Monthly Archives: July 2013

How to Get Casual Website Visitors to Take a Nibble

One of my favorite things in New York City is visiting Zabar’s Bakery in Grand Central Station. Not only do they have very tasty treats available (treats which as I get older I need to stay further and further away from because they’re not good for me) but they also have free samples available of some cake or another.

Ever wonder why the local bakery often gives away free samples of their tastiest cakes? Or at the dairy counter in your local supermarket, there is almost inevitably a tray of small pieces of cheese that you can sample? It’s simple – you take a free taste and if you like what you tasted, you’re more likely to purchase the whole thing.

In essence, a free nibble is good business because it means that the company is that much more likely to make a sale of the whole thing. Sure they get people who come in, take a free sample and then walk away. But they get enough customers to actually make a purchase that it’s worth their while to give away these freebies on a regular basis in order to entice people to make a purchase.

The Online Version

Your own website doesn’t have  the ability to give away a free sample of some cake or cheese in order to grab customers. All you have is pictures, video and bits and bytes. So what do free samples have to do with online marketing? Everything it turns out. You can actually apply a similar principle to the free samples on your own website and many people often do it without realizing it.

Your blog for example may well be a free sample. Let’s say that you run a company which provides financial advice to people who are trying to figure out how to save for retirement. This is a common issue in the United States, where relatively few people have adequate retirement savings available to them. Many people in fact end up stuck living on nothing but social security because that’s all they have at the end of a lifetime of work.

Now, you may offer advice to these people and personal consultations. You would offer to meet with them one on one and review their financial statements. You might offer to help them find places they can save money so that they put something more away each month. You might even help them build a financial portfolio for the future.

However, the ‘free sample’ you give them might be your blog. Or you might take it up a notch. Maybe you offer a free phone consultation if they just provide their name and phone number. This is really no different from the bakery offering a free sample of their pastries. You offer to discuss their financial needs briefly and show them why you are capable of helping them to build a secure financial life.

The Key to Capturing These Leads

These days, most websites worth their salt will put up a sign up sheet for a newsletter or something else within seconds of your arrival at the site. Sometimes, they won’t even let you continue without first signing up. Personally, I’m of the opinion that this is a shortsighted way to do things. I’d recommend doing what we do here – allow people to see the site for a bit and then  give them the chance to sign up.

Another thing I’ve suggested in the past is that you consider the possibility of doing something more than another ‘me too’ newsletter. Try offering your potential customers a magazine instead and you’re more likely to get sign ups.

Track Your Progress

The other thing to consider is that you need to track your progress. See whether or not your website is actually making a dent in the customer base that you want to attract. If you find that you are not getting people to sign up, consider trying some split testing. See whether or not more people sign up when you let them see a sign up page after 5 seconds or 50 seconds.

Consider as well trying different site designs to see which ones work best to attract the kind of customers you want. There’s nothing wrong with doing this.

Have a Phone Number

However, above all else, consider what we have here at Quantum SEO Labs above – a phone number. Websites with phone numbers are much more likely to get customers to call them than websites without them.

And no, I’m not being facetious. I mean that if you prominently display a phone number instead of keeping it hidden away somewhere, you are that much more likely to get your customers to call you than you and make a purchase. Of course, it also goes without saying that the better your customer service reps are the more likely you are to make an actual sale.

Make a Demo Available

Does your company offer a software product of some kind? Offer customers a demo which they can actually take a look at and enjoy. This is more likely to get them to actually make a purchase than anything else.

Coupons

Finally, consider the idea of offering coupons to visitors who drop by for the first time at your website. A coupon is more likely to convert the customers who may be wavering between using you and using your competition.

Bottom Line

Look, the bottom line is that your website should be treated in much the same way that Zabar’s treats their storefront at Grand Central Station. It should be a place to showcase what you have to offer and it should be a place where your customers can get free samples of your goods so they know that it’s something worth purchasing.

If you follow these simple rules and think of your online storefront as being similar to a bricks and mortar storefront, you’ll easily get your customers to take nibble and actually become paying customers for whatever it is that you have for sale.

