Why do we do what we do? It’s a great question, posed by Joe Pulizzi, friend and colleague, and founder and CEO at the Content Marketing Institute in a post that lays it straight out — “Your WHAT Doesn’t Matter if Your WHY Is Lacking“. Let’s find out how knowing the answer is key to business success and in so doing learn why one paddles a canoe.
Why do we do what we do in business?
Joe wrote the foreward for our new book on CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization. Optimization for conversions (when a visitor comes to your site and takes a step closer to doing business with you) is part of what we do because it helps marketers win more qualified leads. And conversions are one of the focus areas in our marketing strategy model we follow which we call R.A.C.E. — Reach, Act, Convert, Engage. Again, that’s what we do, but why do we do this? You might as well ask why do canoe enthusiasts paddle canoes (I will give you my answer below)?
I know what Joe does — he provides resources to help Content Marketers including content marketing conferences which I have attended a couple of times (highly recommended).
I know what each of our healthcare clients do. For example, one provides software for hospitals so they can manage revenues better. I know what our hotel clients do — they provide a resting place at a vacation destination. But why… why are we all in business?
Why ask why? The answer is that your marketing success depends more on the why and less on the what. Or, as Pulizzi puts it, “Your why is the problem your product solves.” Ok, let’s see then: (more…)
[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series on the primary focus areas of R.A.C.E. Digital Marketing: Reach; Act; Convert; Engage. We will expand on these articles to create longer guides for Digital Marketers and make them available at our training division site: CollegeofMarketingPros.org]
Leads are the gold for B2B marketers looking for strategic conversions.
Every business needs qualified leads. That’s why we wrote a guide to CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization. CRO is arguably one of the best tactics you can use for ROI with a quick payback. It also sits prominently within our RACE marketing cycle diagram (below) at position #4. If your site is not converting, and you are not working on ways to improve conversion rates, then you may be losing money.
In B2C and e-commerce, marketers are often concerned about moving directly to a sale. Conversely, B2B sales cycles are longer so it’s very important to capture leads. We at Webdirexion contend that leads are very important in B2C work too, particularly for potential customers who aren’t ready to buy yet. One of our focus industries is in hotel marketing and we see a majority of hotels just focusing on reservations alone.
“Your site “design” is just a best guess at what will be persuasive and compelling.”
At Webdirexion LLC, our team uses a marketing model known as “R.A.C.E.” (Reach, Act, Convert, Engage) to organize strategic thinking, the tactics that flow from it, and measurements to meet and exceed goals. And, we’ve just published a book on one important focus area in the R.A.C.E. marketing cycle — Conversions (you can get “The Marketer’s Concise Guide to C.R.O.” on Amazon, paperback or kindle). This is a key digital marketing strategy. C.R.O (Conversion Rate Optimization) revolves in large part around testing, so we wanted to present you with some thoughts and research on same (click to enlarge):
The Marketer’s Concise Guide to CRO offers a comprehensive review of CRO tools, tactics, and techniques to help marketers grow their businesses in a targeted and meaningful way. With an overview of different site tests and a comparison of online analytical tools, anyone from marketing students to career marketers will find something useful in this comprehensive guide.
Below is a recent webinar we did for Hoteliers and Innkeepers on “Smart Ways To Book More Rooms” in conjunction with Checkfront* — an innovative cloud booking service with some
unique marketing features. (see also our post on Hotel Marketing Q & A)
*Webdirexion has a marketing agreement with Checkfront because they offered the best solution for our clients in our opinion. Do contact us for a comparison table of three popular booking companies.
In preparing for our PAII Webinar on Online Marketing Recommendations for Websites (Sept. 30th — register online, it’s free), we took a closer look at some Hotels & Inns we had reviewed recently to look for the strengths in their social media strategies.
Below, I’ll outline some things we know are strong for both the Balch Hotel and the Edenwild Inn with regards to their presence in the social venues. First, let’s look at the Balch Hotel:
The Balch Hotel covers a range of social sites including those above (Google+, Twitter, and Facebook) with a smart strategy to emphasize different advantages of staying with them
Join us for a webinar with PAII – Professional Association of Innkeepers International— next week on Sept. 30th at 10:30am PST/1:30am EST on “Top 10 Online Marketing Recommendations for Inn Websites” – » Register online (it’s free)!
