the inbound-i blog: Inbound Marketing Information, Ideas & Intelligence

The Shortcut to Online Marketing Success: Take the Long Way Around

Posted by Ellie Becker on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 18:12 PM

Online Marketing Strategy vs Tactics

As the world of marketing changes around us, it can be tempting to just take action: put up a new website, dip our toes in the waters of blogging, try out the latest social platform. In fact, that's what many companies I've consulted with have done.

The result was that they were not getting anywhere near the benefits that connecting with potential customers online can bring. Why? Because they took what they believed to be shortcuts without mapping out a destination.

Lately, I've been called in by more companies that recognize they're going in circles online. They want to understand how to chart a better course. What they're learning is that going back and adding some fundamental, strategic steps to their marketing journey is the key to planning far more successful tactical efforts.

Here are five steps that may seem like the long way around to boosting your online marketing. But guaranteed, if you stop and take them, you'll get to your objectives much faster than if you ignore them.

1. Create Buyer Personae: It's surprising how many businesses haven't analyzed their best customers to identify the qualities and motivations they share. Who among us wouldn't want to attract more of our most enjoyable and profitable customers? The process of understanding our best customers' buyer personae can be very enjoyable. Give each buyer persona a name. Then, when you're creating content, choosing social media platforms or making other marketing decisions you can do so with your buyer personae in mind. Will this messaging appeal to them? You'll be able to answer 'yes' or 'no'.

2. Analyze the Competition: Online marketing is relatively new and it's highly likely that your competitors aren't any farther ahead than you are. We're all very visible online and marketing moves that used to be private are now knowable. But most companies are unaware to what extent. Knowing the quality of your competitors' online marketing before they know yours will reveal incredible opportunities for you to leapfrog them. If you find they're ahead of you, you'll have a roadmap for improving your marketing for the competitive environment. You will also see where your products and services stand apart so that you can better position them in the competitive field. Go to www.marketinggrader.com. Grade your own company first. Just type in your website url and your email address to get a detailed assessment of your online marketing. Then repeat for each competitor. You'll be amazed at what you'll learn.

3. Identify Key Messages: Now that you know who you're speaking to, and what will attract them to your products and services compared to your competitors', write a list of messages that will appeal to them. Having a key message list will keep your communications on track and consistent.

4. Perform Keyword Research: Keywords are the words that your buyer personae use to find products and services like yours. They are often not industry buzzwords. You need to know these search terms so that you can optimize your website and content for them. They create a path to your website or blog when search engines are seeking relevant responses to queries from your buyer personae. Google has a free keyword research tool. Or perform a few Google searches on terms related to your business and at the bottom of the first results page, Google will offer a list of 'related searches'.

5. Optimize Your Website and Content: Once you have a list of the keywords actually used to search for your products or services, you can optimize your web pages and blog posts to let search engines know that your pages are relevant to their interests. You can read a series of posts, beginning here, that address various aspects of search engine optimization, SEO.

Once you've taken these five steps, you'll have a compass in place for your marketing and your best customer prospects will have a short-cut to your website and online content.

What online marketing strategies have worked for your company?

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The image is from the Flickr photo stream of Patrick Hoelsy under Creative Commons license,

Topics: Online Marketing, SEO, Online Marketing Strategy, Keyword Research, Buyer Personae

Future of SEO: Three Areas of Impact

Posted by Ellie Becker on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 12:06 PM

Future of SEO is NowBecause of changes to Google's approach to search, some are beginning to question the future role of SEO in inbound marketing. Google is beginning to link search results it delivers to the social media behavior and browsing history of the searcher. This is one result of Google's foray into social media with Google+.

In the future, which in a limited way is now, what comes up on page one of search results will be different for you than it is for me. This puts the notion of high search engine rankings into question. Why bother with SEO if we no longer care about page one? But we should care. It just requires a shift in how we get there. Here are the three key areas that will be important to successful SEO in the future.

