The brand or the person? The issue of authorship.

DAW_BSAWe have talked a couple of times about Authorship tagging, and the benefits it can give. In particular, the additional prominence that a picture attached to your posts gives you on Google. Take a look at these posts:

But should posts be tagged with the brand (so that the company is credited and the logo appears in the post) or the writer (so that their picture appears)? If this is a question that you have been battling with, you might find this post interesting:

Why Your Brand Shouldn’t Fear Assigning Authorship


What to measure in B2B Marketing? – It is not Black & White!

measure_successA couple of articles have appeared on blogs this week looking at what you should be measuring in your B2B marketing. The first, which appeared on the Top Sales World blog, suggests that Attention (not leads) should be B2B marketing’s primary measure The article advocated that we should be focusing on ‘Attention’ rather than leads. This was then followed by an article on the on Econsultancy blog stating the opposite (“No, it’s leads that are important!“) My view is that in reality, both are important. I commented on the Econsultancy post:

"I agree (that leads are important) - up to a point. However, I think that focusing on the 'A links to B links to C leads to a sale' sales funnel can be a very blinkered view.  Most definitely, generating leads (and ultimately securing profitable business) is vital, but in my experience, focusing purely on leads generated by a campaign is short sighted.  Take the CEO cited in the article; In the real world of SME marketing (my field) you will probably not know who he/she is, so when they call up 6 months later with an enquiry you may struggle to connect their call directly to the campaigns that have grabbed her attention, but without those campaigns, she would probably not have called!  Marketing needs to be strategic and broad based, and whilst detailed measurement of individual campaigns against agreed goals is vital (and the on-line world makes this possible at modest or no cost)the stats need to be viewed in the context of the wider marketing mix. Sure, leads and ultimately sales are vital elements of this mix, but attention comes first."

Leads are vital to any business. Without leads, you would never sign up new business. However in my experience, enquiries can arrive by a rather indirect route! If I have learned any thing from my 20+ years in marketing it is that:

"If you do stuff, stuff happens!"

To be effective, the “stuff” we do needs to be carefully considered as part of a strategic plan, and measured against agreed goals, one of which will be “how many leads are we generating”, and a second will probably, how much attention/engagement is our marketing communication generating? My philosophy is simple. If you have a good offering, that is valued by your market, and you effectively communicate your proposition to that market (measured by attention/engagement). People will want to buy from you (when they are good and ready!), and the leads will follow. The issue arises when:

  1. Businesses focus solely on leads, undertake a campaign to generate them, and when after a couple of months they are not flooding in, they give up and go on to the next big thing in an attempt to find those illusive leads.
  2. They are “just too busy” to do anything; until they are not, at which point option 1 above kicks in

The alternative is to undertake a strategic approach to your marketing, set realistic (SMART) objectives, and implement sustainable, measured activity to achieve these goals. The internet opens the door to SMEs to do all this on a realistic budget, to measure their activities, and assess what is effective and what is not. Leads are vital, but without first grabbing the attention of your market, they will probably not happen!

Are you proud of your website? You should be!

Are you proud of your website?

This might sound like a strange question but I come across so many people whose answer is No! Unless your business is e-commerce where your website IS your business, most people are likely to really focus on their site while it is being developed, but after this it tends to just get left. All too often, development of a website is seen as a project, and once it is done, it is done. Inevitably, a business evolves and moves forward so it’s not surprising that a static website gets left behind. Only this week I have met with 2 potential clients who each said the same thing:

"Have you looked at our website? It's really old, we haven't
touched it for ages. We are working on getting a new site developed."

They were embarrassed by their website and the last thing they wanted was for a potential customer to visit it. OK, both said that they were working on replacing their sites but I feel it misses the point. Replacing an older site with a new site can solve the problem for now, but there is the risk that it will be ‘back to square one‘ in a year or two. Good for web developers maybe but not ideal for you! The internet is dynamic and ever-changing, as is business. These days there is no reason why a website should not be the same – and good reasons why it should.

5 Questions

To start taking a different view of your site, here are 5 questions to ask:

  1. Do you like the look of your website?

    In my opinion, too much emphasis is placed on site ‘look’. Don’t get me wrong, design is important. If you are going to be proud of your site, you must like the look of it. The design should reflect your branding and corporate style, but I feel sometimes graphic design takes over and excessive focus on the ‘look’ delivers a site with style, but no substance – and it is substance that delivers over time.

