The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

Have you ever sat down to think about who manages the emails you received that are advertising products sold and services offered by a business close to you? The emails also usually somehow have an idea of what type of products you might need or be interested in. There definitely isn’t someone sitting behind a desk 24hrs a day collating data on you personally (like location, commonly used products, etc.) and then sending you a personalized email.  This is all happening through the use ofvarious types of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that are analysing large sets of data to send you just the right message.

AI is being used in a wide range of marketing use cases including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), email marketing, content curation,and much more.  Different tools have been developed that are already being used by different brands not only to make the lives of human marketers easier, but to make them a lot better at their jobs.

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In situations where processes are optimized and made faster by technology, not only that humans have more time freed up for critical thinking, data analysis, and long-term planning also it makes businesses achieve better outcomes.

Terms like Data mining, Data analytics, Predictive Modelling, Big Data, etc. refer to technologies that are evolving rapidly and have become powerful tools in modern marketing and many other business activities.

Just like in marketing, AIis an increasingly integral part of many industries.  AIhas been defined as the intelligence exhibited by machines, rather than humans or other animals with natural intelligence. The field of artificial intelligence research defines itself as the study of intelligent agents, any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at desired goals.

The secret of popular product and services such as Netflix, Amazon, and of course Googleis they all have AI systems to some degree routinely working in the background. The integration of this artificial intelligence into the marketing world has been happening for some time and will only increase as more data is collected on target audiences and there is an increasing need for sophistication to sell products.

Artificial Intelligence has been used in the following areas in marketing:

Product Pricing: How does a business determine the optimal price of a product?  There is a lot of data about products and their consumers that can be collected and analysed.  As a business, they want to get the best price they can for a product to maximize profit, not just cover costs.  AI algorithms can determine price elasticity based on sales, trends, customer opinion and a wide range of other data.  Sales forecasting can be added into the mix to allow for expected sales to be determined and then determine the impact on expected sales based on changing price points.

Website Design: We are beginning to see the emergence of AI in web site design.  One example is The Grid (https://thegrid.io ).  This platform says its AI will build the web site for you.  It uses Intelligent image recognition and cropping, an algorithmic palette and typography selection all powered by Artificial Intelligence. The goal is to build a website that designs itself based on marketing and selling input.  Adobe and other companies have similar efforts underway.  Wix, which is one of the largest DIY web site building platforms, has their Advanced Design Intelligence platform.

Speech Recognition:  This AI technology is being used in applications such as Skype, which now supports Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish. Its also used in other applications like the dictation feature of your phone, Microsoft Office and many other applications.  It has continuously been improvedthrough better and more advanced AI.

Language RecognitionLanguage Recognition: On step beyond speech recognition sits the challenge of language recognition. It’s not just translating what you’re saying onto the computer.  Its understanding what you’re saying, and what it ideally in the context of the situation in which its being said. The goal of major brands is to be able to have machines listen and learn and react to what potential customers are saying.

Image Recognition: This is apower aspect of the AI applications.  You can see it in action for example with Google Images which allows you to search for images based on the content of the image.  Another example is the face swap on Snapchat. An interesting example is the DuLight from Baidu (the large Chinese search engine). Designed for the visually impaired, this early prototype recognises what is in front of the wearer and then describes it back to them.This type of image recognition could be used to decide what products and service will be marketed as the consumer moves through the shopping environment.

Content generation: Content writers might think their jobs are safe from being replaced by AI because of the imaginative and creativelevel of thinking required, that’s appears to be mostly true as of now. But tools like Wordsmith and Quill are already being used to create clickable news content. Using AI as the brain, templates and fill-in-the-blanks to enter relevant data and keywords, these tools can generate uniquely written content that actually reads like it was written by a human. Suitable marketing content can be generated to specific audience based on the information supplied to the AI. The information can be gathered from interaction with the target audience of consumers.

Bots, PAs and messengers: This is probably the most well-known example of AI based marketing – chatbots.  You start a chat on the web and your friendly chatbot tries to help you before getting a human involved.  While you’retalking, or typing to a chatbotAI algorithms are doing a complex set of analyses of natural language combined with therelevant brand’s datasets to formulate a response.

Chatbots can be used to take orders and general requestsand also optimize product and service marketing and advertisements based on the interaction. Some find them annoying but have great potential to save time and costs of human resources.

Artificial Intelligence has enabled marketers to implement strategies previously considered tedious or impossible due to complex data.  The opportunity to analyse and personalize the marketing and selling experience is a powerful goal for brands.  Brands must be careful and develop a well thought out AI marketing strategy to ensure the level of consumer interaction doesn’t become too narrow and to aggressive.  Consumers want to get great ideas from marketing but they do want variety and flexibility and importantly to not be annoyed.

 

Which fictional salesperson are you?

which fictional salesperson are you?

Sales isn’t an easy job. No matter the product, persuading someone to buy is never easy.

Furthermore, while there are some established best practices, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to sales. Much of sales is trial and error, testing things to see what works for you – the best salespeople hone and perfect their own unique styles over time.

salespeopleIf you’re an experienced salesperson you’ve likely developed your signature style and strategy. But have you ever wondered how your style stacks up against some of the most famous salespeople from pop culture? Would you consider yourself more of a Gordon Gekko or Tommy Calahan?

Well, thanks to a flowchart put together by GetCRM you don’t have to guess!

By answering questions like whether you’re introverted or extroverted you can find out which fictional salesperson’s style most closely matches your own.

Follow the flowchart below to discover your pop culture match!

Which Salesperson Flowchart

 

 

Psychology of Colors for Website Design and Branding

Psychology of Colors for Website Design and Branding

We may not notice it but colors affect our lives on a daily basis. There is an energy about them that affects us emotionally and psychologically.  Color can affect our mood and our decisions. Colorcan help us convey messages without really saying anything.  For example bright red definitely brings a distinct message when seeing it used in specific ways. Color provides a form of a non-verbal cue and messaging.

The power of color is so influential that most of the world’stop brands have their go-to colors that they use on their products and advertisements. These colors have been deemed successful in grabbing consumers’ attention and eliciting certain feelings and emotions.  Some interesting statics about use of colors in brands are:

  • 33% use blue
  • 29% use red
  • 28% use black
  • 13% use yellow

In the world of Web design, choosing the right color for your design plays a vital role on how consumers will react to the product or services that you are selling and promoting. Unlike the early web designs, modern web designers find that understanding the psychology of color is crucial to web design and engaging the site visitor. Color has the power to grab someone’s attention and trigger the right emotions for sales and it plays a big role in persuasion.

colorsThere have been many studies about linking product colors to the urge to purchase.  These studies show that  when we see color, there are series of reactions happening in our brains. Based on these studies, here are some of the reactions for common colors.

Red – This color promotes action, energy, and urgency. This is the reason why in most cases if we want something to be addressed right away or we want someone to notice something, we use red.

Yellow – This one suggests optimism and cheerfulness as well as cowardice and criticism. It encourages one to be analytical but also judgmental. Having too much of this color can also trigger anxiety.

Green – This is the color that makes you relax. It embarks a soothing feeling, of balance and of growth. If you notice, the color green is often used for skincare products and herbal supplements. In general it generates positive vibes.

Blue- This is probably the most popular among all colors. This color exudes trust, peace, loyalty, and integrity. It can also convey frigidity and traditionalism. Most companies opt to go for this color because it grabs attention, gives you that feeling of stability and it is also considered to be the color of truth.

White – This coveys tranquility, of cleanliness and purity.  Just like the color black, this can be paired with any color. It works best when paired with dark and deep colors because it kind of neutralizes and gives the sense of balance to the logo or the photo.

Orange- This is the color of aggressiveness. It creates a call to action, to buy or sell. This also radiates the sense of adventure, of being open and social.

Pink- This gives out the feeling of kindness and tenderness and being nurturing.  It is very popular to young girls because it of the reaction it generates. It is also nurturing and is considered a color of love. This color is usually used to promote and sell feminine products. This is also used to market baby and maternity products.

Black- This is a color that works with almost all of the colors. Because helps highlight the color that it is paired up with. It also conveys being powerful and sleek. This is often used to market luxury products.

Purple – Conveys calmness and is soothing to the eyes. It has a richness and a sense of luxuriousness to it that it is often used for beauty and anti-aging products.

Gray – This color is considered unemotional and neutral. The term “gray area”  means you are unsure of something. It’s not black and not white but something in between. However, it also gives you a feeling of solidity and composure, like steel.

Color psychology is not an exact science as it is affected by individual perceptions. Men are influenced by different sets of colors than that of women. Before designing a website, here are some things that you need to consider:

1. Know your product – Whether it’s retail or software or services, you have to have a clear picture of what you are selling/promoting, its objective and what you want the consumers to do when they visit your website.

2. Know your Target Market – You have to know to whom your product/services will sell the most. Will it be for women exclusively? Or just for men or for everyone?

3. Choose a Color Scheme – This is why knowing your target market is important. The colors that you will be using on your website will mostly depend on who your audience is. For example, if you are selling makeup for women, you want the website to look vibrant, full of colors and it has to bold. Often times you will see different shades of pinks, reds, and blacks. This will entice your lady consumers to really buy the products because of how fun it looks. Another thing that sells to women is the product packaging. If the packaging is fun and the color is right, you might’ve just hit a jackpot.

Designing a website for men’s formal wear on the other hand will be quite different. The website should look sleek, and composed. The color scheme should be geared toward the cool tones like blues, grays, and black. This conveys formality, gives off a certain degree of class and luxury.

Overall, the sense of the colors that you will be using must match the personality and character of your brand. You will want to keep the colors and brand uniform and recognizable to your target consumers. Finding that right combination of color can provide a significant boost to your marketing and branding effectiveness.

