Results Analysis, Uncategorized

Are You And Other Team Members Missing Out On One of Marketing’s Greatest Joys?

This blog post isn’t about HOW to track marketing & communications results (although we’ve shared a few links at the bottom of this post that you might find helpful on that front). It’s about WHY.

Because I’ve always been a data geek, one of the aspects of marketing I’ve always found most rewarding is being able to see the fruits of my labor. It’s always so fun and exciting to see if website traffic, phone inquiries, e-mail inquiries, or some other desired customer or prospect action (aka conversions) have increased as the result of some new or revamped marketing activity.

Being accountable for marketing results in a number of corporate marketing roles, it always made great sense to me to put various results-tracking mechanisms in place prior to launching a new marketing campaign — even if some of those were less technical/automated in the 1990’s and early 2000’s than they are now. For example, asking sales reps or customer service reps who would likely receive inquiries as a result of a new marketing campaign or tactic to ask prospective customers “how did you learn about us?”

But, you’d be surprised at the number of organizations that don’t make & take the time to:

  • figure out, prior to launching marketing activities, how they will track results
  • review and analyze the results of various marketing tactics regularly
  • know what key performance indicators (KPIs) they should be looking at
  • let other non-marketing team members of their organization know that a marketing activity is launching or has launched, such as customer service teams or sales teams that might need to respond to e-mails or phone inquiries that might be generated by a campaign
  • keep appropriate internal & external parties informed of campaign results

We regularly review and report on the results of various client marketing tactics and share insight on what KPIs make the most sense for the client in-question to track given the various marketing activities they employ. We recommend that every organization create and share a master marketing KPI report (one that is stored in a central, easily-accessed, version-controlled report — think Google sheet or report housed in a project management system) that everyone who has influence and impact on results can view whenever they want and need to. That keeps everyone well-informed and understanding and feeling that their contributions matter.

Hey, why shouldn’t everyone who plays a role in a product’s, service’s, or solution’s success get to experience one of the greatest joys of marketing? And, that’s knowing that their hard work, innovativeness, flexibility, creativity, etc. made a difference when it comes to generating results. Plus, having access to results makes everyone who plays a role related to a product’s, service’s or solution’s success aware when sales or engagement results are less than favorable, and hopefully, will prompt them to come up with ideas to improve results.

Joy of Marketing

Who Should Have Access To Marketing KPIs Reports?

  • The organization’s owner/founder
  • The organization’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Executive Director (ED)
  • The organization’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Other organization Chiefs and Senior Leadership Team Members, including the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Information/Technology Officer (CIO)
  • All marketing & communications staff/team members, including the organization’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), SVPs and Directors of Marketing & Communications
  • All sales & customer service staff/team members
  • Any Product Management, Product Development, and Project Management staff involved with the product, service, or solution being marketed.
  • Any external organizations that have been engaged for marketing & communication or market research services, such as digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, website developers & designers, PR firms, and market research suppliers

What Marketing Results Should I Be Tracking And How Can I Track Them?

As promised above, shared below are past blog posts where we’ve addressed some of the marketing metrics/KPIs you should track and how to track them, but each organization’s results tracking needs are different, based on what digital and traditional marketing tactics and tools they employ, so please reach out if you’d like to discuss your organization’s specific needs with us.

alt-tags, Being Found on Google, keywords, marketing best practices, meta tags, organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEO tags, technical SEO, Uncategorized

Making Infographics and Other Website Images Consumable by Search Engines

Infographics — images that are designed to condense and consolidate a bunch of complex information, and present that information in a fashion that makes it understandable by a variety of target audiences — have a variety of plusses, including, but not limited to, the following key ones:

  • they tend to get shared by others, whether it be in a social media post or on a website, so they have a lot of potential to go viral
  • they provide a vehicle for graphically/visually educating audiences on topics or concepts that may be hard to grasp when simply presented via text

The downside of infographics is when they are added to website pages without what’s known as “embedded text” or an “alt-tag,” they:

  • aren’t accessible to those with vision impairments or learning disabilities who use a screen reader to crawl a site and read the text aloud to them
  • can’t be crawled and indexed by search engines, so even though they may contain many high-volume search terms (keywords) for which you want target audiences to find your site, Google, Bing, and other search engines won’t know that the images contain those keywords or reward you from a search standpoint for using them

Spoon-feeding Google What It Needs to Index Your Infographic

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution to the infographic challenge described above. Regardless of what CMS (content management solution)/website platform your site resides on, your website solution should provide for the opportunity to enter an “alt-tag” or “image description” to describe to search engines or screen readers what an image is all about. This is an opportunity associated with all images used on your site, not just infographics.

