Search Engine Marketing: How to Get Your Content Seen

Today we will be discussing how to get your content seen in the digital world.  With billions of webpages, it can be difficult to bring traffic to your website.  Without knowledge in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and inbound marketing, most company websites, personal websites, and blogs can go unseen; buried deep within the rankings.  This guide will help you understand how search engines work and how to use that knowledge to achieve a better ranking and therefore bring in more traffic to your personal or business content.

2NGTo - Imgur

First we will discuss exactly how search engines work.   Search engines use three processes to find, index, and rank all webpages on the World Wide Web.

  1. Crawling:  The process of finding new content.  The search engines finds a webpage and follows every link on that webpage, then follows every link on everyone of those webpages, and so on.  In this fashion, the search engine can find almost every webpage that exists.
  2. Indexing:  After visiting the webpages from their crawling search, the search engines index each webpage away in a large data base.  This makes it so the search results can be found very rapidly.
  3. Ranking:  The final process is the rank each webpage receives for the given search.  This is the most stressed step for SEOs and SEMs.  The search engines use a formula to search the pages in their index to find the most relevant webpages.  Relevance is determined by having keywords, links from your site, links to your site, how popular the pages are that link to you, how many times your site has been searched for, and many other factors.  In this manner, it determines what rank each webpage will be displayed as.

Now that we know how search engines work, lets discuss how we as SEOs and SEMs can leverage this information.  First we need to have our content seen by the crawlers.  We assume that because our website is launched, it is visible to the search engine.  Many times, pages of content of our website go unseen because there is never a HTML link to that page of the website.  Remember, crawlers can only see what is linked to via HTML, that includes all pages of your site.  So what does this mean for us?  That we need to have links to every main page of our site on the homepage.  This can be as simple as having an index at the bottom or on the side that categorizes all of your sites content in a simple, user friendly fashion.

So now the entire site can be seen and indexed by the search engines, but how do we move up in rank?  There are over 200 elements in the formula and if you are curious, here is a link to all of them.  Moz also has their own list through testing, and you can find that list here.  200 factors seem like a lot to work with especially starting off new.  However, they are not all weighed the same.  Title tags and keywords are the most important factors that we can change.  Linking is also very important which we will discuss a little further down.  So title tags are HTML’s title element.  This can be coded as seen below.

<head>
<title>Example Title</title>
</head>

This title tag is arguably the most important factor in SEO.  Having as many of your most important keywords in this title is even more beneficial.  Keep in mind though that search engines only display 65-75 characters of your title tag.  So try and keep it under that limit if at all possible.  If it is crucial to get in some final keywords over that limit, that is okay but try and keep the most important keywords as close to the front of the title tag as you can.  After you have a solid, keyword enriched title tag for your site, repeating it with no or slight changes close to the top of your homepage is very beneficial as well.

We can also use keywords outside of our title tag.  Having keywords placed close to the top of different pages on your site can help draw in more diverse traffic.  There are two types of keywords, long tail and short tail. Short tailed keywords are general topics such as “pants”.  Many people aim to be the top of the search ranks for such keywords.  However many times people are not ready to buy when they search such general topics.  Long tail keywords make up 70% of the searches but one specific long tail key word might only be searched a few times a day.  However, these rankings are much more important.  When someone searches for “dark brown dress pants size 30” they practically have their wallet in their hand.  This is the difference between heavy, uninterested traffic or small, specified traffic.  At the end of the day, your website will do better with the later.

B2B Long Tail resized 600

There are two other factors when dealing with keywords and choosing which ones will be the best; inverse document frequency and co-occurrence.  inverse document frequency is the practice of using less common key words so your site will be ranked higher when those specific keywords are searched for.  This ties in with long tailed keywords but they do not necessary have to be long, just have a higher rarity.  Co-occurrence is the practice of  using words that are usually pared together.  This will help your rankings when people search for one of the keywords.  For example, Space Needle and Seattle Tourist Attraction are very similar and if a site has both of those keywords than it will most likely rank higher when someone searches for one or the other.

Finally, the last factor we will discuss is linking.  The more sites that link to your site increases your rank.  However, these cannot just be any sites doing the linking.  In other words, all sites are not equal.  The more popular a site, the stronger a link.  For example, if someone links to this blog that only has 5 followers, that will not do much for me.  On the other hand if someone with 100,000 followers links to me, that would do wonders for my rankings.  Popularity is not the only factor in linking though.  Quality is also weighed in.  The number of links to your site helps your rank as well.  To help the number of links you receive, make sure your content on your site is of high quality and user friendly.

So to tie all of this together, SEO and SEM can be a main part of your inbound marketing campaign.  With ranking high in search engines, high quality customers will come to you for answers to their problems.  Companies, individuals, and bloggers can all incorporate SEO and SEM into their sites to increase high quality traffic.  A few tools and white papers to help the beginners out are listed below.  If you found this guide helpful, follow my blog for more quality content in the digital marketing world.  Good luck with optimizing your website for search engines, you got this.

Gzh71Ku - Imgur

SEO and SEM tools and white papers:

Google’s SEO Starter Guide

MOZ SEO Cheat Sheet

Google Guide Advanced

Infograph by Red Website Design

My Digital Marketing World

As some of you may know, I am currently a student at WWU in the marketing program.  At the beginning of this quarter I did not know much about digital marketing but I knew that it was crucial if I wanted to succeed in the business world as a marketer and entrepreneur.  Throughout this blog journey I gained 18 followers, had a little over 300 blog views, and wrote 14 posts consisting of 11,583 words.  That being said, on average each blog post was 827 words.

