Archive: Sep 2013

  1. How to Develop a Robust Mobile Strategy

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    You wake up to the alarm on your phone. Then you quickly check the weather forecast for the day from your weather app. While standing in line for the elevator at work, you get caught up on world news through Twitter. When it’s time for lunch, you don’t feel like walking down the street, so you order takeout from your favorite restaurant through their app. As you are about to leave work, you get an alert about a traffic accident. Now you know to take an alternate route. After a long day, you’re not sure what to eat for dinner, so you find a new recipe with a quick search. All in a day’s work for your mobile device.

    If this is how you are using your mobile device, you better believe your customers are using it the same way.

    Mobile is no longer an option; it is a way of life. According to StatCounter, mobile devices now drive almost 20% of all global internet traffic. Google recently confirmed that sites without optimized mobile experiences won’t rank as high in their search results. And if you want Google to like your business, you better start with some mobile initiatives.

    Most consumers are not only using mobile devices for search but they are starting with mobile devices for search. 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. This isn’t just when they don’t have access to a computer; this is when consumers are at home, on the couch, with friends, or travelling. To be straightforward, if you don’t have a mobile strategy, you are losing out.

    Here are 4 tips to develop a robust mobile strategy:

    1. Know Your Business and Know Your Consumers

    It may seem like a no brainer, but the first step in developing a mobile strategy is starting with self-reflection. Determine the key aspects of your business and what consumers need from your brand. For instance, analyze the mobile visitor’s behavior on the current site. What pages are they requesting? Where are most of the mobile visitors dropping? Once you know what they need and what you want to get across, you can begin to cultivate a plan of action.

    2. Create a Mobile Website

    Consumers expect to easily be able to view a company website through their mobile device. One of the best options recommended by Google for a mobile-optimized website is responsive web design in which the website responds to the device your customer uses. This means one website with a layout that varies depending on whether your customer is on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Without a mobile-optimized website, customers can become frustrated and annoyed by the enlarging, scrolling, and unnecessary clicking they may have to do. A mobile-optimized website allows consumers to find the information they need quickly. Create a layout that highlights key points your consumers will want to find – location, phone number, hours, sales, or specials.

    You will also want to optimize your mobile pages for organic search. Google recommends focusing on rendering above-the-fold content to users in one second or less while the rest of the page continues to load and render in the background. Web pages that render quickly will rank better than those that have a long load time. Another consideration for the web developer is to avoid common configuration mistakes that affect rankings in a Google search. These mistakes include unplayable videos, faulty redirects, and app download interstitials.

    3. Understand and Develop PPC ads

    Mobile PPC ads are based on four main factors:

    Position –  Because screen sizes on smartphones are smaller than desktops, it is extremely important for advertisers to bid more aggressively for the first two positions on the search page results. If you don’t come up in the first 2 positions, your ads will be shown at the bottom of the first screen, or worst, pushed to the second page, increasing the chance of not being seen.

    Keywords – Generally, mobile searches include more misspellings and shorter phrases than those performed on desktop computers. If budget allows, keep this in mind and bid on commonly misspelled brand and related terms.

    Individuality – Write ads that are tailored specifically for mobile users. Potential customers performing searches on mobile devices want to find information quickly and be able to navigate the site easily as possible. Mobile accessible discounts, promotional codes, or sales alerts that are triggered by location encourage users to utilize a business’ mobile site or app.

    Extensions – When possible, ads should take advantage of call extensions. If your business has a phone number, you can easily include a “Call” button in your ad or on your website that allows the searcher the option to call your business right then and there. Remember, 52% of users have called a business after searching.

    4. Incorporate Social Media

    Social media and a mobile strategy go together like peanut butter and jelly. This is where you can really engage your consumers to use all the mobile strategies you’ve been working on. Offer mobile-friendly coupons, start a loyalty program that requires customers to “check-in” to earn rewards, or go big and create an app designed precisely for the needs of your customers. Encourage your customers to continue to use the app/mobile device to drive engagement and build brand loyalty.

    70% of mobile searches lead to action within an hour. Can you imagine what that number will be like in the next year? The next two years? Consumers expect a mobile strategy. However, don’t jump into creating it without a plan. It’s important to make your mobile strategy memorable and creative but most importantly useful. Don’t forget about the “real world” aspects and how mobile will be incorporated. Developing a strategy to serve your customers, creating a mobile-optimized website, utilizing mobile ads, and incorporating social media are four main ways to ensure your business will be ready for 2014 and most importantly, ready to serve your customers.

