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Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing
Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.

Search Engine Guide
  • Do tricky marketing claims really help you as a marketer?

    by Mike Moran

    "Drivers who switched to us saved an average of $538." Maybe you've seen that claim on TV commercials or online. So it sounds like their auto insurance is cheaper, right? Well, maybe not. This is actually a tricky claim, designed to fool us. It actually doesn't tell us a thing about whether this company has cheaper auto insurance rates than any other one. Many insurance companies make this claim and it is meaningless. The question is, "Is it good marketing?"

    Before we delve into that question, some of you might be dying to know why it is that this claim is meaningless, because it sounds like this company must be cheaper, doesn't it? I will walk you through it.

    When someone compares insurance rates, and find that this company is higher-priced, they don't switch. So, when people do switch, it's almost always because the rates are lower. That means that every insurance company can total up the average savings of those that switch. So this claim tells you nothing about which companies are cheaper or more expensive, although it sounds really good.

    But the question remains, is this good marketing?

    I say no, and social media is the main reason why. TV commercials, salespeople, and other marketing can put out these kinds of fatuous claims and fool you. Maybe this claim fooled you. Maybe you even got a quote from a company that claimed this. Maybe you even saved money, so you switched.

    But now that I have used social media to puncture the claim, it might not spur you to the same action. And now you might look with suspicion upon any company that tries to foist this claim on you. Because with social media, you can no longer fool one customer at a time. You need to fool all of them. And as each tricky claim is unveiled, you are not only forced to come up with another tricky claim, but you lose a little credibility each time, so each claim rings a bit more hollow, even if people can't puncture the claim.

    Is that worth it? If trust is the main ingredient in getting someone to buy, is it worth using tricky claims to shortcut that process? Now understand, I am not accusing insurance companies of lying or in any way making a false claim. The people who switched really did save $538, I am sure. But they are carefully formulating that statement to fool people into thinking that all or at least most people save that money by switching, which is hardly true.

    There is nothing illegal about this. There isn't even anything unethical about this, I don't think. My question, though, is whether it is smart. In the long run, will it work, or is it just one more desperate scorched earth tactic that wins in the short run but loses badly over time?

    Do you have any claims like this one? If someone wrote a blog post about your claim, what would you say?

    Originally posted on Biznology.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • The 5 Biggest SEO Benefits of Blogging

    by Jayson DeMers

    Blogging has changed dramatically over the past decade. What was once considered a niche hobby or small point of differentiation has become a common practice in nearly every industry. It's no longer a rudimentary aspect of business, either. It's a very strategic mechanism with a wide range of benefits - enhanced SEO chief among them.

    The State of the Blogosphere

    Blogs, bloggers and blogging; these are heavily-discussed topics of conversation in the world of business and marketing. Are you blogging, and do truly know what it entails? The facts will astound you if you aren't familiar with the pervasiveness of blogging.

    According to this infographic, 61 percent of American consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post. In total, 6.7 million people use formal blogging sites, with another 12 million blogging via social networks like Facebook. Nearly 77 percent of Internet users read blogs on a regular basis.

    A massive 81 percent of consumers trust advice and information they read on blogs, while 90 percent find the content useful. As far as long-term benefits go, nearly two-thirds of consumers relate with a company's positivity, long after reading a post.

    The business person inside of you is probably starting to connect the dots. The same infographic further reports some impressive statistics from organizations that participate in blogging. Research shows that small businesses that blog generate 126 percent more leads, develop more trust with consumers, and have 434 percent more indexed pages.