  2. Does your site do justice to your business?

    In simple terms, does your site clearly tell visitors what you do and how they can benefit from doing business with you? Not just in terms of products and services, but how is your business better than your competitor? Why should a potential customer choose you?

    "I didn't know you did that...."
  3. Is your site easy to navigate?

    At a seminar yesterday, one of the speakers said that some research by Google suggests that people can take as little as 1/20 second to make up their mind about a website. I’m not sure about this figure but even if it is out by a factor of 100, that’s still only 5 seconds. Visitors come to your site with a question. If they can’t find what they are looking for quickly, or at least see the way to find it, they will be gone!

  4. Is your site up to date?

    I mentioned above that business evolves. Over time, you may add new products or services and drop others, or take a different approach to working with customers & clients. If your website doesn’t keep up with these changes, people visiting your site will get the wrong message – an easy way to miss opportunities.

  5. Will your site still be up to date in 12 months?

    Hopefully, when you launch your new website, the content will be up to date! But how long will it take for things to change? It’s amazing how quickly businesses move on. In our experience, most of the websites we look after on behalf of clients have new content added every 2-3 months, or more often! Another trend is the use of web development platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc. These tools allow you to develop a highly functional website quickly, easily and on a modest budget. They also offer sophisticated content management making it easy to keep your website content in line with what is going on in your business. All this makes them extremely popular with both self-builders and web development companies but a trade off is that the systems need to be regularly updated. All of these platforms release regular back-end/system updates which you need to apply to your own website (or get your web company to do it).

So, are you proud of your website? If the answer is yes, you should have a marketing tool that can really help you to drive your business. If the answer is no….. Don’t forget, I am always happy to talk – or call me 01457 851111

The return of real business marketing?

maybemarketingLast Month, I wrote about the death of Guest Blogging as an SEO tool, and it got me thinking. What has happened to real business marketing? For many SME’s, over the past few years, all too often marketing has boiled down to:

  1. Get a website
  2. Get good search rankings
  3. Customers will find you

Couple this with the constant bombardment of emails telling you that your website is missing out on vital search traffic, and offering (for a fee) to help you out, and you can be forgiven for thinking that SEO is THE marketing tool available to SMEs. I have never agreed with this point of view. Lets look at the history of SEO and the techniques used be Search Engine Optimisers:

  1. First it was all about keywords, people abused this by inappropriately stuffing keywords to manipulate Google’s algorithm, so Google changed the algorithm to prevent this – RIP Keyword Stuffing as an SEO tool
  2. Next came links – SEOs abused this by creating spammy, valueless links to the site to manipulate Google’s algorithm, so Google changed the algorithm to prevent this – RIP Link Building as an SEO tool
  3. Next came content & guest blogging – SEOs abused this by creating spammy, valueless content to manipulate Google’s algorithm, so Google changed the algorithm to prevent this – RIP Guest Blogging as an SEO tool

Could there be a pattern forming here?

Through all of this our advice has been consistent: Google want to see top quality information and content from topic experts at the top of their listings. If you create a well built site:

  • That is easily accessible by the Google spiders
  • That contains good quality, up to date, relevant content
  • That contains appropriate keywords (yes they are still relevant)…..

Google want people to find that content, so will not be working to keep it out of their listings. On top of this, if you are in a niche market (and many of our clients are). People want to read your content and will seek you out, so building a solid mechanism to promote the content through tools like email, social media, and (yes) relevant guest blogging is a sound marketing strategy that works, and will not be the victim of the Google’s fight against “the Next Big Marketing Idea”. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at how, as an SME you can build a solid, sustainable,  Marketing strategy that delivers real results. We are about solid sustainable, effective web marketing. If you want a marketing strategy that does not live or die by Google’s next algorithm change, we would love to talk to you!

SEO in name only?

change_HYGTI found this post on the blog, talking about how SEO has changed and what are the best practices for 2014. The post starts by highlighting how SEO has changed over recent months and years, and then goes on to talk about what is important for great search engine performance in 2014. In essence, what the post goes on to say is that in 2014, to perform well on Search Engines sites need to:

  1. Deliver great content that answers peoples questions when they search
  2. Deliver a great user experience that will make readers want comment, share and come back to your site in the future.

In other words optimise your site for your visitors and deliver content that people will want to find, and the search rankings should follow! Or, stop focusing on Search Engine Optimisation and start focusing on Visitor Experience Optimisation. If you see SEO as a key element of your marketing mix, I suggest you read the post!