Archive for February, 2010
How can you develop a steady stream of new topic ideas to write about on your blog? Attract more blog traffic? Which WordPress plugins are most essential? Which highly successful blogs should you emulate, and what can you learn from them? What common blogging mistakes should you avoid? How do blogging and other “real time” activities like social media posting affect Google search results?
5 outstanding corporate blogs by iMedia Connection
Defining an outstanding corporate blog as “one that accomplishes the clearly articulated goals of the organization,” Chris Baggott provides five examples, including Carhartt’s Tough Jobs blog (focused on user-generated content) and the Alerding Castor blog, targeted at attracting high-value clients.
58 ways to build a better blog by How to Make My Blog
Marko Saric presents a huge collection of tips for maximizing business blog success, ranging from the basics (get your own domain name, think of a catchy title, be SEO-friendly) to the less obvious (make your blog tough to hack, “declutter” your blog, don’t make assumptions about your readers, and include a media kit for potential advertisers).
101 Steps to Becoming a Better Blogger by Lifehack
If those 58 tips in the post above weren’t enough for you, Kim Roach provides more than a hundred more suggestions for improving your blog, broken into categories like must-have plugins for WordPress, ways to monetize a blog, and writing tips.
9 Useful Twitter Retweet Button Scripts For Blogs by Cheth Studios
Noting that Cheth Studios gets 40% of its blog traffic from Twitter alone, this post reviews nine scripts, tools and plugins to make your blog content easily tweetable, from TweetMeme (my favorite) TwittLink to Retweet.com and BackType.
The Most Important Blogging Analysis Ever by ViperChill
Noting that blogs grow by having their content shared, Glen Allsopp studies “the most linked-to blog posts on four of the most popular blogs in the world and analyse(s) what made them so popular.” Not surprisingly, resource posts and techniques for solving specific, common problems top the list of how to make your content spread.
5 Simple Tips for Creating a Content Culture at Your Company by Hubspot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog
A common challenge for corporate blogs is maintaining a steady stream of fresh content. To help, Adrian Mott provides recommendations ranging from implementing an “idea bucket” (an application that makes it easy for folks to submit their ideas about your products or services) to looking “at your analytics everyday and see what’s working and what’s not,” then analyzing why certain posts became popular and replicating that success. Another noteworthy post from HubSpot is 10 Ways Blogging Will Simplify Your Marketing Program, in which Rick Burnes outlines several beneficial results of blogging, from improved SEO and social media traffic to establishing thought leadership and brand building.
The best 50 blogging ideas to choose from by Future Perfect
Still wondering what to write about? Aswani Srivastava provides an outstanding list of topic ideas sure to jumpstart your muse, such as special events, news, book reviews, product reviews, “top tips,” definitions of terms specific to your industry, interviews, beginner’s guides, and if all else fails—soliciting guest posts.
How to find topics for your blog posts by My Blog
Mike Consol takes a different approach to coming up with new topics for blog posts. He looks at the headlines of some of the top posts on Google’s corporate blog (one of the most successful in existence) and reviews each to see how its subject matter might be applied to other blogs. Among the topics he ferrets out using this process: recent product or service enhancements, new partnerships, good causes supported, helpful tips and insights, or recent industry research.
A few mistakes that beginning bloggers should be aware of by Blog Design Studio
A brief but helpful list of common blogging mistakes new bloggers should avoid, including poor design, boring posts and ignoring SEO.
Real Time Search and It’s effect on Corporate Blogging by Chris Baggot’s Guide to Blogging
After stating that “the introduction of Real Time Search is yet another major signal that Social Media is an SEO tool more than anything else,” Chris Baggott proceeds to dissect Google’s approach to integrating “recency” signals from blogs and social networks into its search results.
Before I start this rant, let me make it clear that I love gaining new followers on Twitter and I’m honored by (almost) every one—I’m grateful that you want to hear what I have to say! Also, as indicated by my high ratio of following to followers (currently 87%), my default rule is to follow back. Twitter is social media, not a broadcast platform; if you’ve taken an interest in what I tweet, I want to read yours as well, and hopefully we can learn from each other.
But, all of that said, there are only so many hours in a day, and not all tweet streams are worth following. Here are some indicators in your last 20-40 tweets that may prevent me (and others) from hitting that “follow back” button.
1. There are no RT’s in your tweet stream. Really—you follow 5,000 people, and not one of them has posted anything worth retweeting over the last several days? How sad.
