Monday, June 4, 2012

WSI's Three Key Ingredients to Creating Truly Sharable Content

In our experience at WSI TIME - The Internet Marketing Engine, we've found 3 critical elements that are essential to forming truly sharable content:

1. Substance

Google's Panda update irked more than a few SEO firms. Low quality content that pollutes the Internet. The exact type of content you'd get from Fiverr. Or even worse, content that has been spun into oblivion. We can't stand it. And we refuse to hire any SEO who practices it (and was shocked to see how many SEOs practice it when we last polled other SEO companies).

Low quality content stands no chance of getting shared. Ever. Because it offers no substance. People don't share content that lacks credibility.   They share content that is topical. They share content that is informative. They share content that is opinionated, funny, controversial or educational. So if social sharing is one of your goals, start thinking about how you are going to create content that promotes substance.  Do something that's never been done before. Find a way to create something meaningful for your audience. It's the only way.

2. Seeding Strategy

The most overlooked piece of the content puzzle is often the content seeding strategy. Why invest a week into creating a brilliant piece of content, and then not tell anyone about it? Which is precisely where the content seeding strategy comes into place. In essence, it defines how you will distribute your content once it is published.

3. Investment

Investment is a byproduct of creating content of real substance. If you want the rewards (ie sharing behavior), you simply have to invest the time. In the best case scenario, a sharable piece of content in the form of a blog post will take 2-4 hours to create. But only the select few will get away with such a minimal investment, such as Mashable and SEO Moz. They are in the fortunate position of publishing content that is consumed (and shared) by tens of thousands of people (but consider the time they have invested in their site before crying unfair).

An average piece of content will rarely cut it, unless you're networked up to your eyeballs. Take a current project WSI is working on as an indicator of the time investment that may be required to create seriously sharable content on a low trafficked site. As a starting point, we're investing 2-3 days to research our topic comprehensively. Following that, we'll invest somewhere between 3-4 days to create a customized information. That's close to a week's worth of effort for a single piece of content. And while that may be at the more extreme end of the scale, it's not uncommon for businesses without a strong social following.

Of course, the most effective seeding strategy when it comes to facilitating sharing behavior is to distribute the content via social media itself. But most businesses lack a truly engaged audience within Twitter or Facebook. If this is the case, it's possible to seed the content via more traditional channels. Linking to the content from your customer email newsletter is a great starting point. A press release is another compulsory option. And personally connecting with industry media contacts is absolutely essential. Their endorsement (aka link) is vital. You may even consider some targeted advertising in the form of banner ads, paid search or social ads if necessary.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Internet Marketing and Web Development Leaders

Ever checked out WSI T.I.M.E., The Internet Marketing Engine? You should! It’s a great place for all your internet marketing needs. With a dedicated team in place, offering a range of useful services including Optimized Copy Writing, Targeted Leads, Conversion Architecture, and Mobile Solutions, in addition to some great marketing packages for small and medium sized businesses alike, this is the place to be for all your web development and marketing needs. They even offer FREE consultations and WebScan analyses to all visitors on their site; making sure you get exactly what you need – at an affordable price.

Internet Marketers Optimistic About Social Media Marketing For Lead Generation

Email still seems to currently be the most effective lead generation tactic. Through the ongoing development of our Internet marketing strategies in the ever evolving digital marketplace, we are constantly striving to provide the most cost effective practices for our clients. With strategic social media, direct marketing, and email campaigns, businesses can rely on these practices to increase their bottom line.
It’s no surprise that business-to-business marketers and agencies are looking for leads online. A February 2012 survey of B2B marketing and agency professionals by BtoB Magazine found that 59% view lead generation as their greatest online marketing challenge. To meet that goal, marketers are exploring new channels in 2012, particularly social media—and for many, the approach is working.

Currently, most respondents rely primarily on email—57% said it was the online channel that contributed the most qualified leads to their businesses. But a significant number said that some other online channel was their biggest driver of leads, though this group was split among several channels, including paid search (20%) and social media (13%). Respondents from agencies were more likely than marketers to report that social or search was their most successful marketing channel, possibly because agencies are often more able to specialize in such tactics.
Both B2B marketers and agencies felt that social media in particular has room to grow for their organizations. After email, social media was found to be the most widely adopted marketing channel, but only 5% of respondents described their social media efforts as “well-optimized,” compared with 30% who felt that way about their email programs. A majority, 55%, said that their social efforts were early-stage but showed promise.
Data suggests that, in the social space, B2B enterprises should look first to LinkedIn and blogs. An October 2011 study of B2B marketers worldwide conducted by marketing automation software provider Pardot found that LinkedIn was the social media tool most successful at lead generation, followed closely by blogging.
Paid search presents another opportunity for B2B marketers to grow their lead generation efforts. Although 18% of marketers reported that it was their single greatest lead creator, only 11% said they had a mature and well-optimized search program in place. Forty-three percent said they didn’t use search marketing at all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Website Design Critical to Business Success Online and Off-Line

I doubt many people would argue that Website design can play a critical role in a business’ success online, but few understand it also can play a critical role off-line. To understand this, we need to first understand what constitutes an effective Website design, how the target market arrives at the Website, and how they take action (i.e. make a purchase at an e-commerce site or provide contact information at a lead generation site).

