10 years of marketing challenges that many business owners face.

10 years of marketing challenges that many business owners face.

I have been in business for almost ten years but I have never forgotten the challenges of being the new kid on the block when everyone seems to be moving ten paces ahead of you and you are just trying to keep up.  This is normal, it takes time to learn the steps, but once you do, you will start to create your own beat and move forward at your own pace.

What I “started out” doing ten years ago has evolved into something entirely different and this is not something that I had ever anticipated, but do I think is the real sign of success.

Start up Success

I began my online career as a writer, since then, I have progressed into a social media manager, web designer and inbound marketer. “Who knew?”

Embracing change and taking risks are the two most important things that you will face.  If you can meet these two things head on, you have a good chance at success.

Someone recently asked, “What advice would you give to a start up entrepreneur?” Here are some of the tips I offered to them.

1. Don’t get caught up in the details.

This seems to be the hardest concept for people, but the easiest to achieve.  If you put all of your time and money into making everything perfect, you will not have any left over for growth and development. Chances are while you are making things perfect, someone else is already doing what you should be.

Test the waters before jumping in the lake, but once you know it is safe to swim – dive right in!

Considering the fact that most start ups will fail within the first two years, it makes no sense to put all your time, money and effort into it until you are sure your business will turn a profit. Find free resources, evaluate your progress and if your business seems viable, invest the time and effort to make it happen.

2. Accept that you will fail and need to redo things.

The moment you realize your business has become successful is usually after a number of failures.  If you are able to ride the waves through this trying period and make necessary changes, you are well on your way.  This is often referred to as a pivotal or “aha” moment. I had mine about five years ago when I realized that I needed to bring my husband on-board to help me.

3. Know the limits of what you can do each day.  

It is likely that your start up will not have a huge amount of employees to begin with and it is impossible to do everything by yourself.

Don’t burn yourself out before you have even begun. If you have to, set small goals, accomplish 3-5 tasks per day and outsource. You are not the only person who can do it properly, there are many professionals out there who can actually do it better than you can.

Be humble and accept the fact that you are not the only one capable of running your business.

If you must outsource, make sure to find someone who gets the results you want otherwise you will be frustrated.

Don’t be controlling, be accommodating. There is nothing worse than a boss who expects everything done their way.  This type of boss is never really effective.

Colin Powell- There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure

4. The fastest way to business failure is an “it’s all about me” attitude towards your business.  

A business is not a reflection of your personality and you should not take it personally. This is not easy to do because owners often see their businesses as “their children,” and become over protective. Doing this may cause you to make choices based on what is good for you, not the business.

Make decisions based on profits, not popularity.

4. Being good is not enough, you need to prove it.

There is a great deal of competition out there, you need to stand out in front of the crowd and be heard. How do you do that?

Be unique, be different, be yourself and never lose sight of your mission or goals.

5. There are things you have to do, even if you do not want to.

“I did not have to work that hard at success,” said no successful entrepreneur ever.

What you put into your business is what you will get out of it and there is no task that is beneath you. Just as much as you need to know your customer, you also need to know your business. The most successful CEO’s are the ones who take the time to visit every department and learn about every facet of their business. They are able to make informed and stress free choices.

Steve Jobs

Last but certainly not least, the most important thing you will ever need to know is, “You are always marketing yourself, your brand; act accordingly.”  

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6 easy ways to a better ranking

6 easy ways to a better ranking

The main purpose of a business type blog or website is to make money. How that is achieved depends on each individual business model, however, when it comes to web development and marketing, the basic principles are pretty much the same for all websites.

If a website is created properly from the onset, it will produce greater results and save money.

Mercurial

Everything begins with the design!

Business owners want to have input into things like overall design structure, color and other branding aspects, this is perfectly fine so long as they remember the website “is not about them.”

What the owner may want for their website, may not necessarily be what is actually good for it.  This is a concept that is  difficult  to accept, but is crucial for success.

My advice to all business owners, do not simply design a website, market it!  

Consult with a marketing professional before proceeding with the design. They can offer insights and advice on the structure of a website, as well as, other marketing concepts that will help to improve ROI. Designers and web developers are great when it comes to overall design, they do not always understand the principles of marketing, SEO and Social Media and how they all come together to convert traffic.

Here are 6 easy and cheap ways to help your website achieve better rankings.

1. It’s not about you, it is about them.

Your primary audience is the people who visit it, not search engines. Design it with this goal in mind. If your website doesn’t meet the professional standards that your potential customers expect, they will likely leave your site and find one of your competitors.

Professional means that your website is responsive, clean, fast, communicates its main messages clearly and is easy to use and navigate.

If you have accomplished this goal, your visitors should already have an idea of the products and services your business provides. This normally occurs within the first 60 seconds of landing on your main page. Your navigation menus and links should be user-friendly, easy to locate and encourage visitors to want to click to learn more.

2. Not all code is created equally.

Your website should be coded according to the search engine’s updated algorithm and guidelines. It is very important to make sure your website is coded properly and that it is SEO friendly. If it is not coded properly, search engine spiders/crawlers might flag your website as SPAM and prevent people from visiting your site.

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Make sure your development team is using the most updated design tools.  

