Archive for the 'Web Strategy' Category

Seven Contrarian Resolutions for a Web Presence That Wins

Last week, I issued a press release suggesting that business and nonprofit owners and executives could benefit from some contrarian thinking when creating their web and social media strategies for 2012. My “contrarian” stance was prompted by Vint Cerf’s wonderful comment on my recent book:

“Some of the anecdotes are counter-intuitive . . .”

I took that as a great compliment!

Here are my counter-intuitive suggestions for your 2012 web strategy, based on some of my favorite rules:

  1. Avoid Industry Best Practices: unless you’re sure that you’re using valid comparisons, these can give you a false impression of your specific situation.
    Read more in Rule 4: Beware of Benchmarking and Best Practices

  2. Counter the Competition: many businesses are wary of giving away their “secrets” online – but not showing your expertise and track record can hamper your growth.
    Read more in Rule 12: Consider the Competition (available in full in the free sampler)

  3. Stop Taking “One Size Fits All” Advice: many “experts” hype their online marketing results – yet there are few really effective short cuts. Make sure that their tactics apply to your online markets and goals.
    Read more in Rule 15: One Size Does Not Fit All

  4. Ignore your Search Engine Rankings: – until you’ve figured out which of your keywords really pay off in leads and quality traffic, and then focus on those.
    Read more in Rule 22: Rankings Don’t Matter

  5. Attract Invisible Buyers: think about your behind-the-scenes influencers and decision makers, and create copy that engages them too.
    Read more in Rule 28: Talk to the Buyer Behind the Buyer (available in full in the free sampler)

  6. Beware of “Feel-Good” Numbers: “dashboard” summaries of web analytics reports are convenient for busy managers, but rarely tell the whole story – and can be quite misleading.
    Read more in Rule 35: Drill Below the Dashboard

  7. Feed the HiPPO: sometimes the “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” (which can be both wrong and strongly held) should be overcome with proven web metrics data.
    Read more in Rule 37: Numbers and Testing Trump Politics (available in full in the free sampler)

Since it’s now halfway through January, these are probably the last set of resolutions that you’ll consider adopting. But do give them some thought – after all, last is not necessarily least!

Three Key Drivers of Web Marketing Strategy

David Aaker, Vice Chairman of Prophet, wrote an interesting post last week for the Harvard Business Review Blog Network.

The piece was titled Five Challenges Facing Marketing. Aakers suggests that marketing should own three key drivers of strategy:

  1. The brand strategy which should both inform and enable the business strategy.
  2. Customer insights
  3. The firm’s value proposition

I found this very interesting because I’ve been thinking along similar lines with regards to an organization’s web presence. In fact, each of Aakers’ drivers is directly reflected in one of the rules in my recently published book 42 Rules for a Web Presence That Wins:

  1. Rule 2: Appoint your Web Ambassador – this should be an executive level position so that this person is directly involved in creating strategy and advising on implications for and leverage of the web presence
  2. Rule 18: Personify your Visitors – an in-depth understanding of customers’ needs and emotions is crucial to online success
  3. Rule 29: Blow Your Own Trumpet – Differently! – well defined positioning and differentiation can significantly impact visitor engagement and outcomes.

Sadly in my experience, most organizations are still not effectively implementing these drivers. But it’s great to see proven ways to rectify this being discussed.

Recognizing Event Wifi Sponsors – What’s the Best Way?

There’s an interesting discussion taking place on the Meetings and Expositions listserv of the American Society of Association Executives.

Someone asked: “How can we best recognize our sponsor for wireless internet during the meeting?”

There were several suggestions for doing this online as users connect to the internet:

  • Create a splash page for the sponsor that’s the first thing they see
  • Get users to complete a brief survey around the sponsor’s products and services
  • Show a brief video from the sponsor

Frankly, I think these are all terrible suggestions! Rule 33 of my new book is “Avoid Unexpected Roadblocks.” It deals with the negative emotional impact of sudden and / or annoying obstacles in the visitor’s online experience.

People accessing the Internet at a conference are doing many things at once, and generally want to get to what they need as quickly as possible. I understand the importance of sponsor recognition, but forcing people to take a survey or watch a video may backfire in that you’re taking their valuable time, and they’re not happy. This could have an ultimate negative effect on the sponsor’s image.

The least annoying of these in terms of the amount of delay is the splash page – if it loads quickly, and if there’s an obvious “get me out of here” link. But think about it – how many times have you used the wireless connection at a hotel, and been forced through the hotel’s home page? Did you stop to look at it? Of course not – you’re already staying there, and you’ve got better things to do.

Another suggestion on the listserv was to have attendees visit the sponsor’s exhibit booth to obtain the password for the wireless connection. But what if someone is really in a hurry and doesn’t have time to visit the booth? What if it’s a huge show and they spend a lot of time trying to find the booth? What if they’re trying to access the internet out of exhibit hall hours?

My preferred solution is to provide each attendee with a card or something in the program materials with the sponsor’s logo and the password for internet access. That way, participants will see the sponsor in a positive light because they’re helping them to get their needs met, and not getting in the way at the same time!

