Tags: SEO

Why Nobody Reads Your Emails

Why Nobody Reads Your Emails

Beyond • November 20, 2017

To succeed, email marketers must overcome three hurdles. First, they have to get people to open the email. Second, they have to get people to read it. Third, they have to get people to act on it. Regarding email marketing strategy and metrics, a lot of attention goes to open rates and conversion rates — the first and third challenges. In between, there is the rather important step of getting people to read the email. Using proper email list management techniques and testing methodology for subject lines will boost open rates to be sure, but without getting those additional email openers to read the content, there is no conversion, and as a result, ROI goes nowhere. A Different Approach to Email Marketing Strategy for Content Tips for getting people to read your emails are everywhere on the Internet. But these tips — for instance, writing about benefits, creating attention-grabbing headlines, having strong calls to action — are all good. However, without the right email marketing strategy for content, deploying these techniques is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The analysis and suggestions that follow may be a bit different from what you have read in the past, but a new way of thinking about your email content strategy may be just the thing to transform your email ROI from flat to flat-out fantastic. What Happens to Your Email in the Real World People are deluged with email 24/7. They are not likely to consume content for the purpose of saving it for future reference. Unless an email subscriber needs to act on the content now, it will be forgotten. So, when companies send emails with information about new products, industry insights, helpful industry data and the like, the subscriber’s reaction will be, at best, “That’s nice.” In the back of the subscriber’s mind, there may be the thought, “This company is smart, they’d be good to work with” — but that’s a pretty fragile conversion hook on which to hang your hat. As long as I’ve been in sales and marketing, there has always been a strong element of “out of sight, out of mind” on the part of customers and prospects. Now, any possibility of prospects hanging on to emails for future reference has dwindled to near nothingness  — because of search engines. Information is immediately accessible to your email subscribers. If they have an immediate need to know about new products, industry insights and helpful industry data, they just Google it, then and there, when they need it. Nobody is going to sift through an email folder of old emails to find it. Google processes more than 40,000 search queries per second. An interesting consumer study from 2016 shows that when consumers are searching for products, about 75 percent start on Amazon or Google, with, hmm … zero starting with their saved emails. On the B2B side, about 70 percent of product searches start with search queries and is trending upward. With mobile search and voice search set to explode, the ability to obtain instant information will only spike further. The point is, email subscribers are well aware of their ability to get information instantly and on demand. Thus, if they have no immediate need for your email, they are not likely to read it. Emails Must Be Immediately Necessary To continue on this line of thinking, if your email needs to address an immediate need, what sorts of things are customers and prospects always interested in? Here are some pretty safe bets: Saving money (profit) Selling something (profit) Getting an edge over competitors (profit) Preventing a problem (security) Solving a problem (security) Not losing ground to competitors (fear) Getting promoted or being a hero (ego) Contributing to a good cause (ego) There certainly are more items that could go on this list — please share your ideas in comments — but consider: If your emails cycled through these eight content themes, can you imagine the impact on conversions? Boiling it down into a few practical examples: Announcing a new manufacturing capability is boring. Telling subscribers they can take advantage of capability “X” and leave their competitors in the dust — now that’s interesting. Talking about a professional HVAC staff is boring. Explaining how particulates in a home’s ventilation system could be poisoning the family —interesting. Recapping changes to the tax code is boring. Explaining five accounting changes that, if made now, could reduce taxes next April by $2,000 — interesting. Reminding subscribers of store hours is boring. Sending a coupon redeemable for $100 for the next 48 hours — interesting. The common theme is immediacy. If your email content can be salted away, it’s unlikely to be reopened. Buy To Sell Offering to buy or accept donations is a very underused email marketing strategy, but people are always interested in selling something or donating to a good cause. So, if “give-to-get” is a good marketing strategy, “buy-to-sell” is an even better one. There may be a good option for you in this area. For example: Buying outdated equipment in exchange for a new model Men’s Wearhouse runs its National Suit Drive to help people in need — and also tempts contributors to clean out overpacked closets. Could something like this work in your business? These approaches have the additional benefits of building a very strong brand image, and may even enable your business to create a new revenue stream selling used or refurbished equipment or merchandise. SEO: Make Your Emails Searchable and Optimized One final technique worth touching on is to make your email content findable on organic search, which will enable all those people doing search queries to discover your email content. From an SEO perspective, the best way to do this is to create an HTML page on your website domain for each email, optimized with relevant and at least moderately high-volume keywords. Thus, anyone (subscriber or not) with an immediate need can find your content and convert, tomorrow or three years from tomorrow. This is an excellent way to repurpose email content and squeeze yet more conversions and ROI out of your email campaign. Also, steadily adding fresh content will help raise the organic visibility of your website. Google values sites with continually updated content, and for many types of searches, ranks fresh content higher. Over To You Addressing or creating immediate needs should be the constant theme of your email marketing strategy for content. Anything else is liable to be wasted motion, something nobody can afford unless they have an unlimited marketing budget. But in the real world, most organizations never seem to have a big enough budget, and by the same token, email subscribers never have enough time to plow through their inboxes. Subscribers must have a great reason — not just a good reason — to read what you’ve sent them. What techniques have you used successfully in email campaigns to create a sense of urgency and boost conversions?  


