Posts Tagged ‘WPO’
HubSpot last week released its 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report, this year weighing in at a massive 175 pages. But as always, the report is crammed with useful facts, interesting stats, and vital tips, tools and techniques for inbound marketing success.
Given the report’s heft, no blog post (of any reasonable length) could it justice as a summary, but here are a sampling of the highlights. To get the full story, download the HubSpot report here.
Inbound marketing (a subset of though not to be confused with web presence optimization) is big, and growing.
- • 60% of companies will execute some form of inbound marketing strategies in 2013 (and that’s likely understated; another 19% of marketers weren’t sure if certain tactics they use qualify as “inbound”).
- • Companies spend, on average, about a third of overall marketing budgets on inbound tactics.
- • For the third straight year, nearly half of marketers plan to increase spending on inbound marketing activities in the coming 12 months.
And it works:
- • According to the report, “inbound delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads.”
- • 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI for their inbound marketing.
- • Inbound marketers double the average site conversion rate of non-inbound marketers, from 6% to 12% total.
Inbound marketing teams tend to be small—but realize the need to grow in order to scale.
- • Even at the enterprise level, 31% of marketing teams contain five or fewer full-time employees.
- • While marketing teams will begin 2013 with an average five or fewer people, most will at least double by the end of the year.
- • Inbound marketers plan to hire an average of 9.3 people this year, which is 125% more growth than teams not executing inbound marketing.
The report is careful in how it defines “inbound marketing,” noting that “Inbound marketing is not a channel or a technology, it’s a strategy” (much like web presence optimization, or WPO) and further stating that:
“While it’s easy to explain why direct mail and PPC banner ads are ‘outbound,’ it is more complicated to define more flexible online strategies as purely inbound versus outbound. At HubSpot, we see the distinguishing factor as how people are using a specific channel more than the definition of the channel itself.”
This further distinguishes WPO from inbound marketing, as tactics like media relations, SEM and banner ads are elements of the WPO framework (because they are key elements of overall online brand visibility) but would not be considered part of inbound marketing.
But the report also notes that despite its widespread and increasing adoption, “Executives and sales functions not quite buying in to inbound marketing…only 17% of sales teams and 11% of company executives lend their full support to inbound marketing efforts.” If inbound marketing truly is a “customer-centric” approach to the market as the report also contends, one would expect these numbers to increase in coming years. To encourage this shift, marketers will need to be able to tie their efforts to strategic business objectives (like market share and brand loyalty) beyond just lead generation.
There more—much more—in the report, covering topics ranging from ROI, metrics, and testing, to inbound marketing tools and tactics. The new HubSpot report is must-reading for anyone who needs to justify market-driven digital strategies, understand what competitors and peers are doing, and gain insights on how to generate more leads, of higher quality, at least cost than with traditional interruptive marketing methods.
Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have irreversibly changed the practice of SEO. Contrary to the most dire conclusions of some, these nasty-though-harmless-sounding pair of algorithmic updates named for monochromatic fauna have not “killed” SEO—but they have, rather, forced an evolution in thinking about web visibility.
At a high level, both updates are designed to clamp down on “artificially optimized” web pages (e.g., those with over-optimized content [written for search engines rather than humans], paid links, too many links from low-quality sources, too many links with the same anchor text, etc.) and reward pages with a more “natural” profile (relevant and high-quality links, fresh content, social signals, natural and well written content).
The effect of these changes is that it may be more difficult for commercial websites to rank highly for specific keyword phrases. Difficulty ranking does not mean, however, difficulty in being visible. Which is why SEO will evolve into the framework of web presence optimization (WPO).
WPO is about maximizing your brand’s visibility when people are searching for what you have to offer—no matter where they are searching. It’s broader than SEO because “being found” doesn’t necessarily mean that searchers find your website (at least not directly); they may find an article about your company, a product review, a guest post you’ve written for an industry blog, a tweet, a pin, your Facebook page, or something else; but the point is, they’ve found content that is about your brand and that (ultimately) leads back to your website.
WPO is fundamentally friendly to Google’s zoological algorithm collection, because it’s entirely “white hat.” It encompasses paid, owned and earned content, but there is no effort to deceive or to manipulate search results (which is fundamentally what the search engines are trying to penalize).