 

Infographic: Ways to Prospect More Effectively

Sales play a crucial role in bringing in cash flow into the business. A business cannot sustain its daily operation without it, and without it, a business would eventually fail. One of its most important and initial steps is called “prospecting” – the process of qualifying the leads who has demonstrated the desire to make a purchase decision.

According to ringDNA, “[t]he definition of sales prospecting is when inside sales reps make outbound calls or send outbound emails to leads in hopes of creating opportunities for account executives. Prospecting can involve cold-calling as well as reaching out to nurture leads that have gone cold. Many inside sales organizations have achieved successful results by hiring dedicated sales prospectors.”

Additionally, “[p]rospectors, also known as sales development reps (SDRs) can help achieve predictable ROI by creating a steady stream of opportunities for account executives. This can be highly effective because it frees account executives from having to prospect for their own leads.  Instead, they can spend their time selling to sales-ready prospects that have been qualified by sales development reps.”

Prospecting is pivotal in closing deals, which is the reason why it must be executed in a timely manner and with proper procedures to ensure that it succeeds. Statistics tell us that there is a 74% chance that the first viable vendor will win a deal if they manage to reach a decision maker and if they manage to set the buying vision on to them successfully.

Here are the key takeaways from this infographic by Business Coaches Sydney on what it takes to prospect more effectively:

  1. Follow a consistent schedule
  2. Focus, focus, and focus
  3. Implement different techniques
  4. Create prospecting scripts
  5. Be a provider of great solutions
  6. Practice warm calling
  7. Establish yourself as a thought leader
  8. Know that prospecting is not selling

Check out their infographic to find out more.

 

infographic ways to prospect more effectively

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3 Tips to Building a Quality Brand Reputation

With the volume of competition and platforms available today, gaining a reputation for exceptional products and services has to go beyond hard work and marketing strategies. Companies need to think of smart ways to stand out from the crowd, attract a loyal following and keep their good reputation. If you’re looking to boost your brand, consider the following three tips:

1. Focus on One or Two Strong Brand Messages

Your brand messages should incorporate your company’s personality, values and goals and allow you to relate to your target audience. Don’t overextend yourself by trying to reach everyone, but rather focus your resources on a high-quality message.

Think of Louis Vuitton. This brand focuses on messages of luxury and premium craftsmanship, and all of their marketing and advertising campaign show off this reputation. Similarly, Amway has a brand message focused on building small businesses and helping their employees maintain a healthy work and family life. Even though the company has faced negative press, Amway has used it to talk about how their company works and how they’re working toward a greater cause.

Pick out a couple of key principles and incorporate them throughout your products, marketing and communication campaigns.

2. Incorporate the Latest Trends and Technology

Quality is mostly about ensuring that your products and services perform the best in the market; using modern technology is crucial in achieving this. Your company must remain up to date with technology that is fast tracking your operational, advertising and marketing processes. You also need to keep up with what’s setting your brand apart and keeping it fresh in your customers’ minds.

Apple serves as a good example of this. They pride themselves on being the biggest innovators in the industry by coming up with new and better ways to develop their smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers. As a representative of modern technology, they have become associated with high-quality products and are the leaders in their field.

Research new trends, such as virtual reality, social media and audience targeting techniques, to implement across your products, marketing and other processes. This enables your brand to stand out as progressive while also helping you fine tune your customer experience.

3. Be Aware of Competitors and Market Environment

Who you’re up against plays a huge part in how your brand is perceived by your audience. To maintain a good standing in your industry, you need to be aware of what your competitors are up to and the overall market environment in your industry. For example, you need to know what your audience needs and wants are and how much they are willing to spend.

Once you know what the market is like in your industry as well as who your target audience is, you can adjust your products and marketing campaigns to meet their needs. Ensure these needs are incorporated throughout all of your brand campaigns so you can maintain a trustworthy reputation.


Naomi Bagga is a young media professional living in Australia. She works at UK-based digital partner marketing firm, Performance Horizon. She is passionate about music, entertainment, freelance writing and the changing media landscape, and loves photography, fashion, travel and a good cup of coffee.

Top 5 Marketing Strategies for Insurance Companies

marketing strategies for insurance companies

Having an incredible marketing campaign can go a long way in determining your company’s future. It’s crucial to know what your marketing goals are and how to achieve them. A great marketing strategy will definitely help you improve and expand your business to reaches that are usually far beyond your grasp. But you can’t do this if you don’t know how to run a proper marketing campaign. Sure, you might have a great idea, but if you can’t realize that idea, there’s no way that any change will happen. What you need is knowledge and imagination because both of these traits will enrich your marketing campaign and let you create something unique. Your main goal should be to create an amazing marketing campaign that will bring even more customers your way.

Regarding insurance companies, if you’re an owner of such a company you shouldn’t have any difficulty running a successful marketing campaign using these tricks. You’ll even be able to negotiate lower car insurance. Without further ado, here are the top 5 marketing strategies for insurance companies!

Be aware of the market

Being aware of the market will bring you an advantage over your competitors plus you’ll be able to know exactly what the people are looking for. If you don’t constantly keep track of the market, there’s a high possibility that you will lag behind others. Don’t allow this to happen by monitoring the market at all times. As the market changes, so should you and your marketing campaign. Staying in the past, even though it is more stable, generally means that you won’t be able to stay in front of the competition. Dedicate some of your resources into keeping track of the market, and you’re all set!

Initial situation and project goal

Once you start your company, set an immediate goal that you’ll strive to achieve in a personally given amount of time. Goals are crucial for all companies because you must have something to strive for. If you don’t, then chaos appears, and chaos isn’t good. The organization is key and, we can’t stress this enough, invest in some great organization – it will make your life easier. Take a look at the initial situation, and you’ll get an idea of what exactly you want to achieve and which way to take to that destination.

Measure the effectiveness of marketing

Once you develop a marketing campaign, make sure you check out all the variables and see if the campaign is any good. If there are too many faults and possible room for error, then it might not be a good idea to go through with that particular campaign. Otherwise, simply polish the plan and start working. Measuring the effectiveness isn’t only necessary at the beginning of your marketing campaign as the effectiveness itself can change depending on the circumstances. In short, you should constantly keep checking on things, so you know everything is going great and if, in the case of an issue or two, you need to make changes, you’ll be able to make them quickly and efficiently.

Project results and outlook

Once you run your marketing campaign and strategy, you’ll need to keep checking on how well they’re doing. Of course, we covered this in the previous part of the article. This is the part where we talk about the end-result of a marketing strategy. You should project the results and check if there is any room for improvement. Of course, you should fix the bad parts and issues, but you should also perfect the good parts. Once this is done, take a look at the results as a whole and see which smaller part simply doesn’t fit. If you do this with enough attention to detail, your next marketing campaign will fare much better.

Accumulate feedback

Finally, listen to your customers and employees. Listen to what they say because their feedback is incredibly important. If there is anything wrong with what you chose to do, then your customers will notify you. Accumulate all of this feedback and take a long, hard look. You’ll know if what you’re doing is right or wrong, which lets you plan what to do in the future accordingly!


Andy Bell a content writer who loves reading and writing different blogs. He writes about the categories like Money, Networking, Business, Insurance and many more.

Infographic: SEO Why Your Business Needs it NOW?

In today’s digital age, having a strong presence on the web is a crucial component for many businesses that operates both on and offline. Though the proliferation of new digital platforms like social media, smartphones, and mobile apps have made the competition stiffer, it also allowed many brands, especially the small ventures, to improve their visibility across the internet, helping them to reach a larger audience and increase their leads and sales.

Your business might be implementing a couple or more digital marketing tactics today, but there is one technique that you should never miss to take advantage with, and that is Search Engine Optimization, or more commonly known as SEO.

Though SEO may seem like an old-hat, there can be no doubt that it is still the most effective organic traffic driver today. According to statistics, 93% of people who are looking for products and services do so use a search engine. With that huge amount of raw traffic, it is impossible not to attract enough volume of the audience that will find your product and services helpful.

To ensure that your website will resonate on top of search engine results pages, you must employ highly-qualified SEO practitioners to make your website all set up – from its user interface all through its technical roots such as headers, meta keywords, and title tags.

To help convince you more, here are the key takeaways from the infographic below which details the reasons why business should implement SEO today.

  1. Many people start their online experience through search
  2. It is more cost-effective than other marketing tactics in terms of producing organic reach
  3. It generates highly targeted traffic that converts into loyal customers
  4. Your competitors are probably doing it today.
  5. It caters to mobile consumers
  6. It keeps an evolving so there is an unlimited number of opportunities.

Check the infographic below from Harris Myers to learn more.

infographic seo why your business needs seo

 

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Email Marketing 101: Extremely Effective Methods to Deliver Your Products and Build Your List Online

email marketing ideas

Building your online list can jumpstart everything for your business. This is where you have to collect your visitors email address since all of them are potential customers. The best way to do this is to have them register their email address as you provide them with something related to your service or website.

Once you get them on your email list, you can send them correspondence as a means of updating them about your company and your website content. You can also provide them the answers to their queries.

There are three things that can help you achieve an email list. The first is to GENERATE. Show all your prospective customers everything that you have in store for them. The second is to CONVERT where you need to get as many information as possible. The third is to FULFILL where you need to give your customers what you promised them.

All of the methods of delivering a product must be done without any hitch. Right from the start, customers might be doubtful to offer their personal details to you. That means any slight glitch in the delivery might heighten their fears. It might affect your ability to convert. Here are ways to ensure better ways of delivering products.

