the internet ideas blog

Friday, December 31, 2010

What's New?

As 2010 comes to a close I decided that in the New Year I'll be taking a different approach to my blogging. In the past I pretty much stuck to informative internet marketing *stuff* and didn't say too much about myself, my work/business or my clients. Sometimes this caused great writer's block.

I realized that when people ask me what they should write about in a blog I tell them to choose the topic they are most passionate about. With entrepreneurs that usually comes down to something about their business and life combined. I admire the ToiletPaperEntrepreneur because he does blend in a bit of himself with his communication to his target audience - which makes reading his info fun & informative.

So for my last post of 2010 I'm going to start with the first post in my new blogging style titled "ME!" When you follow me now you'll not only get the good information like the former posts, you'll get the "what happens in between" and a little insight as to what it takes to be a full service internet marketing consultant/guru/maven/ Idea Girl!

Thanks to all of my clients for making 2010 a super year! I've enjoyed each and every project.

Thanks to all of you who read my blog! I appreciate your attention & feedback :)

Happy 2011 to you all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good Riddance!

How was 2010 for you? Undoubtedly there were things you tried that worked great and then there are those great ideas that, well, just didn't work at all. Chances are the economic climate also had an effect on how your business fared this last year.

With the New Year just a few days away it's time to say good riddance! It’s time to let go of what's gone and move forward.

Say good-bye to the same old strategy that has been tried over and over again but never produces the results you want.

The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Make 2011 different, try a different strategy. When you let go of what you've clung to for so long (probably for security, change can be scary!) you'll find you get more creative because your mind is forced to think of other possibilities.

Say good-bye to the business deals you made last year.

It’s time to thank your clients for a great year, close up any remaining tasks or communications and then turn off the light on the year.

Embrace the fact that the business climate has changed. Clients have moved on or even shut their doors for economic reasons. Instead of looking back, look ahead to new ways you can serve your target market. Find a new way to "repackage" your offer to serve in the tough financial times we've been facing.

Hanging on to the memories of what you've accomplished in 2010, although great for the ego doesn't move you forward. There are many new business opportunities right in front of you when the creative process is not bogged down by what was. When you let it go you’ll find your mind is open to thinking of new ideas to move your business forward.

Say good-bye to traditional advertising.

As you review the year take a hard look at what produced the best number of leads and sales for your business. Print is not as effective as it once was, the phone books are rarely used and mass media like television and radio are so cluttered with commercials it's hard to remember the messages.

The year 2011 will put us all right in the "age of personalization." People will trust what their neighbor, or even a stranger, says about your business more than any other form of advertising. People now expect access to customer service via the internet and social media – and they expect fast, personal results.

People use the internet more than ever to research before buying. And mobile phones let fingers do the walking faster than ever before with instant access to the latest advertised specials and product reviews. (Do you have a mobile version of your website?)

Say good-bye to what you thought about the internet and marketing. It can all change with the blink of an eye.

In 2010 the internet showed us how powerful social media can be. Did you dive in or are you still watching from the spectator stands? Are you still clinging to the hope that "if you build it they will come?"

There is a good reason mega companies like Bank of America, Wal-Mart & Best Buy use Twitter. They recognize that it’s no longer attractive to think and act like the big guy on the block and they are using the internet to bridge the gap and communicate directly with their customers.

The New Year will give you a fresh opportunity to use the internet to become in sync with your customer base. It's time to stop being an onlooker and start being a participant in the discussions. The web won't stop turning to wait for you, it's up to you to choose 2011 to be the year you really use the power of social marketing as part of a larger internet marketing plan.

The New Year is coming at a lightening pace; it's time to clear away the old mindset about how business is going to be done. Now is the best time to set out a new path for yourself and your company to assure bigger success in 2011.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

En "Title" ment

Everyone has heard about the "title" tag that is so important to search engine optimization (SEO) - it appears in the very top of your browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox) in the blue area. It gives a quick glimpse of what is on the page for search engine users & the search engines themselves and each title tag should be different for every page of the website (they don't all have the same content-do they?)

