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SEO, SEM or Both?

At SMX Advanced last week there was a lot of discussion about SEO and SEM best practices. The two topics were divided into separate session tracks; casual conversations with other attendees showed most agencies and in-house departments handled one discipline or the other, but not both. One attendee commented that they always concentrate on SEM rather than SEO because it gives their clients a “quick win.”

While organic optimization efforts take time and often show results over a period of weeks or even months, SEM can boost a site’s visibility immediately. But we believe there’s merit to approaching paid and organic search as complementing rather than competing strategies.

SEO research can establish what keywords already rank and convert well, providing valuable insight into where paid search budgets should be concentrated to fill in the gaps or further capitalize on high-value terms.

Likewise, a site audit for organic search can identify which pages contribute to visitor conversion and uncover areas that need to be adjusted for better performance. Optimizing a site for organic search ensures the content and code are well-focused and eliminates barriers to navigation and conversion. Those same activities ensure paid search visitors as well as organic search visitors move easily through the site. A better landing page experience contributes to better quality scores from Google, which in turn lowers overall costs for Adwords.

And while paid search’s impact ends as soon as campaigns are turned off, insights gained from those campaigns can feed back into a long-term SEO strategy that will deliver results for months or even years to come.

 

Metrics that Matter: How to Affect the Bottom Line


 

Remember the days when we judged marketing campaigns based on impressions, circulation and audience viewership numbers? Yes, I’m that old, and wow, we really have come a long way. Now because of Google Analytics and other performance tracking dashboards, we have real numbers to judge the success of our advertising, public relations, email and social media programs. But are you using the correct analytics data points to judge the health of your program?

Too often we find brands and other marketers are only concerned about new website visitors, bounce rates, time-on-site and page views. While these are important metrics to gauge the success of offsite awareness, they really don’t tell you if you were successful.

From our experience, the performance metrics that really matter are acquisition rate and cost per acquisition. Some very simple math will give you real numbers to see how your work is producing revenue or not. Here’s how it works:

A media website includes your product in a story with a link back to your website. Your analytics software shows that 100 visitors came from the story to your website. Ten of those website visitors purchased your product. The product sells for $100 so you made $1,000.

Your acquisition rate is the number of customers who purchased a product divided by the number of visitors who came from the channel. In this example, the answer is 10/100 or 10 percent. So for every 100 people who saw the story and came to your company’s website, 10 people or 10 percent purchased your product. This is an acquisition rate of 10 percent.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.14.41 PM

 

The cost per acquisition is a little different. We know we had 10 customers. Let’s say your company spent $500 in time to discuss the product with the media and/or to send a product for testing. Other factors may include shipping, literature, etc. The cost per acquisition is determined by taking the money spent (ad spend, email distribution charges, time for PR, media relations) and dividing it by the number of customers. In this example, 500/10 for a cost per acquisition of $50 per customer.

By determining the production cost of the goods sold, the number of customers and the number of website visitors, you will begin to understand exactly how much a lead is really worth and how to gauge marketing investments. You can also gauge the success of individual marketing campaigns like advertising, PR, social media, etc.


 

How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Coming Along?

newyearIf your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, you’re in good company. Every year, 45% of Americans make resolutions and 92% of those fail to keep them. If personal improvement seems like too lofty a goal for 2015, why not apply a few of the most common resolutions to your blog instead?

Resolution #1: Lose Weight/Get Fit
Getting rid of the extra weight on your blog will help your pages load faster and create a better user experience. High resolution images and WordPress plugins are two of the most common causes of slow page load. Trim the fat by reducing image size and resolution before you upload, rather than relying on HTML scaling to display images at the proper side. Take a look at your list of plugins and remove any that aren’t absolutely necessary, and look for plugins that can do double duty.

Resolution #2: Get Organized
If you’ve been adding categories and tags to your blog posts without any real strategy, chances are you’ve created quite a bit of content clutter in the process. Take some time to clean house. Decide on a manageable set of categories that encompass the types of content you typically write and consolidate posts into those categories. Clean up tags, too. If you have multiple versions of the same tag with capital letters, no capital letters, plural versions and singular versions, decide on a tag strategy and weed out all the stragglers.

Resolution #3: Reduce Stress
Developing a content calendar is the number one way to avoid spending 20 minutes staring at a blank screen because it’s 4 p.m., you need to write something and you’re fresh out of ideas. Plan ahead. Use that list of categories you cleaned up in resolution #2 and brainstorm post ideas for each one. Set up a tentative schedule for at least a month’s worth of content and try to build up a cache of finished posts, whether that means working a week or two ahead on your calendar or creating a handful of “evergreen” posts that you can rely on for blogging emergencies.