The debate rages on about AirBnB versus some hotel industry trade associations and city governments. A lot of innkeepers and hoteliers we talk to continue to resent AirBnB. That’s understood. But it still looks like this “disruptive” technology play is here to stay, so what can we learn when we take a look at the big picture? Are there opportunities for smart, progressive BnB owners?
Let’s focus on Seattle inside the city. In future posts we’ll consider smaller rural areas, but a review of three different map sources of data for Seattle is quite revealing in this major metropolitan area, to start with:
Look at the pure density of rooms and homes being rented out in the emerald city. AirDNA produces this map and counts 3200+ AirBnB properties available in Sept. 2015 for Seattle, WA.
It was the year 2000 and the two big brands looked around them and realized things were going to change. Microsoft realized that software in a box was going to move into the cloud. Office Depot saw the same writing on the wall and realized that it would mean aisles of software in boxes, representing significant revenue, drying up and vanishing. What to do? Bingo. Start selling software as a service in the stores. So, they created something called bCentral (yep, the official press release is still out there) — a package of website creation, scheduling, and ecommerce tools — then hired a cadre of sales and ecommerce consultants in 20 different major US cities to sell the services and consult with clients. (more…)
Smaller properties of 6-20 rooms can be reluctant to maintain a presence and room inventory on OTAs like Expedia and TripAdvisor. But are they shooting themselves in the foot? Both the “Billboard Effect” and the “Pay to Play Effect” do indicate that you’re leaving money at the table.
The Billboard Effect: Did you know that industry studies show using OTAs increases room reservations — at your own site? According to an article on Hotel Business Review, “…Cornell Professor Chris Anderson found that a hotel’s direct bookings increased from 7.5 to 26% when listed on Expedia, perfectly illustrating the impact that the billboard effect has on a property’s direct bookings.”
It works like this… a prospective guest sees the generic site they create for you on Expedia or Hotels.com or TripAdvisor (your “billboard” on that platform), then leaves the OTA site to book at your own site, assuming you are set up for smart on-site booking and mobile ready. (more…)
Innkeepers and hoteliers wear so many hats, that it can be hard to concentrate on lifting your marketing game. Fortunately we live in an era with a wealth of online marketing resources and technologies plus research for boosting results. But the the best solutions go beyond tactics and technology to the core of persuasion psychology. I’ve learned a lot about all this in close to 35 years in the trenches, so I’m pleased to share my own top 10 list to help you win the quest for heads in beds:
1) Triple-Leverage your blog content: Make your blog do triple duty. First, write each blog post with highly relevant content to increase your rankings. Second, use an automation tool (we like Hootsuite, or Delvr.it) to automatically push posts to social media — set it and forget it. Third, set your blog RSS feed to go out monthly with excerpts from your posts and a special or two using a smart email service like MailChimp (great pricing — send to 2,000 subscribers monthly for free).
Which of the three images are essential to engage prospective guests? Answer: The people shot (bottom right) — folks buy on emotion. But which pictures do innkeepers show more of on their websites?
2) Sell the sizzle, not the steak: Should a sailboard manufacturer sell the composition of the board, or the experience of sailing across the water? Should a restaurant show it’s store front and food only, or sell the social experience the venue affords? Should an Inn show only its rooms (the steak); or show guests enjoying breakfasts and heading off to local adventures (the sizzle)? You get it. Sure, it’s easier to settle just for room and building photos, but you’ll sell more when you present the sizzle of the vacation. (more…)
When it comes to online reservations at various OTAs — which should you get more heads in beds?
There are a lot of OTAs — Online Travel Agencies (like Hotels.com) — out there for Innkeepers and Hoteliers to consider in their marketing mix. There are also GDS’s — Global Distribution Systems — that give you access to the Google Hotel Booking network among other things. How best to make an informed choice, and should you use these channels at all?
Our Webdirexion Hotel Marketing Solutions philosophy is that while you should seek to maximize bookings at your own website, the OTAs and GDS’s are the devils you must deal with — and pay the 15% (or higher) commissions. Why? Industry statistics show that most hotel searches begin at the search engine (usually Google, of course), and then about 20% of searches continue at an OTA with about 20% at your own site. (more…)
Webdirexion LLC, an online marketing agency with clients across the US and overseas, has announced a new focus on Hotel and Inn Marketing Solutions, now with cloud based, mobile-ready booking integrations. The package includes components that facilitate automated room inventory allocations to OTAs, plus integrations with point of service software for coffee shops and gift shops, accounting software, analytics and marketing software.