But have you ever thought beyond the initial page title tag? Titles appear in more than one place on every web page in several different ways. Usually they are called "heading" tags and have a larger font or even a different color.

  • A title is usually the introductory statement in each page: it's written to grab the visitor's attention. It should reflect your unique selling proposition.

  • Sub headings on the page are also titles and are written to bring the website visitor to the next step in the path to doing business with you.

  • Side columns on a page also start with a title - whether it's "how to contact us" or a list of services available.
The important thing to remember about titles is that they serve the purpose of moving visitors on your web page forward in the decision making process.

Take a look at the titles on your website - do they lack the attention grabber? Do they brag about your company or about what solution your company offers? Do they "yell" at the visitor or invite them to look at more information?

Think about what you want your visitor to see & know right off the top, that's what the title should be.

How do you use titles? Have you seen any unique titles you wish you had thought of? Add your comments below.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

If you pay for the advice, follow it!

I was in a meeting with a client yesterday and got the best comment from one of his assistants. He asked her about a suggestion I made about a particular image on the site. She swiftly responded, "Are you paying her for her expertise?" the client responded yes and she then said, "Well I would listen to what she says." Nice!

That reminded me of a story that I told during a presentation several years ago:

100 business professionals consulted an internet marketing company for advice.

These professionals were from large and small companies, they were marketing directors, owners, sales people. Some of the companies were in manufacturing, some in the service sector, some in the political arena and some represented retail companies.

All of these business professionals were concerned about the effectiveness of their respective company websites.

The internet marketing consultants reviewed each website, made recommendations and told the professionals how to improve the performance, position and results generated from the websites. Each professional was given a to-do list that, when implemented, would assure improvement.

Thirty-six of the professionals immediately and enthusiastically went to work making the recommended changes and exploring the recommended venues. And, a couple of months later these professionals were so pleased and encouraged by the improvements that they put even more time and effort into marketing their websites. The work was paying off! Some even consulted the internet marketing company further to see what other options were available.

Sixty-four of the professionals immediately and enthusiastically went back to their respective businesses and gathered co-workers and employees to tell them about the exciting things they had heard and how all the changes they could make would surely improve the performance of their websites.

They had rallies, held lunch meetings, and designed posters about the steps their company would take to get to their goal of a successful online marketing tool. They hired staff to handle the additional emails, customer calls and service needs. They did training, they covered every base – or so they thought.

A couple of months later these sixty-four professionals looked at their sales sheets and there was no change. There was no change because they failed to actually implement the advise of the internet marketing company.

While I have told this as a story – the facts are true. 64% of all companies fail to follow and implement the advice of their internet marketing consultants. Be sure your company is in the 36% that do follow the advice, implements the strategies and comes out on top.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fast does not make you first...

Yesterday I had an interesting experience that got me to thinking. I was headed toward the ATM at my local bank to make a deposit. As I turned into the drive a woman in another car coming from the left inside the bank’s parking lot literally sped up nearly hitting me to get to the ATM first. I would like to tell you that the ATM was broken-it wasn’t.

The experience reminded me about a potential client who contacted me Sunday. They were interested in having me optimize their newly launched website and had gotten a quote from another company that "guaranteed" top 10 placement for their site.

Everyone these days seems to want things better, faster, now! But the reality is, not everything fits into that "fast food" mold. Search optimization is one of those things.

Good, ethical, white hat search engine optimization takes time.
  • It takes time to go through each page of the website and make sure that the descriptions are accurate to the page content, that the title is unique, that the appropriate key phrase is used.

  • It takes time to get the search engine to index (place) every page of the website, not just the "home" page.

  • It takes time for people to start to visit your website in large numbers and start linking to you (one way the search engines determine how high to place the site).

  • It takes the search engine time to move your site up the to the coveted high rankings area.
The only way to achieve instant top 10 placement is to pay for advertising on the website. But you should know, that although this does generate awareness and some traffic, the majority of search engine traffic (85 to 95%) comes from the organic listings.

