• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Duo Consulting
    Duo Consulting on October 20, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal is the Best Social CMS (Sponsored)

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • If you want to easily be found online, then it’s vital that you are getting ranked highly on search engines like Google. For many people, the first thing that they will do when they are interested in a new service or product is look to Google to find out more information.

    If you want to easily be found online, then it’s vital that you are getting ranked highly on search engines like Google. For many people, the first thing that they will do when they are interested in a new service or product is look to Google to find out more information. However, Google is continually updating its algorithms, which can make it harder for people to be easily found online. That is, unless they know exactly what factors go into that rating.

    Here are 13 of the most important, yet little known about, factors that go into online rankings in 2014.

    Your Site Must Run Well

    Google is tracking just how well your site runs. After all, they don’t want to promote websites that continually have trouble when users access them. Therefore, one of the biggest keys for ranking is that your site must run fast and have limited, if not any, errors when users access it.

    Content Must Be Completely Original

    Content is king, as you’ll see in the next few factors. However, before you just start uploading any content to your website, you need to make sure that it’s all completely unique and original, as well as pertaining to your website.

    Continually Updating The Website Will Help It Stay Fresh

    Not only do you need to have original content, but you also need to have content on a regular basis. If your site is stagnant for too long without being updated, the site will fall in the rankings.

    Spelling Is Key

    The spelling for your site’s content needs to be precise as well. Google has implemented a new system that checks for spelling to ensure that websites have correct spelling and that it’s easier for users to read.

    Grammar Counts Too

    Not only spelling, but grammar counts as well. Having proper grammar will ensure that your site gets high rankings, while grammatical mistakes will harm the legitimacy of the website. If a website owner is having a hard time when it comes to continually posting content that is relevant and grammatically correct, they should consider hiring a writer to help them. The added person on the staff will certainly help to ensure that the website has the best content possible, as this will be their sole responsibility.

    Keywords Make It Easier To Be Found

    Your site needs to be rich in keywords. These keywords can be triggered when a user is looking something up online through the search engines, and they make it easier to be found. Keywords should be listed throughout the content on the website, in URLs, and on page names themselves.

    Page Authority Makes It Reputable

    Your site needs to be seen as credible if you plan to get high rankings. How do you become more credible? Well, a lot of it will have to do with traffic that your site brings in. If you are a reputable source, the site will get high rankings.

    You Need Visitors

    As mentioned above, you’re going to need visitors if you hope to be ranked highly. Site traffic has a lot to do with the ability to be highly ranked on a search engine.

    And You Need Them To Stay

    Getting visitors is one thing; making sure they stay is something completely different. Websites that hope to get the best rankings on search engines need to have an exceptional bounce rate. If people aren’t staying on the site, it’ll take hits in search engine results.

    Backlinks Remain Vital

    Backlinks have always been helpful, so they shouldn’t be forgotten here. Backlinks should have keywords and remain relevant to the site itself.

    You’ll Need To Be Social

    The importance of social media continues to grow throughout the world, which is why it’s also important for search engine rankings. Websites should ensure that their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other profiles are all linked to the website.

    Keep URLs Simple

    It’s vital that URLs are simple. Not only is does this make it easier for people to remember them when accessing them, but search engines also show preference to URLs that are the most simple. Shorter is better, and they’ll benefit in rankings.

    Video Integration

    Finally, the site should have some sort of interactive media. Most commonly, this will include videos. Not only are videos great for getting recognized, but they are also the perfect type of content that could help your website get shared and earn even more visitors.

    With these 13 factors in mind, websites can ensure that they can be found easily on search engines when viewers are looking for them.

    If you have played some sort of game on your phone today, raise your hand. Why did you pull your phone out and start playing that game? I’m guessing because it was fun.

    I’m going to take a quick, unofficial poll — if you have played some sort of game on your phone today, raise your hand.