In a WPO strategy, different disciplines like public relations (PR), SEO, social media, content development, online advertising, analyst relations, and even trade show marketing are managed in a coordinated manner to maximize the total online visibility of a brand for key phrases. It uses high-level WPO metrics to guide overall strategy and continually improve results, while benchmarking activities against top competitors.
WPO Tactics for Panda and Penguin
Here are five WPO tactics that help improve online brand visibility in the Panda and Penguin era:
Blogging. An informative and consistently updated company blog serves as the core of a social media strategy, provides a natural outlet for keyword-rich fresh content, attracts links from diverse but relevant sources, and will likely rank well on its own as well as contributing “link juice” to your top-level domain. Blogging well is hard work; it requires originality, persistence and discipline. The content has to be seen as helpful, compelling and share-worthy, not just rehashed news releases or marketing brochures. But done well, a blog fosters social engagement, improves organic search results and generates leads.
Guest blogging. Writing thought-provoking or informative content for other industry blogs is one of the few ways to directly generate specific keyword links back to your own site that remains acceptable to Google. Beyond the SEO benefit, gust posting also increases brand recognition, helps you reach a new audience, and enhances your brand image and credibility in the market.
Industry marketing. Being active in your industry raises your brand’s online (and often offline) visibility as well as well as creating valuable backlinks for SEO, and includes activities ranging from analyst relations to association memberships to sponsoring and exhibiting at trade shows.
Public Relations. PR isn’t just “press releases” (and anyway, you should actually be writing optimized news releases, worthy of the attention of prospective buyers as well as journalists); it also includes citations and quotes in industry news stories, bylined articles, formal product reviews, customer stories, and speaking opportunities. Such content can and should also be shared socially, reprinted (where allowed and with permission), and repurposed in other formats such as white papers, blog posts, and online presentations.
Backlink categorization. Understanding your website’s backlink profile helps guide your overall WPO strategy and allocation of dollars and efforts. Are you maintaining momentum in press coverage? Gaining traction in social media engagement? Lagging in industry marketing efforts? Even more important, understanding the backlink profiles of competitors enables you to benchmark your performance and look for new opportunities–or just validate your current strategic direction. Success in the Panda/Penguin world isn’t about raw quantity of backlinks, but about diversity (links from a variety of top-level domains, not just lots of links from a single domain), quality, and relevance.
General SEO Tips for Panda and Penguin
Here are three more SEO best practices for maintaining and improving rankings as search engine algorithms continue to evolve.
Avoid duplicate content. Having the same content on two or more pages of your website causes those pages to “compete” with each other in search, with the result that both (or all) pages lose. If you must have duplicate content on your site for structural or navigation reasons, use the rel=canonical tag to tell the search engines which page is the “original” or most useful to searchers.
Be careful with anchor text links. In the old days (e.g. prior to 2012), exact match anchor text ruled, and the more exact match anchor links you had pointing at a page the better. For example, if you wanted to rank for on-page SEO tips, you worked at getting as many links s possible which used that exact phrase. But now, if Google sees too many exact-match keyword links pointed as a page, it may actually penalize the page with lower ranking—for having an “unnatural” link profile. Google won’t specify what qualifies as “too many” of such links, but the point is to diversify anchor text in order to reduce the appearance of artificiality.
Set up Google+ authorship. You can set up Google+ authorship on single and multi-author blogs, and establish authority and validity with Google. Benefits include more visual results that stand out in search, and (potentially at least) higher search rankings.
Pandas and penguins aren’t generally viewed as terrifying creatures in the natural world, and they don’t have to be frightening online either. With a few SEO best practices and implementation of a WPO strategy, you can tame these Google beasts and maximize online visibility for your brand.
The past year has seen a steady flow of thoughtful articles and blog posts dealing with topics like the changing world of SEO, the convergence of search and social, the growing importance of PR in website rankings, the critical role content marketing plays in online visibility, the need to coordinate the efforts of various types on digital marketing experts…in short, about web presence optimization (WPO)–even if most of the authors don’t actually use that term.
WPO is the overarching term and concept that these writers are searching for to describe the significant and undeniable changes that have taken place in the search landscape over the past 12-18 months. Backlinks still matter—but the quality of those links matters more than the quantity (indeed, sites can even be penalized for having too many spammy, low-quality backlinks pointing to them). PR, social media, and the production of fresh, high-quality content are vital for maximizing search engine visibility. Online advertising doesn’t directly affect organic search, but it is a vital component of online visibility and can support social and content marketing efforts.
