by SEOmoz – Oli
“Get me to page 1 of Google, while emailing our customers a bi-weekly newsletter, engaging influencers on Twitter, maintaining a captive Facebook audience, capturing new leads, and putting out 3 blog posts a week.” Harsh? Yes. Familiar? Definitely.
Everything a Non-Marketer Needs to Take a Business from Zero to Hero Online
What you are about to read might be a little shocking. Why? Because it’s so freakishly long. It contains a 6-month action plan for marketing your business online and if you can read it all in one go you’re a hero or a raging insomniac. I’d recommend bookmarking it to use as an ongoing reference guide.
Let the story and the course begin…
A typical marketing storyline
You’ve just been put in charge of “Internet marketing” at your new sweatshop startup (don’t worry, I live there too – replete with rusty sewing machines and fake Nike stitching patterns). What do you do? Where do you start? There are so many elements to online marketing that it’s hard to know where to begin.
It’s much more than just one job. At the very least it’s 8 distinct disciplines. I know because I try to do them all and I’m stretched to my limit.
With that in mind, I’d like to present you with:
- A 15,000,000 pixel infographic (that’s fifteen million colored squares, which could make it the largest infographic in history). Note how the graphic looks like a giant “i” (which is also the first letter of the word infographic). *Taps self on shoulder for the clever artistic reference.*
- Part 1 is a cogged wheel showing 50 tasks broken down by discipline. If you print it out you can tear off each cog or mark the little check boxes as you complete each task.
- Part 2 is a six month course to teach you how to become an internet marketer whether you’ve done it before or not. Compress the timeline if you’re a workaholic. It also contains a traffic timeline showing the effect certain actions will have on your inbound traffic growth.
It takes a lot of work – although not as much as writing all this – so no whining please. In order to be successful you have to plan for the long haul. Read it, absorb it and put it into practice. Also remember to give a shout out on Twitter (using the hashtag #noobmarketing) as you progress through your marketing marathon (and join the discussion with other noobs).
Landing Pages as Marketing Glue
You’ll notice how landing pages have been positioned in the wheel as what I call the “marketing glue” that holds your activities together. They sit in the middle of many marketing and sales funnels and do a great job of focusing your customers on what they should be doing. You don’t always need them (12/50 tasks here call on them), but when you do they can make a big difference in the your conversion performance. I covered the reasoning and purpose of landing pages in an earlier guest post called “The 12-Step Landing Page Rehab Program” so I won’t delve into that again, instead I’ll just point out where, when and how you should be using them.
The Wheel of Marketing
8 of the core components of an Internet marketing strategy are covered here (there are more, but I have my limits). I’ll give you a brief overview of each and why it’s important. As an alternative to following the 6-month course you could tackle each of these channels as an independent track by following the task lists.
- Social media marketing (SMM)
The new darling of the marketing community still gets grumbles from the old-schoolers. Ignore them for they know not what they say. SMM is a massive topic, so for the noob guide we’ll focus on a few key platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. And a few key strategies: developing a style and how to convert your social traffic.
#1 – Claim your brand
#2 – Set up your Twitter account
#3 – Have something to say – define your style
#16 – Build a following on Twitter
#23 – Time your tweets
#30 – Create a conversion oriented Facebook fan page
#31 – Connect your blog to Facebook
#32 – Seed some facebook fans
#39 – Start networking on LinkedIn
#45 – Stay in the conversation: Leave Twitter tabs open for “live” social interaction
#46 – Create a social media contest page with viral features
- Email marketing
Email can be tough and unforgiving compared to other online mediums (once you hit send, your message is committed to the ether, never to be undone – except through the use of the apologetic “I screwed up” follow-up email. Instead of talking about writing emails, I’ll focus your noob experience on cooler concepts like drip campaigns – which can make the difference between an actively engaged audience and a legion of prospects who’ve forgotten what you do.
#4 – Choose an online email provider
#5 – Create a branded email template
#17 – Set up a drip campaign for acquisition, education retention
#24 – Segment and create lists
#40 – A/B test your emails
- Lead Generation
How do you do email marketing if you have no one to email? That’s where lead gen comes in. We’ll discuss methods for growing your email lists by writing eBook’s, presenting webinars and simply by asking people to follow your blog.
#6 – Set up a Feedburner account to capture track RSS readers
#7 – Gather emails for a product launch
#25 – Answer questions on LinkedIn Quora
#33 – Give something away in exchange for customer data
- Organic search marketing
I have to tread carefully here as the SEOmoz community is probably the most engaged and knowledgeable SEO crowd on the planet (yes I’m sucking up). Here I cover some of the techniques that I’ve used to be successful at managing my organic search and building a natural ecosystem that encourages link building success.
#8 – Set up Google Webmaster Tools
#9 – Research and define your core organic search keywords
#18 – Architect your blog for search – choose targeted categories
#19 – Use SEOmoz campaigns to track your search progress
#41 – Link building
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
Think of 5 lanes of traffic driving across a bridge. This is your inbound traffic (often paid for) wanting to cross boundaries just to reach you. If your intended destination page isn’t optimized for their specific needs, you may as well knock 2 lanes out of the bridge and let the cars fall into the river. CRO is all about making sure the other side of the bridge leads to optimizeville, where there’s only one thing to do and it’s really obvious how to do it.
#26 – A single purpose and CTA for every page
#34 – Rate your pages with the conversion scorecard
#42 – A/B test your landing pages
#43 – Try a 5 second test
#47 – Learn from your users using feedback widgets live chat
#48 – Segment inbound traffic sources
There’s a reason analytics is represented by grey in the wheel. It’s dull. Until you get it right that is. Analytics contain so much hidden awesomeness, that when you get it hooked up everything else becomes much easier – including getting buy-in from management to do “fancy-pants” things like CRO above.
#10 – Set up a Google Analytics account
#11 – Establish conversion goals and funnels
#12 – Annotate important events in Google Analytics
#20 – Add custom reports to your Google Analytics dashboard
#35 – Discover under-performing areas of your site
- Content marketing
Content isn’t king anymore – it’s more like the emperor. Content is the start, middle and end of your online marketing story and is critical to virtually everything you do. By the end of this course you’ll be writing on your corporate blog, guest blogging, writing eBooks, getting your publishing schedule organized with an editorial calendar and even attempting the mighty infographic.
#13 – Start a corporate blog give your knowledge away for free
#14 – Submit your content to social hubs
#15 – Bookmark your content on delicious
#21 – Set up an editorial calendar
#22 – Enable social sharing mechanisms
#27 – Write an ebook
#36 – Write guest posts for other blogs
#44 – Write about others to build relationships
#49 – Create an infographic
- Paid search marketing (pay-per-click or PPC)
PPC is the fastest way to get instant traffic to your site. However, it’s hard to do well, so we’ll wait until month 3 to tackle it. The majority of Google’s AdWords users go bust on their free $100 voucher with nothing but a sour taste in their mouths. I’ll give you some tips on doing it right and a back up plan for letting the experts take over if you can’t figure it out.
#28 – Create a Google AdWords account
#29 – Send traffic to landing pages – not your homepage!
#37 – One landing page per ad group
#38 – Improve message match for a high quality score
#50 – Get some help from a PPC expert
YOUR 6-MONTH MARKETING ACTION PLAN
Ready? Set? Go…….!
