Online

The Mystique of SEO

SEO-mystiqueIt seems like SEO is big business these days – it’s the “buzzword” de jour! With more and more SEO consultants, online SEO experts, SEO packages, SEO promises, and SEO professionals popping up every day, I find myself and many of my clients bombarded with the pointed message: “Your business will die without proper SEO” (I am paraphrasing of course).

With many web companies, online providers and marketing companies all providing SEO, how are you to know which one is offering the right SEO for you? Should you buy that SEO package online or use the consultant from that SEO Company everyone is talking about? I certainly understand all the SEO confusion that exists in the marketplace.

SEO by its shear nature is continuously evolving which is why there seems to be a mystery around what it is exactly. Let’s demystify it: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, plays an important role in your customer’s research and buying cycle. It attracts potential buyers to your website through critical and relevant keywords and phrases ranked high in search engines where searchers are already looking for information about them. SEO is about being where your customers are, and directing them towards solutions you offer them.

SEO is so important, in fact I would say it is absolutely essential to helping you grow your online business, but like other marketing tactics, SEO needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

A good marketing strategy will provide an indication of which marketing tactics should specifically target your audience. The tactics will complement SEO and in combination, strengthen and reinforce each element to grow your business exponentially. To be clear, SEO alone (i.e. without brand awareness, and a strategy) cannot help you reach your highest marketing potential.

How much you should invest in SEO, what type, and who implements, are great questions for a discussion to have with your trusted marketing agency or advisor. Although they may not be SEO experts, they should be able to help you understand why you need it, what type of investment you might be looking at, and point you in the direction of a professional SEO specialist.

Does your marketing agency provide you with SEO services? What type of successes have you had with your SEO? How long did it take for you to see results? What investment have you made? I look forward to your comments below.

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Social Media Strategy Before Social Media Tools

10-Steps-To-A-Successful-Social-Media-StrategyIt seems easy, right? Just choose which social networks you want to appear on and then post away! Wrong. Unfortunately, many businesses have taken the approach of tools before strategy and the results are, not surprisingly, poor. A posting schedule lacks focus, approach, and direction, which are the crucial first steps in driving your business’ success.

Social media is just another tool in the marketing tool box, much like your website, advertising, special promotions, and campaigns, so you need to look at creating a social media strategy BEFORE you decide on which network to use (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Tools need to be considered last, not first. Why? Because tools change. They always do. There was a time when Netscape seemed invincible. Yahoo, too. And how can we forget about MySpace. If you fall in love with tools, you’ll constantly be changing directions, with no real plan to guide your way.

The strategy will further outline how you brand yourself in social media networks. For businesses with an established brand, this may not be a problem, but you will need to investigate how your offline branding strategy translates into social media marketing.

Unless you have the internal skills and expertise, I’d strongly recommend you engage the services of a strategic marketer to help you create your strategy.

In addition to kicking off the strategy with a clear definition of what makes your business unique, you’ll want to make sure your strategy includes consideration of what your relationship is with your audience, how they use social media, how you’ll deal with unfavourable comments, what resources will monitor the conversations and what metrics you are going to use to determine your success.

What do you think? What are your special tips for making social media engagement effective at driving your business’s success?  I look forward to your comments below.

How does content “Go Viral”?

Perhaps you remember the #KONY2012 video, which was the fastest video to receive 100-million views  in the shortest amount of time. Or maybe you recall the Dove Real Beauty sketches, where the brand invited a group of women to sit down with a sketch artist and describe themselves to him. 

These campaigns are examples of marketing content that has gone viral, but what does this concept actually mean, and how can we channel it into your marketing strategy?

To say something has “gone viral”  usually means that a piece of content has been well-received and widely shared, which is a a marketer’s dream, but the truth is, the vast majority of even great content will never enjoy widespread attention.

The infographic below discusses the science behind viral content and how it comes to be:

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What are your takeaways from this infographic? As a marketer, several tactics stand out to me:

Content: Make a statement with your content. Do you want it to be funny? Incredible? Dramatic? Emotional? Decide what message you want to send and choose a way to communicate it.

Integrated: A great video may get a lot of traction on it’s own merit, but many campaigns rely on integrated approaches that share the same brand message. The other platforms will support to the overall success of your viral campaigns.

Easy-to-Share: If your platforms aren’t easily accessible, fans of the content can’t share even if they wanted to. Make sure you give your audience both a way AND reason to share.

What kind of content could go viral for your business? Do you think viral marketing could work for you? I look forward to your comments below.

 

Emotions are High with Online Advertising

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Last month, I shared an infographic about how Cutting through the informational overload with effective storytelling helps SMB owners make an emotional connection to their consumers by making their brand more memorable to your target audience.

One of the takeaways from this infographic was that statistically “everybody wants multimedia”, and multimedia is a great way to tell a story. But as we all know, video can be expensive, particularly when buying air time, so where better to advertise your multimedia… online of course, where you don’t need 30-second spots.