  2. Mobile: Transform the Way You Serve Your Customer

    Author: | 1 Comment

    According to comScore, one in every three minutes spent online is spent on devices other than a PC. With the increase in usage of mobile and tablets, businesses need a mobile strategy to compete and meet customer needs, regardless how big or small the company is.

    Mobile devices are extensions of the people who use them. According to research done by Morgan Stanley, 91% of all Americans have their mobile devices within reach of them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Given the growth of the industry, Internet availability, and the number of consumers using mobile devices, there should be no question as to whether or not a business should develop a mobile strategy to reach local consumers.

    Let’s talk about the keys to an effective mobile strategy:

    A Mobile-Optimized Website

    A mobile-optimized website is essential for an effective mobile strategy. According to Google, 67% of mobile users say they are more likely to buy a product or service from a site that is mobile-friendly because a well-designed mobile experience allows users to easily find the information they are looking for without frustration. When designed correctly, mobile sites can make a sale available at the touch of a button.

    On the other hand, 52% of users say a poor mobile experience will make them less likely to engage with that brand in the future. So you can see how critical a mobile-optimized website is to conversions and your company’s brand and reputation.

    A Local Search Strategy

    Approximately 40% of all mobile searches on Google are for local purposes and that number will continue to grow. In today’s world, consumers are relying on their mobile devices for information on everything, including local products and services. This is a big opportunity for local businesses to be found.

    An SEO campaign that targets a specific location is the most effective way to ensure potential customers can find you. A well-executed local SEO strategy means your website is optimized for location-specific keywords as well as for local business directories like Google+ Local and Bing Local. These directories are important because Google and Bing have assigned the top of their search results pages to local businesses for local searches. Being listed at the top of the search results page is important; 92% of traffic comes from first page search results.

    In addition to organic search, consider using paid search to increase mobile traffic. The key is creating a PPC campaign that targets the specific location you serve. This includes adding the business phone number and address in the PPC ad. This will allow mobile users to quickly find you or easily click to call you. It is important to test and monitor your ad ranking to make sure it is being shown at the top of the first page of results, as traffic drops by 95% when you move to page two.

    Conclusion

    As consumer behaviors and attitudes change, marketers will need to quickly adapt to stay ahead of the competition. According to Collin Cornwell, Vice President, Natural Search, iCrossing, “In order to compete for today’s sophisticated online consumers, brands must have a deep understanding of how users arrive at their website, and the tools and know-how to optimize their site to stay in front of the consumer at every step of the purchase cycle.”

    Multi-channel customer care options including a mobile-optimized website and paid search advertising are becoming a must for businesses. By developing an effective mobile strategy, your business will strengthen customer relationships, build brand loyalty, and increase its bottom line.

    Are you fine-tuning your mobile strategy? Share your ideas in the comments below:

  3. 3 Ways to Measure Your SEO Success

    Author: | 8 Comments

    Like any other marketing tactic, site owners want to see the results of their SEO investment. Are their efforts/time/money paying off? Since SEO is long-term, it’s often hard to show immediate progress, but with a few months of link building, content creation, and social activity under your belt, it’s usually possible to see some semblance of positive progress. Here are three ways site owners can measure their SEO success:

    1. Increase in non-branded, organic traffic.

    Probably the easiest way to measure SEO success, a growth in non-branded, organic traffic is usually a sure sign your SEO campaign is having a positive impact on your website. Visitors who come to your site through non-branded keywords didn’t necessarily set out looking to do business with your brand; they found you through the search engines. As you optimize your website and begin to build new links and fresh content and grow your social presence, your website earns more SEO value, helping it do better in the SERPs for various search phrases. Depending on your niche, your SEO growth might be a steady upward slope month after month, while for other companies it has its ups and downs and is a slower process. But even a small increase in organic traffic month over month adds up. While 50 new visitors a month may not seem like much right now, at the end of the year that’s an extra 600 visitors.

