Thursday, February 26, 2009

Define Your Website With Content

The transition of a website from "build" to "marketing" is always an interesting one.  Very rarely does a new website get launched that is full of keyterm rich content, unique and interesting content, and most importantly... relevant content.  That is not to say it does not happen with much pulling teeth and dragging them along kicking and screaming by our most talented production group here at Cazbah. What is does mean, is that once their site is officially in "internet marketing" mode, it is my job as their Internet Marketing Account Manager to help them to "see the light".

Common misconception:  If we build it... they will come.  This is not the "Field of Dreams" people.

The correct line of thinking is much like the mustard seed - you must plant it, water it and nurture it. Only then can it grow.  Like the farmer who works his field - we we reap what we sow.  If we work the web site and work it well, we can reap the rewards that will follow.

What generally happens?  I am handed an eCommerce website that has very little static content, and product descriptions that leave a lot to be desired.  This is okay because it gives me a baseline to work from - and truth be told, I love starting with a website that has zero ranking in Google and is not converting.  I am passionate about turning that website into a content rich and interesting website, that oh-by-the-way also happens to sell a product.

Don't misunderstand, there is much emphasis placed on optimizing the product pages with well written descriptions and product titles - with the end goal for those products being that they obtain their own ranking in the search engines, and ultimately convert to online sales.

It's the other content I like to focus on.  This is an area you can define an online niche opportunity.  Take a look at your customer's base line keyword ranking - what keyterms are relevant that they are not currently gaining any search engine ranking on?  (This of course assumes you have done your keyterm research and have a set of keywords to focus on.)

Analyze your list of keywords and see which terms are not getting any search engine ranking.  You now know where to start with writing new content for your website.  Build informational content that will educate your site visitors about what you have to offer that is unique and different.  Why should your customers buy online from you?  What makes you better than your online competition?  What makes your online product unique?  What about the service you offer is by far the best?  Help your potential customers make a decision to buy your product or use your service.

Not sure where to start?  Here's a simple tip that I have found works with my clients. Often times I am dealing with VITO of Company "X".  VITO (or Very Important Top Officer) does not have time to write content, and frankly does not see the value of writing "stuff".  "My products are online what more do I need?"  If I can get VITO to write just one piece of content to prove my point, I push them to write a Glossary of Terms for their website.  

Write me a glossary - start with your top ten keywords and build them into an online glossary.  Or take each product and define it.  For example I have a client who sells Air Pollution Abatement Equipment.   Well not everyone on the planet knows what a carbon scrubber is or what it does - and I tell you with no uncertainty that the search engines do not know what they are.   

I emphasize to my clients that they are writing this content more for the search engines then they are for their website visitors.  Now, that said - once the search engines recognize the new content as being relevant, and it is well written, the end result of course would be gaining ranking on some of your additional keywords - thereby helping new and potential customers not only find your website, but LEARN about what you do and/or sell online.

I have proven this to be an effective technique to teaching my clients how important keyword rich website content can be.  Taking some important keyterms that are ranked somewhere below 30 in Google and working them to the first page on Google is proof that your content can define your website.  Once my clients see this online glossary of terms work, they are more than willing to continue writing new content.

Keep track of your keyword search engine ranking on a regular basis.  If you a see keyword begin to lose search engine ranking, or a keyword that is not performing - analyze the content (or lack thereof) associated with that keyword and work it!

That's my story... and I'm sticking to it!  Content.  Content.  Content.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 23, 2009

Save A Tree: Advertise Online

With the environment and global warming becoming more and more of an issue, and with recycling - direct mail is becoming a thing of the past.  I have a customer, who just last year spent $10k during 2008 for 4 direct mail campaigns (total cost for the year).

Let's break that down  - $2,500 per Quarter - roughly 50,000 pieces mailed each quarter, and out of each mailing he probably generated 20 leads, maybe 10 of those turned into qualified leads, and a portion of those maybe then converted to a sale.  

The widget he sells ranges in price from $3,500 on up to over $10,000.  When he signed on with Cazbah he was still running these direct mail campaigns, and didn't really think twice about continuing them.  As his new site was built and launched, he moved over to my care and control where I quickly learned what his spend was on direct mail.

When I refer to direct mail - this particular product is the cellophane wrapped postcards that come in packs.  I personally don't believe I have ever opened one of those mailers that has come to my home, they have all ended up in the trash.  

