Last week a collaborative team of Web Savvy Marketers launched the new blog WebSavvyMarketers.com. The team is made up of Rahna Barthelmess, Nancy Simonds, Beth Devine and me. Our goal is to explore and discuss the numerous online marketing options availabe for businesses today. Each of us operates our own marketing and web related business yet we all have different specialties. Check out websavvymarketers.com and feel free to comment and ask questions.
Friday we launched the redesigned website for Mary’s Place, A Center for Grieving Children in Windsor, CT. I designed the original Mary’s Place website in 2003. After six years it was time for a fresh look. We incorporated video and some flash slideshows into the new design in addition to making it easier for people to donate directly through the website and through Amazon.com and IGive.com affiliations. Check out Marysplacect.org
WebSavvyMarketers is a group of four marketing professionals who have joined together to explore and comment on digital and on-line marketing. We each have a unique passion that drives our individual careers and as savvy marketers we recognize the power of strategic alliance and collaboration. Meet the WebSavvyMarketers.
Rahna Barthelmess, who jumped in with the 1st post on the blog, has a passion for marketing. She’s helped large corporations and small companies navigate the digital marketing world with up to date, and effective online strategies. She’s focused and energetic about her passion. Tap into her energy here and through her website beacon-marketing.com.
Nancy Simonds loves to proofread. Isn’t that an unusual passion? In a world where the practice of texting has developed a new lexicon and threatens the art of a complete sentence, we need people like Nancy. Although Nancy has helped develop web content for many business websites, she would probably be the first to admit that blogging, facebook, and twitter are a bit, shall we say, beyond her comfort zone. But exploring new worlds is part of being a websavvymarketer and I think Nancy’s perspective on this “new world” will bring comfort to those of you who might find some of the new technologies overwhelming. More about Nancy at simonds.com
Have you ever met anyone who loves to cold call? Meet Beth Devine. I swear, her passion for cold calling, could possibly be an addiction. What’s her perspective? How does a cold calling addict become a websavvymarketer? Stay tuned. By the way, Beth also creates multi-media sales CD’s and tradeshow presentations. and recently has begun to work with me on SEO projects. More at devinesolutionsinteractive.com,
And finally, who am I and what’s my passion? I’m Carolyn Griswold and have a passion for the web and for building websites. I love the technology that is ever evolving. I love the immediacy of the web. I love the interactivity, the functionality, the design, the language and the art. I love to explore the web and as I explore I plan to use this space to share ways to become a web savvy marketer. More at cgwebhelp.com
Contributed by Rahna Barthelmess, Chief Marketing Strategist, Beacon Marketing
Anyone who has ever participated in a brainstorming event or worked on the high school dance committee knows this very simple truth, that two heads are always better than one. The contributors to this blog have started this discussion because they believe that collaboration is one of the Top Ten Secrets of Digital Branding. Each of us feels that 1+1+1+1 really does equal so much more than four. Collaboration is a cornerstone to the digital world, underpinning such mastermind concepts as Wikipedia, that captures the world’s collective definition of all things and Amazon’s “ratings and recommendations” for music, movies, books and more.
As a Marketing Strategist, it’s my job to guide my clients in the development of the best, most business-building strategies available. Collaboration is one strategy we always employ when developing massively successful marketing plans. The tactics we use to execute those strategies are multitudinous. Blogs, wikis, forums, message boards, rating systems all work to foster that collaboration. And the beautiful thing about the digital world is that these many tools automate the collaboration process, which means that the collaboration process can go on…even when you are not there.
This blog is an example of one such automated tool. Blogs are a place where you can start a conversation and have anyone jump in at any time of the day or night. It provides a forum for listening to your consumers, an avenue for inspiration, and a way to connect with others who have similar interests, ideas, and investigations that they are undertaking.
We hope you will participate in our discussions here at this blog. Our aim is to provide inspiration and practical advice on a variety of web-related topics. All of the contributors of this blog have been involved with the web since its inception and have gained a great deal of expertise about how to market something on-line. So what is your question? Tell us what you want to know. In the meantime, we’ll share some of our wisdom and pose questions about contemporary marketing issues. Share your thoughts with us! We’re eager to engage in conversation with you!
So here’s a question for today: While you’re reading this, ask yourself, “What am I doing to engage with my customers? Who can I collaborate with to supercharge my customer’s business and my own business?” Here are some idea starters:
- Ajacent categories: What else does my customer need that relates to my product or service, but does not directly compete with me?
- “Add-ons:” Are there other services or product enhancements that could provide partnership opportunities?
- Distribution Opportunities: Perhaps there are retailers or distributors that deliver your product or service to the end user that you could collaborate with.
- Passionate Consumers: There may be concentrated enthusiast groups that you could work with to deliver even more powerful consumer experiences.
- Employees: Are there some highly customer-oriented employees that you could tap into for even greater delivery of customer engagement and satisfaction?
These are just a few of the examples of collaboration that may inspire a new delivery mechanism for you, a new section of your website, or a new product opportunity. Let us know what has worked for you (and what hasn’t!). We want to know.
Is your Web site an effective marketing tool?
The New Year is a perfect time to evaluate the effectiveness of your Web content. Use this checklist to review your written content on these ten important points:
- Does the content clearly and honestly describe your product or service?
