleton, shares her journey of inventive philosophies, tools and processes.
10 Quarterly Round-Up
Snapshots of all that is happening in the world of internet marketing. Get the scoop on all the news and views in the world of internet marketing. Latest news related to products, tools and strategies being unveiled.
20 Legal Corner
Travis Crabtree looks into the different legal issues to do with the ever-changing world of online marketing.
28 Visi Book Club
Featuring upcoming and newly released books from the internet marketing industry.
33 Product Review: SearchFit
An innovative and intuitive software that brings ease to the shopping cart experience resulting in high rankings and a boost in profits.
44 Vendor Spotlight: Adlift
AdLift’s combination of offshore and US-based resources puts the company in a unique position to deliver the best in the industry to it’s clients.
60 Upcoming Conferences
A guide to upcoming internet marketing related conferences around the globe. At these conferences, you can listen to the insightful experiences of the leading names from the internet marketing industry.
11 Five Tactics to Ensure Local Merchants Succeed Online
Bruce Clay looks at the challenging world of internet browers and online search patterns. He explores strategies for the the local merchant to be found online and to drive traffic to their business.
22 “Apptrophy” and the Need for Mobile Visibility
J eff Rohrs explores apptrophy –the wasting away of an app due to disuse - and the steps you can take to increase the chance of your app surviving and thriving.
25 The Real Payday Secret of Website Traffic Conversion Brad Beiermann discusses the recent shift to content accuracy search optimization techniques and how it has opened up new opportunities to improve traffic conversions.
31 Should They Stay or Should They Go? Tips for Turning Website Browers into Buyers Tim Ash explains the key to getting your visitors to convert involves making a clear, predictable, and easy path for them to transact with you.
46 The Human Part of Search Engine Optimization – Understanding Searcher Goals
Shari Thurow redefines SEO for success and explains why SEO is a hugely misunderstood term.
WINTER 2011 www.visibilitymagazine.com
46 Winter 2011
editor ’ s note
Hello Readers, As we approach the end of 2011 and enter 2012, we can’t help but imagine what is in store for us in the new year. We had our hands full throughout 2011 and utterly enjoyed every bit of it. We hope that 2012 will present an equally exciting journey. There are no doubts that during 2011, the theme and mood that dominated most online marketers’ minds was social networking. It will be interesting to see if social networking sites continue to be on the top of the list in 2012 as well. What changes will search engines make given the expanding popularity of social networking sites? Visibility will track these and any new trends as we reveal the latest and most relevant news, opinions, and insights in the world of search engine marketing. This edition of Visibility looks at some of the topics that seem to have been the top-of-mind talking points for many marketers. You will enjoy reading what The Real Payday Secret of Website Traffic Conversion is… by Brad Beiermann; Five Tactics to Ensure Local Merchants Succeed Online by Bruce Clay; “Apptrophy” & The Need for Mobile Visibility by Jeff Rohrs; The Human Part of Search Engine Optimization – Understanding Searcher Goals by Shari Thurow and Should They Stay or Should They Go? Tips for Turning Website Browsers into Buyers by Tim Ash. The product review on SearchFit, the CEO Spotlight on Diana Middleton, CEO of Performics and the Vendor Spotlight on AdLift will give you an opportunity to get a closer look at some true innovation and success. As always, we encourage you to submit articles and ideas for the next edition of Visibility. Please write in with your comments, suggestions and feedback. We wish you all the best for 2012. And until the next time… Happy reading!
Julie Lynn, Editor
EDITOR Julie Lynn EXECUTIVE EDITOR Jeev Trika SENIOR PROJECT EDITOR Neeraj Kumar ASSISTANT EDITOR Bonnie Hagen STAFF WRITER Ajay Govind SENIOR DESIGNER Armando Rangel
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tim Ash | Site Tuners Brad Beiermann | Cimstrat, Inc. Matt Bullas | Click Consult Daniel Burrus | Burrus Research Diane Buzzeo | Ability Commerce Bruce Clay | Bruce Clay, Inc. Andrea Cook | Midas Center Travis Crabtree | Looper Reed & McGraw Gary Edwards, PhD. | Empathica Cathy Goodwin | CopywritingWithCathy Eric Gruber | Article Marketing Experts Eric Hansen | SiteSpect Derek Jansen | Nitch Marketing Glenn Pingul | Theorem Jeff Rohrs | ExactTarget Trace Ronning | WordWatch Jeremy Sherman | Customer Magnetism Ezra Silverton | 9th Sphere Shari Thurow | Omni Marketing Interactive
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Daina Middleton, CEO Performics to create highly optimized marketing programs through a set of channels across relevant screens. Our suite of channels exists because we believe they should be managed collectively in order to optimize results. We offer paid search (PPC), SEO, performancebased social and display programs, conversion optimization, and affiliate services. Channels and campaigns are aligned to client goals – we do not have a preference for the channel as long as it is performing the best.
moved around a lot growing up in the West because my dad worked on big ranches. My first job in advertising came when I was just 16 years old when my dad owned a feed store and I volunteered to write the radio ads for horse feed. I was a horse owner myself and felt I understood what horse owners needed and wrote the ads accordingly. Looking back, it seems I had a passion for the industry at a very early age. The majority of my career was spent at Hewlett-Packard where I managed marketing communications in a variety of different roles through the years. I left HP nearly four years ago and joined the agency world. As the CEO of Performics, the performance marketing agency within Publicis Groupe, I am innovating new philosophies, tools and processes that will forever change how we approach our profession called Participant Marketing. I am passionate about sharing this approach with our industry and as such am a regular industry speaker with appearances at ad:tech, Conversational Marketing Summit, Digital Hollywood, VideoNuze and WOMMA, to name a few. I still have a passion for horses as well and live on a horse ranch outside of Boise, Idaho where we raise Andalusian and Lusitano horses.
Tell us about your background and your role in the company.
I have been a long-time advocate of Performics – hiring them as my agency in 2005 when I was at HP. Even then I recognized the value in having a performance partner with a strong technology heritage. The company was purchased by Google in 2008 because the DoubleClick technology was considered industry leading at the time. Performics is unique in the agency world because of our strong technology heritage. Today, performance is not just about helping a company close a sale or capture a lead. It’s about redefining performance across the entire marketing mix. Consumers have evolved into Participants and inspiring them to join, share, take part, play a part, connect is key. Search is one of the first channels that really demonstrated the power of participation. It’s not sufficient for marketers to activate participation, it’s vital they adapt their programs based on what’s working and what’s not. Average results are simply not sufficient in today’s competitive environment. At Performics, we work with our clients to achieve quantum results.
What are your main services?
As a performance marketing agency, Performics applies the principles of search
What makes your firm different from other companies competing in your industry?
I have never seen an organization so focused on achieving client results. We have an intense focus on our clients’ success and are willing to put skin in the game to prove it. In fact, more than 25 percent of Performics’ revenue is derived directly from client ROI – meaning we receive compensation based on actual client results. Our focus on innovation and technology, combined with our goal of hiring and retaining the best people around the world, fuels our ability to combine what we call “the art and science” of performance marketing. This enables us to provide superior solutions ahead of the digital curve on a global scale. Our competitors really cannot compete with that. Furthermore, through our rich history in the performance marketing space and experience with global brands, we have unrivaled partnerships, unparalleled relationships and influence with Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Facebook and other industry leaders.
Tell us more about your firm’s success story.
Performics has a long legacy of innovation having entered the digital performance space in 1998. The company has focused on performance innovation ever since, currently providing impressive results for more than 125 clients around the world. Our global footprint is significant and growing; our headquarters
are in Chicago and we have regional hubs in London, Paris, and Singapore, with a total of 670 employees in 14 countries.
According to you, what are the most important questions a potential customer should ask a company before choosing a vendor like Performics? • What are your employees passionate about and how does that fit with my company goals? • Talent and Retention are key success factors for the agency and clients, so what are your strategies around hiring and keeping the best talent? • What makes you different from your competition?
What are some of the myths in your field? • Search is only a demand-generation tactic. • Paid search and SEO should be managed separately. • Performance is just about demand generation and for direct marketers. • There’s not an overlap between media channels.
How do you develop your skills in this continuously changing environment?
I have an insatiable passion for the space today – technology, sociology, participatory. It’s all fascinating and continually changing. Keeping up with the change in our industry requires actively dedicating resources assigned to innovation. Agencies have
a history of not truly investing in this activity. It’s usually part of someone’s job in accounting planning or strategic planning, but actually deploying resources to identifying trends, technologies, and developing test and learn programs is vital.
What do you see as the future of the industry? What will be the challenges? Do you anticipate any drastic changes?
We are already in the midst of a drastic change. Over eighty-one percent of upscale Gen-Yers use Facebook every day, nearly twice the number who watch TV or read newspaper content, according to a report from L2 Think Tank. Gen-Yers are commonly defined as the generation who are technologically savvy. What perhaps is not commonly observed is that they were born participants and expect to engage in a participatory manner with everyone. The relationship is one of equality, and the rules of participation in their eyes apply to everyone -- individuals, companies, government organizations. They expect this because they have the technology means to demand it to be so. Participation
is innate to their identity – in the real world, and the virtual world – and the line separating the real and the virtual worlds is becoming increasingly thin. Companies are now challenged to hire these participants as employees, and win them over as customers with hopes and dreams about fostering lasting relationships. In both cases, understanding these changes
have occurred and creating an environment specifically designed for participation is a prerequisite for survival and success. Most brand marketers are ill equipped and overwhelmed by the technologyenabled participant who expects to have a relationship with a brand that includes providing feedback, finding information 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the new reality marketers are grappling with and those who don’t adapt their processes, tools, and approach will fall behind.
Where do you see your firm in the next 5 years? What about you personally?
Performics will continue to redefine performance across channels and screens. Mobile adoption is perhaps the fuel that seals the fate for companies questioning the need to become more participantfocused. A mobile device is the ultimate tool for participation: a simple vehicle of empowerment clutched in the palm of one’s hand. A majority of mobile phone users report the device is so personal it is no more than a foot away from their person every second. It took twenty years for the first billion mobile phones to sell worldwide. The second billion sold in four years. The third billion sold in two years. Over five billion people now use mobile phones — about sixty-two percent of the planet’s population — compared to less than two billion who have a personal computer. This number is expected to reach twenty billion by the year 2020. Advances in mobile networks, platforms, devices and data have combined to create an extremely personal and participation enabling device. Within just a few years more people will access the Internet from a mobile device than from any other technology. Can you think of anything that enables Participants to thrive in a self directed, autonomous environment enabling users to discover new ideas and connect with others more than the mobile device? The mobile phone infrastructure, along with the device has helped to change nearly every aspect of our lives; the manner in which we work, shop, interacts with media, and most importantly, the way we communicate. That will not stop over the next five years or even ten. I plan on being right there helping brands with new philosophies and new tools in this ever-changing and exciting world. n
quarterly round up Amazon Launches Its Own Tablet The world of tablets seems to be growing even as we speak. Where Apple’s iPad didn’t have much competition to speak of earlier, tablet enthusiasts say that may not remain the case much longer. Enter Amazon into the world of tablet. Now we know that Kindle e-reader has been around for a while and there are many who would vouch for it’s worth, but news of Amazon’s very own tablet is definitely making waves. Definitely said to be a competitor of the
iPad, the Amazon tablet launched with a price of $199, much lower than $499 for the iPad. The word that is going around is also that this tablet will most probably be worth the investment, going by the success of Kindle and the fact that it provides movies, music and book service. The company is also being smart about the release of this tablet, given the holidays are just around the corner -- just enough reaction time to get this on many wish lists.
Samsung to Launch Smartphone Powered by Windows There seems to be growing interest around Samsung’s move to launch a new smartphone that will be powered by Windows Phone Mango software. As of now we know that the phone, which is a 3.7 inch device and is said to be equipped with a 1.4 GHz processor, will first be launched in Italy. It seems Samsung, the biggest producer of Android smartphones, is looking to be more versatile with its new smartphones to depend less on Google’s Andriod software. Samsung’s move to incorporate Windows software into its latest smartphone is one sign of this change.
Facebook Gets a Facelift… Again! Does it seem like every time you log on to Facebook there is something new happening? Well, you have not been imagining the confusion because Facebook has been going through a, much predicted, overhaul. In fact this is the highest number of changes that the social networking site has seen since its inception! Some of the most exciting changes coming up very soon on Facebook are the “Gesture” and “Timeline” feature. Facebook Gestures will allow users to do a lot more than just “like” things. As the social networking site becomes more and more interactive, now Facebook allows you to react to things with more than just a simple ‘like’. Skeptics of course are saying that this is going to lead to an explosion of information over sharing.
Another change on Facebook that is sure to be very popular is the ‘Timeline” feature that will be similar to a scrapbook of your life. Now how is it different from what you already have on your Facebook, you ask? The main difference would be that this page would actually be an outline of your entire life, possibly leading all the way back up to your birth – depending on how much information you choose to put on it. Some other exciting features are the new ticker which makes sure what you get to see are the more interesting real life updates from your friends and it is also going to be possible to watch movies and listen to music along with your friends now on Facebook.
to Ensure Local Merchants Succeed Online By Bruce Clay
he way people search and what they search for online is changing. People want to find the products and services they need, but close to their geographic location. They rely on their inner circle to give endorsements and reviews on products and businesses before making a decision. And, they want to engage with those businesses in new, more personalized ways. Each one of these emerging needs can be addressed through Internet marketing. And local businesses now have a myriad of resources available to them that allow them to connect to their customer base in new and exciting ways – if they choose to do so. What’s surprising, however, is that a 2009 figure from Ad-ology® showed nearly half of all small businesses still did not have a website. Yet interestingly enough, a Google stat from the same year revealed 20 percent of all searches online have a local intent. From that statistic, we can estimate there are currently about 2 billion searches monthly on Google with a local intent. Follow the comScore monthly “search share” reports and one can calculate the up-to-date share of local queries at any time.
Here at Bruce Clay, Inc., we’ve predicted that Google will be predominantly a local search engine within the next couple years. There’s already been dramatic changes to the search engine results pages (SERPs) in the past year, showing that Google is giving preferential rankings to the local result for those queries it believes has a local intent. Add to this the mobile search trend, which is quickly rivaling PC activity for finding businesses, products and services online, making local search quite literal, as the user searches on the go. With all of these trends, it’s not hard to see that local merchants without Internet marketing plans will continue to fall further and further behind their competition each day.
The Fierce 5: Small business owners wear a hundred hats. Trying to navigate the landscape of Internet marketing is not something that’s expected to be a core skill set. The time and resources it takes to stay on top of this fast-paced industry and make lightning-fast changes to strategy and tactics can be a huge undertaking. In an ideal world, local merchants would use each discipline within
Web marketing to optimize their online presence and drive traffic to their storefront. Here at Bruce Clay, Inc., we call the convergence of Web marketing disciplines, “Internet marketing optimization” (IMO). For the local business, this includes things like: 1. SEO-ready site design and architecture 2. Local search engine optimization 3. Geographically targeted paid search 4. Social media marketing 5. Conversion rate optimization Local businesses just starting out with an online marketing plan need to follow the concept of quality over quantity, securing quick wins through selected facets of each of the disciplines. This will put the local merchant on its way to seeing a greater return on marketing dollars than ever before, and allow it to continue to be competitive in the marketplace. Let’s take a look at just a few facets within each Web marketing discipline that helps local merchants be found online, and drive traffic to their place of business.
1. Website Architecture and Design How a site is built can either help or hinder its online marketing performance. Proper site design ultimately makes search engine optimization and conversions less expensive and easier to facilitate. It also improves the site’s relationship with both the search engine and the user by making the most relevant information to both parties easier to access.
locally optimized content, including images, videos, text and more, and taking into account a merchant’s presence in key online directories and listings that search engines use to quite literally put businesses on the map. Claiming and optimizing a Google Places page is just one of those listings that helps improve local search rankings and conversions.
