How many of us write an article, or a sales email, and only write the headline, or the subject line, at the very end? (Glances around audience) Yep, thought as much – that’ll be quite a lot of us. Although it goes against some of what I learned on my journalism training many years ago, I now firmly believe that every article or sales letter we write should start with the headline. Here’s why. Firstly, there’s a reason we’re writing the piece. If we know what that reason is, we… Read More »Three reasons why you should begin with the subject line
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Advertising on search engines (e.g with Google AdWords) – or even optimising to appear high in the Google results – is hard if your product or service isn’t something which people seem to be looking for. Your technology may not be particularly well established, for example, or it might be unknown outside of the industry. I’ve managed an AdWords campaign for a client selling a technical product to relatively non-technical customers, who know what they want to do but don’t know what technology would achieve it. How Do I Use… Read More »Try to visualise yourself in the customer’s position
Thanks to the Hallam Communications blog for pointing out a small but interesting development for AdWords advertisers, in last Friday’s posting AdWords Displaying Favicons in Search Results. It would appear that Google has been testing putting little logos from the advertiser next to AdWords ads, and you can bet that this will become standard if it results in more clicks on the adverts, which I suspect it will. The logos are what are known as “favicons” and it gives me the excuse to tell you what these are and why… Read More »What is a “favicon”, and what’s the newest reason to have one?
In the late nineties, as an engineering magazine editor, I would often talk to industrial companies who still didn’t have a website, and were realising that they couldn’t get away with not having one much longer. What’s more, with their competitors having had one for some time, they were already at a disadvantage which it would be hard to overcome. It had been a bad decision not to go along with this new idea, as many were having to admit. Ten years later, I’m getting the same feeling about business… Read More »I think that every business should have a blog
Because I care a lot about search engine optimisation, and because search engine optimisation is primarily about the words, I constantly have to remind myself of the importance of graphical images on a website. By that I don’t mean the product photos (which are also important), but the little touches which can make all the difference to readability and – ultimately – conversion rate. Let’s face it, a page of text is ugly. It needs breaking up, and not just with endless rules and boxes. In web design, the nicest… Read More »Icons – decoration, yes, but so much more
I was helping one of our Insider Programme members last week with setting up a new email marketing programme, and it was a joy to be working with a company which is so open to new ideas and which wants to know what’s working at the moment (it made me do some homework!). I’ve tried to find an article for you all which summarises – and backs up – the advice I’ve given them, and here it is. “Purchasing email lists is NEVER a good idea. Ever.” on BeRelevant! gives… Read More »Emails: why buy or rent lists when you can make your own?
Thanks to Check Your Site Backlinks with LinkVooDoo on Search Engine Journal for alerting me to an excellent new online tool called LinkVooDoo which will analyse the incoming links to your site with an impressive level of sophistication. Checking incoming links is an important exercise in proper search engine optimisation, because you can’t really set about a link building campaign if you don’t know what you’ve got already. Also, if you can investigate the links to competitive sites, you can often find some great link opportunities. We already produce personalised… Read More »Check who’s linking to your website today
Website design today, and a nice post from HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog which should make all of us take a second look at our own websites. In 9 Ways to Optimize Your Links and Draw Attention to Your Calls to Action we’re reminded that the most important links on every page need to stand out. Do yours? This is a really good article, with every one of the nine points having some merit – especially the one which reminds us to put a “call to action” link (the most… Read More »Gently nudging people in the right direction
Here’s one for those of us who are still not exactly convinced that “social media” should be high up the list of priorities for industrial business-to-business website managers. How does social media rank in influencing business technology purchase decisions? on Sales Lead Insights delves past the headline statistic in a recent report which shows how much technology decision-makers actively participate in social media. The article uncovers the less exciting, but far more important conclusion that “social media has yet to effectively influence a large part of the technology buying process.”… Read More »They’re not using Twitter to choose their suppliers yet
Is your advertising really aimed at enticing potential customers to do something you want? It should be. Unfortunately, if you browse through any trade magazine or website, you’ll see adverts which don’t seem to have any justification for having been placed at all, unless they were just to get rid of an ad sales rep who wouldn’t go away. Those small ads, sometimes as many as 12 on a page, at the back of magazines, telling you a company’s website address – what on earth are they all about? What… Read More »Why the response to most B2B advertising is so poor
