Archive | March, 2014

SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing … All Need Is A Plan!

31 Mar

We build websites, all day, every day and help so many clients with SEO. And I think we do one heck of a job. Our clients love our work and send us lots of referrals. Does this mean that each one of those websites instantly made our clients millions? No, of course not.

A website without traffic is worthless. So, what then? Do SEO, do Social Media, and do Content Marketing, right? Not really.

The other day I was discussing with a client their struggles with attracting qualified traffic and getting conversions. They were doing some PPC and a little content marketing through their blog… but were convinced they weren’t doing these things the best way possible.

They are the leader in their industry. They have better prices than any of their competition. And their clients love them. So, what’s the problem?

They don’t have an integrated online marketing plan.They’re dabbling…

  • They haven’t done any real keyword research; they make educated guesses.
  • They know their clients but haven’t mapped any of these efforts with the client experience.
  • They create content but distribution is sporadic at best.

None of their efforts were tied together in any real and meaningful way. And none were fully mapped to the user experience or to any conversion goals… the only goal was to get more leads.

They could have thrown in the towel convinced that none of it was going to work. Instead they were smart enough to realize it was time to change (cue Peter Brady). They saw glimpses of the power of online marketing, but needed a better strategy.

As we explained to them, when engaging in online marketing, there is a process you should follow when developing a solid plan…

Define Buyer Personas

Know your audience! Take some time and build your buyer personas. The power of a well crafted buyer persona is incredible.

Adele Ravella, founder of the Buyer Persona Institute defines buyer personas as “an example of the real person who buys, or might buy, products like the ones you market, based on what you’ve learned from direct interviews with real buyers.”

The key word here is example. These are examples of real clients. With these highly defined examples, you will have a quick reference guide to compare all of your content and marketing efforts against.

Content Audit

Do a content audit! You need to know what you’re working with.

Make an inventory:

  • good content you already have
  • content you need to create
  • sources of inspiration or validation
  • who will manage editing and creating content
  • how each piece of content maps to your buyer personas

Content can come from lots of different places!

Review Owned Media Channels

Assess your owned media channels! Owned media is at it sounds, the media properties that you own – your website, blog, newsletter.

Do you have a website? Is it designed with your buyer personas in mind or is it a brochure stating how great you are? Here’s a hint, it should be the former!

Your owned media is your home base. This is where conversion happens.

Review Social Media Channels

Assess your social media channels! Where are your personas spending their time? Are they using all of these channels? If not, consider spending less time where they aren’t.

Or find out what kind of traffic these channels are sending to your website by looking at your Google Analytics or other statistics.

If you don’t have a way to track where your traffic is coming from, stop what you are doing and ask your webmaster about adding Google Analytics to your site’s code.

Simply posting to social channels because they’re there can be a huge time suck. Time is money. Don’t waste it.

Look at Your Competition

What about your competition?!? What are they doing with their owned and social media channels? How could you do it better? How are they doing in the search results? Can you beat them at this game?

Sometimes you might need some tools and/or a professional SEO to help with an accurate review of your competitors online.

Develop a Content Strategy

Everything you do will relate in some way to your content strategy. Content is a broad term that gets overused. For the purposes of this article, I will define content as the following:

  • Content on your site’s pages like About Us or Our Approach
  • Owned media like blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics or other images
  • Curated media such as posts from industry websites you share with your audience

This content will be the backbone of your online marketing strategy. Knowing what content you can create or curate on a regular basis will help you outline the specific strategies for your owned and social media channels.

It will also help you to track and tweak your shared media strategy. Shared media is as it sounds, your owned and curated content that is liked, shared, plussed, tweeted and so forth. Tracking shared media will show you which content is working and which is not. The signals on these social channels also help with your SEO, at least in terms of your owned media.

Managing content is much easier with an editorial calendar. The calendar can be very specific as to what content will be created, by whom and where it will be promoted.

Or it could be vague with a general outline of content topics needed for each month allowing your team to be more agile in creating this content. You can be more topical or even employ a newsjacking approach.

Paid Media?

Here’s my issue with paid media… it’s often used as a shortcut to build quick and easy traffic. This costs you a bunch of money without any long term plan for keeping and growing the traffic it may or may not send.

Think about it this way. Let’s say you own a sandwich shop. One day you decide to offer free sandwiches to the first 100 people who come in. Great idea!

But, you give away 100 sandwiches and collect no information, offer no reason for that person to return, don’t encourage them to rate their experience or share on social channels. You’re just giving away free food.

Do you see all of the lost opportunities for future growth? And you’re out a bunch of free food. This is like paying people to visit your website with no plan for what’s next. That’s pay per click with no strategy.

