Our Daily Articles: Complete Index 2008–2021

Ad agencies partying like it’s still 1999

According to Search Engine Journal in Google Opens AgencyLand, the world’s biggest search engine is developing an online resource to try to promote its advertising products to advertising agencies. I wish them luck. Despite the inexorable rise of pay-per-click advertising over the past five years, many of the B2B advertising agencies I know have looked the other way, stuck their fingers in their ears and mumbled: “na na not listening”. But although Google AdWords lends itself to a do-it-yourself approach, many marketing managers still want to contract out the work,… Read More »Ad agencies partying like it’s still 1999

Your prospects are all individual people

In technical business-to-business marketing, the most effective medium for keeping in contact with your market is email, no contest. Snail mail is too expensive to do regularly enough, and “social media” (including newsfeeds) is still a jumble of different things lumped together to increase their importance. If you’re an email reader of this blog, you’re in a group which outnumbers the RSS readers by about 10:1 and the real Twitter followers by around the same ratio. We all know the importance of keeping your message in front of prospects, so… Read More »Your prospects are all individual people

People really are writing about your technology

Blog directory and search engine Technorati has indexed well over a hundred million blogs worldwide, up from a hundred thousand in 2002. With more blogs coming online every day, the chances of there being a new blog related to your area of activity are better than ever. And if someone’s writing about your market sector, whether they’re an end-user, a researcher or a supplier, there’s potential for you to get publicity and those all-important links from them. If you doubt that anyone would write a blog which even touched on… Read More »People really are writing about your technology

Excellent! A consultant who’ll work for £10 an hour!

There’s a nice honest post by Matt McGee, a search engine marketing consultant in the USA, on his Small Business SEO blog, which discusses the cost of getting search engine optimisation work done on your website. In Small Business SEO: Costs, Expectations & Realities, he addresses the strange situation whereby businesses seem to think they can get someone to “sort out their website” for a couple of hundred pounds a month. Now, you know and I know that a consultant in any type of business is going to charge three… Read More »Excellent! A consultant who’ll work for £10 an hour!

Now it’s really worth uploading video content

Videos are great for business, and still a hugely under-used marketing tool in most B2B sectors. You don’t have to spend thousands on them: bring in a modern video camera, get a decent salesman to demonstrate a product in a well-lit room, and you can have the results up on YouTube up before elevenses. It’s a great thing to point prospects towards, and it’s another tempting item for bloggers and news sites to include. The problem with video is in getting it to convert, even to website traffic. That’s because… Read More »Now it’s really worth uploading video content

I’ve got a website. Gosh, really?

Back in the mid-1990s, many companies didn’t have websites (my son, est.2001, doesn’t believe this). Those which did have one wanted to shout about it. Sensing an opportunity, many magazines (including the one I edited) introduced a section where advertisers could show pictures of their websites and – with any luck – attract a few readers to type the URL into their copy of Netscape Navigator. Well, there weren’t really any search engines then, so telling people about your website was the only way to get visitors. I think this… Read More »I’ve got a website. Gosh, really?

One-day Workshops this autumn

Jackie West writes: One of the attractions of Business Marketing Online is that it’s aimed specifically at helping business-to-business marketing, and in particular, the manufacturing, scientific and building sectors. So we thought it might be useful to look at the training side of things, and see if our approach proves as attractive to you there too. We’re arranging a couple of workshops (in September and November) which will be hosted and presented by Chris Rand, together with an expert guest speaker. The cost for the day will be £400, and… Read More »One-day Workshops this autumn

A closer look at BT’s “Web Clicks” service

Susan Hallam has had a right old go at BT’s “Web Clicks” service, and her controlled demolition is well worth a read. She reports that there seems to be “a carpet bombing telemarketing campaign” on this one, so you’d be well advised to know your facts when they call. It seems that despite all the sources BT claims it will get you “contacts” from, it’s likely that most will come from good old pay-per-click advertising. Funnily enough, the fixed-cost approach to managing PPC advertising (e.g Google AdWords) is one which… Read More »A closer look at BT’s “Web Clicks” service

