Archive for December, 2012

2013: The Year of Marketing Integration

December 31, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

By: Uri Bar-Joseph, December 31, 2012

Even though a new year will begin in just a few hours, it still isn’t too late to get your marketing ducks in a row and leverage new and old channels to generate demand for your company in 2013. Here are five trends in the world of B2B marketing as we enter 2013 and where to focus your attention.

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Image Credit: Pakalert Press

Nothing is New Under The Sun

The basic concepts of marketing, and specifically B2B marketing, haven’t changed (and probably never will). New channels, new tools, new platforms and new ideas, they are all new ways to achieve the same old goal – generate demand for your products and services.

Integrations

There are three levels of integrations you need to check out in 2013:

  • Channels: More channels will start to integrate and consolidate as offline and online begins to work in concert together and the integrations of channels become more possible through new tools and solutions.
  • Campaigns: Integrated campaigns will become the default for marketers who are trying to leverage content across multiple channels and make the most out of their media spend.
  • Tools: Tools will start to consolidate as more marketers look to streamline their process, cut operational costs (time and money) and leverage the effect of seeing all their campaigns, channels and data in one place.

Social Media Becomes Measurable, Predictable, and Accountable

Social media has been the darling of the media and the marketing space for the last two years, and adoption of social media activities has skyrocketed. If you are not doing something on social media, you are literally not doing your job.

As a result, we’ve seen tremendous improvements in the ability to track and measure social media activity in 2012 as well as the emergence of en entire market of social media tools, products and services.

With great power comes great responsibility. With social media’s grace period as the bright new star is coming to an end, in 2013 we’ll see companies change their tone about social media to require more accountability.

No longer will marketers be asked – “Are you on [enter your preferred social media channel]?” in 2013 they will be asked – “How many leads are you getting from [enter your preferred social media channel]?” or “What is the ROI of our [enter your preferred social media channel]?”

Sales Moves into Marketing

In the really old days – and I’m talking about the ancient days, like 3 years ago – leads were hard to get. “Skilled” sales reps handled every lead carefully, and B2B marketers were measured by their ability to generate leads.

In the last two years, especially thanks to SEO, social media, and content marketing, it has become relatively easy to generate leads; a lot of them. Consequently the quality of leads became questionable and the capacity of the sales team was tested.

To address these issues companies developed teams of lead qualifiers (inside sales teams or telemarketers) that took over the role of qualifying leads and became the connection between marketing and sales. Marketers begun measuring and being measured by a new set of acronyms like MQL (marketing qualified leads), SQL (sales qualified leads), SAL (sales accepted leads) and opportunities.

But since most of these stages are being determined by the work the lead qualifiers are doing, companies have started giving the responsibilities of these sales processes to marketers. In 2013, we will see even greater shift in marketing responsibilities to cover sales task.

Big Data: Measuring the Immeasurable; Analytics; Intelligence

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Image Credit: IBM Data Management Magazine

There’s no doubt that big data is a topic area that is getting huge attention from the biggest technology companies in the world. If you stop TiVo-ing through commercials during your favorite primetime TV show, you will immediately notice that they (IBM, HP, Google, Microsoft) are setting the stage for the next generation of big data applications.

As marketers – especially “marketing scientists” – data is life and the ability to track and measure every single pixel you put out there has become much easier over the last year. But in 2013 we will start seeing applications that can make sense out of the exabytes (1 million terabytes) of data and provide insight and intelligence that will help you make smarter decisions.

Mobile

Get on it. Now.

This post originally appeared on searchenginewatch.com


5 Common Facebook Marketing Mistakes

December 28, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

By: Justin Lafferty, December 27, 2012

Odds are you’ve liked a page on Facebook only to regret it a few hours or a few days later. Maybe it keeps posting about itself, or there’s no relevant material out there. Don’t be that page. Kevin Mullett, a social media and search-engine-optimization expert and the director of product development for Cirrus ABS, talked with AllFacebook about the biggest mistakes he’s seen companies make on their Facebook pages. Don’t worry, there’s still time to change for the better.

1.No plan in place

Many brands or businesses can easily create Facebook pages, start pushing out content, and attempt to acquire fans, but they don’t have any kind of goal in mind. Is the Facebook page meant to build brand awareness, connect with fans, cultivate a following, or improve customer service? Much like how a football team has a game plan before a big competition, businesses should figure out what they want to do with their pages and start tailoring posts to that purpose.

Mullett talked with AllFacebook about how brands on Facebook can develop a clear marketing goal:

Before you can create a strategy, you have to understand what the objectives and the goals are. Why are you going to be on Facebook in the first place? It doesn’t matter what somebody has told you the reason that you should be on there: How are you going to actually make that be something that’s valuable to your company? The goal could be to be part of the community. The goal could be top-of-mind awareness — top-of-mind awareness only matters if it leads to business … It may be for customer service or providing a warmer interaction or better service to your clients. There has to be some kind of goal or objective.

