Saturday, February 28, 2015

Perfecting the Conversion Process

Perfecting the Conversion Process
Conversion is so critical because this is how to gain leads.  Conversion can guide visitors to landing pages and become leads for your business.  Conversion can turn an anonymous visitor into a lead.  This is an opportunity to turn this anonymous visitor into a real person. With landing pages we can collect information about a visitor.  We can learn about their needs and interests with this information and lead them through the buyer’s journey. Building conversion paths is a key step as a marketer.  This will help the process and make it easier for visitors to navigate and become leads.  

The three building blocks to building a successful conversion page include a call-to-action (CTA), a landing page, and a thank you page.  A CTA will catch the visitor’s attention and bring them to a landing page.  After they have entered their information into the form, they are then led to the thank you page where they can receive the offer.  

What is a call-to-action?  A button or image placed on pages with the sole purpose driving visitors to your landing page.  Can be placed on different pages within your site.  

After we have attracted the buyer persona, we will guide them to make a sale.  In the awareness stage the visitor is discovering your site for the first time.  The consideration stage is next and this is where the visitor is learning more information about your company. Finally, in the decision stage they are getting all the information they need about the product or service you offer that will help them decide whether or not they should buy the product.   

At each stage of the buyer’s journey, the three building blocks (CTA, landing page, and a thank you page) should be featured.  They should be different to ensure that they fit each stage.  Think about what you can offer them at each stage that will benefit them. Remember to keep the visitor’s wants and needs a priority.  Without the visitors we have no reason to exist.  This is stressed throughout the entire HubSpot certification courses.  

How to choose an SEO Consultant

How to Choose an SEO Consultant
SEO Consultants provide their services to website owners who would like to rank exceptionally. SEO consultants can offer various services such as on-page optimization, off-page optimization, PPC campaigns, link building, site restructuring, and more.  Overall, the goal of the consultant is to achieve higher rankings for the client’s website. 

Search for a consultant who is either SEO Certified or an SEO Certified Professional.  Beware of the guarantees of promising top rankings.  Reputable freelance SEO specialists and firms will never guarantee because they realize much is not in their control.  If the firm can show past work that they have done ask to see the numbers.  

Avoid those who use search engine spam and also black hat SEO.  Google is keeping an eye out for those using black hat techniques and knocking their rank down.  Ensure the specialist has a physical address posted on their website.  Paying for SEO services can vary as well.  Due to the fact that the results are not guaranteed, payment may also be negotiated regarding results.  Some reputable firms may ask only for ⅓ to ½ of the payment up front.  If the firm you are negotiating with asks for a full payment up front, be cautious.  

Throughout this process be cautious and ask questions.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  If the total payment is asked for upfront or if they guarantee results beware.  There are many SEO scams that involve having you pay and then as soon as they receive the payment they remove all the advertising and you will lose rankings. has a helpful post with 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What is Smarketing? And Why is it Important?

What is Smarketing?  And Why is it Important?

Smarketing is a mixture between Sales and Marketing.  There is a bad relationship between Sales and Marketing among companies.  This is bad news because they are supposed to be on the same team, team revenue.  Both sales and marketing are responsible for growth and revenue.  Marketing plays the role of attracting and nurturing customers, and sales takes it to a one-on-one place where their specific needs can be determined and sold to at the right time.  

This is an example of how each department views one another. Unfortunately, they're both on "team revenue" and must work together.
what is smarketing?  and why is it important?

Alignment Around Goals
  • Having the same or related goals
  • Marketing pipeline=Sales quota
  • Visibility into each other’s goals and progress
  • Compensation based on each other’s goals

A suggestion the HubSpot video gave was to have both a sales team member and a marketing team member work towards the same goal.  They would also receive compensation based on each other’s goals also.  They ensured they had alignment around a single goal and helped each other get there.  They were hyper aware of each others situation at all times.  This reinforced the concept that they’re on the same team.  