(Note: if you want to get notifications of these posts via Twitter, you can join us at http://twitter.com/bmon/ ) The reason I believe businesses like yours should learn how to improve your own websites is because once you know what to do, you can do the job so much better than any affordable specialist consultant or third-party. Today I’m going to point you towards just one of the many advanced website optimisation techniques out there, and tell me if you think anyone chipping away at the edges of your website… Read More »Interlinking pages internally – (only) you can do all this
Aaron Wall, one of the most highly respected search engine experts in the world, reckons that the Google rankings have just undergone one of the most significant upheavals ever. The article Google’s New Search Engine Rankings Place Heavy Emphasis on Branding on his SEObook site is a complex read for anyone who only has a passing interest in the machinations of search engines, but it concludes that Google is now promoting brands more strongly. What does this mean? It means that you’re going to be more likely to see the… Read More »Your brand continues its inexorable rise to the top
The always-fascinating Marketing Sherpa website has produced a fantastic free document which I’d recommend everyone to go and download right now. The Marketing Wisdom 2009 Report is 50 pages of “real life stories and lessons learned” from its readers, many of whom are marketing managers in everyday businesses. There are 94 tips and anecdotes, the majority of which I found interesting – and a few of which I found really noteworthy. Go take a look.
Not sure about all this “social media” stuff when it comes to your business? Are things like Facebook and Twitter really relevant to selling blue widgets to serious-minded industrial buyers? Don’t worry, I’m as sceptical as the next person, although every time I see someone doing something clever with this stuff, I get just that little bit more open-minded about it. I did recommend LinkedIn to you all a couple of weeks ago, after all. So, can we use Facebook to our advantage? The Hallam Internet blog suggests it’s easy… Read More »Facebook: you might have some fans out there
Google Analytics has quickly become the website traffic analysis application of choice for small and medium sized businesses, because it does just about everything you could want, and it’s priced really attractively (that’ll be free then). But although it’s fairly easy to set up, there’s a steep learning curve if you’re really going to get anything useful out of it. Books have been written, and training courses are available, but one of the best resources I’ve seen has been produced by the Marketing Optimization Blog. Sure, it’s just a list… Read More »Google Analytics: an iceberg of tips
Unless you’ve been saddled with a really unlucky company name, you’ll be top in Google for that search. This is very important, because a large proportion of the people who want to find your company website nowadays just type your company name into Google, rather than type in your website URL in the address bar at the top of their browser. That’s why, if you look at your website stats, the top “search term” for traffic coming from Google is probably your company name. So if you’re “top in Google”… Read More »10 reasons to do AdWords for your own company name
Some of the stuff these “Search Engine Optimisation Consultants” (SEOs) do really scares me. Just as frightening is the trust which some people put in them: if you’re using one, do you know exactly what they’re doing? You really should do, and the good ones will tell you, of course. Search Engine Optimisation consists of two things: improving the “off-page” aspects of your website which are relevant to the search engines, and improving the “on-page” aspects. The “off-page” aspects are the ones which don’t modify your site, primarily generating good… Read More »I thought we’d got over “keyword density” by now
This is a neat idea. You’re probably all aware of the importance of the URL, title, description and headline on a page (our Insider Programme members certainly are!) but have you actually planned them all out? It’s quite a sensible strategy, because it allows you to see how they all work with each other, and as all you need is a grid, a fine tool for this is good old Microsoft Excel. The tip comes from Use Excel to Plan Meta Tags, Titles and URLs for SEO on Search Engine… Read More »Using a spreadsheet to get an overview of your web pages
A lot of businesses consider launching “microsites” away from their main website because they want to build something around a particular product, or campaign …or because they want to build an independent resource away from commercial considerations. These can really work well. Another reason to build a microsite, which I often see (but is rarely discussed) is because a company has no control over its website (“it’s all run by the Germans, I’m afraid”) …but realises it can get away with doing its own thing on a separate domain just… Read More »Microsites – a smart way to sidestep global HQ
There’ll always be a place in this blog for articles about wider marketing issues. And here’s a classic issue: how to handle customer complaints. In Learn to love negative feedback on B2B Marketing it reminds us that if things go wrong, the best and cheapest way to resolve complaints is to ask the customer what would make things right, as they’ll usually want less than they’d settle for if things got as far as negotiation. And critically, it’s been argued that customers who have had a problem which was successfully… Read More »Turn customer complaints into loyal business
Today I have a tremendous article which I want you to file away somewhere safely for the day when you decide to “redesign” your company’s website. Redesigning Your Website: Who’s Taking Care of the Content? on the Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog discusses the most important omission from almost every corporate website redesign: what is actually going to go on this great new website. If you talk to website designers, you’ll find that nine times out of ten, when they’re approached by a client, they’re told: “We’d like a redesigned,… Read More »Website redesign from the inside out
