Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?I’ll be honest, generally as a CEO I’d say leave Google algorithm changes and website worries in the hands of your marketing specialists. However, Google’s upcoming changes are so big that they  have  done something completely out of character… they’ve warned us that it is coming.

Google has given your business a serious ultimatum: be mobile-friendly or be irrelevant. The SEO giant has officially warned the online world that:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results”. [source]

The question is, will this huge change affect your business’ website?

The first thing you need to do is check to see if Google is classifying your site as mobile-friendly. Test a few of your website’s pages with this free online tool.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?

If you’ve got a green light from Google. You’re set.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?

If Google has currently labeled your site pages ‘not mobile-friendly’, move forward with these three steps:

Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Will Your Business Website Be Labeled “Irrelevant” After April 21st?

Know your options. Go into this critical conversation with your marketing or IT department knowing today’s current website options, as well as a few key terms. Here are some helpful articles to get your research started:

Talk to your team. Get insights from staff or colleagues you trust, then evaluate their feedback. If you don’t have someone to breakdown this conversation with, let’s connect on LinkedIn. I’m happy to set-up a meeting to review what this algorithm change means to your business and marketing strategy.

Start taking active steps now. Your website redesign just went from optional to critical. Start requesting website design proposals now to ensure you are not rushed when picking the optimum solution for your business’ needs.

'The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.' — Socrates We recommend you demand — yes, DEMAND — a dynamic website that expands, changes and grows with your business. If the agencies you’re considering working with don’t bring up these three topics as you discuss your website estimate, they might not be a reliable resource.

Having a mobile-friendly site is no longer a suggested best practice, as of April 21st it is a requirement. The process of redesigning a website can feel like an overwhelming hassle. The  Cultivate team is here to help turn this required change into a positive opportunity.

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Learn more about our web design services.
Connect with Cultivate on LinkedIn.
Schedule an appointment for a site review today: 262-373-4000

Looking for Social Networking Value? CEOs Link In To LinkedIn Groups

Of all the social networks that have edged to the forefront of the Web, LinkedIn has proven to be of immense value to folks in the business world.

Besides offering professionals a personal profile, options to showcase one’s portfolio or the prospect of drumming up new business, the social network provides a myriad of tools to connect with peers.

One of the most popular ways to do so includes the relationship-building opportunities formed through LinkedIn Groups, the name given to the user-generated forums within the site. Currently, there are more than 2 million groups currently with more than 8,000 being added every day, according to LinkedIn.

And with an average of 200 conversations taking place every minute,
that’s a lot of dialogue and insight an active CEO could be missing out on.

Though these groups span the gamut — ranging anywhere from peer-to-peer forums, to regional business groups and industry-specific boards — they provide a great way to take a pulse on your business community.

The best part of LinkedIn Groups is that you get to be a part of the conversation. As a CEO, it’s a superb opportunity to show off your subject matter expertise and keep your company fresh, relevant and conscientious of the rhythm of the marketplace.

linkedin groupsI like to think of LinkedIn Groups as an extension of our marketing strategy, so we always make sure to craft a great impression. While it’s easy to join groups to look like you’re an active participant, it’s a waste of time not to take advantage of the groups’ many benefits. LinkedIn Groups can provide a boon to your business if you can simply make use of their tools.

Here are a few tips to help CEOs get the most value out of LinkedIn Groups:

1.   Select the right group for you. Do you want to leverage your business? Build your brand? Network with like-minded professionals? Or provide solutions to your peers? The first step to joining LinkedIn Groups is knowing what you want to use them for. There is no limit to how many groups you can join, but there is a limit to how much time you can actually dedicate to each group. Find out which one brings the most value to the table for you. Look for groups that attract companies or customers that spark your interest, or broaden your reach by connecting to people outside of your circle.

LinkedIn Groups: How to get started...

2.  Be a resource. Recently, LinkedIn expanded publishing authority across the network. That means CEOs like you can create and publish informational blogs and articles directly to the site. You can also post status updates within a group, or comment on those of your peers. The more you participate in the discussions taking place within a group, the higher your “influence” becomes. You can also extend your influence by sharing your posts through other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn Groups: Participation is key!

3. Discover new connections. It’s also important to take note of other influencers within the group; they might be a good person to connect with, either on the network or, if possible, vis-à-vis. And they might reach out to you to do the same. Connecting with these individuals not only broadens your influence but also opens your network to other thought leaders, which may lead to new ideas or ways of improving your business.

linkedin-contributors

4.  Measure participation. Besides tools like bitly, that allow users to see how many people click on or engage with their links, LinkedIn specifically offers its members Group Statistics. This dashboard, which is accessible on the right-hand side of every Groups page, highlights demographics, growth and activity.

LinkedIn Group Stats: Review the groups you join to ensure they are a good fit for your business goals

As a CEO, this tool is especially helpful when deciding
what group to spend the most time participating in.

For example, click here to check out the statistics for the FUEL Milwaukee Group.