Blog Stats

I will continue this blog moving forward out of this class but the posts will be less frequent.  I intend to take this blog to a more applicable place.  I found that many blogs, including mine currently, are all talk and no walk.  Especially in the marketing field, most bloggers and tweeters are just looking to gain views or followers and do not care much of the content and it becomes repetitive.  There is only so much unique things different bloggers can write about one subject.  Therefore, moving forward I will be applying what I have learned through writing this blog to my personal marketing needs, analyze the results, then blog about them.  Topics include finishing codecademy.com, SEO my painting company website, apply Google Analytics tests to my website, run Adwords Campaigns and potentially PPC, and other technical marketing applications. I intend to apply what I learn and share with you what actually works and doesn’t work from personal experience with proof to back it up.

Throughout this quarter I have learned a vast array of digital marketing topics, but some I found more useful than others.  I think that the post beneficial area of digital marketing to learn is technical marketing.  You can read my blog post on that topic here and my post about coding here.  Being able to code, analyze data, and create original content as a marketer is almost priceless.  Being able to cut out so many other technical workers by having the knowledge of these subjects will take you very far.  Because I want to be an entrepreneur, creating a wheel house of skills will benefit me greatly.  That is why I recommend every marketer who is serious about furthering themselves in their field needs learn technical skills.  I recently took my first steps down this technical path by acquiring my Google Analytics Certification.  By the end of next year I plan on being able to code basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.  With these skills, my field of marketing application is broadened immensely.

Google Analytics Certification

 

If you are not looking to get into the technical field of marketing, then content marketing is what I recommend you learn how to do.  You can read my post about content marketing here.  The reason I recommend learning in this field of marketing is that it is first free of cost besides time, has a multitude of benefits for the business such as creating awareness and generating leads, and almost anyone can do it.  There are no expensive applications needed, years of training required, or any high costs of entry.  All that is needed is a basic understand of your customers and creating content.  Once you begin the process of content marketing, you are starting the conversation with your customer that no other marketing channel can achieve.  You may start out kind of rough, but as you have more trial and errors, you will hone in your voice and the conversation with your customers will reach an entirely new level.

So for anyone looking to acquire a job in the marketing field, I recommend making yourself less disposable.  You do this by creating a set of skills that are hard to find in marketers.  Being authentic, knowing how to code and analyze, and knowing how to have a conversation with your customers and where to find them are all great ways to make yourself stand out in the crowd of marketers.  Good luck on your marketing journey and thank you for following mine thus far.  I hope you continue to follow me as I branch into this new section marketing skills and blogging.  Because you all are not with me to high five in celebration of making it this far, I’ll do it myself.  Cheers.

Jdvdr - Imgur

 

Co-Creation and Crowdsourcing: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Using your customer base to help create your product is now becoming a common practice in the business world; especially with start-ups.  There are many benefits and costs of using this method called co-creation.  In other words, co-creation is a business strategy where you utilize your customer’s value to generate positive outcomes for your company.

For example, many video games today are Beta and Alpha testing, allowing customers to purchase the game at a discount, play it early access, and give direct feedback to the developers on bugs, mechanics, content, and any other features they would like to see in the game.  Let me walk you through the factors that encourage and inhibit companies to take on the co-creation technique.  You ready?

qyr4Iif - Imgur

Benefits to the Company:

1.  Cost Reduction

Because you are working closely with your customers and utilizing their talents, many costs of doing business are reduced or entirely balanced out.  A large cost that is relatively gone with co-creation is Research and Development, or R&D.  Your company does not have to spend money on researching if there is a market for the product, what the market wants specifically, and technicalities like cost and locations.  All of this info is achieved through direct feedback from the customers that you are working with.

2.  Closer Fit of Product

The customers know what they want, so going directly to them will provide you with the best fit of a product most of the time.  Steve Jobs would probably disagree believing that the customer doesn’t know what they want.  However, most of the time working with your customers will provide you with a better understanding of their wants, which will translate into the creation of a product that better fits the market.

3.  Lower Marketing Expenses

Marketing with this form of business plan is low to none.  Your marketing is through word of mouth of your customers that you are working with.  They will gladly promote a product that they helped create.

4.  Faster Diffusion

Your market already knows of your product.  There is less educating that needs to take place and once the product is released, most co-creators will purchase it and many of their friends that they have mentioned it to.  This creates a faster diffusion of the product into the market, giving it a kickstart.

5.  More Likely to Succeed

With all of these added benefits, your product is more likely to succeed.  Lower costs across a multitude of channels, a better fit of a product, and quick diffusion; what more could you ask for?  If done correctly, co-creation sets your product up for great success.

gu8UW - Imgur

Costs to the Company:

1.  Secrecy Concerns

Opening up your company to co-creation opens up your vault of secrets.  This can create many different problems for you company especially with competitors  moving in on your market.

2.  Competitors Stealing Market

Because your secrets are out, competitors and customers may attempt to overtake your potential market with a better product.  They can easily analyze all of your flaws with the product and other business aspects allowing them to overtake your market.