Alignment Around Personas
  • Communicate persona details across the company
  • Educate each other about new persona details
  • Specialize teams around particular personas

What is a persona?  A persona is a semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer based on real data and qualitative interviews.  If we have these personas in mind while creating, it will better drive each departments priorities.  We will have this ideal customer in our mind and work to please them.  Both the sales and marketing teams work with actual customers on a regular basis.  It’s important to keep everyone informed about the personas so they can better their plans and ideas.  The customers may have new motivations, new goals, new challenges, and it’s important to keep everyone up-to-date and informed.  This will help the entire company (not just one team) better understand who you’re trying to reach.  

How to Set Up a Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign

Pay Per Click Campaigns (PPC) are paid for by an organization that would like to rank on a SERP. For example, if I wanted to rank first when a user would search “marketing student blog” on Google, I would pay them a certain amount of money per click that I receive on my page.  Whoever bids the most amount of money will rank first or at the top of the page.  Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the major players in this PPC business.  In class we have set up Google AdWords accounts.  We have learned how to use the Keyword Planner tool to optimize our page.  Google AdWords determines your rank by taking your CTR (Click through rate) and multiplying it by your CPC (Cost per click). This is not the same as other small search engines that will rank you based solely on the amount you bid.  Not to worry though, unpaid listings rank as well.   

Using SEO only will take about 3-6 months to draw traffic.  If you use the PPC services you can set up your campaign within 5 minutes and start ranking right away.  Using PPC services is very cost effective.  
how to set up a pay per click (PPC) campaign

How to Set Up a PPC Campaign

First step is to perform a market analysis.  This also includes a competition analysis.  What are your competitors doing?  What keywords are they using?  What is their strategy?  Set a clear objective, and the plan making will become easier.  Determine what your goals are?  Do you want more exposure, traffic, clicks, or conversion?  Just remember that you thinking of the customers first!  

Use the tools available to you.  Do not guess which keywords you think will work best.  Google, Yahoo, and Wordtracker are your best resources, use them!  The phrase “You have to spend money to make money” is true! Yes these campaigns will cost money, but they will also make you money in the long-run.  

Bidding Strategies
The higher you bid, the higher you will rank.  Monitor and optimize your campaign very closely.  Are your ads region, audience, or time specific?  The example given in the reading is about targeting professionals.  Set your campaign to run while these people are at work rather than the weekends and evenings when they are home.  Bidding tools available are Atlas One Point, BidRank, and PPC Pro.  

Advertising Text

Advertising text, also known as the copy is the text that will persuade someone to buy a product, or influence their beliefs.  The ad copy should be created so that your company stands out.  There are two parts to the advertising text;  the first part is the title, and the second is the actual ad text.  Use at least 3-4 different advertisements and then figure out which are working best.  

Develop a Proper Landing Page

The PPC advertisement should be linked to a landing page where the product or service is being promoted.  Today, landing pages usually consist of a promotion and place to enter information about yourself.  The information company’s would like you to provide can range from just an email address, to your name, birthdate, etc.  A landing page is an opportunity to learn about your customer while being able to communicate with them by taking some general information.  A landing page should not be flashy.  Keep it simple and easy to navigate.  This will ensure they are able to find what they want in the shortest time possible.  A landing page also links the ad page to a point of purchase, this is why a proper landing page is key.  

Here is a great example of a proper landing page.  


Tracking is important because you want to understand what is working and leading to conversion and what isn’t working.  This will save time and money in the long run.  You will need to collect data regarding campaign performance.  Google and Yahoo both offer free tools that track click to conversion, but there are others that do a better job.  Hitbox Enterprise is an example of a better tool. This tool allows for you to track everything all in one place:  PPC, SEO organic, email campaigns, affiliate marketing campaigns, banner ad media, buys, direct mail, etc.  The main elements that need to be remembered when creating a successful PPC campaign are keyword selection, bidding, landing page, ad copy and optimizing.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Create Remarkable Content

What is Content?
Content is the message your inbound marketing strategy delivers. Content is the message we’re trying to deliver to our visits, our leads, our promoters. Many different ways to reach them, landing pages, e-mails, blogs, social media, etc.  Content is the message itself.  “Without content, the internet would be empty” (HubSpot).   When we get on Google and we are in search of something specific, the SERP lists links to content.  Since the 1950s, marketers have always tried to deliver a message to the consumers.  The manner in which marketers go about reaching their target audience has changed since the fifties though.

how to create remarkable content

Luckily, since the 1950s we have more space to reach our audience.  There is an infinite amount of places marketers can go to reach audiences.  For example, on the Google SERP there may be hundreds of pages that fit what you have typed in the search bar.  Unfortunately, there is a lack of attention.  Meaning, there is so much content it is hard to focus on just one page. There are many to choose from now because the internet is so vast. There may be clutter, and your message may get lost.  

