It wasn't that long ago that copywriters and SEO junkies were plugging websites full of key phrases that had the city and state references in every line of text. Google Chrome is making all of that unnecessary. The beautiful thing about Google Chrome is the ability for a search engine to use your IP address so the information you are seeking and are offered is locally relevant.
What is an IP? IP stands for internet provider. Every internet provider has a location, city, state, and zip code. Search engines can use this information to improve your searches.
Typically, a user would enter the city, and sometimes state, when searching for a product or service. Let's take heating and cooling for example. If my air conditioner was on the fritz, I might use a search engine and type in "air conditioner repair service in Louisville." However, when using Google Chrome, now a user can simply type in "air conditioner repair service" and get local results because the IP address is being used to populate local results.
Why is this a big deal for the people concerned with SEO? It use to be you had to be overly concerned with every little geographic reference in the keywords research. This was true for the text on the web pages, but also the off-page SEO efforts in titles, descriptions, and keywords. This is now becoming less relevant. Here are some of the benefits of these improvements that Google and other search engines have implemented:
The Site Copy Is Readable - No more "Louisville AC repair man located in Louisville, KY. Call your Louisville, KY air conditioner repair service today!" No one talks like that and this allows what we put on our websites to be natural and conversational.
Less Complicated - You no longer have to spend big bucks to have someone give you an SEO strategy that the layman can implement. Find the most relevant terms and use them in your copy, titles, and descriptions. If you need a more comprehensive plan, use a professional service with accreditation like The Content Squad, who are gold partners with HubSpot.
Level Playing Field - Since Google rewards websites for quality, original, and authoritative content, Joe's AC Repair can now compete with the big dogs online, without having to sound like a robot. The big dogs will probably continue down the path of "keyword stuffing," but Joe should just be himself and incorporate some basic general keywords. If Joe keeps plugging away and adding a couple of well-optimized new pages every week to his site, he may even bump off the big dogs.
Honesty is Best - What is true of you is what you should tell people. For instance, my name is Joel and I work for The Content Squad in Louisville, Kentucky and I am an SEO expert. I don't have to say it ten different ways on one page. Keep it conversational and true and you are well on your way to a well optimized site that people will be able to find.
image credit: google.com
Inside a business-to-business sales or service organization, a lot takes place between a prospect becoming a lead, converting to a sale, becoming part of the audience, and then an advocate to others.
There is a lot of software that can make this happen. You can go out and get a website designed then grab some email marketing software (there is plenty for free or for a low fee) for starters. Then you can find a graphic designer with some type of design program to help create call-to-action (CTA) buttons and banners. Of course you'll also need some tracking tools (you could opt for Google Analytics or other paid software). I'm sure you'll need a few plugins to integrate your social channels and to create landing pages. Then of course you have to hope that your CRM will integrate with your website and your email marketing tools. Or you could just make an investment in HubSpot and call it a day.
Whether your goal is shortening the sales cycle, marketing to an existing database, generating new leads, following up with those new leads, or presenting compelling content offers to repeat website visitors, you need to take advantage of lead nurturing. Within HubSpot they refer to this particular tool as Workflows.
Rather than try and give the proper explanation in this short post, I wanted to reference a meaty (lots of good screen shots and hands-on info) post that gives a thorough overview of a lead nurturing system. This post from the B2B Marketing Mentor walks you step-by-step through how HubSpot (the creator of the software we use and recommend) uses their own lead nurturing system. It's amazing how they can dig in and give subscribers, leads, existing databases, or new social followers a taste of whatever they are looking for. The content, the messaging, and the offers—whether top, middle, or bottom of the funnel—are all targeted. This targeting is done using segmented lists and Workflow recipes, as they call them at HubSpot.
The key in this post is in the last paragraph. Don't get overwhelmed. Start with something and refine it.
Does your website software and system allow you to close the entire marketing loop? If not let's chat.
You may or may not need inbound marketing, depending on your business development goals and overall marketing strategy. That's a debate that could go on for a while.
