Email Marketing Essentials: A Checklist for Writing Emails That Get Opened

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Email Marketing Tips

Note from Lee: It is with great joy that I get to  introduce new TopRank Marketers to our readers here at Online Marketing Blog. Ever since Brooke Furry joined our team, she has been opening up smiles on the people around her. Turns out, she’s pretty good at getting people to open emails too.  Please welcome Brooke as a contributor to Online Marketing Blog! 

If an email arrives in Judy’s inbox and she never opens it, was it worth the send?

Email Marketing is all about the open. Digital marketers who throw their hearts and souls into creating email campaigns with real personality and value know that regular, consistent email campaigns can accomplish great things. But even if you’re sending something you think your target audience will love, who’s going to know, care, or click if you can’t get them to open it?

Unlike the latest social media tactic du jour, email marketing is nothing new.  For over 30 years when the first emails arrived in an inbox, brand emails have had to combat everything from message size limits to spam filters to the Gmail message categories of today. But it’s not time to throw a funeral for email marketing. It’s time to get out the whiteboard and start strategizing.

Marketers seek leads and conversions – and if the statistics don’t lie, the ROI on email marketing for B2B and B2C companies is one of the best. According to an Econsultancy article, half of all businesses achieve over 10% of their sales through email marketing. As Hubspot reports, 91% of people check their email every day. Email marketing may not be snazzy or new, but it works.

If email marketing is so successful, what’s the challenge? The issue is that nearly 2 billion non-spam emails being sent every day, and inboxes are cluttered. In order to reach email marketing success, marketers need to break through the noise and filters.

So what’s the secret to get those emails from cyberspace to your customers’ inboxes with high odds for an open? Here are 6 email marketing tips to make your investment worth the send.

Build a reputation for really helpful, valuable emails

It’s hard to land that one-in-a-million emotional concept that will floor your audience. Many email marketers struggle to come up with campaigns that will resonate with their customers for just that reason – they think they haven’t hit “The Big Idea” that will work yet.

But you don’t have to dangle pictures of golden retriever puppies or offers for free coffee in order to get opens. That may work for pet stores and cafes – but many brands just don’t do warm fuzzies or coupons. If you’re worried about bombarding your customer base with emails that seem too salesy, don’t be salesy! Start by delivering helpful, valuable information. You can:

  • Conduct a survey and offer to share the results
  • Share top blog posts or articles from your website
  • Give your audience a free preview of a new whitepaper or ebook

You know more than anyone else what your target audience needs to hear. If you live by this concept every time you send an email, your audience will begin to trust that you don’t want to waste their time – and that you actually have something important to say.

Promise something specific in the subject line – and deliver

The subject matters. Litmus reported that nearly a third of people will decide to open or not based on the subject line alone. Why are you emailing these people? Don’t mess with your email recipients. Although creativity can be appreciated, the subject line is no place to play around. Be clear about the purpose and scope of the email. Don’t risk confusing your audience with wordy titles.

In fact,  a recent study by MarketingProfs showed that 6-10 word subject lines yielded the highest open rates, despite over half of all emails containing subject lines of 11-15 words.

So be concise and clear, and, in the words of John Mayer, just “say what you need to say.”

Craft to-the-point summary pre-header text

Whether your recipients use Gmail or the mail application on their iPhone, the first line of the email will show up to preview the contents. Many marketers go with the  “Can’t see this email? View it online” text.  Don’t. As Pamella Neely at Web Marketing Today points out, you can use this scant 50-character space to give recipients one more reason to open your email. If you can get them wanting to finish just one sentence – the first! – then there’s a good chance you’ll achieve that coveted open.

Make sure it appears nice on mobile

More email is read on mobile devices than on desktops, according to Litmus. Will your email display well? If your recipients have opened your email in the past and been unimpresed, don’t expect them to try again in good faith. Deliver emails that look good no matter the device.

Test timing and wording as much as you tweak visual design

While many marketers report spending more time on design than on testing and optimization, the fact remains: nobody will care what it looks like if they don’t open it. Conduct A/B testing on your subject lines. Send emails at different times to test effectiveness.

Studies show that smartphone users are grabbing their phones immediately in the morning – will sending emails bright and early work for your audience? Mid-morning may work better for emails that people have to engage with, like a survey or questionnaire.

Try to avoid weekends. Weekdays tend to be more effective times to deliver emails.

Climb into your own inbox

What kind of subject line, intro text, and email copy do you tend to pay attention to, and what do you tend to ignore? Create the kind of emails that you would open yourself. If you wouldn’t open it, why should anyone else?

Try increasing your open rates by paying more attention to these 6 areas. Through time, effort, and testing, you can increase those open rates to attract, engage and convert your subscribers into buyers. When people actually open your emails, you have won a moment where someone is listening – and in a busy, cluttered world, that privilege is valuable, indeed!

What tactics have you used to increase your email open rates?

Photo: Shutterstock


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March 26th 2014 Online Marketing

5 Must Read Perspectives on Social Media Marketing Strategy

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social media marketing strategy

The eternal debate in marketing: Strategy before tactics vs. Tactics to develop strategy.

So many companies have become comfortable reacting to industry trends and competitors with tactics, that they end up with wasted effort, poor performance and plenty of frustration. This is especially true in the world of social media marketing as companies roll out social media tactics only to be left wondering in 6 months what the ROI is.

Answering Why, for Who and with What tactics is essential for any marketing initiative. A confident and clear sense of purpose is highly motivating and inspires more meaningful and effective marketing.

I’ve always put stock in taking what you know (data, experience, research) and developing a hypothesis about how you will achieve business objectives for a certain audience using a set of tactics. Then conduct proof of concept experiments while you roll out the larger strategy. The data you collect will help optimize the larger strategy as well as the effectiveness of your tactics.

But that’s just me. What about other social media marketers? What do they think about social media strategy? Here are strategic perspectives from 5 social media smarties you’ll really want to listen to that are presenting at this week’s Social Media Marketing World conference:

Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer
Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Where is Social Media Going?

We can debate the pressures on platforms, distribution of content, and the resources needed to keep up with the latest technology, but I think there is something very simple, something very fundamental, that will set a chosen few apart:

Are you human?

Isn’t that the essence of how this online world started, why we love social media, and what people expect if you are going to build trust and loyalty? And yet, this is getting increasingly lost in a world preoccupied with traffic, search rankings and automated marketing software.

Can you make a real connection that will stand out in an increasingly noisy world? That is a key to business success in the future, as it always has been in the past.

Matt Gentile

Matt Gentile @mattgentile
Global Director, Social Media, Century 21

Learn & Manage Your Brand Voice

How do you learn the voice of a brand and how do you manage it?

It starts by understanding the culture, history, mission and vision of the company.  It is the people who make up the brand’s voice from the mailroom to the boardroom. To do it well, it requires commitment, time and the ability to listen. Today’s consumer demands authenticity, you can’t fake it.

Understanding your audience is key to managing the brand voice. If you understand your audience, then you will understand what your message means to your audience on each social network where you engage.

