Author: AZIMA

Arizona Interactive Marketing Association is a nonprofit organization created to help you better understand interactive marketing through education tools, events, and networking.

A Presentation by Marty Weintraub, Author of Killer Facebook Ads

Guest Post: Khayree Billingslea, the Sales & Marketing Intern at local digital marketing agency and founding AZIMA Member, Terralever.

Marty Weintraub, author of “Killer Facebook Ads” and CEO of aimClear online marketing, has a lot to say about how Facebook has a lot to say about you. Weintraub’s insights constitute a departure from conventional application of paid-organic advertising on the social media behemoth—instead of targeting key demographics, constructing personas (or a ) and driving ads to their Facebook pages, use user data from their Facebook interests to set retargeting cookies which drive ads to many other sites.

Industry thinkers who claim to have uncovered a way of thinking about digital media that “revolutionizes” or “redefines” the way the media landscape will be navigated for the next five or so years are dime-a-dozen. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to sort out stale reiterations of old concepts from the truly new strategic developments. In the digital space, a field in which the ground is daily shifting beneath the feet of the media experts who dare to attain some mastery over it, Marty Weintraub has made his expeditions through the wilderness and it just happens that he is an excellent cartographer who keeps his ear to the proverbial railroad tracks.

For Mr. Weintraub, key consumer insights come from utilizing user-provided data. That data can be used to model what he calls “personas”. A persona is an amalgam of interests, often particular to a member of one or another niche market, likely to be published on a social media platform.  It is the advertiser’s responsibility to take advantage of the targeting tools at their disposal. If you master persona modeling—that is, if you come to learn the resonance frequency of high volume targeting terms—Weintruab claims, the precision of your messages will increase drastically. The goal at the end the targeting process is to consistently send out advertisements tuned to the needs of a very small, well-understood, audience. In a sense, his technique turns your online marketing strategy into something akin to a more-or-less benign CIA operation that predator drone strikes offers into the web browsers of consumers.

It is also worth Marty’s unconventional style; never once did a dull moment of technically sophisticated discourse escape vindication via his playfulness and wit. A whirling tornado of activity and apparent ecstasy at having been so lucky as to find a job he truly loves, Weintraub is an absolute joy to watch. If you missed it, take a look at the Marty’s AZIMA presentation shared on aimclear’s Facebook page.

The Most Social Event in the History of Television

You CAN make a huge social media effort work without a huge staff. That’s one of the lessons gained from hearing an inspiring message from Beverly Jackson, Director of Marketing & Social Media for the Grammys, at the May AZIMA event held in Scottsdale.

Jackson provided an insider’s look to 100-plus AZIMA members how The 54th Grammys became “the most social event in the history of television.” Her relatively small, in-house group of social media workers, teamed up with assistance from agency Chiat Day and a social analytics firm, helped bring The 54th Grammys to a massive audience across multiple online platforms.

Jackson outlined a concept of ‘transmedia’ and hashtag usage that helped her team plot out a strategy to hit all forms of online content. Instead of letting the Twitterverse dictate which hashtags to use, Jackson and her team decided early on to manage the hashtag terms and help bring the flow of messaging to those terms.

Jackson’s team used an innovative social media approach to announce to media about which hashtags to use for all the events surrounding the 54th Grammys. One slide she shared (see below) noted a different hashtags for the 6 Twitter accounts and 14 Facebook pages her team set up for different Grammy activities and the audiences around those specific events.

Some of the highlights noted during Jackson’s presentation included:

–       A record high number of 160,341 tweets per min were recorded during the live Grammys telecast

–       13 million social comments is the new record for TV (most social)

–       Use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Turntable.FM, YouTube and many other social media channels to drive awareness, audience reach and hits back to the

Grammys website.

Ms. Jackson brought a wealth of experience to the presentation stage. In addition to her current role as Director of Marketing, Strategic Alliances and Social Media for The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Awards, she has previously worked in digital and business development roles at Octagon/IPG in the Music and Entertainment group and WPP’s JWT.  Beverly also served as the VP of Product Development during the start of phase of BlackVoices, now a part of the Huffington Post.

Ms. Jackson clearly struck a chord with the AZIMA members, who raved online about her presentation, and discussed on Twitter how to translate her massive event expertise in social media to individual campaigns in the AZ and SW US region.

Guest Post By: Dave Murrow is a Valley-based digital pro working in SEO, PR/Content and Digital Marketing. Read his blog posts atDaveMurrow.com and at Mint Social.

Wrap-up of Jon Wolske of Zappos Insights Event

Guest Post By: Shauna Stacy

This month’s presentation focused on the relationship between marketing and culture and was led by Jon Wolske of Zappos Insights. Zappos Insights, an arm of Zappos, is dedicated to educating other businesses about the importance and impact of company culture.