2. Your tweets are a series of blatant sales pitches. Okay, we all need to eat, and there’s nothing wrong with occasionally promoting your content, product or service on Twitter. However, if that’s all you are doing, it’s boring. It’s like fast-forwarding through a TV show on TiVo and watching only the commercials.
3. Your tweets are obviously automated. If the time stamps on your tweets are 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:00…, it’s clear you aren’t actually interacting on Twitter, you’re just broadcasting. It’s unlikely you’ll ever even see my tweets (or those of others you are following), so why should I bother?
4. Your posts are completely off topic from my interests. My posts are primarily focused on b2b marketing, but I’m not one-dimensional; I have a variety of interests including politics, football, faith, local (Minnesota) news, technology, American Idol (only because my kids watch it, of course), economics and more. But if all of your posts are about vitamins, the real estate market in Massachusetts, the antics of your cat, or some other topic I’ve never tweeted about, sorry, I have only so much attention to give, and grateful as I am for your attention, I’m not sure why you chose to follow me first.
5. Your profile is blank. If you want others to follow you, it’s best to reveal a little bit about yourself. Following others while not disclosing your location, providing any info in Twitter’s 160-character bio field, or linking to an online profile, landing page, website, blog, or anything else you consider important, is a little creepy.
6. You’re promoting the latest “get rich quick” scheme. There is no “secret” to success: find out what you’re really good at, develop your talent, and then work your tail off—for a long time. The only people who make any money on get-rich-quick scams are those selling them (and even many who try that route fail). If these schemes really worked, we’d all be rich and poverty would be eradicated. But such schemes have been investigated over and over, and they accomplish nothing other than the transfer of wealth from the gullible to the dishonest.
7. You quote Jim Rohn. Before you flame me, I mean no disrespect to the recently departed; I know that Jim Rohn was an inspirational and widely admired speaker and writer with a compelling life story. And I’m not suggesting that everyone who quotes him is pushing the latest scam (see #6 above) or other questionable business enterprise, only that there seems to be a high correlation. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, such as @jonrognerud, a smart, helpful and worthwhile Twitterer who, via Twitter, respectfully acknowledged Rohn’s death, without in any way diminishing his legacy. But this is often a strong indicator of spam.
8. Your tweet stream contains nothing retweetable. I hope that those who follow me find my tweets occasionally worth retweeting, and I like to find links to great content from those I’m following that I can in turn retweet. But if there’s nothing in your most recent 20 or 40 tweets that appears worthy of sharing (“just got back from the gym”…”I’m at the coffee shop at 4th and Main”…”Get 1,000s of Twitter followers instantly!”…), I probably won’t bother following.
9. You’ve protected your tweets. WTF?
10. You’re inviting me to “look at my naughty pictures online.” This often leads to malware or phishing scams, and never to anything good. No thanks.
Am I wrong? Leave a comment and tell me why.
Optimization—the greatest results for the lowest cost—is the goal of every AdWords campaign manager. What are two of the simplest ways to optimize AdWords campaigns? Google is constantly changing and upgrading its AdWords tools; which recent enhancements are most important to understand and take advantage of? Click-through rate (CTR) is the single most important factor in determining Quality Score, which is as important as bid level in determining how highly an ad will appear in search results. But it isn’t the only factor; what other items are considered, and how can you optimize these?
Get the answers to these questions and many others here in more of the best articles and blog posts from last year on Google AdWords search engine marketing.
Setting up PPC Campaigns 101, Part 1 by Search Engine Watch
Ron Jones steps through the process of structuring content for AdWords campaigns, developing keyword lists and setting up ad groups, along the way identifying helpful resources and tools such Permutator.
2 dead simple ways to optimize your Adwords campaign by CDF Networks
Chad Frederiksen recommends using the AdWords Conversion Optimizer tool and Opportunities tab to increase conversion rates while reducing per-conversion costs.
Although AdWords advertising can benefit a wide range of businesses, it isn’t right for every company. Steve Loszewski walks through ROI calculations to help determine the value of AdWords for a specific situation, as well as what’s involved in properly managing a successful AdWords program.
