Corporate Social Media Campaigns [Infographic]

The following infographic showcases some recent and interesting findings on how corporations are tackling social media. Initially skeptical of its use for business purposes, it appears many have adopted the two-way communication mindset during this modern age of information and relationship building.

Below are some of the more interesting highlights from the infographic:

  • 94% of corporates use social media in some capacity.
  • 75% saw an increase in website traffic.
  • 58% use it for lead generation.
  • Favorite social sites are Facebook (92%), Twitter (82%), LinkedIn (73%) and blogs (61%).
  • 58% of Fortune 500 companies had Facebook pages in 2011, 62% had Twitter accounts.
  • Companies with blogs dropped from 50% to 37%. Speculated due to content requirements. [I’m not sure about this statistic. My experience shows that more companies are seeing value in Inbound Marketing and blogging their thought leadership]
  • Blog best practices: schedule posts on a regular basis, plan ahead, use a casual tone, interact with customers, and enable social sharing.

Social media is going corporate
Courtesy of: MBA Programs

Blogging Leads to Sales

Business owners sometimes treat their online marketing like flossing. They know they should do it, but it nevertheless gets buried under the tasks of running the day-to-day business. Included in this bucket of online marketing is the concept of blogging. “What? How’s that going to grow my business?”

What is a blog?

First off, let’s explore what a blog actually is and how it’s part of the bigger picture. A blog, abbreviated for web+log, is typically an informational section of your website that allows for short content for frequent distribution. Meaning, it’s less words than heavy-duty whitepaper and it’s more informative than a Tweet. Blogs are also formatted fairly consistently with ability to filter through them with categories or tags that essential build a library of reference for the website visitors. They are also written in a unique way as people tend to read, or should I say scan, online differently than print. Bullet points, numerical ordering, and short paragraphs are more effective than long prose.

Why do website visitors value blogs?

Depending on the objective of the blog, visitors can get a lot out of it. Some companies use blogs less as a sales tool and more as a personality disseminator. In other words, it’s a way for employees to showcase their quirky attitudes or display their friendly faces. This is sometimes a much-needed human touch, instead of the flat lines, drop shadows, and icons that overtake the online experience. A blog can also be a great continuous stream of education.

The most successful blogs strive to add value, meaning educate or solve a problem, with every blog post that gets published. It’s also beneficial because the post can be released in a timely matter. Getting a press release out into the media can be a much more daunting task then publishing a quick post announcing the release of a new product or the hiring of a new sales person.

Why do search engines value blogs?

Search engines value blogs because they hold content at the center of everything. The search engine ranking algorithms will always select content that adds value to the person doing the search over a stale site that has none. After all, if Google and Big return bad results and irrelevant content, then people will stop using them. Additionally, blogs are a great way to encourage links back to the website. If the blog post is valuable to the visitor, they will in many cases share that link with their social networks. This concept of creating content to be shared by users is called “Link Baiting” and helps dramatically increase a website’s search engine ranking. After all, every link pointing to your website counts as a vote, and like politics the more votes more popular you’ll be perceived.

How does blogging increase sales?

Higher ranking in the search engines directly correlates to more traffic flowing to a website. If that traffic is targeted correctly, then more traffic typically means more leads and more customers. It’s human nature that if you solve a problem for somebody, they will remember you and reciprocate. This applies directly to blogging as the more visitors that get helped; the more they will value helping company’s brand.

In a recent study, the 2012 State of Inbound Marketing by HubSpot, it was discovered that 92% of companies that responded acquired a customer through their blog if they posted multiple times per day. The numbers are still impressive for those that post daily at 78%, 2-3 times per week at 70%, and weekly at 66%. This data along with some other metrics in their report shows a direct correlation between blogging and customer acquisition. Blogging was recorded as the most effective lead generation category as being “Below Average Cost Per Lead.”

Summary and Next Steps

Blogging, or publishing web content on a regular basis, can be an effective tool for adding additional value to prospects and customers. It provides for a strong online foundation that encourages other websites to link to the posts and for visitors to share them on social networks. It’s been found that blogging can increase traffic significantly and be another avenue to generate leads. If you’re looking to get started, then carve out an area of your site today and start writing. Good luck!

