Stand By Me
Fantastically good performance. Watch it all the way through.
As promised, here is a guest blog from Vanessa Steele of Eon Systems, who runs very successful webinars for her company:
Webinars are a very good way to get known on the Internet. To let your potential customers know that you exist. It is the opportunity to build credibilty. But there are some rules that should be followed.
If you are going to do what I call a Public Service or Free Information Webinar, be sure to give information that the person attending can use, whether they use your service or not. Everyone that attends the webinar should leave with information they can use right now. They do not get stories of how your company fixed this problem or that.
Only at the end of the Webinar should you invite the attendees to your website or to some kind of action.
I can't tell you how many Webinars I leave before they are done because the entire thing is set up to promote how that company has fixed whatever. If I am going to spend time out of my day to go to a Webinar I want information that I can use or that I find helpful.
If I want to know what your company does I'll go to your website. If you website is not getting you sales you should look at having it redesigned.
You should have some type of survey at the end of the webinar giving the attendees the ability to give you feedback ON THE WEBINAR. Not on your company or about your company. Yes at least one of the questions should be something about "Would you like to know more about how we can help" or something like that.
Also pick a Webinar Service that will track the attendance and the interest of the attendees during the Webinar. I like gotomeeting.com They have a very good reports system.
You need to look at why you want to do a Webinar. Is it because you want to collect prospect contact information? Personally I find this to be dishonest as they don't give me anything I can use from the webinar and then send a bunch of junk emails.
The basic point is: If you give something valuable people will remember that and even if they are not ready to buy right now they will remember you later when they are, because you gave without expecting back.
Marketing to businesses is a very different beast from marketing to consumers.
One difference is the possibility of in many cases obtaining very targeted lists.
If you know who you're targeting, list brokers can very often come up with a list that very precisely matches it:
companies with 1-5 servers
marketing vice-presidents of florida companies
podiatric practices in urban areas
real estate brokers with 5 or more agents
and so on.
Another difference is there is no "do not call list" for businesses. That means you can effectively telemarket to businesses.
This makes for a killer combination I've seen work time and time again:
1. Targeted mailings repeated to a very precise market.
2. Telemarketing to the same companies.
It requires a well-oiled machine for this to work well, but the two - mailings and calls - work together. The mailings (usually postcards, sometimes interspersed with other pieces) remind people of the calls and vice versa.
One key element is the mailings repetition. Don't do a one-time mailing and expect a result. You have to mail over and over to the same businesses.
|Some people are praying for the economy to improve. Just a reminder: God helps those who help themselves.|
Several companies including Google and Symantec (the Norton Anti-Virus people) have launched efforts recently to detect and inform people when a site is safe or not for browsing.
This is a great idea actually since there are an enormous number of bad-hat websites out there and it is easy to get your computer infected unless you are quite watchful of where you go and what you click on.
One of these initiative is Norton's "Safe Web". If you have recent Norton products installed on your computer, when you do a search on engines such as Google and Yahoo, you'll see a little symbol out to the right of the link - a green check mark if they've deemed that site to be safe, for example.
The problem with this is if your site hasn't been checked out by Safe Web yet, and your competitors have, people are going to want to click on their site rather than yours. Since by default this service is turned on now with many Norton products, this is going to be seen by a large and increasing number of surfers.
So if your site doesn't have the green check yet, it would be wise to take action.
That's easy, just click on the link above, you can submit your site for review.
|Reportedly, people are capable of distinguishing more than a million different colors (I'm leaving the color-blind out of this).|
In case you ever want to describe a color to us but don't have the words, the ideal scene is to use the Pantone Matching System. You may have heard of PMS colors. These are numbered color chips. We have Pantone sets with over 1000 different colors so if you're physically in the area or can get access to a Pantone set, we can use them to identify a color, or at least approximate it.
One caution is the appearance of a color chip depends on lighting. Colors look very different under daylight and indoor fluorescent lighting, for example!
You can also use one of these two websites to help define a color:
http://tx4.us/nbs-iscc.htm accesses the 267 colors of the Munsell naming system - or color sphere, which you may have heard of. That gives definition to names like "vivid purple" and "light brown."
http://chir.ag/projects/name-that-color/ matches some 1500 color names with their appearance and their hex or RGB values (two ways of precisely defining color for use on the web).