How to Write an Effective Alt-tag for Website Images

So, what are some best practices for writing an alt-tag to accompany an image on your site? KEEP IN MIND THAT WITH ALT-TAGS YOU ARE BASICALLY DESCRIBING THE PICTURE TO GOOGLE’S AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES’ SPIDERS/CRAWLERS WHO CAN’T SEE. Therefore, it’s important to adhere to the following:

  • Keep the tag simple, clean, and authentic, plus descriptive. Imagine describing the image to someone who has their eyes closed.
  • Don’t overstuff/use too many high-volume keywords. Google will ding you for that. Focus on one or two and only use them if you would fairly naturally use them in describing the image in-question.
  • You don’t need to include the terms “image of” or “photo of” in your alt tag – just by the fact that Google is crawling an alt tag, it knows it’s related to an image or photo.
  • Keep to 125 characters (including spaces) or less (you can use the “Word Count” function in MS Word to check for this.)
  • In general, only include the name of your business if you are writing an alt-tag to go with your Logo artwork/image. If you were describing a picture to someone based on what you are seeing, unless the name of the company were in the image/photo, you would not know what organization was associated with the photo and wouldn’t naturally mention it. Exceptions to this might be a photo where you described a staff member of your organization and the alt tag included a phrase like “Gail Snow Moraski of Results Communications & Research donates a check to…”

Alt-Tag Example

The below image which is found in my blog post “Defining Your Differentiator With Detail” employs an alt-tag “a bunch of white balloons with one red balloon standing out and rising above the white ones.”

a bunch of white balloons with one red balloon standing out and rising above the white ones.

For more help on writing alt tags, visit https://www.cincopa.com/blog/the-dos-and-donts-of-writing-image-alt-tags/

An Additional Opportunity to Increase the Positive SEO Impact of an Image

When and where appropriate, consider hyperlinking your images, so that when a visitor clicks on the image, it will take them to another page on your site. Google rewards sites from an SEO standpoint that effectively use “internal links” to support a good user experience (note that user experience is expected to be a key component of Google’s search algorithm in 2021). That said, don’t “link” just for the sake of linking. Only include links when image clicks take site visitors to appropriate content.

Help Implementing The Above and Other Organic/Technical SEO Tactics

Our team is always here to either train your team on implementing organic SEO tactics, such as those that are the subject of this post, or implement such tactics on your organization’s behalf. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We adore a good SEO challenge!

COVID-19 marketing, fundraising/development, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, landing page, online advertising, paid search, pandemic marketing, Post-COVID-19 Marketing, pull marketing, sales, SEM, Uncategorized

Should You Be Running Google Ads Search Advertising During Our Pandemic?

The answer to the headline above is “it all depends.”

Based on the current Google Ads campaigns I’m running for clients, it appears that average cost-per-clicks, in general, have decreased a fair amount during our pandemic. That means the price an advertiser will pay each time someone clicks on their ad and arrives at their website landing page is less than what it would have been pre-pandemic. So, who should be investing in Google Ads (also known as paid search, pay-per-click (PPC), or search engine marketing (SEM)) right now?

Organizations should be investing in Google Ads right now if:

  1. non-extravagant consumer goods products that can be shipped/delivered
  2. moderately priced services that can be accessed virtually/online, such as the ability to take a class or be coached virtually
  3. services and products that are a necessity, despite their cost. Examples of this would be services to repair a plumbing issue or a leaky roof or a new washing machine to replace one that broke
  • you offer a product or service that has a lengthy sales lead time, i.e., target audiences — whether they be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) — tend to conduct a lot of research and take a number of weeks or months to make a decision to make a purchase of said product or service. Many individuals have more free time on their hands right now because of freed-up work commuting time and a significantly reduced number of social engagements. So, if they have a large future purchase in mind, it’s highly likely they are gathering information related to their probable purchase now. Examples of purchases with long lead time could be project management software or systems to be used by an employer or elective surgery to replace a hip.
  • you’re a nonprofit seeking donations to support your efforts to adapt or continue to offer services during COVID-19. Whether you have a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant under which you can execute such advertising, or you’ll need to pay for your own advertising, with the lower average cost-per-click we’re witnessing, Google Ads may be a very cost-effective fundraising tactic.