A new friendly face on the team

I’m delighted to be able to tell you that Jackie West has joined us on the Business Marketing Online team. If you haven’t met Jackie before, she was most recently the marketing manager for Pro-Talk, and before that was, for many years, the Marketing Communications Manager for SMC Pneumatics in Milton Keynes – so she will certainly understand the opportunities and problems you’re facing at the moment. A number of you have started to ask us for additional services, such as AdWords campaign management, and Jackie will be ensuring that… Read More »A new friendly face on the team

A long drawn out engagement

Today, like yesterday, I’ve been inspired by Mark Simms, Editor of Industrial Technology magazine. I was his predecessor there, and I think he’s just passed my ten years in the hot seat, so we’ve seen a lot of changes between us. Mark reckons that the immediacy and effectiveness of modern product advertising, coupled with a decline in brand advertising, could be detrimental to the quality of product design. If a component which will just “do the job” can be sourced quickly and cheaply, without any real advice from a knowledgeable… Read More »A long drawn out engagement

Filling the advertising vacuum

We seem to have a bit of a theme going on this week. Following my article on Monday about the problems being faced by trade magazines, I got into some interesting correspondence with my former colleague Mark Simms, Editor of Industrial Technology magazine, one of the few titles which is refusing to panic in the current market conditions. Mark has some fascinating theories about the trend away from brand advertising towards measurable response advertising, which I’ll mention tomorrow. This sort of thoughtful analysis is why I’m sure that independent publishers… Read More »Filling the advertising vacuum

Don’t waste your time on directories

If you’ve got 3 minutes spare to watch a video, take a look at this one by Matt Cutts, one of the few public faces of Google’s search team, talking about why some directories are great to be in, and others are considered “spam”. I guess what we can take away from this is to avoid being in directories which clearly don’t have any “editorial quality”, and certainly never consider paying to be in them. I firmly believe that the only use for directories is in the value Google puts… Read More »Don’t waste your time on directories

Things are changing. Tell your friends.

Yesterday I mentioned Michael Jackson’s untimely death last week, pointing out how – for once – the daily newspapers got a chance to be the place where many people first found out about the story. But did the web cover itself in glory on this one? Well, the story was broken on a website, it’s true. But for most people, the web is the search engines (especially Google), and as Search Engine Journal illustrates in Microsoft Bing FAILS in Coverage, Twitter and Facebook Break News, the search engines were all… Read More »Things are changing. Tell your friends.

Gloomy times for your favourite trade magazine

Late on Thursday evening, the most famous pop star in the world died. I wouldn’t have liked to have been working on a daily newspaper that night (talk about “clear the front page!” chaos) but the timing was extraordinarily fortuitous for the UK papers: a massive story which broke after most people had gone to bed, but just in time for it to be splashed on their front pages. There’s about a one-hour slot each day when that can happen. But it doesn’t happen often enough, which is one reason… Read More »Gloomy times for your favourite trade magazine

Onwards and upwards

I’ve let the first anniversary of this blog slip past without any acknowledgement, so belated happy birthday, blog. I’ll download you a new plug-in or something. Anyway, although I’m delighted to have over 500 of you getting this by email every day, as well as a decent number of RSS readers and of course all the casual web traffic, we need to push on. So I’m just wondering, if I ask very nicely, if you’d do me a favour and recommend this to a colleague or two. Or perhaps you’re… Read More »Onwards and upwards

Naming names

Naming product ranges, or even individual products, is more important than ever. While consumer electronics companies still think it makes sense to present the public with full engineering part numbers (despite nobody ever saying “Have you seen the new KDL46W4000U at Currys?”), they are at least investing in the ranges’ brand names nowadays. In the technical sector, however, some manufacturers still seem to think it’s almost an admission of weakness to give products a brand, or an image of any sort. And this despite the fact that both sales teams… Read More »Naming names

People should buy from you. But why?