Tip: A design team that is too busy or has too many clients may not always be indicative of a good thing. They might have to update and maintain other clients websites on a daily basis and by the time they get around to working on your website, the technologies they are using may have already gone out of date. Make sure your team is manageable enough to be able to keep up, redesign and restructure as needed.  Chances are if it feels like they are putting you off, they are.  A good website design team is always ready and willing to answer your concerns.

3.  Ranking your website still matters!

Once you have a professional looking website that is clean coded, you will need to focus on increasing your rankings and boost SEO. Always make sure to use white hat SEO practices. Black Hat SEO is like playing hide and seek with the Search Engines, eventually they will find you and eliminate you.

4. Mobility vs. Responsive

The use of mobile devices such as iPhone, Android Phone, iPad, and Android Pad has dramatically increased in the past few years. In order to market your business effectively you’ll need a mobile application to complement your website. A responsive website is no longer enough. Responsive behaviour is important for screen resolution and proper viewing, however, a mobile application offers something that it cannot – two way communication. With two way communication you can send push notifications to your customers mobile devices, they can respond back in real-time and they do not have to actually visit your website to connect or buy from you.  This provides you with 24/7 access to your customers.

5. Popularity is Priceless.

Social Media plays an important role in increasing the popularity of a website in the online world. Websites needs a huge amount of regular (if not daily) promotions in order to stay relevant. The easiest and most efficient way to do that is via social media. (Face book, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest). Promotion also means you will benefit from referral traffic.

Banner-Ad

6. A bouncy house is for kids.

If your visitors are not properly engaged, they will get bored and not stay on your website for very long. This results in a high bounce rate.

Conversion takes time and if all your visitors are simply bouncing in and out all day long, chances are your website will not convert them into paying customers or future buyers.  A low bounce rate sends a bad message to the world about your website and its product and services, you need to make your website interesting enough to have people stay on it.

Make it fun, make it interactive and make it relevant.  When people find the information they are looking for quickly and easily chances are they will bookmark your website and come back often.

Longevity = comfortability = conversion!

If you build it properly, they will come. Simple as that!

Using Social media just to enhance SEO is a buzz killer.

Using Social media just to enhance SEO is a buzz killer.

As a free lance consultant and “hands on” marketer, one of the biggest obstacles I face is challenging business owners and enterprise project managers to re-think how they are doing things.  It is the reason I always advocate for my clients to talk to a few people or firms before hiring me. I want them to have an educated point of view from which to make decisions.  Yes, I am that confident in what I do.

desk-and-supplies

Remember, firms are useful for offering large scale marketing and SEO, they are not all good at providing it because in order to comply with huge demands, they need to have a number of different people working on one client’s account. I know, because they sometimes hire me for tasks. This kind of digital marketing lacks any “personal” touch or investment from the employee.

The firm simply wants to get the job done at the best price. Depending on the brand and the firm, this can be a good thing or bad and it can create the risk of a negative social media campaign or loss of reputation.

There is a huge difference between a Digital Marketing firm, an Inbound Marketer, SEO expert, SMM and a Virtual Assistant, even though people often confuse them.

Let’s look at a typical example of a proposition I received from a not so enlightened potential client.

A project manager had one client with 6 different products and services all running under one corporate brand. The website and social media was set and ready to go, the branding was already incorporated and it should have been an easy task for a seasoned inbound marketing professional like myself.

Let’s get down to the specifics of why I decided not jump on this offer.

Each product was closely related, but different and sold in two totally separate industries. One industry blog was doing relatively well, the other, not so great.  The firm asked me to focus efforts on the one product that had the biggest ROI and just “upkeep” the other two. The project manager’s assessment here was that the social media or blog writing was not converting well and he did not want to invest a great deal of time in it because in the end “the numbers” don’t add up.

Through asking questions and investigating a little further I realized the only reason the other blogs were not working as well was because they are using a very “selling” tone to create the content. This is not very interesting and/or suitable for most marketing situations. To make matters worse, the social media they have been implementing was not engaging and simply was about scheduling posts. No wonder they aren’t having success, they are not doing it properly, they are using Social Media for one purpose only, to enhance SEO!

SEO has been saved from the grave because of social media, but it is killing the buzz.

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With a few adjustments to the content and a bit more engagements,  I explained that they would have a much better ROI or at least obtain a few more “followers.” He agreed, but said, “If you really want to get down to it, the clientèle that we are reaching for this product are large buying companies that only use search engines to find products so we are just focusing on SEO for now.”

Really? Apparently, they are the only business in the world that has one type of buyer and the only marketing firm that I have ever known that focused on reaching one market for 6 entirely different products and expect to have a good ROI just from organic search alone.  While SEO might not be dead, someone forgot to check the memo on how important reputation is for Google ranking in this company.

It did not matter to them that the clients individual products were not getting the service they deserved, only that the numbers they provided to the client justify the means of the money they were spending.  This is the reality of many digital marketing firms and it is killing small companies that refuse to work in this manner.

Fixing this situation would have meant adjusting the original plan a little to be more creative and flexible for each product, adding a bit more effort to refocus the blog and target some additional markets on social media to see if there are other buyers that the company should be tapping into. There was not much convincing him of doing that. That very fact was solidified when he simply said, “Well the marketing plan is already set so we are moving forward with it can you do the job or not?”

On that note, Houston we have a problem!

Telephone Call

Do you know what is wrong with this scenario I asked him?  He challenged me and said, why don’t you enlighten me? So – I did!