The year is still young. Take the rest of January to make a plan and implement a few changes, and you can join that smug 8% of resolution-makers who actually succeed!

: ) Is Modern Communications Personal?

acronyms 2We live in a world of instant communication and information. While the power of this technology is awesome, we forget that it does come with great responsibilities too. How many times are we texting or talking on our mobile phones when we shouldn’t or are checking Facebook while we should be paying attention in a meeting.

Earlier this week Pope Francis asked Catholics to “get off the Internet and do something productive.” I guess even the Pope knows what a time-suck social media can be.

Long before there was an Internet and the idea of digital marketing was non- existent, when we needed to communicate, we spoke to each other. We picked up the phone and called, set up a meeting or talked at lunch. Instant messaging was however long it took the U.S. Mail to deliver a letter and e-mail was a typed letter, not handwritten. I remember seeing my first fax machine in 1992 and being amazed. What technology would be next? Turned out to be the pager which was a big pain in the butt.

As communications became faster and more powerful, it also became less personal. I remember my first conference call. I quickly realized that I liked to see faces when I spoke so I could gauge body language during conversations. I hated conference calls. Then email came out. Quick, fast communications but totally devoid of the tones we hear in voices that give us cues on emotion. THIS BECAME SHOUTING.

Today it’s texting which has its own language (LOL, OMW, IDK) and signs to show our emotion such as : ) Thank God I work with a team of 20-somethings otherwise I would still think that “LOL” means Lots of Love and “WTF,” Why that Face? I’ve learned the hard way that neither is an appropriate response when texting a friend who is going through tough times.

Communications and technology is a powerful and profitable business. Worldwide it has launched revolutions. Locally, it makes sure me and my team receive  a paycheck every two weeks. However, never forget the power of a phone call or better yet, getting up from your desk and talking to one another instead of sending an email or another text. Learn the power of reading faces and listen for emotion and tone.

Communication is personal, regardless of the technology that connects us.

What’s so “Super” about the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl 46 LogoFor football fans, it’s a holy day. For others, it’s just an excuse to pig out and down some brewskies. But, no matter the age, gender or motive, the Super Bowl represents a profound experience that makes it an “unofficial” holiday in our American culture. As each year passes, it seems as if the brains behind the Super Bowl operations look for the next big idea to take fans’ experience to the next level.

This year, the land of Peyton Manning, Touchdown Jesus and Bobby Knight is the new home of the Super Bowl and the first-ever social media command center created by the Indianapolis Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee to provide visitors with a whole new type of game-day experience. (It’s in Indiana if you’re still in the dark with those sport references.)

The Game Plan

The new social media experience angle of this year’s big game is spearheaded by a group of individuals from Raidious, an Indiana-based social media company, who are committed to giving “Hoosier hospitality” to fans and visitors of Indianapolis by monitoring social media outlets and answering questions about local attractions, parking and other Super Bowl-related topics.

Raidious Super Bowl social media command center

Raidious Super Bowl social media command center

The social media platforms which will be monitored include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Foursquare. The command center is giving others the play-by-play now through Super Bowl Sunday.

The Drive

But, there’s more to this social media-savvy event. The command center goes for a two-point conversion with its SEO efforts, and in my eyes, really puts those extra points up on the board. Not only will the individuals manning (No pun intended, but go Giants) the center monitor conversations occurring on various outlets, they will also use SEO to highlight keywords and phrases people are searching with to obtain certain information.  According to FastCompany.com, a list of about 300 keywords will be used to monitor all social media outlets as well as the Twitter hashtag, #Social46.

The End Zone

Here’s the bottom line: it’s all about customer satisfaction, which directly relates to the individuals’ experience. No matter what business you’re in or which event you’re preparing for, you want outsiders or customers to walk away with the “wow” factor. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner when your mom seems as if her head is going to pop off faster than the cork on a champagne bottle just because she wants everyone to have a great time full of memories.

This social media command center accomplishes that same goal because it reaches out and makes a connection with Super Bowl attendees and tourists visiting Indianapolis. By serving as the scouting team, individuals are left feeling valued and taken care of because the command center has the ultimate Super Bowl playbook. The best offense is a good defense, and by being a step ahead of the game, you are almost always guaranteed to cross the goal line. So whether you’re tuning in for entertaining commercials or watching to see which team will clinch the Vince Lombardi Trophy, remember it’s all about your experience and the memories you take away.

