Our Daily Articles: Complete Index 2008–2021
Yesterday I suggested that getting links into your site is half of the battle when it comes to search engine optimisation (“SEO”). The other half which I was alluding to is “on-page optimisation”, or having the right content presented the right way. In The four fundamentals of SEO remain as relevant as ever, the Search Engine War blog suggests that there are four elements to SEO, splitting my content half into three topics. What’s more, they suggest that these are primarily the same elements as at the start of the… Read More »SEO in four parts
One of the most important things you can do to develop your website is to start a link-building campaign. It’s something we’re covering with appropriate significance on our Insider Programme (which you really ought to think about joining in the New Year, by the way). Links are the currency of the web, and the most essential of the two things you need to do if you’re to get to the top of the Google results. Getting links is a chore, but there are loads of good tips to be had.… Read More »Links are unequal. But how unequal?
The Recession is Here – Time to Become an Eco-Marketer is the title of a brilliant piece on Anything Goes Marketing which is actually nothing to do with environmental issues. It’s actually to do with recycling marketing resources and minimising wasted effort. I won’t try to summarise it any further: have a read. And Happy Christmas, by the way. I’ll be right back after this short break.
Back in 2000 I addressed a seminar of PR consultants who were discussing the “threat” from the internet. Many of them were worried that if print magazines started to die off, relationships with editors would become less important, and many companies would just start to write their own press and PR material which would find a much easier route to publication on the web. Meanwhile, online advertising looked set to boom, and advertising agencies were going to have a great time. I argued that this wasn’t the case: the web… Read More »Using a PR agency? Or an ostrich?
In marketing we can view the sales team as our customers really, and we all know how crucial it is to understand customers. The problem at many companies (especially where the sales team significantly outnumbers the marketing team) is often that the sales team shout loudly about what they want, but the marketing team “know” that the sales team doesn’t really understand the problem. Immediately you get a “them and us” situation, and I can name many companies where I’ve seen this happen. So often marketing is a gentler, more… Read More »Time to get on the road
Hands up who’s doing PPC (pay per click) advertising? You know, Google AdWords and the like? Hmm, that’s quite a lot of you. And I see a few of you, even at fairly small companies, spending as much as you ever did on print advertising – and the monthly expenditure is rising too. So perhaps we need to take stock of where we are. In 7 Signs Your PPC Campaigns Needs Optimization on the Marketing Optimization Blog the author contends that you’re probably not doing AdWords as efficiently as you… Read More »The next step for your AdWords campaigns
I feel for the three or four companies who’ve told me recently that they’re keen on our Insider Programme and who like the idea of having my advice on tap for their website and associated activities – but who genuinely can’t find £500 a month in 2009. That’s fair enough, although I’d be interested to know what’s more important than developing your online marketing at the moment: please tell me it’s not print ads any more! Anyway, whatever the budgetary restrictions, we’re all looking for good low-cost opportunities, and there… Read More »Good things needn’t cost a fortune
Here’s an interesting discussion. Industrial Search Engine Marketing asks: “(is) Facebook a Viable Channel for Industrial Marketing?” and the answer is that it could well be. Now, like me, in a business context you may well gloss over anyone talking about Facebook and social media in general, thinking that it’s of no consequence. But there’s a growing (if still small) amount of business related activity going on in Facebook, and it might well be worth some of your time, especially if you’re a regular Facebook user and know your way… Read More »Is Facebook relevant to us in industry?