Use a social media management platform to optimize your efforts and empower everyone in the organization to use it.

Justin Levy

Justin Levy @justinlevy
Director, Social Marketing, Citrix

Guide Your Social Foundation

Don’t forget about social media guidelines.

These guidelines provide the foundation for your employees as they engage through social media channels. They shouldn’t be too long or hard to understand.

There are a number of great examples, including from respected brands such as Coca-Cola and Intel, that you can use as the basis for developing your guidelines.

If you represent a global company, consideration will need to be provided for how these guidelines are received in various regions.

Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi @joepulizzi
CEO, Content Marketing Institute

Find Your Purpose

For true success in social media, find your higher purpose.

First, ask “why” you are using the channel, whether it be Facebook, Twitter or SlideShare.

Second, find your sweet spot – the intersection between what you know as a company and what your prospects and customers need to know.

Once you find your purpose, this becomes 100% of the content you create and share with social media tools.  It will, over time, position you as the leading informational resource over that particular area.

You will be a true helper and make real impact in your customers’ lives and jobs.

Marcus Sheridan

Marcus Sheridan @thesaleslion
President, The Sales Lion

What Customers Care About

In every industry (It doesn’t matter what you sell), there are 5 subjects that move the needle, as they are the 5 subjects consumers are most concerned with. They are:

  1. Cost/Price questions
  2. Problems/Issues questions
  3. Vs/Comparison questions
  4. Review-based questions
  5. Best of questions

When consumers research, these are the 5 subjects they care about, yet most companies are afraid to address them.

The moral: Don’t be afraid to address topics that consumer truly care about as eventually they’ll move the needle more than any other content you could produce.

There’s no doubt, that developing a social media strategy, or how social media fits in your overall marketing and business strategy is essential for the success of modern businesses. If you follow the advice of these 5 smart marketers, I think you’ll find yourself far ahead of the competition still debating Pinterest vs. Instagram or Snapchat vs. Texting.

What strategic approach do you take to social media marketing? Which of the above perspectives resonates most with you?

Get even more social media smarts from our latest conference eBook featuring 38 of the speakers from Social Media Marketing World:


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March 25th 2014 Online Marketing, Social Media

Online Marketing News: Facebook Eats Google’s Pie, Softer Panda Coming Soon, Smartphones Beat TVs

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Study: Twitter Reveals Which Tweets Get The Most Engagement - We’ve seen third-party studies on what makes a tweet succeed, like this one, for example. But Twitter went ahead and did a study of its own, looking at more than 2 million tweets from verified accounts in the United States. What it found was that adding video, links and photos all result in “an impressive boost in the number of retweets,” Twitter said. Search Engine Land

Twitter Quickly Shapes Public Opinion (And It’s Touch To Change) [Study] - Does your opinion change based on the tweets you read? A new academic study shows that opinions are formed very quickly by the Twitter hivemind, and once formed, they’re difficult to change. As International Business Times reports, a new journal article in Chaos from Chinese researchers Fei Xiong and Yun Liu explores how tweeters’ opinions are formed and how they change – if at all. AllTwitter

Facebook Announces Premium Auto-Play Video Ads For Mobile - Auto-play video ads are making their way to the mobile News Feed. Facebook on Thursday announced that a select group of advertisers will have access to premium video ads on mobile, which will play automatically without sound. The user can then tap the ad to play sound and see the video in full-screen mode. All Facebook

Charlie Kautz QuoteGoogle’s Matt Cutts: New Softer Panda Update Coming Soon - At SMX West Matt Cutts of Google announced they are actively working on the “next generation” Panda update that will “soften” the algorithm. Matt specifically said this is aimed at helping small businesses that may be impacted by the Panda algorithm. Search Engine Roundtable

Google+ Link Posts Receive Massive Thumbnails Like Facebook - Back in early February, Google rolled out an improvement which turns link URLs in posts into buttons, which when rolled over with a cursor, would allow the user to add the associated +Page to their circles. The update rolling out today compliments this change quite well: webpage titles and images are now larger. Google Plus Daily

96% Of Consumers Find Video Useful When Buying Online - Online video is increasing in importance and effectiveness when it comes to purchase decisions. Nearly three quarters of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service if they can watch a video explaining it beforehand. Econsultancy

Google’s Matt Cutts: Google Mobile Queries May Surpass PC Search This Year - Speaking at SMX West last week Google’s Matt Cutts said that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if mobile search exceeded desktop queries this year. A similar comment was made by a Google speaker informally during a roundtable discussion at the International Franchising Association conference in New Orleans earlier this year. Search Engine Land

Infographic: LinkedIn Drives The Majority Of B2B Leads and Conversions - Last year the Investis IQ Audience Insight Report found that two thirds of visits to corporate websites from social networks came from LinkedIn. New research from Oktopost shows that LinkedIn not only drives more traffic but also the vast majority of B2B leads and conversions, reinforcing its position as the key social platform for B2B marketers. Social Media Today

Bing Ads Now Show Zero-Click Search Queries, Offer 20 to 40x More Data Than Before - Formerly dubbed the Search Query Report, Bing Ads has updated what’s now called the Search Term Report, which houses the data on the terms users actually typed before clicking on an ad. Search Engine Land

Facebook Testing Business Manager, A Powerful Tool For Agencies and Large Businesses - Managers of Facebook pages for agencies and large business take heart. Facebook is testing a new dashboard that seems to solve many issues that have for years frustrated those managing large stables of pages. Marketing Land

Google Testing New Sponsored Shopping Boxes, With 3D View - Google continues to experiment with Google Shopping displays beyond the traditional thumbnail box panel of Product Listing Ads. This latest version is larger than the sponsored result spotted earlier this month for the book “Don’t Make Me Think”. Search Engine Land

Real-Time Advertising Spend Increased 80% In 2013: infographic - Real-time advertising spend increased 80% in the UK in 2013 and now accounts for 14% of the display market, according to data included in a new infographic. The graphic also highlights the growth of premium real-time display and video inventory, as well as the variety of brand formats available. Econsultancy

Yahoo Debuts Motion Ads - Yahoo has unveiled a new ad format, Yahoo Motion Ads, the network revealed on its Yahoo Advertising blog. According to Yahoo, the ad format “brings images to life, helping brands tell more engaging stories and drive greater awareness with their target audiences.” Clickz

76% Of Second-Screeners Aren’t Looking For TV-Related Content - Second screening is a fact of life in our new mobile-enhanced world. Regardless of how interesting a TV show might be, viewers will always turn to their phone to check messages, share their thoughts via Twitter, or just aimlessly browse Instagram. Econsultancy

Study: Social Media Isn’t Replacing Traditional News Outlets At All - A new survey unearthed some interesting data regarding our news consumption: Readers don’t seem to really care about what organization they’re getting their news from, or what device format they’re reading on; what matters, really, is the news itself. Fast Company

