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Paige O’Neill asked the question, “Have marketing channels become irrelevant?” on Marketing Pilgrim recently. She makes some good points about the way that people are increasingly expecting their experience with a business to move seamlessly from one channel to another without a hitch. For example, a customer may use a cellphone to search for the hours a store is open, walk in and examine a product, then go home and decide to order it from the store website using their desktop.

It’s still important to measure all the activity on all the channels a customer uses for accessing a business, because that’s how marketers get the data used to plan wisely. But Paige O’Neill poses another challenge:

“I’d like you to think about how your marketing strategy might change if you thought less about channels and more about the overall customer experience you’re delivering.”

Marketing Channel vs Customer Experience

The challenge lies in integrating the message into a single, omnichannel engagement whenever and wherever the customer chooses to connect. That is truly a challenge, but it isn’t impossible. It does mean that marketers need to do some things:

  • Connect the silos by creating a communications asset inventory, identifying all touch points along the customer journey.
  • Focus on consistency by getting all your relevant departments on the same page, collaborating internally.
  • Develop relevancy by fine-tuning your message along the touch points to reach each customer as a unique individual.
  • Take the long-term view by focusing on the overall customer experience instead of one sale or channel.

This idea may be a paradigm shift for many marketers, but with the increasing power a customer has via digital devices, it is true that internet marketing is evolving and we have to change, too. For more insights on internet marketing, visit  http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/internet-marketing-services.php#1.

It’s the mid-year mark, and this is a good time to look at the goals you have set for your business and evaluate how far you have come in meeting those goals. Liane Dietrich of Marketing Land walks us through some of the basics in “Time For A Check-Up: Marketing Strategies For A Successful Second Half.

Six Things To Check

The Marketing Land article suggests an evaluation of these areas:

  1. Marketing goals
  2. Attribution models
  3. Performance marketing programs
  4. Joint marketing opportunities
  5. Analytics data
  6. Improve your bottom line

Each one of these aspects of your business should have had some goals set in place for the business year and could be evaluated accordingly. But this is not the only place your business check-up should be looking at.

Other Areas To Consider

Everything your marketing department does should be integrated into the entire enterprise so that the real organization reflects who you say you are. If your ad campaigns are eco-minded, for instance, it is wise to be able to show how your daily operations are also eco-minded.

Having set goals for recycling and being able to show improvement gives things to talk about in social media if you are a company that prides itself on being “green.” A tweet or post about a 25% increase in recycling goals  or developing a recycling program for the community adds authority to your brand.

These types of goals vary according to the organization, but they are definitely things to evaluate periodically. With the ability for the average smartphone user to look you up online in depth, it’s pretty important that your practices and your marketing line up because discrepancies are easy to find. Being able to use data from regular progress evaluations might come in handy.

For more insight on internet marketing, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/internet-marketing-services.php

Sometimes, with all the emphasis on various social media interactions, that old email idea seems somewhat stale. But there is a lot to be said for strategic email marketing:

  • it’s targeted to the people who ask to be on your list
  • it’s private so they are not afraid to respond to your surveys
  • it’s easier to customize so the relationship is cultivated
  • it’s measurable because they can unsubscribe

An email marketing service provider or autoresponder can be a good tool for businesses looking to be efficient and effective with their email strategies. It’s important to think through what you want to accomplish and how your email campaigns fit in with the rest of your internet marketing plans.

When you use email wisely, there is a personalized aspect to your communication that can’t be replicated on any other media. Even tweets and chats lack the ability of an email to have targeted links or promotions, customized coupons, and the potential for content.

But unwise email marketing campaigns are why email has a bad name. Nobody wants bloated junk mail. People get mad when subject lines promise and don’t deliver. It irritates folks when all there is in the body is another version of your ad. If you aren’t going to be sending out email that is worth reading in your customer’s opinion, then you are probably better off not sending out email until you figure out how to do it right.

Email marketing is part of a complete internet marketing strategy. For more insight on how that all fits together, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/internet-marketing-services.php#6

Whatever your business is, there are some assumptions that can probably be made:

  • you came up with an idea that meets a need or want
  • you came up with a way to make that idea a real product or service
  • you developed a business plan to make the product or service available
  • you don’t do every aspect of your business yourself

In order to be successful, everybody eventually has to delegate. The best way to delegate is figuring out which things can be done by another person, finding people capable of doing the tasks to your standards, working with them to make sure there’s no questions, and being available if questions come up in the future. There are a lot of things that can be delegated by a business owner, including internet marketing.

