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Top 4 Worst Lead Generation Techniques

  
  
  
Lead Generation for Internet Marketing resized 600
Source: Construction Marketing Association

Lead generation (or whatever we're calling it this week) is defined as the generation of consumer interest in a product, service, or business. Of course, SearchDog Marketing is a, well, marketing company, so our interest is to generate new leads for marketing purposes. There are many ways you can get new leads for your business using the Internet. A website is the most obvious way, but it takes a lot more than having a simple website to get people to buy from your business online. 

In this blog, I will outline 4 of the worst lead generation techniques I have noticed lately. If you have witnessed anything like this or worse, please share with us all in the comments. The more we share, the more we all learn. So, here it goes....

Blogging for sales, not social engagement
The beauty of the Internet is that it gives every person an opportunity to develop a platform of their own. This is also one of the major downsides of the Internet, because too many platforms and voices makes it a very noisy place to engage with potential customers and conduct business. So, how does a business separate themselves from the spammers out there? Sure, you guessed it, establishing a business blog is a great first step. But on this blog, what approach will you take to further separate yourself from the spamming masses? Remember, just because you built it does not automatically mean an audience will follow. In fact, this is quite often NOT the case for amateur business bloggers. Generating leads through a business blog is far from rocket science, but it's a lot more complex than riding a bike. 

One of the biggest offenses I see committed in the pursuit of lead generation is businesses that blog for sales and not social engagement. While I admit that the ultimate reason for blogging is to generate more business for your company, there are also many more pieces to this puzzle that must not go ignored. Your blog is your platform, your company's window to the world. You can fill it up with self-absorbed content about your services, products, etc. but would that be an interesting read? Ask yourself that and answer as honestly as your customers would. The Internet is the one place where people feel 100% comfortable being brutally honest about their opinions of everything from politics to peanut butter. 

So, before you step into the blogging for business arena, make sure you are there for the right reasons. In case you're still in the dark about what those reasons are, here's a few:

  • To engage with potential and current customers on your turf
  • To give people useful/helpful info
  • To create a forum where people interested in your company can seek answers and ask questions
  • To capture new leads for your business in a less obvious and less annoying way
  • To be more personable to the people you do business with

This list goes on and on depending who you ask, but the list shouldn't be filled with selfish reasons. People can sniff out a spammer or self-absorbed company very fast these days. Don't put your business in negative light by blogging only about your business. It should be about your business and serving the people who make your business possible. 

Failing to Keyword Content Across All Platforms
Using keywords on your website, social media posts and updates is a necessity for any business seeking to have a successful web presence. Here's why: I manage social media for one of our clients and I recently noticed my Google+ posts showing up in Google search results. This isn't by chance or luck. This is directly due to keyword usage in social media updates. I blog for another client's company and noticed those blogs showing up in search engine results when I search using the keywords we identified.

All of our marketing efforts for every client is based on a set of keywords and phrases that are used over and over again. From social media posts to pay-per-click ads, we consistently use the same keywords and measure the effectiveness from beginning to end. This is not anything new, it is the norm. It's also not anything fancy, it's standard Internet and social media marketing practices. 

Not Following Up With Emails Collected at Direct Marketing Events
If you are hosting or participating in an event, then you are conducting direct marketing. It's a strategy, a part of a bigger set of activities that are all focused on generating more business for your company. Nothing should be done in vain or without purpose. Therefore, if you decide to collect email addresses at an event, you MUST follow-up with these people. Not doing so is your first strike in this new relationship with potential customers. 

Over the summer, I have attended several festivals and conferences where I signed up for email lists. After signing up for several, I have only received follow-up emails from two organizations to date. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth about these businesses as a consumer and marketer. I question the sincerity of their efforts. But, I'll get off my soapbox and get to the takeaway for businesses. 

Follow-up with everyone you encounter. Whether they appeared interested or uninterested in your company, if they sign-up for your email list, email them until they unsubscribe. With that said, there is a such thing as over-emailing and over-communicating. It's a toxic and unsuccessful behavior that will cripple your email marketing campaigns. It's also the next topic up for discussion.

Sending Emails to ALL Clients on Your Email List
I believe this is the second time I have written about this topic. I stated that to explain that to our regular readers. I apologize for the redundancy, but I am obligated to blog about the things I see businesses doing on a regular basis. There are still people out there who need help and if reemphasizing is helpful, I must oblige. 

With that said, if you are sending all emails to every person on your email list, you are most likely experiencing a lack of list growth. Subscribers are jumping ship every time you send an email. In fact, if you are emailing everyone all the time, you probably also not following the other rules of email marketing. Please read some of the blog I've written in the past to help optimize your campaigns for lead generation. Get up to speed before you send ANOTHER EMAIL. 

