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Will Facebook’s New Nearby Friends Feature impact Your Business?

April 18th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock

Facebook has announced a new feature that allows users to make their location visible to their friends and in turn, see where their friends are. The goal behind the new Nearby Friends feature, according to Facebook, is to foster more in-person communication and interaction and to spark online conversations about places.

The feature is optional and users can turn it on or off. They can also control exactly who can see their location and even set time limits for their visibility. The idea is that as people use Facebook from their smartphones while they are on the go, they can meet up with friends who happen to be in the same area. Users can also give recommendations for restaurants, shops and other sites when they see their friends are in a specific neighbourhood.

When the feature is activated on Facebook’s mobile app, users will be able to see the locations of their friends on a map, so finding friends is very easy. Nearby Friends will become available to users in the United States first in the coming weeks, and then it’s likely that all users will have access to it soon after.

Nearby Friends and Your Business

So, will this new feature impact your business? It has the potential to, but the question is how will you leverage it?

To use Nearby Friends, you’ll need to encourage organic interaction. You can’t set up a page, activate the feature for your audience or even actively use it in a way that benefits your business. What you can do is be aware that your market may be more inclined to talk about your brick-and-mortar locations on Facebook if they use the feature.

Also remember that friends are extremely influential and their opinions often mean more to people than messages and tactics from your business. For example, some people may be more easily swayed by a friend who sees they are in the same neighbourhood as your shop and recommends it than they will be by your own Facebook posts.

Keep in mind that not all of your potential customers, if any, are following you on Facebook. If your Facebook following mostly consists of current and past customers, the Nearby Friends feature could be a way for you to tap into the group of people who are likely to become your customers as people recommend and mention your business.

Businesses won’t be able to actively use this feature to promote their products and services, but the feature could make them more visible to a new audience on Facebook. The key is with the users. If your customers love your business enough to recommend it to their friends through Facebook, you may benefit from the Nearby Friends feature.

Whether or not this new feature will catch on and be embraced by users remains to be seen. How heavy Facebook users choose to use Nearby Friends, and how actively they participate, will determine whether or not your business will benefit.

In the meantime, you can encourage your customers to recommend your business to friends, offer perks to customers who refer new customers and continue to build your Facebook presence and community.

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How to Align Your Content with Google’s Goal and get Better Rankings

April 17th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Anthony Ryan/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Anthony Ryan/Flickr.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, recently tried to clear up some common search engine optimisation myths. In his video, he let marketers in on the secret to getting Google rankings: align your content and site with Google’s goal to provide the best search results to users. You can see Cutts’ video on Search Engine Journal.

But, how exactly do you align your content with that goal? How do you make sure it helps to provide users with the best search results? Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Know what Your Market Wants

What does your market want? A solution to a technical problem? Creative ideas? Products that make life easier? Whatever it is the people you are targeting want, provide it. There are lots of ways to find out what this is, from simple brainstorming to polls and surveys and even focus groups.

Once you know what these wants and needs are, make sure every piece of content on your website works to meet those needs. Your pages will attract more traffic and be more likely to rank when people search for related terms.

Appeal to Your Market’s Emotions

Your site should appeal to your market’s emotions in a way that makes people want to respond to your calls to action and value your content. First, think about what you want your market to do and what people want. Then, figure out how the content on your site can spur that action.

For example, a business that provides safety equipment might appeal to readers’ emotions by appealing to their desire to keep family and employees safe.

Know what Makes Your Market Tick

Knowing what makes your market tick will help you create content that provides the best results to Google searchers. When you know what interests people, what kind of information they are looking for and what drives them to interact, your content will rank well and help your business be more successful.

The things that motivate your market will most likely be closely tied to what people want and their emotions, so when you combine all this information you can produce powerful content.

Provide Undeniable Value

The best content is valuable to the people it is meant for. When this value is undeniable to your market, your content will be more effective. Provide information, resources, advice, details or even entertainment that is relevant to your market and provides benefits. Search engines, including Google, rank high quality content higher than content that doesn’t provide much value and isn’t relevant to searchers.

When you align your content and website with Google’s goal of providing the best results to searchers, your pages will rank higher and your site will be much more successful.

These tips will do more than just help you optimise your content and drive traffic to your site, they will help you connect with your market and achieve your overall goals. Use these tips to take your content to the next level so you can get higher rankings, more traffic, more engaged readers and more customers.

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How to Overcome 4 Daunting Email Marketing Challenges

April 16th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of RaHuL Rodriguez/Flickr.

Image courtesy of RaHuL Rodriguez/Flickr.

If you use email marketing, you know that finding success is a matter of finding the perfect frequency, messaging and content. Email marketing is a tactic that can be extremely successful and bring big benefits if you can overcome some of the common challenges it brings.

At first glance, these statistics seem a little daunting, but they reveal key information that can help you enhance your campaign so it will bring better results.

Average Open Rate is 22.8%.

According to Smart Insights, emails from businesses are only opened 22.8 percent of the time. This statistic may not be very encouraging, but it does emphasise the need for businesses to give their markets a reason to open their emails.

If you know that most people don’t even bother to open marketing emails, you know that you need to make the most of the subject line and provide significant value if you want your market to read yours.

Average Click-Through Rate is 3.36%.

Smart Insights also reports that the click-through rate for marketing emails is 3.36 percent. This statistic, and the previous one, is based on research that examined marketing emails from 25 industries across the UK.

This click-through rate reveals that even if someone opens your email, the chance that he will click on a link in it is very slim. The solution to this challenge is to use enticing copy and give people a good reason to click on links in your emails.

Strategies like only showing the first paragraph of a blog post in the email, offering deals and directing people to valuable resources can help you increase your click-through rate.

21% of people report email as spam, even if they know it isn’t.

Convince and Convert reports that 21 percent of people report marketing emails as spam, even when they know they aren’t spam. This number is significant and means you could be losing subscribers who don’t feel your emails are relevant or offer enough value.

Avoid losing subscribers by providing content that interests your market, that people are looking for and that is relevant to your subscribers. The most successful email marketing campaigns will deliver value directly to your target markets’ inbox.

17% of people set up a new email address every six months.

Convince and Convert also found that 17 percent of Americans create a new email address about every six months. While we don’t know what the statistic is for the UK, email users here probably have similar habits.

What does this mean for your campaign? It means that the addresses on your list aren’t always accurate and that your emails aren’t always being delivered to or seen by your target market.

One of the best ways to overcome this challenge is to make it easy for people to update their email address and to constantly strive toward building a current email list. Just because people have subscribed once, don’t assume they are getting your messages. Add sign up forms to your checkout process, blog posts and in prominent places on your website to keep your list current and valuable.

These statistics highlight the particular challenges email marketing can bring and provide insight into how businesses can enhance their campaigns. When you understand why most campaigns fail, you can avoid these mistakes and problems and make your campaign more successful.

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Mobile SEO: Targeting Your Local Market

April 16th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

We recently blogged about how important and valuable mobile search and leads are and shared a report that revealed that mobile local searches have an 80 percent conversion rate. Your local mobile audience is one you don’t want to ignore, but how do you use search engine optimisation to target potential customers?

The key to getting this traffic, that brings leads, is to focus on mobile optimisation and local SEO and Internet marketing. When these things work together, you’ll target a market that has proven that it wants to make a purchase (see our recent blog post).

Get Your Site Mobile Ready

First, make sure your site is mobile ready by making sure it has a responsive design. You want your site to be easy to read, navigate and use on a small smartphone screen or a tablet.

Your site should also load very quickly and cater to mobile users’ needs. People who visit your site from mobile devices might be looking for different things and have different intentions. For example, they may be looking to find your location, log in to their account or find product information. Whatever your users are looking for, make it easy to find on your mobile site.

