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The Importance of Your Bounce Rate

In 1 on September 25, 2009 at 2:20 am

If you are attracting visitors and they leave without investigating your site, they are sending you a clear communication: your site is not relevant or is not easily communicating what they were looking for. So either your meta tags need to change to align with the content of the page or the content of the page needs to change.

Dimitris Zotos recently published an excellent article called The 8 Ways to Lower Your Bounce Rate that we would recommend to everyone looking to improve their website. It’s a good read and doing what he recommends will make a difference.

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Social Media: Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater.

In 1 on September 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm

A good friend, Andrew Jenkins, just posted a thought provoking article Social Media is So 1999 on the Community Marketing Blog, basically questioning the frenzy around Social Media applications.   While I agree with several of his key points, (people can easily jump on a bandwagon and ride it into the ground), I offer a caution to his request to be cautious.

This is no dot com bust. Google has proven that FREE is indeed a viable business model. But it is a business model that requires incredible discipline. They have worked out, without question and PRECISELY, what their “reason for being” is. They understand that a business needs to align behind a single, relevant idea. In their case, it is “that every individual can find what she/he wants, when he/she wants it”. It is so simple it is very complex. What I mean is the idea is simple, the execution is complex. In a business world that was all about the almighty dollar, Google knew that if they made all of their decisions such that  “every individual can find what she/he wants, when he/she wants it”, the rest would all work out. We have watched them become the largest Company in the world in less than 10 years, yet they don’t make the smallest or the biggest decisions based on “how much revenue will it produce”, like most businesses we grew up admiring. They make their decisions based on “will that help every individual can find what she/he wants, when he/she wants it”. Most businesses spend a lot of time focusing on quarterly reports and doing whatever it takes to drive the stock price up. They spend a lot of time and effort working on the wrong things. Google knows that the best way to affect their stock price is to ensure that ” every individual can find what she/he wants, when he/she wants it”. Again, very simple, yet incredibly difficult to execute. They take a long term view that’s in the best interest of their constituents.

But back to Andrew’s comments, there are other factors at work here as well. Competition in every business sector has permantly changed. In 2007 Marketing Sherpa posted a statistic that hit me right between the eyes: “83% of a B2B purchases found their Vendor online”. Most brands’ prospects (potential customers) have completly changed the way they find what they need. So it stands to reason that marketers would completely change the way they reach them. But alas, most Company’s marketing practices have not changed enough to make the difference. I think we have a lot of half-pregnant marketing plans.

Lets think about the context for a moment, rather than looking at each Social Media site individually. Social media is to the Internet what the Internet was to the Personal Computer. The first stage of personal computing featured games, while the second stage featured word processing and tremendous time-saving number crunching applications in the form of spreadsheets. But the third stage – the addition of the Internet attracted a whole new personal computer user. A similar phenomenom is at work regarding the Internet. On the World Wide Web you could send email and look up information on almost any subject. The second stage was most businesses have posted “brochureware” – they have a minimal presence online. And now the third stage –  Social Media or Web 2.0 has been introduced.  Collectively, it is the catalyst – the reason for people (by the billions) to be online. When billions of people are online, engaged and participating, it creates a medium that we have little to no experience with – one that actually talks back. Sure some applications will come and some will go, but the genre (Social Media) is here to stay and it’s impact on the way we do business will be profound.

For example, early in this game, we have noticed that when you combine Social Media with PPC and SEO you can generate new business at previously unknown rates. For less cost than we could ever imagine. That levels the playing field in many industry sectors: if I am looking for new windows for my home, I would likely Google “new windows oakville”. The little guys are on page one. With the right presentation, the “big guys” in the business will never even make my short list, if they are not there when I am looking. People are calling this “Inbound Marketing”. Now we can distinguish what we have been doing as “Outbound Marketing” (we had never distinguished it as that was our only option.)

