The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Black Hole of Blogging and Twitter, The Importance of Consistency and Persistence for Building Critical Mass in Social Media

Why many new bloggers and Twitter users get frustrated and drop off the social media grid.It’s hard to have a conversation about online marketing without bringing up both blogging and Twitter. Both have become critical components of a well-balanced online marketing mix (and for good reason). Blogs can be the anchor in a social media marketing strategy, enabling a company to humanize itself, provide valuable content for targeted users, and also target the long tail of SEO (which is critically important for natural search). Then you have Twitter, which has become a powerful way to engage targeted users and to get the word out about your valuable content. If you’re new to social media marketing, then blogging and Twitter should probably be the first two items on your checklist when starting. They are too powerful and ubiquitous to ignore.

So based on what I just explained, it’s natural for companies to get excited about launching a blog and Twitter account. Setting them up is the easy part (as most people find out). The act of consistently and continually blogging and tweeting is the hard part (and where most people fail). Once the accounts are set up and ready to go, I typically hear a few important questions from new bloggers and Twitter users. For example, “what should I blog about?” or “why do my tweets seem to go nowhere?”, and “what’s the ROI of this?” I’ve heard these types of questions so many times, that I can almost answer them in my sleep. To help demonstrate the problem, I’ve displayed a bell curve below representing the stages in the process of starting a blog or Twitter account. The graph includes brainstorming, excitement and enthusiasm, the launch, publishing, the first encounter of the “black hole”, and then a quick fade to confusion, frustration, slowdown, and ultimately silence. The cause of the trend is what I like to call The Black Hole of Blogging and Twitter. It won’t be studied in astronomy classes across the country, but believe me, it’s there.

The Bell Curve of New Bloggers and Twitter Users.

Defining The Black Hole of Blogging and Twitter
There's a slide in my presentation about social media marketing that consists of a single large black circle with the caption, “This is what you’ll be blogging to once you launch.” Then the following slide contains another black circle with the caption, “And this is what you’ll be tweeting to...” Both circles represent the black hole that new bloggers and Twitter users face during the beginning of their social media initiatives.

But what exactly is the black hole of blogging and Twitter? It’s actually simple when you break it down (and makes a lot of sense). When you start a blog or Twitter account, nobody knows about you (usually) and the hard truth is that nobody cares. Your priority as a new blogger or Twitter user should be to build credibility and trust, and just like in the offline world, that takes time. So, you start writing killer blog posts and tweeting valuable content. You build some subscribers and followers, but nobody gets in touch with you.

There are no retweets.
There are no votes.
There are no stumbles.
There are no high search engine rankings.
There are no comments.
And there are no calls.

Yes, you just realized that you’re blogging and tweeting to a black hole. Cue Twilight Zone music. :)

Overcoming The Black Hole
I’m sure you’re wondering how you break out of the black hole. Good question. In order to break out and gain some traction, you need to build critical mass. And no, this isn’t easy and you cannot game critical mass. Building 2000 Twitter followers in a week via some automated service won’t build you true followers. It will build zombie followers. And although they’ll be there, they won’t know who you are, they won’t care about you or your tweets, and you’ll get no value from having them. You need to earn true followers.

The Key To Breaking Out of the Black Hole
The key to breaking out of the black hole is to build a strategy for blogging and tweeting and simply keep going… You need to keep blogging, promoting your posts, and connecting with other bloggers. You need to respond to comments on your blog and on Twitter (although there won’t be many in the beginning). You need to be consistent, persistent, and tough it out. On Twitter, you need to keep pumping out valuable content. It should be content that interests targeted users. You should track your tweets to find out what your followers are interested in and refine the content that you tweet. You need to filter what’s important and make sure you tweet multiple times per day, every day. Yes, that’s every day, including weekends. You need to engage other Twitter users, respond to direct messages, and help out your followers. No, it’s not easy, but the benefit will greatly outweigh the work involved. But, that benefit will only come if you work your way out of the black hole.

If you do end up gaining critical mass, then the black hole will start to shrink. You’ll see breaks of light in the darkness and you might start connecting with people from all over the world. If you’re tracking your efforts, you’ll start to see more subscribers, retweets, inbound links to blog posts, social media activity around your posts (like Stumbles, Diggs, Bookmarks, etc.) You might just start becoming a believer in Twitter, blogging, and social media. And always try to remember the bell curve I provided above, and try as hard as possible to not become part of that trend. Unfortunately, I see it way too often from companies launching new blogs and Twitter accounts.