Whether they use the WPO term or not, the authors here deal with a range of compelling questions related to optimizing visibility on the web today, such as: what is “influencer marketing” and why does it matter? How is the role of social media evolving in online visibility? How are agencies and brands successfully integrating owned, earned and paid media efforts? How can you best manage a team of digital marketing professionals to coordinate and optimize overall efforts?
You’ll find the answers to those questions and many more here in more than two dozen of the best WPO guides, tips, tactics and strategies of the past year.
Influencer Marketing – What it is, and Why YOU Need to be Doing it by The Daily SEO Blog
Eric Enge notes that while quality content is a vital component to maximizing online visibility, “superior content is not enough. Unless the world gets to know about it your superior content will get you nowhere. You have to have a way to get the word out. This is where ‘Influencer Marketing’ comes into play. By definition, influencers reach a lot of people (often more than you do), and they have the ability to influence people’s opinions.” He then explains, in richly illustrated detail, how to identify the influencers in your market and persuade them to amplify your content.
The Real Relationship between Social Media and SEO by SocialMouths
Writing that “Everybody knows social media and SEO are connected, but how?…Unfortunately, it’s hard to sort things out because the social-SEO relationship is becoming more intertwined (some would say, muddled) all the time,” (well, that’s why a sound WPO strategy is required, but anyway…) Brad Shorr first distinguishes between rankings (which are what your website gets) and overall display visibility (which includes ads, third party content about you, news, etc. and is much more important) then lists 10 action steps to focus “on social media activities that have SEO impact.”
Why the future of marketing relies on social by iMedia Connection
Curtis Hougland reports that “The average shopper in 2011 used an incredible 10.4 sources of information to make a decision. Simply, there is no epicenter to your marketing any more — not the advertising, not the website, not the store, not the social channel.” He then explains how this insight requires a change in behavior in terms of how marketing teams approach brand, awareness, structure and channels. (It’s also a driving factor behind the WPO framework.)
Brand Choreography Through Integrated Marketing Communications by Blue Focus Marketing
Observing that “the subject of Integrated Marketing Communications is hotter than ever It’s a source of competitive advantage. However, both planning and executing remain a challenge,” Mark Burgess outlines a strategy for what he terms “brand choreography,” essentially communicating a consistent brand message across multiple media channels. He concludes that “Marketers must explore new methods to leverage all elements of the communication mix—advertising, sales promotion, PR, direct marketing, search, Web, and social media—into a single, cohesive, holistic approach.” Which is WPO.
Marketing Research Chart: Does your organization have an inbound strategy? by MarketingSherpa
Kaci Bower reports on MarketingSherpa research showing that “while three quarters of organizations think integration of SEO and social is essential,” less than half of marketers are integrating these tactics (much less content optimization, PR and SEM). But they should be: “the integration of these complementary tactics improves conversion rates. Our research showed a 59% improvement in conversion rates from organic search traffic for marketers who integrated social media and SEO, over those who did not.”
SEM + SEO [PRESENTATION] by e-Strategy Trends
David Erickson shares a presentation from Performics detailing “the cumulative and powerful effect of combining search engine advertising and search engine optimization.” Among the findings presented: “Paid search ads increase clicks to your site, even if you have the #1 organic listing on the search results page,” and a unified web presence strategy will ultimately drive more traffic to a web site than doing organic or paid search alone—or, for that matter, with PR, social or industry marketing.
How to integrate your paid, owned, and earned media by iMedia Connection
Noting that while “agencies recognize the importance of integrating these three media channels for marketing effectiveness…agency revenue models, particularly media agency models, are potentially threatened by integrating paid, owned, and earned media,” the awesome Rebecca Lieb explains how to get it done, including ensuring that the agency understands the importance of (WPO) metrics.
Search in A World Of Converged Media by MediaPost Search Insider
Expanding a bit on Rebecca’s post (above), the brilliant Ryan DeShazer recommends that digital marketers take on the role of “orchestrators” of “all facets of digital and traditional marketing” (or in other words, web presence optimization), and that they use thought leadership as a marketing communications hub.
