SEO (search engine optimization) is an ever-evolving strategy that has, over the years, lost its focus in the attempts to generate traffic via better and better rankings through Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the like.
As much as those goals are exceptionally important, it is equally vital not to lose perspective with regards to the final purpose of all of these efforts: conversion. While developing an SEO strategy, conversion optimization must be the integral focus, if you want to generate the greatest amount of success from your efforts.
By combining SEO and conversion optimization, you’ll be able to not only drive considerable traffic to your website, but you will do so in a way that the visitors that arrive on the site will actually take action, upon arrival. To do this, you simply need to change the way you look at your strategy and put an effort into place that will leverage both conversion and search engine optimization. The result can be astounding.
To ensure that you’re on the right track, start by making certain that you know what you’re talking about. That begins with knowledge of what SEO and conversion optimization actually are.
SEO is a strategy in which certain steps are taken so that a website’s design and content will bring about the best possible (unpaid) search results. Everything from the overall appearance to the text, the images, and a number of “behind the scenes” components can be altered in order to generate the best search results on Google, Bing, and others.
Conversion optimization involves changes that are made to a website in order to ensure that the visitors who arrive there will be converted into customers before they leave. Whether that means a purchase through a commerce portion of the site, a phone call to make an order or appointment, or encouraging a shopper to head to a brick and mortar store location, the key is to convert traffic into customers.
The power of combining those two types of optimization is in being able to enjoy the best of both worlds. First, you will bring the targeted leads onto your website, and then they can see the elements that have been put into place to convert those leads into customers. After all, there isn’t much value in having people visit the website if they don’t do anything once they’re there.
Unfortunately, as simple as this may sound, the combination of SEO and conversion optimization is overlooked all too frequently, leading to a considerable missed opportunity. The best decision that can be made for a website would be to grab hold of that opportunity and not let go.
So that’s how it works. You bring the traffic through SEO, and then you convert the traffic through conversion optimization.
Sadly, some rushing to CRO (CRO, also known as Conversion Optimization) just don’t get it. They think, “Gah! SEO? Dude that’s dead. No, no, you need conversion optimization!”
Um. No. You need both.
There needs to be a tight-knit alliance between SEO and CRO.
Happy New Year! I know it’s that time of the year that every blogger tries to put out a holiday-themed blog; well this is mine. As we head into mid-decade, the state of online advertising and communication continues to be constantly evolving. As a demand generation firm, we are consistently reading about new technology, strategy, and tactics that contribute to a client’s lead generation efforts. The multitude of tools, platforms, and techniques can be overwhelming at times. In the last two-three weeks, I participated in 3 webinars and 5 software demos, with more planned this week. I have an RSS reader with 150 or so blogs to stay up to speed on the ever changing world of demand and lead generation. Major categories for me are content marketing, marketing automation, SEO, paid search, analytics, online display (programmatic and retargeting), mobile, conversion optimization, social media marketing, and social selling. It’s exciting; and also a challenge to balance the continued learning with client work, staying healthy, and raising a child as a single father.
So here are a few 2015 New Year resolutions for me, but some can pertain to you as well.
- Create an editorial calendar. We do this for clients, but for NuSpark Marketing I am not consistent enough with my own blogging. Following an editorial calendar with topics and deadlines will keep me focused. Blogs within your website domain is a big SEO ranking factor. Get to it!
- Write two more ebooks. I did my last one on online display in the fall. This year look for one on Marketing Analytics and an update on social media lead generation. White papers and eBooks are excellent lead generators.
- Be helpful and compelling. Continue to be helpful to prospects. It’s not about quantity but quality of thought leadership. Content marketing is about sharing insights that can one day lead to new business.
- Combine SEO with Conversions. Our focus at NuSpark Marketing is lead generation. Yes we can increase website traffic. Yes we can improve keyword rankings. It means nothing if you don’t have a website that can capture leads for your sales team. In 2015 we will continue to evaluate client and prospect websites for proper conversion optimization, otherwise you’re throwing away SEO retainers.
- Perform a Keyword audit. We constantly review keywords that prospects use on search engines to find our services. Remember with search, it’s not what you do, it’s what Googlers want. Therefore website content should be updated based on these keyword audits.