8 Tools You Need to Succeed in Social Media

As regular readers of this blog are likely aware by now, I recently started working on building up my Klout score. It’s been going pretty well. I’ve added seven points to my score since I started working on it. This is largely because I’m making myself much more available on Facebook and getting likes for my posts. However, there is a whole lot more that I could be doing in order to build myself up even further.

The problem of course is a matter of time. Like everyone else on the planet, my time is limited. While building a higher Klout score may help me make more money in the future, in the short term, it doesn’t pay the bills. Plus, if I spent all my time trying to do the social media thing, I would never be able to do anything else.

Fortunately, there are a great many tools out there which can help you to deal with the problem effectively. I did some research and found eight tools you simply need to have if you want to succeed in the world of social media:

TweetReach

Ever wondered just how many people are actually seeing your tweets? I don’t just mean how many people subscribe to your feed or how many times your tweet was retweeted. I mean how many people actually saw it either because they subscribe to a feed from someone else who retweeted or because they happened to find it in a search or just by browsing a trending topic.

It’s well nigh impossible to glean this information directly from Twitter but with the help of a little known product called Tweet Reach, it’s easy to do. They’ll tell you how many people were actually effected by the tweets that you sent out and how many tweets you needed to send out in order to hit up that many people.

This can be incredibly useful for tracking just how effective your Twitter strategy is so that you actually build yourself up and get more of the retweets and reach that you really need. Not to mention that building your clout on Twitter will improve your overall Klout score.

This in turn can open additional doors for you in the form of media interviews or job offers depending on what you do for a living and what you sell. Best of all, for low volume users, the service is completely free of charge.

ArgyleSocial

I am loving this site more and more though it works best when you have a team as opposed to a one man shop. In essence, Argyle is designed to allow you to track multiple team members and multiple social accounts. The way it works is that it tracks all of your Facebook and Twitter accounts and allows you to delegate jobs to different people on your team.

That part, I’ve not found to be particularly useful for my own needs because I don’t have a big enough team to need the collaboration feature. However, what I love is that is can aggregate information from your different social accounts and actually tell you how well your efforts are doing. This way, you can have a real time performance chart which can be compared over time so you know if you are hitting targets.

The other thing that I loved about this product as someone who works as a freelance writer and consultant is that it allows me to track multiple company accounts. This means that I can manage the social accounts for a large number of different customers and even hire a team as the workload gets bigger. However, at the same time, I can still see an overall picture of how all our efforts are doing.

TweetLevel

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – not another Twitter tool. I mean there seem to be 12 different choices of tools for pretty much everything you need to do on Twitter and indeed, Tweet Level does at least one thing that you really don’t need an extra tool to do. It allows you to search for and follow conversations based on hash tags.

Of course, you can do that easily enough using Twitter’s own tools which is why I at first dismissed this tool as useless. That is until I noticed that in addition to allowing you to find conversations based on hash tags, it also allows you to find out how influential a given Twitter user is after you find them.

To illustrate, let’s say that you wanted to follow all the conversations about the Penguin update in Google. Okay, there are likely hundreds of thousands if not millions of them going on at any given time. Now who do you choose to follow based on their hash tags? It’s silly to follow every Tom, Dick and Harry who mentions Penguin after all.

Enter TweetLevel. They’ll tell you who is worth following and whom you can likely get away with ignoring. By following the industry leaders in any given trending topic, you are both more likely to gain key insights and possibly a mention on their Twitter feed if you happen to have something to say which is interesting.

Traackr

Continuing a trend of trying to find useful URLs by basically misspelling common words, Traackr is designed to do exactly what it sounds like – track who’s who in your industry. Basically, this is a specialized search tool which can look across multiple social networks and figure out who the most influential people are in any given area of interest.

This means for example that I can pop in the word SEO and find out who the top people are to follow in this field. There are two options in the Traackr application. The first option allows you to see whom to target if you are running an ad agency while the second one is designed for people who run a brand name within an industry.