3. Geographically Targeted Paid Search Paid search tactics like geographically focused pay per click offer local businesses a more controlled environment to spend advertising dollars. It allows the merchant to deliver the offer, product or service to an extremely targeted local audience. Local search campaigns give ways to reinforce the local SEO strategy by quality matching keywords to landing pages within a local business’ site. This is an important step to improving a site’s Quality Score in Google because it brings the targeted audience to a relevant site that has the information they seek through ads. And now with pay-per-click ads in social networks such as
Elements like HTML code, navigation layout, color scheme and more can drive SEO and conversions. Even if a local business’ site has not been built properly the first time around, its performance can be improved through simple yet powerful changes to layout and information architecture. One element in proper site design for local search ensures certain pages are created to present to the search engines all the contact, location and “about us” information that they need to rank the site, while at the same time artfully presenting the information to the user who needs it. Good site design for local search also includes the integration of endorsement buttons such as the Facebook Like button, Google +1 button, Yelp badges, rich snippets that include review information about a business in the SERPs and more. All of these elements ensure the customer can easily interact with the brand, and ensures the website includes relevant information that can enhance conversions.
2. Local Search Engine Optimization Local SEO is quite simply allowing a business to be found for its products and services in the city it resides in. Whether it’s someone finding that business for the first time, or a return customer looking for special offers or engagement, sites optimized for local search are all about local businesses catering to their geographic community and driving foot traffic and revenue. Local SEO includes things like building content-rich sites with
Facebook, local businesses have access to mounds of information about users, so ads about products or services are delivered to the people who are looking for them, thus reducing frivolous ad spend.
4. Social Media Marketing A local merchant’s community resides both in the town it’s based in and online in various social media networks.
5. Conversion Rate Optimization Understanding what online visitors want when they come to a merchant’s site as well as what types of offers and ads are performing for that business is essential to offering the most relevant information, and receiving the most of marketing dollars for the local business. CRO for the local merchant takes into account the entire marketing strategy, sets conversion goals based on business targets, tracks performance of the plan, facilitates testing and conducts research to see that the strategy is reaching goals and driving revenue for that local business. Whether the conversion goal is click-to-calls, redemptions of onlineonly deals, requesting directions to a place of business, reviewing or endorsing the business online, customers engaging with social networks while at the place of business or anything else, CRO validates that the plan is on target.
The Future of Local Business Online The online world is leaning towards the concept of Internet marketing optimization – site architecture, SEO, PPC , CRO, SMM and analytics combined – as businesses find the synergistic effects of these disciplines to be very powerful. IMO is here now, and will continue to become more sophisticated in the future.
With social media, local merchants can now interact with their community in new ways online that help build customer base and loyalty. Social media and local search go hand-in-hand. Location check-in services such as foursquare are indexed by search engines like Google, offering an additional way for the small business to be found online. And these types of networks also marry the growing intersection of social, local and mobile – key tactics that allow for maximum exposure online for the local business. For example, when customers “check in” to a place of business through a location check-in service, and share information and interact with others who frequent the establishment, while at the same time engaging with the local business through special check-in-only offers, this is social, local and mobile marketing at its finest.
As the Internet marketing industry broadens its approach, it’s clear that the local merchant needs to follow this lead to go where the money -- and the traffic is. And traffic is what this is all about for the local business; online traffic drives offline traffic. IMO for local businesses is a cyclical approach. Each discipline within online marketing can and should be applied to one another in order to make the foundation stronger. This is the only way a local business can have a long-term optimized presence, and can continue to succeed in the new world of business. The takeaway? For local businesses to survive in this new era of how their customers search and to meet their customers’ expectations, participation in the online marketing is an absolute must. The marketing plans of days gone by are obsolete, and those businesses that choose to ignore this will experience the consequences of all those missed opportunities, while their competition grows business through Web marketing. n
Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a leading Internet marketing optimization firm since 1996 that specializes in search engine optimization (SEO) services, tools and training, as well as pay-per-click (PPC) management, social media marketing (SMM), conversion rate optimization (CRO), Web analytics and website design and architecture . A prolific writer and speaker, Bruce is the host of the weekly WebmasterRadio.fm show “SEM Synergy” (www.semsynergy.com), co-author of the comprehensive “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” and a frequent speaker and SEO training workshop teacher at industry conferences such as Search Engine Strategies (SES), Search Marketing Expo (SMX), PubCon, ad:tech and more. Widely recognized as a search marketing expert, Bruce is a board member of SEMPO and active in many industry-wide organizations.
You’ve Created an Awesome Infographic. Now What?
6 Tips to Promote your Infographic for Improved Virality
nfographics are all the rage these days and, when designed and promoted properly, can generate volumes of links and drive much more traffic to your website. The problem is most companies set out on their journey without considering the effort required to promote that shiny new infographic once the research, design and implementation are complete. Without a sound promotional strategy in place, your new creative masterpiece is doomed to a lonely existence. A 2010 study by Millward Brown found that only 15% of ads go viral online. Even successful websites such as BuzzFeed.com (which specializes in viral content) only see a small percentage of their content truly go “viral.” The good news, especially for those brands without the luxury of a large and engaged social network, is that you too can make your content contagious by utilizing the following tips to promote your work of art.
1. Make it shareable (while still maintaining the benefits) Create a dedicated page or blog post for your infographic and integrate share functionality all over the place. While this seems to be common sense, a recent study by BrightEdge found that nearly half of the 10,000 largest sites on the web don’t display any kind of social sharing buttons—a huge missed opportunity! At the minimum this page should contain the ability to Tweet, Share and embed your content. You should also strongly consider implementing +1, Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit share buttons. After all, StumbleUpon drives more than 50% of social media traffic (more on leveraging social channels later). While social sharing is certainly an important goal of this process, hopefully you set out to develop a piece of content that’s also going to generate lots of links. Your embed code can play an important role here and should be featured just below the content of the page. Your code should not only include a link back to your site, but should also use targeted anchor text (it’s 2011, so don’t overdo it) and be easy to copy, share, and embed (by using onclick=”this.select();” to select all of the code with one click).
2. Let your main target audience know about it Research and develop a list of target sites for manual outreach efforts. Depending on your industry the size of this list may vary, but should ideally include about 25 sites you’d like to approach with your infographic. All of your research and design work can pay off big time if you are able to connect with the right sites. Make sure your email is customized for each site and provides a strong value proposition for the target site owner to use your infographic. Keep your email as short as possible while letting site owners know WHY and HOW your content will be of value to their visitors.
3. Send out an “enhanced” press release
6. Consider advertising on social media sites
Send out a press release announcing your infographic. Press releases, when crafted and distributed properly, can quickly find their way to your target audience. While there is an array of PR distribution services out there, PRnewswire tends to have great distribution, offers SEO enhanced releases, and is competitively priced.
While this tip is applicable across the board, it seems businesses without huge social followings or brand awareness can get the biggest bang from utilizing paid social media advertising. Allocating as little as a few hundred dollars for Facebook ads and StumbleUpon Paid Discovery can go a long way in ensuring targeted and engaged users see your infographic. As mentioned earlier, StumbleUpon generates copious social media traffic and for as little as $0.10 per engaged visitor, you can place your infographic in front of your target demographic. Similarly, Facebook ads are a cost-effective way of reaching your target market, allowing you to advertise based on demographic, interest, or location.
4. Submit to infographic directories A great way to get your image in front of an engaged audience is to submit it to at least a handful of the many infographic directories out there. (Side note: these directories are also great resources when starting the initial research into a topic, to find what has been done already.) A simple Google search for “submit infographic” will point you in the right direction, but here are a few to get you started: http://submitinfographics. com/, http://www.infographicsshowcase.com/, http://visual.ly/.
5. Use social media Although this strategy is admittedly more difficult for businesses without a strong social following, reaching out to and connecting with social influencers in your industry is vital to a successful campaign. Assuming you don’t have a multitude of fans or followers, start researching influential people in your space by using Twitter/Facebook search or tools such as Followerwonk. Next, develop a strategy around how and when you’re going to share the content of your infographic with these people. Perhaps certain pieces of info are more relevant to certain users on your list. Perhaps it makes sense to tweet/post individual facts from your content over time rather than a more general “here’s our new infographic about x” tweet. Whichever direction you take, have a documented strategy in place so you can learn from your successes and failures.
It’s not enough to just create a great infographic and hope for the best. Coming up with a sound promotional strategy can significantly improve the chances of your next infographic going viral, which can drive loads of qualified traffic and enough links to achieve SEO. n
Jeremy Sherman is VP of Search Marketing for Customer Magnetism (www. customermagnetism.com), a full service Internet marketing agency in Virginia Beach, VA. He is responsible for managing many of the agency’s enterprise SEO clients as well as overseeing a team of experienced project managers and technical SEO experts. Customer Magnetism creates infographics for a variety of clients and utilizes those images as part of larger customized internet marketing campaigns. Customer Magnetism is a designated TopSEO’s company and 2011 Inc. 5000 Honoree. Follow us on Twitter @trycm.
MARCH 4-9, 2012 MARRIOTT MARQUIS SAN FRANCISCO
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Delivering the Best User Experience through Targeting Techniques
ou have heard the saying, “When you optimize for everyone, you optimize for no one,” right? It sounds obvious: target your optimization efforts for the right audience to achieve your online marketing goals. But studies show that most digital marketers still do not optimize by audience – for several likely reasons. First, there are many possible dimensions that could be considered for targeting, and marketers simply might not know where to begin. Second, some type of targeting functionality is required on the site, and you might not already have this implemented. But with the end goal being to improve the user experience while simultaneously lifting conversion and engagement, the benefits stand to outweigh the costs so long as marketers conduct their efforts deliberately and scientifically. Let’s look at some of the different categories of segments that can be targeted, and some examples of how you might change the user experience based on each:
Behavioral – both past and in-
Show a special offer to new site visitors, or to those
session browsing activities.
who visited recently but didn’t complete a purchase.
RFM – recency, frequency, and
Rewards frequent or high-value visitors with persona-
monetary value of visitor.
lized content or loyalty perks.
Mobile – device and capabilities.
Tailor content for small screens (versus desktops), or display different navigation if a touch screen is supported.
Localize core navigation or promotional elements based on visitor’s language.
Browser and operating system
Target the sale of software, peripherals, or services that may be specific to Macs versus Windows.
Time parting – time of day, day
Engage visitors differently during business hours than
of week, and time zone.
during evening or weekend hours.
Contextual – referring site,
Personalize landing page content based on referring
search engine search terms, paid
search engine, keywords, or text ad copy.
versus organic, and landing page. Externally defined – CRM, user
Target offers or upsell suggestions based on customer
databases, or third-party data
history data that resides only in your internal CRM
With numerous ways to target content around unique attributes of the visitor, the question remains: how do you know which segments to target? You should begin by analyzing your site traffic using a web analytics or CRM solution to determine which segments are the largest. Then, consider what the performance of those segments are versus other segments, or versus all unsegmented site traffic – do they appear engaged (as measured by pageviews, time on site, or repeat visits), complete purchases, or behave in other ways that indicate satisfaction and thus are profitable from a marketing standpoint? If not, then you will recognize that large, underperforming
segments are the ripest areas for targeting, and should thus be the focus of a targeting initiative. Ideally you should also consider multi-dimensional segments, for example, repeat visitors who browse during evening or weekend hours. More sophisticated cluster analysis techniques can be used to determine “sweet spots” of visitor who share similar characteristics and should be considered in your targeting efforts. It is typical for web marketers to start out with a dozen or so “defined segments” with which to create targeted experiences. The process of defining the segment and then creating the targeted content will vary depending on how your site is built and the technology that’s used. Some web content management systems have targeting capabilities built in, but there are also separate targeting products available, many of which are part of optimization platforms that also include A/B and multivariate testing. The examples above should suggest ways that you can create more engaging, relevant experiences for the visitor segments that you wish to target. Once you have launched one or more targeting efforts (typically called targeting campaigns), you’ll need to track their performance in your web analytics or CRM to see the effects and understand whether the campaigns are helping or hurting the user experience. You should be looking at the same metrics you used to define the segments in the first place, typically a user goal such as a conversion or registration. The next phase after launching targeting campaigns typically involves testing two or more alternative experiences within the same segment. This is essentially a “targeted test campaign,” and has several benefits. First, since a well-designed test will have a control group showing the site’s default (untargeted) content, it provides an easy and inherently accurate way to determine whether the targeting campaign has caused a change in user behavior. Second, it provides a way to continually improve the user experience by rotating in new challenger treatments, and pruning out losing treatments. This cycle of targeting and testing provides a powerful optimization technique for web marketers, and it’s no wonder that many testing and targeting technologies are in fact bundled together for this reason. So when you’re looking for a way to improve the user experience, consider targeting as one of the advanced techniques you should have in your toolbox. And once you’re up and running with a handful of targeting campaigns, add testing to the process to produce even better improvements. Remember that a better user experience leads to happier, more satisfied users, which in turn impacts your key marketing success metrics. n
Eric J. Hansen is Founder and CEO of SiteSpect, a Boston-based technology provider for multivariate testing, behavioral targeting, and digital marketing optimization. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evolving Responsibilities of an SEO Agency
here is no doubt that internet marketing and search engine optimisation have dramatically grown as industries over the last decade. This growth has manifested itself in the increasing number of businesses using their marketing budgets to invest in SEO services when they might have traditionally used it to finance other forms of advertising – print, for example. The availability of quantifiable and accurate metrics that measure traffic levels and conversion rates combined with ability to monitor user behaviour and fine-tune strategy makes it an attractive prospect for businesses looking for another way of reaching their target demographic. As the search engines have grown, so has the marketplace and it is this constant expansion within the industry that has made the evolution of SEO agencies a necessity. It is perhaps not long ago that a search engine optimisation campaign would largely consist of an expansive link building strategy, precise keyword research and solid on-page optimisation implementation. While these techniques still often represent the foundations of an SEO campaign, a whole host of new methods have been adopted by SEO agencies to give their campaigns structure and substance. Some of these new methods include content management and syndication, competitor research, keyword difficulty analysis, search vertical optimising (local, news etc.) and perhaps most importantly social media outreach. These are the techniques that are pushing the boundaries of traditional search marketing and they are the ones that have the potential to yield the best results for clients. To understand how these changes are affecting SEO agencies, it is worth understanding how these agencies are often structured. SEO agencies are often departmentalised – on the business side there are the sales people and account managers that establish KPI’s and goals for client campaigns, then on the technical side there are the copywriters, SEO programmers, marketing strategists, link developers and occasionally software developers. While this departmentalisation is conducive to agencies that offer individual services such as an independent link building or web development service, holistic SEO campaigns now require employees to have cross-over knowledge to reach the maximum potential for success. For example, producing high quality content regularly is now one of the most important
aspects of a campaign – not only does it get a website indexed more often, but it can often be used to develop brand awareness and to build an authoritative and diverse link profile. Of course, to reach its full potential, content needs to reach the readers and spread throughout the appropriate online community. This is often achieved from good marketing through various industry relevant blogs, forums and other social media channels – the copywriter’s understanding how their blogs or articles will be marketed can contextualise their content, making it much more effective in an SEO campaign. This principle can be applied to a range of combinations, but the point remains the same; with the increase in SEO techniques, clarity of internal communication is more important than ever and employees having a cross-over skillset can be hugely beneficial in SEO campaign management. This is a new responsibility for SEO and search marketing agencies created by the evolution of the search engines and the more demanding requirements that must now be met in order to achieve a high ranking within the SERPs. While this is a general change that might affect the entire order of an SEO agency, it is also worth focusing on some of the specific changes to SEO that have been bought about by the growth of the search engines. Of course, the biggest change of this year and perhaps one of the most significant changes in the history of search engine optimisation has been Google’s Panda update – a change in the algorithm that has
significantly altered modern SEO practices. The Panda update itself has the potential to be an almost unfathomably complex process, but its premise is quite a simple one. Google quality testers analysed a collection of websites they thought were of high quality, and a collection they thought were of low quality. Google then analysed the metrics of these websites and used machine learning to scale the results and work them into their algorithm therefore upgrading the sites that people thought were high quality and downgrading the sites that people thought were low quality. The reason this affected traditional SEO so greatly is because it meant that producing good content, good accessibility and a strong like profile was no longer adequate enough to rank highly as this doesn’t necessarily equate to quality. In the post-Panda searchable web ecosystem, impetus is placed on design quality, improving all-round user experience and building a brand that people trust. It is almost as if the definition of an SEO has evolved to more of a ‘web strategist’. The most successful agencies had been preaching about the importance of good design and creating a positive user experience before the Panda update was released. Now, post-Panda, creating this positive user experience is a primary objective within an SEO strategy and will positively impact ranking position in the SERPs. This is undoubtedly beneficial for search engine users and SEO agencies as it is another step toward producing content-driven results that avoid the ad-heavy websites that marginalise user experience in favour of monetisation.
