Keys to Effective Communication in B2B SEM Lead Generation

In the world of SEM B2B lead generation, one word stands out above all others: communication.  While this might seem cliché, effective communication between lead qualification teams and the person (or persons) in charge of SEM is critical to driving sales.

Through CRM integration, click and call data can be leveraged as parts of a tight feedback loop – telling lead qualification what their leads care about and SEMs who to target.  This cannot happen if the two groups are not speaking to one another.

The first step in all of this is capturing pertinent information.  This can be done through a variety of ways – customized URL parameters or even direct integration into AdWords (eg: SFDC’s AdWords  App).  SEM’s can select pertinent campaign information and pass it to lead qualification as additional fields in a lead’s profile.  This valuable information can be captured passively (no additional forms) and reveal important information about the lead.

 This could include:

-          Keyword

-          Query

-          Campaign

-          Adgroup

-          Creative info (ID or theme)

Typically, these values are used by SEMs to measure performance and optimize bids but, when used by lead teams during the qualification process, they can reveal useful insights into users which can then be translated into actionable information. 

The use of a specific query can help measure a user’s sophistication and, most importantly, intent. (eg: “CRM best practice” vs. “CRM reviews”).    A good lead qualification rep can use this data to change the tone of the conversation and adjust their approach to the lead.  In addition, this can help a lead qualification rep pick out the best leads and get after them quickly.

 If lead qualification is not aware of this and not instructed to use this data, all leads will be treated the same and, in all likelihood, the program will fail.

Similarly, knowing what message drove the user is valuable to the lead qualification team’s follow-up process.  Ideally, the product you are trying to sell has many benefits.  Ad testing should revolve around the product’s different value propositions; specifically, how these values compare to your competitors.

As is always the case with SEM, your message will run alongside your competitors.  Strong, direct, competitive messaging can open doors for your lead qualification team. Sharing space with competitors that are both up and down market can be very challenging (especially for broader, head terms). 

Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt-LaurvigIf, for example, a cheap alternative pushes price as a differentiator (and you cannot compete), embrace their message and tell users there is more to this software than price.  Shutting out people looking for a low price alternative will save you on clicks and save your lead qualification team valuable time!

Messaging becomes increasingly important as leads turn into full-fledged opportunities.  Certain messages might have tremendous appeal at the lead level but yield no sales.  This may work for some companies willing to gamble; however, SEM is better suited to drive users that are already in the consideration phase.  User searches are loaded with intent and your campaigns should capitalize on this. 

The impact of a new ad message should be measured each step of the way.  Lead qualification teams should relay recurring themes of conversations and, feedback on your current positioning, along with emerging trends in the user base.  As users look for different things, your message should evolve to fill their needs.

Ultimately, communication breakdowns between sales and marketing are an old problem.  However, with more lead qualification teams falling under the umbrella of marketing, having conversations around lead quality and messaging should be standard to your lead generation program.  Reps should be shown how to interpret the keyword and creative info attached to a lead in the same way they review the content used to drive that lead. 

While the quality of the content offered (demo or whitepaper) can make or break your reps the first time they connect with a lead, ad messaging (the key concept of which should be expanded on your landing page) will dictate whether a user becomes a lead in the first place.  Closing the loop and using lead info to refine your message will lead to higher quality leads, better conversations and, undoubtedly, more sales.

Sean Marshall has over four years of online marketing experience – specializing in SEM since 2008. In this time, has worked with leading B2B and B2C clients to maximize ROI on their SEM campaigns (ExactTarget, Microsoft Store, Dickies, Mass Mutual and many more). Prior to working in SEM, Sean was a Program Manager at Tippit (now Focus.com), driving high quality leads for leading VoIP and IT security companies including Ironport, Nortel, and Avaya. Sean is a proud California Golden Bear (UC Berkeley) and avid sports fan.

Posted by admin in Customer Conversions, Search Engine Marketing on July 14,2011

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The Single Most Important Tool in Your Copywriting Arsenal

How much time have you lost on prospects who never converted? How much of your traffic is a waste of bandwidth? Would you improve your conversion rates if you could?

You need to invest some time in creating a customer profile. These are so powerful, I use one every time I create a piece of content or work on my marketing strategy.  It determines how I sell my services and how I approach clients.  Otherwise, I find myself serving someone I don’t know, and this rarely works.

Here’s what you need to know:

The “Who”

Who should you work with? Not a general description like ‘small businesses’, but actual names. Make a list of companies or individuals you would call your ‘ideal clients’. Go through your client list and pull out your favorites. If you’re an ecommerce store, pull out a list of the most loyal and profitable customers, and don’t forget your analytics.