A short post – Conversion Rate Exercise: Why Should I Do Business With You? – on the Marketing Optimization Blog puts forward a couple of good ideas inspired by social media which might help you clarify what your company’s unique selling propositions are. The majority of businesses we come across in any walk of life seem to find it hard to focus on what they’re offering that others aren’t – and consequently give you the impression that they have no better reason why you should buy from them other than,… Read More »People should buy from you. But why?

The importance of the footer

Another great post from Smashing Magazine – Informative And Usable Footers In Web Design – looks at what to put in this small and neglected but important part of your website. What do people expect when they scroll to the very bottom of the page? It would appear they want “About” and “Contact” information, some sort of link to an index or site map, and (on long pages) a “Back to the Top” link. Obvious really, but does your site have these in place? I run about 20 websites, and… Read More »The importance of the footer

Search Engine Optimisation: risky business?

The Marketing Optimization Blog is amongst a number of blogs in the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) which has been making uneasy noises about the subject recently. In Will Google Judge You Guilty of SEO? it hints that a dramatic Google update might be coming (there’s no real evidence for this) and that sites which have been manipulating Google results might be caught out. Now, I’ve been to some search engine optimisation conferences, and although many of the people working in the area are very smart indeed, I’ve never… Read More »Search Engine Optimisation: risky business?

How’s your in-house database looking?

Keeping an in-house database “clean” is such a dull job that it can hang around at the bottom of the to-do list permanently. In 10 signs your in-house database needs help BEFORE you launch another program, the B2B Lead Blog lists the sort of problems lurking in most databases. I’m sure many of you will recognise more than one of them. In the comments, there’s a reference to a claim made last year that clean data can scale up to huge gains in revenue. I’m sure it’s true. And one… Read More »How’s your in-house database looking?

How big is yours then?

Once upon a time we used to get really irritated when a web page didn’t load instantly, because it was so large, and our connection ot the internet was so slow. Nowadays we all have fast connections, but as everyone knows, there are still plenty of pages out there which take ages to load (or don’t even load properly at all) …and that’s probably because they’re badly designed, and are making calls to outside elements which aren’t loading quickly enough. The “Web 2.0” design philosophy which has swept the web… Read More »How big is yours then?

Talk to your audience at their level

The ever-fascinating Copyblogger discusses the use of language in copywriting in Five Ways to Persuade Like a Silver-Tongued Trial Lawyer. After I supported the consensus the other day that most press releases are rubbish, this is a nice companion piece. Copyblogger says that lawyers have to understand how to make their language accessible to the “man on the street” when addressing juries. But although this is an astute observation, the lesson for us all is to write with the end-user in mind. That may mean making our writing more technical… Read More »Talk to your audience at their level

What’s Google found on your website?

Google Webmaster Tools updated recently with a new design and a load of new information. If you don’t have this set up on your company website, ask whoever set the site up why they didn’t include this as standard (well, after you’ve finished slapping them) and get it installed right away. It’s free, and gives you loads of great information about your site, including what searches you’re appearing for, and which ones you’re actually getting clicked on for. If Google has problems crawling your site, or if there are broken… Read More »What’s Google found on your website?

Think about AdWords like eBay

Google’s AdWords system works brilliantly for certain products – ones which people need, and are looking for. Conversely, if your product is something people didn’t know they wanted, it’s useless; although as an advertiser, it won’t cost you anything if your ad never shows or gets clicked on. The real waste in AdWords spending turns out not to be in advertising products which nobody’s looking for. It’s in spending too much and not looking at the return. Think about AdWords like you would eBay. The highest bidder wins the day,… Read More »Think about AdWords like eBay

Keywords: the answer may be in the question

Keyword research is so important. What are your prospects typing into search engines? You need to know before you can start optimising your website to rank higher in Google, and you need to know if you want to set up an Adwords campaign. I suggest to our Insider Programme members right at the start that they try to compile a list of 20 to 50 priority search terms from the outset, because these can affect so many areas of website development. There are plenty of tools to help, and plenty… Read More »Keywords: the answer may be in the question

Who are your press releases written for?