Twitter Testing new ‘Fave People’ Timeline That Displays Only Your Favorite Accounts - Twitter is letting some of its early testers view tweets from only their favorite users with a new “Fave People” timeline. The feature recently appeared in the alpha version of Twitter for Android, meaning it may be some time before it’s packaged into the company’s regular mobile app — and it could easily be scrapped before that happens. For now, TechCrunch has posted several screenshots of Fave People. The Verge

Study: Emotion Are Contagious via Facebook, Especially When Positive - Don’t worry, be happy. And according to a study of more than 100 million anonymous U.S. Facebook users and more than 1 billion of their posts — conducted by Facebook and researchers at the University of California San Diego and Yale University — your happiness might spread to your Facebook friends. AllFacebook

Study: 4 In 10 Get Their News From Social Media (But They Don’t Really Trust It) - How do you take your news in the morning? If you’re like four in 10 Americans it’s via social media, reveals a new study. However, about that same amount of people don’t trust news from platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and most still prefer to receive their information directly from news organisations. AllTwitter

The Most Influential Social Networks Of 2014 [Infographic] - Collecting a decade’s worth of data on the number of user profiles across social media networks, Jeremy Waite put together this infographic for Adobe Social. Granted, the data does not provide details of active versus inactive users, but it is valuable nonetheless. Waite wanted to look at which social networks people were most interested in joining over the last 10 years and where those networks stand today. SocialTimes

Facebook: Opportunity For Earned Media Still As Rich As A Year Ago - Facebook keeps coming under fire that it’s harder for brands to get the free exposure — “earned media” — that they once got. But Facebook says it’s not so — it more a matter of adjusting how you measure your earned success. Marketing Land

Half Of Content marketers Believe Social Media Is Their Most Effective Business Strategy - 71 percent of companies use social media for content marketing, with more than half (53 percent) viewing it as the most effective strategy for their business, reveals a new study. AllTwitter

Study Confirms Smartphones Now #1 Screen, Beating TV - A report released this week by Millward Brown takes a quantitative and qualitative look at multiscreen activity from a number of perspectives. The report is based on a global survey (n=12,000 respondents, 30 countries). The US sample was 444 people, with some behavioral monitoring and interviews. Marketing Land

Facebook Eats Away At Google’s Share Of Mobile Ad Pie - According to the latest eMarketer forecast, released on Wednesday morning, mobile ad spending worldwide grew by 105% in 2013 and is on pace to expand to $31.5 billion this year. And the two Internet giants, Google and Facebook, are increasingly taking the lion’s share—the pair netted 67% of mobile ad revenues last year, up from 58% in 2012. AdAge

Only 20% Of CMOs Use Social Media For Customer Engagement - In its series of reports surveying C-level executives, IBM’s latest study revealed only 20 percent of the chief marketing officers polled leveraged social networks to engage with customers, and a growing number feel overwhelmed with the amount of available data. Marketing Land

From our Online Marketing Community:

On the post Organic Facebook Marketing Tips From The Pros, Ryan Biddulph said, “All experts are spot on but I think Mari nailed it. Engage as frequently as possible to open up channels of communication and builds relationships through your page. Awesome share!”

Stacey Herbert commented that, “I really liked Dennis Yu’s points. It’s easy to forget that all these fancy different names we have for our interaction points with our customers – email, PPC ad, responsive website – is just our brand saying “talk to me”. In amidst a ton of other voices, saying exactly the same thing. When you think of your social media marketing as a way of conversing in a cross and, multichannel way, I can definitely see where you’d get more benefit and bang for your buck. Enjoyed this. Thanks!”

Aimee Wilson shared her thoughts on How to Make the Most out of Attending Business Conferences & Events, “To “have a purpose and a goal for the connection” is critical for all professionals at all times. This article is full of golden nuggets! Thanks for sharing Lee.”

And Barbara Mckinney said, “Attending a conference requires an investment of time and money, but the knowledge and contacts you’ll get out of it makes it well worth it.Thanks for sharing this tips Lee!”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2014. |
Online Marketing News: Facebook Eats Google’s Pie, Softer Panda Coming Soon, Smartphones Beat TVs | http://www.toprankblog.com

March 21st 2014 Online Marketing

5 Social Selling Tactics to Attract, Engage & Convert More Customers

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Social Selling

Outside of marketing and customer service, one of the fastest growing areas in the social media world is social selling. With billions of people connected to social networks for personal and business reasons, time and attention of prospects is both valuable and highly competitive.

Connections between people supported by social technologies have become more valuable than ever as trusted sources of information. Interactions with brands don’t have to happen on the corporate website anymore. From customer service to sales – social networks are powering important buyer and brand discussions from awareness to purchase to advocacy.

Companies of all sizes are empowering their sales teams to leverage the technology of the social web with the human connections between sales people and their customers to scale reach, engagement and new business. Demand for social selling experts is rising too, as companies look for outside perspective on how to create the culture shift, processes and skills training necessary to make social selling real and valuable.

Along with considering an outside expert to help scale your social selling capabilities, here are a few tactical considerations:

1. Create an Authority Hub

Whether it’s a blog, tumblr site, or Facebook Fan page, a destination for social participation can serve as the hub for a salesperson’s social media activity. This is where social content is published, aggregated and curated. It’s also where calls to action, offers and invitations to engage on a more business level can be posted. The social hub scan serve as a destination for other publishers and bloggers to link to and appear within search results.

The preference for a hub is a domain and site you own, like a WordPress blog. Companies could create a multi-blog platform to support blogging efforts across hundreds or thousands of salespeople of the brand domain. company.com/blogs/sheilasales/ or sheilasalesblog.company.com.

2. Listen for Engagement Opportunities

As more consumer and B2B buyers participate on the social web during the discovery and consideration phases of the buying cycle, sales people can monitor for comments and conversations that indicate engagement opportunities. Monitoring social media sites for keywords that indicate prospects with questions or in the search phase can shortcut time to sales discussions drammatically.

Simple tools like search.twitter.comboard reader or a variety of free social search engines and discovery tools like socialmention.com, buzzsumo or topsy can also be used along with Google Alerts to surface interaction opportunities. Ideally, a robust social media monitoring tool could be used that includes advanced filtering options.  It takes some refinement of search queries to make this kind of monitoring work, but can be very effective at identifying prospect conversation opportunities at their greatest moment of need.

3. Create, Curate & Repurpose

Most Sales Reps, Account Executives and Business Development people are pretty busy, so efficiency with social media and content is essential. With an understanding of relevant search keywords and social topics that matter to prospective customers, salespeople can create a content plan as a guide.

However, creating new content on a regular basis while maintaining high quality can become a challenge, so it’s important to think about where content can be repurposed.

For example, salespeople might each maintain their own blogs that they publish to once a week. But they might also share portions or customized versions of their blog posts with other industry blogs, online publications and industry newsletters. They could compile blog posts into ebooks or could be used within corporate content marketing materials.