For the purpose of this blog, I will identify a few reasons why you should not send blanket emails to your entire list:

  1. Everyone on your email list does not care about everything you have to say at all times. Target your emails to the people who are likely to have an interest in the topic. 
  2. Emailing people about things they don't care about is considered spam. This is pretty self-explanatory.
  3. Constant unsubscribes weakens the strength of your email list and can jeopardize your account with the MailChimp, ConstantContact or whichever company you use to send emails.

Once someone unsubscribes, you have lost them forever. They may still come to your business, but once they hit the unsubscribe button (or mark you as spam), they are off limits forever. How many people have you lost forever?

So, have you come up with any ideas of similarly bad lead generation techniques? If so, please share in the comments below. I promise I do not write these blogs to pick on anyone. We're all grown ups and when you know better you do better. Isn't that how the old saying goes? That's what this is. An attempt to share lessons learned and reduce any future mistakes. As always, successful marketing strategies and successful business practices are the goal. 

 

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4 Common Local Business SEO Mistakes

  
  
  


local business seo searchdog marketing resized 600 With only 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week, it can be difficult to manage all of the marketing activities related to your business that are to keep customers coming and revenue high. One way to manage everything is to develop a local business search engine optimization strategy to take advantage of social, local, and mobile marketing opportunities. Done correctly, local business SEO can generate a constant stream of revenue by connecting your business with a online customer base.

Done incorrectly, it can do more harm than good to your online brand, marketing budget, and perception of what works and does not. What makes it even harder to get SoLoMo marketing right is the huge amount of misinformation available on the subject. Misinformation leads to mistakes, but like most mistakes, they can be avoided. In this blog, we will identify four common SoLoMo marketing mistakes and ways to overcome them.

Mistake #1 - No Official Facebook Page

One of the most common mistakes I see small business owners make is using their Facebook profile for business instead of creating an official Facebook page. Not only do they do a disservice to their business, but also to their customers. Facebook profiles are for personal account holders. When you post status updates and share media like photos and videos from a profile, you are doing so a person, not a business entity. Engaging customers on social media with a profile creates brand confusion and misleads people. Facebook pages are for businesses and come with some pretty sweet analytics and advertising capabilities. Using the data and ads can boost your fan base and extend your reach beyond anything a Facebook profile could ever accomplish. You might be asking yourself why one would use their personal profile instead of a business page. The only reason that comes to mind is sheer laziness, ignorance, and/or trying to utilize their current friend connections to boost their fan base. Rest assured that whatever they have gained using a profile is not nearly as valuable as what they lose by not having a business page.

Mistake #2 - Not Sharing Blog Posts on Social Media

Business blogs have many uses and one of the main ones is to increase website traffic. You can significantly increase your blog hits and website traffic by sharing your blog posts with your social media fans. Now, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Your social media accounts should not be a dumping ground for all your blog posts. Create a balance between fun, educational, and sales posts or you will start to resemble a spambot.

Mistake #3 - Failing to Use Keywords in Image File Names

Images add color, life, and balance to marketing, but there is also a SEO benefit. By plugging keywords into file names, search engines give ranking credit for every image file name that includes keywords. For whatever reason, most folks do not take the time to do this very simple activity. If you want to see the impact, go to Google Images and type your company's name into the search box. Now do the same for your top three competitors. If you find nothing for your brand and something for your competitors, you catch my drift. If the experiment failed altogether, search for your favorite brand and see what comes up.

Mistake #4 - Not Spending at Least 15 Minutes A Day On Each Social Media Site

Yes, 15 minutes is a long time if you have several social media sites. But in all honesty, it is not a very long time when you think about the fact that some businesses have full-time positions dedicated to social media. These companies are more successful at social media, because they get what they put into it. Not to say businesses who don't have a full-time position lack the potential to be successful. Quite the opposite in fact. If you plan out your posts in advance and schedule them to release at varying intervals throughout the day. But that is not enough. You need to post a few real-time responses to let your followers know you actually have a pulse. Humanistic marketing makes people love brands. Invest time and you'll see a return.

These four mistakes are really only the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on, but these are by far the most common mistakes made in the pursuit of SoLoMo success. Each mistake can be easily avoided and fixed with a little planning and time invested. Being successful at marketing does not always require a huge budget. A little knowledge and effort can go a long way.

What are some other common mistakes you have seen or were once guilty of committing?