Well my line of thinking is this... let's first save a tree by not doing the mailer, less garbage, less recycling... and second, let's save the customer bunches of money that can be put back into his business, and spend a small fraction of that $10,000 and generate more qualified leads on a monthly basis.

Challenge:  Convince said customer that spending $300 a month on something like Google AdWords can generate more qualified leads, then the plastic-wrap mailer you've been doing for years!  People are resistant to change... (But just how many trees is that?).  After much discussion - customer agrees to commence with AdWords for a trial period of one month at a $10/day budget and very targeted ads featuring his product at a low monthly lease price.

Said customer promised to do just one more mailer with direct mail company (against my recommendation) and when I heard of it, said - okay if you are going to mail - push the web site and invite recipients to sign up for email updates and promotions - the mailer went out without that info. So there's $2,500 (or almost a YEAR'S worth of AdWords out the window).

30 days and $300 later - we generated roughly 25-30 QUALIFIED leads, and client received an influx of contact requests through the web site.

Let's compare:  

12 Months - Direct Mail - 50,000 Pieces Per Mailer - $10,000 - Annual Leads Generated = Approx. 80.  (40 Qualified Leads).

12 Months - AdWords - Annual Spend roughly $3,600 - Annual Leads Generated = 360 Qualified Leads.

I would even venture to guess that after further optimization of the AdWords campaign through use of negative keyterms, and other techniques, the number of qualified leads would increase gradually.

Add to this, from the leads generated through sponsored search advertising (or pay per click), an email captured for each lead.  On the leads that do not generate an immediate
sale, you have now fostered a relationship by which you can communicate future promotions and product features via email campaigns.

Consider email marketing and news updates to your subscriber base and or customers rather than mailing them promotions - you'll reach a greater audience, and by sending to an "opt-in" list - you already know you are sending to a receptive audience.  It can take some time to build an email list, but there are ways to get the word out.

What's the punchline?  Spend your advertising dollars in a way that will maximize your return, and   in this age of social media and online awareness.  Save a Tree!  Save Money!

Bookmark and Share

Friday, February 20, 2009

Passionate Women Who Thrive

I recently decided to spend the first 30 minutes of each work day doing some online networking.  One day I might spend time in LinkedIn, the next day searching out new possible friends on Facebook or Tweeting, but the bottom line is I want to continually look for new people I can connect with - not just because we both like artichokes, but perhaps because we are both in the same LinkedIn Groups, or share common networking goals.

One of my goals is to share my passionate attitude about just about everything in life with everyone I come in contact with - the reason I started this blog in the first place.  

This week I was fortunate enough to come across a woman on Twitter who was following me, and upon checking out her info found that we share a common goal.  @karolynhart is the new connection I speak of and her passion is to connect women on beauty, health, life, careers, parenting, relationships and everything in between.

I was immediately drawn to her site, just by the address - what a fabulous URL! 

The definition of Thrive is "to grow strongly and vigorously" - something I aspire to do both through my relationship with God, and through my career.  One of the ways I hope to do this in my career is by connecting with other passionate and powerful professional women. (Nice alliteration!)

This quote is posted on as the 'favorite quote' and I can see why:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead 

It reminds me that everyone has something to say, and something to contribute.  Pay attention to your connections, and pursue your passions.  I am very excited about participating in this online community and building new relationships with other professional women who Thrive!

Do you Live With Thrive?

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Using Social Media to get IKEA's Attention

I would definitely LOVE to have an IKEA Store in Western, NY. Rochester would be great, but I would settle for Buffalo as well or somewhere in between.  

Currently the closest IKEA store is in Hamilton, Ontario - which is a few hours drive, accross the border and somewhat a pain in the neck.  When I go to IKEA in Canada, it is an all day trip to get across the border both ways, add in the driving distance, and of course the gas expense (especially now) and the time required to browse at an IKEA store.  Something I have complained about for years - every trip taken to IKEA requires much advanced planning...

A co-worker (@fuyukogratton) of mine has a passion for IKEA, and to that end created a blog and online petition in April of 2008 to try to gain signatures and capture the attention of IKEA so they would pity us and build a store in our area.  This online petition currently has 119 signatures (I was 118), and I have been spreading the word about this through my online social activities and face-to-face.

Time to put my creative social media energies to work to raise more awareness - so I have yet another place to shop in Upstate New York.  I love IKEA!

I sense another social media experiment coming on...  If I can find 300+ artichoke lovers in just a few short weeks, I should be able to connect with IKEA lovers out there to help my friend with her blog and petition!

