Chris Rand

Give that email every chance of survival

A lot of your marketing emails never get to the recipient. Fact. There’s no point in bemoaning the crudity of some of the “email filters” which people have in place; they exist, they work badly, and we just have to get on with it. However, we can at least do as much as possible to reduce the number which get swallowed up into black holes set up by some work-experience kid in your customer’s IT Department. As Editor of Engineeringtalk for over eight years, I probably sent out 15 million… Read More »Give that email every chance of survival

Using Surveys to Make Decisions

I’m going to bang on until I’m blue in the face about this subject, because I will never, ever understand why so few companies survey their customers before making decisions which will affect them. Surveys are fast, and if you already have your customers’ email addresses – free. Yes, of course there are caveats about the responses (you only get them from people who like filling in surveys, and these might not be representative of your customer base as a whole) but the results are infinitely better than just going… Read More »Using Surveys to Make Decisions

How to focus on those keywords

The first thing to do when trying to improve your site’s performance in the search engine results is to work out what words and phrases you’re trying to improve it for. These search terms are called the “keywords”. Determining what these should be is not as obvious as you think, and we’ll be covering that right at the start in our Business Marketing Online Insider Programme. Once you’ve done this, you need to work on making those keywords prominent on your pages. Three Ways to Give Your Keywords Prominence on… Read More »How to focus on those keywords

Focus on what you want the visitor to do

Increasingly, experts are suggesting that you focus on getting your website visitors to do the one thing you want them to do, rather than impress them with the breadth of options you offer. Having built up a successful online publishing venture myself on precisely this principle, I find that most gratifying. Analysts amongst you will be interested in a recent study which compared the ability to “find a camera which you like” on the Argos, Comet, eBuyer and Currys websites, discussed in Argos beats competition with user-friendly web design on… Read More »Focus on what you want the visitor to do

Take a step back from your website

Ever wondered if maybe you can’t see the wood for the trees on your website? You should have done. Looking into the subject, I found this great post from earlier in the year on the Search Engine Marketing Exposed blog. Why would someone come to your site, how will they find you, why would they stay, and why would they come back? Simple questions to ask, hard ones to answer. But you should. Read Four questions every web site owner needs to answer for more.

A better marketing email

Creating an email marketing campaign? Components of a Successful Marketing Email from the B2B Marketing ROI blog gives you a nice checklist of things to consider. According to the article, subject lines, email content, formatting and timing are the key factors contributing to open and conversion rates. You’ll have to do some Googling to get some in-depth advice on each subject, but it’s a good place to start.

Let Google keep an eye on hackers

How to use Google Alerts to find out if your site gets hacked on Blogstorm is a few weeks old now, but it’s a great idea which will only take you a few moments to set up. Now. The theory is this: if someone hacks into your website (and don’t think it can’t happen), it’s quite likely they’ll put all sorts of spammy stuff on it like ads for certain pharmaceuticals. Naturally, your site won’t have those words on it. So set up a “Google Alert” (you do use Google… Read More »Let Google keep an eye on hackers

Written inspiration

So you’ve got this blank piece of paper in front of you, and probably some dry technical data to incorporate into a really stunning piece of marketing copy. Where do you go from here? In The Secret To Writing Really Great Content from ClickNewz, Lynn Terry lists a few ideas. Nothing radically new here of course, but nicely – er – written, and we can all do with being reminded of some of these things from time to time. Personally, I always find one good way to get things written… Read More »Written inspiration

Great books about online marketing

I used to be one of those kids who spent all his exam revision time drawing out revision timetables, and then running out of any time to do revision. Now I read books about online marketing all the time, and subsequently have no time to put the ideas into practice on my own websites. Well, it seems like it. Anyway, I was wondering which books I’d class as the best I’d ever read, so I did the usual thing (this is a good technique, by the way) and entered the… Read More »Great books about online marketing

You need leads more than ever

I’ve gone back to an article which is a few months old today, because it might give you some inspiration if you’re wondering whether to invest in your website in the current economic climate (or it might give you some ammunition if you’re trying to persuade someone to let you). In How a Website Makeover Can Help “Recession-Proof” Your Company on the B2B Web Strategy blog, the author argues that in a downturn, “even if you don’t aim for market share growth, you’re likely to find that you need more… Read More »You need leads more than ever

How dense are your keywords?

Today’s linked-to article is a fairly throwaway piece, but it allows me to bring up an important subject. In Keyword density: How many keywords are too much? on the Industrial Search Engine Marketing blog, the author ponders whether there’s a magic number for keyword density. Hang on a moment, if you’re thinking “keyword what?”, this is for you too. Keyword density is the percentage of the copy on the page taken up by “keywords”, or your targeted search terms (the ones you want to be found on Google for). To… Read More »How dense are your keywords?