 

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How to Integrate Social Media with Your Local Marketing Strategy

  
  
  
Successfully integrating social media into your overall local marketing strategy can transform the face of your business communications. But why should you bother doing this? How will it improve your business communication efforts? The answer is quite simple, businesses that get social media marketing right usually get customer engagement right. Marketing communications is not a one-way street. It goes two ways and social media is a great way to conduct two-way communications with your customer base. local marketing synergy resized 600
In this blog, we will explain a few methods to successfully integrate your social media efforts with your local marketing strategy. Hopefully, you have already established a social media presence for your business. Whether you have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, etc., it is important to understand that social media is much more than establishing an account. It is much more than posting status updates about your latest promotion. Social media is about building and engaging a community of people who love your brand. Yes, you can run advertisements on most social media platforms, but in all honesty, no one will click or buy anything if you fail to do your due diligence.
Due diligence means integrating social media into your local marketing strategy by truly adopting it as a company priority. Most companies fail at social media because they are in it for the wrong reasons. A few wrong reasons for joining social media are:
  • Sell products, goods, or services
  • Tet likes or fans
  • To look cool
  • because your competition is doing it
If you fall guilty to any of these reasons, do not be alarmed, because you aren't alone. Many businesses get into social media because they want to see a monetary return on their investment. Time and manpower are critical investments that most companies cannot afford to make without seeing a serious return. And that is entirely understandable. Before you can truly expect to see a return, you must take the necessary steps to integrate social media in your marketing strategy in every way possible. First, let's start with some basic methods and then drill down to intermediate to advanced integration methods. 

Basic Methods: 
  • Add your social media urls and logos to your website, printed materials, etc. Any marketing material your customers receive in your location or through mail. 
  • Cross promote on all your social media accounts. on Facebook, point people to Twitter and vice versa. 
  • Add your social media urls to your receipts. 
Intermediate Methods: 
  • Create content (blogs, SlideShare presentations, infographics, etc.) about your brand and distribute it widely using pay per click advertisements, such as Facebook and Twitter advertising tools. 
  • Advertise your Google+ page and post content consistently.
Advanced Methods: 
  • Create social media contests and promote via email marketing. 
  • Host virtual events with your VIP customers or new customer base. 
Move beyond the stale status updates and really put yourself out there. It's the only way you will be able to truly engage your customer base with social media. Integrating social media with your local, targeted, on the ground marketing strategy adds credibility to your social media activities.
Social media cannot be a standalone tactic. Brands who get social media right take their activity beyond the computer screen and weave social media into every logical facet of the communication strategy. It's called synergy and it's totally within your reach. 
How are you currently integrating social media into your local marketing strategy? What's worked and what hasn't worked? Add your comments below and let's get the discussion going. #synergy

How to Leave a Trail of Content Breadcrumbs Back to Your Website

  
  
  

The whole point of having a website is for people to visit it and buy your products, goods, or services. Then why is it that after spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a beautifully designed website, your web visits and lead conversions are so low? There are many factors, in fact, more than we have time to cover in this particular blog.

The main reason your website has low web visits and lead conversions is that you probably lack a defined strategy to convert web visits into paying clients. Wait, shouldn’t the sheer beauty of your website cast a ‘hurry & buy’ spell on any and all visitors? Not quite. That would make everyone’s lives really simple and our company’s purpose obsolete. Drive Online Traffic to Small Business Website resized 600

You have to lead people, the right people, to your website if you have any chance of seeing a profit from it. That’s basically what inbound marketing is all about – leading people to your website to turn a profit. But how can you lead them there?

One good way to lead people to your website is to pull them in from other websites. In this blog, we will give you a few pointers on strategies to help you lead a trail of content breadcrumbs to lure visitors back to your website.

List your website on online directories

It may not seem like there’s a huge reason to sign up for directory listings, but there’s a hidden carrot for doing so. Submitting your website to web directories means you receive backlinks to your site, which is just one more way to get found online. 

Comment on high traffic blogs and leave your web address

Again, this may not seem like it has a huge return, but leaving thoughtful, meaningful comments on high-traffic blogs is a great way to get noticed by people in your field. It also helps position you as a thought-leader on a particular topic. Whether you agree or disagree with the perspectives in the blog, make sure your response isn’t frivolous. Put a little meat on it and you just may get a reply back from the author, which further strengthens your credibility.

Start a LinkedIn Group

This is not the first time I have suggested starting a community group on LinkedIn. I do so adamantly because I believe in the power of LinkedIn groups. Not just for content curation, but for making meaningful connections and crowdsourcing benefits. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of stale, inactive groups filled with spammers out there. However, there are just as many meaningful groups out there with members who are looking for a interesting, industry specific dialogue. 