- Link Building becomes Relationship Building. We will be enhancing our outreach with more influential bloggers and editors. Sharing our own unique blogs can help connect our content with new audiences, and tell good stories that contribute to problem solving. By building a robust guest blog outreach program, and being genuine, links will increase as will referral traffic.
- Plan search campaigns within the funnel. People use Google for two reasons: I want, and I need. Your Adwords campaigns need to be as relevant as possible, but we know sometimes it’s not easy because of how people search within the sales funnel. Continue to test content offers (Top of funnel) with trial/demo offers (bottom funnel).
- Understand programmatic display advertising and retargeting. The industry is constantly in flux. Display advertising is more than just Google. Evaluate other advertising options and understand how online display contributes to lead generation. We negotiate hard with publishers and custom display platforms, and investigate creative opportunities to promote content and offers. Mobile and app advertising is the future (and present), including mobile retargeting. How do your landing pages look on mobile? Ready to reduce form fields so mobile conversions increase?
- Increase conversion rates. Use A/B tests and test offers, headlines, and email subject lines, for example. If your landing pages do not easily explain a problem-solving solution with benefits, you’ll lose conversions. We take conversion optimization seriously, and so should you. Otherwise your advertising efforts will not work as well as they should, and your prospects visit competitors instead.
- Engage and network with prospects online. Our buyers are there and so are yours. Social media is social networking. Networking means conversation and sharing insights. Build a trustworthy relationship with prospects before asking for the sale please. It just works better. There are many tools out there to manage relationships and curate content to share. We use a few, and can suggest ones that fit your needs.
- Make LinkedIn your personal home page. Think about it, if you’re engaging with a prospect on LinkedIn and they want to learn more about you, they will visit your personal profile page before they find your company. If you’re in sales, your LinkedIn profile should promote yourself as a problem solver with compelling content; a sales letter rather than a resume. It’s first impression that engages audiences further.
- Combine engagement with advertising. LinkedIn is an excellent medium to target landing pages towards very specific audiences. Sponsored posts are an effective method to promote content within your targets’ newsfeeds. Using Twitter’s lead generation and app install cards via their promoted tweet program should also be tested. We have clients doing very well with Twitter lead generation programs. Now if LinkedIn can build an app-install ad program as well in 2015….
And finally a few quickie resolutions:
- Do a better job of measuring your lead generation efforts; clicks, conversions, opportunities, sales.
- Use marketing automation to build prospect relationships via email, and have unique automated programs by audience segments so that content is relevant to those segments.
- Consider performing a buyer persona audit to ensure your content and message resonates with your customer’s needs
- Realize you now have at least three in-boxes: email, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Make it a habit in 2015 to manage all your communication.
- Get some sleep; work out; eat right; and spend time with the family. I promise you’ll be more productive in the long run.
What are your resolutions for 2015?
A good website can make or break your marketing efforts. Without the proper elements in your web design, you could lose out on leads. Not only should your website catch the eye of prospective customers, but it should also serve a purpose: increase conversion rates. By incorporating a great design, interesting content, easy navigation, and a clear call to action, you can have a website that truly works for you.
Create an Intriguing Design
While the main goal of your website should be increasing conversion rates, don’t underestimate the effect of a good design. If your site is appealing to the eye, then users are more likely to spend time browsing it, resulting in more conversions. To make the most of your design, take into consideration the following aspects.
White Space: According to Carrie Cousins of Design Shack, “Space is one of the most important design tools because it dictates everything—from flow, to readability.” It also helps create focal points on your pages. One image or phrase surrounded by empty space – which doesn’t necessarily have to be white – forces the user to focus on just that item. To make the most out of the space on your website, keep spacing consistent between similar elements.
Images: The images on your website can either flop with viewers or make a huge impact. You want to go for impact. To do this, create unique, stunning visuals. Avoid overusing stock images so that your site won’t end up looking the same or similar to someone else’s. Professionals suggest hiring a photographer to develop a set of images specifically for your website.
Fonts: Font is no longer limited to the few types that were popular a decade ago. With more options than ever, it’s important to take advantage of the opportunity to make your words pop with beautiful typefaces. For the best benefits and simplest use, try a free service like Google Web Fonts. Using a service helps you avoid licensing and compatibility issues.