Getting started is all about establishing your network base. Registering accounts and defining your style (always a good idea before you start yammering in a tone unbefitting your brand). This might well be the busiest month of the course, but that’s how it should be. Take your excitement and enthusiasm and kick things off as fast as you can. The sooner your infrastructure is in place the sooner you can start marketing your business – and that’s why we’re all here.
To avoid having your brand name taken by someone else (brand squatters with an egg avatar that are only followed by their moms are everywhere), you should set up branded accounts on the important social networks as soon as possible. Visit the following sites to claim yours, and do it today:
- Flickr.com/yourbrandname (for storing your photos, graphics and infographics – for organic image search value)
- LinkedIn/yourbrandname (as a business hub that’s bigger than just you)
NOOB INSIGHT: Facebook is trickier than the rest as you have to complete a few other steps before you can be granted a branded vanity URL. I’ll explain the necessary steps in tasks #30 and #32).
Design a branded Twitter background: The new Twitter is considerably wider than it used to be (you’ll notice a lot of branded backgrounds are covered up which looks a little silly), so the primary left side branding area of your background needs to be very slim. For screen resolutions of 1280px (fairly commonplace these days) – you are limited to roughly only 108px for the core part of your branded background design and messaging. More details on background designs for the new Twitter.
If you have a little more space (customers with larger screens), you could stretch to about 200px and do something like Shopify has done – notice how they’ve balanced their top green stripe to align tidily with the Twitter app layout.
They also do a great job establishing social proof by showing the logos of big name brands that use their platform.
Set up your profile: Describe your core value proposition in your profile description and add a link to your website in the available slot. You should use a few choice keywords in your bio as this will help people to find you via Twitter search.
Photo or logo for your avatar? If you representing your company on Twitter then how you use your logo for your Twitter avatar will depend on how many people in your company will be public representatives of the account. If it’s just you, you could go with your own photo or try combining a small version of your logo beneath your photo. If you’ll be sharing the role of chief tweeting officer, then it’s best to go with the logo by itself. The typical method for identifying who’s talking is to add your initials to the tweet – for me (Oli Gardner) I’d use ^og.
In the past I used just the logo, but for a more personal touch (as my name has become better known in the landing page industry) I’m trying out the photo/logo mix as shown below.
What do you think of this approach?
NOOB INSIGHT: Nobody trusts accounts that have the default Twitter egg avatars. Change it immediately. It doesn’t need to be perfect – just throw your logo or face up there on day 1.
Ideally you will be creating content via your blog, which gives you the starting point of a conversation, or at the very least, something to talk about and share. There are a three main categories of communication. Your choice of approach will come down to how much of an expert you want to be on a subject, and how busy you want your content stream to be.
- Creators: people who share content they’ve written. Let’s you become known as a thought leader.
- Curators: Curation in the social space has been defined as “curation is the act of synthesizing and interpreting in order to present a complete record of a concept” (Jamie Beckland). To help your curation strategy and become a valuable resource subscribe to lots of relevant content and use a service like feedly.com or Google Reader to consume it – then provide insightful commentary on the content as you share it to help people gauge the value of the links you are sharing.
- Chatterboxes: are people who simply engage in conversation for the majority of their stream. I personally find this a bit old-school Twitter – when it was about what you were eating for breakfast etc. Unless you are a celeb, it’s unlikely you can start out this way successfully – but you should still try to incorporate some personal aspects into your Tweets to remain human and interesting.
NOOB INSIGHT: Give your writing room to breath – Leave about 20 characters at the end of your tweets to let people retweet it without having to edit your literary work of short art. (Retweeting often entails inserting RT @yourname into your text which takes up some space).
What’s your style?
What kind of style do you enjoy following? What worked for someone you’d like to emulate? You can’t fake awesome, but it helps to define your intentions a little before you start pushing your personal and company brand. At the end of the day, it’s best to do what comes naturally to you.
“Authenticity rules” as they say.
If you’re thinking “Really? I have to open yet another account with another 3rd party?” – then the answer is yes. Why? Because you only have two other options: build an in-house system or use Outlook/Gmail. The first makes you responsible for deliverability rates and CAN-SPAM compliance issues and the other has none of the power or flexibility to maintain lists and is not designed for serious marketing. Trust me, if you’re going do email marketing – go with the pros. It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
If you are just starting out, Mail Chimp is great for modern online businesses and is free until you reach a certain size. It also includes powerful segmentation tools which will help to separate your messaging in the future, once your lists and customer base grows.
If you are a designer (or have a design based audience), you might want to look at Campaign Monitor as they have crafted a service specifically targeted at designers.
I’m only mentioning a couple of providers off the bat because the choice is overwhelming. Consider this list of online ESP’s (email service providers) as evidence of the time you could waste comparison shopping. Side note: if you have some really specific feature requirements, you do want to make sure your chosen provider is equipped as switching providers down the road can be a pain (I’ve done it 3 times already).
Some of the templates that come with email providers are okay, but very plain and simple. If you upgrade to a paid plan you often get more sophisticated templates. These too will suffice for a while. But ultimately, you want to have a branded template.
Take a day and design a palette and brand-related layout for your emails – you don’t have to be perfect – but lay it side by side with your homepage and see how well it relates. Is it enough just to have your logo and the right typeface? Only you can determine that.
Check out the great template samples from Campaign Monitor – perhaps one is close enough to your core brand elements to make some simple tweaking suffice.
Feedburner is a tool for managing RSS subscribers. To get started, you’ll need a Google account, then follow these steps:
- Visit Feedburner.com
- Add the URL of your blog and it will automatically find the RSS feed (most blog software like WordPress will have created an RSS feed for your blog)
- Go to the Publicize-Email Subscriptions section to grab the email form code
- Click on the small RSS icon at the top-left to get the URL of your new Feedburner RSS feed (which will look something like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Unbounce)
Here are some more detailed instructions on setting up your RSS feed with Feedburner (and WordPress).
Your goal is to get people to subscribe to the RSS feed of your blog, and there are two ways to do this:
- Place an email form (from step 3 above) on your blog (preferably at the end of every blog post) that asks people to subscribe to your blog.
- Put a bright orange RSS icon somewhere obvious on your blog (typically in the right-hand sidebar or at the top of the page) – and place a link on the image to your Feedburner RSS URL.
Show off your subscriber count (when it’s high enough)
You can use your reader count to show social proof, but as you’ll hear me mention at various points in this post, you need to be a little bit patient. Only show how many readers you have when it hits a number that makes you feel proud or impressive. 500-1000 is a good ballpark level. When it reaches this level, you can grab the Feedburner Feedcount widget that doubles as an RSS subscribe link and social proof indicator.
If you are about to launch a new product or service (particularly an online one) you should be gathering leads (typically email addresses) so that you have a base of interested people to market to leading up to your launch and at launch time.
Getting the lead
If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. Create a simple coming soon landing page that asks for an email address so that you can notify people when you launch. Here’s an example:
Tips for an effective coming soon page
- Have a clear and simple statement about what your product offers.
