viagra pillsnew-year-odometer-on-black-confetti-post-cards.jpg” alt=”" width=”210″ height=”210″ />As millions of us are furiously jotting down ideas for our personal New Year’s Resolutions, here’s one resolution corporate communicators and marketers ought to include: adding an online newsroom to their websites. Consider this fact for a moment: less than half of all businesses even have an online newsroom. The intent to develop one is pending, however. And 2012 is almost here. But for now, this means that the majority of PR folks, corporate communicators, and marketers lack any sort of online newsroom presence. Talk about an untapped market! Given the recent Freshness updates – where preference is heavily tilted towards breaking news, such as the upcoming Presidential primaries or Occupy Wall Street, and frequently updated customer reviews on new products, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire – it’s clear that Google is increasingly relying on a website’s online newsroom as the primary source of trending, newsworthy, and up-to-date content. Read more…
I was privileged to appear on a panel last night with Toby Bloomberg of Bloomberg Marketing, Erika Jolly Brookes of Vitrue (also a client of ours), and Collen Jones of Content Science. Our moderator was Julie Gareleck of Junction Creative. The event was put on by StartupChicks, led by the inimitable Jen Bonnett.
We talked about the importance of a digital strategy – what it is, common misconceptions, how to approach it, value it’s provided, tactics that worked and didn’t, results, and recommendations for new business owners. We were fortunate to have a good amount of time to delve into the topic in depth, and got some great audience questions. Some of the points that seemed to hit home for the audience included:
- Everything starts with content. You’ve got to have content to optimize (SEO), as well as to publish via social media, in an enewsletter, etc. Have a strategy as to what kind of content your target audience wants, and how to get it to them.
- It’s best to own the platform your content is on, so you control it and it doesn’t just disappear one day (this was my point – I’ve written about this before). This is a concern with blogs hosted on Blogspot, etc., and note that you’re just renting space on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- In terms of measurement, worry about quality as well as quantity. It doesn’t do you any good to have a ton of Twitter followers or Facebook fans if they’re not your target audience.
- While digital media is very measurable, don’t forget the “unmeasurable” benefits, such as branding impacts and becoming a thought leader through blogging or social media.
- It’s great to follow best practices, but test and measure everything, because you’ll be surprised as to what works!
- Non-digital marketing efforts that the panelists still use include public relations, speaking engagements, and attending conferences/trade shows.
- We had a long conversation about business versus personal personas online. It’s uncomfortable to many to blend the two and let the business audience know about you personally. But it often works to your advantage – business people are people and they prefer to do business with people they like and trust.
This is just a small sample of the discussion – I’ll link to additional blog posts in the comments as they’re published (and feel free to do so yourself). Live tweets can be viewed here or here, and more photos are on Prominent Placement’s Facebook page here (please “like” us while you’re there!).
Bottom line, it was energizing to have so many entrepreneurial women in one room!
(And props to one of my favorite restaurants, MetroFresh, for the amazing catering! Speaking of digital strategy – sign up for their daily enewsletter. It’s so entertaining that I read it every single day, and you can bet I eat there more often as a result.)
I’ve spoken a number of times about leveraging social media for search engine optimization purposes. Audience members often ask which social media platform is the best, not only in terms of SEO, but in terms of generating awareness of the company, site traffic, leads, etc. After all, there’s a new social media site launched practically every day, and no one has time to manage them all.
Most people are surprised when I say that blogging, hands down, is still the most effective social media tool for most businesses. Sure, it’s not the latest, shiny thing. There are newer toys in the toy box. But it’s still overwhelmingly effective on a number of fronts. Check out these recent stats:
- Companies that blog have, on average, 434% more indexed web pages in the search engines than businesses that don’t blog.
- More indexed pages often generate more leads – companies that had 311 or more web pages indexed generated 236% more leads than businesses with 176-310 web pages indexed.
- Companies that blog have, on average, 97% more inbound links than businesses that don’t blog. And we all know that inbound links are essential to increase organic search engine rankings.
- Businesses that blog enjoy, on average, 55% more website visitors than companies that don’t blog.
- Simply put, companies that blog generate more leads than firms that don’t blog. On average, blogging B2C businesses experienced an 88% lift in leads, while blogging B2B companies saw a 67% increase in leads.
- The more blog posts, the better. Blogs with 52 or more pages of content generated 77% more leads than those with 24-51 posts. And the latter group received 30% more leads than blogs with 12-23 articles.
So…should you Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Squidoo, HubPages, Knol, and Foursquare? Probably so. But don’t forget to blog as well, or even blog first. Blogging may not be as sexy as it used to be, but it’s still very effective.