After the company figures out the end goal for a Facebook page, then it can start figuring out the best way to get there, instead of taking a scattered approach toward several different objectives.

2. Assuming Facebook marketing is free

Facebook, in essence, is free. Despite the rumors that keep popping up every now and then, Facebook CEO and Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg will not charge users a membership fee. However, as the old saying goes, it takes money to make money. If you’re just on Facebook to connect with friends and play FarmVille, there’s really no reason for you to pay.

But if you’re a business that is trying to acquire new fans (sales leads) and build a following, it’s going to take time — and, yes, money.

Mullett talked about the misconception that Facebook is free, so businesses shouldn’t allocate resources to market through the social network:

They figure that since it’s free, I can just test the waters, and if it fails, I haven’t really had any big cash outlay like I would with a TV commercial, or radio commercial, or brochures. What ends up happening is they end up self-defeating the strategy, goals, and objectives because they are expecting not to have to put any time, money, or effort into making it succeed.

3. Not giving users a reason to connect on Facebook

More businesses are becoming hip to Facebook, encouraging customers in print or TV ads and in their brick-and-mortar stores to like them on the social network. But then what?

Mullett told AllFacebook that many times, brands can put Facebook icons in newspaper ads or have little signs in the store with Facebook page addresses, but several companies don’t link their offline and online marketing efforts. It’s lazy to just tell a customer to like a brand on Facebook without informing them why they should do so:

An icon is a notification, not a call to action. How are you enticing people to join you and engage with you on a different platform than whatever they’re currently dealing with? If it’s on TV, what kind of a message brings them to Facebook and why? If it’s in printed material, what’s going to lead them to your Facebook page and why would they stay? Why would they come back? … It’s really important to connect those dots and make sure every employee is aware of where your Facebook page is and what value there is to the consumer by going there.

Mullett recommends that brands talk with (not to) customers and figure out what brought them to the Facebook page. Maybe users who saw the Facebook address on TV liked the page hoping to cash in on a discount, while those who saw a print ad are interested in learning more information about the product. People like a page for various reasons — find out why, then you can start to tailor posts to these groups.

4. Measuring the wrong things — or nothing at all

The most obvious, basic metric on a page — likes — is usually the first thing an amateur marketer loves to see. In the heyday of Facebook marketing, the conversation was largely built around getting likes at whatever cost. However, what good are a bunch of likes if the people behind them don’t engage or share? It’s like throwing a party where 100 people show up, but no one is talking to each other. It’s great that you got 100 people to the party, but it’s probably pretty dull and very few will stick around.

By embracing metrics such as people talking about this and reach, Facebook page administrators can discover how many people are seeing their posts and who is conversing about the brand.

Mullett talked about how while it’s simple to see likes and comments, the true statistics take a little bit of digging:

This is a really slippery slope because they like to measure the things that are easy to see, and unfortunately, on Facebook, that is likes, shares, and, to some degree, engagement. While those are not worthless metrics, and most people will agree that they’re not completely worthless metrics, they are not the ultimate thing that you’re trying to measure. We see this big extreme, where people either measure those items, which are not necessarily the right things to measure — like how many fans you have — or they just don’t measure anything at all. Ultimately you want to track it back to, “Is there an overall lift in business, in whatever business means to you?”

See mistake No. 1. If the goal of a Facebook page is to get people coming into the store, offer Facebook-exclusive discounts and see how many people come in to redeem them. Don’t be afraid to ask people what brought them to the store, or what attracted them to like the page. Mullett noted that the question, “How did you hear about us?” can generate some powerful and useful responses, but not enough people try this.

The numbers that are most relevant to your company’s goals are the ones that should hold the most weight. Even just paying attention to Facebook’s PTAT statistic and identifying brand ambassadors will help far more than simply counting likes.

5. Being too loud or boring

So you’ve got a Facebook page, and you know what you want to do with it. Great. Now figure out what kinds of posts are most relevant to your fan base and use them in a timely fashion. Many times, a user will like a page, then unlike it (or worse, report posts as spam) in a day or two if the page only brags about how awesome the company is, or if the content doesn’t jibe with the nature of the page.

Mullett talked about how brands should make sure they are posting relevant content, but not too often:

A common question that we ask clients when they’re wanting to increase their fan base and they’re wanting to get more likes, more engagement, more shares — “Would you follow your page?” And surprisingly, many businesses, say, “You know, I probably wouldn’t.” We ask them to fix the product first. The product is, in this case, what you’re producing. If the content that you’re producing isn’t resonating, if it is overly promotional — me, me, me! — then you need to switch up and you need to move to test content that may resonate with them, that does provide value and keeps them coming back.