Even Google gives good reason not to believe SEO's that guarantee top ten rankings:
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. . . Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. And lastly, some SEOs guarantee ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
I often ask my clients: Would you rather have 1million visitors who don't buy anything or 1000 visitors of which 50% buy something? It's an easy question and yet often surprises people. While I can guarantee an improvement in page rankings overall (you're site will move upwards), I am not foolish enough to think that I can put every client I have on the first page for every relevant key term.

Like fine wine, optimizing for search engines takes time and must be done in the most ethical way to ensure long lasting high rankings.

To view the full Google SEO guide, click here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Twitter Conundrum

I was thinking about this last night. Why is it such a great thing to have thousands of followers on Twitter? Who can keep up with it all? And why are there people with thousands of followers who don't follow any back? Why do they have klout?

I was looking at the followers I have yesterday, those I follow, those I don't etc. and thinking about who these people are, do I really know them? Have I conversed with them. It's nothing like Facebook where I can tell you exactly who each person is and why I am their friend and vice / versa.

Twitter can be great for making new friends but I think that it's getting to the point that there are far more people on twitter who just follow everyone for the sake of following and a lot less who follow only those that are of true interest to them. For example, last week I was followed by a large number of chess related tweeps. I don't talk about chess anywhere in my posts or my profile. Sure I've been known to play a game or two but nothing that would warrant follows from chess players, naked chess players included.

So is being on twitter and talking about your product or service a bit like throwing spaghetti on the wall or akin to advertising on tv - hoping your exact target is watching while your ad is running? It seems to me that it's getting that way.

In the beginnning the people who followed me actually talked to me. I followed people that had businesses I was really interested or people who had something to say worth reading. I wonder if the people following me really care anymore. I know I care about who I follow!

For example, I don't follow people who's profiles tout get rich quick schemes or promising to get you thousands of followers on twitter (go figure). I don't generally follow people from other countries unless they are really interesting because honestly, I won't ever have an opportunity to do business with them or they with me.

I also don't follow all those people who say they work in social media or internet marketing right after they tell you they are a teacher, a sales person, etc. I think all of us that really are in internet marketing know that you can't be one on a part time basis - you either do it all in or you're not successful.

I follow people who have something worth reading, who offer something I'm interested or who might be someone beneficial to work with / know. Sure that sounds selfish, but I would expect the same from any other tweep.

Here's the real conundrum, and interestingly there was a post I saw today that looks at this from a slightly different angle as well: If I don't have thousands of followers, people who want to hire someone who is good at social media will think I don't know about it...

Actually I know a lot about it. I am just choosy, not just for myself but for my clients as well, they aren't following everyone on the planet either. . . But the purpose behind that concept that will probably fall on deaf ears.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Google Alphabet

Google Alphabet
I received an email this morning with an interesting link to the Wall Street Journal blog* featuring a little research by Journalism Professor Jeff Jarvis: The Google Alphabet. In short it's the top 4 entries for each letter of the alphabet that are offered if you use Google Instant. If you haven't yet heard about it, Google Instant fills in the blank when you are typing and automatically (without hitting an enter key - before you finish typing) displays the results as you type. So if you input the letter A, you would get (in the results) AOL, Amazon etc.

