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Business Marketing Online

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

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

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

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.

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

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 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

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?

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

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

5 things whoever rebuilds your website needs to understand

I’m detecting a lot of interest at the moment in B2B companies rebuilding their websites. There are many reasons why you might want to tear it all up and start again, but they’ll probably be something to do with the fact that the existing one is fiddly (or expensive) to add to or maintain. Many companies have been soldiering on with old, outdated content management systems which have severely restricted their ability to make the changes required for search engine optimisation, for instance. If you think that your 2010 marketing… Read More »5 things whoever rebuilds your website needs to understand

2 Ways Not To Do Keyword Research

Sorting out the “keywords”, or search terms, which you need to focus your efforts on, is a fundamental part of web marketing. As I’ve written often enough, you don’t necessarily want to concentrate on “blue widgets”, even if that’s what you sell, because the competition might be too great, or there might be alternative meanings for “blue widgets”. So where do marketing managers turn to for inspiration? Here are two common destinations which need great care. Firstly, looking at the search terms which people used to get to your website.… Read More »2 Ways Not To Do Keyword Research

Don’t just settle for keeping up with your competitors

When doing website redesign and relaunch – which I’m being increasingly asked to do – I often ask the client to show me some websites which they’d like to emulate. The response is often a little disappointing, because the sites offered are usually just the pick of immediate competitors. There’s much more to be gained, however, by setting your sights high and looking at the websites of much bigger operations, with much bigger budgets. Of course there’s no chance you could build a site requiring those sorts or resources, but… Read More »Don’t just settle for keeping up with your competitors

Best of “An Article A Day”, August 2009

Most people I speak to who tell me they enjoy these emails add, almost apologetically, “although I can’t say I have time to read every one”, as if it was a requirement. It’s OK, you are allowed to have more pressing matters to attend to. However, in case you ever wonder if the ones you miss happen to be the ones which contain the best advice ever, I thought that, as another month ends, I’d bring you the five articles which inspired the most people to open the emails this… Read More »Best of “An Article A Day”, August 2009

How genuine is that email address?

It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for a useful web tool. Today’s, however, has a few implications which you might like to consider. Mailinator is one of many online services which gives you a “disposable e-mail address” – useful if somebody requests your email address in order to get something, but you don’t want to give them your real one. Expect to see a lot more people in the future entering disposable addresses into your web forms unless you give them a really good reason to give you their… Read More »How genuine is that email address?

Help your prospects remember you – by email

I was doing some online research earlier this month (for a new camera, as it happens), and I realised that I was in a class of people which websites don’t seem to be very helpful towards. Maybe it’s because I’m just odd, but we might be a growing group who you might want to take into account on your site. We’re the people who organise our lives around email. What does that mean? Well, I use email as a to-do list. I use email as a bookmarking service. If I… Read More »Help your prospects remember you – by email

1 thing you need to know about SEO

When people say: “I want to get my site to number one in Google for red widgets”, I don’t tell them they’ve just made a fundamental error in terminology, because it doesn’t really matter, I know what they mean. Except it does matter. It’s only just dawned on me that they’re not being sloppy with their language, they’re betraying a misapprehension which needs to be corrected, because once it is, the path to getting to number one in Google becomes a lot clearer. Sites don’t get to number one in… Read More »1 thing you need to know about SEO

Number one on Google doesn’t just happen

Right, I’ve told you how the way to get to the top of the Google results is to get lots of inbound links. And I’ve told you that having lots of content on your site is the way to, er, get to the top of the Google results. So which one is it, Chris? Oh, you know the answer …it’s both. Do I have to get off the fence? OK, I’ll go for content, but only because the more content you have, the more material you’ve got which might attract… Read More »Number one on Google doesn’t just happen

Keywords: they’re that important

Keyword research. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, keyword research is one of the most important things to do in your online marketing. If you know what you want to be found for, you can create web pages, emails, PPC ad campaigns and more with those searched-for words or phrases (“keywords”) in mind. If you haven’t formulated a list, you haven’t got a focus, and you won’t be using the keywords at every opportunity like you should. And it matters, because the chances are at least one… Read More »Keywords: they’re that important

How much do you care about your words?