We could make a case that almost any business could benefit from the tactics of inbound marketing (blogging, email marketing, lead nurturing, content marketing, search engine optimization, etc., etc.). Even if you we didn't prescribe a full blown inbound marketing program, you could probably maintain business or achieve small growth goals with the tactics. They surely outperform stale, outdated, interruptive, expensive outbound marketing methods.
The point of this post is not to debate whether or not you think you need inbound marketing as the business owner or key decision maker. The point is that your customer's perception of inbound marketing is your true reality.
- Do they expect to see you engaged in customer service on Twitter?
- Do they expect to see your website redesigned and user friendly?
- Do they expect valuable blog posts pouring out on a daily or weekly basis?
- Do they expect valuable content marketing pieces available for download?
- Do they expect to see little social media icons in your header or footer?
- Do they expect emails following up with them in the sales funnel?
- Do they expect to have some fun with your brand on Facebook?
- Do they expect to see your profile and your company's on LinkedIn?
- Do they expect that you would show up well when they Google you?
These are the questions to ask. It's not your perception that matters. It's your customers, clients, patients, donors, or partners perceptions that matter.
Would you like to learn more about where you stand? Register quickly for our free competitive analysis.
The short answer is sometimes. Recently we launched a content marketing initiative for one of our clients who wanted to get found online for parts that they sell nationwide, and occasionally internationally. We did the research and discovered there were about five key terms that consumers would enter into search engines when looking for these parts. We did the competitive analysis to see who was on page one of the results for those various phrases and determined that the competition was low. This is not an exact science. I always tell people that "getting found" online is like geology. It is time and pressure. In our case it was time, content, and optimization.
Here are the results just after four weeks, four blogs, two short videos, and a little optimization of their website. They were previously past page four and five for each and every search. Today, four weeks later, they are on page one for every term we targeted. On two of the terms we targeted, our client has two or more results on the first page. This is not always the norm, but we can make highly educated assumptions about your company's ability to get found based on our keyword research, competitive analysis, and some pretty great online tools we have at our disposal.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself:
- Have I had my site evaluated for its potential to generate leads?
- Do I have analytics that show the amount of traffic to our website?
- Has my website been optimized? IIf so, what were the tangible results?
- Have I added any new pages to our website this month?
- Has our website ever generated a real lead or customer?
If your website has been optimized but the company that did that work for you can not show you within three weeks the impact that work had on your website, then you should call us and let us give you a website review. If you have a blog set up but you are unable to see visible results or impact to your website, you should sign up for a blog training session which can easily triple your results with no additional effort. It is just a more strategic approach. If you recently had a website design or redesign you may experience an initial burst of activity, but if you notice in the following months the traffic falls off and the calls from the website tail off, it is because you need a continued content strategy.
If you have questions about any of this give us a call. We would be happy to walk you through the value of your current site and the simple things that can be done to grow your business using the internet. Click the banner below for a free competitive analysis. It is a great place to start.
The biggest audience we try and reach day in and day out on this blog is business owners. Notice I didn't say the only audience, but the biggest audience.
Business owners are our target market, buyer persona, or whatever you want to call it. As I sat around this winter and rainy spring, I did something I don't like to do. I watched a lot of TV, and probably even more Netflix. In the process I came across many useful shows for the business owner.
Whether you are a new startup business owner or a seasoned veteran, I think these shows can give you some inspiration, ideas, or hope—whatever you might be lacking.
First up is a show I've written about before. It's called "Shark Tank" and it's on Friday nights on ABC. Currently it airs at 9PM EST. This show focuses on business owners (entrepreneurs if we're being technical) pitching their idea or existing business to the five investors in the "Shark Tank." The show really gives you an idea of what makes a business successful and investable. I highly recommend it.
Second is a show that doesn't have many episodes, and you may need a Netflix account. It's Bloomberg's "The Mentor." This show pairs a successful business owner (the mentor) with a business owner who needs some help. That help might be casting a new vision, scaling growth, implementing marketing changes, or a complete overhaul.