One major caution. How these colors look depends on your computer monitor! Monitors don't necessarily accurately reproduce colors. There will be significant variations from one monitor to another.
When it comes to print design, if color is critical, you specify a Pantone color or specify the values of CMYK (the 4 colors of full-color printing - cyan, magenta, yellow and black).
Even with all that, if it MUST look right, there's no substitute for print proofs as the exact appearance can depend on the paper, the order in which the ink colors are laid down and other factors.
This is one reason printing costs can vary widely. Inexpensive printing provides no guarantee on the faithfulness of color reproduction. But it can be "good enough" for many uses.
If the term is new to you, "Webinar" is short for "web seminar". It's an online workshop and it is being used by thousands of businesses to interest prospective new customers / clients and to start to get them acquainted with the company and its products or services.
There are many subscription services that make delivering webinars easy, notably GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar and WebEx.
The formula for successful webinars is straightforward:
1. Sign up with a service.
2. Find something to talk about or show people that is related to your products/services and in which your prospects would be interested!
3. Prepare materials and script for delivery. Practice using the service and practice delivering the webinar so you'll be polished the first time you deliver it!
4. Schedule your first webinar. Get the word out about it (minimally by promoting it on your website) and get sign-ups! Realize probably only half the sign-ups will actually show for it.
5. Deliver the webinar. Make notes of ways to improve delivery and effectiveness.
6. Followup on the leads the webinar generates!
7. Repeat, working out over time how often and when (day/time) the webinar should be delivered, how best to promote and how best to take advantage of it to generate new business.
Of course there are tons of details this omits. The main point is that there are many, many types of businesses for which webinars work great. Perhaps yours is one?
In the next few days, we'll have a guest blog from one of our clients who is successfully using webinars.
This information has been moved to http://www.fastf.com/knowledge/understanding-design-process.htm
If you are going to run a click ad campaign, one of the decisions you will have to make is whether to run your ads on Google (or whomever's) content network. That means your ad will appear on (mostly) news sites along with articles on related subjects.
Google is promoting the effectiveness of these as being higher than that of search ads (the ones that appear along with organic results when you do a Google search).
This completely neglects the relative quality of these clicks, which in many situations is poor.
Our default choice is not to run on the Content Network.
Here's a good example of why. Want to grill like an expert?
Another important aspect of marketing I've never discussed at length.
Positioning was a marketing concept developed by one of the true gurus of modern marketing, Al Reis, in response to the tremendous over-exposure to marketing messages we're bombarded with every day.
That's estimated at some 3000 ads a day. With that much noise, how are you to get someone ever to stop and get your message?
Reis and his then partner Jack Trout discussed this at length in their classic "The Positioning Era" published in 1972.
In the "old days" marketing consisted of talking about the features and benefits of your product, maybe using "image" to sell your product (the Marlboro Man). But by 1971, even the greatest guru of pre-1970's marketing, David Ogilvy, was acknowledging that wasn't enough.
The answer was and is positioning.
So what is positioning? Reis and Trout define it as "what the advertising does for the product in the prospect's mind."
If you associate your product with a certain concept, you can get that concept across in the second or few seconds you've got, instead of trying to explain it and losing the reader, viewer or visitor.
To people who don't fully get the concept, positioning is often reduced to a rank. This is the classic "We're #2, We Try Harder" campaign of Avis. But notice even there it isn't JUST that Avis is #2, it is the concept of the underdog working hard to get on top.
An even better example is the famous "7-Up, The Un-Cola" campaign. That positioned 7-Up as "not a Cola" so anytime someone didn't want Coke or Pepsi they'd think 7-Up. That was a tremendously successful campaign.
Good positioning can multiply the effectiveness of all of your marketing.
So what's your positioning?
A great example of just how bad marketing can be.
It was in an ad I saw on weather.com. So you know someone spent a LOT of money placing that ad there (weather.com is one of the 10 most visited news websites on the Internet).
This is an attempt at positioning - to try and give someone an instant idea of what the product is or does.
What do YOU think of when someone says "botox for your hair"?
Does that make you want to rush out and buy it?
A great deal of know-how can go into writing effective headlines - headlines that grab eyeballs and make people want to read on.