You can read the entire post if you would like. I've reprinted just the alphabet portion here:
A: AOL, Amazon, AIM, Apple
B: Bank of America, Best Buy, Bing, Bed Bath and Beyond
C: Craigslist, Chase, CNN, Costco
D: Dictionary, Droid X, Dell, Drake
E: EBay, ESPN, Expedia, Eminem
F: Facebook, Facebook login, FIFA, Fandango
G: Gmail, Google Maps,, Glee
H: Hotmail, Hulu, Home Depot, Hopstop
I: Ikea, IPhone, IMDB, Inception
J: Jet Blue, Jetblue, JFK, Jersey Shore
K: Kmart, Kayak, Kohls, Katy Perry
L: LIRR, Lowes, Lost, LinkedIn
M: MapQuest, MySpace, MSN, MTA
N: Netflix, NJ Transit, New York Times, Nordstrom
O: Orbitz, ooVoo, Old Navy,
P: Pandora, PayPal, PetCo, People
Q: Quotes, QVC, Queens College, Quest Diagnostics
R: Realtor, Rite Aid, Run, Radio Shack
S: Staples, Sears, Skype, Sprint
T: Target, Twitter, TD Bank, Ticketmaster
U: UPS, USPS, UTube, Univision
V: Verizon, Verizon Wireless, Victoria Secret, VLC
W: Weather, Walmart, White Pages, Wikipedia
X: XBox, XM Radio, XE, XKCD
Y: Yahoo, YouTube, Yahoo Mail, Yelp
Z: Z100, Zappos, Zillow, ZIP Codes
And as a bonus, the numbers:
0: 007, 0, 02, 0-60 times, 06880
1: 105.1, 1010 Wins, 103.5, 101.5
2: 2010 Calendar, 24, 2012, 25 to Life Lyrics
3: 311, 30 Rock, 3Ds, 3M
4: 4chan, 411, 4th of July, 4shared
5: 50 Cent, 50 Cent Weight Loss, 500 Days of Summer, 5 Guys
6: 60 Minutes, 6pm, 6th Ave, 6 Flags
7: 7zip, 7online, 7chan, 7 eleven
8: 8 mile, 80’s music, 800 flowers, 808 drum
9: 92.3, 97.1, 90210, 92nd Street Y

*original blog post by Jennifer Valentino-Devries.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Search Results in an Instant

"Never underestimate the importance of fast." ~ Eric Scmidt, Google

In 2009, Google rolled out 500+ changes to their search engine in a quest to make it easier and faster to find what you were searching for. And, at 1 billion users per week, it's important to keep evolving with the web and the demands of the internet users. Of the hundreds of changes Google has already rolled out this year, today's announcement was the most progressive of their search evolutions yet: Google Instant.

Google Instant combines the recently released "Caffiene" which provides search results that are 50% fresher and Real Time results with their timelines and conversation views with the not so new "auto complete" function to produce SERP which are dynamic to the active search being typed into the box.

In a quest to make search "Fun, fast & interactive," Google's VP of search products Marissa Mayer compared what Google refers to as a fundamental shift in how people will search to the 1935 version of using a library or the 1950's version of research using a telephone. As opposed to taking hours to find out information, today it takes about 9 seconds for someone to enter a search, 300 milliseconds for Google to return optimal search results and 15 seconds for the user to choose among the results. With Google Instant, the search results are even faster as they are presented while you are actually typing in your search request, predicting what they think you are searching for.

Ironically, Google had somewhat predicted this evolution in 2000 as an April Fools day prank. Today that prank is a reality that saves approximately 2 to 5 seconds per search. While that may not seem like much individually, over the course of a week it saves Google users 11 hours for each passing second. The search engine actually gives live feedback in the form of auto-complete and SERPs as the search query is being typed into the search box.

Google Instant will be rolling out across the United States and several other countries today and will be accessible through Chrome, Safari, FireFox and IE8.

What does this mean to website owners in terms of search engine optimization?

Reading the various discussions around the internet immediately following the press conference (which I was able to attend via live feed on Google's You Tube channel), the opinions range from
"the death of SEO" to "business as usual." I think it's going to be somewhere in between, here's why:
  • You have to be signed in to Google ( your gmail or other google account) to take advantage of Google instant. For those users who don't have a Google account or aren't signed in 24/7 like me, they won't have advantages of the new roll out. So in that aspect, SEO is the same as it has always been.

  • For those users who are signed in it's going to be even more important that business come up above the fold and using predictive key terms. In other words, you absolutely must know how your website visitors find you and optimize for those terms.

    Because Google is using the auto-complete in conjunction with dynamic results, knowing the correct terms to optimize for becomes more important than ever. And while Google believes that people will learn how to "pull up" results from the bottom of the first page and beyond by refining the terms used, that initial search will still show the "cream of the crop."
In terms of preparing your website, just keep your end reswult and the visitors in mind. As the the Google philosophy states, "focus on the user and all else will follow." Got questions about Google Instant? Contact me!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shopping Habits Revealed

This morning I was greeted with an email from the Google Alert I set up from the Realtime application (see previous post). Apparently my name was now associated with a new website, Shopalize. I was curious since I don't have an ecommerce site myself and I haven't given any product reviews recently so I clicked the link.