    2. Increase in referral links and visitors.

    As you build more content, both on your blog and on other industry sites, you are also building/earning natural links. One blog post on a popular niche blog can send hundreds of visitors to your site over a few months. For instance, I did an interview with link building expert Eric Ward, which he linked to from the homepage of his site. In a month that one referral link sent 800 unique visitors back to the blog post! As you build/earn links you might start to notice new referral links and extra bursts in traffic. For instance, one of my clients wrote a blog post that got linked to from a Forbes blogger (perfect example of earning links through content marketing!) and that post is still sending 25-50 visitors a month to their blog. Take a look in your Google Webmaster Tools account and download the latest links to see if there are any new referral links that indicate your SEO program is proving successful. You can also look in Google Analytics as well as Moz’s Open Site Explorer for new referral links.

    3. Increase in number of non-branded keywords driving traffic.

    While you may have a short list of “money keywords” that you want to do well for, those aren’t the only search phrases that could be driving traffic to your website. A good SEO program is about building organic traffic from as many relevant search phrases as possible because no two people are guaranteed to search for the same thing in the same way. You want your website to be a viable result for a wide variety of non-branded search phrases in order to connect with as large a customer base as possible. Take a look at your Google Analytics account, pick a time frame 6 months before your started your SEO campaign, and compare it to now—how many new non-branded keywords are appearing? It doesn’t matter if those new keywords sent 10 visitors apiece or just 1—more non-branded keywords is a good sign that your SEO campaign is helping improve your organic search presence.

    Obviously the end goal of any marketing program is to increase sales, but it’s equally important to look at these SEO successes as steps along the conversion path. You can’t reach more customers if they can’t find your website, right? An increase in traffic, referral links, and non-branded keywords are all signs that your overall online presence is growing and with that comes more leads into your sales funnel.

    About the Author

    Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com/), a Boston-area SEO company. With over 13 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his SEO knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO newsletter, read by over 120,000 opt-in subscribers.

    Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or nick@brickmarketing.com

  4. Social Media and Your Customers: Using Facebook for Customer Acquisition

    Author: | 1 Comment

    Consumers live in social media so it only makes sense for you to establish your company there as well. Businesses have spent the last few years trying to figure out how to effectively use social media as a customer acquisition channel. A recent study showed that 77% of B2C companies and 43% of B2B companies have acquired customers from Facebook, so there is evidence that you can successfully turn fans into real-life customers.

    As an efficient platform for engagement and community building, Facebook allows businesses to share information within seconds and stay linked with their fan base. It is important to establish a connection and interact with customers through this channel for entertainment, branding, and customer support purposes.

    “Building a solid community from your loyal customer base is the best way to attract quality prospects that can be converted,” says Debra Ellis, a business consultant and author of 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing. “The people who use your products and services are the ones who are most likely to have friends and family that would like your company too.”

    Here are 5 ways your company can turn Facebook fans into paying customers:

    1. Sweepstakes and Contests – Promotions are a great way to increase traffic to a website and develop sales leads. Traffic to a website is important because traffic increases the opportunity to make sales. Running a giveaway not only keeps your customers engaged and sharing your brand but it’s also a useful way to grow your email listings. Whether you are starting with 100 or 100,000 fans on your Facebook page, giveaways have been proven to increase that number. A basic enter-to-win sweepstakes with a lower barrier to entry often proves the best option.
    2. Facebook Ads – Take advantage of Facebook ads and direct traffic to your website. Facebook ads aren’t simply more established on the site, they are actually more efficient. You can entice your audience with special offers and sales. The advantage of using Facebook ads is you can target your customers by location, age, gender, and even interest. Facebook ads also allow you to remarket your ads, so if a customer searches for your product or a similar product outside of Facebook, they can be reached when they return based on their search information.
    3. Outreach With Email – While social media platforms are instant and easy to share, the best way to acquire and retain customers is through email marketing. Use every opportunity to encourage customers to join your mailing list. As mentioned earlier, promotions are a great way to build your email list. Include a checkbox in sweepstakes forms for participants to sign up for promotional deals, or consider linking your signup form to your Facebook page with an app. Offer incentives for participation with a special discount.
    4. “Fan-Only” Coupons – Having a Facebook fan base gives you the ability to stay in contact with your current customers and reach potential customers. Coupons are a great way to bridge the gap between fan and customer. Many of your fans already use your products so take advantage of that. Coupons aren’t pushy, but act more as an invitation to browse your products. If a fan “likes” your page, they are already showing interest in your brand. For those who like your page but have never purchased your product, a “Fan-Only” coupon will entice them to make a first purchase. In fact, a recent study by ExactTarget and CoTweet found that 40% of people who liked a Facebook page did it initially to receive a discount or coupon. Coupons give you the opportunity to take the conversation off your Facebook page and into your store. Using a variety of coupon campaign applications, you can easily create a coupon that customers can print out and redeem in store. If you want to build your email list, you can have your customers enter their email address to receive coupons. Also, making the coupon “Fan-Only” can drive more clicks because of the exclusivity.
    5. Post Testimonials – We all know that Word-of-Mouth is the best form of advertising, and this holds true online. Post customer testimonials to let your fans see what real people are saying about your products. Don’t just have testimonials that say your products are great; post testimonials that discuss how the product solved a common problem, too. A great example of this is weight-loss products that show photos and post testimonials from people who have used them. They don’t sell; they tell a story about their product.