Tips for writing better copy

Typical – you spend ages creating a nice original product and then find someone’s already done virtually the same thing. Anyway, despite having spent ages putting together a good “Practical Steps” sheet on copywriting for our Insider Programme, and then having come across 20 SEO Copywriting hints on the SeoUnique blog, I shall give you the link anyway. It should be added that there are no end of good articles around about online copywriting, but this was particularly close to the one I’d just about finished. Oh well.

“One more layer of distracting crud”

OK, sometimes on this blog we go a little, well, perhaps not “off-topic”, but lighter in tone than usual. Today is such a day, because I’d like you to read Charlie Brooker’s article called Online POKER marketing could spell the NAKED end of VIAGRA journalism as we LOHAN know it from The Guardian’s Comment Is Free website. It’s – er – forthright, as is Mr Brooker’s way. But it’s worth bearing in mind when you’re next crafting that tortuous prose for your company website.

Keep the robots happy

Here’s a tip you can have for free. Does your website have a robots.txt file? It really should do. Check by typing in /robots.txt after your sitename – for example, our file would be https://www.bmon.co.uk/robots.txt (and yes, we do have one). If you want to know what one of these is, and how to create one, let me push you in the direction of the robots.txt Tutorial on SEObook, which should tell you far more thanyou ever need to know. If you don’t have a robots.txt file, it’s time to… Read More »Keep the robots happy

Ever filled in your own forms?

I’m assuming your website has one or more forms on it (if you’re not trying to capture visitors’ details you may as well pack up and go home now) …but have you tried to break those forms? You know the sort of thing – leaving vital information out, entering impossible email addresses, etc. Having a form which doesn’t ensure the right information is entered is like taking someone’s business card and not glancing down to check they haven’t given you their rail ticket instead. The thought just occurred to me… Read More »Ever filled in your own forms?

Are the signs up in your shop?

I like this. In Seven Building Blocks of a Destination Website: #2 Usability on the Search Engine Guide blog, the author says that in projects aimed at improving your website’s performance in search engines, if you don’t address usability problems on your site as part of the exercise, it’s “like running radio and TV promos to drive people to a store that is unfinished. The traffic being driven may not be a total loss, but you certainly aren’t getting the full value out of each customer. Many won’t find what… Read More »Are the signs up in your shop?

Sex. It gets attention, you know.

Bob Bly is a widely-respected marketing copywriting expert, who happens to come from an engineering industry background. He refers to this in an amusing but insightful post – Does Sex Sell? – on his bly.com blog. Of course sex doesn’t sell, although it does get attention – and in marketing, we have the job of explaining the difference to sales. He alludes to other “sexy” marketing options too, such as video. Whether or not video is just attention-grabbing sexiness or a serious lead generator, you’ll have to decide.

Overcoming uncomplimentary comments

What happens when you type your company’s name into Google (like many people will, every day) and beneath the first result (which is your website, isn’t it?) is a result with a title like “[Your Company] is rubbish – don’t deal with them”. This is something any company can face, and it’s worth knowing what do do about it. How to Combat Complaints Sites in Google on Search Engine Journal discusses this issue. I was approached recently by a friend whose TV rentals company had exactly this problem. The first… Read More »Overcoming uncomplimentary comments

Getting your words in the order right

Here’s one for those of you who are already well into keyword optimizing: identifying the search terms you want to be found for, and getting them on your pages in the right places and quantities. Optimizing for Multiple Word Order Search Phrases on the terrific SEOmoz blog discusses whether you should optimise for “red widgets UK” or “UK red widgets” or any other combination of those words (assuming you sell red widgets in the UK!). If all this sounds a bit like hard work, we’ll be covering these sorts of… Read More »Getting your words in the order right

Don’t take our word for it…

I love testimonials on websites. They seem to look good in that context even if they don’t quite seem to fit on a company’s printed promotional material. But getting them can often be a chore. A nice article called 5 Tips for Getting Testimonials to Build Referrals on the Branding & Marketing blog will give you an idea or two about how to go about it. Actually, the simplest of all is probably the most effective: call a customer with a short customer service questionnaire, and then ask them at… Read More »Don’t take our word for it…

Get things in order behind the scenes

Here’s a technical item which I hope to be able to talk you through more thoroughly in our Insider Programme if you join it. Your web pages (indeed all web pages) are made up of “source code” which instructs visitors’ web browsers how to display things as the designer intended. You can see the source code of any page (including this one) by clicking “View Source” under “Page” (if you’re using Internet Explorer; if you’re using Firefox, click “Page Source” under “View”). It’s quite complex stuff, but it’s what the… Read More »Get things in order behind the scenes

Have we got a video?

