…why do so many companies let the IT department have so much say when it comes to the company website? This is a point well made in Technology Company Websites should not be driven by technology on Tech Marketing Blog, which asks “why (do) organizations put critical marketing decisions in the hands of the IT department, or at a minimum allow the IT department to exert too much influence on the marketing decision making process?” Don’t get me wrong, the IT department (or your web host, if you outsource everything)… Read More »Could you install a new company network? No? Well then…
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I’ve often despaired at how most PR companies have failed to move with the times. Often, their concession to the fact that such a large part of the marketing process has moved online is to say: “Yes, we send the press releases to websites as well as magazines now”. What about the fundamental questions? For example, are press releases even relevant now, or are they just something you need to be seen to be doing (and which fills up some content on your website)? If your PR company is effectively… Read More »Drag your PR company into your online marketing
The “About Us” page presents a huge open goal to business website owners, which many then proceed to miss spectacularly. Here’s the sequence of events: prospect looks for product in Google, prospect clicks through to your website, prospect reads about product …prospect goes straight to your “About Us” page. Why? Because if he’s interested in the product, the next thing he wants to know is more about its supplier. If you run analytics on your website, you’ll see how well-visited the “About Us” page is. Look at the sources of… Read More »“About Us”? Well, for a start, we’re boring.
Seth Godin has been irritated by some B2B companies which force him to contact them in the format they want, just so he can ask them to sell him something. Read Promiscuous dispersal of your email address for the full story. He’s right, you know. “Contact Us” forms with limitations on what can be entered, and requests for extraneous information, suggest that the marketing department hasn’t thought about the process well enough, and hasn’t insisted that the web designers find ways around the limitations of IT systems. If I need… Read More »Why make it difficult for me to buy your stuff?
Today I’m going to suggest three things which you could spend some serious marketing budget on in 2010. Many companies will look at the list and say “they’re hardly radical, Chris”, but based on the dozens of companies I’ve talked to in industrial marketing this year, most of them need to do one, two or all three of these. I’ve put a cost next to each, based on what we’d charge at the moment (other consultancies are available). And before you say “where am I going to find that much… Read More »3 ways you can spend your marketing budget more ambitiously in 2010
I’ve discussed how to write killer headlines, titles and subject lines on several occasions in the past. But while getting people to read your article or message is essential, you can throw away the good work if the copy itself doesn’t match up to the quality of the headline which got them there. Copyblogger recently made a good attempt at outlining a step-by-step approach to achieving this in Beyond Headlines: How to Get Your Audience to Read Every Word. Start off with a statement that the reader will agree with;… Read More »Writing copy which lives up to the headline
Last month I discussed the concept of a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) page, and quoted the observation that if those questions really are FREQUENTLY ASKED, why the heck isnt your regular copy answering your visitors questions? However, although the majority of business to business websites I visit don’t have an FAQs page, that’s not because they answer them all in the copy. It’s because they’ve never even thought about them and considered putting them on the company website. So, curiously, the first step to removing the FAQs page – and… Read More »Answer their questions by asking them first
To some people, “website design” simply means the look and feel of things, which is why for many years, website designers were usually just graphic designers who’d learned to use Adobe Dreamweaver or whatever. That’s a bit like asking your printer to write your company catalogue. Things have moved on, and today most businesses appreciate that good website design is a multi-skilled exercise, where the look and feel is just one aspect, alongside the structural design, the content, the search engine optimisation and more. If you ever get the opportunity… Read More »Rebuilding your website around usability
Did you miss anything good here in the past few weeks? My first attempt at a monthly roundup, last month, generated a lot of clickthroughs, so I’ve once again taken a look at the email and site traffic data to compile a list of the material which has proved the most popular amongst all you good people. Most-Opened “Online Marketing: An Article A Day” Blog Posts, September 2009 1. Frequently Unanswered Questions I’ll talk about this one a bit more later in the week, because there’s more to say… Read More »Best of “An Article A Day”, September 2009
Yesterday I discussed how to get loads of great articles written for your website without spending hundreds of pounds. One other advantage of this method is that it allows you to get an article written very speedily. Supposing there’s a new piece of legislation out which will affect lots of your customers. They’re not going to wait for you and your competitors to tell them about it, and they’re certainly not going to wait for the next issue of Large Red Widget Monthly. They’re going to go straight to Google,… Read More »How you can break the news and reap the benefit
Honestly, I should charge you all for this stuff, really I should. Here’s the situtation. I keep saying that the secret of a successful business website is content, content, and content. (Oh, and links, of course). If your website is too formal for adding ad-hoc articles, then set up a blog. But wherever you put it, just keep adding that stuff which will make visitors come back and make Google a very happy search engine at the same time. You nod your head at this, yet think: “All very well,… Read More »How to get an original, 1000-word article for £10
“B2B buyers are increasingly turning to online sources, earlier in their process, to research purchases before ever calling a live sales rep”, according to Nailing Down Evidence That the Nature of the B2B Buyer Has Changed on Propelling Brands. That’s almost certainly true. But I’ve also seen it used as evidence that B2B buyers are better informed than they used to be. And I don’t think that’s the case. Do you? Ten or twenty years ago, as a B2B customer, the easiest place to find out the best product to… Read More »B2B buyers: not as well informed as they used to be?