Third is a show called "Kitchen Nightmares." It stars Gordon Ramsay and aired a few years back. Again it's on Netflix. If you can get past all the beeps (warning there are a lot), then this show has some tremendous business lessons. Gordon visits a failing restaurant (usually in massive debt and on the brink of closing) and helps them relaunch. It's very dramatic and as I mentioned, full of beeps, but I have learned a lot about business from this show. From simplifying a business, to carving out a niche, to rebranding, to developing a passion, and finally to leadership, these lessons help transform almost all these failing restaurants.
Business growth is more than just inbound marketing tactics. The mission and vision of a business are very key, and I think these shows can enlighten you if your business is struggling in those areas.
If you can think of other great shows for business owners, then add them in the blog comments, on Facebook or reply on Twitter.
image credit: ABC.com
If you're a business owner or a sales person in charge of business development, then your entire job relies on starting conversations about what you do. Everywhere you go, on the clock or off—if you're good—then you're probably looking for conversations to jump into. Eavesdropping at the local coffee shop, networking at church (on the way out, of course), on the golf course, at the spa, shopping, trade shows, chamber meeting... it doesn't matter. Your goal is starting or engaging in conversations about what you do.
It's not as simple as that. Sure, we know you have to ask questions, solve problems, etc. You don't just go around interrupting conversations saying, "buy from me, buy from me." At least we hope not. The point is that your goal is always to get into conversations. Nothing starts until you're in the conversation. Well guess what? You can have way more conversations online that you can offline. If you have a B2C business and you're not jumping into conversations on Twitter, then you're missing a huge opportunity. If you have a B2B business that generates sales leads, me thinks you need to be there too.
Here's a great example of a business understanding social media. In this case, Twitter.
Recently, our local grocer failed to stock one of our favorite products for like a month. Seemed like an eternity without my turkey sausage links in the morning. Applegate Farms has an active Twitter account and I follow them. They post good stuff, but more importantly, they are engaged with their audience. I asked a question, and they answered in three minutes. We had a conversation about their product and guess what? I even signed up for their newsletter on the spot. I mentioned that I was going to use them as an example on this post. They said great and asked us to share a link.
You can follow the whole conversation here.
Can you imagine the alternative? Picking up the phone and calling Kroger, getting an automated line to a department. Then ending up back at Applegate Farms website, calling them or emailing them. They probably respond quickly via call or email as well, but can you beat a three minute answer on Twitter? I don't think so.
Get in this space. We can show you how social media is a part of your overall business development plan. Let's chat.
In the meantime, download our Essentials to Internet Marketing Guide. It's free. Well, it costs a name and an email address.
The Kentucky Derby is a long horse race. It's not the longest of the triple crown, but it's long. There is one thing for sure: it's not a sprint. Occasionally a sprinter wins the race if the conditions are right. If it's raining or muddy or the speed is too slow to start. All kinds of factors, along with a crazy good horse, can lead to a sprinter winning the Kentucky Derby. The fact is that most Kentucky Derby winners are not fast sprinters. Instead, they are bred for the long haul.
This analogy is much like the world of inbound marketing or internet marketing. Occasionally a sprinter gets in and hits a quick home run with their inbound marketing game plan. However, it usually takes a long term approach to win in this race. Inbound marketing is not a sprint. It's not a game of splashing stuff on the wall to see what sticks. All the tenets of the game (social media, email marketing, lead nurturing, search engine optimization, web design, blogging, content marketing, etc.) are about building over the long term. It's the difference between a day trader and a long term investor. It's the difference between a good six furlong horse and a Derby winner.
If you're going out to enjoy the Kentucky Oaks today or the Kentucky Derby tomorrow, then enjoy yourself. Maybe these links will find you on your way and help you get the information you need. It's the greatest two minutes in sports, they say, and it happens in our hometown every May. The last two have been even more special with both the University of Kentucky and Louisville cutting down the NCAA nets just weeks before.
