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5 things you really must know before you ever attempt SEO

5 things you really must know before you ever attempt SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is often seen as some kind of must-have mystery by many client-side marketers, who tend not to have the time or inclination to study, assess and fully engage with this critical tool in their market visibility, acquisition and development armoury.

And rather than engage with the finer points of SEO, and gain a true insight into prospect and buyer wants, needs and their use of language to find what they need, they prefer to pass SEO development to their digital agency, in the hope that magic will make it all work.

Here’s five things you need to know:

01. Exactly what is SEO?

SEO is purely a technical term digital marketers use for making your website visible for the words or phrases people – your prospects or customers – will use when they are looking for your products or services on the internet. The closer your on-site SEO term is to the searcher’s term, the higher your website will be in the ranking.

Therefore, while you will know your company’s products and services inside out, this means you will think about them in an entirely different way from those who are looking for them and are going to be using them, and means your search language may be totally different from theirs, and there is the disconnect.

02. How does SEO fit with customer language?

What this means is that while you may use your own in-house corporate language to describe your products or services in your website’s SEO, your prospective customers may be searching for you using a totally different search term.

Here’s an example: your top-of-the-range sweet/candy product line is called ‘Mint Imperial’ so naturally you use this brand name throughout your website to guide as many people as possible to finding your range of sweet/candy products online.

03. It’s your brand, not their search term

But what if these mint-craving searchers have never heard of your products and are not yet loyal customers but just want a mint-hit now? Then your carefully crafted brand is never going to be on their radar and they’re never going to find you or help increase your sales volumes.

Why? Because rather than searching for something they’ve never heard of, these mint desperadoes are going to be using the terms they understand to get what they want; including terms such as ‘mint sweets’, ‘mint sweeties’, ‘suckie mints’ and ‘mint candy’.

04. It’s their search term, not your brand – or is it?

The point is that if you research, learn and know what mint-crazed searchers use as search terms you can build this into both your on-page SEO content and meta data to drive people who don’t already know your brand directly to your website and your famed Mint Imperial.

Once you have done this you can start their sales journey and help them understand that your product – the fantastic Mint Imperial – is the only mint they will ever need.

05. Using SEO for continuous sales pipeline development

If this customer savvy SEO strategy is regularly updated to include new search terms as they arise and deliver terms that compete with and surpass competitor SEO, it will deliver a continuous stream of new mint-munchers to your website, sales pipeline/funnel and revenue stream.

What is key to SEO is two-fold: knowing exactly what search terms potential customers use when searching for products like yours, and precisely where to place key search phrases in your on-page content to gain the highest search visibility.

So, rather than a must-have mystery or weird, inexact science SEO can, in the right hands, deliver solid sales pipeline performance with long-term and effective return on marketing investment.

SEO is purely a technical term digital marketers use for making your website visible

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Video: the fast-track to online customer engagement

Video: the fast-track to online customer engagement

With more than 80% of senior executives saying they now watch more online video than they did a year ago, and according to Forbes, 75% of executives are watching work-related video on a weekly basis, this communications channel has risen to a stellar level in recent times.

And until recently, video was seen as a ‘nice to have’ channel but with research showing that using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line increases open rates by 19%, click through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%, it’s now impossible to ignore.

Strategic social media and SEO benefits

If you then consider that over the past year, Facebook video viewership grew from four billion views per day to eight billion, then video in a FMCG and B2B context not only makes sense, but becomes central to both prospect and customer engagement.

Video also now has a massive impact on search engine optimisation and online visibility, with rich media such as video being favoured by search engine algorithms, and with Google’s ownership of YouTube, video has become almost explosive in terms of channel growth.

Slick delivery drives engagement

But even with such huge opportunities for market development, many smaller enterprises often take big risks to save money through making video presentations internally. But caution should be exercised here because without professional-standard equipment and appropriate lighting, video can go from potentially very engaging to just plain annoying.

Cheap equipment can cause system or extraneous noise to be present on the audio channels, and bad lighting or inappropriate camera angles can render video productions mediocre – and that will reflect badly on your brand and any potential MROI.

