All posts by Fran

8 Things You Can Do to Drive Traffic and Create a Good Experience

Yep, it’s time for a list post.

These tips are especially good because they’re time-proven. They aren’t based on flavor-of-the-day techniques to outwit Google or give you a quick temporary boost you’ll later regret. So if you’re looking for some solid traffic drivers and good experience builders, try these tips:

  1. Use good keywords in your content. Doing your homework with keyword research pays off. You’ll know what to say in your content because you’ll know what your customers are looking for.
  2. Make sure your sitemap is working hard. When done properly, your sitemap gives Google, Yahoo and Bing a list of everything you’d like them to see.  An XML sitemap is the place to start.
  3. Use simple page titles and good descriptions. Not only do humans like to see pages with appropriate and understandable titles, so do the search engines.images
  4. Fix broken links and 404 errors. Nothing kills an experience like an unexpected 404. There are lots of tools out there to scan your site and see what might be broken.
  5. Strengthen weak content. If the page contains more template content (headers, navigation, buttons, footers, etc.) than actual content, it might not provide a great experience for your customer. Fix it with more information, better product descriptions, an instructional video, product specifications, links to other resources, anything.
  6. Fix content errors. Hey, it happens. A misspelling. An incorrect price. Missing information. Take an hour with a few other sets of eyes and be as nitpicky (but objective) as possible.
  7. Decrease page loading times. While not always easy, your IT resources or web host may have suggestions to make your pages lightning-fast. And who doesn’t love that? The search engines certainly do…it’s a ranking factor!
  8. Get more backlinks. Organic backlinks to your site are precious. There’s no shame in asking for them, especially with trade associations, charities, or anything you’ve sponsored. And don’t forget to create your own backlinks using your social media accounts. The more stuff that points to you, the more valuable your web channel becomes.

For more insights or assistance with any of these, call us any time or contact us by email.

Google: Delivering traditional web-based results is soooo 2014.

In early June, Google announced that iOS users who search with the Google app will be able to find content that exists on other iOS apps.

That means searching for a restaurant might return content from an app like OpenTable. Or if you’re looking for a recipe, the results could include something delicious from iphoneyour Pinterest app.

See what they’re doing here? That’s right: Delivering a better experience. It means a combination of high-quality results AND the front-end interface users enjoy. In other words, it’s not just about web browsers anymore.

If we’ve learned anything from Google, Bing and Yahoo in the past year or so, it’s that user experience is becoming the top factor in terms of search rank. So it’s not just about traditional WEB content, but ALL content.

In the coming months, Google says it will roll out new search features to help users find content from even more apps. Bing’s doing it too. In many ways, it’s simply an intelligent response to how we realistically use our smartphones.

But just like every other technology rollout, it’s nothing to fear. Sure, it’ll mean some new optimization techniques, but they’re all pointing to the same thing:  Better user experiences.

 

Rants of a Frustrated Shopper: What 300 Thread-Count Sheets Mean to Your Business

There’s an obvious (but often overlooked) reality associated with long-tail search:  The longer the search phrase, the more ready the customer is to buy.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? If someone is highly specific with search terms, particularly when searching retail goods, services and most B2B categories, the end of the sales funnel—the sale—isn’t too far away. For example, if you search “300 TC cotton percale sheets for 12 inch king mattress,” you’re expecting to see exactly that. And if you’re that specific, chances are pretty good your credit card is out and ready to buy.rants image

But here’s the problem: If Google doesn’t hit on that long-tail search, you’ll see something similar. Maybe the search result returns a buying opportunity for cotton sheets, but they are deep pocket and will drown your 12″ mattress. Or maybe, instead of cotton percale, you see results for great prices on polyester sheets. In other words, the results are pretty close, but not quite right. For a savvy shopper, that’s just maddening.

As a business, how do you solve this? With analytics and Google’s keyword tool. With an expanded keyword set. With good headlines, product titles and thorough product descriptions.

Bottom line? With careful planning, keyword analysis and SEO-conscious tactics, you greatly increase your chances of hitting on those long-tail searches. Which means more relevant search results, better customer experiences and more sales.