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Heart of Business: Doing Real Company

Heart of Business: Doing Real Company

Beyond • February 5, 2014

He didn’t know it until we recorded his episode, but Wil Reynolds is kind of the godfather of The Heart of Business podcast. You see, it was Wil’s speech at Mozcon on doing real company ... “stuff” (except the four letter version) that inspired us to start the podcast. We’re certain after you listen to this episode, you’ll be motivated to go out and do great things too. Wil Reynolds knows SEO, but he can see past it. He and his company, SEER Interactive, have a grasp on what it will take to connect with the user as the internet continues to evolve. He also cares. Not just about his clients, but people. He wants to work with companies that are making a difference in this world. You’ll want to do the same after listening to this episode.


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How Photographers Can Use SEO to Increase Email Marketing Signups

How Photographers Can Use SEO to Increase Email Marketing Signups

Beyond • January 30, 2013

For the smart photographers using email marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy, the question still exists of how to encourage website visitors and prospects to sign up for their mailing list. Usually, this means placing a form on the website or blog, hopefully in a location designed to maximize the number of signups, but is that really enough? After all, the average opt-in rate of such \"in-content\" forms can often be quite small, requiring many visitors to pass through in order to generate a significant number of actual signups. Offering an incentive, such as a useful eBook, can help increase the signup rate, but one of the most effective tactics is to use a dedicated landing page with the sole purpose of signing people up to the email list. You then have to get people to visit the landing page, and the majority of that traffic is likely to come from the search engines. This is where good search engine optimization comes in handy. Assuming that your landing page itself is optimized for a high conversion rate, the next step is to optimize it for the search engines. To do that, you should pay attention to several key factors: Your target keyword phrases... The strategic placement of those keywords... Internal links to the landing page within your site... Backlinks to your landing page from other websites... 1) Your Target Keywords When choosing the target keyword phrase for your landing page be careful not to cannibalize the main keywords for your website. Instead, choose keywords that your home page and other important pages are not already targeting, otherwise you risk confusing the search engines and diluting the effect of your primary keywords. Stick to one keyword phrase for your landing page - you can always create other landing pages for any additional keywords you want to target. 2) Keyword Placement The most important places to use your target keywords on your landing page are the same as with any other page. These include: Page title (70 characters or less) META description (156 characters or less) Page URL Headings and sub-headings Body copy text (remember you need a minimum of 300 words) Image filenames, ALT & TITLE text, and captions There\'s no need to go crazy with your keywords here. Focus on creating a compelling message for your signup form and limit the keyword frequency to around 3-4 times for every 100 words. 3) Internal Links Linking to your landing page from other areas of your website will help to direct traffic flow and also establish a sense of relative importance with the search engines. It can be helpful to use your target keyword (and variations of it) in the anchor text for those links. Place the links to your landing page strategically within your other content, to act as a call to action in locations where your readers naturally come to a break point. 4) Backlink Strategy While the SEO you perform on your landing page and elsewhere on your website is important, the biggest impact on your landing page\'s search engine ranking will come from off-site effects - in other words, as a result of incoming links from other websites and social media. We don\'t have direct control over many of our backlink sources. For instance, when others choose to link to our content because they feel it adds value for their audience. However, we do have control over some other valuable sources of incoming links, for example: In our author bios on guest posts we produce for other blogs... In the descriptions for videos we upload to YouTube, Vimeo or SlideShare... Our social media profiles (especially Google+)... Social sharing (Twitter, Facebook pages, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc.)... From press releases... Author resource boxes on syndicated articles... Web 2.0 properties, such as Tumblr, WordPress.com, Squidoo lenses... Thoughts And Questions? Have you tried implementing your own dedicated landing pages for email signups? Have questions about optimizing them for the search engines? Do share your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and I\'ll do my best to answer them for you.