  • How educated are they?
  • How much of an income do they have to dedicate to the things you provide or could provide?
  • What are their goals and how do they do business?
  • When their clients, competitors, and complementary businesses/industries describe them, what kinds of words do they use?
  • Who makes the buying decisions
  • How many employees do they have?
  • What they like to do, what they dream of, and what are their biggest fears?

By the time you’re done with the ‘who’ section, you should know them much like you do an old friend.

The “What”

Take time to discover what your target audience is looking for, what they need, and what they like and dislike. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What kinds of worries, concerns, and problems do my ideal clients have?
  • What do my ideal clients look for? *Hint* This likely won’t be a product or service, but rather a solution to a problem.
  • What does my ideal client do well?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What do they get from my competitors?
  • What issues do they have with my competitors? How could that product or service be improved?
  • What does my ideal client need or have issues with that aren’t being met in a convenient, easy, and satisfying way?

The “Where”
This is where you look at your ideal client’s habits and methods. This tells you what strategies they use, defines their targets audience, reveals effective marketing. Again, this is going to take some research, but it’s worth it.

  • Where do your ideal customers go?
  • What sorts of events do ideal clients attend?
  • Where do they market their products/services and what do they avoid?
  • Where do conversations about your ideal client’s products or services happen?
  • Where do these clients get information?
  • Where do they meet other suppliers?

The “Why”

This can be the most difficult, but it can make a huge difference in the choices you make, what you offer, and how you offer it.

  • Why do potential clients buy from your competitors?
  • Why does your client buy the things you offer in the first place?
  • What complaints do they have about your competitors?
  • What sort of compliments have potential clients given your competitors?
  • What features do they place emphasis one?
  • Why do current services or products fail to meet their needs?

 

The “When”

This is something to keep in mind, rather than include in your research: Client profiles need to be constantly updated to reflect the growth of your company, new insights you’ve gained, and changes in technology and industry views. You might even take this one step further by creating a client profile on your competitors to gather some great ideas.

When should you make use of your client profile? Any time you create or do something for clients! This includes social media, keyword research, pricing, content, and choosing your marketing and networking opportunities.

If you provide services or products in a business-to-business situation, have clients do client profiles for you. You’ll find your offerings will greatly improve and so with the results you are able generate.

Angie Nikoleychuk is the Senior Copywriter, Strategist, and Consultant for Angie’s Copywriting Service. She’s passionate about SEO, marketing, and behaviour. She loves a good marketing mystery, a great cup of coffee, and is an avid Twitter user.

Posted by admin in Customer Conversions on July 14,2011

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Keeping the Content in Content Marketing

This article is about hitting the right balance in content marketing, between providing practical, objective information, and delivering a blatant sales pitch. Get the balance right and content will win customers; get it wrong and your content creation efforts won’t pay-off.

photo by Todd Anderson

 So who am I to dish out advice about content marketing? I didn’t invent content marketing, but I did engineer an early content marketing success. Back in 1999 my three partners and I sold our boutique information security consulting firm to a NASDAQ company for a premium price. We achieved that price because we had a premium client list (including AT&T, American Express, Edward Jones, and Sprint). 

How did we build that client list? We attracted a lot of our clients through website content, notably a library of “free information security articles” which was one of the first things I created when I set up the company website. These articles were originally written by myself and my partners for publication in magazines and that meant they were written to professional editorial standards, one of which is objectivity.

Objectivity means the articles did not talk about our company and the services we offered, they talked about specific problems and solutions. The result? Anyone reading those articles was likely to think the authors knew what they were talking about and were happy to share their knowledge. If you needed to deal with these specific problems and solutions it didn’t require a big red call to action button to realize “these guys would be a valuable resource.”

Skip forward a decade or so and we find content marketing applied to any type of “useful” information employed to advance the marketing effort without making overt product claims, such as “custom magazines, print or online newsletters, digital content, websites or microsites, white papers, webcasts/webinars, podcasts, video portals or series, in-person roadshows, roundtables, interactive online, email, and events.”

That list is from the ‘content marketing’ entry in Wikipedia, which goes on to state quite clearly, and in my opinion correctly, that the purpose of this information: “is not to spout the virtues of the marketer’s own products or services, but to inform target customers and prospects about key industry issues, sometimes involving the marketer’s products.”

