Our Daily Articles: Complete Index 2008–2020

So can trade magazines survive?

I said yesterday that I’d been reading a few articles recently about the trade press, and only mentioned one of them, so here’s another pair, this time from The WebMarketCentral Blog in the USA. Will Content Marketing Kill Trade Publications? and How Trade Publications Can Capitalize on Content Marketing and Social Media acknowledges that trade magazine publishers have failed miserably to move with the times, but does look at what they might offer to differentiate themselves – and survive – in the future. There are some good ideas in that… Read More »So can trade magazines survive?

Another trade mag goes? Who cares?

I’ve been reading some terrific articles about the future of the traditional “trade press” in the past few weeks, and you may well enjoy the debate too. While many people have long been predicting the demise of 100%-ad-supported print magazines, What B2B advertisers really want from media on The Marketfarm Blog suggests an intriguing reason why old media specialists are doing so badly: “It’s not just because there are too many other choices. It’s because industrial marketers aren’t interested in their survival.” This is the logical extension of what’s happened… Read More »Another trade mag goes? Who cares?

Delete everything on your Google Analytics dashboard. Now.

Just what should your website analytics program be doing for you? I’d like you to forget everything you know about those little blue graph lines of visitor numbers, and think again. On Tuesday, we held a fascinating web analytics seminar and training day. There I listened as the day’s main presenter, Niall McKinney of UTalkMarketing, made this point. And I think it was an eye-opening moment for many of the audience, and worth expanding on here. Your web analytics exists to measure the outcomes from your website. However, the key… Read More »Delete everything on your Google Analytics dashboard. Now.

The most important page on your website

The most important page on your website is the home page, right? Well, possibly. But most companies’ home pages don’t have much on them that isn’t found elsewhere on the site, and probably in more depth. The home page is just a stopping-off point, more like the dust-jacket of a book rather than the introduction or the contents pages. For me, the most important page on a website is the “About Us” page. Whenever a prospect comes to your site (and it’ll probably be straight in at a low-level page),… Read More »The most important page on your website

Big changes at Google soon? Well, maybe.

The results in Google, which we’re all so desperate to do well in, are produced by a huge software black box of algorithms, which must have just grown and grown over the years. If you’re a student of control theory, which I was once, you’ll know that the interaction of multiple processes and rules can quickly become unpredictable, and the only way to “tweak” things is to make the changes and see what the result is, rather than trying to predict it. Google constantly adds and amends its rules to… Read More »Big changes at Google soon? Well, maybe.

Setting up Google AdWords in just 1 minute

For almost all of us, Google AdWords is currently the best value way of generating targeted visits to a website through advertising. But I’ve been running Google AdWords campaigns for years, and I often forget how daunting the whole thing is when you first try it. There must be a lot of companies who’ve never used it because it seems like hard work, or who tried it when Google sent them a free £50 voucher, but reckoned they’d never have the time to develop and maintain the campaign, and quietly… Read More »Setting up Google AdWords in just 1 minute

Persuading website visitors to do what you want

Far too many business-to-business website owners look no further than competitors in their market sector when assessing if their website is up to scratch. That would be fine if your prospects’ activities on the web consisted of no more than looking at your website and those of your competitors. Sadly, your average visitor probably has some wonderful sites in their browsing history, and that’s what they’ll be comparing you to. In an effort to appear “professional”, most business-to-business websites simply appear boring, which is a very different thing. Nowhere is… Read More »Persuading website visitors to do what you want

Making product pages work in the search engines

The WebMarketCentral Blog makes a good point when it says “much of what is written about search engine optimization assumes that you’re writing a blog post, or a news story, or the next great ‘how to’ article” …but of course it’s just as likely that you’re writing that all-important product page. So how do you make a page full of technical specifications work in the search engines? SEO for Product Pages attempts to explain how. It gives four techniques to look at, including using the same terminology as your customers,… Read More »Making product pages work in the search engines

The power of getting to the point

The B2B Rainmaker blog once again emphasises that a good slide-based sales presentation should be over and done with in ten slides, and no more. This fits in with Guy Kawasaki’s classic 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint which I’ve referred to before. But as 10 slides to a better sales presentation says, “If you need more than 10 slides to convey your value and benefits, something is wrong. Limit yourself to 10 slides and challenge yourself to get to the main points faster. You don’t have the luxury of time with… Read More »The power of getting to the point

You can’t stop customers comparing, you know!

Comparing yourself to your competitors as part of your marketing content is a path which few B2B companies seem to be brave enough to go down. There are good reasons for this, although the traditional one from the sales director is a bad one: “We don’t want to alert our customers to the competition’s existence”. Oh puh-lease. Go and Google the types of products you sell, which is exactly what your website visitors have done. The competitors are all there. Your prospects aren’t daft. They know who’s competing for their… Read More »You can’t stop customers comparing, you know!