Readers: What other Facebook marketing mistakes do you see commonly?

This post originally appeared on allfacebook.com


How To Make Your Blog Popular

December 27, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

By: Larry Wensley, December 21, 2012

Bloggers from all over the globe are trying to find ways to make their blogs the one everyone wants to follow. Believe you me, that is no easy task.

Boring blogs attract little or no traffic. You can add fresh content daily, update and use your blogroll, syndicate the content of the blog with a RSS feed, tag your posts, use search engine optimization or use lots of links and trackbacks but all of that will be useless unless you have created a blog that is eye-catching, unique, crazy or controversial. So bloggers, do you want to know how to make your blog popular?

Blogging gossip

Blog readers love a little bit (or a lot!) of juicy gossip, so tantalize visitors to your blog by adding a little bit of personal information. We all love to know what other people are doing with their lives and we also want to know if their lives are more interesting than ours. Add some funny or slightly risky comments and invite readers to add their comments. When visitors write remarks then answer them and ask them questions, make them realize that you are interested in their lives. Celebrity gossip is always popular, so read up on the latest celeb news and gossip, add your thoughts and wait for others to add their thoughts.

Secret sharing on Blogs

We all have a few skeletons in the cupboard and it does no harm to share a few of your deepest secrets with other bloggers. OK, you don’t want the world to know your business but, in general, blogs have to have pulling power to attract readers. You may have a few hilarious life experiences that you are willing to share with your readers.

Blog A cartoon Strip

Newsprint readers love to follow the daily cartoon strips so if you could create a unique cartoon character and make a daily cartoon strip this may help you to gather regular followers. Sometimes it seems that the world is full of doom and gloom and deep and meaningful conversation, so it is amazing when we read or look at something that is fun. Look at some of the well-known comic strips and see if you can generate some ideas.

Agony Aunt Blogging

If you are a good listener, you could encourage followers to share their problems. We all love reading the problem pages in newspapers, so why not make your blog a place where readers can share their problems. Encourage all contributors to add their thoughts to each and every problem to create on-going blog conversations.

Interview Fellow Bloggers

Read some of the most popular blogs and see if you can arrange to interview those bloggers. If you manage to set up an interview with a popular blogger, post a record of the interview on your blog. Interviewing other bloggers will help you to understand why their blogs attract such a following, naturally it isn’t right to copy their ideas but it may offer you some inspiration.

Free Offers
Everyone loves getting something for nothing. Free downloads can be very tempting. Offer online tools, an eBook or create a free online class. However, if you are going to offer your readers a freebie, make sure the freebie is something good.

Blog About Competitions and Online Freebies

So many of us scour the Internet searching for printout money off coupons, voucher codes, bingo bonuses and free Sim card offers. If we have to look for hours to find these deals then it stands to reason that other Internet users are doing the same. Start adding these deals to your blog and update them on a daily basis – this will attract the bargain hunters to your blog. If you decide to promote special offers, you will need to update the blog daily to stay ahead of other sites.

Ask Other Bloggers for Their Advice

We all love to be asked for advice, so encourage other blog owners to offer you some of their words of wisdom. You may not want to take advantage of all of the advice but it is one way of encouraging others to read what you are writing. Don’t be afraid to make contact with other bloggers. If you read blogs that are particularly great then leave comments that invite answers. You will only make yourself known if you introduce yourself to others.

Obsession-Based Blog Chats

We all have hobbies, interests and obsessions, although some may be easier to chat about than others. It can be fun to compare notes. Loads of us are fascinated with celebrity fashion and plenty of us love to keep up-to-date with what the celebs are wearing. Are you obsessed with shoes or handbags? Do you purchase every new perfume on the market and do you love to chat with other like-minded people? It’s all about finding your niche, so invite any of your blog readers to reveal their obsessions and wait for the chat to start rolling in.

Blog your Weirdest Experience

Let’s face it, we have all had plenty of weird experiences – some have been far weirder than others. If something very bizarre has happened to you and you feel that you can share it with others, why not blog about it? People love hearing about unusual happenings, the weirder they are the better. Back the story up with pictures if you can.

If you really want to know how to make your blog popular, try introducing some of the ideas listed above. Blog readers don’t want to hear about the mundane things in life – they are reading blogs to escape the ordinary.

This post originally appeared on seo-news.com

10 Old SEO Methods You Need to Stop

December 26, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Greg Habermann, December 26, 2012

old-bad-seo

I’m proud to say that I’ve never been responsible for a site that has been punished by any of the Google Panda/Penguin updates.