- Offer a free gift in return for the email (such as an ebook that provides some expert advice related to the types of business problem your future customers are looking to solve). You can place a link to the file on your confirmation page – or you can set up an autoresponder via your email service provider.
- Give people some motivation to enter their email. If you’re going to have a beta period, ask people to sign up to be a part of your beta team and state that there are only x spots available. Making it exclusive will appeal to early adopters and beta geeks that like to be at the front of the line. Remember Gmail invites? There’s a new startup called LaunchRock that lets you create a viral “Launching Soon” page in minutes.
Google Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google. Such as when you are getting 404 errors (pages not being found), and who is linking to your site (which is good for some of the link building exercises we’ll get to later on). It’s also a good place to verify that your XML sitemap has been submitted correctly and that your pages are being indexed (so people can find them).
Follow these steps to get up and running:
- Step 1: Set up an account (you’ll need a Google account)
- Step 2: Add your site
- Step 3: Verify your site. To do this you will be asked to upload an HTML file to your site or to add a short code snippet to your homepage. Once you’ve done this you’ll get a happy green checkmark when Google sees what you did.
- Step 4: Create an XML sitemap. This tells Google what pages are on your site, so that it can go index them (it won’t index them all – it’s just picky that way). There are a couple of ways to do this depending on the type of site or blog you’re running. If you’re using WordPress, you should install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin which will generate it automatically for you. Alternatively you can use a different generator to produce one (after you enter your site URL).
- Step 5: Add your sitemap. Once your sitemap exists, you need to tell Webmaster Tools where it lives on your site. This is typically something like http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml.
- Step 6: Get in the habit of checking in once per month to look at stats and spot any errors. It’s also a good QA task to do after you make any changes to your site, in case you broke something in the process.
Watch a simple video introduction to GWT that covers some of these steps and more.
This is a massive topic that would usually be taken up by at least one chapter of a book, but as I’m trying to keep it short and give a noob style overview, I’ll simplify it to one of the core purposes behind how and why you’d choose some of your core keywords.
The core organic search keywords (or phrases) are what you want to optimize your pages for so that people searching for those terms will find you. There are two main components at play here: optimizing your pages for these keywords (making the content on the page relevant to the keywords), and getting inbound links to your pages with link anchor text matching (or semantically related to) the keywords – which tells Google that someone else recognizes you as an authority on your subject.
As with all of the SEO tips I provide here, you will find much more detail elsewhere on the SEOmoz blog – and hopefully in the comments below if I get anything wrong 🙂
To quote Rand:
“Chances are that at launch, you won’t even be targeting many of these searches with specific pages, but if you build the list now, you’ll have the goal to create these pages and work on ranking for those terms.
As you’re doing this, don’t just choose the highest traffic keywords possible – go for those that are balanced; moderate to high in volume, highly relevant in terms of what the searcher wants vs. what your page/site offers and relatively low in difficulty.”
And see this post for more tips – Choosing the Right Keyphrases
Your first analytics task is to set up a free Google Analytics account. There are paid analytics services available, but when you’re getting started, Google Analytics is the best tool to use.
Conversion goals are the actions you want your site visitors to take. Examples of conversion goals are:
- Account signups
- File downloads
- Newsletter or RSS subscriptions
To get started, examine your website and make a list of all of the actions you’d like to track. Then you need to add these goals to your Google Analytics account. If the actions are based on a sequence of steps, you need to set up what’s known as a funnel.
Read this brilliant guide to goals and funnels or watch this video tutorial. If you want to take a look at some more advanced examples of goals that you can track, Web Analytics World wrote a good post on 10 Must Track Goals.
Once you have your goals and funnels set up, you can add them to your dashboard for easy access (discussed later on in #20).
When you get traffic spikes (from a great blog post, PR event, press coverage etc.) add an annotation note into Google Analytics so you can remember the reason for the surge at any point in the future. Not only is this good for historical tracking, but deeper analysis of the data during these spikes can point to potential opportunities and future direction decisions – if you can recreate events that produce a high degree of success then you can make a business case with analytical backing.
In this example you can see the effect that my last SEOmoz guest post and a mention in a post by Rand shortly afterwards had on our traffic.
How to add an annotation
Adding annotations is easy, either click the small gray drawer handle below the chart to open the notes panel (and click the “+ Create new annotation” link), or you can click directly on a node (blue dot) in the chart and click the link there (as shown in the image above). For further instructions and some good suggestions about the types of events to record – read this post on making notes with Google Analytics.
NOOB INSIGHT: Adding these notes tells a great story of the events in your company’s history. If you make it big, you’ll be seen as a hero for recording it all for the giant posterity poster that gets put on the wall just before you get bought out for billions.
Rule #1. To do marketing, you need to have something to market. This is especially true when it comes to content. Creating a corporate blog provides the following benefits:
- It gives you something to talk about and share
- It allows you to transparently share your knowledge and begin the process of establishing you (and by association your company) as a leader in your space
- It keeps your site fresh. This is an important trust factor as it tells people that you’re actively working and “out there”.
- It extends your reach (other people will share your content if it’s good)
- It provides a base for organic search marketing
Read this post to get some inspiration for types of blog post that you can add to your calendar.
WordPress is the most popular blog platform and you will find a detailed guide to getting started quick at http://onenightsite.com/ (note that some of the content is a bit out of date – but the steps are still relevant).
NOOB INSIGHT: Blog from the start – Don’t wait until you have a launched product to start your blog. Start it on day one and try to write about things your future customers will find beneficial.
Getting traffic when you’re starting out is often the biggest challenge new companies face. To get a traffic boost, write a great blog post and submit it to social content sites such as Digg, Reddit, Sphinn, SERPd and Mixx. The community then votes for your post if they like it. If you can get this right it’ll be a source of valuable traffic.
Each site has a different audience and naturally likes different types of content. The best way to learn is to see what types of content are being consistently voted up and try to shape your own ideas to fit the desired format. This could be using the right structure (such as a list post – x ways to blah blah) or including an infographic (discussed below).
NOOB INSIGHT: Don’t submit crap for the sake of it as it won’t get any votes and you risk being booted from the system for flooding it selfishly, and don’t only submit your own content. Try to become a useful and generous member of the community by submitting other great content you find.
Delicious is a social bookmarking site that lets people keep their bookmarks in a consolidated online location (as opposed to being stored in the web browser on your computer). Bloggers, researchers, PR marketers (and general users) use Delicious as a research tool to uncover great content.
You should get in the habit of submitting all of your content to Delicious and tagging it with relevant keywords so that people searching for content will find you. Social proof plays a role here once again, as the number of times your content has been bookmarked is displayed (giving people a reason to believe it’s quality content once the number climbs). For this reason you’ll want to set up your blog so that others are prompted to bookmark your content (which helps them remember you and bumps up your bookmark count too).
Here’s an example of searching for the tag “landingpages” on Delicious:
Here you see search results broken down by bookmarks I’ve made myself and the highest ranked results from the rest of the community (along with a count showing how many people have done it in total). It also shows what tags have been used to classify your content, which you can use to explore further or just gain some insight into how your readers are describing you.
In month 2 we’re going to make some architectural decisions to focus your organic search efforts, set up reporting for your key business KPI’s, establish a communication path for your new email subscribers and start growing your Twitter network. We’ll also learn how to get your blog readers to share your content for you and get organized with an editorial calendar.