You may be one of those people who think brainstorming is a woolly management idea which takes your team away from their real jobs, yet produces very little (while requiring significant expenditure in biscuits). But most people who have attended a brainstorming session run by an experienced facilitator will be great fans – I became a convert many years ago after attending one at an open day run by a local management consultancy. However, it’s quite possible to run a really good session without professional outside help. The Marketing Profs… Read More »I’d never thought of that
With budgets increasingly under pressure at many industrial companies, 2009 may well be a year to work smarter. However, an article from B2B Magazine argues Why b-to-b is the place to be in the downturn. The reason is that in the consumer sector, marketing is going to have to start thinking and acting like the business-to-business sector. Where their differentiator has usually been branding, now they’re going to have to think more about what we take for granted: sales support, customer service, supply chain compliance, distribution and ultimately, as always,… Read More »Feel good about yourself
Another week, another great Seth’s Blog article. Gravity is just a theory is one of those ideas which will immediately get you wondering how it applies to your own marketing activities (it did for me, anyway). What Seth Godin is saying is that if you really want to be able to get people to act on your message now, it should not force them to change their minds and should be demonstrable before they get bored. Easier said than done, but once you start thinking about it, you may find… Read More »Look from a different angle
Here’s an interesting discussion from Sales Lead Insights B2B Marketing. React Faster to Your Leads to Increase Your ROI asks how quickly do you respond to the calls to action and contact forms on your website? It’s true (and I’ve been guilty of this at various companies) that when an enquiry comes in, we put it “into the system” and the prospect may be contacted in hours, possibly days, but never within minutes. But if you think about it, that’s exactly when you need to catch them. How many times… Read More »New, faster-acting suppliers
White Papers are great. Because they were taken up most enthusiastically in the nineties by IT companies whose mission seemed to be to make even the simplest concepts bafflingly complex, many people (including me) were put off them almost forever. However, the concept has been reclaimed now by people with something to sell, and I believe they should be a part of the marketing armoury of every business. Essentially, a white paper is a good explanatory document aimed at helping readers make decisions. If you want to establish yourself as… Read More »Deliver first, ask questions later?
I thought I’d run with the subject of emails a bit more, as we’ve redesigned our own output this week for those of you who read these articles by email. iMedia Connection covered the topic of titling emails the other day in How to craft irresistible subject lines. The basics are to keep your subject line short, and to get your brand name in. If you’re sending a frequent communication, the standard format is to put your brand in square brackets at the start of the subject line. For things… Read More »The words which will make or break you
“Ironic” is a frequently misused word, but I guess it may be ironic that on a day with a headline like the one above, those of you who receive these articles by email will be seeing a more designed layout rather than the almost plain-text one we’ve been using until now. “HTML emails”, as these are known, are fraught with dangers, as even amongst a circulation of 250 (like this blog), there’ll be many different email readers (Outlook, Notes, Googlemail, etc), and all will display the email slightly differently. The… Read More »We all need to simplify what we do
Here’s a long, thoughtful post which you might like to consider over the weekend. Inbound Marketing and the Next Phase of Marketing on the Web on the Inbound Internet Marketing blog looks at just how a major shock in the business and financial markets led people to change their online marketing strategies in 2001, so the current market crises may have the same effect. Back then, web advertising shifted from display (banner) advertising towards pay-per-click (although at the speed most industrial B2B companies operate, that’s only just being realised in… Read More »The next shift in online marketing
Right, one of those short posts from marketing guru Seth Godin today, which – as ever – hits the nail squarely on the head. In How to answer the phone he recounts the difficulty of getting through to a company on the phone, and reiterates the maxim: the only reason to answer the phone when a customer calls is to make the customer happy. Bland yes, but also dead right. He continues: “If you’re not doing this or you are unable to do this, do not answer the phone. There… Read More »Key 9 to go to the next menu
If you hadn’t heard, Google introduced a highly significant enhancement to its service a week or so back, called SearchWiki. This enables users to edit their search results – that is, reorder, remove, or add web pages to the results for any query. You can add notes to listings too. There’s a good summary of the implications of this in Google SearchWiki 101: An Illustrated Guide on Search Engine Land which you might like to read. If that looks daunting, I’ll highlight the bits you need to know, before any… Read More »Control your own Google