You could invest a lot of valuable time understanding the way the Google algorithm has changed over the years, for instance, and figure out how to stay on top of all the details involved with SEO, PPC, SMM, WD, and VID. Or you could delegate that to professionals who make a career of it and invest your valuable time in understanding your unique spot in the market and managing your business effectively. Then, you are able to deliver when the increased demands come as a result of professional internet marketing.

Delegation doesn’t mean you have no control or input. It means you don’t have to do the time-intensive tasks related to the job so you employ someone else to do it to your standards. Your time is best invested in doing the things that only you, the business owner, can do.

For full service internet marketing, consider delegating that to professionals – reciprocalconsulting.com/internet-marketing-services.php#2

 

Blogs have been around for a long time and it’s amazing that there are still a lot of people who don’t know how to comment on them. You’ll see comments like “Nice post. I learned a lot,” or “Thanks! Great post.”

Okay. Why bother?

If you want to get someone’s attention, write a comment they’ll remember. Take issue with what they’ve said. Disagree. Not in a combative way, but don’t be afraid to state your own opinion and back it up with a fact or two.

You can even create a great comment by agreeing with the author. Instead of saying “Nice post,” how about saying something like, “I agree with that. In fact, I read another post on the same subject the other day at Such-and-Such blog where the author went into detail about statistics and included a couple of infographics. The interesting thing was …” and give a couple of sentences on why you thought the post was interesting.

Those kinds of comments have value. They are more likely to get someone’s attention and keep the conversation flowing.

Many people are still treating blog commenting as a spam pool. Quit trying to get links from other people’s blog posts with crappy, spammy blogs. Join the conversation and add some value. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your own time.

Learn more about online marketing at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/.

Last week, a popular guest blogging network got stung hard when Google slapped them with a penalty. And now, guest bloggers are running for cover. But should they be worried?

We’re big fans of link building around here, and guest blogging isn’t a bad deal either. But if your purpose for guest blogging is to build hundreds of links back to your website, then you’re doing it wrong.

Guest blogging isn’t about the links. It’s about your brand. It’s about putting your brand in front of a potential audience and attracting that audience to your website so that you can build a relationship with them. What matters is how you do that.

So how should you go about guest blogging?

Start with identifying blogs that attract the same type of reader you want to attract. You want a blog with a high percentage of crossover in terms of your audience. The audience for your target blog may be interested in the same types of products and services that you offer.

Read up on that target blog’s content guidelines. Do they accept guest posts? If so, how do they want to receive them?

Follow the guidelines for your target blog to a tee. Don’t concern yourself with anchor text links in your bio or relevant dofollow links. Write high quality content that is valuable to the target blog’s audience. Above all, add value to the site you are guest blogging for.

Instead of linking to your site using anchor text in your bio, link to your site using your brand name or using the URL.

Guest blogging is about adding value, not building links. If you do it well, you’ll get the recognition you deserve.

Webmaster Academy is a school run by Google designed to help new webmasters learn how to build an effective website and get it indexed in the world’s largest search engine. It’s a useful course, but I wouldn’t expect to learn everything there is to know about building a website if I were you.

The three newest modules in the academy are:

  • How to make a great site that is valuable to your audience
  • How Google sees your website
  • How to communicate with Google about your website

All of this is useful information to new webmasters, but there is more to building a website than making it look pretty and getting it indexed in the search engines (although, both of those are good places to start).

You also need to concern yourself with accuracy of content, navigational issues, whether or not your site is accessible to mobile phones, and the importance of keeping it updated. That’s just to name a few of the important details webmasters should concern themselves with on every new website.

It’s a lot harder to build an effective website than it used to be. There is a lot more to think about. I wouldn’t trust it to an amateur.

To learn more about how to build an effective website, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/web-design.php.

Internet marketers debate about some of the stickiest things. One of the big debates going around right now is whether you should write long, well-researched blog posts or shorter posts geared toward driving more traffic to your blog.