- Have you presented your core message concisely and effectively?
- Do you use meaningful page titles, sub-headings, and other techniques that help visitors find what they’re looking for as they scan the page?
- Are your Web pages viewable in a couple of screen views, without too much scrolling down?
- Does each page have a strong call to action?
- Are there key words and phrases that help potential customers find you through a search engine?
- Do you review your site statistics to see what page visitors enter on, what page they leave from, and whether or not they take any action?
- Does the content match the design in terms of tone and personality?
- Is the type in a size, style, and color that make it accessible to the widest possible audience?
- Is your content free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors?
If you’re not sure whether your current Web content is clear, easily “scannable” by the visitor’s eye, and truly descriptive of your product and services, take advantage of our evaluation and consultation services.
Can your potential customers find you when they do an Internet search? In other words, is your web site optimized for search engine indexing? Use this checklist to evaluate your web site for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- Have you developed a key word list that contains words and phrases that describe your product or service?
- Does each page on your web site have a keyword-rich page title that accurately describes the content on that page?
- Does each page on your web site have a meta description tag that clearly describes the content on that page in one or two sentences?
- Do you use keywords within the content on your pages?
- Do you use keyword-rich alt tags for each image on every page?
- Do you use keywords in text links on your site?
- Do you update your site on a regular basis?
- Do you take advantage of industry- or regional-specific on-line directories to list your business, with a link to your web site?
- Do you use on-line PR services to submit articles related to your business that link to your web site?
- Do you have a blog, or participate in forums, blogs or on-line business networking services like Linked In, Facebook or Plaxo?
Establishing trust with clients who make contact via your web site is vital to its viability as an important component of your business. Make sure your web site provides the information people need to feel comfortable doing business with you. Remember, in the virtual web world, people don’t have the cues they might use in a brick and mortar business to decide whether they should risk doing business with you; so it’s extremely important to provide information that will assure customers that it’s safe to do business with your company on-line.
Take advantage of this checklist to evaluate your web site’s trust factor and determine if you need to make any changes or upgrades.
- Is it easy for people to find the information they need? Is the site organized and is navigation clear and easy to use?
- Does your web site look polished, clean, current and professional?
- Is the web site free of technical errors?
- Are images used effectively to present your message? Are they sized properly with the correct screen resolution (do they load fast and appear crisp and clear)?
- Does your web site’s design reflect your company’s personality and appeal to your target market?
- Are your business policies—including return, privacy and shipping policies—clearly stated and easy to find on your web site?
- Do you make it easy for people to know how to contact your company via email, phone or mail?
- Are you effectively using video or on-line sales presentations to demonstrate your product or service?
- Do you provide support information on-line such as customer forums, live chat, product manuals or service tips so people are assured they’ll have support once they’ve made a purchase?
- Is your e-commerce checkout process secure and easy to use? Do you offer payment options—credit cards, PayPal, Google checkout or other payment terms?
With the goal of making search engine results more relevant to users, Google continues to work on new methods to provide personalized results. Users will have the opportunity to rank their own results and add comments when logged into their Google account.
What does this mean for SEO? Strategies should focus less on attaining top rank but should focus on enticing the consumer to the site. Once there, the website should clearly present the material the user will need to take the action the site owner desires. Focus needs to be on:
- Writing good page titles, accurate yet enticing
- Write a good meta description
- Clear, action oriented content that clearly presents your message and invites users to take action.
One easy way to use keywords in your website is to use them in your links. Too often I see content concluded with “click here for more information”. That’s just a wasted opportunity where a keyword phrase should be used.
So, if you find yourself writing “click here” … STOP! Use a keyword instead.
Search engine optimization is an art and a science and there are many things you can do in addition to what was done during the site build to continue to improve your search engine ranking. But keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process and it can take time to get ranked and stay on the first page of a Search Engine.
Since search engines are trying to provide the most relevant search results to their clients, the best thing you can to do to improve your chance of ranking well is to build a content-rich, well organized website that is kept current with updated information.
Recommendations for keeping content fresh:
- Use a blog or user forum to make it easy to post new information and to encourage user participation
- Remove pages with outdated content, or pages without content.
- Use video – (customers and search engines like it)
Often you’ll notice that the sites that are coming up at the top of the SE list are directory sites. They have a distinct advantage over an individual or small business site because in addition to having fresh content that is updated regularly, they provide multiple resources for someone searching – thus the SE’s consider them the most relevant result to the search.
Things you should do:
- Research your keyword phrases to determine the best terms to use and regularly add keyword rich content to the website.
- Ensure that keywords are used in page titles, meta tags, content and content headings.
- Get listed on appropriate online directories (professional directories, yellow pages, chambers of commerce, etc.)
- Submit press releases to online PR services
- Set-up a Google Adwords or other PPC program
- Review your site statistics or a program like Google Analytics to analyze what is working – what pages people are landing on and where they go once they get there. Make adjustments based on analysis
- Maximize your virtual network with professional networking sites like Linked In or Plaxo
- Participate on professional forums and offer your expertise
Things to avoid:
- Pop-up windows
- Dead links
- Identical content posted in duplicate locations
- Overuse of Flash