The Google Era (of which Social Media is an honoured guest) hails a fundamental change in the marketing mindset of every business. And the Marketing Strategists are only now beginning to understand the power of the medium, working with the SEO fanatics to produce business results. After many years of every business spending huge amounts of advertising and promotion dollars, as well as cold calling and investing a tremendous amount of sales effort (what we call HUNTING for customers – or the SPEND, HUNT and HOPE model), we have now entered The Google Era – a period when you must make the fundamental shift to learning to BE HUNTED – to be found when people are looking for your product or service. It requires a whole different approach to marketing. In fact, it actually forces Companies to return to the basics of sound marketing. No longer will business be able to “throw enough &^%#$&^ against the wall and be satisfied with what sticks” (AKA: half my ad budget is a waste – I just don’t know which half.

And the part I  love the most – I am predicting a serious comeback of marketing. It will be back in the corner office. The Google Era will force brands to know exactly who their ideal customer is and precisely what they are selling. Or die. Getting crystal clear and then being easy to be found for exactly THAT is the key to doing business in The Google Era. Every marketer will be able to LISTEN so they can stop telling people what they think they need to hear in order to buy their product. Without direct feedback, the best we could ever do was guess. Now we can “talk with” our ideal prospects rather than “talk at” them.

So call me a zealot – not for social media, but for The Google Era and the impact it will have on the way we do business: worldwide.

Online Marketing – Use At Your Own Risk

In 1 on September 5, 2009 at 8:00 pm

None of us will miss the irony in the acronym L.E.A.P. when we speak of how your Enterprise should approach the Internet in terms of marketing. Many have indeed jumped with with little forethought, only to be sent packing by the Communities they offended. L.E.A.P. allows you to ease yourself into a conversation that is already underway. Would you arrive at a party and just burst in a room full of people who are already in the midst of many conversations, expecting them all to acknowledge your “arrival”? or would you…

Listen for awhile? Would you park yourself in a small group and listen long enough to get the drift of the discussion, form an opinion that supports your Corporate point of view and then…

Engage. Offer up ideas and counsel. Give away wisdom and authentically offer up information that will make a difference for others. People only do business with people they perceive to be experts or friends. And if you’re not a friend…

Assimilate yourself into their conversation and offer up solutions and assistance. Protecting Intellectual Property is old-school thinking. If you hide your primary contribution under a bushel, nobody knows you have one. Other online participants who offer it up, will be more likely to make the short list when it comes time to buy – even if it is not as good as yours. And then there is consistency. You must…

Participate on a regular basis. You cannot jump in, disappear for a few months and then come strolling back in. Ongoing participation, engaging with online communities in a respectful manner, listen and contributing – in other words, play by “sandbox rules” and all will turn out well.

Derek Lackey is a eMarketing professional based in Toronto, Ontario. A 25+ year background in major brand advertising and sales management combined with a passion for the internet and the impact it  has on marketing results fuels his passion for Online Marketing.

The Top 10 Essential Social Media Stories This Week

In 1 on August 30, 2009 at 2:58 am

From an image editing disaster by Microsoft to Yelp’s (Yelp) augmented reality application to a rehab center for Internet addicts, it’s been a busy week in web news. Our friends at Mashable.com cover it well. We were blown away by Facebook’s (facebook) latest iPhone app and shocked by a new ad campaign that informs drivers of the dangers of texting while driving. Less shocking: a new study suggested that social media users are somewhat narcissistic.Picture 4

Social Marketing – Use At Your Own Risk

In 1 on August 30, 2009 at 1:24 am

cubeThe launch of the Nissan Cube, engineered by Capital C of Toronto is a classic case of using a new medium with an old marketing mindset. This article from Marketing Magazine outlines what went well and what went off the rails. I’m more interested in why it went that way.

I speak to all who will listen about the transformation of thinking that is required (not just nice to have) in order to thrive in the Google Era. If we simply apply a mass marketing mentality to a one-to-one marketplace we are going to be line-dancing to a fast tango track. People will notice. The best way we have explained this is our Hunt AND Be Hunted theory. I will explain.