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Marketing Professionals, Write Guest Blogs for Benchmark Email!

Marketing Professionals, Write Guest Blogs for Benchmark Email!

Beyond • December 21, 2011

Benchmark Email has been showcasing cool stuff for small businesses for almost a year now and we want 2012 to be even bigger! In 2011 we hosted exclusive blogs from the likes of Chris Brogan, Jordie van Rijn, Ez Texting and many more. If you\'ve got insight to share with our readers about marketing, both online and face to face, we want you to write for us! How to Blog for Benchmark Email We\'re looking for serious content that deals with the following topics: Marketing best practices Social media strategies SEO (specifically how to, what to steer clear of and broader articles on meeting the search engines\' evolving standards) Online tools & applications (what works best for you in your online marketing and which apps do you use in your personal life?) Growing your company Branding PR Email marketing (natch) Guidelines for Benchmark Email Bloggers You may have a great idea for a blog that doesn\'t quite fall in one of the categories above. That\'s perfectly reasonable and we\'ll take a look at it. But if it doesn\'t fit for us, we can\'t accept it. And before you start sending in any articles, please read the following guidelines all guest bloggers must follow: Blogs must be 400-700 words. If you would like to write a longer blog, it must be broken up into a series. If there isn\'t enough for a series, the blog will be edited down to conform to this standard. Blog topics should pertain to your expertise, be advice for online or small businesses, or editorials. Blogs must be factual and helpful, not an advertisement for your product or business. Guest blogs can be one-time or recurring. If the content is reliable (and usable), you may write a monthly blog. Both Star Marketing and Thumbtack write great monthly articles for Benchmark Email about their respective industries If these conditions are agreeable to you then we can create a guest profile for either you or your company. See our Guest Blogger Page for examples of bios and links. To discuss guest blogging for Benchmark Email, contact Pierce Nahigyan, Content Manager for Benchmark Email, at pierce.nahigyan@benchmarkemail.com.


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TellTale Games the Online Rating System, Users Retaliate