    Why did you pull your phone out and start playing that game? I’m guessing because it was fun. If it wasn’t fun, you probably wouldn’t do it unless you wanted to get past a level, which is the other side of gamification: competition. People will do things to win, even when it isn’t as much fun as it was in the beginning.

    Those two factors, fun and competition, are effective in marketing because they create engagement. The fact that you are doing something because it’s rewarding in some way goes past “playing a game” and into areas like education and marketing. The rewards that motivate us aren’t always tangible prizes but they are always something we want.

    What Do People Want?

    Here’s where knowing your customers really helps, because you should have an idea about what they want already. If you haven’t developed an empathy map and buyer personas, your marketing doesn’t have a focus. But this is a general idea:

    • People want to feel important enough to have a choice — let them customize the experience in some fashion
    • People want to feel rewarded for their behavior — let them win somehow
    • People want to feel connected to their tribe — let them see how they fit in the big picture

    Your customers may not be the kind of people who play games on their phones. But they are people who want to have fun somehow and be rewarded with a “win” when they put some effort into engagement. Your marketing may use games, or it may be something entirely new. The kind of gamification that works for your marketing won’t be exactly like what works for everybody, but it will work for your business because you know your people.

    Photo Credit: Gamification/shutterstock

    There’s a huge difference between what our customers go through to buy and what most sales people do in trying to sell those customers. It’s this difference that causes much of the disconnect between customers and sales people.

    There’s a huge difference between what our customers go through to buy and what most sales people do in trying to sell those customers.  It’s this difference that causes much of the disconnect between customers and sales people.  It’s recognizing this difference and engaging customers in their entire buying process that separates great sales people from everyone else.

    Loosely, I characterize the buying process as Why, How, Who, When,  and What.  I’ll pause for a moment,  you’ll have to give me a little literary license as I describe this.  I know I’ll get comments saying is should be another variant of these words, but I’m asking you to focus on the concepts in this discussion.

    The Why is what starts a buying process.  The Why really focuses on the “Why do we need to change?”  The why is about the disruption of what the customer is doing now.  It addresses opportunities the customer may be missing, opportunities to improve operations, to reduce costs, to improve efficiency, to improve effectiveness, to improve revenues.  The why forces the customer to focus on the consequences of not changing.  In this stage, the customer also focuses on defining the desired outcomes or results they would like to achieve.

    Until the customer recognizes and addresses the Why, they never enter into a buying cycle.

    The How addresses the process of How they will organize themselves to buy.  Who is an integral part of this. Who needs to be involved in this process?  How do we get the right people involved in the change process, How do we align different agendas and priorities, how will they get the approvals necessary, how will we define and scope the problem and the solution, how will we evaluate alternatives, and so forth.

    The When focuses on When the customer needs achieve the desired outcomes or the results they seek to achieve.  “We need to see a 25% improvement in profitability by XX date.”  “We need to have the new factory in operation by YY Date.”  “We need to have the new product on the market by ZZ date.”  The when also focuses on the sequence of things that must be done by certain dates to

    The What focuses on What the customer is going to do to achieve the desired outcomes.  What encompasses a whole bunch of stuff.  It includes, what changes they have to make to achieve their desired outcomes and goals.  These include business process, organizational, people, possibly cultural, and other things.

    It also involves the what solutions they need to put in place to help them drive the results.  This is usually where sales people focus their attention.  They focus on presenting their solutions and convincing the customer to select theirs.

    But it’s even worse.  The customers are engaging sales later in this part of the process (the what solution) phase than ever before.  They are doing their own research, they are narrowing choices.  So the amount of time sales is involved and the opportunity we have to influence their buying is increasingly becoming marginalized–as it should be if all we do is focus on the “what solution” part of the buying process.

    So buying involves a whole lot more than what most sales people think.  Typically, we are involved near the end of the customer process–after they have done the most difficult work.  There is very little we can influence at this point–and very little value that we can create at this point.

