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Jody Raines, Internet Marketing Expert and Founder of WebMarCom Marketing Agency

WebMarCom Blog: Focus on Web Marketing Communications

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Why I Unsubscribed From Your Email Marketing Campaign

  
  
  
  
  
  

smart email marketing campaignsEmail marketing can be powerful and effective.  It can bring prospects closer and nurture leads.  It can also be a deadly way to lose contacts and potential connections. 

Today I unsubscribed from an unsolicited email announcing a web-based radio show that for some reason I need to know about.  The announcement came from a person that I exchanged cards with at a networking function.  The announcement was all about him, and his new wonderful radio show - with no logical reason that I would want to listen to it.  In fact, it featured a big picture of him, right in the middle, and some jargon about when the show will be recorded.  

In addition, the email had a description that read something like "this is where you should describe your offer".   Seriously.  Not even changed.  

In today's digital marketing environment, that's just not good enough.  If you expect to be accepted as a professional business person, you need to realize that the name of the game in digital marketing is personalization.  It you are doing business the old way and sending out a blanket one-size-fits-all email to everyone, you are appealing to no one.  

This must be my day for unsubscribing because I also unsubscribed from a Linkedin contact who sent a blanket email to everyone she is connected with on Linkedin.  That's not the way connect, nor are Linkedin contacts supposed to be used for overt solicitation.   Frankly, this tells me a couple of things; one is that the person just does not understand why we connected, and two that I am not important to the person who sent these. 

If you treat your connections indiscriminately, you deserver to have them disconnect from you.  The first step is to opt out of your email blast.  Too many opt outs, and you will begin to see that the mail services are not going to like handling your outbound email campaigns.  In fact, you may wind up being booted.

Ever try to put together a program to increase your subscribers?  It's not that easy.  So, when you have a connection or you have a subscriber, treat them like gold.

Here's a few rules to review before you send that next blast:

  1. Does the recipient want to recieve the information?  If you met at a networking event and exchanging cards is the sole basis for sending th email, you haven't earned the right to include that email on your sending list.  Before including them, send a special PERSONALISED email that reminds the person of how you met and explains the type of email you will be sending and ASKS if the person would like to recieve these types of emails.  Better yet, give them a choice of topics and let them pick the topics that would be best for their needs. This means that your emails will be much more targed and less likely to be reported as SPAM.   (This is called "opting in").
  2. Is the email targeted content, or is it a broad announcement all about you?  By targeted, what I mean is that the information contained is applicable to the industry, to the role, or in some way could be construed to be focused on the need of the person who is receiving it.  Just to send out a blast all about you is really as dull as dating someone who only wants to talk about himself.  Really dull.  Don't expect a second date and don't expect that the recipient is actually going to read your pablum!
  3. Have you completely filled in the template and tested it? Twice!  The worst thing is to have an email blast go to your most treasured list of prospects and have it undermine your professionalism because it has a section that's "greeked in".  Wow.   I see this sometimes on website as well, where its funny text that is supposed to be replaced. Why should I spend my time reading it if you didn't spend the time to put it together correctly.  Send it to yourself.  Send it to someone else.  Make sure it's correct.  
learn social media marketing
WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

Jody Raines - The True Story

  
  
  
  
  
  

describe the imageJody Raines. That's me.  The reason I am writing this blog article is simple. I want people to find me, and know who I am and what I do.   It's funny that one of the least recognized things that we try to rank for are the principals of our organization.  If someone is searching for your President, your CEO, you Board Of Directors, what will they find? 

My recommendation is to truly evaluate what you want people to find when they search for your organization.  Sometimes they may have met a representative at a trade show, or a Chamber of Commerce meeting, but if they try to find that person online, will they find you? 

Not only should you make a list of the many ways you hope that your prospects will find you, but also to create a blog where you write about them, and then be sure to monitor them as well. That's what we used to call keywords, but with semantic search, being a subject matter expert is really more important than the old SEO tactics of defining keywords and then creating content.  

The best content is original, shares relevant information, and is helpful.  After all, if you areJody Raines, harley just writing for the sake of writing, how much will that really help your prospect.  May as well just give them a link to your competition.

How do you monitor your brand?

One way to determine what is being said about you is to schedule Google Alerts.  This is an easy thing to do, but if you don't have a way to monitor your name, it may wind up that things are being posted that you are unaware of. For example, what would you want to thank someone who wrote a wonderful article that mentions you?  Of course you would.  Also, wouldn't you want to know if someone was saying something derogatory about you, or your organization?  Only by knowing what is said and monitoring it on an ongoing basis are you able to determine what the value of your marketing efforts may be. 

Jody Raines, Marketing ExpertWhen evaluating information that you discover online, be sure to evaluate the source.  Most people recognize that there is a big difference between Encyclopedia Brittanica and Wikipedia.  The first is an authoritative source with vetted information, the latter is a compiliation from multiple sources that may or may not be reliable. 

Since Google introduced Hummingbird, it's enabled the more credible sources to improve their standing.  The goal is for black hat marketers to be left in the dust, and to have the true, and credible source rise to the top.

Who is Jody Raines? 