Be forewarned that the price of Google Ads and other forms of pay-per-click advertising, such as social media advertising, is expected to rise again — and perhaps rapidly — post-pandemic because of pent-up demand by organizations to promote their products or services. That’s why if you meet one of the requirements above and you’ve always wanted to test the “paid search” waters but believed the media (advertising buy) cost would be prohibitive, you might want to consider implementing a Google Ads campaign as soon as possible vs. waiting until things seem back to normal (or as close to normal as is achievable in 2020).

We are trying to “give back” as much as possible during these challenging times. We are glad to help any non-profit organization apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant for free. We’re also offering the following special. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your pandemic or post-pandemic marketing challenges and opportunities. It’s never to early to start planning!

COVID-19 marketing, marketing best practices, organic SEO, pandemic marketing, Post-COVID-19 Marketing, post-pandemic marketing, SEO, technical SEO, Uncategorized

Why These Turbulent Times Are Ideal Ones to Optimize Your Website for Search

I’ve shared this already via some social media posts, as well as part of e-mail and phone conversations. I do believe this is the ideal time for both for-profits and non-profits to optimize their websites to be found well/rank high in search engine results for relevant searches for the following reasons:

  • It’s a good way to redirect marketing $$ and energies if it doesn’t make sense to market now. Depending on the products and services your organization offers, it may come across as insensitive, irrelevant, or just plain crass, to be promoting offerings that could be viewed as too much of a luxury right now or that just don’t make sense because of their inaccessibility. Think a service or product you can’t receive or purchase virtually. Why not redirect the money and time that you planned on spending on other marketing activities to search engine optimization (SEO) efforts?
  • SEO is a no-brainer and best practice. Even if your organization’s website doesn’t currently receive a lot of organic traffic from search engine searches (this could be because your site has never been optimized for search, or simply due to the fact that individuals aren’t searching to identify someone who offers your products or services), or your industry is a referral-driven business, as many business-to-business industries are, it’s always a best practice to optimize your website to be found by searchers looking to identify an organization that offers the products and services or the solutions to problems that you do. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that if relevant searchers are searching, they will find your organization.
  • You’ll set yourself up for future success. As we shared early on in our current health pandemic, no-one has a crystal ball. While we all have our guesses and theories, it’s impossible to state, as of the date of this blog post, which types of organizations will be most impacted long-term by our world health scenario, and which types will rebound most quickly. But, in keeping with the bullet above this one, why not set yourself up for the best possible chance of being found by those who are searching for help and needs related to what your organization offers?
  • Your organization will save and maximize marketing $$ when $$ are particularly tight. One of the many outcomes we love about implementing technical/organic tactics to support a client organization’s appearing high up in relevant search engine searches is that it can help them avoid unnecessary spending on paid search/PPC advertising down the road. Depending on the competitiveness of an organization’s market, and whether or not searchers are indeed looking to identify someone like the organization, implementing SEO tactics may make paid search/search engine marketing (SEM) spending gratuitous in the long-term.

If you scroll through our blog at https://allintheresults.com/ponderings, you will find a large number of blog posts to get you up-to-speed on organic/technical SEO basics, and we are glad to answer any questions on those basics on a complimentary basis because of our desire to give back right now. We are also always here to help with some of the bigger and more complex lifts like keyword research. So, please reach out if we can help answer questions about smaller SEO tasks or help you complete larger ones.

Uncategorized

What The Coronavirus Can’t Do or Take From Us

A blog post by Gail Snow Moraski and the Rest of Our Beautiful World

Starting a list and welcome contributions to it about what the coronavirus can’t do or take from us. I’ve got lots of thoughts on this, but only listing four that come immediately to mind to allow for others to weigh in. So, please do so!