LinkedIn Group Stats: Review the groups you join to ensure they are a good fit for your business goals

5. Generate leads. LinkedIn Groups offers a tricky, yet plausible purpose, which includes generating leads. However, it is important not to appear “spammy,” or overly promotional. Instead, use LinkedIn Groups to build relationships, and then leverage these relationships into new business. You can also use Groups to recruit new talent. After all, an individual who participates on these boards is likely to be passionate about their career, industry or business community, which is what most CEOs are after in a new hire.

If there is one thing CEOs can agree on, it’s that we’re a busy, busy bunch. So it makes good business sense to focus on the social network that brings us the most value for our time.



P.S. To help you get started, here are a few of my favorite LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn Groups: Get started with a few of these local Milwaukee groups...

Want more LinkedIn tips? Check out a few other previous LinkedIn posts or read through FAQs here.

Do You Make This Mistake With Your Marketing?

If, as a business owner or CEO, you can’t measure how people are finding and buying your products and services, then you’re at a competitive disadvantage. That’s the plain, stark truth.

In today’s business environment, where every dollar matters, you need to KNOW (not guess at) what results you’re getting from your key business initiatives. You need someone — or something— that can clearly show you if you’re getting your desired results from the investments you’ve made.

This need is even greater for your marketing investments. In fact, ALL of your marketing should be measured and analyzed so you can refine your efforts to include only those that PROVE they are generating your intended results.

Traditional marketing approaches push product/service information at clients in the hopes of generating a response. The intent is to create awareness so businesses will flood the channels that they think are relevant to their target audience. They use web hits or email open rates to gauge the success of their marketing campaigns and never really know what the true impact is in generating a new client or sale.

So, what can you do on top of PUSHING information OUT?

You need to leverage today’s digital marketing capabilities to also PULL customers IN to your product or service.

Let’s face it — these days, our marketing universe revolves around the Web. This is a quantum change in how people interact with your business. The great thing about today’s digital marketing arena is that nearly ALL client engagements are measurable.

Marketing automation allows your business to DRAW customers to your business, ENGAGE them through the buying cycle, and then IDENTIFY if you achieved the intended result — a sale.

In order do this effectively, you’ll need to:

  1. Clearly define the objectives of your marketing efforts. What is your intended result? Do you want a direct sale, an inquiry, or a request for proposal? Be sure each message you put out has a desired action you want the reader to take.
  2. Focus your marketing to ensure that you’re ready to engage a customer when they’re ready to buy. This means shifting away from a pushy “campaign” strategy to an invitational “conversation” strategy that invites the customer to consider your product or service.
  3. Use marketing automation to continue the interaction with the customer once they’ve expressed interest. Today’s customers will let you know when they’ve given you “permission” to keep the conversation going. Take them up on this invitation and be ready to talk when they show you they’re listening!
  4. Measure ALL your interactions. You need to understand how effectively you’re moving people to your intended result. Do you know the reason and the precise time or place that prospects disengage? You should. Measurable marketing makes that possible. Use your data to refine and improve your communication process with your customers and prospects.

As a business owner or CEO, you need to change your marketing expectations of yesterday. It’s time to use today’s technological tools to measure and analyze your marketing so you can achieve the competitive advantage you need to GROW your business.

P.S. If you need some help getting started, read “Why CEOs Need To See Their Marketing Metrics” or check out our online learning resources, including FREE eBooks, articles, and other tips to help get you measuring your marketing results and creating better, more strategic marketing campaigns — from the get-go.


Why CEOs Need to See Their Marketing Metrics

Why CEOs Need to See Their Marketing MetricsI am sure you have financial metrics, operating metrics, and sales metrics. But does your company have marketing metrics?

Good marketing metrics need to make it onto your CEO dashboard. Marketing done WELL can generate fantastic results, brand awareness, and targeted communications via customized channels. Marketing done poorly will simply be a financial drain on your business. As a CEO, you need to know how your company’s marketing efforts measure up.

Most businesses spend the majority of their marketing budget on creating awareness of their product or service. Digital marketing, broadcast marketing, and trade shows all generate awareness, but they come at a cost. Good metrics, at this very first stage in the marketing process, should focus on cost per engagementHow many people received your message and at what cost? In the awareness stage, cost analysis is essential to get the greatest exposure for your business at the right price.

If your awareness campaigns are working, you should be able to determine (and score) your leads — that includes all people even considering your product or service.

It’s important for CEOs to not only understand how many active leads your marketing department has, but also where they came from and why. Knowing what problems your product or service addresses and where people are looking for solutions to these problems will also help your marketing department deliver greater results in converting leads to sales.

Your actual sales numbers for a product are an easy metric to get your hands on. But determining your conversion rate from leads to sales is a little more challenging. Still, such data are needed to effectively evaluate your sales pipeline, as conversion rates tell you a lot about the effectiveness of both your marketing and your sales departments. If there is not a cohesive, team effort here, the results will have a negative impact on sales and can be the difference between achieving financial success — or not.

Remember: It’s much more efficient to keep an existing customer than to find a new one. In this awareness stage, marketing metrics will help you understand customer churn. Retention programs should be evaluated on their ability to keep and grow a customer. Measuring customer growth and turnover provides metrics that help you understand the customer experience and develop customer loyalty.