Web Strategy Audio Guides

Finally, I’ve finished my two web strategy audio guides: “Leaky Boat Websites – and How to Prevent Them” and “Web Connections that Win.”

The guides are hour-long pre-recorded downloadable audio files (mp3 format), together with complete transcripts in Adobe Acrobat format. Suitable for both new and experienced webmasters, they will work on laptops, desktop computers, tablets, MP3 players and smart phones. Sample excerpts are available and special discount pricing is offered for purchasers of both products.

The audio guide “Leaky Boat Websites – and How to Prevent Them” will help you determine if your website is missing vital opportunities for generating revenue and sales leads. The audio guide “Web Connections that Win” helps you to evaluate if your website has emotional appeal, and if it reflects the “real world” conversations that you have with your customers. Both guides are available in my online store. I also offer an affiliate program for qualified participants.

I hope that these guides will help you – small business owners and entrepreneurs to look at their websites in a different way – and to make more money when you do!”

My Top Five Twitter Tips (with a Healthy Dose of Skepticism)

My good friend Vickie Sullivan recently asked for my favourite Twitter tips so that she could share them with her audience of high-fee experts.

I’ve been meaning to put the tips out on my blog, especially as I haven’t posted for a while ;-( Here they are – bear in mind that I’m writing for business professionals, so I’m not talking about using Twitter to follow celebrities, politicians or sports . . .

Three Do’s:

  1. Do Use it for Research, not just Marketing
    You’re probably already using Google News Alerts to keep up with the latest on your clients and areas of expertise (if you’re not, you should be!)

    Twitter is great for tapping into the chatter on these things too. Apps like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to set up search columns which automatically display the most recent tweets on any subject of your choice. See the latest buzz, and keep an eye on the competition!

  2. Do Time your Tweets
    92% of retweets occur within the first hour. So the time when your tweets go out is important.

    Think about the “peak viewing time” of your target audience(s) – are they business people or busy moms? Which time zones are they in?

    Use an application such as Hootsuite to send out your pre-written tweets at optimal times. You can send out the same tweet more than once to hit different markets, but don’t continuously recycle the same message – you’ll get flagged for spam.

  3. Do Track your Results
    Any tweet that you want to bring traffic to your website, generate sales or leads, etc. must contain a clickable link (too many folks forget to include this call to action and lose out on opportunities).

    It’s really important to track what you’re doing to evaluate results – you want to know what types of tweets work for you, and what times of day are best to send them.

    So, you also want to keep an eye on your Web traffic reports to evaluate your Twitter success. Do visitors from Twitter leave your site immediately, or do they produce the outcomes that you want?

    Since you’re restricted to 140 characters, using a free URL shortening service like Bit.ly is very helpful – and it also gives you automatic click-through tracking for every link.

And two Don’ts:

  1. Don’t Be Seduced by Big Numbers
    It’s a wonderful ego boost to have hundreds or thousands of followers. In fact, Peter Shankman recently referred to this as “the new penis envy!”

    But bear in mind that lots of people follow you because they expect you to follow them back as the accepted convention. So they don’t necessarily care that much about what you write . . .

    Notice who does respond or retweet your postings and celebrate your loyal followers. Just remember that quantity doesn’t guarantee quality on Twitter.

  2. Don’t Have Unrealistic Expectations
    A recent survey found that over 70% of tweets get no response at all, and an average of only 6% are retweeted.

    Think about it – how many people are you following? How many tweets do you actively read every day, let alone click on any links, retweet or reply . . .

    Of course, it only takes one response that’s exactly the right one to make a huge impact. But don’t expect every tweet that you send to be life (or business) changing!

As with everything that I teach, the key to a successful investment of time and resources in Twitter is having a well-thought out strategy, carefully tracking results and tweaking what you do as you learn more about what works for you.

As Peter Shankman says, just don’t get carried away by all the hype!

Your “Community Involvement” Page Really Does Matter!

A recent eMarketer article reported that 90% of moms and 88% of millennials prefer businesses that participate in positive social and environmental activities.

Similar numbers said that these considerations influence which products and services they buy, and where they choose to shop.

At first glance you might say that “moms and millennials” are not your target market, especially if your focus is b2b. But don’t forget that these folks also have, or will have careers. They may not be wearing their “mom” hat when they’re looking at your b2b website, but that doesn’t mean that all their subconscious reactions go away.

I’ve been suggesting for a long time that a “Community Involvement” page in the “About Us” section of your website is a really great addition. If you invest time and resources in causes that are meaningful to your customers, if you support your chamber of commerce or take part in local charitable events, it’s well worth saying so.

And of course, you can make it fun – photos of your employees and friends taking part in events, maybe some video clips, all increase the emotional connections that your website and / or your Facebook page make with your visitors.

So unless you want your charitable contributions and participation to remain anonymous, tell the world what you’ve been doing. This may not directly get you the business, but it does have influence.

Is Search Engine Optimization Always a “Must-Do”?

I’m finally on the road to recovery from my surgery and catching up on a lot of reading.