Write Interesting Content
One of the things that brings people to your website in the first place is content. Think about it. You post a teaser to a blog that someone might be interested in, but to read the entire post the user must enter your website. Ensuring that your content – whether it’s a blog, About page, or other information – is useful and stimulating to your target demographic will keep users coming back to your page for future information, leading to higher conversion rates. To start, focus on your About Me page.
The About Me section of your website is the place many viewers will spend the most time because it contains the most information. It’s vital to tell people who you are, what you do, and what you’re about. This is a great place to include customer testimonials, reviews, and success stories. Give your readers a positive impression of your company. To create an effective About Me page, avoid being too wordy. Keep your writing interesting but to-the-point, and consider adding some pictures of yourself or your company to give the page a little personality.
Make Navigation Simple
The next element to creating a website that increases conversion rates is easy navigation. Five to ten menu navigation items is the ideal amount. The goal here is to make your website easy to use for new viewers. Complicated navigation could mean you lose out on a sale. Someone who is interested in your product could easily change her mind if she has trouble finding what she needs on your site. Keep in mind that the attention span of people browsing the web is usually only a couple of minutes. Anything that takes longer than that causes frustration, leading the user to move on to the next website.
Incorporate a Clear Call to Action
This is the reason your website exists; you want users to ultimately take action. All the other stuff mentioned in this article should serve the purpose of leading potential customers to your call to action page. The first thing you want to do is determine the exact purpose of your website. Do you want users to download an app, give you their email address, or purchase an item? Once that has been decided, then make your call to action obvious. Place it in a prominent spot and use a contrasting color to say exactly what you need to say (Buy Now, Join, Sign Up, etc.).
Increase Conversion Rates
If you take all of the above into consideration when creating your website, you’ll in turn increase the rate of leads to conversions. With a few simple website tweaks, you can make sure your website is doing what it’s supposed to do. Ditch the “brochure” website design and create a site that works.
Content marketing is vital to growing a business in today’s economy. With social media, email campaigns, eBooks, and other internet marketing tools, it’s important that your content stands out in an online sea of information. Creating content that will leave a lasting impression goes far beyond words. Internet users have extremely short attention spans, so unless your content includes varying features, many users will skip over it. This article will give you a few ideas of creative ways to spruce up your content marketing and generate more leads.
Bring back the comics.
The traditional “funnies” – just like newspapers in general – are slowly dying out as more and more information is available online. Virtual comics, however, are a great way to introduce some fun into your website or blog. People are more likely to scan through a comic for the chance of a laugh than they are to read a lengthy word-only blog post that relays the same message. Comics are especially effective if you’re focusing on business to business marketing. Who better to appreciate your jokes than people familiar with the industry? In addition, creating a unique comic is easy and free with services like http://www.pixton.com.
Join the meme party.
While you might think of internet memes as territory for the young and hip, they can also greatly benefit your marketing efforts. By joining in with trends like the meme, you’re showing your target audience that you have a human side, too. Not every piece of content marketing should be serious or informational; some should just be fun. Like with comics, there are services that you can utilize to easily create your own memes. Check out http://memegenerator.net/ for ideas.
Collaborate with another business.
By collaborating with a business in your industry – or even better, one that complements you but isn’t direct competition – you can multiply your content marketing reach. There are several ways to collaborate. For example, co-author blog posts or co-host webinars. Another benefit to collaboration is idea flow. With a partner, you’ll be able to bounce ideas off one another and possibly come up with something you never would have thought of on your own.
Thank your college professors and create a Slideshare presentation.
Do you remember all those projects you had to do back in your college marketing classes? Almost 100 percent of them involved creating slideshows. The concept is the same in today’s online marketing world. Use http://www.slideshare.net/ to get your information across in a more interesting way than with traditional blog posts.
Express your opinion with a top 10 list.
Lists are great tools to relay information in a way that grabs and keeps the audience’s attention. Here’s an example. http://www.nusparkmarketing.com/2012/08/corporate-blog-benefits-lead-generation/ People love to get opinions on the most popular products, services, or ideas. With an industry-related top 10 list, you can easily boost your business to business content marketing efforts.
Interview industry experts.