Shopalize is a (new?) website that tracks my twitter feed for anything I've posted related to shopping. Under my feed: an article I retweeted about a flower shop that was penalized for buying links, a testimonial for verizon wireless, and a quote about buying good luggage.

How are they deciding which posts are related to my actual views about products? As you can tell from posts chosen from my tweet stream, only one was a true shopping recommendation, the other two had nothing to do with my preferences.

On the other side, this could be a very useful tool for further promotion of products & services. Companies that regularly post featured items, daily deals etc. could potentially find extra attention via Shopalize. Although searching for my twitter clients who do post deals resulted in a quaint "our service is broken" message with advice to "check back in a few days."

At any rate, this could be something to watch for in the future if Shopalize really gets off the ground. By the way, Shopalize has an alexa ranking of 204,359 so it's definitely popular.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Off the top - 3 ways to use Google/Realtime

Okay so yesterday Google announced it's "experimental" version of Google Realtime and I got to play around with it a bit. Off the top of my head here are 3 ways to use it for your business:
  1. Reputation management. Put in your name or your companies name and make sure you're not getting any bad press. If you see something negative at least you are aware of it should someone mention it to you and you may want to put out some good press to counter-act. Hopefully everything is rosey for you (it was for me)

  2. Industry info: If you work with several client social media campaigns (as I do) you'll be able to search for industry info that you can use as tweets or articles that are available for reprint on your client sites. Just a couple of suggestions.

    You can also set up alerts so you are getting the info in your email as it happens (or once a day or once a week) so you're always on top.

  3. Just as you can manage info for clients - you can use this to keep up with your own industry news. Especially important for internet based occupations, our industry changes with the blink of an eye!
Okay so there it is - short and sweet. If you haven't tried it already, here's the link: Google Realtime

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Are you passionate?

Today on HLN I saw a poll about how many people were doing their dream job. Surprisingly many people were not doing what they considered to be their dream job. Personally I think that the poll results, which indicated which dream job people would most like to have, were a bit unrealistic. Not everyone is cut out to be an actor (29%), President of the US (13%), a rock star (13%) . . . But I have met people that I think are truly passionate about what they do. And it shows in their level of success.

The same holds true of websites. Websites that are developed and maintained by or with the person who is most passionate about the website topics are, oddly, the highest ranking on the search engines and are successful. Why is that?

It could be that the natural descriptions by the business owner who loves what they do generates the right key phrases to capture the correct searchers. It could be that the level of passion causes the business owner to constantly stay on top of what they are advertising on their websites and therefore make changes to the site on a regular basis causing the search engines to revisit the site regularly.

It could also be that passionate people are able to draw a following because others can sense that level of passion in them generating more links to the website which, in turn, increases page rank.

Whatever the reason may be, it's a sure thing that if you really love what you are doing, your website will show it and the people who visit your website will know it.

If you want to learn more about the basics of search engine optimization, sign up for my webinar here: Search Engine Basics

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Came across this one on YouTube this morning . . . pretty cool and accurate! If you aren't in on social media better jump quick!

See my newest article about Social media & search engine optimization - click here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

What's in a (Key) Phrase?

Everyone knows that being on top for a keyword is big! But the likelihood of getting top rankings for just one single word is slim. People just don't search for online 1 word, usually it's a word with a qualifier like, "diamond ring." Some people qualify further, "gold diamond ring." And others are just really sure about what they want, "white gold 1ct diamond ring."

Now you might think that "diamond ring" would be a great term for top placement - and that's true. But what you might not know is that phrases of between 3 to 5 words are the best for optimal placement and conversions.

Ad Network Chitika sampled over 41 million impressions of search traffic over 6 days and found that 26% of search traffic came from 3-word phrases (ie "gold diamond ring") while phrases with only 2 words (ie "diamond ring") accounted for only 19% of the traffic. Only 14% of searchers used one word to do a search.