The first way is by Single Opt-in. You do this by immediately sending them an email about what you can offer them. They get information right away about your product. This is not a foolproof manner though because you cannot confirm the address is actually the prospective customers. There is no way for you to assure yourself that the email will be sent to the right person. Also, the providers of email marketing services will execute this with a server that is not that dependable. They use these because they are more cost friendly. Unfortunately, although this may produce results, it may not be that accurate. There is a good chance that spam may be delivered to your clients and a good number of mails are bounced back. The good thing about it is that it is very easy to use and simple to do. Everyone on the list is added in a quiet manner. You can use this to move a prospective client from one list to another.

Double Opt-in is another way of building your list but a lot safer. In this manner, you collect email addresses from prospective clients and have them confirm that this is in use. Plus, their confirmation gives you the authority to send them necessary emails about your product. It also comes in a different name, Permission Based Emailing. The best thing about this is that there is a good chance that the emails are sent to the recipients. With a cleaner email list, you can create more engagement with it. This is the best way to build your list. There are only two drawbacks to it, the long set-up and the tendency for some to lose their confirmation mail.

The third way is called the Single Double Opt-in. In this way you send them part of what you offer as soon as they give you your email address. In return, you ask them to confirm their address before you send the rest of what you are offering. It creates highest engagement, better momentum and call to action from prospects. It is best to use with more than one offering. However, it takes so long to set up.

The fourth way is by publishing a newsletter and holiday & seasonal promotions. After they give you their email add, utilize it correctly by sending them a greeting email while offering information about your product and some promo codes. This will heighten their interest in your business.

These are 4 effective ways to deliver products. What you choose will depend on a lot of things. Choose wisely and find the best one for your business.


Andy Bell is an internet marketer, blogger and automation geek. He has reviewed various email automation services and other software at his website.

The Two Flower Merchants

tale of two merchants


one day, two flower merchants set up shop next to one another. They opened for business on the same day, carried the same lovely selection of aromatic flowers, and maintained similar prices for their marvelous plants. Both merchants took great care with raising their plants and both were kind and courteous to their customers.

In fact, their stores appeared to be equal in every way.

At first, the merchants even received equal traffic through their shops, but–as time went on–the first merchant’s shop became more popular among the people. The second merchant noticed this and became concerned. One particularly slow day, he decided to look into the matter. As he stepped out his door to visit his neighbor, he passed one of his regular customers leaving the first merchant’s shop carrying their weekly purchase of flowers. In disbelief, the second merchant hurried into the next store.

Indeed, the store was teeming with customers. The second merchant noticed his competitor wasn’t taking the money himself, as he always did. The first merchant was out among the aisles, talking with his customers. To his amazement, the second merchant watched as the first would chat at great length with the customers and even would occasionally talk to the flowers themselves! The second merchant prided himself on being a serious store owner and could not understand this leisurely approach to running a shop. Yet this behavior seemed to be working for the first merchant, as his thriving store would attest.

When the second merchant could stand it no longer, he approached the first and politely asked to interrupt the conversation. The first merchant smiled, handed his customers to one of his clerks, and turned his attention to his exasperated neighbor.

The second merchant asked, “Brother, I am your humble student. Our stores are nearly the same in all ways, yet your results are doubling while mine are halving. I do not understand.”

“Brother,” the first merchant said, “We are the same in most ways, this is true. The difference lies in what we see with our hearts. You see your store as a store, your plants as plants, and your customers as customers. I see my store as a beloved home and my cherished friends are my customers, clerks and plants, all present to be adored. In that way, we are very, very different.”

Infographic: Strategic Digital Marketing Guide for SMB

Digital marketing can be a daunting concept for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). After all, it involves a lot of intricacies that may be too overwhelming for a SMB owner to understand right away. Thus, it is set aside to favor a more classic or known traditional marketing process.

However, digital marketing has a lot of benefits for any type of business, especially in today’s technologically-advancing and digital age. It helps businesses connect with their consumers on the internet as opposed to sticking with marketing that targets them in places where they hypothetically would be found in. This makes sure that you hit your target market more accurately and efficiently.

Also, this helps you reduce on cost, as digital marketing can reach far and wide without relying on multiple channels such as TV, radio, magazine, and print ads. Not only that, they give you real-time results as opposed to waiting if your target market would respond to your different advertisements in varying channels. This also helps you determine what is and isn’t working in your strategy far quicker.

For your target, your digital marketing strategy won’t feel as intrusive than traditional marketing. Flyers shoved to their faces or sales calls at the most inconvenient times won’t be a problem to them–and to you–anymore. The chances of you annoying your target market to sell to them would be lessened drastically, and it’ll be a breather for both you and your customers.

Real-time and greater engagement is also something your business can take from digital marketing. You can encourage your target market to take the appropriate action you want them to within a few clicks. If your posts and ads are also attention-worthy, it can be shared to more audiences with little effort as your target market are doing the dissemination for you, and it may even reach viral status.

With these benefits, taking the risk on using digital marketing will be more than worth it. Ready to jump in on digital marketing? This infographic from CJG Digital Marketing will give you a 4-step-by-step process that will guide you through achieving digital success for your business.


Jomer B. Gregorio is a professional and specialist in integrated digital marketing and holistic SEO. He is the founder of Digital Marketing Philippines and CJG Digital Marketing. If you need an effective and high-performing digital campaigns for your business, don’t hesitate to contact him today.

infographic strategic digital marketing guide for SMB

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The Birds and the Dragon

fable of the birds and the dragon

Once, there were three birds who shared the tallest tree in the forest; a sparrow, a jay and a cardinal. Though they lived in the same tree, these birds lived very different lives.

Among the lowest branches, the sparrow struggled, seldom having enough to eat, and often settling for the leanest worms or for any bug it could find. The sparrow neglected its nest, leaving threads unraveled and only patching the sides when the nest threatened to come undone entirely.

Up in the middle of the tree, lived the jay. The jay had perfected a technique for capturing the fattest grubs and—though it lived fairly well—like the sparrow, the jay had to hunt daily for its food. Though the jay would sometimes dream of something larger and more luxurious, its nest was a comfortable size, well-kept and nicely decorated.

Finally, above the jay and sparrow, in a large, spacious nest, lived the cardinal. The cardinal seldom hunted for its own food like the other birds. Instead, the cardinal had built a number of bug traps around the forest. The cardinal simply offered a small percentage to the sparrow, and in return, the sparrow occasionally harvested and delivered the bugs.

One morning, an old dragon came to stand at the bottom of their great tree and called to them. As the birds assembled, the dragon said, “Neighbors, I have a small token of my appreciation for the beautiful music you bring to our forest. My only condition is that you must allow me to return tomorrow to hear how you’ve used my gift.”

Curious, the birds agreed. The dragon gave each bird a silver coin and told them to do with it what they would.

Snatching up its coin, the sparrow flew straight to the town market and purchased a brightly-colored silk ribbon with which to play and decorate its nest.

The jay—after some careful consideration—made a payment toward a debt owed to the cardinal and used the rest to see a show at the local stage.

Lastly—after taking nearly the whole day to ponder—the cardinal flew to the market and purchased as many Baby’s Breath seeds as it could carry. Returning home, the cardinal settled in for the evening.

The next morning, the dragon visited them. Chirping happily, the sparrow and jay told the dragon of their purchases and the dragon listened, delighted.

When the dragon turned to the cardinal, the cardinal said, “Gracious dragon, thank you for your gift. My I ask, isn’t it true you highly prize the sweet berries from the brier patch?”

The dragon smiled. “Why, yes, I do,” he said.

“Dragon, with my coin, I bought Baby’s Breath seeds; a loved treat among birds,” the cardinal said. “I propose to trade the seeds to a few of our flock in exchange for collecting a dragon’s mouthful of sweet berries for you each morning. In return, I only ask you to pay two coins for every mouthful. In this way, I can continue to supply us in seeds and you in berries. Does this sound agreeable?”

“It certainly does!” cheered the dragon. “A marvelous idea!”

And so, the wise cardinal came to serve both the dragon and the birds, to the benefit of all.

Lead Generation in a Mobile World

lead generation in a mobile world

In the world of sales, there are two goals for your marketing plan: positive brand awareness and lead generation. Today’s internet-based society and mobile device usage has blended these two objectives into one overarching business conversation that needs to be navigated wisely to achieve the desired results.

The New Landscape

Online advertising started in earnest in the early 1980s when Prodigy began displaying banner ads to its subscribers. Between the ’80s and the early 2000s, online advertising campaigns paralleled traditional paper marketing, using discount-driven ads and brand awareness pieces to drive sales.

The rise of social media changed this by demanding a two-way conversation over these single-direction marketing statements. Mobile technology made marketing communication instantaneous. Twitter became the carrier of customer service messages, both good and bad. Facebook is now the most relied upon place for reviews and product opinions. Today, leads are no longer the final product of marketing but just part of the overall relationship that you develop with new and existing customers.

Defining a Lead

A lead used to be a linear relationship between a piece of marketing and the interest shown by a potential customer. In short, it was a potential contact. Now, with a billion people on Facebook alone, most of your potential contacts are not actionable contacts.

Interest is difficult to measure in this nonlinear connected environment. Initially, lead generation was part of a reverse marketing approach in which the company wanted the prospect to seek out the business. Now the prospective customer is searching for active conversations about your company and they may or may not include you.

Your job in lead generation is to make sure that you are at the center of these digital dialogues. To do this, you must understand who you are and what you have to offer. You need to analyze your business and its foundational beliefs and then insert yourself into conversations based on these principles.

The Rise in new Technology

Social media lets users separate themselves from their physical person if they want. They can create profiles that portray an image even if it is not real. The use of mobile devices has counteracted this, linking the physical people with their cyber selves.