OK, this one’s going to sound a bit geeky, but it’s important enough that you should try to follow it through. The major search engines have announced that they are recognising a new tag which will help many websites, and which will probably result in some big changes in the search engine rankings. However, I suspect few will get around to implementing this new feature, so there’s a competitive advantage if you do. Here’s the problem. You might think that each page on your website only has one address, or… Read More »New Google “Canonical” tag specifies real URL of page
I’m often asked for advice on pay-per-click ads (usually Google AdWords) and specifically, for tips on copywriting them. As usual with this stuff, someone else has already done the research and published their answers, and in this case my favourite article is Killer PPC Ads: The Fundamentals on Search Engine Watch, which was published last summer. This terrific article gives eight AdWords copywriting tips for you to choose from (you’re never going to cover all of them in three lines of copy!) and a whole lot more good ideas too.… Read More »Tips on writing better AdWords ads
Last week I mentioned one of the useful guides issued by Google, and a lot of you found that interesting, so here’s another – probably the most basic one of all, as it happens. Whilst Google’s Webmaster Guidelines page is critical to owners of new websites to ensure they don’t make big mistakes, it’s also a great checklist for your existing site. When you get on to the technical section, don’t worry if it goes over your head, but do forward the items to whoever set up and manages your… Read More »Why you should follow Google’s advice
There are some interesting statistics in a recent article titled Survey Shows Inbound Marketing Becoming More Important to Small Businesses on the Inbound Internet Marketing blog. It suggests that small to medium sized businesses are going to be more flexible, adventurous and, I suspect, successful with their marketing in the current economic climate. In recent weeks I’ve heard about one or two companies cutting back their marketing dramatically (and somewhat stupidly). But all of these have been medium to large sized organisations, where the decision has probably been made a… Read More »Big opportunities for small suppliers
Where do you turn for email marketing lists? I hope you have developed your own “opt-in” customer and prospect list over the years, but what if you want to reach a wider base? In Choosing the Right B-to-B Direct Mail List on the B2B Insights Blog, some of the best options are discussed, including trade association lists, exhibition attendees and magazine circulations, all of which are often available for hire. What have you found useful in the past? We’ve heard some good things about the list rental offerings from trade… Read More »Reaching out by email
Despite the ubiquity of “social media”, from Digg to Facebook to Twitter, I don’t encourage our clients to spend a lot of time on it. That’s not because these various interactive web services aren’t of any use in the business world; far from it. However, there are more fundamental things to concentrate on for most companies before you get into the intricacies of using these services and sites to your advantage. However, one social media site which I’ll make an exception for is LinkedIn, because it can be useful from… Read More »Why you should set an hour aside to get LinkedIn
I’m back on the subject of search engine optimisation consultants again today, because for many of you, it would seem they’re becoming as irritating as magazine ad space salesmen calling about their latest “colour separations” con (sorry, I mean “opportunity”). Now, I’m not against the search engine optimisation “industry”, although I do believe you can do this whole thing much better yourself, which is why we have our Insider Programme. I’ve met some people who do search engine optimisation consultancy for a living and who really know their stuff. I’ve… Read More »SEO straight from the horse’s mouth
Here’s an article which is American, and aimed at newspaper journalists. Hang on, bear with me, because I absolutely believe there are some great lessons which industrial marketing managers can learn from this when it comes to writing their own press releases and the content pages on your website. 10 Ways Journalists and Newsrooms Can Conquer SEO comes from Search Engine Journal and the article drives home the fact that you need to engage your readers by using the headline to show how the story relates to them. And that… Read More »Get those search engine users clicking on your news
Here’s a nice article about a subject I’m often asked to advise on. Effective Web Copywriting – from copywriting 101 to the latest research on Dave Chaffey Internet Marketing is a Q+A with consultant Anne Caborn from Content Delivery and Analysis in Surrey, which looks at the main differences in writing for the web compared with print, and more. There are some nice ideas, including sending different classes of visitors to different pages, so you can address them appropriately. Online more than in print, creating copy which works well when… Read More »The art of writing for the web
Sometimes you might get the chance to sit down an mull over a thought-provoking article for ten minutes or so, and if you’re interested in some of the more conceptual aspects of advertising, I’d recommend reading Let’s Get Rid of Performance Based Marketing, Huh? on Future Now’s GrokDotCom/Marketing Optimization Blog. It will give you an insight into the discussion which a lot of people in advertising are having at the moment concerning the role of “branding” advertising, and whether the internet can deliver the goods on this front. The “IAB”… Read More »Branding? What is it good for?