Will we soon be waving instead of emailing?

Those of you who follow IT news will probably be aware of a new application called “Wave”, which is being promoted by Google. Is it the next big thing? Well, if you think Twitter caught on because of its simplicity, the prospects aren’t good, because the concept behind Wave is not for the fainthearted. However, it might succeed for a different reason: because it’s just a great idea. We all use email so much that we ignore its drawbacks. Multiple copies of messages, the difficulty of replying to individual points,… Read More »Will we soon be waving instead of emailing?

Thinking beyond disruptive advertising

A lot of advertising strategists are talking about the way traditional “disruptive” advertising is failing to keep pace with the ability of people to bypass it. Disruption has been the goal of most advertising for the past century or more – stop people doing what they were doing, and plant your message in their way instead. On TV, this manifests itself as “ad breaks”, but with Sky+, who watches these any more except at 30x speed? Your audience is just saying no, don’t get in my way or I’ll go… Read More »Thinking beyond disruptive advertising

Don’t feed the lawyers’ self-importance, please

I was reading a story about how the terms and conditions lost one company a sale and thoroughly agreed with the writer’s conclusion: Don’t let the lawyers screw it up. Fear of the blame culture (and of the legal world) is a fact of business life these days, but it must not get in the way of your sales and marketing. You probably have legal stuff on your website, from copyright and trademark symbols to disclaimers and T&Cs. Would you prefer not to have these? Of course. So at least… Read More »Don’t feed the lawyers’ self-importance, please

Does spending less on a trade show provide better RoI?

Many companies seem to be attending trade shows a bit half-heartedly these days, which is a shame, because if an exhibition is worth so much of your time, it must surely be worth doing it properly. The B2B Sales and Marketing Blog tackles this topic in Do you have a strategy to maximize participation in your upcoming event? and bemoans the fact that for many companies, the strategy is just to be there to “show their faces.” The suggestions made in the article for exhibitions also apply if you’re holding… Read More »Does spending less on a trade show provide better RoI?

Stop, Look and Listen

Here’s an interesting little tip to use in your creative writing: it’s called the “Rule of Three”. There have been many articles about it over the years and some make intriguing reading. The principle is that lists of three things are inherently satisfying, and can be more effective in getting a message across. On a wider scale, a three-part structure is a fundamental of comedy and even dramatic writing. How do we use it in marketing? Try to keep your lists to three items. Two doesn’t give enough choice (unless… Read More »Stop, Look and Listen

The considered approach to link-building

Unless you know someone across the office who’s going to give you links to your website from theirs, when it comes to “link-building” you’re going to have to write some effective emails. You’ve probably had those mass-produced, auto-generated emails which tell you how much you have in common with some site you’ve never heard of, and why you should swap links with them. That’s how not to do it. The way you should do it is outlined in The Perfect Link Request Email on the Hobo blog. It’s an altogether… Read More »The considered approach to link-building

A training day for you, as promised

We’ve promised this, on and off, to many Insider Programme members and readers of this blog, for many months now – a training day where we can meet up with other like-minded marketing people from industrial and scientific companies, and learn something from an authoritative trainer. The subject which most people have mentioned wanting to find out more about is how to really use website traffic analytics applications, such as Google Analytics, to actually help save money, and so we’re delighted to say that’s the main theme of our first-ever… Read More »A training day for you, as promised

A Free Keyword Tool for a Friday

Here’s something to play with on a Friday: the new Free Keyword Tool from Wordstream. If you’re a purveyor of Blue Widgets and think that your website only needs to work well in Google for the search term “blue widgets”, try seeing all the other related search terms which this little tool will highlight. When putting together an AdWords campaign for a client recently, they said: “it should be easy, we only sell [xxx], and I think the only other way you could describe it would be [yyy].” After a… Read More »A Free Keyword Tool for a Friday

How competent, approachable and trustworthy are you?

Whilst working on a website rebuild for a small industrial distributor last week, I looked at the sites belonging to half a dozen of their competitors. To be honest, although I was familiar with the market sector and the technology, these competitors were quite niche ones, and I’d only ever heard of one of them. This meant that like many website visitors, I made snap judgments about the companies from just a few seconds reading a product page. I’m not sure whether the companies which struck me as looking competent,… Read More »How competent, approachable and trustworthy are you?

Are we human? Or are we marketer?

I love companies which aren’t afraid to be human. Companies whose philosophy is to try to make people happy, rather than trying to avoid making any unhappy. I’d rather have 50 customers who loved me than 100 who didn’t have any opinion, because I’m sure I could sell them more in the long run. You may work for a more conservative organisation. If you come up with a marketing initiative which could divide opinion, your first thought might be to reject it because it could put a few people off,… Read More »Are we human? Or are we marketer?