Unfortunately, the resources available to Marketing are always limited. Whenever sales slow down it’s possible Sales will question the use of resources for content marketing. Depending on factors such as workflow and company dynamics, you might experience “spout-creep.” That’s when open declaration of product virtues creeps into content marketing pieces. Unfortunately, because none of the forms used for content marketing dictate function, it can be difficult prevent spout-creep. So what should you do? Here are some suggestions.

1. If Sales has a good case for more direct product marketing materials then oblige Sales and switch resources from your content marketing. Better to scale back content marketing than risk polluting it with blatant product pitches. If Sales needs competitor kill sheets, generate them, just don’t pass them off as content marketing.

2. Adjust your content marketing to the different levels of awareness people have of your product and the problem it solves. Develop different nurturing paths for different levels of awareness. For people just becoming aware of the problem, go lightly on product pitching (they will appreciate you educating them and at this point they’re not ready to buy from you or your competitors). However, there’s still value in content targeted to people familiar with the problem, your solution, and your competitors’ solutions. Good content, freely shared, will always win the day with some buyers.

3. Think twice before placing content behind a click-wall that requires the completion of a lengthy form. Sales might be screaming for leads but requiring loads of details may be a mistake unless you’re talking premium content without a hint of pitch. Content that educates at the early stages of a market may travel further, to greater effect, if accessible without providing extensive contact data.

4. Consider just email registration. Concerns about spam are declining and people are more willing to supply an email address than a few years ago. But don’t abuse their trust. If you plan to send them more content, make that clear.

5. Have faith in your content but track access. Google Analytics tracks page access, not file access. Make sure you have server logs handy to see how often files themselves are downloaded.

6. Set expectations honestly, otherwise content marketing can hurt your reputation. Today there’s little tolerance for product pitches misrepresented as pure content. Be honest up front and you will avoid “blowback” from people offended at being pitched when they were expecting to get educated.

A prolific blogger and content marketing pioneer, Stephen Cobb has helped a series of hi-tech startups to achieve successful outcomes by educating the market for their products. Currently Marketing Evangelist for Monetate, the Philadelphia-based marketing optimization company, Stephen resides in Upstate New York.

Posted by admin in Customer Conversions on July 14,2011

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What’s More Valuable: A Facebook Fan, a Twitter Follower or an Email Subscriber?

These days, any conversation about online marketing is required by law (OK, not really) to include extensive discussion of Facebook and Twitter. Social media is heralded as the way to generate buzz and virality, interact with existing customers, create demand among potential customers, and build your brand. Anecdotal evidence is plentiful – consider Orabrush’s 14 million video views on YouTube, Converse’s 15 million fans on Facebook, or Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s 1.8 million followers on Twitter.

These examples show the massive potential reach of social media, but large numbers alone do not a successful marketing campaign make. Indeed, in the world of SEM, success is not measured by clicks or impressions, but by conversions and revenue. A campaign with 15 million clicks in AdWords might be a rousing success – if it drives ROI for your business – but could equally be an utter disaster if these clicks don’t produce revenue.
Because social media marketing frequently does not result in direct revenue for an advertiser, it’s very difficult to determine just how much a fan, follower, or video subscriber is actually worth. Various studies have tried to place numbers around these different social actions, but trying to come up with an “average” value is really an impossible task. Again, think about paid search – if someone asked you how much a click was worth on Google, your answer would have to be “it depends.” We know that some clicks are probably only worth a few pennies and others – a famous example would be “mesothelioma attorney” – can exceed $50 a click.

So while it is impossible to state in absolute terms that one form of media is more valuable than another, I would strongly argue that the pecking order of value for most businesses is as follows:
1. Email newsletter subscriber
2. Facebook fan
3. Twitter follower

Think of your own online behavior. How many email newsletters do you subscribe to? According to a study by ExactTarget, the average American gets 12 commercial emails a day. MailChimp reported the average open rate for ecommerce emails is almost 15%. Translation: consumers don’t subscribe to many email newsletters and those that they do subscribe to they tend to read.

Now consider a Facebook fan page. Facebook makes it really easy to sign up for a fan page – I suspect that sometimes people sign up without really knowing they are doing so. If you are active on Facebook, you might have hundreds of friends and pages posting onto your wall. Of course, no one has time to really read every post to their wall, and if you only log-in once or twice a day, you are likely to miss many posts. Add to this Facebook’s “EdgeRank”, which will actually hide posts that you would likely not click on anyways, and there’s a good chance that many so-called fans will rarely if ever really see a message from a company. A recent study suggested that Justin Beiber’s fan page had the highest percentage of “active fans” – i.e. fans that do anything beyond simply becoming a fan – at a whopping 2.8%.

