Archive for the ‘sustainable results’ tag
Top marketing news, articles and tips from the last week of March 2012.
SEO Best Practices
Links to your website are one of the most influential factors of SEO, and help to increase online visibility. While backlinks are critical, they can also be difficult to obtain. Chris Sheehy (@ChrisSheehy) points out the four major reasons that businesses don’t get backlinks, and what you can do to improve:
- Be vigilant—Links can’t be automated; the amount of time you put into promoting content will ultimately reflect the amount of links you receive.
- Create a strategy—Dedicate a certain amount of time per day, and stay consistent. As Sheehy says, “an hour a day keeps the competitors away.”
- Don’t get scammed—Be weary of promises like immediate results, top-spot guarantees and overnight listings. True specialists look at the big picture, and advise for sustainable results over time.
- Avoid loopholes—Follow best practices (AKA “white hat SEO”) instead of implementing aggressive tactics or tricks.
As mobile access, and thus website traffic, continues to rise (check out our “Bookmark of the Week” below), it’s equally important to create and optimize mobile sites. Check out Chris Liversidge’s (@liversidge) Tips for Multinational Mobile Site Optimisation for more information, and begin with the following techniques to enhance SEO and user experience:
- Register mobile-only pages with mobile search engines so customers view the right page, no matter what device they’re using.
- Assign different media values for different browser widths using CSS3 coding. As a broad example, tablets need different values than mobile phones)
According to Copyblogger’s Danny Iny (@DannyIny) the secret to easily creating compelling content is found in structure, planning and research. Seems simple, right? Here’s how Iny suggests getting started:
- Learn specifics about your audience (what they like, popular posts, patterns, etc.).
- Create winning headlines that answer questions. Once you find a formula that works, use it as a template for future content.
- Use a hook that details the reader’s problem, and offers a solution to fix it.
- Outline the content, and be sure to identify the problem, cause and solution.
Ardath Albee (@ardath421) reiterates this notion of creating a structured process for content success—and the importance of understanding your audience—in Content Marketing: Theory vs. Practice. Albee also notes that content marketing should never be a standalone effort; keeping this in mind can both improve content’s effectiveness and make its development more efficient.
Success of Visual Content
As a marketer, chances are you’ve used an image-based platform like Pinterest or SlideShare, or encountered visual content (i.e. infographics, presentations) without an afterthought. Even Facebook is cashing in on visual irresistibility with the story-telling format of Timeline.
- Get involved now, and share your already-existing content (like uploading presentations to SlideShare, for example). Make sure to optimize and link back to your website, too.
- Add calls-to-action in natural places within the content to generate and qualify leads.
- Set up a strategy to measure impact and gain insight, which will help you tie results to actions.
In the News
- Yelp (@Yelp) account owners can now see improved, more detailed engagement metrics about their businesses. Updates include extended organic traffic data, the amount of times the business is shown in search results and customer engagement metrics.
- A recent study by ad company DataXu (@DataXu) shows that enterprises want more marketing data, but lack the internal expertise to properly analyze, report and act on it.
Bookmark of the Week
Henry Blodget (@hblodget), Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry (@pegobry) and Alex Cocotas (@acocotas) put together a slide deck on The Future of Mobile. The presentation looks closely at the growth of smartphones and tablets, platform wars and how consumers are actually using their devices, and includes some intriguing stats and graphs.
What articles made your top list last week? We’d like to hear your opinions.
The most sensational, inspirational, celebrational …
No, I’m not talking about “The Muppet Show.” I’m talking about the overhyped marketing message.
Whether it’s because the breathless wording of the message is simply ridiculous (e.g., Less wrinkles in only minutes!) …
… or because the information is of specious lineage (e.g., Chevy’s promotion of its Consumers Digest awards) …
… or because the company and message don’t match (e.g., The Onion wryly spoofs the practice of companies advertising government-ordered environmental cleanups) …
… marketers can shoot themselves in the foot hyping incredible claims when the customer is simply looking for a credible option.
Adam Lapp, Associate Director of Optimization, MECLABS, summed up the challenge most marketers face nicely in the title to this blog post. After optimizing hundreds, if not thousands of landing pages, emails, PPC ads, etc. over the past few years (and consistently delivering double and triple-digit lifts to boot), Adam has a simple message for the marketers of the world — be credible…
“People don’t buy from you because you say that you are the leading this or the largest that, or because you have a clever slogan. No, they buy from you because you have a good product. All you have to do is communicate to them in honest, no-nonsense terms why it’s good.”