The “big C” — in current times, this reference is to Coronavirus/COVID-19, but like the usual term it references, “cancer” — can’t do, take from us, or keep us from:

  • Spring from springing
  • Babies from arriving
  • Laughing with a neighbor (from a six-foot distance, of course!)
  • Singing our favorite song

Please add to the list by commenting below or e-mailing me at gail.moraski@allintheresults.com. Let’s take the power away from this virus and show it who’s boss!

dilution, integrated marketing, Results Analysis, Uncategorized

Why Trying To Do It All Will Dilute Your Marketing & Communications Impact

As promised in my most recent blog post about revisiting 2019 marketing activities to inform 2020 ones, I’ll be outlining below the primary digital and traditional marketing tactics that an organization or individual could use to spread the word about themselves in the hopes of generating some “conversions (sales, inquiries, donations, e-newsletter sign-ups, or other target-audience desired behaviors).” But before I get to that, I want and need to address the issue of “dilution” that access to an ever-growing number of marketing vehicles and activities has created.

As the owner of a digital marketing agency and a marketing consultant, I see so many organizations in my niche trying to do it all and have a presence everywhere, as far as promoting their agency/consultancy goes. It has caused me to really ponder that strategy/approach and whether that truly is an effective one — for both me and my clients. Of course, for us marketing agency owners, there’s a fine line we have to walk — we need and want to test various tactics and vehicles, so we can share our experiences with clients, and we also want to demonstrate proficiency, via our own marketing, related to those activities. But, honestly, some activities and vehicles just haven’t generated any kind of results for our firm, and trying to capitalize on each and every one is likely to lead to us not generating effective results from any of them. And, the same goes for our clients.

So, where I’ve landed for my own marketing and that of my clients is this — and it’s very much in keeping with my last blog post — it’s impossible to “do it all” on the the marketing & communications fronts, and to do it well. It’s also very important to regularly (at least quarterly, if not monthly) assess which vehicles are or aren’t generating desired results and to put your marketing $ and time into the ones that are. I equate trying to spread your marketing $$ and energies too far/thin to trying to be a “jack of all trades, and master of none.” We all know trying to offer too many products and services, or trying to be “all things to all men” doesn’t work well from a business standpoint. The same premise holds for marketing.

In sum, as marketers and business owners, if we try to have a big presence and impact everywhere, it will lead to us not having a big presence or impact anywhere. There just won’t be enough time or dollars spent on any one marketing activity or vehicle! Plus, if results don’t show it’s warranted, why put your $$ and energies into a tactic that just isn’t working for you? Not all marketing tactics are appropriate for each and every organization and each industry. Why fish where your target audience members aren’t? If they don’t tend to swim in certain marketing pools, why drop your pole’s line there? 

Possible Marketing & Communications Tactics/Activities

Image Courtesy of Kiwicare.co.nz

Note that some of the below straddle more than one category.

Traditional:

  • Broadcast Advertising (Radio, TV (Cable, Network, Streaming Service) )
  • Print Advertising (Magazine, Newspapers)
  • Direct Mail
  • Sales Hand-outs (Flyers, Brochures, Sales Pieces), Business Cards, Promo/Give-away Items)
  • Transit (Buses, Trains, and Bus and Train Platform/Station)
  • Mall or Other High-Traffic Venue, Such as a Convention Hall
  • Outdoors (Billboards)
  • Public Relations (Reporter Pitches, Press Release Distribution)
  • Events (Your Own Event, i.e., an Event You Created, or Participation in Another’s Such as a Trade Show; Event Sponsorship/Attendance)
  • White Paper Creation and Publication (to Position You As Subject Matter Expert)

Digital/Electronic/Online/Internet:

Networking:

  • Online (Sites Such as Alignable and LinkedIn)
  • In-person (Chamber, Industry, and Other Business and Community Events)

Of course, depending on the size of your organization, some of the above tactics may be outside of your scope because of the associated implementation and maintenance cost, and/or the time that you or your staff would need to be involved — even if you outsource some of the work to a marketing agency like ours. 

We can help you figure out where to best employ your marketing dollars and time in 2020, so reach out for a complimentary brainstorm.