3.  Challenges of Utilizing Customer Input

You will receive a mass amount of feedback in which every reviewer thinks their input is the most important.  This can create a community where you cannot, and don’t want to, use all the ideas that are being generated.  This can leave some people jaded that will start to give your company or product a bad name.

4.  Managing Customer Expectations

Once opened to the customers, people’s imaginations can go rampant.  They can dream up some wild expectations of the product and this can lead to customer disappointment.  Managing these expectations can be very difficult and if not done correctly will leave your product in the dust.

5.  Managing Firm’s Objectives

After all the feedback you receive, it may be hard to remember and manage the original trajectory of your firm’s plans. Staying on track can become quite difficult and the project can end up dragging out longer than originally thought.

As you can see, there are many benefits and costs the co-creation business plan can bring to your company.  Weighing them against each other for your products is something you should do before jumping into this.  This plan is not for every business and every product, but can bring immense value in the right applications.  For a more in depth costs vs. benefits, click here.

crowd

source: http://soshable.com/a-visual-guide-to-crowdsourcing-infographic/

Crowdsourcing is another business plan along the same lines.  However instead of a company working with customers to create products, they source work to their customers.  Some successful examples of this are Youtube, Twitch, Fiverr, and stock photo websites.  All of the content on these sites is created by users.  The company just manages the content and accessibility.  Like co-creation, there are some benefits and costs to this business model. However, there is more than just companies that are influenced. Entire industries can be affected.  There are only a few, but their impact can be great.

Industry Benefits:

1. Employ Hobbyists

Youtube, Twitch, and stock photo websites have turned film enthusiasts, gamers, and part time photographers into successful business ventures.  What used to be a hobby is now their main source of income.  This has created some amazing content from these crowd sourcing platforms.

2. Cheaper, More Accessable Content

Before crowd sourcing sites, finding particular content was difficult, expensive, and time consuming.  Now you can access the content on these sites for a small or no charge.  Also, the amount of content has increased dramatically.

Industry Costs:

1.  Undermining of Professionals

Because these sites have allowed for hobbyists to enter the market with low barriers, the professionals that once made a living from providing the content in that certain market are now out of work.  Where they once used to sell stock photos for $1,000 a pop, they are now selling them on stock photo sites for a few dollars.

Some companies are utilizing these forms of business better than others.  Quirky, a crowdsourced product producer, has developed 412 products with this method.  They give 30% of online sales and 10% of retail sales to the inventor of the product.  In this fashion, they have paid their community over $2 million.  To learn more, click here.

vOqMG - Imgur

Mobile Payments: How They Are Revolutionizing the Way Business is Done

Mobile is all about convenience.  We can now access the World Wide Web, search reviews for any business, deposit checks through a wireless connection via snapping a picture, etc.  You get the point.  There is an app for almost everything.  And now, there are apps for mobile payments.  Google Wallet, Isis, LevelUp, Square, and PayPal are all leaders in the mobile payment industry.  Each app works a little differently but all have relatively the same function; to have the convenience of not carrying around your wallet by making daily purchases through your phone.

GoogleWalletPaypassLocator2

http://blog.laptopmag.com/google-wallet-tested-what-its-like-to-pay-with-your-phone

All of these apps have the feature to locate businesses in your area through geo-location that accept their mobile payment method.  At a transaction level, Google Wallet and Isis work in the same fashion.  They use a near field communication chip to transfer your credit card information completing the purchase.  Square and PayPal work in the same way as well.  You give your name to the cashier and your name comes up on their register.  They confirm your identity by matching the picture and then your transaction can be completed.  LevelUp is unique.  When you want to make a purchase, the app displays a QR Code for the cashier to scan.  The scan transfers your credit card information and you are good to go.

These all sound new age and cool, but what is the benefit?  Yeah you don’t have to carry around a piece of plastic, but is it worth it?  As of now, most places do not accept most of these mobile payment types.  Well here are a list of additional benefits.

  1. Greater Security: Users must enter a password to complete transactions
  2. Live tracking of all purchases
  3. Earn benefits and points for each purchase
  4. Can transfer money to friends accounts (only on LevelUp)

So great, some added security and a rewards system.  But what is the incentive for merchants to carry this payment system?  First off, the transaction cost is way down compared to credit cards.  The average credit card transaction fee is around 2%, while some mobile transaction fees are free of charge.

Adding on to that, LevelUp works closely with their merchants to help expand their business.  They have marketing campaigns they can run, data analysis tools for analyzing their transactions through the app, and they are featured on their geo-locator of businesses that accept LevelUp.  To learn more about LevelUp, click here.

Square is also differentiating itself.  It originally started out as an app that accepts credit cards and that is still a major feature to this day.  PayPal has also taken on this feature.  With an additional mechanism attached to your phone, you can swipe credit cards on the go.  This has greatly helped small businesses and start-ups around the country.

square-credit-card-reader

http://www.intomobile.com/2011/04/19/square-credit-card-reader-iphone-now-available-apple-store/

So what about none mobile wallet companies?  Are any other existing non financial businesses taking on this new feature?  Well I am sure you have heard of the Starbucks App.  It’s essentially a debit card on your phone where you can earn rewards and track all of your Starbucks purchases.  What this has done for Starbucks is more than anyone could have imagined.  It has supplied them with a massive amount of data that can now be utilized for countless marketing campaigns.  As other large corporations recognize this great benefit, many more will be creating similar apps.

