SEO Roundup

There’s a debate about whether Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is dead or alive, the best approaches to SEO, how new search engine algorithms change the process, etc.  Whatever side of the debate you’re on, you still want a way to see how your web page is faring in the search results (other than by just performing searches to see) and what you might be able to do better – whether it’s tweaking keywords, meta tags, or content so that your business shows up first (or, at least on the first page of results, because we all know that if we don’t find what we won’t on the first page of results, we do another search instead of clicking to the next page).

Few people really want to perform analysis, but in order to get a look at some of the things that effect our page optimization, I’ve done a roundup of a few free tools that can help you quickly get a snapshot of how your page is doing in the realm of SEO.

In order to illustrate the different functionalities of each, we’ll actually use a real example to look at what tools are offered for free from a couple of websites.

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Making Your Holiday Social

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and holidays are a prime time to use social media to enhance your brand.  This is the opportunity to really connect on a more personal level and to spark conversations and connections.  It’s an excuse to sell your product or brand with an interesting spin – that it’s a gift for someone special in your life.  So, what can you do to ensure your Mother’s Day (or really, any holiday) marketing stands out from the deluge of other businesses attempting to do the same thing?

1.  Give things away.  No, seriously.  2 out of the 3 suggestions from Go Digital revolve around this idea, and social media experts giving advice on the topic agree that giving is a great way to ultimately get.  Don’t make it just about sharing a link, but have users share stories, or host a photo contest.

2.  Ask users to share.  It doesn’t have to be about winning something.  Sometimes people have great stories to share and want to do just that – share.  They’re happy to engage with your brand if presented the opportunity, just as Dress Barn did:

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Anti-Viral Marketing?

Viral marketing isn’t just for companies trying to sell a product or gain some notoriety in the public eye, but even for the President of the United States.  In order to get people to sign up for healthcare, President Obama teamed up with BuzzFeed made fun of himself and the video went viral (with over 52 million views as of the date of this post).

With today’s emerging media, we all know how quickly a great video can spread throughout the Internet.  When a video is a hit, it seems everyone has seen it within a 24-hour period.  But should viral marketing be a marketer’s goal, or should they simply work to have a good campaign, practice some buzz building techniques, and be pleasantly surprised if they end up with a viral hit?

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Sinking Your Teeth into Bluetooth Marketing

Bluetooth advertising, or location-based advertising (LBA), is an emerging media tactic that is still in its (relative) infancy, but is sure to draw a lot of attention, as ads can be targeted by location directly to a consumer’s device with bluetooth capability activated.

This is a medium that is easily tracked and very powerful, allowing marketers to push real-time messages, coupons, images, etc directly to select persons in a particular vicinity.  However, this type of outreach comes with disadvantages and great ethical implications which marketers must heed.

Marketers have to be aware and not inundate consumers with these messages, or this powerful medium will be viewed as invasive and marketer’s will be the ones who suffer.  In order to use LBA responsibly, marketers should do the following:

1.  Inform consumers of the advertising, allowing them to disable or enable Bluetooth as desired.

2.  Ensure they are using the best equipment for the job.

3.  Ensure they are using the best software for the job.

For more information on software and hardware, check out the  Wireless Communication Library article which delves further into the pitfalls of marketers entering the Bluetooth arena.

There are also security concerns associated with Bluetooth, as people do not fully understand the functionality. The last thing marketers want is to have systems that are not secure and have spammers gain access.  This is a quick way to ensure you lose the trust of your consumers.  You can read more from Proxama about the technical aspects of the security of Bluetooth marketing.

If done properly, Bluetooth marketing can be effective.  Marketers must simply be conscious of all the intricacies involved and put the consumer first.  Giving consumers warning to opt in or out by enabling or disabling Bluetooth and ensuring their not being spammed builds trust and will open gateways for this type of marketing to become only more prevalent in the future.

What are your impressions of Bluetooth marketing?  Do you think this is the way of the future?  Should marketers have to notify consumers of the incoming messages?  Have you been exposed to LBA in the past, and how did you feel about it?

The Internet is Smarter Than you Think

In the last blog, shopping cart abandonment and what companies can do to turn that into a profit instead of a loss were discussed.  In this post, we’ll look at how a real-life banner ad turned my shopping cart abandon into a purchase.

I’ve been wanting a new water bottle, so was shopping at Tervis.com for one of their products.  However, the products were a bit more than I wanted to pay.  I had coupons for both Kohl’s and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, which I knew sold the products, but they didn’t offer the same personalization options as Tervis.  After browsing for a while and putting a bottle I wanted in my cart and looking at shipping costs, I decided I wasn’t ready to take the plunge.

I couldn’t get the nagging bottle out of my mind, so searched the web for promo codes for a discount or free shipping, thinking that would make up the difference and I could justify my purchase.  I found a couple offers on some different sites, but nothing that seemed legitimate.  Nope, my brain told me, you’ll just have to wait.

I ventured back to the site again, and now had a pop-up offering a 10% off couponScreen Shot 2015-04-13 at 7.57.11 PM for signing up for e-mails, so I did that, but wasn’t quite sold, since the shipping costs were not even offset by this amount.