How believable are your claims?
Even if your product is amazing, you will need reliable sources and proof that it works.
As marketing professional and author Al Ries has said …
“Advertising has no credibility with consumers, who are increasingly skeptical of its claims and whenever possible are inclined to reject its message.”
Once people try the product and it works, then you are on your way to sustainable results.
So how do you improve the credibility of your marketing and advertising communications?
Notice I said “and it works.” First and foremost — don’t be shady. Make sure there is true value in your marketing proposition.
OK, now that we’ve chased off all of the scammers, here are five tips for increasing credibility, most of which were taken from Transparent Marketing by Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS …
Let someone else do your bragging
Third-party indicators, such as a Better Business Bureau seal, help reduce anxiety. So do testimonials and social proof via review sites, social media and honest, balanced (i.e., not cherry picked) comments and reviews on your own site.
For example, PETCO.com tested various positions for the Hacker Safe seal it has on its homepage. Just by changing the location of the seal within the design of the page, the team was able to increase conversion of visitors to sales by more than 8%.
Tell (only) the (verifiable) truth
As Flint said in Transparent Marketing, “If the Postmodern Consumer can’t instantly verify a claim, he will assume that it is false.”
Substitute general descriptions with specific facts (qualitative vs. quantitative)
Specificity. Be very specific with quantitative facts. If you need to use qualitative facts, see if a third party has said it for you.
Some examples that Aimee Thompson, Office Administrator, MECLABS, was kind enough to dig up from our Research Directory …
NOT THIS: “Fully managed dedicated services by the hosting experts … backed by proven accreditations.”
BUT THIS: “… the highest level of global accreditation. We are the only data center to hold the ISO27001, AS/BS7799, SunTone, RedHat, ASIO and DSD certifications.”
NOT THIS: “… we provide reliable services …”
BUT THIS: “All our solutions are backed by stringent Service Level Guarantees with cash rebates for under-performance: 1) 99.9% uptime guaranteed 2) guaranteed response time 3) guaranteed time to repair.”
Statements like, “Most Accurate Mailing Lists … We have the best data … Industry leader in database marketing,” are all prominent, vague qualitative statements throughout the original copy below.
Previous vague statements have been replaced with quantitative statements like, “We make 26 Million Phone Calls … Trusted since 1972 … 210 million U.S. consumers … 600 full-time researchers.”
The first headline did nothing to engage the reader with credibility or drive the reader to the content. The tone of the headline had a sales approach.
You need to engage the consumer. The point of the headline is not to sell a product but rather to get the customer to read the first paragraph.
The new page has credibility. But, interestingly enough, the old page had credible statements as well; they were just buried in small font at the bottom right of the page.
“Most of the Research Partners I’ve had a chance to work with have a value proposition; they just don’t express it clearly,” Adam said. “And this whole thing about not being a copywriter is a lame excuse. More often than not, when I ask somebody to explain to me why I should buy their product, they have no problem verbally doing so. That’s your copy. Bottle it up and sell it on your page.”
The results of this change? In an A/B split test, the new, more credible page generated 201% more leads. (It should be noted that credibility likely wasn’t the only factor. The new landing page also had more force and appeal.)
Admit your weaknesses
You can’t possibly be everything to everyone. So tell your customers what you can’t do.
This isn’t new advice. For example, Doyle Dane Bernbach’s famed print ad for Volkswagen from 1966 had the headline, “Ugly is only skin-deep.” The first line of copy said, “It may not be much to look at.” By admitting the VW’s notable lack of style for the era, the ad could then focus on the car’s positive qualities in a more believable way.
In a more recent example, River Pools and Spas garnered 176 comments, 396 inbound links, 55,432 page views, and ranked #1 in Google for 10 (lead-generating) keywords simply by writing transparent blog posts.
We’ve talked about print ads and content marketing — executions where you have plenty of room to get into the nuances of why your product or service might have a weakness — but what about in the few characters you have in a subject line? Here is a recent test we ran …
Subject Line Treatment #1: Win $1,900 worth of marketing training
Subject Line Treatment #2: This subject line could be better
Body of email:
Fellow evidence-based marketer,
The subject line for this email could be much better. The subject line for every email could do a more effective job of getting your audience to open, click and convert.
That is why we test. And optimize.
For our next subject line test, we wanted to challenge the model and think outside the box a little, so we’re turning to you — an audience of professional marketers — to tell us which subject line will be most effective for our next experiment.