I’ve seen my fair share of Google fallout though, usually brought forth by someone after they’ve seen their traffic tank. They don’t know what happened, why, or much less how to fix it.

Truth be told, I’m surprised by how often I’ve been presented with this scenario. Every single time it’s boiled down to using bad SEO or outdated SEO tactics that they consider tried and true but are no longer valid.

As Mark Jackson stated in “7 Habits of Highly Effective SEO“:

While we must be aware, and understand, things like Google Panda/Penguin and other major changes in the algorithms, if we focus on doing “good marketing”, all other things should fall in line, and major algorithm changes shouldn’t be a concern.

And that’s the crux of the issue:

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Here are 10 old SEO methods that I’ve seen come across my desk in the past two weeks and how you can do better.

1. Article Submissions

If the word “Ezine Articles” falls out of your mouth when you start talking about your SEO, you should just stop right there. Even before the Panda update, this really wasn’t the best use of your time and essentially was just a way to get some quick links back to your site.

Get this through your head: link building isn’t easy. It, like all things in optimization, takes time and effort.

Instead of going after easy links, why not work on building relationships with bloggers and work on writing guest posts that can add value to their site and community while benefiting you with exposure to their audience and possibly building a quality reference from an authoritative site.

2. Press Releases Without News

From a conversation I had last week:

“Well if free article submissions aren’t good, maybe I could do a press release instead?”
– “Do you have anything newsworthy?”
“Well, I don’t know but I need to get my name out and it would be a great chance to get some links from the news channels. I was thinking maybe doing 2 a month.”
– “No. Just.. No.”

Here’s the thing, you run a business, and kudos to you. According to Dun and Bradstreet there are an estimated 23 million small businesses in the United States as of 2010. I’m not saying that you’re not doing something that’s newsworthy, but just existing doesn’t qualify you.

Ask any public relations agency and they’ll be quick to tell you that there’s more to PR than just a press release. Kimberly Eberl, President of Motion PR in Chicago states:

Public relations is a conversation between a company and all of its different stakeholders. It encourages company transparency and works to the benefit of all parties. PR is about building awareness and leveraging relationships through various channels and markets.

Kinda sounds like link building, doesn’t it? Press releases for the sake of links alone is probably just as close to a waste of time as article submissions.

Remember, no quick fixes. Do something newsworthy and good. You’ll be helping someone else at that, in turn can help you with effective media relations and the links will follow.

3. Reciprical Linking & Link Exchanges

What is this, 2004? Link exchanges are just another way to try to take the work out of gaining links and earning trust by swapping links with another site.

Can you think of a more easily detectible signal that you could throw at a search engine to let them know you’re trying to get cheap, useless links?

Think of a link as an endorsement of sorts. A link should mostly be used when it makes sense and can help the visitor by pointing them to additional resources or related material.

If someone makes good content then that will help your readers or site visitors, then by all means link to them. That works the other way around too: *hint* *hint*

4. Creating Thin Content

This bad SEO technique just doesn’t want to die. I get it, old habits die hard. But friends, it’s time to move on.

We already know that great content can drive great links. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when looking at your content creation:

  • Are you outsourcing your content writing? If so, who is doing your writing? Is it the person most qualified to build out superb, link worthy content?
  • Who are you writing for and why? Are you writing for search engines or are you writing to build an audience? These shouldn’t be mutually exclusive things, by the way.
  • Do you feel like you’re writing the same thing over and over and over again and you’re so tired of it because there are only so many ways you can write about whatever it is that you sell? You’re likely doing it wrong. Sorry, but it’s the truth. Writing can indeed be tedious but think of the question above. If you can’t stand what your writing, what are the chances that others are going to think it’s great? Will they think it’s great enough to link to?

5. Losing Your Voice Through Automation

I’m not going to dive face first into the automated tools debate that constantly seems to circulate through the social media sphere. A tool to help streamline, disseminate content, and balance time can be just that, a tool.

Tools all have their purpose and can all be useful given the right circumstances. That said, you don’t saw a board with a hammer. Learn your tools. Use them, but use them wisely.

Social media, including your blog, is a way for you to build relationships. It can help you gain and keep customers or open new doors for the future.

Automation is often seen as an easy way out for companies that know they’re supposed to “be social” but they don’t want to be, they just know it’s “important” for some reason.

You’re not fooling anyone. Social media gives you a voice. Trying to take the easy way out is like putting your company on mute.

6. Ignoring Social Signals

Thankfully most blogs and websites nowadays have social sharing buttons of some sort. Unfortunately, many site owners aren’t paying attention to these social signals, what they mean, or their potential.

Let’s turn to Google’s CEO, Larry Page, to help me tell you to stop ignoring this:

In a recent Google earnings call, he was asked, “If you think of the future of Internet search three or four years out, how important will the social signal be and how important (will) personalization be?”