You will gain followers over time by doing the following things:
- Following other people (some will follow you back)
- Tweeting awesome things that your followers retweet (others will see that you rule and want to follow you)
- Tweeting things that people find via search
You can try visiting this link to follow relevant people – http://twitter.com/#!/who_to_follow (note: this might only work when Twitter has built up some knowledge of who you follow, who follows you and what you are saying – so you might need to wait a while before using this).
There are also directories where you can find people by category like twellow.com.
listorious.com has user generated groups of related people (called Twitter lists) that you can follow and be exposed to many people at once.
Use Twitter search to look for interesting conversational topics relevant to you or your business and follow some people that are currently chatting about them. Remember to stop and engage in conversation too – it’s supposed to be social.
NOOB INSIGHT: Don’t believe or listen to people who have “secrets for how to get a massive following on Twitter” it’s all bs.
Not all of your leads (potential customers) are ready to commit when you first meet them. It can often take several interactions before people reach the point where they are comfortable to convert. This could be due to timing, need for extra research, or it could be that cluttered inbox’s or just being busy distracts people from taking the time to read your message.
This means that you want to stay top of mind so that when the time is right, you’ll be the company your leads think of. A great way to do this is to set up what’s called a “drip campaign”. A drip campaign is a series of emails that are designed to guide your prospects closer to your conversion goal. Typically, they are set up to send out emails automatically after someone opts in to receive your content (which is why they are also often called autoresponders).
Examples of how to attract someone to opt in to your drip campaign would be:
- A checkbox to receive a series of tips when someone signs up for a free account for your online product/service. By providing some useful content you can keep your new signups in your sphere of communication influence and increase the likelihood of them upgrading to your paid plans or purchasing your products.
- On lead gen landing pages for webinars or ebook giveaways, ask people to opt in for further free content on the form confirmation page
Drip campaigns for retention
A secondary and equally important use of drip campaigns is to offer the same instructional and helpful free content to customers who have already converted. This is where you move into retention mode and your aim is to maintain a lasting relationship with your new customers.
The benefit of getting people to opt in to your campaign is that you can specify up front what the content will be about and how often you’ll be sending it (honesty is key to keeping people on board – don’t send people a ton of emails that they’re not expecting).
Tip: Drip interval timing
For retention based campaigns there are a few ways to decide on the frequency of emails. If you want to keep the frequency a little higher at the start, try something like “[x] Get our top 7 daily tips for xxxxxxx” to ensure you can educate your new customers on the best ways to take advantage of your service and help to keep them coming back and logging in as they start their customer journey.
If you want to be able to encourage future purchases of other products you offer, you might want to ask someone to opt in to “[x] Receive advance notices of new products.”
For acquisition based campaigns, you want to stay top of mind, but not pester people, so try offering a weekly email with interesting content that people will want to read (and hopefully share).
Most email service providers have a drip (autoresponder) feature. Typically, they will be able to provide you with a sign-up form that you can place on your pages. Mail Chimp wrote an interesting article on the subject.
When you set up the blog for your site, keep the key phrases you chose earlier in mind when creating your main blog categories. You will want to create content that’s targeted and focused on these primary categories so that the category pages (where all the posts from that category live) can be developed over time to be important hubs of content on these subjects.
Most category pages are just lame old listings of the 10 more recent posts. What you want to do is add extra static content to this page (to go with the ever changing dynamic list of posts) that makes it feel like a microsite in it’s own right (for the humans) and has lots of juicy keyword rich content for the search engines. Think about adding the following:
- An introductory block of content that serves to cover the basic theory of the subject category
- Links to the best posts from the category (posts get buried over time and you want people to find them consistently)
- Links to related and useful content elsewhere (don’t be afraid to link to other great people/resources), you’ll get more links back to your page if you are open, awesome and helpful
Set up a flat site architecture (based on your main categories)
Building hub category pages is great for IA (Information Architecture), overall user experience, and link building. But you do want to continue to add more horizontally oriented sections (more categories for long tail terms) so that your content spreads out in a flat way rather than a deep way. This is a more advanced topic, but the following blog post is well worth a read when you’re tackling architectural issues: http://seogadget.co.uk/solving-site-architecture-issues/
I’m going to plug what to me is the most awesome of the SEOmoz pro tools – campaigns (campaigns are just one of the many tools you get as a pro member – but the one that tipped me into handing over my credit card). If you’re going to invest any cash into your SEO activities, I’d start with this.
It’s a great way to organize all of your core keywords and keep track of how they are ranking in the search engines in a centralized place. It also crawls your site and spits out reports of what you’re doing wrong (awesome!) and here’s the best part: suggestions for how to fix them (more awesomer!).
If you’ve been here before you probably already know this – but cos of the power of social media and SEO a lot of you will hopefully be arriving here as first time visitors – so go check out the pro tools and the pro tour. There’s a risk free 30-day money back guarantee so not much to lose.
There, that’s my sales pitch over. Oh wait – go check out Unbounce.com too. Come on, I just wrote over 13,000 words here 🙂
Google Analytics is a powerful but complex tool. Most people don’t have time to spend hours digging into their data and typically only require a few key metrics for their reporting needs. The first step here is to figure out what you want to report on – perhaps pick your top 5 KPI’s (Key Performance Metrics), and create a report for each. The important part here is to add the report to your dashboard, this saves the setup and structure of your report “query” so that you can access the data from one overview screen whenever you need to produce a marketing report.
To get you started I’ll walk through an example. Here my goal was to produce a report showing “organic search from Google – excluding branded and paid search”. The reason I want to exclude branded search is that I want to discover how “true” organic visitors are interacting with the site without being influenced by those who had already heard of our brand (Unbounce in this example). I also want to exclude paid search (like AdWords traffic) so that I can report on that separately for a paid search ROI report.
Setting up a custom report
- Log in to your Google Analytics account
- Select Traffic Sources – Search Engines
- Click on “google” as your choice of search engine (1) – then click “non-paid” to remove paid search traffic (2)
- Filter any keywords that contain branded search (the word Unbounce) and click “Go”
- Add the report to your dashboard. Now you’ll have instant access to this data any time you need it (without having to fiddle with any settings).
Now you can get a quick overview of the metrics you consider most important without having to repeat these steps every time.
One of the keys to a successful content strategy is having an editorial calendar. It can help keep you accountable to deadlines and organize your schedule. You’d be surprised at how few work days you actually have left when you account for everything else you need to do as part of your overall marketing strategy. Think of it like the content equivalent of a “bucket list” (which is a list of things you want to achieve before you die – and can be a great wake up call that you need to get off your ass and start doing things).
As a simple example, perhaps you’d set up your calendar to achieve the following:
- Write one weekly blog post for your corporate blog
- Write one guest post per month (I discuss what guest posts are and why they are a good idea in #36 below)
- Assign half a day each month to thought/research on what you’ll write about the following month
- Spend some time on LinkedIn answering questions
- Define some post types that are easy to produce on a recurring basis (perhaps a monthly roundup of interesting links from your industry vertical)
A brilliant approach to setting up a publish schedule is explained in a post by Russell Sparkman.