    It is possible to turn Facebook fans into paying customers but you need to do it in ways that are much different than traditional advertising. People go on Facebook to read stories, not to look at products. Tell a story, engage with your audience, solve a problem, and then you will get new paying customers.

  5. Battle for Conversion

    Author: | 6 Comments

    When you have managed to attract traffic to your website, the next problem arises: how to lead visitors to the goals we want them to complete; in other words – how to convert inbound traffic into sales.

    In this article you will find a review of several tools that can be used to increase the conversion and make users happy.

    The process of conversion improvement consists of several stages. Each of them is equally important as the information obtained from the previous stage is used for the next one.

    It’s not difficult to increase the conversion

    You just need to:

    Understand website goals - Website goals may be of two types, at least – transitional and final. What final goal means is clear: for online stores, it could be purchase; for Groupon, sign up; and so forth. But on the path to this goal, some transitional goals may exist.

    Important. Your goals and the goals of your users are not always the same. Fancy dress and simple process of purchase are not synonyms. Think as a user, even as an inexperienced one.

    For example, some users may want to fly to Thailand; others’ dream destination is Paris or Barcelona. They look for tickets many times and compare hotels, but they make a purchase only after several months. In this case, the path from transitional goal to final is really long, and this chain should be tracked.

    Define entry points and their distinction - Users who arrived from the organic search and frequent buyers may require different information from the service.

    Consider all possible paths from entry point to the goal - But it is not possible you may say! That is why it is required to define the most important paths and make them as easy as possible.

    Be flexible, monitor, and experiment - The most interesting part – on this stage the first three stages are run on circles, while you collect the information and study the results.

    Tools review: how to track and adjust the process

    So let’s say you are analyzing the website with information about air tickets. The main goals are: the search on site, newsletter sign up, and, the most important but suspended in time goal – air ticket purchase. This feature – suspended goals – became available not so long ago, and it is really great option.

    After we have set up the goals, we need to gather the initial conversion statistics – it will be our starting point. Depending on goals number as well as visit and transaction frequency, the initial data could be collected in a few hours or over several weeks.

    Setting up goals may not only help evaluate the efficiency but detect website problems as well. For example, thanks to the conversion report, you may find out that JS doesn’t work properly and half of users are not able to reach the goal.

    When initial data is at our disposal we can start out. Let’s look at the tools that can help us in this.

    We will begin with Yandex.Metrica

    Yandex. Metrica offers several marvelous tools for in-page analysis that you can use to understand what prevents the user from reaching the target page.sempo blog xx

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Form analysis – one of the major tools used by online stores and service-based companies with unusual registration process. The instrument shows how many users began filling in the form, how many of them did so to completion, and where the majority abandoned the process. Excellent feature that helps create forms for people indeed.

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    Link map – allow you to see where users click, what interests them, and how they use the navigation.

    Scroll map – you will find out in seconds to what length the page “works.” The more content in the blind zone, the more you will have to change.

    Click path analysis – gives you insights into how a user arrives at your website, where he goes then, and how close he is to the final point when he quits the process.

    The tools mentioned above work best for static analysis, meaning that before making such analysis, you will have to gather enough data for a long period of time – week or month.