He responded by explaining how he might search for one of his friends who had a common name.

“For the first time, the search box isn’t really searching a string…it’s actually searching for that person that I know. Having real feedback from users…is very useful for search…we have a lot of those signals already, but we can always use more…we can always use better relevance and we can always use more data to generate that.”

7. Implementing Tactics without a Strategy

Truth be told #1-6 above all fit into this but I felt like this should have its own little mention. Why? Because this is a pattern by which a lot of people set out into SEO and it’s why old SEO methods are still being used. It’s also why so many people fail at marketing in general.

I can’t stress this enough: plan out a strategy and work the plan! Test all the time. Rinse. Repeat.

8. Focus on Rankings

I was handed a ranking report by an SEO the other day which they had run for their client of five years. It was 30 pages long and tracked hundreds of keyphrases.

I asked how this correlated to their analytics and how the traffic behaved since the client had felt that their sales were down. The SEO looked at me and said, “Umm. I don’t know if they have analytics on their site. Maybe I looked at it once… I’m not sure. But I’ve run ranking reports for them every month and they like that.”

Wow.

I know how alluring those ranking reports can be. I know you do work, and this is a nice little report that you can show your client or your boss that says “We’re number 1 in Google for ‘Blue Spandex Widgets For Sales in Wichita, KS’!!”

However it’s our job as an SEO to steer the conversation from the old way into a more meaningful one. If we don’t, we’re taking the path of least resistance and we truly aren’t helping ourselves or our clients.

9. Focusing on Google Only

You may have a problem that you’re not aware of yet because maybe everything is going along swimmingly. Go look at your stats, right now. How much of your organic traffic comes from Google? What percentage?

I know you wouldn’t put all of your retirement plan in one stock so why would you put so much at risk in your current life by keeping all your eggs in one basket. Create a diverse traffic portfolio.

Although geared towards the travel industry, I believe everyone who is thinking about this could benefit from reading: Getting Serious about Inbound Marketing

10. Ignoring Design

I have one last bone to pick with something that a lot of people don’t think of when it comes to SEO, but it fits and I’m tired of running into it. You know that website that you have? Oh, you helped design it? Yes, I see how that menu looks all cool. Flash, you don’t say?

Your website can say a lot about you and your brand. I know a lot of people pay a lot of good money for a site, only to have it be ugly as sin, non-functional, or not search engine friendly. This has been going on since I started working online and it’s not bound to stop anytime soon but I’m pleading with you to save yourself the time and money and headache:

The next time you go to build a site, hire a designer. Shop around. But when you find one that’s good, trust in them and their design work. They do this for a living and you don’t.

Guide your designer, but don’t do the designing. You didn’t hire them to just use tools you don’t understand. Allow them the freedom to make something great for you.

At the same time, you should also hire a great SEO. This person will work with the designer and the developer to ensure that what you end up with not only works to your needs but will do everything it needs to do in regards to the search engines as well.

Don’t settle for or ignore your website design. Your customers aren’t.

Google Running Feedback Experiment Similar to Human Quality Rater Test

December 19, 2012 By: admin Category: News

By: Matt McGee, December 19, 2012

Google Logo - Stock

Google has long asked searchers to provide feedback on the quality of its search results, and often runs a number of tests aimed at encouraging such feedback. The latest such experiment, which seems to have been live for at least a month or so, is a bit different because it asks searchers for feedback only on certain results.

Eli Schwartz recently shared with us a screenshot after doing a search for [product synonym]. As you can see below, Google is using the open space on the right of the results page to ask “Which result do you prefer?”

google-feedback-test

What’s most interesting is that Google isn’t asking for general feedback on the search results page as a whole; it’s specifically pulling out two of the results — and not the top two. In this case, Google is specifying the third and fourth links and asking the searcher to “visit both pages before choosing.”

That’s similar to the “side-by-side” tasks that Google’s army of human search quality raters often perform — a type of task that you can learn more about in these articles:

In that second article, you’ll find a screenshot of a “basic” side-by-side task that also asks the evaluator to view two specific pages and choose the better result.

The Street recently saw this same feedback form, and pointed out that the “Learn more” link at the bottom leads to a Google help page that says user feedback “will not directly influence the ranking of any single page,” and refers to how the data is used in conjunction with its “professional search evaluators.”

In a typical year, we experiment with tens of thousands of possible changes. These changes, whether minor or major, are tested extensively by professional search evaluators, who look at results and give us feedback, and “live traffic experiments” where we turn on a change for a portion of users. Testing helps us whittle down our list of changes to about 500 improvements per year.