It is a fact for SEO agencies now that our responsibilities to our clients and to internet users have developed considerably. It is no longer adequate to provide websites with technically accurate content or to build a website that might be biased towards more frequent search engine indexation. We now need to be crafting intelligent, compelling, engaging content that visitors will want to share with their friends and we need to build websites that users with no interest in the subject would still think is wonderfully designed. Modern SEO is about reaching beyond adequacies and striving for an innovative, creative yet professional end product that is optimised for search engine indexation and for user experience – observing how SEO develops from here will be fascinating. n
Matt Bullas is the founder and managing director of Click Consult, a leading UK-based search marketing agency and its specialist search engine optimisation division, SEO Consult. Established in 2003, Click Consult employs 75 internet marketing professionals and has over 350 SEO and PPC clients across every major industry, providing a comprehensive range of search marketing services including search engine optimisation, pay per click campaigns, website design and development, social media optimisation and online reputation management. Click Consult’s brands include optimization.co.uk, searchengineoptimisation. co.uk, searchengineoptimization.co.uk, linkbuilding.co.uk, content.co.uk and seoconsult.com.au. Click Consult’s high profile client base includes Engage Mutual Assurance and UK Mail.
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Sure you can win the suit AGAINST THE COMPETITOR BIDDING ON YOUR NAME,
But at what cost?
y first column here analyzed whether it was against the law to bid on a trademarked terms to bring up paid search engine advertising. At the time, the law was not so clear as to whether triggering pay-per-click ads was a “use in commerce” necessary for a trademark infringement claim. Over time, most courts are allowing these cases to proceed and plaintiffs are winning if they can show consumer confusion. Simply because you can win a case does not mean you should bring it. An unwritten rule is that you don’t sue poor people. Unless you can actually recover more than the cost to bring the suit, prudent business practices dictate you may want to think twice about it. A victory at the courthouse is merely a piece of paper that says the other side owes you money. If they don’t have it, all you have is a pretty piece of paper. Clients often say it is a matter of principal, but that gusto frequently fades after the first few legal bills. There are also tangential benefits to litigation other than simply the recovery of money. In a trademark infringement case, you can certainly get an injunction that forces the defendant to stop using your name. But, what happens when the defendant stops doing it once you send the first cease and desist letter? All you have to gain after that is damages. The damages under the Lanham Act for trademark infringement claims may include the defendant’s profits, any damages sustained by the plaintiff and the cost of bringing the action. The trial judge has wide discretion to order damages as much as three times actual damages but will only do so in cases of willful or deliberate infringement. Many defendants claim they did not know what their outside marketing firms were doing and ceased the infringement as soon as the plaintiff complained.
The Infringer’s Profits
sales. Plaintiffs do not have to show lost profits with exactitude, but there must be a reasonable degree of certainty.
Enhanced Damages The Lanham Act gives the trial judge discretion to award any amount in excess of the actual damages, but not to exceed three times the amount of actual damages. Enhanced damages will be upheld in cases involving deliberate and fraudulent infringement such as when there is knowing and intentional illegal conduct. Cases of innocent infringement and cases in which the defendant made efforts to prevent, and not take advantage of, confusion probably do not merit enhanced damages. By immediately taking down the offending ad and claiming ignorance, it would be difficult to obtain enhanced damages in many cases.
Simply because you can win a case does not mean you should bring it. A victory at the courthouse is merely a piece of paper that says the other side owes you money. If they don’t have it, all you have is a pretty piece of paper. Attorney’s fees The Lanham Act allows for recovery of fees in “exceptional cases.” Generally, this means there is a high degree of culpability, bad faith or fraud, or when the defendant’s infringement can be characterized as “malicious”, “fraudulent”, “deliberate” or “willful.” Attorney’s fees are not appropriate in cases in which the law is unclear or in which a party presents what it in good faith believes may be a legitimate defense or in which only mixed results are achieved.
To determine whether to award profits, the court considers: (1) whether the defendant had the intent to confuse; (2) whether sales were actually diverted; (3) the adequacy of other remedies; (4) any unreasonable delay by the plaintiff in asserting its rights; and (5) whether this is a palming off case. If the court determines profits are appropriate, the burden shifts to the defendant to show it made no profits from the infringement.
The Plaintiff’s Lost Profits
A Case Study
A plaintiff cannot get a double recovery—both defendant’s profits and the loss of their own. Proving how much the plaintiff may have lost in profits can be difficult when all you have is click-throughs and “conversions” which are often broadly defined and don’t mean actual
Written by: Travis Crabtree
Plaintiffs with shaky trademark rights and registrations have the additional concern that they could lose their trademark. If a registration: (1) was obtained fraudulently; (2) has become or is generic; (3) has not acquired secondary meaning; (4) has been abandoned; or (5) has become functional; it could be lost during a trademark infringement claim. The case of Internetshopsinc.com v. Six C Consulting, Inc. provides a good case study. Both parties made golf mats. The plaintiff demanded that defendant stop bidding on the trademarked term “Dura Pro.” Within 48 hours, the defendant notified its outside marketing firm
Do you have a legal question you want answered in the next column? Send your questions to email@example.com.
to stop, but the firm did not do so. The plaintiff filed suit seeking an injunction, damages, costs and attorneys’ fees, as well as an accounting of defendant’s damages. The defendant conceded it violated the act, but ceased once the suit was filed, so the only issue was the remedy.
in a click, after which a potential customer was directed to defendant’s website, however, not one of those clicks resulted in a conversion, or a sale, of anything. Based on this evidence, the court determined there was no evidence of defendant’s profit from the infringing conduct.
Plaintiff claimed it lost $123,784 damages by showing a reduction in sales during the time defendant engaged in the infringement. The court found that some months during the infringement period, the plaintiff had higher sales than some months outside of the pertinent period. The average monthly sales prior to the infringement had a few outlier good months which skewed the average.
The court also denied the request for attorneys’ fees. The court wrote: “There is no evidence in the record to suggest that defendant acted in a ‘malicious, fraudulent, deliberate, or willful manner,’ While defendant admits to direct infringement of plaintiff ’s mark, it credibly argues and presents substantial evidence that the infringement was unintentional. Defendant was not aware of plaintiff ’s rights to the ‘Dura Pro’ mark until it was contacted by plaintiff in January, 2009. Within 48 hours of plaintiff ’s contact, defendant acted, albeit not entirely effectively, to eliminate the term ‘Dura Pro’ from the PPC campaign.”
The court wrote: “Even assuming that the spreadsheet shows some unquantifiable decline in plaintiff ’s sales during the infringement period, there is no evidence to suggest that the decline occurred as a result of defendant’s infringement.” Because the plaintiff could not tie the infringement to the lost sales, the court granted the defendant’s summary judgment as to damages. The search data from defendant’s PPC campaign showed that during the infringement period, there were 1,319 impressions resulting from searches for the term “Dura Pro.” Only 35 of those impressions resulted
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The court did not say how much the plaintiff spent in attorney’s fees, but I would be surprised if it was less than $50,000 as this case was decided at the summary judgment stage short of trial. With even a little resistance from a defendant, it would be shocking to get through a federal court trial for less than $100,000. If the other side agrees to stop using your term, is that enough?. n
“Apptrophy” & The Need for Mobile Visibility By Jeff Rohrs
e haven’t met, so let me introduce myself. My name is Jeff Rohrs, and I know you. I may not “know” know you, but I know your type. You’re most likely an early adopter—or at least a fast-follower—and my guess is that as you read this your smartphone is in your pocket or at least within reach. If you don’t have a smartphone, I encourage you to read on, because the odds are that you will join our ranks soon enough. Apple’s iPhone army and Google’s Androids will see to that. Now, for those of you with smartphones, I want you to take it out & fire it up. Look at your default screen. Never before has there been such a visual testament to your mobile life—both personally and professionally. I suspect you’ve got all of the “usual suspect” apps on that first screen—phone, text, email, maps, weather, time, photos, and probably music. The thing that defines your smartphone as yours, however, are the apps you personally installed. Is that Facebook I see? And Twitter? Your favorite news source? A sports app? A financial app? Maybe even an addictive game like Angry Birds? You know that first screen like the back of your hand, and not just any app makes it there—only your most used and most important. Now, I want you to flip to the last screen of apps on your smartphone. On my iPhone, that’s screen #4—but I’m also one of those neat freaks who bundles apps into folders. Stretched end-to-end, the apps on my smartphone would stretch at least 10 screens. How many screens would your apps stretch? As you tally up your app count, I want you to look at your last smartphone screen. The apps there look awfully lonely, don’t they? I suspect that you downloaded them once with purpose and excitement, but now, they’ve been pushed to the end of your smartphone’s world—the “Island of Misfit Apps” if you will where apps go to die. Most often, these apps don’t die because they’re
bad or even unwanted. They die from what I term “disuse apptrophy,” a condition that has symptoms every smartphone owner—and app developer—can recognize:
thriving are those that fight apptrophy and increase visibility by taking these simple steps:
• A state of initial download euphoria and use • Followed by a dramatic drop in use due to decreased interest, changed priorities or “life” • Which triggers a slow slide of the app from the first or second smartphone screen to the deepest, darkest final screens where usage is nil • Until finally, the app meets its maker (i.e., the delete button)
Take another look at your smartphone’s first screen. I suspect that where we to remove the names of each app there, you could still name the app based solely on its icon. The best apps have stable, eye-catching icons that don’t change and are recognizable even if presented at 10% of their size in a folder structure.
The days of “build it and they will come” apps are long gone. We now live at a time where nearly every brand recognizes the utility of offering apps—either as a primary revenue stream or to increase brand engagement with mobile-first consumers. While nothing can save terrible apps from deletion, apptrophy has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with marketing strategy. If your brand’s livelihood depends on a mobile app, it’s time to listen up. The days of “build it and they will come” apps are long gone. We now live at a time where nearly every brand recognizes the utility of offering apps—either as a primary revenue stream or to increase brand engagement with mobile-first consumers. With everyone competing for the same shelf space, the apps that stand the best chance of surviving and
1. Stable, Eye-Catching Iconography
Before you “evolve” your app’s icon, think long and hard about whether your installed user base will immediately recognize the new icon as yours. As simple as that sounds, I’ve seen more than a few apps succumb to apptrophy because their “awesome new icon” confused users to the point they no longer associated the icon with the app they once loved. Icon design and stability is critical if you want to maintain—let alone grow—usage. So before you go tweaking what works, test how average users will react.
2. Balanced Push Notifications Many app developers are awakening to the power of pushing notifications directly to the user’s smartphone screen—even when the app isn’t open on screen. Such notifications can definitely drive reengagement with dormant apps; however, they also have a dark side. Push too many notifications to the user’s home screen, and they’re likely to turn off push notifications altogether because of how they both annoy and drain battery life. The best course of action is to prompt users to opt-in to push notifications and explain their value during opt-in (to the extent the smartphone operating system allows). Balance your need to push information with a keen understanding that yours is not the only app pushing information in this fashion. Only the most important information or alerts that the user has specifically requested should hit your push communications.
3. Email Registration/Subscription It amazes me how many apps don’t ask the new user to register and opt-in to ongoing communications from the publisher. App developers need to take a page out of the social networks’ marketing book. Every single social network requires an email address in order to register. While the
thing holds true for app developers that leverage email. The email address isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have if you want to awaken the sleeping masses who downloaded your app but whose usage declined over time. Apps with solid email marketing (newsletters, promotions, etc.) and triggered email (alerts, updates, etc.) communication programs stand a far better chance of
accomplish the same feat. Facebook updates, tweets, reviews, posts, comments, etc. can increase app awareness and usage within existing social circles. Does your app present users with the opportunity to push appropriate messages to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, and any companion websites of yours? If not, there’s a prime, nearly no-cost way for you to decrease apptrophy by leveraging the power of your existing user base and their networks.
5. Scheduled Updates Last, but not least, the update process affords app developers with another opportunity to remind existing users that their app exists. I have some apps which I swear push updates just to pique user interest on what might be new. If you want to take it to entirely different level, however, take a page out of the Angry Birds book—release your app with the promise of new levels, content or features to come in future months. This builds anticipation—and anticipation is kryptonite to apptrophy. Not all apps can leverage this strategy, but I suspect we’ll see more actually make the update process a strategic part of their engagement strategy with users. In the 5 minutes you took to read this article, my guess is that ten more apps hit the mobile app stores—and hundreds more were dreamt up by ambitious publishers. Simply put, user attention is in short supply today. If you don’t want to get lost in as the app universe expands exponentially, you must plan to combat apptrophy from day one with strategic, ongoing communications with users. Failure to do so is tantamount to letting your app become invisible over time.
email address provides a convenient way to distinguish users, it also provides social networks with an external means to reengage dormant users. Those Facebook friend updates aren’t for your health—they’re for Facebook’s, Each such email update drives return visits and increased usage of Facebook. The same
fighting off the dreaded scourge of disuse apptrophy. They also have a great way to upsell and cross-sell users on other apps or products.
4. Social Media Integration While it’s great when you can directly communicate with a user to get them to reengage with your app, don’t discount the power of peer pressure to
And as a reader of a publication called “Visibility,” I know you’d never want that to happen. Right? n
As VP of Marketing Research & Education for ExactTarget, a leading global provider of on-demand email, mobile, and social media marketing solutions, Jeff Rohrs spearheads the company’s ongoing SUBSCRIBERS, FANS & FOLLOWERS research series which examines how consumers’ use of email, Facebook, and Twitter are evolving across desktop and mobile platforms. You can follow him on Twitter at @jkrohrs.
Marketing in a ‘Constantly Connected’ World Trends in social media and mobile technology are driving the emergence of a new breed of marketers capable of navigating a constantly connected consumer marketplace.
trip away the jargon and marketing really boils down to matchmaking – forging a “love connection” between brands and consumers. In the old days, it was enough to pass notes from the brand to the consumer and wait for a response. It was clean. Simple. Effective. But in today’s constantly connected (some might say overly connected) culture, passing love notes from brands to consumers doesn’t cut it. In particular, the convergence of social media and mobile technology are challenging marketers to adapt to a new universe, a world in which consumers – not marketers – expect to control brand interactions. From high-octane business executives to the teenager sitting at the dinner table, consumers from every imaginable background are constantly attached to their mobile devices, using smartphones and other technology to create their own connections and perform an array of mobile activities. Mobile stopped being a tool for early adopters a long time ago. Now, four out of five American consumers own a mobile device. Chances are your mother and grandmother currently own mobile phones – and they’re using them to connect not only with their kids and grandkids, but with the information and influencers they rely on to make purchasing decisions. The takeaway is that online marketers can’t afford to ignore the connections and synergies that are being created through mobile and social media. Now more than ever, marketers need to consider making social media and mobile channels high value targets in the battle to forge brand connections online.
The New Rules of Brand Messaging & Brand Experiences
The nexus of social media and mobile technology means that customers are the new channels for brand messaging and the brand experience. Equipped with the latest mobile gadgetry, consumer-driven messaging is occurring more frequently and with greater immediacy than ever before. Let’s say a consumer experiences an in-store snafu at a retail location. In the old days, the consumer might march over to the customer service desk to lodge a complaint. Not anymore. Instead, the consumer will pull out a smartphone and trash the brand on Twitter, Facebook and any other number of user-generated content venues, including comment sections on the brand’s website. And that’s just the beginning. With today’s technology, disgruntled consumers have the ability to enhance the value of their online content with photos, geolocational tags and other features. Within minutes, an arsenal of negative brand messaging has been distributed to hundreds, if not thousands, of other consumers. Online marketers need to understand that it’s not a question of whether or not consumers will comment about their experiences with the brand (they will!), but how the brand will influence and engage with consumer comments when they appear online. The new rules of brand messaging and brand experiences require marketers to help brands create exceptional consumer experiences and effectively participate in dialogues that are initiated in the arena of constant connectedness. If it’s done
effectively, this can drive traffic to the brand’s website and enable brands to participate in more meaningful conversations with their customers.