TellTale Games the Online Rating System, Users Retaliate

Beyond • November 30, 2011

In an online world where it seems that users are asked to review and rate everything from the latest movies and albums to diet programs and cleaning products, it was inevitable that some marketers might want to “game the rating system” by skewing review counts in their favor. One of the most egregious attempts was conducted by Telltale Games, which had employees post glowing reviews of their new Jurassic Park video game on the Metacritic site. Even though the reviews were identified as being written by Telltale personnel, their contribution of high approval scores served to skew the overall average. The inevitable backlash of “Revenge Zeros” proved how counterproductive the entire strategy was in the first place and the game now sits at a meager 2.8 out of 10, considerably lower than it likely would have been had Telltale employees stayed out of the fray. Zero Bombing Online marketers everywhere can learn from Telltale’s failure to “game their game” and avoid attempts to slant social ratings in their favor, as those schemes are invariably setups for failure. At the slightest hint of subterfuge, online communities often resort to bombing the review site with negative ratings, not only wiping out any temporary advantage the false positives would have given the product, but generally dropping it well down into unfavorable status. It might seem that companies might want to retreat to the more traditional safe-havens of professional reviewers who at least can be counted on to base their reviews on supportable facts, but that strategy may no longer be as effective as it once was. Cousin Mildred > Roger Ebert The tide may be turning from the time when marketers chased the approval of so-called professional critics such as John Dvorak (computers), Roger Ebert (movies) or Gael Greene (restaurants). In the upside down world of social media, a recommendation from a peer (family, friend, co-worker) can carry considerably more weight than one from a world-renowned critic. If cousin Mildred in Humptulips, Washington recommends the latest Stephen King or Clive Cussler book, that single endorsement can have a much greater impact on the individual reader than an enthusiastic review by the New York Times’ Dwight Garner. Vast Gulf between Reviewers & Viewers Yet another obstacle is that reliance on the pro critics can be just as problematic as the vagaries of the public ratings. The Willem Dafoe movie vehicle The Boondock Saints is a blood spattered vigilante fantasy that was largely panned by the critics, earning a mere 17% approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes review site. However, out of 291,056 viewers who rated the movie on the site, an overwhelming 93% were in favor, demonstrating that the gulf between “regular” viewers and “professional” reviewers is uncomfortably vast. Even the critic from the famed industry publication Variety crucified the movie, but that did not seem to faze the audience, which largely loved it. While nearly 300,000 reviews are next to impossible to fake, many small and mid-sized entertainment producers such as the lower echelon of video game companies can deem their latest release successful if they receive a mere handful of positive reviews. Therefore the stakes are considerably higher when every review counts. The Best Strategy: Release Good Products Google’s stubborn insistence on blocking every imaginable SEO ploy has left the web world with only one successful strategy: “post good content.” Similarly, in the light of the devaluation of professional critics and the prospect of massive public retributions for any attempts at chicanery, the only real way to be assured of largely positive customer reviews online is to “release good products.”


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SEO: A Marketing Tool You Should Consider

Beyond • November 9, 2011

Just when you think that quality products and services, excellent customer support and competitive prices are enough to make your business boom, here comes a looming question: How should you let potential customers know that you have exactly what they need? It is indisputable that traditional forms of advertising (like TV commercials and print ads) do the trick in some ways. After all, those things wouldn’t still be here if they had not proven themselves effective for so long. However, the advent of the Internet drastically changed the playing field for businesses big and small. Whenever the modern internet user with dollars to spend needs a certain product or service, he or she won’t just sit in front of the TV all day to wait for a commercial that can address his needs. She’d rather go online, pull up her favorite search engine and enter a few words that relate to what she’s looking for. This is exactly why you should give a slice of your attention to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is all about online visibility. It takes advantage of the fact that people rely heavily on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing for information. Of course, your business is not the only one that aims to get a spot in cyberspace. Your aim is to rank high on these search engines because prospective customers don’t have the time to browse all of the search results. Landing on the fifth page or below is almost the same as not landing on a spot at all. When you want to optimize your business in leading search engines, here are some of the things that you should consider before launching a business website. Monitor Keywords When people look for a product or a service using a search engine, they enter a string of words that directly relate to what they’re looking for. These “keywords” are pretty important things to consider when creating web content. It is easier for search engines to detect that your website can address the needs of a person looking for information if you use the right keywords. Keywords help search engines measure the relevance of your page to a user’s search. It used to be that the more keywords you had on your page, the better. However, this led to keyword stuffing by people who wanted to get to the top of search results. This was an abusive practice and didn’t help anyone. So the search engines got smarter, and the way you should use keywords is much more nuanced today than just saying the same keywords over and over again... Search Engines Hate Duplicate Content Make sure that the content of your website is as unique as it can be. When you copy a page from a different website, search engines like Google get confused in deciding which page should get a better ranking. Therefore, a page that doesn’t have any copied content will get prioritized. Get Some External Help You should realize that SEO is a long-term investment and something that you’ll need to spend significant time learning about. Any outside help you can find will make this process quicker. There are other ways to improve the online visibility of your business. If you sell services, another great way to rank high on Google is signing up on a website that serves as an online marketplace. Thumbtack, for example, optimizes your service listing for free. All you have to do is make a profile that tells everyone what you offer and then Thumbtack does all the work for you. Your visibility and accessibility on the Internet can make or break your business. It is universally accepted that a search engine is a convenient way for people to look for someone who can cater to their needs. Why not optimize your business and take advantage of this trend?