B2B Rainmaker covers a subject I’ve been banging on about for years in Why most press releases suck and are a waste of time. As an industrial trade magazine editor for nearly 15 years, I probably read (or at least glanced at) anything from 50,000 to 100,000 press releases, and as editor of Engineeringtalk from 2000 to 2007, I either edited or supervised the publishing of another 50,000. I think it’s safe to say I’ve seen just about everything. And it’s true: most press releases are rubbish, including those from… Read More »Who are your press releases written for?

Two things to remember before redesigning a website

Too many companies redesign their websites for the same (poor) reason they like to redesign their logo: because they can’t think of anything better to do. However, there are a number of good reasons to redesign and relaunch your website, including getting rid of an outdated content management system, updating presentation for current browsers, or reflecting a change of company circumstances. It’s not surprising then that web design agencies are still fairly busy, even in recessionary times. It’s a fact though that designers are rarely given a really good brief.… Read More »Two things to remember before redesigning a website

Can you get your Google results changed quickly?

Blogstorm reports that a website in Holland has lost a lawsuit brought about by its Google results seeming to imply that a company had gone bankrupt, despite not actually saying that on the page. This has some wide implications. If you type in a two-word query into Google, the search engine will return a list of pages which feature both words. For each page, you’ll see the title, and under that, a couple of lines of text. If the two words are in close proximity on the page, those two… Read More »Can you get your Google results changed quickly?

Google Analytics Event Tracking – an introduction

If you thought Google Analytics just analysed page views, it’s time to think again. A feature called “Event Tracking” has been slowly introduced (it was first announced nearly two years ago) and it’s now available on all accounts. What Event Tracking does is to allow you to record actions which aren’t page views on your site, such as downloading a PDF, clicking an outbound link, watching a video or even those smart interactions with your website which don’t involve a new page being called (usually done with what’s known as… Read More »Google Analytics Event Tracking – an introduction

A better call to action

We all know the call to action on every advert, every sales letter and indeed, every web page, can make or break all the effort you’ve put into creating it. So every time I come across another decent set of reminders about what to put in your call to action, you’ll see it here. It’s something we all need to absorb by constant repetition. 7 Tips for Effective Calls to Action on the Inbound Internet Marketing blog says that you need to be urgent, specific, well positioned, easy to follow… Read More »A better call to action

Avoiding awkwardness in getting customer testimonials

Ron Brauner’s Blog reminds us of “one of the most successful marketing headlines of all time” in Free Marketing Headlines. What is it? The customer testimonial. However, getting customer testimonials can be awkward and even embarrassing. When asked directly by someone to say something nice about them, can you say no, even if you want to? And you don’t want to put customers in a difficult position. Here’s a technique I recently used for a client, which produced results that bowled us over (and not just the one from the… Read More »Avoiding awkwardness in getting customer testimonials

Number one for your name. But is that enough?

I’ve been digesting a fascinating article about the taxonomy of search today (don’t worry, I read these things so you don’t have to), and it’s given me a number of ideas for subjects to cover in future articles here. However, I’d like to pull out one almost incidental statistic from the article and discuss its implications: the volume of searches looking for your company name. Apparently, nearly a quarter of web searches are “navigational”; in other words, the searcher just wants to find your site. They either don’t know or… Read More »Number one for your name. But is that enough?

Minimising the people who leave the store empty-handed

Sometimes there’s an assumption that because we’re in the business-to-business sector, our websites are entirely informational and we’re not really involved in selling online. I’m guilty of making that assumption, which suggests I don’t know my audience; I just had a look at the websites belonging to ten random readers, and two offered online shopping. If the sample can be scaled up, that means over 100 of you have to address the particular technology and operational demands of a “web store”, a task which can be tricky. Anyway, here’s a… Read More »Minimising the people who leave the store empty-handed

Google becoming a business directory: are you on?