What does this mean to you? Well if a searcher is refining what they want to see by using 4 or 5 words, they are more interested in buying what you have to offer. They are really focused in on specifics. These are your most qualified leads and are most likely to convert into sales.

So when you go to optimize your website, look at the phrases people use to find you - not just one term.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why website traffic guarantees aren't valid...

Today I was asked again how much traffic I guarantee with my services. There is no way anyone can guarantee that you will get x amount of traffic to your website. If someone tells you otherwise, they are not being honest and here's why:

  1. No one can control the search engine result pages produced in organic search. So when you type in a search for "widget" there is no one who can perfectly represent what will be displayed in what order.

    That being said, if you can't predict what will show and how it will be shown in a consistent manner there is no way you can tell someone how much traffic they will get.
  2. You can, of course, pay to have your ad displayed in the sponsored listings (usually along the top / left of search engine result pages) but again, the search engines themselves determine which paid listings are most relevant and will show in the better positions for the key phrases you selected. You can get close to predicting the position and estimated traffic but it's still not perfect.
    Also, the placement of paid ads is closely tied to the amount you are willing to spend so unless you have unlimited resources, there will always be another company vying for the same spot with their dollars.

  3. People who use the internet (and everyone else for that matter) have "free will." There is nothing you can do to compel x number of people to click an ad, no matter what you do. So how can anyone tell you how many people will click through to your website if you can't control the people doing the clicking?
When you take into consideration all of the above, how is it possible to make a guarantee?

Any guarantee should be related to specific outcomes instead. For example: an improvement in sales, time on site, page views, contact form completions etc. These are things that are within your realm of control and the qualified individuals who work with your online marketing campaign should, with ample information up front, give you reasonable expectations on these types of goals.

So don't be star struck by huge guarantees! If you are shopping for a new online marketing vendor, take the time set your specific goals for the site and then discuss those goals with people you are considering to run your marketing program.

Have more questions along these lines? Need help? Contact me!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where to spend the dollars?

Recently there was a question posted on LinkedIn:

If you were spending $10,000 on PPC and getting back $12,000 of turnover (making $2,000 profit), and spending $1,000 on SEO and social media and making $3,000 of turnover from google natural search, FB/Tw etc, where would you concentrate your efforts next?

My Answer:

I don't think it's possible, as far as the web has advanced, to focus all your marketing efforts in one basket. Today it's important to use a strategic balance of SEO, PPC and Social Media.

SEO is always going to be important because organic conversions always cost less than just about anything else you might do to bring in more business.  With the emphasis on quality content, it's easier to target the right prospects with the right key terms.

While there is plenty of evidence that organic searches produce higher conversions than PPC but the PPC model puts your name up there for more impressions / exposure.   You might pay for each click but the number of impressions your business will get between clicks is a vital part of any brand promotion strategy.

The social segment is necessary to create the "buzz" so people will refer your offering to others - because 78% of people make buying decisions based on what they are told by others.  Using the big 5: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Google+, you can be fairly certain you'll hit your target in one, if not several places.  Again this goes to branding and catching the person when they are ready to make a purchase decision.

So I would say to create a strategic campaign based on the proportion return you have been getting from each channel so far and test to find out which balance of your current strategy and new channels will give you the highest return overall.  

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reputation is everything!

Who would have thought that the internet would come to this? Your reputation can be made or broken by a few words on a social network or article about your business. Yes, it's true! Companies now take steps to manage their reputation online to assure that the positive outweighs the negative.

Update: The most recent faux pas by JC Penny where the innocuous tea kettle resembles Hitler is just one example of a reputation management nightmare.  This on top of their already stumbling perception.

Take the last "gaff" by BP - do you think they will be worried about how the world perceives them? You bet! And one way they will manage those thoughts will be to have a positive online campaign highlighting all the good things about their company.

Have you seen this  ad from Toyota? You can see how this is part of their grand scheme of managing their company reputation in light of the Prius problems. The really drives home the safe for your family while adding a catchy beat and rap.

