They keep moving the marketing goalposts

Moving Goalposts

There’s an inherent mystery around the art and science of optimizing a web site for search. The optimization process changes nearly every week as Google works behind the scene, changing the rules to make their engine’s results more search friendly and relevance-centric. For SEO specialists, it’s like playing a soccer game where the goalposts keep moving every 15 minutes.

It’s rumored that some SEO gurus burn incense and go into a trance when they do their magic. Add to this that no one really sees the results of their optimization efforts for months as Google bots scan the entire content of the internet.

In the old days (4-5 years ago), you could load your web site text with searched keywords and Google would help people find you. Now, Google is going beyond the keywords and is “reading what you’ve written” to determine the meaning and relevancy of your content using more than just keywords.

This leads us to the 4 golden rules of SEO (which might change by the time you read this):

  1. Content drives SEO and content must be relevant. Making content relevant requires you to know WHO you are writing for and WHAT they want to know. You can’t just wing-it like you did with half your essays in high school. Google does semantic* searches now and they want content that has a take-away – a pay-off for the reader that addresses what he/she/they is searching for.Some research firms have discovered that Google likes comprehensive and thorough long form content more than short form. At the same time, content must be layered. Give readers a taste and lead them, using links, to more comprehensive and detailed content at the levels below. By the way, the essence of “comprehensive content” can mean adding videos, white papers, slide shows, etc., not more text. Bottom line, your content must be relevant and RESONATE with the target reader. The best content is meaningful and always meets the needs of the target reader.
  2. Back links are critical. Get back links to your site from AUTHORITATIVE domains. Getting other industry authorities to link to your mouth-watering, high value content can make a difference. It’s other websites with cred giving your website cred. Create great content and then promote it using social media.
  3. Think Mobile. Google indexes mobile-friendly sites first. If your site works well on smart phones and other mobile/pad devices, Google will give you extra brownie points. RESPONSIVE content that works well on any device is a must.
  4. Technical Factors
    • Encrypt your web site using HTTPS encryption. It prevents Google from labeling your site “unsafe” which can hurt your ranking.
    • H1 and H2 headings. These are in your site code and your technical specialist or SEO guru can help improve them.
    • Avoid pop ups and interstitials. Exceptions are log in dialogs, small banners which can be dismissed, and legally required interstitials. Most of these are annoying anyway

Much of the above advice may be too technical for some readers and that’s why enlisting a SEO specialist may be in order. But remember, you need to have a helicopter view of the SEO process in order fully understand what the specialists do.

Plus, much of the burden lies in the creation of content. So put whoever is creating content in the same room with the SEO specialists. They should be working shoulder-to-shoulder.

Want to dive deeper into SEO and how Content is a critical element? Download our eGuide: The Batman and Robin of Modern Marketing: Search Engine Optimization & Content

*Semantics: the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.

If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen

 If Content Is King, Distribution Is QueenBack in 1996, Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” to emphasize how a website’s content is essential in attracting visitors. The better your content, the more people would come to your site. Gates realized early on that a website is no different than a newspaper, a TV show, or a musical recording:

To get the most readers/viewers/visitors, you need a great product that people want to consume.

This new way of the world required a great deal of self-publishing. What Bill never told anyone, though, was that self-publishing takes work…a lot of work. Creating original, informative, and helpful content requires a jumbo-sized can of elbow grease and help from nearly every employee.

But there were — and still are — MANY benefits to creating original content. Primarily:

Search Engines Love Juicy Content

Your site’s content — as well as the content you publish via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and so on — helps drive search engine performance. The more your company looks and sounds like a “guru” on specific topics, the more likely other sites will link to yours…and Google will reward you.

Now remember: Good social marketing requires a delicate balance of both curated and original content. Even so…

Take a moment to consider the content you create from another aspect. Your content is an asset, so the more you create, the more information wealthy your company becomes. {Tweet this.}

There’s a great temptation to borrow other people’s content and simply re-distribute it. It’s fast and easy. And it seems as though everyone is doing it. I mean, how often have you received an email or seen a tweet that simply links to someone else’s content?

Smart companies are getting leads by creating original content that matches up to the customer’s Buy Cycle and that truly engages people. How? Through a process we call Growth Cycle Marketing. Learn more in our FREE whitepaper.

If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen.

 If Content Is King, Distribution Is QueenAre you fully using all the “distribution channels” that you own or control? Do you know which social media platforms are best for growing YOUR platform? Click here to learn the perks, drawbacks, uses, and features of some of the most popular social media choices out there today.

Lessons Learned
In a new, more challenging era of marketing that includes more and more competitors entering your arena each day, you can do three important things to keep your marketing viable:

  1. Own your content and make it original. It’s an asset that adds to your informational wealth. Don’t fall prey to the urge of simply re-sending other people’s content as a quick fix for staying in touch.
  2. Build a reputation as a guru in your field of expertise. Develop content that is helpful to people and brings real value.
  3. Seek to control distribution. Engage people on social networks as a way to grow channels you control, like email lists and blog RSS readership.

May the tips above give you a more solid platform for building a strong marketing strategy.

Let us know your progress below in the comments or by connecting with me on LinkedIn.

Till next time,
Johnathan Crawford of Data Dog Marketing
 If Content Is King, Distribution Is Queen

How to Convert “Mysterious” Site Visitors into Engaged Prospects

How to Convert “Mysterious” Site Visitors into Engaged ProspectsTo get visitors to engage with you on your website, you must ASK them to take action. But people are so busy these days.

They might be willing to:

  • follow you on Twitter
  • friend you on Facebook
  • leave a comment on your blog
  • share your content, or
  • subscribe to your eNewsletter

But you’ve struck the MOTHER LODE of engagement when site visitors take the time to complete an online form — sharing their contact information with you — in order to receive something valuable in return, such as an eBook or a free webinar.