“We have an experienced team for marketing hotels and inns, and saw a growing need for smart room booking and online marketing in the hospitality industry, so we’ve put together some great packages for all hotels of all sizes,” explains Scott Frangos, President and “chief optimizer” for Webdirexion. “For the past two years, we’ve helped a Hotel and Resort client in Costa Rica grow with smart lead gathering landing campaigns, attractive slideshows, and compelling mini-sites focusing on the different business aspects of the property.” (more…)
C.R.O. is an Art and a Science in which you are always testing to create more leads.
What are you key conversion rates (a conversion happens when a visitor moves one step closer to becoming a customer)? How do you increase conversion rates? Answers to both questions are vital to your business, but a good number of marketers don’t know their conversion numbers and aren’t taking the right steps to increase results.
…you need to test at each key point in your funnel for optimal results, from headlines in PPC ads to calls to action on landing pages to open rates in followup drip marketing. Then you’ll win a higher percentage of qualified leads.”
First, let me tell you a couple of things that CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization — is not about. It’s not about traffic volume. You could have a low volume of visitors in a very small niche, for example, but be converting a good number of those visitors into prospects that become customers. C.R.O is not primarily about content marketing… because content is not king. (more…)
“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” – David Ogilvy
A/B testing often results in better CRO.
If increasing sales is the holy grail for marketers, why don’t more pay attention to CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization? Let’s say your typical B2B sales campaign looks something like this when it comes to Online Marketing: Set up a landing page; run a PPC campaign; send out a promotional email to your list, drive warm prospects back to your landing page; look for visitors to convert via a form on the page which puts them into your CRM? Done? Not by a long shot. You need to find ways to improve results.
There’s a chain of “C” focus points on the way to a sale which all may be optimized: Content; Conversion; Connection; Close. You need to test each step of that process for better performance. That’s when you start CROing. Only then can you maximize ROI — Return on Investment. Only then will your boss understand how valuable you are to the organization.
Learn more in BLIP Magazine — this week’s edition is dedicated to CRO
Are you closing your social media connection loops?
How can you engage strong Klout leaders in social media, then close the engagement loop? Let’s take a look. This post begins with a focus on a great engagement tip using HootSuite — the pro social media dashboard, scheduling and swiss knife tool. Then we’ll look at a SlideShare presentation (still another content engagement tactic you should explore) and with a takeaway on content strategy. The beauty of the sequence is that using social media, one connection led to another and this post closes that loop.
Let’s start with a Hootsuite tip (disclosure, Webdirexion is a pro solution partner with Hootsuite and both Julie Hume and myself are certified in Social Media Marketing by Hootsuite University). In a nutshell, this tip focuses on finding and engaging Klout leaders. You read it right — “Klout” is the name of a ratings service that looks a key performance indicators in social media and assigns you a score. The higher the score, the more Klout you have.
The Klout Technique in Hootsuite
In the screenshot below, using Hootsuite, you can see that I have first filtered in the “stream” of twitter users that have mentioned our company (@Webdirexion) using the Klout filter set for at least 40-45 strength. This reveals at least one possible Klout leader for engagement:
3-steps for engaging with Klout leaders as a social media marketing tactic.
My reply, which links back to this post, shows in the Hootsuite stream with the original message.
After I review a Klout leaders profile, I check number of followers (Vinay has 4400+ followers that may see my reply to him) and further qualify the the contact. Then I actually read the post and follow the link in it. I need to do each of these things to qualify the contact (ie. a possible client or a colleague?) and make an intelligent reply. No robo-replies here — being “social” means you actually talk to one another with authentic dialog.
Following the link in Mr. Koshy’s original post led me to the slideshare presentation included below — and gave me the right inspiration for a reply. Note that in the reply, I did three key things:
I linked back to this article which mentions the dialog
I put some text before @vpkoshy because if I did not, only vpkoshy would see the reply (credit to our Julie Hume for the tip on that tactic)
I used a hashtag to extend visibility for the reply
The Content Strategy Concept (from a Slideshare presentation)
Note how the Content Pillars support each of the objectives above.