How? The latest iPhones, like the iPhone 7 Plus, now have technology that allow the devices to interact with their environment through Bluetooth signals. When users are near your business or inside your store, you can take these previously online-only marketing conversations into a physical environment, allowing you to react to location and shopping patterns of real customers. As a lead generation tool, new technology like iBeacon is extremely powerful. You can invite customers into your shop while they are walking by or entice them with a special promotion. For better lead generation, look into some of the newest geofencing advertising opportunities.

Holistic Lead Generation

Ultimately, the best lead generation campaign takes into account where the prospect is, both mentally and physically. You want to be in a positive, relationship-building conversation with potential customers and their support network while seeing their location-based shopping patterns. Trying to sell a house in Houston to a couple looking for a home in Boston is useless, but being an expert in housing is invaluable. To best generate leads, create your online image, become part of the conversation and know your customer base.


With a Bachelors in Physics and a MBA, Paul Reyes-Fournier worked in aerospace and education but his passion to do something good for the world led him to a career in the non-profit sector where he has served as the CFO of a multi-million dollar rehab agency. Paul has lobbied Congress for funds to help homeless individuals and served on the BOD for social service organizations.

Utilizing the 5 Senses to Make Customers Feel Comfortable

using the senses in marketing

Not all marketing research comes from business scientists. When a customer walks into your store, a neuroscientist would identify the millions of interactions starting with sensory nerve cell receptors that transmit data to the brain. The brain then interprets the information, filtering through its knowledge, emotions and life experience to create a perception. Sensory marketing, a hybrid of neuroscience and marketing research, analyses the conversion from sense to perception, identifying the ways to use senses to make a sale. Here’s a scientific look at how our senses can drive sales.

Sight

We come from a long line of hunters and gatherers. Compared to other top predators, which depend largely on a sense of smell, humans depend on sight. Most of our brain is used to interpret sensory input of sight, either perceiving safety or identifying faces. The limbic system governs deep-seated responses like fear and safety. Before customers can be willing to make a purchase, they need to feel safe. Installing security cameras, cleaning cluttered spaces and approaching customers with a friendly face will put the limbic responses at ease, which can lead to more impulse purchases.

Hearing

The link between sound and its perception is one of the most complex of the five senses. The shape of air pushed through our mouths is detected by specialized nerve cells in the ear, which the brain translates into language with all of the subtleties and nuances that come with it. Hearing is where the sales pitch is perceived. According to Aristotle, these sound waves must elicit three reactions to be persuasive:

  • Ethos: Ethical
  • Logos: Logical
  • Pathos: Emotional

Make certain that all of your pitches have these components.

Touch

One of the reasons that you have a brick-and-mortar store over an online shop is that you want your customers to be able to touch the products. Compared to pictorial representations where a customer can only rely on the sense of sight, real interaction lets them use touch and, to a lesser degree, smell. This ability to touch a product leads to a significantly higher rate of purchase. Whenever feasible, encourage customers to touch, manipulate and spatially examine the products to better be able to make the sale.

Taste

The sense of taste is a difficult one to separate out because it is so closely linked to the sense of smell, which is a very powerful primer for emotions. If a person holds his nose, thus removing the sense of smell, and tastes food, he generally will not be able to differentiate much more than salty, sweet or bitter. For a marketer to truly engage the sense of taste, you will need to develop an experiential marketing framework. To do so, have something for customers to put into their mouths that matches the feel of the other senses. This will go a long way to creating a multi-sensual shopping experience for your customer.

Smell

In contrast, smell is almost directly linked to our emotions. The smell of comfort foods cooking brings us back to childhood happiness and carefree times. Research shows that customers will spend more time in a store if it smells good. Of course, these are filtered through out memories and cultures, so make sure to tailor the scent of your store the proper demographic.


With a Bachelors in Physics and a MBA, Paul Reyes-Fournier worked in aerospace and education but his passion to do something good for the world led him to a career in the non-profit sector where he has served as the CFO of a multi-million dollar rehab agency. Paul has lobbied Congress for funds to help homeless individuals and served on the BOD for social service organizations. He is a published author, co-author of CoupleDumb.com, and has written for JG Wentworth, Walmart, and LifeLock.

3 Ways to Create A Successful Video Campaign

It’s hard to go onto any website these days without seeing a video. Whether it’s a funny video on social media, a clip from your favorite show or a campaign advertisement, they seem to be everywhere. But why are we surprised? With the space for written, audio and visual content, videos provide a unique marketing opportunity to engage audiences quicker and for longer. In fact, according to The Digital Marketing Institute by 2016, video marketing will account for 69 percent of all consumer traffic.

So as a brand, why not get involved? Check out these few tips to create a successful video campaign for your company.

1. Convey a Distinct Message

Due to the mixture of movement, sound and pictures, videos have the power to dynamically and creatively communicate a message. And this message is usually what gets audiences engaged and makes a campaign go “viral.” Try and tell a story in your video, stand up for a cause and always put some feeling into it. Focus on building your brand personality and then sell your product in the background using this reputation as a starting point.

Always, the feminine hygiene product company, exhibited this concept in a powerful way. Their “Like A Girl” campaign asked young women to use the phrase “like a girl” as they had heard it used in their lifetime. Then they asked younger girls, who hadn’t been exposed to the stereotype, to use the phrase the way they thought it should be used. This made for an endearing message about the strength and independence of a woman. Through this campaign, Always successfully transmitted a message of empowerment that perfectly aligned with their female audience.

2. Make Use of User-generated Content

The great thing about the world of social media is how it allows people to share ideas and deliver content of their own. So why not use your audience as creators? After all, they might be able to contribute a unique sense of creativity that your brand may never have thought of. GoPro is an example of a brand that utilizes user-generated content to display the unique ways its product can be used. Whether it’s surfers, skateboarders or adventure travelers, the great footage they get from users has proven successful; one user-generated campaign they have of a fireman saving a kitten has almost 30 million views.

If you’re having trouble finding footage, try initiating a video competition and then compiling the best entries into one video advertisement.

3. Mix Mediums to Make it Engaging

When making a video, your options are almost endless. There are so many elements that you can include to be unique and engage audiences. So be creative. Add music to set the tone of the video, upload unique visuals and include short, snappy words to tell a story. You could even try different sound effects and camera tricks. Amway achieves this in their welcome video with a wide variety of visuals accompanied by slow music to set an inspirational, intrepid tone. Keep in mind that audiences are viewing numerous videos a day, so employ creative mediums and techniques to make your brand stand out.

Video marketing is a new but very popular content form. If executed correctly, it has the power to convey your brand personality and draw audiences to your product in exciting new ways. Try these couple of tricks to create video material that will substantially contribute to your marketing strategy.


Naomi Bagga is a young media professional living in Australia. She works at UK-based digital partner marketing firm, Performance Horizon. She is passionate about music, entertainment, freelance writing and the changing media landscape, and loves photography, fashion, travel and a good cup of coffee.

How to Turn Your Blog into an Email Newsletter

turn blog into email newsletter

Blogs help you quickly and easily publish compelling information about you and your services out to the world. Blogs help to connect your business to potential customers. But how do your readers know when you’ve published a new post?

blog rss to email newsletter
Simple RSS to Email by AWeber Communications

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) helps you do this by connecting your customers to your blog. The problem is, not many people know what RSS is or even how to use it. They want to connect with you, they’re just not sure how. The fact you likely don’t know how to help them connect with you makes the challenge greater, right?! Well, blog owners, there’s an answer to this.

Aweber has made it easy to connect your blog to your newsletter (your electronic newsletter, that is). Now you can turn your blog into an email newsletter. Simply plug in your blog’s RSS feed (for WordPress sites, this is usually something like yourdomainname.com/feed/) and choose one of Aweber’s colorful templates. When you publish a new post, Aweber places your brilliant content into the email template and fires it off to your subscribers.

You can even schedule your newsletters to go out on a particular day and time in the form of a weekly digest that delivers all of your latest posts! As your subscribers click through to your posts, you’ll see an increase in readers and comments. Plus, even more readers will discover your blog as your subscribers forward your emails to them.

Interested? If you’re tech-savvy, you can go straight to Aweber and proceed in setting up your account. If you’re a little unsure how to proceed–or if you get stuck–simply contact me and I’ll walk you through the next steps.

Increase Your Blog’s Traffic in 7 Ways

By now, maybe you already have your own blog, and you also know that blogging is a valuable pursuit. According to Hubspot, companies that have blogs get 97% more inbound links. As for your blog, you may be thinking, what if no one visits my blog? How am I going to generate links, traffic, and sales? Don’t worry; you are asking the right questions.

Reliable and qualified traffic is what any blog owner wants. In this article, we will look at some of the strategies we can use to increase your blog’s traffic.

Creating a Viral Content

increase blog traffic ideas

Every blogger wants to write contents that get viral. However, it is not as easy at it seems. There are ways that we can create content that is more appealing. One of these ways is to create captivating headlines. If you get the headlines right, you can be sure that readers will be clicking on that. Another way is to get the content length right. Most of the shared contents have a word count that ranges from 3,000-10,000. The last technique is to create a killer idea that is surely going to get viral.

Remember these four tips when creating your post:

  • Get to know your audience so you’ll know what sparks their interests.
  • You can use Buzzsumo to help you with the ideas for your contents.
  • You can use Ubersuggest to also help you get ideas.
  • You can take advantage of the comments from your previous posts for your ideas for your next posts.

Restructure Your Posts

increase blog traffic ideas

When writing for your target audience, you can consider restructuring your post. This is to suit the content to the audience better. You may not notice it, but sometimes, your readers don’t really buy what you’re saying on your post. You can tell that if no one is commenting or if the comments only say “nice post.” What this means is that you didn’t really get the reader’s attention.