 

Google Analytics, integrated marketing, Marketing Planning, Results Analysis, Setting Marketing Budget, strategic planning, Uncategorized

Why You Should Revisit 2019 Marketing Results to Inform 2020 Activities

I’ve repeatedly shared in this blog and on social media that my firm’s tagline is “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I will never encourage a client to start or keep doing something on the marketing front that doesn’t make sense for them, based on available data. Data on which to make decisions can be primary, i.e., a client’s data, or secondary data, i.e., data found online about others’ experiences related to particular marketing tactics or vehicles. On a related note, the end of any budget year — and for many this is the end of the calendar year — is the perfect time to look back at which of your organization’s, if any, marketing activities have worked well for you. That should inform where your marketing $$ would be best spent in 2020. Sounds like I’m stating the obvious. That it’s a “no brainer”, right?

You’d be surprised at how many organizations continue to spend money on marketing activities that either aren’t working for them or regarding which they have no idea if leads, sales, inquiries, or other desired prospective customer or customer behavior — known as “conversions” are being generated. In fact, I was prompted to write this post because I’ve witnessed both the aforementioned scenarios numerous times with prospective clients.

Now more than ever, there are so many (actually too many for this marketer’s taste) diverse marketing activities and vehicles a marketer can invest time and $ in (we’ll be discussing this further in our next blog post). A fresh, new year is the ideal time to figure out which of these have worked in the past and/or might work in the future. Because each organization employs their own specific traditional and digital marketing tactics, we can’t address each & every piece of marketing results data you should look at in this post; however, we will provide some examples below to get you thinking about the types of analyses you should be completing and why.

Even if you can’t tackle this until the new year gets underway, to maximize your 2020 marketing budget, you or your team should:

  1. Conduct a detailed review and analysis of your Google Analytics data to get a good handle on visitor activity and behavior:
    • how/why are visitors getting to your site?
    • what are they doing once they get there?
    • which marketing activities are driving traffic to your site — this particular data set is critical to figuring out where to employ marketing $$ in 2020 — using reports under the Acquisition section of Google Analytics, you can see not only if visitors are coming to your site directly vs. thru organic search (finding you thru a search engine), but you can also see if they landed on your site due to your social media post or profile website links, via e-newsletter links, etc.
  2. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account attached to your website — make it an early 2020 goal to get one set up — you can use visitor data available thru your content management system (CMS)/website platform to look at some of the data above, but don’t expect the data to be as detailed or “rich” as Google Analytics data.
  3. If you’ve been running any kind of online advertising campaigns — whether they be social media, Google Ads, or banner ads — you should be able to employ reporting capabilities within the online advertising tool(s) to slice ‘n dice results.  Or, if you don’t have access to reporting capabilities yourself, ask whomever set up up or from whom you purchased the ads to provide you with detailed reports on 2019 advertising results.
    photo of planner and writing materials

    Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

  4. And, related to the above, even if you did achieve what you consider to be a significant # of ad click-thrus at a reasonable cost-per-click (this varies by the nature of the advertising, industry, whether advertising is business-to-business, or business-to-consumer, etc.) if you didn’t cause enough new inquiries/leads or sales in 2019 to achieve a positive ROI related to your online advertising, then you should revisit your online strategy for 2020.
  5. Using information available in Google Analytics Acquisition Reports or using data available within social media accounts themselves, look at likes/shares/comments of your posts. If you’re not getting any of the aforementioned engagement, on one or several networks, you need to revisit the nature of the posts you’re sharing, and if you’ve already done that a few times, maybe you shouldn’t invest so much time in those non-engaging forms of social media this coming year!
  6. If you send out e-newsletters or e-blasts via Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, use available data in those e-mail service tools to look at results like “open rate” and “click-thru” rate to determine if your efforts on the e-communications front are worth the time and associated dollars.

Need help analyzing available marketing data, want to make sure you have the right tracking tools in place for 2020, or need help figuring out what are the appropriate tactics and vehicles to be included in your 2020 integrated marketing plan? We’re data geeks, and would love to help, so please reach out!

