Posted Oct 1 2008 4:22 PM by
I am notoriously guilty of losing focus in my blog. I often get so wrapped up in all the wonderful tools available (like blogging, email marketing, and social media), that I forget to cover content management. Although Marketpath in many ways is a full-service internet marketing shop, our focus is (and should remain) product and service-driven.
Content management is arguably the most important part of an organization's online presence. The reason I believe this is that so many of your potential customers are not bloggers and don't participate in social media (though I do believe it is important to use your site to help expose visitors to social media). When Joe-six-pack is Google-searching to find parts for his '86 Camaro, there is a good chance that he won't find a blog or twitter feed relevant. The problem that's arising is that there is so much content in the Google index that comes from social media that it can be hard for a traditional website to compete. This phenomenon increases the importance of utilizing social media, and it makes it completely necessary that the content on your site is relevant.
'But Colin, there are so many CMS options (many of them free) that allow users to update the content on their sites.' This is true. There might be literally hundreds of CMS tools out there on the web and they are relatively easy to find. The problem is that many site administrators get lost along the way. Once it becomes possible to keep a website up-to-date, many users still don't do as much as they should, because they don't know how.
This is where it is helpful to have a partner you can trust, a consultant who you can count on to point you in the right direction. No one is born knowing how to optimize a site for search. No one is born knowing how to create online conversions. These things can be taught by knowledgeable professionals, and education is exactly what most organizations need to go along with their content management system. We're here to help. Class will be in session all week. Feel free to attend.
Posted Sep 30 2008 1:30 PM by
This morning I discovered Kyle Lacy's video blog. Kyle is a social media evangelist who owns an online marketing company in Carmel, IN, and he has definitely been one of the key people who have shown me the ropes with social media. Kyle's 'Vlog' (actually I hate that term - I'll stick to calling it a video blog) is fantastic, because he seems to be differentiating it from his standard text blog. In his traditional blog he discusses various online topics, marketing topics, interesting posts on other blogs, and really anything else that he finds interesting. His video blog is a bit different, in that it is dedicated to helping business professionals understand how to use social media to effectively impact the bottom line. So the question remains..... Why do I need one? (or better yet why do you need one?)
Let's look at another example. If you were visiting the greater Indianapolis area and you were to search for a local liquor store on google, there is an excellent chance that you would find Greenfield Liquors on the first page for most keywords. The reason they consistently score so highly is that they have invested a great deal of time and money in their online presence with Smaller Indiana and their Compendium Blog. One of the most interesting things they do on their blog is to include drink recipes. More interesting still is that they use video in conjunction with the recipes and actually SHOW you how to utilize the liquors they sell. So..... Why should you be doing this?
Video creates a TON of value for your customers (and potential customers)! Kyle Lacy is providing a valuable resource for business professionals who are seeking to learn more about social media. At the same time he is establishing himself as an expert in his field (actually he probably has already accomplished that, but the vlog can only help). The folks at Greenfield Liquors are providing an awesome service to their customers as well; they're teaching them how to better enjoy the products they buy. The fact that they are providing this service (and the fact that it helps them rank so highly on google) means that people looking for high-end liquor will be much more likely to buy it from them.
Basically what I'm getting at here is that video is a great differentiator for your blog and for your organization. While I don't have a date set in stone, I have been planning on launching a video blog for a while now and it IS coming. So kudos to Kyle and Greenfield liquors for giving me an awesome topic and doing such fine work with their online marketing. Keep it up!
Posted Sep 26 2008 5:38 PM by
I've been actively involved in social media for about 4 months now and I'm just in a bit of conundrum. How much is too much? At some point I find that I've spent so much time commenting and posting comments and opinions that I just don't have anything new to say. I don't have time to spend all day searching the internet for new things to write about, but I don't want to fall behind my social media peers. How do they do it?
I am very happy, however, that Lorraine Ball introduced me to friendfeed a few days ago. Friendfeed has allowed me to combine all of my social media in one place via RSS feeds. For those who were unable to see Scott Abel's web 2.0 seminar at the blogINDIANA conference a few months ago, an RSS feed is basically a standardized format for syndicating content anywhere on the web. It certainly makes it easier to manage blogging, microblogging, and all of the other incarnations that help me stay connected, but there is annother purpose that actually purtains to this blog.
I love feeds for SEO. When you think about it, feeds are really the perfect no-work high-value addition to a website. They are available on basically any topic you can think of (if it's out there, someone is willing to put their 2 cents in about it), and they provide your site with new content on a consistent basis. My friend Aaron Douglas first taught me how to use RSS for SEO a few months ago and his advice has been invaluable to me. Luckily, most CMS platforms like Marketpath allow for easy integration of feeds.
So, even though I sometimes feel like there's nothing left to say and my well is dry, at least there is still a format that allows me to continue the social media journey. For more information on using RSS feeds on your site feel free to contact me on smallerindiana, facebook, myspace, friendfeed, linked in, plaxo, twitter, letsmakeitrain, mwmcmusic, or by email.