Tips for “Constantly Connected” Marketing
For some online marketers, the transition to a constantly connected marketplace will be relatively painless; for others, it will require major mental shifts and a completely new way of engaging consumers. Although the execution of constantly connected marketing strategies must be contextualized on a brand-by-brand basis, there are several general practices that online marketers can employ to connect with consumers. 1. Listening Consumers have power in the new marketing paradigm and they expect to be heard. Brands that ignore their customers are quickly labeled as irrelevant and out of touch with the marketplace. But brands that make an active effort to listen to their customers, through they channels in which they prefer to communicate (i.e. social media and mobile), are rewarded with advocacy and loyalty. 2. Clarity In order to effectively market to modern consumers, marketers need to clearly understand the factors and features that drive consumers to the brand. Although this is related to listening, it’s critical for marketers to understand the things consumers value about the brand before the brand implements measures to change or enhance the customer experience. 3. Engagement If there is one thing we’ve learned from social media it’s that consumers no longer expect to be talked to by brands. Rather, they expect to talk with brands – to engage in two-way dialogues and interactions. For online marketers, this means finding new ways to facilitate customer interactions through the right combination of webbased and mobile/social media channels. 4. Equipping Marketers can’t successfully reach constantly connected consumers without top-to-bottom buy-in from the brands they represent. Employees throughout the organization need to be equipped with the tools they need to interact with consumers on social media sites and maybe even mobile channels. Just as importantly, employees need to understand how the brand’s various marketing channels interact and work together to form a coherent customer experience. 5. Mobilizing Old school mobilization meant the deployment of resources to create messages directed at consumers. Now, mobilization means giving consumers, employees and other stakeholders easy access to the tools they need to create content and positively influence other consumers in the constantly connected universe. For many online marketers, a greater awareness of today’s constantly connected consumers forms a foundation that can be built on to help drive sales and set the stage for the next wave of online marketing opportunities.
Gary Edwards, PhD, is Chief Customer Officer at Empathica, a Customer Experience Management provider. In his role, Gary is responsible for oversight of client management, marketing science and retail insights, and involved in solving business challenges with research and technology solutions.
The Real Payday
of Website Traffic Conversion isâ€Ś By Brad Beiermann
As search engines place a higher focus on search accuracy, online marketers will need to leverage new techniques to drive quality traffic to a website. There will be a strong emphasis on content accuracy which goes beyond todayâ€™s search optimization techniques. This has opened up a new opportunity to improve traffic conversion to sales.
t has been said that the aim is more important than the bow and arrow in archery. The bow and arrow are only instruments, while the aim is the skill. When it comes to aim, it is all about accuracy and good judgment. A good bow and arrow set can be purchased. A good aim cannot be purchased. If we draw an analogy towards our online marketing efforts, we could say content accuracy and quality is similar to aim. Targeting a key segment with the right content has become increasingly vital not only in search results, but conversions to sales. Yet, so many online marketers have big issues with their content. They sometimes get blinded by concentrating on traffic numbers and Web rankings, and forget about what the user wants. In most cases people come to the Web for three basic things: 1.To be entertained 2.To socialize 3.To find information The search for information is sometimes difficult for users. Depending on the subject, they often run into a lot of noise on a search engine like Google. Recently, there has been considerable
focus on improving search results accuracy by Google. Why? The answer is simple. Users have become increasingly frustrated during their search, only to find non-informative retailers, content farms, and Wikipedia constantly appearing in their search while they are looking for quality information. As a result, they have abandoned Google and left for other search tools. As the search giant becomes more geared towards indexing accuracy, were does that leave you as an online marketer? In short, the byproduct of search engine accuracy can easily be translated into quality traffic to our websites. This leaves us with an opportunity to
improve the conversion to sales.
One-Million or One-Thousand Which would you rather have?...A website that generates one-million visitors with a 1% conversion, or a website with one-thousand visitors with a 20% conversion? Both sites can generate a similar amount in sales dollars. However, the million-visitor site with the high volume traffic is going to have a tremendous amount of traffic overhead. This will cost server infrastructure resources. It also results in customer service answering lots of inquiries from people who are searching for something else, but came across your closely related offerings. In the end, they do not buy from you, but ask you where they can find it. So, it is not always about getting tons of traffic. It is about getting the right visitors connected with the right information to the right website. It is about site content accuracy. This is where the narrowly targeted, low maintenance thousandvisitor site shines in higher conversion. When we give a customer exactly what they want, they will often buy. In fact, customers only seek two things: Solutions to their problems, and good feelings. Trust and credibility create good feelings.
Sharing the Responsibility of Accuracy When most users use Google, Bing or Yahoo, they will often perform their search in the “Web” category of the search engine. There are other search categories such as “Images”, “Videos”, and “Shopping”. Each category gives a different result when searched. For example, if you search for “chainsaw oils” under “Images” you will see a variety of things. They include images of chainsaw oil cans and oil being poured into chainsaws. However, we also see something completely unrelated to chainsaw oils. They include part diagrams and saw sharpening. If we drill down on the parts diagram image, we might find a website that has nothing to do with chainsaw oils. Rather, we might see a website that offers chainsaw repair manuals and repair diagrams. If we go to the top of Google and select the category of “Shopping” we would see a listing of many sites that sell chainsaw oil. In addition, there might be a spouted fuel/oil can that shows up. Many feel that these are examples of inaccuracy with the search engine. The search engine engineers will sometimes claim they were not given enough information by the user or the website. What is the point to be made here with these slight inaccuracies in the categories? The point is this: Accuracy is a shared responsibility between both the search engine and a website’s design. While we cannot address the inaccuracies of the search engine, we can focus on the accuracy of our own websites.
It is about getting the right visitors connected with the right information on the right website. If we can get the right information to the right user, then our website traffic is better qualified. Once we have qualified visitors, our odds of a sales conversion increase dramatically. Let us now take a look at a couple of optimization techniques that focus on content accuracy… which generates income! Payday Secret #1: Category Leveraging As a user, perhaps the most difficult category to find information related to your search is in the “Web” category of the search engine. This is the default category that comes up first when we visit a search engine. As a result, it gets the majority of traffic. The problem with this setup is everyone expects virtually everything to show up in this category. As a result, we now have a multi-billion dollar SEO/SEM industry that
fights to have every client appear on the first page of the “Web” category. In the meantime, other search categories get less attention. As a Web marketer, this can be to your advantage. Getting top ranking in other search categories can be a real payday. If you are a retailer on the Web, and your site is built upon the shopping cart, then you should absolutely have a presence in the “Shopping” category of the search engine. Most retail sites are focused on product listings within the store, and not information about a particular subject. Yet many retail websites spend their SEO/SEM efforts on the “Web” category. Remember, this is the category for information, not necessarily shopping. At this point, you are leaving the heavy lifting to the search engine to classify your content correctly. This is part of the accuracy issue we described earlier. As a rule of thumb, make your site easy to categorize by the search engine. Category leveraging is often over looked by online marketers. Getting listed in the proper category improves accuracy of search engine information, and drives better qualified traffic to your website. So, if you have an information site, then the proper SEO/SEM focus is on the “Web” category. If you have a website with heavy visual information, then the proper SEO/ SEM focus is on the “Images” category. If you have a sight containing videos about a specific subject, the SEO/SEM focus should be on the “Videos” category. Payday Secret #2: Key Messages Many promotional campaigns over the years have used an old game based on the question, “What’s the phrase that pays?” This same question can also be applied in our Web marketing efforts. There is often an over emphasis on identifying keywords to be used on your site for search engine food. In the past, this worked fine. However, as search engines focus more on the next level of content accuracy, using key messages in your category identification is very important. If you are targeting the “Images” category, image tags can leverage a message like “Photo of an LED flashlight” versus just keywords like “LED flashlight” in the image tag. The message makes the search engine know a couple of things:
1. This is an actual photo. Otherwise any JPEG or GIF could merely be an image of the textual word flashlight or some other misrepresentation of an LED light. 2. There is more information to confirm the image content. Hence, this is getting things to a higher degree of accuracy about the content. This principle can be applied to any category in the search engine. For the “Web” category, tag lines that begin with “Information about [subject]” or “Facts about [subject]”. Again, we are confirming this is information related content, which fits perfectly in the “Web” category. Hopefully, these two points of optimization will arm you with a higher degree of content accuracy. It also gives a path to leveraging the categorization of your website. In the end, it is an improvement in the organic creation of better qualified traffic that yields an increase in the percentage of conversion to website sales. n
Brad Beiermann is the co-founder and president of Cimstrat Incorporated located in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Cimstrat is a consulting firm focused on innovation management and marketing for S&P 500 firms. He has over twenty years experience as a business leader, author, speaker and entrepreneur. Beiermann holds a doctorate degree in Management Information Systems along with an emphasis on web based marketing. www.cimstratcorp.com.
visi book club
The Social Media Revolution
An excerpt from Heather Lutze’s latest book, Thumbonomics. It’s All about the Customer and NOT about Your Company!
Are you on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and are you blogging? Like it or not, your web site and your company image is being talked about right now on Social Media. Thumbonomics is about being EVERYWHERE your customer is, despite what your company thinks is right or wrong marketing mediums for your business. Your job as a marketer for your company is to be EVERYWHERE they want to FIND you. You cannot stand in judgment of how you want to be found, it’s about that searcher’s preferences. Just like a thumbprint, each person is an individual and wants different things. It’s our job to be there when they need us, not push ourselves on them at every turn. Why do you think TiVo and DVR’s are so popular? A typical customer’s attitude is: I want what I want, when I want it. No one is the boss of me! I want to skip, skip, skip and go back to my show, and I don’t want to be marketed or sold all the time. This is what your potential customer has become accustomed to. Smartphones and iPhones have become the craze because they can customize their own apps, and create custom backgrounds, put fancy rhinestone covers on it and call it “baby.” It’s a slice of “me”—a perfect expression of personal taste and style. Why do you think satellite radio is so popular? Jupiter-Research, a division of JupiterMedia Corporation, forecasted that the U.S. digital satellite radio market would grow from an installed base of 12 million units in 2005 to 55 million units in 2010, a compound annual growth rate of 35 percent. People do not want commercials; they want un - interrupted music or
programming, when they want it. Satellite radio gives you that freedom to choose and control your environment.
No more “Billboard” Thinking!
The days of the Billboard off the highway style of marketing is slowly dying. What are we betting on when we advertise on a major highway? The answer is as old as marketing itself; we are betting that a percentage of drivers who see the billboard will want what we sell and they will remember it long enough to take action. Prospects now want to customize their experience just like they customize their coffee order at Starbucks. Grande Latte, Skinny, Sugar-Free Hazelnut Syrup with two Splenda. This is my coffee order.
What do you know about me already? I am watching my weight, love sweet things but am not a super hard-core coffee drinker because I did not order a Venti or a Trenti (the largest size). Don’t you dare give me a cup of COFFEE! I self-identify, along with millions of other Starbucks coffee drinkers, with my coffee order. Starbucks is happy to oblige. My coffee order is a personalized slice of me! Are you giving your prospect their custom coffee order or are you giving them plain coffee? I want every prospect to be a steaming hot, qualified lead for you. They are happy to get information from you, “like” your company, “follow” your company and eventually buy from your company. Is your company thinking old school or new age? Thumbonomics will bring your company out of your oldstyle marketing coma and upgrade your company marketing plan to an innovative, customer-focused approach.
Why Your Website Is No Longer Enough
What does your web site look like on a Smartphone or iPad? Have you checked? Simply put, web sites are no longer the leading edge in marketing on the Internet. No matter how great your web site is—even if you’ve added sound, videos and a flash banner— they’re still a fairly static medium based on one-sided communication. What do I mean by one-sided communication? It’s when your web site is just you telling site visitors about your company, products and services— you are talking to them, but are they listening?
The Social Media
Think with me, for a moment, about most of the websites you have seen. No matter how innovative or earthshattering a web site may be, they’re still pretty much all the same:
Home Page, About Us, Services, Testimonials, Contact Us. And, if you break those categories down, what that website is really saying is: Home page—the main page of our amazing website About us—in case you wanted to spend all day getting to know our team, location, mission statement, favorite colors, etc.—we have a whole section of our site dedicated to us. Services—These are the things we do. Testimonials—In case you
Certainly, your web site is an innovation over a print brochure, but even though it’s virtual, it’s still a brochure. It’s not a conversation; it’s not an interaction; it’s a mar - keting piece. It is a one-sided communication—you are talking about yourself to you consumers, and hope they are listening.
you. They want to be able to ask other people, Have you worked with this company? Do you trust them? What’s their customer service like? What’s their return policy? Are their products or services any good?
Consumers, web searches and site visitors demand that you give them more than just stagnant, nonchanging, brochure-style content. They’ve seen that for the past 10 to 15 years. They’re no longer impressed. In fact, they’re bored and skeptical.
Websites don’t provide that. Social media does. In Real Time … FAST! It’s not just people who want more these days. So does Google. And what Google wants, Google gets. Google is looking for current information and social proof about your business as well. Google wants to be on the cutting edge of delivering relevant content; that’s their stock-intrade. So suddenly we’re seeing live tweet feeds showing up on the first page of Google search results. Ever since Google bought YouTube, videos are now ranked in the search results. Little gets by Google. They know that web sites are notoriously stagnant, and now they’re paying attention to the dynamic, collective conversation about your company. More importantly, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, publicly announced in December 2010 that Google uses your authority in social networks as a factor in your website ranking. That ranking is revealed on YouTube at: youtube.com/watch?v=ofhwPC-5Ub4 Actively participating in social media means engaging in a conversation about your company in a meaningful way—with customers, prospects and anyone who wants more information about who you are.
wanted more proof, here are a bunch of other people who we convinced to say nice things, about us, on our site. Contact us— Obviously you want more information on how to contact our amazing team—so here are the ways we prefer to be communicated with. As a side note, include address, phone number and a general email contact—give the customer multiple choices, including filling out a form and submitting a question. And no matter how great the content is, it’s mostly a variation on the same old themes: what we offer, why we’re different, exceeding expectations, outstanding customer service, really care about our clients … blah, blah, blah … we, we, we!
Internet users view websites as static entities— even if the sites are updated regularly. Today searchers want more. They want real-time, current information. They want to be connected with the pulse of what’s happening now, what people are saying, and what’s the latest buzz. They want to feel plugged into the conversation on any given product, service, industry or topic. Users have also become less trusting of websites over time. They don’t want to know what you’re saying about your own company, they want to know what others are thinking and saying. They want “social proof “ that they should work with
Even if you’re the most traditional of companies with the most traditional of target audiences, you’ve got to get your company active in social media. Old school traditional marketing tactics are dead and it’s time to innovate … watch your competitors slowly gain market share.
The Social Media
Social media is a marketing tool that plugs people into your company in a very different way. That’s why your web site is no longer enough!. n
Heather Lutze is a nationally recognized Search Marketing speaker, trainer, and consultant including SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Paid Search (PPC) and Social Media Marketing Findability. Heather is the CEO & Founder of The Findability Group for the past 10 years helping Companies Connect with their Ideal Customers Online.
Putting PPC Through the Spin Cycle
o you wash your own clothes by hand? Of course not, why would you? We have machines that do that for a reason – to make our lives easier. So why are you still manually running an AdWords campaign?
Sure, people still manage keyword bids on their own and yes, there are experts in the field, but if a machine can do something better, faster and cheaper than a human then it begs the question: Why would a human do it? Yet in the world of small business advertising, working by hand is still the norm.
A Promising Start Thomas Hansen, the owner of a local furniture store in his hometown of Denver, Colorado was enjoying success with his early AdWords campaigns. He found the pricing to be affordable to him, and the fact that he was able to track his return on the investment made it easy for him to decide which keywords he would delegate the most money to and which keywords weren’t working. When bigger businesses started getting involved with AdWord advertising, bidding became a more time consuming process than what Thomas could handle. Before he knew it, he was spending more time on AdWords than ever before, but his ROI was dropping every week. There was nothing wrong with the copy of his ads, Thomas told himself. “They worked before, why aren’t they working now?” he’d ask, as he stared at his computer monitor, his eyes beginning to redden. He eventually stopped using AdWords altogether, claiming there was no way it was profitable for him when all the major brands were taking over his keywords. Thomas lamented the fact that he couldn’t spend more time getting his campaigns back in prime shape but he had a business to run, after all.
How We Got Here Nine short years ago Google gave us pay-per-click advertising with AdWords. This marked the first time businesses were able to take control of their ad budgets and extract a known return on their advertising investments. Business owners could target specific demographics based on keywords, ensuring the ads were only being shown to the right audience at the right price. But almost as quickly as they gained advertising power, the small business community found themselves losing it. Here are four reasons why: • Large brand advertisers flooded the market with big-budgets, buying-in high-end agencies with their expertise and automation software. • Small business were ill-equipped to compete without the time, expertise and resources required to succeed in the new playing field. • The fierce competition in keyword bidding resulted in the average CPCs quadrupling over the last four years. • -The complexity of the interface and the bidding process favored PPC professionals over small business owners who didn’t have the time, energy, or interest to put into AdWords every day. • Average CPC Costs From 2005-2010
Average CPC Costs From 2005-2010
Automatic for the People Big-budget advertisers consistently get high quality scores, allowing them to pay less per click, while appearing more prominently on search engine result pages. Small-budget advertisers, on the other hand, often overpay and get sent to the back of the line. Yet it’s those same small businesses who make up the majority of Google’s advertisers and revenues. Small business owners know their products and their customers. They can find their keywords and know how to write appealing ad copy. What they don’t have is the time to spend managing keyword bids for hundreds or thousands of keywords. Who does? That’s why large advertisers and agencies have long been making use of automation software. Companies like Marin Software, Clickable and Kenshoo have had great success servicing the high-end of the market.
But What’s Out There for Small Businesses? Historically, SMBs haven’t had many options but there have been some recent developments in this space. Affordable web applications like SiteWit and WordWatch have come in to fill the gap and service a pent-up demand. Now small advertisers can actively compete with the big guys again. Some things are just better when done by machines. Bidding automation delivers productivity and performance gains alongside labor, time and cost savings. Anyone who hasn’t introduced some degree of automation into their PPC management may as well be doing their laundry by hand. n
Trace Ronning is a Social Media Coordinator and blogger for WordWatch in Foster City, CA. He enjoys playing music in his free time and is the bassist for The Bluebonnet Plague. Follow him on twitter @WordWatchPPC.
Should They Stay
or Should They Go?
Tips for Turning Website Browsers into Buyers By Tim Ash
arketers can be a greedy breed. Eager to convert website visitors into paying customers, they often use pushy tactics online that would never be tolerated in a brick and mortar environment. Does your website require a registration before someone can make a purchase? Do you ask a lot of personal information that isn’t necessary for the transaction? All of these very common tactics are killing your conversion rate. If you’re having trouble getting your visitors to complete a transaction online, read on. Whether your conversion action is a game download, subscription program or other transaction, the key to getting your visitors to convert involves making a clear, predictable, easy path for them to transact with you. Here are some techniques to help you optimize your transaction process and forms to minimize anxiety, reduce abandonment and ultimately increase conversions.
Don’t Force Registration If you want to really annoy your visitors, particularly those who are ready to act on your offer, one of the surest ways to do that is to force them to register before being able to transact with you. Marketers and website owners commonly implement registration because they view it as a service to their visitors. Registration may streamline future
transactions by storing visitor preferences, payment methods, and other information in an account so that repeat customers don’t have to re-enter the data. But forcing registration can be a major conversion killer, as many web users find it to be a nuisance (at best) or overly intrusive (at worse). If your site currently requires new customer registration before a visitor can proceed to the transaction, remove it. If you want to offer users the option of registration, move the offer to the end of the checkout process. At that stage visitors have significantly more invested in the transaction. They are less likely to abandon the process and more likely to supply the requested additional information, particularly if you let them know the benefits of registration.
Resist the Urge to Up-Sell at the Last Minute Another common tactic during the transaction is to introduce last-minute up-sells, cross-sells, or special offers. This is fine if it is handled before the checkout step (e.g., by displaying added benefits that come with higher membership levels). However, during the checkout process such tactics should be carefully reconsidered. Usually there is a tradeoff between higher value per transaction and lower overall conversion rates. The method by which a secondary offer is presented greatly affects its potential impact. Efforts should be made to minimize disruption and surprise.
Remove the Navigation One of the keys to making the user experience easier is to remove choice and simplify the transaction process. An easy way to do this is to change the navigation information available on your form pages. The main menu that is used during the earlier stages of the decision process is no longer applicable during the action stage, and could serve as a distraction that causes visitors to leave your form and move backward on your conversion path. Likewise, if your landing page is designed for a single conversion action, you should not use the navigation or page structure from your main website. You should remove the navigation completely, or limit it to specific information related to your conversion action. This is particularly true if you are paying for the traffic stream directly (e.g., via PPC or banner ad purchases). In such cases, I often recommend removing the navigation altogether. Sometimes you may still want to have your logo link back to your main site. But you should realize that this is a potential traffic leak, and that some people will wander off to your main site to never return. If you feel that your main site contains content that is necessary for the conversion action, you should copy it onto the landing page (or a supporting page on your stand-alone micro-site). Do not link off to the main site for such supporting information, as you run the risk of your visitors getting lost, distracted or both.
• Asking for information in a nonstandard or illogical order • Using nonstandard or unclear text captions on your buttons In order to ease anxiety and manage the expectations of your visitors, your website should always show the visitor’s progress during the transaction. If there are three steps in the sign-up process, let the visitor know how many steps remain. Better yet, use descriptive labels on a timeline at the top of the page, showing the visitor what action he or she is currently taking, and what actions are coming up.
Ruthlessly Edit Your Forms A long and imposing form will turn many people away. Forms should be ruthlessly edited to remove extraneous fields that aren’t necessary for the transaction. The value of the incremental information gathered in a longer form will rarely outweigh the benefit of having many more people completing the process. The most important part of form creation is minimizing the number and complexity of form input fields. Ask yourself: “is this information absolutely necessary to complete the current transaction?” Be sure you are only asking for information that you need right now. Resist the temptation to ask for information that may not be needed at all (e.g. “How did you hear about us?”) or that can be collected later in the process (after you have established more trust with the visitor). If your form has fields labeled “Required”, take a look at all the remaining fields and consider removing them. Once you have removed all extraneous fields and are certain that you are asking for the bare minimum of information from your visitors, you can further streamline your forms with these techniques: • Clarify the purpose of the form with a headline or description. Be sure it describes the benefit that the visitor will receive by completing the form. • Shorten form labels as much as possible. • Organize form fields into logical groups, and label each group with a category subhead. • Eliminate any strong horizontal separators in longer forms.
Don’t Surprise the Visitor If you’ve got a visitor who is ready and willing to complete your form, the last thing you want to do is introduce any last minute surprises that might erode trust or cause the visitor to re-think his or her interest in completing the transaction. Some examples of unwelcome surprises include: • Not warning people about the supporting information that they will need to have on hand in order to complete the transaction • Not specifying all acceptable payment methods up-front • Introducing pop-ups • Making peripheral or unrelated special offers • Including price increases, or extra terms and conditions
Most transactions have a final point-of-no-return. Usually this involves clicking a button after filling out form information. It is critical to provide last-minute reassurances on the page where this point occurs. Final reassurances include: • A summary of the information that has been provided (services or membership plan ordered, personal information, billing method, and price) • Terms and conditions (the fine print) • Spelling out exactly what will happen when the action is taken • Validation and risk reducers (e.g. satisfaction guarantee or privacy & trust symbols)
Convincing a visitor to take a desired conversion action is a major feat, but only half the battle. Final Thoughts Convincing a visitor to take a desired conversion action is a major feat, but only half the battle. It only counts if they actually complete the process. The techniques outlined above will help improve your odds of visitors completing the transaction. But keep in mind that even when your transaction process is optimized, you will still have some people who bail out. Some visitors may decide that they want to continue their search for alternatives. Others may need the approval of another person (such as a coworker or spouse) or may not have the proper payment method or necessary supporting information to complete the transaction. Still others may simply want to sleep on the decision before completing the transaction. But for all the rest, following the tips above will make sure they stay focused and committed to their decision, all they way through to your confirmation page. n
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners, a landing page optimization firm that offers conversion consulting, full-service guaranteed-improvement tests, and software tools to improve conversion rates. SiteTuners has worked with hundreds of clients, large and small, including Google, Facebook, American Express, CBS, Sony Music, Universal Studios, Verizon Wireless, Texas Instruments, and Coach. Tim is a highly-regarded presenter at industry conferences such as Search Engine Strategies, eMetrics, PPC Summit, Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Affiliate Conference, and LeadsCon and many others. He is also the founder and chairperson of Conversion Conference the first conference focused on improving online conversions. Tim is a contributing columnist for numerous publications and host of the weekly Landing Page Optimization podcast on WebmasterRadio.fm.
SearchFit Shopping Cart EDITOR RATING
he great switch from brick and mortar stores to online shopping has been a trend that marketers have been tuned into for a while now. Though it is not entirely uncommon to see long lines waiting at cash registers, it is safe to say that these lines are getting shorter thanks to online shopping. And with shoppers spending a larger chunk of their budgets on online purchases, it is only fair that marketers turn to software that will make their online shops attractive to these shoppers. This is exactly the need that the makers of SearchFit Shopping Cart had in mind when the company was first established. From a marketing perspective, online shopping really boils down to SEO, traffic and conversions. And for online marketers to succeed they need to have software that will allow them to provide outstanding services and achieve organic search engine traffic that result from high rankings and proper placement on comparison shopping websites.
The bottom line? To boost profits.
The makers of SearchFit have designed the software with profits in mind. Suffice to say, when SearchFit was first launched there was no other shopping cart software that was built around SEO. In other words, SearchFit focuses not only on being user-friendly but is also search-engine-friendly. In addition to the basic features of a SEO oriented shopping cart software, SearchFit stands apart because of the added features of dynamic product filters, automatic comparison shopping feeds, and the ability to operate multiple stores out of a single product database. The other reason SearchFit appeals to a number of users is that the software makes conversion very easy. Unlike other software, SearchFit offers the user the option of retaining existing documents, design and product data to ensure that those who convert to SearchFit are not starting all over from scrap. SearchFit goes one step beyond the others by providing its clients additional services that will make their entire online store development experience easier. SearchFit understands that creating an online store is not only about the shopping cart, but there are number of other features that online marketers often struggle to put into place. To ease these tensions, SearchFit also offers other value added services such as SEO, search engine marketing (SEM), link visibility, custom web design, product development, content and copywriting, and an advanced search platform called Power Search. This software would be ideal for those who do not want to spend too much time figuring out the technical aspects of shopping carts and SEO. SearchFit allows marketers to focus on strategizing and planning and to leave the calculating and numbers games to the software. A key benefit of SearchFit is its ability to think like a marketer and to generate data and solutions that can prove to be a goldmine for the client. From a website development and maintenance perspective, SearchFit can save you time and money. The upgrade process in SearchFit happens automatically and requires no work on the part of your web team. The templating system is based in HTML and CSS, which most designers are fluent in. Knowledge of server side technologies, like PHP and MySQL, are not required in order to setup and maintain a SearchFit powered website. As a software that specializes in making online shopping an easier and efficient experience, SearchFit can take the credit for being a software that is all about boosting profits. To put it simply, SeachFit understands the fact that online shopping is not as simple as clicking and buying – though online marketers would hope it is. Tuning into the true nature of online shopping, the software makes the online shop attractive to shoppers, encourages them to stay online for longer and pushes them towards impulse buys. Sounds a bit like a salesperson, does it? Now isn’t that something we would all love to have on our online stores!. n
Bottom Line www.searchfit.com
Pricing Basic: First month $39; monthly price $79 Lite: First Month $69; monthly price $119 Standard: First Month $119; monthly price $239 Professional: First Month $179; monthly price $359 Enterprise: First Month $299; monthly price $599
Features • Advanced SEO Features • SEO Naming Rules • HTML/XML Sitemaps • Automatic 301 Redirects • Multi Store System • Run multiple sites out of a single database • Each store has unique design • Each store has unique SEO settings • Dynamic Product Filters • Automatic Comparison Shopping Feeds • Social Media Integrations • FaceBook • Open Social • Word Press
Pros • Built Around SEO Best Practices • Fully Customizable HTML/CSS Templating System • Elaborate Reporting and Tracking • Conversion Enhancement Features (Reviews, Comparisons, etc.) • Dynamic Functionality (Product Filters, Inventory Control, etc.)
Live Event Reporting: The New Service PR Agents Aren’t Offering, Yet Live reporting from conferences is one of the many emerging trends reshaping the world of professional development as social media evolves and the PR industry searches for new service offerings that provide value to their clients. Now, when business leaders hop on the speaker circuit to promote their industry leading subject-matter, they aren’t confined to the individuals located in the four corners of the conference room. When businesses hire a professional event correspondent to report live from their keynote address or panel discussion, the real-time service can have a major impact on exposure and brand awareness that results in a significant return on investment. Professional event correspondent services increased exposure more than 5000% for Webtrends during the event Facebook Sessions presented in Chicago in July, 2011.
What is an Event Correspondent? An event correspondent is a professional who provides live coverage of your presentation or event, capturing and sharing a third party perspective through a variety of online social media channels. Providing online reporting with live updates to the public at-large offers value to your fan base, the industry and your own brand.
hat has your PR agency done for you lately? As they continue to spend your marketing dollars spinning and pitching your story to out-dated newswires and pay-to-play journalism giants, are you missing a prime opportunity to gain exposure? Through hiring a live event correspondent to cover your next event, you could increase your exposure by over 5000%.
Reporting live, on location... These are words that once were spoken exclusively through traditional forms of media, typically by a news reporter covering an event as it was broadcasted live to the public at large. The audience tuned in by droves either hearing the message from their AM/FM radios or by gazing at large antiquated boxes stationed in living rooms also known as “television sets.” “Reporting live from events” is not limited to the major broadcasting stations any longer. Businesses can now reap the benefits from this type of coverage without reliance on a PR agency to convince and woo editors to cover specific subject matter expertise. Although traditional forms of media continue to provide newsworthy information that captivate our attention and impact our lives, new technology has opened the doors to a world of options. Popular social media “channels” like Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook are being tuned in to and businesses can benefit from the professional service of live reporting on trade shows and other industry events.
10 Benefits an Event Correspondent Provides There is a variety of benefits a professional experienced event correspondent can offer to grow value for businesses. Here are the top ten benefits an event correspondent can offer: 1. Builds professional credibility. A third party perspective adds authenticity. Much like a journalist covering an important event or new product, an event correspondent isn’t a paid affiliate. Whether the live updates are posted under your business brand or the event correspondent’s media brands, your taken more seriously when someone validates your value. 2. Positions your brand with industry expertise. Just being a speaker isn’t enough. Just being a blogger isn’t enough. Don’t get lost in the noise. An experienced correspondent can cut through the noise and deliver your message clearly. 3. Enlarges your audience to a critical mass. Why limit your voice to the individuals sitting within the four walls? This is the new frontier of market outreach and an event
correspondent can push the physical boundaries of the conference venue, geographically speaking. 4. Grows your fan base. People follow the leader. Be todayâ€™s social media leader in your communities. Digitally and socially on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and within your own industry and network, a professional correspondent can point others to your leadership. 5. Preserves the information as online content. When you speak, words go in one ear and out the other. An event correspondent can archive your moment, online. 6. Generates immediate traffic. While you are delivering your presentation, the professional correspondent is getting the buzz on for you. You can track the interest in real time, immediately after you present. You can access the audience, their feedback, questions, re-tweets and more. 7. Optimizes ongoing search results. Live content updates are captured and recapped for future search results allowing your content to be found on a variety of your own channels. 8. Provides more opportunity for speaking engagements. Get the traction and reputation as a speaker so that you can grow your business through future events in your industry. 9. Optimizes your investment resources. Are you getting a return on your efforts you put in as a speaker? An
experienced event correspondent can help you recognize the opportunities and optimize your resources for your next speaking engagement. 10. Increases ongoing exposure. Just how long can your wisdom and great sage go on after an event has ended? An event correspondent can give your words wings through tweets and re-tweets and so much more.
Is an Event Correspondent Right For Me?