This data is from HubSpot. View all their marketing charts and graphs by requesting a copy here.
- Founded in 2003, there are today 45 million installs, 70 million plug-ins downloaded, and 35 billion pageviews.
- There are 12 million users of WordPress.com and 13 million of WordPress.org (this explains the difference between the two).
So how does a visionary person or business take advantage of WordPress’ explosive growth? What strategies or business models can be built based on WordPress?
Mike Schinkel, co-founder of the conference, offered two ideas:
- For retainer-based or SaaS vendors, offer a proprietary WordPress plug-in to your customers. This would be a value-added service that would give them some information – perhaps a dashboard tailored to them – that they couldn’t get elsewhere. It’d help you retain customers longer.
- Specialize in developing WordPress sites for a particular vertical. Sell customers in that vertical into letting you manage their websites – due to your expertise and economies of scale, you can probably do a better job than they could anyway. So there’s a revenue stream there…but the real value is in having access to the data from this industry – not just site analytics, but aggregated online transaction data, trends, etc. You become an authority and a data source on that industry.
There you go – some free ideas, courtesy of Mike. Will anyone pick them up and run with them?
Yesterday’s The Business of WordPress conference was full of tactical tips as well as higher-level strategies and visions for the future. I’ll address the former here and the latter in a subsequent post. (Note: see my post “WordPress Takes Over the World!” for previous coverage.)
Tactical tips, from a variety of presenters, included:
- Using WordPress.com if you’re just getting started and want WordPress to host a simple blog for you. Use WordPress.org if you want to host your own blog and want more flexibility and advanced features. (I recommend the latter approach – ready about my own painful lesson in platform ownership. And here’s a writeup on how you’ll benefit from links more if you host your own blog.)
- Have a call-out for your email program on every page of the site (in the navigation bar, header, or side bar. Note that the email signup form should be different from your regular contact us form.
- Wufoo.com is a free program that’ll take the info that a new email subscriber enters into the online form and automatically post it in your ESP (email marketing system) so you don’t have to transcribe it or enter it yourself. (These two tips courtesy of my friend Sandi Solow at I Send Your Email.)
- It’s easy to include videos using WordPress. Keep them under two minutes – closer to one minute is even better. You can use the Flash or H.264 format – the latter is usually preferred because it plays on iPhones and iPads, while Flash, famously, doesn’t.
The most useful WordPress plug-ins were also discussed, including:
- All in One SEO, which this blog uses. It allows you to tailor title tags and meta description tags for each blog post/page.
- WordPress.com Stats, the WordPress version of Google Analytics.
- XML-Sitemap automatically updates the site’s XML sitemap every time a new post is published, which helps search engines find each new page quickly.
- Gravity Forms makes it easy to create contact forms with whatever fields you’d like.
- WordPress-to-Lead captures lead information and automatically imports them into SalesForce.
Marna Friedman. They decided to put this conference on a year ago, after realizing that WordPress wasn’t just for blogs anymore – it’s evolved into an ideal platform for any type of website. (You heard it here first…if you didn’t already hear it from Mike and Marna!)
WordPress’ newest version (3.0) was made available for download just yesterday, which gives users even more flexibility and options. Reasons that web developers and website owners love WordPress include:
- It’s flexible enough to still be good for the 10th iteration of your site. You’ll be able to re-skin it, upgrade it, add more plug-ins, and build on the content. You’ll never have to toss it out and start from scratch.
- Relatedly, you’ll never be tied to any one developer using some proprietary coding.
- Once a developer sets up the site for a business user, it takes no time at all to teach that user to make updates themselves. The developer doesn’t have to constantly get involved with updates or questions.
- Content creators can upload posts or other website content directly from Word, the iPhone, the iPad, or a myriad of other platforms.
- Think of plug-ins like mobile apps – there are new ones coming out all the time that can easily add new functionality and features. They’re easy to install and usually free or cheap.
- There’s a large community of support – post a question on a forum and you’ll have an answer in an hour.
- You can use custom designs, so website visitors won’t even know that WordPress is your back end.
Currently, 9% of the top 1 million sites on the web use WordPress, and that number’s expected to grow. This blog uses WordPress, which is one reason I’m attending the conference, but we also are here to be prepared for when our clients’ sites start converting over to WordPress. The good news is, it’s a very search engine-friendly platform, so we’re ready for it!
(If you’re interested in attending tomorrow (Wednesday, June 23), it’s not too late. Click here to register, and feel free to use my discount code (prominentplacement) for $75 off the registration fee.)