I've written on the types of headlines.
Here's another piece of the puzzle: It is known that certain words are especially effective. Work them into your headlines whenever you can:
you, money, free, easy, now, people, save, who, why, how, how to, big, handy, useful, secret.
|Mrs. Emma Peel and her Lotus Elan.|
If you're in business, chances are you've been ripped off by convincing salesmen peddling marketing schemes that sounded great, from companies that seem and should be trustworthy.
We hear the horror stories every day:
1. The health care practitioner who spent $30,000 over a one year period on TV advertising. He was sold the program by one of the major local cable companies, who also produced the ad for him. It should have been good, right? That $30,000 bought him exactly one new patient.
2. The friend of a friend who provided a "search engine friendly" website which not only didn't get him high rankings.... it was almost impossible to find his website with a search.
3. The website developer who took the client's payment, then six weeks later delivered a website without ever consulting with the client as to whether they liked the look being developed. Then refused to make any changes without being paid more.
4. The hosting service that suddenly went out of business, taking the company's website down and with no copy of the site to put it back up elsewhere.
It goes on and on.
Of course, it is not only the small businesses that are often served badly by marketing companies. Just look at some of the junk marketing campaigns put on for Fortune 500 companies at a cost of millions of dollars. Don't tell me you haven't laughed at the stupidity of some of these ads!
So what's a person to do? Surely it should be possible to buy good honest marketing at a reasonable price!
Of course it is. But, in my view, MOST marketing companies are incompetent. So you are going to have to wade through a fair amount of BS to find what you are looking for.
It helps to have endorsements, proof of results and samples of the company's work in a similar situation to yours.
Ultimately, your own familiarity with marketing principles and a good healthy skepticism are the best guarantees of getting what you pay for in marketing.
As a marketing agency, we get calls every week from people peddling the latest get-rich-quick marketing scheme. Most of them never make it out of the starting block with us. They don't pass the smell test.
|You can't sleep your way through a recession.|
|In fact, it isn't advisable to put your marketing on auto-pilot no matter what the economic conditions.|
An excellent article summarizes how to go about structuring a website. That site by the way is a good source of information on Internet marketing.
The article makes the point, as I've said many times, that the best place to go for input on what to put on your website is your salesmen. They know the questions people have, what's important and what's not, what prospects want to hear.
(One big flaw in the article: It says to put ALL the answers on your website. True, if it is an online store. But most websites you want the prospect to have a reason to contact you. If your site tells them EVERYTHING, even pricing, your salesmen are out of a job. And no website can fully replace a live, competent salesperson.)
Nearly everyone wants their website to make money for them and one of the models for doing this is by running ads on your website.
There are a few problems with this:
1. Space on your website is only as valuable as you have visitors to your site. If you can get a lot of traffic to your site, there are usually other ways to make money from it.
2. With most types of sites, having another company's ads running just makes you look small and ruins your branding. The only exceptions are types of sites where advertising is traditional, such as directories / portals, news and magazine sites and blogs.
3. There's always the chance, if you are also selling things on your site, that the ads will promote a competitor of yours!
|It's easy to give viewers / readers / visitors the wrong idea.
The result can be amusing or destructive.
Video on websites has become very commonplace. It is easy to do and very effective.
For perhaps $700 you can have a totally workable do-it-yourself setup for doing your own videos.
Of course we aren't talking about anything fancy. But for the most common videos - testimonials or brief talks by the owner - it is totally adequate. The person being video'd isn't moving around. The camera isn't moving, at most it is zooming in or out some.
You don't need a very expensive camera. $300 or less buys a digital camcorder that'll do the job. It needs an external clip-on microphone for adequate audio.
But you must have a good tripod, and a decent set of lights. Hand-held video or poor lighting make for a disaster. But you can also buy light kits and tripods inexpensively online.
You are probably also going to want a green screen - a green background you can shoot against. This is how special effects are done. Video editing software can easily subtract the green background and insert another background of your choice. Again, you can get an inexpensive green screen online - essentially a wide roll of green construction paper.
You will want to have the video professionally edited, titled and converted to the correct format for your website, but that's an easy and inexpensive job as well.
Consider this your encouragement to "go for it".
|An amazing amount of the time, a really classy look works.|
There is no substitute for understanding when using website statistics.