Okay so what can you do to manage your online reputation? Here are a few ideas:
  1. Post customer comments on your site and make it easy to see them.
  2. Have an online "newsroom" for press releases and positive media attention.
  3. Write up "case studies" of projects that had positive outcomes and post those on the site, make available for pdf download
  4. Re-write the case studies as "how to" articles to post on article websites.
  5. Use social media to broadcast your press releases, case studies and articles.
Need more ideas or a little help? Contact me, I'm happy to help :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tag! You're It!

I've been working on completing my certification for Google Analytics and I've been getting a good refresher on some of the finer points that really help bring your website activity to life. Today I want to share (or remind) you about tagging!

Whenever you are running a pay per click or email campaign, even when you are just linking from referral sources, use a tagged link! By taking the time to tag your link the analytics program can show you exactly which traffic came from email, or the paid ad, or the specific referral site.

Tagged links can be built to show not only the source (website, email etc) they can show which keyword was used, which product was clicked, and which specific content was used (ad version 1 or ad version 2 etc.).

Once the link is tagged, you can check your web analytics program to discover exactly which sources are performing best. You can also drill down on those sources and discover which yielded the best qualified visitors to your site. Which source yielded the highest page views, time on site ect.

Sure it takes a bit of extra time to get this done but the results are really worth the effort if you want to get the most of your advertising dollars.

Need help tagging and tracking links / ads for your site? Give me a call or email.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Free Money - Just Ask

Believe it or not I saw these words plastered on a van this weekend when I went to the grocery store. "Free Money, Just Ask"

Thing is, if the owner of the van had access to "Free Money" then why was it that they had a broken rear-window wiper (hanging down across the lower portion of the hatch, not against the window)? If you are going to send a message, it's important that you can at least be credible, that you are actually an example of the message or offer you are promoting.

The same is true with online marketing. If you are looking into hiring an individual or company to assist with online promotion take a good look at how effective they are at promoting themselves. If you've never heard of them before, you can't perform a search for their offerings and find their company, or you don't think their site is attractive, chances are they won't be a good match for your marketing needs.

On the other side of the fence, if you are making an offer or stating a claim about your business then be prepared to back it up. If you are offering free money, you better be prepared to hand it out. People really hate being baited.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Word of the Day: Sprezzatura

Borrowed from the Italians I was introduced to this word & concept a couple of days ago on Seth Godin's blog.

Basically sprezzatura describes a level of service that looks effortless. It's the opposite of whining when customers ask for something beyond the norm. It's a feeling of strong eagerness and grace that makes the person providing the service look like it's easy and a pleasure to deliver. The great thing about this is you won't necessarily find this trait at the number one retailer, the best restaurant, the top rated ad agency - often it's the smaller, less well known businesses that know how important it is to "wow" the customer.

In the web world sprezzatura is the internet service provider who goes the extra mile to make sure broadband high speed really means broadband high speed. Personally it took at least 5 calls to my service provider to find sprezzatura in a single repairman who really listened and did more than just "check the lines" without being asked.

It's the web development pro who understands in advance that does more than what was requested because it's the right thing to do for the website and customer.

For example: Noticing that the navigation with keywords is in images (without alternative tags), knowing that text is read easier by search engines, and taking the extra step to add the alt tags and text navigation at the bottom of the page - without being asked. The customer may not notice but when the search engines give the sites a lift, it looks effortless.

Another example: Adding a call to action message and easier access to the order / contact form by removing unnecessary steps. The customer only notices that suddenly they are getting more contact requests (conversions) from the site. Again, it's very much appreciated and looks like it was no trouble at all.

My premise is this: Everyone expects sprezzatura, very few deliver. As long as it's a rare trait to find, the value for this service will remain high and will be well rewarded.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yes, Customers Also Leave

Many times the focus for any marketing campaign is to gain new customers and customer retention. What about customer reactivation?

When you loose a customer, or a customer doesn't buy for an extended period of time, they become dormant in your system and basically fall of the radar. Getting that former customer to buy again is considered reactivation.

What does it take to get a customer back?
Think about the people who haven't purchased for a long time - do you know why? What are you doing to bring these potential referal sources back to doing business with you?