Earlier this summer, Google was running a similar, but less specific, feedback test that asked searchers “How Satisfied Are You With These Results?” That survey asked for feedback on the full search results page.

Advantages of SEO Landing pages for Business Online

December 18, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Sunny Popli, December 18, 2012

It is an undeniable fact that inbound marketing has played a major role in online businesses for the last few years. To be effective in this strategy, many website owners have realized the need to have properly-designed websites, coupled with effective landing pages. The design of the site must do two things: support lead generation campaigns and help in analyzing the traffic on the site. If the SEO landing pages are created properly, it will be quite easy converting those leads to sales.

What is SEO Landing Pages?

As its name suggests, a SEO landing page is the site page where the traffic lands. It may be a squeeze page, sales page or opt-in page. Whatever it may be, this is the very first page that a visitor will come to. From here, the visitor will be directed to all other pages of the site. The main purpose of creating a landing page is to attract both readers and search engine crawlers.

Advantage of SEO Landing Pages

Generally, lead generation campaigns and other marketing strategies help many businesses bring traffic to their websites. However, it is the SEO landing pages that will determine if the site will be able to convince these customers to stay and eventually purchase your products. Thus, your landing page must be something that will make the potential client want to browse the site.

SEO landing pages are important because they convince the prospective clients to take the necessary action. That action may be making a call, entering an e-mail address, registering for free trial services or going to other pages and making a purchase. In short, it is landing pages that can turn qualified leads into a sale. Without a proper SEO landing page, the entire online business empire can fall.

Tips in Creating SEO Landing Pages

SEO landing pages also play a major role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy. This page must be efficiently developed so you can track your business’ growth.

One way of making your SEO landing pages an effective online marketing tool is by offering some freebies when people sign up for your newsletter or promotional e-mails. Landing pages must also be professionally written – like a sales letter. It is not about the hard sale, it is about convincing customers to provide their information – and that can be just as important as making a sale.

Focus on how you can encourage them to download the free offer. Emphasize they need not pay anything to subscribe to the newsletter. Other than opt-in or squeeze page links and some terms and disclaimers, ensure there are no links on this page.

Understanding the Effectiveness of SEO Landing Pages

SEO landing pages have numerous benefits if done properly. Thus, it is very important that you are able to understand how effective your landing page is so that you can make some adjustments, if necessary. There are two main ways of landing optimization: multivariate testing and split testing.

Multivariate testing is simultaneous testing of different versions of the same element on the web page. This testing optimization is fast and will provide you with optimum landing page in just few days. This test is ideal for large websites.

Split testing is another feasible method of testing optimization for landing pages. In this method, the site owner needs to have two slightly different pages – your original page versus a redesigned page, for instance – tested at the same time. After testing, you will be able to identify which page works best. This may ideal for those with small traffic websites.

Search Engine Optimizations and Landing Pages

Testing how effective your landing pages are to web searchers is also important. Use long tail keywords so your site can jockey for top spots. Keywords must be included in header tags, the title and sprinkled throughout the body of your copy.

This post originally appeared on seo-news.com


Bing Adds People and Places to Snapshot

December 17, 2012 By: admin Category: News

By: Allison Howen, December 14, 2012

Bing’s Snapshot, which displays information such as maps, movie times and restaurant menus directly within search result pages, now includes two new categories – people and landmarks.

Snapshot is the middle column between Bing’s main search results and the social sidebar that resides on the right side of the results page. The feature, which was launched in June, displays relevant information related to search queries in order to make it easier for users to take actions, such as booking a hotel room, directly from the results page. However, according to Bing’s blog, the company ran thousands of experiments to determine what topics are most frequently searched for since the launch of Bing’s three-column redesign, and the data led Bing to include people and places to Snapshot’s functionality.

Now upon a search query for a famous person, celebrity or place, Bing displays relevant facts about the topic to make it easier for users to find exactly what they are looking for before clicking through to another website. Furthermore, Snapshot includes content such as reviews, movie trailers and links that make it easy for users to discover information with a glance or take actions, such as listen to or purchase music, with just one click.

It is also important to note that this isn’t the last update for Snapshot, because according to Bing’s blog, the company will be adding more categories in the coming weeks.

This post originally appeared on websitemagazine.com


Happy Holidays From the Systemtek Team

December 17, 2012 By: admin Category: News

Dear Reader,

All of us at Systemtek Technologies would like to take a moment to express our gratitude to our loyal customers, friends, and family.

As the Holiday Season is upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the success of the past year. We hope that next year will be successful for you as well.

We wish you a very happy Holiday Season and a New Year filled with peace and prosperity.