You have to get the reality behind the numbers.
I've noted that a 1% response or conversion rate for website visitors is typical. Of course that is a very rough rule of thumb and any given site could be doing great with a lower percentage or lousy with a higher one, depending on all sorts of things.
Let's take the example of a site that suddenly gets a lot more traffic and the conversion ratio goes out the roof, hitting 10%, even 15%.
Maybe what happened is the site or product got some publicity and lots of people are going to the site specifically with buying the product in mind. Conversion ratios from publicity are often way higher.
They can also be way lower if the publicity isn't really catching potential buyers! A great example was the huge viral marketing campaign successfully built around the movie "Snakes on a Plane". You went to a website and entered some information and an automatic dialer called a friend of yours with a personalized voice recorded message in Samuel Jackson's voice.
That was HOT. People loved it.
But it didn't translate into moviegoers, because the viral marketing appealed to lots of people who would never go see a movie like that.
Again, the point is, you have to get the reality behind the numbers. Then you can gloat over the real triumphs, glower over the failures, and work out what to do next.
Businesses trying to get traffic from searches fall generally into two groups:
Those whose customers could be anywhere in the U.S. or in the world.
Businesses whose customers are primarily local.
These make for a very different job getting high search engine rankings. In the one case you are competing against every other business in the same category in the entire country or world.
In the other case, you are only competing against other businesses in your area. A much easier job, unless you are in an extreme niche business with not much competition.
Or, as in some cases, others in the business are still in the Twentieth Century and not taking any effective measures to market themselves online.
In any case, what makes a company's potential customers local in nature are several:
1. Delivery of the product or service requires physical presence at the customer's location (carpet cleaning, limousine service).
2. Business by its nature usually involves customer coming into your store or office or place of business (lawyers, sporting events).
3. Business by its nature involves familiarity with things about your local area (TV and radio advertising).
4. Customers prefer to deal with someone local. This applies to our marketing business. Even though we can conduct our business exclusively by phone, email, etc. And we do have many clients scattered around Florida and the U.S. and Canada.
Yet the majority of clientele are in Tampa Bay. Why? Many people feel more comfortable buying marketing services from someone nearby.
If your business is primarily local, you have to determine not only the search terms that are important, but what "geographical localizers" people use in searching. And then optimizing the site with those as well as the search terms.
This is not always obvious, research and testing are necessary. For example, in Tampa Bay, by far the most used localizer is "Tampa". Not "Tampa Bay" and not the name of one's own town, even if it is "St. Petersburg" or "Clearwater" (themselves good sized cities located across the Bay from Tampa itself).
Why? Because people living in any town in Tampa Bay, other than Tampa, are within at most 15 minutes drive of the next town over. So rather than search for one town, then another, then another, they search on "Tampa" then look for the ones closer to where they are which sound good. They've learned a search on "Tampa" will turn up businesses all across Tampa Bay. And because savvy marketers realized people were doing this, started working heavily on optimizing their sites for "Tampa" as well as "Tampa Bay" and the actual town in which the business was located.
We learned this first because of our research uncovering that people across many industries were searching disproportionately on "Tampa". AFTER that we figured out why. And that then helped us figure out how to word snippets and click ads to take advantage of people's search patterns.
|Do you blog?
This is my 200th post.
Every day when I sit down at my computer in the morning, one of the first things I do is to blog.The Internet is constantly changing, fueled by technology advances and the hope of getting rich.
Some things work. Some don't.
Websites, search engines, email, those have places no more likely to disappear than TV and radio. Like TV and radio, no doubt they'll change. But they fill a need.
Blogs are in that category.
Twitter may or may not be around or a big deal a year or two from now. I think it safe to say that blogging will be.
Blogs are the 21st century version of the letter presses and broadsheets of the 1700's. That was the means many people could afford to do their own publishing. Hundreds of them operating in the Colonies helped supply the real fuel of the American Revolution - ideas.
Today, anyone who wants to communicate broadly can afford to blog. All you need is some time and something to say.
Sure, most blogs don't get much readership. But what do you have to lose? At least it'll be fun.
Now there's another reason to go elsewhere for your website statistics.
Google Analytics is going to start sending your website visitors to competitors.