Yesterday I argued that hiding your information behind a registration wall on your website will lose you direct customers, although it will give you more names and addresses for your marketing database. Maybe those people could be turned into customers later, so it might be worth the trade-off; it probably depends on your company setup. Is the job of marketing at your company to create current sales opportunities, or generate a list of future prospects for the sales department? But what if you could have the best of both worlds?… Read More »How to have the sales leads cake …and eat it
One of my favourite discussions in business website design is how much information you give free anonymous access to, and how much you withhold in order to get the prospect to give up their contact details. At one extreme, there’s the unassailable argument that the more you publish on your website, the more you’ll appear in Google, and the more traffic you’ll get. At the other extreme, people will claim most vociferously that “if I don’t know who the visitors are, they’re no use to me”, so they limit the… Read More »Exactly what qualifies as a quality lead?
If you ever have to give product demonstrations, you’ll be amused by Guy Kawasaki’s Five Things Not To Do in a Demo on the Open Forum. However, many of these “things to avoid” also happen to be no-go areas in other parts of the marketing mix. Not doing your homework when it comes to the audience’s needs is a good example of something which doesn’t just apply to demonstrations. If you’re taking a product to an construction industry exhibition, you need to make sure the focus of your handouts is… Read More »Avoiding the “Stunningly Awful Demo”
A recent article called Power Past that Press Release on Savvy B2B Marketing got me thinking about product launches, and if they’ve really changed over the years. I don’t think they have really, which might be a waste of new opportunities. What do you do when it comes to a major new product launch? Let the journals know with a press release, maybe a presentation at The First Friday Club? Hold a “launch day” for customers and prospects? All of these things are fine, but they’re trying to make an… Read More »The Product Launch: skirmish or campaign?
UK-based email marketing service provider Sign-Up.to has produced a report based on 216 million emails sent out through its service in the year to July. It allows us to compare the performance of email campaigns in the industrial and manufacturing sector to other areas as diverse as finance and restaurants. The first interesting observation is that from more than 20 categories, the industrial and manufacturing sector produced the highest bounce rate (13%) by far. I assume it means that we have the most out-of-date circulations, but I can’t explain why… Read More »Emailing engineers: could do better
Nine out of ten pieces of marketing material I see forget at least one of the basics. Ninety-nine out of a hundred websites do. But it’s boring to be reminded of the basics, isn’t it? Well, Copyblogger has been brave enough to go through them again, and we can all do with a refresher. The only bit they’ve got wrong is the title, because however many years you’ve been in the job, you should still read The Complete Newbies Guide to Marketing. And yes, looking at some of the recent… Read More »The only bit they’ve got wrong is the title
I really like this observation, made on the B2B Conversations Now blog. In many businesses, the marketing process has lost its way and started to focus way too much on selling products. And that’s a job which should be left to the sales process. What marketing should be doing is to sell the sales conversation. Why? Because at the point where you’re selling the product, customers expect to be able to buy. Unless you have an online store, or we’re talking here about a catalogue on the desk at a… Read More »Are you selling your sales process?