In any case, try to think about restructuring your post. Learn about how your audience speaks and speak the way they do because that will make your content more relatable. An example of this is that if your audience is beginners when it comes to technological stuff, don’t talk to them with so much jargon. Try to ease them in with every technical term that you use and make your content more hip and not just a dry, technical manual. When you are successful in doing this, your audience will gladly cite, share, and promote your post.

Creating Evergreen List Posts

increase blog traffic ideas

Another strategy to get your blog more traffic is through Evergreen list posts. It is known to generate traffic even if it has been years since the post was first published. There are ways to know if your topic has a potential for Evergreen.

The first thing to do is to make sure that there is at least one publication such as in magazines where your topic in mind has been written. This is to make sure that your topic is a popular one. To do this, you can go to magazines.com. In there, type your keyword in the search box. The results will reveal the magazines where a certain topic has been published. The next thing to do is to assess previous list posts that were successful.

Remember these tips when thinking about your next topic:

  • Brainstorm with your team.
  • Participate on forums and discussion of your niche.
  • Read the latest news about your topic.
  • Once you have published your topic, promote it on your social media accounts.

Do Guest Blogging

increase blog traffic ideas

The first step to do guest blogging is to do research on blogs with good social influence. Google really likes authority blogs. What are authority blogs? These are blogs that have a lot of followers on social media. When you guest blog on these sites, there will be a good chance that you will get more traffic.

Before pitching a blog, though, you ought to check the social influence of the site to know how much traffic that you may expect to generate from the social media in the event that your post gets featured. To check their social influence, you can go to their Facebook and Twitter pages. You will see there the number of followers they have.

Kindle Select 90-Day Traffic Plan

increase blog traffic ideas

These days, self-published books represent over 31% of ebook sales in the Amazon Kindle Store. Before, self-publishing will cost you thousands of dollars as well as a contract with a publishing house. But today, it’s different.

If you have an idea that is worth sharing, you can now be a published author within a week! Imagine what that can do for your blog traffic. If you publish with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, you get to drive your targeted traffic and can reach hundreds and thousands of people without spending a cent.

After publishing your Kindle book, the next thing you do is to enroll the book in the “Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program.” What will happen is that your book will become exclusive in the Kindle Store for 90 Days. The book will also become exclusive in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. When you do this, you get to reach thousands of your targeted readers because they can borrow the book for free. Also, for five days of your 90 days, you can run a free promotion for a paid ebook.

Takeaway

increase blog traffic ideas

One more thing to remember is this: consistency is key. The traffic strategies we have learned here may have been proven, but the results won’t come overnight. You have to stick to your technique and be patient. You still have to do your research and write your own content because these techniques won’t be writing them for you. Take the time to get to know your audience and participate and converse with them through the comments sections and the forums. Eventually, visitors will come to your blog, your email subscribers will increase, and your conversion rates will boost. Consistency and patience will do great for building your sustainable business.


author Nicolas FinetAuthor Bio

Nicolas Finet is a technically-minded marketer and the co-founder of sort-list.co.uk helping customers to get the most out of their digital strategies. Follow him on twitter @nifinet

3 Case Studies that Highlight the Success of Using Content Marketing

 

content marketing ideas

Content marketing has become one of the most effective strategies for brands to publicize themselves. More than 75 percent of marketers see content marketing as a priority, with 77 percent of B2C marketers and 76 percent of B2B marketers planning to increase their content marketing strategy in 2016, according to a Contently survey.

Benefits like higher response and engagement rates, more timely and relevant interactions, and better word-of-mouth publicity are a few of the draws attracting marketers to content marketing. Here are three content marketing campaigns that paid off for some of today’s top brands, illustrating some effective strategies other brands can emulate.

Huffington Post Cooking Videos

The Huffington Post has found success by posting cooking videos on everything from poaching eggs and preparing pizza-themed recipes to making Chinese dumplings. When sharing these videos on Facebook, the clips are presented in a short format, making it easy to attract and maintain viewers’ attention. For example, a 1-minute and 18-second Facebook video on refugees cooking their native cuisine attracted more than 757,000 views.

But be sure to visit YouTube if you want to check out some longer videos that have also attracted a number of views. For instance, a 9-minute, 40-second video on how to cook the perfect steak by Chef Theo Randall has, to date, attracted more than 9,500 views and shows viewers, whether they’re experts in the kitchen or not, how to make a steak, along with portabella mushroom and homemade salsa verde. Other Huff Post Facebook posts link from pictures of food to how-to articles on the publisher’s website. By linking short, social media content to longer videos and articles, The Huffington Post is able to channel initial viewer interest from Facebook into deeper social engagement on the company’s site and YouTube channel.

Farmers Insurance Inner Circle

Blogging, another popular content marketing strategy, has been deployed successfully by Farmers Insurance through its Inner Circle web portal, which provides consumers with informative content on six main topics:

  • Auto smarts
  • Home tools
  • Life preparedness
  • Insurance gaps
  • Exclusive Farmers Insurance perks
  • Unbelievable but true insurance claims

The brief, engaging and easily-navigable content serves Farmers Insurance’s sales strategy by informing consumers on important insurance-related topics that may pique the interest of potential buyers, all the while guiding them along the company’s step-by-step sales funnel. To promote its content, Farmer’s Insurance syndicates its blogs to the company’s Facebook page, which also links to its Instagram feed and Pinterest board.

Farmers Insurance also posts original video content to its YouTube channel. By utilizing multiple social channels, Farmers Insurance attracts consumers interested in insurance policies using native content that engages and informs without needing to make a hard sell. Consumers to whom the content appeals will then naturally be drawn into a sales conversation.

Michelin Restaurant Ratings

For over a century, French tire maker Michelin has been publishing travel guides to assist drivers on road trips, featuring information on hotels, gas stations and mechanics. The Michelin brothers correctly foresaw this type of information would promote demand for cars by promoting French tourism. Eventually, a ratings system for restaurants emerged, where one star represents an esteemed restaurant, two stars means excellent cooking and three stands for exceptional cuisine.

Since 2005, Michelin’s venerable and highly selective restaurant guide has been reviewing some of the top eateries throughout the United States. Indeed, making the coveted Michelin guide can be difficult, as only 67 restaurants throughout the Big Apple received a Michelin star in 2014. Foodies traveling the world can now access Michelin’s guide on the company’s website and easily identify the best restaurants for their global excursion. This offering serves to drive traffic to Michelin’s website, while positioning the company as a premium brand representing quality taste.

Byline: Roy Rasmussen, co-author of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small-business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing and career planning.


Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

5 Tips for Non-Profits to Master SEO

nonprofit seo

There are many reasons why non-profits have a great opportunity in digital marketing channels. The competition is low, their brands are authoritative and private companies love to be linked to them to improve their PR and brand recognition.

One of the online channels with great opportunities for non-profits is Search Engine Optimisation. Follow these 5 tips and make it work for you.

1. Understand your potential

How powerful is your non-profit’s website? Google uses a very complex algorithm to assign a value to every website that it will later use to decide which one is shown in rankings when someone uses the search engine.

In order to understand this value we can use 2 metrics from different trusted SEO tools, Domain Authority (DA) from Moz and Trust Flow (TF) from MajesticSEO. Even if you don’t have a paid for account, you’ll be able to see this data.

I’ve used 2 non-profits as examples to see how many points they are given:

(Please note that Orbis is a big and well-established international non-profit and Help them Hope a small national non-profit operating in Peru.)

As you can see, there are big differences in the above values, but these numbers are not helpful unless you have some context. Find your competitor’s score and see how your site fares against them.

2. Understand what works for you

I am sure if you are a UK non-profit like Orbis you would love to rank for terms such as “Donate to Charity”. And as I’m sure you know, this can prove difficult. The first non-profit that shows for this term is Oxfam. They score a DA=87 and a TF=66. However, you really don’t need to go after these big competitive terms; there are thousands of long tail keywords that would be more strategic. The question is: how do we find them?

If you log into your Webmaster Tools (now called Google Search Console), you will be able to find many keywords that your site is ranking for. Go to Search Traffic/Search Queries and download these keywords in a spreadsheet.

webmaster tools

This is the data for the last month for my digital marketing blog. I sorted the data by impressions to see where the opportunities are.

You can now easily check your current rankings for the top 10 keywords and see how far you are from 1st position. In my case, I have a great opportunity in RLSA as there is lot of interest based on the number of impression and I’m just 2 positions off 1st page.

If you are a registered non-profit in the UK, you are eligible for Google Grants, free AdWords advertising in Google! You can use this grant as a testing tool to see how the chosen keywords convert for you. If you see these are working for you, you´re in a stronger position to start your SEO campaign.

Now that we have the data and we know what to focus on, let’s see how we can put this into practice.

3. Make it accessible

We first need to check your On Site ranking factors to make sure Google can access your site easily and understands what you offer to potential visitors. Here is a checklist:

  1. Title tags: Do you use unique title tags in each page? Are these under 60 characters long? Do you use keywords when appropriate?
  2. Meta descriptions: Do you use engaging meta descriptions to improve your Click Through Rates? Make sure you add ‘call to actions’ to stimulate clicks.
  3. Page speed: How quick is your site to load? This is a very important SEO ranking factor
  4. Internal linking: Do you use internal links to refer users from one page to another? Internal linking is one of the best tools at your disposal to help Google understand what your site is about.

A great tool which will help you with this checklist is Woorank. Woorank analyses your on-page SEO accessibility and lets you know what you should focus on.

4. Build Links

This is where non-profits have their best chance to improve their SEO value.