Ask industry thought leaders some questions that you know your target audience will be interested in, and then write a blog post with the responses you get. Include interviews with more than one person, and indicate where these experts tend to agree and disagree. This is especially intriguing to other marketers and business professionals to whom you’re attempting to market. As an added bonus, the people you interview will most likely share your post with their audiences, as well.
MAKE IT WORK
These are just a few ideas to make your content marketing more appealing. While some basic strategies are always needed – such as blog posts and webinars – periodically throwing in more creative content will increase your online following, which will in turn boost your image and lead to more sales. The most important thing to ask yourself before releasing any content marketing item is whether your audience will find it fascinating enough to stop what they’re doing and view it. If your answer is yes, then you’ve hit the nail on the head.
If you’re a novice in the online advertising world and ever wondered how that banner ad showed up on the website you are looking at, I have written a new eBook on how online advertising works, how to plan campaigns, how to target and retarget, how to measure and more. (see below)
For this blog, I wanted to explain as best as I can in layman’s terms how the online display landscape is currently structured from a national buy perspective. Feel free to email me if any questions at all; it’s technical.
Programmatic advertising buying is one of the newest buzzwords in the online display space. In its simplest form, it is the concept of using technology to automate online media buying with unprecedented efficiency. Because technology and software manages the campaigns, it eliminates a lot of the guesswork of media buying, such as human negotiation and manual insertion orders. When you use technology, you become more precise in your media placement tactics to drive effectiveness. It’s a better user experience because website visitors will only see relevant ads, and that increases click rate and awareness.
Calling Servers to Find Ads to Deliver to You
Scenario A: Serve an ad sold directly to an advertiser from the publisher
- You open up a website. Your web browser points to a Web publisher and communicates via a publisher Web server. The publisher Web server responds back to the browser with an HTML file.
- In the HTML file is a pointer back to the publisher ad server. The browser calls an ad server looking for an ad. The ad server responds with the ad’s file location. In this case, the file is sitting on a content delivery network (CDN).
- The browser calls out to the CDN requesting the specific file containing the ad’s creative content (JPG, GIF, Flash, etc.). The CDN sends the file back to the browser.
Scenario B: An ad is served not from a publisher but an Ad Network (see below) server
- The browser calls the ad server, which returns the final location of the creative in its own CDN.
- The browser calls to the ad network server CDN requesting the specific file with the ad’s creative content (JPG, GIF, Flash, etc.). The CDN sends the file back to the browser.
Scenario C: Serve an ad that is purchased by DSP and Ad exchanges (definitions below)
Instead of the publisher ad server pointing toward its own CDN, the ad server delivers a secondary ad tag, a simple piece of HTML that points toward an SSP. Now the concept of real time bidding (RTB) begins, featuring DSPs, DMPs, and Ad Exchanges.
DSPs are used by marketers to buy ad impressions from ad exchanges as cheaply and as efficiently as possible, SSPs are designed by publishers to do the opposite: to maximize the prices their impressions sell at. SSPs allow publishers to connect their inventory to multiple ad exchanges, DSPs, and networks at once. This in turn allows a huge range of potential buyers to purchase ad space and for publishers to get the highest possible rates. When an SSP generates impressions into ad exchanges, DSPs analyze and purchase them on behalf of marketers depending on certain attributes such as where they’re served, and which specific users they’re being served to. By opening up impressions to as many potential buyers as possible via real-time auctions, publishers can maximize the revenues they receive for their inventory.
This process takes place in milliseconds as a user’s computer loads a webpage.
Data Segments for Better Targeting
DMPs work with DSPs and exchanges to manage cookie IDs and to generate audience segments, which are subsequently used to target specific users with online ads. 3rd party data segments generally cost more as an overlay due to the increased targeting capability.
