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    … And a Social Game

    June 17, 2013

    Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 8.39.37 AMIn my last post, I explored the importance of search to marketing. The most important conclusion from that post was: if you’re ignoring search, you’re ignoring more than one third of the traffic that comes to your website! Today, I want to talk with you about social media.

    As I mentioned in the last post, the raw numbers from the research reported on AllTwitter could be interpreted as dismissive of social media. But that conclusion would ignore the rapidly growing influence that social media is exerting on search results, and indeed the story that accompanies the numbers explores this a bit.

    I’d like to dive into that discrepancy a little more deeply using a hypothetical company. To illustrate the discrepancy, let’s dive into our hypothetical B2B company’s Google Analytics (GA).

    Looking at GA’s Social Media Sources report for our company, I see a really low number: just 10 of the 1,000 visits they had over the last month came from social media — 1%. For sake of this exercise, let’s assume the company has a relatively inactive social media program that isn’t optimized to drive any traffic to their site.

    BUT, when I look at the percentage of web traffic that is coming from search, and then start estimating what percentage of that search traffic is potentially influenced by social media, I see a different story that the 1% might indicate. It turns out that 45% of the company’s web traffic comes from search. Now we have to figure out what percentage of that traffic might be influenced by social media.

    It turns out, there’s at least one way to estimate this. In order to protect the privacy of Google users, if they are logged in to Google (e.g., via Gmail, Google+, YouTube or some other service), Google search will obfuscate their searches and report the search terms they used as “(not provided)” (all is not lost, by the way, as you can see these results in an aggregate manner by installing and using Google Webmaster Tools).

    Well, it turns out that 40% of our company’s search traffic comes in as “(not provided),” indicating that the visitor is logged in and thus his or her search results are potentially influenced by social media (for example, if they are using Google+ or have Gmail contacts with Google+ accounts, their search results may be influenced by what their friends have +1′d in Google).

    So, while I agree that social media is not generating much in the way of direct traffic, I would argue that this is typically the result of two factors:

    1. Inactive content marketing programs, or social media engagement programs that don’t deliberately drive traffic to the company’s website; and,
    2. The influence that the company’s customers’ or prospects’ “social graphs” (the social networking connections, for instance, of all the company’s employees) could very well be influencing their search results.

    Thus, a company’s total potential social media impact could be described with the following formula:

    t = d + i

    Where t is the company’s total social media impact, d is the direct impact of social media (in our case, 1%), and i is the indirect impact of social media, which can be represented as:

    i = s × p

    Where s is the percentage of web traffic that comes in from search, and p is the total potential percentage of search results that might have been influenced by social networks.

    So this company’s total potential social media impact is:

    t = .01 + (.40 × .45) = .01 + .18 = 19%

    In other words, 19% of all this company’s web traffic could be influenced by social. Of course, likely the number is smaller than that. For instance, it might depend on how many of the visitors are using Google+ or Gmail.

    You might be able to narrow the error variance more by looking at the company’s email newsletters: how many of the company’s subscribers use Gmail accounts? It’s probably a pretty low percentage, but it’s one possible indicator of Google’s influence.

    I’m very curious if anybody has any thoughts on my reasoning here. Am I missing something, or is that social number a lot bigger than people might think?

    (We’ll explore this question, and many more, at Tuesday evening’s New Economy Boot Camp panel. I hope you can join us!)

    It’s a Search Game…

    June 6, 2013

    41percentIn the last post here, Lisa highlighted four reasons that are pointing companies to the importance of SEO. I want to spend a little time on #3: The number of searches taking place online. It’s a massive number: more than 20 billion last month alone. And some small percentage of those are headed to your site, whether you have an active SEO program or not, and whether you’re ready for them or not. That search traffic accounts for, on average, 41% of all web traffic for the typical B2B site (if anything, I suspect search traffic might be a little higher for B2C companies).

    Now, the same article that highlights that 41% number focuses on another number: social media accounts for less than 2% of B2B web traffic! That seems, in today’s world, to be an exceptionally small number. Now my experience puts that number a little higher (with my B2B clients, I see an average of 8%), but even that number might seem small to anyone who’s paid attention to all the hype out there about social media.

    But much of that hype — not to mention the pie chart above — ignores the rapidly growing influence that social media is exerting on search results. I’ll discuss that influence in my next blog post. But let’s be clear, here: if you’re ignoring search, you’re ignoring more than one third of the traffic that comes to your website!

    The rules for search are changing rapidly. Search plays an absolutely critical role in any company’s marketing program, and social media’s influence in search is growing. During our program on June 18th, our panel will highlight some of the many things your organization can do to get ready for these big changes. I hope you can join us!

    4 Trends That Are Converting Business Owners from Saying: “Customers don’t look for us online,” to “We need to get found online!”

    May 24, 2013

    couple in officeWhen a business owner says, “I don’t need to get found on the internet” or “Clients do not look for my business on the internet,” it tells me a few things about their business.  First, the business owner has probably owned their business for a long time, and built it by networking, developing referral sources, making introductions and perhaps buying or inheriting a reputable business.  Congratulations, as this is not easy to do.  I attend a lot of networking events and I know how difficult it is to build trusted relationships and a reputation that stands out from the crowd.  However, the saying, “It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know,” has been updated for today’s business environment (more on this below).