So, when you ask who Jody Raines is, I think I would be a credible source since I am JodyJody Raines, Speaker, Social Media Raines. I founded WebMarCom in 2009 in to help businesses use the Internet more effectively.  The old ways of marketing didn't seem to work as well, and as the Internet blossomed, the way we search and research became more and more important.    The concept of Inbound Marketing resonated with me.  New media and traditional marketing were beginning to overlap more and more, and I was well positioned to see this happen.  With a background in traditional marketing and management (double major, Bachelor of Science from Rider University), plus Masters degree (MBA) first attending Fairleigh Dickenson, then University of Phoenix (MBA in Technology Management) coupled with work experience at notable companies including Canon USA, Oki Data America, and The Rouse Company, Homart Development and Sears Financial Group, and Macy's, I've had ample opportunity to practice what I preach.  Then, working with one of the foremost web companies in the Philadelphia, South Jersey area, I learned more about the power of the Internet and how a well designed website should work.   Coupling the tools of the Internet, including searchable and indexible websites, Social media marketing, and search engine optimization through strong, well written and informative content, I've been able to help companies large and small to improve their bottom line.  

Generating leads through being discovered when your customer is looking for what you do is the first tenant of inbound marketing.  Not every marketer has the background to help a company determine the appropriate marketing goals.  What is most edifying to me has been to be a trusted resource and guide, helping as a partner to improve the messaging and the content. 

How Does Jody Raines Help With Business Marketing?

Some of the greatest adventures have been identifying niche markets that a client did not recognize, then helping them to position their offer.  An example is an organization that thought it was a wood refinishing company that also reupholsters.  Now they are getting business from movie theater seating repair, office furniture maintenance, elevator cabinet refinishing, restaurant furniture restoration, and the list goes on.  Or another situation where a business that did printing and marketing now is positioned for direct mail communications for each of several clearly identified vertical markets, in real estate, finance, and healthcare.   Another example is a sign company who expressed frustration that they were not coming up for searched for vehicle wraps.  Based upon working with the owner and his company, he reorganized his business, we revised his website, and now he is even helping other small businesses by coaching them on the types of marketing strategies I helped him with. 

So, if you want to know who Jody Raines is, come to the source and I'm happy to fill you in. And in the mean time, be sure to identify who your principals are for your company and be sure that you are generating content either about them, or under their byline and protect their brand.

learn social media marketing

WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

Web Marketing ROI: How Do You Determine The Value Of A Lead?

  
  
  
  
  
  

Hummingbird SEOWhat is the value of a lead?  And do all leads convert to customers in the same relative ratio? 

Inbound marketing is the art of creating a web presence, including the website, search engine optimization, social media metrics that enable potential customers to find your business for the right reasons.  It also includes creating content and offers that are designed to be helpful and informative for your prospect with the ambitious goal of nurturing the sales process.   

While that is a helpful objective, the reality is that there is a lot of noise on the Internet, and cutting through that noise with clarity has become more and more difficult as the channels multiply and morph.  Social media has evolved into a "must" instead of a "want" - in fact, if you are not on Facebook, your customers may wonder why?  And you must listen as well.  An unanswered tweet can do a lot of harm.   So can responding to a derogatory post in a way that incites an argument. 

With so many new rules and even new updates to Google's search (Hummingbird), it's important to fundamentally understand what the goals are for your marketing efforts, regardless of channel.  The foundation of this is understanding what the value of a lead is.

Building an inbound marketing plan requires a blueprint for success, and part of that blueprint is understanding what the value of a lead is...

Not All Leads Are Created Equal

When building the marketing program, an experienced marketer understands that there are many more leads who are at the beginning of the buying process and that those prospects have different informational goals than those who are closer to the buying decision. There are many many more people searching for general information than those who have figured out what they actually want, and it's fascinating to realize that the words used for search will parallel that progression. 

You've heard of long tail keyword phrases?  Well, even with Hummingbird, and the evolution of semantic search, it's hard to believe that a fundamental understanding of keywords is no longer necessary to create effective marketing campaigns.  Understanding that the purchasing search may progress along from a general term like "digital camera" to a more specific search like "SLR Digital Camera", to an even more specific search "Canon 18 megapixel dslr" to become even more specific "Canon Rebel T5i" as the customer understands the options and gets closer to making the purchase. 

So, its fair to say that the number of leads to equal a sale may be greater at the top of the funnel and smaller as the funnel gets narrower. 

Matching Offer To Sales Funnel

Developing a process and the information that your prospects are seeking is essential to your marketing effort.  Whether you are creating an advertising campaign or an online marketing program,  a website design, mapping the customer journey is critical to your program's success.  So often, I find that new clients come to me with the idea of enhancing their website and "optimizing the website for Google search", but that's of little value if the traffic that comes is not converting.   By converting what I mean is that ultimately, the prospect should become a customer.

Understanding your customer's journey to the purchase decision is based upon a clear understanding of your customer.  Creating a buying persona, and then evaluating the offers as they may be enticing to that persona is a good way to determine what the offers should be, and also,  where they should fit along the selling spectrum.  For example, at the top of the funnel, your customer may simply want to get information and would be unlikely to be willing to share their contact information.   As they become more informed, your offers have more value, and matching the request for information to the funnel stage is a great way to optimize lead generation.  If you ask for too much information at the beginning of the sales cycle, the prospect is less likely to submit the request.  Starting off with a simple request for an email address (so you can email the report) is a much easier first step for a prospect to indulge in. 

Also important to note is that you will have many more prospects than you will have true leads.  As your prospect moves along the sales funnel, they become close to being a customer.  There is a likelihood that there is more than one form this potential customer has filled in, and by utilizing smart forms, or by asking for more information as the value of the offer is greater, you can build a decent amount of lead intelligence before the sales call is made.  Knowing what the prospect downloaded definitely improves the ability for a sales professional to direct the conversation to the needs of the prospect. 