If you read the various blogs coming out of Google, as I do, you’ll know that the folks at the world’s biggest search engine are really trying hard to “localise” their results – so if you’re looking at Google from the UK, for example, even if you type in “www.google.com” you should automagically be redirected to the UK version, www.google.co.uk (because they can detect where you are) …and the results in the UK version should be ones which are relevant to us here. To demonstrate where they’ve got it right,… Read More »Your chance to help Google, and help yourself
Google AdWords is rapidly becoming my tool of choice when it comes to researching the important keywords for clients. We run an AdWords campaign using what they call “broad match” (so Google shows the ads on any searches it can find which appear to be right), and then look at the actual searches which triggered the ad and got the clicks. It’s an alternative to using your analytics data from ordinary (“organic”) searches, but it has a number of advantages. Of course, it also costs money, but that money also… Read More »How to find interesting, relevant search terms cheaply
A long article in B2B Marketing recently addressed a subject which is being increasingly discussed – marketing to people who influence buying decisions, rather than the ones who sign the order. You probably have your own idea of who your prospects’ influencers might be, but as The power of influencer marketing points out, there are a lot of potential candidates out there, including “journalists, consultants, academics, authors, sourcing advisors, management gurus, procurement advisors, systems integrators, regulators, government executives, standards setters, industry associations, resellers, lobbyists, events, forums and bloggers”. With people… Read More »Which important marketing prospects never buy your stuff?
I once worked on a “subs” (subeditors) desk with professionals from the national daily newspapers. It was astonishing how they could skim through an article, dream up a compelling headline, and just by looking at it, specify the type size which would make it fill the available space (this was in the days before computerised typesetting, of course). However, despite the revolution in communications over the past twenty years, so that headlines now need to work on paper, on screen and in email subject lines, I don’t think the principles… Read More »How you can write a headline like the professionals
I’m detecting a lot of interest at the moment in B2B companies rebuilding their websites. There are many reasons why you might want to tear it all up and start again, but they’ll probably be something to do with the fact that the existing one is fiddly (or expensive) to add to or maintain. Many companies have been soldiering on with old, outdated content management systems which have severely restricted their ability to make the changes required for search engine optimisation, for instance. If you think that your 2010 marketing… Read More »5 things whoever rebuilds your website needs to understand
Wow. A little study reported on the Inbound Internet Marketing blog shows that companies which blog get 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages. Now, these measurements feed off each other: more links means better Google positions means more visitors. And “companies which blog” are also likely to be the companies which are putting more effort into their internet marketing, so they’re likely to do better. Even so, these are impressive statistics which can surely be attributed at least in part to the existence… Read More »“Companies which blog” …now 55% better
Have you ever thought about the whole concept of a “Frequently Asked Questions” page? The Marketing Optimization Blog has, and it makes the great observation in FAQ Page = A Sign Warning Drivers of Potholes that if those questions really are FREQUENTLY ASKED, why the heck isnt your regular copy answering your visitors questions? Great point. I’d guess that most of us don’t actually have a “Frequently Asked Questions” page on our websites; it’s certainly a less commonplace sight in B2B marketing than it is in consumer sectors. But it… Read More »Frequently Unanswered Questions
Sorting out the “keywords”, or search terms, which you need to focus your efforts on, is a fundamental part of web marketing. As I’ve written often enough, you don’t necessarily want to concentrate on “blue widgets”, even if that’s what you sell, because the competition might be too great, or there might be alternative meanings for “blue widgets”. So where do marketing managers turn to for inspiration? Here are two common destinations which need great care. Firstly, looking at the search terms which people used to get to your website.… Read More »2 Ways Not To Do Keyword Research
My previous article on getting broadcast emails through to recipients’ inboxes proved popular, so here’s some more on the same subject, because I’ve just stumbled across something I didn’t know. Many of your customers and other email recipients will be using Microsoft Outlook (that’s not the bit I didn’t know) and Microsoft Outlook has its own inbuilt junk mail filter. It’s very crude, but it’s there. And surprisingly, the rules which govern that filter are actually not a secret, so it’s pretty easy to ensure that your emails at least… Read More »Getting past the Junk Mail folder
I manage a few Google AdWords campaigns for businesses, and we charge on the basis of a fixed-rate per visitor that we generate. The final arbiter of how many visitors we’ve generated is the company’s own traffic analytics report, which, curiously, always shows slightly fewer clickthroughs than Google AdWords actually charged us for. So why are 1000 people clicking on the company’s Google AdWords ads, and only 995 being registered on the site itself as having arrived from those ads? I wonder if it’s because the person clicking through never… Read More »Faster! Faster! You need to be faster!