Has Converse sold 15 million additional pairs of shoes to their 15 million fans? Have they even sold 10,000 shoes to these fans? I tend to doubt it. Assuming that Converse is “best of breed” and has a 2.8% active fan number, their 15 million fanbase is really only around 450,000 (and likely much lower). Turns out it’s easy to sign up for a fan page and even easier to ignore subsequent messages from that fan page.

And then we come to Twitter. I allegedly have 671 people following me (@rodnitzky) on Twitter. And yet, whenever I tweet an update, only 4-5 people respond to my tweet or re-tweet it. It’s likely that of my 671 followers, a good 600 of them are followers in name-only – they have a 3rd party Twitter app that only displays a small percentage of their followed tweets, and they have really followed me to get me to follow them back. Indeed, the sheer volume of tweets makes such a 3rd party tool mandatory. As a result, the number of followers you have is actually somewhat irrelevant – what’s more relevant is the number of people who actually read your tweet and the “clout” of your retweeters. Again, like Facebook, it’s very easy to follow someone on Twitter but to never actually engage with them, which makes this a meaningless metric.

If you’re not already convinced that email is far more powerful than Facebook or Twitter, just look at how financial markets are valuing emails, fans, and followers. Groupon – which really is just a giant email newsletter – has a value is somewhere around $25B and has around 40 million subscribers – that puts the value of a subscriber at about $625. Facebook has 600 million users and a value of around $70 billion – that translates to $116.7 per user. Finally, Twitter has 175 million accounts (the number of actual users may be less) and has a value of around $4 billion – that’s about $22.8 per user.

All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t pursue a Facebook or Twitter strategy as part of your online marketing investment. Social media will continue to grow in importance, it will evolve, and marketing best practices will gradually be established. In the meantime, however, invest wisely and try to understand what marketing channels really drive ROI for your business. My guess: ‘old school’ online marketing channels like SEM and email marketing may not be as sexy as a cool Facebook fan page, but for most businesses, they are still the best way to grow revenue and profit. Fans and followers are hip, but hipness won’t pay your electricity bill.

David Rodnitzky is CEO of PPC Associates, an SEM agency in San Mateo, California. If you are currently spending $25,000 or more a month on SEM, contact David at david@ppcassociates.com to learn how his agency can optimize your SEM campaigns.

Posted by admin in Customer Conversions, Internet Marketing, social media on May 20,2011

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5 Tips for Determining Keyword Competition

Before targeting a new keyword vertical, it’s a good idea to evaluate the competitiveness of the market. This will give you a sense of how difficult it will be to rank for that term in organic search, and/or how costly it will be to bid on that term in your PPC campaigns.

This is done by analyzing keyword competition. By estimating how much time and effort it may take to achieve top rankings for particular keywords or search terms, search marketers can better gauge where to spend their time. So how do you judge keyword competition? What are the factors involved in competitive keyword analysis?

Here are five tips on evaluating keyword competition to get you started.

1. Check the age of competitive domains

One indication of how difficult it might be to rank highly for a keyword phrase is the age of the domains of sites that are already ranking at the top of the SERPs. WHOIS is a tool that allows you to look up domain registration info, so you can see how long the top 5 or 10 sites that rank for your chosen keyword have been around. Older domains tend to have a much longer tail of inbound links, and it can be difficult to compete with trusted domains that have been around for many years.

2. Use Google search operators

The search operators “allintitle” and “inanchor” can provide a good indication of how many pages are already being optimized for a particular search query. Google allintitle:”keyword” to find pages with the keyword in the title tag and inanchor:”keyword” to find incoming links that use the keyword in the anchor text. The more pages these searches return, the more competitive the keyword.

3. Check the top results for home pages

Are the results in the top 10 mostly home pages or deeper pages? For example, for a keyword like “running shoes” you might see mostly home pages on the first SERP (such as Nike’s and Reebok’s home pages), whereas for a keyword like “how to write a wedding toast” you might see deeper pages, forum threads, and blog posts. If the top results are mostly home pages, you’re probably looking at a very competitive keyword.

4. Run it through a keyword suggestion tool

Do a search on your keyword in a tool like WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool.

In general, the more keyword suggestions, variations, and related results the tool returns, the more competitive the keyword. The relative frequency, monthly search volume and competition columns in our tool provide further signals of the keyword’s competition (the latter two are only available in the paid version of the tool).