Why and how? Any site that uses GA for tracking is also providing Google information it can use to identify the interests of individual browsers and to show them ads in their interest areas.
As this article points out (disclaimer: Hitslink is a competitor of GA), there's a reason why GA is free. Google's income comes from the ads it sells.
You've heard the expression TANSTAAFL? There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (courtesy Robert A. Heinlein)? Think about it.
Number two from my list of five categories of actions to get more visitors to your website.
The more likely that someone searching finds you, the more traffic your site will get. That's the whole rationale behind high search engine rankings.
To really work, you really need to be on page one on Google for your key search terms. Most people don't go past page one in a search, page two or three at most. And Google is the 600 pound gorilla, with over 70% of all searches.
But do you know what the number two search engine is? YouTube. Video won't work for every business, far from it, but it's something you need to look at.
There are a lot of ways someone could find you besides through your own high search engine rankings.
A lot of that is through searches that find other sites that then refer or link to you. Google won't usually give you more than 2 out of the first 10 positions for your site, no matter how relevant to the search. But we've had situations where 8 of the 10 first page organic listings were either the client's site or referred to it in some way. You know those searchers are going to end up on your site in a situation like that.
The various Internet Yellow Pages, as well as the many other directories, both specialized and general, generate a lot of traffic. Sometimes paid listings make sense. Minimally, you need to be in the Google and Yahoo local listings if you are in a local product or service business at all.
Blogs, Twitter, and Social Networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, generate huge amounts of traffic to sites when they "catch on" - spread by word-of-mouth. If you aren't up on these and utilizing them, chances are you are missing out on a lot of potential.
Fan, hobbyist and association sites can be huge for traffic generation as well as improving your search engine rankings. One of our clients restores, repairs and sells parts to classic Lincoln autos. Every Lincoln enthusiast on the net, it seems, has a link to the client's site - hundreds of them.
Of course various kinds of paid ads give you instant presence and can work very well depending. Sponsored links on search engines, ads on blogs, banner ads on news sites, affiliate programs and paid links on portal sites are most common.
The short version is an intelligent exploration of all the possibilities will pay off. I just read of someone who used Twitter to generate up to 1000 visits a day - and they accomplished that in a few weeks.
Not every way of increasing your Online Presence makes sense for every business. But you can pretty well count on it that one or more of them will.
In my last post I gave a formula for visits to a website and listed out five general categories of actions to improve it.
I've written a lot about various aspects of this in the past, but some of them are pretty specific.
So I wanted to do a series of posts to summarize each of these five categories. I'll try to link to other articles on the subject within.
This first one is on probably the hardest to influence factor, and yet, the one with the most potential:
1. Get more people looking for "rubber duckies" (usually accomplished through publicity or offline promotion).
Of course using offline promotion to increase searches isn't difficult, but it tends to be expensive and is somewhat limited. What I am really talking about here is raising awareness of and interest in a whole category or type of product, service or company.
In the history of marketing this has been done over and over again. How much demand was there for wearable cassette players before the Walkman?
The reason this is such a huge subject comes down to one of the basics of marketing. It is much harder to create a demand (or desire or want or need) for something than it is to just fulfill that demand. Yet the potential for sales is always going to be limited by the amount of demand. 100% market share of zero is still zero.
The greatest and largest marketing companies in the world are great and huge because of their capability of creating demand. Disney and Apple are fabulous at this. What was the demand for Miley Cyrus, the iPod or iPhone before they were created? It was only a potential.
Companies like these also have a huge advantage. They can spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create a demand. They also have the ears of all the right people when it comes to publicity.
This is the huge flaw in every one who invents a better mousetrap and is going to get the world beating a path to their door. It isn't that it can't be done. But the kind of people great at inventing products or services are rarely the people who can come up with a way to get on the world's radar screen with it.
The business and marketing world know this is the key to Fort Knox. The competition is huge and many of them are well-funded or have an "in."
So how about your product or service or company? Start with a realistic assessment of the scene. Who are your potential prospects or customers? What are their interests, likes and dislikes? What communication channels have the potential of reaching them.
It helps if you aren't trying to create a demand but only to increase one - a much easier job.
In the end though, there is one thing and one thing only that is going to make the difference.
A big case of the clevers.