The Eppendorf video which I mentioned last week is not the only piece of video around in industrial marketing, just a particularly adventurous one. But should you be increasing your use of video? In What you need to know about using video online on the Marketing Experiments blog it’s suggested that you’ll have to test to see what your market responds to, but before you start testing, there are other questions to be answered about the context of your videos, as well as “friction” and “usability”. Read the article for… Read More »Have we got a video?

Gracias Knol

A couple of days ago I drew your attention to Google’s Knol website, and the opportunities which it might give us as B2B marketers. In Google Knol – Google’s Latest Attack on Copyright, respected search engine optimisation specialist Aaron Wall is getting rather worried about the whole venture, as are many other people. However, his criticisms, especially that “house content is favoured by the Google algorithm” are also a reason to investigate Knol. It makes sense to cover all the bases.

The Big Questions

Today’s article won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, because I know many marketing managers in industry don’t like “big picture” marketing, and indeed can’t really get their head round it. But for those of you who think it’s important to ask yourselves the fundamental questions, have a read of Questions Every Manufacturer Should Ask about Their Marketing on the Branding & Marketing blog. If nothing else, it’s always worth reassessing how customers view your company.

Knol: get writing

Whether or not Google’s Knol will be the new Wikipedia is anyone’s guess, but regardless, it’s something you should consider in your marketing plans. Using Google Knol as a B2B Marketing Tool from the WebMarketCentral Blog explains why and how, and gives you some links to examine Knol further. As the article says, “now, the SME can write a Knol page – with full authorship credit for the writer and company – and publish it for the world, with no pressure to write on a regular basis.” You really should… Read More »Knol: get writing

What’s the most important search engine?

There are regular independent updates on each search engine’s share of use, such as June 2008 Search Engine Market Share | Nielsen // NetRatings in E-Marketing Performance, but you need to be careful with these statistics and read the small print. Firstly, they’re usually from the US, and things are different here in Europe. Secondly, they cover all web users, and search engine use may be (and indeed, is) different amongst professional users. In fact, Google is even more prevalent than its competitors in Europe, and the lead is extended… Read More »What’s the most important search engine?

The Best Trade Ad. Ever.

You’ve got to hand it to lab equipment specialist Eppendorf, the It’s Called epMotion campaign is a triumph. (You’ll need your speakers on). I really couldn’t guess what it cost them, but as B2Blog points out, it might only be the equivalent of a page ad in a lab equipment magazine for a few months. And in return, Eppendorf will be getting massive numbers of links from around the internet (like this), as well as loads of “viral” traffic as customers in that market pass the link around amongst themselves.… Read More »The Best Trade Ad. Ever.

A more impressive Google result

Here’s something you might like to know more about. Sitelinks in Google results are those entries (normally just the first one) which have a series of smaller links underneath them. For example, you’ll probably see them for the first result if you type “Microsoft” into Google. (You might also see a separate “search Microsoft” box, but we won’t discuss that here). So what are these “sitelinks”? They make your result look much more substantial, so it’d be nice to have them. But how do you qualify to get them? Search… Read More »A more impressive Google result

Unleash your expert content

There are so many aspects of internet marketing where we business-to-business marketers say: “Well, that’s straightforward enough for consumer marketing, but…” and we’re right to say that. But there are also aspects where we have advantages too, and one of those is in generating content for our websites. Getting more content on a site is a huge draw for traffic, both via search engines and external links. And I suspect that your company has a lot of useful expert information it can impart as great content. Seven Types of Expert… Read More »Unleash your expert content

The 24/7 Trade Show

I like analogies, and I especially like them when the analogy is something closely related. In Web Site as Trade Show? on the B2B Insights Blog, author Russ Green looks at the extent to which most of us will go to make an exhibition stand work, and then asks if we “put the same amount of effort and investment into creating a great web site experience for customers and prospects”. Best of all, however, he touches on all the elements of a successful exhibition stand, and discusses how each of… Read More »The 24/7 Trade Show

Designing a better banner ad

If you do “pay-per-click” advertising on the web (like the ads on the right hand side on Google results pages), then you’ll find loads of good advice online about making these really effective. However, as Online advertising creative tips on Dave Chaffey Internet Marketing points out, there’s far less advice available on more conventional display (banner) ads. This is a shame, because “pay-per-click” advertising is probably more easily optimised (by changing the ad and testing the results), whereas banner advertising is used as much for branding, making the peformance less… Read More »Designing a better banner ad