Use Local SEO and Internet Marketing Tactics

Using local SEO and Internet marketing tactics will help you get the attention of potential customers near your business and drive traffic to your site, which you can convert to leads.

There are all kinds of strategies and tactics you can use to build a local SEO and Internet marketing campaign, but here are a few good places to start.

Target Local Search Terms

Target local search terms that include names of cities, neighbourhoods, business centres, shopping centres and other geographical words and phrases. This will help you rank your site for local terms your market could be searching for.

Leverage User Reviews

User reviews on sites like Google+ Local, Yelp!, Yell and Touch Local not only help you build a positive reputation and generate business, but can also help you earn search rankings. Encourage your customers to leave a review by letting them know you have a profile on these sites.

Don’t Ignore Local and Business Directories

Set up an account on local and business directories to earn rankings and inform your market. Consider using Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing Places as well as local and industry specific business directories. Make sure your profiles are complete so you’ll get the most out of these sites.

Create a Local PPC Campaign

Don’t discount the power of local pay-per-click campaigns. These are a great way to get your business name and website in front of your local market and can help you drive valuable traffic to your site.

Local SEO and Internet marketing tactics are essential if you want to reach potential customers in your area. Start building a local marketing strategy with these tips.

Reach that valuable local mobile audience by using a combination of a strong responsive website and local SEO and PPC strategies to drive traffic to your site and increase sales.

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Don’t fall Victim to Facebook’s Updated News Feed Algorithm

April 14th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Dimitris Kalogeropoylos/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Dimitris Kalogeropoylos/Flickr.

Facebook has updated its algorithm, which determines what appears in users’ news feeds. When you understand how the algorithm works you can better understand how to get your posts in front of the biggest audience and use your account effectively.

This latest update is mostly designed to fight spam, but you should be aware of the changes so your content won’t be targeted.

Don’t “Like-Bait”

In it’s announcement, Facebook warns users not to do what it calls “like-baiting.” This is the practice of asking users to “like,” share or comment on a post. Your business might be doing this in an effort to increase engagement and make your content visible to a wider audience. According to Facebook’s announcement, users find these kinds of posts 15 percent less relevant than other posts.

From now on, these kinds of posts will appear less frequently than posts Facebook thinks are more relevant to a user, like posts from friends and even other pages. Facebook says that it isn’t targeting pages that are genuinely working for engagement, so to make sure your page’s posts are seen, avoid asking for engagement on a regular basis. Instead, ask questions and post insightful content that sparks a natural reaction from users.

Don’t Upload the same Content Multiple Times

Facebook is also cracking down on pages that upload and share the same piece of content several times. Some businesses may do this as a way to make sure more people see their content, but it is a form of spam that users don’t appreciate.

With the new algorithm these pages won’t appear in users’ news feeds as frequently as they used to. Only upload and share each piece of content once.

Don’t Share Spam

Spammers are using a new tactic in an effort to get Facebook traffic. They are sharing links on Facebook that look like they lead to helpful content, pictures, or a high-quality website, but instead, lead to a spammy page or ads. Facebook is using this algorithm update to make these kinds of posts less prevalent on users’ news feeds. Your business should never share this or any other kind of spam on Facebook.

For most businesses, this update won’t make a big impact on the way they use Facebook. As always, the key to success with social media marketing is sharing high-quality content that will benefit your market.

As you do this, be careful not to blatantly ask your followers to “like,” share or comment on your posts too often. This could lead Facebook to flag your content and posts from your page won’t be as visible to users.

Instead, encourage interaction by asking your followers questions, participating in conversations and sharing the kind of content that people will want to interact with. Doing this will make your Facebook page a more valuable resource for your market and a stronger part of your social media marketing strategy.

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12 Tips for seeing Success with your Pinterest Account

April 11th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of julochka/Flickr.

Image courtesy of julochka/Flickr.