5. Gauge advertising interest

By looking at the sponsored ads for a given keyword, you can get a sense of the competition. If the advertising space is full on the first page of the SERPs and extends past the first page, and if the ads aren’t based on broad match (in other words, the ads are linked to targeted domains, not general ones like Target and Amazon), this is a strong indication of a competitive keyword.

These are some tips to give you an idea of where you stand when it comes to tackling a new keyword space. There are also plenty of tools devoted specifically to keyword research and analysis, some free and some paid. Competitive tools can make a nice complement to straight-up keyword suggestion tools. Give them a shot!

About the Author
Elisa Gabbert is the Content Development Manager at WordStream Inc., a provider of PPC management software and services as well as a new Keyword Research Suite. Elisa is a frequent contributor to the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog and you can follow he

Posted by admin in Search Engine Marketing, keyword research on May 13,2011

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4 Simple Ways to Measure the Success of Your SEO

In the world of marketing, everyone’s favorite question is “What’s my ROI?” ROI (return on investment) is all about knowing what you’ll get out based on what you put in. If you spend X amount of dollars on a television commercial, how many people will see it? How does that affect your sales? In an economy where every dollar is being stretched to its maximum potential, companies are unwilling to part with their budget unless they know it is going to be worth it in the long run. Understanding the ROI of a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is just as important as understanding the ROI of running a radio advertisement. So what exactly should you be looking at when determining the success or failure of your SEO efforts? Here are a few factors to take into consideration:

1. Traffic to your site

A great way to see how well your SEO is doing is to look at your site’s traffic. You should see a steady increase in traffic over time, especially once your SEO begins to build momentum. You don’t want to see peaks and valleys; this means that your SEO efforts aren’t consistent. Peaks and valleys could also be an indication of black hat SEO tactics being used to promote your site. Black hat SEO provides short bursts of success, but no long-term, sustainable gain. I used to include search engine rankings as the main goal, but since rankings fluctuate so much these days, it is becoming less of a key SEO measurement metric.

2. Online presence

Part of conducting a successful SEO campaign is link building. One component of link building is the creation of business profiles on sites like Yelp, Merchant Circle, Google Places and so forth. As these profiles age, they will start to rank in the search engines. Depending on how competitive your industry is, these profiles can rank well when a user searches for keywords that you have incorporated into your profiles. The better your profiles rank, the more you can dominate the search results and increase your online presence. If your SEO is doing a good job of increasing your online presence, you should see your site showing up in the search results more and more frequently, and from a variety of sources. Aside from business profiles this can include directory listings, blog posts, press releases, social networking sites and more.

3. Bounce rate

Your bounce rate is a good indication of how well you site has been optimized, a critical component of any SEO campaign. A lower bounce rate means that more targeted traffic is being delivered to your site. It also is a good indication that your site’s user-experience is matching up with your visitors’ expectations. If a visitor can find the information they are looking for and is drawn further into your site, your bounce rate will go down. Bounce rate shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all measurement of success, however. If the goal of your site is to get someone to pick up the phone and call, they might not hang around once they find your phone number. If that is the case, your bounce rate might be high, but that isn’t necessarily an indication of bad SEO.

4. Conversion rate

Your site’s conversion rate is arguably the best way to measure the success of your SEO. Every site’s conversion metric is different. Do you want someone to pick up the phone? Sign up for a newsletter? Download a white paper? Whatever your site’s goals are, your conversion metric is a reflection of that. An increase in your conversion metric is good sign that all of your SEO efforts are working together. More targeted traffic is being directed to your site, which means that you’ve gone after the right keywords and are ranking well for them. A higher conversion rate also means that your site is keeping visitors engaged once they get there.

These four ways to measure the success of your SEO campaign are by no means the only way to determine how well or poorly your SEO is doing. They are, however, a good place to start and prove ROI. Being able to show a growth in traffic and conversion rates, among other things, is tangible proof that what you are doing is working.

About the Author – Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com), a Boston SEO services company. With over 12 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting daily SEO tips to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 130,000 opt-in email subscribers.

Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-350-4365 or nick@brickmarketing.com

Posted by admin in Search Engine Optimization on May 13,2011

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Smart Keyword Research, Targeting & Your Content

Do you have one of *those* websites? They get traffic or links, but don’t convert. It could indicate a huge problem at the foundation of your SEO efforts — your keywords.

When Customers Don’t Know They Need You

Here’s the scenario:

Background: A client has a cloud computing service, ideal for SMBs that collaborate, travel, or work in multiple locations. This audience is busy and passionate, but lacks patience and tech skills.

