It’s been a while since I recapped my Forbes Brainy Marketing activity here, so here’s what you may have missed. And, be sure to add a comment if you visit. I can “call out” quality comments, and site admins sometimes expose these in different parts of the site. What Your ‘About Us’ Page Is Missing [...]
A picture may be worth MORE than a thousand words in some cases. A new study shows that text is more credible when accompanied by photos, even when the photos don’t support the point of the text! Researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand showed that statements about a celebrity being alive [...]
As perfect proof of its point, a link to an article titled A Catchy Headline The Biggest Draw For News Article Readers induced me to click and read it. The article noted that a new study by Harris Interactive showed that catchy headlines topped interesting visuals as a reason to read an article. This is [...]
The Peace Loving Arnie Kuenn shares his Halloween thoughts on what a groovy time we would have if we lived on a spam free Mother Earth.
What else would YOU wish for this Halloween day?
For several years now, we’ve been hearing about the impact of mobile on holiday shopping. But here’s a fact I’ve never heard before.
85% of shoppers will shop for a gift by starting on one device and finishing on another.
The information comes from the Adweek Google 2012 Digital Holidays survey and it’s all about the birth of the multi-screen holiday shopping season. Take a look at this slice from their delightful infographic:
Crazy stuff. And what’s funny is, I actually do these things but didn’t really think about it. I email myself from my iPad all the time. I did this just yesterday after I found a cool gift idea for my husband. Emailing is an inelegant solution to the problem but it works. A better solution is a direct connection between the tablet (or smartphone) and the computer. For example, I also used the Amazon app on my iPad to add items to my Wish List which my husband will later access from his computer.
Putting items into a shopping cart to re-access later from a different point is also a good solution except for one thing – registering and / or logging in to a website isn’t easy on a mobile device. (Note: in putting together this post, I found out that the iPad can save your passwords and login info, you just have to turn the feature on under Settings: Safari. Oh, if only I’d known this before!)
They also found that many people will juggle multiple screens at the same time, I say, with my iPad sitting right next to my computer monitor. . . .
Hmm, I’m starting to feel very geeky and predictable.
The bad news for online sellers is that 51% of those surveyed said they’ll do their research online but they’ll do their buying at a physical store. I’m surprised by this because traditionally, online prices are better. So you’d think the reverse of this would be true – people check out the goods in person (showrooming) but buy online to get a better price.
80% of shoppers did say that the internet was the most useful source for all their holiday shopping needs, so if you can’t get the sale, at least you can get some ad views and clicks before they get in the car and drive to the mall.
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This is the second in a three part series on how professional services firm Sales Benchmark Index has made the transition from traditional outbound marketing like cold calls to a content-driven marketing approach using blogs, twitter, ebooks, and videos. If you haven’t done so, read the first installment Professional Services Firm Grows 50% through Switch from Outbound to Inbound Marketing.
Subject matter experts
I love the approach Greg Alexander, CEO of the company, has taken to building content. Since Sales Benchmark Index is a professional services firm with smart subject experts, they needed to create an environment to channel the expertise into the creation of blog posts, videos, and longer form content assets like ebooks.
“We heavily explored the use of contractors and agencies and went so far as to request work product samples from them,” Greg says. “What we found was very, very talented writers, smart people, great art directors and all of those good things. But they just really couldn’t grasp the details of what it is that we do. So the content they were producing was too generic. It wasn’t relevant enough to our audience, so we decided to build internally.”
Greg’s “internal agency” includes three staff: a full-time editor who manages an editorial calendar, the production schedule, and determines media channels; an SEO expert to increase the likelihood of the content getting found in search; and a copywriter, who works with subject matter experts inside the firm. “But the actual writers, the contributors of all the content are the subject matter experts in our company who are working with our clients,” Greg says.
Interestingly, the subject matter experts at Sales Benchmark Index are organized by buyer persona. I always recommend this buyer-centric approach yet very few companies organize around buyers, instead focusing on the product lines they offer rather than the personas they sell to.
“It was a difficult transition for us,” Greg admits. “We used to be service offering focused. In fact the entire company was organized that way to where we had P&Ls by service offering. I had to break that because I agree with your philosophy. It was a painful transition and it took us some time to get there.”
Greg also does what I recommend everyone do—he not only developed buyer persona profiles, but also named his buyer personas. At Sales Benchmark Index there are nine buyer personas, and there are two people from the firm assigned to work with each one and to create content for them.