How to Create Remarkable Content
The sole purpose of any business is to create a solution for your customers, not sell a product.  “To provide a solution, you must understand the problem” (HubSpot).  Before we begin creating content, we must remember that the end goal is to solve a consumer problem.  There are two keys we must remember when creating content: the first is to identify the problem and how to solve it, and the second is to remember who we’re trying to reach and what those people want to see.  

There was an example in the first few videos that discussed Tide laundry detergent and how they had blog posts about stains.  I don’t remember exactly, but they were trying to reach different people on different platforms.  They did a great job with reaching the blogger community, but they could have got on twitter and facebook to reach the college kids who are doing laundry in their dorm buildings. Tide didn't try to sell a product outright, they provided tips and tricks for both the homemaker and the college kids.  

Another important thing to remember when creating remarkable content is to remember your buyer personas, and also where they are in the buyer’s journey.  

Questions to ask yourself before you begin creating remarkable talent for your audience:
  • What are your personas are trying to achieve?
  • What are your persona’s goals?
  • What challenges are they currently facing?

These questions will help guide the direction of the content that is being creating.  I will use the Tide laundry detergent example again.  If they are having trouble with dirty cloth diapers, there can be a blog post dedicated to getting those items clean with their product.  

Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are Serious Business.

Chapter 3 covered these few topics.
Site Readiness
• Types of links
• Dynamic Page Optimization
• What are Doorway Pages /Cloaking
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

Types of links

One-way linking is when a random user posts a link to your site on their own page.  Reciprocal linking is when one user posts a link to your site, and you reciprocate and post a link to their site.  Triangular linking, a non-linear reciprocal type of linking,  is when three links are shared from three different sources.  Of course the link cannot be shared on their own site.  So think of passing the link to the right or left.  *Note* These practices have been recognized by Google, and they do not factor these linking practices into rank any longer.  

Dynamic Page Optimization

Dynamic pages are web pages that have their construction controlled by an application server.  Dynamic pages often require cookie data, session id, or a query string before the page can load.  If I understand what I read correctly, then the page changes from user to user (hence the term: dynamic).  Many search engines cannot read dynamic pages though.  If I were going to create a page, I would avoid this.  It’s not search engine friendly.  Although it is visitor friendly, we need it to be friendly to both the user and the search engine.  

What are Doorway Pages/Cloaking
Cloaking refers to when a webmaster creates one page for the search engine crawlers that index your page and determine your rank and then a separate page for everyone else.  Cloaking is the act of offering different versions of your site based on either agent name or IP address.  These techniques are also not encouraged.  Google understands when it’s being tricked and does not rank these sites.  The reason many people began using cloaking though was because their pages used either flash/splash/videos or other types of sites that cannot be crawled.  Therefore, they will not rank.  The ethics of whether or not these practices are ethical is still up for debate.  Again, this is another practice I would avoid.  Doorway pages are similar to cloaking, but these are gateway/bridge pages.  These type of pages are sometimes referred to as portal pages, jump pages, gateway pages, and entry pages.  These pages are usually optimized for specific keywords or phrases.  Their sole purpose is to rank high.  This is another practice that Google frowns upon.  

