Monthly Archives: November 2010
…but we now know what was. According to the internet search engine True Knowledge, the most boring day in modern history was Sunday, April 11, 1954. Continue reading
Today, LinkedIn, the social network targeted towards business professionals, released its offical share button. The button allows LinkedIn users to easily share content they find interesting and relevant with their network.
Publishers can find instructions for how to add the share button on the publishers portion of the LinkedIn site. LinkedIn is offering three options to choose from: a vertical button with a share counter, a horizontal button with a share counter, and a horizontal button without a counter. To add a button to your website or blog all you need to do is choose a button style and copy and paste a few lines of code.
With all easily implemented options for sharing content such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Delicious, etc. it probably isn’t going to be the ease of execution that determines how successful LinkedIn’s share button is. At 85 million users and a new users joining every second the success of LinkedIn’s share button is going to fall in the hands of it’s users.
Since those connected on LinkedIn most likely share business interests, it is very likely that the LinkedIn share button becomes a standard for business related content.
Once you have taken the time to create remarkable content make sure that you are doing everything you can to share it with your entire network. Since your LinkedIn network may find your content relevant this is an excellent way allow them to help you spread your content beyond your immediate reach. Head on over to LinkedIn to try out your share button today.
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Thanksgiving is over and after the amount of pumpkin pie I ate over the weekend I thought I would never want dessert again. That was until I read about, Hall Hitzig, also known as the Crazy Baker, and his premium desserts which are made from 100% pure vanilla, fresh local eggs, imported chocolates, and high quality flours. Got your taste buds watering doesn’t it? He’s even attracted the attention of Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray which in turn has driven lots of traffic, but converting that traffic into customers is where this batty brownie baker is struggling. The problem that Hitzig is facing is one that many online business face, which is that people are often not ready to make a purchase on their first visit to a site. Most of the time people need a little appetizer to get their stomach growling for the full meal.
After taking a look a look at Hitzig’s site I would suggest working on ways to nurture the visitors that come to his site, so that even if they don’t purchase on their first visit he increases the chance that they will come back and make a purchase at a later date. Here are a few suggestions I would make for improving the site that I think will start raising that conversion ratio.
Use Simple, Action Driven, Calls-To-Action
When I first visited thecrazybaker.com I was a overwhelmed by the number of different links I could click. The homepage contained 25 different links to pages and not one that seemed to be the preferred path for a potential customer.
The link that stood out most was the “Click here for Customer Service” link, and I don’t really think that Hitzig’s primary goal is to drive visitors to his customer service page. I would remove many of the superfluous links contained on the page and replace them with one large call to action to “order some premium pastries today!”
Use a landing page to capture leads
Like I said before, most people are not willing to make a purchase on their first visit to a site. Many people probably visit Hitzig’s site and think to themselves, “These pastries look delicious. They would be great for a special occasion. I’ll come back in a couple months.” Unfortunately for Hitzig most of these visitors probably forget to come back and he has no way to remind them. If he had a landing page and a form to capture the name and email of these visitors he could easily create a list and email them special promotions or offers during a time they might be more inclined to purchase premium pastries…maybe the week before Christmas?
HubSpot, for instance, has a landing page application that allows users to whip up a landing page in a matter of minutes. Our email marketing tool then allows users to create separate lists dependent upon which form a visitor converted on and send them personalized emails. Of course in order to have a landing page you must have something to offer in return for the visitors information. In Hitzig’s case perhaps he could offer some recipes for some of the pastries he has created over the years (of course he wouldn’t want to give away all of his secrets )
Create Content, Content, and More Content!
I think it’s great that the Crazy Baker is utilizing social media with presences on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, but honestly there’s only so much you can promote if you aren’t constantly creating useful content. The easiest way to consistently add content to your website is through a blog. A lot of people worry about not having anything interesting to blog about, and most of the time they just aren’t looking in the right places. Hitzig, for example, could blog about his experience at Culinary School, his training at hotels and restaurants in the US and abroad, and about the many other baking questions he probably gets asked on a regular basis from friends and through email. Instead of answering a question for someone in a one on one scenario why not turn that into a great blog post and share that knowledge with the world?
I hope that the Crazy Baker sees the sanity in these suggestions, and that you can take away some of these tips and adapt them for your business.
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What we’re following:
– “Slurpee Summit” with bipartisan leadership today
– Consumer sentiment hits five-month high
– How much Vitamin D is enough?
And did you see…
– Tablet sales are set to eclipse PC sales next year Continue reading
If you’ve read a bit about search engine optimization (SEO), then you know that attracting lots of high quality inbound links is one of the most effective ways to build authority and improve your rank online. Even if you know how to go about building links – directories, networking and creating remarkable content that people will link to – you may not know what sites to target for inbound links.