While it may sound somewhat arrogant on my part, sometimes you have to draw your own line in the sand to remain loyal to yourself and your own brand.

Marketing is a team effort and even as a free lance, you are a team member. If you are not going to be treated and respected as a trained professional, there is no point taking the job because it will only frustrate you working for someone who has different goals than you do and who may not be as experienced or knowledgeable as you.

I proceeded to say to him, “While you can apply the strategy that you have to the main blog, it is not working for the other blogs because you have planned your entire marketing based on the brand or client and not on each individual product. You have one plan for 6 entirely separate products reaching one single target market, how do you expect me to succeed in getting more business?  His reply,”we already tried social media, it didn’t work.” To which of course I said,  “It did not work because it was not being done properly, but I can fix that”  “Well, that doesn’t matter any more this is how we have decided to proceed with all of our clients.  SEO content is all we want. We provide them with a plan and one person to handle the plan so we do not have to chase after them.”

Houston, my gasket is about to blow!

And on that note, I knew that this job had imploded right before my eyes.

If you accept a job knowing full well that you are providing “less than desirable” results, you not only effect your own brand but you affect the brands associated with yours.  It is a small world after all and we are all connected.  Make sure to keep your part of it clean and free from clients who are more experienced in design than marketing. Web design and development  is what they should be doing, not both, they are two entirely different things with different views.

The one wireframe method is great for design, not so great for marketing.

5 Reasons Why SEO Won’t Die  

5 Reasons Why SEO Won’t Die  

So we have revisited this dilemma fairly enough. Fact is, we have rehashed the very same topic and predicament in several posts. Let’s face it; search engine optimization (SEO for brevity) is every digital marketer’s life support in keeping their business afloat and alive.

Globally, digital marketing companies have struggled yearly to keep up with Google’s pace. They have relentlessly adopted new tactics and techniques to make certain their SEO business will stay on top. In addition to that, since digital marketing is a uniquely competitive business, they adopt these updated tactics and techniques without question and learn to polish them as well.

However, yearly these companies also do a rough check on the subsequent year’s potential changes and predicted trends in SEO. Without fail, at least two or more articles on the internet would come to announce the anticipated death of SEO in lengthy diatribes. And still, without fail, search engine optimization has remained very much alive.  There might have been times wherein digital marketers around the world waited in bated breath (especially when Google announced it would be encrypting keywords) as they went through the various possibilities of Google’s new changes and what it could possibly mean for SEO, yet that announcement was made four years ago, and today at year 2015, SEO remains a strong online marketing tactic.Seo-Social Media Digital Marketing Team

You might be wondering how a marketing technique predicted to die yearly stays very much alive?

Well, let this article provide a deeper insight as to why SEO just will not die!

1. It’s an effective money making machine

This needs no further elaboration however for better comprehension, allow me to illustrate.  It is a reality that Google still harnesses the prowess of providing an enormous amount of traffic through its organic search. From that alone, a sizable sum of money is already at stake. And it is a fact that where there is money, there will be a competition and a willingness to spend money in order to win.

 2. When done correctly, it still works!

Claiming SEO is dead is erroneous however, when viewed on a larger perspective, there are aspects to this that are true. To illustrate this better, take automotive vendors for example. It is a reality that the techniques utilized by them did stop working and this is precisely the reason for the outward protest in the industry protesting that SEO is indeed dead. Fairly true, but not entirely. It is not dead. Their SEO is dead. Great, polished and updated SEO is alive, well and thriving more than ever. Some of the things that are truly dead are SEO Automation, Boilerplate Content, Low Quality Links and having Schema Curing all. If you are still utilizing such techniques then it is no wonder why you would preach about SEO being dead.

SEO is not dead, the techniques you are using are. Give it a much needed “resuscitation,” by updating it.

3. SEO assists in bridging the gap

It is a fact that search engine’s best practices are not really comprehensible and intuitive to someone who is not at all well acquainted with SEO. To them, explanations regarding SEO would come off as jargon and there will always be a persistent need to communicate the best practices to individuals whose primary focus is not SEO every single day.  This becomes especially true as Google, as well as other, search engines (Yahoo, Bing and etc) continues to change the rules.

4. Savvy Dealers are still utilizing it and still want it

Like previously stated, SEO still works when done right so competitive dealers will still want to utilize it. It is for this reason that innumerable companies are offering premium SEO services to dealers even without the slightest idea on delivering it. This is why the most difficult thing a dealer would be to determine which companies have an idea on what they are doing and which ones do not.

5. Proper SEO is Google’s Boon

There are so many incorrect notions about SEO but the biggest misconception is the erroneous assumption that Google is against SEO. This could not be further from the truth. Google is not against proper SEO. Google is against SEO that plays underhanded tricks and blackhat SEO. They do not like and would eliminate tricks and techniques that are intended to fool them. Suffice to say, Google is against cheaters. Proper SEO has nothing to do with anything that is underhanded. Fact is, this is rather encouraged because it is built on three basic concepts in SEO (website and individual page identification, easier search engine crawl, delivering quality content). Optimization should never be about fooling search engines but rather giving them the ammunition they do need to serve their searchers better.

 Tristan Jasper is a marketer, entrepreneur and a freelance blogger. He’s currently working as a digital marketer at one of the top digital marketing agency in the Philippines. Follow him on Twitter at @tristanjasperph. 