Strategy-focused story-lining

While these quality issues need to be avoided, so quality in strategic story development and market messaging are also critical to a successful outcome. Scripting needs to be done professionally to ensure crystal clarity and optimum pace in message delivery.

If you are wise, and engage your digital agency to develop your story-lines and scripts, they will want to understand your brand strategy and build on this in the video story to drive brand strategy as an integral part of your marketing plan.

Joining the strategic dots

Given the compelling statistics at the top of this post, it is plain to see that if you integrate video into your marketing strategy, you are driving your brand message though an extremely powerful communications channel.

And if you have stuck to the guiding principles laid down here and delivered information quickly, engagingly and in a memorable way, there is little reason why your video work shouldn’t thrive on your brand-site, and even YouTube, and go beyond this to achieve viral success.

And until recently, video was seen as a ‘nice to have’ channel but with research showing that using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line increases open rates by 19%, click through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%, it’s now impossible to ignore.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Multi-website management: how to maximise Internet revenue and profitability

Multi-website management: how to maximise Internet revenue and profitability

Multiple, multi-brand or product-dedicated websites can offer a greater Internet presence than single sites, and it can be argued that discrete websites linked as multisite entities offer greater flexibility, clarity and focus.

Often, these multisite groups have evolved through different global locations and administrative and marketing centres over periods of time and as such, often do not correlate content or offer navigation to synergistic inter-company products and services.

Website complexity reduces revenue

The main – and critical business development – issue with multisites that do not navigate or even indicate the possible presence of other group websites, is that visitors tend to move away from them when they do not offer a complete range of brands, products or services.

Visitors do this believing your extended brands, product ranges or services are unavailable or non-existent as they are not visible, losing you a potential customer while handing the commercial advantage to your competitors.

Controlling multisite management reduces deficits

This continuous loss of revenue is often invisible because it doesn’t fit within conventional financial metrics, even though it can amount to a large financial deficit, and can be compounded by possible continual erosion of commercial positioning.

In most cases, while the misalignments in multisite development may be apparent to an enterprise’s leadership, the actual financial obstacles may only be visible at first sight.

The business case for change

This means there is little or no business case for multisite audit and commercial remediation – accept among visionary and far sighted marketing management.

Calling these issues out, carrying out a proficient web audit and indicating financial improvements is generally welcomed by senior management, and savings are normally ploughed straight back into marketing budgets.

Multisite audit and performance review

But before you commission a review of your enterprise’s multiple websites, take a look at the website structure and what links to where. Most of this will be common sense, so if it all links up and works seamlessly, and you can navigate across all of your web presences there is no issue.

If however you know there are significant disconnects, or you discover that areas of your multisite presence are standalone and disconnected, then you will need to have a competent and specialist digital marketing agency conduct a thorough audit and review.

Creating company-wide opportunities

Working with a competent digital agency, this process will uncover all potential deficiencies in your enterprise’s multisite architecture and point to all the roadblocks to inter-website navigation, and through this, financial improvements can be planned.

But be sure your agency provides you with a clear hierarchical infographic for both current and future state structures as you will need this to communicate the performance benefits of this work to other sections within your enterprise, both locally and in-region.

This is because these changes in web hierarchy will offer a great opportunity for commercial development between different areas of your business and if shared and discussed, it will at the very least allow for cross- and up-selling across brands, products and services.

Building multisite value

And if this review is conducted with a specialist agency, not only will a new and efficient web hierarchy be proposed but as part of this, projected sales revenue uplift can be calculated and predicted.

So, from the outset, make sure that the digital agency specialists you are talking to are not going to deliver a formulaic approach and they’re confident enough to tell you what you need to know to improve sales, rather than telling you what they think you want to hear.

Be sure also that they have ISO 9001 certification for digital marketing quality management, giving you in turn the confidence to trust in the proposal and solutions you are offered in this quest to optimise website performance and maximise revenue generation.

Visitors do this believing your extended brands, product ranges or services are unavailable or non-existent as they are not visible, losing you a potential customer while handing the commercial advantage to your competitors.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Strategic market planning for optimum mROI in 2016

Strategic market planning for optimum mROI in 2016

Strategically, the time-honoured magic questions – who, what and why – are critical to any digital marketing strategy. Whatever marketing platforms you intend to use in 2016, and whichever channels you plan to employ, these fundamental questions remain central.

