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Will a Real (Good) Website Stand Up?

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I just read an excellent rant (or, venting?) by a noted business growth consultant — Andy Birol.

Andy’s earned a solid reputation based on a history of helping clients build their business and value.

He’s actually quite good at it, too.

His latest post reflects his honest frustration with how well his website is working for him.  Or, maybe not.

The Problem With Many Websites
What Andy and many advisors realize is that “good-looking websites” aren’t necessarily ‘effective websites’.  Of course, it might help to define what ‘effective’ means, right?

Effective‘ means that your website can create an opportunity to help you generate revenues.

In most cases, this doesn’t imply an online transaction or purchase.  But it does suggest your website should be able to create well-qualified opportunities from which you can generate a client (and, the revenue that suggests) in a reasonable amount of time.

Let’s face it.  Whatever your expertise, it’s safe to say you probably aren’t a website developer.  Your expertise may lie in helping your clients manage their risks, make good investments, protect their intellectual property, and the like. So the lure of a ‘pretty-looking’ website may be quite compelling.

If It Looks Terrible But Works Great . . . Don’t Mess With It!
What Andy’s learned is that ‘good looks’ aren’t all that important in producing the performance criteria he’s learned is really important — i.e. identifying a well-qualified individual for his services.  That’s a huge insight.  And, a valuable one to remember.

I am constantly amazed (but not surprised) at how often a website built on the HubSpot platform looks ‘clunky’ but works extremely well.  There’s a New Yorker magazine cartoon where two dogs are in the library and on their master’s PC.  One dog says to the other, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog”.  Very true.  And that’s why even ‘ugly’ websites can be more productive of leads than pretty websites . . . ‘pretty useless’, that is!

On a Google search, if your website or blog offers highly relevant content, it will attract traffic in the form of well-qualified visitors to you.  Once you have qualified visitors, using CTA’s (Calls To Action) and offering items of value can help reveal their identify so you can begin a marketing dialogue with them.  Just as Andy’s learned.

KEY POINT: Find Out If Your Current Website Is Working As You Wish
A valuable service of HubSpot is a complementary review of your current website.  The service is called “Marketing Grader“.  It takes only a few moments. You enter your URL (and up to 2 of your competitors) and it will give you an most insightful report on where you’re doing good and where you might be able to be doing even better.

Getting Found Online

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Google SearchOK, so yesterday . . . I made a post on this blog: “Inbound Marketing in Connecticut”.

Today — just one day later — I do a search on Google for what I’d like to think a prospective client might type into Google assuming, of course, that they were interested in ‘Inbound Marketing’ and entered (as many do) a geographic factor i.e. ‘Connecticut’.

Relevance Makes You Rise To The TOP!
Well, lo and behold . . . My post is found on PAGE 1 of the Google search for the phrase (some call it a ‘long-tail keyword’) that was the title of my post.  (you can check it for yourself — click the image to open in a new window!).  

What Were The Ingredients That Worked?
First, I
t was only 230 words (quality beats quantity in a blog post, folks!). Second, I used the keyword phrase ‘inbound marketing’ but in a meaningful and relevant way.  Third, I included a video that was ranked well on YouTube.  Fourth, I used the phrase (keyword) ‘Outbound Marketing’. Nothing magical there.  Just basic SEO that you can do, too.

Something is missing from yesterday’s post, though.  Can you tell what it is?  If not, I’ll share it tomorrow.

KEY POINT:
Content attracts people who are looking for what you do . . . so plan to use it effectively in 2012. 

Is Your Message … COMPELLING?

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The power of words . . . can move people to action.

You just have to say what you want to say . . . in a way that matters.

Like this:

Publish or Perish

In a recent article in the prestigious Harvard Business Review, David Edelman of McKinsey & Company argues that publishing a regular flow of quality, market-centric content has a funny way of generating a regular flow of revenues.  Of course, he warns, not to do so . . . is a choice made with potentially perilous consequences!

Four Ways To Publish Content

EDUCATION / ENTERTAINMENTSears posts cooking videos on Youtube, Macy’s and Target also have topical treatments (i.e. content, content and more content!) on topics they believe appeal to their market and will cause sales of their products.  Seems to be working!

PROBLEM-SOLVINGWilliams-Sonoma offers content on how to best choose food and wine, Home Depot offers DIY videos on all kinds of topics.

SOCIAL PROOFLL Bean hosts ‘stories’ from actual customers and many bloggers are being encouraged to create content about topics that lead readers to (DUH!) learn about and purchase products these firms offer for sale.

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING / MAINTAINING– perhaps the most challenging because it requires robust monitoring, ongoing analysis and immediate response.  This is also the most potent and measurable means of marketing.  Best example?  Amazon.com

KEY POINT:
We advocate the publishing model as a key to modern marketing for many reasons.  Here’s why — it works!  Try it.  You’ll like it, too! 