    Why People are Blogging

    The fact that more than six million people blog is incredible, but why are they blogging? From the high school student sharing her thoughts to the budding entrepreneur building his business, people blog for all different reasons. In the business world, however, it generally comes down to three main motives. Sometimes it's a combination of the three, other times the focus is on only one of the reasons, but here they are:

    • Gain industry recognition. Many businesses and professionals are looking to gain recognition in their industry. They understand the powerful nature of blogs, the large potential audience, and hope to make a name for themselves. In fact, many blogs have grown from obscurity to national recognition in a matter of months - so the model for how to do it is certainly there.
    • Share expertise. Very closely related to the previous point is the desire to share expertise. Many people feel like they valuable insight to share, and blog for the purpose of building thought leadership in their respective niche or industry. The result is usually industry recognition and respect.
    • Generate traffic. Finally, people and organizations blog to generate traffic and attract new clients. As businesses become increasingly aware of the power of high quality blog content, more are choosing to blog. Not only does it generate traffic, but it also allows websites to charge a premium for ad space and increase revenues.

    The 5 SEO Benefits of Blogging

    Why people blog and what they actually get in return are two different things. The statistics are certainly interesting, but what tangible benefits does blogging provide to organizations? In many cases, the SEO benefits bring the highest return. Here are a few of the top SEO benefits of blogging for small businesses and large corporations alike:

    ·        Control over content. One of the top SEO benefits of blogging is control. By producing original content, you essentially control your message to the masses. Unless there's some other source pushing out more content about your own company than you are, your commitment to regular blogging will overpower the rest of the content out there and allow you to position yourself according to the keywords you desire to be ranked for.

    ·         Quality and variety. Search engine algorithms have evolved over time. They've steadily adapted to changing consumer demands, and now reward pages able to provide valuable content that answers questions and adds value to important topics and conversations. By developing blog posts that answer questions and provide relevant information, you can naturally move up in the rankings and drive traffic to your site. Once again, you're in control.


    ·         Developing backlinks.  Google pays attention to many factors when procuring search results, but one of the primary factors is backlinking. The search engines look at backlinks as recommendations and referrals. A site that only has 20 or 30 backlinks doesn't look reputable or valuable. On the other hand, a website with thousands of backlinks to quality websites and industry sources is obviously reliable. By consistently producing high-quality, engaging blogs, you increase your chances of building backlinks and improving your search engine rankings.


    ·         Increased social signals. While nobody outside of Google knows how their search algorithms specifically function, it's pretty clear that social signals impact search rankings. As a result, blogging is that much more powerful. When you publish a blog post and people share it via social media, it appears the search engines consider that to be a social statement about the validity of the content and nudges the page up the rankings.


    ·         Humanizes your organization. Albert Scaglione, CEO of Park West Gallery, knows a thing or two about passion and believes it's important for everyone, everywhere to do what they love. And while he cautions that the "road to success is a road strewn with failure," he firmly believes that you should share your ups and downs with those around you. A blog is an ideal channel for revealing your organization's passion and sharing both successes and failures. It humanizes your brand and provides a nice alternative to typically stale SEO copy and salesy content.

    Make Blogging a Priority

    There are plenty of other advantages to be found in business blogging, but these are five of the most important SEO-related benefits you'll find. While you may find yourself strapped for time and short on resources, don't make the mistake of ignoring the power of blogging; it has the potential to greatly benefit your organization. Start small, aim big, and always remain true to your brand. 

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • The Scientific Case for Online Marketing That Doesn't Get Results

    by Mike Fleming

    We've become spoiled.  Before the Internet, marketers had a very hard time quantifying the ROI they got from their advertising efforts.  In fact, a famous marketer of the past named John Wanamaker is credited with coining the phrase "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."  

    But they still did it.  They knew that advertising worked, they just didn't feel like they had a solid grasp on how, why, when, and where it worked.  roi of branding

    There wasn't much that was highly measurable in those days. You knew where your target market hung out.  You could strategically place your brand and messages in those places.  But directly tying ROI to marketing spend with any level of significant confidence was hard.  While not totally in the dark, we were more apt to make guesses with where marketing budgets should be allocated.   


    Marketing Budgets

    What's the ROI on that?