It’s also an incredible opportunity to beat the big guys.

Yet Another Mobile Milestone

smartphone searchEvery day it seems, we cross another threshold in the online world. We saw this one coming, but now it’s officially here.

Google just announced that more searches now take place on mobile devices than on computers. And it’s not just in the U.S., but in 10 countries that include Japan and most of Europe. To add even more emphasis to the importance of mobile, Google did NOT include tablets as mobile devices, only smartphones.

For marketers, this means two things:

  1. Google’s recent mobile-friendly algorithm update may as well be a giant message in the sky that says “Mobile is now the primary screen!”
  2. Content matters more now than ever before. Why? Because even Google admits that paid advertising on mobile platforms isn’t as effective as desktop ads.

In other words, organic results—based on solid content, smart keywords, long-tail phrases, descriptive page titles, good H1 tags, and rich media like video—are still the name of the game.

Not a shock, right? If you combine small screens, smart on-the-go users and a savviness that mentally blocks brazen attempts at interruption, it’s easy to see users want meaningful content.

“Google is a company built on intent and immediacy. Our mission has always been to connect people with what they are looking for in the exact moment they are looking.”

That’s Google VP Jerry Dischler talking—not in 2010 or last year, but yesterday. Don’t overthink what he’s saying.

Always consider the customer first…and be available where, when, and how they’re looking for you!

Mobilegeddon…by our friend Jill Kocher

A great article by our friend Jill Kocher…

Are You Ready for Google’s “Mobilegeddon?”

Reflections on 2013

Welcome to 2014.

I haven’t written in a while…we decided to drive to Florida over the holidays with the dogs along. Suffice to say I didn’t get much work done. Except for Wisconsin losing the Capital One Bowl, and coming back to the Polar Vortex, it was a nice holiday!

It would be wonderful to talk about huge revelations from 2013…the truth is, back to basics remains the theme:

  1. SEO is not dead…it’s just hiding behind the mother ship: marketing 101. A good marketer knows their product or business and talks about it in a way that their customers understand. Putting the technology aside for the moment (which can still be a real showstopper,) a good website needs good content. In 2013, I worked with a couple of excellent content writers for the web and the one thing they have in common is their ability to TALK TO (not at) THE CUSTOMER in phrases and language the customer understands. In SEO terms, that means doing keyword research, ensuring keywords are prioritized based on what the customer is searching for, and writing compelling content. As someone in authority once said to me…”marketing is just common sense, right?” Well, yes, it is just common sense, but the skills to get there are real, and budgets can be improved or lost without a good understanding of the nuances of digital marketing..
  2. Content remains King…see #1
  3. Don’t try to fool the system…you’ll always get caught. When I worked for an airline and was fortunate to have wonderful benefits including flight privileges, there were always one or two people who tried to beat the system and break the rules. Inevitably, they would be walked out of the building with a box in their hands. YOU’LL ALWAYS GET CAUGHT. Do things the right way…form relationships with complementary sites and partners and get links naturally, don’t spam on your site by keyword stuffing, and if someone is telling you something that sounds too good to be true when it comes to SEO, it is. SEO and content marketing are hard work, but the rewards are great and long-lasting.
  4. Make decisions with facts, not opinion, or guesswork. In 2013, I came across several business opportunities where analytics were not used to measure success. In the world of FREE (Google Analytics,) I find it difficult to understand how a business can stay afloat without knowing where their customers are coming from, or what they’re looking at, or how many have responded to that promotion they did…I could go on and on. If there is one thing you can do for yourself in 2014, find someone that can help you understand the key metrics of doing business online. PLEASE!
  5. Embrace Mobile. According to Google, 90% of people use multiple devices to perform their online research. Google recommends that webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design. If your website is not built with mobile devices in mind, then you need a mobile app so your customers can reach you from their phone or tablet without needing a magnifying glass.
  6. Finally, if your website is not driving legitimate leads, sales, and revenue, please read 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 again and give me a jingle. I’d love to help. If this stuff is old hat to you, are you doing it?

