Is a Twitter Stream Essential to your Event’s Success?

A couple of days ago, Hubspot published a blog posting called “5 Steps to Planning an Awesome Event with Inbound Marketing”. It’s generally a great piece, and as it says: “With the use of hashtags and the practice of live-tweeting, Twitter has become a great way for attendees to share knowledge and insight during events.”

Quite so. But the next thing they said got me thinking:

“These days, an event isn’t considered very successful unless people are talking it online while it’s taking place.” In fact, it’s no longer rude to use your cellphone during sessions (I assume as long as you’re tweeting or updating your status!)

Hmm – an event “isn’t very successful” unless folks are tweeting about it? Yet this morning, eMarketer reports that although 92% of Internet users in the US have heard of Twitter, only 13% of them have a Twitter account, and only 11% access their Twitter account at least once per month.

So what gives? Are all the people who attend conferences crammed into that 11% of users, so that lack of conference-related tweets implies an unsuccessful meeting? Seems unlikely to me. Or is it possible that the highly tech-savvy intersection of the meetings industry and the online marketing world are judging everything by their own very exacting standards? What do you think?

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.

New Web Strategy Video – and Signing Off for a While

I’ve been really bad about posting to this blog recently – and the only excuse I have is that I’ve been feeling pretty lousy.  Tomorrow (July 13th) I am scheduled for major surgery which will hopefully resolve all my issues, and I’ll come bouncing back!

I’m very happy that my surgeon is Dr. Paul Indman, who I blogged about a few months ago (see “the Emotionally Connected Doctor’s Website”).  Actually Dr. Indman turns out to be an accomplished blogger as well as a wonderful doctor, and he has a new addition to his Web presence at eFibroids.com

The good news is that my new video footage “Web Strategies That Win” is finally off the press. These are excerpts from a program that I presented recently for 600 small business owners. We’re hoping that more of this material will be available soon on YouTube and Vimeo.

You can also listen to recent interviews that I did about “Leaky Boat Websites” for “Business Expert Radio”, and for the Women’s Business Entrepreneurs’ site “CremeMagnolia” (look for the “Titan of Industry” section).

So with that, I’ll sign off until August (unless I’m feeling really spunky sooner!) Have a great summer, and keep your website leak-proof!

The Small Business Marketing Joy Summit

I’m taking a quick break from my usual posts to announce an exciting upcoming happening which I’m honoured to be a part of:

On June 28th, I’m teaching at an online event designed for small business owners, solo practitioners, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in growing their business – the free Small Business Marketing Joysummit. I’ll be joining a really amazing group of 10 speakers who are experts on everything from SEO to web strategy, sales, business planning and competing without discounting.

The full lineup is:

  • Mitch Axelrod – author of the New Game of Business
  • Tim Berry – CEO of Palo Alto Software, Business Planning Expert
  • Joyce Bone – Millionaire Mom
  • Ann Michael Henry – Productivity Chef
  • Kent Lewis – Founder and President of Anvil Media and Formic Media, SEO Expert
  • Delia Passi – CEO of Medelia, Inc. and Founder of Women’s Certified, Selling to Women Expert
  • Sarah Petty – Boutique marketing expert
  • Melanie Benson Strick – CEO of Success Connections
  • Crystal Williamson – Technology Coach and Guru

and me, of course! Each speaker has recorded an hour of solid content – mine was about “Leaky Boat Websites – and How to Prevent Them”.

You can register now, and gain online access to all 10 speaker recordings at no cost anytime on June 28th. Or (disclaimer – I do get a part of these proceeds, but a part also goes to Kiva which is a wonderful cause), you can buy the complete set of 10 for only $49 before June 27th.

Check it out!

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!

United Airlines Online Satisfaction Survey – a Study in How Not To Do It?

I have to admit that I often rant about airline Websites, especially in my “Emotional Connections” program – in fact, the whole idea for my “How Does Your Website Make Me Feel?” schtick was sparked by a page on US Airways’ site back in 2001.

This morning hit a whole new low when I received an invitation to complete an online survey about the Mileage Plus program from United Airlines in conjunction with InsightExpress, LLC. Since it promised all of 250 miles if I complied, I decided to give it a go.

Why was I so irked? Let me count the ways:

  1. In order to access the survey, I needed to enter my Mileage Plus number. That’s OK, but the first question in the survey was: “What’s your Mileage Plus number?” Wait, didn’t I just tell you that?
  2. The survey seemed to run incredibly slowly – I frequently had to reload pages, and every time I had to re-enter my response. I don’t know if this was my connection, or if they underestimated traffic levels . . .
  3. There was only one question per page, and no indication of how many questions there would be in total, or how far along I was in the process. Every time the page hung, I thought about giving up, but continued in the hope that it would soon be over (and that I’d get my 250 miles).
  4. Every question required a checked radio button, or a rating on a scale of 1 to 5. There was no free input anywhere, and no place that asked why I responded the way I did. Which made me even more frustrated – don’t they want to know what about the program makes me “Strongly Dissatisfied”, and more so than last year? How can they fix anything if they don’t know what the problem is – or maybe they don’t really want to know what the problem is?

There’s an art to conducting online surveys, both in keeping people engaged and on track, and in designing the questions so that you get quantifiable and useful feedback. I’m sure there’s plenty that I don’t know about what United were trying to achieve here, but as a customer being asked about my satisfaction levels, it left me even more unhappy.

Oh well, hopefully I’ll enjoy spending the 250 miles!

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?