    Click map without additional settings is convenient to apply for such pages as the main page. But what to do if your website has lots of pages of similar type but with different URLs, and you would like to see the overall picture of users’ behavior? This is where urlFilter comes in handy. With the help of this filter, you can group several pages into one. For example, if you wish to group all the pages in the search on site, you will have to write the following piece of code:

    yaCounter.clickmap({
    urlFilter: function(urlOrig) {
    var url = window.location.pathname.toLowerCase(),
    prefix = ‘http://’ + window.location.host;
    if (url.substr(0, 8) === ‘/search/’) {
    return prefix + url.substr(0, 11);
    }
    // other groups
    // …
    return urlOrig;
    }
    });

    In the report, you will see those pages with full URLs, but when you view the map, the result will be common for all the pages.

    Webvisor – a unique, free-of-charge function in Yandex.Metrica. Some time ago, Webvisor was a separate product, but in 2010, Yandex purchased the code along with the team, and since 2011, this functionality is a part of Metrica tools.

    Webvisor allows viewing users’ activity in motion. It records their actions – clicks, filling in the forms, moving mouse (it is a separate and fun bonus that indicates that user was bored and needed some useful information to entertain) – and then plays it for you as a video.

    Webvisor comes into play if there is a page that users steadily leave, and you need to find out why they can’t or don’t continue the path and reach the goal.

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    Now let’s talk about Google Analytics

    These days Google is transforming Analytics from just a statistical instrument into A/B tests and usability experiments platform. You will find an enormous functionality there.

    Universal Analytics is a Google Analytics feature. Not all the features in Universal Analytics work properly at the moment, as they are in beta version, but, no doubt, they offer great functionality. The new Analytics version works faster, offers wider limits, allows sending queries from the backend, and so on. Besides, new opportunities of Google Analytics will be implemented only in the Universal version.

    We are interested in the Conversions section.

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    The last three Conversion Goals – Reverse Goal Path, Funnel Visualization, and Goal Flow – allow you to see the overall picture of what is going on the website even for really large projects.

    If additionally to this features you will set up events, you will be able to receive the picture of how user navigates through your website.

    For example, Goal Flow report gives you a visual picture of how visitors arrived at your website and reached the goal, and whether they took the path you expected or if there was another funnel.

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    Now let’s talk about the most advanced and cool Google Analytics functionality – ability to transmit events from server and tracking them offline!

    For example, the same website offering information about air tickets doesn’t sell anything itself – the purchase is completed on a third-party website, so we can’t track the event as we are not able to place tracking code there. In time, we receive sales data, but it is still unclear as to what source contributed the most.

    Google helps everyone who has transactions offline solve this problem.

    Google unified the interface responsible for the interaction with analytics servers. All the queries come to URL www.google-analytics.com/collect and acquire the same set of parameters, regardless of whether we use backend-e or frontend-e. The one distinction is that in js-e we have at our disposal already finished and useful function with the help of which we can send any events:

    // connecting analytics.js
    ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXX-Y’);
    ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘category’, ‘action’, ‘label’, value);

    On the server side, though, the whole query is sent as POST payload, coded in form-urlencoded

    POST /collect HTTP/1.1
    Host: www.google-analytics.com

    v=1
    &tid=UA-XXXX-Y
    &cid=555
    &t=event
    &ec=category
    &ea=action
    &el=label
    &ev=value

    You may notice the additional parameter cid — client ID. This is also a new opportunity in Universal Analytics. If before, only Analytics could define what a visitor is, now we can manually specify our ID.

    Here is the official documentation to help anyone who would like to try offline tracking.

    This method could be applied for conferences, shops, concerts. You just give the users unique coupons and then check in Google Analytics events whether the user has made the purchase.

    Working on conversion improvement could be an endless process. Once there is a new chapter on the website, new functionality or special offer, it is time to start working toward better usability, higher conversion, and website simplicity.

    If you are already using offline analytics from Google, please tell us about this in the comments below!

    Roman Viliavin, Partner at Promodo SEM Company.

    Unconventional Thinker and candidate master of chess. Roman has been working in the field of search engine optimization since 2005 and is the moving spirit of the company. Participant and speaker of all major events in SEO business. Roman has successfully completed dozens of projects and gladly shares his experience with SEO community via articles and various online and offline publications. Follow Roman on Twitter and Facebook.