We thank him for this contribution and invite you to comment and give us your opinion, is SEO dead or not @tristanjasperph?

Are employment agencies working for or against you?

Are employment agencies working for or against you?

As a marketer, I tend to “quantify” and analyse everything that I do, this includes things in my own personal life. I suppose in some ways it helps me to make sense of the world around me.

In my recent quest to find a full time job, a very disturbing pattern emerged and I am baffled by the results. It has made me question whether or not employment agencies are a good idea?

You be the judge.

After taking a number of resume and employment readiness training programs, I am assured that my resume (both online and in print) is as close to or as professional as it needs to be. While I do understand that there are limitations to getting the job itself, such as age, distance and language, the jobs that I applied for certainly fell into what should have been “an easy door,” for me.

3D Employment Graph

Let’s look at the numbers.

  • I sent out a total of 165 resumes over a two month period.
  • Of the 165, almost 90% (149) of them went to various head-hunters and employment agencies.
  • The remaining 10% (16) went directly to employers and jobs suggested by friends and family.

The call backs that I received are as follows:

  • Of the 149 resumes that I sent to head-hunters and agencies, only one agency called me. She interviewed me on the phone and said, other than the fact that you do not speak French for this particular position – everything sounds good.  I spoke to her for over an hour and she said, I will call you back.  She never returned the call, surely she must have other positions to fill even if the language issue was a problem for this particular job?  At the very least, she should have asked me to come in and talk to her.  If my resume was good enough for a call back, there is no reason for not taking a chance on me, especially since the agency was constantly looking for candidates.
  • Of the 16 other resumes, I received two interviews and was offered a position by one of them, which I turned down. I received a special call back from the other employer telling me that they would like to keep my file close by just in case another position became available and that the final decision was literally between me and one other person.

How can this be accurate?

In mathematics, it cannot be.  Technically, it means that there is something very wrong here. In fact, based on the numbers of the call backs that I got from direct employers, I should have gotten at least a 25% call back rate on the ones I sent to agencies or at least 30 potential interviews.

Helen Keller Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence

After further examination it became apparent to me that employment agencies are not helping but hindering people from gaining employment, in my opinion, because:

1. They create a huge bank of resumes that they never intend to use just so they can appear to employers that they have a large candidate base, when in fact they do not.

2. They have a select number of employees that they want to send to employers and this creates a block for other people applying.

3.They are simply not that good at their job and do not understand the industry that they are seeking candidates for.

I for one am going to continue to search for employment on my own and while I cannot say for sure what the real reasons are, it is time for employment agencies to be held accountable for helping get people back to work. Anyone can create an employment agency, only a few can truly deliver.  Be wise and choose carefully because online job sites make money just for people to log on to them.

 

 

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Social media is not a hobby, it is big business and you need to charge accordingly.

Social media is not a hobby, it is big business and you need to charge accordingly.

In social media circles there is an understanding that a positive attitude and helpful attitude to share is mandatory.  Unfortunately, compassion and kindness does not always pay the bills and you need to be a little less giving and a lot more receiving when it comes to managing your business.

seo-social media profits I took a huge risk recently asking a question that resulted in twenty new connections and some potential leads.  That one question put me back on the social media map and at the same time offered me some valuable insight.

The question was, “Do you find yourself often charge less than what you are worth just to get business?”

The question confirmed what I had long suspected ~ many freelance and other social media business owners are selling themselves short and losing their businesses as a result of it.

Here are some things to think about in order to improve your chances at success in this business:

  1.  If you own a business or are a freelancer, people assume that you know what you’re doing. Stop selling yourself short and get paid what you’re worth.
  2. Stop proving yourself, start promoting yourself instead.
  3. Stop worrying about colleagues who are charging cheaper rates because the clients they are getting are not the clients you want.  These type of clients care little about what  services they are getting and in return they are getting what they paid for.
  4. What is the point of owning your own business, if you work based on someone else’s schedule, demands or expectations?

You started a business or freelance social media job because it was something you wanted to do and you were passionate about helping others, that is great and admirable, but when is it going to start to benefit you? If your not eating and taking care of your own needs, you are not going to be very good at it.

How is your business profitable and what makes it useful enough for people to want to pay for it?  When you can answer this question, you have begun to succeed.

A job is meant to pay you, a hobby is something that entertains you and you need to understand the difference between them.  Social media is not a hobby, its big business and you while you need to be “sociable,” and positive you also need to be confident, aggressive and profitable when it comes to charging clients.  This is often the most difficult thing for a business owner to do.

The best way to accomplish this is through research but I do not need to tell you that, your a marketer and you should already know that.  Now go and do it!

Is your career or business built on passion or profit?

Is your career or business built on passion or profit?

There is a moment in every business or individual’s career that is considered to be a major turnaround point, commonly referred to as an “A-Ha” moment.

Have you had your “A-Ha” moment?  If so, what should you do about it?

 

Mine happened during a recent GooglePlus training session. The host of the session could or would not answer (I am not really certain which) any of the questions that I asked him.  To be honest, in some ways I truly doubted that he would or could.

It was then that I finally realized, the only thing that was stopping me from furthering my own career, was me.

He answered the only question that I really needed to ask. If I am miles ahead of him in knowledge and experience and he is leading this session, why am I still following?

My  “A-Ha” moment was a welcome boost of confidence and sometimes that is all anyone really needs.