First, A Quick Refresher on Inbound Links
An inbound link is a hyperlink on someone else’s web site that includes the URL for a page on your domain. Inbound links vary in quality and usefulness based on the originating site’s own authority, how many other links originate from that page and the actual text that is hyperlinked. What you want most are:
- Links from high authority sites. Getting a link from the New York Times has much more value than a link from my personal blog. Just like a personal introduction from your dearest friend has more value than an introduction from a distant acquaintance.
- Links that you don’t have to share. Search engines give a page only a certain amount of credibility. This credibility or “link juice” is split up among the links coming from that page. That means you get a lot more value from an inbound link that is a story just about your products or services than an inbound link that lists you as one of ten hyperlinked companies.
- Links with relevant text descriptions. Search engines recognize which words are hyperlinked and give value to those words. Therefore, if someone hyperlinks to your golf school and they hyperlink the text “the program” instead of “golf academy,” you are missing out and you should politely ask the linker if they wouldn’t mind shifting the link to the more SEO-friendly text. Most of the time they are happy to help.
Second, How Do You Research Inbound Links?
Now that you know what you are looking for in an attractive inbound link, you need to figure out WHO you’d like to link to your site. That means some combination of industry relevance, high authority and the ease with which you can get in touch to share content that is link-worthy.
Logically, you should start with what and who you know. Make a short list of trade publications, blogs and contacts in your network who might be good candidates. Now, don’t stop there.
Turns out there are a few tools on the market to help you even further. Tools like SEOMoz’s LinkScape and Yahoo Site Explorer both provide this functionality. HubSpot also provides link research tools as a part of our integrated marketing software. Here’s an example of how you can do research to work out link strategy using HubSpot.
In this example, you see the inbound links for a concrete countertop company. 67 total links with an average of a “low” link grade. What does that really mean?
Let’s check out the competition to find out. Here’s another local competitor.
Wow, comparatively speaking, our concrete countertop guy is doing great – he has a lot more links (60+ vs. 10). But maybe there are still some ideas for him here. Looks like the Better Business Bureau link could be of value, as could concreteideas.com and thebluebook.com which look like listing services. Add these to the list to investigate.
Next, let’s pick a more ambitious competitor. Looking at someone in the concrete business that has national exposure, we can see what Cheng Concrete Exchange is up to.
Wow. They are a national outfit and it shows – they have hundreds of inbound links, many of high quality. This is a treasure trove of link opportunities to research further, looking for either personal connections or maybe sites that love to link to award-winning products, great content or customer stories.
Third, What Do You Do With That Research?
That little “spying” activity gave us a lot of insight into how the concrete business is doing and where there might be some opportunities to seek additional inbound links. Next steps would be to do a little research about each interesting source of links and determine what they want for a link.
- Is it a member directory that you pay for?
- Is it a content centric site that might let you post a guest article?
- Or, is it a business that you may already be networking with and you can find out if there are any opportunities to share content or promotions to help each other out with relevant links.
Prioritize that list and start working away at it one link at a time. You’ll find that online authority and the resulting search results improve over time and the best benefit – the more people find you, the more they link to you, creating a virtuous cycle of link building that will be really hard for your competition to beat!
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This week, the New York Times put a nail in the coffin of organic search in their article about distressed consumers buying from ecommerce sites ranked highly in Google. At the center of the Times’s criticism and commentary on how search engines work is the hundreds of consumer review sites around the web, such as GetSatisfaction, among others. One site in question, DecorMyEyes, created a policy for themselves of harassing and deliberately making mistakes with their customers – Creating thousands of unhappy customers who were sure to go online and complain about their experience.
Many websites exist to pull together consumer reviews, including GetSatisfaction and the Better Business Bureau. These sites have tens of thousands of pages of user-generated content that helps them rank well in search engines. Unfortunately, people rarely spend the time and effort write to reviews on these sites from positive experiences, meaning that many review sites end up as collections of only the bad reviews.
The owner of DecorMyEyes, the focus of the Times’s article, realized that he could harness that energy to create thousands of inbound links for his website, boosting him up in organic search rankings. GetSatisfaction has since printed a response to the article, noting that links out from their reviews are tagged with the “nofollow” article, meaning that search engine credit does not pass out from them to the site being reviewed. Either way, enough reviews and links exist on the web to catapult DecorMyEyes.com to the top of the search engine rankings. Because of these review sites and search engine’s current ranking methods DecorMyEyes was able to increase its traffic and customers by intentionally creating unhappy customers.