Search Critical in Brand-Building Strategies by eMarketer
“Search is where the audience can be found,” according to research from eMarketer, noting that 85% of U.S. internet users used search engines either daily or fairly often. Furthermore, “Brands need search—and not just paid ads and higher organic rankings—to help them achieve their overall marketing goals…(but) since search does not stand on its own, all brands should continually develop a broad range of destinations and content that take advantage of the keywords, key phrases and language the target audience uses.” In other words, WPO.
Why social media agencies are a farce by iMedia Connection
***** 5 STARS
Writing that “When I first saw social media agencies starting to pop up all over the place, I started to wonder if there were ever fax marketing agencies. Was there a rush of ambitious entrepreneurs setting up shop to offer fax marketing services when fax machines were brand spankin’ new just because they knew how to use one?,” David Waterman brilliantly drives home the point that social media needs to be integrated into overall online marketing efforts.
Though he doesn’t use the term WPO specifically, he does offer this succinct analysis in support of the WPO model: “For example, you can take any part of his statement, swap the order, and still be left with a valid statement:
- SEO is part social media, audience development, part advertising, and part PR.
- PR is part SEO, part audience development, part advertising, and part social media.
- Audience development is part SEO, part social media, part advertising, and part PR.
- Advertising is part SEO, part audience development, part social media, and part PR.”
Top Inbound Marketing Activities For SEO [CHART] by e-Strategy Trends
David Erickson (again) presents some interesting data on how SEO pros handle inbound marketing. Of the top 10 activities, only a few are “traditional SEO” tasks; the others are focused on social media, analytics, competitive analysis, and content development. As the lines between different specialties continue to blur, silos will have to be eliminated in favor of coordinated efforts.
The Search Power of Brand by SEO Book
Contending that “Having a clear identity (brand) makes you memorable. People will remember your site name. People will search for your site name. And when enough people do that, then there is little chance Google can ever drop you below number #1 for brand searches. If you get it right, Google will even rank you against relevant related keywords you aren’t targeting,” Peter Da Vanzo argues that building a strong brand online is as important for SEO (and web presence more broadly) as traditional generic keyword optimization techniques. He concludes that “SEO, and wider marketing and brand strategy, will all meld together,” which is a pretty good description of WPO strategy.
Why PR Should Not Own SEO (Nor Social Media or Content Marketing) by Social Marketing Forum
Observing that “Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, social interaction and relevant content have become more important for search engine optimization (SEO) than ever before. Social media, content marketing and search (SEO and SEA) must be integrated,” the insightful J-P De Clerck concludes that “No channel or tactic should be isolated and no department should own a tactic.” Indeed! The different disciplines need to be unified under a comprehensive approach to web presence.
Investing in SEO: Marketers Do More SEO than They Think by iMedia Connection
Krista LaRiviere, CEO of web presence optimization software vendor gShift Labs, offers some excellent guidance on creating a content marketing strategy that incorporates content development, SEO, social media, PR, video, email marketing and paid search in an integrated fashion. She also shares some slightly misleading numbers, claiming that “94% of searchers click through on organic search results, and that the top three positions in Google earn 61% of the clicks” while just 6% of clicks are on paid search results (ads). While this is true for the universe of all search results, for commercial searches (that is, those searches where a user is looking for information about a product or service in support of a buying decision), clicks on paid results are significantly higher.
Content Optimization Beyond Search [INFOGRAPHIC] by eStrategy Trends
David Erickson (yet again) presents a fascinating infographic on, as the title implies, the importance of optimizing content beyond search. While search is still vital, web users are increasing discovering content througn social networks and social sharing (and search engines are increasingly considering social signals in rankings), meaning that – content needs to be compelling and optimized (and promoted) in channels beyond search.
SEO, Social and Content Marketing in Top Demand by eMarketer
Research from eMarketer shows that nearly a quarter of marketers spend time on content marketing, social media and SEO on a daily basis, and that “over two-thirds of online marketers worldwide generated short-form content assets such as blog posts, social media updates, articles and guides—all of which are used in SEO, social media and content marketing.” We’d add that combining these tactics is even more effective when done by a team focusing on coordinated WPO objectives.