The secret to converting “mysterious” site visitors into engaged prospects is having juicy, helpful content on your site — but placing some of it behind a FORM.

Give your website visitors a FREE taste of your capabilities and know-how. And once they’re hooked, tease ’em with the promise of more! But this time, force a trade . . . They can get more of your “goodies” and top-quality ideas if — and only if — they provide you with their contact information.

When they fork over their contact data to download your free eBook or whitepaper or attend your free online event, you know exactly WHO they are and WHERE to reach them — They’ve opened the door for you to begin an active dialogue with them.

You can motivate your audience to “make the trade” by letting them know — in advance — how you’ll REWARD them for a little bit of extra effort on their part. Some things you can give site visitors in return for sharing their contact info include:

  • high-quality, industry-specific, helpful content
  • an opportunity to be part of a conversation with other interested parties or SMEs
  • the chance to join and be part of a community
  • coupons, giveaways, and access to premium videos
  • attendance to a free webinar

From this free download transaction, you can develop a direct, two-way conversation, which is the ultimate form of engagement. This personalized dialogue will allow you to nurture many of your site visitors to determine their needs and show them how you can solve their problems.

BOOYAH — Now they’re your CUSTOMERS!

You took casual site visitors and changed them from being anonymous guests who were “just browsing” into becoming  truly engaged prospects with your smartly designed, dynamic website. (And, of course, you combined your efforts with smart marketing technology tools that empowered you with the data you needed to convert these leads into SALES.) It’s that easy.

You’re welcome, my friends.
Johnathan Crawford of Data Dog Marketing

P.S. Make sure to check out our Cultivate Resource Center and this great example of an eBook to get ideas for engaging your customers. It is a personal favorite. (After you read it, connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know what you thought.)

See all articles by Johnathan Crawford

Are You Relying on Tech Tools to Do Your Marketing for You?

When you hear the phrase “marketing technology,” what tech tool first comes to mind?

The fact is, ALL of these include some form of marketing technology. And they all have one thing in common, critical to your success — or failure:

If you don’t pair them with a well-thought-out marketing strategy — including customer-focused, engaging content — all you’ve really got is robotic technology.

Too often, business owners and operators chase after the latest-greatest technological tool and end up with ineffective results simply because they had no strategy or poor content and messaging to empower the tool to work its magic. What they need to remember is:

“Technology is an enabler — not the thing to get you to the next level of modern marketing.”
Carlos Hidalgo

This is especially true when it comes to using automated marketing software from companies like Eloqa, Hubspot, Marketo, and Silverpop. Their software helps generate leads and nurture them through the buying process. (And remember: “Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost” [Forrester Research Report].) Each communication with a prospect is designed to (a) build value for the marketer and (b) establish credibility.

The content of your nurturing communications, then, is the key to establishing value — you can’t simply “wing it.” Every single email, eBook, direct mail piece, and ad has to be carefully orchestrated to move people from merely being SUSPECTS to being PROSPECTS — and, if you do it well — CUSTOMERS.

Today’s marketing tech tools are great, but they can’t drive revenue all by themselves. Quite simply, a compelling message really matters, so strategic planning is a MUST.

You’re better off spending hours locked in a conference room planning your campaigns with nothing more than a pencil and paper than you are jumping into the “marketing technology” waters only to discover you can’t swim.

Johnathan Crawford of Data Dog Marketing
PS: If you need help developing your own marketing strategy or messaging, give me a call (262-373-4000) or connect with me on LinkedIn. Our team of experts at Cultivate will not only throw you a life preserver, but we’ll provide swimming lessons so you can dive into the marketing technology waters with confidence.

Are you jumping into the “marketing technology” waters only to discover you can’t swim?

See all articles by Johnathan Crawford
Connect with Johnathan online: LinkedIn

Track & Measure OFFLINE Campaigns ONLINE with PURLs

Track & Measure OFFLINE Campaigns ONLINE with PURLs by Cultivate CommunicationsIn a challenging economy, marketing teams are increasingly being asked by company management to quantify their efforts. Companies are looking for BIGGER AND BETTER response rates from the marketing channels they’re using.

Because campaigns must now work harder than ever, marketing teams are being asked to track and measure each campaign’s effectiveness. Management wants to know how many people are really seeing and acting upon the marketing team’s efforts.

Digital marketing is easy to track, but traditional media channels are still needed to generate other touches with prospective customers. That’s where PURLs come in.

Personalized URLs (PURLs) are a method for connecting offline marketing
with online tracking and measurement.

What Is the Power of Personalization?

PURLs typically combine the direct mail recipient’s first name and last name into a specialized web address. For example John Doe gets a postcard that asks him to log on to www.JohnDoe.xyz.com. Not only is the postcard personalized — using variable data printing — but John’s entire online experience (assuming he visits that PURL) is personalized.

By migrating the customer’s offline experience over to the web, the recipient can receive more relevant and more personalized content. Thus, response rates are substantially higher.

Why Should Everything Point to the Web?

Direct mail has been successful in integrating with the web using PURLs. But, really, all offline media can be pointed to the web, where it can then be tracked. Sophisticated web dashboards allow marketers to see the results of integrated offline and online marketing efforts in real time.

So if you use traditional offline media channels, you may wish to entice your readers to go online to a PURL, where you can collect the requested tracking and measuring data that upper management is asking for.

Subscribe to Cultivate's eNewsletter GROWFor more information on using PURLs to ignite, track, and measure response rates, read How PURLs Improve Your Response Rates or subscribe to our eNewsletter to get notified when our ebook 10 Steps for Generating Leads Using PURLs is released. COMING SOON!

Johnathan Crawford of Data Dog Marketing
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Connect with Johnathan online: LinkedIn