That is because your target audience is human, so applied psychology will be key to every part of your strategic planning, as resonance and engagement will need to be precursors to your strategic marketing plan if you are to be successful next year.

The three precepts of digital strategy

While some client-side marketers become perplexed when considering the spectrum of marketing platforms and array of communication delivery channels available, the reality is what really matters is addressing fundamental questions and setting primary market targets.

These questions are completely logical and, if approached with a coherent methodology, will provide a great foundation on which to develop your plan. Who are we targeting? What do they want? Why should they care?

We can use these three questions to develop an outline strategy:

Who are we targeting?

Demographics are an absolutely key part of the initial planning and targeting process as this forms the basis of everything that follows. You cannot develop a strategic marketing plan without a very clear vision of exactly who you are talking to.

This plan will be borne – at least initially – from your original data, and can encompass such information within your target business sector as job title, business size, role and responsibilities and geographic location. Whatever data you have; this can be segmented to categorise prospects.

But this is just the starting point, as when you get your plan rolled out, you will be developing strong interactive relationships and dialogue with your prospects and will be continually asking for more detailed information from them.

And there is good reasoning around this continual request for information: we no longer live in the age of push marketing, so today this received information is used to help prospects through their buying journey. Information helps you guide your prospects to a purchase.

What do they want?

Well, if you’ve read the above, you will know that continually gaining further information on what your prospects think will guide you to knowing exactly what they are looking for, and in turn help you guide them to that specific need or aspiration and a successful purchase.

But to ensure success in this continual phentermine progression, it needs to be a dynamic process and, as the marketing year continues, prospect data will require evolution and development into fully formed buyer personas which can be used to model your prospect communications.

This is known as progressive profiling.

Why should they care?

If diligent research and categorisation was carried out in the initial strategic marketing planning stage, and that information was used to interact and learn through progressive profiling, you will have created a level of prospect engagement that means at this stage they really do care.

It also means that these engaged prospects will be either very close to or actually buying from you now, so a level of mROI will be apparent in your enterprises’ revenue stream. How much mROI and how to further optimise it is another critical question.

How do you measure success?

The fact is that if you have addressed the three questions above, and fulfilled the tasks they inform, then your marketing strategy should be generating mROI.

But how much in relation to your financial projections, how much further it can be optimised under current marketing plans and how long these revenue streams will continue needs to be understood.

To measure this data and to fully understand where you are now and where you need to go to continually optimise your strategy requires detailed data analysis.

Your digital agency partner should have the analytical expertise to provide highly detailed and valuable insight into prospect and customer behaviour and in doing so, help you in your planning for further success in 2017.

While some client-side marketers become perplexed when considering the spectrum of marketing platforms and array of communication delivery channels available, the reality is what really matters is addressing fundamental questions and setting primary market targets.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

B2B online marketing: why you need it, even if you think you don’t

B2B online marketing: why you need it, even if you think you don’t

There are many b2b companies that have significant market share in very specific markets due the niche nature of products, or the very significant size of the unit purchase costs in that marketplace.

Many of these companies feel that the niche they work in or the huge purchase cost of their products and services ensures they are, and will remain, market leaders and commercially indomitable in the years ahead.

Maintaining market share

So why do these companies need b2b marketing? They’ve got the profile – every time they do a deal its headline news, right? Everybody who matters has heard of them and knows what they offer, correct? Well, no, it’s not as simple as that.

Because markets continually move, and while some of these global enterprises believe there is no competitive threat, that is an unwise assumption in the transnational markets of today.

Invisible competitive threat

The issue is, all markets – and there are no exceptions – have many, often unseen competitive forces that may not – at least initially – appear as direct contenders or even challengers, but the point about competitive erosion is that it is evolutionary.

That is to say in these markets, single-entity competition becomes commercially harmful when these single, indirectly-contending forces rapidly coalesce as collective business realisation perceives a gap in your competitive position and joins forces to exploit it.