    Enter digital.  It's the wonderful land of accountability.  Now, we can (for the most part) know exactly how many of what action comes from what channel or what campaign or what website; and we can match that up with how much was spent on that channel.  It's glorious.  So, this is how we match up our marketing budgets:  


    Online Marketing Budgets

    But I fear many have swung too far in the opposite direction.  More than ever before, we hear the question asked "What's the ROI on that?" (social media anyone?!), and if we can't provide a solid answer, we usually aren't provided a solid budget for it. 

    This kind of thinking tells me that someone may have lost sight of the fact that relationships aren't formed on one night stands - romantic or businessRelationships are formed over time as people have experiences.  Those experiences work on them consciously and unconsciously to form beliefs, associations, and emotional responses.  Want proof?  I thought so...


    Where purchasing decisions start

    Remember the Pepsi Challenge?  In the book Brainfluence, author Roger Dooley gives us an example of just how powerful a person's experiences with a brand can be.  For those that need a refresher, Pepsi set up blind taste tests where they asked people to taste both Pepsi and Coke without knowing which was which.  People consistently chose Pepsi over Coke.  In fact, a brain scientist performed the challenge while scanning people's brains.  He found the reward centers of brains showed five times more activity with Pepsi than Coke. 

    So that's it right?  Everyone switched over, Pepsi took over the soft drink world, and they are now the default name used by billions of people when ordering a soft drink?  Of course we know that's not true. 

    Here's why . . . .When the challenge was done with people seeing which brand they were drinking, nearly all people said they preferred Coke.  Also, their brain activity changed.  Areas associated with self-identification lit up more for Coke than Pepsi.  I'm sure the same thing would be true with the Bing It On campaign as well. 

    In these cases, the branding overpowered the senses.  The branding creates beliefs, associations, and emotional responses in people that are stronger than their taste buds.  This is where purchasing decisions start.


    What makes a strong brand

    Remember how we learned about classical conditioning through Pavlov's dog in middle school or high school science?  Basically, the scientist rang a bell every time he fed his dog.  When the dog would eat, he would salivate.  Soon enough, the dog would salivate not because he was eating, but when he would hear the bell ring.  It turns out we humans act the same way with brands. 

     As we encounter brands in the experiences in which we encounter them, our brains change our thoughts and feelings about them.  Strong brands tend to be ones that have managed to create positive experiences, while weaker brands tend to create weaker experiences. 

     Why is this important?  Because as we can see with the Pepsi Challenge, the subconscious effects that brand associations have on us is super strong.  And it's underrated.


    No marketing channel stands alone

    When we look at our results, we tend to want to tie channels to conversions directly (one-night stands).  We jump in our analytics tool and see that Organic Search drove 1,000 sales for us this month, but Social Media drove 10.  So, Organic Search deserves way more attention and budget than Social Media.  Really?  Is that how it works?  Not really. 

     Why did they pick your site in the search results to begin with?  If your brand was stronger, would you have landed double the sales in the same ranking positions? If it was weaker, would you have landed half of the sales in the same ranking positions?  Although we still have difficulty answering this question, the Pepsi Challenge teaches us that no marketing channel stands alone.  I guess all those SEOs are right about social media performance affecting SEO performance.  But it's even bigger than most of them think it is.  It goes beyond rankings and their nerdy little algorithm :). (Note: I love SEOs!)


    How to create positive experiences (and ROI)