Add simple sharing tools to your content so that people can easily share it. If you use WordPress (or similar blog software) there are hundreds of great plugins that make it simple for people to submit or vote for your content on the social hub sites (discussed earlier).
Use sharing widgets for Twitter, Facebook and Delicious so that your readers can market on your behalf. These sharing buttons/widgets perform two roles for you.
- They make it easy to share your content
- They show how many people have done so – establishing social proof that helps visitors believe that your post is worth reading (if you have a sufficiently high number). Note, that negative social proof is as damaging as positive social proof is encouraging. If you’ve ever visited a blog that has 0 retweets on every post, you’ve probably had the reaction that it’s not worth your time to read. The best way to solve this problem is to write great content, and if necessary, bug your friends and colleagues to share your content to help get it off the ground.
Facebook Like button
Facebook Like Box
Use this to try to get people to like your Facebook fan page. You can place it in your blog sidebar or use it as a required element of a contest entry to build your following. Tip: don’t use this until you have a few hundred fans to avoid the effects of negative social proof. Be patient.
Twitter Retweet button
(Tip: try the tall layout with graph and tags turned off to get the view shown here)
WordPress plugins for social sharing
Sexy Bookmarks provides a simple general set of sharing buttons – a good place to start (set it up to appear at the end of each blog post).
Month 3 introduces the concept of conversion rate optimization starting with focusing every page of your website on a single call to action and creating landing pages for great pay-per-click success. We’ll also start to develop your subject matter expertise by creating your first ebook (which you’ll use for lead capture later on).
Figure out when your target consumers are most active online and schedule your Twitter time accordingly. You can schedule your tweets with a tool like Hootsuite or Timely if you’re not going to be awake or available at that time. Remember though, that Twitter is a social medium, so try not to schedule tweets for times when you’re not around to converse (if the tweet is conversational in nature).
As a starting point, 9am PST is a great time to tweet. Reason being that it coincides with multiple times when people are actively unfocused on work and might be hanging out on Twitter instead. This time encapsulates:
- The start of the work day on the west coast of North America (when people are dithering on their social media accounts while they drink their morning coffee).
- Lunchtime on the east coast (New York) – where many folks are whiling away their lunch hour online.
- The end of the work day in the UK
Dan Zarrella has some excellent insight into the best times to tweet.
“Buy our peanuts! They’re the best in the world!!!”
Great, unless half of your target audience has a peanut allergy.
Segmentation is all about targeting your customers with communication that’s relevant to them. It can be a fairly complex process to get your customers added into your email program based upon different demographic, psychographic and software usage behaviourial patters – and it’s even more difficult to ensure that you move people between lists when their status changes (from being a free customer to a paying customer, someone who has bought 5 items versus 20, or whether they would appreciate a birthday gift consisting of poisonous nuts).
Given the complexity of this subject, you have to start somewhere, so try to draw some distinction between your customers: either by procession through the sales process (new, interested, registered, purchased, etc.) or simply by free vs. paying (online service SaaS model) or male vs. female (for marketing a clothing line).
When you start thinking about a new email campaign, break it down by the different groups you want to target within your list and segment them into different lists or subgroups to make your communications more targeted.
The folks at 3WeeksToLive put together a great video about segmenting your email campaigns. (Note: it mentions my company too, but the part you want to pay attention to is the Mail Chimp email segmentation bit at the end).
We’ll get into some other ways to leverage LinkedIn later on. But to kick things off I want to talk a bit about using LinkedIn and Quora to draw people to your site. This is different that regular lead gen (where you are collecting emails). In many ways it’s a mixture of organic inbound marketing and lead gen. By answering people’s questions you can change someone with a question into someone who you have established a dialogue with – this lets you communicate with them in the future (usually through internal messaging systems).
Do this right and you’ll be come an established expert in your field. You want to be seen as someone who regularly answers questions and answers them authoritatively – never just give a meaningless response. Always be original and only answer if you have something valuable to say.
To find some questions to answer, log in to your LinkedIn account and visit this page.
Quora.com is essentially a QA site that lets you engage in conversation by answering questions posed by the community. Set up your profile to define your area of expertise and you can also automatically follow conversations on relevant topics. One of the benefits of Quora is that the content is all public and indexed by Google, making it an important avenue for establishing a nice trickle of organic traffic. This also means that your Google Alerts will pick up any mentions of your brand – alerting you to conversations you should be a part of.
To extend your reach on Quora, connect it to to your professional Twitter and Facebook accounts (shown in the screenshot below) – this will quickly build a following (just like on Twitter) so that people will be notified of your answers, potentially bringing them back to your site as a result (or at the very least keeping them in your sphere of influence and maintaining your position as a thought leader).
This is a fundamental concept of landing pages – each page should be laser focused on a single objective. It helps your visitors to complete your intended goal, helps you to measure it more easily (only one conversion action) and keeps your optimization activities on track. It stands to reason that if you are introducing multiple products on your page, or if there are 50 links on the page, that some of your visitors will stray from your intended goal and do other things. They might also be unable to find the thing you’re hoping they’ll find.
A landing page that is dedicated to one story/promotion/offer/product, has one goal and one call to action, is going to convert your advertising traffic more effectively that most homepages that are designed with multiple users, goals, and traffic sources in mind.
TRY THIS: Check your landing pages
If you are doing any advertising (banners, PPC, email, social media) – look at where you’re sending this traffic. If it’s your homepage, count the interaction points and links and think about how you could reduce this by using a landing page. If you already have a landing page, read the content out loud. Does it tell a cohesive story about one and only one topic or does it wander.
NOOB INSIGHT: Your customers can’t handle moe than one message at a time. Read this post on focused marketing messaging to learn more about simplifying your pages.
This is where content marketing, lead gen and email marketing start to make sense. We already establilshed that if you want to start building a list of business leads for email marketing, you need to do lead gen. To do lead gen effectively you need something to give away. Enter the eBook.
An eBook is typically a PDF containing a short piece of expert advice on a given subject that your potential customers would find valuable.
When starting out, it’s a great way to procure some interest, traffic (sharing via social media etc.) and a reputation for knowing your stuff.
An example process for writing content
When we started Unbounce, we had a 2 hour brainstorm session to gather ideas for an eBook entitled “101 Landing Page Optimization Tips”. I split the session into about 14 questions which each became a chapter of the book. After gathering all the post-it notes, I pulled an all-nighter to write the 27-page eBook ready for sharing and lead gathering the next day. It was a really important first step in establishing our reputation in the period prior to product launch. After a year of gathering leads, I decided to open it up without the lead capture and made it a blog post which you can read here: 101 Landing Page Optimization Tips
Make it clear that you want people to share it
Old school marketers were afraid to give anything away for free. This is antiquated thinking – you want people to share your eBook as much as possible to extend your reach. Make it very clear in the PDF that you encourage people to share it with their colleagues (put a note in the footer on every page).
UBER NOOB INSIGHT: Forget the lead capture!
Sometimes it’s better not to place any barriers in the way of your content. Sure, not capturing emails for your eBook will prevent you from being able to market to people, but the increase in downloads and exposure you’ll get can be worth it. People appreciate you not asking for anything in return which can improve your chances of positive word of mouth. Mix it up – gather leads sometimes, then try it without.