Take a second to sign Fuyuko's petition!  We thank you, and Western New York will thank you!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Speed Dating For Social Media Lovers

Speed Dating - Not just for dating anymore...  This is something I am most interested in (Not dating that is...) but rather speed networking.  

Imagine an event your city or neighboring town.  You show up with a pocketful of business cards and your 1-3 minutes "about me" pitch.  If 50 people show up, the actual "meet" of the event could take roughly 2 hours, with some group networking before and after.

In one minute I could easily tell you in broad strokes about myself and what my passions are related to my career and networking goals.  I venture to guess, most people can do the same in a minute or less.  If I made 50 new connections in 2 hours I would be thrilled - no matter the industry you come from.  We can benefit from each other because everyone has different areas of expertise and though your area may be something like pizza ovens, used cars, or even restoration firearms - there is more than likely a chance that you have something of worth that I can apply to my business, and I to you as well.

I attended a local Twestival event last week and met a few folks there that seemed perhaps "not related" to what I do, but walking away from that and realizing what those have to offer whether it's blog expertise, or a specific benefit they can provide to me and/or my clients - each and every network connection is a win-win.   

I would welcome the opportunity to attend such an event where I could gather up a large group of connections in a short period of time, and have tidbits of information about each to take away - rather than a shake hands "hello nice to meet you".  

And here's my fun tip for how to remember a person's name... People think I'm silly for doing this, but at church on Friday's nights I tend to meet a few new people each week.  When I meet them I chat for a bit, and before I excuse myself I look at them while shaking their hand and say their name 6 times outloud.  Yes - it appears silly, but it certainly works for me!  What's your tip to remember names and other useful information about new connections?

Bookmark and Share

Friday, February 13, 2009

Selling Cars Through Social Media

A month or so ago I got a request to follow a blog on Facebook's Networked Blog- it was the first request of this kind I had received on Facebook.  Having my own blog (of course), I was intrigued by this request - as we are all looking for ways to market our blogs.

The request was to follow Best Used Cars Blog.  And why would I follow this blog if I am not in the market for a car?  Well the answer is quite simple - because it's a good blog filled with good content.

Eric does a great job of putting an interesting spin on his content, he incorporates video, imagery, humor, facts and presents at a level that everyone can enjoy and understand.  He gives the consumer very sound advice to assist in knowing how to buy a car and not get scammed.  Given the state of the auto-industry today, and the economy - his blog should be in its prime with the information he is providing.

He also has a few pieces of content that are unique - Car Dealer Confessions, and a Tweet & Greet Interview asking the users questions about their first cars and their personalities related to their cars - it took me 5-10 minutes to complete and I had some fun with it!

Check out this blog - I do reccommend it.  Give Eric a Tweet-Out at @auctiondirect as well!

As a final side-note I have found that 2/3 of my blog traffic is coming from Facebook through profile links and Networked Blogs, and the other third is coming primarily from Twitter - just a tidbit I thought I'd share.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, February 7, 2009

12 for 12K: Passion to Make A Difference

Getting up early on a Saturday is not a usual thing for me.  Today, however, I have a volunteer meeting at church because I'm going to start giving back to the recovery group that I attend twice a week that has given so much to my life in more ways than I can put a label on.

I generally start my day with some powerful scripture or motivational writings that jump start me with the right tone to make a difference.  I like to start my day with passion and enthusiasm for what I can do in other people's lives.

My day today starts with an email on Facebook from @dannybrown about his 12 for 12k Challenge.  You wanna talk about passion?  Here's a guy who had an idea to use the power of social media and the internet to raise money for charities and do it in a manor that pretty much no-one can say no to!

Watch this video and DONATE - $10 is all he's asking for!  That's one movie (at today's prices) with a soda, it's 3 lattes at Starbucks, who can't give up 3 lattes to make a difference?

Watch this video and visit 12 for 12k to learn more and donate!

I'm in... Are you?

At the very least... if you are unsure - visit 12 for and/or follow @dannybrown on twitter to learn more.  There is MUCH to learn.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Internet Marketing - A Piece of Cake?

I had a dinner meeting with a close friend tonight who is re-building her web site and we just chatted through some of the areas she needs to be focusing on to help promote her web site.  

I was astounded to find that the company doing her web site was offering to charge her "x" amount for search engine optimization for 3 hours of work per month (and the dollar amount was way off), and made  a brief mention of email marketing, but the proposal stated nothing about what they covered under the title of "SEO" and what they proposed for email marketing.