The winning subject line in our test will receive a free ticket to Optimization Summit 2012, plus a free MarketingExperiments Landing Page Optimization Online Course. That’s a $1,900 value.
For more details, and to send in your subject line, click here.
Thanks for your help. And keep testing,
Director of Editorial Content
P.S. Our job is to help you do your job better. Let us know how we can help.
The “admit your weaknesses” subject line generated 11.5% more unique opens than the powerful incentive subject line (significant at a 95% level of confidence) and generated a 21% higher unique clickthrough rate (significant at a 95% level of confidence).
On the face of it, that’s somewhat surprising. After all, $1,900 worth of free marketing training is surely more appealing than an admittedly weak subject line. However, the average email recipient has been so overpromised by subject lines (with emails that fail to live up to the promise) that the credible subject line probably piqued their curiosity, and was also simply more believable than the obvious hard sell of the incentive.
Be careful not to refute your efforts with opposing elements of your website, customer interactions or anything else
Tell one clear story. And tell it well.
To do that, you have to operate as a team. Make sure the designer, copywriter, developer, sales reps or anyone else involved in conveying your message is marching to the same drummer.
You can’t ignore it: The internet has become a central part of the marketing mix for just about every business out there. As a result, demand has grown in recent years for online marketing agencies that can help companies navigate the increasingly complex world of search, social media, email marketing, affiliate marketing, and more. And in response, tons of agencies are popping up, promising you the world when it comes to helping generate online visibility and maximum return on investment. But how do you know if your agency is really delivering what’s best for your brand?
It’s all about transparency. Because online marketing is such a highly specialized expertise, it’s too easy for an agency to “fake it” — that is, over-promise, overcharge, and under-deliver when it comes to results. To really know where your online marketing ROI stands, look for these top five red flags when evaluating an agency — whether you’re working with one already, or looking to bring one on board.
Is your agency regularly testing different opportunities?
Let’s face it: Not every campaign works the first time. Or the second time. Or the third. Any online marketing agency worth its salt should tell you right off the bat that it will need to try a combination of different channels and approaches over time in order to achieve real, sustainable results for your business. In the world of online marketing, there is little value in one-and-done campaigns that drive initial traction but can’t sustain attention over the long term.
That means it’s critical to continuously analyze, fine-tune, and update your campaigns; it’s the only way to truly optimize your spend, while maximizing your return. Be wary of an agency that is not pushing you to test and adapt its strategies on a regular basis, and share its results — both good and bad.
Do you get regular, detailed reports?
When it comes to online marketing, the numbers simply don’t lie. Like any marketing effort, your online strategy is designed to yield some form of measurable, quantifiable results, such as qualified leads or web site volume. Even if a campaign isn’t working — and again, some just don’t — your agency should be able to tell you why, using specific numbers and metrics. It’s a major cause for concern if an agency is not willing to give you full access to your activity and results at every level, through real-time reporting, testing tools, and the like.
When was the last time you were told NOT to spend money?
With new marketing channels popping up on a regular basis, it can be tempting to chase after the shiny new toy right away. But not every marketing tactic is best for your business. Consider Twitter, for example. Everyone is eager to be a part of it, but the truth is that many businesses still aren’t seeing any quantifiable value from it — especially when they consider the lack of a return on the investment that’s required just for them to maintain an active Twitter presence in the first place.
A good agency looks for the online marketing mix that’s most directly aligned with your company’s specific objectives, budget, and needs. If your agency says “yes” to everything, they may have dollars in mind — not your best interests — at heart.
How often do you hear from your account manager?
If you’re a smaller company with fewer marketing dollars, chances are you could get lost in the shuffle. You should hear from your account manager at least twice a week with an update on current activity and results. And of course, you should be able to reach anyone on your account team at any time, with a quick response to any request. If this isn’t happening, you might not be getting the same level of performance, resources, time, and effort as other clients.
How transparent is your monthly bill?
Commissions and fees often play a large role in the world of online marketing, especially if your strategy requires working with affiliates and other partners. Are you being charged for ad serving? And if so, is your rate marked up? Some agencies charge commission, others don’t –and what’s important is that you know if yours does. Your bill should clearly outline any and all charges, commissions, and fees up front. If you’re not sure why your bill is what it is, ask. You’re entitled to an explanation.
At the end of the day, transparency is the key to a successful relationship with your agency. With open communication, clear objectives, and an honest look at activities and results, you’re sure to see tangible benefits from your online marketing initiatives.
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