1. Keyword Research - What continues to be critical about the activities involved in SEO is keyword research - regardless of how search engines decide to parcel out results. The reason? Key word research gives us true insight to our buyer personae - our key audiences.

It's critical to success that we understand the words our prospects use to search for products and services like ours. I can bet you that the words they use are a far cry from the words we use in our carefully constructed website copy.

2. Social Media Context -- Where we need to shift is to become much more aware of where our prospects are engaged in social media. In addition to knowing where they spend time and effort engaging online, we must also become more engaged ourselves. Our associations with key audiences, our interconnectedness with their communities will influence our being presented to them on page one query results.

3. Great Content -- I agree with some online marketing experts that the most important inbound marketing component will continue to be creating great content. Keyword research helps assure that the content will appeal to the intended audience and will include language that resonates with them. Social networks assure effective targeting and delivery of our messages.

But ultimately, it’s our level of creativity, professional knowledge and awareness of our audiences’ needs that will contribute to producing content that moves to the top of search results. Such content will not only attract search engines, but will move people to action by showcasing our capabilities to provide the products and services being sought.

 

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The image is from the flickr photostream of Aurelian S  under Creative Commons license.

Topics: E.R. Becker Company, SEO, Social Media, Google+, Keyword Research, Google+, Content

How To Research Keywords: A High Return Online Marketing Activity

Posted by Ellie Becker on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 @ 20:03 PM

This is the second in our SEO series. Optimizing your website is probably the top way to leapfrog your competition today in my opinion.Choose Longtail Search Terms for SEO

The basic building block of SEO – and all online marketing -- is the keyword or search term. There are free research tools to learn how your prospects are actually searching for your products/services. The words they use may never occur to you. But you can discover them and use them to drive traffic to your website from these active searchers.

Here’s how important keyword research is according to SEOMoz – one of the top authorities on search engine optimization – excerpted from its “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO”:

“Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field. Through the detective work of puzzling out your market's keyword demand, you not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole. The usefulness of this intelligence cannot be overstated. In the history of marketing, there has never been such a low barrier to entry in understanding the motivations of consumers in virtually every niche - not taking advantage is practically criminal.”

Here’s how to start researching keywords. Click on this link to Google’s free keyword tool. It was developed to help companies target Adwords in Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. It’s also very useful in organic (unpaid) search.

Here’s what to do. In the search field type in keywords and search terms that you believe are important in your industry. In the left column of the tool, you’ll see an option called Match Type. Select the option that says Exact Match.  This will return you suggestions related to the exact broad term you typed in.

The suggestions provided are based on actual searches that have happened over the past month. Refer to the column marked ‘Local’ which is the searches performed in your country. The Global search column is for searches worldwide.

The second column from the left tells you the difficulty – or competition -- of ranking for the search term. The lower the number, the easier to rank for it on Page one of search results.

The suggested search terms are considered “longtail” search terms. For example, a recent search for the exact broad search term Social Media Marketing revealed 22,200 local monthly searches and competition of .92.

The longtail search term “using social media for marketing” only had 480 local searches but had a competition of only .62. Plus, those 480 people are more likely to be interested in finding help using social media for marketing rather than those who may be seeking broader information. That would be an interesting longtail search term for me.

You’ll make similar search term decisions for yur own industry. Keyword research is not an exact science and it’s a bit of an art. As you’ll discover, there are thousands of ways that prospects may search for your products or services. It’s humbling, actually, and important motivation for dropping jargon from our marketing language.

The best advice I can offer is to explore, experiment and analyze. HubSpot has keyword tools and analytics built in, including your ranking for specific keywords. There are other tools out there like Keyword Spy, which also gives you competitive intelligence.

Optimizing your web pages and content based on keyword research will pay off in more traffic to your site from targeted prospects.

 

As you consider your keyword strategy learn more about another key element of ranking for search terms - Social Media. Download your free White Paper.

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The Longtail image is from the Flickr photostream of Mister-E chris Eason under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing Strategy, SEO, Keyword Spy, Keyword Research, HubSpot, SEOMoz

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