I continued my normal Internet activities, and I don’t remember exactly where I was or what I was doing, when what pops up but a Free Shipping coupon for Tervis.

Wow!  A 10% off coupon and free shipping!  Imagine my delight.  When all was said and done I could only use one code, but the free shipping was enough to get me to turn my shopping cart abandon into a purchase for the company.

The tricky (and frightening, to be truthful) part is that I try to remain fairly anonymous on the web.  I block cookies, I turn off tracking using Ghostery, and I keep most of my social networks set to private.  Yet, the Internet is smart and it knew what I wanted.  And it gave it to me.

While this is one example, this happens all the time.  Companies use online marketing such as banner ads, widgets, pop-ups, email marketing, etc. to reel in customers.  The advent of technology far beyond my comprehension allows them to track us and give us what we want.  And they gain valuable knowledge in return when you use a coupon.  This prospect is wonderful if you want a personal assistant type feeling (or you really wanted justification to purchase that water bottle), but can be a bit disconcerting if you’re not interested in this sort of tailored marketing.

I Speak Geek Tervis

The reality is that no matter how much we resist, the Internet (or rather, the mountain of data processors that lie beneath the Internet) is smart and knows us better than we think.  I’m not naive.  I know that my activity on the Internet is far from invisible, but with more and more emerging media being used to target consumers perhaps we should be concerned that we have few ways of finding out when and where we are tracked and how that data is used.

What do you think?  Is resistance futile and should we embrace the technology and the ability to have things we want delivered to us, or should we be a little frightened and work to try to ensure we can protect our privacy if we wish?  Tell us in the comments.

Shopping With (Not So Reckless) Abandon

It’s not unheard of, but very unusual for someone to fill a shopping cart in a store with items and then just leave the cart in the middle of the store and walk out.  However, online shopping is a whole different shopping cart experience.

According to the Baymard Institute, an average of 68% of online shoppers abandon items in their online shopping cart, never pulling the trigger and purchasing the items they had intended.

Source: Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

Business Insider actually puts the rate slightly higher, and increasing, but says that retailers actually have a huge opportunity if they understand the phenomenon and can translate that abandonment into a later sale.

We all do it – browse a site, add a bunch of things to the cart, check out the final price or shipping and handling and leave the cart.  Maybe we look for better deals, promo codes, or simply decided we don’t really want to spend the money on those things.  It’s more difficult in a physical store, when the allure is right in front of you and you can hold the item in your hand and take it home with you that day.  There’s no instant gratification in online shopping, only instant buyer’s remorse.  Consumers are more careful online.

What can retailers do, then, to lure customers back to their abandoned items or to not abandon them in the first place?  Some top suggestions from Business Insider and Monetate include:

  • Streamlining checkout
  • Sending follow-up emails
  • Allow changes in the cart
  • Ensure security
  • Offer payment options

Monetate has created this handy infographic for easy reference:

Source: Monetate

Source: Monetate

By understanding consumer’s online shopping actions and tendencies, creating well-designed sites and e-commerce sections, and being upfront about stock, policies, etc. retailers can still do well online, and even bring customers back after abandoning a cart.

What are some other things that retailers have done that have encouraged you to continue with a purchase you might have abandoned?  Are there any ethical implications to follow-up emails when a purchase wasn’t complete?  Let us know in the comments.

Is Emerging Media Worth It?

A Slate.com article recently pointed out that we really don’t have a firm handle on the effectiveness of advertising online, a big source of emerging media dollars spent each year.  Ads online include web browsing, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  It comes with the territory for most of these sites, and although these are becoming more customized to the consumer as users are tracked, analysis is instantly performed, and users are able to provide input about what they like and don’t like, a question remains: Are the ads most consumers find annoying on their everyday sites effective enough to be worth the money?

Return on investment (ROI) has long been a hard number to nail down in the industry, and it was originally thought that emerging media might be able to garner a more clear picture of just how effective their marketing techniques are.  In order to help determine if the ROI was substantial, a team working for eBay performed an experiment to investigate whether Google ads were paying off.  Although the experiment led the researchers to believe these don’t pay off for big companies, smaller ones may benefit.  More research is needed to determine if online ads do work, but most believe they can work.

So what do those in the industry do to ensure that not only their ads, but all of their emerging media is working for them?  The Emerging Media Research Council published a guide to help those in the field make the most of emerging media (check out the full report for valuable insights).  The report encompasses many aspects of emerging media, but there is a key takeaway in the context of ROI and paying for emerging media: there is a wealth of emerging media channels that are free.

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If companies are on a tight budget or are worried about ROI, there are so many forms of emerging media that don’t have to be purchased.  If the content is good and companies are reaching their target, why pay to promote the company on a Google search?  Money can be allocated to areas where it will be most effective, and other free mediums can be used to beef up the marketing mix.  There are so many channels to choose from, paid is not the only way to go.

So, while ROI may uncertain, we know that emerging media can be effective when executed carefully and appropriately.  Creating a great website, maintaining social media accounts that foster interaction, and creating a blog that keeps your target market informed and interested can be affordable and effective.  Emerging media is worth it, because, while they may be effective or great supplements, it means we don’t have to break the bank through traditional paid media to reach our audience.