 

Uncategorized, warriors, fighters, doing good, giving back, paying it forward

Recognizing and Supporting the Warriors Among Us

Recent messaging I’ve been exposed to, activities I’ve participated in, and health challenges with which I’ve dealt have prompted me to remind all my readers to continue to recognize and support the many and varied warriors among us. With October just around the corner, and news media, advertisers, and merchandisers splattering pink ribbons everywhere, breast cancer patients and survivors, as well as their caregivers, come most immediately to mind as individuals who need and deserve our support, but they are a just a small fraction of the many warriors in our midst.

Because of when the Committee gathered post-summer, fall reminds me of my previous pro bono publicity work for the Braintree-Milton-Randolph MA Relay For Life — an activity that regularly provides the opportunity to meet or hear the stories of patients and survivors who’ve battled or are battling many types of cancers (including breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and more), and who are incredible fighters.

I was also diagnosed with a rare cancer — abdominal sarcoma — in September 2006, so this time of year always brings reminders of the emotional and physical challenges I faced at that time and continue to face 13 years later as a result of the chronic conditions cancer treatment and surgery left me with. In fact, on the day I’m posting this, I’m off to have some CT scans to try to identify the cause for some new digestive symptoms I’ve been having.

Cs3tLONWEAALwPV

At different points over the past 7 years, I have had the good fortune of interacting with cancer and other health warriors on a weekly basis because of my “sometimes” need to receive IV iron treatments (I no longer absorb iron well from food or supplements). I say “good fortune” because, while I may arrive at my hematology/oncology practice not wanting to deal with the pricks of blood draws or IV inserts, or simply grouchy because I have to give up several hours weekly to this health inconvenience, when I witness or talk to other patients about what they are going through, I realize how small my challenges are. While I don’t wish bad health on anyone and feel great compassion for those dealing with it, the courage and grace many patients — and those who help them — exhibit under really difficult circumstances is both a reminder to me of how indomitable the human spirit is and an inspiration to me to stay positive and be grateful for the gift of life.

My pro bono work for Our Heart Speaks (OHS), an organization that provides a voice and means of healing through artistic expression to individuals finding themselves suddenly struggling with new disability or chronic illness, reminds me so often how there are individuals who feel fairly rotten on a daily basis, but who, for a variety of reasons, don’t feel comfortable or have the need for regularly sharing their pain, fright, and suffering with the outside world, including friends and family. I’ve learned thru my social media work for OHS that, particularly patients who suffer from “invisible illness,” such as digestive issues or chronic pain that isn’t obvious to both the loved ones and strangers in the patients’ lives, often feel like they must struggle with their health challenges in silence because there’s no “physical evidence” that can be seen by the human beings with which they interact that they are suffering.

As I alluded to above, we must recognize that warriors come in all shapes & sizes. Some warrior souls are cloaked in the body of a 90-year old woman, and some use the body of a 5-year old boy as their vessel. Some are battling cancer, some, other terminal or chronic diseases like ASL, MS, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. And, some struggling with serious mental/emotional illness that paralyzes them, or, with addiction or social issues, such as homelessness.

Other warriors among us are the medical professionals who give their hearts and souls to their patients by helping them both emotionally and physically deal with their illness. Still, other warriors can be found in the friends and family members of those dealing with illness who do all they can to envelop their ill loved one in an invisible blanket of love. I also believe warriors can be found among the many individuals who give their free time to generate both awareness about research studies and research funds in support of a particular health challenge or social cause.

As briefly touched on above, in addition to physical-health warriors, there are innumerable warriors among us who, while not belonging to one of the four broad warrior groups above, i.e., the afflicted/challenged individual, professional caregivers, friend and family caregivers, and awareness and fund generators, battle non-physical-health challenges that seem equally insurmountable to health challenges. These include afflictions and challenges such as poverty, injustice, discrimination, and bullying. Plus mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and PTSD.

As you do when you celebrate Halloween and seek to identify who the person is under a particular costume, make an effort to identify the warriors beneath the surface of the individuals with whom you interact. And, regardless of their circumstances, let’s all be sure to give a shout out and emotional and physical support to all the warriors we come across in our daily lives, not just in September & October, but all year long.