    This is also where a lot of our prospecting goes way off base.  We typically call customers blindly addressing the “What,”  (What ERP systems are you currently using?  What copiers are you using?  What payroll system are you using?  But the customer hasn’t even addressed the Why, How, Who issues yet.  So they aren’t ready or interested in buying.

    Great sales people recognize there is a whole lot more to buying than selecting a solution.  They get involved in helping the customer with the whole buying process.  They recognize the most difficult part of buying is not the product selection.

    Great sales people recognize the customer may not be addressing the Why issues when they should.  They engage the customer before a buying process has even started.  They constantly engage the customer in thinking about the Why or even creating the why through powerful ideas and Insights.

    Buying involves so much more than addressing the issue “What do I buy, which product do I select?”  If you want to maximize your ability to engage the customer and create differentiated value, realize the greatest opportunity is in helping the customer with their entire buying process.

    Photo credit: Sales Techniques/shutterstock

    At my company we have a policy of not spending money on marketing or sales. We are “pull” (inbound) marketers to the core and this philosophy has served us well.

    At my company, Fusion Marketing Partners, we have a policy of not spending money on marketing or sales. We are “pull” (inbound) marketers to the core and this philosophy has served us well. Of course, we do lots of “push” (outbound) marketing for clients, but we try to move them in the direction of pull marketing in order to drive awareness and leads up and drive new customer acquisition costs down.

    While we don’t incur direct marketing or sales expenses, there is definitely a cost in time and effort, and this is the tradeoff you will also have to make if you decide to adopt the pull marketing approach. As a B2B marketer, one of the best social media tools you can use is LinkedIn. It has gained us awareness, leads and revenue, and it can do the same for your company (as well as you as an individual). But to be successful with LinkedIn marketing, you need to follow some important rules, like:

    1. Get started now. Lots of people talk about using LinkedIn effectively, but relatively few make it happen. Like most other worthwhile things in life, LinkedIn marketing becomes easier over time. The sooner you get started, the faster you get to the easy part of the deal.
    2. Be a combination of the hare and the tortoise. Some Linked practitioners start out slow and stay that way. Others begin with a fast pace but quickly drop off. A better approach is to build up to and maintain a moderate pace. I wrote about this in a 2011 blog post titled Is Social Media a Marathon or a Sprint?
    3. Offer value. Make sure your LinkedIn updates include you sharing content or ideas of value to your audience. A bit of humor and motivation are also good, but don’t overdo it.
    4. Don’t always be selling. Remember Alec Baldwin in the chalkboard scene from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, where his character is haranguing his sales team and shouting “ABC, Always Be Closing!”  While that philosophy may work in high-pressure sales situations, it does not hold water when you are communicating on LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as a relationship medium first, then a selling medium.
    5. Don’t pitch too soon. One of my pet peeves is people who connect with me and immediately try to sell me something. I bet you feel the same way about pushy salespeople. Build a relationship first, then make the offer.  It works better this way.
    6. Connect with people. A technology company founder told me that he rejects most connection requests because he only wanted people he knows personally. In my opinion, this is shortsighted. It’s like only talking to people you already know at a cocktail party – you miss out on a lot of interesting opportunities. This is not to say you should connect with everyone.  I probably accept about 60 percent of connect requests.
    7. Be visible. Even when you don’t have something pithy to say, you can stay visible by liking, commenting and sharing other people’s updates.  Participating in groups is another way to stay top of mind.
    8. Don’t put social items on LinkedIn. Treat this medium as a way to showcase your company and personal attributes, not your personal life. Some examples of things not to talk about or share on LinkedIn:
      1. Photos of your family life (including children, pets, etc.)
      2. Photos of you drinking, partying or out with a group of friends
      3. Your religious or political opinions
      4. Your sports preferences
    9. Keep it civil. Never gripe about your employer, employees, partners or customers. For that matter, if you feel the need to disagree or criticize someone else’s update, do so in as gentle a manner as possible.
    10. Assume that everyone (yes, everyone!) can see everything you do on LinkedIn. If someone likes, shares or comments on one of your updates, all their followers can see it and it can certainly be copied and/or forwarded. Remember that your current and future employer, spouse, partners and friends will be able to see that irreverent, harsh or negative update that you thought was so clever at the time you posted it.
    11. Post your blogs as LinkedIn articles. I leverage many of my blog posts this way and they tend to get very high readership.  Articles are a great to create or extend either your business or personal brand promise.