Have you ever seen Google results for companies where there are maps, photos and business information? These are are actually part of Google Maps but appear in the Google search results and are all part of a wider move from Google to be able to provide the same services as business directories. Claim your Google listing, now! on B2Blog suggests that you “claim” control of your business’ listing immediately, and add the relevant details. I agree, and I’m off to get our entry sorted right away.

Is filling up your title tag with your company name a waste?

Ah, title tags. Such a small thing, such a huge effect. Here at Business Marketing Online, we have a brilliant little tool (available to our Insider Programme Pro subscribers) which crawls your site, and lists all of the pages in a spreadsheet, along with their title tag, meta description tag, headlines, etc. It’s a total eye-opener for everyone who uses it. And the one thing I see time and time again is the same title tag repeated on dozens of pages. The result? You’re not telling Google what’s on the… Read More »Is filling up your title tag with your company name a waste?

Do you have a backup of your website?

Online surveys are great. I’ve been told of someone sitting in a marketing meeting, opening up their laptop, creating a one-question survey, firing it off to 1000 customers, and getting 100 responses back within the hour, while the meeting was still in progress. Now that’s the way to make decisions. Anyway, last week I was going to write about website hosting, and I thought: “I wonder what the readers pay?” Within five minutes I’d written a question, and five minutes later I’d emailed it to all of you. It hardly… Read More »Do you have a backup of your website?

Don’t throw your leads away at the last moment

Another success story for you today, again from an Insider Programme member. This company’s very mature website was producing plenty of name-and-address sales enquiries, thanks to good design which led visitors slickly through the product descriptions and onto an enquiry form. But although most visitors moving on to the form were completing it, some weren’t, and the company wondered if the design of the form might be putting people off. Nearly all enquiry forms on business-to-business websites ask for far too much information, usually because the Sales Director has insisted… Read More »Don’t throw your leads away at the last moment

Show that you’re the authority on the subject

I’d like to share one or two success stories with you this week, as well as report back on our recent survey. To kick off, a tale of how a company (a member of our Insider Programme Pro, as it happens) sailed straight into the top ten Google results for one of its major generic product terms, when it previously hadn’t even been able to get on the first few pages. What was making it hard for the company to get on to the first page of Google was the… Read More »Show that you’re the authority on the subject

Live chat on your website for free

Just a quickie, as it’s a bank holiday – something you might like to consider for your website. You know those “Live Instant Message Chat” buttons you see on some websites? People really like those. Even if they don’t use them, it gives off a nice warm feeling that your company cares. Well, it’s quite possible to put one of those on for free, using Google Talk. If you have a Google account, and your prospect does (and an increasing number of people do), then here’s what you need. You… Read More »Live chat on your website for free

The only way to attract Google’s interest

When you put something new on your website, you want Google to find it quickly. Not just because you want interest from day one (although that would be nice), but because you want your page to be accredited by Google as the primary one about that product, not the page on What’s New in Widgets Online which ran your press release a few days later. Here’s how it works. Google comes to your site. It looks exactly the same as last time. A week later, Google comes to your site… Read More »The only way to attract Google’s interest

Creative thinking required

Today I’d like some ideas from you. A company I know is moving premises (halfway across the country) and is preparing a not insubstantial mailshot (postal and email) to its customers to let them know of the change. The change of premises won’t really affect customers. Here’s the question though: is it appropriate to sneak in any marketing messages with this important update? Could the news be used as a hook to offer something? What do you think? Let us know below.

Do you get your message over quickly enough?

Even if you’re writing about something people are genuinely interested in, such as the Champions League Final, or Star Trek, or cute pets, you’ve only got a few lines to grab their attention and persuade them to keep reading. If you’re writing about pressure transducers, or LEDs, or spectrophotometers, they’re probably bored before they start, only reading about this stuff because they have to. You’re going to have to work even harder to get them enthusiastic about what you have to say. And yet nine out of ten* product pages… Read More »Do you get your message over quickly enough?