Answer & Ask Questions in Established LinkedIn Groups

It’s not only a good idea to start your own LinkedIn group, but you should also engage in already established groups. Answering questions people ask in groups provides a legitimate Segway to the products and services you provide. In this forum, a sales pitch is inappropriate. Strive to be helpful and ask for nothing in return. Making meaningful connections is not always about someone buying something right away. Think about the lifetime value of a meaningful interaction. The next time someone has a question, they may come directly to you instead of posting in a group.

Start a Google+ Group & Organize a Hangout

If you haven’t identified the theme of this blog, it’s gaining web visits by making connections in other places online. A relatively new place to make connections online is through Google+ Groups. While they aren’t as well populated as some LinkedIn Groups, there are lots of potential customers and industry professionals present in that space. 

There are many non-traditional ways to get a targeted segment to visit your website. It won’t happen over night, not with paid ads or organic methods. Everything takes time. The important takeaway to remember is that if you’re not genuine in your pursuits, the public will be able to tell. No matter how fancy your website is, it won’t automatically attract the right group of visitors. You have to know where they congregate online and plant yourselves in those communities. 

 

How to Get Leads with PPC - A Beginners Guide

  
  
  

With all the buzz around internet marketing and pay per click advertising, it can be difficult for business owners to decide which route leads to marketing success. Pay per click advertising is a great way to generate new leads, but it can also be very expensive if you are not experienced in managing them. how to get leads with ppc resized 600

In this blog, we will discuss ways to make the most of pay per click advertising budget. The tips provided in this blog can be applied to Google Adwords, Yahoo, Bing, etc. Before we go down this road, keep in mind that you are completely in control of PPC campaigns. You choose the keywords, you choose which landing page it points to, you choose the audience who sees the ads. Being in complete control means you take complete responsibility for the campaign’s success or failure. It is possible to learn how to manage PPC ads without enlisting an expert’s help, but as with any newly learned skill, it takes time, commitment, and focus to see the results your business needs. 

With that said, let’s discuss how to get leads with PPC:

  1. Brainstorm a list of relevant and realistic keywords – As with most Internet marketing campaigns, PPC ad success centers on having a core list of keywords. Without that, you are shooting in the dark with no real target in sight. To start a focused keyword brainstorming session, you must first ask yourself ‘how will my customers search for my business online?’ Name 4-5 logical phrases your customers would use to locate your business or similar businesses. For example, if you own a pet grooming business in Dallas, a few phrases could be: dog grooming in Dallas, best pet groomer in Dallas, affordable pet grooming services, etc. Now that you have a basic list to work from, go to your Google Analytics (assuming you have this in place) and review the keywords visitors use to find your website. Compare that list to yours and make changes to create a final list. Working from a basic list is always good because it will either support or destroy the notions you have about your own customer’s behavior.

  2. Check keyword rank, difficulty, search traffic, and bidding prices in Adwords – The best way to determine if a keyword is worth it, is to check its status in Adwords. There you can plug in a keyword to verify it’s rank, difficulty, search traffic, and how much it’ll cost you. Some keywords/phrases will have high search traffic, but be very difficult to rank for. Others will be the exact opposite. You will be forced to make some tough decisions, so choose your battles wisely. I suggest taking a long, hard look at your competitor’s website to identify some obvious keywords they are ranking for.

  1. Stick to the suggested bid or bid more – A frequent mistake made when in PPC management is under bidding. PPC ads differ from print ads in that you have complete control over your ad spend. You can decide how much to pay for a click, how much you want to spend per day, and your overall budget. Do yourself a favor and stick to the suggested bid or bid more than that. Doing less than what’s suggested in a sure way to guarantee no one will see your ads.

  2. Create customized landing pages – A very amateur mistake that’s constantly made by marketing DIYer’s is sending PPC ads to their website’s homepage. An ad should be a part of a much larger campaign that is tracked from start to finish. It’s hard to track how many people visited your website or bought a certain product if your ad links directly to your home page. Solve this by creating customized landing pages for each PPC ad offer.

  3. Know what you don’t know – The most frustrating thing about being a marketer is working with clients who think they know it all. Doing your research on the front end (i.e. reading this blog) is a good step to scratching the surface of untapped knowledge, but blogs won’t give you experience. The fact is that you don’t have time to master marketing. You’re busy running your business, managing employees, and satisfying customers. But at the very least, be aware of what your business needs to succeed. Every business needs a marketing plan. Every business needs a website. Every business needs to advertise. Leave the strategy and tactics to an honest professional or you will waste time and money reinventing a well-established wheel.

If you feel up to the challenge of creating PPC ads, go for it. If you’d rather not take on another project, give us a call and we’ll take care of the heavy lifting. If nothing else, hopefully, you learned a bit about how to optimize your PPC ads to get leads.