Real Time Bidding
RTB works on an auction model. Each buying source makes their bid, highest wins, pays $0.01 more than the next highest bidder. Here’s an example which illustrates this:
- Bidder 1 $0.50
- Bidder 2 $0.60
- Bidder 3 (winner) $0.80
Price Paid $0.61
The actual bidding process which takes less than 100 milliseconds looks like this:
1. The Exchange makes a call to the DSP with an available impression.
2. DSP checks to see if they want this impression – it could be someone in their retargeting pool, or in a desired audience segment according to a third party data vendor. If yes …
3. DSP makes a bid for it based on how much they think its worth or can afford to pay
4. Exchange sells the impression to the highest bidder.
5. Ad is delivered by the winning bidder.
Ad Network: Ad networks connect advertisers to publishers. They aggregate ad inventory and offer it to advertisers
Ad Exchange¨ Display space that’s unsold by either sites or networks is usually collected by an ad exchange, where it is auctioned off to the highest bidder among advertisers, networks and agencies. Exchanges let buyers purchase very specific audiences, especially when using real-time bidding technology
DSP: A demand side platform (DSP) is a system that allows digital advertisers to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface. Real time bidding for display online ads takes place within the ad exchanges, and by utilizing a DSP, marketers can manage their bids for the banners and the pricing for the data that they are layering on to target their audiences.
DMP: A data management platform (DMP) is a centralized data management platform that allows advertisers to create target audiences based on a combination of in-depth first-party and third-party audience data. DMPs enable advertisers to consolidate online and offline customer data from various sources into a single location, then use it to create demographic and behavioral segments that can be used to target online advertising.
SSP: Allow publishers to jump into ad exchanges via DSPs to make their inventory available and optimize selling of their online media space. Through SSPs, publishers can gain the highest eCPM for their inventory rather than selling remnant space at lower costs
I know this summary is technical and hard to explain, but as an online marketer it’s interesting to understand “how that ad got there.”
My new ebook explains these concepts further as well as the following:
• Stating the case for display as a relevant advertising strategy
• Campaign planning and KPIs to measure
• Pricing and ad units to consider
• Targeting tactics and retargeting overview
• Mobile web and app campaigns
• Campaign optimization strategies
• A tour of the Google Display Network platform
• B2B topics; lead nurturing, native advertising, LinkedIn advertising
• Display measurement; View-throughs, attribution modeling
Feel free to download a copy of the Great Online Display Advertising Guide here:
A Demand gen or Demand Generation program is composed of all activities and tasks that help to create, from regular leads, an awareness, acceptance and desire for your product or services. Standard lead generation is only the beginning in this process and everything that is done from this point on will work to inform, interest, qualify and cement the relationship with a potential buyer.
By creating the demand that will pull the potential client or customer into a decision that is favorable to your company, you are accelerating and therefore shortening the marketing / sales cycle. All of the many tools at your disposal should be brought to bear on this activity as marketing has changed within the last several decades. This means up to date information, processes and outsourcing a few activities that your firm should rethink doing themselves.
All of these will impact the relationships you are forming and should not be undertaken as an afterthought.
Take Telemarketing As An Example Of Relationship Building And What Outsourcing Will Do For You.
In lead generation terms, telemarketing is the reaching out, on a personal level, with a real live operator. This person can, through the scripts designed for this task:
- Inform the potential client about features of the product or service that may not have been as clear on first inspection.
- Apply that particular feature to a problem they are having.
- Answer questions that arise which leads the caller into a fuller, self directed, knowledge of your firm.
One of the many benefits of having a room full of telemarketers is the ability to have many conversations going on all at once and massive relationship building which keeps you busy.
One of the major drawbacks of having a crew of telemarketers in a room is paying for a room full of telemarketers. Lead generation does not have to happen at this high cost. As a businessman or woman, you are looking at your ROI and, without a proper understanding or up to date information about techniques, equipment and processes in modern telemarketing technologies, this capital expenditure may not be in your best interest.
Outsourcing your telemarketing needs may be the best decision as you can work on building the business, developing other products and providing the best brand you can make so all lead generation can and will grow in size and quality. A few of the benefits you can realize from outsourcing this important part of your Demand Gen Program are:
- Trained professionals, already in place with the latest in technologies.
This eliminates the need for any in-house training and bringing all personnel up to speed on unfamiliar equipment.
- They will impart the information supplied with the techniques to locate additional data through the knowledge base they have access to in their own network.
- These personnel will be able to generate emails and other follow up materials based on their knowledge of the signals used by the potential customers. This is one of the most important elements of lead generation and they have been trained to pick up on this.
- Professional telemarketers know how to get through all of the gatekeepers standing between them and the decision maker. If that does not happen the first time, it will the next, or the next.