Inbound Marketing Guide [Infographic]

I wanted to share this fantastic and easy to understand infographic I came across outlining the Inbound Marketing Process. It was created by an agency in Wallingford, CT called Impact Branding & Design. According to their website, Impact Branding & Design is a “Creative team of inbound marketing professionals which develops and executes highly effective online marketing campaigns.”

The Inbound Marketing Process infographic can be found on their original blog post here.
I’ve outlined their 6 step process in the infographic below.

Step 1: Develop a successful marketing strategy

Determine the purpose of your marketing by establishing clear goals, objectives, and challenges. Without a marketing strategy you won’t be able to optimize and measure your inbound marketing efforts.

Marketing is an investment in the growth of your business, not an expense – Impact Branding & Design

Step 2: Create & maintain a powerful website

A website is a tool for your customers and prospects to interact with your brand and content. This tool should add value to the experience of doing business with you. Basic website principles go a long way: Easy to navigate, professional appearance, search engine friendly, mobile ready, easy to update.

An effective website is the hub of all your online marketing and lead generation – Impact Branding & Design

Step 3: Generate more traffic

Promote your thought leadership through a blog, social media, SEO, and PPC.

  • “A blog gets you 55% more traffic!”
  • “400% more indexed pages are produced by blogging”
  • “Nearly 2/3 of U.S. internet users regularly use a social network”
  • “20% of monthly Google searches are for local businesses”

Step 4: Convert traffic to leads

Leverage your website in order to get the visitor’s information and start your sales process. You can’t do business with an anonymous web browser. Also, visitors providing their information should get a fair exchange. Give them something of value in order to collect their email and information. Solve a problem for them and start the relationship right off.

Step 5: Convert leads to sales

Leverage marketing automation tools to identify your high value leads and route them to your sales force. If your budget can support it, set up a system such as Eloqua.com, Hubspot, or Marketo (to name only a few) and connect to your customer relationship database (CRM). Score them, segment them, and send targeted and thoughtful communications.

Step 6: Measure everything

You can’t optimize if you don’t track the right numbers. Figure out how well you’re doing by measuring every step of the process. Utilize your website analytics, your media purchasing data, your social media metrics, and your sales conversion rates. Close the loop by determining your return on investment (ROI) and focus on spending your dollars in the right places.


Now, below is the infographic:

6 Insightful Blog Quotes for Marketers

Below are some useful quotes for marketers who are looking to put all the marketing pieces together. Whether you’re a blogger, a small business entrepreneur, or a corporate CMO, you’ll find some value in these articles by some smart people.

 

 

1. On Success Through “Thinking Small” with Content Marketing

Somewhere, we got away from this notion and started to embrace a “bigger is better” philosophy with regard to publishing (and now content marketing). We need to swing the pendulum back the other way, and start atomizing our content. convinceandconvert.com

2. On Staying a Healthy as an Entrepreneuer

I believe that taking care of oneself only fuels our ability to dig deeper, to persist longer, and to give more to our co-workers, community, and causes. Exercise in fact might be the best investment you’ll ever make towards the success of your startup. – under30ceo.com

3. On Making Money By Blogging

If you want to make money with your blog for the long haul you MUST help as many people as you can succeed with their blogs first. You must sell YOU… selling you gives you full control of your product with no surprises in the future. – johnpaulaguiar.com

4. On Growing Your Twitter Followers, By Thousands

Grow your following organically by producing sharable tweets that people want to pass along to their own followers. When your tweets get re-tweeted and, thus, your twitter handle shared, it acts as an advertisement for you. This free, word-of-mouth buzz will help keep you attracting new followers. – ann-tran.com

5. On Telling Your Story

Good copy not only introduces a product or service to the audience, it creates a relationship between the product and the audience, and compels that audience to act.  Stories help you connect with your audience in a meaningful, natural manner. – bizziwriter.com