An effective way to become a “go to destination” for information on a particular topic is to aggregate or curate news from different sources on the web to the salesperson’s hub.  Subscribe to other industry news sites, newsletter and setup Google Alerts for topics of interest to collect news. Collect the most interesting and/or themed news of the week and add short comments.  The same curation tactic can be used to create a newsletter. With some practice, the process of scanning headlines and putting together a weekly news roundup can be done in only a few minutes a day, resulting in one beefy blog post per week.

4. Interact, Engage & Persuade

In the course of researching useful industry news to aggregate or to cite in original blog posts, salespeople will undoubtedly find other blogs and online publications that allow commenting. They’ll also find others discussing topics of interest on sites like LinkedIn, Groups & Forums, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others. Searching or monitoring for prospects also reveals these kinds of interaction opportunities.

Answering questions, sharing useful resources and asking questions on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ helps communicate personal characteristics and thought leadership for the salesperson. Corporate marketing might be able to use their resources with social media monitoring tools to identify social channels, groups or individuals that are most influential and relevant.  Salespeople could also use tools like Klout to find others with influence to engage with.

This can seem like a very time consuming task, but many salespeople who are the most productive with lead generation through social media make a consistent effort to participate on a frequent basis. Setup a recurring reminder in Outlook to spend 15 minutes each morning to ask/answer questions, collect, aggregate and share useful links. Spreading this activity over several days using a consistent amount of time is very productive. Schedule Tweets and Facebook updates during the day in advance using a tool like Hootsuite.

5. Tap the Wisdom of Your Social Sales Crowd

Corporate sales and marketing leadership can keep tabs on the most effective uses of social media and networking sites by their sales teams and create best practices for the benefit of all. Continuously improved processes, new social tool evaluations and tactics evolution can improve salesforce social media effectiveness and overall ability to create value and engage prospects.

Companies can provide sales teams with templates, process and training plus regular internal networking opportunities to share best practices in order to help salesforce social media efforts succeed.  It’s also important to provide ongoing education so salespeople know what it looks like to be overzealous and forward with their social participation efforts.

As with all social media marketing efforts, mileage varies according to the target audience, industry, resources and sales teams capabilities. There’s no doubt that strategy alone doesn’t sustain long term social media marketing success. Ongoing training and feedback mechanisms are essential to improve skills and identify both productive and non-productive behaviors.

Has your company implemented formal social selling training or best practices? Does your company support social sales with a blogging platform for sales teams or are they left to create their own using WordPress or Tumblr?

Photo: Shutterstock


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March 21st 2014 Online Marketing, Social Media

Organic Facebook Marketing Tips From the Pros

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Facebook Marketing

Facebook has become quite a conundrum for many marketers. For years, companies of all sizes have invested in organic and paid efforts to grow their Facebook fans. The “like” served as an opt-in for consumers to receive brand messages sent “organically”.

But over the past few years, Facebook has diminished the organic reach of brand fan page messages to a thin percent of the total opt-in whole. Now the only option to reach fans is to pay for Facebook advertising which can be hit or miss and leaves organic reach all but non-existent.

For companies without large ad budgets, this is obviously a challenge. Luckily, there are options! Here are tips from our latest Social Media Marketing eBook featuring some of the top Facebook marketing experts. They offer insight that can help you regain and optimize some of your organic traction.

Andrea Vahl
Andrea Vahl – @andreavahl

Social Media Coach, Author

The New Facebook Marketing

For marketers looking to adjust to Facebook’s new algorithm changes and decreased organic reach, a shift in mindset is needed.

Think of Facebook as a subscription-based marketing service vs. a free platform.

Facebook ads on an ongoing basis are inevitable. Divide your monthly Facebook ad spend between boosting posts for increased reach and ads to drive traffic directly to your website.

Spend a small amount on increasing your fan base as well. None of this ad spend needs to break the bank.

Work on effective ads so that you spend as little as possible for the biggest bang.

Mari Smith
Mari Smith – @marismith

Social Media Consultant, Speaker, Trainer, Author

Amp Up Facebook Organic Reach

Consider increasing the frequency of your Facebook Page posts to boost your organic reach.

If you typically post 2x a day, try doubling that to 4x.

Make sure your posts are top QUALITY, relevant and timely. Include periodic invitations to sign up for offers, but craft the wording in a warm, personal way that your audience can connect with. Plus, engage at every opportunity.

Great examples to study include: Richard Branson, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, KLM, and Sprint.

Amy Porterfield
Amy Porterfield – @amyporterfield

Social Media Consultant, Speaker

It’s All About the List

The energy of your business is directly tied to your email list.

Facebook ads are one of the most powerful lead generating platforms for small businesses today. Specifically, “Page Post ads” that drive traffic to a free, valuable giveaway (such as a free video training, eBook, or cheat sheet) are extremely effective.

These ads are inexpensive, highly-targeted and can be completely automated.

It may take a little trial and error, but once you find that sweet spot where your ads are consistently producing results, you’ll be hooked!

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu – @dennisyu

CTO, BlitzMetrics

Social Media Force Multiplier

Social media marketing, email marketing, and website retargeting are all the same thing.

You’re following around users who have visited you, regardless of whether the tracking mechanism is a pixel, email address or Facebook user id.

Consider multiplying upon your strengths by getting your email subscribers to be fans, your fans to to visit your site, your web visitors to be fans, your web visitors to be email subscribers and so forth.

Try Facebook Website Custom Audiences and Google Remarketing and you’ll be on your way.

You can get even more Social Media Marketing tips from our SMMW14 eBook here.

As the organic approach in other areas from SEO to public relations to content marketing have undergone shifts, so too has Social Media Marketing and Facebook marketing in particular. Modern marketers must adapt and continuously refine and optimize their approach. Optimization isn’t just relevant for tactics, but for how you approach marketing as well. This is the core of how we approach social media at our agency and the blogging on the topic we do here.

How have you adapted to changes in Facebook’s news feed and treatment of brand fan page content? What tips and insights would you add?

Top Image: Shutterstock & CleanSocialIcons


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2014. |
Organic Facebook Marketing Tips From the Pros | http://www.toprankblog.com

Online Marketing News: Twitter Crime, Google Redesign, Facebook Free Fading, Social Media Wave

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Facebook Announces News Feed Redesign To Mirror Mobile - In the coming weeks, Facebook will roll out an update to the News Feed design it introduced last year. More users will be switched from the old News Feed design, with a white background, to a mobile-inspired News Feed with bigger images and a darker background. There is no change to the News Feed algorithm; this is just for aesthetics. InsideFacebook

Study: Twitter Crime Has Risen 390% Since 2011 - Crimes linked to Twitter have risen almost four-fold over the past three years, reveals new figures from 25 police forces across the United Kingdom. Since 2011, cases where Twitter has in someway played a role have increased by 390 percent – up from 174 in 2011 to 852 in 2013. AllTwitter

Millennials Spend 18 Hours A Day Consuming Media – And It’s Mostly Content Created By Peers - How many hours a day do you spend on Facebook? How about texting friends? Reading magazines? If you’re a millennial, it may be more time than you think. New research by social-influence marketing platform Crowdtap indicates that individuals ages 18 to 36 spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media. Entrepreneur

Smart companies realize that social media is about people, not logos. -Jay BaerStats: More Than 40% Of Online Adults Are Multi-Device Users - This comes from a new multi-device study, conducted by Facebook in collaboration with GfK, revealing people’s behavior when it comes to moving across devices (smartphone, tablet and desktop) on a day-to-day basis. Econsultancy

Facebook Launches Public Content Solutions To Help Media Partners With Trend Data - As more and more people talk about current events on Facebook, developers within the media industry are looking for some way to join the conversation. So to offer companies a solution into the data behind trending topics on the social network, Facebook announced Friday the launch of Public Content Solutions. InsideFacebook

Facebook Free Reach Drops To 6%, Per Agency Study. 4 Reasons Your Brand Posts Are Fading - The Facebook news feed is highly coveted real estate with finite space, so something had to give — and it’s brand posts. The social network wants to keep its 757 million daily users active while cranking up its ad business, so brand posts with no spending behind them are getting the squeeze. The posts are less interesting to users and don’t drive any revenue for Facebook, and since late 2012, there has been less and less room for them. AdAge

18-24 Year Olds on Facebook Report An Average Of 649 Friends, Up From 510 Last Year - Roughly two-thirds of Americans aged 12 and older have a social networking profile, up from 62% last year, according to [pdf] a report from Edison Research and Triton Digital. Facebook remains the most popular site, used by 58% of survey respondents of that age, but was the only platform other than MySpace not to see an increase in penetration year-over-year. Marketing Charts

URL Shortening Giant Bitly Will Provide Click Data to Moz - Bitly, the Internet’s URL shortening leader, announced today that it will provide data and click-tracking technology to Moz. Moz’s optimization software previously used link data from Twitter to rank web pages’ social media relevance but it is turning to Bitly to get a more complete picture of user behavior. Marketing Land

Millennials More Willing Than Boomers to Share Data With Marketers - 6 in 10 US Millennials claim that they would be willing to share personal information with marketers, while Baby Boomers would be much less likely to do so, according to results from a Mintel study. That gap even extends to those unwilling to share information: at least 30% of Millennials who would not provide private information said they would be swayed by an incentive offer, while only 13% of reluctant Baby Boomers agreed. Marketing Charts

Report: Only 6% Of Buyers Claim Social Media Impacts B2B Buying Process - According to a recently published B2B Website Usability Report surveying buyers, social media and blogging have little influence on the B2B buying process. Marketing Land

Smartphone Penetration Now Two-Thirds Of US Mobile Market - Smartphone penetration continues to grow with every passing month, and the latest tally from comScore indicates that during the 3-month average ending in January 2014, some 66.8% of mobile subscribers in the US owned a smartphone. That translates to almost 160 million Americans, and is up from 55% market penetration during the year-earlier period. Marketing Charts

Google Introduces Consumer Ratings Annotations - Google announced its plans to introduce consumer ratings annotations to Google AdWords in an official company blog post. The search engine giant says consumer rating annotations bring to light industry-specific ratings—such as an airline’s reward program—based on Google Consumer Surveys. Direct Marketing News

Facebook Updates Company Pages Design and Introduces “Pages to Watch” - One of the most annoying things about working with Facebook Company Pages is that each type of post appeared different when viewed on your Page versus in the News Feed. Because of the way it was all laid out, you were never sure that your posts would look great across the platform. HubSpot

Google: Keep URL Length Shorter Than 2000 Characters - SEOs obsess about the smallest things, even how long is too long for a URL. A Google Webmaster Help thread has SEOs and webmasters asking how long can they go for a URL. Google actually answered the question. Search Engine Roundtable

61% Of Brands Using Influencer Marketing Have Trouble Identifying The Right Influencers - According to a recent study from Augure, a reputation management software, the biggest problems marketers have are identifying the right influencers, engaging with them and quantifying the influence. Celebrity doesn’t always equate to influence anymore. In fact, less than 25 percent of those surveyed consider a well-known celebrity an influencer. SocialTimes

LinkedIn Announces Sponsored InMail For Mobile - LinkedIn announced yesterday that it was expanding its mobile advertising platform to include Sponsored InMail. According to the blog post, the goal is to give marketers an opportunity to reach consumers where they’ll engage most: on their mobile devices. SocialTimes

Twitter Can Tell You When Your Customers Are Happy, Sad, or Hungover - On Monday, Twitter released the results of its research on the usage of different words and phrases on the platform in 2013, broken down by days of the week and by month. Finding patterns across millions of 140-character posts, the company unearthed some useful information for business owners. Inc.

Twitter Testing Click-To-Call Ad Feature - Twitter is testing a click-to-call button that would enable mobile users to call advertisers directly. The news was first reported by Digiday. ClickZ confirmed the comments in the story made by Richard Alfonsi, Twitter’s vice president of global online sales, with a source close to the company. The source did not provide any additional details. ClickZ

Google Webmaster Tools Adds Infinite Scroll Search-Friendly Recommendations - Your site’s news feed or pinboard might use infinite scroll—much to your users’ delight! When it comes to delighting Googlebot, however, that can be another story. With infinite scroll, crawlers cannot always emulate manual user behavior–like scrolling or clicking a button to load more items–so they don’t always access all individual items in the feed or gallery. If crawlers can’t access your content, it’s unlikely to surface in search results. Google Webmaster Central Blog

Google Makes It Official: New Search Results Design Goes Live For All - A day after Google said the new look was still an experiment, it has decided that the experiment was good enough to make for an official change. Now everyone should be getting the new design. Search Engine Land

Study: Which of Twitter’s “Hard Features” Can Drive The Most ReTweets? - Looking for more retweets? Twitter has released some data based on an analysis of millions of tweets sent by verified users in the US. The study looked at tweets that contained Twitter’s “hard features” – photos, #hashtags, links, videos, and tweets containing a number of a digit (such as a sports score) – comparing retweets from that dataset against average retweets from the same collection of accounts (most of which had thousands of followers). Overall, tweets containing photos got the biggest bump – but the results differed by area. Marketing Charts

From our Online Marketing Community:

From our post, What’s the One Most Important Skill for a Content Marketer?Barbara Mckinney said, “I cannot agree more, Lee. Empathy is the most important skill you can practice. It will lead to greater success personally and professionally and will allow you to become happier the more you practice.”

KevinBall added, “With all the emphasis on creating content about trending topics, keyword ranking, social media promotion, repurposing content, branding, etc., it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we’re supposed to be creating content that our prospects, influencers, and customers find useful and interesting. All noise aside, having empathy for the pain points, struggles, and yes, even victories of our customers is the question to which we must always return.”

Chelsei Henderson shared a related article and this though, “Putting this in a marketing perspective, we can become much more productive in our efforts by showing this level of empathy. Putting ourselves in the same place as our audience makes for good marketing. That’s why people who develop products solving a common pain they, too, felt at one point are able to market it so well. Truly, one of the most important skills for content marketers.”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2014. |
Online Marketing News: Twitter Crime, Google Redesign, Facebook Free Fading, Social Media Wave | http://www.toprankblog.com

March 14th 2014 Online Marketing

Online Reputation Book Review: Repped by Andy Beal

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Online Reputation BookMany years ago when the role of search in brand reputation was really coming into it’s own, Public Relations and SEO were becoming unlikely partners as way to position positive messages about brands and individuals in search results. The combination of Search and PR was actually the genesis of TopRank Marketing.

As Google became a powerful reputation engine, the need for individuals and brands to monitor and manage their online reputations increased too.

Today, with billions of internet users empowered to post content anytime, anywhere, the articles and presentations we originally published on Online Reputation Management (ORM) are even more important today. And yet there are thousands of brands and even more individuals that are oblivious and in dire need of ORM.

The good news is that an excellent resource on the ORM topic has just been published by my longtime pal, author and owner of Trackur, Andy Beal. It’s called, Repped – 30 Days to A Better Online Reputation. Here’s a review of this highly useful guide that will serve both your online reputation and online marketing needs.

Andy Beal The premise is pretty straight forward: Whether you’re a brand, an individual or a “brandividual”, online reputation is an increasingly influential contributor to your success. Or failure.

What Andy sets out to do in Repped, is provide a 30 day plan to help any person or company build, manage, monitor and protect their online reputation.

For business people, think of how many times you’ve “Googled” someone you just met at a conference, vendors that you’re considering or a candidate that you’re about to interview. Have you ever found something that made you decline a meeting or feel differently (in a bad way) about that person? Do you think they were aware the information existed? Even more importantly, were they doing anything about monitoring and managing it?

What you find on the search and social web becomes a very important first or second impression.

As a business professional responsible for being in the public eye or managing business communications and marketing, being able to assess and affect how people see you online should be a top priority.

The good news is that Repped provides a handy framework for taking control over how you and your brand are known online.

Two great things about this book:

1. It’s designed to be used, get dog eared, post it noted and turned into action. At 176 pages, Repped is (thankfully) no War and Peace, so you can skim through. But it’s also structured as Day one, Day two etc so you can keep going back and get your daily advice with specific things to do with “Today’s Exercise” at the end of each chapter.

Some of the key questions answered in Repped include:

  • What is ORM (online reputation management)?
  • How do you set up social media monitoring?
  • How do you find influencers?
  • What kind of content should you create?
  • How do you build social networks and community?
  • How do you audit your brand or personal online reputation?
  • What do you do if someone is trash talking your brand?
  • How do you clean up negative search results about your brand?

2. What works for Online Reputation works for Online Marketing. The core of brand marketing is understanding how you want to be known. What is it that you should be the “best answer” for? Following the advice Andy gives in Repped will help you take control of your online reputation. At the same time, many of the tips and tactics offered in the book are just good marketing in this age of brandividuals, influencers and author authority.

Everything from social media monitoring to content planning to social media and community building are covered in Repped. It’s not a deep dive though, it’s a primer. It’s a smart introduction to 30 days of things you could be doing to optimize how your target audience, peers, and industry see you and your brand.

If you would like a good guide for the kinds of things your business needs to do in order to take control over executive and brand online reputation, this book is it.

You can get Repped at Amazon and here’s Andy’s site in case you want to know more about him and his social media monitoring company trackur. If you want to meet him person, make sure you attend the ClickZ Live conference in New York April 1-2.


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Online Reputation Book Review: Repped by Andy Beal | http://www.toprankblog.com

5 LinkedIn Marketing Tips to Optimize Your Social Media Success

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LinkedIn

Image source: Slideshare

Last week we published the first Social Media Marketing World conference eBook and while it’s had over 15,000 views on Slideshare and many thousands of views here already, I think we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg.

As a robust sized eBook, it’s full of practical advice including platform specific tips like the following 5 nuggets about LinkedIn.

With over 277 million members, 3.5 million active company profiles and 187 million unique visitors across LinkedIn web properties, there’s a remarkable opportunity for companies to connect with business professionals on LinkedIn. Luckily, when we interviewed a selection of SMMW14 speakers, 5 of them gave specific tips about how to optimize LinkedIn for social media marketing. Here are their excerpts from the SMMW14 eBook:

Martin Jones
Martin Jones (@MartinJonesaz)
Senior Marketing Manager, Cox Communications

The Real Value of LinkedIn:
No single social platform will define your personal brand and clarify the unique value that you bring to an organization or project as well as LinkedIn.

Use your personal profile page to tell your story, and do so in a way that is clear, concise and engaging.

LinkedIn is a powerful platform for establishing your personal brand, but only if you take the time to learn it, optimize it and use it.

Jill Rowley
Jill Rowley (@jill_rowley)
Social Selling & Social Business Evangelist

Optimize Your Reputation:
2014 is the year of #ProfessionalBranding and the #SocialEmployee.

It’s time to move from using LinkedIn as a resume to using LinkedIn for your online reputation.

If you’re in Sales, optimize your profile for the Buyer versus the Recruiter.

Eliminate the #QuotaCrusher #ExpertNegotiator language. Include rich content (videos, infographics, podcasts, eBooks, blog posts) that inform your buyer and helps establish your subject matter expertise.

Always be connecting & curating quality content!

Connie Bensen
Connie Bensen (@cbensen)
Global Social Strategy & Governance, Dell
(TopRank client)

Optimize LinkedIn for Lead Generation
LinkedIn can be more effective than Twitter and Facebook for B2B lead gen with these tips:

Relevant and timely content. Leverage LinkedIn’s demographic segmentation features to develop content for various audiences and deliver it on time for maximum sharing.

Engage frequently and directly. Post and respond to comments. This will help build your company’s influence and the targeted communication fosters trust and loyalty.

Post company updates and news. People enjoy reading new information about their favorite brands. Post frequent status updates to keep your customers up-to-date on events and offers.

Great brand examples to learn from on LinkedIn include: Dell, Salesforce, Hubspot, and Zipcar.

Viveka von Rosen
Viveka von Rosen (LinkedInExpert)
Author & Founder, Linked Into Business

Inbound Marketing on LinkedIn
The key to successful selling on LinkedIn is moving from people “knowing” you to “liking and trusting” you.

  • Make sure your profile accurately represents you and your brand.
  • Establish connections with your target market.
  • Share useful content through the use of updates, group discussions and messages.

Do this and stay top of mind with your connections and before you know it, your prospects will be coming to you!

Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer (@NealSchaffer)
Author & Founder, Maximize Social Business

Social Selling With LinkedIn:
LinkedIn, more than any other platform, is most effective when your entire company is behind your efforts.

Don’t just stop at marketing your Company Page: Get your salespeople involved with using LinkedIn for Social Selling.
Get your employees involved as part of an Employee Advocacy program.

Don’t forget the targeted status update opportunities you have for Paid Social on LinkedIn too!

Social Media Marketing World 2014 eBook

To access ALL of the tips from our 38 eBook participants, just visit our Slideshare page where you can view or download the full PDF.

Also, if you want to hear all of these tips and much more in person, then be sure to check out the Social Media Marketing World conference website.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.


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5 LinkedIn Marketing Tips to Optimize Your Social Media Success | http://www.toprankblog.com

March 11th 2014 Online Marketing, Social Media

Online Marketing News: Facebook Cuts Into Google’s Lead, 203% Growth In Social, Facebook Users Ignore Brands’ Content

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A Dr. Seuss-Inspired Guide to Twitter

A Dr. Seuss-Inspired Guide to Twitter - Dr. Seuss, the writer and illustrator behind children’s classics The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and The Lorax, would have turned 110 on March 2nd. We think that if he were alive today, he would have been a social media master. So to honor his wit and wisdom, here’s our interpretation of the Seuss guide to Twitter. HootSuite

Now Official: Google Adds Restaurant Menus To Search Results - Google announced that it’s now showing restaurant menus as a OneBox-style answer at the top of its search results. It seems to be primarily triggered by searches that involve both the restaurant name and the word “menu,” although Google’s example involves a query that starts with “show me the menu for….” Search Engine Land

203% Growth In Social, Only 31% In Publisher-Based Mobile Apps In 2013 - Gartner’s latest mobile industry report is out. Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users totaled 968 million units in 2013, an increase of 42.3 percent from 2012. Sales of smartphones accounted for 53.6 percent of overall mobile phone sales in 2013, and exceeded annual sales of feature phones for the first time. Technorati

Facebook Cuts Into Google’s Lead As Top Traffic Driver To Online News Sites [Report] - Add this to the ongoing debate over whether social or search is driving more traffic to online publishers: new data from Parse.ly shows that Facebook took a big bite in January out of Google’s lead as top traffic source for some of the biggest news publishers on the web. Marketing Land

Google AdWords Launches Flexible Conversion Counting - Google AdWords has officially announced a new way for advertisers to track and measure conversions with their new flexible conversion counting. The goal is to help advertisers track the types of conversions that work best for their business model. Search Engine Watch

Google Analytics Adds AdWords Integration For Mobile App Campaigns - Google announced on the Google Analytics blog that they now upgraded their AdWords integration to show Mobile Apps campaigns in Google Analytics. Search Engine Roundtable

Google AdWords Redesigns Notifications & Alerts - Google announced on Google+ that the roll out of the new notification and alerts icon in the Google AdWords advertising console should be live for all soon. Google said they began rolling out the new design “earlier this month.” They said the new approach is “more streamlined” for the notifications and alerts system in AdWords. Search Engine Roundtable

Study: Facebook Users Ignore Brands’ Content - An upcoming study from Web-content and customer-experience-management provider Kentico Software highlighted some of the challenges faced by brands on Facebook and other social networks, as its survey of more than 300 adults aged 18 and up found that the majority of them usually ignore posts by brands. AllFacebook

Tumblr Adds Its First Director Of Media - Sima Sistani has been named director of media at Tumblr reports The Hollywood Reporter. She had been the director of mobile growth at Yahoo since August of last year, according to her LinkedIn profile. The position is a new one within the micro-blogging service, and Sistani will report to Lee Brown, who heads up brand partnerships at the site. She’ll focus on courting the entertainment industry through partnerships and help celebs with their Tumblr presence. SocialTimes

61% Of Marketing Pros Use Social Media Analytics Tools [STUDY] - Almost two-thirds of marketing professionals use social media analytics tools, with campaign tracking their number one objective, reveals a study by Demand Metric that was sponsored by NetBase. AllTwitter

Pinterest Analytics: Mobile Revenue from Pinterest is Up 224% - Mobile revenue from Pinterest is exploding. According to research on Pinterest analytics carried out by the in-house data scientists here at Piqora, retailers & brands saw an increase of 224% in January 2014, compared to a year earlier. Business 2 Community 

Brands’ Organic Facebook Reach Has Crashed Since October: Study - It’s no secret that the portion of a brand’s Facebook fans who see posts that aren’t supported by ad spend is dropping. In a sales deck sent to partners last fall, the social network acknowledged what some brands had observed for more than a year — that organic distribution of posts on brand pages was declining — but it didn’t quantify the extent of the decline to be expected. AdAge

Yahoo to Block Social Log-Ins From Facebook and Google - Yahoo will prevent users from signing into its services using Google or Facebook accounts, saying instead they will need Yahoo IDs. Yahoo revealed the news to Betanews, saying that it will roll out the new log-in process gradually, a process that will require users of the website’s services to register for Yahoo IDs rather than logging in with Facebook or Google accounts. ClickZ

Facebook Messenger launches on Windows Phone - While Facebook is rapidly developing experiences for iOS and Android, the Windows Phone platform often gets short shrift. The company is changing that, announcing Wednesday that Facebook Messenger has launched for Windows Phone. Inside Facebook

Google AdWords API Upgrade Adds Shopping Campaigns, Search Funnel & More - Google released a new version of the Google AdWords API, v201402, that brings a tremendous amount of new features. Google’s Jon Diorio summed up his favorite features on Google+. Search Engine Roundtable

New Google Search Layout Has No Underlines, Makes Titles Bigger - Users in Europe are seeing a new variety of Google search results, which many believe is related to Google’s European antitrust agreement. The new layout was spotted by Dan Barker. Interestingly, the new layout makes it harder to distinguish the ads from regular search results. Search Engine Watch

Since It Can’t Sue Us All, Getty Images Embraces Embedded Photos - For the past decade or so, the best defense Getty Images could find against the right-click button on your mouse—home of the “copy” and “save” functions—has been a team of scary lawyers. By copying one of its images and using it on your blog, you’re entering a random drawing where the prize is a terrifying letter offering a tutorial in copyright litigation. BusinessWeek

LinkedIn Opens Sponsored InMail Gates to Mobile Ads - LinkedIn is stepping up its content marketing offering with Sponsored InMail on mobile. From now on, marketers and advertisers will be able to leverage users’ inboxes to get content in front of their eyes. ClickZ

Looking for Content Marketing Training? School Is Now in Session! - According to our annual content marketing research, organizations are investing about one-third of their marketing budgets on content marketing — and the majority are planning to increase their spend in the next year. While this seems like good news, our research also found that fewer than half of marketers consider themselves to be effective in the content efforts they produce. Content Marketing Institute

Mobile Represents 30% of Ecommerce Site Traffic in 2013 [Study] - If you’re curious about what the state of ecommerce looked like last year, ShopVisible recently released a report that highlights mobile benchmarks, payment methods, shopping channels and more for 2013. What it found was 30 percent of site traffic came from something other than a traditional desktop/laptop, and up to 7 percent of total online revenue came from comparison shopping engines. ClickZ

Bing Launches ‘Bing Saves’: Save And Organize Content Found Through Bing Searches - Bing has officially launched a new feature designed to help users save, organize, and share the content they find on Bing searches. Bing Saves is available for access as a public beta on bing.com/saves, where you can also get toolbar bookmarklets that allow you to save content to Bing that you find elsewhere on the web. Search Engine Journal