Think about it.
If you examine every case where someone succeeded creating or majorly increasing a demand, you'll find at the heart of it, a clever idea brilliantly executed.
The Model T Ford
The story is the same even with social movements, political campaigns and non-profit organizations:
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
54 Forty or Fight
Tom Thumb's Cabin
It's been said that at IBM, the employees with the parking spots closest to the entrance aren't the engineers but the marketing guys.
This is why.
This article is about one of the most important and fundamental concepts in Internet Marketing.
It is often called "web presence" or "Internet presence" but more often isn't called anything at all. Despite its importance, many in the Internet Marketing business have never heard of it.
Internet Presence is how visible you are on the Internet.
If 100 people look for someone like you online, what percentage of them will find you?
Let's say you are selling rubber duckies, you have an online store. There are many ways someone might find you - searches on various search engines, directory listings, blog ads, etc. Some get used more than others. With some of them you might show up, with others not.
Let's say 34% of those looking for rubber duckies search on Google and don't go past page one. If you show up on Google page one, your Internet Presence is at 34% just from that. And If you don't, that's 34% of potential visitors you've lost out on.
There is a quality aspect to this as well. It is the overall impression someone would get about you from what's on the web - good or bad. Because just being aware of you isn't enough. They also need to get the right message about you.
So what percentage of those who find you on the Internet, those who are actual potential prospects, click on the link and go to your site? That's the quality of your online presence and is reflective of your online reputation, how well worded your listings are, etc. etc.
Internet Presence reflects directly in the volume of visits to your website. The concept provides a framework for understanding where your Internet marketing is or isn't working.
The formula is this:
Number of people looking for "rubber duckies" X Internet Presence X
Quality of Presence =
Visitors to your website (not including "direct / bookmark").
That tells you immediately there are five ways to increase traffic to your website:
1. Get more people looking for "rubber duckies" (usually accomplished through publicity or offline promotion).
2. Increase your presence.
3. Improve your presence (quality).
4. Get more people to your site through off-line or email promotion (shows as direct / bookmark).
5. Get more people to return to your site (shows as direct / bookmark).
ANY increase or decrease in your visits CAN be analyzed down to which of these factor or factors are affecting traffic.
You may not be able to come up with exact percentage numbers for Internet Presence (quantity and quality). But you can, with adequate web analytics (website statistics) and other tools, find out what you need to know.
This is one of the great pluses of the Internet. The ability to get good numerical information.
Then you can take action.
A reader asks:
In the blog you wrote yesterday (yes I am reading it) on point #3 you said that only the free directory listings help SEO. What makes you say that?
Any sort of paid directory / ad / listing service is supposed to use tags that tell Google to ignore the pages as a source of Page Rank.
Now someone could ignore that, but at their own peril. Google has a mechanism for people to report on violations. You could then find your rankings drop suddenly.
So paid listings can generate traffic but don't DEPEND on them for search engine rankings.
That's the problem with any so-called "black hat" SEO techniques. You can't depend on them. Whereas "white hat" methods deliver stable rankings not likely to suddenly drop off the map.
There's a slightly different situation with WIkipedia. It's Wikipedia's policy to tag the whole site to not grant Page Rank. That is to keep people from spamming the site to build up their SEO. But that is Wikipedia's policy, not Google's. Google's Matt Cutts has stated that Google wouldn't be opposed to Wikipedia changing that. So perhaps at some point, Wikipedia articles from certain trusted people will generate PR.
Wikipedia is supposed to be completely non-commercial. You can put up articles about yourself or with links to your website, and those are legitimate, so long as they don't turn into advertisements. So again, Wikipedia can help generate Internet Presence and traffic, but it is not going to get you search engine rankings.
Your web statistics program should be able to show you the paths people take through a website. Where do they go from a certain page? How do they get to a certain page?
Where do people go from the home page? is always a critical question.
We have a great tool with our program that displays this visually. You can call up a copy of a page that shows the number of clicks on each link on the page. You can see not only the volume but how the arrangement on the page affects this.
In one experiment we moved the "contact" button to the top of the menu bar and tripled the amount of contact forms being filled out.
Marketing is all about being able to get inside the heads of your prospects.
Anything that gives you a better understanding of visitor behavior on your website, helps.
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