6. On Public Relations Damage Control Planning

Key to managing issues is to be plugged into media and the environment in which your company does business. Be aware of what regulators such as government officials are doing, and understand that even though you may manage issues well, a crisis will happen. – getsocialpr.com

Google Algorithm Changes Affect SEO

Google has been one of the leading forces in the search engine industry for several years now and it seems like everything they do tends to set the trend for other search engines. Over the years, they have implemented several new algorithm changes that have effectively slapped webmasters down the rankings when they engaged in things Google didn’t approve of. The latest Google slap dealt with individuals who used unnatural linking practices to achieve higher rankings. Many webmasters in this category have been negatively affected and are unsure of where to turn from here.

Blog Networks

Many webmasters were using blog networks as a way to achieve high rankings in the search engines. A blog network is a system that people pay to be a part of. Once an individual is a member, he can write short articles and include a link back to his own site within the article. Then when he submits the article to the blog network, it is posted on one of the blogs owned by the network. The blogs are all high PageRank sites and they try to give the impression that they are legitimate sites. This made it look like a page on the webmaster’s site was being linked to by one of the blog sites in the network, which usually helped improve its ranking. Recently, Google decided to de-index many of these networks, which also affected all of the sites that the blogs were linking to.

Notification

Webmasters who engage in unnatural linking practices recently started receiving notices from Google in their Webmaster Tools account messages. The message tells the Webmasters that Google has detected unnatural linking practices associated with their sites and that something must be done to fix this issue within in a certain amount of time.

Affect of Unnatural Links

There has been some confusion and debate about the impact of having these types of links associated with your account. At the very least, Google has discounted these links and made it so that they do not carry any weight in helping other sites rank. In some cases, webmasters claim that having these links actually lead to some sort of punishment by Google. Many of their pages went way down in the search engine rankings and some of them were actually removed completely from Google’s index. Regardless of whether the bad links just lost their value or actually ended up leading to punishment, they definitely had an impact on search engine rankings.

What to Do

If you are a webmaster and engaged in something that Google considers to be unnatural linking practices, you should do your best to alter toxic links as soon as you can by either changing the anchor text or removing them completely. Go through your inbound links report and remove any links that come from questionable websites. While it might be a lot of work, it will help your search engine rankings rise again. This recent act by Google proves that nothing beats high quality, contextual link building strategies to further your site in the search engine results.

Digital Content Created Every 60 Seconds [Infographic]

I recently attended a digital marketing conference where they showed this very interesting infographic as a slide in their presentation. I found it so interesting that I’d thought I’d write a post and share it. The infographic was created by a web design company called Go-Globe. It summarizes all of the activities that happen online in 60 seconds.

Some of the more interesting stats include:

  • 12,000+ new posts on craigslist
  • 98,000+ tweets
  • 100+ new LinkedIn accounts
  • 6,600 Flicr pictures uploaded
  • 695,000+ Facebook status updates
  • 695,556 Google search queries
  • 168 million emails sent
  • 60+ new blogs created
  • 1,500 blog posts
  • 70 domains registered
  • 13,000 iPhone apps downloaded

See entire infographic below:

We’re living in an unique time where everyone is empowered to create, interact, and share with the entire world. I’m amazed by just how many blogs and domains hit the website every minute. There is no shortage of content and people developing that content, increasingly in the mobile environment.

I’m also interested in the stat of how many people are posting on Facebook (695,000+) compared to how many people are searching Google (694,445+). Google used to be the center of everything someone did online. Even if I knew the domain, in some cases by habit, I’d simple search it in Google’s browser plugin. It just seemed easier. Now it seems that more people are “living” in platforms such as Facebook and connecting with others through it. If you search inside of Facebook it automatically populates with web results powered by Microsoft’s Bing. Clever on Bing’s part to drive up their usage.

As a digital marketer, three thoughts come to mind.