Are you getting the most out of Pinterest? If you’re just pinning images without seeing much traffic to your site, additional sales or engagement from your followers and other Pinterest users, you should reevaluate how you use your account.

Consider a Business Account

Pinterest business accounts make it possible for you to verify your account so your followers know that it is the official account for your business. With a business account, you will also be able to link to your website directly from your profile page.

Complete your Profile

Once you have set up an account, make sure your profile is complete so your market can find you easily. Include a descriptive bio and a link to your website. You can even add links to your Twitter page.

Pin from Pages that Need Traffic

Pin strategically so you can drive traffic to the best pages on your site. For example, pin images from your product pages so when people click on them, they will be able to make a purchase with just a few clicks.

Add a Pin it Button and Widget to your Site

Grab the Pin it Button and Pinterest Widget and add them to your site. This makes it easy for people to pin your images, helping you share your content, and find you on Pinterest.

Use Pin Descriptions

Don’t just leave pin descriptions blank. Use them to share product specifications and other important info. Good descriptions will also make it easier for people to find your pins when they search on Pinterest.

Use Rich and Place Pins

Rich pins and place pins let you include more information on a single pin. You can include headlines, story descriptions, prices, maps, addresses, phone numbers and even recipes.

Pin Testimonials

Are you pinning testimonials? This is a great way to tell your market what your customers think and share product reviews. Pin images that link to the full testimonial or create an image with text and pin that.

Leverage your Boards

Create specific boards to categorise your pins and so that people can follow certain topics you pin about. Be sure to take advantage of board descriptions too!

Create Group Boards

You can invite people to collaborate on group boards so your customers and members of your target market can add content to them. This sparks engagement and helps you foster a relationship with your market. It is also a good way to listen to your market and find out what kind of content people are interested in.

Don’t Hesitate to Pin others’ Content

As with other social media sites, you shouldn’t be too self promotional on Pinterest. Of course, you should share your content, but don’t hesitate to share content from others that will interest your market and to form relationships.

Transform your Account into a Resource

Make your Pinterest account the ultimate resource for your market. Fill it with pins that provide valuable information to your market, whether that is do-it-yourself project ideas or articles about technology.

Use Promoted Pins

Pinterest is testing promoted pins and you can sign up to get more information about using them for your business. They will allow you to get your content in front of more people so you can reach a wider audience.

Including Pinterest in your social media marketing plan allows you to reach your market in a more visual way. Use these tips to enhance your strategy and account and to make sure it will bring the best results.

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Study Shows Local Mobile Searches have an 80% Conversion Rate

April 10th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

We already know how important mobile marketing is, but a new study by Neustar Localeze highlights just how vital it is and how it can actually help your business make more sales. According to the research, mobile searches have an 80 percent conversion rate. The study also found that three out of four of those conversions actually lead to a customer coming into a store, not just an online purchase.

The same study found that 63 percent of people who do Internet searches do so from multiple devices to find local businesses. They use laptops, smartphones, tablets and other devices to do searches to find information about businesses in their area.

These statistics tell us that people aren’t just searching for local businesses on their mobile devices, but those searches lead to a high number of purchases.

But, that’s not all. A study done by Google and Nielsen found that:

  • 55 percent of people using a mobile device to research a product want to make a purchase within an hour.
  • 83 percent of those people want to make a purchase within a day.

So, people aren’t just buying products online, they are also going into brick-and-mortar stores to make a purchase and want to do so quickly. Local mobile SEO can be a very powerful way to increase your brand awareness and sales.

Adding Mobile to your SEO Strategy

If you’re already using SEO to drive traffic to your site, it’s imperative that you make sure you are also doing mobile SEO. This newest research highlights just how important it is and how lucrative it can be.

Use Mobile Keywords

People use different keywords when they search from a mobile device than they do when they search online. For example, they may use shorter phrases since they aren’t using a physical keyboard and they are likely to search for local information. Target some specific mobile keywords as part of your SEO campaign.