Helen Keller Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence

The same can be said about marketing and managing your business.

A turn around point takes a business from a negative and unprofitable state into a more positive and sales driven one, unfortunately, it usually happens after a disappointing down swing or loss of profits. It is considered to be the proverbial difference between the success or failure of the business because it is during this period when business owners start to give up, lose faith or begin to sell themselves short in order to regain loss.

Businesses that are able to turn things around during this time usually emerge as industry leaders.

How your company adapts during this time is often what will decide its fate.

Business Planning with Plan-Too

Business success literally happens in three stages:

  • Investing a great deal of time and money.

The risk factor is very high at this point because everything is unstable and you are still developing the model for your business.  You may change direction several times before you find what works best for your business and your marketing.

You need to ask yourself – how useful and different is my business from everyone else?

If you cannot answer the 5 W’s, your business is probably not ready to move forward.

When you have finally developed your model, created your plan of action and gained some clients and valuable experience, you will move on to the next phase.  For some this may take years and if you do not have the money, time or patience to wait it out, chances are you will not be successful.

  • Turning your business into a profitable one.

The turnaround point is what usually sets profit in motion, however it can happen at any time.  This phase is determined mostly by a realization that either you’re heading in the right direction with your business and you need to continue to do so, or you need to make a huge change in the way you’re doing things.

It is here where most businesses fail.  Confidence plays a huge role in this part, do you have what it takes to be a leader and take your business further?

  • Securing your business so growth can begin.

When you finally have all of your plans in motion and are moving in a positive direction in terms of finances, you can begin to secure your future and create growth.

You cannot run before you learn to walk otherwise you will fall flat on your face when you run out of breath.  The same can be applied to your business, if you’re not making a profit and you try to grow too quickly, you will run out of money.

You need to be making a reasonable profit before you can begin to expand. This is a catch 22 phase because often the only way to make a profit is to grow.  Learning how to create a balance is what will help you to succeed during this time.

seo-socialmedia-job_text_mouse_pc_800_clraRemember, marketers do not view Key Performance Indicators (KPI) results as either negative or positive and you shouldn’t either. They use the information gained from a variety of different analysis to modify strategies in order to achieve results and it can take a very long time.

The fact is, no matter how much time or money you invest in your business or career, if there is no desire or passion to succeed you will fail.  A positive attitude goes a long way to achieving success and sometimes this is the only way to move forward and ride the waves towards business and career success.

How successful are you going to be?

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Does your social media manager have any real social skills?

Does your social media manager have any real social skills?

You would be surprised to learn that quite often a marketing campaign that goes completely awry or is considered controversial, sexist or discriminatory is the fault of inexperienced social media marketers.  This happens when someone considers themselves an expert in social media marketing simply because they know how to post content on social platforms.

It takes a great deal more to understand the social media industry than simply “working the platforms.” It begins with a knowledge of social and economic demographics, leadership, marketing and communications and ends with a solid technological skill set.

Does your social media expert posses at least a degree in humanities, social work, education, recreation or marketing?  If not, you better reconsider who you are hiring.

In my opinion, individuals who possess degrees in these particular fields make better social media managers because they usually have a great deal of experience dealing with diverse groups.

Let us take for example the recent controversy surrounding one of my not so favourite brands. In a tweet, American Apparel offered a 20% discount for residents in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy in case they were “bored” by the storm to encourage them to shop online. The social sphere quickly took to Twitter and other social networks to criticize the ad that suggested it was more important to shop than to worry about the effects of the storm.

It was quite distasteful, as are many of the brand’s borderline pornographic advertising campaigns.

My brand is based on socially responsible advertising. I have always stood by that. I am sure the CEO of American Apparel stands by his, therefore I hope you will understand that I refuse to show these ads to you as I do not wish to promote them.

I can honestly tell you that I would have intervened long before this tweet was sent to discourage management from sending it. I would have argued that this tweet is insensitive to some people. Perhaps my suggestion would have been vetoed, but my job as a marketer is to at least try to make others understand what the potential damage to the brand could be.  Futhermore, I have a right as a marketer not to want to associate with this type of advertising.  I try to choose my clients as carefully as they choose me.

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Many tweets and posts are sent out on a daily basis that are insensitive, negative or age inappropriate and no one seems to blink an eye.  It does not make them acceptable or professional on any level. The above image is funny, it does not target any specific group but it does make a slight assumption. How would you perceive it?

Why is this all happening?

1.  Consistent hiring of individuals in the industry who do not have little understanding of human behaviour.

2. Brands who target only one type of consumer. As an example; some brands only target younger populations but forget about the older generations who are not as liberal, but who are also viewing the material.  Brands need to learn to consider the entire population.

3. Marketers who do not care enough about their own brand to take a stand, they only care about making money at all costs.  Your brand is valuable and it must be treated as such.

4. Competition. There is so much competition to produce media that the Internet is flooded with tons of it. Small companies cannot keep up with the constant demand, therefore clients are having to seek out enterprise marketing.

5. Limited Choices. Smaller companies are having to join with enterprise marketing companies to survive. Their marketing ethics and direction may not necessarily be the same. Creativity is reduced at this level and replaced with boxed or automated processes.

Contrary to what many people think, Social Marketing is based on reaching specific targets or buyers, however, it does not mean that you need to reach them by offending others.

An expert marketer should be able to create campaigns that not only reach their targets but that also tap into un-targeted market groups because these are obtained freely and could potentially be more valuable.

The only real way to win at social media is to avoid any and all posts that could be construed as racist, negative or socially unacceptable.

Social media is not only about understanding the social sphere, it is also about understanding the people in it.

I was compelled to write this post after an article appeared on my timeline from CTV news in Canada talking about a mother who posted a photo of her daughter on her blog. Her child has Down syndrome and is extremely beautiful, the image is both captivating and heart-warming.

The original image was “borrowed,” sold and used by an image bank for profit. Genoma, a genetics laboratory used the image that it thought was legally obtained in a poster that advertised prenatal genetic screening.

There are three major issues with this article, (1) this ad is very distasteful on the part of Genoma because it clearly “suggests” that this is not the kind of child you would want to have (2) it is illegal on the part of the unnamed image bank to sell images that do not belong to them and (3) Genoma’s social marketing team did not do its due diligence in creating this ad by making sure the image was not copyrighted and that it did not offend anyone.

Imagine how horrifying it must have been for this mother to see an advertisement of her daughter used in such a negative fashion?

Social advocates and parents of individuals with down syndrome would have easily seen this advertisement was highly offensive and suggested it be changed.

Does your social media manager have any real social skills?  For your brand’s sake, you better make sure they do before your marketing team ends up creating an ad like this one that was considered socially acceptable – about a hundred years ago!

1920 Home Appliance Advert: Universal Appliances, New Britain CT

all images courtesy of photodropper by flickr creative commons

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There is more than one social button?  Click here to find out more!

There is more than one social button? Click here to find out more!

A simple thing like social buttons might not seem that complex, but the truth is many websites owners don’t realize there are actually two types of social buttons; sharing and following. Because this feature is not being implemented correctly, they are failing to meet all of their marketing objectives. While these buttons look similar, each has a different purpose and function in the context of inbound marketing and social media.

Let’s begin by defining each of these more clearly.


Sharing Buttons

Seo-SocialMedia sharing buttonsSharing buttons are best described as the feature that allows people to share posts, images or videos with their own networks.  Sharing buttons can be added to pages, posts and videos. The buttons encourage users to share media from the brand’s website and other pages. A sharing button should be visible on the homepage, widgets, landing pages and blog page of every website.

The purpose for this button is to SHARE a brand’s message on the users own profile and platform.  It allows customers to become brand ambassadors, to endorse their favourite products or services and share information with their networks.

Follow Buttons

FACEBOOK-GREENFollow buttons lead the user to the brands social media platforms where they can like them, FOLLOW them, join in the brand’s conversations or engage directly with the brand.  While they can still share things on behalf of the brand, they are encouraged to become part of its network.

The purpose for this button is to reach people and grow a brand’s customer base. The hope is that a customer finds the brand interesting enough to want to learn more about them, follow them, begin to trust them and eventually buy from them.

It is not a complicated concept, but it is a long process that involves a great deal of engaging with customers. Being successful at marketing begins with making sure that you have both types of social buttons on your pages, posts and media.

Think about it this way – if you cannot get your customers to follow you, at the very least you can get them to share your media and if you cannot get them to share your media at least they may follow you. In either case, you are reaching them in some way.  Failing to have one button or the other limits this by half.  Of course there is always the option of using sh

If you want to make an even bigger impact, call to actions buttons are the best buttons you can have.  That’s a post for another day!

Social Media Strategies that Boost SEO

Social Media Strategies that Boost SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) are two firmly interwoven and inseparable digital strategies. SEO and SMM focus on establishing a brand’s desired identity and this attracts visitors naturally. Unfortunately, it is still unclear to many e-marketers how SMM actually impacts traffic and ranking. Here are some SMM strategies that correlates with the growth of SEO.

Via reliablesoft.net

1) Optimizing posts for increased searches

SEO is responsible for the content, but social media channels open a way for the users to find it. Even Rand Fishkin of Moz strongly believes that Facebook likes, comments and shares affect the kind of content that performs well in a Google search. Google favors popular social network platforms as is evident by the fact that they are on the top results of its pages. Just make sure that your posts have an identifiable anchor like an image, infographic or video.

2) Obtaining external inbound links for increased authority

Once content is published on the social platforms, these platforms act as a broadcast channel which encourage external websites to link to your published content. This is the reason why creating unique, informative and relevant content cannot be emphasized enough. Volumes of diverse external links is a surefire sign of authority, at least in Google’ eyes. For more visibility, brand-relevant hashtags can be used.

3) Growing followers and connections for increased interactions

Interactions lead to conversions. However, thousands of purchased links will never look favorable for your content and thus, will not do your brand any favors. Also, Google wants to know if your social proofs are bought and manipulated since Google is seeking to base your relevance on the quality of your followers. Building followership organically is a must to prove your worthiness. With this in mind, you should present your brand to your social audience in a consistent manner. Engage your followers in an interactive way.

4) Optimizing posts for increased awareness locally

Social channels present themselves as the perfect venue to interact with your local audience. This is particularly advantageous for brands that target residents. Aside from organizing events of your own and becoming active on participating in other events, interacting with other local brands and firms while on social media is also a must. Whatever you do, the goal is to reinforce participation while encouraging your followers to do the same. The more engaged your brand is in your community, the more your brand will be visible in local searches.

These are the basics of SMM. However, they point to giving your users – the target audience – a much better experience  when they check their social profiles. Evidently, understanding how the social media strategies impact your SEO can lead to the creation and distribution of more targeted campaigns. The strategies also widen the channels that lead your target market to your brand. After all, this is the goal of both SMM and SEO, right?

About the Author : Jeric is a Filipino blogger currently working at Optimind Technology Solutions, a digital marketing agency in the Philippines that provides different services including SEO, web design, mobile app development and much more.

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Does your marketing need a fresh start?

Does your marketing need a fresh start?

Is your brand in need of a web marketing makeover?  Is it time to rethink how you are currently doing things?

If so, inbound marketing is the best way to get on track to reaching your goals.

The goal of inbound marketing is to combine the basic principles of marketing with content management, SEO, social media, email and other lead generation strategies in order to create an attractive and viable solution for your ideal “buyer.”  This buyer is established by analysing the things that interest them. Once these “personas” have been established, the goal is to create attractive media that will encourage them to want to learn more about your products and services and eventually lead them to click through your website’s landing pages.

ADD FOR SEOIf these landing pages convert property,  hopefully, it will lead to sales.

Inbound marketing is not a quick and easy process, the goal is to build long-term repeat customers and create a positive brand presence.

Inbound Marketing Consultants like myself help guide you on the right path by looking at your entire marketing process including website, application development, mobile presence and content management.

Where do you begin?

Inbound Marketing is a long process and has a lot of different aspects, but it begins by creating realistic goals and understanding your buyers and what their needs are.

Understanding web marketing principles is crucial to success:

  1. You cannot cut corners when it comes to effective branding, social media, and web marketing.
  2. Promises of overnight success are false, they won’t work – they never have.
  3. SEO, Inbound Marketing, and Social Media work together – you cannot  really have one without the other!
  4. You need to set a realistic budget for your own company and find the company that can offer you the most within that budget.
  5. Engaging with your customers is paramount to building an effective brand.
  6. All things being equal, content is no less or more important than design, everything matters!
  7. Choose a company that understands both human and computer behavior.

Remember, web technology companies are not necessarily the best choice for offering you marketing because they often do not have the “social skills” needed to properly understand marketing to humans.  They may be offering advice but are not always qualified to do so and this could spell disaster for the brand. If your web development team does offers marketing, insist that they have a qualified consultant on hand to answer your questions and guide you on the right track.

Someone with a degree in recreation, marketing or humanities knows how people think, someone with a degree in computing knows how a computer thinks.  Think about it!   ~ Madeline Foster, Inbound Marketing consultant

Does your marketing need a fresh start?

  • Seo-socialmedia.net QuestionsThere are 1  billion online users every day on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, do you actively engage with them?
  • There are 4 billion mobile users that talk and text information to one another each day are you talking about them?
  • More people access mobile applications than searching or surfing the web, does your company have a real-time application of its own?
  • Is your website responsive?
  • Does your website have selling landing pages, opt-ins or call to actions?
  • Do you have an email marketing strategy?
  • Are you connected to at least 10 social media platforms?
  • Do you use call to actions on your blogs?

If you answered no to one or more of these questions, you are definitely in need of a marketing makeover.  Thankfully, we can help!

For a free evaluation and analysis of what we can do for your brand, please fill out the form below:

 

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6 reasons to use WordPress for you blog

6 reasons to use WordPress for you blog

With the simple introduction of a content management system or blog, you can take your inbound marketing to a whole new level.  This one small technique makes a huge difference because it is a cost-effective means in which to add some content and SEO elements into a static website, share tons of different types of media, target buyers and spread your brand’s message over a global marketplace with nothing more than a post.

It can be used as both the main landing page for your customers and followers or as a doorway page to your main website. A blog adds dynamic and fresh content to keep your website relevant and up to date.

The content in the blog posts can always be reused, re-targeted and recycled making it even more valuable.

WordPress Stickers Everywhere

The fact is you do not need to use WordPress for your blog. There are a number of other blogging platforms, however, it is our preferred method because:

  1. It is the most flexible, cheapest and easiest method in which to create a fully functioning content management system, simple blog or website.

  2. All of your employees can use it and your business can easily manage it on their own. You should only need someone to update plugins, add new designs and fix any errors (which happen very infrequently) otherwise there is no need to have full-time support.

  3. It was designed to be highly responsive, which means your website can be viewed on a variety of different browsers in a number of screen resolution sizes and formats.

  4. You can do a complete overhaul of your current website or install a blog in a few hours with a simple theme.

  5. It is easy to maintain and very stable.

  6. There are a number of valuable add-ons, plugins, and tools that can provide just about any functionality that your company wants to have including e-commerce, crowdfunding and social media.

Why should you use WordPress?

It is a cheap, stable and simple fix that will improve your brand’s online presence and is one of the best solutions for start-up businesses who are simply want to test the waters.  It is better to try a small cheaper website and see if there is any interest in your product or service before you go spending thousands of dollars on a fully functioning website that fails.

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The Myths behind the Penguin Penalty

The Myths behind the Penguin Penalty

Penguin is an algorithm, it is not a penalty.

It is important to understand that there is a difference between triggering an algorithm and suffering the effects of a manual penalty.Google Analytics Hacks

There has been a lot of misunderstanding and confusion as far as Penguin is concerned, and this has trickled down to the solutions that are normally offered to people who have been hit by the algorithm when it comes to recovery from the same. The aim of this write-up is to dispel some of the mystery surrounding the Penguin algorithm.