Don’t get me wrong, pay per click, Facebook ads, sponsored posts, and other advertising opportunities can be incredibly powerful. But think through the user experience making sure you map goals that are tied to these campaigns… conversions!

Identify your Conversion Goals

Conversion is the point where a visitor becomes a fan, client, colleague, supporter, cheerleader or whatever you want them to be. You transform them into something that is useful to your business by offering them something that is useful to them.

For example, you’ve written a very useful eBook with great tips your potential clients would love. You could post this on your site as a free download. But that would be a waste of that little book’s potential.

Instead, try giving the eBook to anyone who signs up to your newsletter or registers for a webinar you’re hosting.

Conversion should be a strategy that is fully intertwined in everything you do. I’m not advocating turning everything into a sales pitch. You need to provide the user a valued experience. But, at the same time, make it easy for them to do business with you.

If you aren’t thinking about conversion with each piece of content you create and publish, you’re missing an opportunity to grow your business in some meaningful way.

Have a Plan!

Online marketing is science, sales, creative, and communications. It’s also a discipline requiring some sort of a plan. Even if it is just a loose set of ideas in your head, always think through the user experience… what they want, how they’ll want to get it, how you’ll give it to them, and what you can expect in return.

When in doubt, ask for adult supervision. It’s easy to make mistakes that can be quite costly. There are tons of resource out there, including our weekly blog posts and Facebook page. Seek the information available, know your audience, and market for them!

 

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Facebook Rolls Out Simplified News Feed That Leaves Content And Ads Alone

24 Mar

Facebook has gone through many iterations, and some growing pains, in its quest to find a happy balance between an interface that people love to use, and that will serve the best business purpose for ad-funded the social network. Starting today, Facebook will be embarking on another chapter in that story, with the rollout of a new look for its News Feed — announced last year but never launched.

In today’s update, the changes are all visual: a new font for the bulk of the text (Helvetica for Macs and Arial for PCs, the company tells me); a new “card” arrangement; bolder presentation for images; and a lighter and more simplified left-hand column — changes that will give the desktop experience more parity with Facebook’s mobile apps. The changes are getting turned on over the next few weeks worldwide.

To be clear, none of the changes affect advertising on the site, or how Facebook surfaces content to people: in other words, if you are a marketer on the social network, you don’t change anything. On that front, there will continue to be updates to the news feed algorithm over time, which will be posted about on in the News Feed FYI blog, notes Greg Marra, a product manager who I spoke to earlier.

Some context on the changes that are out today: Although there were News Feed changes announced last year, they were not rolled out worldwide.

Marra says that Facebook wanted to take some time to really think them through. “Over the last year we have been taking time and listening to what people think about the redesign,” he told me, with “lots of interviews with users to understand what parts were working and what parts were not. Some changes were getting in the way of using Facebook.”

On the changes to Helvetica and Arial, Marra says this was because Facebook was looking for something that felt more “like a system font.” And in general, the aim is to try to simplify complexity: while there used to be different levels of indentation for different shared stories, now each has its unique part.

Similarly, attachments will get their own space, with links presented in Georgia titles (a serif font). And shared photos will be full width, with multiple photos coming up as a collage.

One noticeable change between the version of Facebook that I’ve been shown in the screenshots of the new look and how my feed looks today has to do with the left column. It’s far simpler than it was before.

Marra says that the navigation on the left side in a small screen was challenging for many people, especially with smaller screens as you get on laptops and other smaller desktop machines, to use. “You didn’t have the space and needed to scroll,” he said. Going forward, Marra says it doesn’t matter what size your screen is, “you get the same number of links, and we think it will be easier to find the things you care about.”

So what was behind the changes that Facebook made today? Marra says that the things the company is evaluating how people use the site and where are they going — to groups or apps or stories? “We wanted to pay attention to qualitative feedback this time. It’s hard to tell what’s working and what’s not so we talked to people as we did the update. We put usability studies first.”

It turns out that it’s more usable, for example, for the chat window to be in the bottom right-hand side instead of on the left side where it sits in the version I have now. (In the screenshots here, you cannot see the chat box, or the ads that Facebook confirms will continue to sit in the right-hand column.)

Facebook Revamps Business Pages: 3 Changes

17 Mar

Facebook business pages get a new timeline design, direct access to admin tools, and a new feature that lets you size up your competition.

 

10 Famous Facebook Flops

Facebook will roll out redesigned business pages this week, the company announced in a blog post. The changes, which apply to Facebook’s desktop version, make it easier for users to find information and help page admins find the tools they use most, it said.

Last week, Facebook announced another set of changes to users’ news feeds to improve the consistency of the desktop and mobile versions. Those updates, which roll out over the next few weeks and are largely cosmetic, showcase larger images, a darkened background color, and fewer navigation options from the left-side menu.