If you are seeking added-value to your next event and you are with a small or large company, a conference planner, an event sponsor, a publicist, an individual speaker - or anyone seeking to leverage the next event to grow your brand value in your industry, then yes! It is time for you to schedule an event correspondent for your next event. And, if you are a PR professional, please, consider this valuable service to your offering. n
Andrea Cook is a social marketing consultant specializing in brands, buzz and media for clients at The Midas Center. Relocated from Chicago, Cook works from her restored rural downtown co-working space in northern Indiana where she manages growing hyper-local community sites for cities and towns, manages social media activities for clients and reports live, on-site as an event correspondent from industryleading events. Follow @andreacook or Google The Midas Center for more details. Contact Andrea: firstname.lastname@example.org or (574)936-7058
Internet Marketing Conference and Trade Shows Search, Social Media, Affiliates SEO, PPC, SMO
Las Vegas Las Vegas Convention Center: Nov 7-10, 2011
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Why Providing Content Should Be Your FIRST Priority – Not Starting Conversations!
s I look on my Facebook news feed I see:
• A business and life coach mentioned: Today’s challenge is to see if I can replace the heating element on the dryer........I’ll let you know if I succeed or fail...lol....send prayers....lol • Quotes by Tony Robbins from someone who is not Tony Robbins • A realtor asked: What are your top 5 favorite things about summer? • Mine are 1) Farmer’s market, 2) Baseball 3) Weekend cookouts 4) A sliced summer tomato with a dollop of Hellman’s mayo 5) Sunlight till 9 pm! • A famous internet marketer who was on the show “Secret Millionaire” mentioned: Wishing you a great morning. I’m off to the gym for a workout. What are you doing on this blessed morning? • As I look on my LinkedIn news feed I see… • From a newsletter guru: It’s “Good Works” Saturday! Meeting friends for breakfast and then we’ll complete repairs on our current home project. • From a relationship expert for women - Sands of time only run out for those who live n the limits of an hour-glass. Become a limitless prism of light & the sands flow infinitely! • From a master life coach: Quiet day (@ Roya’s Garlic Garden) Now, these may be conversation starters. They may be following the advice of many social media experts that tell you to quote people and ask conversation starting questions like:
“What is your favorite dessert?” These types of conversations may generate more comments- and get you more friends. But is it really helping your business?
Why Focusing on Conversations Will Not Bring You New Business… How is posting a comment like: “What are your top 5 favorite things about summer” going to help a realtor get more leads? You may get 100 people commenting on their favorite things, but it doesn’t build credibility, sales and business relationships. It doesn’t show me why I should go to you for my real estate needs if I am looking to buy or sell a house in that realtor’s area. It doesn’t differentiate you from your competition. Yes – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are “social” marketing tools. But that doesn’t mean that you stray away from providing content that adds value to people’s lives and businesses.
Here’s How the Top 5% Are Making Money Using Content and Social Media Don Crowther just put out a video revealing that the top 5% who are making the most money on social media builds relationships by initially delivering a steady stream of highly-relevant, highly-informative, high-value content. Then they engage in conversations by answering questions and responding to feedback. The top 5% do not initiate conversations. That creates a deviation from your targeted audiences’ business needs – and it doesn’t give you the business relationship you need to get more clients and sales.
The top 5% are… Offering tips that no one else is providing – and then inviting prospects to get their free special reports like the one found at http:// www.getlinkedinhelp.com, free ebooks, free video or in my case, free article writing templates at
http://www.TryMyFreeArticleTemplates.com • Teasing prospects with shocking statements or thought provoking questions and then sending prospects to an article placement on a top website or to their blog for more information. At the end of the blog post, they encourage conversation based on the information they had provided. And they add a call-to-action to learn more whether it means grab their free information or invest in one of their products or services • Wowing prospects with the information they provide and encouraging prospects to discuss what they had learned. That’s why many internet marketers are now encouraging prospects to comment on their squeeze pages (using Facebook) and on their pages where they offer valuable information. By Focusing on Providing Quality Content in Your Area of Expertise Followers Will See You As: • • • •
An expert Someone to respect Someone to listen to Someone to do business with
Now, what kind of conversations are you going to engage in? Social conversations like, “What are you doing today?” or social business conversations based on your content that positions you as a thought leader. Your answer will depend on if you get more “friends” or more clients and customers. n
Article Marketing Expert Eric Gruber helps small business owners, experts and internet marketers become “trusted leaders in their industries” with thought leadership articles and content that should be submitted to top websites, ezines, blogs as well as social media circles. Now, you can learn how to create thought leadership content fast (in 30 minutes or less in many cases) with his instant article writing templates. Get 3 for free now at: http://www. TryMyFreeArticleTemplates.com
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Virtualization: The Hot Trend Today’s Organizations Can No Longer Ignore
he use of virtualization and cloud computing is growing quickly among companies of all sizes. Currently, 30 percent of servers are virtualized, and surveys show that by 2012, that number will grow to 50 percent. Virtualization and cloud computing go hand-in-hand, and virtualizing servers is just the tip of the iceberg. The trend to virtualize everything from servers to processing power to software offerings actually started years ago in the personal sector. In the recent past, it was common for individuals within major organizations to use virtualized services or cloud computing when at home, but at work they weren’t using those services at all. Why? Because corporate IT didn’t trust the lack of security of the cloud and they weren’t sure it was a hard trend—something that was definitely here to stay. Today, we know better. In order to fully understand how virtualization and cloud computing will transform the business world, let’s first look at the evolution of these capabilities.
Cloud Computing When talking about virtualization, cloud computing is a natural component. Cloud computing, which refers to companies using remote servers that can store data and allow users to access information from anywhere, takes three different evolutionary forms. The first is a public cloud. This could be something like Google docs, where you store your data, or something like Flicker, where you store your photos. Basically, you’re storing files somewhere else other than your hard drive, and in a place where you can access the items from any device at any time as long as you have an internet connection. The second form of cloud computing, which is a private cloud, is emerging rapidly. A private cloud exists when a company wants added security with cloud computing, yet they still want their people to have access to their bigger files and bigger databases from any device anywhere. Since it’s private, it’s secure and the public does not have access to it. Companies are now beginning to establish private clouds.
The third iteration that is part of the evolution of cloud computing is the private/public cloud—also called a hybrid cloud. In this configuration, you have a private part of your corporate cloud that is secure and only accessible by employees, but you also have a part of the cloud that is public where strategic partners, vendors, and customers can access limited content.
Virtualization Virtualization can take many forms aside from servers. For example, you can virtualize a desktop, meaning your desktop is stored virtually in the clouds and you can access it from anywhere. You can virtualize your operating system. That means you can be using a Mac yet running the latest Windows operating system on the Mac, or you can have a PC and have three different operating systems running all at the same time. That’s the power of virtualization. Another element of virtualization is software as a service (SaaS). Decades ago, we started with software that you had to buy, install, maintain, and update. Thanks to SaaS, the software is in the clouds, so you no longer buy it; you
simply buy time to use it. It’s a cost-effective way for companies of all sizes to have access to enterprise level software. Similarly, we’re also starting to see virtualized processing power. Think of this as accessing a supercomputer in the clouds and having that supercomputer’s processing power available on your smart phone or tablet. In February 2011, the TV game show Jeopardy featured IBM’s supercomputer Watson against human contestants. Watson beat the humans at Jeopardy quite well because it knew what it was good at and it focused on those categories. With virtualized processing power, you’re basically getting a Watson on your phone. That means you and your employees can make informed decisions about many things, very quickly. One of the ways Watson has been used since Jeopardy is looking at MRI scans. When Watson reviews an MRI scan, it can detect anomalies and see things a human doctor can’t see. Watson can also analyze many variables in an effort to help the human doctor make a better diagnosis faster. It’s about allowing professionals rapid access to vast amounts of information and knowledge that can help them work faster and smarter. Healthcare is just one example. Could people who do sales, R&D, purchasing, delivery, sourcing, shipping, accounting, and a host of other functions benefit from a Watson-like supercomputer in the palm of their hand? Yes. Could it make them work smarter, better, and more effective? Most definitely!
The Game Changer Part of this evolution of virtualization and cloud computing is that we can now virtualize various components of IT. And in the near future, we’ll start seeing IT as a Service (much like how SaaS became popular). This means that much of the IT department will be virtualized and running in the cloud. The benefits of IT as a service are immense. Not only will it save money, but it will also increase speed and agility. Since your servers aren’t being used 100 percent all the time, the efficiency varies. With IT as a service, a company will be able to scale in real time as demand dictates by the nanosecond. As sales increase, instantly the system will selfconfigure. As sales decrease, it does the same. Now you’re only paying for what you’re using. In this case, you’ll be able to benefit from dynamic
resource allocation so you’re able to maximize what you have and what you’re paying for at all times. IT as a service is a game changer. Because you now have components of the IT department existing in the cloud, you’re freeing your in-house IT staff to shift from a maintenance mode to an innovation mode. As such, your IT department can focus on achieving business goals, creating innovative solutions, and driving sales rather than upgrading individual user’s computers and firefighting everyday problems. It allows the IT department to really look at the industry trends unfolding so your company can give customers the products and services they’d ask for, if they only knew what was possible. It’s Time to V-Enable the Organization In terms of implementing virtualization and cloud computing options, organizations are now starting to move quickly. Virtualization received a big push in 2009 and 2010 because of the recession, which prompted many companies to cut their IT budget. Companies realized that one way to save money is through virtualization. For example, virtual desktops alone lower costs by 15 percent. Now in 2011, the factors that are increasing an organization’s interest in virtualization are speed and agility. Virtualization enables you to do things faster, thus making your company more agile. Instead of delivering a new service in two months, companies are able to do it in two days. As virtualization and cloud computing become more prevalent, companies are going to need to form new strategic relationships because existing relationships may not have the core competencies needed to drive the fundamental changes that will be needed. At this point it would be good to ask yourself if you have the relationships you need to move forward given this shift? Do your current
strategic relationships understand the shifts taking place and are they embracing the things you know will happen? Realize, too, that the wrong question to ask is, “What should we buy?” Rather, you have to look at the bigger picture of what you’re trying to accomplish in this transformational time. How can you use virtualization and cloud computing as game changers for your company based on where it’s evolving? The key is to understand the new capabilities, because in order to know what to buy or what to do, you first have to know what is possible. 2011 is the year most are sticking their toes in the waters of virtualization and cloud computing. It’s the year organizations realize this isn’t a fad that’s going to fade. Virtualization and the cloud are hard trends that provide transformational opportunities and will continue to rapidly evolve. The time to embrace this trend is now. n
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients better understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal best seller Flash Foresight: How To See the Invisible and Do the Impossible as well as the highly acclaimed Technotrends. For more information, please visit: www.burrus.com.
Web Apps vs. Native Apps; Which is Best for Your Business?
ccording to Smashing Media GmbH, there will be 1.7 billion mobile Internet users by 2013. An essential choice facing business decisionmakers today is how to best share your company’s content and products on the mobile devices that are set to take over. Strategy decisions made now will affect how well your company is positioned to reach the widest possible mobile audience in our rapidly on-the-go world. Complicating these decisions are two widely different methods of broadcasting content, either through native apps sold through third-party stores, or through Web apps, accessible on the Internet by a users’ web browser. While you develop your company’s mobile and ecommerce strategies, it’s important to understand the subtle, but infinitely important difference between the Web and the Internet. When accessing the New York Times on your mobile device from a Web browser, you’re on the World Wide Web; an interconnected network of billions of data points regulated by an international body. When you access the Times through a mobile app, you’re on the Internet; using various technologies like TCP/IP protocol and communicating with the New York Times’ servers to deliver content to your device. As smartphones outsell PCs and tablets increase in popularity, companies have designed apps to accommodate mobile devices’ smaller browsing screens and restricted bandwidths. Developers found that apps could be tailored to complete a handful of tasks in an attractive manner, funneling essential information to the user despite a less powerful device. However, new advances in Web technology, specifically in the form of HTML5 and
CSS3, are offering alternatives to downloadable apps. Pandora, which recently switched to a leaner, Flash-less Web app, now loads, on average, five times faster than the Flash version, a much faster onboarding experience. However, the features of Web-based apps still lag behind those of their flashier, native, counterparts. The most productive method used to reach customers is far from decided. Below are a set of parameters you can use to target the largest number of consumers and customers when determining the best platform for your company to deliver products or content.
Costs/Profitability Understandably, one of the most important concerns is the cost associated with programming a new app for your business. Native apps demand a larger investment, as they require a specific set of tools and expertise to program. Additionally, native apps need to be programmed for several different devices. Web apps, which can be written in HTML5, work for all platforms without parallel coding. Native apps are sold through centralized marketplaces, like the Apple App Store or the Android Marketplace; however, these centralized markets maintain ultimate control over the distribution of your content. Web apps, meanwhile, are accessed directly over the Web, so there’s no need to download from a centralized location. Web apps do require an advanced knowledge of HTML and CSS so hiring a Web developer is usually necessary. Obviously, more advanced techniques will take more investment and time as HTML5 and CSS3 are still relatively young standards. So getting insight from a developer you’ll find that their knowledge of HTML5 stems from Web communities that share lines of markup and new tricks.
Accessibility When considering accessibility keep in mind web apps are more universally compatible with all devices. Yet on the actual device, as it stands now, there’s no real comparison. Native apps offer a smoother and more streamlined user interface, as they run offline on the device’s processor. Apple wowed the world with its iPhone home page, onto which crisp, fast-reacting app icons were set. The home page was so intuitive, a toddler could use it. In fact, when a native app is live, there’s no comparing its functionality to a Web app. The one drawback; however, is that users have to download the apps individually. Also, the popularity of three different mobile operating systems means that companies have to commission three different versions of the same app to reach the largest possible audience, iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Web apps offer more open access with lower performance standards. Last year, YouTube unveiled an HTML5 mobile site. The HTML5 version did away with Flash as the site’s video platform and now allows any smartphone device to access videos through pre-installed Web browsers. Although
YouTube has a native app for every commonly used platform, the new mobile site is built to work with future devices and is cross-platform out-ofthe-box. There will be no need to continually update its mobile app for the three major mobile operating systems. Also, updates and programming tweaks can be made without the user downloading an update directly to their device.
Performance/Features While Web applications may provide more accessibility, even the most modern Web browsers still can’t provide the performance standards that native apps reach. Web apps, with the exception of geolocation, don’t provide access to the extensive new hardware included in smartphone devices today; however, apps that are coded specifically for certain device classes can integrate with a multitude of advanced hardware, including gyroscopes, cameras, microphones and speakers. Web apps are a better choice if broad accessibility and search ability are focuses. On the other hand, if your company is planning to deliver complex graphics or content, a native app may be more appropriate. Web standards are improving; consequently, offering new ways to display content over the Web are continually being developed. HTML5, CSS3 and Java are leading the charge against the closed, native app dominance by offering video and animation features through the typical Web browser.
The New York Times unveiled a Web app deemed “The Skimmer” that runs in a user’s browser window and looks startlingly similar to the publication’s mobile app – no download necessary. Certainly there are pros and cons to both native and Web applications, so ultimately it comes down to how you want your company to interact with customers. Native apps currently have the user experience advantage, but Web apps are quickly closing the gap. Cost will undoubtedly be a consideration as most app prices are free to consumers; making cost an important business driver. So if you’re looking to develop an app for your business, take some time to sit down with management and decide your target audience and company goals. Apps are an increasingly important way to reach your audience, so whether you choose a Web or native platform, the bottom line is in order to stay ahead of the curve companies should definitely consider a mobile ecommerce platform. n
Diane Buzzeo, CEO and founder of Ability Commerce, has more than 25 years of experience boosting sales for retailers. She leads a team that offers a groundbreaking software platform, Ability SmartSite, which increases the web sales of clients by an average of 66% in the first year. Under her leadership, Ability Commerce also offers a variety of other software solutions that address the ever-growing needs of ecommerce retailers to drive sales. For more information about Ability Commerce go to www. abilitycommerce.com or send an email to DianeBuzzeo@abilitycommerce.com.
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10 Shows in 1 For a tailored sponsorship package contact Hayley Sher Tel: +27 11 (0) 516 4077 Email: email@example.com www.visibilitymagazine.com
AdLift Boost Your Presence, Build Your Brand!
ounded in 2009, AdLift provides customized digital media strategy and search marketing solutions for online businesses in the North American and Asian markets, with offices located in Palo Alto, CA and New Delhi, India. AdLift’s combination of offshore and U.S-based resources puts it in a unique position to deliver best-in-breed results at cost effective rates for its clients.