 

 

 

 

Inbound Marketing for Startups: Tips & Tricks to Get Noticed

  
  
  

The ever-increasing number of new startups launching each day makes marketing more challenging than ever before. It’s getting harder to keep your company top of mind among consumers. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can reach your target audience by tapping into the great equalizer - Inbound marketing for startups.

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That seems like a pretty obvious move every startup, but not everyone approaches the goal in a strategic AND creative way. Most new startups are strapped for cash, so going all out on an online advertising campaign is not even an option. Luckily, there are many free to reasonably priced methods to get your startup noticed by the people who need your products and services.

Before we jump into the nitty gritty, let’s cover some must-have information before lifting a finger in the Inbound marketing for startups direction. 

Know Your Target Consumer

Saying this never gets old, because it is always necessary. And it goes for those who have been in business for years and those who are just now getting off the ground. Failing to have a strong grasp on who your audience is will cost your time, money, and manpower.

Finding out who your audience is should be very simple – it’s who needs your product or service most and who will help your business become established and grow. Using Inbound marketing strategies makes targeting the right audience easier and cost efficient than traditional methods. 

Create a Responsive, SEO Friendly Web Site

Nowadays, people access websites from a number of devices, platforms, and browsers. In order for you to put your best foot forward, your startup’s website must be accessible through them all. They find new websites organically through search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing using keywords. Which is why your website should be both responsive and search engine optimization friendly. If you’re skeptical about how important it truly is, go log into Google Analytics and take a peek at your bounce rate. Then look at the devices that have accessed your website. If your site is nonresponsive, you’re no doubt deterring visitors from staying on your site.

Submit to Public Listings

It’s always a good idea to sign up for tech public listing sites like TechCrunch and Hacker News. Not only can you find a good pool for beta testers, but also angel investors! We found a pretty long list of listings for startups, so take your time and decide which are worth your time. 

Connect with Other Startups

The great and not so great thing about being a new start up is that you are one of many others trying to stake a claim in the marketplace. Competition is a gift and a curse, but there’s plenty of room for new tech companies to flourish. So, why not network with your competition? Forge a strategic partnership with a complementary business. Make sure there’s something worthwhile in it for you both. Think referral fees and cross web promotions. Or sharing a booth at a local festival (if that’s allowed). 

Create Lots and Lots of Shareable Content

This isn’t about establishing a social media presence would be pretty basic. Of course, you will have a Facebook and Twitter. Maybe a Pinterest and Instagram depending on how much your startup lends itself to visual storytelling. Which brings me to my next point, creating shareable content is about telling your story. That’s the only thing that separates you from the next guy who offers what you offer. Yeah, sure, maybe your approach is new and novel, but that alone won’t make people like you enough to keep you top of mind. And that’s what Inbound marketing for startups is all about – staying top of mind. 

The best types of sharable content are fun, brief, easy to access across all platforms, and relatable. Looping Vine videos, filtered behind the scenes Instagram photos and videos, and original memes. Embed them in a short blog post on your website. 

Host an Expo or Competition

Organizing industry events is a very underutilized strategy by startups and we’re not quite sure why. The benefit seems fairly obvious – face-to-face contact with other startups, media coverage, and the attention of potential investors. Hosting an expo or competition also presents your startup as a leader among your peers and external audiences. But how does this offline engagement benefit Inbound marketing for startups?

Any well-planned event, whether it’s a hack-a-thon or baking contest, will have a sign-up sheet. Collecting contact information for everyone who attends is the beginning of a powerful email list of people you KNOW belong to your target audience. When it comes time to start email campaigns and build your social media presence, that list will come in handy once again.

Remember, no matter what anyone says or does, your presence offline and direct engagement with your target audience (or lack thereof) matters to your marketing success. No amount of advertising or blogging can make up for this.

These are a few low-cost Inbound marketing strategies for startups. Nothing too fancy or costly. It's totally possible to have a great marketing plan without breaking the bank. 

 

What the End of Google's Keyword Tool Means for Local Business SEO

  
  
  

It's no secret that the key to a successful search engine optimization campaign is a well-planned keyword strategy. 

Successful local business SEO strategy depends on having the ability to research keywords, identify new keywords, analyze traffic, and select budgets.  

Many SEO's relied on Google's Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator to satisfy this need, but since the local search giant axed those tools, we've all turned to the newly launched Keyword Planner tool. 

In this blog, we will explain a bit about the differences between the old and the new tool. We'll also discuss what this tool means for local business SEO, because that's what we do best. Help businesses reach their audiences online, near or far. But for the purposes of this blog, we'll hone in on how this tool enhances local business SEO specifically.