“Duplicate Content” is a web problem frequently associated with tales of websites being banned from Google. In reality, such occurrences are rare, and the more everyday manifestations aren’t nearly as disastrous, but it’s still something which can hurt your web traffic. The simplest way in which “duplicate content” can affect you adversely is this: Google will attempt to show any given piece of web copy just once in its results. So if one of your product descriptions, for example, appears several times on the web, it might not be the… Read More »Put your own site first and avoid duplicate content
When doing website redesign and relaunch – which I’m being increasingly asked to do – I often ask the client to show me some websites which they’d like to emulate. The response is often a little disappointing, because the sites offered are usually just the pick of immediate competitors. There’s much more to be gained, however, by setting your sights high and looking at the websites of much bigger operations, with much bigger budgets. Of course there’s no chance you could build a site requiring those sorts or resources, but… Read More »Don’t just settle for keeping up with your competitors
Most people I speak to who tell me they enjoy these emails add, almost apologetically, “although I can’t say I have time to read every one”, as if it was a requirement. It’s OK, you are allowed to have more pressing matters to attend to. However, in case you ever wonder if the ones you miss happen to be the ones which contain the best advice ever, I thought that, as another month ends, I’d bring you the five articles which inspired the most people to open the emails this… Read More »Best of “An Article A Day”, August 2009
Hats off to the B2B Web Strategy Blog for some tough love: it’s no longer good enough to say you can’t find the time to update your website because there’s so much else going on. As How to keep your websites content fresh points out: “If its hard for you to find time to generate fresh, relevant content for your site, then Id respectfully suggest that your priorities are out of line with the fact that todays website is central to every B2Bs marketing strategy, not some hobby off to… Read More »Tough love
It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for a useful web tool. Today’s, however, has a few implications which you might like to consider. Mailinator is one of many online services which gives you a “disposable e-mail address” – useful if somebody requests your email address in order to get something, but you don’t want to give them your real one. Expect to see a lot more people in the future entering disposable addresses into your web forms unless you give them a really good reason to give you their… Read More »How genuine is that email address?
I was doing some online research earlier this month (for a new camera, as it happens), and I realised that I was in a class of people which websites don’t seem to be very helpful towards. Maybe it’s because I’m just odd, but we might be a growing group who you might want to take into account on your site. We’re the people who organise our lives around email. What does that mean? Well, I use email as a to-do list. I use email as a bookmarking service. If I… Read More »Help your prospects remember you – by email
If there’s one thing which is guaranteed to generate disagreeement here at BMON Towers, it’s the question of “should I demand a website visitor says who they are before giving them any worthwhile information?” Ladies and gentlemen, in the red corner, I give you the business owner who says: “I don’t care if it puts 90% of them off, at least I get contact details from 10% of my visitors”. And in the blue corner (this is me), I give you the argument that if you’re welcoming to 100% of… Read More »Ask and ye shall receive. Or chase them away.
Hands up who has to write marketing copy for engineers. Hmm, that’s most of you. Who thinks that engineers are a breed apart? Almost everyone. So why do we not have special rules and considerations when writing for this very specific market? Why do we not shout down the folks who say “it doesn’t matter who you’re writing for, it’s all about pushing the right emotional buttons”? Not with engineers, it isn’t. The best discussion I’ve ever read on this subject is on copywriter Bob Bly’s website. In Six Things… Read More »Hands up who has to write marketing copy for engineers?