    If the ROI of branding goes beyond what can be directly measured, how can you gain an advantage and create positive experiences that will influence your target market's purchasing decisions?  Here are a few of the easiest ways. . .
    1. Frequent brand exposure.  You need more than good rankings to succeed long-term online.  You need to be recognized.  You need to be encountered frequently.  If all you do is rank well for target keywords, the only time a target customer is going to encounter you is when they are thinking about purchasing.  That website that's ranking right alongside you that is known much better by your target audience?  It's likely that no matter how sweet your offer is, they're getting the clicks just like Coke sells more cans of soda pop.  You've got to be recognized.
    2. Positive brand placement.  It's not just the frequency of your exposure but the context as well.  Does your target audience feel like you stalk them around the internet with ads (remarketing anyone?)?  Do your ads show next to disturbing content?  Do you use social media to try to sell them something?  You're creating negative associations.  Are you sponsoring an event they love?  Are you contributing valuable information to the online conversation about your industry?  You're creating positive associations. You've got to be careful to control what your brand is associated with.  Again, the goal is to create good feelings about your brand with your audience.  You've got to make sure your brand placement is strategic.
    3. Brand impression efficiency.  The more positive exposure you can get for your money, the better.  Therefore, you want to be creative in gaining as many inexpensive brand impressions as possible.
    4. Create a tribe.  People have a tendency to want to categorize themselves into groups.  Brands that can make their customers feel like part of a group will find their efforts to be exponentially more effective.  Whole books are written on this subject.  You should pick one up.
    If you're creating positive brand experiences with your target audience, there's ROI in that.  Here's the type of graph you want to see from your marketing efforts . . .

    Branding and Budget

    Notice how your budgets align with how channels influence your customers to convert, not with where they actually convert.  With the growth of multi-channel analytics, we're creeping closer and closer to being able to show this type of graph with increasing confidence.  It's helping us to be much smarter marketers by thinking beyond one-night stands to how relationships are developed with customers.  It's the brands that embrace this type of strategy that will have the advantage moving forward in their industries.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • Is traditional marketing dead?

    by Mike Moran

    It might sound like a provocative question, but it's a real question I was asked once at a speaking appearance. The hard part about answering such a question is that it's a matter of perspective. Digital marketing is certainly on the rise, but it depends on your company whether that means that traditional marketing is dead, merely sick, or A-OK. Like any good consultant, I know it is annoying to answer a question like this as "It depends" but you're a lot better off knowing how to think about this for your own business than hearing some apocalyptic pronouncement about marketing in general. None of us does marketing in general.

    So, ask yourself what kind of marketer you are.

    If you have never been able to to do a good job with traditional marketing, then of course it is dead, but that had nothing to do with the Internet. It was always dead to you. If you are a B2B company whose marketing consisted of what brochure to bring to the trade show, it's safe to declare traditional marketing dead, because the effective and affordable choices online dwarf whatever you could do elsewhere.

    Likewise, if you are a local small business whose big decision in marketing was once "half-page or full page" when approached by your Yellow Pages rep, traditional marketing was already dead to you, even if you might not have known it. I mean, it's not like you sat around pondering your marketing--you probably didn't give it much thought, which is exactly how much attention it deserved. Now, you are probably thinking about marketing a lot more because digital marketing offers affordable choices that might prove effective.

    For these kinds of companies, it's not so much that traditional marketing is dead as it is that marketing itself is now alive. Marketing was dead to them because it offered few choices that allowed success, while digital marketing, if anything, offers too many choices.

    But what if you are a company for whom traditional marketing worked very well? Is it dead now?

    Hardly. Toyota and Geico would be idiots to eliminate traditional marketing. It clearly works, even today. That's not to say that they shouldn't devote part of their huge marketing budgets to digital efforts, possibly even substantial amounts. But TV and radio, outdoor, coupons, and plenty of other traditional techniques continue to work (almost) as well as ever. It's hyperbole to say that these things have stopped working and that traditional marketing is dead.

    However, it's not an exaggeration to say that some marketers have found these older techniques to be less effective than they once were, as people block and pay less attention to intrusive messages. It's not an overstatement to say that digital techniques can sometimes improve campaign results at a fraction of the traditional price. And it's also smart to realize that younger consumers spend far less time with the mainstream media that underpins traditional marketing than their older counterparts do.