- Personnel who have done this for quite a while will be knowledgeable in many areas. They can use this, in addition to the scripted material, to make informed decisions about where that potential client is on the scale from uninterested to demanding the brand that you have created.
- You are not paying for a room of telemarketers; you are paying for results.
In B2B commerce, all tools and experience must be bought into the equation. The creation of a demand gen program takes all of the many elements of your company into account and forms it into a focused, balanced approach for success.
You do not want to repair your own roof. You do not want to fix that impromptu swimming pool forming in your basement. For that you would outsource this work to a roofer or plumber. The reason you do that is because that is what they do.
The role, within lead generation, of the telemarketer has become more important as the economy has forced everyone to focus on who does what the best.
If you’re working to increase your brand exposure, build your credibility as an industry expert, or improve your back links and SEO ranking, consider writing guest blog entries on other sites. Guest blogging is a great way to make a major impact on your content marketing and SEO strategy by driving qualified traffic to your own blog and website. Many social media experts say guest blogging is one of the most important ways to build authority for your own brand online.
So how do you find opportunities to guest blog? Let’s look at some ways you can uncover guest blogging opportunities and a few online outreach tools to help focus your search.
Before you begin your search, take a few minutes to determine your goals. By understanding the “why, “ you can more effectively target the “where.”
• Are you looking to position yourself as an expert in your industry?
• Is your goal to drive traffic to your blog or website, or increase your SEO ranking?
• Are you working to build backlinks to your website?
Answering these questions clearly, can help you to target your search for appropriate guest blogging opportunities.
The next step is one you’ve probably already done when defining your own content strategy, developing personas. By defining your audience, you can better target your opportunities. Be as specific as possible when building your personas. Having a well-defined target audience will not only help you to determine which opportunities to pursue, it can also help you to define your message.
You’ve defined your goals, and your target market. Now it’s time to begin to search for opportunities to reach them. Begin by looking for sites that are relevant to your industry that your target audience might frequent. As you search for, find and visit sites, check for a socially engaged readership. Have the posts been shared socially? Have they been commented on? Make sure the blog owner is active on social media sites. This makes it more likely they will share your guest posts with their community.
Another avenue to target when searching for guest blogging opportunities are the influential people in your particular industry. Using Google, search for them by name and determine if they have a blog that might be a good fit.
While these are great ways to begin your search, you can expand your efforts by using many of the free sites and tools available online.
Expanding Your Search: Using Outreach Tools
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Google is a great place to begin your search. Try using some key word searches to find blogs that may accept guest writers. First, type in your industry, for example, “social media marketing.” Then follow this:
• submit a guest post
• guest post by
• accepts guest posts
• guest post guidelines, etc.
These queries will lead you to a blog’s guest post guidelines, submission pages, and guest posts by numerous other writers.
Using the same criteria, try searching Twitter. Often writers will tweet about guest posts that they have submitted to other blogs and you can then follow the chain to the host blog and inquire,
Here are some other online sites and tools you can use to uncover guest blogging opportunities:
• Buzzstream – www.buzzstream.com – Buzzstream is a web-based software solution to organize your blogging and create an online buzz, all while building links and improving SEO to help get you found. It also helps you to build relationships with the influencers in your industry.
• BlogDash – http://www.blogdash.com - Blogdash helps you to organize and publish content then search and find specific bloggers using keyword search. You can then engage with these influencers and build beneficial relationships.
• Technorati – http://technorati.com/ - Technorati is a directory of blogs searchable by writer or keyword. I helps you to identify potential guest blogging opportunities. By becoming a member (it’s free), you can create a profile and interact with influencers from across all industries, building contacts for you to expore.
• Open Site Explorer – http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/ – Once you’ve established a potential opportunity, just type the domain name into the box on this site. It will search the web and return information on that site’s domain authority and link profile.
• Buzz Sumo – http://buzzsumo.com - Buzzsumo is a tool that lets you track trending topics across all social platforms, identify the most shared links and the influencers for an topic. Using buzz sumo allows you to tailor your content and SEO outreach towards hi-visibility topics and the influencers who write about them.
Guest blogging is a great way to grow your community, establish authority, generate backlinks and improve your SEO ranking. Try some of the tools and tips above. With a little targeted research, you’ll uncover hundreds of opportunities to spread your me