Rich Media and Video templates in display ad builder by Inside AdWords
Emel Mutlu explains how to use the AdWords display ad builder tool to create ads for Google’s content network that display multiple products, incorporate multiple destination URLs, track unique interactions, include video, provide in-ad coupon codes and more. New templates simplify these tasks, and Emel notes that he hopes they will be “one more great reason to try out the AdWords display ad builder, and reach additional customers in new ways.” More noteworthy posts from the Inside AdWords blog:
- AdWords Editor 7.5.1 for Windows and Mac: Austin Rachlin reports on key changes in the latest updated of the AdWords Editor tool, including the ability to import .CSV files, selectively download specific campaigns, and view and organize new keywords by topical category. In another newsworthy post, Conversion Optimizer is now available to more campaigns, Austin announced that any campaign with at least 15 conversions in the most recent 30-day period is now eligible to use Google’s Conversion Optimizer tool, and that according to Google’s research, “campaigns which adopted Conversion Optimizer achieved a 21% increase in conversions while at the same time decreasing their CPA by 14% (on average and in comparison to similar campaigns).”
- New Interface Thursdays: Keep tabs on your account with custom alerts: Trevor Claiborne explains how to set up custom alerts to get notified about specific types of events or activities in your AdWords account, such as a spike in impressions for branded keywords or when a campaign is close to hitting its daily budget.
- AdWords Conversion Tracking is now even easier: Emily Williams shows how changes to the interface for the conversion tracking tool make it easier to implement and monitor this capability. Of note, the “New Conversion” button allows you to quickly define new conversion actions or import them from a Google Analytics account, and the “Webpages” tab makes it easier to track conversions by page.
Is The Hype Over Google AdWords Quality Score Justified? by Search Engine Land
Craig Danuloff provides a detailed discussion of Quality Score: its importance (high), its ability to function as either a discount mechanism or a tax, why CTR is critical, and why landing page design isn’t. Two other noteworthy posts from Search Engine Land are The 6/90 Rule: 6 Reports Contain 90% Of Actionable AdWords Insights, in which Brad Geddes identifies and demonstrates the value of the six most important AdWords reports, and How important Is Click Through Rate In Google’s Quality Score Formula?, wherein Siddharth Shah illustrates mathematically the importance of CTR to quality score (it explains about 72%; all other factors combined account for the other 28%).
A concise but helpful post that explains how to pull goals and transactions from Google Analytics into AdWords for unified conversion reporting. Analytics and AdWords have traditionally been completely separate systems with inconsistent data, but Google continues to bring the two into closer harmony. Two other valuable posts from PPC Hero are 5 Tips on Passing the Google Adwords Qualified Professional Exam, which provides tips such as knowing how to calculate ROI and AdWords ad text policies before tackling Google’s AdWords certification examination, and 6 Rules to Achieve Awesome Quality Scores & Increase PPC Performance, which explains five factors other than CTR (such as having well-organized ad groups and pruning under-performing ads and keywords) that can help improve AdWords quality scores.
Marketing automation systems—from vendors like Eloqua, Marketo, Genoo, Manticore and others—are great tools for moving prospective buyers along the path from interest to desire to action. But they’re just that: tools. Without a solid content strategy to support that movement through the marketing and sales cycle, all you’ve got is a nice email system. The brilliant Ardath Albee provides the missing piece, a reliable recipe marketing automation, demand generation and content marketing success in her new book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale.
Some business books are mere “information snacks,” but Ardath provides much more here, a substantial three-course meal of marketing strategy: she covers the “why,” “what” and “how” of using compelling content, email, social media and microsites to turn prospects into buyers.
Divided into six sections, as an appetizer the book starts off with eMarketing Essentials, the “why” of using content marketing for complex sales. Here she expounds on the shift in technology buying processes I outlined in a previous post, How Social Media Changed the Sales Cycle into the Buying Cycle. Buyers today expect to be able to gather the vast majority of the information they need to make a purchasing decision without ever talking to a sales rep. They begin in most cases with some basic online research, which is why web presence optimization has become so critical. From there, they will “raise their hands,” looking for more information from specific vendors, most commonly by downloading a white paper or registering for a webinar. What happens next is critical; prospects at this stage are not usually ready to be “sold,” but they are open to being convinced, through compelling thought-leadership content, that your company is uniquely capable of solving their problems. In this first section, Ardath explains this shift, what it means for marketing and selling complex products, and how the vendors who understand and capitalize on this shift will benefit in increased sales and a stronger competitive position.