What is a good inbound marketer to do in the face of such overwhelming poor taste on the part of their competition? First, relax – The New York Times article notes that DecorMyEyes has many issues with their business as a result of their customer policies. They are very troubled financially, and are constantly threatened with losing their authority to process transactions by MasterCard and Visa. It appears that they are spending almost as much time trying to keep the basic mechanics of their business running as they are actually selling their merchandise. This also will not work for any business that depends on repeat business – None of their unhappy customers will ever come back for a second purchase.
The ultimate solution here will be part of Google’s continuing strategy of adding reviews and editorial commentary to links in their search engine results. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land wrote quite a bit about that yesterday, with examples. Google is doing their best to serve the best results their algorithm can show – We wouldn’t want them to take a direct editorial view and take a website out of the index because of negative reviews or comments – Imagine what would happen to so many sites around politics, religion, and other controversial topics.
Ultimately, as a marketer, you should continue to build links in the smart ways that you have before, and collect testimonials from your best customers and their experiences. Publish those on your website, and place them strategically as content around your website. They will both encourage the people that you shared to share the links with their friends, and provide comfort to the website visitors considering your business.
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That’s how Leslie Nielsen later referred to his first studio film, called “The Vagabond King.” It didn’t do well–but fortunately for the rest of us, he did. Continue reading
Have you faced challenges when explaining to your senior management that social media is worth your time and effort? In this episode of the Weekly Marketing Cast, David Meerman Scott outlines a few ways to make this argument more convincing.
People Are Fearful of New Technology
David points out that people are often fearful of emerging technologies and of “investing time and money into something that is new.” That has been the natural response of many companies when first PCs and then Email got introduced into office spaces. “The same thing is now happening with social media,” notes David.
Marketing Takeaway: As an industry leader, you shouldn’t fear new technology but figure out ways to leverage its power.
Follow the Steps of Your Customers
“If your existing and potential customers, and the media, and the analysts are using social networking, then you have to be using that too,” says David. “So, it is a really easy decision.” There are reports announcing not only the number of people using certain networks, but also the profiles of these audiences.
Marketing Takeaway: Research which platforms host your target audience and focus your engagement efforts there.
Share Examples of Success
There are tons of case studies from various industries and organizations that provide compelling examples of successful usage of social media for business. For instance, you can find a few on HubSpot’s case studies page and on David’s blog, Web Ink Now.
Marketing Takeaway: Pick a case study in your industry and share it with your boss.
These are just a few ways in which you can demonstrate the value of social media to your senior management and erase their doubts about emerging technologies. As David says, ”Try to get your executives, board members, whoever is providing the push-back, to divorce their fear of this stuff from the reality of what people are using to communicate today.”
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I was at a conference recently where Ben Greenfield from Ben & Jerry’s was the lunchtime keynote speaker. The thing that struck me about the talk was how a very unlikely duo became very successful by ignoring conventional wisdom at every turn. Here are some of the ways they ignored conventional wisdom that I liked a lot:
1. Ben & Jerry’s started in Burlington, Vermont, selling ice cream cones. The problem they quickly ran into was that no one bought ice cream cones in the winter in Vermont!! To try to stimulate sales in the winter, they offered a penny off for each degree below 32 degrees it was that day. In other words, if it was 2 degrees out, you got 30 cents off your cone. Brilliant! [Does this spur any creative packaging ideas for your business?]
2. They had a heck of a time getting merchants to buy their ice cream from them since they already stocked Haagen Dazs and other flavors. In order to break the logjam, they offered to BUY BACK any unsold ice cream from the stores. This turned out to be the difference maker for them in the early days! [How about you try doing a money back guarantee for your product as a test -- might it work better than all traditional marketing stuff combined?]
3. Once they started to get momentum in Vermont, they convinced some larger distributors to carry their products alongside Haagen Dazs. Once Pillsbury (Haagen Dazs parent company) found out about their distributors carrying both products, they threatened to pull out of their arrangements with them. Ben & Jerry’s went on a “What’s The Doughboy Afraid Of” offensive against Pillsbury. They took out ads in the Wall Street Journal, Jerry picketed in front of Pillbury headquarters, they put a call to action about this issue on their ice cream containers asking customers to write to Pillsbury’s ceo, etc. Guess what — it worked! [Is there a clever way to upset the distribution model in your industry?]
4. When they were about $3million in annual revenue, they wanted to expand. All of their advisors told them to talk with venture capitalists and private equity folks. They didn’t like that idea, so they did their own version of an IPO. They sold shares in Ben & Jerry’s for $126 each door-to-door and store-to-store in Vermont and raised $750k — one in every 100 households in Vermont bought a share in the company. They later did a national offering in the same style to raise more money. Fascinating! [Could you leverage your fundraising process to build more fans of your company and get more customers?]