Nearly a year ago, we wrote about how to leverage social media for search engine optimization purposes. That newsletter issue was well-received, but since much has changed since then, it’s time to update the list of worthwhile social media sites. While there are many good reasons to undertake social media for your business, we’re focusing here only on SEO benefits. To refresh your memory, there are two primary ones:
- Social media offers additional content that can be optimized and show up in the search engine results pages. We touched on this in our March newsletter, “Making the Most of the New Search Engine Results Pages.”
- Often, you can build links into your social media content that point back to your corporate site, potentially increasing its organic rankings. Note that all links are not created equally – links that redirect (such as on MySpace) don’t pass along any “link juice,” and links that are “nofollowed” pass along less link juice than regular links. Also note that when you can control the text of the link to use your keywords as the “anchor text,” that’s also a significant SEO bonus.
We focus here on the most popular social media sites. Everyone’s resources are stretched these days, so we generally don’t invest time in a site until it’s reached a critical mass of users. In our opinion, roughly in the order of priority, you should focus your attention on: Read more…
Chris Baggott from Compendium stated that the world is made up of two different populations: “people I know” and “people I don’t know.” To reach people I know (retention), I can use email, Facebook, or Twitter to push content (with one of his clients, this represents about 10% of marketing dollars spent). To reach people I don’t know (acquisition), I can use Facebook, Twitter, or search engine marketing (for the same company, this represents about 90% of marketing dollars spent).
A few quick stats:
- The new kid on the block, social media, is not replacing the previous new, shiny thing, search marketing. The average person ran 47% more searches in 2009 than in 2008.
- 25% of all searches are totally unique – they’ve never been run before.
- 80% of all blog traffic is coming from a first time reader. So blogs are often not as much a tool for engaging with a specific audience member as they are a wide net capturing new prospects (via search engines).
It’s good to have keywords in the name of your blog – for example, “Chris Baggott’s Email Marketing Best Practices” blog. It ranks #1 for “email marketing best practices.” Chris advises that marketers should have multiple blogs on multiple angles of their topic or industry…or even different blogs for particular keywords! He cited a case study where 66% of the blog’s traffic came from search engines. Each blog post is a page that can be found for a long tail query.
Chris finished with an interesting case study for Western River Expeditions, which had recently planned a vacation trip to Utah for his family. After they returned, the company sent him an email asking him to “tell their story” (aka, give a testimonial, create content for them). Chris could also rate/review the place and upload his own photos. On the landing page where the form appeared for all this, Western River had ads featuring other locations that they serve. This brilliant cross-selling strategy gets them a 30% click-through rate on those ads!
It didn’t stop there – after Chris’ story was approved and added to Western River’s blog, the company emailed him to thank him and sent him a link to his story and photos on their site. On that page were a plethora of social media “share” buttons so Chris could share his content on his Facebook page, via Twitter, etc. Chris’ blog post that he wrote for Western River is also ranked #1 for a query about family vacations in Moab (unfortunately, I didn’t write down the exact query).
I attended a lively meeting of the Atlanta Bloggers meetup group this evening, put on by Chad Rothschild. Held in a spacious upstairs room at the new Hudson Grille in Midtown, Chad arranged to hold a live interview, via Skype, with author (and self-proclaimed “agent of change”) Seth Godin. Seth was in New York, where he lives, but we could see (and hear) him on the large screens at the Hudson Grille via the magic of Skype, webcam and headset.
Seth is known for his numerous books, ranging from Permission Marketing to Unleashing the Ideavirus to All Marketers are Liars. His new book, Linchpin, was published in January. Seth explained that, in a car, the linchpin is the piece of hardware that keeps the wheels from falling off a car. It’s unsexy but necessary. He talked about how our economy has shifted forever from the industrial economy of the past 150 years. Previously, it was good to be a manager. Managers have manuals that explain how to do things, and they get their people to do the same thing over and over, with the goal of getting everything faster and cheaper. That worked for the industrial economy – it was good for people to “fit in” and follow instructions.
However, now, if you’re a manager following a manual, you can be replaced by anyone else easily. What’s needed today instead are leaders – they don’t have a manual. They have to figure out what to do next. These skills are scarce and get rewarded.
Seth also talked about our “lizard brains” (the primordial part of our brain at the top of our spinal cords). Lizard brains are concerned with things like fear, revenge, anger and reproduction. Survival, basically. In man’s prehistoric days, the lizard brain helped people fit in with their tribes, because if they didn’t fit in and got tossed out of the tribe, they’d get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.