Econsultancy had an interesting blog post a couple of weeks ago about the levels of search engine optimization for SME (small and medium-sized business) websites in the UK. They found that 60% of SME marketers are not currently investing in SEO.

Among Econsultancy’s statistics on this:

  • 20% of marketers know about SEO, but choose not to allocate any budget for it.

They also comment:
“These businesses should be looking to correct this as, implemented well, SEO has the potential to be a very important and cost-effective sales channel. Also, competitors that have invested time or money in SEO may be gaining an advantage.”

(Note: to keep my posting reasonably brief, I’m quoting a very small segment – for the full viewpoint, please read the complete article).

Strong words – but I’m wondering about the makeup of the businesses in the sample. The author seems to imply that all SME’s would benefit from better search engine placement. I’m not sure that’s true.

In my presentations to Vistage SME CEO groups within the US, I’ve met, for example:

  • businesses who are so niched that they know all of their potential customers, and the market knows of them;
  • businesses who do all or almost all of their work for government agencies, so marketing is a very different ballgame;
  • businesses who don’t want to be found by the general public due to security concerns – either their work is classified, or their operations might invite protests or attacks (one of my recent groups included a company which provides animal testing for drug development).

In my experience, search engine traffic can also produce widely differing qualities of visitors, depending on the products or services being offered. I’ve never found it especially helpful for professional service firms (content marketing is much more powerful for folks selling expertise), but it’s great for selling yo-yo’s!

So if your business is one of those mentioned in the report, or if it would have been if you were UK-based, before you take this rebuke to heart, I’d revisit your marketing strategy, desired markets, and known business constraints. Perhaps you are one of the few for whom search engine optimization is justifiably not a priority.

Restoring Vintage Napoleon Hill Video – But Where’s the Web Strategy?

My good friend Ed Primeau of Primeau Productions, Inc. is one of the top video production experts for speakers. He has recently been asked by the Napoleon Hill Foundation to digitally restore some films of Napoleon Hill presenting in the 1980′s. Ed describes the painstaking restoration process on his blog – it’s a fascinating read.

However, Ed doesn’t mention in his blog post that he also has a remastered 9 CD collection of Napoleon Hill’s entire “Think and Grow Rich” lecture available for purchase from his online store.

It’s funny – Ed has been designing and producing my videos since 1997, so you think he would have heard enough of me by now to know my mantra “Every page of your site should have a strategy” ;-)

In other words, it’s quite possible that folks reading about restoring Napoleon Hill videos might also be interested in restored audio materials from the master orator. So there should be a clickable link between the blog posting and the online store product description on Ed’s site to ensure that he makes the most of opportunities to leverage different aspects of his content.

We’re currently working on some new demo material that I just recorded, so Ed’s getting another daily dose of my key ideas. Meanwhile, I’ll keep encouraging him to apply for himself the messages that he’s so great at marketing for others!

The Top Three Strategic Business Blogging Mistakes

Yesterday I had a great conversation with self-described LEED geek Chris Moline, of Commercial Carpets of America. Chris is a former journalist, and has an information-packed blog about green flooring and carpeting.

Chris asked me what I saw as the most critical mistakes that business bloggers make.

Apart from the obvious one (which I model perfectly) of not posting frequently enough, there are two issues that I see all the time when I review a blog from the perspective of strategy and return on investment:

  1. Lack of clear branding and identity statements for the new visitor. If your blog is well indexed, a lot of people are going to find you via search engines. They’re coming to you with no context, and absolutely no idea of who you are or what products and / or services you offer. So you need to include some positioning at the top of your template so that they can easily find out more about you and your business.
  2. Lack of leverage and compelling calls to action. If this is a business blog, then presumably you’re writing it to attract new and returning customers. If you’ve ever heard me speak, you’ve heard my mantra “Every page of your site should have a strategy”. For every single piece of content, you need to decide what outcome you want from visitors – whether it’s to go to your Website to see more details of a product, or to send you an e-mail, or to sign up for your RSS feed. And you need to provide plenty of clickable links within your text to encourage this.

I’ve been reviewing traffic reports for a lot of blogs recently. Most of them exhibit one or more of these mistakes, and you can clearly see the result in the lack of response or good click-through rates. So take another look at your blog postings from your business strategy perspective – do you have a “Leaky Boat” blog?

Social Media – What’s the Cost of Not Doing It?

I just read a very interesting blog from Robert Patterson of MMG Worldwide, talking about measuring social media ROI in the travel market.

I was especially intrigued by the discussion of non-tangible factors in calculating “return on influence”.

It all got me thinking that another interesting question to ask, especially if you’re still thinking about whether all this is worth it for your company, might be: “Can I quantify the opportunity cost of *not* doing this?”

In other words, using the travel example, could a hotel somehow measure how many nights it costs them not to be doing a Twitter campaign when the comparable hotel down the street is? Hotels are very upset about negative reviews, especially those of doubtful origins or motive – do they know for sure how much damage they do?

Perhaps the only way to calculate the negative side is to jump in and see what difference it makes – but the article got me thinking . . .