Keys to Generating Traffic for Your Site

Attracting Traffic!
Apart from a possible narcissistic indulgence, you want to be found by people who are seeking the knowledge and expertise you have in great abundance. Afterall, if no one knows about you, how will they ever do business with you?  It’s not likely, is it?  That’s why you have (I hope!) a blog and write posts. That attracts qualified traffic (i.e. visitors) to your site from the Internet.

Your Credibility and Relevance
Being found by prospects for your business begins by Google seeing your site as a credible and relevant source of information you offer on the topic being searched.

Keyword-rich Content
One of the first keys to getting Google to show you to people who want to know what you know is to publish information that Google feels fits the search.

To do that, you must learn the keywords and phrases (AKA ‘long-tail’ keywords) people are using when they conduct an online search for the problem-solving information you have to offer.  There are several online tools that can help you here (e.g. Keyword Tracker).  A quick search on Google will reveal a number of resources on the topic.  Alternatively, HubSpot clients have this functionality seamlessly built-in to their sites — automatically.

Keyword-rich content starts with HEADLINES that are keyword-rich.  
Here are some examples of how one firm, HealthBridge — is creating relevant content to be presented favorably by Google.  Note how each headline reflects key words and phrases that are highly relevant to people who may require and/or provide in-home care for seniors:

KEY POINT:
Publishing Content Online — is a key to marketing effectively.  Content that attracts quality visitors (traffic) must be credible and relevant to the people you seek to attract. That means learning and using keywords in the headline of every post you publish.

3] Adopt The Publishing Model

Time Magazine’s ‘Man of The Year’ award in 1982 went to the “Personal Computer”.  It was a shocker. A game-changer.  A harbinger of things — BIG things — yet to come.

Content is ‘King’
Today, ‘Content’ is where the focus of marketing has shifted due to the role of a little company in California called . . . Google™.

The real ‘power’ in marketing has shifted away from the marketers and into the hands (or PC’s, tablet computers, smart phones, etc.) of consumers seeking useful ‘content’.

Access to Information is Everywhere
With access to ‘the net’ being so easy and available, consumers have the power — to learn anything they want, the moment they want it, from anywhere they happen to be.  They simply use ‘Google’ to search online and, Voila! — it’s done!

Attraction, Not Interruption
As consumers, we’re conditioned to search for answers to our questions on our terms, when we want to know something.  The days of ‘pushing’ an ‘intrusive’ message on ‘everyone’ that most find ‘intrusive’ are fading fast.  And if you tenaciously hold on to that model of marketing, you’ll be gone before too long, too!.

The New Model:  “Be Found, Not Obnoxious”
Getting found by consumers when they search isn’t difficult.  Ask Google.  They invented ‘Adwords’ and PPC (pay per click) advertising that places your online ad in front of ‘qualified’ consumers based on ‘keywords’ in what they’re searching for.  And it works.  Very well.  But it gets expensive, quickly.

The Better Approach:  “Organic Search”
It’s obvious you want to be found by consumers who are searching for what you do.  But you want to do it both effectively and affordably.  Right?  OK.

Then you want to publish relevant information that Google will show to a prospect when they search online — using a blog (like this one you’re reading now) as your publishing platform.

Why Google Loves Your UN-PAID Content
The more consistently you publish relevant content, the more Google loves you!  That’s also why Google shows your content to consumers far more often than sites that don’t publish relevant information on a consistent basis.  Here’s why . . .

Even though Google makes a ton of money from ‘paid advertising’, they know consumers want quality information.  So in order to keep people using Google as the search engine of choice, they must offer the highest quality content they can — along with the paid-for advertising — or consumers won’t be using Google and their advertisers will go bye-bye, too.

Ironic, isn’t it?  Google’s paid search model (Adwords / PPC) is actually dependent on providing consumers with relevant and quality content that doesn’t (directly!) generate revenues for Google.

In Biology, you learned a term: ‘symbiosis‘ –– two entities that, while different, each benefit from associating with one another.  It’s why Google loves you — even if you don’t pay them to promote you.

Don’t Fight Reality — Go With It
Modern marketing is largely about helping prospects find you / your firm when they’re searching for information you have that they want.

Publishing useful information on a regular basis builds your authority in the eyes of Google and makes them show your content to prospects more frequently and more favorably than the content of your competitors who don’t.  Yes, it’s THAT simple.

Publishing Content is an Ongoing Commitment
Being found online is only the beginning of your courtship with prospective clients.  Quality content in the form of case studies showing how your clients enjoyed success because of your expertise, testimonials that provide ‘social proof’ of your value and capabilities, insightful e-books, Special Reports, blog posts, video, webinars, recorded audio and the like are all forms of ‘content’ that help you attract traffic to your site and then . . . position you as a ‘trusted advisor’ who, when the need arises for what you do, will be seen by more and more prospects as the ‘Preferred Provider’ of the services you offer.

KEY POINT:
Commit to publishing content consistently and relevantly. Google will love you for it and show you to prospects who will get to know, like and trust you.  That generates business — for you — at the expense of your competitors who are either too ignorant or indolent to adopt the publishing model as a key factor in marketing simply, effectively and affordably.