Calculating The ROI Of A Lead

While a formula to determine the absolute value of a lead is open to conjecture, there are some statistical ways that we can use to determine what the value of a lead may be.  In fact, if you evaluate your leads by where the Call-To-Action may be within the sales funnel, you can determine the return for each of the landing page opportunities on your website. 

Number of Leads adjusted for Conversion Rate

The first variable you should take into consideration in your calculation is how many leads it takes to convert a customer.  Most sales teams can share how many cold calls they have to make in order to talk to a person.  Of that number, on average they can also share how many they need to actually talk to to make an appointment.  So, if you need to reach 10 people to make appointments with 4, you should also realize that of those four, perhaps only one will buy.  So, if you worked, let's say at American Express, you may have to make 100 calls to reach 10 people to talk to, then of those ten, schedule 4 appointments, then of those 4 appointments, one would be a sale.  If you need to close one sale a week, you need at least 100 calls.

The conversion ratio works similarly.  If you need 1,000 leads to get to 10 sales, then ultimately you either want to improve the number of the leads you are getting or the quality of the leads.  The conversion of visits to leads to sales can be an important metric when evaluating the landing pages and offers for your website.

Multiply by Average Sale

Most organizations have an idea what the dollar amount of the average sale would be.  If that is not the case, then use your sales logs to determine the total sales and then divide by the number of sales.  The resulting number will give you a good idea what your average sale would be. 

Adjust for Profit Margin/Cost of Sale

There is typically over head and expense that has to be accounted for.  If you are using a keystone markup, you should figure that roughly 50% of your average sale goes to your cost of goods.  If you did any additional marketing efforts then that should also be added to the cost or deducted from the profits.  

Divide by Total Number of Leads

Now, take a look at the total number of leads that your website produces.  If you took the first example of 100 leads to equal one sale, then this denominator would be 100. 

Result = Lead Value

When you evaluate the result of the equation, you should have a good idea of the value of a lead.   Keep in mind that this can change over time - as your marketing improves and your website improves, and you utilize A/B testing, you can actually increase the value of the leads because you are working towards a better system to aquire those leads.  

Are All Leads Equal? 

Generally, the leads at the top of the funnel taken independently of the entire funnel will turn out to be less valuable than the leads that are at the bottom of the funnel.  Want to hazard a guess why?  If you've correctly configured your landing pages and call-to-action offers, then you should have a stronger candidate or prospect for the offers at the bottom of the funnel than at the top of the funnel where they are kicking tires. 

Inbond Markting ROI Formula 

I'm curious if you have a system in place to evaluate your marketing efforts and if you know how the ROI of your leads has improved or deteriorated over time. Do you periodically take a look at your landing pages to continuously improve them?  Let me know in the comments if you use this type of analysis or if you have a different formula that you find works for you.

WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

Inbound Marketing: The Signs SEO Is A Waste And Marketing Stinks

  
  
  
  
  
  


SEO guinea pigRecently a business owner who is a friend of mine shared with me that he is has a "great" website which is doing great with SEO. Of course I am curious because I am always interested in meeting and sharing with others who study positioning on the web.   For example, David Amerland is one of the best, and his book The Semantic Web is something of a bible for anyone interested in Google's algorithm.   I also follow Ann Smarty, Barry Shwartz, Glenn GabeMark Traphagen and few others.

Apparently my friend's SEO genius is not aware of any of the folks just mentioned, but has a new twist to how he performs SEO.  Not only does he not follow the aforementioned sources, he has his own "formula" to optimize a website.

My friend boasted that he is using a company that only charges him if they rank him #1 on Google for agreed upon phrases!   Wow.   I always thought you should run like hell if anyone promises you first page ranking!  Apparently, this "SEO" genius is someone my friend met at a local networking group, and therefore he must know his stuff!

I asked my friend exactly how he and this company determined what the important keywords would be for his website - remember, the SEO is compensated only if they come up number 1 in Google.   He said they just sat down and made a list.  After all, this SEO guru suggested that he knows what people are searching for better than anyone.  You guessed it, there was no analysis, no evaluation of existing analytics, no metrics, no studies.  I was beginning to realize that my friend was an "SEO's" guinea pig... because other than coming up with his own ideas, there was no rhyme or scientific reason with regard to the keyword selection.

Keep in mind that the keywords, obviously, had to be geocoded... (Long tail phrases - are you catching my drift?).   Many of them were the same word or phrase with a locality at the end.  A small locality...

Honestly, they have no idea whether the list is good or not, or if people even refer to them for the phrases they have identified, however, this new SEO guy is doing a heck of a job "optimizing" the website for these phrases.

To explain to my friend that there are minimal searches for any of these terms may be in order, but he is so enamored with the fact that he is #1, that it falls on deaf ears.  So, I took a look at the Analytics...

Disturbing Google Analytics Trends

Upon a review of the Google Analytics, I discovered some disturbing trends among the sudden throngs of visitors to the site.  