Finally on the topic of mobile payment is the growing internet currency Bitcoin.  The currency is currently the highest valued in the world at 445 US dollars.  There is no central bank controlling the flow but the currency can be mined through a complicated process to consistently increase the flow of currency into the market.  To learn more about the mining process, click here.

Bitcoins have grown rapidly over the last 4 years increasing at a steady percentage per year.  But like the mobile wallets, what’s the point?  This currency is offering great opportunities for countries that are struggling with currency issues.  Countries like Argentina and many more in Latin America and South East Asia where either their economy is collapsing or their government is implementing restrictions on currency trade, Bitcoins are supply a safe, reliable currency that will hold their value.

Bitcoins are also making their way into the mainstream market.  An ATM in Vancouver, BC Canada just opened up allowing Bitcoin owners to withdraw cash from their Bitcoin accounts.  At the ATM, people can also add cash converting it into Bitcoins.  This is making the currency way more accessible and usable for a broader audience.

The currency is still quite a controversy but I think that it will help regulate physical currencies by supplying a globally acceptable medium of value.  Also, we can’t forget about my favorite variation of Bitcoin, Dogecoin.

Top-Image

Currently it is one of the least valued currencies, but the transactions taking place on it leave it something to be reckoned with.

bfbb477a4e33c72ef8577c300d7f54ff

The 4 Step Guide to Mobile Marketing

Every marketers dream has come true and yet most marketers do not know how to take advantage of it.  Thats right, I’m talking about smart phones.  A marketing channel that never shuts off and is within arms reach of almost every person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

us-mobile-internet-use

source: http://www.businessinsider.com/mobile-web-use-continues-to-rise-2012-6

There has been huge growth in the smart phone industry as well, putting more hand held computers into people’s possession all over the world.  Smart phone traffic in india has already exceeded desktop traffic and predicted to soon happen everywhere else.  Most marketers recognize the huge opportunity but possess no knowledge of how to properly utilize it.  For that reason, here is a 4 step guide on how to successfully use the mobile medium.

Ie17FZ6 - Imgur

1. Make Mobile it’s Own Experience

Many marketers who are attempting the mobile market create a duplicate of the desktop version.  For example, if you visit the companies site on a PC compared to a phone, it is the same layout and content just smaller and harder to read and interact with on a phone.  To counteract this, the mobile version of your already in place content should be unique.  Break your existing content down to the most important attributes, categorize them, and make it easy for the user to navigate.

2. Go Native

Create a native app for your mobile users, not a web based app.  Most of the time, smart phones are connected to the internet, 3G, or 4G service.  However, there are some instances when they will not be able to access the web costing you customers.  Airplanes, subways, and country-side, are all places that you will find customers on their phones using some sort of app.  By making your app native, you will not have to worry about the potential loss usage.

3. Increase Retention Rates

90% of app users are gone within 6 months of initial download.  That means the mobile app industry has one of the worst retention rates. So how can you mitigate this?  Offer mobile only discounts or special offers that supplies your mobile users incentives to come back.  Also, invite your customers in to help produce and review the content.  This leads me to the final step.

4. Create Two Way Communication

Mobile is such a personal medium that it can become dangerous.  Being invasive and other unethical practices can turn off customers for a life time.  However, because of the potential for a close, personal relationship, it is one of the strongest mediums for creating two way communication.  Give your customers the chance to offer real time feedback in terms of usage and reviews.

For example, Weather Underground provides the option for it’s mobile users to supply real time feedback on weather accuracy. As you can see below, I can check yes or no if it is sunny or not where I am. This has benefited them in two ways. First, it increases the accuracy of their weather.  Second, it gives the user a sense of inclusion and participation that other weather apps do not provide.

2014-05-12 13.29.55

As you can see, the mobile medium can be utilized to great benefit.  Be wary however.   Be ethical in your practices or you may turn away customers forever.  I wish you luck in exploring the vastly growing medium and supplied you with a few resources below to help you in your efforts.

Extra Resources:

Mobile Marketing White Paper

5-Biggest Mistakes in App Marketing

Extensive Mobile Marketing Guide

How Successful Organizations are Utilizing Big Data

We are now in the age of big data.  We are able to track everything from click open rate, to last purchase, to how long a customer spent on a certain web page.  This data, if utilized correctly, can be transformed into priceless information.  Entire marketing campaigns are now based on the results of big data analyses.  Actually, if your company is not using data for your marketing efforts and going by “your gut”, you are a little late to the game.  But no worries, it is fairly easy to catch up.  Below I will go through many examples of how businesses and organizations are using data mining to the extreme.

If you would like to learn how to analyze big data, see my blog post last week on SQL by clicking here.

CIO-CMO-Untangle-Peview

source: http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2013/08/infographic-cios-cmos-and-big-data.html

First I will start off telling you about a basic example of data mining from Orbitz.  Through careful analysis, Orbitz discovered that Mac users spend an average of 30% more a night on hotels.   To capitalize on this information, Orbitz started to show Mac users more expensive hotels first on the front page of their search results.  To make things clear, they did not show the same hotel rooms to both Mac and PC users but showing a higher price to Mac users.  They just listed more expensive rooms first.  To opt-out of this option, the customer can easily select “list by price.”  So far, their targeted efforts have been a success.  They have not looked into correlations yet for their other categories such as flights and car rentals.