To ensure you do not violate any Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, please visit this link here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Using Social Media to Attract

Using Social Media to Attract

Social media is an ideal way to attract.  Social media is helpful at every stage of the Inbound Methodology.  Whether social is attracting visitors or converting leads, and closing sales and delighting customers as well.  There are prospects on social media.  There are quadruple the users on Facebook than there are on Google.  Facebook has 1.3 billion active users.  This is an incredible number, it’s much more than LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.  Using social media is a way to attract more visitors to your site.  “74% of marketers saw an increase in traffic after spending just 6 hours per week on social media” (HubSpot).  
Social media is great for attracting new traffic, but also great for converting visitors into leads.  Social media does a great job with also leading them to conversion pages.  52% of companies using Facebook acquired customers from the social media site.  Not only is social media great for attracting, but also delighting.  When there is a connection between a company and their customers, something magical happens.  The customer feels important.  It’s important to show appreciation.  These are the loyal brand promoters who will help build up a social presence and pass the word onto their friends and family.  Foster the connections with the loyal brand promoters and show some love.  One-on-one conversations and personalized service are key.  Especially publicly!  If more people see the conversation they will realize the company isn't a faceless entity.  
Make sure to address complaints vocally and visibly.  This will show the customer that you care, but also for others to see that you are in control and handling issues.  Just recently, Kate Hudson’s line of workout apparel posted on Facebook a $25 promotion.  Many people realized that the following month their credit cards would be charged an addition $49.95 for a membership.  It is was a bit misleading, but the company handled each complaint individually and responded with solutions for all.  Although they made a huge faux pas with their misleading promotion, they tried fixing it to the best of their ability and it was seen by all.

The HubSpot video lesson discussed how devoting 6 hours per week to social media increased traffic by 74% Here is an article about how to spend less time on social media, but to still be effective: 11 Ways to Make Social Media Marketing Less of a Time Suck

Monday, February 9, 2015

On-Page Optimization

On-Page Optimization Factors
On-page factors:
  • Keywords
  • HTML tags
  • Content
  • CSS
  • URL rewrites
On Page Optimization

These factors can all be changed and modified by the user.  For example, I am writing this blog and I can include certain keywords or specific content to ensure that my page is being optimized.  As we learned in Week 1, each page on the internet is indexed by the crawlers.  These crawlers use all these on-page optimization factors to determine the purpose of sites so they can be found when a user searches the web.  

Keywords are an informative word used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of a document.  There are four tools that can be used to do Keyword Research.  This is important because you want to use keywords on-page that users most likely type into the search bar.  The four tools are Wordtracker, Yahoo, Google Suggest, and Digital Point Tool.  While doing a bit of my own research, I found Google Trends.  This could also be helpful to choose content.  
HTML tags
Crawlers can only read text.  When they crawl the html tags, they must be optimized as well to tell the users the purpose of the page.  Title tags, alt tags, meta description tags are all important to use.  These tags are important because they will appear on the SERP.  The tags will tell the crawler the significance of all the words and content on the page and be able to index it properly.

“Content is King”  
Great content alone will lead people to your website.  Search engines determine whether or not your page will benefit the visitor.  New and original content will be probably rank higher because the search engine wants to offer them new content rather than content that is many years old.  The reason for this is because that information may no longer be relevant.  Heading tags, special text (bold, colored, etc.), inline text links, and keyword density hold high priority when the crawlers do their searching.  So they must not be forgotten when on-page optimization is being done!

Cascading Style Sheets are used to separate content from document presentation.  For example, what you’re currently viewing is much different than the behind the scenes HTML.  It would be distracting to view both at the same time, so CSS helps to filter and hide the formatting and other various code that makes this blog run.  

URL Rewrites
Many URLs can be bulky and easily forgettable.  We want the user to remember them and come back again and again.  It’s hard to remember all the numbers, letters, and forward slashes.  If we rewrite the URL to be more clear and concise, we will be more easily found.  

This is a great resource for how to URL rewrite:  URL Rewriting for Beginners

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Search Engine Basics

This week in class we began to prepare for our SEO certification. The topics we covered were search engine basics, search engine market share, major search engines and directories, and search provider relationships.

So what is a Search Engine?  “A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.”  Search Engines were developed because users needed to find relevant information from the vastness of the world wide web.  The internet was being used more and more often on a daily basis and this was crucial for making it usable.  The number one online activity is checking email, and the second is using search engines.  84% of internet users have used search engines.  

Google is market leader in the search engine industry, and Yahoo places second.  Both Google and Yahoo are crawler based search engines.  Yahoo was once a human based directory, but switched over to a crawler based in 2002.  