“For example, we have a persona called ‘Big Company Mark’, Greg says. “Big Company Mark is the chief marketing officer or the VP of marketing. We have two individuals in our firm who have been serving the chief marketing officer in the B2B environment for many years, even prior to joining our company. They were the ones who actually constructed the buyer persona, so they understand what their needs and challenges are. For example, one of our service offerings is lead generation. But we didn’t want to just write about lead generation because that was very much an inward out perspective. We found that people really don’t care about us. They care about themselves. So if you can write about lead generation through the eyes of the chief marketing officer inside, say, a telecommunications company or software company, it resonated more. So that’s how we have the teams organized.”
Developing compelling content
When it came time to start writing, the team started with a blog. They worked with HubSpot to deploy the HubSpot marketing platform to host the information.
“It started slowly,” Greg says. “Our early blog posts probably weren’t our proudest moments. But then we started to build interest and get subscribers. Soon everybody in the company saw the success and wanted to participate, so we began posting to our blog every day.”
In a nod to real-time marketing, the company blog is actually the homepage. This is a terrific way to showcase company expertise and also to surface content for SEO purposes. “Our best asset is our blog,” he says. “So we thought, why not put that on the homepage? That really helped.” In a world where so many organizations treat their homepage like the cover of a brochure, having blog posts that update daily occupy that valuable real estate is excellent real-time marketing.
One thing I particularly love about the Sales Benchmark Index home page is how the blog posts are organized in an index that is both buyer persona based and also market problem based. Brilliant! This means potential customers can find exactly the posts that are created for them.
The team at Sales Benchmark Index also creates long-form content including an ebook targeted to newly promoted VPs of sales Promoted to VP of Sales: The Year One Toolkit. “That’s done extremely well for us,” Greg says. “It was a heavy lift for us to put it together. But it has created over 4,000 leads for us so far this year. We also launched a monthly webinar series with one of our subject matter experts and a Q&A session. We’ve gotten about 1,000 attendees per month for that.”
Greg is personally active on Twitter with his @GregAlexander feed having nearly 35,000 followers. The company feed @makingthenumber is over 30,000 followers and many all the subject matter experts in the company have their own personal Twitter accounts. “We ask our people to be active on Twitter and we’ve seen significant increases in our follower count,” he says. Greg says LinkedIn is the most effective social platform for the company, even more important than Twitter.
With all these successes, I wanted to know what didn’t work. “Facebook was a total failure for us,” Greg says. “We gave it a college try, invested a lot in it. In fact, I was so frustrated that I hired a consultant to help me with it, somebody who explored all the possible options for us. Our customers and target audience did not want to engage with us there. But we tried. That’s our approach, throw a wide content net and let the process of elimination consolidate around the areas that worked out well.”
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll discuss how Greg measures success and provide his advice to other CEOs on how to get started with a inbound marketing content strategy.
Disclosures: Greg and I serve together on the Eloqua board of advisors, which is where we met. In addition, I am on HubSpot advisory board and serve as Marketer in Residence at HubSpot.
Take heed SEOs and Internet marketers, social media gurus and content mavens: you may be undone by your unwise missteps. This Halloween, take a moment to be sure your well-meaning treats don’t turn into tricks, lest the diabolical consequences befall you.
Has your SEO plan been bedeviled and haunted?
Leave a comment below so your successes are flaunted!
While much of the world waits to see how voters in the red and blue states will respond once they hit the polls, Monetate has the answer to an even more important question — how much do they spend online?
Turns out that folks from the red states, the ones that traditionally vote Republican spend an average of $ 92.22 when they shop online beating the Democratic blue states ($ 91.62) and the Undecided purple states ($ 87.63).
This could have something to do with the fact that Romney supporters are also pro Mac. 24.31% of Republicans are using Apple computers compared to 17.63% of Obama supporters. Those guys are much more PC (so to speak).
When it comes to mobile, both parties are almost equal in iPhone and iPad usage but almost twice as many Obama supporters use Android phones. Not sure what to make of that, but I’ll show you what Monetate can make of this:
This is fascinating data — no really, I’m not being sarcastic. It’s particularly interesting if you do a lot of state specific business. Look at Maryland, they’re top on both lists, so if you’re selling product there you better make sure your site works on mobile.
Traffic from the iPad leads to even bigger percentages with Hawaii leading the way. It’s a weird list, mostly western states but then New Jersey lands in the mix. I doubt there’s a definable reason for the results but it’s fun to wonder why.