The presentation included an overview of Zappos’ impressive growth and company values. Early in the presentation, Jon asked a critical question: “Do you have culture at your workplace?” Some, but not all, hands raised in the crowd. “The answer is yes,” he continued, asserting that culture is present in every organization, whether it is formalized or not.

Zappos culture guide Jon Wolske and fellow Zappos employees welcome a tour group with a choreographed weight-lifting routine featured on LasVegasSun.com

Zappos believes a company-wide focus on delivering great service is critical to its own success and that this focus relies on a strong, positive company culture. The result of this focus is evidenced in customer stories, employee advocates, and positive press.

Jon reviewed Zappos’10 core values. Customer experience is a key part of the Zappos marketing strategy, and they believe it starts at the website where their phone number prominently displayed. This leads back to value number 1, “Deliver WOW service,” and hinges on developing a “PEC” or a “Personal Emotional Connection.”

PEC-building also includes, but is not limited to, delivering bouquets of flowers and handwritten notes to customers. For Leap Year, it meant giving all customers who made purchases on Leap Year Day a four-year refund policy, instead of the usual duration. It also means going to the competitor on the customer’s behalf when Zappos can’t deliver, which can lead to powerful word-of-mouth marketing.

Culture is most evident in the Zappos’ call center. Unlike most modern call centers, front lines call takers have no script and no requirement to sell. The call center is not considered a cost center. Because of a shared sense of ownership and pride among employees, “there is no need to micromanage.” Employees are their strongest advocates and if you asked an employee what the company values are, he or she would not need to check the employee manual. “We just know what they are,” Jon said.

Their emphasis on culture has spurred more than just positive press and catchy theme songs and viral videos but ongoing success and growth. Zappos’ revenue reflects steady growth and, according to their reports, 75{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} of the average daily shoppers are returning customers and 45{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} were told about Zappos by friend.

Engaging online content, as well as interaction on social media sites and all other business operations, is designed to tie back to their commitment to the Four Cs: Culture, Customer Service, Clothing and Community. Zappos wants to be known for community. This includes their online community at zapposinsights.com. They are in the process of building a new home office in downtown Las Vegas to become a true part of their community. They are also working to grow education in Nevada, which is currently ranked worst in the country for education.

The presentation was followed with a Q&A session. Highlights are below:

What other social media sites does Zappos used, besides the big sites (Facebook, Twitter, et al)?

Zappos has “product managers” who are front lines to test out interaction on different social media sites. This includes the newest social media darling, Pinterest. There is also an application dev team which has previously launched their Couture Catalogue and Mappos, a visual map of what people are buying at any given moment.

Have you gotten feedback from the companies who tour the Zappos offices with the intent to change their own company culture?

Jon shared a story of one businessperson who had a one-hour tour which resulted in dramatic changes at his own company. “We’re not trying to get people to do what we do,” Jon explained. “A lot of it has to do with relaxing things a bit. We aren’t marketing Insights but we will be looking through our histories at some point soon.”

At a certain point during initial, required call center training, trainees are offered $3,000 to quit. What happens if someone gets through the $3,000 offer and is still not a good fit?

“Just like a performance issue, we coach,” said Jon. “If we can’t coach up, we coach out.”

What does Zappos use to monitor brand mentions on social sites?

“We run lean.” The team relies heavily on Google news and the Twitter conversation page. They monitor on a big picture scale.

Your value is “Do more with less,” and you say that you “run lean,” but great ideas cost money. How do you find balance?

If it’s free, they try it. If it costs money, employees are required to do a standard proposal process. “They’ve been good at taking risk and letting ideas fail.”

What provides a higher margin, the culture book or shoes?

“Well, the culture book is free, so the shoes.”

What is your philosophy on legal concerns?

The Zappos lawyers are also hired as a culture fit. Employees are expected to rely on common sense when making decisions; the onus is on the employee. “When you trust people to be adults, they will be. It works for us.”

He then added, “You can’t do the tour on roller blades, though.”

Many thanks to Jon for an excellent presentation! Be sure to check out the next AZIMA event “The Interactive Future of Hospitality & Tourism” on April 19th at 6:00 PM at the Scottsdale Hilton.

Newspapers Vs. Mobile Media

Back in the early 90’s newspapers dominated the coveted field of advertising,displaying visual print ads at a fraction of the cost of television.

In the two decades that have followed many major cities have seen the demise of the dailies replaced by interactive social media and the rise of  mobile apps for Smartphones.

According to Emarketer’s, Noah Elkin ,mobile advertising is on track  to lead the once crowded field of traditional media radio, TV, newspapers, magazines.

“Total mobile advertising spending (which includes ads on cellphones, smart phones like the BlackBerry and tablet devices like the iPad) in 2010, according to projections from eMarketer, will reach $743 million, a 79{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} increase over 2009.”. “Mobile Advertising and Marketing: Past the Tipping Point.”

Will newspaper ads go into the media vault of yesteryear(think BetaMax tapes, VHS,tapes in general)?