What Goes into an Effective Website Design?

At WSI TIME all Website design starts with focusing on the target market. In particular, we look at “pain points”. What is a “pain point”? It’s the needs that your potential client or consumer has relative to the products and services your business offers. In simple terms: we work with our Website client to uncover their target market’s pain points and design the Website to offer solutions. We term that “designing the Website from a marketing perspective.”

The fundamental purpose of the Website is to get the visitor to take action, whether that is a purchase in an e-commerce site or a form fill-out / phone call in a lead generation site. However, let me be clear on one critical point. The attractiveness and user friendliness of the site should not suffer from designing the site from a marketing perspective. In fact, the user friendliness in particular should actually benefit since the navigation and content of the site will directly address the market’s pain points (i.e. their needs). All this sounds simple, but can require a good deal of research. Would it surprise you if I told you that many businesses don’t fully understand their target market?

Next, let’s consider how visitors find the Website. Just about 90% of all first visits to a Website are the result of a search, typically in one of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, or MSN. That’s right, almost 90%. Many people that have evenly previously visited the site or learned about it via off-line advertising will type the name of the company in a search engine since this is easier than remembering the company’s URL (i.e. the actual Web address) or phone number.

This leads us to the next critical element of an effective Website. It must be search engine optimized and easily found on either the first page or second page of the major search engines. Statistics indicate that 65% of searchers stop after looking at the first page of search returns. Only 35% will look at the second page. Anything beyond the first two pages of search results essentially means that your site is invisible.
Now we’re ready to answer the two key questions:

1.    What gets the target market to take action?
2.    What form will their actions take?

What gets the target market to take action?

The answer is deceptively simple. You must satisfy the visitor’s need with a compelling offer. I told you it was deceptively simple. The real challenge is creating a compelling offer that satisfies the visitor’s need. This is where the pain points come in. If you’ve developed the Website to address the visitor’s pain points, then providing compelling solutions becomes easier. Notice, I didn’t say easy. I said easier. Compelling offers can be developed in a number of ways, including information learned from the Website visitors’ pain points, competitive research, and even focus groups. The right compelling offer can change the visitor’s action rate immensely.

What form will their actions take?

The answer to this question is also deceptively simple. They are going to respond in the way they feel most comfortable. For some, that means they will do the entire transaction online. These people feel comfortable with the security of the Internet and rightly so. If properly constructed, online transactions in a properly secured Website are among the most secure transactions on the planet. For example, if you use your credit card in a restaurant, you have no control on how the credit may be used or copied when the server takes it to process your bill. Online, you have total control over how it will be used; if the Website transaction is secure (i.e. special coding that encrypts the transaction).

However this will not prevent fraud. Therefore, it is important to have confidence in which companies you do business with online. Many people still don’t trust Internet transactions and would prefer to call the company directly. You can use trackable phone numbers that redirect to the company’s actual phone numbers. In that way, you are able to tell exactly how many calls you’ve received from your Website. Some people want the company to call them. In that case, you can provide a call back option. They can specify their number and the time they would like to be called back. Lastly, provide a faxable form. Yes, some people actually like to fax the information and trust faxing more than an Internet transaction. The key point to all of this is to provide the visitor with numerous ways in which they can take action and let them pick the one they are most comfortable with using.

Before I conclude, remember I stated that Website design can play a critical role off-line. That’s totally true. It takes several forms. Two have already been mentioned above, namely telephone calls and faxing. There is an important 3rd option. Consumers, in increasing numbers, are researching online before buying offline (ROBO). The visitor may choose to visit the “store,” especially if you have a retail location near them and if part of your compelling offer involves a coupon offering discounts on merchandise or services of interest to them. In fact, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project 2011, 81% of Americans typically do research online for a product they may buy offline.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

WSI Time - The Internet Marketing Engine

WSI provides results-driven digital marketing strategies. For nearly 20 years, we’ve helped clients discover the power and profits of effective Internet marketing. Our approach is both time-tested and cutting-edge.

777 South Flagler Drive, Suite 800 West Tower
West Palm Beach, FL 33401