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Bing Bleeds & Siri Leads: The Future of the Search Engine Wars

Beyond • November 8, 2011

What would you do with $4 billion? If you\'re an automotive enthusiast you could buy 363,600 Nissan Versas or 22,100 Bentley Continental Flying Spurs. Always fancied owning your own airline? You could buy 68 brand new Boeing 737-600 jetliners. Love bling? How about over two million 18-Karat Gold & Stainless Steel DateJust Rolexes? (Hand them out as tips to the night club waitress and the valet parking attendants to really impress your date.) You could even marry Kim Kardashian 400 times over. However, if you\'re Steve Ballmer of Microsoft you lose that $4 billion dollars each and every year doing nothing other than operating the Bing search engine. The Reverse Midas Touch Bill Gates\' bizarro mirror universe doppleganger with the Reverse Midas Touch has made a career out of squandering the torrent of profits generated by Microsoft\'s operating systems and Office Suite by enthusiastically engaging in complete facepalm epic fails such as Kin and Zune. However, nowhere is the Touch more blatantly obvious than in Bing, the search engine that was supposed to humble Google and instead turned out to be a money-sucking vortex of galactic proportions. Bing may be the most costly attempt to dethrone The Big G, but it is not fair to place the blame of failing to crack the Googleopoly on Steve alone, as the road to search engine hegemony is littered with the corpses of many failed would-be Google-killers. Real-Time Intelligent Search There are some observers who maintain that the conventional search engine interface of typing a phrase into a text box is going the way of the dodo bird, analog television and the Pax Americana. Search is becoming integrated into online activity and behavior so that content is suggested as a result of what you’re doing anyway, rather than specifically searching for. Twitter is applying this concept with its Top People/News feature where a link to a person or news story is provided at the top of your results, and it’s paradoxically not a tweet at all, but an algorithm which makes a determination of the top retweeted topics in that field. Siri Is the First Great Agent The “agent” who works silently in the background learning from your behavior and intelligently suggesting your next move has been expected to be the next step in computing for decades but so far all attempts have been abject failures that propose a link to Polish hard rock bands when you’re seeking to buy metal polish. The implementation of the Siri voice-activated personal assistant on the iPhone 4S seems to be the first legitimate candidate for the title of “the first great agent,” since setting up the function to be computed on Apple’s servers not only allows the data-crunching to happen much faster than on the mobile device itself, but it can also compile a massive database of queries in order to perfect itself. Siri will be getting smarter by the day and within a year or two can be expected to compare to today’s version as Russian mathematics genius Grigory Perelman compares to a grade school arithmetic student. Google\'s chairman and former chief executive Eric Schmidt actually admitted to the U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee that Siri was a significant development that could pose a threat to his core business. Soon, the current web surfing prerequisite of manually typing search queries may be seen to be as nostalgic as reading a book by turning pages or doing the laundry by beating it on a river rock. Authors can look to research assistants providing references in real-time as they merrily write along, and the rest of us will speak to our communications devices to find everything from pizzerias to the latest update in faster-than-light neutrinos.


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Google Panda / Farmer Update: The SERP Wars Continue