Have a wonderful and prosperous 2014!

(Oh, and I guess I’ll have to settle for Seattle winning the Super Bowl considering their star quarterback Russell Wilson was also a star at Wisconsin!)

Seminar Series – For a Great Cause

Are you looking for some personal or professional development opportunities? Are you a generous person who would love to donate to a fabulous charity? Here is an opportunity to do both!

Jacob Vorce
Jacob Vorce

Nationally known teacher and trainer Elaine Beaubien would like to invite you to a series of professional seminars raising funds for Jake’s Place, a memorial playground being built in honor of 9-month old Jacob Vorce, who died suddenly and tragically this summer.You win by coming to an excellent seminar, your organization wins by having well trained personnel, and Jake’s Place wins from the revenue generated…every penny these workshops generate goes to Jake’s Place. All of it.

The information below will give you the “who, what, when, why, how and how much.”

Please pass this information on to anyone you think would be interested! Put it on your calendar! Bring a colleague. Bring a friend. Bring a colleague and a friend. Bring your whole team!

HERE’S THE SCOOP!!

WHAT: A series of professional development seminars. See below for descriptions.

WHEN:

1. Tuesday, October 29 9:00 a.m.-12:00 – Legendary Leadership

2. Wednesday, October 30: 9:00-12:00 – Building a Listening Organization

3. Friday, November 8: 9:00 a.m.- 12:00 – Creating a Legendary Customer Experience

4. Friday, November 8: 1:00-4:00 – Stress for Success: Bringing balance to a busy life

WHERE: Edgewood College Deming Way Campus, 1255 Deming Way, Madison, Wi

WHO: All seminars will be led by Professor Elaine Beaubien (www.elainetrain.com)

 HOW MUCH: $59.00 per person, per session. All the proceeds will go to Jake’s Place, a playground being built in memory of Jacob Vorce. Every penny.

HOW DO I REGISTER?

Call Elaine Beaubien at 608-663-3373 or
email Elaine with the following information:

1. Name(s) of the participants

2. The seminar(s) each will be attending

3. A name and mailing address and/or email address to send the confirmation and invoice.

 WHY:

Bring your whole team!! This is a real win-win situation. In addition to being a part of the fundraising efforts for Jake’s Place, professional training will enhance your bottom because it will:

  • Increase competence. There is a lot of learning going on! Knowing more is the first step to doing more.
  • Increase confidence. Improving skill and knowledge empowers people.
  • Enhance morale and employee satisfaction.
  • Prepare to assimilate change.
  • Reduce errors, mistakes, and misunderstandings.
  • Bring people together to hear a common message.
  • Improve employee retention by showing commitment to their professional development
  • Invest in your most valuable asset: People

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

LEGENDARY LEADERSHIP   Tuesday, October 29th 9:00 a.m. – noon

This program is designed for participants interested in uncovering, then cultivating their leadership potential. It defines leadership and provides participants with the opportunity to take inventory of their skills, attitudes, values, and abilities. Legendary Leaders have developed their talents to the point where they not only impact on events, they impact on the lives of those around them. In the 21st century leaders coach, mentor, and facilitate the team in reaching their individual and collective potential. To lead is to serve.

 BUILDING A LISTENING ORGANIZATION    Wednesday, October 30th 9:00 a.m. – noon

Listening is a critical skill for leaders hoping to build teams; for individuals wishing to bond with other members of their organizations; for managers hoping to make an impact on their colleagues’ performance and for organizations who aspire to excellent customer service. This seminar will explore the importance of active listening, examine why human beings are not effective listeners, give the participants the opportunity to take inventory of their listening skill and provide practical advice on how to adjust personal and organizational behaviors to become more involved in the listening process.

 CREATING A LEGENDARY CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE    Friday, November 8th 9:00 a.m. – noon

Transform your customers, clients, members and all those you serve into an uncompensated sales force! Delight them so much that they will be motivated to sing your praises. No marketing strategy is as powerful as a strongly positive first hand testimonial. Word of mouth is more effective in securing new customers than any other method of promotion. The critical importance of good customer service is evident in both its personal and economic impact.