Five Ways to Maximize your Digital Marketing Team by Digital Marketing Suite
Jani Rayner offers tips to “get the best from digital teams,” such as encouraging “the Display, Social and Search teams to work closely together – you will be surprised (or perhaps not) how often this doesn’t happen,” and scheduling regular monthly report[http://wpoinc.com/wpo-metrics-dashboard/business-wpo-metrics-pricing/].
5 Killer SEO Insights from Analyzing a Billion Dollars in AdWords Spend by The Daily DEO Blog
***** 5 STARS
WordStream founder and CTO Larry Kim, slumming on an SEOmoz blog, presents five key insights gained from analyzing an enormous quantity of SEM data, including the average cost of keyword clicks by industry (in the b2b technology realm where we dwell, it ranges from $1.11 to $1.67), to the phenomenal growth in paid search clicks (driven by Google utilizing more screen real estate for these) to demonstrating how the Google display network is effective and complementary to organic SEO efforts. As with WPO, it all works together.
Go Alexa Pro and improve your SEO by WordPress Hosting SEO
Berrie Pelser showcases an infographic from Michelle Shaeffer detailing how she took her blog to a top 100K rank on Alexa using social media, guest blogging, article marketing, news releases…in other words (without quite using the words), through web presence optimization.
Search Marketing: Time To Re-engineer by MediaPost Marketing Daily
Contending that “Long the afterthought of the digital marketing tool kit, ‘search’ is emerging as a nexus between consumer behavior and real-time data. In fact…search must be viewed as a strategic imperative in today’s convergent marketplace…But in order for search to be truly effective, the way we approach it must evolve,” Sargi Mann outlines three key areas that must be addressed and warns against slipping into “turf wars” of disconnected areas of expertise.
6 Small Business Marketing Trends for 2013 by Masterful Marketing
The insightful Debra Murphy outlines six key trends that will affect small business online visibility in 2013, including content marketing, mobile support, and most importantly, “Web presence optimization is the future…(it) helps you consistently increase the digital footprint for your business. Expanding your presence onto the proper social media sites creates more visibility for your brand, enables you to network with people online in addition to offline, and attracts your ideal client through useful information and tools that help them solve a specific problem.”
SEO – Content | Confusion | Clarity by Search Engine Watch
Andy Betts writes that SEO professionals are no longer just tactical implementers, or strategic thinkers, or content marketers, but all of those plus being “holistic and integrated digital marketer(s).” He details the changes forced by Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, comments on the convergence of paid/earned/owned media, and muses about the importance of content production and distribution in this excellent post.
It’s Still the Wild West for Digital Marketers. Get Excited. by BuzzStream Blog
Dan Tynski discuss recent changes to the search markeing landscape and concludes that “If you consider yourself an just an SEO, it is probably time to shift your perspective. Ranking well in Google has become much much more than it was in years past where typical SEO tactics alone could lead you or your clients to success. This new era requires that you become a digital content and online PR expert.” Or perhaps a maestro of web presence optimization, coordinating the efforts of all of the different experts involved in online presence (PR, SEO, content development, social media, PPC) to maximize total online visibility for a company or brand.
Seven Principles to Building an Online Reputation by Spin Sucks
PR expert and author Gini Dietrich shares a presentation and guidance on building an online reputation. Among her key principles: create engaging and valuable content; build a community (“you don’t have a community until people begin talking to one another without the help of the blog’s author”); and comment on other content (her example proves that you never know where this may lead).
Breakdown Of A Person’s Google Results by The Backup List
Though WPO and online reputation management are commonly thought and written about in terms of companies and brands, the same principles apply to an individual’s online presence. Here, Mark Hayes shares an infographic detailing “how people look in Google,” from key points to know (such as that one billion individual names are searched on Google each day, but only half of people own the top result for their own name) to how to make your individual online presence more positive.
Today’s explosion of media channels has made it simultaneously more challenging yet more vital for companies to present unified messaging and branding to their markets. Businesses need to break down the silos both within their marketing and public relations (PR) teams but also more broadly between other departments, including product development and customer support.
Becoming a social business means change, which is never easy. But in Marketing in the Round: How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Campaign in the Digital Era (Que Biz-Tech), authors Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston provide a roadmap to developing strategy, planning tactics, determining and executing the best approach, and finally measuring and refining a unified marketing effort.