  1. A disproportionate amount of traffic was visiting 1 time for just a few seconds.
  2. Pages with high traffic were internal pages, but theBad SEOre was no trail of how they got there - they simply landed on an internal page.
  3. While the area and city that the company was located within is a major metro area, many of the visits were from overseas. In fact, they were from Japan.
  4. Traffic did not gently ramp up.  It suddenly appeared one day and then remained fairly high and there was little traffic for the words that were not on the "list". 
  5. Click throughs to landing pages were few and far between. In fact, there were no landing pages to speak of, just a contact us page.  No calls to action, no offers of additional information.
With this in mind, I wondered how the marketing manager would allow this to happen?  After all, isn't the marketing manager the "keeper" of the inbound marketing plan? 
Outsourced Marketing Manager
Further investigation lead to another dilemma.  To save money, the company did not have their own staff, but they have an outsourced marketing manager. While the marketing manager had some experience working for legal firms, and she began her own "marketing" firm, when asked,  admits that she does not know SEO or web or Internet Social Media.  She claims that she does know PR and branding.  While no one can be adept at everything, having a grasp of what is going on with the web presence is no longer a "nicety". It's a must.  In fact, if you are not monitoring the conversation, you are an open target.  The marketing manager leaves the "web stuff" up to the "web guy" and because she is outsourced, she is not privvy to the terms of the agreement with the web guy.  
However, if the client is happy with the brochures and literature and ads she is creating, all is well as far as she is concerned. 
Keep in mind that there is no survey or analytics or way to determine the ROI on any of the activities that she is so busy organizing.  And she has no idea if anyone is talking about the company, or bad mouthing them. 
Who Is Handling The Social Media? 
Of course, following inbound marketing practices, there have to be social media accounts.  Apparently, the HR Director "loves" social media, and after finally figuring out how to add herself as an Admin to the Facebook page, she is posting on behalf of the company. Yes, you read that correctly, the "HR" director, not the marketing manager.   She took over the social media accounts and over the last month, there has been one Facebook post, that indicates that there is an job opening that the company is looking for fill.   No engagement, no interactions, no links back to the website, no calls to action.
In fact, the marketing manager says they do not need calls-to-action because the content on the website is so good. She, of course, is an expert writer who wrote most of the copy of the "new website" herself.

Wait, you said "NEW" website?  Oh yes... 
Blew Up Existing SEO
One of the easiest ways to spot an SEO fraud is that they always try to get you to create a new website. This means that they get paid to create the new website and they also will get paid if they "optimize" for the phrases that were agreed upon.
The company's former website had built using Google Best Practices and had gained in authority and ranking keywords over time.  The "new" SEO (yes, the one who only charges if he gets the number one ranking - that just sound wrong on so many levels) decided that the old website is no good, so he built a new one on a template on Wordpress. That would not have been awful, had he preserved the URL's or had done 301 re-directs, however he blew up the old website and created an entirely new one.  In conjunction with the marketing manager they ditched the old content and rewrote the pages...
The new website, well, it has huge graphic files that create long load times for large file images.  When I first looked at the site, even though it was live, the images were housed on the development server and that was part of the reason there was an incredibly long load time.  According to the SEO, it was due to Rackspace, which is just silly.  Of course after I pointed out the issues, they were corrected.  But they were not the only issues...
Website Errors
When I look at the site utilizing any of the SEO tools, I see all kinds of errors - no meta-description, no h-1's, missing alt text...In fact, there are warnings all over the place, despite this being a template on Wordpress site.  Using SEO tools, I saw there were various warning and errors for Code violations, CSS errors in addition to the obvious re-directs missing...
But a strange tale was being told to the client...The site was doing incredibly well for visits.  Huge numbers.  And the visits for the selected keywords were through the roof.  This, despite it being a new website.   
Seems Too Good To Be True? 
The client seems to be delighted. He is happy to pay for the placement he thinks he is getting on Google. 
What Are You Willing To Accept?
Unfortunately, this is a situation that does not have an easy fix. In order to correct the damage that has been done, the owner must first realize that SEO is not the cure to what ails him.  SEO is great, but it's only part of an equation.  Without everything working in sync, he has a website that has a lot of traffic, but it is not the best traffic for his business. As a local company, he will never see business from the many hits he gets from Japan and from far geographic areas.  He is paying this "SEO" for results, but the metrics are all wrong!  And the sad news is that the person who is overseeing his marketing doesn't know any more than he does that this type of marketing activity is never going to have the types of results that will turn into conversions for the business.
It's not about SEO, it's about Conversions.
Bottom line is that it is about the bottom line. Chasing a number one position on Google is not going to result in anything if the traffic is not representative of potential consumers.  With analytics, you can twist the numbers into showing that you are number one for something on Google, and the longer the keyword phrase, the more likely it is that you can rank number one for that more easily. 
WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

Inbound Marketing: Why "Smarketing" Makes You Sound Stupid

  
  
  
  
  
  

smarketingWhat is "Smarketing"?   Recently at the Hubspot Inbound Marketing conference Ellie Mirman did a presentation where that term was bandied about.  Honestly, it makes me grit my teeth every time I hear it.  It's a mashup of two terms, which, dependent upon who you listen to, can either be 'sales' and 'marketing' or can be 'smart' and 'marketing'.  In any case, while I am a Hubspot Certified Partner, and I am a true believer in the power of inbound marketing, this is one case where I feel that creating a new term and then trying to make it sound cool just falls flat.

The concept of combining and streamlining the goals for sales and marketing is not a new concept.  For years, the supposed battle between sales goals and marketing's goals was discussed as a barrier for marketing to support sales.   But that kind of philosophy of silo-ed corporate departments has been dead for a very long time.  For organizations to survive, there has to be communication between sales and marketing, and especially in these days of streamlined, lean staff, for many organizations marketing and sales are synonymous.

Recently I saw a tweet by one of the newly indoctrinated Hubspoteers, a "new marketer" who not only drank the Kool-Aid, but now is proselytizing every new acronym he heard at Inbound.  While I do believe that Hubspot is an awesome software, and I am a partner with them as well, this "smarketing" thing is kinda awful.  It's like taking peanut butter and jelly and then trying to create a new word to describe that combination along the lines of "Peabutjelly".   No thanks, I won't have any of that.