Sections two and three, Customer Consensus and Natural Nurturing, begin getting into the meat of the strategy. Here the author outlines the crucial preparatory steps to a successful lead nurturing strategy. Begin by creating buyer personas—who are your buyers? What problems do they face? What keeps them awake at night? What information do they need to make a decision? Just as importantly, what information do they need to be your advocate within their organization? It’s critical at this stage to recognize the different personas you’ll need to appeal to in crafting a content creation strategy. The primary buyer for a complex b2b product or service is often someone in operations seeking to solve a problem or perform a process faster/cheaper/better. However, the purchasing committee will generally include someone from IT, the CFO, and in smaller firms possibly even the CEO. You’ll need different messages to appeal to all of these groups, based on their concerns (technical simplicity, financial impact, high-level business benefits, etc.).
Sections four and five, Contagious Content and Persistent Progression (gotta love the alliteration of these titles), are the main course. With an understanding of who your buyers are and what problems they are focused on solving in place, the chapters in these two sections walk through the creation, development and tuning of thought-leadership content to attract buyers and move them through the decision process. The section begins an explanation of the three types of content you’ll need to provide to buyers: education (what buyers need to know in order to think strategically about solving a problem or taking advantage of a new opportunity), expertise (showing why your product or service is uniquely capable of addressing their issues) and evidence (proving through case studies, customer stories and third-party endorsements that your offering provides real business benefits).
This is followed by a critical chapter (one of the best in the book) on “catch factors”—which are, in Ardath’s words, “the preferences and aversions that form a lead’s ‘gut reaction’ to your communication.” These include urgency (why you message is important to prospects, now), impact (what’s in it for the reader?), effort (how much energy is required to absorb the information—is it straightforward and easily digestible, or full of meaningless gobbledygook?), reputation (what’s known about your company, its image and brand?) and intent (do readers perceive that you are sincerely trying to help them, or merely doing a “hard sell”?).
The section continues with guidance on designing marketing stories, organizing content to move prospects through the buying process, scoring leads, and managing the interaction between marketing and sales, all illustrated with pertinent case studies.
The final section of the book—the “dessert,” if you will—is Meaningful Metrics, which provides a framework for what and how to measure results, for purposes of reporting and continual improvement.
The book is a bit repetitive in places, but it’s repetition with a purpose; this is important stuff! eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is a must-read for anyone involved in making demand generation and marketing automation successful within their organization, and increasing sales using content marketing strategies.
Marketing automation / demand generation software enables marketers to build microsites and use content marketing to capture leads and nurture them through the buying process. Companies evaluating established providers such as Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop’s B2B Engage and HubSpot would be well-advised to check out a relatively new contender as well—Genoo Marketing Automation.
The company’s new marketing automation platform enables users to create complete websites as well as microsites and landing pages, automatically send emails triggered by specific actions, configure lead scoring, and integrate with Salesforce.com. Because Genoo is a SaaS offering and includes a flexible and powerful (Genoo’s own website runs on their platform) yet easy-to-use content management system (CMS) that allows non-technical users to create websites and pages, marketing departments can implement and use the product with little or no IT involvement.
- Point-and-click stylesheet editing, enabling users to create a custom look and feel without any knowledge of HTML or CSS;
- Ability to add Flash files anywhere on a page;
- Auto-generated email messages to marketing or sales personnel based on action taken, which can even place the lead’s email address in the “From” field for easy reply;
- Flexible options for Salesforce.com integration, such as the ability to push lead information into specific campaigns;
- Ability to set up an automated sequence of activities based on user actions (e.g. downloading a file, clicking a link in an email) to provide relevant content;
- No limit on the size or number of visits permitted to microsites.
Pricing starts at $199 per month for a single user and microsite, with no limit on the number of leads in the account, plus $8.50 per 1,000 emails sent. Additional marketing users (with full editing privileges) are $49 per month, while sales users (access to leads only, with ability to update information about a lead, synchronize with their Salesforce.com account, view lead interest profile or push leads back to nurturing from within their Salesforce.com account) are $9.95 per month. Large companies can opt to pay a one-time fee of $2,500 for unlimited sales users.
For a truly custom design, the company will convert a layered PhotoShop file into a Genoo template for $500.
With a boatload of advanced features and an affordable price point, Genoo hopes to earn a spot on the shortlist for any marketing automation / lead gen purchase.
Note: this post was originally published on the WebMarketCentral blog in September 2009.