Does the writing which goes on your website get as much scrutiny or proofreading as the writing which goes into your company’s printed brochures? I bet it doesn’t. Somehow there’s a “permanence” about print which makes it held in some sort of awe, whereas online copy is normally just one person’s unedited, unplanned thoughts. Strange, because in many cases, not only will web copy be read by more people than print copy nowadays, but I believe the difference in response between good and ordinary copy is greater on a web… Read More »How much do you care about your words?

Put some content generation at the heart of your marketing

Yesterday I discussed “content marketing“, which is the opposite of traditional interruption marketing in that you provide the material which people want to be engaged with, rather than hanging around someone else’s work. So how do we go about setting up a content marketing campaign? There are loads of possibilities, and they’re not just writing articles. Remember, this is all about showing you’re an industry authority (and you are!), so you can tell the story through videos, presentations, whatever you like. However, let’s start at the most obvious place: written… Read More »Put some content generation at the heart of your marketing

Your competitive advantage is you

I wrote the other day about the reluctance of many companies to reveal the prices of their products. One of the daftest reasons often admitted to (which I didn’t get around to mentioning) is that “it gives away commercial information to our competitors”. I don’t know where to start with that one, so I won’t. But it did remind me to talk about “content marketing”, an idea whose time has definitely come, but which suffers from the same problem. Content Marketing is all about publishing information to drive sales. In… Read More »Your competitive advantage is you

Google Analytics on your desktop

Are you one of those people who occasionally studies their website traffic quite seriously but doesn’t keep a more general eye on things on a more frequent basis? Take a look at Polaris, which is a really great little application which sits on your desktop and shows you all the headline traffic statistics from Google Analytics, with some of the most beautiful graphs ever. It’s free too.

Should you “swap links” with other sites?

Here’s a question I get asked quite frequently: “Should I respond to that emailed request from some website owner to put a link to his site on mine, in exchange for a link back?” The answer is “almost certainly not”. But that doesn’t mean that “reciprocal” links are a bad thing. Let me explain. There are two reasons to get links: the traffic they generate directly, and the incremental boost they give you in the search engine rankings. Now, the amount of boost each one gives you in the search… Read More »Should you “swap links” with other sites?

How much should great online marketing cost you?

I know a lot of companies will soon start making their marketing plans for 2010. At most companies, an arbitrary “marketing budget” is allocated, and different marketing activities then get allocated proportions of that, depending on what appears to be working, or what the MD favours doing, or what the parent company dictates. Within each of these activities, further sub-allocations get made, which finally leads to PR agencies, magazine ad reps or exhibition organisers being asked: “What can you do for £xxx?” I’ve discussed before how the whole idea of… Read More »How much should great online marketing cost you?

Does your website do what your visitors need it to do?

I’ve just had one of my worst web experiences for a long time. In fact, one of the worst customer relations experiences, because I gave up on the offender’s website in the end, and went for the telephone option, only to be given three levels of “options to help us serve you better”, none of which were relevant. The website concerned was The National Lottery, which you might think looks pretty clear at first glance. What I wanted to do was to buy a 52-week subscription for someone as a… Read More »Does your website do what your visitors need it to do?

To see ourselves as others see us

A bit of fun for a Friday morning, but with some serious undercurrent. Take a screenshot of your website* and upload it to www.feng-gui.com. The site will, apparently, use artificial intelligence to simulate human vision during the first five seconds of viewing your page. Whether it’s accurate or not, it does give you an idea of what people probably do, and it’s almost certain that they don’t just look down the page in the linear order you expect them to. Do the places they see first actually tell them the… Read More »To see ourselves as others see us

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

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 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

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

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

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

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.

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?

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

“Better than chocolate” (it says here)

It’s a bank holiday, we shouldn’t be fretting about our websites, we should be having fun. So go and have a play with sloganizer.net – just type in your company name, products, services or whatever. It’s quite addictive.