In close, and, in keeping with the above, please do let me know if you would like me to add a warrior song, individual, or organization to my “Keep Up The Fight” page. I would be thrilled to do so!

online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, SEM, SEO, technical SEO, Uncategorized

CAPITALIZE ON SUMMER’S LULL TO GO AFTER LOW-HANGING SEO FRUIT

I’m sure there are exceptions to this, depending on how staff summer vacations are scheduled and the nature of services you offer and the time of year those you serve tend to use them, but in general, summer seems to be a slower time for many organizations. So along with blueberry & strawberry picking during the lazy, hazy days of summer, why not consider reaching out and snagging some low-hanging fruit related to SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

Search Engine Optimization is all about making sure your organization’s website is well-positioned to rank high in search engine results listings for those terms most used by your target audience(s) to identify an organization that offers your services. There’s two broad categories of SEO tactics an organization can implement to improve how high up in results listings they appear for desired search terms: paid search (ads that appear at the top of Google, Bing, and other search engine results) and technical (non-paid activities you can undertake to improve where you come up in non-advertising/organic results).

blueberries-2278921__340

Detailed below are technical-SEO-tactic low-hanging fruit/SEO best practices to pick away at this summer. They’re presented in the order of what I believe to be the criticalness for addressing.

#1 – Make Visitors Feel Secure

  • If your site’s address is still an https:// vs. https:// one (insecure vs. secure), you are very likely being ranked lower in search engine results than your competitors and this issue is expected to worsen. Visitors don’t like visiting sites that aren’t secure and search engines don’t like to send searchers to such sites. Your website host or developer/designer should be able to install an SSL security certificate to convert your site from an insecure one to a secure one.

#2 – Think About the Company You Keep

  • If for whatever reason, a good amount of your site’s traffic is being driven by links (known as backlinks) found on sites that are considered “spammy,” this will also negatively impact where and how frequently search engines will share a listing that points to your website for terms relevant to your organization. Sometimes, many non-reputable organizations may be sending traffic to an organization’s site without your webmaster even knowing it. Read how to check for that issue and how to address it.

#3 – Mend Those Broken Relationships

  • Broken links, i.e., links on your site to another page of your site (internal link) or to the page of another organization’s site (external link) that don’t work and provide visitors with a “404” error message will cause search engines to “ding” you as far as results rankings go. Ideally, you should conduct an audit quarterly – not just during the slower days of summer – by clicking on all your site links to see if they still work.

#4 – Capitalize On Effective Relationships

  • Think about what highly respected organizations might be willing to post a link to your site from theirs since links from other credible organizations greatly improve your search engine results rankings. Reach out to those organizations this summer to ask them if they’d consider adding a link.

#5 – Plan for the Fall

  • Even if your site provides a good user experience and contains beneficial, comprehensive info., to succeed at SEO, you need to regularly update it with fresh content. Search engines reward organizations who do so. If you don’t already have a blog on your site, speak with your internal webmaster or external developer/designer about adding one (assuming you believe there are one or several internal or external individuals who can provide content). If you have a blog, but  aren’t posting regularly to it or aren’t good about “tagging” it to be found by search engines, think about how you could improve this come fall.
  • If you don’t have a “responsive” site, one that responds to the device accessing it – particularly mobile phones – speak to the individuals mentioned above about how you can address that issue in fall 2019.

And, speaking of fall, stay tuned for a late summer/early fall 411 piece that provides additional technical tactics for you to consider & pursue.

 

 

brand promise, competitive advantage, Customer Service, differentiation, good will creation, Memorability, Uncategorized, User experience

Why You Should Remind & Require Employees to “Do Your Job” and Do It Well

In my last blog post, “In Praise of Praise”, I shared my thoughts about how, in this day and age of “digital sharing”, an organization’s success or failure may be very dependent on customers’ online reviews/ratings. The same success-failure relationship holds true for an organization’s customer service quality, which, of course, individuals likely take into consideration when reviewing or rating an organization online. As a marketer, I’ve always believed prompt, effective, exemplary, and customer-satisfying customer service delivery is an organization’s most important marketing tactic and a marketing “no-brainer” along with having an effective website that is optimized for SEO. In very competitive markets, where there is little differentiation between products or services offered, it often is the one and only true differentiator.