Excellence is not accidental. It is the result of deliberate planning and high expectations. It is not free. It is, however, very cost effective. The reputation of any organization is dependent upon its attention to the customer. Be part of a legend! It is easier and far less costly to keep a customer than it is to find a new one.

STRESS FOR SUCCESS!    Friday, November 8th 1:00-4:00 p.m.

TGIF! Friday afternoon is a perfect time to reserve for some personal development. After a busy week, come to our Deming Way campus and share an oasis of calm contemplation as we take you through the steps to managing the stress in your life.

Employers, treat your hard-working people to this fabulous seminar on how to transform stress into energy. People are more productive, happier, and healthier when stress is under control. Everyone wins! Invest some time in pursuit of energy and wellness! This presentation will give you practical advice on how to manage the stress in your life. No one can or should eliminate stress from their lives, but it can be reduced to a manageable level.

 

Measurement is Key for Marketing Professionals

PRSA September Luncheon 004
Anne Smith from PRSA introduces Fran, Barb, and Melissa

A few weeks back I was privileged to speak on a panel for the Madison chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA.) My panel mates were Barb Hernandez, president of BCHOnPoint, and Melissa Johnson from Shoutlet. We’d been asked to talk about measurement…how PR and Marketing professionals can measure the success of their campaigns.

Melissa offered some great insights about social media, and how the Shoutlet platform provides the ability to see who is most actively engaged with your social media content.

Barb talked about the Barcelona Principles, which focus on the importance of setting goals prior to any campaign so that success can be measured.

My focus surrounded using your website as the focal point for measurement, ensuring that you are tactically setting a baseline within your analytics so growth can be measured.

None of these tactics are earth-shattering. But it seems as if putting success measures in place can get back-burnered when planning an exciting campaign. In this time of significantly reduced budgets, and scrambling to cover important campaign costs, measurement should be leading the way of any campaign strategy…if you measure it, and it’s successful, it makes sense that more budget will be put toward future activities. An added benefit is allowing more informed decision making because you have the metrics to support you.

A good example comes from a client that BCHOnPoint and InMarket Success recently worked on together. This company is an online retailer that has great products and impeccable service but, due to the deep advertising pockets of their closest competitor, could not move the needle to successfully compete.

By looking within their analytics, and performing keyword and competitive research, we were able to identify many areas where our client could increase focus. Increased revenue was the obvious objective, but we were able to suggest several new ideas where their competitor was not focusing, and perform additional tactics that would drive more customer acquisition and retention:

Rankings: what could we do to get our client to rank higher in search results? Moving from position 10 to one has a significant impact on clickthroughs from the web, thus driving more new traffic and customers.

Social media: Where could we most effectively run promotions that drove new business? Social media is a great place to attract and retain customers by providing information and promotions. Providing a socializing area, like a blog, or placing campaigns where customers are socializing on Facebook will have a positive influence on retention.

Mobile: What type of mobile application would attract customers? This customer had an element of cooking with their business, and many of the questions coming in through their on-site search were about cooking the products. Providing a mobile application tool to instruct the customer on cooking methods was a big hit.

Publicity: What kinds of publicity would drive customers to social media or the mobile application, and keep them coming back for more? Then ensuring that all of the publicity used the keywords that supported the growth strategy.

I’m happy to say, after working with this client for 12 months, the results were amazing. Position one is a lofty goal, but we were able to achieve and maintain it on several keywords through content optimization, blog development, and a concentrated effort to improve links from quality sources. Their Facebook page and blog are driving significant interest, and we are expanding the mobile app to a new platform right now. Keyword-rich publicity around all these tactics continues to drive new interest.

Most importantly, the marketing budget to continue with these efforts could be justified by the results, and our strategy provides them with structure for their future budget planning.

PR and Marketing professionals can make a good case for their budgets and resources by simply asking the question “What is the goal of this campaign and how will we measure success?”

Let’s talk about this…