Thank you so much for all your flattering comments about last week’s series of articles about the state of online marketing in UK industrial companies. I’ll try to write a few more pieces like that which are closer to home in the future. In the meantime, back to work. I’ve read entire books on writing sales letters, and some of them have even been worth reading. But to fill an entire book on this subject you need to get far too detailed; the really good stuff can be summarised in… Read More »Making a sales letter truly great
Should you continue promoting your company in a business downturn? Of course you should, even if it has to be at a reduced level, because a dip in the market is the easiest time to increase market share, history has taught us that. But should your marketing message change? In Ten Tips for Effective Creative in Difficult Times on the B2B Insights Blog it’s suggested that you make more effort to understand the situation in which your customers find themselves (and I should add that their situation might just be… Read More »Time to get to the point
This is the final observation I’d like to make from seeing so many UK industrial companies’ online marketing operations this summer: my surprise at how much companies are spending on pay-per-click advertising – and my concern at how much they may be wasting. By pay-per-click advertising, effectively I mean Google AdWords, which dominates the market. If you’d asked me to have made an educated guess at how much this was being used in UK industrial marketing, I’d have probably said maybe a quarter of companies might have tried it, but… Read More »Here’s what I learned this summer (4)
What else did I learn this summer, while talking to loads of UK industrial companies about their websites? I learned that many companies do not have website traffic analytics data, and even fewer are actually using it to calculate return on investment from online campaigns, or their website as a whole. At many companies, I asked what analytics data they had on their website visitors, and they pointed to some horribly crude log analysis program provided for free by their website host – something like AWStats or Webalizer. A chart… Read More »Here’s what I learned this summer (3)
As I mentioned yesterday, while travelling around the UK this summer introducing our Insider Programme, I’ve started to see the challenges involved in online marketing in UK industry, and have discovered some common problems and mistakes, which I thought I’d bring to you all this week. Today: the Splash Page lives! Now, you’re probably thinking: “The Splash Page? Does Chris mean those movies people used to make you watch before being able to access their websites? The ones which made half the visitors hurriedly scroll around for the “skip this”… Read More »Here’s what I learned this summer (2)
This week, rather than refer you to other people’s articles, I thought I’d write about some of my own recent experiences. In the course of launching our Insider Programme this summer, I’ve visited many industrial companies around the UK, and spoken to many more at the series of seminars we held. In doing so, I’ve started to get an idea of the state of online marketing in UK industry, and it’s been most revealing – in some cases, pleasantly surprising, in others, quite shocking. While my small sample of a… Read More »Here’s what I learned this summer (1)
To know how to write web pages to do well in Google, it can be helpful to know a bit about Google itself. And there’s a nice little introductory article on the official Google Blog, called Introduction to Google Search Quality, which puts a human face on what they do. Obviously it doesn’t reveal any trade secrets, but it reinforces the fact that there are people behind all this technology. As well as a staggering number of PCs.
I’ve mentioned “error pages” before, but I’ll revisit the subject regularly until everyone’s sorted theirs out. Do you know what happens if someone types in a page on your site which doesn’t exist? Here’s what happens on our site. Is your “error page” as user-friendly? Try typing a load of nonsense after your domain name and see what happens. Even if you think what you’re providing is OK, it may still be worth reading 404 error pages, news sites and user experience on the E-consultancy blog, where they investigate what… Read More »Avoiding errors in error pages
I know many industrial marketing managers don’t like free gifts, perhaps considering them to be in some way unprofessional. I disagree – some of the best branding I’ve experienced over the years has come from decent freebies. I can even name (without looking) many things which have hung around my home and office for years: a Telemecanique umbrella, a Rose+Krieger pen, an Adept Scientific calculator, and some SMC Pneumatics golf balls – and that’s straight off the top of my head. But what have freebies got to do with online… Read More »Free does not mean cheap. It means “thanks”.
Analysing your website visitors is one of the great exercises in marketing today. It genuinely excites me to follow who they are, where they came from and what they do on my website. I never had this level of insight into the customer with any traditional marketing technique. But there’s another fascinating exercise which online marketing has given us, and that’s the ability to test everything easily. We’re all daft if we don’t find the time to do it, if only because it was so much more difficult to do… Read More »Who knows what works?
An excellent article has just appeared on the E-consultancy blog about content for your B2B website. In Creating Cracking Corporate Content author Kevin Gibbons reminds us that the days of writing stilted web pages full of key search terms have long gone, and nowadays there’s little difference between copy which “works” for human visitors and that which “works” for search engines. The content requirements for technology guides, press releases, product descriptions and blogs are all discussed. Well worth digesting.