It’s not all about rewriting the code

There’s a whole consultancy industry called “search engine optimisation”, or SEO, which has built up around the understandable desire of companies to “get us to number one on Google” (to which I say: “number one for what, precisely?”). And the most frustrating thing for most of these consultancies appears to be the inclination of clients to just ask them to do all the “technical stuff with the code”. That’s a relatively easy piece in the jigsaw, but it’s not going to get significant results on its own, and so often,… Read More »It’s not all about rewriting the code

Dead? No, just resting

It’s amazing how many companies discontinue products (or entire manufacturers’ lines) and just delete all the relevant pages on their websites. D’oh! No, no, no, no and no. Imagine you had two adjoining exhibition stands, where you’d planned to separately display your traditional red widgets and your newer blue widgets, and you’d put out a lot of publicity in advance to potential customers of both types. The day before the show, at a strategic meeting, it’s decided that the company will no longer be selling the old red widgets. What… Read More »Dead? No, just resting

Taking on the big fish

I don’t want to seem like some sort of unquestioning fanboy for Seth Godin’s Blog, but the guy hits the nail on the head so squarely sometimes that you can only sit back and admire. In Should small businesses whine?, Godin points out that people are happy to do business with small suppliers – but these have to differentiate themselves from the big ones, and provide tangible benefits. Duh, you may say, of course they have to. But are they making the most of that? If your competitors are bigger… Read More »Taking on the big fish

A new angle on press releases

Most of the articles I read about “how to write press releases” I totally disagree with. And that’s wearing my hat as having been an industrial trade magazine and website editor for over twenty years. I think the articles are written with the best of intentions, but they seem to be imagining you’re aiming your press releases solely at the FT or something. In reality, I suspect the bulk of your press releases are aimed at far more mundane titles. “Keep your press releases down to one side of A4”,… Read More »A new angle on press releases

Making scarcity a benefit

OK, I know the point of this blog is to seek out articles which are of particular relevance to the UK industrial and scientific marketing community, but I’m going to break the rules slightly today by quoting an article which is about high-volume consumer marketing. What’s more, it’s about how to manage scarcity, which is a problem I doubt many of us will ever have the luxury of having to deal with. However, apart from being a fascinating article, I think Scarcity, from Seth’s Blog, raises many issues which should… Read More »Making scarcity a benefit

Heavyweight reading

MarketingSherpa is a well-known online marketing resource, and for good reason. It recently released its huge 2008 B2B Lead Generation Handbook (link to executive summary) and I’ve been ploughing through it. However, there’s little reason to spend ages writing it up thoroughly when others have already done a good job, so I refer you to What Works Now in B2B Lead Generation, Part 1 at the The WebMarketCentral Blog, where author Tom Pick pores over some of the conclusions. It’s well worth a read of the article, or the summary.… Read More »Heavyweight reading

Sales commission for marketing?

Here’s one which I think might not be met with universal enthusiasm in the marketing world. But you’ve got to admit, author Mac McIntosh does have a point in the Sales Lead Insights B2B Marketing Blog when he wonders if “marketers should have a significant portion of their compensation tied to meeting their company’s growth and revenue goals”. Sure, growth and revenue are more the realm of sales, but if your salary depended on it, would you not focus more on “moving prospects from awareness to inquiry to consideration and… Read More »Sales commission for marketing?

Keep your navigation to the point

The author of How to Use Keywords in your Navigation on the Industrial Search Engine Marketing blog and I tread very much on the same path. I can bore for Britain on the need to optimise the navigation on your web sites, and I almost certainly will do when we get our Insider Programme launched in the autumn. But not only should the navigation be focused on the important stuff on your site (we don’t really need links to legal disclaimers on every single page, thanks), the keywords for your… Read More »Keep your navigation to the point

Marketing is where profits begin

A tremendous article from the US today, from the Modern B2B Marketing blog. You’ll need a long coffee break for this one, but it’s worth it. In 7 Strategies for B2B Marketing during a Recession: The Definitive Guide, author Jon Miller discusses how tougher economic times will inevitably lead to reduced marketing budgets, and how we might be more efficient with what we’re left with. Managing your leads better and converting more enquirers into leads are two obvious areas, but ones in which we all have room for improvement. However,… Read More »Marketing is where profits begin