This is a boring and somewhat obvious step, but AdWords can be a complicated system to use. To get started, follow Google’s step-by-step guide to get your account up and running.
This is the number one lesson you need to learn when running a paid search campaign. Sending PPC traffic to your homepage (which 80% of people sadly still do) is like sending an intern to buy a left-handed screwdriver at a hardware store (think about it) – it’s stupid, makes no sense, is a waste of money and your gullible shopper will never find what they are looking for.
Why is your homepage bad? Because it’s designed for more general communication and naturally discusses more than one thing – which means it will fall short of matching up to your ad.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so you should check out this infographic which discusses the concept of why landing pages are better than your homepage for PPC.
In month 4 we shift focus away from Twitter to develop a presence on Facebook that’s designed to convert visitors into fans. We’ll use landing pages to gather new business leads in exchange for your knowledge (including the eBook you wrote in month 3). We’ll use analytics and a scorecard to identify and improve the weakest parts of your website.
We’ll explore free and paid traffic by learning some advanced PPC techniques and starting to write guest posts on sites that can send you targeted customers.
As mentioned above, you need to have a fan page before you can claim your brand name on Facebook. To get started, create your fan page. The single conversion goal of your fan page is to get people to “Like” you (become a fan). In order to do this you want to do two things:
- Design a landing page to convince people that following you is a good idea and make it very clear how to do it (click that like button above etc.)
- Push non-fans to this landing page when they first arrive
Designing your Facebook landing page
It’s simplest to design a single image that is 520px wide to fit the dimensions of Facebook (you can get much fancier and interactive, but to get started, it’s easier to use an image). Below is an example of the default Unbounce Facebook page – it’s just a simple suggestion to click the Like button along with a few reasons why:
You can see from the Red Bull example below that they are doing the same thing:
Creating the tab for your Facebook landing page
Now that you’ve designed your landing page, you need a new tab in the Facebook navigation to contain it. Read this post to learn how to add a new tab using the FBML box app. Then follow these steps:
- Click “Edit Page” on the left-hand side of your Facebook page (below your profile photo)
- Click “Apps” from the new left-hand menu
- Click “Go to App” beneath the FBML app – in this case it’s called Welcome – FBML because my tab is named Welcome (you choose the name in the next step).
- Choose a name for your tab, and paste some HTML to show the image (note that you’ll have to upload the image you designed above to your server somewhere)
How to send non-fans to your Facebook landing page tab
To increase conversions, you want non-fans to see the lovely new conversion focused landing page you designed in the last step. To do this you need to set up the options so that non-fans are sent to the landing page tab you just created (above) – rather than the main Wall tab.
Click the “Options” link below the navigation as shown below:
Then click “Settings” and change the “Default Landing Tab for Everyone Else” to be the tab you created in the last step. In the example below, I chose “Welcome” for the Unbounce account.
Setting up a vanity URL for your fan page
You’ll also want your page to have a nicely branded URL (what’s called a vanity URL), such as Facebook.com/pepsi. To do this you first need to establish a fan base of at least 25 fans (which we’ll discuss in the “Seed some Facebook fans” section later on. Then visit http://www.facebook.com/username/ to choose your vanity URL.
NOOB INSIGHT: In the realm of conversion centered design it’s not rude to point. So be brutal in your intent and SHOW TELL people what you want them to do on every page that matters.
A Facebook page with no activity doesn’t send a very good signal to the people you are hoping to engage. You can ensure a consistent stream of social content flowing through your news feed by connecting your blog to your Facebook account. A good way to do this is to use the Networked Blogs Facebook app. Add their app to your Facebook page by clicking the “Add to my page” link (shown in the image) and following the instructions.
Now whenever you create a new post on your blog, a link to it will automatically appear on your Facebook wall. Aside from making it look busier, it’s also an extra way that people will be exposed to your content on a regular basis.
You should try to get an initial base of fans on your page for a couple of reasons:
- Establish some social proof (so that it’s not the equivalent of an empty restaurant)
- As mentioned earlier, you can’t get a vanity URL for your fan page until you have 25 fans (this is their way of preventing brand squatting without any fans or community interaction).
To do this, take advantage of your existing networks: invite your friends, family and anyone you have on your existing personal Facebook account. Get the rest of your company to do the same and you’ll hit this threshold really quickly. As soon as you have 25 fans – visit http://www.facebook.com/username/ to set up your vanity URL.
Now it’s time to start using your subject matter expertise to generate some business leads. You can offer up many things in exchange for data including:
- The eBook you wrote earlier on – if you’re following along properly 🙂
- A webinar registration
- A report such as a comparative study
- A whitepaper
You absolutely must use a landing page for this, to ensure that your visitors are focused and don’t wander off to do something else. If you need some inspiration for how your landing page should look, check out this great example of a lead gen landing page.
It’s very important to remember that any request for data is a barrier to entry, and your success has a direct correlation between the size of the form and the size of the prize. Is it a fair exchange? A/B testing the amount and type of information you are requesting can yield the optimal point of friction that balances quality lead data with a high quantity of leads.
NOOB INSIGHT: Are you ever going to fax someone? Didn’t think so. Take all unnecessary form fields away and enjoy higher conversions.
If you have a page that you want to improve, spend five minutes answering the 20 questions on the conversion scorecard. When you have your final score you will have the two things you need to start testing and optimizing your pages:
- A baseline score to compare your design against (this is a thumb in the wind type checklist score that you are aiming to make as high as possible before you set your page loose on the public).
- A to-do list of items (all the ones you checked as “no” on the scorecard) to consider when creating a new version of your page.
It can be a fun exercise to have a few different people from your company rate the same page. Any differences in score will give you some good talking points (or an argument).
NOOB INSIGHT: If you are consistently scoring under 8/20 then I think you might need some expert help. Depending on your budget, you could try these fine folks to improve your conversion rates: Bryan Massey, Rich Page, Naomi Niles, Wider Funnel Conversion Rate Experts.
It’s time to do a quick review of your site to see which areas are working and which aren’t. The most important areas of your site were defined earlier when you set up your conversion goals and sales funnels (#11). Look at the reports for each goal/funnel and watch out for the following:
- High bounce rates on key entry/landing pages
- Poor conversion rates on any of your goals
- Exit points in your sales funnels
Your goal here is simply to use your analytics software to uncover insight into the weakest links and establish some priorities for your optimization efforts.
Writing guest posts is the idea of submitting content to be published on another company’s blog and is one of the best ways to accomplish some important content marketing goals:
- Establish yourself as a thought leader (make a name for yourself) on sites that are frequented by your target market
- Extend your reach
- Get a valuable inbound link
- Increase your inbound traffic
Starting out can be tough as you need to have established yourself as a good writer before people will let you loose on their blogs/sites. For this reason you should focus on your own blog for the a while and ensure you are creating very valuable and high quality content. This is going to be your writing resume that will open doors in the future.
As you become a successful guest poster, it will be easier to gain access to the high profile blogs. If you’re an expert in a field of internet marketing then the YOUmoz blog concept is a great way to try and break into the guest posting arena. Reason being that the community will decide whether or not your content is valuable enough to be promoted to the main SEOmoz blog. This bypasses the often time consuming editorial processes that exist on many sites.