If you are an organization that still does not 'get' the concept that marketing supports sales, and sales provides valuable information to marketing, please identify yourself.  In my humble opinion, the only organizations that are still living under that rock have been downscaled to the point of closing their doors.  And that was over ten years ago!

The concept of aligning sales and marketing can be defined in a four step process:

  1. Speak the Same Language - align marketing and sales and share dialogue.  This is not a new concept - we were doing this at Canon and at Okidata and at Avaya years ago.  The sales team has direct communication with the customer and is an incredibly valuable source of information for marketing.  Marketing can be a powerful source of leads.  The alignment of marketing goals and sales goals is a no-brainer.
  2. Set Up Closed-Loop Reporting - if you don't measure what is working by the most important metric (actual sales) then you are missing the opportunity to continue to refine and redefine marketing efforts to drive sales.
  3. Implement a Service Level Agreement - What are your goals and what commitment are you prepared to make for the good of the team.  Creating a service level agreement is a step in memorializing the commitment to improvement and to each other.  Sales makes a commitment to marketing, and marketing makes a commitment to sales. This does not have to be onerous, but defining expectations can be advantageous in the long run.
  4. Maintain Open Communication - sales and marketing departments that maintain silos are ineffective.  Unification of these two activities leads to better and more productive efforts by each.  It's a gestault effect.
  5. Rely on Data - Not dissimilar to the closed loop reporting concept - truly you need to determine what is working and what is not working.  Having the data is only part of the equation, though... correctly interpreting the information is equally important to moving in the right direction.

So please, people, and especially you 'new marketers' or 'Internet strategists' out there, please do not use that word "smarketing" with me.  It's not a new concept, it's not a new approach.  If the buzzwords work for you, that's great.  If it happens to make it easier for you to understand that sales and marketing must work together, then it's done it's job.  But please don't use the word with people who already live and  understand this concept.   To "old school" marketers who have been around the block and who have lived working with disparate teams, using a phrase like "smarketing" sounds dumb and identifies lack of experience.

WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

New Internet Strategy And Website Content Optimization Hubspot Tool!

  
  
  
  
  
  

Hubspot Partner Philadelphia, Hubspot Partner New JerseyResponsive, Personalized Websites are Here!

Hubspot just announced a huge improvement in their inbound marketing platform software that integrates effective new tools to improve traffic, conversions and marketing. The new COS was announced at Inbound2013, the annual gathering of Hubspot customers and partners.

COS stands for Content Optimization System, which replaces the CMS (Content Management System). The reason for the new acronym is that the new platform has customer-centric tools that personalize the website visit for your prospects and customers.

Here’s the part that is mind blowing – the new COS enables you to customize your web experience for your visitor – so you can personalize the content based upon that customer’s preferences and interests. It even presents the appropriate view based upon the platform (mobile, desktop, and browser) that your prospect is using to view the site and interact with your web content. 

Having the ability to integrate content that ‘recognizes’ your customer and delivers the appropriate landing page, or view is now within reach of small and midsized businesses. This is the type of technology that previously may have only been available to those giants like Amazon. The opportunity to create a reasonably priced, mobile optimized and adaptive website is the exciting new Internet marketing and strategy that Hubspot is offering.

MOBILE OPTIMIZED WEBSITE

With more and more people searching through tablets and mobiles, having a website that is responsive to the mode of access is critical. That’s whay it’s so cool that HubSpot built the COS using responsive design. The pages, the bog, the landing pages, even the email templates will automatically change to the aspect ratio of the device viewing it, so your prospect can easily navigate and view your content, regardless of the device.

PERSONALIZED WEBSITE CONTENT

Taking the optimization to the next level is another way that the new COS differs from the old CMS.  Content can be displayed based upon rules that are pre-set, so the returning customer who has already filled in a form is now presented with a subtly different Home page.  It's a way to further refine the online experience to appeal to your prospects in a way that you may not have had the opportunity to do before.  The new COS features Smart CTA's (Call To Action) devices that can strengthen and deepen the content that is presented based upon what you know of the customer.  

SOCIAL INTEGRATION

The new Hubspot COS has a new and improved social media tool that integrates content and alerts when specific keywords are mentioned.  I have mine set up to alert me when there are mentions of the company name, or when someone responds to a tweet.  Engaging with customers and prospects is important to today's market plan, and with this sweet new tool, Tweeting and responding is much faster and easier than previously. 

IMPROVED WEBSITE ANALYTICS

While there are many places to get analytic information about how your website is doing online, the integration of these tools has never been more important.  Hubspot's new COS does an impressive job of gathering information that is actionable and implementable.  Monitoring improvement, and making iterative progress is an advantage of the Hubspot COS platform.  We are impressed with how much information you can derive from your current website, as well as learning how to evaluate and monitor your competition. 

Overall, a better mousetrap? 

If you would like to try Hubspot's new COS on for size, we can offer a free trial or demonstration.  Let us know when you would like to start, and we will help you learn how powerful a tool this new Hubspot COS can be to acheive your online business growth goals. 

WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

Branding: How Your Photo Helps (Or Hurts) Your Social Media Profile

  
  
  
  
  
  

Profile Picture MistakesSocial Media profiles, including those on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Pinterest, Google+ and even Zarfo are not all created equally. When you select the image that will represent you to the world, you should chose that photograph wisely. Your social media profile may be the first impression that someone has of your brand.

The other day, my friend Chris Voss commented about how awful some of the profle pictures are.   I agree.  It's hard to imagine what some people are thinking when they select their profile picture. 