There are four major search engines:  Google, Yahoo, Ask, and Bing.  Google is the most popular search engine.  Yahoo started out as a subject directory only and then branched out and became a search engine.  Initially, Yahoo was powered by Google, but eventually began using their own algorithms and own technology.  Bing is a search engine by Microsoft.  It used other vendor’s databases and in 2005 it began using its own and also linked to Microsoft’s Encarta Encyclopedia content.  Ask is the final leader in search engines.  They built their own database without borrowing from Google.  They do however, show Google AdWords results in a sponsored link area.  

What is a Web Directory?  A web search tool compiled manually by human editors.  In the beginning, Yahoo was only a directory and eventually became a search engine.  Human editors create directories by sorting through submitted sites.  Search engines do it automatically.  Search engines are run by crawlers that read the information on a page and determine the page’s purpose.  There are 5 types of directories:  human edited, user categorized, user classified, independently classified and pay per click (PPC).  DMOZ and Yahoo are the leading the directories today, it is because they are the largest.  

Search engines do not maintain and update their database, so they usually borrow from major search engines.  For example, Google.  Many search engines borrow results from Google’s SERP (search engine results page).  There are many relationships between the thousands of search engines that exist on the internet and their database counterparts.  

search engine basics

Monday, February 2, 2015

Blogging is Critical to Becoming a Successful Inbound Marketer. Blogging Boosts Inbound ROI.

What is a blog?

A business blog is a collection of articles that provide helpful, valuable, educational, and remarkable content to your target audience.  By providing this value, blogs can easily and effectively draw prospects to your website.  A blog is an integral way to attract more traffic.  This traffic will eventually turn strangers into customers.   “79% of marketers with a company blog reported inbound ROI for 2013” (HubSpot).  Each blog post that you write gets published and indexed, and the more of these pages the more opportunities for people to find you.  Every published blog post is an opportunity for someone to find you.  

I heard a great metaphor to explain the concept of generating leads and gaining traffic and it involved a bakery.  Imagine a bakery.  If 50 people walk into the bakery, this represents traffic.  If 5 out of these 50 likely customers buy a pastry, this means they were converted from a prospect to a customer.  This is an example of conversion.  I would compare blog posts to the smells the bakery generates.  I used to work at a bakery that was right next to a forest preserve.  All day long I would get runners and bikers that had been led to the bakery just because the smell of the baked goods had led them there.  

So we must remember to think about SEO when blogging as well.  Blog with buyer personas in mind, but don’t forget about optimizing for search!

  • Keywords in the title (55 characters):  This will help potential visitors find these posts.
  • Meta description (140 characters): Meta description are HTML attributes that provide concise explanations of the contents of web pages.
  • Image file name and Alt tags:  these were designed for blind internet users, but Google bot can read these tags to determine what purpose the images serve and help optimize also.  Search engines cannot read pictures, so this helps them to do so.  
  • Links and anchor text
  • Focus on mobile optimization:  Google has begun to de-prioritize websites that aren't mobile optimized.

So we will keep SEO in mind while blogging, but we will also need to write compelling titles.  A title is the first chance to attracting someone to read your blog. You want it to sound interesting for the user to click and find their way to your blog.  There are 6 types of blog titles you can write:  actionable, keyword-conscious, brief, clear, definitive, or intriguing.  Blog titles can be a mixture of a few of these types of blog titles.  Make sure each blog post is only about one topic.  If you feel that your post covers more than one topic you may separate them and publish them as two separate blog posts.  

The final tip to becoming a successful inbound marketer by using blogging would be to blog consistently and frequently.  If you would like to get found online very frequently, you must publish just as frequently.  “Consistent blogging boosts Inbound ROI.”
Blogging Boosts Inbound ROI

We discussed alt tags, adding meta descriptions to each individual post, and adding an email subscription "gadget" in class this week.  Here are the links to where I learned how to do these tasks: 
How to add alt tags to Blogger images – Alt attributes for image SEO   
The "follow by email" gadget: an easy way to add an email subscription to your blog
Add Meta Description In Every Post In Blogger