22 Apr 2016 Comments Off on The Future of Search Rankings: What Companies Like Google Are Going to Focus on Next
15 Apr 2016 Comments Off on Successful Secrets to Achieving Your Business Goals
Successful Secrets to Achieving Your Business Goals
Do you ever wonder how some people just seem to rock at getting things accomplished, while others seem to dream big but never really get anywhere? It’s not luck and it’s no accident. Successful entrepreneurs know the secret to setting goals and making their dreams come true – they know about SMART goal setting.
You may be thinking, “Well, I’m smart…why aren’t my dreams coming true with my existing goals?” The trouble is not your I.Q. The trouble is likely with your goals. Successful entrepreneurs set goals with 5 key factors. Their goals are:
Let’s break down what all that means…
“Increase our Facebook followers by 50% in 6 months to reach more clients by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign."
You’ve now put an achievable deadline for this goal of 6 months, which seems reasonable given the time it took you to get the first 5,000 followers and the fact that you’ve got some traction now to build on.
Try this technique with the rest of your goals, no matter how small they may be, and you can start tracking and achieving your business goals like a pro.
12 Apr 2016 Comments Off on Marketing Automation: What You Need to Know
Marketing Automation: What You Need to Know
"Marketing automation" is more than just a buzzword – it is a very real practice that is empowering marketers around the world to accomplish more than ever in a shorter amount of time. At its core, marketing automation is a term used to describe a set of software, technologies, and other platforms that automate marketing on certain channels. These can include e-mail, social media, websites, and more. The idea is that by automating certain repetitive tasks that, while hugely important are also time-consuming, you unlock a host of additional benefits that can’t be ignored.
Reaching Customers on a Deeper Level
Targeted marketing has always been the bread and butter of many businesses in terms of increasing customer engagement. People don’t want to feel like they’re just one of a million different people being marketed to simultaneously – they want to feel like your business is taking time out of its busy day to speak to them directly. This helps increase the effectiveness of your marketing materials and is also a great way to take an average customer and turn them into a loyal brand advocate at the same time.
The issue here is that this historically takes a lot of time – or at least, it used to. Marketing automation is one of the best tools that you currently have to reach your unique customers in a meaningful way. Previously, you would have to manually segment customers based on things like your buyer personas. You would have to spend time creating these niche groups of customers based on their personalities, their needs, their likes and dislikes and more. While effective, this takes a great deal of time.
With marketing automation, however, you can simply create restrictions that will allow your software resources to segment these customers automatically based on whatever criteria you want. You get the exact same beneficial end result, but you only had to spend a fraction of the time in order to get there.
What Marketing Automation Is NOT
When people hear the term "automation," they often call to mind images of technological solutions or other IT developments that are designed to completely replace the jobs of human employees. While that may be true in an environment like a factory floor, this couldn’t be farther from reality in terms of marketing.
Marketing automation is not designed to be a replacement for your marketing team or the hard work they’re doing – it’s designed to be supplemental to the existing experience. Automation isn’t an excuse to hire one less employee, but to free up that employee’s valuable time to put to better use elsewhere within your organization. Maybe Thomas shouldn’t be spending so much of his day writing and sending out new tweets or Facebook updates every time you publish a new piece of content – maybe that should happen instantly so that Thomas can work on something a bit more important to your larger business objectives.
These are just a few of the major advantages that marketing automation is bringing to the table in terms of what the industry looks like today. By automating certain basic marketing functions, it’s enabling your employees to do better work in a more fundamental way. It gives them the ability to work "smarter, not harder," so to speak.
25 Mar 2016 Comments Off on Creating an Editorial Calendar: The Foundation of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Creating an Editorial Calendar: The Foundation of Your Content Marketing Strategy
According to a recent survey conducted by Gleanster Research, managing the overall content creation process was the single biggest challenge that most medium- and large-sized companies faced on a daily basis. To make matters worse, 36 percent of respondents indicated that they were missing deadlines on a regular basis, significantly derailing their efforts as a result.