Especially when it comes to LinkedIn, a professional network, there are some right and wrong things to consider for the profile picture.  Keep in mind that the photo you use is your brand.  Whether you realize it or not, people form a perception of you, and your brand, from that photograph.  

Have you ever met someone IRL (in real life) that you originally met through social media, and you just would never recognize them from their picture? That's along the lines of what I am seeing... and seeing more and more of this.  Frankly, it's almost epidemic! 

There are some common mistakes that I see in profile pictures, and here is a general list.  Check to see whether you fit any of these categories:

  1. Holding your pet.  Seriously?  On Linked In, which is a business social network site, there are still people who for some reason think they need to show a picture holding their cat or dog.  Unless you are a veterinarian or otherwise involved in the pet industry, leave your kitty out of the picture.  You may get away with this on a dating site, but it's not appropriate for Linked In.  
  2. Picture of your pet.  Some people don't even include their own picture, it's just a photo of Fluffy.  Again, this is not a professional approach, and unless you are a real dog (pardon the pun) you should feature your own picture. 
  3. Using a cartoon.  For a professional network, liked Linked In, using a profile picture of Wonder Woman or Casper the Friendly Ghost are not acceptable.  Neither are pictures of some TV celebrity or Actor.  We know you are not Ashton Kutcher or Charlie Sheen... so, please use your own picture instead. 
  4. Group Shot.  Now how are we to figure out, in that tiny picture, which person in that group shot is you?  Please don't.  Even if its a great shot of you with a celebrity, just focus on you.  This is a profile picture, after all, not a story of your life. 
  5. Sunglasses.   This is just unprofessional.  People looking at the picture cannot see your eyes, and that is a sign of dishonesty.  
  6. Picture of your kid.  I'm sure little Jimmy or Janey are adorable and wonderful creatures. Linked In is for business, and a picture of your child does not serve as a good profile picture. 
  7. Picture of you as a baby.  Unless you want everyone to think that you are a baby, use a picture that represents you now, not then.  Using a High School picture may be OK for some Facebook reasons (connecting with High School friends) for the most part, no one will recognize you any longer from that picture and it's not cool any more.  
  8. Bad lighting.  If you have a picture that you love, and it's just too dark, you may be able to lighten it with some Photoshop magic. Otherwise, forego that dark picture and find another one. 
  9. Super closeup.  I do believe you have wonderful blue eyes, but when just one of them is staring out at me from the profile shot, that's just creepy.   Don't selectively feature just and eye, or just a mouth, or part of your face.  
  10. No picture.  The default is no picture, and that's not a great impression either.  In this day and age, the workforce is expected to have the skill level to post a picture in a social media profile.  
What are some tips for best practices for profile pictures:
  1. Wear professional attire. While it may be neat that you are the coach for your son's Little League, you should have a professional picture for your Linked In profile.  
  2. Clean up nicely.  If you need your hair cut or styled, get it done for the picture but don't go overboard.  Use the same type of "look" or style that you would wear for a day at work.  The evening that you went to the Charity Ball and you wore that one shouldered evening gown would not be the best photo to use for your LinkedIn profile. 
  3. Don't try to be overly cute.  A pose that has you leaning on your hand, or pretending to yell into a megaphone are silly.   You may think you look great posing with those glasses in your mouth, glancing up at the ceiling as if looking at something inspirational.  Actually, those pictures have a mindless look to them, so leave the kitsh for Facebook and remember that this is a business impression that you are creating. 
  4. Look at the camera.  When you meet a person in real life, you look into their eyes, and the same is true for the profile picture.  It's not critical, but it seems to express a connection with the viewer if you are looking at them, instead of away.
  5. Recent picture please.  Have a picture that is recognizable as you, not you twenty years younger and thiry pounds lighter...  Make is a picture of you are you are now.  Rule of thumb is to have your picture updated every three or four years, tops.  If you want to update is more, that's fine. Keep in mind, however that your social profile picture on Twitter and some of the social media sites becomes very recognizable and by changing it, you may confuse your contacts. 
What are some of the things that you are seeing when you view profile pictures on social networks?  What impression does it give you of the person?   
WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

8 Tips For Website Homepage Redesign Best Practices

  
  
  
  
  
  

Best practices web designRedesigning the Website Homepage can be a rewarding process if it is done correctly and your website designer understands inbound marketing.  An inbound marketing consultant can help you evaluate your online marketing campaign to be sure that all the components, including your website, your social profiles, your social marketing campaign and your blog postings, all work together in an effective and coordinated way.

One of the largest complaints I hear from potential clients is that they are not sure what their website is doing.  If you are not sure how many visits you have, or what keywords are working, or what inbound links you may have, how can you possibly consider revamping your website. 

In my humble  opinion, the goal of any website redesign is to optimize the authority and rank your website already has, and then build the website in a way that it can get even more attention from prospects and customers. 

Changing the design of your HOME page can go a long way toward improving your website's conversions.  By conversions, what I mean is the people who actually contact you, either by using a form on your site or by reaching out to you. 

Some of the most frequent mistakes I see are companies that decide they want to "redesign" their site based upon some organizational change such as a merger or aquisition.  While the redesign makes sense from a business change perspective, the redesign of the website is tantamount to blowing up both the pre-existing sites and starting from scratch with a new site that has no authority, no credibility and no search engine optimization in place.  Why not salvage whatever good well or inboung links are available and use a redirect to the new location.  Alas, there are many web designers or website developers who have the ability to create a beautiful website but who do not understand or appreciate optimization best practices. 