Hats off to MarComms

I’m guessing that readers of this blog split fairly evenly into general managers at smaller companies, marketing managers at medium-sized ones, and marketing communications managers at larger ones. Today’s article is in praise of the marcomms/marcom manager, whose job is expanding continually and steadily. Marketing managers and general managers who have to cover marcomms as just one small part of their remit will say it’s even harder for them. In the B2B MarCom Writer Blog the other day, American author Dianna Huff asked “What Should Be Included in a MarCom… Read More »Hats off to MarComms

This’ll save you a brainstorm

We’re often quite blinkered when it comes to devising ways to attract more traffic to our web sites. Sure, you can’t beat being number one on Google for “blue widgets” (especially if that’s all you sell), but there are other ways – and many of them contribute to a better Google ranking. Now, you might think that in industrial marketing, we’re a lot more limited in what we can do, and to some extent that’s true. But don’t use that as an excuse to completely walk away from new ideas.… Read More »This’ll save you a brainstorm

Are you really, always, the right choice?

I don’t want this blog to get too technical about online marketing, so I try to draw attention to more conceptual marketing thinkpieces as often as I do to ones which talk about search engine optimisation or pay-per-click advertising. When it comes to making you think, one of my favourite blogs is from the American writer Seth Godin, and in the latest entry on Seth’s Blog he once again gives us a worthwhile coffee-time read. In The statesman, the lawyer and the marketer, Seth asks why as marketers, we act… Read More »Are you really, always, the right choice?

Saviour of the Universe. Not.

Oh dear. While it’s good news that search engines are going to be able to cope with files and sites built in Adobe’s “Flash” format, I fear that people in B2B will use this news as an excuse to hang on to their ill-advised Flash sites, and even increase their use of the technology after impassioned pleas from designers. Flash is the technology behind all those sites with spinning images and beautiful typography. It’s also the villain in those “splash” pages which have made searching for the “skip” button so… Read More »Saviour of the Universe. Not.

First keywords …but then get those links

There are a few people in the world who love link building, but I suspect that for most of us it’s one of those tasks which seems daunting, as well as potentially boring. So if ever there was a job which is likely to remain at number two on our “to-do” lists, this could be it. Excuses to avoid getting links are easy: after all, in trade and tech marketing, who’s going to want to link to B2B sites? But I have to keep banging on about how important it… Read More »First keywords …but then get those links

So what is a quality link anyway?

Is one “good” link from an important site worth ten links from lesser sites? Ah, if it were only that quantifiable. In Garbage SEO. Just What the Doctor Ordered!, a short tale from the E-Marketing Performance blog, the author reports some unexpected benefits from seemingly lower quality links. Which just goes to show the danger of trusting in perceived wisdom.

Nobody said link building is easy

Link building is the single most important activity you should be undertaking to promote your web site. Sure, you can sort out the “on page” search engine optimisation, and you should be ensuring your site has a good structure, and you should be looking at external advertising. But link building should be your first priority. The trouble is, link building is difficult. What’s more, there’s no obvious technique to learn. The most thought-provoking posts on the subject are like this one from the SEO Theory and Analysis blog: Why your… Read More »Nobody said link building is easy

Google: All Your Ads Are Belong To Us

It’s easy to snipe at what Google is doing to the advertising industry, but the more time goes on, the more that sniping sounds like you’ve been beaten. Soundly. In All Your Ads Belong To The Goog from the Bruceclay.com blog, Lisa Barone summarises it beuatifully: “It’s scary to see Google take complete control over the advertising world like this. Now, not only are they selling you ads, giving you tools to see how those ads convert and make them better, now they’re telling you where to put them. I… Read More »Google: All Your Ads Are Belong To Us

Google lays your site traffic bare

Well, Google’s decision to release Alexa-like traffic data for (almost) every web site in the universe has caused a lot of people to choke on their bacon sarnies over the past few days. It’s all explained in A New Layer To Google Trends on the Google Webmaster Central blog and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun playing with it. But as Graywolf’s SEO Blog headlines a post, Google’s Two Tiered Internet World Sinks to a New Low. Not everyone is completely happy. Expect to hear more about this… Read More »Google lays your site traffic bare

Don’t let your guests go without a party bag

As I mentioned yesterday, offering free stuff on your web site drags people in (and, if it’s the right free stuff, drags the right people in). But it shouldn’t end there. Once they’ve signed up for your teaser, reel them in! As the post Don’t Give Up Without A Fight in the B2B Marketing ROI blog comments, “there is no reason to have your ‘thank you message’ consist of nothing but a thank you. Encourage your prospects to continue the interaction by offering up additional opportunities for them to explore… Read More »Don’t let your guests go without a party bag