Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Google Authorships evolved a few years ago, but it has grown in importance as Google continues to connect search results with its products. Such changes include the migration of Google places into Google +, and the transition of Google docs into Google Drive. As we see Google + social signals apparently weighing more heavily in Google search algorithms, I think it is a safe bet to say that Google authorship will grow in importance as both a conversion and ranking factor.

What is Google Authorship?

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As you can see above, this search result has a picture of a man (the author) next to it. These avatars are beginning to pop up more and more in search results pages. Authorship allows content curators to claim their content and build credibility, as well as it allows search engine users to find more content written by the same person. Many industry experts are saying that Google Authorship is the first step towards verifying author identity, and establishing author rank, which is projected to be a major future search algorithm update.

The advantages of Google Authorship…

1. Personalization and Trust: People love to be able to put a name and face with a piece of content. Further, readers realize that an author is not going to put their name next to a piece of spammy, irrelevant information. Thus, authorship helps you build credibility and trust in the SERPs.

2. Build your social following: Having the +1 social signal embedded in the meta description of the search result allows the users to click through to the author’s profile and find out more about them, and the company they work for. A nice marketing strategy when it comes to developing industry credibility and positioning yourself as a thought leader.

3. Higher conversion rates: The avatar allows your webpage to stand out on SERPs, and with the added element of trust and credibility more people are likely to click-through to your website or social properties. Another inbound marketing win!

4. More credible backlinks: With the introduction of Penguin update, Google has clamped down on backlink quality. But, with authorship, instead of receiving domain links, content can now get ‘human’ links. As people link to content, that contents credibility and weight in the search engines increases. It makes sense, if people are linking to content it must be legitimate, from a social standpoint, as just like the authors, readers aren’t going to want to be linked to spammy, thin content.

5. Authorship Analytics: At the end of 2012, Google launched the Authorship Analytics platform which allows users to monitor the number of impressions and click-through rate of their content. This is invaluable from a content marketing, and SEO perspective, as authors are able to test and see which content their readers are digesting the most.

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, stated that content with a Google + profile attached to it is going to rank better than content that does not have a profile tied to it. As social signals continue to drive search algorithm updates, Google look set to give more weight to content that has natural (human) backlinks. Building SERP rank, and credibility is critical to any brand or content curator. Google Authorship should be a part of any brand’s digital marketing strategy.

Set up your Google authorship markup.

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Email marketing has a mixed reputation. Some people think it is great as a CRM or loyalty tool, others think it is effective as a lead nurturing channel, while others believe it is simply archaic, obsolete in the continually changing world of digital marketing.

I believe there is a time and place for everything. And, email is no exception.

Today, I have chosen to concentrate on the email marketing channel as it relates to lead generation: the first stage in the customer conversion cycle. Here are some tips to optimize your lead generation efforts using the email channel:

+ Use incentives in your subject line to increase open rates. For example, “Free shipping when you spend $25 or more.”

+ Keep your email copy concise and to the point. I recommend keeping you copy to under 100 words, or three short paragraphs.

+ Keep your call-to-action (CTA) and key message above the fold.

+ Keep your email width to 500-650 pixels, any wider and people will gave to scroll horizontally to read your message. Don’t do it!

+ Keep your subject lines short – no more than 40 characters. Also, make sure your subject line creates urgency and is related to the core message or offering in your email.

+ Use auto-responders for email opt-ins. Let’s face it, people forget when they opt-in for emails. According to Hubspot, auto-repsonder emails should be sent out at 1 day, 5 days and 10 days after the person registers. Each auto-responder email should be unique, and offer bonus material to reward those that opted in. Most ESPs allow you to set up triggered email campaigns.

+ Always tie emails to custom landing pages. This is a big one when it comes to conversions. Email headline, copy and content should match the landing page. It is important to track which combinations perform the best and equate to the most conversions.