Enjoy the Derby and pick a winner!
P.S. 4th horse in the 5th race is a lock.
image credit: yrun.net
When you are asked this question what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it your logo, your tradeshow display materials, or maybe print collateral such as brochures and building signage?
While these are all important branding pieces for most any business, the marketing assets that I am talking about here are more relevant to gaining market share than building collateral. The type of marketing assets I'm talking about are blog articles, blog subscribers, eNewsletter subscribers, Google search rankings, back links, content offers, etc. All of these assets develop your brand awareness and promote your story and message, which in turn builds your reach and your sales pipeline.
The cool thing about these types of assets is that with the correct strategy and tools, they are very measurable and quantifiable. And by the way, all of these assets begin and end with your hub (website). That's why when we engage with a prospective client we always start with their hub and from there begin to formulate a strategy (inbound program) around the hub relative to their goals.
Building assets in our new age of technology is very different from traditional methods, but the core principles still apply: getting your value proposition in front of the right people and keeping your brand top of mind. These new methods are not magic beans (beware of the SEO snake oil sales pitch). However, with strategy, the correct tools, and a little elbow grease, you can build real marketing assets. These are the type of assets that will compound with momentum and time. Most importantly, these are assets that will grow and sustain your business.
We’d love to get to know you more and talk about your business and how we might help you build some real long lasting assets.
All businesses have customers in some form or fashion. Some smart businesses have fans. Successful, long lasting businesses have built an audience which includes loyal and trusting customers.
In the old days (I say old days, but really just a few years ago) a company's audience was entertained, nurtured, and prospected with a team of sale reps that spoke at events, manned a booth at a tradeshow, wined and dined folks, made monthly touch calls, and on and on. Don’t get me wrong, personal relationships are still very much the key to business and face-to-face, firm handshakes still trump all. However, with the tools available today you can attract, manage, and engage a large audience with less effort and essentially no geographic limitations.
Building an audience is one thing, but building an engaged audience is another. This is very key to the business development part of an audience building strategy. This is also where understanding your buyer personas (who you need to be speaking to) and positioning your brand comes into play. Digging into who you need to be talking to and how they receive information is a crucial part of building the right audience.
Building an engaged audience can absolutely help in growing and retaining your book of business. Just remember that the right audience trumps a large audience every time. Contact us to help you find your audience.
Not exactly, but your homepage should reflect what inbound marketers are all coming to understand: search results are reprogramming what we look at first. What we have discovered is that because of the massive amount of internet search, people are unconsciously reprogramming themselves to avoid parts of the computer screen and immediately scan others. Where should the most important information of your website homepage appear? The answer is where the searcher's eyes go most.
If your website is clean and simple, you may not have to incorporate too many psychological tools to get users where you want them. But if your homepage is busy, you may want to take some advice on layout. When people view the result of a search in Google, they are avoiding the far right edge and the upper left areas of the screen. The eyes of the searcher often go to the upper right and middle left of the screen. Why? This is because their brain has been programmed to avoid areas of the screen where paid ads tend to appear.
When you take a look at your homepage or even review the layout of your internal pages, you should be aware if the information you most want consumers to connect with is actually in the best location on the computer screen. If you have analytics for your page performance and there are certain offers you want consumers to click on, you should move the image or graphic around on the page from time to time and analyze if the location makes a difference in the amount of times it's clicked. If it does make a difference, you should reevaluate the rest of your site and how placement of the right content in the right area can improve results and ultimately grow your business.
Layout is always a key component of a great homepage but so is minimalism. Less is always more. If you can keep your website clean and simple, you will be creating a visually-appealing menu and options for the consumer to navigate. The easier it is to find what your consumers want, the better success you will have connecting with them through your web presence. If you put everything you do on your homepage they will not be able to find the tree because of the forrest.
Search results are limited per page and aim at putting only the most relevant information on the first page for that search. Likewise, the homepage should be a book cover with table of contents—not the details of every chapter.
image credit: google