Local Business SEO Tool   Keyword Ideas resized 600

Out With the Old

Now that Google's Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator are history, everyone needs to get acquainted with the new tool's interface, capabilities, and features. The major difference between Keyword Planner (KP) and the old tools is that KP combines both tools and is solely focused on making it easier for advertisers to create new ad groups and campaigns. The creation of both items is essential for the start of a solid PPC campaign.  

The old tools were more general in purpose and not well structured. KP, on the other hand, is finely built to streamline the process of building an Adwords campaign from scratch or your existing keyword list. Search Engine Land calls the KP Tool's interface "wizard-like," because it takes all of the guesswork out of PPC campaigns.  

New & Improved Features

  • Research keywords or refine existing campaigns to discover more efficient keywords
  • Target cities, regions, languages, and networks
  • Filter results by number of average monthly searches, CPCs and competition
  • Hide keywords that already on your existing list
  • Combine multiple keyword lists to generate new keywords

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What This Means for Local Business SEO

Keyword Planner likely means a change in workflow for advertisers and SEOs. Using Google’s previous tools did not provide the necessary information to research, target, estimate, and plan a PPC campaign.

Remember, before you jump head first into Keyword Planner, do your prep work. Yes, Google’s tool provides keyword data, but you should come to the table with your own data. You should have your existing keyword list used on other campaigns. If you are new to online advertising, access your Google Analytics data to see what keywords are already being used to drive traffic to your website. 

Now if you want to target other keywords and discover some new ones, here are a few other tools to use for this purpose. Try Mike Blumenthal’s Category Tool, Local Marketing Source’s Keyword Research Tool, Keyword Niche Finder, and Keyword Grouping tools.

Local Business SEO   Performance Estimates resized 600

Why Use Keyword Planner

If you’re new to internet marketing and search engine optimization, you may be asking yourself why you should even care about Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Creating an ad in Adwords Express is super easy and they find all the keywords for you automatically, right? Well, that’s true, but Adwords Express only scratches the surface. If you truly want to unlock you PPC potential, you should be using the full-fledged Adwords product. You will have much more control over your ad word groups and your ads themselves.

Not only that, Keyword Planner (and tools like it) provide critical information for your PPC campaign. The simple fact is that no amount of strategy or automation makes up sloppy keyword selection. If your list sucks, so will your campaign. Which is money wasted. The more research you do on the front end, the more optimized your campaigns will be and the more ROI you can expect.

Sorry Kids, It’s Only Available in Limited Beta

Hopefully, by now you’re sold on Keyword Planner and understand what it does. So, you want to check it out, right? Well, you can hurry up and wait, because it’s only available in limited beta. It’s no surprise that not everyone can access Keyword Planner. That’s why we’ve provided so many screenshots from the lucky few who posted blogs from their accounts. 

We’ll keep you posted on Google updates and local business SEO strategies. In the meantime, if you have access to Keyword Planner, tell us what you think and if you’re using it along with other tools.

 


June 2013: Social Media Marketing Recap

  
  
  
Unless you've been living under a very large rock for the past month, you noticed a lot has happened this month in the world of social media. Between Facebook and Twitter updates, there is a lot to review and integrate into your social media strategy. 
In this blog, we'll give a brief overview of what's transpired over the past three weeks. Over the next few blogs, we'll dissect each update and announcement. Here's what you missed this month. We'll start with the biggest player in the room - Facebook.
Facebook Introduces Hashtags
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This came as no surprise to anyone. Facebook is slowly (as always) rolling out hashtags to its users in an effort to "bring conversations back to the forefront." The same concept and idea as with Twitter and Google+. Users click on hashtags to find other related content around that keyword. Longterm, Facebook plans to connect hashtags with paid ads and have trending hashtags. Here's more info on Facebook Hashtags.
Facebook Gives Sponsored Stories, Questions, and Offers the Boot
The big wigs at Facebook finally realized they offer too many advertising products. Among other things, the sheer number of options available was confusing to marketers. Three ad products got chopped: Sponsored Stories, Questions, and Offers. Check with Hubspot for more details. 
Twitter Unlocks Analytics to All Users
Finally! Twitter made the move we have all been anxiously awaiting since for many years. They unlocked analytics that allow all users to view and analyze the tweet performance. To access your analytics, visit  http://ads.twitter.com and log-in using your credentials. 
Facebook Launches Video on Instagram
Not willing to be left out of the video fun, Facebook delivered on a highly anticipated upgrade to Instagram - video and filtering capability. Instagram users now have the ability to take 15 second videos and share directly on the news feed of their current followers. The clear advantage to sharing video on Instagram instead of Vine is the difference in audiences and cross-platform sharing. Most users have bigger followings on Instagram, so they get more engagement there. Not to mention the Facebook integration expands their reach even wider. Take that Vine. 
Vine Adds New Features
Hoping to fend off Facebook's Instagram update, Vine added a few new features to the mix. They changes included a redesigned video stream and the ability to save draft versions of video. That's huge for early adapters who have been itching for a way to save their cool Vines before sharing. Soon after this update was leaked to media Facebook announced the video update to Instagram. It's still unclear how Vine will survive now that Facebook has upped the ante, but many Vine loyalists are confident in its survival. Only time will tell. 
Facebook Rolls Out New and Improved Business Analytics
Late last month, Facebook refreshed their business analytics to make things clearer for advertisers to understand the impact of their dollars. "People Talking About Us" was always a slightly vague and ambigious metric. If you were confused about its meaning, you're not alone. So they broke it down into five different metrics and they are: 
  • Page Likes
  • People Engaged (the number of unique people who have clicked on, Liked, commented on, or shared your posts)
  • Page Tags and Mentions
  • Page Checkins
  • Other interactions on a Page