Donors: Have a look at your list of current corporate donors. Do you have a link from their sites to yours? Go and ask them if they can put up an article on their blog/news section about how cool they are by funding one your latest projects. Offer them help to write up the article and they should be happy to oblige.

Badges: Most companies that donates to charity likes to be linked to the organisation they’re supporting. Why don’t you create an official badge that every donor can proudly show on their homepage? Make sure this badge contains a link back to your site.

Events: Charities tend to organise events in collaborations with other companies/organisations. Make sure you do a write up article talking about how great these companies are and let them know once this is published in your blog. They’re likely to take the bait and link back to your article to show their customers the great endorsement you’ve written about them.

5. Monitor your results

SEO is an art; you can’t scientifically prove what will work and what won’t. Therefore most of your successes will come from testing! And in order to test, you need to monitor the impact from your activities.

One tool I really like for this purpose is Serplab. Serplab is an amazing free tool that will allow you to monitor your rankings for all your chosen keywords on a daily basis. You can even set an automatic email with a daily report so you don’t even need to log into the tool.

Implement, monitor, learn and repeat!


Alvaro Bellido is London-based digital marketer passionate about non-profits, advertising and entrepreneurship. Alvaro collaborates with a number of non-profits as a digital consultant as well as London-based start-ups. You may find him on Google+, Twitter and his personal website.

Infographic: Ecommerce Checklist

Ecommerce is heading towards becoming a trillion-dollar industry and shows no signs of slowing down. Shopping online should be an easy experience for customers and if not they are likely to simply abandon the cart before even filling out their details. Getting the conversions can be a tricky business so we at IDF Marketing have created the “Ecommerce Checklist 2015” to help our clients and followers. This infographic explains quite a bit of important factors that you mightn’t think of. From simple tips on how you should tweak your page layout to tips on what your page should feature such as a Live Chat option to help questioning customers. Other essentials such as making the website mobile responsive and investing in good quality hosting to speed up your ecommerce website are also discussed in greater detail. We hope you find our infographic useful!

infographic ecommerce checklist

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Infographic: In-Store Retail Apps Are Heating Up

The last decade has seen a huge change in the landscape of retail worldwide. E-commerce websites have become pretty much ubiquitous and many consumers source most of what they need online. This shift in consumer behavior has been heavily influenced by the improvement in technology in terms of computers but most especially on phones. Previously, cell phones were used predominantly for making and receiving calls or text messages. Today, this couldn’t be more different.

Cell phones of today are referred to as smartphones and rightly so as there is little that they don’t do or influence in day to day life. Smartphones have radically come down in price also and so they are accessible to a larger portion of people.

The proliferation then of phone and tablet apps could be seen as another problem for offline or bricks and mortar retailers but in actual fact this need not be the case. With greater access to consumers, offline retailers need to look at this as an opportunity for them to reach out to consumers like never before. Research shows that consumers that use and engage on apps are more likely to spend higher amounts of money so it is definitely something that should not be ignored. Retailers need to focus on how phone and tablet apps can make the retail experience a better one when the customers are actually in the store in order to capitalize on the changing times.

This infographic from Storetraffic Retail Solutions aims to show how the app revolution is not confined to online retail, meaning that it is something that offline retail store owners should not ignore. Check it out to learn more!

infographic in store retail

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Maybe You’re Not a Guru

not a guru

“An uncomfortable truth; with a massive take away.

Not everyone is a brand.

Meaning some are just not energetic enough, well spoken or appropriate to become a ‘brand’.

A lot of people following this brand advice, creating blog posts and videos that are difficult to read or watch. It is obvious they are trying to be something they are not.

You don’t need to be a brand to succeed online; for example you could be the PPV traffic expert; simply building an email list and doing email marketing driving leads to offers; that can work.” ~Terry Lamb


I’ve wondered about this.

Over the years, I have had teammates in the MLM and direct sales industries who wouldn’t do so hot at building a brand of themselves as a majority of the Internet marketing gurus suggest. I like the alternative offered here by Terry. This route helps your teammates get out of their own way and improves their likelihood of success–provided they have the patience, work ethic and resources to invest.

John Maxwell teaches the Law of Respect. In it, he illustrates how people naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. In his example, if you are an 8 in leadership, you’re not likely to follow a 6; you would rather follow a 9 or a 10.

Folks won’t follow you onto a team or mailing list if they detect you’re as lost as they are.

We all carry a personal brand. However, most of our personal brands don’t carry the posture and the value (yet) to pull people to us. This may take years of self-development to kick in.

The shorter, more attainable path then for many will be to approach their marketing as a behind-the-scenes orchestrator; not a lead-the-charge expert.

In support of your efforts,
Matt

P.S. – Interested in learning how to market your business online? Start here.

Infographic: The Power of Color in Branding

Many of us like to believe that we are unaffected by branding and advertising. However, with the vast quantity of messages we receive through various media formats throughout the day, it is almost impossible to completely avoid coming into contact with one brand or another. Ensuring that their message is effectively communicated to a certain demographic or target market is one of the primary goals of a brand, and in such a competitive environment every effort is made to utilize any factor that may result in an advantage being gained.

This infographic by Brushstrokes is aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of color in branding, and how our decisions can be influenced by colour. For example, studies have indicated that purple is a colour that is generally more attractive to females. Therefore a masculine brand would rarely use this. We hope to inform brand owners, and potential brand owners, on how to match brand personality with color, as well as educating readers about why certain brands use certain colors.

What are logos are you drawn to? Do you have any tendencies to favor one color over another? Share your experience in the comments below!

infographic color in branding

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Blog to Grow Your Email List

email marketing

Okay. One of the realizations that has just slapped me in the forehead has been by Internet marketer, Terry Lamb.

Guys, I’ve been marketing online, I’ve been marketing in the online and offline worlds for over 20 years, right? So I should know this stuff. I should know this one little jewel, and I needed to be reminded of it because I had strayed from the path.

The path that I strayed from, the learning that was brought to me by Terry, was this: He said in one of his recent webinars that his number one purpose for his website is to entice people to sign up onto his mailing list.

That’s his one, singular purpose.

At that point, then he can have a conversation with them. Once he’s gotten somebody added to his list, he can teach them. He can bring value to them. He can offer them recommendations—product recommendations, solution recommendations—that kind of thing. But until then, they’re not a captive audience. They’re visitors. They hop onto the site and if they leave the site without ever signing up to your list, you may never see them again.

You know, for the last year or so I had kind of fallen away from that. I’ve been building an email list for a while, but I realized I had been falling away from it. I have been pushing people more towards the Facebook channel, or more towards the Twitter.

Really, the destination is the mailing list.

If we have conversations over at Facebook, if we have conversations over at Twitter, or Google+, or wherever, that’s all great. But ultimately, you want the ability to reach into people’s inboxes to say “Hi. How you doing today? What is it that I can help you with? This is what I found to be helpful on my mission (and on our combined mission) to get from point A to point B.”

That little bit of awareness I needed. That’s my lesson for today. What can you guys do to help make your website more of a destination, first? So are you building value into your website?

Then, secondly, how do you keep the conversation going? How do you keep yourself on their forefront?

There’s your challenge for today. All right guys. This is Matt Schoenherr, MarketingIdeas101.com. In support of your efforts.

P.S. – Interested in how to grow a captive audience online? Get the Internet marketing training I use!

How to Market with Ebooks

how to market with ebooks

So maybe you’ve gone through the process of having an article, white paper, blog post or something like that written for you. You can take that to the next level. Now consider writing an e-book. Whether you write the e-book or you outsource the e-book, you can expand that article into a longer version, add a little more context, add some more stories, give some testimonials, some case studies—that kind of jazz. This longer document doesn’t have to be too long; think 10 or 20 pages (it doesn’t have to be 100 pages.)

Tip: When you produce your e-book, you can space the lines so they’re a line and a half instead of line-line-line. Not only does it make your e-book appear more substantial, it’s easier on the eyes and it helps people read on mobile platforms.

Once you’ve completed crafting your e-book, you can put it in a number of places across the Internet. You can put it on your own website and—just like you might offer a white paper or instructional video—you can also offer the e-book as an incentive for folks to join your mailing list. To do this, you would use an email marketing service like Aweber or GetResponse, where you will you stand up your mailing list and your opt-in form. Place the opt-in form on your website next to a picture of the e-book and say, “Hey, if you want a copy of this e-book, just add your name to my list and I’ll be more than happy to send it out to you.”

Promoting Your E-book

So now you’re building your mailing list and of course, in your e-book, you have links back to your own site, your own offer, maybe even affiliate offers. Make sure the offers and resources you promote are congruent with the e-book’s subject. Your offers should provide the reader with the next step if they want to continue their journey with you. With e-books, you have an opportunity to provide a ton of value, do it for free (or for the low cost of an email address.)

E-book Directories

Next, you’ll put that e-book out into directories. E-book directories are free online directories where folks shopping those directories may pull down a wide assortment of e-books to collect information of interest, just like they would at a library.

SlideShare.net

Another trick: You can take that same e-book and turn it into a PowerPoint presentation. You can share that PowerPoint presentation at SlideShare.net. SlideShare is a site where you’re able to stand up your own PowerPoint presentations and funnel traffic to your site and offers.

Kindle and Nook

Then you can also place your e-book into a Kindle or a Nook format and put it out on Amazon. Then folks shopping Amazon looking for an e-book on your topic can find you. Offer your e-book for a low, introductory price (or whatever you’re comfortable with). Remember: You’re not simply selling an e-book, you’re building an audience. You’re building a community.

Now you’re seeding the Internet with your e-book and—provided you’re offering solid value—you should begin seeing a little traffic from these sources. It might be two or three clicks a month. It might be thirty clicks a month. It might be three-hundred clicks a month. It might be even more.