Another week, another great piece to think about in Seth’s Blog. What would a professional do? is asking the question: Are there aspects of your job where you’re competing against professionals who may be better than you are (because they’re specialists) – and how are you going to cope with that? Have a think about the tasks your company requires you to perform where your competition uses specialists who will probably be better than you. The customers won’t make allowances for your ability to juggle so many skills, because they… Read More »How to outperform the specialists
Are you going to be cutting back on your press releases and article writing this year? With budgets tight, it’s an obvious candidate for reduced expenditure, as PR in general is hard to get an accurate return on investment for. But if you want to defend this part of your marketing budget, there are a couple of good arguments in Should You Preserve Your PR Budget? on the B2B Insights Blog. You may find them useful. I reckon that generating content for the media is as valuable as ever –… Read More »PR? Don’t mention keyword research
Have you got a decent technical writer in-house or on tap externally who you don’t think is being utilised effectively writing press releases? There’s a good tip in the article Hubpages and Squidoo for Industrial SEO on Industrial Search Engine Marketing: why not post some content on the Hubpages or Squidoo sites? These will give you valuable incoming links, and more importantly, will be good PR in the wider sense, helping establish your company as an authority on its subject. Go on – give your PR writer a more interesting… Read More »A more interesting PR challenge
Following on from my discussion about Google AdWords advertising, the inevitable follow up from one or two readers was “Can you recommend a company which can do our AdWords advertising then?” The answer is (in the UK at least), no. If you’d like a recommendation for a search engine optimisation consultancy, or someone to write online content, I know some great people. I know a great web design company. But someone to manage AdWords (sometimes known as Search Engine Marketing agencies)? I work on recommendations, and nobody’s ever told me… Read More »Can you recommend a company to do our AdWords?
Yesterday I looked at some of the reasons why your company may not be using Google AdWords. None of these were good reasons – they were either excuses, or bad advice. But let’s say you’ve got over these. You don’t mind a bit of hard work setting up and managing an AdWords campaign; you don’t care about your advertising agency’s vested interests in dissuading you from doing so; and you don’t mind your contemporaries not being able to see where all the money’s going, if it means an increase in… Read More »Do the maths on your cost per enquiry. Please.
Google’s AdWords system (and its far lesser used equivalents at other search engines) will rightly one day be considered the greatest development in advertising of all time. What other advertising medium has ever been able simply to present your message to people who are actively searching for your product, in a specified geographical area, with no wastage? It’s hardly surprising, then, that many companies are quietly spending huge sums on AdWords, including companies in your market sector. You would, I suspect, be amazed to find out what’s going on. Yet… Read More »3 (bad) reasons why your company may not be using AdWords
It’s never too late to start your new year resolutions, so I held this one back for a couple of weeks to allow you to get your feet back under the table. In New Year’s Email Marketing Resolutions on the Email Insider blog, there are five good ideas which you might like to consider if you send out emails to your customers and prospects. It’s a great idea to gradually start segmenting your recipient base and stop sending out one-size-fits-all emails. You’ll get a much better response if you target… Read More »Email which the customer can relate to
Businesses are looking at redesigning their websites all the time. We know, because they keep saying to us: “We love the idea of the Insider Programme, and we’ll certainly be joining once we’ve got our new site launched”. D’oh! If you’re about to redesign your website, you have a fabulous opportunity to get it right, rather than having to rework the existing spaghetti like most companies have to. The advice and analysis we can give you is exactly what you need before you redesign your website. But enough of us.… Read More »Get your website redesign right first time
Long-time readers will know that like thousands of other people, I love Seth Godin’s take on marketing. With Do Ads Work? he’s hit the nail on the head again. He says: “Why, precisely, do you have an ad budget? If your ads work, if you can measure them and they return more profit than they cost, why not keep buying them until they stop working? And if they don’t work, why are you running them?” If magazines, exhibitions, websites or email newsletters were as good as they say they are,… Read More »Why, precisely, do you have an ad budget?