Now to explore a more targeted data mining case, lets discuss Target’s success in timing the pregnancy of their customers.  If you have been in the loop of marketing at all in the last few years, you have heard about this case many times.  However it is good to refresh our memories and relate it to the topic of big data and data mining.  To sum up Target’s marketing experiment, they wanted to successfully predict not only which customers were pregnant, but in what stage, and the expected date of birth.  Target accomplished this by analyzing which customers were currently pregnant that they knew of how researched their buying behaviors leading up to their pregnancy.

Pmxoooa - Imgur

The biggest factor they discovered, scented candles.  There are many factors, but this one was a red flag.  To take advantage of their newly found information, Target would send their customer’s pregnancy related discounts on items tied in with other random items so that it did not look like Target actually knew.  They did not want to scare the customers.  At the end of the day, this targeted campaign was extremely successful.  It just goes to show that if you know what to do with the data, you can discover some outstanding information.  To read further on this case, click here.

Not all companies have been as successful as Target with data mining.  Starbucks does not really know what to do with any of their data.  They have millions of customers with Starbucks memberships which allows them to track a mass amount of data.  However, they cannot figure out how to use it.  The only thing they have done thus far is recognize when a customer has not purchased Starbucks in a few months, so they send them a coupon to come back hoping that they will not lose them as a customer.

Big data has now reached past businesses, and is not in the depths of Hollywood.  After movies like John Carter were a complete flop after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on its production, many movie producers can no longer ignore what the data is saying.  The movie industry is beginning to create a formula to predict the success of a movie.  The release date, the current social trends, the actors in the movie and their current popularity, and many other factors are playing in on this success formula.  This idea is rather new in the movie industry still and its success is unknown at this point.

Hollywood is not the only industry picking up on the big data gold mine.  Politics is now chalk full of data mining after the success of the 2012 Obama campaign.  During the entire 2012 campaign, Obama’s election crew was working hard on collecting mass amounts of data, analyzing it, and creating marketing campaigns based on that data.  Remember that outrageous $40,000 per ticket dinner with Obama at a chance to win a dinner with Sarah Jessica Parker?  That was actually carefully planned to the most minute detail.

BFXsB - Imgur

After the success of George Clooney’s success of the same nature on the west coast, the Obama campaign searched for the same type of impact George had on women from 40 – 49 years old.  Sarah Jessica Parker was the answer for most.  However, there were a few others that were at that dinner that was not as publicized.  The email to reach their potential ticket holders were also carefully targeted.  Many received the Parker email, but some received other emails saying a concert by Mariah Carey, Vogue editor Anna Wintour would be at the dinner, and many other variations.  The campaign was incredibly successful and achieved exactly what they wanted.  This is just one example of how the Obama campaign used big data in the campaign but there are many, many other success stories.  To read more on the topic, click here.

So now that you see how big organizations are utilizing big data from small changes like what the first page of rankings show for hotel rooms, to entire political campaigns based around data mining.  I highly suggest you begin to use big data to your advantage if you have not yet.  It can uncover an incredible amount of information that someone’s gut cannot predict.

Technical Marketing: How Knowing SQL Will Benefit Your Career

In today’s marketing world, sitting down with a scotch and creating a marketing pitch doesn’t work anymore.  All marketing today is now derived from data.  With the help of developers and IT professionals, marketers analyze the data and create marketing plans based on that information.  However, that common situation forces the marketer to rely on one to a few people.  What if you could cut out the middle man?  Well now you can by becoming a technical marketer.

Technical Mktg Blog Post_026

source: http://moz.com/blog/every-marketer-should-be-technical

Understanding programs like Excel, Access, and SPSS will help you analyze data.  But even going farther and learning languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and SQL will make your wheel house of skills something to be reckoned with.  If you know all of these, you could create an entire marketing campaign, run it, and analyze it entirely by yourself.  No IT professionals to help you access and research the databases, no developers to help you program the content, and no IT professional to help you analyze the new found data from the campaign.  If you could do all of this by yourself, you would make a name for yourself quite quickly.

But I have already discussed the importance of learning programming languages like HTML in this blog post.  So lets discuss the benefits of know SQL, or Structured Query Language. SQL is a database language that is designed to allow you to search, manipulate, and interact with your databases.

SQL allows you to:

  • Create queries in a database
  • Retrieve data
  • Insert, update, and delete records
  • Create new databases and tables
  • Create stored procedures and views
  • Set permissions

What does all of this mean?  In other words, you can access and manipulate your current companies databases to analyze the data.  This allows you an in depth information platform to create marketing plans based on leveraging that knowledge.  Your marketing campaigns will be more precise and targeted, therefore usually more successful.  To sum it up, you will be a powerhouse of a marketer.

Other Benefits of knowing SQL: 

  • Can communicate better throughout the organization (especially with developers)
  • Understand what is realistic
  • Know what to ask for
  • Bring the answer to your manager, not the problem

technical-marketing-unicorn

source: Rob Boudon on Flicker

Now that you know the benefits of becoming a technical marketer, you probably want to know where you can learn SQL.  W3Schools has a great program that you can find here. Udemy also offers a SQL learning program that you can find here.  SQL Zoo and Learn Code The Hard Way also offer learning platforms here and here, respectively.