History AdLift’s founders Vivek Pahwa and Prashant Puri both have extensive experience in all forms of internet marketing. After successful stints in several Fortune 500 companies, a desire to take their expertise to the next level resulted in the creation of a new kind of internet marketing company. According to co-founder Prashant Puri, “I think the main reason for founding the company was that we saw traditional SEO firms charge an arm and a leg without any clear tracking or ROI analysis. We wanted to change that and hence developed a model where we lowered our cost to provide high value SEO for our clients that very simple put just works. Ninety percent of our clients see an improvement in ranks within the first 6 weeks of engagement.” This new model has attracted the attention of the industry, with AdLift being recently recognized as the 5th best global SEO firm by TopSEOs.com. AdLift is also an advisor at leading industry events such as the SES Conference & Expo in San Francisco and has contributed to industry leading journals like Visibility, Clickz, Pubcon and SearchEngineWatch.com.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ROI Driven Search Engine Optimization – Track Everything! AdLift believes in deciding with data. We track and measure key performance factors across each SEO process and every step. Our process includes: On-Page Optimization and Strategy Your site should be interesting and useful to site visitors yet also easy for search engines to comprehend. AdLift focuses on two key metrics for on-page optimization: Keyword Analysis & Strategy and Site Analysis & Recommendations. Link Development Link building is widely seen as the “bread and butter” of SEO and here at AdLift, we excel at it! Let us help your domain acquire trust with quality link creation. The more quality links pointing to your website, the more likely search engines will point your site in the direction of potential customers. Some examples of the link building strategies we employ are: article development and syndication, high domain authority directory submissions, topically relevant vertical directory submissions, viral widget creation and distribution, and social networking.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Performance Management for PPC Use SEM to drive targeted visits and effective cost per clicks through Google AdWords marketing, Yahoo Search Marketing and Bing AdCenter. AdLift’s proprietary algorithms enable precise bidding, long tail keyword expansion and optimal cost per acquisition making it a powerful tool that’s built for optimal return on investment. Our process includes: Optimized Ad Creation, Keyword Expansion, Ad Copy Optimization, Bid Optimization, and Landing Page Optimization. We work closely with you to understand your business needs and build and manage customized campaigns and keywords that are set based on your performance goals. AdLift’s PPC management services put the advertiser in complete control of their budget. In addition, AdLift’s in-depth reporting tools and customized reports provide key insights to the overall performance of your campaign. n
4151 Middlefield Rd. | Palo Alto, CA 94303. India Office: 21-C, Sector 18, Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon - 122016 Ph: 91-124-4091111
AdLift aims to deliver superior ROI with every click by amplifying domain trust, acquiring traffic and analyzing performance metrics.
Any organization looking to improve site and search engine results performance; offering services for all budgets.
Over 150 worldwide and growing!
• Vivek Pahwa Co-Founder • Prashant Puri Co-Founder
• Search Engine Optimization • Search Engine Marketing • Social Media Marketing
Recently ranked 5th best global SEO firm by TopSEOs.com
Help boost your company’s presence on the web with AdLift! For more information or inquiries, please visit us at www.adlift.com.
The Human Part of Search Engine Optimization Understanding Searcher Goals
earch engine optimization (SEO) is a widely misunderstood term. To many people, SEO means optimizing a website for top positions on the commercial Web search engines. This literal, face-value definition of SEO is so ubiquitous that SEO professionals are perceived as snake-oil salesmen or people who exploit the commercial Web search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a widely misunderstood term. To many people, SEO means optimizing a website for top positions on the commercial Web search engines. This literal, face-value definition of SEO is so ubiquitous that SEO professionals are perceived
By Shari Thurow
as snake-oil salesmen or people who exploit the commercial Web search engines.
on both Web search engines and site search engines.
In reality, SEO is writing, designing, coding, and programming a website for people who use search engines. Notice there are two parts to this definition: (1) people and (2) search engines. In order for a website to be search engine friendly, it should be friendly to both humans and search engines - not to search engines exclusively, not to humans exclusively. In fact, when done properly, SEO actually makes the products, services, and information on your website easier to find
What is the key ingredient to the SEO secret sauce? Is it meta tags? Is it link popularity? Is it social media optimization? As an SEO practitioner since 1995, I honestly believe that the key ingredient to site optimization is the often dismissed human element â€“ searchers. If SEO professionals tried to understand and accommodate the needs, goals, and behaviors of Web searchers, they could deliver a better user experience on our websites. But that means stepping away from our familiar
keyword research tools, back-link checkers, web analytics software, and webmaster tools. It means we must talk and listen to the very people who are using our websites – searchers/ users. What are their goals? Since the late 1990s, researchers at the commercial Web search engines have determined that Web searchers have 3 primary goals: navigational, informational, and transactional.
Navigational Searcher Goals When a Web searcher wishes to go to a website, or a specific Web page on a Website, the searcher goal is classified as a navigational goal, and the keywords he/she is typing into a search engine are called navigational keywords. Navigational queries are far more common than one might imagine. According to Microsoft, up to 33% of search engine queries show navigational intent.
Let’s use the National Cancer Institute website as an example. To see if an individual Web page or section of a site is properly optimized for thyroid cancer, I will type in the following keywords into the search box: thyroid cancer site:www.cancer.gov I should see the most appropriate, relevant pages about thyroid cancer appear at the top of search results. If I don’t see the best pages appear, then I know that the thyroid cancer pages need to be optimized better. Taking the extra time to determine how well your pages are optimized for navigational searcher goals is well worth the effort. When people want to visit (and revisit) your website, and you make that process easy for them, your website and your brand are perceived as more dependable, reliable, and trustworthy.
In fact, when done properly, SEO actually makes the products, services, and information on your website easier to find on both Web search engines and site search engines. How can SEO professionals determine whether keywords show navigational intent? One way is to review web analytics data to see of all or parts of a URL (Web address) were used to find your website. For example, if your company name were Tranquiliteas Organic Teas, a person doing a navigational query might type in: • • • •
Tranquiliteas Organic Teas (company name) Tranquilities Organic (part of a company name) Tranquiliteasorganic (part of a domain name) Tranquiliteasorganic.com (domain name, with domain extension) • Green teas tranquiliteasorganic (keywords with part of a domain name) • In that last example, the searcher wishes to go to a specific page on a website, namely the section of the site that offers green teas. Many SEO professionals dismiss navigational searcher goals as less important than transactional searcher goals. I believe this is a mistake. When a searcher performs a navigational query, he/she wants to go to your website. And website owners should make that easy to do. In fact, when I evaluate websites for search engine visibility, I look at how well individual Web pages appear in search results for navigational queries.
Informational Searcher Goals The most common type of searcher goal is an informational goal, when a Web searcher wishes to read or learn more about a topic. All websites should have information pages to accommodate the variety of informational goals. In all likelihood, your website already contains information pages. Let’s look at some examples of information pages. One type of information page is a page that answers a question. What type of Web page naturally answers a question? A help, customer service, or frequently asked questions (FAQs) page typically has a question-answer, questionanswer format. FAQs pages are naturally search-engine friendly as long as content writers remember to use keywords appropriately. Another type of question-answer page is a tips page, such as a how-to page. And even though a Locations page does not contain a question, it does answer the question, “How do I get to (office)” or “Where is your office located”? Another type of information page is a list. A strong indication that a Web searcher wants to view a list is the presence of the plural form of a word. So if a person searches for the keyword
phrase Hawaii vacations, that person wants to see a list of vacation options to Hawaii. What is the type of page that naturally shows a list of items or options? A category page. So when I optimize a website to accommodate informational goals, I tend to emphasize the plural form of a keyword on a category page rather than the singular form of a word (polo shirts vs. polo shirt). I focus on the singular form of a word on individual product pages. To determine if search engines are getting the most appropriate page, I will perform a navigational query to see if the most appropriate page shows up: polo shirts site:www.domain.com If the category page for polo shirts appears at the top of search results, then I am reasonably certain that the page is optimized well.
Transactional Searcher Goals The least common type of searcher goal is a transactional goal. When a Web searcher has transactional intent, he/she wishes to do something on a website. Many website owners assume that the only types of transactional goals are Add to Cart or Sign Up/Register. However, there are many different types of transactional goals. A Web searcher might want to watch a video, listen to music, download software, or look at pictures. The words video, music, download, and pictures are examples of transactional keywords. Here are some more examples of transactional keywords: • • • • • • • • •
Calculate/calculator Apply/application Find/search Subscribe/subscription Locate/location Register/registration Photo(s) or photograph(s) Contact Compare
With transactional goals, Web searchers often do not type in a transactional keyword even though they expect to see that word (or phrase) on a page. On a product page, Web searchers do expect to see a button or a link that says Add to Cart, Add to Bag, or Buy even though they didn’t type those words in a search box. They also expect to see a product photo and a price. Likewise, a person who wishes to look at pictures typically does not type in the word look, and a person who wishes to watch a
video does not type in the word watch. A person who wishes to download music might not type in the word music but might type in the file extension .mp3.
Savvy SEO professionals and website owners should identify the various keywords that show transactional intent and ensure that those transactions are communicated to both search engines and Web searchers. Some SEO professionals mistakenly believe that Log in is a transactional keyword phrase because it is an action. However, in order to log into a website, one must go to that specific website in order to log in. So this particular phrase indicates navigational intent first, then transactional intent.
Combination Goals Searcher goals are fluid. An informational goal can quickly turn into a transaction (such as Add to Cart) if the price is right and the website is trustworthy. Many Web searchers do price comparisons online, especially for high-ticket items such as appliances, cars, and electronics. Once they determine the right product at the right price, they might go to a specific website to find out where the nearest store is.
And if they purchased a product from a physical store, and if customer service and price were satisfactory, the Web searcher might return to the website for other related products. Likewise, once a Web searcher determines that he/she can return to a specific site to get a question answered, the information goal turns into a navigational goal. Therefore, accommodating searcher goals and behaviors is very much a part of the search engine optimization process. The commercial Web search engines accommodate searcher goals. So should you. n
Shari Thurow is the Founder and SEO Director of Omni Marketing Interactive, a full-service search engine optimization, website usability, information architecture (IA), and web design firm located in the Chicago area. Shari is the author of Search Engine Visibility and co-author of When Search Meets Web Usability. She is also on the board of directors for the Information Architecture Institute (2010-2012). www.search-usability.com
Convert More Visitors into Leads & Buyers 2012 is the Year. Conversion Conference is the Place. • Learn from the world’s top conversion, usability and testing experts • Hear real-world case studies and conversion experiences from B2B and B2C marketers
SAN FRANCISCO, CA MARCH 5-6, 2012
CHICAGO, IL JUNE 26-27, 2012
NEW YORK, NY OCTOBER 22-23, 2012
• Get techniques for optimizing e-commerce, lead generation, membership/subscription sites and more • See the latest tools and strategies for optimizing mobile, social, email, and all your marketing efforts
3 Great Cities – 1 Amazing Event www.ConversionConference.com/visibility Part of Data Driven Business Week
Stop the Insanity – How Marketers are Using Analytics to ‘Break the Habit’
s usual, during my family’s Sunday night Wii bowling championship, my son decided to call it quits after a few frames. To make it fair, my wife and I decided to bowl his turns left handed, obviously thinking his score would never surpass ours. But to our surprise, we both bowled a Turkey (which means three strikes in a row for those of you who aren’t avid Wii bowlers). Who would have thought it? From that point on, we both changed our ‘technique’ to ambidextrous bowling! Sometimes in marketing, we get accustomed to doing things a certain way. If our batting average is 300 – at least some of the time – why risk changing things? With that said, two questions always linger….what could I be doing differently and what would the result be? In the ‘olden days’ marketing was limited to traditional media channels, which limit the ability to tweak a marketer’s message. You run a 30-second television spot or a print ad and your message is set in stone. If you realize a week into your month-long placement that you’re not driving the results you anticipated, there’s no changing it. You wait it out and then apply the learnings to the next round of communications – and pray to the marketing gods that your ROI stays in the positive. With the Internet, a new age of dynamic marketing began. Place a message, analyze the results quickly, and alter the message until you drive the results you want. But with limited usage and demographic data, it becomes a guessing game of determining a message broad enough to appeal to a broad audience yet
targeted enough to drive action. Now we have the mobile channel. The opportunity to interact with consumers on the go is exciting, but a risky move if you’re not sure your message is spot on. Consumers view their mobiles as highly personal so if not presented correctly, your brand can quickly be ‘annoying’, ‘irrelevant’, or worst of all, ‘ignored.’ So what’s the key to delivering the right message? Being able to determine what drives your customers’ actions. What if you knew that a 10% discount delivered on a Tuesday at lunchtime drives 25% higher click thrus and 10% higher revenues than a $15 discount delivered on a Wednesday after work hours? Or that the probability of driving a sale increases by 30% when you target those highly connected to social influencers who have completed a transaction in the past 48 hours? Or that someone who works near your retail location during the week is 50% more likely to act on a ‘deal of the day’ offer than someone who happens to be in town for the day? The amount of customer and behavioral data available to the mobile channel far surpasses that of any other. But without the right tools to use it, the point becomes moot. Let’s be honest. Marketers are some of the most creative, innovative people on the planet but sifting through thousands of data points (or relying on other teams to find the needle in the haystack) to determine the ‘perfect’ treatment (right message, right context) is a task no marketer is up for. So what does that mean? We all get the same 10% discount offer on Monday at 4pm, regardless of our unique preferences, behaviors, location, availability, profile characteristics, and propensity to buy. Fortunately, mobile operators have seen the light and are leveraging new technologies to automate the analytical process. Imagine being able to test hundreds of treatments
simultaneously to determine the efficacy of contexts and messages, learn through automated analysis and model generation, and then seamlessly iterate and optimize campaigns to ensure delivery of the best treatment to each customer. Believe it or not – operators are starting to use these techniques today. No more guessing games or fear of trying something new. Solutions that incorporate machine learning and automation are freeing marketers to think big and act quickly. And with the ability to determine the best context and the right message for each customer, they are achieving better results. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Are you using the same marketing techniques you’ve used for years? Are you too bogged down with process to think more creatively about what to offer customers? How many different treatments are you testing as part of your mobile marketing campaigns? How are you ensuring that your messages are in context and actually primed to influence your customers’ behaviors? It’s time to stop the insanity and take advantage of new marketing technologies that will take your mobile marketing success to the next level. And while you’re at it, give ‘ambidextrous bowling’ a try! n
Glenn Pingul is Vice President, Products & Mobile Strategies for Globys (www.globys.com). a leading provider of customer experience solutions for the worldwide telecommunications market. Globys provides some of the world’s leading telecommunications carriers with solutions that help them leverage their customer data asset to enhance the overall customer experience. A spin off from VeriSign Inc., one of the world’s leading providers of infrastructure services, Globys offers a suite of products that have helped meet the needs of telecommunications carriers for more than 14 years and supports global customer deployments. Globys has headquarters in Seattle and regional offices around the world. Additional information can be found at www.globys.com.
How to Work with Your Web Designer to Get A Profitable Online Presence; Even When You Are Time Starved
any business owners find themselves putting “website makeover” (or even “website development”) on the back burner because they just don’t have time - even though they know they are leaving money on the table. Others are too busy working with their current clients to develop their own compelling online presence. The truth is, you don’t have to wait until you get some time freed up, which might not happen for another decade. And you don’t have to settle for a half-baked website that looks pretty but doesn’t bring you clients, sales or traffic. You can get a new website up fast when you apply just 3 strategies for working with your website designer. Strategy #1: Create your content – all your content – before you even think about developing your logo, color scheme or website layout.
probably will be charged for the extra time. Besides, she can’t stop work on her current project. You may wait a month or more to get your project going again. • Your designer relies on your content strategy to create a header graphic and choose the colors. Otherwise the design you choose will not support your message and may even clash with your USP (Unique selling Proposition). For example, I worked with a client who had paid for a high-end graphic of a relaxed beach scene. When we reviewed her niche, she realized she needed an image that was stark and strong. Mountain cliffs and stormy waves would have been more appropriate. My client was then faced with a choice to keep a graphic that didn’t fit
her strategy or acknowledge that she had paid for an online presence that would be confusing rather than compelling? Strategy #2: Work with a copywriter to help you communicate exactly how your audience will benefit When it comes to websites, many business owners focus on eye-popping graphics and they agonize for hours over website colors and typefaces. Yes, when you stand out from the crowd, you earn more revenue with a whole lot less effort. You can command higher fees because prospects realize you are unique. However, they won’t respond if you just LOOK unique. Your prospects and clients
Many business owners call a web designer or even a web development company as their very first step. After all, most of us are conscious of what a website looks like. We’re often taught to associate “website development” with “web design.” My clients have been surprised to find how much time and money they can save by starting their website makeover by writing content, either as a DIY or by hiring a copywriter first. Here’s why. • You can lose your place in the designer’s queue if you do not have your content ready. Your web designer can’t complete your project without content. When your designer has to wait for your content, he or she moves on to other projects. When you finally call to say, “Content is here!” your designer may be in the middle of another project. She needs more time to re-learn your requirements and you
want to be sure you haven’t just taken an old brown cow and slapped on some purple paint.
field to score points. The job of the offensive line is to make sure the quarterback gets through, unharmed, without interference.