The problem: The site is optimized and has an extensive marketing strategy. It generates traffic, but not profits.

The cause: The keywords they chose ([cloud computing service] and various versions of it) have good numbers, reasonable competition, and describe their services well, but their potential clients don’t use them. Instead, the target audience uses question queries and looks for general solutions to their problems, not a specific product.

The solution: Target the right people, with the right pages, using the right terms.

Know Your Main Markets

The first step? Decide:

Who visits your site?
Why are they visiting?
What words do they use?

Generally, the visitors you identify can be divided into three distinct audiences:

Group 1 — Potential Buyers — In our example, this group is tired of inefficient business systems and uses queries like [collaboration tools] to find solutions. In fact, buying comes second. Note: customers generally don’t link back.

Group 2 — Related Businesses — This crowd routinely writes and recommends your competitors, as well as similar services and tools. They rarely buy, but they do give you links and reach, so be sure to offer basic product details and optimize for keywords like [cloud computing]. Don’t forget: They normally link to your home page.

Group 3 — Buzz Builders — Those who provide services/products for your business, the media, current clients and others who use you to make money/get attention fall into this category. This group searches using basic queries (like [cloud computing]), while looking for information about the service, news, inspiration, and real-world examples.

Creating Your Site Blueprint

Next, compare your keywords to your sales funnels. Here’s what I mean:

Customer Sales Funnels (Group 1) — The shorter your sales funnel, the better your conversion rates will be. This tells us the “how it works” page, case studies, and blog are going to be the best landing pages for interested buyers.

Enhance this effect by optimizing these pages for client-based keywords ([collaboration tools] and [run software online], for example), instead of your home page. It’s one less step, and they’re far more likely to get to your money pages. (Money pages are where actual conversions take place, such as the services page, if you use buy buttons, or the contact page.)

The blog should also center on client-based keyword phrases and cover many of the problems and issues potential customers encounter. You’ll capture visitors here and push them back up to the services or contact page.

Link Building Funnels (Group 2) — Your home page gets the most links, and related businesses do the most linking, so it only makes sense to use group 2 terms ([cloud computing]) here. The same goes for your services and about pages.

Marketing and Media Funnels (Group 3) — As mentioned before, this group looks for information they can use to sell you something or to include in their own products, so they’ll need the right content. That’s where your press room, case studies, and contact page come in. Optimize them for group 3 keywords, and you’re on your way.

Creating Your Marketing Content

Use these same rules to create your marketing content. Make lists of topics, interests, needs, and issues under each group and combine them with the appropriate keywords to create your marketing strategy.

For example, if you’re looking to generate links, create content and marketing campaigns around the keywords for group 2. Go to your analytics and find out which of your keywords generated the highest conversions. The same goes for garnering media coverage or for making sales.

Targeting your content strategy and keyword research sounds difficult, but you’ll find the majority of the work is in the planning and research stage. Do it once and you can base the rest of your marketing, content, and expansions on it. The results will be more than worth the effort.

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Angie Nikoleychuk is the Senior Copywriter, Strategist, and Consultant for Angie’s Copywriting Service. She’s passionate about SEO, marketing, and behaviour. She loves a good marketing mystery, a great cup of coffee, and is an avid Twitter user.

Posted by admin in keyword research on April 29,2011

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Why You Need to Run Your Marketing Team Like a Sports Team

Often in sports they say it’s not about whether you win or lose its how you played the game.

If you have ever been part of a sports team, you know that the coach is your motivator, cheerleader, mentor and teacher.  The coach will push you to outperform opponents.

Why does the coach do this?  Because the team has a goal to reach – usually a winning season, and the possibility of making it to the playoffs or winning a championship.

The coach has their goal in mind and it is their job to take all their players, leverage their strengths, create synergy and provide direction (focus) so that this team can outperform their competition.  This is also known as strategy – and one coach in particular has demonstrated this time and again: Phil Jackson.

Now let’s take this idea and apply it to business.  In business, you typically have a goal such as to increase revenue, decrease expenses, gain market share or maximize stock price.

If we break a business into component parts and look at the aspect of marketing, your goal(s) can include maximizing marketing ROI, increasing branding awareness, driving engagement and or generating qualified leads.

Your marketing team needs to run like a sports team.  All too often, I see where teams cannot focus on their end goal.  They seem to go around and around without any score keeping or measuring results.  And in this market, focus is something you cannot ignore.

Let’s continue to use basketball as an example.  When your team is practicing, you need to focus on strategies that will result in increased scores and eventually wins.  How does a team do this?