Today, our lizard brain is needed less for survival, but it still controls a lot of our emotions and actions. It tells us to lay low on the job, to not rock the boat. In the new economy, this is a recipe for failure. The only people who are going to succeed in the future are people who stand out and do the best work possible. While the lizard brain is good at helping you talk yourself into the fact that the status quo is good, what you really need to do is “go to the edges.”
An example Seth gave was of a recent company, LittleMissMatched, which sells nothing but unmatched pairs of socks. On paper, this seems ridiculous and like it’d never work (which is what our lizard brains would say), but in reality, these socks are selling like gangbusters.
In terms of the future, Seth advised that the most important future trend is NOW. Don’t worry about the “next big thing” – worry about now. It’ll take us a generation to figure out this new economy, just like it took a generation to figure out what to do with television and how to best leverage it. Seth requested that “early adopters” slow down, catch their breath, and come back to the middle because we need you here!
Since this meeting was made up of Atlanta bloggers, Chad got Seth to give us all some advice. In terms of Linchpin and its message, Seth said that 99% of blogs (and tweets) are basically safe and generic – average. You must decide if you want to stand out or fit in. He gave the example of Vincent Van Gogh, who didn’t start painting until he was 20, and only painted for 10 years. He wasn’t born with a paintbrush in his hand – he decided to be a great painter.
We asked for advice about creating content – how do we keep coming up with fresh ideas? Seth asked if any of us have a “talking block”? We all looked at each other, confused. He said it was like a “writing block” and mimicked waking up in the morning and not being able to talk. That never happens – write like you talk!
Seth also asked how many bad ideas a day we each have. He guarantees he has more bad ideas in a day than we do, and that the more bad ideas you have, the more good ideas will be mixed in with them. So don’t be afraid of bad ideas, since they lead to the good. Seth also notices things, whenever something doesn’t make sense (like why we pay $100 for a bottle of wine in a restaurant and $5 in a wine shop). So when he sees something odd like this, he investigates it, figures it out, and writes it down.
Seth Godin’s best advise for bloggers is to blog about something that no one else is talking about. Become an “over the top” resource – overdeliver. If you give away a lot of valuable information, the audience will show up.
An excellent panel of social media experts (Jay Baer, Ben Hanna, Chris Baggott, Caitlin McCabe, Lee Odden and Michael Senger) were tasked with answering a slew of questions using 140 or fewer characters. Yes, their responses were madly tweeted (here’s my live Twitter feed). Highlights:
- “What’s the biggest myth about social media?” Don’t wait to start until you’re ready (because you’ll never be ready). Social media isn’t measurable and doesn’t generate revenue. Since executives don’t use social media, their target audiences must not either. One piece of social media content can’t do much (just ask Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines about that).
- “What are the biggest mistakes made with social media?” Build it and they will come. Overcommitment to too many sites – limit them or you’ll never keep up. Giving social media a month or two to perform and deciding it doesn’t work (this is about building relationships!). Overvaluing followers – it’s so easy to become a fan that it may mean less than you think (“With friends like this, who needs friends?”). Outsourcing customer engagement – an agency will never know your customers like you do. Falling in love with a particular social media channel – let your audience dictate which ones are important.
- “What’s most overrated?” Whatever platform your customers aren’t using. Facebook ads, since 25% of Facebook users access it from their mobile devices, which don’t display ads. Twitter in terms of too much focus on the number of followers you have. A company-sponsored online community – it’s a very slow build.
- “What’s the difference between social media for B2B versus B2C companies?” There’s “more romance” with B2B since it’s a longer sales cycle. B2C is more immediate and mass market. Don’t assume Facebook=B2C and LinkedIn=B2B because that’s not necessarily true; the platform may not change between consumers and business buyers, but your message, tactic and offer should. For B2B, you must be a helpful, relevant resource. With B2C you can often afford to simply entertain. With B2B, you usually know who your customers are since they’re in a database, so you can track social media results more closely. With B2C, that’s much harder (Pringles doesn’t know who their customers are).
- “What about social media and SEO?” They’re yin and yang – social promotes optimized content and provides links. Use the same keywords and links on social media that you do on your site. Social media is simply more content to search engines. Keywords are a good thing – if you want to engage me, speak my language!
- “How should someone new to social media get started?” Listen first, find out what customers want from you and make it easy for them to get it. Determine your resources and be honest about what you can accomplish. Blog first – everything else will work off of that “hub” of social activity. The smartest people in your company are the people you give the phone to – they are used to talking to customers and prospects and should be blogging.