On slide 28 shown at right, in a presentation recommended by our Klout Leader friend from Australia, the author (Christel Quek) gives a diagram of three “content pillars” supporting the audience, brand objective and user motivations. What a concise way to picture your “content marketing” work to be done.
There are also a number of great tips for social media marketing in that presentation, including:
Using hashtags as a call to action
Let your brand personality shine in social media
Remember to use social media to “listen to understand”
Focus on how your products or services touch people’s lives
Make your user the hero
Recognize your champions — influencers
I then left a comment at the slideshare. Thousands of people will see the tweet. Mr. Koshy will see that Webdirexion replied directly and followed up and respected his tweet. Ms. Quek will find out that a Koshy tweet led to a blog post with her slideshare embedded (below). Who knows, maybe Vinay Koshy and Christel Quek will learn about and help be influencers for Webdirexion. It’s a social circle — see how that works?
Here’s the slideshare on winning at content strategy:
Hootsuite: Social Insights with Adam Pisoni Co-founder – Yammer
At the center of this post’s tactical tools is Hootsuite, so we’ll end with a short video of thoughts related to using the platform.
How does a company respond fast enough to their customers that are themselves, communicating, sharing and learning at faster and faster speeds due to technology? Adam Pisoni of Yammer has some thoughts in the following video. Yammer is a private social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations, and business apps. Note that you can add Yammer and dozens of other networks and apps into your convenient Hootsuite pro dashboard.
Our curated Online Marketing magazine, BLIP, includes articles from our favorite strategic thinkers and our experienced marketing team.
We’re pleased to announce the launch of BLIP Magazine (@ BLIPmagazine.com) — a curated publication featuring articles for marketing communications professionals on strategies and tactics for SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing, A/B Testing, Conversion Rate Optimization and more. Inspiration for the name BLIP came from how fast things move in this space — Blip… Google has changed its algorithm… Blip we’re mobile centric now… Blip… there’s a new social media marketing tool. You get it.
Earlier I wrote about four different content curation tools we use and one of them is FLIPboard, the technology behind BLIP. It’s hip (sorry, couldn’t resist that). But seriously, we like it as a collaborative tool for our SEO Editing and Marketing Consulting team to work together to find intermediate and advanced level articles on strategic marketing. The app versions are strongly implanted on the majors — iOS, Android, and Windows. We like how the app versions flip you from page to page with your index finger — recalling that “old technology” experience… reading a printed magazine.
BLIP: Great Analytics Tactic To Find Blog Post Ideas
So here’s a take-away from the latest BLIP issue — an Analytics tactic to uncover your popular content so you can write more articles on the same topics. (more…)
Remember that curation is a content strategy, while tools are tactics in search of a strategy.
One of the tactics in the Content Marketer’s arsenal is called “curation”, where you find and republish quality content in a newly “packaged” way. The idea is that you add value at least three ways — you assemble a package that would be hard to find or gather elsewhere; you contribute some editing and related content yourself; and the UI of the “package” facilitates readership (on different devices and through smart layouts that leverage content in a streamlined fashion) and social sharing.
We’ve tried four of the major services for curation over the past 3-5 years, so I wanted to give you some take-aways about each — Flipboard, Paper.li, Rebel Mouse, and Scoop.it. I’ll give you a sample of what we have used them for and thoughts on results but first the most important thing I can tell you is that these tools are tactics… in search of a strategy. What do I mean by that? Well, too many content marketer’s seem to rush into the latest greatest tool and deploy it as a tactic with no clear publishing strategy (niche, readership, purpose of publication, editorial guidelines, etc.) in hand. Planning is in order. And, remember the old adage — if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Curating a good publication takes time and consistent effort, so you need to have a clear picture of the end goal and how it will pay off for you. Remember that curation is a content marketing tactic, not a publishing strategy. (more…)
Most law firms have caught onto SEO and other online marketing tactics, but do you sell the brand, the firm, or individual lawyers?
The Jan/Feb issue of Law Practice Magazine (published by the ABA — American Bar Association) is focusing on Marketing, so we thought it would be a good idea to review a few of the concepts in the issue and contrast with some things we’ve learned in our own focus on smart marketing for your law firm.
What we have found, generally, is that while top-level marketing solutions are the same for professional services firms — branding, positioning, differentiation — the nuts and bolts of tactics, marketing automation software, and even some strategies will differ between firms.
Analytics to learn what prospects do and do not do: In an article on Leveraging Analytics in Marketing, Adam Severson, CMO of Baker Donelson (ranked as the Country’s 68th largest law firm) recommends four components of marketing analytics which include “creating dashboards of activity,” and “tying activity to revenue”. Perfect. We like to use Google Analytics to look at site activity, and sometimes use 2-3 other dashboards including Hootsuite* for social media, SEO profiler and/or Bright Local for search results; and even Google Webmaster Tools for some insights you can’t get in Analytics.
Above is a quick look at page performance for a law firm client we have, where the key is what people do leading up to becoming clients. In the last column we measure “Engaged Visitors” — those who view 3 or more pages — because studies have shown visitors who engage with your site are more likely to do business with you. Note that “/” (the top line) is the firm’s homepage, and that it more highly engages visitors at 13.78% is a good sign it is performing well.
…part of “selling” each attorney means that they write blog articles, sometimes with personal anecdotes so prospects can get to know them. People buy from people they feel they know.”
Then there are reports from Google Adwords and other pay per click advertising we manage for clients. Lots of places to look, so the question then becomes just what do you look at in these tools? That’s where you stats to desired business outcome goals — which goes to the revenue talked about in the article. We like to create quick top-level custom reports for clients, and then take deeper dives into data as required. Deeper dives for what? What indeed. It is “what prospects do” and don’t do that you can learn from analytics, but usually the “why” of their behavior. For that you need to actually ask them and there are some testing methods, social media tactics, and visitor polling that can help you with that.
Making your Practice Credible: In an article on Cultivating Credibility, author Brad Shepard offers up some real gems. First noting that two things prospects seek are, good experience with the specific legal issue they are facing, and recommendations from trusted sources, including other clients, Shepard goes on to give these take-away points:
“Firm credibility isn’t the same as brand awareness.”
“Research indicates that clients are buying attorneys, not firms.”
Presenting experience and recommendations goes to credibility — and that means a focus on both firm level credibility and that of each attorney. Then you add a brand awareness goal to the mix and you have your marching orders.
Above, we’ve identified a “Klout” influencer using Hootsuite dashboard — a possible “amplification” ally with 4,100 followers.
The fun part is choosing the tactics and tools to accomplish those goals. Here’s an outline of some methods we like:
For websites, we custom develop on the WordPress platform with an eye on hitting experience, and brand awareness on the home page with an introduction to the firm’s lawyers as well.
WordPress began as a blogging platform, so it then becomes easy to use a blog marketing strategy where part of “selling” each attorney means that they write blog articles, sometimes with personal anecdotes so prospects can get to know them. People buy from people they feel they know.
Next we make sure there’s a good presence in all “big four” social venues — G+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn — for brand awareness and some conversation. Sure, you want to post links there back to blog posts, but social means you actually talk to one another too. Hootsuite offers a time-saving, all-in-one dashboard for this.
For email newsletters (another great way to leverage the content you produce) and quick “postcard” announcements
We’ve already talked about Analytics reporting, and we also like A/B testing, smart PPC advertising, and sometimes even “old-school” tactics like direct post-card mailings. But these all have to prove out for ROI, and we believe one essential component of that to be studying phone calls direct from your online marketing effort — with a smart solution that provides ROI for call tracking, call routing and lead scoring. We’ll cover these items in some future posts.
The Webdirexion Sled Team, left to right: Scott (Chief Optimizer), Miranda (Content Wrestler), Serhii (Programming Ninja), Julie (SEO Maven), and Wendy (Project Chauffeur). Sherri is not in this race (only 5 allowed on the slopes), but will appear in a forthcoming video.
Quick… what would be a great way to unwind after all that online, digital, content, internet marketing work? A sled race, a la Jib Jab, of course.
We were inspired to create the following video for our Holiday Greetings in the spirit of fun and good humor when one on our team, Sherri Gutierrez (Marketing Consultant), did her own greeting using the same tool. We’re reproducing our sled race here, in case you missed it, and we do wish you a Happy New Year — watch it below.
But beyond the good fun, here are some technical social media marketing points for consideration: (more…)
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