There are advantages to doing it both ways. One advantage to long, in-depth blog posts is that it gives you a chance to prove your authority.

An advantage to shorter posts is that you get more opportunities to rank well in the search engines and drive more traffic back to your blog through social media engagement. Both of these values are important. Our take is it never hurts to have more blog posts as long as you have a strategy. On the other hand, longer blog posts don’t hurt either. But you have to decide whether you want to spend your time writing your blog or servicing your customers.

When it comes to blog marketing, you have to do what is right for your business and your customers. What does your audience want?

Answer that million dollar question and it will tell you whether you should do a lot of research and write long blog posts or write short snippets. I’ve seen bloggers succeed with both strategies. You have to play to your audience.

More than anything else, headlines determine whether or not readers will click through and read your content. This is true whether your content is a blog post, a static web page, a social media page, paid advertising, or something else. It doesn’t matter what format your content takes, the headline is one of the most important elements on the page.

A good headline does several things well.

  • For starters, it grabs readers’ attention. It’s got to be enticing enough to compete against other headlines, moving images, and shiny objects.
  • A good headline also promises a benefit. Tell your readers why they should click the link and read your content.
  • It contains an emotional trigger tied to the benefit. The best headlines make the reader click because they have a vested interest.
  • Another thing a headline should do is create an incentive to share. You want your reader to read your content, but you also want them to share it. Your headline will play an important part in that.
  • It should also be straightforward and honest. It should tell the reader precisely what your content is about without being misleading.

Hopefully, you see the importance of writing good headlines. If you don’t, you may not get many readers. It’s one of the most important elements on any web page.

One area of business marketing that is growing more popular, as well it should, is the use of case studies.

Case studies are powerful marketing tools because they allow you to use the success of your customers for marketing your business. People love to listen to the testimonies of others. In fact, personal testimonies are powerful because they add credibility to your reputation as well as your products and services.

Even in today’s social media and search engine business environment, word of mouth is still the best advertising. A case study is an organized word of mouth campaign. And it’s very effective.

First, identify a handful of your customers who have used your product or service to solve a problem. Make sure they are a customer who had a specific problem to solve before using your product or service and used your product or service to solve that problem. Then have someone interview that customer to uncover the facts of their particular case. You can then write that customer’s story to highlight the benefits of using your product or service. It’s a valuable marketing tool.

Case studies can be used as free downloads or you can sell them as educational tools. Either way, you provide awesome benefits to your potential clients, who might be interested your brand.

If you are writing content in a highly technical niche area, then you might be wondering whether you should use lots of jargon or write with clarity in mind. Matt Cutts suggests you should aim for clarity when possible.

I completely agree. The exception would be if your audience consists entirely of technical people or professionals within your industry. In that case, use jargon.

If your audience is mixed – that is, consisting of both technical professionals and lay people – then you should aim for clarity, but it’s okay to add a little jargon for the technical people. You have to write in the language of your audience. If you are selling products and services to lay people, it is extremely important to speak their language.

This is a fundamental principle of writing in any discipline. You must keep your audience in mind.

So, what if you have multiple audiences? In that case, I’d write each blog post to a specific audience. If your audience is 80% lay people and 20% technical, then write 80% of your blog posts to the lay audience using clear language to help them understand your concepts. The other 20% of your blog posts can be technical in nature, and you can use jargon to speak to that audience. I would still aim for clarity to keep your lay audience engaged with a little jargon thrown in for the technical people.

Bottom line, aim clarity in your content message when you can.

Integrated marketing is a simple concept that is a challenge to implement, but it is one of the most important aspects of marketing a business of any size. Your first step is to develop your company’s mission statement and unique selling proposition (USP). From that, you develop your marketing plan.

It’s important, when establishing your overall marketing plan, to think about how each piece relates to the others.

For instance, you might have a great video marketing strategy, but how does that strategy work with your social media and e-mail marketing strategies? By making each piece work together toward a common goal, you can truly integrate your marketing so that you get more mileage out of every event.

There is no limit to how many different types of marketing you can incorporate into your integrated plan. If you can do it and you want to, you can integrate it. But you have to have someone available to manage the roll out.

There’s no sense running a paid advertising campaign, for instance, if you don’t have a qualified person available to manage your PPC accounts.