  1. People want to share. We’re living in a modern information age in which people are sharing and communicating quickly and frequently. It’s easier than ever to get your message across multiple devices and across platforms, and it spreads like wildfire. People want desperately to have their voice heard by their peers and uniquely demonstrate that they are innovators.
  2. People connect with brands they like. Companies are able to leverage this movement by putting their products and services in front of their customers. Their customers are willing to share these messages and develop a “relationship” with companies. Companies in the New Economy are becoming personalized and connected. I don’t just buy an MP3 player, I like the Company Page, I review the product, I share the features, and I connect with customer support.
  3. Your message has a lot of competition.  With all this content being generated, it’s easy to see that people’s attention span has some competition. Your message can’t just be louder than everything else, it needs to be more targeted and personalized. It’s expected that you know something about your customers. Use that to give them exactly what they need when they need it. Leverage your CRM and marketing automation tools to message them and measure those conversions.

Another infographic I found by Go-Globe shows some more interesting stats on the hardware and product side. Did you know that every minute 81 iPads are sold, 11 Xboxes are sold, or 1,100 acres of land are farmed in Farmville? Interesting…

New Blogger Step-by-Step Guide

I have been admiring professional authors, speakers, consultants, and bloggers for some time now. They all seem to be able to position their company, products, and personal brands successfully. I kept asking myself if there was something that they had in common or was their something special about them. I came to the realization that their commonality is sharing. They all promoted their brands by sharing some of their expertise. For free.

They didn’t share everything otherwise they would have no business model. They share just enough. They do this to gather a large base of followers. If every-time someone visited their websites and a credit card order form came up, followers would get quickly discouraged. By giving followers a taste and valuing them enough to provide quality content, the professionals start to develop the relationship.

Realizing that this was the key to a successful brand, I sought out to create this blog and with today’s technology was able to get it up and running in hours.

How I created this blog in less than 1 day

  1. Choose your domain name, purchase it, and set up your hosting. I went with GoDaddy.com because of their customer support and because of their scalability. If this blog starts to amass a larger volume of traffic, I knew they could grow with me. There are thousands of companies to choose from but if you want to follow what I did, I’d recommend them. Pick a domain name that’s available and choose a fairly basic hosting. You can always upgrade later.
  2. Install Word Press on your hosting server. Another advantage to GoDaddy.com is they’ve figured this part out for you. If you want you can “Launch” your hosting setup and “Install” the WordPress application. They upload all of the files in the folder you choose (I chose the root folder) and get it up and running within a few minutes. The alternate way is to go to WordPress.com, download the files, and then  upload them via your FTP software.
  3. Install Your Word Press Theme. There are hundreds of thousands of themes to choose from. Some are free and others cost money. I paid a nominal $49 for a theme from TemplateMonster.com. I believe they will even install it for you if you want. I bought it, downloaded it, and uploaded it to the /themes/ folder withing 15 minutes.
  4. Customize Your Word Press Theme. Now that you have it installed it’s time to make it your own. This is the beauty of Word Press. You can do everything through web interface after you login at www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin/. You can even change the code of your CSS or theme files.
  5. Add Your Graphics. If you’ve got Photoshop (or equivalent) then you’re on your way to quickly making the blog yours. Create a logo and place it in the header section of your theme. Add your social media icons and some special images around signing up for RSS or email alerts. On your first post set a ‘featured image’ that’s 150 x 150 pixels in dimensions.
  6. Add your content. Now that you’ve got the some of the graphics set up… Write your first post. Write your first page. Add an about page. Add a contact page. Add some value to your blog. Start to think about your target audience and who they are going to be. What do they like to read about?
  7. Fill in the gaps with plugins.Now that you have some content and it actually looks like a website, you can start to go back to some of the basics of your website. If you’d like it to load quicker, download the plugin “W3 Total Cache”. If you’d like a cool contact form that pops up download “Slick Contact Forms”. Download “Google XML Sitemaps” and set up your Google Webmaster Tools account to get into the search engines quickly.

And that’s it. Your blog is up and running with full hosting, complete WYSIWYG editing, and content that can be created by you from anywhere (including your iPhone if you have the WordPress App).