There are many marketing companies right now leveraging SQL to their advantage.  Companies like Moz, Udemy, and Incase are all benefiting greatly from their usage of SQL.  However, I want to look at another company by the name of  CJ E&M.  They are a Korean mobile gaming developer who was running into problems with one of their marketing channels.  They would have digital events giving away copies of their game for free.  This would attract sometimes half a million visitors and their servers would freeze up, restricting them from giving away these copies, and therefore making their marketing campaign a failure.

logo

To solve this issue, they switched their current server to an SQL server allowing them to run the give away events without server delays.  Therefore, they could track their data live giving away thousands of  more  items and allowing them to run these events more frequently.  Using SQL has allowed this company to successfully run live marketing campaigns greatly expanding their profits.  For more info on the case study, click here.

Another company that is using SQL to help with marketing effectiveness and efficiency is Yahoo! Since the company has started using SQL, they have seen huge benefits in advertising spending and campaign effectiveness.  They have used SQL tools to analyze their data to further specify provided information to advertisers.  This has allowed the advertisers to create more specific target markets for their ads which therefore increase their success.  With having more successful ads, advertisers are broadening their campaigns on Yahoo! Bigger campaigns means more money.   To read further into this case study, click here.

As you can see, there are great benefits for marketers and companies to leverage the benefits of SQL.  I highly recommend you spend a few hours familiarizing yourself with the language.  In a few hours you can easily learn the basics and will be able to write basic queries.  Good luck learning the power of SQL.

A/B Testing: Optimizing Your Site to Double Conversion Rate

So you have created great content and optimized it for search engines creating a decent amount of traffic to your site.   You have worked so hard on getting here but you’re not seeing the returns you thought you would achieve.   So what’s next? A/B testing, or optimizing for conversion rate.  Lets say you have achieved an average of 100 visitors a day.  That is a great start.  but only 10% convert.  What do I mean by convert?  That they complete the end goal of your content, ie. sign up for a news letter, contact you for consulting, buy a product.  So you are leaving 90% of your viewers as just that, viewers and not customers.

what-is-ab-testingsource: visualwebsiteoptimizer.com

To convert them into customers you need to conduct some A/B tests.  What that means is you create 2 or more versions of an element on your site and you measure the affects from both.  After a prescribed amount of time, you end the test, conclude the results, and make the proper changes to your site.  So what can you test?

Testable Elements:

  • Layout (header, footer, images, etc)
  • Format (background color, text size, etc)
  • Call to action
  • Links
  • Pricing

Now you may be thinking, how does changing the color of my call to action button increase conversion?  I have great content, I should not need silly little psychological tricks.  Well maybe this will change your mind. CareLogger increased their conversion rate by 34% from changing their call to action button from green to red.

get-startedsource: shopify.com

AGQG4FJ - Imgur

Do I have your attention now? I hope so. That type of increase cannot be ignored.  Lets go through the process and checklist you will need to conduct and properly run an A/B test.

Process: 

  1. Ask a question (Is my call to action in the right place?)
  2. Research the current data (That call to action only creates 20% conversion)
  3. Create a hypothesis (If I put the call to action higher up on the page, then my conversion rate will increase by 10%)
  4. Create the alternative content (Create the new page with the changed element linking it with the test)
  5. Test it (Direct 50% of new traffic to your test)
  6. Analyze the data (Was your hypothesis correct?)
  7. Make proper changes (Depending on the results, make the changes for increased conversion)

As you can see, the process of A/B testing is quite straight forward.  Think of something that you think would have an affect on conversion and test it.  There are some more in depth practices that need to be considered however.  Here is a check list to conduct a proper A/B test for the best results.

Check List:

  1. Test both versions at the same time
  2. Only apply the test to new visitors
  3. Apply the test to all new visitors so 50% of them see the change
  4. Calculate the required length of the test with this calculator for best results
  5. Make the change consistent throughout the entire website

If you apply the proper procedure and all of the items in the check list are completed successfully, your A/B test should yield valid results.  Something to remember once you receive your results is that they may not be what you originally thought.  The results might conclude that a certain less aesthetic formatting is more successful and you may be hesitant to make the change.  However, do not go with your gut or opinion.  Many people make this mistake and throw the results away.  Establish what you are going to do with the results before you conduct the test.  This will help you go through with the results regardless of what they are and what you think about them.

Now you know the importance of A/B testing and what it can do for your conversion rate.  This type of optimization is crucial to running a successful site.  Below is a list of A/B testing tools that will help you optimize your site.  If this is your first time, I suggest using a free tool to start.  They are not as in depth, but will give you an understanding of  A/B testing. Good luck with your optimizing, and remember to always listen to the results.

A/B Testing Tools:

Extra Resources: 

The Quick and Dirty Guide to Coding

Coding is a universal language that shapes the future in a way that no other single tool can.  Many people believe that the coding world is purely for the programmers.  The rest of us reap the benefits they create.  However, there are many benefits to know coding languages outside of being a coder.

Why You Should Know Code:

According to David Evans in “Introduction to Computing“:

  1. Nearly all of the most exciting and important technologies, arts, and sciences of today and tomorrow are driven by computing.
  2.  Understanding computing illuminates deep insights and questions into the nature of our minds, our culture, and our universe.