Posted Sep 23 2008 8:40 PM by
I had an awesome meeting today with Tony Scelzo, the founder of Rainmakers, in which he spoke about frequency and universe. Basically your universe is composed of suspects, prospects, and influencers. Frequency is the number of contacts you have with these people each week, month, year, or whatever. This model is consistent with my current marketing philosophy. Frequency and follow-up are extremely important along with the number of people who carry your message.
I've seen so many models and analogies for good marketing, that it blows my mind. Mostly they all mean the same thing. You do research to determine a good market segment. You hit that segment with as many different forms of contact as you can think of. You measure what worked and what didn't. You do more of what worked and less of what didn't. You do this until you own your market. It sound so simple that it's almost crazy that we still talk about it so much!
It's ideas such as this that make a web content management system make so much sense. A CMS with the right features allows you to run several different campaigns at once. For example, Marketpath CMS allows users to search optimize their site (and keep it optimized), create and measure landing pages, create a corporate blogging program, run a viral campaign, and coordinate their site with email marketing. How much more power could you ask for?
Posted Sep 18 2008 6:51 PM by
It's so beautiful when a plan comes together. For example, I'm heading down to Terre Haute this evening for a long weekend and my buddy Weir's wedding. There are lots of elements I've got to have in place it order to be sufficiently prepared. I need to pack, gas up the car, coordinate with everyone else who's going, pick up my guitar amp from a friends house, and all of this has to be done in time for me to arrive in Terre Haute at a descent hour this evening.
When it comes to planning it's all about organizing a lot of little details so that they come together to form a cohesive whole picture. Here's one example as it applies to marketing. A new restaurant called Zing opened here in downtown Indianapolis a few weeks ago. I first learned about it from their unusually branded sign that they posted in front of the building about a month before the opening. A few weeks later I received an email announcing the opening. I hadn't opted in to their mailing list so my interest was starting to grow. Then, a few days later at a networking function my friend Brian Graham mentioned that he was doing their marketing, and that he had opted me in for the email. Interesting, I thought. As the weeks before the opening came to a close, I kept hearing about it more and more. Guess what I was doing on the day they opened. Yeah, I was there.
My point is that it takes a lot of careful planning in order to reach new customers. It takes several 'touches'. Your email marketing might not be enough, but your email marketing + your search engine optimization + your direct mail campaign + your outside sales + your referrals will end up paying huge dividends. It's true that you can buy word-of-mouth, but it's worth a lot more if you earn it. You earn it by planning smart and executing flawlessly. Good luck.
Posted Sep 11 2008 7:34 PM by
i'd like to wholeheartedly thank Erik Deckers for hosting the bloggers roundtable yesterday at the Brugge in Broadripple. I always get excited when a lot of individuals who I communicate with online get together to talk in person. One of the interesting conversations we had was about the inclusion or exclusion of comments on your blog. Kyle Lacy argued that simply by allowing comments and opening the floor for discussion the blog was a success.
What is so great about blogs? People have been writing down their opinions for hundreds of years. The result of this can be found in most any library. A lot of people find it a little boring. What separates these authors from bloggers is the communal aspect. Comments! How many time have you read a blog post and then scrolled through the comments to find that they were far more insightful and interesting than the original post. That's what happens when people collaborate. Amazing things happen!
Now, Marketpath's CMS software certainly allows for either inclusion, exclusion, or monitoring of comments. We provide this as a choice to customers, because we realize that everyone has different needs (using the blog format for news is one example). Some companies simply blog for SEO. Should they allow comments? Why is it so hard to be transparent!?
This is a corporate blog post. Right now I am writing with the intent that our search ranking will improve and that my customers or future customers will have this content available as a valuable resource AND I DO ALLOW COMMENTS! If I speak about my opinions on my industry they are just that; opinions. I am opening a forum for discussion with whomever might read this. If I'm lucky enough to have a readership, then I owe it to that readership to let its voice be heard. FREEDOM TO THE PEOPLE!
Posted Sep 5 2008 8:08 PM by
I'm a big fan of search. That may seem obvious, but when we consider how far we've come in the last few decades, it really is outstanding. Search engine optimization is obviously good for business, but when you consider it in the context of the consumer it really is very important. You have to look at the search market just like any other market. It's always going to be difficult to get any group of people to do anything unless there is money in it. It would be impossible for google to properly index the web if sites didn't take the proper SEO precautions. With that in mind, there are literally hundreds of SEO guidelines and tools available to ensure that your site can be found.
I'm a huge fan of website grader. My favorite part about this tool is that it takes into account lots of different types of content and then ranks your site on a scale of one to a hundred. This is supposed to somewhat accurately decide how well you will rise through the search rankings. I especially like this site because it takes into account how much of any given SEO strategy you are using. For example, if you have a lot of links, but are weak in other areas you will still rank favorably, because links are important. If you are using blogging as a tool for inreasing your search rankings, then it takes the ranking of your blog into consideration. It's also nice, because it provides simple and measurable steps that you can take to get it right.