When people say: “I want to get my site to number one in Google for red widgets”, I don’t tell them they’ve just made a fundamental error in terminology, because it doesn’t really matter, I know what they mean. Except it does matter. It’s only just dawned on me that they’re not being sloppy with their language, they’re betraying a misapprehension which needs to be corrected, because once it is, the path to getting to number one in Google becomes a lot clearer. Sites don’t get to number one in… Read More »1 thing you need to know about SEO
It’s possible to make a video for your company which will “go viral” and be viewed far more widely than you’d ever imagined, but you don’t have to do an Eppendorf to make a video worthwhile. In fact, as Six Reasons Videos That Aren’t Viral Are Valuable on the Inbound Internet Marketing blog explains, even one with a limited appeal can be very worthwhile. Videos are amazingly cheap to shoot and distribute nowadays. You don’t need (or want) to hire a serious production studio and a £20,000 budget just to… Read More »Video: easier and more effective than you may think
If your company’s email newsletters are sent out in text-only format, you’ve probably made a conscious decision to sacrifice image for readability, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who chooses to go down that route. At the other extreme, colourful multi-column emails do give off a professional image – at least to the recipients whose email clients show them the way they were designed. Sadly, unless you’ve tested the email in enormous detail, there’ll be a number of recipients who see an unprofessional mess, or nothing at all. Somewhere in… Read More »How to design an email newsletter
Right, I’ve told you how the way to get to the top of the Google results is to get lots of inbound links. And I’ve told you that having lots of content on your site is the way to, er, get to the top of the Google results. So which one is it, Chris? Oh, you know the answer …it’s both. Do I have to get off the fence? OK, I’ll go for content, but only because the more content you have, the more material you’ve got which might attract… Read More »Number one on Google doesn’t just happen
Here’s a survey which probably just tells us something we already knew, but it’s always good to have your assumptions backed up by some numbers. US website Marketing Sherpa has published the results of a survey of nearly 1,500 “buyers and influencers” in Information Sources for Large Purchase Decisions Changing which shows a thumping drop this year in the number of people using “face to face” events or tradeshows. We’re looking at trends here, not absolute numbers, but it’s interesting to see what’s rising and falling, even if we don’t… Read More »A chill wind blows through trade shows
Once upon a time, a good argument could be made for a business presenting itself as aloof and “corporate” as possible. For many customers, it gave off a reassuring degree of professionalism. Today, especially online, pompousness is a bad thing. In a nice article called 10 Things a B2B Company Can Do to be Social Now on Social Media B2B, there are some compelling points to do with making your “About Us” page more human. See what you think.
I’m not talking so much about having up-to-date content here, but about moving the furniture to reflect the changing requirements of customers. In Is Your Static Content Driving Your Website to Extinction? on the Inbound Internet Marketing blog, the case is made for changing offers frequently and constantly highlighting different items on the site. So many of us keep the content of our home page and sidebars unchanged from year to year. It’s a bit lazy.
Keyword research. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, keyword research is one of the most important things to do in your online marketing. If you know what you want to be found for, you can create web pages, emails, PPC ad campaigns and more with those searched-for words or phrases (“keywords”) in mind. If you haven’t formulated a list, you haven’t got a focus, and you won’t be using the keywords at every opportunity like you should. And it matters, because the chances are at least one… Read More »Keywords: they’re that important
Does the writing which goes on your website get as much scrutiny or proofreading as the writing which goes into your company’s printed brochures? I bet it doesn’t. Somehow there’s a “permanence” about print which makes it held in some sort of awe, whereas online copy is normally just one person’s unedited, unplanned thoughts. Strange, because in many cases, not only will web copy be read by more people than print copy nowadays, but I believe the difference in response between good and ordinary copy is greater on a web… Read More »How much do you care about your words?
Yesterday I discussed “content marketing“, which is the opposite of traditional interruption marketing in that you provide the material which people want to be engaged with, rather than hanging around someone else’s work. So how do we go about setting up a content marketing campaign? There are loads of possibilities, and they’re not just writing articles. Remember, this is all about showing you’re an industry authority (and you are!), so you can tell the story through videos, presentations, whatever you like. However, let’s start at the most obvious place: written… Read More »Put some content generation at the heart of your marketing
I wrote the other day about the reluctance of many companies to reveal the prices of their products. One of the daftest reasons often admitted to (which I didn’t get around to mentioning) is that “it gives away commercial information to our competitors”. I don’t know where to start with that one, so I won’t. But it did remind me to talk about “content marketing”, an idea whose time has definitely come, but which suffers from the same problem. Content Marketing is all about publishing information to drive sales. In… Read More »Your competitive advantage is you