These two points that David brings up cannot be ignored. By knowing the code behind programs websites provides a deeper understanding of the processes taking place.  This can be used to your advantage by providing you the opportunity to exploit your knowledge and use the application to it’s fullest potential.

David Evans is not the only one making a case for coding.  Watch the video below from code.org showing some of the greatest minds in the tech world discuss the importance of coding.

If that wasn’t argument enough maybe this will convince you.  By 2020, job growth for coding with increase by 30%, twice the average predicted job growth of 15%.  The tech industry is growing rapidly, and some people are taking advantage of it.  A non-profit in New York City teaches people how to code and guides them in working together to create their own apps.  Their first batch of students was very successful with an average annual income increase of almost 500% from 15k to 72k.  You can read the full article about the non-profit here.

Where You Can Learn:

Whether you want to become a programmer or excel further at your current job with the knowledge of coding, now is the time to learn the languages.  However, with only 1 and 10 schools providing coding classes, it can seem difficult and daunting to learn. Thankfully, there is a massive source of information, knowledge, and instructions located in one place, the internet.  There are a variety of sites that offer relatively cheap to free teaching of different coding languages.  Here is a list of sources.

  1. Codecademy: Free teachings of almost every programming language.
  2. Onemonthrails: A one month class teaching you how to use Ruby on Rails for $99.
  3. Code.org: Same concept as codecademy but in a more game like teaching style.

All three of these sources are great platforms for learning important programming languages.  They all work on teaching you the ins and outs of the languages and then help you create your own content or programs!

I took my own advice and spent a few hours on codecademy.  I started the HTML course to help me better understand the online world.  It was very fun, interesting, and I will be continuing my education and learning of HTML through the same course.  The picture below is what I started out as.

Screenshot 2014-04-27 21.55.01

Over the next few hours I learned how to create paragraphs, headers, titles, insert images, link text and images, change text size, color, and style, change the background color, and create different types of lists.  I finished 25% of the HTML lessons that they offer and will hopefully complete the entire course over the next few weeks.  The picture below is where I ended my lesson.

codecademy 2 hours

As you can see, I learned quite a bit in a very short amount of time.  I thought the experience would drag out, be very dry, and overall boring.  I found myself happily mistaken.  The experience was very engaging, interesting, and left me wanting more.

For my final picture from my codecademy experience, I want to show off the badges that I earned! The platform makes you feel very welcomed and keeps you engaged with the help of these badges.
codecademy acheivements

 

Once I finish the HTML classes, I want to move onto the CSS classes and then Ruby on Rails.  CSS will help me understand and create webpages with more style.  All three of these languages are all web development languages that I think will greatly benefit my marketing career.  Knowing how to properly build webpages in HTML is very important for SEO and page rankings.

I highly recommend you spend an hour of your day to try out one of these coding platforms. Try learning a language that will help you create something you find interesting like a website, app, or game. You never know, it may be the beginning to a new career.  Good luck and have fun.

Your Go-To Guide for Paid Media

In the new marketing world of SEO, content marketing, inbound marketing, and social media, paid media seems to be dwindling.  Many marketers today have turned the other way when it comes to paid media thinking it is a dead form of advertising and no longer hold value.  In this quick guide for paid media, I will show you the different types of paid media, how to use them, all of the benefits, and what the future holds in this marketing realm.

Types of Paid Media:

1. Traditional Paid Media:  When most people think of paid media, they think of pop up ads, banner ads, and video ads that play before videos on platforms like Youtube.  These forms of paid media have low ROI and when marketers refer to paid media as being dead, they mainly refer to this.  Overall, I have to agree in the fact that your money is spent better else where than these channels, so disregard using these traditional forms of paid media.

2. Native Advertising:  This form of advertising utilizes the banner ads to coincide with your content on 3rd party sites.  Sites such as Buzzfeed and the Atlantic with charge you in CPMs (Cost Per 1000 Impressions) to post your ad with your content.  As you can see in the screenshot below from the Atlantic, they wrote an article on Scientology.  Scientology.org paid for the native advertisement at the top of screen to display when people view this article.  When people see your ad next to your content, the click-through rate increases by 1.5 times and has an 18% lift in purchase intent over the normal, non specified banner ads.  For the ultimate guide to native advertising, click here.

the-atlanticsource: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2238600/navigating-native-ads

3. PPC (Pay Per Click): This form of paid media allows your content to be in the top of search rankings over the organic results.  The click-through rate on these results is lower than the organic searches, but still worth investing in.  They cost less than to SEO your site and give you instant results, unlike SEO that takes months to tune.  In the picture below, you can see where PPC ads are displayed for search quarries.  PPC-Example11source: http://www.pureppc.com/what-is-ppc/

When used with SEO, PPC advertising increases brand search by 130%, ad awareness by 63%, online conversions by 72%, and sales by 44%.  In the same sense that native advertising works, when potential customers see an ad next to your content, they are more drawn to click on it.  However it can be difficult to have your PPC ads display when you desire.  To help achieve the results you want, I reccomend using Google Adwords.  Click here for a guide on how to use it.  Using the example below, you can see that more defined, or long tail keywords, are more successful.

ppc-keyword-intentsource: http://www.acquisio.com/ppc/the-importance-of-keyword-classification-in-ppc-marketing/

 4.  Sponsored Ads:  Sponsoring ads of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Stumble Upon, and Reddit can help raise brand awareness, increase reach, and increase frequency that customers see your content.  These ads are relatively cheap and allows you to connect with your customer on a social level.  You can also offer promotions which increases click-through rate and sales.  These ads can be very targeted and because they are cost effective, reaching your target audience on a frequent basis is quite easy. For a full guide on how to use sponsored ads on all of the most popular social media sites, see this guide.