I’ve also always been a big stickler when it comes to doing your job and doing it well — this includes having high expectations of myself as well as my co-workers, and thus, my always wanting to deliver outstanding work, both in corporate and consulting roles. I’ll never forget how, while employed at my very first permanent post-college job in a prominent bank’s corporate banking area, it was noted in my review as a criticism that I had too high or unreasonable expectations of co-workers. I couldn’t understand that being a negative trait at the time, and I still don’t comprehend why it was a perceived as a weakness that I would voice a concern to my manager whenever staff in the Bank’s wire transfer area messed up a transfer for the Bank’s biggest corporate customer — whose relationship I and my boss managed.

DO YOUR JOB

Fellow Bostonians and fans of the New England Patriots are sure to be familiar with the “Do Your Job” command associated with Coach Bill Belichick in recent years. I’ve been thinking about this statement a great deal lately, primarily because I have had, or friends and family have shared with me, so many recent experiences where individuals didn’t, had to be pushed to, or refused to do their job. It seems like it’s becoming more and more common for individuals to:

  • deliver slow or no service
  • express through body language or spoken language that they’re annoyed that they have to serve or help you, or that you asked them to serve or help you
  • ask you to self-serve or do their job for them
  • be immersed in their cell phone and not their job
  • continue talking with their co-workers when they see you standing at the counter or in line waiting to be helped

A couple examples of the above. Earlier in the week, my husband and I visited a popular and busy museum in New York City. The individual working at the coat check did not speak to us at all when we came to pick up my coat and bag, despite having chatted quite a bit with us when we dropped them off. Instead, she was very slow to get up out of her chair and get our things for us, and seemed very irritated that she had to do so. The fact that she had spoken with us previously meant there wasn’t any kind of language barrier getting in the way of her communicating with us. Therefore, she could have said “thanks” when we handed her our token and ticket to pick up the items, wished us “a good evening” as it was late in the day, or commented or asked about our visit or about our returning to the Museum. Even a smile would have gone a long way with us.

A family member recently needed help with a technical issue he was having with some software. He couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t able to get the software to function right, despite numerous attempts to use it to accomplish a necessary task. Instead, he was asked to do an extensive amount of trouble-shooting and rework on his end by the software company, when the individual with whom he was interacting could have easily identified the glitch/helped him resolve the issue. Basically, he was being asked to self-serve. And — I know I’m stating the obvious — that’s a common occurrence right now. We’re being asked now to regularly self-serve at checkout lines at the grocery store or pharmacy when we purchase products, and even self-serve related to services we receive.  And, even some smaller shops have implemented such technology.

Sure there are times when it’s helpful or quicker for customers to be able to self-serve, but I don’t believe that individuals should ever be forced to self-serve, and if we have to self-serve, shouldn’t we receive some kind of product or service price discount? Self service should be just one of several service options offered to customers. By offering self-service, organizations may believe their customers will be more satisfied, and in some cases, that may be true, but the organization also misses out on the opportunity for an individual to rave about the exceptional/outstanding/world-class service they received — service that may be the deciding factor in whether they return to a store location or use a particular service again, or the deciding factor among those with whom a client shares information about your organization’s service level.

patriots

So, what are the marketing and management implications of all of the above?

  • Managers of front line staff need to regularly conduct an assessment of how those customer-facing staff are doing their jobs and if they are doing it well via:
    • service surveys conducted of customers — I’m going to give a shout-out to the Lucerne Hotel in NYC — because they recently surveyed me with an online tool at the beginning of my stay and after my stay. Way to stay on top of any possible customer service issues!
    • hiring a mystery shopper to provide customer service experience feedback if your organization has one or several storefronts or locations where individuals receive face-to-face/in-person service from an employee
    • customers reviews posted on Facebook, Yelp, Google, and any other rating/review sites that might be relevant to your particular industry
    • other tactics, such as listening in on a staff member’s phone call with a customer (this should not be done without the staff member being aware of it, of course, or at least aware that, at any point, you might might be listening in on a customer call)
  • Organizations should ask themselves whether ALL of their target audiences/customers will welcome having to self-serve. If the answer is “no,” and there are customer or prospective client audiences who likely won’t welcome self-service, then a service option where an organization’s employees assists or waits on customers is required.

I’d so welcome hearing your thoughts and experiences related to being the victim of someone’s unwillingness to do their job or being forced to self-serve. So, please do share!