Did I Mention SEO?
As more people enjoy your posts, share them with others, tweet them to their followers, vote for them, and bookmark them, the more valuable links your blog will build. The more valuable links you build, the more SEO power you gain. The more SEO power you gain, the more keywords you’ll rank for. And as more targeted users search for topics you write about, they might very well end up at your blog. And since you’ll promote your Twitter account right on your blog, you’ll also gain them as Twitter followers. And the more subscribers, followers, fans, and new customers you build, the more you’ll want to blog and tweet. The cycle will all make sense to you at this point, but you need to get there first. I’ve written about the Twitter Effect on SEO previously on my blog. Read the post and you can see how both blogging and Twitter can have a profound effect on natural search. You shouldn’t ignore that fact. Natural Search is too powerful to ignore.

Don’t Give Up
If you’re new to blogging and Twitter and you are currently dealing with the infamous black hole, don’t get frustrated. Stay the course and keep going. You need to keep building and sharing quality content, connecting with others, tweeting great articles, etc. And if you’re able to work your way through the black hole, you might eventually see the power waiting on the other side. But if you let the black hole get to you (like many people do), you’ll end up off the grid, and you’ll lose out. And if that happens, you’ll leave a void that your competitors could fill. And they sure will. The opportunity is there. Make sure you’re in the game.

Now go write a blog post. :)


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Monday, December 29, 2008

The Top Blog Posts of 2008 From The Internet Marketing Driver

The Most Popular Blog Posts in 2008 from Glenn Gabe.
I always love reviewing my web analytics reporting for an entire year. It’s amazing to see which posts were the most popular. I can tell you that there’s definitely a trend with my most popular posts from 2008. My visitors really like "how-to" posts! That’s pretty clear and it doesn’t shock me at all. I’ve mentioned before the power of instructional articles and blog posts. Expect more in 2009! That said, there were also some non-instructional posts that made the top ten. It seems my visitors also like beer brands, mobile marketing, and DVR’s. That’s right, I said beer... Have I piqued your curiosity?

Let’s jump in. I’ve provided links below to my top ten posts, including a short description about each. I’m also eager to start writing my 2009 posts soon so definitely check back often!

1. Using SWFObject 2.0 to Embed Flash While Providing SEO Friendly Alternative Content
Natural Search is too powerful to keep producing flash content that can’t be crawled. My post about using SWFObject 2.0 to provide alternative html content ranks as my most popular post in 2008. In addition, I recently wrote a 2 part series on ReelSEO that covers using SWFObject 2.1 for providing alt content for flash video. Be sure to check out all three posts.

More About My 2-Part Series on ReelSEO About Using SWFObject for Flash Video:

2. 6 Questions You Should Ask During a Website Redesign That Can Save Your Search Engine Rankings
Be sure to ask these six questions during your next website redesign and you can very well save your search engine rankings. The alternative might be a serious drop in natural search traffic, which may end up forcing you to ask these questions anyway. ;-)

3. How to Make a YouTube Video, A Beginner’s Checklist for Marketers
With online video booming, it didn’t surprise me that my post about how to create a YouTube video came in at number 3. This post takes you through each step in the process of creating a YouTube video from storyboarding to choosing a camera to editing your final video. If online video is part of your marketing mix this year, then you might find this post extremely helpful.

4. Pabst Blue Ribbon and Negative Brand Perception, How Word of Mouth (WOM) and Brand Evangelists Can Impact Your Business
If you’ve ever had a negative reaction when hearing a brand name, only to find out that you actually like the product, then you might enjoy this post. I couldn’t believe how much I liked PBR, and after writing this post, how many other people like it as well!

5. QuickTime Pro, A Powerful and Versatile Video Tool for Web Marketers
QT Pro is my favorite utility for online video. Seriously, it’s the Swiss Army Knife for video. Check out this post if you plan to work with video this year. It can save you hours…

6. The Long Tail of SEO, How Long Tail Keywords Impact Natural Search Traffic, Bounce Rate and Conversion
I refer to the long tail of SEO often, especially when starting a natural search project. This post defines the long tail and explains why you don’t want to rank for just a handful of competitive keywords... You want to rank for the hundreds or thousands of long tail keywords associated with those keywords. Don’t overlook the long tail!

7. The DVR and Its Effect on TV Advertising Recall, Do Your Commercials Stand Out?
This post was in response to a study conducted to see what people retained while watching TV commercials at 6x normal speed (what is looks like when being fast forwarded at top speed on a DVR). Needless to say, I couldn’t hold back with my thoughts on this one… I decided to run my own experiment.

8. Setting Up Your Google Maps Listing, Make Sure Your Business Shows Up In Google Local Search
This post introduces Google’s local one box results and how to set up a local business center listing (step by step). If you own a local business, or you are helping a local business owner, then definitely check out this post. It can help you gain more exposure in Natural Search for local searches.

9. Mobile eCommerce, Blurs the Line Between Web and Mobile Purchase
If you’ve tried to purchase something on your mobile device, then you know it’s not the smoothest process yet. That said, my mobile e-commerce experience on blew me away. It was fast, seamless, and I was so impressed that I wrote an entire post about it! If you are interested in mobile e-commerce, check out this post.

10. YouTube Insight, How to Optimize and Enhance Your Online Videos Using Analytics
Did you know that YouTube provides a video analytics tool for free? It’s called YouTube Insight and it provides some outstanding functionality. You can learn a lot from the reporting that YouTube Insight provides. Read this post and start optimizing your online videos today.

There you have it, the 10 most popular posts for 2008 from the Internet Marketing Driver. I hope you have a chance to check some of them out and that you find them helpful! If you have any comments or questions, definitely use the form below to post a comment. In addition, if you would like me to write more about a specific topic, definitely let me know.

Happy New Year!


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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Twitter For Business, 4 Things You Should Be Using Twitter For Today to Help Your Business

Using Twitter to connect with your customers.I’m a big fan of Twitter, the microblogging service that has become ridiculously popular over the past year or two. Whenever I tell someone about Twitter, I typically get a strange look. That’s especially true if I started explaining how I just “tweeted” something. A few chuckles usually follow and then I typically receive my first question, “So, what is Twitter?” After explaining what the service is (and what it isn’t), I usually get the next question, “Well, how can I use Twitter for my business?” Seriously, this happens all the time…it’s definitely a trend. Enough of a trend that I was thinking about recording my response on my Blackberry and then just hitting play when needed. ;-)

I believe Twitter is a powerful tool for connecting with customers (and prospective customers) on several levels. So, after hearing the questions I listed above too many times, I thought it would be smart (and helpful) to write this post. Now, if you don’t think that Twitter can help your business (whether you are a large or small business), then please read on. I’ll provide 4 ways you should be using Twitter today (yes, today) to help your business.

Defining Microblogging, Twitter and Your Followers
Let’s start with a few definitions. Twitter is a microblogging service that enables you to send short messages (140 characters or less) via SMS, IM, Email, and even via applications that were developed for Twitter (by third parties). Most of you who have heard of Twitter probably think of SMS (or Text Messaging), since that’s the communication mechanism that’s commonly connected with Twitter, so to speak. When you sign up for the service, you can start “following” others, and they in turn, can start “following” you. When you follow someone, you receive their “tweets”, which are their short messages, which will show up in your timeline. You can also choose to have those messages sent to your mobile phone via SMS. When people follow you, they are choosing to receive your “tweets”, or messages. Sounds simple, right? It definitely is simple from that standpoint, but the power of Twitter is in how you use it.

4 Things You Can Use Twitter For Today to Enhance Your Business
And when I say “today”, I mean today. You should sign up and get moving. If you follow the four bullets listed below, I’m confident you’ll see the power of Twitter. You just need to give it a try.

1. Connect with your followers and customers, and provide VALUE to them.
Twitter provides a powerful way to keep in touch with your customers. Think about it. You can start to promote your Twitter account in all your communications, in your email signature, on your cards, on your blog, your website, etc. to start to build up your followers. Some of your customers are going to dig Twitter because they want direct and fast contact with someone at your company. Twitter provides an unbelievable way for your customers to get in touch with you, and for you to get back in touch with them. For example, let’s say you have a new product launch. You can send a series of tweets out to your group of followers. You might even have some of your followers retweet your original message, which can really help get the word out. Are you expecting a service outage as part of an upgrade? Send a tweet to your customers letting them know that the service will be down for a few hours. Think about how many calls you will save your customer service center. Again, many of your followers will have SMS turned on, which means they will get your message on their mobile phone (wherever they are), versus just email…

I’m also a big fan of educating your customers on a regular basis. Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be about self promotion (completely). It could be more about your industry. For example, send tweets to your followers about industry news, cool websites you find, helpful blog posts, new tools that launch, etc. You can stay in front of your customers by providing valuable content that actually helps them. It’s a win win. So after you sign up for Twitter, launch a quick campaign for getting your customers to follow you. Explain the benefits to them and then point them to Twitter. Gain your following quickly.

2. Twitter for Customer Service (TFCS)
This is similar to the first bullet point, but more from a customer service angle. Using Twitter, you have the ability to handle customer service issues in near real time. I’ve seen quite a few tweets from people who are upset about a product or service WHILE THEY ARE USING IT. Imagine that this was your product or service. You might have the ability to resolve an issue before it gets worse…and before they tweet more…or blog about it…and maybe, yes maybe, they become loyal customers since you handled their situation so promptly. How about questions about your service? I have seen (and been part of), questions about products or services. For example, “Which smartphone do you like best?” “Which HDTV do you guys recommend?” or “Which vacation spot do you like better, Cabo or Hawaii and why?” These are great opportunities to learn what people are saying and you can easily join the conversation (just don’t hop in and start pitching your product). If you can provide valuable information, then feel free to get in touch with the person or group in question. This could be a great way for you to connect with many influential people in an industry.

3. Twitter and PR, Monitor Tweets and Respond Accordingly
Most PR professionals are using a number of tools to monitor chatter on the web, such as Google Alerts. Twitter should be another tool in your arsenal. I can tell you first hand how representatives of companies have gotten in touch with me based on my tweets. Some of my original messages were positive and others were not, but regardless, you can benefit as a company from monitoring these messages (and any replies). For example, looking for people buzzing about your products or services? You might find a number of people on Twitter that keep tweeting about your products. Well, get in touch with them! On the flip side, if you find a person that just hammered your product or brand, get in touch with them too. Twitter can be a great way to curb negative word of mouth. Putting a human element in the mix when someone is frustrated can be a great way to nip the problem in the bud. Maybe it was a miscommunication or that customer didn’t know about the latest upgrade or product offering. A simple Direct Message within Twitter might resolve the entire situation…and they might even tweet about the positive experience after it has been resolved. You cannot be afraid of doing this… If you are, then you won’t reap the benefits of the community. It’s similar to situations where I am talking to companies about blogging and I hear the question, “But what if we get a negative comment?” If that person is you, overcome this fear…you won’t regret it.

There are some good examples of companies using Twitter to connect with customers. For example, Omniture, Comcast, and Carnival Cruise Lines. I hope to see many more companies follow their lead.

4. Connect with others in your industry.
I have met some incredible people from all over the world using Twitter, and I can honestly say that I never would have met them without using the service. Actually, it’s really funny when you connect with someone close to your location and you never knew they were there! That has also happened to me a few times. It’s pretty easy in Twitter to find like minded people. You can use third party tools to search through tweets to find people talking about specific industries, products, services, brands, etc. Once you find their profile, you can easily start following them, and then you can check out their followers. Chances are you’ll find a number of additional people to follow in a relatively short period of time. Then, those people might start following you.

Now don’t stop there… You should join the conversation and communicate with others (yes, that means 2 way communication). If you do join the conversation (and I recommend you do versus sitting there reading tweets), then you can brainstorm, get answers, share ideas, and collaborate all via Twitter. Heck, you might find new partners, business opportunities, and ways to market…all via microblogging! I bet you never thought that would happen. :)

So there you have it. 4 ways to use Twitter today to enhance your business. Is it time consuming? You bet. Will it take a little time to get used to? Absolutely. Will it also take time to build a following? Definitely. But, in the end my hope is that you will come back to this post and comment about how happy you are that you took my advice! ;-) It’s all about execution, and now you need to take action. If you are still unsure, feel free to provide your questions below (or just get in touch with me). And, don’t forget to follow me on twitter. Hey, I can be your first “follow”. :)

Tweet Tweet


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Link Building Ideas, Teach a Man to Fish and He’ll Bring You… Links

Link Building Tip, Creating Instructional ContentWhen it comes to building high search engine rankings, building links is probably the most important thing you can do. There are obviously many factors that go into achieving high search engine rankings, but naturally building links to your website is the most important way to notify Google and the other engines that you are providing valuable content (and to prove it's valuable, other people have linked to it). Each link to your website is casting a vote for you, and the quality of the sites linking to your content is also important. For example, if you focus on business consulting, then gaining links from other business consultants is much more valuable than building links from comedy websites. I’m simplifying things a bit, but I think you get the point.

OK, I Have A Blog, But What Will I Write?
I hear this question a lot. Whenever I recommend setting up a blog, I frequently get the question, “But what will I write about?” It doesn’t matter which industry you focus on, there are always dozens of angles for blog posts. Do you sell printers? Write a blog post explaining the top ways to troubleshoot inkjet and laser printers. Are you a fitness trainer? Write about the most common ways that people injure themselves while working out and then how to correct those issues. Did you create a new beverage? Write a blog post explaining the top mixed drinks of the year and how to make them, and of course use your product for some of the recipes. :-) There’s a common thread with the examples I’ve been providing. They all teach people how to do something. In my experience with helping clients across several industries, one thing remains constant. If you teach someone to fish (or fix printers or exercise correctly or mix drinks properly), they will bring you links and exposure, which will ultimately help you increase your natural search rankings.

They’re not a flash in the pan…
Believe me, I’m definitely not against many forms of content for link-building, but in my experience, providing instructional content works extremely well. One reason for this is that instructional posts typically stand the test of time. If someone finds your post a year after you write it, you can still generate links. On the flip side, if you create an entertaining post (like a really funny video using your product), you might get a lot of exposure in the short-term, but it will probably fade out after a few weeks (or days). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some entertaining content generate a lot of exposure, but if I had to choose, I would still recommend teaching people how to do something.

Kills Two Birds with One Stone
For those of you not familiar with link building, the content you create is often not intended to generate sales directly. Instead, it’s there to build links and exposure, which can help increase your natural search rankings, which in turn can help you generate sales down the line. That said, the content you develop can definitely increase sales if you directly link it to solving a problem for your target market. For example, if you own an electronics repair company and explain how to perform some quick fixes on the most popular digital cameras, then you could very easily end up landing new customers from that post. They might be so impressed with the information and tips you gave them in the post, that they end up getting in touch with you when they really need their camera repaired. In addition, they might link to that post from their own site or blog and possibly add that post to popular social media sites like Digg, StumbleUpon,, etc. I’m not saying that your link building content will always be a driver of sales, but it could be…

Brainstorm some link building ideas today…
Excited about link building? Then start today by brainstorming some ideas. Think about your customers, what would help them achieve their goals, what’s unique about your products or services, and then clean off that white board! If you find yourself having trouble brainstorming link building ideas, then contact me today. There’s a reason that my office is covered with post-it notes containing ideas for new blog posts! ;-)


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Monday, December 17, 2007

The Top 9 Blog Posts From The Internet Marketing Driver in 2007…With a Little Help From Santa

Santa Helps Glenn Gabe Count Down the Top Blog Posts of 2007

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I love annual “best lists” and I of course love the holidays so I decided to do something a little different this year. I was lucky enough to run into Santa at a holiday marketing conference this fall and persuaded him to help me out. So without further ado, let’s count down the Top 9 Blog Posts from the Internet Marketing Driver in 2007…with a little help from Santa himself.

Santa wanted me to let you know that he is actually watching and it can only help your chances of getting what you want this year if you watch the video. :-)

I hope you all have a great holiday season!


GG and Santa

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making Sense of Blog Bounce Rate

Understanding Blog Bounce Rate This is the fourth post in my series on Bounce Rate, which is one of my favorite metrics in web analytics. Many online marketers are concerned with Bounce Rate, which makes a lot of sense since you can learn a lot from this metric… I've recently received many questions about Bounce Rate and how it relates to blog posts, so I thought it would be a good idea to address this topic in a post of my own. Let’s call it “adding context to your blog's bounce rate”.

There are 4 components to this post:
1. Your Blog Philosophy and Goals
2. Your Writing Style and How It Matches the Drivers of Your Readers
3. Related Content
4. Track and Learn

Your Blog Philosophy and Goals:
Determine the goal for your blog. BEFORE you start to analyze bounce rate for your blog posts, you should think about your overall blog philosophy and determine your goals. For example, is your goal to educate readers and to answer questions, are you trying to generate a large readership, will your blog help you sell products or services, is it a key mechanism for getting people to contact you, are you interested in building high search engine rankings, etc? Clearly understanding your goals will help you bring context to the bounce rate of your blog posts. To give a quick example, if your goal is to provide breaking news to your readers, then bounce rate might not be as important as you think. Why? Well, if someone finds your blog post about the latest widget update and they quickly visit the post, check out the breaking news, and then leave, is that bad? No, but that’s technically a bounce. Or, if they find your blog post and immediately choose to subscribe to your RSS feed, is that good or bad? It all depends on your goal... So, stop reading this post for a few seconds and think about the goal of your blog. Then write it down on a sticky note and place that on your desk somewhere you can easily see it. We’ll be referring back to it shortly.

The Angle of Your Blog Posts and the Key Drivers of Your Readers:
Now, let’s take a look at some different types of content and how they match up with the key drivers of your readers. There are a lot of reasons why people visit blog posts and you should try and understand your readers as much as possible in order to provide the best possible experience for them, which in turn, should lead to supporting the goal of your blog. Again, we need to bring context to your bounce rate situation. Note, there are obviously many types of blog posts, but the ones listed below are based on my experience helping clients and working on my own blogs.

Different Types of Blog Posts and Their Effect on Bounce Rate (based on my experience)

1. Educational Posts (Teaching Your Readers Something of Value)
Blog posts that teach your readers something of value. If you know that your readers want to learn something from you, then you have a great chance to provide additional educational content on your blog that would interest them. The key here is to understand what specific topics your readers are interested in based on your analysis, then write high quality posts that focus on that topic, and then provide links to relevant content on your blog. If you understand what your readers want to learn, then there's a good chance they will consume a lot of content on your blog that relates to that topic. And, they will appreciate it…finding your blog a great source of information about an important topic for them.

Educational Posts = Excellent Chance of Low Bounce Rate

2. Focused Entertainment and Isolated Stories
Bill Maher Throws Audience Member Out and Receives over 2000 diggs for it. Some readers simply enjoy finding interesting posts, even if they are very focused and/or isolated. They might love funny blog posts, shocking or disturbing blog posts, unique stories, entertaining posts, misc. facts, weird photos, parodies, etc. If you provide blog posts like this, you might notice higher bounce rates for that specific content. It’s not that readers don’t like you or your posts, it’s just the nature of the content. That said, you still might notice a lot of activity and links (which is a good thing). Think about it, let’s say someone is on digg and clicks through a story to view a video of Bill Maher kicking people out of his audience. You wrote a great post about what happened and how this affects journalists that work in Live TV. You might notice a high bounce rate with this type of post, since the focus might be on finding and watching the video and not on the blog or blog author in question. At this point, look at the sticky note I told you to create a few minutes ago and see how it matches up with the goal of your blog… You might have built 1000 links to your blog from that one post, but no RSS subscriptions. Is that good or bad? Good for organic search, but bad for building readership. Again, it depends on your goal...

Focused Entertainment = Good Chance of High Bounce Rate, but More Eyeballs and Links

3. Product and Service Reviews
Blog posts that provide product or service reviews. Providing reviews based on your expertise is a great way to build a loyal following. The beauty of the web (and blogging and social media), is that you can find reviews from normal, everyday people who will typically give you an honest opinion of a product or service. Readers interested in reviews tend to also follow related content until they have the confidence to make an informed decision. For example, if you review an iPhone and then also review a Blackberry Curve, there’s a great chance readers looking for this type of content will read both posts (as long as you let them know the additional content is there!) More on this later. It makes sense if you think about it. Put yourself in their shoes…you are about to spend a few hundred dollars, you aren’t sure if it’s right for you, and you just found a person like you providing a real-world review without marketing spin. There's a reason that Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) is as hot as it is now.... Just make sure you find the right blogger…

Product or Service Reviews = Excellent Chance of Low Bounce Rate

4. Blog Posts that Benchmark
Blog posts that benchmark. We’ve all wanted to find blog posts explaining the best way to do something, right? (whether it's for business or personal use) For example, some visitors may be looking for the best way to launch a new business or the best way to improve their golf game. These readers are looking to find the best methods in the industry (whatever industry you are writing about), they want to know which is the best company or who is the top person, how they do it, and how to reproduce that effort in their own life. For example, someone may find your post about how to best run a fundraiser. This type of reader will be more apt to check out related posts, such as how to best organize your fundraising team, which marketing methods work best, and the top venues in your region to hold the fundraiser kickoff. You get the picture…

Benchmarking = Good Chance of Low Bounce Rate

5. Keep Me Posted
Breaking news on your blog.This type of content involves providing quick posts about something you just learned about. For example, when Google Analytics recently announced a series of upgrades, many bloggers who are focused on web analytics wrote quick posts letting their readers know. These posts might show a higher bounce rate than others. Again, it makes a lot of sense… you are quickly letting people know about breaking news so they will probably check out your post quickly and be on their way. You can definitely gain a following by doing this, since you are the source of new information, but you can’t expect these posts to be sticky. That said, these readers might subscribe to your feed, since you keep them posted. :-)

Benchmarking = Good Chance of Higher Bounce Rate, but High RSS Subscriptions

Note, there are obviously additional types of posts and drivers for blog readers, but I’ll keep this post manageable and stop here. Again, these are based on my experience. The main point is to understand the angle of your posts and how these posts match up with what your readers are looking for (what drives them to read blog posts).

The Anti-Bounce
Providing related content is the anti-bounce rate. There is a common thread that’s been running throughout this post…related content. For bloggers that are just starting out, unfortunately, you'll need to write faster. ;-) Once you've created great content on your blog, the next step is to analyze your web analytics and then provide killer content that’s relevant to key posts on your blog. The third step is to make sure readers can find your related content! This can be done in several ways:

Ways to Provide Related Content:
1. Inline Links, or links within the blog post content (my favorite)
2. A list of related posts at the end of the blog post in question
3. Tagging your posts
4. Utilizing your sidebar to provide additional links
5. Providing search functionality

Each of these techniques can work, but I’m a bigger fan of inline links, links below your post, and tagging. In my opinion, inline links actually provide better context for the reader, but that’s just my opinion. For example, I’ve also written blog posts about how to lower your bounce rate. This inline link gives my readers some context.

A Quick Note About Tracking Outbound Clicks and Content Navigation
Tracking outbound clicks and content navigation in your web analytics package. Using your web analytics package, you should definitely track as much as you can to determine behaviors that affect your bounce rate and consumption of blog content. For example, if you track outbound clicks, you can see which external links your readers find most important. This can help you determine which topics are hot and possibly what to focus on in future posts. For example, if you wrote a post about how to better your golf score and you notice a lot of readers clicking on a link to Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible, then maybe your next post should focus on the short game (your golf game within 100 yards). Simple example, but you get the point! BTW, reading Dave's books lowered my golf score by 10 strokes. :)

Web Analytics Note: Google Analytics will soon support tracking of outbound clicks natively. This will make your life a lot easier... rather than manually tagging each outbound link!

Content Navigation is also important to analyze. This is where you can target a blog post in your analytics package and view how visitors got to that specific post and then also view where they go after reading the post. So, you might see 60% of the visitors to a blog post landed on that blog post (the first interaction with your site in a session). Then 80% of those readers went to related posts, 10% bounced, and 10% subscribed to your RSS feed. Viewing content navigation can help you determine how readers behave on your site in relation to the type of blog post you provide.

It’s All About Context
In closing, it’s hard to simply look at Bounce Rate for your blog without understanding the other factors involved. You need context. A high bounce rate a on a blog post might actually make sense, as weird as that sounds. If you start by mapping out a goal for your blog, pay attention to how you write your posts, understand how that matches the drivers of your readers, provide related content easily within your blog posts, and track everything at a granular level, then you can begin to understand blog content and reader behavior. Phew, that’s a mouthful!

Now, in the spirit of this blog post, definitely check out the other posts that are part of my Bounce Rate series! :-)

* Bounce Rate and Exit Rate

* Why is My Homepage Bounce Rate So High?

* 5 More Ways to Lower Your Bounce Rate and Increase Your ROAS


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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Top Online Marketing Channels - My Top 6 in June 2007

At least a few times per month I’m asked, “Which internet marketing channels do you believe are the strongest?” It’s almost impossible to answer this question without some context. For example, a company that sells toys is much different than a consulting firm looking for Fortune 500 clients, right? Each business will have its own top online marketing channels, based on their model. That said, below I have provided my top online marketing channels in June 2007. My top 6 are based on data collected from across my clients, as well as for my own business.

In addition, I have provided the personification of each channel, which is basically their famous alter ego. ;-) Please note that since web marketing is extremely dynamic, my top channels may change (even in a few months!)

Without further ado, counting down from 6 to 1:

Colin Ferrell Starring as Social MediaComing in at Number 6: Social Media
Who hasn’t heard of Social Media at this point…heck, there’s even an acronym for it in web marketing (SMO) or Social Media Optimization. Social Media is an umbrella term that includes social news, social bookmarking, social networking, media-driven sites like Youtube, etc. Top social media sites include Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Netscape,, MySpace, YouTube, and dozens of other smaller sites. Using Social Media for internet marketing is hit or miss. Yes, these sites can be huge drivers of traffic and links, but some efforts will simply not take off. I think everyone has seen 1 digg for a story quite a few times… That said, I have seen some impressive results recently from a range of social media sites.

Why Collin Ferrell? You never know which Collin Ferrell you are going to get (or show up), right? You might get the Collin Ferrell who has had a few drinks, smoking a cigarette, and throwing the f-word around. Or, you might get the movie premiere Ferrell who comes sober, has some big names in his entourage that night, and lands a $30MM first weekend. Like I said earlier, Social Media is hit or miss.

George Clooney Starring as BloggingAnd at Number 5: Blogging
In late 2005, a VP of Marketing (yes marketing) asked me rather aggressively in a web marketing meeting, “Tell me…how in the world is a blog going to impact my bottom line?” Uh, I’m sure he would like to take back that question now! :-) I don’t need to spend much time explaining the explosive growth of blogs, their impact on readers (consumers), and how RSS, search engines, blog search engines, other blogs, and social media can all play a factor in helping Jane Nobody from down the street gain rock start status as the premiere mommy blogger! If you are in charge of marketing for your business and you aren’t blogging, start now. I’m not kidding, stop reading this post, walk into your IT department, grab a web developer by his collar, and set up your blog now. It’s cost effective, measurable, viral, and can get you closer to your customers than ever before.

Why Clooney? Top bloggers bring people together, they are industry leaders, can play nice with others, and enjoy sharing their knowledge with the community. Clooney has proven to be a big time movie star, but also gives back to the community and works to help others in this country and in other countries. He’s the closest thing Hollywood has to a future President (other than Arnold, of course!)

Tony Soprano Starring as Paid SearchNumber 4 on My List - Paid Search
A tough, gritty, time-consuming, and dynamic online marketing channel, with a hint of fraud in the mix! I’m a stronger advocate of Natural Search (see below), but based on my experience with paid search, it’s hard to overlook its power. The most popular places to run paid search advertising are Google (AdWords) and Yahoo (Yahoo Search Marketing). You can set up your campaigns fast, you have a lot of control over your message and what people are seeing on your site, and you will view results in hours. That said, you can also see your budget zip away in hours! :-) Effective paid search campaigns take time, skill, experience, and a drive to always improve your efforts. You need to be chest deep in your campaigns all of the time to reap rewards from ppc. From keyword research to building ad creative to designing landing pages to optimizing your campaigns, paid search is not for the faint of heart. Regarding fraud, you can read more about click fraud here, but don’t let the article stop you from trying paid search…just keep it in mind.

Why Tony Soprano? He’s tough, gritty, and results are the name of the game. He’ll give you a wad of hundreds for coming through and then smack you across the face the next day. Welcome to the family. :-)

Michael Moore Starring as Word of Mouth MarketingIn third place, Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM)
The power of wom is undeniably incredible. It’s pure viral marketing. You know, where John tells Mary, who tells her dentist, who tells her husband, who tells his friends at work, who tell their clients, etc. Before you know it, targeted visitors increase, sales increase, links to the site increase, organic rankings increase, blog posts about your product increase, etc. Sounds dynamic, doesn’t it? That’s why, in my opinion, WOM is one of the most powerful ways to enhance your business long term. So why doesn’t every company focus on Word of Mouth? It’s relatively hard to implement, it’s hard to track, and hard to determine a budget, which makes it hard to communicate to decision makers. That said, companies that understand its power (long term power), will reap great benefits from fostering word of mouth marketing. And by the way, I’m an advocate of both organic wom and amplified wom. I think both have their place in your web marketing arsenal. Check out WOMMA for more information about Word of Mouth.

Why Moore? Moore targets an issue and gets people talking. Then the grapevine effect of WOM takes over and everyone has an opinion…which leads to popular movies and revenue. I remember seeing Roger and Me in 1994 and telling my coworkers and friends about it. Think about Moore’s movies and the topics they cover. Then think about how you heard about them.

Anderson Cooper Starring as Natural SearchIn second place, the runner up is: Natural Search
I am a huge advocate of organic search, which are the natural search listings in the search engines (unpaid listings). Rank highly for your competitive keywords and you can drive large amounts of targeted traffic to your website. People trust natural search. It’s unpaid (theoretically anyway), and there are third parties (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) that rank listings based on some criteria of importance (their algorithms). Yes, there’s an entire industry out there (Search Engine Optimization or SEO) that help companies rank highly for terms, but it’s not as easy as applying budget to your organic rankings and having that yield top listings. If you have optimized your site for natural search, then compare revenue from your organic search channel with your other channels. Then, take into account ad spend. Natural Search is ultra-profitable (and can help build your brand, increase targeted traffic, increase revenue, and your bonus). :-)

Why Anderson Cooper? He’s a younger and edgier version of news anchors from the past. He has built enormous credibility (like natural search engine results), but you know there are decision makers above him that help mold the message. You trust him, but not 100%. :-)

Pete Sampras Starring as The In-House Email ListAnd our winner, my top Online Marketing Channel:
The In-House Email List

This is probably the most important marketing asset you can have at your disposal. It’s not trendy, flashy, or sexy, but with it, you have a solid base for any campaign you decide to launch. Used properly, you can count on a certain amount of revenue per month from your in-house list. You also can tap into this list for qualitative data from surveys, focus groups, and other customer feedback mechanisms. In addition, you can segment your list for more power. For example, you might know which customers want to learn more about categories A versus B, they might buy during X months versus Y months, and spend $x per transaction versus $y per transaction. Then you can base your campaigns on this data and you’ll see the true power of your in-house list.

Without a solid in-house email list, you are forced to use other channels to drive campaigns and sales. And, good luck with gaining feedback! “Hello Mr. Transient Paid Search Person, can you tell me what you think of our website?” Come on! For those of you with new businesses or small in-house lists, start to think about ways to increase your list. Launch campaigns to increase your list. Then when you have a solid list, take care of the people on that list. They can make or break your business. Literally.

Why Sampras? Pete Sampras was beyond talented, but he was humble. He dominated the competition, but he rarely made headlines. He won championship after championship, but the reporters ran by him to snap photos of Agassi. Pete was a winning machine, and was completely under-appreciated. But if you needed someone to come through, I wouldn’t want anyone else ready to serve the ball. That’s your in-house email list.


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