That’s where expert copywriters make the difference as they can paint word pictures and introduce you as a 3-dimensional, standout professional. The truth is, your copywriter can set up the content that steers your designer to develop a website that’s your own version of a purple cow.
On your website, your designer’s job is to make it easy for visitors to read your copy. Just as good linemen protect their quarterback, your web designer makes sure your graphics support your message and your site is easy to read.
Strategy #3: Put your players in the best position to win the profit game. Often, business owners expect the web designer to win the whole online marketing game single-handedly with color, design, traffic and navigation. The truth is, if your website were a football game, the content would be the quarterback and the design would be your offensive line. On the football field the quarterback calls plays and makes sure the ball gets down the
Your copywriter calls the plays: How do you identify your niche so you know how to reach them easily (and motivate them to take action on your offer)? Which pages get featured on the main menu bar? What metaphors and stories will frame your content? Once these critical decisions have been made, your web designer can implement the technical and visual components of your site. Some copywriters will even guide your designer and manage the entire project, just as a football quarterback is the coach on the field.
Now, Are You Ready to Work More Effectively with Your Web Designer So You Can Start Getting More Prospects and Clients? The simple strategies I described in this article will multiply your marketing efforts, whether you are a beginner who’s trying to develop a website while creating a new company or a seasoned veteran who is busy seeing clients but desperately needs an upgraded website to keep prospects in the funnel. Now you can skip the hassle and time-consuming detours that many business associate with online marketing. n
Master Copywriter Cathy Goodwin helps time-starved entrepreneurs and owners of professional service firms create a profitable website presence fast, even when they are short on time. Now, she invites you to grab her FREE 5 Point Website Profits Checklist – that should be used as a guide as you complete the website development process. Get your checklist now at: http://www.CopywritingWithCathy.com
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6 Simple (and Free!) Ways to Leverage Your Content
s a respectable internet marketer, you most likely spend a lot of time and effort creating high quality content for your site and/ or link building activities. A well researched and crafted article takes a lot of time and ultimately only adds one piece of content to your site. In this article, I’ll discuss six simple ways to leverage your content so as to get maximum exposure, back links and value from your content.
Leveraging Tool #3: Document Sharing
Leveraging Tool #1: Your Syndication Network
Once that’s done, set up your account at the following document sharing sites and upload your PDF:
Every SEO should have a list of authority publishers in their respective niche. If you haven’t yet compiled one yet, here’s how... Simply find the top 10 authority publishing sites in your niche, get in touch with the editor (I recommend doing so by phone as opposed to email, as this dramatically increases your chances of building a relationship with them and thus getting published), and ask them if you can forward your articles for consideration. Be sure to provide 3 of your best articles to date as “sales material”. Also remind them that they can “unsubscribe” at any time should you’re articles not suit their audience. Once you’ve got your list together, submit your article to the network. Be sure to customize your emails (and to a lesser degree, the article) to suit each publication and maximize the chance of acceptance.
Leveraging Tool #2: Standard Ezines & Industry Forums
An oldie but still a goodie – submit your article to the top article directories, such as EzineArticles, Go Articles, ArticleAlley, etc. If you’re doing this on a regular basis, a reputable distribution service like SubmitYourArticle.com will come in handy. Quality is key here though – the “Auto Article Submitter” type programs are simply trashy and not worth your time. Additionally, post your article on industry forums in their “Articles Section” (if they have one). This is an easy way to target a specific audience, as well as build a reputation as a contributor in forum communities.
This one’s less conventional, but a fantastic way to share your content on alternative platforms. Simply copy your article into Word, enrich it with some complimentary images, diagrams, etc and convert it to PDF. I suggest using the official Adobe PDF creator so as to ensure that your links remain intact.
• • • •
Scribd – www.scribd.com DocStoc – www.docstoc.com DoxTop – www.doxtop.com Issuu – www.issuu.com
Once uploaded, you will have a sparkling online PDF version of your article! In addition to the links received from these sites, they also have a strong readership which may drive natural traffic to your site. Note that some of these platforms do offer paid options, but the free versions are fine to start with. If you see value in them down the line, you can always upgrade...
Leveraging Tool #4: Slide Sharing
Similar to document sharing, SlideShare.net allows you to upload your slide shows. Now this is a little more tricky, as not every article is suitable for conversion into a slideshow format, but very often your “Top 10 Tips” or “4 Steps To” type articles will work well in slide format. You’ll just need to “cut the fat” in some areas and get to the point. Once you’ve created your slideshow, simply upload it to SlideShare.net and presto – another set of backlinks to your site. Another benefit of this platform is the ability to embed your slideshow into your own site (much like a Youtube video) for easy viewing online.
Leveraging Tool #5: Video Sharing
In this step, the effort you put into crafting that slideshow really pays off, because you’ll be converting it into a video! No need to fret though; you needn’t be the next Spielberg – you’re just going to make a glorified slideshow and voiceover. Here’s the easiest way to do just that: 1. Open your slideshow in PowerPoint, choose “Save As” and select the “PNG” option (image format). PP will then convert each slide into a PNG graphic. 2. Take those graphics and whip them into Windows Movie Maker (or a less tacky video program of your choice!). Make sure they’re all in the correct order... 3. Next, get yourself a glass of water to clear the throat, and test your computer’s microphone settings... I suggest downloading a simple audio editing app like Audacity (it’s 100% free and perfect for the
job) for the recording. This will allow you to trim and clean up your recording. 4. When you’re ready, hit the record button and talk your way through the slideshow. The easiest approach to take is that of the presenter – simply pretend you’re presenting the slideshow to a “real” audience. So you needn’t read it word for word, just “go with the flow”. This may take a few recordings depending on how comfortable you are in front of the mic – don’t stress, you’ll get it right! 5. Once that recording is waxed, slip it into Windows Movie Maker and time your slides accordingly. This will take a little fiddling about, but once you’ve figured it out, you’ll fly through the next one. Once you’re comfortable working with Audacity and Windows Movie Maker, you can start getting more creative with your video creations. An entry and exit jingle (sound clip) always adds to that professional touch... Once done, you need to upload your video to your selection of video sharing sites. There are varying approaches to this topic, but I tend to lean towards the bigger hosts, namely Youtube, Metacafe and Vimeo. To get started, Youtube is ideal, and offer the largest single audience. When uploading to Youtube, be sure to upload a transcription for maximum SEO benefit.
elements. This may not always be possible though, so a little re-recording might be necessary, with some “cut and paste” work in Audacity. Once done, get your podcast up on some podcasting directories. You’ll need to do a little research to see which sites are best for your niche, but the following three are always a good start: • Itunes • Podomatic • PodcastAlley Once again, be sure to provide a transcription of your podcast (where the site allows it) and drop your link in the mix somewhere. Podcasts were a bit of a fad, but they’re still a great way to drive traffic (and of course grab links) – provided that you create value for the listener. And that’s that – 6 simple ways to leverage your content. This list is only an introduction and is by no means all inclusive –with a little creative thinking you’ll be able to find many more opportunities within your respective niches. Good luck!. n
Leveraging Tool #6: Podcasts
This one trickles right off the back of video creation, as the only thing you need to do is pull your audio recording from the original video and you’ve got a podcast! Keep the podcast functionality in mind when recording though, as listeners will not be able to “see” any referenced
Derek Jansen is the founder of Nitch Marketing – an internet marketing company specializing in search engine optimization, pay per click marketing and affiliate marketing. For more information, visit www.Nitch.co.za.
Going Global? How to Ease Your Website in Foreign Search Engines
here are several key pieces of information you should know before you make your new website live, to ensure your traffic levels, sales or leads don’t disappear. Whether your website is being updated or redesigned, there are many items that need to be reviewed before deciding to give the final approval to launch a website. There may be a lot more involved here than I can possibly cover in this article without boring you to death, but I will highlight some key considerations that you should check to confirm that everything is in order before proceeding. Any changes to a site that involve large amounts of deleted or moved files, new technology implementation, content changes, changes in domain names or hosting providers may have a
significant impact to current clients, new prospects, partners and often most detrimental, the search engines. Any of these circumstances are potentially a dangerous situation for search engine ranking, which has the ability to cut the life blood of many businesses today. The main concern that stems from these changes to your website is rooted at the path changes to URLs. For instance, your old website will potentially have hundreds of URLs like www.domain.com/ page.php or www.domain.ca/ image.jpg. When a redesign is done and technologies, domain names, hosting providers, file names, or images are changed, this will result in either broken parts or invalid URLs.
How do these referenced files cause problems?
When a new website is launched, most businesses will publicize it. Clients, friends, partners, and others start to view the site, familiarize themselves with it, and bookmark pages they like or want to reference again. The search engines crawl the site and, if designed in a search-enginefriendly way, will find all the files being referenced on the site. Search engines later place a value and decide how each page, image, video, and/or file will be ranked in the search result pages. Other websites may then start to link to these
different files, referencing images, content, logos, or videos and rely on your website to provide the source of the reference. Over time, your website becomes a pool of assets for partners, companies, clients, websites and the search engines. These connections rely on your website to work properly. A broken site can result in upset clients, poor usability, loss of traffic, sales, prospects and a damaged reputation.
How does one ensure a new website launch goes off without a hitch? Take inventory. Create a website asset document that outlines who, what, where and when the domain name was registered and hosting provider. A domain name is a key asset that is the primary link between all of these broken files. A change to a domain name often has the most dramatic effect. Make sure you have access to the domain name settings so that when needed, you can change the Domain Name Servers (DNS) or any IPs. Note that any DNS changes may take between 24-48 hours for DNS Propagation. That is the time it takes for the update to circle the world and update DNS records at all the different Internet Service Providers (ISP). It’s only when this is completed that everyone can now see the updated website. While updating your domain name, it’s also a good time to check the expiration date (and renew, if necessary) and if the WHOIS ownership data is up-todate. I suggest ensuring your domain name doesn’t expire for at least the next 5 years, so renew if necessary.
The hosting of your website also needs to be considered before a launch. Will you be changing your hosting provider? If so, where is the geographic location of the new provider? If different then your current location, the new location and IP changes can sometime effect how the search engines geo-target your ranking. The type of hosting, such as sharing an IP, may also affect the credibility of your site if the IP is the same or in the same range as other poor-quality sites.
If you have an SSL, changes in hosting providers will often result in the need to re-issue the certificate. If you host your e-mail server at the same host as your main server, the change may affect your email functionality. Get access to your hosting providerâ€™s admin panel and list all of the email accounts and aliases created. Make sure you go through the list and plan changes accordingly to get your email accounts moved to the new server. In case anything goes wrong, it is always best to have a back-up plan. Do you have a copy of the old website? Make sure you have a copy that doesnâ€™t require a connection to the server, commonly needed for databases, so that you can easily view any text, images, videos or URLs you need, too. You should also have a full list of your URLs. All of them should be indexed by search engines. Are you planning to change any of them? Before the launch is the right time to create a new sitemap and set up permanent (301) redirects to point updated URLs to their new homes. List any tools currently connected to the site. These may include analytical tools that have code added to each of your pages (like Google Analytics) or any specific files (like verification files for Google Webmaster tools). Third-party sites you are referencing materials from, like YouTube, shopping carts, payment gateways, lead capturing or communication applications also need to be included in this list. Next, review your current marketing efforts. Do you have any ad campaigns driving traffic to your website? Or even Search Engine Marketing campaigns, such as Google Adwords or Bing AdCenter? Make a concise list of your efforts and ensure that you have the necessary access and check to see if any changes need to be made before the new site goes live.
Also list and review your social profiles. Links or file references on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like will need to be revised. Now that you have a list of your assets, you are much better prepared for the new launch. You have all of the details to ensure that when you flick that switch to go live things go smoothly.
Protect yourself from losing your web history.
There are several steps to help minimize the impact of such updates, and in my experience, implementing each of these has often improved search engine ranking. Three items that need to be considered before going live with your new website are File Names, a Custom 404 Error Page, and 301 Redirects.
If you are able to, it is best to keep the same names of the key pages and files. This will help keep those files and images intact even though
Custom 404 Error Page
A custom 404 error page is just a simple page that matches the design, layout, and main navigation of your site. Itâ€™s a page that a visitor sees when they reference a page that no longer exists. It shows a short message of what went wrong and gives clear directions for the visitor of how to find information on the site via the sitemap.
301 Redirects The safest way to preserve your ranking when web page file names (URLs) have been changed is with the 301 redirect. With this solution you can set up .htaccess file or mod_ rewrite (Apache server). In its simplest form, this is a way to tell the search engines that the old page name has changed and to instruct the browser, visitor and/or crawler as to any value the old page had to the new one.
The next time the search engines crawl your website, the old domain name or old path should disappear and the new one will take its place. Note that this does not happened instantly and could take up to a few months, although many of the search engines are vastly improving their crawl rate. Other components you want to consider include Sitemaps and website Analytics.
Add a XML sitemap via Google Webmaster Central (or Google Webmaster tools) and Bing Webmaster Center (www.bing.com/ webmaster/) in order to improve the amount of indexed pages by Google and Bing. These files have special formats and will contain a list of all pages that you would like to get indexed.
analytics account with Administrator privileges. Donâ€™t forget that even if you plan the change very accurately, there is a chance that something will not go exactly to plan. Ensure that you have the resources available for any emergency fixes or alterations immediately after the new launch. For this reason, we usually recommend that sites be scheduled to go live in the beginning of the week so that your web company will have their full staff onboard to assist you during the transition. If done right, your current customers, partners and the search engines should love your new and improved website. Take it slow and steady. As mentioned earlier, in my experience, websites that I have launched have almost always improved both usability and crawlability, which improves ranking and ultimately improves the business with higher levels of success. n
Analytics Lastly, but not least, donâ€™t forget about your analytics. Ideally you want to keep your same account to preserve the history and evaluate changes based on the same benchmarks. That means you want to make sure you have tracking settings in such a way that the same analytics account gets data from the old and new pages. And, obviously, you still have access to your
Ezra Silverton is the President & Founder of 9th sphere (www.9thsphere.com), a website solutions firm, providing effective web design and Internet marketing services. With more than a decade of website experience, Ezra provides significant insight in developing solutions that work for a wide range of businesses. Follow him on Twitter @ezrasilverton
upcoming conferences Refer to this guide for upcoming internet marketing conferences from across the globe.
January 10, 2012 | CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES Las Vegas, Nevada
CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES, hosted by international research firm Parks Associates, is an interactive event focused on trends, emerging business models and technologies, and growth opportunities for companies developing products and services for the digital home.
March 19-23, 2012 | Search Engine Strategies New York, NY
Approximately 5,000 marketers and search engine optimization professionals attend SES New York each year to network and learn about PPC management, keyword research, SEO, social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization, site optimization, usability and more. SES New York will be packed with 70+ sessions, multiple keynotes, 100+ exhibitors, networking events and parties.
February 3 – 4, 2012 | 360|MacDev Denver, CO
360|MacDev, the only event focused on the Mac desktop development community, is happening in Denver, Colorado. Bringing together the best and brightest of the Mac development community! Speakers include many successful app developers on both the Mac and iOS platform.
February 28 – March 1, 2012 | Search Marketing Expo San Jose, CA
The sixth annual SMX West will be held in the San Joes Convention Center. The program will feature several in-depth workshops on Monday, February 27th . The Expo Hall will be open February 28-29.
April 25 – 27, 2012 | Social Media World Asia 2012 Suntec, Singapore
At Social Media World Asia 2012, you will hear from the region’s biggest brands on how they have successfully integrated social media in their business. If you want to know how to leverage on the active marketing potential of social media platforms and grasp these opportunities, you must attend Social Media World Asia.
June 12 - 13, 2012 | 4th Cloud Computing World Forum Earls Court, London
March 12 – 15, 2012 | Cards and Payments Africa 2012 Johannesburg, South Africa
Cards & Payments Africa 2012 is the most comprehensive cards conference & exhibition on the African continent. Co-located with PrePaid Cards & Mobile Money World, the 4 day conference & exhibition explores payment innovation for banks, retailers and government.
The Cloud Computing World Forum is the highest attended cloud event in Europe. Taking place on the 12th and 13th June 2012, it’s the only place to discuss and learn about the latest trends in cloud computing, with the biggest names in the industry. From cloud in the enterprise to the mobile cloud, virtualization, security, cloud communications and CRM - we’ve got all the most relevant topics covered.
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