Sending the least amount of traffic from the iPad? Iowa, Oregon and Washington. When you add in the percentage from smartphones, Iowans were voted least likely to shop with mobile.
To fully appreciate the wonder of this infographic, you have to see the whole thing. It’s way too big to post on our site, so click here and pay a visit to our friends at Monetate. If they ask, tell them I sent you.
Well it’s been almost a year now since I incorporated Qualify The Deal and launched the sporting good daily deal website. For those of you who knew about the site and helped promote it, I want to give you a very special thank you for helping out! Also, a special thank you goes out to the love of my life who wrote the special Press Release that helped catapult the site onto the national stage.
It was an exciting venture that brought a wealth of knowledge… I never imagined how fast it would grow and how popular it would become. In the end… I approached the business with an “if you build it they will come” mentality. I was right in one of two aspects. It was clear that the people wanted it… They shared it and subscribed at a rate I have never seen before…. but businesses wanted no part in it. At the end of the day my lack of connections and limited capital made for a very hard lesson learned.
Today I give closure to the project that brought some suprising gray hairs! May your 1′s and 0′s live on within the way back machine.
Ben Holland answers: “What are Some Bad Link Building Techniques That Should Be Avoided?”
If you’ve got a question about link building, content, social media, SEO or other Internet marketing topics, just post it on the Vertical Measures Facebook page, or tweet it to us with the hashtag #VMQA.
Hi, I’m Ben, an Account Manager here at Vertical Measures. Today I’m going to answer a question we get a lot. What are some bad link building techniques that we shouldn’t do any more?
These techniques have been around for a long time, and they were very beneficial in the past, but now Google has dropped the hammer with the Panda and Penguin updates, and they’re no longer viable. You should not practice these at all, whatsoever.
Today I’m going to cover five different topics: Article marketing, spamming forums and comments, free directories, site-wide footer and site-wide sidebar links. These are all bad practices that used to be very profitable, but now are just dropping you in the rankings instead of increasing them.
First I’ll touch upon article marketing. Article marketing is when you write up about a simple topic, 500 to 800 words, and then you give it to an article site. You have your link inside of the article, so it gives you link juice back to your site. They post it for a small amount of time, and then the article is taken down.
There are two things that are bad with article marketing. One is spinning articles. A lot of these sites will take the content that you’ve developed, put it in a program and spin the content so the words are different, but it talks about the same thing. In many cases, it’s not even legible, and they’ll just have your link all over the Internet with bad content surrounding it. This builds lots of bad links to your site, so it is a bad idea, as well as the limited lifetime of these links. Many article sites will only have your article up for a month, six months, or a year. After a while, your link becomes dead, and it’s of no value to begin with.
Next is spamming forum and comments. This was a big practice early in the 2000s, where you’d go into a forum that talks about the topic your site is about, or maybe a blog that has lots of open comments on it. Then you write about your site, how it relates to the forum post or the blog post, and then link back. This was a great practice, but no longer. Google is devaluing all of these links, and they’re not even follows any more. Most of the time moderators will take it down if you put a post up that is purely just to get your link on their website.
The next is free directories. Directories were a really good practice four or five years ago, especially the free ones. You don’t put any money in, and your site is listed amongst all the other sites in your topic and sending juice to you. Great domain authority on these sites, but no more. These free directories are not passing juice any more. It’s a bad idea to put your link on there because it will have a negative effect on your SEO. If you have your link in a bunch of free directories, Google’s going to see that as a sign that you’re spamming the directories, and they’re not going to value your site as high on the SERP.
Next are the site-wide footer and site-wide sidebar links. I’m going to take these in tandem as they’re about the same thing. A site-wide sidebar is usually, on a WordPress site, on the right-hand side or the left-hand side. You’ll see there are a bunch of links, previous posts, maybe reference sites, something like that, even sponsors. Those links go across the entire domain, as well as the footer links. Your link up here is on every single page for that. That can send you up to thousands of links to your site from that site. That’s not good. They don’t want to see a bunch of links from a single page to your site. You want to have a good link from a good site in a certain spot. You don’t want it to be all over and appear spammy.
These are five link building techniques that you should avoid moving forward. I’m Ben Holland, and thank you for listening.
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- Imagine If There Was No Spam [VIDEO] November 15, 2012
- Overwhelming Portion of Holiday Shoppers Will Start on One Device and Finish on Another November 14, 2012
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- Brigitte Robbins says: Very informative!!!!!!! Thanks
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