The difference between the two options seems to be pretty subtle though. Basically, the ad agency one is designed specifically to find out who is most likely to be an influencer in your industry so that you know whom to offer freebies to. The brand version of Traackr is designed to allow you to find useful information across your industry. As I said, the difference between the two is fairly subtle but important all the same.

Traackr also allows you to see how these influencers are reacting to your own social media comments so that you know whether or not you are making an impact on the people who matter most for your business.

SocMetrics

I’m not entirely certain I’m sold on SocMetrics as an essential tool. Yes, it is a pretty nice suite of tools for those who need to find influencers in their own area of expertise but you can do something similar with a number of other products, including Klout, which I’ve written about extensively in the past.

That having been said, I do like one feature in particular at SocMetrics which I have not seen elsewhere and that’s why it made this list. They offer what they call a competitive influence feature. In essence, this means that you can make a list of influencers and then actually compare how influential they are in specific areas of interest.

So for example, you might initially put together a list of people who are influencers in the field of SEO but then, once you have that list, you’d want to drill down a little further and find out who is an expert in Bing. With other tools, you could do a separate search entirely for that keyword but with SocMetrics, you can actually refine your initial search and find out who has this specific area of expertise.

There is also a feature which allows you to “validate” the influence of the influencers that you found but I’m not sure I really understand why this is important. Either they are considered experts in their fields or they’re not. If any of our readers can explain to me why this matters so much, I’d love to know what you think.

Social Mention

Okay, I admit that this one is pretty cool. Yes, you can manually do a search for your company name across a wide variety of different websites with social media. However, this thing acts kind of like Google New Alerts for social media. Basically, you can put in any kind of a keyword (although your company name or your personal name are usually the most appropriate) and then do a search for it on this site.

The big advantage is that it allows you to see exactly when you are being mentioned and where. Plus, you can also do a further search through the site and see whether their algorithm tagged the mention as being negative, positive or neutral. I’m not clear exactly how this decision is made though. I assume it has specific keywords it looks for in order to decide if a mention is positive or negative so it’s obviously not perfect.

Finally, be sure to sign up for the alerts section which works exactly like Google News alerts. They’ll send you a notice on a regular basis of every mention of your keyword in social media so that you know when you’ve been mentioned and in what context. Not only can this help you keep your finger on the pulse of the social media world vis a vis your own company but it can also allow you to respond when something is mentioned about your company.

Ice Rocket

This one is also a pretty cool service to keep around. Ice Rocket is a blog search engine. It lets you find current articles across millions of blogs which are focused on your particular subject area. This allows you to quickly locate blog posts on major sites which feature some mention of your niche.

You can then go there, read what was written and leave an intelligent comment. Get it into the first ten comments on the page you are more likely to get traffic from it.

However, Ice Rocket also takes things a step further and allows you to search across social media as well. It’s a little similar in this respect to Social Mention but I think there’s still a value in using both because Ice Rocket includes blogs and also seems to have some additional features that I didn’t see at Social Mention. However, I did not see an alert feature here which is why I also like Social Mention.

RapLeaf

So you have yourself a pretty nice e-mail list which you send out regular updates to. Perhaps you send out a monthly or weekly newsletter. Or maybe you’re sending out a course of some kind. Doesn’t matter. Bottom line, you likely have a list of e-mail addresses and names and not much else. Wouldn’t it be nice to capture some demographic data about your customers?

In comes RapLeaf, which does exactly that. Basically, what they do is, they take your e-mail list, compare it with registered public e-mails on various forms of social media and then generate a demographic report for you. With this, you may learn that the majority of the people signing up for your e-mail list are in the northeastern part of the United States or that they’re actually all in India.

As they say, knowledge is power. With this information in mind along with the knowledge of which social networks most of your customers are signed up for, you can then go ahead and start targeting your e-mails much more accurately to reflect what people in these areas and networks are interested in

Bottom Line

Social media is an important part of any online marketing business. It’s also fragmented and takes time to keep track of. While these tools won’t completely eliminate your need to spend time building your profile on social media, they can and do help with ensuring that you get the most bang for your buck.