3 in 4 Retailers Believe Mobile Will Soon Influence the Majority of Consumers’ Purchases - A new study from RSR Research indicates that already, almost half of retailers believe that mobile influences consumers’ purchases more than half of the time. And they’re even more confident of mobile’s influence in the years to come: some 44% believe that mobile will in 3 years influence consumers’ purchases at least three-quarters of the time, up from just 9% who currently feel that mobile carries that level of influence. Marketing Charts

Study: 60 Percent Of Adults Switch Screens During The Day - Echoing a 2012 study by Google, Facebook this morning released findings from a new research about multiple device usage. While offering some different figures and percentages it essentially backs up the earlier Google results, which show that people use multiple devices throughout the day and for different purposes. Marketing Land

Survey: 87 Percent Want “Do Not Track” To Elude Marketers - There’s a massive gap between marketers’ increasingly aggressive use of data and consumers’ desire not to be tracked and targeted. This is not a new issue. However a new survey from social marketing firm Communispace underscores the chasm. Marketing Land

From our Online Marketing Community:

On 5 Ways to Grow Your Blog Community and Readership, Dr. Anthony C. Edwards said, “I really appreciate your advice about writing from the consumer’s perspective rather than the company perspective. While we are trying to drive a particular response from the reader, it’s important to remember that we are writing to people and they often appreciate recognition.”

Henley Wing said, “I love tips #2 and #3. Nobody really wants to hear how awesome you are they, they want to hear how you can make them awesome. Understanding the pains, fears and needs of your audience is a great way to resonate with them.”

Anoop Srivastava added, “Lee, I love your first points Facts tell, but stories sell. If we write story with facts, people will start reading it.”

And Barbara Mckinney commented, “Thanks for the tips Lee. I agree with them all especially with #5.To optimize and socialize your content in social media is one the most important things to do to reach your audience.”

 

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


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March 7th 2014 Online Marketing

How to Avoid Unscrupulous Web Design and SEO Service Providers

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Small businesses that want a website are at a severe disadvantage when seeking a credible company capable of designing an optimized, persuasive online presence.

Quote

As a strong supporter of buying from local businesses, I’m well aware there is a lack of skilled local web service providers.  This frustrates small business owners who want a website and wish to hire a local company to do the work.   A small business wanting a website may be an book author who blogs for many well-known online publishers, a small restaurant catering to the local area, churches, towns and municipalities, school districts, lawyers, health and wellness centers, hair salons, artists, home improvement contractors, real estate offices, small town shops, and horseback riding stables.  These are places of business or individuals who are not backed by corporations.  Many of them have strained budgets, are non-profit, or startup ventures.

In other words, they are easily taken advantage of.  If you own a small business and are unhappy with your present web site services, or are new and considering having a website built, let’s arm you with knowledge, requirements and a plan.


Why Am I Paying So Much?

I’m asked the following statements from local business owners who have already hired a company to build their website and promote it search engines.

  1. I’m paying too much money.
  2. I don’t understand what I’m paying for.
  3. I’m paying XXX and not seeing results.

The most commonly outrageous stories I’m told come from the search engine optimization realm of services.  Small businesses unwittingly are coerced into paying enormous sums of money for services they do not understand.  They are not informed of the risks, nor are they aware that certain methods can lead to penalties in search engines.  I have seen brief Word documents with a history of the months bounce rates and popular pages delivered for several thousand dollars per month.

A home business opportunity with a well-known corporate presence provides its franchise members an offer to “submit” their sites to Alta Vista and other search engines for a monthly fee.  We all receive unsolicited email offers for SEO services by companies that are clueless and reckless with their online marketing practices.  They prey on small businesses.

  • You are paying too much because you being taken advantage of by people and companies using out of date practices who know you don’t know what the current, proper search engine marketing practices are.
  • You are paying for methods that are more likely to get your web site penalized in search engines.  You are paying for services that are not being performed.  You are paying for out of date practices performed by unskilled people.  You are paying for analytics and data you can get yourself for free.
  • You are not seeing results because there is no plan.  Your service provider may not have asked you for Key Performance Indicators (KPI), your competitors, your quarterly goals and your top business requirements for your web site.  You are paying for keyword data from Google that is no longer provided, but they are not going to tell you that.

My Website Is Not Working the Way I Hoped

The most common reaction to a poor rank, low conversions, high bounce rates and skimpy traffic is to throw more money towards search engine marketing rather than evaluating the site’s usability.  Small businesses may accept whatever web design they get, especially if it looks attractive.  Their monthly budget is more likely tied to marketing rather than design maintenance, content updates and split testing.

Small businesses are not guided to test their sites because the company they hired to build it has no idea how to perform usability audits or split testing.  Even web design companies who are stronger on the design side and weaker on SEO do not know how to build persuasive websites.  They may not have the skills for meeting accessibility standards, which is a specialized skill and yet extremely valuable to conversions.  It’s far too easy to put up a WordPress, Joomla or Drupal based website with a Responsive design for mobile devices and call it a day.

To illustrate to a friend why their website was performing badly in search engines and with their intended site visitors, I did what I always do first when I look at a web site.  I removed the images.

Homepage – Top

Top of page

This is what the top of the homepage looks like.  There is no optimized text for search engines to work with.  There is no navigation for screen readers or anyone not loading images.  The image-based design tells its story for human eyes.  Calls to action are called “click here” and “learn more”.

Homepage – Bottom

Homepage bottom

There is not a single instance on their homepage where their company name is provided in text format.  The content is written from the perspective of them, rather than what they provide their clients.  There are no alt attributes behind the images, no conversions funnels and there is no organic SEO work performed (although they are charged for it.)

Even with the images displayed, I could tell there was no plan for this website.  Sadly, it was a redesign and no better than the original.  The company that built it does not have designers trained in usability, user experience, accessibility, information architecture and conversions design.  They do claim to be SEO’s.

At Internet Marketing Ninjas, we strongly encourage every client to let us perform a website usability and persuasive design site audit, even when they appear to be only interested in the variety of expert Internet marketing services we provide.  There has never been a website audited that has not needed improvements to their design to increase conversions, user experience and accessibility standards.  If this is the case for our corporate clients, you might well imagine the situation for small businesses and individuals who simply want a website that ranks well and is user friendly.

In the following weeks I’m going to arm you with information.  You will know what you need, what to request, and how to plan for your website’s future.

You should never be charged for poor quality work simply because you don’t know what to look for.  When you hire a company to build, maintain and market your website, you expect that for the fees you are charged, the appropriate work is performed.  Whether you are a sole proprietor or business with a small staff, you deserve the same opportunities for success as your larger counterparts who may have more money and resources.

They don’t always have a plan either.

Let’s show them how it is done, shall we?

The post How to Avoid Unscrupulous Web Design and SEO Service Providers appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

March 5th 2014 Online Marketing, SEO, Usability