So I lend these thoughts -  things to consider when searching for a "marketing strategist" for your web site.  Plain and simple... find someone who knows what they are doing - and pay attention to the details they are providing you.

Internet Marketing has several layers to it.  I will compare it to my favorite dessert - A Triple Layer Chocolate Peppermint Torte!

The bottom layer of the cake... What I consider the
 "technical" pieces of your plan.  This layer includes your search engine optimization, keyterm research, meta tags, page titles, image and file naming conventions, site maps and basically, the aspects that are addressed through your site's code/tags.

The middle layer of your cake... Your content.  Know your customers and what they are looking for and provide the content, products or services in your content that will answer questions easily and help them make their buying decision quickly.  Your content should also be optimized using the information compiled when building the first layer of your cake by building your keyterms into your content allowing the search engines to find it!

The top layer of your cake... Listening to your website and making the necessary adjustments to content and product offerings.  Modifying keyterms, building new content, adding new documentation and information as people your customer are looking for.  Work your site through email marketing, blogging and much much much more!  What I describe here only scratches the surface of working your site and continuously modifying your strategy to marketing your site to meet the ever-changing needs of your customers.

And then there's the frosting...  This outer layer is your brand, your persona, your online  personality.  Working your site by building your brand through Social Media and Social Networking.  Think of it this way...  The frosting on a cake is the first thing you see, and usually the first thing you taste on a cake.  Relate it to your brand or persona - this is the first impression you make - the face of your business.  Professional decoraters take great pride in the details of the impression their cake will leave (as it may result in more business for them in the beauty alone).  The same should apply to you and the effort you put into to building your online personality through social media.  (Cake image shown at right is a creation of Sincredible Pastries in Central NY) 

The frosting does not refer to a flash heavy site with blinking images and glitzy appearances - remember that your site must function effectively and efficiently allowing your customers to find what they want quickly - AND allow the search engines to find your site as well.  Flash has it's place and when used properly can be a very effective tool - but that is a whole separate conversation.

The whole cake... This is just a birdseye view of how I see internet marketing and the layers that lie within.  There are many aspects of marketing your website most of which I haven't even touched on - I would simply encourage you to ask the questions to your marketing strategist and feel confident that you are working your site continuously and getting the desired results.

A note of caution - be sure that the baker of your cake is on the level...  Recently I took on a client at work who was paying a third party company to manage their pay-per-click advertising.  When I took over managing their AdWords campaigns I found that this 3rd party company was charging my new client a flat monthly rate for AdWords and my customer never realized that the amount they were paying was almost 3 times the actual amount being spent on their AdWords activity.  Fortunately for them, we cut their AdWords budget by roughly 60% and they are still getting the same bang for their buck.

Find a strategist who is passionate about internet marketing and who will share your passion for success in YOUR business.  That will surely be a recipe for success!

Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 2, 2009

Getting to Know Your Contacts

As I have vowed to learn about each and every contact between Twitter, Facebook and Linked in, I'm now a bit overwhelmed with this daunting task.  As I sit back and assess the situation, I realize that in just a few short months, I have amassed roughly 1,000 contacts...  

That's A LOT of people to get to know...  But I will do it, I will get them (you) all organized and itemized.  I will review every profile one at a time and try to learn little bits and pieces about each contact.

Today I learned that one new connection on Facebook resides in the same town as two of my best friends from high school.  I also learned that he was an Account Manager for Yellow Book, and he and his wife were blessed with a beautiful baby recently.

With almost 700 Twitter followers, I have decided to attack this 5 or 10 at a time... Here's what I learned today about my new contacts - maybe you see something here that interest you, and find someone new to follow on Twitter:

@kidpartyplanner  is a pretty cool chick.  She has a web site all about kids party planning, and also works to help other women promote their blogs and their businesses.

@robmcnealy has a great philosophy on twitter use - basically... respect my space and time... I will respect yours.  Rob has a huge following as a serial blogger and social media expert  - I look forward to following his blog and believe there is much to be learned here.

@jennywrites sells a product that is much like the sticker chart I'm currently using to potty train my 3 year old.  It's a color-wrist band system (like the "live strong" bands), and with each day or each goal you change colors.  Love the concept!  

@dannybrown is making things happen with his 12 for 12 challenge.  He's working his Facebook Blog and Group, and getting noticed on Twitter.  His 2009 challenge to raise 12,000 for 12 charities is a lofty goal.  I give him props knowing he faces massives challenges to make this a reality.