Link to the Right Pages for a Mobile Market

Just as people use different search terms while using a mobile device, they may also be looking for different information. Your market may be looking for your address, contact information, product specifications or pricing. Think about what mobile searchers are looking for and then optimise and rank those pages.

Build a Mobile-Friendly Site

Of course, to get the benefits of mobile SEO, traffic and leads, you’ll need to make sure your site is easy to navigate on a mobile device. Smartphones and tablets have smaller screens, so be aware of how much text you use and create a navigation menu that is simple and intuitive.

The latest research reminds us that mobile optimisation, traffic and leads are extremely important. To increase your sales and reach your market more effectively, it is essential that you use mobile SEO and make sure your site is easy to use from mobile devices.

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How to make Content Marketing and SEO get Along

April 9th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Internet marketing world is full of all kinds of tactics and strategies, including content marketing and search engine optimisation. These two tactics often work together but aren’t the same. When done correctly your content marketing and SEO efforts can complement each other, strengthening your entire Internet marketing strategy.

Search Engine Watch posted an article that details the difference between content marketing and SEO and the future of link building. The main difference is that content marketing is the process of providing specially designed content that engages your audience and that people want to share. On the other hand, the goal of SEO is to get higher search rankings. So how do you use both of these tactics together?

Produce Content for One or the Other

When you produce content, whether it is a blog post, article, video, infographic, white paper or anything else, determine whether it is part of your content marketing or SEO plan. Of course, it will ultimately benefit both, but it’s important to have one goal in mind when you create a piece of content.

Things you produce for your content marketing plan may have a different audience than those for your SEO plan. If you try to force your SEO strategy onto your content marketing plan, the content will be disjointed, lack a purpose and won’t fit into your overarching Internet marketing strategy. The results won’t be very effective.

Use SEO to Boost Content Marketing

But, just because you produce content as part of your content marketing plan, that doesn’t mean that it can’t also benefit your SEO strategy. Optimise your content with keywords, publish and share it in the right places and include links according to what will benefit your SEO plan. However, don’t sacrifice the quality of the content when you optimise it.

The best SEO content is written with people in mind and then enhanced for search engines. Use keywords naturally and only include links when they are relevant to the content. Always avoid black-hat SEO strategies like keyword stuffing, link farms and using too many links per piece of content.

Always Provide Value

Whether you are producing content for your content marketing or SEO plan, always provide value. Your market will only respond to the best content, which is tailored to peoples’ needs and appeals to their interests. By the same token, search engines are increasingly favouring high-quality content that is relevant over spammy content that is only designed to get links.

Enhance your User Interface and Site Navigation

Your user interface, like your website or blog, and navigation system need to be people and search engine friendly. People who visit your site should be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily, so the layout needs to be clear and make sense.

But, search engines also depend on the site structure so be sure it makes sense and that your URLs include keywords whenever possible.

Work for Natural Links

Link building is still an important part of SEO and one way you can get the best links is to work for natural links. Create and share content that people will want to share on social media or link to from their own website or blog.

These kinds of links are natural and are of high value when it comes to search rankings. They can also help you reach a bigger audience and increase traffic to your site.

Content marketing and SEO tactics are so closely related and getting yours to work together will make both of them, and your entire Internet marketing strategy, stronger. The key is to have clear goals for each piece of content and to make sure the way you publish and share content doesn’t deter search engines.

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Big Update to Twitter brings New Look and Features

April 9th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock

On the heels of the ability to upload four pictures per tweet and to tag others in pictures, Twitter has announced more updates that will change the way your page looks and even what you can do with it. All of these changes culminate to create new social media marketing opportunities for you. If you use Twitter, these are changes you don’t want to miss out on.

Fresh Profile Pages

It seems that Twitter is focused on becoming more visual. This makes sense, as images make it easier to capture peoples’ attention and can even help you convey a message. Part of Twitter’s upcoming change is a fresh, new look for the profile page.

The first thing you’ll notice is the bigger profile picture and a bigger cover photo, which will make your profile page more visually interesting and make it easier for you to align your profile with your brand. You’ll also notice that pictures are much larger on the web platform than they were before.

But, the visual changes don’t stop there. Now, your bio, and any links you include, will appear on the left-hand side of your page underneath your profile picture. This space will also include a designated place for a link to your website and the date you joined Twitter.

The new profile page is much more visually appealing, more interesting, draws interest to photos and is easier to brand. With the larger photos you can tell your company’s story and with the link back to your website, you can more easily attract traffic.

Best, Pinned and Filtered Tweets

The second part of this update makes it possible for you to use tweets in entirely new ways. There are three new features pertaining to tweets that allow you to do new things with them and your timeline.

Best Tweets

Your tweets that get the most engagement will now be easier for your audience to find. The tweets that attract the most “likes,” replies and retweets will now appear bigger on your page so they stand out on your timeline.

Pinned Tweets

Have you ever wished that you could keep one of your most important tweets at the top of your feed? Now you can. The new pinned tweets feature allows you to choose one tweet to pin to the top of your feed so that everyone that visits your profile will be sure to see that vital information or key part of your social media marketing campaign.

Filtered Tweets

Now, when people look at your timeline they will be able to filter your posts to see all your tweets, only tweets with pictures or videos or tweets and their replies. This gives your audience a whole new way to explore your content and interact with your brand.

Currently, these features are only available to users who sign up for an account now and a few current users. You can see the list of updated accounts and what they look like on the Twitter blog. All profiles will be updated with these new features in the next few weeks, so be sure to take advantage of them!

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Getting more out of your PPC Campaigns

April 7th, 2014 by Mark Woodcock
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When you use pay-per-click campaigns, it’s important that you regularly look for ways to improve them. Best practices, your market and even your business all change, which means your PPC campaigns need to evolve with them.

But, where do you start? The best way to assess your PPC efforts is to look at what you are doing and what kind of results you are getting. If the results aren’t what you are looking for, change your strategy in ways that will bring bigger successes. These steps can help you make sure your PPC efforts will be successful.

Use your Marketing Funnel

Your PPC campaign should correlate with your overall marketing strategy. Look closely at your marketing funnel and decide where your PPC ads and tactics fit in. Ask yourself if you want your PPC campaign to intercept people as they become aware of your business, explore your products, decide whether or not to buy or when they are ready to make a purchase. Then, make sure the language, keywords and strategies behind your PPC campaign fit with that stage of the marketing funnel and target the right audience.

Choose Your Keywords Carefully

Don’t just use the first keywords that come to mind when you set up your PPC campaigns. Do some research and think carefully about your market and what words your target audience is likely to use. Some things to keep in mind include your brand, products, where in the marketing funnel a campaign falls and what kinds of calls to action you will be using.

Align Calls to Action with your End Goal

You already know how important it is that you use calls to action, but do your calls to action align with your end goal? Asking your market to do something that won’t help you accomplish your goals is counterproductive and won’t help your business.

For example, if your end goal is to make more sales, ask your market to take advantage of special pricing and make a purchase. If you want people to contact you, ask your market to call you and provide your phone number. It is essential that your calls to action and end goals work together.

Test and Track your Efforts

In most cases, your first PPC campaign tactics won’t bring the best results. You will need to test ad copy, keywords and other elements of your campaign to find out what works best for your business and audience. If you never try new things or test different approaches, you will never know if you are reaching your highest potential.

Watch your Competition

Watching your competition can help you find ways to enhance your own PPC campaigns. What keywords are they targeting? What kinds of ads are they using? When you know what other PPC campaigns your target market is exposed to, you know what you need to do to stand out and capture peoples’ attention.

Using PPC campaigns is a great way to drive traffic to your site and achieve other marketing goals. As you build and enhance your PPC campaigns, use these tips to make sure they are effective and that you will get the best results possible.

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