Beyond • November 1, 2011

Pandas may be universally beloved by adults and children everywhere, but webmasters of most article publishing sites are ready to pull out the shotguns when it comes to the Google version. At the end of September, the search giant unveiled the latest iteration of its infamous algorithm known as Panda / Farmer, and the groans of “here we go again” echoed through cyberspace. Google downplayed the update as just one of approximately 500 changes they make to their ranking algorithms each year, but it is obvious that some modifications have a greater impact than others, and the late September change crippled some major sites all over again. Play until You Win or Lose, Never Knowing Why Editorial quality seems to be a prime driving factor of the Panda / Farmer structure, but how Google’s algorithm determines what is quality and what is not is infuriatingly obfuscated on purpose by Google Guru Matt Cutts and friends to prevent the less ethical from gaming the system. A heavily spun article is going to wave a huge red flag in front of the Google bots, but other aspects are not as clear. Google does not seem to favor proper spelling and grammar over borderline illiteracy, and it is not unheard of for a snake-oil hard-sell affiliate site to outrank the content on an informative institutional website for the same subject matter. Some wags have claimed that Panda / Farmer is a bit like going to go play a new game in Vegas where the rules are kept hidden and you just play until you win or lose… without really knowing why. Middle Ages Warfare The SERP wars are starting to resemble Middle Ages warfare where one army would make incursions onto enemy territory only to be fought back and then make more incursions and be pushed back again. Nowhere is this oscillation more evident than in hubpages.com’s well publicized arm wrestle with Google’s Panda / Farmer algorithm updates. Hubpages was one of the most heavily penalized article publishing sites and saw its traffic drop precipitously until it fought back by giving each of their thousands of writers their own subdomains: writerxyz.hubpages.com. Google started indexing those subdomains independently and the SERPs zoomed upwards. In the last few weeks Google seems to have caught on to the shift and traffic is trending down again. Hubpages and the other article sites are certain to fire back with some innovation or another to regain the lost numbers and Google is just as certain to amend its algorithms for the zillionth time to knock them down again. So the online version of The Hundred Years’ War continues. Penalized Due to Other Content? Is an otherwise valid, original and informative article on squidoo.com, associatedcontent.com or any of the other major publishing sites to be penalized because it appears on the same website as Bollywood’s Sariest Desi Girls, or How To Hack Into The Pentagon? That is a question that the webmasters of these sites keep asking themselves and no clear answer from Google has been upcoming. More Invisible than Claude Rains While it is true that no one holds a gun to the heads of web surfers forcing them to use Google for their search navigation, the indisputable fact is that the vast majority do. Catering your SEO to any of the other engines that don’t draw flies and hemorrhage money (Microsoft loses $4 billion a year on Bing) is essentially pointless. Google is the 900,000 pound gorilla in the search world, and you either achieve high SERPs there or you become more invisible than Claude Rains. A factor that could severely impact email marketers is the prospect of ISPs adopting Google’s strategies to assist them in their eternal battle against spammers. Perfectly legitimate email marketers could fall afoul of these new Googleized algorithms through the slightest violations of deliverability best practices. It behooves all email marketers to carefully ensure that their subscription lists are ultra-clean and continuously updated, and any hard bouncing addresses are immediately purged.


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Building Your Website with Marketing-Friendly Graphic Design

Beyond • October 25, 2011

Last week I talked about DIY website design. While it’s a great option for budget-strapped folks, the rule of thumb is to leave the business of site design to the professionals. The problem is that it is treated like a business rather than a creative process. There is a lot of terminology and confusing price points that really turn creating or updating a website into a tangled relationship between the client and the designers. The Right Price and the Right Designer The first thing you need to really watch out for are the price points. A “designer” who offers to do a site for a ridiculous sum like $500 is going to end up costing you a lot more down the road. You will not have functionality, aesthetics or even SEO. It’s really important to get a designer that can offer what you need to boost your marketing efforts, rather than just settling on a designer because they can deliver a quickly (and probably crudely) constructed site for a price you’re comfortable with. On the other hand, some of the top-rated designers with heavy-hitting client lists have been known to offer template sites for custom site prices. This means that you get a cookie-cutter website with some superficial template changes for the price of a custom coded site. It\'s an unscrupulous business practice and it’s done by far too many; it also deals a heavy blow to any real marketing efforts you want your site capable of down the road since there just won’t be any adaptability. If you don’t have the money for a great site but need something to get going, try making a deal with a designer. Break up your project into smaller stages that start from scratch. Stage 1 should include a site that gets you up and running, and future stages can add additional functionality that helps your site grow with your business – and lets you invest down the road when you have funds to play with. As your business grows, your site will grow and you’ll need your web guy or gal. It’s best to get someone that can anticipate needs and grow with you; but to get that person you can’t insult them with a rock bottom budget or wanting everything for nothing. 7 Points to Consider Step one is figuring out a realistic budget. Step two is getting a designer that can work with you for your budget and get you what you need (and not just want you think you want). Step three is designing your site. This is where having sourced the right designer will do wonders for you. They’ll have worked with tons of other clients, and ideally those in your industry – so they’ll know exactly what to look out for. This is where designers become more than just designers, they become guides. No matter how creative your design team is, you will have to consider what goes into your ideal online destination. You have to have vision and practicality. Here are seven points to consider to ensure you site design has marketing prowess. Purpose - 
Consider your business objective and have your website emphasize this theme. Ask yourself these questions: Why do you have a website? How are you going to measure your success? Design -
Think color palettes, alignments, visuals and key text. Does your site merge design with functionality? Does it appeal to your target audience? Message - 
Every page in your website needs a goal and a meaningful call to action whether it’s a newsletter signup, donation button, conference signup, social media buttons, e-paper, etc. Architecture - 
Yes, even a web site has to have a smart design – in other words, a well thought out, easy-to-navigate site map. Ask yourself how your pages are organized and remember that what works for one company will not work for another.  Understand your customers and you’ll understand your business. Usability & Accessibility - 
Some people have slow internet connections, some can’t install a Flash plug-in. For others, the alignment may be off or they may not be able to view the images. Not keeping these factors in mind means that you’re likely to lose customers/readers that don’t have the patience for a mismanaged page. Online Marketing - 
Because your website URL doesn’t appear out of thin air to new clients, appealing to the search engines is key. An experienced web designer can optimize your site so that search engine robots can sniff out your content, and a smart social media and link building campaign can reinforce the investment you’ve made in your site. Technical Tid Bits - 
Is your host reliable and is your domain easy to remember? Make sure the foundation of your web page is solid for future development.