Facebook’s updates to pages come almost a year after it spruced up the mobile version of pages, which gave admins a simplified panel and added business-location details and actions, such as likes, check-ins, and shares, below the cover photo.

The latest Facebook page redesign includes a more streamlined look to mimic what you see on mobile, a handful of design updates, and a couple new features. Here’s a look at the changes.

 

 

 

Updated timeline design
Facebook will finally ditch the two-column timeline design in favor of the one-column feed that all user profiles already have. Before, posts would render differently on the page than they would in newsfeeds. Moving to a one-column design changes that. Page posts will now display consistently both on the page and in users’ news feeds.

 

 

 

 

The left-side column now displays information about the page’s business, including a map, hours of operation, phone number, website, photos, and videos. Previously, contact details were only visible under the About section, and you could browse photos only from the Photos tab.

Direct access to admin tools
Admins will have a slightly different view of their pages: Facebook added key information about the ads you’re running, new likes on your page, and unread notifications and messages, all within the margins of the main view of your page.

 

 

 

 

Facebook also added new navigation options to the top of the page for activity, insights, settings, audience building, and help. The Build Audience tab will send you directly to your Ads Manager account.

Pages to Watch
The newest feature in the redesigned pages is called Pages to Watch. This lets admins create a list of competitors and monitor how they compared to their own page’s performance regarding total page likes, new page likes, posts this week, and engagement this week. Facebook tested this feature with some pages last month, but all admins will have access to it in the new version.

 

 

 

 

Admins can switch to the Posts tab within Page Insights to view the past week’s most engaging posts from the pages you add to this section.

Q & A With Sala Social Marketing!

10 Mar

Q: If I have to choose between Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which one is the most effective for mobile marketing? 

A: The social ecosystem is steadily growing, which means marketers must be more strategic than ever when engaging with consumers across social networks and devices. As consumers traverse from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest and Instagram, content is digested differently. Ultimately, the network that will be most effective for your mobile marketing efforts depends largely on your audience, their interests and the type of content at your disposal.

For example, Pinterest is highly visual with a predominately female audience, while Twitter’s user base is much more diverse and text oriented. If you’re in the hospitality industry, it’s likely that your content will be image heavy which makes it ideal for Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. Alternatively, Twitter’s bite-sized headlines and Facebook’s content-friendly interface are optimal for B2B companies to engage with customers and prospects.

Related: Facebook Is More Addictive and Widely Used Than Ever

So what does this mean for your mobile-marketing strategy? Content, device and audience aren’t one-size-fits-all when it comes to engagement and your mobile approach should reflect this. There are several paths to success when it comes to choosing a social network that will perform best with your audience on mobile. A few simple factors to consider about each network that can help ensure you are directing your mobile-marketing energy and resources to the right networks are as follows.

Pinterest. This social platform is experiencing rapid growth with a largely female user-base (70 percent), according to Nielsen research. One of the largest benefits to Pinterest for mobile is that it is highly visual and outstanding for traffic generation, especially for retail.

Twitter. The micro-blogging site is excellent for real-time engagement with consumers. On Twitter, marketers can share the latest news in a quick snapshot message, allowing information to be shared instantly while offering fodder for thought-provoking conversations. When it comes to mobile, Twitter’s simple interface is ideal for engagement on the go that can reach hundreds of thousands of followers immediately.

Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s company currently offers the most substantial and diverse reach. Additionally, according to a recent TechCrunch article, 78 percent of its daily users are on mobile, which presents countless opportunities for mobile engagement. Facebook is well suited for rich content accompanied by images or videos.

Instagram. In many respects Instagram is the new kid on the block. According to a recent study by Imply Measured, 71 percent of the world’s largest brands now use Instagram as a marketing channel, however from a marketing perspective the network is still in the early stages. The recent inclusion of video and its tight integration with Facebook make it an ideal compliment to Facebook mobile engagement.

Facebook pulls its email service after only four years

3 Mar

Amid Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last night, the news Facebook has pulled its email service after four years has been muted from the social network.

Since 2010, Facebook gave its users the chance to set up an @facebook.com email address, but now those with this email suffix will see their emails sent to the email account they used to sign up to Facebook in the first place.

Given Facebook’s recent acquisition of the mobile messaging app WhatsApp for US$16bn, it seems the company has decided to move away from what it sees as the forms of online communication that are considered more traditional.

The ending of the service is expected in March because, as a Facebook spokesperson has claimed, the company saw no need to continue it because of a lack of uptake amongst users. The service has also been rarely updated or given much prominence on the social network’s interface.

It did, however, come to attention in 2012, when it was found to be deliberately hiding users’ regular email accounts in favour of Facebook’s version, to the annoyance of many, who were then required to go in and change their priority email address manually.