So assess your company for strengths, skills, and personnel assets, and take a look at your marketing budget. Is it feasible to do what you want to do? If not, where are the holes? Is there a way to fill them using outside resources? Take a full assessment before you begin your marketing plan and figure out how to integrate each piece before you develop it.

Google Labs inside Webmaster Tools is an experimental section that allows Google to test new products before unleashing them on the public. Did you know you can check your Google Authorshipstats inside Google Webmaster Tools?

Sign in to your Google Webmaster Tools account. On the left side of the page you’ll see a link labeled Labs. Click that and you’ll see a dropdown with Author Stats. Click that.

Inside the Author Stats section of Google Labs you can get a glimpse of the pages you have authored around the web, both those on your website and those that are off-site. You can see a limited number of stats on those pages, as well.

To begin with, the overview consists of the number of pages you have authored, the number cumulative page impressions your pages have received in the last 30 days, and the number of clicks. When you scroll down you’ll get an overview of each page.

The stats you can check for each page you have authored include:

  • Number of page impressions
  • Number of clicks
  • Click-through rate
  • Average search engine position

This is all useful information, especially if you do a lot of guest blogging, which you should.

I hope this experiment continues and that Google rolls it out as a real product. I’d like to be able to track my authorship stats around the Web. Wouldn’t you?

Is it just me or have you noticed that blog posts seem to be getting longer and longer? And they almost always feature a half a dozen images or so, plus a couple of videos, and maybe a cartoon or two. Undoubtedly, this is to keep your interest so you don’t go roaming on someone else’s blog. It’s a constant competition for attention.

One idea suggests that longer blog posts are better for SEO. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. But if your only reason for writing long posts is to improve your SEO, then you should stop now. It likely won’t happen.

Even if it does, how many readers are going to stick around day after day while you bore them with 10,000-word blog tomes? Not many. I can assure you.

The most important thing in blogging is that you capture and keep your readers’ attention. With ever shortening attention spans, that’s getting to be a greater challenge. But you already know your audience. Meeting them where their attention is seems like a good idea. After all, if you don’t grab their attention, someone else will.

Blogging is a personal communication tool that you can use professionally. It doesn’t require any special tricks. It requires a voice, a POV. If you connect with your readers, your chances of them telling their friends and bringing you more traffic is better than you ever ranking No. 1 for a great keyword. That’s the most important thing you should know about blogging.

If you are trying to figure out whether you’ll get more mileage from a blog or a newsletter, then I congratulate you for thinking of it. You’re well ahead of most small businesses who are still trying to figure out how to get started with online marketing.

To be sure, there are advantages to both platforms.

A blog allows you to get feedback through comments. You can interact with your audience, which increases your engagement. You can also have a more robust social media experience when you promote your blog posts. And your blog has the added benefit of being searchable through the search engines.

An e-mail newsletter offers you the opportunity to develop a warm list. This is very important for direct sales.

Blogs are typically poor media for making direct sales pitches. They’re great for engagement and reach. You can, however, use your blog to increase your newsletter subscriber numbers. Then you can use your weekly or monthly newsletter to drive traffic to important landing pages and increase your online sales.

So it’s not a matter of which is better – your blog or your newsletter. It’s really a matter of how effectively you can use each tool.

For better marketing, engage with readers through your blog and invite them to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter. Then close the sale there.

One of the most important principles of doing business online is the push-pull principle. You “push” your content out and “pull” your prospects in. But in order for this principle to work, your content has to be findable. You have to make it easy to find by the type of people you want to find you. The best way to make that happen is to start with a simple inventory.

How are people finding you now?

There are various ways to be found online. Here are a few easy ones to pick:

  • Your website
  • Your blog
  • Other blogs in your niche
  • YouTube
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Paid advertising
  • Organic search
  • Podcast directories
  • Business directories
  • Wikipedia

There are others, but the point is, you need to take inventory. If you don’t know how people are finding you, then you need to take some time and figure that out before you go on.

After finding out how you are currently being found, do an inventory of your content assets. What resources do you have available to push your content out to the places you are more likely to find prospects to pull in?

Having a good idea about what assets are at your disposal is critical to being able to use them effectively. Once you know what is available, you can put together a content strategy to reach the type of people you want to reach. Create awesome content that pulls people in to your sales funnel – then sell them what you have to offer.