    So, for some companies, traditional marketing was always dead (or at least very sick). For others, it might not remain the be-all and end-all that it once was, but it's still important. It's important to remember who you are when thinking through your marketing mix.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Originally posted on Biznology

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

  • Go for the Big Win with Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

    by Stoney deGeyter

    Social media offers fantastic opportunities for content promotion. Opportunities that didn't exist even just a few years ago. But unlike traditional advertising, social media is less of a promotional platform than it is an engagement platform. That means you can't just use your social media accounts to accost followers with your "commercials." 
    Effective use of social media requires planning and strategic implementation. While old school advertisement allows you to pay for reach on other people's networks, social media requires you to build up your own audience with which you can engage and advertise from. 
    social media marketing strategy

    This is no small hurdle, and many companies have failed at social media marketing due to improper use of their social networks.

    Choose Your Social Networks Choose your social networks

    There are literally hundreds of social networks to choose from. We all know the big players: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat... oh, well, that list can go on for awhile, too. How can anyone actively engage in all of the social networks, even just sticking to the main players? The truth is, you can't. 

     Every business has to determine which social networks are most valuable to them. Where is your target audience engaging? Which network is most friendly to your type of business? Which offers you the best reach? Not all social networks are equal, and a network that does great for one business might be a bust for another. 

    I usually tell businesses that are just starting out in social media to choose one network at a time. Build that up sufficiently before jumping into another network. By focusing on one network initially, your efforts will be far more effective (we only have so many hours in the day!) and you'll more quickly be able to determine if your efforts there are producing fruit.

    If they are, keep going and, as you have time, start building up your presence in another network of value. If not, jump ship and put your efforts somewhere else. Be careful to give yourself time to build up your network effectively before determining it has no value. Social presence building takes time.

    Stay Focused on Your Promotion EffortsStay focused

    There are certain tasks that frequently get thrown by the wayside when other, more "important" tasks cross our plate. Social media marketing often suffers such a fate. Inconsistency in social media often leads to stagnation. Sure, you may maintain most of your followers, but you'll notice that as you start posting again, you won't have the same engagement as before. It'll take time to ramp that back up again. 

    As much as other tasks tend to pull you in different directions, stay focused on your social media efforts. Set aside time each day to read, post, and engage on your streams to maintain an active presence.Set goals that you can achieve on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and don't give up until you achieve them.

    Engage and Promote with Greatness Do it with greatness

    As with all things, do social media with greatness. That means it might require the whole ass (as opposed to just half-assing it)! Don't think of social media as a chore, but as a way to reach your audience and solve their problems. Whether you're solving them with your own content or with content from some other sources, use your social platform as a way to demonstrate your knowledge and willingness to provide your audience with valuable content they may not be able to find anywhere else. 

    Research top influencers in each of your channels and determine what it is they are doing that has brought them to where they are. Is it something you can duplicate? If not, are there any lessons you can learn and apply to your streams that might help you build up your own sphere of influence? 

    Don't copy what others are doing, but do learn and apply those principles to your own networks. Don't let social media be an after-thought. Instead, seek to dominate it by giving it all that you can. Take time to invest wisely, build relationships, and be helpful. Only then will socializing your own content get any traction. 

    Follow the 80/20 rule on socializing your own content. Self promotion should only be 20% of your network posts. The remaining 80% should be engagement, sharing other people's content and answering questions. While posting links to your blog posts is easy, proper network building and socialization is not. It's all about providing value, and knowing the limits of the value of your own content. It may be great, but that's not all your audience is interested in.

    Go for the Big Win

    A good blog is much more than the sum of its parts. As much as we think we simply need to write good content, being successful at blogging requires a lot more work than just the writing. Plan ahead and know what your goals are. Determine the best ways to reach your target audience and do so with strategic regularity. 

    There are many tools at your disposal. Find those that will help you most effectively and put them to use. While you don't want to be a slave to your blog, you do want to make a plan that you can work from regarding publishing schedule, topics, etc. Every post doesn't need to be a masterpiece, but you should always seek to produce epic content at least some of the time. Finally, make sure your content can be found and use social media to publish it into your active social networks. 

    For more more information, check out my Slideshare presentation that expands on on this and blogging techniques.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.

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