Luckily, the exact cause of these types of issues also happens to be one that is easily avoided. By creating an editorial calendar, you essentially create the backbone of your entire content marketing strategy. Your entire team can reap the benefits in a number of important ways.
Why You Need an Editorial Calendar
On the surface, an editorial calendar is a calendar that outlines the specific due dates for all important content launches well into the future. It’s a wonderful, visual way to see where you stand and what you need to do in terms of your short-term and long-term goals.
Underneath, however, it’s an invaluable resource to start putting better content out into the world immediately. Think of it like a daily planner – each day you know what type of content is going to be launching, who is going to be writing it, what important details are going to be included, and more. It’s an opportunity to take this resource and bend it to your existing workflow. Instead of laying down guidelines for your team and forcing them to adjust the way they like to work to meet this new tool, the tool itself is inherently malleable by design.
An editorial calendar is also a great way to plan for the entire process of content creation from start to finish. Everything from idea conception to publishing is all handled through one centralized point of access, not only giving you all of the benefits of firm project management but also helping with communication. Everybody can be on the same page at the same time (no pun intended) because all they have to do is check the calendar to see where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re supposed to be going next. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Forming the Backbone of Your Future Content Planning
Once you’ve had the chance to get your editorial calendar up and running, you’ll have access to a wide range of different benefits that would be difficult to get in any other way. For starters, a calendar allows you to custom build your content marketing strategy for specific audiences in a much easier way than ever before. Based on user preferences and behaviors you can clearly outline what types of content are making their way to which channels and, more importantly, when.
An editorial calendar also gives you the ability to plan keywords well in advance, letting you design the content around the keywords your users are paying attention to, rather than trying to cram those keywords into a piece once it is already finished.
These are among the many reasons why taking the effort to create an editorial calendar is well worth your time. The great thing about it is that it is a resource you only have to build once. As soon as your editorial calendar is up and running, everything from creating content to distribution becomes significantly less challenging and the results that you’re after are well within your reach.
22 Mar 2016 Comments Off on Turning Failure Into Success – Stories of Famous Achievers and Their Failures
Turning Failure Into Success – Stories of Famous Achievers and Their Failures
Every entrepreneur, and I do mean every, has had a taste of failure at one time or another. The slam-dunk business idea that landed flat. The star product that fizzled out. It happens more often than you really hear about, but to those individuals that it’s happening to, the “failures” can be seriously disheartening. If you’re feeling a bit down about a business venture that didn’t go as you planned, don’t lose hope. Countless well-known and successful individuals have achieved their dreams despite multiple setbacks. Their stories are sure to inspire you.
He’s what George Lucas says about failure: “If you’re creating things, you’re doing things that have a high potential for failure, especially if you’re doing things that haven’t been done before. And you learn from those things. No matter how you cut it, you say, ‘Well, that didn’t work,’ or, ‘Well, this didn’t work,’ or ‘That was not the best idea.’ And you use that information that you’ve gotten, which is experience… Failure is another word for experience.”
Remember, you write your own stories, so you are in control of writing your ending. Will those “failures” become opportunities or excuses to quit?
18 Mar 2016 Comments Off on Tips for Getting Maximum Mileage Out of Your Marketing Content
Tips for Getting Maximum Mileage Out of Your Marketing Content
Too many marketers look at the content they’re creating as "one and done." You spend a huge amount of money designing the right print mailer, send it to all of the relevant people on your list, and then never think about it again, right?
The truth of the matter is that this content is still high-quality because you wouldn’t have sent it out into the world if it wasn’t. It’s a shame to write it off so quickly, especially when you can use just a few, simple techniques to increase its overall return on investment beyond what you originally thought was possible. If you want to guarantee that you’re getting maximum mileage out of your marketing content, there are a few, key tips that you’re definitely going to want to keep in mind.