Sincerely,

John Li
President/CEO
630-701-6163
johnli@systemtek.net
www.systemtek.net

Why The Correct Web Design and SEO Are Essential

December 14, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips, Web Design

By: Liz Leaski, December 14, 2012

There are not many businesses, no matter how large or small, who will not derive a great amount of good, and boost their profits, by having an Internet presence.

The first aspect of appearing online is, of course, having a website designed by a professional web designer. A professional can advise the would-be site owner of the sort of design that would be most suitable for the services or goods that he provides, the budget he envisages, how long it will take to design the site, when it is likely to appear online, etc. etc.

Some people become so enthused when they make the decision to take their business online, they rush headlong into it without considering the best design, the color scheme, the content, the keywords, whether to have images, music, etc.

Another matter that must be taken into account when designing a website is if the company wishes to be seen locally, nationally or internationally – the geographical reference is very important. To have a website designed for a particular local region can be less expensive than if the website needs to be seen on an international level.

The tone must also be correct for the sector the firm belongs to.

If the website is for an undertaker, for instance, the general tone should be serious and somber, but if it is a site designed for a holiday company, a garden center, hotels, etc., the tone should be relaxing, colorful and cheery.

The choice of colors, which in a way is part of tone, must also be absolutely right for the sort of business it relates to. The web design for a formal kind of company such as an accountant, a doctor, a debt help company, a dentist, a cosmetic surgeon , etc. would suit colors such as olive green, cream, chocolate brown, navy blue or similar hues If the web design is for a company specializing in children’s parties, flower shops, magicians, singers, discos, etc. bright, exotic schemes such as bright orange, scarlet, purple and yellow are the order of the day.

After deciding on the tone and color scheme, the correct content is crucial. Content includes all words displayed on the website. When the content is relevant, interesting and describes in a clear and meaningful fashion what goods or services are being provided, more visitors to the site will translate into customers and the profits of the company will grow.

It is incredible how many businesses appear online with content so bad it is impossible to work out exactly what the site is trying to sell.

The essential words on any site are known as keywords and a search engine optimization specialist can optimize these keywords by use of article writing, blogs, press releases, etc. so that they place much higher in the search engines.

This post originally appeared on seo-news.com



How to Talk About Pricing Without Scaring People Off

December 13, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

By: Meghan Keaney Anderson, December 12, 2012

scared girl

Sex. Politics. Religion. Now that I’ve gotten those out of the way, let’s talk about another topic rarely broached at the marketing dinner table. Pricing. I know, I know. It’s scary. You’d rather talk about your products or services, how you can help potential customers, or frankly, anything else in the world. After all the excitement of attracting a potential new customer, pricing seems like such a killjoy.

Many marketers leave it to Sales to handle, preferring to be the “good cop” in the relationship. But pricing is just as important a concept to communicate as the features of your product or the benefits of your service. In fact, they go hand in hand. But when is the right time to talk about pricing, and what’s the right way to go about it? These are all things we’ll tackle in this very blog post, so keep reading, you knowledge hungry marketer, you.

How to Talk About Pricing Without Scaring People Off

Just as educational content is important at the top of the funnel, useful pricing content that helps leads make a decision is critical as they work their way down the funnel toward making a purchasing decision. And in the right context, pricing materials can be as engaging as your ebooks and blogs.

A Note About Tone

To begin with, stop thinking of pricing as something you need to hide from the customer, and start thinking of it as something to bring up for the sake of the customer. Like any good inbound marketing, your pricing page and materials should be designed to help a prospective customer make the decision that’s best for them. Provide them with the simplest explanation of your pricing, and then think about the related questions they would have at this juncture. Don’t sell, explain.

A Note About Timing

We’ll provide some additional information about understanding how to time your pricing content below, but in general, there are two moments when pricing is important to a prospective buyer:

  1. In the beginning, when they are just trying to figure out if your pricing is even in the ballpark of what they can afford.
  2. At the end, right before making a purchasing decision, when they are weighing the cost and benefit of buying.

As you can imagine, both moments are important for different reasons. The first is an opportunity for leads to self-select whether they’d be a fit or not. It’s not a bad thing if they look at your pricing page and rule themselves out; in fact, it can end up saving your company — particularly your sales team — a tremendous amount of time and resources.

The second instance occurs when the lead is heavily weighing a purchasing decision and is figuring out their own budget. In this instance, they’ll need more details and a way to communicate the pricing to other decision-makers or budgetary authorities on their team. Consider having a clear, easy-to-understand pricing page for the first scenario, and an additional document that provides more of a breakdown of that price and related information for later in the relationship.

Should You Put Pricing on Your Website?

Often, companies choose not to include pricing on their website, and instead require the lead to call them up for a quote. The reasoning behind this is understandable. For example, you might not want to run the risk of turning off a potential buyer before you’ve had the chance to demonstrate the value of your product/service. (This is particularly the case for companies that sell big-ticket products or services and have longer sales cycles.) Or maybe you have a complex pricing model that requires a lot of explanation. These are both good reasons … but in many cases, they’re not quite good enough.