Planting Seeds

With an e-book, you produce it once and then place links to it out in different corners of the Internet. Here again, you’re doing the planting of these seeds once. Say you did that once a day for a year. You’re going to have 365 links facing back to you, if these links stuck. Even if they didn’t stick—even if just half of them stuck—you’ve still got 180+ inbound links?

You’ve got real opportunity for residual return once you’ve created and promoted your e-book, so if you do it once and you get it out there, that one time, that one burst of effort can keep paying you a return over and over and over and over.

Afterglow

That’s how you start to get your time back. That’s how you start to get more exposure in the marketplace without you having to go shake every hand and go to every networking event. I’m not saying there’s anything bad with those strategies. I’m just saying—by using e-books—you have an opportunity to make that investment once, and let then allow that investment to work over and over and over for you.

Why Offer Gold for Your Next Fundraiser

gold fundraiser event ideas

At a time when donors are less open-handed as a result of a tough economic climate, and their willingness to commit to new products or services is curbed; it has become unsmilingly challenging for fundraisers to get by. The sting of the Great Recession can still be felt, can’t it? People don’t seem to give as much for fundraisers (maybe because they don’t have as much to give?)

Alas, it would seem like the spirit of charitable giving has shriveled up like a dead spider in the shadow of irreconcilable government debt, looming inflation, and short-tempered currencies. Boo, hiss.

Consumers and donors are still in a place of tightening their clasp on their finances, being cautious about how they spend and spending shrewdly when they do. Do you suppose this is a change in spending habits that will quickly turn around?

And yet your fundraiser needs funds! You need to keep the lifeblood of your organization flowing, but who to look to in these trying times?

The last thing you want to have to do is to start cold calling (groan). Do you really enjoy asking your strapped, would-be sponsors for money over the phone?

But what else are you to do? Go to another mixer and grease palms like a used car salesman? How do you send off a successful fundraiser in the throes of an erratic economy, with so many people facing rising prices, treacherous currencies and domestic budgets?

Okay, enough scarcity thinking. How about a better way?

How about cooking up fresh and unique ideas, whereby you give value first and in a form where your prospective supporters can benefit? (Novel idea, right?)

Yes, they are still interested in supporting causes they believe in. Many organizations have grown more discerning these days, however, so they won’t just buy into anything anymore. Be that as it may, there are a number of golden opportunities for fundraisers waiting to be leveraged to raise tremendous funds and rally the participation of your sponsors.

And speaking of gold…

Cash-for-Gold Fundraiser Events

Cash-for-gold fundraisers are an increasingly popular way to raise money that involves giving back and improving your sponsors’ wallets.

trade in gold jewelry and coinsFor the occasion, guests are invited to leave their wallets at home and to turn over their unwanted gold jewelries and ornaments for cash. They then get to take home cold, hard cash for their unwanted heirlooms. And the buyer or organization that you cooperate with will make a sizable donation to your cause, based on the value of the exchange.

These cash-for-gold events can be effective at quickly raising a generous amount of funds toward a specific goal, but be sparing with these types of fundraisers! Although the patrons of your worthy cause might be thrilled with the cash they get in return for flipping over their unwanted treasures, you may guess there is only so much they are willing to part with.

Still, there is another way to use gold as a catalyst in your fundraiser event and I bet this idea is more in line with the classy, sassy image you are trying to convey to your sponsors. As in, this next idea actually makes you look innovative and classy as opposed to—well—“pawn shop.” (There. I said it.)

Gold Bullion Cards: A Gold-Plated Idea for Branding Your Fundraiser

What better way to brand your organization and to make a distinctive impression, than to prize your deserving supporters by rewarding them with 999.9 karats of pure-grade gold?

save gold club cardIt is an exclusive way to show your appreciation for your sponsors and to brand your business, charity, or organization. Oh, and it’s also terribly cool.

Gold providers, like PAMP Suisse (Switzerland) and Karatbars International (Germany), supply pure currency-grade gold bullion embedded credit-sized cards for easy handling. More importantly, one of these companies, Karatbars, now allows you to create your own customized cards where your name, logo or other meaningful image may be placed alongside the highest-grade gold available on the market today.

What’s more, since you’re buying small amounts—1 gram, 2.5 grams or 5 gram bullion—these branded cards are an affordable and impressive leave-behind; a terrific way to say to your donors, “You are golden to us.”

How to Use Gold Bullion Cards at Fundraiser Events

Include Gold in Your Sponsor Packages

branded gold cardSo, how to use this marketing magic, right? A great way to use these branded cards is to include them as a sponsor benefit. Certain sponsorship levels would then earn them a gold card (or several gold cards for their executives, holiday gifts, etc.) depending on their level of participation in your fundraiser.

Decide on names for sponsorship levels, and the value in gold bullion that each will receive for their degree of support. For example, a top-tier “Platinum” or “Benefactor” may get a 5-gram gold card (or five 1-gram gold cards) in addition to promoting them to your audience and the other perks you offer your sponsors.

Add Gold to Your Silent Auction

Need more contributions to your silent auction? Likely. Try a gold card branded just for your event. You can even purchase a clear, plastic stand for a few bucks to enhance the presentation. Just make sure the write-up includes information on the quality and weight. Most of your event attendees are unfamiliar with buying gold bullion, so your description will be part education, part sizzle.

Afterglow

Hopefully you see how these types of incentives can be very effective at encouraging your sponsors’ participation in your fundraiser. You could even expand the use of these branded gold cards into other rewards, benefits and prizes for both your supporters and your staff.

Gold is such a resilient and versatile resource. It has the potential to become the cornerstone and the hallmark of any fundraising initiative. Gold is an inflation- and bankrupt-proof medium that has stood the test of time for centuries.

P.S. – Interested in offering gold bullion for your next fundraiser?

I highly recommend Karatbars International for this. They tend to have the best pricing and they have a great designer on staff who helps with your artwork. If you are interested, call me and I’ll answer whatever questions you might have. If you get my voicemail, leave a message and I’ll call you back. Cell: 517-258-4040. You can also get more information at http://savegold.club.

In support of your efforts,

signature

Infographic: Can Celebrity Endorsements Influence Sales?

Celebrity endorsement has always been seen as a viable option for companies to promote their products. Many companies believe having their products associated with a popular celebrity will help drive sales. Consumers seem unsure of their influence with 51% stating that celebrity endorsement makes little to no difference on their purchasing decisions.

While the ROI on many marketing techniques is measurable, ROI on celebrity endorsements can be more difficult to quantify. There are many potential benefits associated with celebrity endorsements but there are also many potential pitfalls that need to be monitored carefully.

These pitfalls are created when you rely solely on one celebrity to promote your product. The reputation of your company is potentially in the hands of one person whose image can change overnight as a result of some celebrity scandal. Is it really worth running this risk?

As a result of this, the success of celebrity endorsements vary greatly and it really is a case of some working and others not. The importance of choosing an appropriate celebrity is paramount to minimizing the risk of negative publicity for your company. It is worth keeping in mind that the risks associated with celebrity endorsement can never be nullified completely, and reacting to the negative impact of celebrity endorsement will need to be dealt with carefully.

infographic celebrity endorsements

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This infographic from Sign A Rama Toronto provides you with the statistics on how influential celebrity endorsement really is, as well as the stories behind the successful and unsuccessful celebrity endorsements throughout the years.

What are the best examples of celebrity testimonials you know? What are the worst?

How to Increase Your Brand’s Credibility

brand credibility

Building trust with your consumers is essential for success in business. Trust leads to repeat business and loyal customers, along with increased sales and brand awareness. That trust, however, takes time, hard work, and consistency to earn.

It is important that business owners educate themselves on how to establish and maintain trust from their customers and community. Here are a few strategic tips that will lead to a strong, positive brand reputation.

1. Deliver Consistent Levels of Service

Customers feel comforted when they know what to expect from a business. In order to provide that to your consumers, every part of your brand should be consistent. This means your employees’ practices, answers, and service need to be in line with your brand. If your promise to your customers is that your customer service department will respond to inquiries within 24 hours, your employees must deliver on those expectations.

Amazon does a great job with this. It has been ranked as one of the top online retailers for good reason. If you need quick service and hit the “Call Me Now” button, an Amazon employee will virtually call you immediately using the information you provided. Customers expect a quick, efficient callback when shopping on Amazon.com.

2. Be Honest

Honesty really is the best policy especially when it comes to business. It is extremely important that your consumers feel a high level of honesty when buying your products or enlisting your services. They need to know that the security of their personal information is of utmost importance, and your business is taking the proper steps to avoid a security breach. If your customers’ information does fall in the wrong hands, notify them immediately. If they find out about it in another way, your reputation will be tarnished, and it will be extremely difficult to earn it back.

One company that failed terribly at being honest after a security breach is the very popular cosmetic company, Lime Crime. They went through a security breach where their customers’ financial information was compromised. Instead of being open and honest about the situation and alerting their customers so they could cancel credit cards and alert their banks, Lime Crime continued with business as usual. Many consumers lost thousands of dollars, and the CEO waited months before coming clean.

3. Act Immediately

If there has been a security breach that puts your consumers’ personal and financial information at risk, honest and immediate action will let your customers know that you are on top of the issue and doing everything possible to ensure a quick resolution.

A company that exemplified fast action was Barnes & Noble. In September of 2012, the bookseller giant had their credit card pin pad hacked and it was suspected that 63 of their stores were affected. Barnes & Noble contacted the Department of Justice for assistance and guidance, contacted credit card companies to alert them of possible unauthorized charges, and soon after, under the guidance of the Department of Justice, alerted their customers of the breach. The bookstore also removed 7,000 pin pads to prevent the problem from continuing. By acting quickly and seeking professional assistance, the retailer was able to maintain the trust of their customers and save other customers from theft.