Repurpose Whatever You Can
Creating a piece of high-quality, original content from scratch is not only expensive but time-consuming. This isn’t exactly a secret, but it is a problem that marketers are creating for themselves more often than not by insisting that every last piece of information going out into the world has to be wholly original from the top down.
The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t – sometimes repurposing a piece of older content is a great way to not only get maximum mileage out of those materials, but it can also help fill gaps in your editorial strategy and more.
For example, say you hosted a webinar that went off without a hitch. Those ideas don’t have to die the minute the last viewer logs off. Take all the notes from the webinar and turn them into a slideshow for your website or use them as the basis for a direct-mail flyer to go out in the near future. You get the benefit of building FROM something instead of creating from scratch and also get to stretch the ROI of that original content as far as it can go at the same time.
Redistribution: Using Changes to Your Advantage
Another one of the most important ways to get maximum mileage out of your marketing content involves careful redistribution. Consider how things may have changed since that original piece of content went out into the world. Maybe you designed a post for Facebook that was hugely successful but now a new social media network has entered the marketplace. A few key adjustments could make that old piece ready for a brand new audience.
The same can be said of taking something from the print world and bringing it into the digital realm, and vice versa. Take that informative print flyer you sent out a few weeks ago and use it as the framework for a blog post. You get the benefit of increasing the longevity (and again, the ROI) of that original content and you get it in front of a whole new crop of people at the same time.
While many people think of content marketing as "disposable," it absolutely does not have to be that way. A good piece of content is a good piece of content – period. By carefully practicing techniques like redistribution and repurposing, you can stretch the value of that content as far as it will go, and get as many miles out of it as you can.
15 Mar 2016 Comments Off on What Are These New Facebook Reactions and What Do They Mean for My Business?
What Are These New Facebook Reactions and What Do They Mean for My Business?
A few months ago, Mark Zuckerberg treated his staff to a movie night. The film…Pixar’s Inside Out. The Facebook staff watched in confused amazement wondering who these emotions were and more importantly, where is the big, blue and white like-button thumb? A few individuals voiced what everyone else was thinking…wouldn’t it be swell if Facebook allowed people to have more than one possible emotional reaction to the things they see and read?
A legendary hack-a-thon ensued, spanning an entire month. The result? We now have the choice to not just like something, but to LOVE something, laugh at something, or express shock, sadness and anger. To express our new emotions, all we have to do is hover over the traditional blue and white thumb and six new emojis emerge. For mobile users, simply hold down the thumb and your new emojis will appear.
From a social standpoint, we are all feeling liberated at our ability to express more than one emotion without the necessity of typing out a complete thought. But what does this mean for businesses and people marketing on Facebook? Quite a bit actually…
Aside from the obvious point that you can now identify and quantify how many people feel about your post, there are some handy things you can now do as a business owner that may give you an upper hand with your competition. Because these emotional responses are public, you can do some recon work and check out how people are reacting to your competitors’ content as well. Based on your gathered intel, you can now customize your content to better reflect what people are interested in.
This new functionality can also enable you to get more bang for your buck while advertising on Facebook. If you go to your Insights page on Facebook, you can access data on people’s reactions to each post. If one or more posts are engaging more individuals or are loved by more individuals, you can choose to boost that post for a fee. This takes the guesswork out of deciding where to spend your advertising dollars.
We are all well aware of the reality that it’s just not realistic that you’re going to “like” every post that makes it into your feed because sooner or later the content will be about some atrocity that’s being committed that you want to stop. So, instead of liking the post, you, like most people, just keep scrolling. It’s not that the post was not engaging, it’s just that people don’t want to “like” the content. With the new reactions, people can express sadness or anger at the content of the post, letting them know that it was read and stirred some emotion. The upside for your business is that you can post more meaningful content about issues that are important to them and not worry about losing points for attention because all of the reactions count as “likes” on your page.