When large media firms control access to the highly sought “eyeballs”, charging hefty dollars for access, our only option is to SPEND, HUNT and HOPE – that is spend a lot in advertising, promotion and sales efforts,  hunt for customers constantly, and hope they remember us when it comes time to buy. An inefficent system for sure, but in a mass marketing world, that was all we had. Enter the Google Era. Now when consumers need something, they search online, do their homework and make their decision. Marketing is simple in this era – you are either there when they search, or you are not. If you are not, your competition gets the sale.

So the shift in mindset is fundamental: ask yourself how can I make it easier for consumers to find me when they want me? We no longer have to spend a fortune to chase millions in order to do enough business with a handful of prospects. Have you learned to BFOUND? Have you made the marketing mindshift needed to not create a situation like Nissan and Capital C? Perhaps the mess they made was due to applying a mass marketing mentality to execute a one-to-one conversation with millions of people. We must realize they are individuals. They can be a fan – or they can tell their communities about their negative experience. Social media – use at your own risk, but you have a much better chance if you make the mental shift and learn to be real with people, instead of the old corporate-speak we have been used to.

5 Practical Ways to Build Traffic to a New Website

In 1 on August 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm

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It can be depressing to do all the work required to build a great website, only to have no traffic. “Build it and they will come” does not apply online either. We offer up 5 relatively simple actions you can take (we call them Digital Bees™) you can do  today to help drive traffic to your site.

1. Set Up a Blog
We know blogging isn’t for everyone, but it’s a proven way to build relevant content at your site on a consistent basis. And remember, Google’s only reason for being is to “help X find what X wants, when X wants it” (X being every individual on the planet). So relevant content really helps Google point people to your site. It also gives your visitors / customers a reason and an opportunity to engage with you. A caveat though –  please no “corporate-speak” Be real. Don’t be afraid to discuss your mistakes and what you’ve learned from them as well as your strong points and advantages.

2. Use Article Marketing
Article marketing is, in essence, trading your words for links. It can certainly help with link building, but often the quality of the links are questionable. Having said that, it is free and we have certainly used it successfully for many of our clients. Here’s how it works: Write an informative article on your site topic (or something related). Include an “about the author” section as well as links in the article that point to your pages using relevant anchor text (preferably your sought after keywords). Then submit the article through one of the many article syndication services (such as EZineArticles.com or GoArticles.com ). Anybody can publish your article on their website – provided they use the article in its original format including the “about the author” section. So when the article is published, any links you include back to your site are published as well.

3. Generate Trusted Directory Links
Google (and other search engines) like it when credible sources link to your site. It is known in the Internet community as link building. Although it tends to be a long-term strategy there are some free listing as well as some very effective paid ones that would make a difference. Our friends at SEOmoz published a good list that remains relevant.

4. Use Pay Per Click Advertising
For new websites, with no history and few links, it is often a long tedious process to “ramp up traffic”. We have often used paid search campaigns to get a new site site in front of the right audience immediately. It also allows you to do your homework and find out which keywords work and which ones you should drop. We recommend that you start small, watch, listen, learn and build your ROI. Google has some great tools to help you do your keyword research to find lower-cost keywords to get you started. Cut your teeth on keywords that are not as sought after (therefore expensive) before going after the big traffic keywords. Take those on when you have more skill and feel you can risk some marketing dollars. It is more difficult to get a decent ROI on some keywords that are popular in your marketplace.

5. Do the Basic SEO
Google reports there are over a trillion URLs on the web, yet only 3% are opmimized for search engines. Simple things like submitting site maps so the search engines know where to look on your site, through to setting up proper H1, H2 and H3 headings and filling out individual page meta tags. Many developers, don’t want to do the extra work, so most new sites get posted “as is”. More often than not, Google, Yahoo, MSN (or the new Bing!) do not even know your site exists. A little SEO goes a long way to generating traffic.

An extra bonus tip is to be sure to place Google Analytics on your site so you can track what’s working and what’s not. The data is almost instant and lets you know what’s really going on with your new site.