Here’s one of the best articles ever on email newsletter writing. How To Build a Successful Email Newsletter on Problogger points out that you need to start out by defining what you’re trying to do with the publication, and letting the potential readers know this. Then you need a voice, and a clear idea of the value you’re offering the readers (in exchange for their time). Your content needs to be scannable, have trackable results, and good subject lines. Finally you need a good distribution service, and a reliable opt-in/opt-out… Read More »The essentials of email newsletters
Last week we completed a series of four seminars for marketing managers from UK engineering, scientific and construction sector suppliers. If you were one of the 60 or 70 people who attended, we hope you enjoyed your day with us and found it useful. Certainly the feedback (100% positive!) leads us to believe we got it right. We hope you found the introduction of our Insider Programme on a face-to-face basis to be revealing, and we know that many of you got quite a few ideas from my presentation on… Read More »Your online marketing in 2009
A week ago I wrote an article which suggested that many “search engine optimisation” (SEO) consultants out there were little more than charlatans, and I’d like to thank the many of you who emailed me with sympathetic messages based on your own experiences. There are some great ones out there, although they rightly expect decent fees, and I do understand that it’s often a sign of the immaturity of the customers that forces even good SEO consultants to resort to claiming they’ll “get you to number one on Google”, because… Read More »Run far, far away. Very fast.
Thanks to BeRelevant for pointing out that a nice little e-book called The Practical Guide to Email Marketing is available for free download – go get your copy now while it’s still available. If you do any sort of promotional emailing for your company, I’m pretty certain you’ll find some good tips inside.
Putting forms on your website is hard enough work, but making the form appealing is even harder. However, having got someone this far, it’s a tragedy to lose them at the last hurdle because your form is offputting. One of the reasons people don’t litter their websites with individual landing pages for every promotion they do is the pain involved with creating good ones. At a recent seminar, I asked industrial marketing managers if they’d be interested in a service which enabled them to create landing pages, with response forms,… Read More »Designing a web form which will be used
Here’s an article which backs up something I’d been fairly sure about for quite a while. According to Improve click-throughs with the right URL names on Industrial Search Engine Marketing, the actual URL (the web page address) in Google results (the bit in green) is becoming more important. I agree. If I type in “widget review” into Google, I know that 9 out of 10 results which come up are not going to be reviews of widgets, but shopping sites selling widgets which have managed to score well for the… Read More »Attractive looking URLs rule OK
Most of the people looking for your products and services online use the search engines. Some of them will find you because they’ve typed in search terms – or “keywords” – for which you do well in the search results. You can see what they typed in by consulting your visitor statistics. But others type in keywords which you don’t do well for, and they never find you. What are they typing in? It’s imperative you find out, and work on ranking highly for those keywords too. You can guess… Read More »Identifying your top keywords
Although it’s on a specialist search engine optimisation website, today’s article can be followed by the layman without too much brow-furrowing, and I think you’ll find it worthwhile. Are You Forcing Your Users to Superfluously Click? on SEOmoz looks at “clicks that cause me to grit my teeth and shake my fist”. As a web user, you’ll agree with all of the examples, but you’ll probably also recognise one or two which your own website might be guilty of. “Click here to continue” prompts? Things that look like they’re clickable… Read More »Don’t force your users to do the work for you
I like articles which inspire us to go back to basics and re-assess our marketing, because we all know it’s something we don’t do often enough. In The Most Important Question Salespeople Should Ask Themselves on the B2B Lead Blog it’s suggested that not only do you ask yourself the classic question “Why should people do business with me when there are so many other options available?” but also, when you’ve come up with your answers, it suggests that you go through the reasons and ask yourself a second question… Read More »So What?
Here’s a good post. It’s something all magazine editors would agree with, and (if you could get them to put their finger on it) customers probably would too. In your marketing communication, have you included a reason why the recipient should care? In The most common mistake I find in customer communications on the B2B Rainmaker blog, the whole problem is summarised in a couple of paragraphs. “Your features and functionality aren’t benefits”, it says, “they’re merely proof a benefit can exist”.