That means there is an opportunity to show more rich advertising. A great example of this type of advertising is the British Airways 5-minute film online film, promoted with shorter-form ads in other media, entitled A Ticket to Visit Mum. The airline had analyzed 1,400 routes and found too many empty seats on its New York-Mumbai offerings. A traditional solution might have been a seat sale, or touting its vegetarian meal. But the airline thought it needed to connect in a deeper way.

It surprised a real-life Indian mother who had a typical story – a son making a life for himself in the U.S. – with a visit from her son. Following the campaign, sales are up roughly 50 per cent on that route.

Research has shown that there is a direct link between the likeability of an advertisement and purchase intent, said Peter Murray, a New York-based consultant and PhD in consumer psychology with expertise in the role of emotion in marketing.  “There is an emotional imprinting, if you will, on the brand,” he said. “…People are attracted to brands we like just as we’re drawn to people we like.”

But there is another big reason why emotional marketing works with our brains: aside from all the sharing, all the online clicks, the most important thing for advertisers is to make consumers remember them.

“Our minds primarily work as storytelling machines,” Dr. Murray said. “We don’t remember things as facts, we remember things as stories. … That’s why emotion is potentially a very powerful vehicle.”

What do you think of this ad?  Can you relate? Have you considered telling your story with an emotional video story? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.

Online Shopping Goes Mobile – Is Your SMB Ready?

The holiday season often stirs two different emotions in people. On one hand, they enjoy spending time with their families, but on the other hand, shopping at malls and stores becomes a nightmare.

Online shopping has made buying presents much easier, and more Canadians now prefer to buy their presents online. In fact, a recent Ipsos Holiday Statistical Predictions survey showed that 73% of Canadians will shop for presents online this year.

What is more surprising is that Google Canada says 12% of Canadian smartphone users will buy their holiday gifts from their phone, and at least 53% will use a mobile device just to look up information about a purchase.

SMBs need to be aware that the future of shopping is heavily intertwined in the mobile market, and they need to adjust their marketing strategies to include mobile engagement. The infographic below from Mobstac looks at mobile shopping trends, and how smartphone usage is changing the way brands engage consumers during the holiday.

Mobile-Shopping-Trends-Holidays-2013-1126[1]

For SMB owners, this means that the world of mobile can’t be ignored. Just because you don’t feel that your business isn’t large enough to have a mobile website or app, doesn’t mean that your customers won’t be searching for your products or services from their smartphones.

Is your SMB’s website optimized for smartphones? Have you considered an app for your SMB? I look forward to discussing this topic in the comments below.

The Hype Behind Apps

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Smartphones and tablets have become the device of choice for many professionals, which have led to the dominance of apps (short for application).  Apple’s popular slogan for their App Store “There’s an app for that” has instilled the idea that people need to use apps on their phones rather than go to a website – even websites that are optimized for mobile. In fact, a recent Pollara survey on app use in Canada revealed that we now have an average of 14 apps on our smart devices and use them on a weekly or daily basis.

Large companies such as Best Buy and Pizza Pizza have branded apps that provide the customer with a shopping experience that is unique to their smart device. It lets customers accomplish what they can do on a full website in just a few finger swipes, such as ordering a pizza or even purchasing a new 50-inch television! Not all apps are used for e-commerce, as some apps just deliver information.

All of this talk about apps might cause you to wonder if you too should consider getting one for your business. But before you go down what can be a lengthy process, I’ve outlined below four key areas you should consider before you decide whether an app is right for your business.

1)     Customer Demand: Have you had customers approach you asking for an app? Will there be a fan base waiting once your app is available? Just because you are excited to release an app doesn’t mean that your target audience feels the same way. If the demand isn’t there, your app will simply become another of thousands of failed apps that are never downloaded.

2)     Competition: Do your key competitors have an app? What services do they offer on it? You will need to closely monitor what your competitors are doing and try to improve on it, while being careful not to simply imitate it.

3)     Development: How are you going to develop your app? What functionality will it have, and what platforms will it be released on (Apple, Android, etc.)? Do you have someone who will develop the app in house or will you hire an external company? Developing an app can be very expensive, depending on what functionality you want to include in it.

4)     Maintenance: How do you plan to maintain your app once it is released? How will you update the content and test for bugs? An app is never just a simple release into the wild. You will not only need to update content regularly, but also update the app for new software releases for phones and tablets.

You must make sure that your investment in an app is worth it in the long-term. Don’t rush into the flooded app market without a plan, or your app will simply go unnoticed.

Does your SMB currently have an app? Do you think an app would benefit your business? Have your customers mentioned an app to you before? I look forward to reading your opinions on this topic in the comments below.

Follow This Map for Marketing Success – an Infographic

I wanted to share with you a fabulous infographic that uniquely captures the idea of how a marketing strategy is like a road map to marketing success.

This graphic uses the visuals of the familiar Google Maps, to take the business owner through the top 10 “stops” or steps that one must take on their journey to get to their final destination, being their marketing success.

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As always, the bottom line is that there needs to be a “map” or strategy that ties all of your marketing together.  No marketing tactic will provide long-term benefit for your company if it is not tied to a marketing strategy.

I am always interested in hearing from you. Did you enjoy this infographic? What is your take away? Do you think having a strategy or map to follow makes sense for your business success? Let me know in the comments below.