As marketers, our job should be to make prospective customers lives easier — to anticipate their needs and make their research go smoothly. Whether you like it or not, understanding costs is a fundamental piece of those prospects’ research. And holding back on pricing information until a prospect talks to a sales rep is a little bit like not telling your new boyfriend you still live at home with your parents. He may be comfortable with seeing your dad in his bathrobe, and he may even like it (wait, sorry… analogy breaking down), but the bottom line is: If you withhold that critical information until he’s already invested days and months, he’ll feel misled.

Now all that being said, there are a few instances when a pricing page on your website doesn’t work out. If your pricing really does depend on a case-by-case basis and requires an assessment, for example, a pricing page probably won’t make sense. But consider giving your website visitors some ballpark figures or another way to get a sense of your rates before making them take the time to call.

6 Pricing Page Best Practices

Convinced that building a pricing page is the right move? Here are six best practices to keep in mind when creating one …

1) Don’t overwhelm your viewers.

They came to your pricing page with one big question: “What does it cost?” Make sure your page satiates that need first and foremost, and then provides supporting information after. Keep the pricing page uncluttered so it’s not difficult to find the figures they need. If your pricing is more complex, at least consider giving viewers a clear starting point for your pricing information — like in the following example from ADT Home Security — so they can get the information they need without having to call.

adt pricing example resized 600

2) Be very clear about the value they’ll be getting for the price.

Pricing materials shouldn’t read like an invoice. Make sure the value of your products/services is evident on your pricing pages and clearly aligned with your prices. For more advice on the buyer’s perspective of value in pricing, I asked Patrick Campbell, CEO of Price Intelligently, a price optimization company as well as a HubSpot customer. He explained the concept of a ‘value metric.’

“If you’re selling eggs,” he explained, “then you’ll charge a customer for each egg, and you can even give them a deal to purchase one dozen or more.” There’s a clear exchange in value for the price. Even in complex products, there should be a clear definition of what additional value each increment in price gets you. ”Pricing in this manner assures you’re charging the customer for the actual value you’re providing,” Patrick says.

3) If you have pricing levels, help them find the right fit.

Try to minimize indecision on your pricing page and associated materials. If you provide different pricing packages, give your prospects some hints about how to assess their own fit for each one. Highlighting your “best offer” is one thing, but giving viewers a set of questions or scenarios that will help them determine which package is best for their particular needs can be extremely helpful. Marketing agency and HubSpot partner Brightfire, for example, has a page on its website specifically meant to help people navigate that decision. And HubSpot’s own pricing page has a ‘Compare packages’ drop-down menu that helps differentiate our various packages from each other.

4) Address their questions.

Remember, before they ever talk to you, prospective customers are doing plenty of research online. Why not take the opportunity to leverage SEO and turn those unanswered pricing questions into traffic and leads for your company? HubSpot user and partner Marcus Sheridan wrote a great blog post earlier this year about how he turned a common pricing query into a search magnet. In the pool industry at the time, Marcus realized that a number of people were searching Google for information about fiberglass pool pricing. By writing an article entitled “How Much Does a Fiberglass Pool Cost?” he was able to attract those searchers and channel them into scores of leads for his company. In fact, Marcus attributes $1,000,000 in swimming pool sales to that one pricing-focused article. Not bad, eh?

5) Reassure their decision.

Man, you are smart! Boy oh boy, are you bright! Doesn’t that feel good? In pricing content, it never hurts to integrate social proof or encouragement to assure the buyer that he or she is making the best possible call. Don’t overcrowd your core information, but find places to weave in content that shows how purchasing a product or service pays off. Examples of social proof include:

  • Names of other companies that have bought from you. (Here’s an example from Litmus.)
  • Results your company has achieved, or return on investment data.
  • Hand-picked testimonials.
  • Social media or third-party site testimonials.
  • Customer case studies.

6) Make it easy to email and print.

This may seem like a minor detail, but purchasing decisions often involve more than one person, especially in a B2B setting. You can help your prospective customer by creating your pricing information in a format that’s easy to share, send around for review, and print if need be. Consider a PDF in addition to your pricing page, or a customized proposal that you can send via email.

Pricing is just as much a marketing tool as it is a sales discussion. Instead of shying away from creating content on pricing or avoiding the topic altogether, inbound marketers can benefit from tackling it head on, and putting prospective customers’ needs first.

We’d love to hear from those of you who have done so: What lessons have you learned about creating strong pricing pages and other collateral? What challenges have you faced?

This post originally appeared on blog.hubspot.com