+ People should be able to open your email and “get it” within 5 seconds, any longer and you aren;t being concise enough, or your value proposition is not clear.

+ NEVER try to sell anything in your first email contact. The purpose of the first lead email contact is to leave the reader wanting to know more. An inquisitive click is essentially a warm lead. If people don’t want to know more, they wouldn’t have bought from you in the first place.

+ Incorporate a content strategy centered around educational value. If you can demonstrate thought leadership early on the buying cycle you will have that much more influence and credibility when it comes to the conversion stage.

+ Include Alt and Title text. This text should contain a CTA, as well as a link to a landing page.

+ Avoid legal action by making sure that you are following all CAN-SPAM laws. Include a physical mailing address, notification that the communication is an advertisement, and an unsubscribe link.

+ “Cash” and “sale” are examples of SPAM-sensitive words and should be avoided as much as possible in email copy.

+ Personalize communications with variable merge tags that populate personal data in the email body, such as *|FNAME|*. This is particularly important for retention purposes.

+ Always include links to your social media, blog, website and any other owned sources that may derive value for your readers and/or enhance your credibility.

+ Sharing icons can be valuable in terms of building reach. But, be careful with the content you choose to amplify.

+ Try and repeat your CTA 3 times throughout the body of the email.

+ Try writing your email before the subject line to improve the relevance of your subject line.

Lead generation is a delicate practice. Follow best practices, and implement a solid content strategy and you’ll be converting in no time!

Before we start I want to iterate two words: SOCIAL MEDIA.

Like most of the billion people that make up today’s Facebook community, I follow certain brand pages. Yet, it amazes me how many brands fail to recognize the fact that their brand page is SOCIAL. I mean, isn’t it ironic to consider that 95% of Facebook wall posts are not answered by brands?!

Unfortunately, many brands are using Facebook as primarily a self-promotion platform, scattering their page with product links, telling their followers (short term) all about their product or service. This is a big mistake.

Facebook is a powerful tool that can increase leads, build awareness, and facilitate conversions, if handled correctly. I believe that brands should base their social content strategy on the 70/20/10 model. Seventy percent of content should be engaging, 20% should be educational, and the remaining 10% should be reserved for self-promotion. Bottom line, brands need to use Facebook as a tool to listen to, and connect with their audience. After all, the brand extends far beyond that of product positioning or sales strategy. Every brand need to recognize that their is a human element, quite possibly more important that any other brand element when it comes to the long term sustainability of a business’ bottom line.

Why? Because it is the social – or human – element of a brand that ultimately builds connection, and it is this connection that fosters loyalty, which my friends, is the key ingredient to growing life time customer value.

The reasoning is simple, we all like to be heard, and we all like to know that our feedback, or opinion, is valued. Social channels allow brands to listen to their consumers.

Social channels are engagement channels. Here are some examples of how you can engage with your customers, build a connection, grow a community, and create a brand image that has a loyal following:

+ Be responsive to customers. Golden Rule: show you are listening by responding within 24hrs.

+ Poll your audience for fun, or research

+ Humorous jokes and images – Photoshop is gold here, take at look at Grubhub and Seamless FB pages

+ Ask your audience to fill in the caption on a photo

+ Word association games can be fun – when I say “………”, you say “_________” ?

+ Create and post events

+ Facilitate User-generated content (UGC). For example, ask members to post photos/ content to your wall

+ Always recognize competition winners

+ Post photos of employees so they can meet the team ( really personalize the brand)

+ Post case studies and testimonials

+ Provide product or service tips that provide value and are related to the benefit your business offers

+ Ask poll questions and publish the results

These are just some ideas. But you get the picture. The word of the day here is engagement. This should be the primary goal. Brands need to provide a platform by which they exude a persona, because without it you will not be able to build a relationship with your customers, and without that relationship it is hard to build loyalty, and without loyalty, lets face it, customers are going elsewhere, in a hurry!

Let me know your thoughts?