The good folks at Conversion Rate Experts have recently given us 5 reasons to get obsessed with conversion rate optimization in 2009 and you have to agree it makes a lot of sense. In the article, they show how a 50% increase in conversion rate can result in a 500% increase in profits – a very interesting concept. “Conversion” is all about getting sales from where you were getting leads, and leads from where you were getting window shoppers. If you’re spending a fortune directing people to your website and… Read More »Small change for big profits
For the many people who became readers of this blog in the past few days, I should point out that my daily ramblings aren’t usually anything like the length of those you saw last week. Normally I point to another article about online marketing, selected from hundreds of bloggers and authors I read regularly. Today I’d like to draw your attention to an article on the BeRelevant! site which summarises a recent research report on email subject lines. According to the report discussed in Subject Line Research Reveals Content is… Read More »Another boring email title (with 47 characters)
I hope you were able to read my articles on the challenge of getting name-and-address sales leads online, why you need to do so and how to convert traffic from Google and from your advertisements. The key is in having a great call to action, and getting it in front of the prospect as soon as possible. The page where people arrive on your website is called the “landing page”. For Google traffic, that’s going to be the product page, so it might be difficult to extract names-and-addresses from visitors… Read More »Building your own response forms
This week I’ve spent a couple of articles discussing why you need to convert your web traffic into name-and-address sales leads because your website can’t sell on its own. And yesterday I looked at converting traffic from Google into prospects. Today I’d like to cover a source of web traffic which you have a little more control over – your own advertising and promotions. With these, you can tightly control what responders do, such as “phone us for details” or “fill in the coupon”. However, we all know that most… Read More »Making those adverts work properly
Right, in the previous two articles I’ve made the fairly obvious point that in industry, we need to capture the name-and-address details of people visiting our websites who are after a specific product or service. If we don’t, it’s exactly the same as having an exhibition stand, and just sitting there in a chair smiling politely at everyone who browses our display. Some potential customers may choose to introduce themselves and talk about their requirements, but the majority won’t. And if you don’t get talking to them, you’ll never be… Read More »Converting Google traffic into names-and-addresses
Yesterday I said that the biggest challenge in industrial marketing has become simply getting the name-and-address sales lead. Prospects see your magazine ad, read your direct mail or browse your exhibition stand, like they always have. But do they then contact you for further information or a sales call, like before? No. They go to your website to find out what they need to know. In theory, that’s fine. You’ve got a great website, haven’t you? All your products and services are laid out clearly, and it couldn’t be easier… Read More »Perhaps you don’t even need salesmen any more
There are many differences between industrial marketing and consumer marketing, but the main one is the action we want our prospects to take. In consumer marketing, they want them to just buy stuff. In industrial marketing, the buying decision is usually further down the road; what we want the prospects to do is simply to reveal themselves. It’s all about getting the name-and-address sales lead. Unfortunately, while online marketing has made it easier than ever to get direct sales, it’s made it harder than ever to get name-and-address sales leads.… Read More »Let’s resolve to get more sales leads in 2009
We end the week with something which is very American, but still quite amusing. Sales Is Still from Mars and Marketing Is Still from Venus on The Funnelholic compares sales and marketing in a table. A college “GPA” is apparently some sort of an academic score. So of course sales doesn’t score as highly as marketing, but hey, we all know the best sales guys didn’t waste their time hanging around in college when there was a big wide world out there to be sold to.
I’ve touched on link building and its importance before, and I will doubtless do so many more times in the future. One of the great sources for quality links has become quality blogs, and you’d probably be surprised how many there are in your general area of business (think as much about your markets as your products when tracking them down). Now, how do you get bloggers to write about you? It’s no different really from the way you’d approach magazine editors to write about you – just treat them… Read More »Building relationships with online writers