Much more than just another tactical marketing field guide, Marketing in the Round aims to provide comprehensive strategy guidance. As noted in the introduction,
“Every contemporary marketing book is dedicated to the topic of social media, whether it be Facebook, return on investment, content, or customer relations. This proliferation of literature acknowledges the changes social media brings to marketing. These books fail to realize the full scope of the marketer’s challenge, not with social media, but in becoming a modern organization that works across media and tactics to achieve its goals.”
That description (as much else in the book) sounds a lot like web presence optimization (WPO), the framework for which has been covered here previously. But whether one speaks about WPO or marketing in the round, the fundamental ideas are the same: online, everything is connected. Marketing, PR and communication efforts within the enterprise need to be connected as well.
Throughout, the authors use the term “marketing round” as useful shorthand to describe the group of professionals from marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), PR, social media, content development, design and online advertising whose efforts need to coordinated in order to optimize online results.
The book, valuable to anyone who’s in (or aspires to be in) a marketing or PR leadership role, is divided into three main sections:
- Understand the Marketing Round and Develop Your Strategy
- Four Marketing Round Approaches
- Measurement, Refinement, and Improvement
The authors share a series of essential insights throughout section one, including:
- • “Rarely is one media moment, positive or negative, strong enough to form a full impression. Before the Web…a person needed to see a message seven times before a purchase decision is made. Today a person needs to see a message upwards to 20 times. Some of those messages can, and should, be delivered by trusted sources, including friends and family, and online friends.”
- Of course, for many b2b purchases, or infrequent and high-value consumer purchases, friends and family may not be much help. That’s where other types of trusted sources, from journalists and analysts to peers, can be crucial online information sources. Regardless, a web presence strategy is vital to achieving those 20 message exposures necessary for a purchase decision.
- • “Imagine your organizational structure as a wheel instead of a typical hierarchy. Think of marketing as the hub. The spokes are made up of public relations, advertising, Web, email, social media, corporate communication, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, content, and direct mail. They circle simultaneously.”
- This reflects the observation, noted elsewhere and in other contexts (such as in service and product innovation), that old-school command-and-control management structures don’t work any longer. Information no longer flows from the top down, but rather in all directions between multiple team members and stakeholders. The job of management is no longer to run things as much as to coordinate efforts and remove roadblocks to collaboration.
- • “Integration is not the same message on every platform, but you’re using all communications disciplines appropriately, with the correct massages for each.” True, though given the importance of search, it’s usually advisable to use common keywords.
- • “Communicate every week on how it’s going and what’s working, what’s not working, what changes you’d like to make. Keep the vision top-of-mind, and make sure it’s being communicated at every meeting, even if it’s in a small way.” This is where having a unified metrics dashboard can help coordinate efforts across marketing, PR, social media, search and online advertising specialists.
- • “(Metrics should also) include brand awareness, Web site traffic, and thought leadership, but be sure that all of those goals are combined with real, hard numbers, such as leads, conversions, sales, and profit—not just soft feel-good measurements, such as impressions, clicks, sentiment, likes, follows, fan, or plusses. In the end, your marketing round’s success will be determined by its ability to successfully impact business, not garnet attention.”
- Well…yes, but don’t ignore those other measures. While its true that maximizing online visibility isn’t the ultimate business goal (which is to earn a profit) in and of itself, that visibility is the vital first step. Without pursuing those “impressions, clicks, sentiment” and other soft measures, it’s unlikely that the “hard” goals of the business will be fully realized.
- • “In order to break down the silos, develop trust, and gain immediate buy-in, the marketing round should work on this task together. It’s not for you to develop in your silo and then impose upon the first meeting. It may take more than a few meetings to get it right, but it will be worth the time and energy spent later. Soon, you’ll be on your way to marketing in the round.”
- This is why a common, unified set of metrics that tracks all inbound online channels (press, social, industry, paid, and organic search) and content types (owned, earned and paid) is vital; it’s what gets everyone on the same page and keeps them moving forward in a coordinated manner.
There’s no question the authors know their stuff. Pages 25-39 of the book provide an outstanding examination of the pros and cons of nearly all possible media tactics, from TV, radio and print though direct mail, outdoor advertising, event sponsorships, and all manner of online channels. This reference is almost worth the cost of the book itself.