Another good link-building idea for you

More on link-building today (that’s two in a week!), but this time a link to a short article which just happens to have a really good idea on it. Do you have distributors? Do they link to you, or would they be prepared to? Here’s the deal. Do the work for them, and get the links you want. Instead of them giving you a simple link, see if they put a whole page about you (which you’ll provide) on their site, and they can link to that instead. On that… Read More »Another good link-building idea for you

When will you get your last ever magazine ad rep calling?

A contributor to a chat group for PR consultants which I run recently posted a communication from a well-known industrial magazine, which said that from now on the publication “will give editorial preference to those companies who are supporting us whether this is through display advertising or colour separation revenue”. As someone who edited industrial magazines, in print and online, for nearly twenty years, I’m not sure how to take this. If, as an editor, the companies whose news you’re allowed to cover is restricted, your magazine will be significantly… Read More »When will you get your last ever magazine ad rep calling?

A bunch more ideas for getting links to your site

As you know, I can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to have a programme in place aimed at generating links to your website. Look, it’s May, and in a few weeks’ time there’ll be no end of self-confident, web-literate students looking for a summer job. I bet that in six weeks, one of these could generate enough links for you that you could increase your Google traffic significantly. Let’s say you get 100 visitors a day to your website, and a stronger presence in Google from a few… Read More »A bunch more ideas for getting links to your site

The geeks will inherit the web

Woah, web search just got a whole lot more complicated. For website owners, that is. Google has wheeled out a whole new bunch of features in its search results, and I’m sure some of them will prove useful enough to eventually become mainstream. If you do a Google search such as this then click the “show options” link and you’ll see a number of new ways of exploring the data. A few have been knocking around for a while, but the new link should make them get a lot more… Read More »The geeks will inherit the web

What to do with pages about old products and events

A common scenario in industry is for the sales manager to stick his head around the marketing manager’s door and say “Now that we’ve got the Red Widget 2, I’d like all references to the original Red Widget removed from the website”, which leads to the marketing manager doing just that, by deleting the relevant pages. This is a mistake for so many reasons. Never just delete pages. Firstly, you’d managed to get your original Red Widget page onto the first page of the Google results for “red widgets”. Now… Read More »What to do with pages about old products and events

Start by defining what a sales lead actually is

As an aside, the article I’m linking to today is a good example of a way of creating good original content for your website – arrange for you (or an expert from your company) to be interviewed for your own website! That’s what Brian Carroll of the B2B Lead Generation blog has done in Using Kaizen to Improve your Lead Generation Results in 90 Days or Less, and there’s no doubt the result is a fascinating read, even if it’s (presumably) only restating the message which the subject of the… Read More »Start by defining what a sales lead actually is

Vanity URLs – not for the vain

A ‘vanity URL’ sounds like a vanity number plate, but it’s nothing to do with showing off. It can be a crucial element in successful web marketing. A vanity URL is a nice, short web address which is used in place of a horrible long one. For example, supposing as marketing manager of the Red Widget Company, you launch a new fastest-ever widget and that clunky old website content management system you’ve been saddled with decides the web page you’ve created about the product is going to be www.bluewidgetcompany.co.uk/products/database/40765/9432b.html Doesn’t… Read More »Vanity URLs – not for the vain

Being there when they decide to stop doing nothing

Here’s another one of Seth Godin’s thought-provoking Seth’s Blog posts. Pick anything – the calculus of change points out that the default position for most customers is “do nothing”. If they don’t know whether there’s anything in it for them if they do something, then they’ll do nothing. Therefore if you want them to do something, you need to pick the moment when they have to make a choice. Now, for us in industry, it’s difficult to find out when they’re going to have to make a choice (although the… Read More »Being there when they decide to stop doing nothing