Guest post tip
Two things you absolutely MUST do if you’re going to succeed with guest posts are:
- Write your very best content (don’t just hack together an unremarkable or unoriginal idea)
- Actively engage with the community in the comments – this is often where your post will really come to life as you’ll be addressing the questions of your readers and it shows that you care enough to stick around “after the show” to engage with people.
Analogously, guest posting is sort of like the collaboration in a music video – where you see “featuring insert your name” in the title. You achieve credibility by association which brings brand exposure and recognition to your name. Think of it as a marketing wingman who has a VIP backstage pass to your target audience.
This is a great tactic for comparing the effectiveness of your different ad messages. Ad Groups contain one or more ads which target a set of keywords. Often with PPC, you will have several ad groups to allow you to separate semantically related collections of phrases. As an example, for the last PPC campaign we ran here at Unbounce, we created ad groups targeted at the following concepts:
- landing pages
- landing page templates
- lead gen
- conversion rate
- a/b testing
If you drive all of your ad groups to the same destination page your chance of a tightly matched message will be greatly reduced and your quality score, cost per click and conversion rate will all suffer as a result. Using a separate landing page for each group allows you to tailor the experience and messaging for each ad group without compromising the others.
Hopefully you have now begun sending each ad group to a separate landing page. The next step is to optimize the message match between the ad and landing page to achieve a higher quality score.
[From Wikipedia] Quality Score is a variable used by Google, Yahoo! (called Quality Index), and MSN that can influence both the rank and cost per click (CPC) of ads.
The simplest way to improve your quality score is to ensure the primary content and headline of your landing page is very closely related to the phrases you are using in your ads.
An exercise in message match and quality score
To illustrate how much impact the content has on your quality score, set up 2 identical ad groups and point them to identical (but unique) landing pages. Then work hard to make the message match strong on one page and really bad on the other. Compare the quality score in your AdWords account to see the difference!
In month 5 we switch our social efforts to professional network LinkedIn. We’ll look at ways to make the dull task of link building a little more organic and painless. Big this month is the introduction of A/B testing; we’ll use this to make your emails more effective and bring landing pages in to improve virtually every other aspect of your promotion specific marketing. Finally, we’ll learn how to gain buzz and industry exposure by writing about others.
LinkedIn is a massive social network based entirely on business professionals. There are several techniques you can use to extend your reach, including:
Join groups on LinkedIn
LinkedIn requires that you have a mutually agreed upon connection with someone before you can message them directly. You can ask your own connections to try to connect you with others if they know them, or you can become a member of the same groups. Once you join a group in LinkedIn you have a direct communication pathway to EVERY member of that group. Now you can network freely. Just remember not to spam people.
Ask questions on LinkedIn
By asking questions, you can gain access to a large network of people, build your network and associate your brand with a certain type of content. Access the Answers section as shown below to begin. You are allowed to ask 10 questions per month on the free account and can target your question at specific job categories.
Start a group on LinkedIn
If you have the time to build your own group – find a niche relevant to your product or service and start a group of interested parties. By managing the group (and keeping it alive with interaction) you can attain some credibility in the space. This is like having a Facebook fan page based entirely inside a business network.
NOOB TIP: Just like an emoty Facebook fan page or an empty restaurant, an inactive group is lame. Check out this two part article on creating and managing a LinkedIn group: part 1 – part 2.
Some email providers allow you to run A/B split tests on your emails. This is a great way to find out the types of trigger and branding your customers respond to. It’s often tempting to aim for exciting subject lines but more than often simple works better (and does a better job of avoiding spam filters). At the end of the day, testing allows you to see what works best.
There are many things you can test in your emails including:
- Subject line text
- Day of week
- Time of day
- The “From” name
Read this excellent article on email a/b testing written by Mail Chimp.
Link building is sooooo awesome. Wait a minute, no it’s not. It’s the dullest job anyone involved in SEO can ever do. Sadly it’s also uber important to your success. In a nutshell, you want people to link to your website, ideally with keywords strongly related to the subject matter you are talking about.
One of the biggest reasons content marketing (such as having a great blog) is so important is that you have a higher chance of people linking to your content based on the topic of the post, rather than just your brand name. Ranking #1 for your brand name is critical, but usually quite easily done. It’s the other keywords/phrases that you chose earlier on that you want people to use as the anchor text when linking to you.
For example, the first line below gives my site some love for the term “landing page examples”, whereas the second gives more weight to the brand name.
So there are two important aspects to a basic approach to link building.
- Write awesome/inspiring/useful/funny content that people want to link to
- Figure out who is linking to you and optimize the links
Here’s how to find and optimize the links:
Step 1: Discover inbound links
You can set up Google Alerts on your brand name, website URL, and topics related to your business. This allows you to discover conversations or mentions that are happening around the web. It’s important to jump into these conversations quickly to add your expertise and increase the odds that readers of the content will proceed on to your site. You’ll also benefit from building relationships with the writers of the blogs/content you are interacting with.
You can also discover inbound links by checking Webmaster Tools, but the most reliable place to check is the Yahoo Site Explorer.
Add your site, then click explore and hit – InLinks. It’s the best way to figure out who’s linking to you, which leads into part 2 where we optimize these links.
Step 2: Optimizing inbound links
Schedule a monthly audit of all the sites that are linking to you. You can do this by trawling through your Google Alerts as per step 1. Then make contact with the author of the link (often someone who wrote a blog post mentioning you) and politely ask them for a favour: to change the anchor text in the link to something that will help your organic search results for your key terms. This is way better and more legit than the lamo old-school link exchange requests that spam artists send to you.
If you’ve ever had a boardroom (or family) argument about design direction or page layout (button color, messaging, logo size, use of video, amount of text) then you’re not alone. We’ve all been there and most often it’s the boss who wins the argument.
A/B testing allows you to remove conjecture from these types of decision and is the basis for any conversion rate optimization strategy. It let’s you pit different pages against one another in a contest or experiment to see which performs (converts) the best.
There are many tools available that aim to make this process simple:
- Google Website Optimizer (GWO) – requires that you have some technical chops to set up scripts throughout your pages, but it is free
- Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) – a visual alternative to GWO and also includes some advances features like heatmaps/clickmaps
- Optimizely – similar to VWO it lets you make testing changes in a visual environment
- Unbounce (disclaimer: I’m a co-founder) – dedicated to creating and testing new landing pages specifically, whereas the other solutions listed are targeted more at testing (rather than creating) pages
You know you want to run a test, but what exactly should you test? A little bit earlier (#34) we used the landing page scorecard to help you figure out what you should be changing on your page. Refer back to this when you conceptualize and design an alternative page for testing.
NOOB TIP: If you aren’t using standalone landing pages yet and don’t really know how to make a landing page that converts well you might want to read HOW TO: Create a landing page design concept in 10 minutes.
Another great way to do a gut check on your landing pages is to run a 5-second test. The theory here is that most visitors only spend about that much time on your page before deciding to stay or leave. In other words, you have to get your sales pitch in one ear and hopefully not out the other in a fraction of the typical elevator ride (where an elevator pitch is more like a 30-second spew).