I like to think of the web as a kind of 'economics of information.' It's very similar to actual economics, except that instead of money you pay in knowledge. Now, of course you can pay good money for SEO knowledge, but the beauty of it is that much of the good information is already available for free. SEO can be a bit of a crap shoot, but if you are representing yourself honestly there is no reason to believe that anything is impossible. Web 2.0 is here and there is MUCH more content than there once was. There is really a world for everyone here, and proper SEO practices will ensure that the best content for you rises to the top. Some terms are indeed very competitive. This competition keeps the web healthy. It's a big pie and there's enought to go around.
Posted Sep 4 2008 8:05 PM by
I am an avid reader. Most recently I've been engrossed in 'A Whole New Mind' by Daniel Pink. The premise of the book is that the importance of left-brain activities (like mathematics, data analysis, standardized tests, etc.) is lessening, while the importance of right-brain activities is increasing (art, music, empathy, feelings, etc.) Basically, through the information age we've accumulated so much affluence through the automation of many of the critical stages of production that the consumer is now focused on the meaning and feelings they get from the products they buy. The information is still important, but the meaning and concepts behind it is becoming paramount.
This left-brain/right-brain mentality struggle is more than evident in the internet marketing world. I was in a meeting just this morning with Mike Sidel of Indy Associates. Like the Marketpath crew, he is all too aware of the struggle between the IT department and marketing. IT typically handles a lot of left-brain activities (data analysis, problem diagnosis), but are often less skilled at understanding the right-brain concepts that are demanded of a successful marketing campaign. IT is obviously an extremely important job. Accounting software, email servers, and any other tech components need to be maintained so that people can do their jobs, but the website should be excluded from that. WEBSITES ARE MARKETING TOOLS! They need a lot of right-brain attention. As Mike said, 'technology should be kept far away.' How do we do this?Well, Marketpath accomplishes this by skillfully hiding the technology under a shell of sophistication and design. We hide the hosting in our server (it's safe, I assure you). We hide the code under an intuitive user interface. We are adept right-brain thinkers, but we also have the left-brain skills to bring it all together and make it flow effortlessly. When a customer chooses Marketpath they are choosing a software solution that gives them a feeling of safety and familiarity, as well as a team of left and right-brain thinkers who understand their goals. We are empathizers and synthesizers. We are creators and meaning-finders. We might be living in a new world of concepts, but the companies that succeed will be the ones who are able to find partners who can help, and that's why we're here.
Posted Sep 1 2008 6:35 PM by
I think viral mareting is pretty much the coolest thing in the world. You do something cool, you post it online, and a few days later it has spread all over the web, you're famous, and (hopefully) the cash starts rolling in. The problem with viral marketing is that it's so difficult to figure out what's going to be a hit. Sure, I submitt my blog posts to digg.com and link back to my blog whenever I post anything on the web, but this is hardly viral marketing. It takes a certain EDGE, a certain out-of-the-box thinking that makes it worth sindication.
For my buck, the two most powerful viral marketing tools on the web are youtube and digg.com. Youtube is fantastic because it is so easy to imbed videos on other sites. This creates a syndication engine that exposes your content to an exponentially large audience. I post it on youtube, everyone sees it there, some of them embed it in their blogs, websites, social media, etc. and before long everyone's seen it. The problem with youtube is that there is so much content that it takes something extremely funny, shocking, impressive, etc. to inspire sindication. The problem with most businesses is that they are beyond reluctiant to put something edgy out there for fear that it will make them look bad. Unfortunately you have to have the guts to reap the rewards.
I must admit that I don't know exactly why digg.com is so freakin awesome, but it totally is. I could spend days there! Apparently a lot of other people do to, but I don't personally know that many. It's more of a community within a community, and it's one that I've fully embraced. For those who are unfamiliar, digg is basically a forum for posting cool stuff that you find on the internet. You post it and then anyone else who likes it can 'digg' it, and the more diggs a post has the better it's supposed to be. Digg seems to work a little bit slower than youtube in a viral sense, but the content is way better. If you've got hours to kill digg is awesome. My favorite digg submissions are the 'top 10' lists. You pick the top 10 best or worst or whatever of any topic you like. In fact, I'm currently working on my own 'internet marketing' top 10 list. Feel free to help me out with some suggestions.
Posted Aug 26 2008 7:44 PM by
The best thing about life is that there's all these new things to learn about and explore. I'm fickle by nature. I tend to not spend a whole lot of time on one subject, but instead to jump around to lots of topics. My latest facination is analytics. It's all I've really been talking about this week.
So we've got this website that's supposed to be part of our marketing strategy and bring in leads and money and blah blah blah. But here's the kicker... It's not. It's not working the way it sould at all. No leads are coming in. No money. No nothing. So what do we do? We pull up our analytics numbers. We find that our bounce rate is, say, 50%. That's not bad. It's actually pretty good. We find also that our traffic is up. Again, that's great, but where's the cash? My guess is that it has something to do with the content on the site. It's just not pursuasive enough. So I pull up the CMS and start to tinker. I add some great new content. Then I wait and I measure. A wise man once said that effective leaders 'make decisions quickly and change them slowly.'
So this analytics is pretty powerful stuff. I've got the numbers, and I've got the patience to see this thing through. I know that marketing is not a sprint, but a series of marathons. I'm so glad that I've got a CMS that is this flexible. I've got real control over changes so that I can use the data I've collected in the wisest way possible.