Visibility is protective

Many global niche players believe safety comes through invisibility. As can be seen in the scenario I describe, this is definitely not the case as this alliance between your indirect competition – some of whom may even be your suppliers – will be rapid and decisive.

This means that unless you have previously spent time and significant resources building your brand, market profile and customer engagement, this competitive challenge will leave your marketplace looking like the beach after a storm: unrecognisable.

And you will be nowhere to be seen, at least not by your customer base.

Market presence, not market hype

But this is only one scenario: the other is simply competitor forces growing over time, evolving, joining forces, and the slow irradiation of your market position and competitive share that will result.

So, how do you avoid your enterprise being overwhelmed by these competitive forces? The simple answer is visibility. Many marketers believe that digital marketing such as website development or email communications are about customer acquisition. But not for those with vision.

Become an industry beacon

While your competitive environment is a constant, building an online presence that clearly marks you out as an innovator, thought leader and as a trusted business partner is a central part of your claim as market leader.

Build on this by developing your website to act not as a mere placeholder but to engage and partner with your – albeit small – global client community and reach out to them with email updates, and you will have cemented your long-term position.

That is because, rather than taking what may appear to be a commercially motivated route to client engagement, this is a truly open, transparent and sincere approach to client partnership and mutual business success.

Working with an experienced digital communications agency to develop this online client relationship is unlikely to rapidly build new client relationships.

But it will cement valuable existing relationships and keep them secure; and through greater exposure and reputation – place your enterprise front-of-mind with those who next enter your marketplace as potential clients, over time.

While your competitive environment is a constant, building an online presence that clearly marks you out as an innovator, thought leader and as a trusted business partner is a central part of your claim as market leader.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Content marketing: strategic planning delivers ROI insight

Content marketing: strategic planning delivers ROI insight

According to recent surveys, fifty-one percent of client-side marketers have a content marketing strategy that isn’t documented. To my way of thinking, if it isn’t written down, then it isn’t a strategy.

And when you understand that seventy-two percent of respondents say they do not track content marketing effectiveness and return on investment (ROI), then there is a lot of time and money being invested in what seems to be unmeasured ineffectiveness.

Aligning marketing strategy with content

There’s something else agency-side that is not helping this situation either, and that is in some agency white papers and blogs from marketing industry professionals it has been stated that ‘content marketing will drive marketing strategy’.

This shows a lack of understanding around marketing strategy. Marketing strategy is a company confidential plan on gaining and maintaining competitive advantage which then guides marketing communications and content marketing development – not the other way around.

Strategic planning builds content

If you can see content marketing as the sleek bodywork of a sports car over the less pretty engine and transmission system (the enterprises’ marketing strategy) then you have content marketing, driven by an unseen strategic force.

Or to put it another way, content marketing is poetry, and marketing strategy is prose.

And what is key here is that the content marketing programme closely follows overall marketing strategy, which will in turn ensure your content marketing programme is fully backed and supported by the enterprises’ strategic development plan.

Tracking content marketing performance

But none of this is possible without a properly integrated analytics system, because without this, you will have no idea what – if anything – is engaging your prospects and customers, or even how much traffic is actually reaching your website.

And that’s just the basics, because beyond this, an analytics system should be able to tell you much more about visitors, including their name, where and in which sector they work, and what interests them about you and your products or services.

This information is critical in developing credible ROI.

ROI through insight

The facts are, unless you use your content marketing to tell a strategic story – a story that contains significant facts about your company and the products or services that may be of interest your visitor – you are not fully engaging with them and you will lose them.

And unless you introduce a comprehensive analytics system you won’t know which part of your story prospects and customers found engaging and drove them to learn more about you and your products, which means you can’t help them.

Content marketing, analysis and ROI

But if you do develop a content marketing plan that contains specific pieces of information designed to test prospect and customer interest as the story unfolds, then you have reactive information that your analytics system can readily measure for you.

This means you will now know exactly what is of interest to your prospects and customers.

And you can use this information to build your products and services to meet their needs, increasing sales volumes and optimising return on your marketing investment – and your enterprises’ profitability.

There’s something else agency-side that is not helping this situation either, and that is in some agency white papers and blogs from marketing industry professionals it has been stated that ‘content marketing will drive marketing strategy’.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom