Category Archives: Social Media

Landing Page

Landing Page Confusion

Landing PageMost people are clear on the definition of a landing page.   A landing page is just a page on your website where you are driving traffic to, typically from an ad campaign. The whole point of the page is to get new visitors to complete some specific action on the page, such as begin a free trial or even buy a product. The more you test and improve on the page, the more likely visitors to the page are to complete the desired action. So what is the confusion?

Many people don’t realize it, but there are two completely different strategies for using landing pages for a paid online ad campaign versus organic search. Now, please don’t confuse what I am saying here. Some shady SEO guys out there use the term landing page when they dynamically create thousands of pages to target a slew of different search terms. This is not what I am referring to at all. Let me explain…

Landing Pages for PPC (Pay Per Click) Campaigns

Let’s assume you are running a Google AdWords campaign and are sending the traffic you generate to your website. Assuming you are a good advertiser and not sending people to your homepage, you will create at least a few landing pages that are relevant to the ads that you display. Because these pages are relevant to the ads that visitors are clicking on, they are more likely to perform the desired action on the page.

Since you will be creating a lot of landing pages to match up with all the different ads you are running, it is important to block the search engines. The landing pages you create will be very similar to each other and have a lot of the same content. If you don’t block the search engines from these pages, you will have duplicate content issues and will dilute your SEO efforts. Many people don’t realize the importance of this… or just don’t use landing pages!

Landing Pages for Organic Search

When you optimize the content on your site for organic search, it is important that you don’t target more than a couple of keywords for any given page. If you want to create a landing page in this setting, you should really only create one landing page for a given call to action.  You should create different versions of the landing page and test to see what works best, but you don’t want to have more than one URL targeting similar pages. The reasoning here is that, because you are trying to rank this landing page for a particular keyword, any other page you create with similar content or targeting similar keywords will weaken your chances of ranking well.

Also, it is important to keep the user in mind and not go overboard with keywords on landing pages when you are after organic search.  If your page does not have a natural flow to it, users will leave and the point of the landing page will be defeated.

The key difference between a landing page for PPC versus organic search is that the organic landing page is not isolated from the rest of the site.  Typically, an organic landing page is well linked to across the site and can be readily found by any visitors.

So what about campaigns that are not PPC or Organic in nature?

Landing Pages for Offline Ad Campaigns, Social Media & E-mail

Now that you have a better understanding of the two ways that landing pages can be implemented, lets take a look at some other use cases.  Typically, with an offline ad campaign, it would be best to use a landing page that is optimized for organic search.  This way, users who don’t remember the exact URL presented in your ad, will be able to easily find the offer by using a search engine or just visiting the site’s root domain.  Most likely, you would want to run a social media campaign the same way.

E-mail campaigns, on the other hand, you may want to implement landing pages like you would with PPC.  Since a lot of marketers use automated e-mail campaigns, it would be beneficial to have several different landing pages for the same offer.  For example, if you send out an offer to new subscribers, they would be sent to a simple landing page.  If users haven’t bought and are presented with the same offer, you may want to send them to a landing page that offers more incentive that the original.  Since these pages are bound to be similar, you don’t want to have the search engines finding them.

Online Sales Leads

Online Sales Leads

Is your business struggling to generate online sales leads? It is common knowledge that generating sales leads online can be more effective than traditional methods, not to mention more cost-effective. Given the current economy, businesses are looking to the internet in order to cut marketing costs.  We are going to take a look at different methods of lead generation and how your company might use them.

Online Sales Leads

Lead Generating Traffic Sources

In order to maximize sales leads, you have to maximize the traffic coming in to your website and landing pages.  There are three ways to generate traffic online:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Optimizing your web pages so that your potential clients will find you when they search for your products or services.
  • Paid Advertising – Paying to have your ad appear in the sponsored listings in the search engines, or in a particular location on a selected website.
  • Social Media – Utilizing large web communities to generate interest and traffic for your products or services.
  • Affiliate Marketing – Partnering with like minded sites to offer each others products or services.

Depending on your business and what stage of development it is in, you will utilize these methods differently.  The key takeaway here is to utilize all three methods to some degree.  Don’t limit your ability to reach new clients by focusing all your efforts on one method.

Lead Capture Methods

Once you are generating some quality traffic, you will want to be sure that you don’t miss out on capturing as many leads as possible.  It is important to understand your target audience and their purchasing behavior.  Here are some ways you can keep in touch with potential clients at different levels:

  • Facebook Like Button – Including the ‘Like’ button on most pages of your site will allow visitors to ‘Like’ the content that they find helpful or amusing on your site.  When a visitor clicks on the ‘Like’ button, they automatically become a fan of your business and will receive updates that you send out through your Facebook page.  This is a great way to connect with people who are only on your site for a short time, or only visit a single page.
  • Opt-in List – Not everyone is going to buy on their first visit, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.  Give visitors the opportunity to receive quality content on a regular basis through e-mail.  You will offer some sort of upfront incentive for opting in and will occasionally offer your products or services in your e-mails.
  • Landing Page – Similar to the opt-in list, a landing page is specifically designed to promote a particular product or service.  When a visitor fills out their information, they have the opportunity to opt-in to your list, but may also be requesting a quote or some other type of follow up.
  • Registration – Having a site where users register to have access to a free service or a niche community is a great way to get visitors involved and to be able to make some quality connections.
  • Contact Information – Some businesses forget about this one altogether and don’t include their contact information in an easy-to-find location on the website.  If someone wants to use a more traditional means of contacting you, don’t limit them!

It is important to avoid surprises when a visitor comes to your site through any given medium.  If a visitor doesn’t think your content is relevant to what they are looking for, they will leave quickly and your conversion rate will suffer.

Lead Generation Examples

Here are a couple of scenarios that will help you better understand how to utilize these advertising mediums to generate leads online:

Brand New Local Restaurant – Knowing that it can take a minimum of six months to generate adequate organic search traffic and that SEO is more cost effective than paid advertising in the long haul, you hire an SEO expert right away.   You claim your local business listings with the major search engines so that local searchers can find you easier.  In the meantime, you utilize Google AdWords to not only generate immediate traffic, but also to test out your organic SEO keywords in the process.  As your business generates more and more organic search traffic, you rely on paid advertising less and less.  However, you don’t eliminate it altogether because you have realized that running PPC campaigns alongside your SEO campaigns creates some great synergy.  Your primary landing page encourages visitors to sign up for your e-mail list so they can receive special promotions and a free birthday meal.  Thanks to technology, you have automated your entire annual e-mail campaign and are able to discover what social networks your members are in and can connect with them on their favorite networks.  In order to promote your business to people who happen to be nearby, you utilize FourSquare.  You also become active on Yelp, encouraging those that have been to your restaurant to rate their experience.

Independent Consultant – As a consultant, you show off your knowledge through a blog, which is part of the main website.  This blog is great for generating organic search traffic, because you carefully optimize each post and post often.  Because your are a smart consultant, you are already using PPC, but are not over-reliant on this method.  You have also paid to have some banner and video ads on some of the top sites related to your industry.  LinkedIn is a great social media tool for you because it is a professional network that facilitates some great business to business connections.  As an added bonus, you frequently answers questions related to the industry on LinkedIn and other related forums, and you run a couple of Meetup groups for people interested in your specialty.  Affiliate marketing can come into play here as you team up with other consultants that have complimentary skill sets to your own.  You don’t actually sell any products online, so your landing pages focus around proprietary research and tools that you have created.  Once visitors opt-in for your email list, they are automatically sent a weekly e-mail containing your latest blog posts.  You also highlight a particular service each month and offer your e-mail list members a special discount.  All of your lead capture forms automatically feed the captured information into Sugar, your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Online Digital Camera Store – Let’s assume this business targets professional photographers who are looking for high-end digital equipment.  Your efforts are focused around SEO and PPC keywords related to your most profitable brands and products, because you understand that people searching for specific products are usually considering buying it.  The website itself is more than just an e-commerce store, but a social network within itself.  Because your business values repeat customers, you have forums where users can discuss the latest trends in photography.  Every month, you hold a contest where the best submitted photo wins the latest high-tech gear.  Most of your customers are quite satisfied not only to have found quality equipment, but also a great community.  Your community extends beyond just your site, in the form of a Facebook Page, a YouTube channel sporting some very helpful videos and a Flickr account that grabs the attention of anyone who sees it.  Your site also promotes the re-chargeable batteries of another site, which in turn promotes your high-end cameras.  Since your best sales come from active members of your community, your landing pages focus on having new visitors join the community.

Black Hat Social Media

‘Black Hat’ is a slang term often used in reference to unethical search engine optimization practices; as opposed to ‘White Hat’.  Black hat SEO uses techniques that are effective short term, but probably will result in penalties or a complete ban from search engines in the long run.  So what is ‘Black Hat Social Media’?

Black Hat Social Media is:

  • Results-driven – focused on quick gains.
  • Dishonest – built on fake profiles and deceptive messages.
  • Annoying – repetitive keywords in profiles and pointless apps are a turn off.

White Hat Social Media is:

  • Relationship-driven – focused on building a quality network.
  • Transparent – what you see is what you get.
  • Interesting – relevant content attracts like-minded individuals.

Black hat social media is basically what happens when companies try to manipulate social media to their advantage. You can’t manipulate the masses to do your bidding.  Perhaps a web crawler or search engine algorithm can be fooled, but real people have more experience at identifying frauds.

Moral of the story: Before you act, ask yourself why you want to take a particular action on the social web.  If broadcasting that reasoning on the social web would make you uncomfortable, it is black hat.

WordPress and BuddyPress – SEO meets Social Media

Third party social media tools are great for bringing in new visitors and keeping your brand in front of loyal followers.  What if you could create your own social media sphere where your visitors can connect with each other?  Do you think you would have more people stick around? Continue reading WordPress and BuddyPress – SEO meets Social Media

Developing a Social Media Strategy Document

Social media is becoming a mainstream advertising channel and many businesses are still trying to flesh out how to develop a sound strategy.  I am going to provide you with an outline on how to develop your own social media strategy document.  After all, it isn’t really a strategy until it is written out on paper!

  1. Target Audience – Define your target audience.  Who are they and what are they like?
  2. Primary Objective – Define your primary social media objective.  What is your main purpose for being involved in social media?
  3. Secondary Objectives – Define any secondary social media objectives.  What other goals do you wish to accomplish?
  4. Key Performance Indicators – Identify any Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for each objective.  It is important that your KPI’s are in complete alignment with your objectives!  How will we know if we have been successful with this objective?
  5. Creative Campaign – Develop a creative campaign for each objective.  Since each objective is unique and has its own metrics, it is important that you also have a campaign that is custom tailored to that objective.  How will we go about meeting our objective?
    1. Content Guidelines – This is a separate document that lays out the what and when of your content.
      1. Type What type of content will you produce? This could be articles, audio, video, etc.
      2. MessageWhat are you trying to communicate to your audience? This is perhaps the most important decision of the campaign.  Be sure that you really understand your target audience and how they operate first!
      3. Voice What is the overall style that we will use to communicate? For example, if you are trying to reach out to students, you will want to have a laid back and easy to read style.  The more specific you are, the better.
      4. FrequencyHow often will you produce content? This can go beyond just a simple weekly or monthly schedule and could include a very detailed content release strategy.
    2. Operational Plan – Your content guidelines cover the what and when, but the operation plan covers the how.
      1. TimelineHow long will the campaign last?  When will the elements of the campaign be re-evaluated? Establishing a clear start and end time for the campaign will force you to evaluate its effectiveness within a reasonable time frame.
      2. ProducingWho will produce content?  How will they get ideas? For example, you could have users generate creative content, an industry expert with lots to contribute, or a professional writer who has a list of resources they can pull from.
      3. PostingWho is actually responsible for the public release of content? You could limit this to a few leaders in the company, or allow any employee to post content.   If you are allowing users to post content, this is usually the person who moderates that content.
      4. SharingWho can share content? Beyond posting content, who in your organization is authorized to find helpful or fun content from across the web and share it with your network(s)?
      5. RespondingWho can respond to comments and how should they do so? It is very important to detail not only who can respond to comments, but how they should do it.  This is the stage where you write out your policy regarding responding to negative comments.
    3. Platform Recommendations – This document details out where you will be participating in the social web.
      1. ResearchWhat social media tools did you consider?  What information is there to support our use of one tool over another? This step is all about due diligence.  Don’t just select your social media tools on a hunch.  If you can’t find any good research, you may just have to do your own…
      2. ReasoningBased on the data, what conclusions could be made? There is a big difference between raw data and useful information.  Make sure you analyze the data and make some reasonable and relevant conclusions.
      3. RecommendationsBased on the analysis, what tools are recommended? Your goal isn’t to select just one tool, but to make sure that the tool(s) that you choose are going to be effective at meeting your goals and reaching / communicating with your target audience.
    4. Marketing Plan – All the previous steps are useless if you haven’t built a network.  The goal of the marketing plan is to promote and build your network.

It would be great if I could get everyone’s input on the above outline.   Let me know if you have anything to add!

Common Business Uses for Social Media

Social media is quickly becoming one of the most cost effective ways for businesses to advertise, but social media is more than just getting the word out.  So how are companies using social media currently?

Continue reading Common Business Uses for Social Media