Have you ever had one of those days when your server goes down or your payment processing company is having issues? It can really derail your day and cause some ruffled feathers with your customers. People love to go negative on social media if they feel they’re not being heard. The reaction emojis can now help you avoid negative comments in your feed if something is not going quite right with your company. Next time this happens, try pinning a post to the top of your page explaining the situation and perhaps offering a discount to anyone who was inconvenienced by the event. Ask them to show some love to your company by clicking the heart emoji and watch a potentially negative experience turn into an opportunity to engage in a positive way with your customers.
As these reactions catch on, you can be sure more creative ideas will begin to flow on using them to benefit your company. You may even try holding a competition for a free giveaway while also showing people how to use the new reaction emojis. Ask people to show some love in exchange for a free product or service that you offer. Not only will you boost your likes, you will also make people loyal fans. Get creative and have fun. After all, it’s what the new emojis are all about.
04 Mar 2016 Comments Off on What Mountain Biking Can Teach You About Business Strategy
What Mountain Biking Can Teach You About Business Strategy
If you’ve ever been on a mountain bike and felt the exhilaration of barreling down some well-worn single-track, you’ve likely also felt the pain of crashing headfirst into a tree. You might’ve sat there dazed, thinking, “what went wrong?” while you picked the leaves out of your helmet. You were trying so hard to avoid hitting that tree. How could you have hit it? The answer is really kind of crazy.
The most successful mountain bikers stick to these simple words of wisdom – “look where you want to go.” For some strange reason, your brain sees you looking at something and interprets that as, “ I want.” So, your brain does its’ best to give you what you’re paying all that attention to. If you’re cruising down the road staring at a tree chanting, “please don’t hit that” under your breath, chances are, you’re going to look yourself straight into that tree. To avoid the tree, you simply have to look at the road you want to travel.
These same words of wisdom can have many applications in life, especially when it comes to your business strategy. How many times have you heard of businesses failing for one reason or another? Is it possible that the owners’ focus was not on the success of the business, but rather on the fear of failure? Did those owners “look” their businesses off of a cliff because they were so afraid of failing? Probably.
Like those successful mountain bikers, the most successful business owners focus on success and not on failure. They have a clear view of the path they want their business to take. They have a clear view of the customers they want to serve. They have a clear view of what their business is about. How do they get that focus? It’s really a three-step process.
Re-train Your Mind
As human beings, we have a natural fear of the unknown. If you’ve never done this particular business, you have very little idea of the exact plan that will make your business profitable. This is scary, no doubt. But, if you can train your mind to be ok with that unknown, you can focus your energies on the success of your business, rather than sitting in the fear of the unknown. How do you do that? Well, a good way to start is to understand when that fear starts talking to you; when the only thing going on in your head is worry. Understanding that that is fear and saying to yourself, “I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m ok with that,” can turn off the worry and allow you to focus on success.
Create Your Path
Before you start your business, and periodically after that (think one-year plans), sit down for a few hours and write about your business. What is your product or service about? Who does your product or service appeal to? Where do these people hang out? How can you reach them? Having a clear understanding of these things will help you focus your marketing energies moving forward.
Travel Your Path
Now that you’re looking towards the path of success, you can move forward. You have the time and energy to focus on the discrete marketing strategies that will make your business a success. Whether it’s shooting YouTube videos about what you do, or traveling to meet with the people that you want to serve, you have the right mindset to go about making your business a success.
26 Feb 2016 Comments Off on Backlinks: An Online Handshake
Backlinks: An Online Handshake
When you speak with SEO professionals, you may hear them talk about the importance of backlinks. Backlinks are when another site links to your site. These links are important because not only do they help drive traffic to your website, but they are a sign to Google that your site provides information that people appreciate and view as worth linking to.
In the beginning of 2015, there was controversy following one of the Google ‘hangouts.’ John Mueller, of Google, seemed to indicate that webmasters should not focus on building backlinks. This took the marketing world by storm, as many people dedicate time and energy to developing a high quality backlink profile.