Since 2011, content marketers have learned a few things about publishing content online. First and foremost is this: Produce quality content, not rehashed ideas that have been done over and over again.

Content marketers stuck in the past are still talking about link building techniques. Many of those link building techniques still work, but not always. Some of them work well most of the time. Still, online marketing is not all about link building, and the sad truth is that most SEOs are talking about it as if it is.

So if isn’t about link building, what is it about? In a word, it’s about authority. Do you have the authority to back up your claims? Can you prove your authority?

There are different ways to prove authority. One way is to present social proof. That is, you are active on several social media platforms and constantly churning out great content. Another way to prove authority is through search engine rankings and search engine recognition. If Google considers you an authority, then who is going to argue?

After last year, many online marketers are at a loss as to how to win favor with Google. It seems like many of the things that used to work are now only producing meager results.

Here’s a hint: Focus on your readers. Make them happy. If your content is written for your readers, you stand a much better chance at making the search engines happy and leveraging social proof.

Things may be getting ugly real soon at Yelp and other sites that allow anonymous reviews of businesses. In Virginia, a judge ruled that deliberately false statements are not protected speech. The problem is, the business owner suing in this case hasn’t proven that these anonymous reviews contain deliberately false statements.

Online reviews certainly change the way certain laws can be used in court. Previously, if you didn’t like a certain business, all you had to do is tell a friend. What you said to your friend in the privacy of your conversation couldn’t be disputed, but online reviews can.

Even if they’re anonymous.

Yelp and other sites have been hiding behind the First Amendment since their inception. That party might soon come to an end, however, if more businesses sue in states where the laws allow them to question the legitimacy of reviews.

These matters are complicated by the fact that a competitor can pay someone to post fake reviews of your business. Not many people, that I know of, would consider that protected speech. If you’re a business owner, I doubt that you’d want such fake reviews influencing people’s decision to do business with you. And that’s the problem. Right now, they can.

So will anonymous reviews soon be a thing of the past? Andy Beal has an interesting suggestion. Maybe it’s time for Yelp to introduce a verified customer attribute, but that makes me wonder just how they’d be able to do that.

What’s your take on anonymous reviews and social review sites like Yelp?

A listicle is a short form of blog content where you make a list of items and write a paragraph or two on each items so that the list looks more like an article. They’re very popular for online content and the reason they work are several-fold.

Here are the top 5 reasons to write listicles for your blog content:

Listicles are easy to read

Your blog readers can scan them and decide for themselves which parts of the article they want to stop and read.

They make great SEO

You can include your keywords in the list items, which serve as subheads for the article. This is an SEO-boosting tactic that still works as well as it did ten years ago.

A listicle is a tightly-focused area of knowledge

The best listicles serve up a short list of items on one particular topic, so the information is relevant to a particular niche audience.

Listicles are easy to write

Just write your list then go back and write the commentary for each list item.

Better than a bullet list

Instead of littering your blog with endless bullet lists, you can switch things around and write longer articles with subheads. Your listicles serve as lists without the bullets.

The next time you are tempted to write a blog post will bullet lists, write a listicle instead. They’re also easily share-able on social media.

Every landing page is either a winner or a loser. If it’s a winner, it will convert prospects to customers. Here are five essential elements to include on your landing page if you want it to convert.

  1. USP – An acronym for Unique Selling Proposition. What sets you apart from the competition? Why should people buy from you? Establish early on. With a USP, you are not likely to convert sales.
  2. Name Capture Form – Whether you are closing the sale or collecting contact information for use later, you need to get your customer to give it up. Put a form on your landing page if you want it convert.
  3. Strong Call to Action – A call to action asks for the sale. Provide a strong call to action and visitors will buy, opt-in, and convert like crazy.
  4. Benefit-Focused Content – You have to sell the benefits of your product or service. You have a few seconds, and no more, to get your prospect’s attention. Use an eye-catching image and content that heavily focuses on benefits rather than features.
  5. Social Share Buttons – Encourage your visitors to share your landing page with their friends.

If you want your landing pages to be successful, include these 5 essential elements on every one. From the headline to the call to action, you’ve got to keep your prospects interested if you’re going to convert them.