5 Tips for Getting More Media Coverage

Even in today’s fragmented media world, one of the best ways to get your product or service out there to the wider world is to get media to cover it. Whether it’s traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and TV news shows or so called new media such as blogs and YouTube commentators, the way to get these places to cover your product are surprisingly similar.

I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time telling you about writing press releases or contacting reporters. You can find that kind of information elsewhere. You can also check out HARO as one of the many sources for finding reporters whom you can contact. Instead, I want to focus on five tips I’ve found that bloggers and journalists mention regularly as things they wish marketing managers paid more attention to.

Have a Press Page

First and foremost, even if you run a one person shop, having a press page will make a big difference in your ability to get coverage for your products. A press page tells reporters that you are serious and that your company is real and looking for coverage. So what does a press page include?

Typically, it should include the phone number where you can be contacted for questions along with an e-mail address and any other contact information you think is relevant. You should also include some FAQs that the press might ask. Mind you, this is different from the kind of FAQs that your customers might be asking.

For example, a reporter might want to know a little more about the background of the people behind the company (i.e. Joe Smith is an engineer with 10 years of experience at XXX Company. He recently decided to set out on his own and founded YYY Company in 2013 to provide ZZZ product/service). Your customers often won’t be so interested in this but the press will want to know.

Of course, there are other things that will overlap. Both your customers and the press want to know about pricing, release dates and features.

In addition to this, consider providing screen shots and or other publicity photos of your product so that the press people don’t need to arrange for it themselves. I regularly go and grab screen shots for this blog but frankly, it’s a pain and I don’t always find good material for screen shots. The better companies will make these things available so that reporters (who are often on tight deadlines) don’t have to bother.

By the way, speaking of screen shots, you do NOT want tiny little screen shots on your press page. The screen shots and or photos should be full sized so that they can be manipulated by people running a professional magazine. Web quality photos are not likely to be good enough for publication in print. Instead, offer a thumbnail preview and then offer a full size image in addition to it.

Don’t forget as well to ensure that you have high res images of your company logo available for anyone who needs them when writing about your company. Oh and it also goes without saying that you should have copies of any and all press releases available on your press page.

Offer Freebies

You don’t have to give away your $3,000 product to every two bit blogger who comes knocking on your door. However, there is nothing wrong with offering a free 24 hour trial which will allow them to check out the product and find out about all the features that it has available. When you insist on offering nothing at all except to the major newspapers, you rule out coverage from smaller media outlets.

By the way, you might also consider offering a limited demo which is available without the requirement to sign up for your mailing list. Make it available specifically on your press page. The fact is that the blogger or reporter who takes a look in order to review your product isn’t likely to become a customer themselves and will only be annoyed with constant sales pitches sent to their e-mail.

Tell Reporters What You Do

Take a look below at the screen shot from LexisNexis. As a non lawyer, do you know from this what the company does? It happens I worked with some attorneys for a while so I do know what they do but that gobbledygook below is pretty confusing for a layperson.

Now in the case of LexisNexis, it probably doesn’t make much difference. They’re not really looking for press coverage about their company because anyone who would be their customer knows who they are and what they do (in case you’re curious, they provide a database of legal decisions along with a wealth of support services to lawyers all over the United States).

However, we’ll assume that your business is not quite as specialized and well known within its own circles as LexisNexis is. Your business needs to have a clear definition somewhere on its site (preferably in the press page) where a lay person could understand what it is that your company does.

Showcase All Coverage of Your Company

Unless it’s very obviously a poor quality junk blog which is just looking for a backling, put a link on your site back to blogs who cover you as well as to smaller newspapers who cover your company. Don’t be a snob and assume that if it’s not the New York Times, you needn’t mention that you were covered by them. If you do this, you’ll find that more of the smaller media outlets (which are often able to drive plenty of traffic all on their own) will also cover your company.

Keep Things Simple

Finally, whatever you provide to the press should be written in a simple, easy to understand manner. The press doesn’t want to see your breathless pronunciations about how your product will turn the world on its ear. They need the facts and not the fluff so be sure to provide it in a clear and concise manner which will allow them to report accurately. Trust me, if it really is that good, they’ll mention it themselves.

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post