All of these channels for paid media are effective and should be added to your marketing plan.  However remember to not solely rely on paid media, incorporate it with your other marketing techniques.  As you could see the benefits of using PPC and SEO together, paid media is more of a compliment to your existing marketing than anything else.

So what does the future hold for paid media? We have already evolved normal banner ads into native advertisements, you can be the number one search result via PPC, and create a social network ad campaign.  So what’s next? one word, programmatic.

giphy

There are many definitions of this term because it is such a new idea.  Peter Naylor the former Executive Vice President at NBC Universal defines it nicely. “Programmatic is a catchall term that many people are using to categorize everything from behavioral and intent-based targeting to real-time bidding and exchange-based buying of inventory.”  In other words, it is software that will calculate the right ad to show, at the right time, in the right place, to the right person.  It will calculate this on real data that has been collected most likely through cookies from the user.  The ads will be sold with CPMs like the native advertisements I discussed earlier.

However, programmatic is still in early development and the final result is unknown at this point.  As a marketer, it is something you should keep an eye on because it might just revolutionize the way we do paid media.  If you would like a more in-depth explanation of the new paid media marketing tool, click here.

6 Reasons Why You Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Google+

Many individuals and businesses have ignored Google’s social media platform Google+ for quite some time.  Many people have Google+ accounts because Google has forced them to do so through other platforms.  For example, all Gmail users and anyone who wants to comment on Youtube must have a Google+ account.  This has created a large gap between total users and active ones.  However, with 1.15 billion users and only 359 million active ones, Google+ can no longer be pushed aside.  Not only is the large active user base cause enough to join, but here are 6 great benefits to utilizing Google+.

  1. Massive Growth in User Base:  Google+ is is growing rapidly.  While Facebook is still the top level social media platform in terms of user base, it has seen a decline in growth along with Twitter.  These two major platforms are slowing down while Google+ is just hitting its stride.  As you can see in this infographic,  Google+ is growing very fast and has already taken over Twitter at the number two seat for active users.  It is just a matter of time for it to pass Facebook.  In some places, like the United Kingdom, Google+ has already taken over Facebook as the number one social network.
  2. Become a Leader in Your Industry:  Even with the rapid growth in user base for the social network, Google+ is still relatively new to many users.  Because of this, many businesses have not utilized the potential opportunity of this untapped market.  Therefore if you move into Google+ now, you have the chance to become a leader in your industry by being one of the first to move onto the social platform.  As the platform begins to accumulate more users and eventually businesses, they will see your history and already amassed followers, and you will appear to be the leader in your industry giving you a huge leg up on your competition.ifTxu - Imgur
  3. Build Relationships:  The social network has incorporated many of the best features from all the existing current networks.  This has made it very easy to reach your target audience and build a strong relationship with them.  By creating a page or communities, joining existing communities, and having Google Hangouts, you can connect with your audience in ways that were unimaginable before.  You can connect on the level that they want, see how they communicate, who they communicate with, and what they want to know or have very easily.
  4. Increases Search Engine Rankings:  We all want to be at the top of the search ranking in Google.  Many of you have utilized the power of SEO to help get you there.  However Google has added another element in their search engine ranking’s formula.  The +1s Google+ has are similar to Facebook’s likes.  The +1s are better in the fact that they help with rankings in Google searches.  As you can see in the graph below, if someone gives your page a +1, it boosts the visibility of your content because it has been supported by a Google user.  It may seem that this is another way for Google to gain Google+ user base, but playing their little game is more beneficial then letting it slip away.   Having these +1s greatly increases SEO and will increase the amount of traffic coming to your content. 521132ca3fb399.54424936
  5. SEO Your Cover Photo and Hovercard:  Another way you can SEO your Google+ profile and content is through your cover photo and hovercard.  Your cover photo is the large image behind your profile picture on your profile and your hovercard is the little blip about you that people see when they scroll over your name in Google+.  You can SEO your cover photo by using keywords in the file name, giving the photo a description or caption when you upload it, and make a post of it adding URL and more keywords.  To read more information about this, read this article for the cover photo and this article for hovercard.
  6.  Increase Visibility of Content:  Finally, disregarding all of the SEO benefits of using Google+, unlike any other social network all of your posts and your profile is indexed for Google searches making it easier for people to discover you.  Every time you post using keywords that your target audience may search with, your post has the chance to seen in their rankings.  What does this mean for you?  If you use Google+ properly, your content will be seen on a much greater scale.  Because your content will be seen, you will be seen.  This is another channel that you can prosper from by reaching out farther into your target audience and connecting with them on a more personal level.

The benefits of using Google+ does not stop at these 6.  This is an overview of what the social media platform can do for you, your business, and/or your content.  There is no better time than now  to get started with Google+.  As you can see, it is being taken more seriously and accumulating a large user base.  It would be in your best interest to start using the platform if you already haven’t.  If you are using it, it is now the time to start optimizing it for its full potential.

Extra Resources:

White Paper on Business Presence for Google+

20 Reasons to Switch to Google+