One way to approach this group is to introduce them to a new product or service that was previously not available. This will give you a reason to send an email and remind them about your company. As part of the email you could provide interaction by including a survey to guage interest level.

Get creative in your approach, don't just offer a discount on their next purchase, recognize that there was a specific reason they bought from you in the first place (price, selection, promotion) and strive to meet their needs again.

Remember that the easier it is to do business with you, the more likely it is that you can bring these customers back. Give them a direct link to any promo you offer with clear benefits.

Don't restrict yourself to just email, use your social media tools as well. If you know your customers are active on Facebook and Twitter, include those. If you can reach them via LinkedIn, include that as part of the plan.

Once you have the attention of your prospect, be sure to follow through with excellent customer service and sincere appreciation for their patronage. Remember, people buy from people they like, not websites. And when your customers are happy (or not) they let people know!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is Social Media Effective?

I just received my monthly issue of Website Magazine and included were the results of a survey conducted in January by the magazine about the effectiveness of social media. This would include using sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. to market a business. Here is what was found:
  • 58.6% of respondents have experienced a positive return on the time invested in social marketing

  • 66.3% of respondents have seen more website traffic

  • 10.5% have seen an increase in time spent on site

  • 36.5% have seen the number of incoming links increase

  • 33.7% have seen better search engine placement

  • 19.7% have seen more sales

Of the social sites deemed to produce the highest value to websites & business the top 4 by far were:
  • Facebook: 42.7%

  • Twitter: 41.5%

  • LinkedIn: 29.4%

  • YouTube: 29.9%
If you are not yet using social media as a part of your online marketing efforts, it's time to start! But be ready to invest time and / or dollars to see results similar to those above. Businesses that profit from social media know how to work with this venue daily in an efficient manner to produce the best results.

To start, you'll need to build your audience by getting involved and following / becoming a fan etc. of people who may be interested in your business or have a similar business. All the social interaction in the world doesn't matter if no one is following you. To get started on Twitter, for example, here is an article written last year as Twitter was on the rise.

As always, if you have any questions or need advice, contact me!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Same Meaning, Different Words

Sononyms: One word representing the same meaning as another.
Google: Top search engine on the internet.
Add the two and you get yet another change to the way Google presents sononym results.

Dealing with sononyms is important because, as you have undoubtly found, the search for pictures also needs to pull up results for photos. But you don't want a case, meaning box or container, to pull up results related to an occurance, a court decision etc.

According the the post in Google's Blog, they have improved the way that they deal with word similarities. For example, if you search for GM, Google has changed their algorithms to find multiple possible meanings for that term (General Motors, General Manager etc.)

You'll also notice a difference in the way results with sononyms are displayed for easy scanning. Google has bolded the terms and related sononyms.

So what will this mean to the way you develop web content? If you done a bit of keyword research and written content using the terms your customers use then you won't have to do a thing. Just in case however, here are some reminders:

  • Don't use technical terms or industry jargon unless keyword research shows those to be highly searched.

  • Let every page of your website speak for itself. If each page can stand alone and get the message across then you'll have a better chance of higher rankings.
Everyone has their own way of using search terms. If you use natural language and a variety of sononyms in your content your pages will be naturally optimized.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What's Your Plan?

Welcome to 2010!

This week I've been working on preparing year-long internet marketing plans for my clients. I use the analytical data from the past year, compared to the year before where applicable, to determine what's going on and where efforts need to be focused going forward.

Each plan doesn't take long to compile and often includes promotional schedules, website updates needed to accommodate all the new stuff each year, like video, and email marketing schedule. I also look at what articles can be written as good content for the sites and what we'll be promoting through social media like Facebook & Twitter.

It surprising though, the number of businesses that fail to take a few hours each year to get ready for the next.

Having a plan sure makes the year go easier because we know what needs to be happening from one month to the next. And that knowing helps keep everyone in sync and on track, no scrambling for something new at the last minute.

So take some time this week and work on what you want to happen in the next year. It will pay off in saved time and improved revenue. If you need help, give me a shout
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