Here then, are 8 tips for Website Home Page redesign best practices to use as a checklist for your next website design project:

  1. Indexable content.  Having a beautiful website with complex graphic design may make the CEO very happy.  Unfortunately, many of the beautiful website designs are not created with SEO in mind.  If you see pictures that include words, this is not the same as a search engine sees it.  In fact, you can read 'content' that is a picture.  Search engines cannot.  I had one client who did not understand why her website was not ranking for her most important keyword until I pointed out to her that most of the instances of her keyword were in a graphic form.  Another new client came to me with a recently re-designed website that has zero authority.  The company had been around for over ten years, but in creating the new design, the principals had decided to use an acronym as the new URL.  Unfortunately, no one realized to redirect the old URL and no mention of the old company name was even on the page!  This certainly does not help clients find the website, but also, it just threw away all of the old sites authority.   The bottom line, make sure your website is indexible and that your keywords are content, not images. 
  2. Keywords.   One of the most critical things that I work with for my clients are discovering the best keywords for their product or service.  By keywords, it's important to forgo the jargon and figure out what words your customers and prospects use to find you.  Believe it or not, while it's noble to assume that you can educate an audience to discovering what you mean when you have created or coined a new phrase... you probably do not have enough money in your marketing budget to make that make sense.  It makes marketing so much easier and organic to use the phrases your customer's use to refer to what you do.  Also, ask your sales team what is imporatnt to your customers.  If you can address what a prospect is searching, you are more likely to show up in that prospect's search results.  Ditch that jargon! 
  3. Load time.  Beautiful images are nice, but if the file is too large, the site load time is longer.  Not only does Google penalize long load times, your customer is unlikely to hang out and wait to see the magnificence that your web designer has created.  Nope.  In this day and age of instant everything, we (your audience) want to see what we want to see when we want to see it.  We are not waiting. If your site takes too long to load because its too graphic heavy, we are on to your competitor's site.  Don't expect loyalty from a web search. 
  4. Clean message. By clean message, what I mean is that your HOME page is not cluttered and confusing.  It should be clean.  In print advertising we used to refer to the 'clean'ness as "white space".  There is no need to create multiple images that fight for a viewer's attention.  To the contrary, the site should have a clear idea before its created as to where the viewers eye should travel and what makes sense for that visual message.  If your site is too busy and disorganized, you are not sharing a clean message. 
  5. Clear message.  Now that we have discussed the visual path, let's make sure that the message that a visitor to our website can absorb.  Don't make the message obtuse or too clever - if you do, your visitor will hop away to the next website just as quickly.  I worked with one client who insisted that they wanted their website to look like a whiteboard and they spent a lot of time and money to have the visual elements designed for that theme.  What was missing was the message of what they actually do.  They are a printing company, and if you dig, you can find that out.  Of course, that was a huge challenge to overcome by optimizing the content.  The message ideally should be obvious when someone lands on your site as to what you offer and what you do.  If it's not, go back to the drawing board and rethink your concept. Don't try to be overly cute. It just doesn't work. 
  6. Contact info.  One of the biggest mistakes I see is when contact information is buried in a website on the contact page. Sure, it's a great place to have your contact information, but why not feature a good way to contact you on every page of your website.  One of the most effective websites I have worked on has a contact us box on everypage that is coded to indicate what page the lead came from.  This website has hundreds of leads on an ongoing basis.   Understanding that you should not make someone work through multiple clicks to get in touch is critical to conversions.   
  7. Clear Call To Action.  So now your website can be discovered, you have a remarkable design that is indexible for the righ keywords, and traffic is through the roof!  You are still not done.  High traffic to your website does not necessarily correlate into business in your cash register.  You must build a clear, call-to-action that suggests what the next steps should be for your prospect. 
  8. Branding.  Above all, keep in mind that every piece of your marketing campaign including your website should reflect appropriate branding messages.  Whether your brand is identifiable by color, font, graphic identity, cutting humor, be sure to be consistent across all platforms, including and especially your website.  If you have inconsistent collateral, you are wasting an opportunity to share and reinforce your branding identity.   By having all the pieces of the puzzle work in unison, you are reinforcing the message and increasing the potential for your message to be identified easily.   Use the same font, logo, colors and messaging across all social media platforms as well as your website, print collateral and any brochures or advertising that you do.  Keep the tone of all the collateral consistent as well and your marketing dollars will work harder for you. 
What mistakes have you seen in website or homepage redesign?  Are you considering a refresh and would like some advise?  Give us a call or share your experience...
WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

3 Tips To Enhance Your Social Network Though Rotary International

  
  
  
  
  
  

Social NetworkingSocial networks are a fantastic way to engage with others, make new connections, interact with new and old friends.  Whether your networking is in person at a Chamber of Commerce or International Rotary, or online through Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google+ or other social network site, the philosophical 'best practices' for interacting are the same.  It's important to select groups and places where you want to associate and then work to establish credibility and influence. 

Influence and credibility do not happen overnight.  Sure there are some naive participants who will connect their accounts with anyone, however these are not the best individuals to align with.   

Be sure that the culture of the group is aligned with how you want to represent yourself as well as with your values. 

One of the best organizations I've had the opportunity to be associated with is the International Rotary.  Being a member of the Rotary means you put "service before self".  This is a creed that delineates those with integrity from those who want to use a social network for personal gain. 

Case in point, there are several local organizations I can join, and one that I selected joining is the Rotary.  The organization does fundraising and events are geared to making a positive difference.  Sometimes people join an organization like Rotary to be like a wolf in sheeps clothing, thinking that they can mask their true intentions.  The irony is that these intentions become obvious and consequently those people don't last for long. 

I've made a point of visiting several Rotaries, and typically the membership is pretty amazing. 