    Of course, not all of these rules apply in all cases, but they are a good starting point. If you follow them, I hope that LinkedIn is as beneficial to you as it has been for me and my company. I’ll talk about other social media in future posts.

    Photo Credit: LinkedIn Marketing/shutterstock

    We have posted a number of times regarding Google+ Local Pages (which is now Google My Business) and why businesses, especially small/local businesses, need to claim their pages.

    We have posted a number of times regarding Google+ Local Pages (which is now Google My Business) and why businesses, especially small/local businesses, need to claim their pages. In particular, it has been our contention that Google+ Local Pages are essentially acting as your new landing page to your business, fulfilling many customer needs for critical information without them coming to your site. They are acting as your splash page.

    Recent improvements in the metrics reporting within the Google My Business system have given us further insight into the critical need for businesses to claim their Page as well as keep it up to date and promote it.

    For this example we've selected one business, a 1-location popular restaurant in a major city. For clarity, "clicks" in this graph represents: "Clicks to your website: Number of clicks to your business’s website from local search results in Google Maps, Search, and Maps for Mobile" That leaves a lot of possibility for variance as there are so many facets to Google Search and where your information is displayed, but unfortunately that's the definition we're provided with.

    Worth noting: this business is NOT active in Google+ beyond having a Google+ Local Page created, and some basic auto-posting from their blog. They have less than 100 followers and almost 0 engagement on their posts.

    Over the last 30 days, the business's information was displayed:

    • 43,217 times in search views (this is what we'll be focusing on)
    • 28 post views
    • 11 profile views
    • (totaling 43,256 views)
    From that information, it had actions of:
    • 7350 clicks to the website
    • 1240 clicks for driving instructions
    • 770 phone calls
    • (totaling 9360 clicks)
    This has a click through rate (CTR) of 21.6%.
    Putting this in context with the rest of the website's traffic
    Over the same 30 day period of time,
    • The website received a total of 23,722 sessions
    • Google Search resulted in 14,221 of those sessions
    • The website was viewed in Google for 23,463 impressions (via Webmaster Tools)
    • From all of Google Search, the website recorded 7,506 clicks
    • Google Organic Search accounted for 60% of all traffic to the website
    Takeaway observations from this data...
    Google Local Search clicks to the website were responsible for 52% of all of the Google Search traffic to the website, and 31% of the total traffic to the website.
    If we sum the driving instructions and phone calls as "goal conversions" (as those for a restaurant generally imply a firm movement toward a sale), this is an equivalent of an 8.5% bonus to the goal conversions of the website, as their goals have been fulfilled before the user even visits the site.
    Looking at the differences between the Google Webmaster Tools data of impressions (23,463) compared to the Google My Business search views (43,217), we can deduce that the Local Search displays are providing an additional 184% bonus search exposure to the business beyond the standard Google Web Search.*

    (* this is either an 84% bonus or 184% bonus, depending on whether GMB search views include regular search or not, but their description would seem to indicate that it does not, hence 184%)
    In summation, Google+ Local Pages and Google My Business needs to be a prominent piece of every small business's local strategy and search strategy. While this study is for one business in particular, from the data that we have observed for other businesses local businesses, this is fairly indicative of the results that we've seen, especially for B2C establishments. As the local search market grows, a local business's need to maintain a valid presence within the local search results needs to be at the forefront of their online marketing efforts.