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Image Marketing: How the Right Images Get You Noticed in Searches

Beyond • October 24, 2011

Businesses easily pay thousands each month to marketers and copywriters to make sure they pop up on the first page, so it can be pretty difficult to compete with larger companies for top search engine rankings. Even targeting your niche by focusing on counties and cities can still be challenging. So what can you do if you’re a small dog still trying to get your foot in the door? You can understand how your consumer thinks. We’re a visual society. Images and videos are where it’s at. Consumers also don’t like plowing through search engine results; they don’t like being data analyzers. Google understood this and acted accordingly under their image directory. They started including one row of image results in their web results page and often include a vertical column of other image results (usually e-commerce related) on the right hand side of the webpage. By understanding how consumers search for products based on images, it’s clear image searching can be almost equally as powerful as how high up you pop up in the search result page. Making Image Searches Work Alternate Text – Consumers don’t just rely on first page images under web results. A lot of us go straight to the image results flowing with hundreds of pictures that cater to our visual palette. Often, it’s much simpler to find directly what we need off of an image rather than clicking through sites and their subpages to find what we need.Though Google allows you to submit your site URLs, unfortunately you can’t do the same for images. This is where you take can take advantage of the “alternate text” your uploading server allows you to include for every picture. Google crawls through your website and analyzes the image “alt tag” and the name of the image to include in their image database. Your alternate text should always include keywords that will attract Google crawlers and make your image more relevant. Inspiration Boards – Used primarily by creative types, inspiration boards are popping up in just about every web-based business. Think of a collage and you’ve got a good idea of what an inspiration board is; it can be a collection of photos exclusively or photos paired with text to convey a theme or idea. Inspiration blogs are a great blogging asset that lets you blog with rich visuals that appeal to the eye. People like seeing options clustered together in one board or larger image – allowing them access to more info and content with less work on their part. These entries translate brilliantly across social media sites like Facebook, where links with great visuals will always get clicked on with higher rates than those without image appeal. You can use inspiration boards for photographs, e-commerce items, swatches, etc. You can showcase new items, any collaboration you have had with others, highlight customers wearing your products, or brainstorm ideas. The possibilities are endless. In addition to plugging inspiration boards on your website/blog and using the keyword-rich alternate (alt) text to boost visibility, you should also be plugging these on social media and in email newsletters. Editorial Photos – When using images, make sure you’re using high pixel, saturated, stunning photos that scream editorial and not dated. They should also be relevant to your content. The better the image quality, the higher the visual appeal, the better the chances your image will get clicked on in a search – even if it isn’t exactly what someone was looking for. If you can’t use your own photos, make sure you give proper credit to the source/photographer. You can also use copyright-free photo libraries and Flickr Creative Commons. If you use stock photography, make sure the photos don’t come across as clinical, which is usually the case if it includes people/models. Rule of thumb: it’s always best to create your own photos.


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