That being said, here are some great tips and best practices for Social Networking:

1. It's about first impressions!  Obviously you should wear something that is appropriate for the event, and most important, wear a great attitude.  When you walk in, you will create your own Karma!  I am a believer that as you sow, so shall you reap.  If you have good intentions, it's evident when people speak with you and it shines through. One of the wonderful things about a service organization, like Rotary, is that people are there not for personal gain or benefit, but because they wish to help others.   

2. It's not just about you! The best way to go to a new group is to discover what the members of the group do and what they are passionate about.  I usually ask others what they do and how I can help them be successful.  By noticing my sincerity, this opens the door for someone to offer to help me as well.  By helping each other, we can both be successful.  Rotary International is a service organization that is very civic minded and therefore it attracts people who are interested in helping others.  

3. Select groups where you fit!  One of the things I love about Rotary is that the purpose is to help others.  It's an International Group that welcomes Rotarians from other clubs to visit.  No matter where you are in the world, there is an International Rotary that will welcome you as a guest.  We've had guests from all over the world visit our chapter, and it's a great way to meet new friends.   

Online social networking is not much different than meeting at a Rotary event.  The goal is not to just talk about yourself, but it's to connect and engage and help each other to be successful. 

Surrounding yourself with positive people and being willing to move past the ills of the past to forge ahead to help others is an important skill to have.  Sometimes walking into a group that you have not met before is the best way to meet new people and make new connections, especially when the group is founded on the basis of helping others. 

 

 

WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.

The Rise And Fall Of Social Networks - How To Fail At Social Media

  
  
  
  
  
  

social media danceIn the world of social media and social networking where the meteoric spike of a new social tool like Pinterest, or Quora can be explosive, the failure of a network can be equally as rapid.  Just a little bit of hype can blast a network into prominence, and just as easily, a social media can slip from grace, like My Space.

A few weeks ago, I shared a 'new' social media channel called Phewtick that had a lot of promise.  The founder was funding the network, which operated a bit like Foursquare and a bit like Facebook.  The goal was to encourage real-time meetups and for each meeting, you could scan each other's QR code and get a random amount of points. Even though the founder now says he is revamping the interface, to all extent and purpose, Phewtick is dead. 

Phewtick's demise despite it's swift adoption by the college crowd may be due to several factors, including a reliance upon paying users for their loyalty.  When this model changed, as it enevitably had to, the loyalty disappeared.  Think about the psychology of rewards - when they are given, they are taken for granted after a while.  Removing the reward is the equivalent of penalizing someone.  Consequently as the reward structure continuously changed and essentially devolved, the membership started eroding and usage plummeted.  

How did this promising new social network die and why is the road to successful social channels littered with the detritus and carcases of the likes of MySpace, Friendster and Xanga. Xanga is currently attempting to resurrect their platform into a paid blogging site.  The site would be free of adds.  Unfortunately there are so many substitute platforms such as Wordpress, or Tumbler or Facebook or Instagram to post pictures, articles and vent, that it seems unlikely that a paid platform will be able to claw it's way into resurrection. 

The number one factor of this social media's downfall was the everchanging rules.  Any game that has rules that cannot be relied upon is difficult to play.  After all, part of the fun of any gamification is learning the rules so that you can become good at winning more points, more money, more prizes, more badges, more tokens or whatever the prize may be.  If the rules are ever changing, then it becomes frustrating to play.  If you cannot rely upon the basic premise of the game, then why waste your time? 

That's kind of what happened with Phewtick.  Once week, you could only collect points if you met in person. The next week you could only collect points if you played a game. Then the game that you had to play had to be purchased.  It just became too cumbersome to keep up participation.  

At one point, the game allowed you to connect every minute and even through the Internet.  I think we played alot for that day.  But he next day, the rules changed and what we started playing no longer worked.  

That's just not fun.

Facebook has flirted with disaster a few times by greatly changing it's interface.  There have been days and weeks of rumbles and people vowing that they would get off the platform.  And in fact, a few did close their Facebook accounts.  But I suspect they are back.  Why?  Because the majority of their friends and connections are still there.

Facebook is one of the few exceptions to the rule of being reliable.  It's funny, but when you get big enough you can make your own rules.  Until there comes a tipping point.  I don't think we are there yet with Google+ compared to Facebook, but Google+ is a growing network with increasing adoption.  I still use the channels differently, but if Facebook starts alienating their consumers, there is no doubt that another fair haired social network will arise to take the place of Facebook.

So, if we have to summarize how to assure a social network can kill itself, here's the list:

1. Keep changing the interface.

2. Continue to try to appeal to everyone.

3. Do not have a purpose to play the game.

4. Limit the audience or membership.

5. Make it difficult for people to log in or to remember their passwords.

6. Have no clear way to earn badges, points or value.

7. Frustrate your members by inconsistency.

8. Do not offer any privacy settings.

9. Offer prizes but never award them.

10. Annoy users with multiple contacts that are meaningless and interruptive.

Sure, it would be great to be Mark Zuckerberg and come up with the idea of Facebook before he did.  Part of the beauty of Facebook is the fact that is is so widely utilized.  Without members, though, it's pretty useless since the value of using the platform are the relationships and information that each of us shares.  

What do you think?  Have you used any social networks that you really liked but could not understand why they faded away?  For me that was Color - loved the broadcast ability and it's shame that it's gone.

How about social networks that become popular that you find useless?  Share your thoughts, would love to hear what you think!  

 

 

WebMarCom is an Internet strategy and Web Marketing Communications Agency based in South Jersey and Philadelphia.
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