Careful analysis of the problem, however, demonstrates that this might not have been what Mueller meant. At other Google hangouts in the past, he gave advice about how to appropriately go about building successful and useful backlink profiles. It is now largely agreed by many marketing professionals that Mueller was speaking about avoiding using illicit tactics to build backlinks, such as engaging in, ‘I link to you, you link to me’ backlink schemes.
To understand how backlinks should ideally be developed, it can be useful to look at how business is conducted in person.
The Role of a Handshake
Place yourself in a corporate meeting between two important executives. They are sitting at a long table in a professionally furnished conference room. They sit at opposite sides, each with a team of assistants taking notes of the meeting and making sure that the bosses are always equipped with a glass of ice water.
The two hash out their ideas. They want to see if their information aligns and if they believe they can work with each other. No executive wants to run the risk of doing business with someone who would ruin their reputation. Before any deals are struck, they want to make sure that this is a professional with whom they want to have their name publicly associated with.
After a long conversation, they both stand up.
“Well, I suppose we are in agreement,” says one.
“Yes. I will have my team get started on the contract right away,” says the other.
They reach out and they shake hands– and now everyone in the room knows that they will be willing to vouch for the other.
The Role of the Backlink
The handshake is a backlink. When one site links to another, they are publicly vouching for the content on that page. They have reviewed the information and found it to be in line with what they believe about the topic at hand. They trust that when they send their page visitors to that website, the users will be able to obtain useful information that will help them answer their questions.
Backlinks should not be something that you ever have to trick the other website into doing. It is not supposed to be the end goal of SEO. Instead, backlinks should be viewed as a part of a larger SEO strategy that involves creating high quality content that people are interested in reading and find helpful.
That does not mean you cannot ask for backlinks. If you find a website that aligns with your intended audience and you think your content would be helpful, there is nothing wrong with asking for a link, but it should always be done upfront and honestly.
You can build backlinks by writing guest posts or thought-leadership pieces for other websites. You should also be sharing your content on social media to increase exposure and build more backlinks.
Google, and its algorithm, want to keep an eye out for backlinks that come from low quality sites or always seem to come from the same types of sites. They want to make sure that the backlinks are diversified and gained honestly. If a poor site links to you and you do not want the backlink counting against you, then you can always disavow it to let Google know that you want no part of that link.
When it comes to building backlinks, remember to always build them honestly and with the end user in mind. Just like a handshake in business, it should be viewed as a public vouching for the other site. When you view it in that context, it will be easier to understand the role of backlinks in the online web community.
26 Feb 2016 Comments Off on From Puce to Cerulean – What Your Brand Colors Say to Your Customers
From Puce to Cerulean – What Your Brand Colors Say to Your Customers
Do you ever wonder why so many fast food restaurants use red in their logos? Or why so many hospitals and healthcare organizations use the color blue in their logos? This phenomenon is hardly random. Psychologists have spent years studying colors’ effect on human behavior, and you can be sure that the results are worth understanding when you’re choosing your brand’s colors.
Starbucks founders Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker clearly didn’t follow Jimmy off the cliff when they created their iconic green and white logo. Their caffeinated clientele aren’t looking for any more stimulation beyond that which is provided by the aroma of ground coffee beans in the air. What they are looking for, and what the color green represents, is harmony, tranquility, and calm. The founders’ goal was to create an environment that would encourage people to sit back, relax and drink their coffee with friends. By luring customers in with the green and white siren and surrounding them with warm, natural tones, they created a movement.
Trust Issues Anyone?
Plucking Personality from the Rainbow
• Yellow – evokes feelings of optimism, clarity and warmth
Additionally, colors like gold, silver and black are often associated with luxury items because they conjure feelings of sophistication and wealth.
Remember, always keep your audience in mind when choosing your colors and avoid getting caught in the sea of sameness.