  1. Manual link removal is a must post-hit

The official position from Google is that sites should try as much as possible to remove unnatural links before disavowing the remaining ones. Where you have control over spammy links pointing to your site, get rid of them by all means. You only disavow the links which you have no control.

The rationale for link removal is one: to reduce the percentage of bad links that are pointing to your site. The real truth, however, is that you can only remove between 5-10% of these problematic links, which means that the effort you want to direct towards manual links removal would be better directed at building natural links, which increases the percentage of good links over bad links.

  1. Link audits and submission of disavow files are mandatory

Seo-socialmedia.net - Question markThis is the most effective way to avoid getting hit by Penguin, but it isn’t necessary. A point to note is that Penguin is more about maintaining a certain ratio of good to bad/spammy links – and this is according to official communication from Google. Matt Mueller has been on record saying that the Penguin algorithm can lift its sanctions from a site provided the number is maintained above 50%, even without submission of a disavow file. Gradually, of course.

  1. You have to get a penalty notice for a Penguin hit

If you have been hit by Penguin, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive a notice on your Webmaster Tools dashboard to that effect. Only manual penalties work that way. However, the restoration process for manual links is quite similar to what you’d do after a penguin hit. Where you’re unsure of your position, you can employ the Google penalty checker tool or contact SEO services, London for assistance.

  1. You must send a reconsider request anon

Sometime back, it was possible for a webmaster of any site to submit a request to Google for reconsideration any time. The result was a wave of requests directed at Google from Webmasters who had noticed the slightest “demotion.” Google revised this and now only allows requests from those subjected to a manual penalty.

  1. You can never recover from Penguin once hit

concept of seoRecovery from Penguin is possible, certainly. However, it will require noteworthy investment of time and effort in order to attract credible natural links. Another myth is that the ‘invisible disavow attribute’ can only apply once a link has been placed in the disavow file and the site has been crawled again. This isn’t true, otherwise it would take very long to complete a single disavow file. Lastly, from time to time, Penguin has been run as a standalone algorithm, it doesn’t always follow the schedule of regular algorithms.

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Is too much social media helping or hurting your brand?

Is too much social media helping or hurting your brand?

Many people would argue that the more often your brand is seen and heard on social media platforms, the more popular your brand is. It certainly is the selling point and perhaps “mantra” for all social media marketers, but while that might be partially true, it is not entirely factual.

Just how important do you think having your brand on a website like “Plurk” or “Craigslist” really is?

Do not misunderstand, platforms, directories and blogs are a great resource and they may even get you a backlink or two, but the question is, “Does the set-up and maintenance of hundreds of social media platforms outweigh the traffic and social buzz that your brand will receive in return?” How much traffic do you really think you will get from a post in Craigslist?

planet as symbol of social networkingMany businesses are falling for a “must have” ideology and it is only hurting their marketing.

They are being advised that they must have accounts on hundreds of social media platforms, directories and blogging sites just to be seen and heard. This is simply false – you can gain sufficient social “buzz” around your brand from being part of only one or two sites and social platforms. It’s not the number of platforms that you choose, but rather how you choose them and what you use them for that really matters.

If the platform offers little or no relevancy to your business or has users that do not fit your buyers personas, they are literally a waste of valuable time and money that could otherwise be spent on income generating advertising.

Knowing what is best for your own brand is the first step to success.

When is too much social media, simply too much?

Seo-socialmedia businesswoman drawing a sketch of the mechanismI think when your company begins to lose sight of its initial marketing goals, has no idea who is it’s main buyer persona is anymore and finds itself running all over the place trying to play catch up is a sure sign that it is time to take a step back and re-think your brand’s inbound marketing social strategy. It is true, new platforms are created on a daily basis, but it does not mean your company has to participate in any of them.

Ask any social media expert what is the biggest challenge of the job and most of them will likely reply “keeping up” with what is trending. Even if they are vigilant about keeping up to date with the latest news, the social climate changes so quickly that it sometimes becomes overwhelming.

If your brand is spending most of its efforts on trying to keep up with every social media platform it’s overall marketing will begin to suffer.

How do you create a happy medium? Limit your brand to a few social media platforms – own them!

Don’t misunderstand, your brand needs to have a multitude of social media engagements in order for it to be “seen and heard” and to create a variety of traffic towards your site, however, the focus should not be on setting up a hundred useless accounts, but rather on setting up a few relevant ones and using them efficiently to target your ideal customer.

Having too much social media to take care of is like the old adage “Jack of all trades – master of none.” It is far better to put your social media eggs into a few “baskets” than to have them cracking up all over the Internet.

Social media, the more you know, the more you grow is our motto and fosters a belief that while we are inbound marketing experts and we know a great deal about brands and social media, we are always open to learning and growing.  We learn through experience, sharing and through a commitment to our customers needs. In doing so, we have come to realize that our most successful clients are the ones who understand what their own needs are and set realistic goals to achieve them. We simply guide them along the way.

Speaking of growing, there is nothing wrong with adding new and exciting social media platforms to your business, just remember not to lose sight of the fact that you don’t have to.

Make sure you are not sacrificing the ones you already have, they should just be icing on the cake, not the (egg?) on your face!

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