Much clearer. 
The metric "Virality" got renamed as "Engagement Rate and  it now takes clicks into consideration. Before this, Virality measured how many stories (likes, comments, shares) were created from a single post. 
Another much appreciated update to Business Analytics is the individualized post data, which makes it easier to understand the impact of a single post. Before this update, it wasn't possible to see a clear, consolidated snapshot of one post. Hubspot shows us what it looks like:
Lastly, Facebook made it easier to understand exactly which people you engaged by adding a simple "People Engaged" section. It gives a demographic breakdown of who you reached, thus making it easier to identify which types of content resonate with what audiences. 
The new and improved Business Analytics definitely helps marketers connect the dots by painting a clearer picture of ROI and engagement. 
Twitter's Viacom Deal Gains Traction
Last, but certainly not least (in our book anyway), is Twitter's very intriguing Viacom deal. It's on the horizon, but it's still unclear exactly what this means for the future of social media. Other than a lot of TV to your Twitter stream. It appears the folks at Twitter have a different vision for the future of video and social media advertising. It involves Vine and real-time videos during TV networks like Viacom, NBC, and the BBC. Twitter's Amplify platform packs a punch that Instagram video simply does not (at this point anyway). 
Twitter & Viacom plan to launch their partnership at the 2013 MTV Music Video Awards at Brooklyn's Barclay Center on August. 25. This will mark the first of many collaborations and real-time, behind the scenes footage of Viacom's hit programming. 
That wraps it the June 2013 Social Media Recap. Wonder what the month of July holds for social media marketing...let's see! 

How to Capture Email Addresses Using Twitter's Lead Generation Cards

  
  
  

Up until now, getting medium to small sized business owners excited about advertising on Twitter has been an uphill battle. The sheer vastness of Twitter's audience pool, number of fake accounts, and advertising costs make Twitter ads less attractive for companies with slim marketing budgets. 

Over the past year, Twitter's made significant strides towards diversifying their ad offerings and making the cost more reasonable across the board. Twitter Cards are a feature available to a select group of advertisers that makes it possible to attach media experiences to tweets that link back to your content. 

Twitter offers 7 types of cards. They are: 

  • Summary Card: Default card, including a title, description, thumbnail, and Twitter account attribution.
  • Large Image Summary Card: Similar to a Summary Card, but offeres the ability to prominently feature an image.
  • Photo Card: A Tweet sized photo card.
  • Gallery Card: A Tweet card geared toward highlighting a collection of photos.
  • App Card: A Tweet card for providing a profile of an application.
  • Player Card: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player card.
  • Product Card: A Tweet card to better represent product content.

The 7th and most recently added one is the Lead Generation Card. It allows marketers to capture customer email addresses directly from a tweet. Why is this important, you ask? And what's it in for marketers? 

The Lead Generation Card shortens the conversion path for users by removing a couple of steps. Users no longer have to click a link, be sent to a landing page, and fill out a form. The new Twitter Card automatically populates a users name, Twitter handle, and email address, so it's less work for them. Email address are securely and privately without being exposed to everyone on Twitter. This way, users can rest assured that they won't receive lots of spam. 

Here's what it looks like:

Twitter's Lead Generation Card | Inbound Marketing

This new addition to Twitter Cards is a very exciting development for inbound marketers. While currently it's only available to Twitter's managed advertising clients, the company promises to roll it out to small and medium-sized businesses very soon. 