The second section of the book is built upon marketing application of the military strategies detailed in the classic text The Book of Five Rings by 17th-century Japanese samurai Miyamoto Musashi. It outlines the elements, tactics, potential benefits and risks of each of four market approaches: top-down, groundswell, direct and flanking. It also provides guidance on when to use each approach, based on the nature of the market and competition.
Among the most insightful passages in the middle section of the book is this on content marketing:
“As a team, take an hour or two and think about what content you can create that will be valuable to your stakeholders and also will be searchable. To generate topics, consider questions people ask during sales meetings, challenges your products or services have, pricing, and the ‘versus’ questions.
“The questions people ask during sales meetings are…the easiest to answer. Ask everyone to write down five questions they’re asked all the time. Even if they don’t go to sales meetings, everyone talks to customers…
“Creating content around challenges or issues is uncomfortable, but it’s that kind of content that people search for when they’re online. Do you want to confront the challenges head-on? Or would you rather your competitors handle that for you?”
The book’s final section addresses measurement and continual improvement. Chapter 10 in this section includes excellent examples of using calendars to sequence different tactics, for example the different types of PR and social media marketing activities utilized leading up to and then following up on a major trade show or industry event.
Although the book is excellent overall, one could raise a few minor quibbles with it:
The explanation of strength-weakness-opportunity-threat (SWOT) analysis in section one is presented a bit lightly; this is a critical exercise to get right, and getting it right requires a fairly significant research effort. The research can be outsourced, but not skipped.
In “Risks of the Direct Approach” in section two, the authors write of social media:
“The time investments—both manpower and long-term cultivation—are unattractive to businesses that need fast results. To succeed in social media, relationships need to be built within online communities. Often they have to spend months of community investment online to build enough relationship equity to start generating sales. And when the sales do come in, the value is negligible in comparison to the costs of the staff time and associated design costs.”
While technically accurate (perhaps, though with regard to that last sentence, mileage will certainly vary), the paragraph ignores the “asset value” of social media. Creating and sharing content, and building relationships, produces a long-term asset, the value of which compounds over time. Contrast that with an online advertisement, which has value only as long as it is active; as soon as the ad comes down, its value evaporates. Social media marketing is an asset; advertising is an expense.
“Search engine marketing (SEM) isn’t used very often, but it’s extremely effective.” Actually, SEM is used pretty often; in 2012, 64% of b2b companies and 73% of b2c brands used pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to drive leads.
From chapter 11: “You can’t skip to the end and start measuring before you know what you need to measure, and that’s why this topic is so far into this book. You need to build your marketing round, understand where the strengths of your team lie, really break down the silos (which is going to take some time), get your executives onboard, and discover which approaches and tactics you’re going to use before you can implement a measurement program.”
Uh…while specific metrics may be added, dropped or changed over time, it’s essential to begin efforts with a set of baseline measures to provide both a starting point and measure of progress as your strategy and tactics roll out. At a minimum, these should include presence metrics (e.g., number of backlinks to your website, keyword rank); competitive metrics (e.g., number of industry press mentions last month for your company and its top competitors); and performance metrics (e.g., web conversions by originating traffic source).
Still, these are at worst minor flaws. Overall, Marketing in the Round is a vital guide to coordinating not just marketing and PR but social efforts across the enterprise, to optimize business results in today’s Web-centric environment. It ranks among perhaps a handful of this year’s must-read business books.
A famous Monty Python skit “educates” viewers on how not to be seen. While wonderful classic British humor, it’s the opposite of a productive online strategy.
When prospective buyers are searching online for information about whatever it is you sell, or about solving the kinds of problems that your products and/or services are designed to alleviate, your brand should be as widely seen as possible. Your content needs to be relevant of course, and merely being visible doesn’t guarantee you the business, but it is the essential first step.
The framework for maximizing online visibility is web presence optimization—the processes and metrics that enable coordination of the efforts of PR, SEO, content marketing, brand management, advertising, and social media professionals to maximize and continuously improve an organization’s “findability.”
The recent MarketingSherpa blog post Web Presence Optimization: Evolving the view of online success details the evolution of web presence optimization (WPO), the strategy behind it, and the WPO metrics vital to keeping a diverse group of digital marketing and PR professionals on the same page. We think you’ll find the Sherpa post a helpful read; after all, it was written by the author of MarketingSherpa’s Readers Choice Best B2B Marketing Blog of 2012.