First of all, they find out what their competitors excel in and either beat those qualities or better yet, exploit the natural strengths within their own team.  If the competitor in the same division does well with field goals, then your team might excel in assists, free throws percentages, rebounds and superior defense.

The role of a marketing team’s is also to develop strategies of reaching that end goal.  If your company’s goal is to generate more revenue at a sustainable rate by maximizing marketing ROI, you had better have a solid plan as well as a few back up plans in place.

The way to execute on the strategy with the end goal in mind is to communicate to your team what the overall goal is and where the focus needs to be maintained.  Communicating the roadmap and gathering buy-in from your team is necessary to earn their respect.

If your roadmap shows you need x-number of sales each month to achieve the long-term goal, how will you get there?  The solution would be to divvy up the work according to your team members’ passion.  If you have a good analytics “player”, have them do the monthly reporting and measure campaign response rates.  If you have a good creative person, have them spearhead campaigns, coming up with the catchiest ads or offers.

In sports as in business, there will often be a team member who is seemingly not in tune with the team dynamic. I am thinking specifically of the NBA’s Dennis Rodman.  Most coaches would have dismissed him because he seemed a bit of a renegade; however, Phil Jackson, saw his strengths and pushed Rodman to be one of the best rebounders in the League by using mind game techniques.

So how are sports and marketing alike?  Businesses cannot be its own worst enemy through internal lack of communication, politics or bringing personal values or beliefs to the workplace and without solid strategies.  Good leaders think like coaches.  They take the players they have recruited, develop, mentor and lead them to victory.  Don’t you think marketing should be done the same way?

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Deepak Gupta is serving as the VP of Marketing for Help My Resume, a Florida-based non-profit and is the Founder of California-based Marketing By Deepak Consulting Group. Marketing By Deepak Consulting Group partners with clients and successfully converts their marketing efforts into qualified leads.

Posted by admin in Internet Marketing on April 29,2011

Using Excel Formulas for PPC Optimization

Most of you probably know how to use the VLOOKUP formula for PPC, but chances are that you probably haven’t heard of the more powerful INDEX-MATCH lookup method.

Lookup formulas are an essential tool for every PPCer and are used primarily to add context and comparison metrics to your PPC analysis.  Here are a few of my favorite uses of lookup formulas:

Using lookup formulas to add context to PPC data analysis can really speed the discovery of insights.  The VLOOKUP is great for comparisons, but it does have its weaknesses.

One weakness is that, by default, the VLOOKUP returns an approximate match and not an exact match.  This can cause problems for inexperienced VLOOKUP users by returning false values.  If you are using the approximate match, then the sort order becomes very important.

Another weakness is that the VLOOKUP can only lookup values in the first column of a table array, and can only return values from columns to the right of the first columns—this can be annoying.

Of course, most of us have been using the VLOOKUP successfully for years now, and if it was the only option available we would still considered ourselves blessed.  However, there happens to be another lookup up method that doesn’t have these weakness and promises to be more powerful and flexible—INDEX-MATCH.

Using the INDEX-MATCH lookup method

I’ve just started to transition to the INDEX-MATCH formula, so I am by no means an expert, but you can use it for all of the analysis types listed above without having to worry about the limitations of the VLOOKUP.  The formula is actually made up of two Excel functions:

=INDEX(reference, row_num, column_num)

  • reference—a range of cells
  • row_num—the row in reference from which to return data.
  • column_num—the column in reference from which to return data.

If reference is one row or column, INDEX can use this syntax: =INDEX(reference, cell_num)

=MATCH(lookup_value, lookup_array, match_type)

  • lookup_value—the value to match in lookup_array.
  • lookup_array—range of cells with data.
  • match_type—specifies how Excel matches the lookup_value with values in the lookup_array. For exact matches, always use 0 for this argument.

Here’s an example of using the INDEX-MATCH formula that returns the sum of impressions for a previous time period:

=INDEX(reference, MATCH(lookup_value,lookup_array,match_type))

As you can see, the INDEX-MATCH formula is returning a value that is located to the left of the lookup array.  This is convenient because a primary key was created for the lookup value to the right of the both sets of data.  This keeps us from having to insert a column into the original report data just to get it on the right side of the reference column.

The INDEX-MATCH formula is quickly becoming part of my everyday PPC analysis.  I hope you also find in useful.

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This is a guest post by Chad Summerhill, Author of the blog PPC Prospector, provider of free PPC tools & PPC tutorials, and AdWords Specialist at Moving Solutions, Inc. (UPack.com and MoveBuilder.com).