To run the test, find a relevant guinea pig (ideally someone from your target market who hasn’t been exposed to your brand before) and sit them in front of a computer. Flash your page up on screen for 5-10 seconds then take it down again. Ask the user what the page was about. If they didn’t “get” your value proposition or understand what the page is asking you to do, then it needs to be simplified.
Cool tool: FiveSecondTest.com lets you run these tests online in front of their user base.
NOOB TIP: Remove, rinse, repeat
To improve your page, you need to simplify it. Try removing as much text as you can while leaving the purpose intact. Add some whitespace for clarity and ease of visual browsing. Use a clear and succinct header (this the most important thing for this type of test). Then try the test again (with a new set of subjects) and see how many more people “get” the page than before.
Here’s a simple but effective tip. By writing about others – and giving them a nicely optimized link – you will place yourself on their radar and garner some goodwill in the process. There are four main ways that people will become aware that you wrote about them:
- If you are linking to a blog post of theirs, they will often be notified of the link by their blogging platform (WordPress etc.)
- If they have Google Alerts set up for their domain or brand name they will see your article
- When you share a link to the post via social media, include their name (@them via Twitter for example) so that they notice
- Email them directly to tell them that you wrote about them
This is a great way to establish relationships with other companies or develop rapport with important online influencers.
A Side benefit of writing about others
If you’re lucky, and are creating positive and interesting content about another company, they will join in the promotional process by sharing it with their network – thereby extending your reach and bringing in new potential customers. Remember to have a call to action at the end of your blog post to maximize this traffic.
In our final month we get to some more advanced marketing techniques. We’ll learn how to be plugged into live conversations about your brand and business segment, how to utilize social contest rules for viral potential and how to get feedback from your customers right at the critical point of conversion. We’ll end things by segmenting every inbound marketing channel for improved measurement and optimization opportunities and learn about the power of infographics as a way to gather links.
What are the most important keywords that would spark a conversation about your business’s core purpose? These will often be very close to the keywords you choose for your organic search and PPC campaign strategies. Pick a few of these, plus your own brand name and open a new browser tab for each. Then do a search for that term in Twitter and just leave the search results open in that tab.
This allows you to be “always on” and catch the conversation in real-time as it happens. You’ll see that the tab title will be prepended with a count of new messages like this: “(x) Your term” as shown above. As soon as you see a conversation or comment occur, you can jump in and engage with people that are actively talking about you or your area of subject matter expertise.
NOOB TIP: Make it easy – Bookmark your favourite Twitter searches and add them to your browser toolbar for easy access.
Contests are a simple way to gain some exposure for your brand. It’s essential to offer up a prize considered valuable by your demographic, whether it’s based on your product or service (a free year for instance) or a “toy” that your customers would like (an iPad etc.)
The viral nature of a contest is in part to do with the value of the prize, but also the manner in which you facilitate and enforce the sharing of your contest page.
A clever way to encourage sharing, is to make it part of the entry process for the contest. Examples include:
- Twitter “Tweet This” Box: Now as part of the contest entry, people can retweet your message and a link back to the contest page – and do it without leaving your contest page, driving more traffic to your contest and greatly extending your reach. This widget requires that you set up a Twitter @Anywhere app.
- Facebook Like Box: This allows you to acquire new fans for your Facebook page. It also helps to build your social proof by showing your fan count and optionally some photos of your fans. You can customize this widget and grab the embeddable code for it from the Facebook share section.
For an example page, you can see a contest landing page I created last year.
There are many ways to input ideas and theory into your optimization efforts: analytics, expert review, experience, and of course a couple of pinches of conjecture for good measure. What’s missing from this list? User feedback.
User feedback at the point of conversion
Why aren’t people converting? Why not just askthem? You can embed some simple feedback widgets on your page to do exactly that. There are two main types: survey tools that pop a little question up from the bottom corner of the screen, and live chat which lets you engage in a conversation. Both can provide insight into points of confusion that you hadn’t thought of.
Conversion is all about reducing friction and barriers to entry, and every little improvement you make can make the experience better for the next visitor. As shown in the diagram, you can use the feedback to create an alternate version of your page for an A/B test.
NOOB TIP: Talk to your visitors
Add a survey widget (Olark, KISSinsights) or a live chat widget (SnapEngage) to your site or landing page and get some feedback. Then turn it off, build a new page that incorporates the feedback and run an A/B test.
Most marketers use many sources of inbound traffic – especially if you’re super smart and are reading a post like this 🙂 However, if you send your PPC, banner, social media, email and organic search all to the same place it can create the following issues:
- Harder to measure: you need to get pretty fancy with your analytics to understand how each source is performing
- Harder to test: you can’t optimize your page for one channel without affecting the others (which is a killer if your changes boost your email conversion rate but negatively impact your SEO ranking and PPC quality score)
The graphic below shows how using a separate landing page for each source of traffic allows you to tailor the content and message while simplifying testing and measurement.
The results from a segmented approach to marketing can help you decide which channels don’t work (and should be canned) or how much you should budget for each channel to maintain an appropriate ROI.
Infographics are exactly like they sound, graphics with information on them. Often presented in the form of stats, but really they can be any self contained unit of visual content. An obvious example is the one at the top of this blog post – although they’re not generally as gigantic as that.
Infographics have the benefit of being very popular and very sharable. People also bookmark them for reference, and people like to write about them and collect them into “roundup” posts making them excellent link bait.
Some examples of marketing infographics
How to encourage sharing and gain inbound traffic from your infographics
Follow these simple tips to ensure your infographics attain maximum exposure:
- Use social sharing buttons (retweet etc.) on the page that holds the infographic
- When someone clicks your infographic to see it full size, remember to repeat the social sharing buttons.
- Provide an embed code, so that people know they can take it and use it on your own site (don’t be afraid of this – encourage it). The embed code also makes this very easy. Cut and paste.
Flowtown is great at this.
Designing an infographic
This is the hardest part. They can be very time consuming to do right and they need to communicate a strong and useful/entertaining concept. If you don’t have the design skills you can get a company like Column Five Media to design one for you.
Now that you’ve got your feet wet with PPC, you might be a natural and are acquiring customers at an acceptable price. But if you find that the click through rate of your ads isn’t as high as you’d like (everyone would like a higher click through rate right?), then it’s worth considering bringing in some ad experts. Trada is a PPC marketplace where a crowd of experts can help you with your campaigns and the folks at BoostCTR “Guarantee better text ads or your money back!” So you’ve basically got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Give it a try.
Woohoo, you made it to the end. Congratulations and thanks for taking 3 hours to read all this! Also, apologies to your boss if it means you are now going to deliver your project late. Of course, if it’s marketing related then you can write it off as research and you’ll be prepared to do bigger and better things next time.
I hope you learned a lot from this course and that you can use it as a resource as you start or continue your journey from online marketing noob to internet marketing expert.
Remember to give a shout out on Twitter (using the hashtag #noobmarketing) and share this with your friends and colleagues.
A FINAL NOTE – LET’S GET A COMMENT FEST GOING!
I know this was a really long post, but my hope is that it will help people:
- By teaching them a few tricks, techniques and methods they didn’t already know
- See the daunting task of multi-disciplinary marketing as less scary
- Gain a couple of advanced insider secrets that only usually come about through experience
If you have ANY questions about any step in the course, have at ‘er in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.