I assume many of you are members of LinkedIn, the professional networking site (if we know each other, please feel free to link to me). There’s a good section on this called “Answers” where you can get advice from other members, and I’d thoroughly recommend visiting this occasionally and helping out where you can, because it establishes you as an authority in the field. A recent question was What do you look for in choosing an SEO company? and that’s something I’m taking quite an interest in at the moment.… Read More »Beware that SEO company on the phone
Sometimes I link to articles in this blog almost as a way of bookmarking them for myself. Now, I’ve got whole books on writing sales letters, and I’ve even read one or two, but once you get to whole-book-levels of detail, you can’t see the wood for the trees. Here then is Ron Brauner’s Blog on 8 Ways to Improve Your Sales Letters. Nothing revelatory, just good common sense in a two-minute read, and all the better for that. Just like a good sales letter, I guess.
Domain names are really cheap, in marketing terms. This morning I registered a “dot co dot uk” for two years for less than ten pounds, and I’m sure there are even cheaper places if you shop around. It was for a domain name I don’t need at the moment, but I expect to find a good use for it quite soon. The main reason to get it, however, was to ensure nobody else did. Have you got domain names registered for all of your main product lines? You should. If… Read More »If you don’t… someone else may
Most of you won’t be redesigning your company website any time soon, and even then, if you’re part of a large corporation, you may get little or no input to the exercise. But it’s worth understanding the fundamentals of on-screen design, and an easy-to-understand article called What is the best screen resolution to use for your website? on the E-consultancy blog is a well-written guide if you want to understand one of the most basic decisions behind how a website looks. I’m writing this on an iMac with a huge… Read More »Don’t assume we’re all alike
Jakob Nielsen has been one of the gurus of internet usability since the early days of the net. Even now, his websites sacrifice design flourishes for the sake of clarity, and look oddly simplistic. But they get the message across, and when Nielsen writes something, it’s normally worth reading. He’s just done a report on email messages, and although the $119 report might well be too in-depth for most of us, the summary article, Transactional Email and Confirmation Messages, on Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox is worth looking at. Nielsen says that… Read More »Remember what your email is for
In WWW or Non-WWW, That is the Question on Industrial Search Engine Marketing, the question is asked: Is http://www.mysite.com better than http://mysite.com? – and there’s a good discussion which you might like to read. But there’s a more fundamental question which everyone should ask, right now: does my own website work for the alternative way of typing in the address? For most of us, that means, if the “www.” is missed off, does it work? It ought to, because many, many people now just bash the last part of a… Read More »Double-u double-u double-u
Here’s a nice article which claims to be for very small businesses but which could, I think, teach much larger ones a thing or two. Taking Baby Steps in Marketing: Or Eating the Elephant One Bite at a Time on Branding & Marketing gives you a way of creating a marketing programme for next year, even if the idea of having a “marketing programme” is something you’ve never had the time to entertain in the past. It gives you a few questions to ask yourself now, as well as a… Read More »A “marketing programme”? A what?
“If you sold Widgets, and a Widget-buying customer walks into your store, can’t find any Widgets on her own, and when she asks what aisle they’re in you remain silent, would you fire yourself?” Has your website got a site search box on it? No? Then you’re missing a big opportunity. There are two types of people who will use it: compulsive searchers who will always pick this route over any form of “navigation”; and visitors who couldn’t follow your navigation and expect search to be there as an alternative.… Read More »Can I help you, sir?
I remember writing over ten years ago “beware the corporate redesign, because it often tells you the company has run out of ideas”. But in this age of branding, it’s worth considering creating an “image” for even the most basic product lines; just don’t spend too much time and expense on it. A professional logo on a product and its sales material isn’t pretentious, it’s something the product ought to deserve. That said, do the product justice. Please don’t design the logo yourself in Microsoft Paint. Get a graphic designer… Read More »Put your Microsoft Paint away. Now.
One of the articles I referred to last week suggested the economic crisis hasn’t reached many of our businesses (although that wasn’t the point of the article), and a reader here emailed me to ask “what planet is that guy on?” I’d actually run a seminar a few days before, attended by marketing managers from UK industrial companies, and I have to report the outlook was – perhaps surprisingly – upbeat. I guess it just depends on what business you’re in. It’s not boom time for readers in the construction… Read More »Careful with that Axe