In the unfortunate event that you do experience a security breach at your business, know that you and your customers are in good hands by enlisting the services of LifeLock. Visit its business reviews to see if its services are right for you.


Susan Finch is a freelance writer with a passion for travel and helping small businesses find their online voice through content marketing, blogging and beyond. She can be found at BySusanFinch.com.

Is It Our Job to Educate Businesses in Tactical SEM?

by John Sylvester

Around the middle of last month I took a phone call from a friend who runs a similar web design agency to ours, with a request for help in putting together coherent SEO/SEM packages for seven of his clients. Before we met, I looked at his clients’ websites and found there was much to do.

When looking at the SEO, virtually all of these sites used keywords in the title that had been plucked out of thin air; most of them had no relationship with the copy whatsoever. With research, we made recommendations for changes in both title and on-page copy. The easy part was the SEO; the difficulty was then to educate the client about how they need to be involved. The feedback from one company was instant and unusual: they accepted our recommendations without question.

In the good old days of directory submissions and the like, SEMs had the sole responsibility for search engine marketing. Not any more. Today, it’s about providing advice to clients on writing press releases and articles, on-site blogging, and how to get involved in social media marketing, together with tweeting.

But how many website owners either have the necessary skills or the resources to relate information about their “products” in a meaningful way in online articles and press releases? In my experience, not many. Most companies appear reluctant to become involved in this, and worse, cannot perceive any real value in a subject they barely understand.

At the height of the dot.com crash at the start of the millennium, I was working with a web design agency in London. To my mind then, and it remains so now, the importance of using the internet as a medium to expand reach and to bring in more business could not be clearer, but the bottom line is that when times get tough, the tough cut internet spend. That will sound a little strange to our industry, but it is inexplicably true.

From my company’s perspective, quality SEO’s are a rare breed and their real value should not only be to provide an excellent service but to educate management (those who will listen, that is) on what we have to offer, which is to help drive traffic to their website and boost revenue. In reality though, this is a far harder job than one would expect. It seems that most companies are resistant to dedicating resources to this effort. As such, SEM lacks both the financial and human resources that need its support.

Our industry has a long way to go yet in assembling and disseminating this concept. With directories moribund and other short-cuts removed from link building processes, providing quality SEO services today belongs in the hands of the wordsmith, the blogger and the social media engineer. And yet, how do we get this message across convincingly?

In one of my posts on this issue, I got the following comment: “Show them the results. Don’t even talk about SEO…then tell them how much in time and resources it’s going to take.” That’s all very good and valuable but how many company executives understand what they are paying for prior to “showing them the results”? Case studies and/or a results-based campaign? That is one strategy we are using for our clients.

In a related article I read recently, an SEO company was explaining why they didn’t end up closing more of their proposals. It was because they advised the company from the outset about how much in-house involvement was required in successfully delivering a comprehensive SEM campaign. It sort of summed up why we need to do more in providing information that will educate companies about the effectiveness of what we are looking to achieve for them.

There is also a case for educating SEO/SEM firms themselves, as almost every week I receive emails from SEO outsourcing companies, generally from India. The majority of these emails pitch the same tired old submission services, including the outmoded reciprocals. On one occasion I decided to try them out – it was a very cheap experiment – and found that not one single link out of the dozen they had submitted appeared in Google’s indexes.

Also, there are many SEO companies that falsely claim they can get a client’s website to the top of the search engines for a given keyword or phrase. This has always been a contentious claim, as we could easily get any site to the top of the first page of Google/Bing if the search term is easy to compete on, although the chances are it won’t be searched on. Too much of the time these blanket assurances are an across-the-board, indiscriminate boast. Try “music”, go up against Yahoo, and see what happens. So, let’s now look at some possibilities:

  • It is extremely rare for management to understand the benefits and economics of SEM in organic search and how it can lead to extended market reach and more customers. Too much of the time they take the view that to boost revenue, or in a recession to maintain it, they need to fall back on the reliance of traditional media. The result of this is that migration languishes and profitability targets stagnate. We need to convince them otherwise with case studies and, where appropriate, with results-driven campaigns.
  • One of the major problems in SEM today is that human resources do not normally extend to writers who are conversant with the web in general, and blogging and social media in particular. As such, the SEM is often asked to write about subjects they are unfamiliar with. If no in-house assistance is provided, the chances are the project won’t ever get off the ground. Ideally, companies need to start to look at hiring staff that can implement SEM strategies effectively. But they won’t change until management starts to understand how marketing online actually works. When they do, it could result in a shift of marketing spend towards SEM.
  • The other difficulty is in the actual measuring of SEM, as the search engines have blocked page ranking tools, which in turn leads to sketchy reports on how the campaign is proceeding. Placement is the only real arbiter on this and that takes time. Companies need to be made aware of this.
  • It really is no excuse for companies who are looking to the search engines to broaden their exposure to say that they don’t have the time. They have the time for glossy brochures and hoardings, so why not divert some of that effort to the internet? We may all be experiencing difficult times at the moment and the idea of expanded SEM campaigns now, with companies downsizing and all that entails, should not translate into “campaign postponed”. SEM is the cheapest way of getting a company’s message across to new markets.

As one of the clients we have just taken on board mentioned above, let’s look at the guts of the proposal we submitted in developing their online presence:

  • Creation of RSS feeds for the dissemination and syndication of news;
  • Submission of articles to high-value article sites;
  • Updates to the meta information, including adjusting copy where appropriate to target specific key phrases;
  • Creation of a presence in the Facebook community;
  • Setting up a Twitter account to post weekly news as well as breaking news;
  • Development of an on-site blog with regular updates, linking the headline from the home page so the search engines see movement;
  • Writing and submitting to blogs related to their industry;
  • Where circumstances permit, post regular podcasts, including YouTube and Google videos.

To sum up, we need to create a method, typically via case studies, by which companies not only see the value in SEM but, more importantly, how they ought to be participating in it.


 

John Sylvester is the media director of V9 Design & Build, a company specializing in web design in Bangkok, and who is an expert in search engine optimization and web marketing strategies.

Making Your Site Search Engine Friendly (Spiderability)

by John Buchanan

One of the keys to obtaining top rankings, or ANY rankings for that matter is making sure that the search engines can properly spider and index your site. This means doing whatever you can to make sure the search engines are able to reach each page of your site as easily as possible.

When I talk to my clients about spiderability, I’m generally referring to two things…

  1. Are all the links in the site true hyperlinks that can be picked up properly by the search engines.
  2. Are all the pages within the site reachable within 2-3 clicks from the homepage.

So let’s go over the above two areas of concern.

Hyperlinks

This may seem almost silly, but you would be amazed at the number of sites I run into when doing consultations and website analyses that have non-standard hyperlinks. By “non-standard”, I’m referring to JavaScript generated hyperlinks or hyperlinks embedded within flash files.

There is nothing inherently wrong with JavaScript or flash when used properly, but the simple fact is that JavaScript and flash are NOT search engine friendly. Google is pretty much the only engine that is able to pick up links within JavaScript or Flash code. At this time, I have seen no evidence that either Yahoo or MSN have this ability.

While Google may be able to pick up links, it is unclear as to whether or not Google places any VALUE on the links it finds in this manner. Remember, much of a page’s ranking in Google is determined by links, so you want to be absolutely sure that each and every link is valued.

So, be absolutely sure that your links are true hyperlinks (by “true” hyperlinks, I’m talking about hyperlinks coded with the normal href tags) if you want to make sure they are found, followed, and counted by all the engines.

Distance from Homepage

Ideally, you want your visitors and the search engines to be able to reach any page within your site within a maximum of three (3) clicks and preferably two clicks. The more clicks it takes to reach a page, the less chance there is that the search engines will index that page.

It is for this reason, that site maps have become so popular. By utilizing a sitemap, you are able to link from your homepage to a page that lists all or most of the links to the various pages of your site. The search engines (and visitors) are then able to get to virtually any page of your site within just a couple of clicks.

You’ll notice I’ve mentioned not only the search engines but the visitors as well in the above paragraphs. By reducing the number of clicks it takes to get from your homepage to any page on your site, you will find that you also increase the overall usability of your site.

While site maps can definitely help to increase the spiderability of a site, it is important to remember that they are not a total fix for bad navigational structure within a site. As mentioned, all of the search engines utilize page link popularity in one way or another in their algorithms.

In general, the homepage of a site will have the highest link popularity of any page within the site. This is because most inbound links to a site are pointing to the homepage. It’s from the homepage that all the internal pages derive their link popularity from a sort of “trickle down” affect.

A site map will only derive a certain amount of link popularity that it can pass on to the pages it links to. To understand this best, think of the homepage as a large river with each link on the homepage a smaller river branching off from the main river. Each river will be fed a similar amount of water by the main river. Alone one branch of the river will never be able to deliver as much water to the various areas as all the branches of the river can combined.

The site map is one branch of your sites link popularity river and it has value, but it will never have the same impact as a well thought out and implemented links structure that makes use of all the rivers of link popularity within your site.

To make the most use of the link popularity of your site, you should try and setup your sites navigational structure so that even without a site map, the search engines and visitors are STILL able to reach any page on your site within 2-3 clicks.

So…to make a long story short…always be sure to utilize true, standard hyperlinks throughout your site and be sure that your sites navigational structure allows any page of your site to be reached within no more than 3 clicks.

See you at the top!


John Buchanan is a veteran search engine optimization specialist with over 9 years experience. For more information, visit his site at http://www.sesecrets.com or his newest site http://www.seovideoanalysis.com where he will provide you with a professional SEO video website analysis of your site.