Let’s face facts — Customer advocacy is the “holy grail” of any marketing effort. { Tweet this! }

Side Door Thinking *Open your mind to content marketingGetting your customers to bring you other customers is what every business strives for. Referral programs and user groups create opportunities for customers to evangelize your business. (Download our FREE eBook “Side Door Thinking” to see how three industry GIANTS — Dove, Melissa & Doug, and Harley-Davidson — connected with their customers to build loyalty and reap BIG REWARDS.)

Understanding the effectiveness of loyalty/referral programs and monitoring your company’s marketing metrics gives CEOs the best indication of the health of their entire organization.

If you want to discuss marketing metrics — or learn how to measure not only the first stage of customer engagement (awareness), but also the other four (to be revealed) — leave a comment below and keep an eye on our Cultivate blog. We’ll be covering the topic of using Growth Cycle Marketing to attract your ideal customers in the coming weeks.

Got a question in the meantime? Connect with me on LinkedIn.


How Effective Is Your Sales Pipeline?

Many businesses still look to their sales team to find leads and to create a pipeline for sales. But in today’s marketplace, that’s not realistic. Why? Customers simply do not respond to traditional sales and marketing methods. Nowadays, salespeople are kept at arm’s length. People don’t want to deal with intrusive phone calls or office visits.

Marketing in today’s digital world needs to be taking the LEAD (pun intended) in developing a pipeline for sales. via Robert Wendt | Cultivate Communications If you’re one of those businesses still relying on your sales team to measure the effectiveness of your pipeline, they’re probably telling you something like this:

  • “It’s coming.”
  • “Just talked to them last week.”
  • “They said they need more time.”

Sound familiar? If this is how your sales pipeline works, it’s no wonder you don’t sleep at night.

So what can you do differently?

Marketing in today’s digital world needs to be taking the LEAD (pun intended) in developing a pipeline for sales. Marketing’s ability to CREATE AWARENESS for a product or service that matches a customer’s needs is a critical first step.

Customer awareness of your product or service can be achieved through a blend of traditional methods — like direct mail and trade shows — but it continues with digital marketing methods — like display advertising or pay-per-click programs, which strategically match your advertising efforts to buyers’ search behavior.

As buyers narrow their choices and begin to consider YOUR product or service, your marketing must reinforce the features and benefits that best match the buyer’s needs. Many times, this is done through webinars, demos, or case studies. You need to be online — with multiple customer touch points — because most buying decisions start on the web. In fact, 61% of global Internet users say they research a product online before they buy (Source: Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance, 2012).

What is important with online marketing is the ability to measure your prospects’ engagement with your marketing efforts to determine what qualifies those leads to be moved into your sales pipeline. (Learn how to qualify your leads in “Lead-Scoring: The Path to Quicker Sales.”) It’s a smart use of your time, as companies with mature lead-generation and management practices have a 9.3% higher sales quota achievement rate (Source: CSO Insights).

If you aren’t using today’s marketing automation tools to MEASURE your prospective buyers’ interactions with your marketing efforts, you’re leaving leads that are “ripe for the picking” to be snatched up by your competitors who are using today’s technologies to give themselves the upper hand. More and more companies are getting onboard: By 2015, the adoption of marketing automation technology is expected to increase by 50% (Source: Sirius Decisions, 2012).

Using automation to drive your marketing efforts provides you with two valuable pieces of information that can have a HUGE impact on the effectiveness of your sales pipeline:

1. You get a snapshot of the level of interest the buyer has in your product or service. This is accomplished by monitoring how the buyer is interacting with your marketing. Are they coming to your website? Reading your blogs? Attending your webinars? How and what they are doing gives you a better understanding of their level of interest.

As buyers get closer to making a decision, their activity will increase and they often spend time looking at more detailed material that defines the specifics of your product or service.

2. Marketing automation technology provides you with detailed data on what prospective buyers are viewing and immersing themselves in (i.e., a glimpse of what problem they are trying to solve). An owner might view a problem one way and be interested in higher-level, more conceptual information. A manager might be interested in the technical components of what your product or service offers to solve the same problem. Understanding the contextual aspects of a buyer makes a more effective sales pipeline because when that lead is provided to your sales team, you’ve already determined that the person is close to making a decision. This means they probably don’t need more time to research other options and that they are now more likely to be willing to talk to a salesperson to resolve any unanswered questions.

Yes, these two pieces of information are highly valuable to your sales team so they can quickly match a prospective buyer’s need to the right product or service — making the likelihood of completing the sale that much higher. And it’s marketing technology that empowers your sales and your marketing teams with the data and tools they need to convert leads to sales.

Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research Report)

Not sure where to begin? Click here to get a list of common marketing channels, along with an overview of which elements of measurable marketing are KEY to each approach. Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed to ensure you get my upcoming article on what good marketing metrics mean to a CEO. You can also find me on LinkedIn;  we can talk more about measurable marketing.

I don’t know about you, but that kind of sales pipeline would surely help me sleep better at night!