5. When they were well down the path and quite successful, Jerry went to one of his advisors and said he wasn’t happy and was thinking of selling the business. His advisor said, “If you don’t like it, change it — your the CEO.” Ben never thought about it that way and set about making some radical changes to the company to align it with the way he thought a business should be run. The most glaring of these changes was that 7.5% of the company’s pre-tax profits was put it into a foundation that supported organizations that the employees thought helped social and environmental issues. He didn’t comment on this in his keynote and I don’t think he did it for this reason, but I betcha this more than paid for itself in profits because everytime someone eats their ice cream, they know that some of the profits are going to a good cause. [Could you spin up a similar program that would help your bottom line at the same time as it helped a good cause: 1+1=3?]
HubSpot is the first company I have ever started (if you don’t count Stroker Ace Painting Co in college — smile) and I have found myself having an interesting relationship with conventional wisdom. Here at HubSpot we tend to question conventional wisdom every step of the way. In some cases, that questioning turns into our spending a lot of cycles on something that turns out to work just fine if you follow conventional wisdom — uugghh! In other cases, that questioning turns out to be just right because conventional wisdom is out of date and dead wrong.
Our biggest “win” as a company is our complete rejection of traditional marketing conventional wisdom. As you all know by now, we believe that traditional, outbound marketing (advertisements, email spam, cold calls, etc) is dying as people are getting sick of the interruptions and getting better at blocking them out (dvr’s, pop-up blockers, Pandora, spam protection, CallerID, etc). It is this complete rejection of marketing conventional wisdom upon which we have built our company and it is working out pretty well so far (3600 customers today — up from about 1600 customers a year ago).
Probably our second biggest “win” as a company is our near complete rejection of how “work” should happen and how the relationship between a company and its employees should operate. This rethinking of the work structure and culture has provided big benefits for us in that we have attracted really great employees who are highly motivated…the company was named the #1 Place To Work by The Boston Business Journal and the #4 Place To Work by the Boston Globe.
What do you all think? Do you have an complicated relationship with conventional wisdom like I do? Do you tend to go with the flow or try to rethink the flow like Ben & Jerry’s did?
What companies do you really admire? Do those companies win because they follow conventional wisdom or ignore it?
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What we’re following:
– U.S. works to contain WikiLeaks fallout
– Six Americans killed in Afghanistan
– Leslie Nielsen dies at 84
And did you see…
– BP is making a movie about the oil disaster
– Never before seen works by Picasso turn up in France Continue reading
If you could do one thing to dramatically improve your marketing ROI today, it would be to use landing pages on your website.
What is a landing page?
A landing page is a website page that allows you to capture a visitor’s information through a lead form. A good landing page will be targeted to a particular stream of traffic – say from an email campaign advertising a particular whitepaper – and, because it is targeted, and because it has an interesting offer behind a lead capture form, you will convert a higher percentage of your website visitors into leads with which you can follow up.
Why are landing pages so critical?
Too many companies send their advertising, email, or social media traffic to their homepage. This is a huge missed opportunity. When you know a stream of targeted traffic will be coming to your website, you can increase the likelihood of converting that traffic into leads by using a targeted landing page.
For example, imagine you have a Google AdWords PPC ad running for one of your best keywords. Even if you advertise how great your company is (a boring offer for any company) and someone (amazingly) clicks through on that ad, do you want to send them to your homepage? When they land on your homepage, what are they supposed to do? What do you want them to do? Once you figure out what you want the visitor to do, make it easier for them to do just that. Send them to a landing page that prompts them to complete that action. You’ll see the effectiveness of your online marketing improve dramatically.
What makes a landing page most effective?
Ready to create your first landing page, or improve on a landing page you already have? Here are some of the most important elements to make sure your landing page is working hard for you:
- Limit Navigation. You’ve brought your targeted traffic to a page where they can take your desired action. Don’t distract them! Limit the number of exits from your landing page so that your visitors are focused on filling out your form. A key part of this is to hide your website navigation elements on landing pages.
- Deliver Value. First and foremost, if you have a valuable offer, your visitors will give up their contact information in exchange for your offer. Ask yourself if your is offer compelling to your audience and make sure that your landing pages demonstrates that value.
- Enable Sharing. Tap into a huge community of your best (and free!) marketers: your audience. Add share links to your landing page to encourage your website visitors to share your content to their audiences.
- Keep it Short. The longer your landing page and form, the more friction you add to the lead conversion process. Keeping your lead form short and straightforward will increase your conversion rate.
- Test, Test, Test. As many best practices as you may read about online, your landing page can always use more testing and improvement. Make sure you have a landing page creation tool that allows you to create and test many different landing pages to see what works best for your business.
If you’re working hard to drive traffic to your website, don’t make the mistake of not capturing that traffic as leads.
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