Posted by admin in Pay Per Click on April 29,2011

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13 Killer Local Search Marketing Tips For Quality Traffic

If you have a local business, you surely have checked yourself out on Google, Yahoo & Bing, right? That means you have entered your company name (brand), your keywords and checked out how your competition is doing (if not, do it now).

When you register your website and business listings information on the website on Google for example, make sure you follow the visual local business guide that they provide.

This article is more about how to drive quality local traffic to your site rather than the administration of it. However, it should be clear that if you have not set up a website and organized your listings, the traffic will go to waste, so get your local search ranking steps done first.

From the web traffic generation solutions below, the best traffic is the visitors that lead to a conversion of some sort – a phone call, requesting a special report you have, watching a video with a call to action at the end, or asking more question via your contact form. You should always pursue this type of traffic. For example, 1,000 followers in a month on Twitter mean nothing by itself.

For this list – you can do some of these every week, only spending a couple of hours time. You can get some help too. (The list below is not ordered in priority).

#1 Press release

You should consider this when you have something to say. And, forget the high-priced press release sources. Use webwire.com for less than 20 bucks to start. (However, price is always an aspect to consider. Everything on the cheap, all the time – is not necessarily good either).

#2 Blog

Get a blog set up. If you cannot do it on your site, try for free on wordpress.com. Yes, you must have a blog, even if it’s only once a week post. Make sure it’s easy to share across social networks.

#3 Podcasting

Like to talk, and not big on writing? Try podcasting and push out to podcast directories. And, don’t forget iTunes.com. It’s easier than you think.

#4 Craigslist

Local ads, posts and classifieds can be good source of targeted traffic for you.

#5 Bookmarking

All content should be bookmarked, try socialmarker.com and Onlywire.com. This is easy to outsource to places like elance.com and odesk.com also.

#6 Guest Blogging

Begin with watching / researching your space. Find out who the top 20 bloggers are, add valuable comments. Search for “guest blogging” + your keywords. Don’t spam them. Try to help.

#7 Directories

Local directories will be very useful both for traffic and relevancy. Outside of the Internet yellow pages (Yellowpages, Superpages, Insiderpages, etc) – you can find them by typing your marketplace keywords into Google, combined with city or region. (Consider signing up for the free local webinar below to get them all). Make sure you get reviews for your local business. And, don’t forget to use getlisted.org to check your business listings.

#8 RSS

Submit to RSS directories. Look for directories in Google. Anything you publish, from your blog and across RSS-enabled platforms should be submitted.

#9 Document shares

Make sure you brand (add links and contact information) to your PDFs and Powerpoint slides. Then, upload them to Scribd and Slideshare

#10 Twitter

Twitter is debated on return from efforts at times. Can you get clients and get traffic from Twitter? You may see limited traffic or engagement at first, but it’s a network you should build out. Every market and social media strategy is different, but it will pay off over time. Go sign up now, and use Twitter search functions to see what your competition and market is up to.

#11 LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another ‘default’ social media network. Your company should be listed here. And join groups that are related to your marketplace. When you have content to share, do it within those groups. Great for events as well, and they are professionals just like you.

#12 Videos

Start with YouTube. Make a short video series of “thing you should know about X” (X is your market, profession or product). Make sure to add an attention-grabbing, keyword-focused title. Add your website address first in the description. To expand your videos across other networks, use Tubemogul to distribute. They also have paid option. Don’t make these videos too long (1-3 minutes), and provide good, useful information. Don’t try to sell too hard here. Consider buying a video channel that already receives traffic, and place your website address at the top.

#13 Facebook

Make to sign up with Facebook places and configure it for your local business. But don’t stop there.  Use Facebook to set up a profile and brand (fan) pages too. Consider Facebook local ad targeting and test traffic between your actual website and Facebook pages. And find out how big mobile is in your market, and make your website and pages mobile friendly.

So – as you’ve learned, it will take some work to get your network and online presence handled. However, it’s not hard. It just takes some dedicated time to complete. But, you must feed your baby every week, and it will grow. Final Tips: use Google.com/alerts to track activity for your marketplace, and check out cool 5-dollar job fiverr.com for simple tasks to complete.

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Jon Rognerud is an online marketing expert and published author with focus on helping small business entrepreneurs to grow and getting found online. This includes business consulting and planning for web success using PPC, SEO, Social Media and online/offline marketing tactics. Register for a free local webinar to learn more.

Posted by admin in Search Engine Marketing on April 15,2011

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