    Second, the business owner is probably using traditional marketing tools to attract and retain clients (i.e. advertisements, direct mail campaigns, press releases, brochures and yellow pages, etc.).  These are all great marketing tools and if they are driving new opportunities to your business then by all means keep them up.  However, if they are not successfully attracting new clients, building your company’s brand awareness, or establishing you as a leader in key markets then you need to fix them (or hire someone with the expertise who can).

    Third, their website is probably 5 – 10 years old and it has not been updated for several years.  Business owners who apply a fraction of the time and money they spend on traditional marketing tools to enhance their website’s presence on the internet will achieve impressive and measurable results.

    As a business owner, you have probably realized that it is no longer business as usual and what might have made your business a success in the past, is not going to get you where you want to go in the new economy.  Further, there is much confusion about digital marketing, and which if these tools would be best for growing your business. These are just some of the issues that my colleagues and I will be addressing on June 18 at the New Economy Boot Camp: Mobile, Social Media, Video Search: Myths and Best Practices for Growing Your Business.  I hope that you will join us and until then, here are four trends that are converting business owners from saying, “Customers don’t look for us online,” to “We need to get found online!”

     

    4 Trends That  Are Converting Businesses from saying:

    “Customers don’t look for us online,” to “We need to get found online!”

     

    1) Digital marketing is changing the way that consumers and companies are doing business.

    In the past, customers used phonebooks and directories to locate companies and they asked friends and advisers for recommendations before making a significant purchase or investment.  Customer buying behavior has changed. Today, more and more consumers and companies are using digital marketing tools (ex. mobile applications, social media, videos and search engines, etc.) to help them find what they want to buy, when they want to buy it.

    2) From a marketing perspective, the focus has changed from companies looking for customers who might like to buy, to customers finding companies when they are ready to buy.

    The saying, “It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know,” has been updated.  Today’s business owners need to focus on, “What do I want to be known for, and where do I want to be found?”  For example, you might want to be known for “estate planning for single parents with teenagers” and be found by families in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.   Or, you might want to be known for “cleaning air ducts and kitchen grease exhausts” and be found by property managers and restaurant owners.  In general, the better you are at describing what you want to be known for, the more likely that customers will find you (vs. your competitors) in the markets where you want to be found.

    3) Last month, there were over 20 billion searches on Google alone (Bing and Yahoo are other popular search engines)

    As a business owner, your clients might not be searching the internet for your products or services today, but the next generation of customers, business owners, buyers and leaders is already there.  As I mentioned earlier, more and more consumers and companies are using the internet to find what they want to buy, when they want to buy it.  So, if your business does not have a strong internet presence then it is not likely to be found by Google or other major search engines.  For example, most people who search the internet will only look at the first page of their search results.  If your business appears on page 3 or 4, then the likelihood that customers will find you is greatly diminished.  Further, you risk being perceived as less effective, capable and successful than businesses that appear on page one (even if you are better than your competitors!).

    4) There is no silver bullet for getting found on the internet.

    Sometimes business owners can have false expectations about what the internet can and cannot do for their business.  For example, just because you create a video it doesn’t mean that it is going to go viral.  Or, just because you optimize your website, it doesn’t mean that you are going to appear on page one of  Google next month.  The fact is, Google is constantly changing its algorithms for getting found on the internet, digital marketing tools are continuously being updated and introduced to the market, and one-hit- wonders on YouTube make it difficult for business owners to discern myth from reality and maintain industry best practices.

    Promoting your business on the internet takes time and it requires a strategy if you want to be successful.  If want to get on board with digital marketing (or at least kick the tires) then please join me and my colleagues on June 18th at the New Economy Boot Camp on: “Mobile, Social Media, Video & Search: Myths and Best Practices for Growing Your Business.”

    Content Strategy – Have One or Die (that’s the law)

    March 15, 2013

    I’m putting the final touches on my New Economy Boot Camp session and I realized I had become lax about my participation in the event. Not in a bad way – I was still firing out tons of content, but I hadn’t fully shared with the audience here what my session was going to include.

    Let’s pause for a moment as I share a vital tenet of content strategy – you must know your audience. I say that because these photos here….

    ….are for an audience of social media friends and followers who I saw or communicated with at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas last week. The content I’m creating to share in my session is a little different. I’m planning to give you something better than gorgeous images of food and people. I’m going to give you the tools that will allow you to capture and share great content.

    Essentially, it’s the catch a fish or teach a man to fish argument. Instead of running around with you taking photos and recording your business activities, I’m going to teach you how to identify and then leverage the best images, personalities and happenings within your company. And I’ll show you how you can do it with a team of three or fewer.

    You rock. I’ll prove it. Join me on March 28. Sign up by clicking here.

    I hope to see you soon!

    Basic Training: Special Offer to Attendees

    March 7, 2013

    As Senior Drill Instructor for Basic Training,  myMarketingManager is offering attendees a free, no obligation website consultation to help you grow your business. I hope that you will join me and other business owners/managers at our boot camp on March 28th and take advantage of this special offer.

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