 

Google Analytics – It Just Keeps on Getting Better

Real-time Google Analytics

Google’s infamous Panda updates and the launch of Google+ may have captured search headlines this year, but we’ve had our eye on a series of updates to Google Analytics that resulted in some very cool new tools for data-minded marketers. Here’s a recap of our favorite new(ish) features and how we’re putting them to use for our clients.

  1. Google Analytics Real-Time

    Google has always been great for analyzing past performance but we’ve often wished for a way to gauge the immediate impact of media hit, blog post or Tweet on a client’s site traffic. With Google Analytics Real-Time, we can see how many active visitors are on a site at any given time, which pages they’re viewing, and what traffic source sent the traffic.  Sweet!

  2. Social Plug-In Analytics

    Google Analytics Real-Time tracks Facebook "likes"

    Google Analytics Real-Time tracks Facebook "likes"

    With a tweak to the standard Google Analytics tracking code, it’s now possible to know which site pages, articles or blog posts are most commonly “liked” or shared, and from which social networks. You can track a variety of social actions, from Google +1 clicks to Facebook “likes” and Delicious bookmarks. And you can compare visitor engagement for visits that did and did not include social interaction to determine whether the ability to share content results in more in-depth site visits or more time spent viewing content.

  3. Using Events as Goals

    This one gets a bit geeky, so bear with us. Google Analytics makes it easy to track goals that are tied to a specific set of actions and an outcome (think adding an item to a shopping cart and checking out or completing a contact form). But there are a lot of other on-site activities that can indicate a high level of engagement and interest that aren’t so straightforward. By taking advantage of events as goals, it’s now possible to track PDF downloads, video views (including how many visitors viewed the complete video as opposed to only part of the video), use of site tools like calculators or quizzes or interaction with a slideshow (like clicking through rotating content on a home page).

    We can go one step further and tie these activities back into transactional goals, making it possible to determine, for example, whether visitors who view a video about a new product or download a PDF version of a brochure are more likely to complete a “request more information” form.

There’s a wealth of information buried in your Analytics if you know how to find and interpret it. With end-of-year review season rapidly approaching, we can’t wait to put on our spreadsheet goggles and get to work!

 

Lessons Learned from Two Girls in Pink Tutus


Back in September, a YouTube video featuring one eight-year-old diva and her shy, five-year-old lip-syncing cousin, uploaded a video of the two performing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” Within the month, this homemade video went viral and attracted more than 11 million views. This prompted Ellen Degeneres to invite the little girls onto her show to preform the song live. Little did they know that this was the start of something amazing.

Sophie Grace with Ellen Degeneres and Nikki Minaj

Sophia Grace and her cousin Rosie, both from Great Britain, sat down with Degeneres and made the audience go wild with their accents, maturity and pink tutus. After the interview, Degeneres handed the girls microphones and they performed the perfect a capella version of “Super Bass.” After the standing ovation they received from the crowd, Degeneres surprised the girls with a visit from Nicki Minaj. (If you have a few minutes, watch this video. You’ll be glad you did!)

On Tuesday, Degeneres invited the girls back on her show. During the interview Degeneres told Sophia that after she posted their video onto the Ellen Show’s YouTube channel, 23 million people viewed it over this past month. Degeneres then asked Sophia if she understood the number of views the video received, to which Sophia replied, “ it’s more than a thousand!” The girls went on to explain how they are now considered celebrities back home in England.

Why You Should Care About Videos

Even though the little girls can’t comprehend the impact their video has made, PR professionals certainly can. Now more than ever, companies are trying to create unique videos that will cut through all the clutter and stand out. According to a video from the Simply Zesty Simply Viral blog, a website that is correctly optimized with video increases the probability that it will appear on the first page of Google by 53 times. This video also claims that the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign will increase by more than 90 percent if it uses video.

The Cisco Visual Networking Index forecasts that in 2013, 90 percent of Internet traffic will be online video. PR companies should now, more than ever, be thinking of new ways to incorporate video into their strategies to enhance a clients’ reputation and brand image. To be most effective, the videos should give your audience the chance to interact and begin a relationship with the company. Then, direct your viewers to a social media platform, a blog or another website to further that relationship.

As for Sophia Grace and Rosie, their next adventure will be going to the American Music Awards and interviewing celebrities on the red carpet, all thanks to a little help from Ellen Degeneres and one very cute viral video that you won’t regret watching.