Sales is not Customer Service

I nearly always find that good sales people underestimate their worth, which is surprising, given the nature of their job. The main two businesses I’ve been involved with over the past 20 years were successes because they had the best long-term salesmen in the market, without question. However, it was hard to pay them what they were worth, because they never seemed to think they were worth it! But then again, I’ve never understood the sales world. I’ve seen sales directors push away their best team members because they felt… Read More »Sales is not Customer Service

The BMON step-by-step guide to Twitter

Until now, you really haven’t had much interest in Twitter. I can understand that. Even if you suspect it might be vaguely entertaining, you can’t see how it can be relevant at work, to a serious company like yours. I can understand that too. And yet every week, you’re noticing more and more about Twitter being used in the business world. You think it’s time to find out what it’s all about. I agree. So grab yourself a coffee, and we’ll have you up and running in a few minutes.… Read More »The BMON step-by-step guide to Twitter

The Online Bargain Wizard

Often on Fridays I like to bring you something a bit different, but never quite as different as today. Sometimes you get an idea which might be nothing to do with your company’s core business, but which is so good you can’t let it go. And that’s what’s happened with us, here at Business Marketing Online. We’re all web-shopping addicts. However, finding the really great bargains is an imprecise science, even if sites like Money Saving Expert are a good start. So we decided to do something about it. We… Read More »The Online Bargain Wizard

Twitter: will you let it pass you by?

Is your business on Twitter? I know quite a few which are, including companies as diverse as igus, Adept Scientific and Axis-Shield. Although I was initially doubtful about the effectiveness of Twitter for business (I’ve always been a huge fan of using it socially), I’m now convinced it’s a great idea. The fact is, some of your customers use it and will follow you, and it’s so cheap and easy to do that it makes no sense not to take advantage of that. In addition, it’s quite clear that you’ll… Read More »Twitter: will you let it pass you by?

A reading and writing revolution

The eBook market is set to be the big technology news of 2010, and although it’s unlikely to affect industrial marketing too much for a while, we all need to be aware of it. In a far shorter time than most people think, the sight of electronic paperbacks is going to become ubiquitous. Why? Because the publishing industry – particularly the news sector – needs this to take off to survive, and the promotion of this technology throughout the media will be relentless. Newspapers and magazines are dying out because… Read More »A reading and writing revolution

Bloggers: handle with care

I really liked reading A Guide to Pitching Bloggers on Search Engine Guide because it explains something I try to get over to any client, including our Insider Programme members. Getting links to your site is really important, and links from blogs (especially good ones) are great. But you’re wasting your time if you just email bloggers and say “link to me”. These people love their creations, and the last thing they want is for some corporation to be telling them what to do. On the other hand, show them… Read More »Bloggers: handle with care

Quickly find out where you are in Google for anything

Monitoring where you are in the Google results for a search term is a bit of a chore, but it’s a seriously important exercise. Doing it “just by looking” is time-consuming; we’ve probably all gone through page after page of Google scanning down the little green website addresses for our own site. Even then, thanks to the fact that Google nowadays gives most of us unique “personalised results”, you may not see what your customers do. One little browser add-on to help with one-off searches is highlighted in Quickly Find… Read More »Quickly find out where you are in Google for anything

Email newsletters which engage the reader

Sales emails are a tremendously good investment. Other forms of reaching prospects online come and go (and get publicity), but in industrial B2B marketing, it’s email all the way. But why would we do a multi-subject, less personalised “email newsletter” rather than individual emails promoting specific offers and tailored to specific readers? The main advantage of an email newsletter lies in its regularity and familiarity. Readers are more likely to accept something which arrives on a consistent date, in a consistent format. If you send out a company email newsletter… Read More »Email newsletters which engage the reader

Could you install a new company network? No? Well then…

…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…

Drag your PR company into your online marketing

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

“About Us”? Well, for a start, we’re boring.

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.

Why make it difficult for me to buy your stuff?

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?

3 ways you can spend your marketing budget more ambitiously in 2010

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

Writing copy which lives up to the headline

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

Answer their questions by asking them first

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 isn’t 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

Rebuilding your website around usability

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

Best of “An Article A Day”, September 2009

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

How you can break the news and reap the benefit

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

How to get an original, 1000-word article for £10

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: not as well informed as they used to be?

“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?

How to have the sales leads cake …and eat it

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

Exactly what qualifies as a quality lead?

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?

Avoiding the “Stunningly Awful Demo”

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”

The Product Launch: skirmish or campaign?

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?

Emailing engineers: could do better

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

The only bit they’ve got wrong is the title

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 Newbie’s Guide to Marketing. And yes, looking at some of the recent… Read More »The only bit they’ve got wrong is the title

Are you selling your sales process?

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?

Your chance to help Google, and help yourself

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

How to find interesting, relevant search terms cheaply

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