Having a lead generation capability solves the issue of how to get the email addresses of the following you've worked so hard to amass. Sadly, a large social media following does not translate directly to sales. As sad as that may be for some of you hard and fast, bottom-line types, it's important to remember that social media is as much a public relations tool as it is a marketing tool. Pinpointing a quantifiable value of every social media effort would be great and there are some tools out that try to nail down that value. They value of engagement lies in brand awareness and lead generation potential, which Twitter has introduced with their Twitter Cards offering. 

Twitter's already seen some success with the Lead Generation card. Brands like NewRelic (@newrelic), Full Sail (@fullsail), and PriceLine (@priceline) report experiencing deeper interactions with customers as a result of using the new card. Although this feature is still in BETA testing and will undergo multiple iterations and improvements before being further released, it doesn't hurt to start the conversation about the future potential it holds. 

Monetizing Email Addresses

Not all businesses take the time to monetize customer email addresses through an inbound marketing campaign. In fact, doing a sloppy job at an inbound marketing campaign actually does more harm than good. When potential customers take the time to fill out a form online they aren't doing it for fun. They expect to get something in return. Inbound marketing campaigns seek to generate leads in a quid quo pro type fashion. In exchange for their personal information, people expect quality content, discount/coupons, contest entry, etc. What they get depends on your ability to follow-up consistenly. Failure to do so can hurt your brand and revenue. 

So take some time now to think long and hard on the benefits of inbound marketing and lead generation. If you're already on board, examine your strategy's pain points and see what you can do to take advantage of the opportunity that's on the horizon. Until then, be on the look out for big brands trying to gather your email addresses! We'll be taking notes on their approaches to come up with best practices!

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What Google's Penguin 2.0 Update Means for SEOs

  
  
  

If you noticed a major change in your website's traffic this month, Google's recent Penguin 2.0 update is to blame. 

Whether you saw a boost or a decline in web traffic depends on how Google views the quality of your site content. The May 2013 Penguin update continues the company's onslaught against spam and black hat search engine optimization tactics. While the updates will hit some harder than others, all in all, it is only estimated to impact roughly 2.3% of Google's English search queries. penguin 2.0 update attacks spammers

But, why the strong arming tactics? Why not just shut down sites altogether? It's pretty simple. Google wants to make sure users are receiving the best possible content. They don't mean to make your life a living hell, but as Matt Cutts said in a video released by Google explaining the effects of Penguin 2.0, "As long as you're working hard for users, we're working hard to try to show your quality content to users as well." The best way to ensure that businesses are serving up delicious content is keep raising the bar. 

Cutts warns that things are still "in flux" and not to take these changes as the final word. "If you're doing high quality whenever you're doing SEO, this changes shouldn't be a big surprise." Very true, it is not a big surprise, but reporting on these updates help business owners and marketers understand the importance of high quality content in your inbound marketing strategy. 

New Changes Include: 

Spam-Fighting Technology 

Targeting advertorials was the first thing Matt Cutts mentioned in the video. It's no wonder. Back in February, Google penalized UK newspapers and Interflora for selling links on sites that bypass PageRank. They've made it very clear that advertorials are a clear violation of their policies, but I, like others, find myself landing on these types of pages. 

Spam Queries

Google's taking a closer look at spammy queries such as "pay day loans" or pornographic terms. 

Upstream Approach

They're taking a more proactive approach spam links by discrediting link value of the gained from spam sources and blocking future credits from similar sources. 

Link Analysis Software

Cutts said Google is in the early stages of developing an improved link analysis solution. 

Authority Boost

Websites that are authorities in specific niche industries are being identified to receive an boost in SERP visibility. This update will check content to measure trust and examine link profiles. Once authority is determined, these sites receive more credit. 

Increased Communication with Web Masters

Google promises to keep in contact with web masters more through the portal. So, if there's an issue with hacking or another problem, web masters always have that go-to location to receive help from the Google team.  

There are a few more changes involved with this update, but these are the major ones you need to be aware of.  

Watch the video below to here Matt Cutts' talk in detail.

 

What Does the Penguin 2.0 Update Mean for SEOs and Marketers?

Essentially this update means what Google has been telling us all along. Produce more quality content with the user in mind and you will rank higher in SERPs and PageRank strengthens. 

But how do you know if your PageRank sucks or is in good shape? It's an easy and relatively quick fix to find out. If you're using Chrome (which makes life easier overall), go to the App Store and search for PageRank. Download it and follow instructions. You should be able to check the PageRank of any website you visit. This is a powerful tool for marketers who have to justify website strategy changes. 

Looking for more tips on how to improve your PageRank and safeguard your website against Penguine 2.0 penalities? Stay tuned. Help is on the way. 

 

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