@nixthenews well he just has fun tweets, video posts, and other fun stuff to take reality breaks often when greatly needed.   Today for example - a video clip of Bill Murray from "Groundhog's Day" - a classic (and today being that day - very fitting).  Great Tweets!

Those are just a few I follow, and an example of how I intend to learn a bit about 1,000 connections I have made in the past few months.  I am no expert, just a small internet marketing account manager looking to grow and this is just my $.02

But If I add up the $.02 I take from everyone else I connect with online - it sure does add up to a lot of valuable information.

See you on Twitter!

Bookmark and Share

Random Thoughts: Social Media & Stuff

I am getting old... As confirmed by a friend of mine today.  I had the perfect idea for a blog post, and from the time I went to bed last night - I cannot remember what it was about.  So I'm left with random thoughts which I will share.  Random thoughts on Social Media, Careers and more...

Random Thought #1:  24x7 Connectivity is Cool.

Social Media totally cool because I can connect with people all over the world any time of day or night and be mentally stimulated about all things.  I can get feedback about a work project or personal thought in a matter of seconds in real time.  That's pretty powerful.  I'm not talking teenagers in a chat room, I'm talking professionals with expertise in all areas all looking to share information and insights.  Ten years ago it was finding a "30 something" chat room on AOL and weeding through to find someone of value to talk to.... Not so much like that anymore - much easier to find real and valuable connections.

Random Thought #2:  People really do connect!

I have made 100+ new friends because I love artichokes.  Now that to me is excellent!  I have yet to really get to know many of these folks, and fully intend to do so because through something as simple as a food interest, I have made these connections.  I don't know yet what these people can offer me, or I them, but my guess is there is something for each one.  I will spend much time reviewing profiles for all new connections and getting to know everyone.

Random Thought #3:  New Month's Resolutions

I decided yesterday: February 1, 2009 that I would be making new resolutions for the month, though actually, they could be "new week's resolutions" or even "new day's resolutions".  January was a challenging month for me and I've really managed to learn how to live my life ONE DAY AT A TIME.  This applies to my career, my personal life and my relationship with God.  Today I am resolved to live only for today and make it the best day possible for me and for every person I come into contact with.  Remember - smiles are contageous and actions speak louder than words.

Random Thought #4:  What is your Dream Job?

Someone asked me on Friday night if I could do any job in the world, what would it be?  My answer was simple - I love what I do, and I cannot imagine having a different career than internet marketing.  So in conjunction with Random Thought #3 - I am resolved to make each day the most I can at work and provide the best level of service to my clients.  I am resolved to find creative solutions to making their online presence the best it can be.  I am also resolved to spread the passion for what I do...

Random Thought #5:  Totally Random Thought...

I love my best friend, through thick and thin - good and bad.  I will love my best friend today, for who he is today - and not worry about who he'll be tomorrow.  I hope my best friend has a great day today, knowing he is truly good at what he does (because he is truly passionate about it) - and doesn't worry so much today about what's on his plate tomorrow.  I want my best friend to know that the elephant is not really an elephant...

Everyone should have at least one person in their life they feel this way about and are passionate about - if you do - please tell that person you love them today.  Don't wait until tomorrow.  That's my passion point to ponder today.  

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Getting to Know Your Networks

Facebook Connections

So I recently created a page on Facebook dedicated to Artichokes and in just a week, I have over 100 followers of this page.  At first I felt it was just an experiment to see how many people would find it if I worked it through various channels on Facebook, Twitter and yes - even LinkedIn.

What I'm finding now is that I'm actually connecting with some great people!  Every person that has "become a fan" of my page I have requested their friendship on Facebook, and am slowing getting to know some really great people!

What's more, I'm asking them all how they found the page - some through silly game applications, some through an actual search on FB for "artichokes" - yes people do search on it (I did), and some by seeing posts on others profiles, and a few from Twitter...  It has been a good lesson on what tools are in place to gain some awareness in Facebook.

The thought I take away from this - as with Twitter and LinkedIn - the same rule would apply.  Making these connections does absolutely no good if you don't make the effort to exchange information with and get to know your networked connections!

What's the point of connecting with people if you have nothing share?  As on Twitter, share your experiences and expertise, but also share some of yourself on a personal level.  Allow people in cyberspace to see that you are real and honest.

Just short post in the wee hours of the morning - but some thoughts I wanted to share.

Bookmark and Share