Not at the moment as products and services will continue to appear in Sunday newspapers and  supplements, however as the Nielsen Company observes

“ Nearly all adults in the U.S. now have cellphones, with one in four having smartphones, pocket-sized

devices more powerful than the computers initially used to send men to the moon.”

“The State of Mobile Apps.”

But just as the past is a memory, the future of social and mobile media is now and surviving newspapers must make the switch to digital or face being placed on the endangered species list.

Guest Post By: Joanne Levin a marketing pro in targeted strategy,research and website content. Effective and essential marketing is her focus.

AZIMA October: Massive growth in mobile device usage and advertising

Mobile usage is already far ahead of comparative desktop growth a decade ago. That’s one of the insights gleaned from this week’s AZIMA monthly event featuring guest speaker Devin Anderson, Google Mobile Account Executive.

Nearly 100 members of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association gathered to hear Anderson disperse such tasty nuggets of tech-geek goodness like:

  • About 925,000 mobile devices are activated every day
  • Mobile-specific adwords campaigns have seen click-through rate increases up to 11.5{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903}
  • Retailers with optimized mobile sites are increasing customer engagement by 85{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903}
  • 61{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} of users will not return to your site if it is not mobile enabled

Clearly, the theme running through the 45 minute presentation was to mobilize your web site, if you haven’t already. Anderson provided several tips to AZIMA members to do just that, including keeping the layout simple; design for thumbs, not mouse clicks; prioritize your content; use uniquely mobile features, and make it easy to convert.

Among the AZIMA members attending included interactive marketers from Vertical Measures, Mint Social, Empire Cat, Gannett Local and other Valley marketing companies. Anderson’s talk is just one of the benefits to members and guests that AZIMA brings to the Valley’s Interactive marketing world every month.

Every month, AZIMA brings a guest speaker to offer new insights and challenges to some of the best interactive marketers. To find out more about becoming a member or reaching this targeted tech-driven audience, contact our board members to learn about exciting opportunities for 2012.

“How to Reach the Hispanic Market Online” – A Presentation by Kelly McDonald

Kelly McDonald, author of award-winning, best-seller, How to Market to People Not Like You: “Know It or Blow It” Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers and president of McDonald Marketing, presented at the September Arizona Interactive Marketing Association (AZIMA) social event this week.  As a specialist in multi-cultural and diversity marketing, her presentation, “Relating, not Translating: How to Reach the Hispanic Market Online, Today and Tomorrow” was data-driven, witty, and incredibly impactful.  Kelly spoke to the “size of the prize” of the Hispanic market, presented a model for understanding the different mindsets of the Latino population (or any immigrant population), and highlighted the importance of connecting to your target market in ways that matter to them.

Why is the Hispanic Market important?

Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. 1 in 4 children are Latino, 1 in 6 U.S. residents are Latino, and by 2020 that statistic is expected to be 1 in 5.  There are over 50.5 million Latinos in the U.S. – that’s more Canadians than there are in Canada – and that makes the U.S. the second largest Hispanic country in the world (Mexico is #1).

Latinos are early adopters of technology, highly engaged online, and active mobile users – according to Kelly, 25{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} of 1st generation iPhone purchases were made by Latinos, and Hispanics make up the largest percentage of users of MySpace and Facebook.  However, Hispanic social media usage is different from non-Hispanic usage in that they are more likely to:

  • Engage in social media for personal use rather than business
  • Use social media to reach out to extended family or communicate with friends they know, rather than building networks of new people
  • Need an effective and affordable way to communicate with family in different countries

So how do you get started?

Understanding Acculturation vs. Assimilation

According to Kelly, one of the biggest mistakes companies make when marketing to Hispanics is to assume that they’re all just one big group of Spanish-speaking people.  There are Hispanic people from many different countries, with their own customs and traditions, but there’s more to it than that.  Successful living in a foreign culture is often more about acculturation (acquiring a 2nd culture) than assimilation (forfeiting one’s culture and taking on another).

In her presentation, Kelly went over her trademarked “Latino Acculturation Stratification” model, which breaks out Latino U.S. residents into four groups based upon how long they and their family have been in the U.S., their language abilities, and other factors related to their history, their preferences, and how they identify themselves.  Each of these groups hold different values, and you should consider how they would prefer you to engage with them (like you would with any market or demographic).  Don’t just consider the demographics though, think about the psychographics – what are they interested in and what matters to them?

How do you connect with Hispanics?

  • First of all – try doing it in their language.  Many Hispanics don’t speak English at all, but even those that do often prefer to speak Spanish.  This is especially critical for the more complex offerings, like financial, real estate, and insurance transactions, which include contracts, legal obligations and other fine details which may get lost in translation.
  • Consider including additional content for your Hispanic market.  But translating is not enough.  Kelly discussed the importance of building different content (including images, copy, color, etc.) and sending messages that are relevant to your audience and what’s important to them – their values.  In her book, she goes into the difference between translation and transcreation.  Basically, make sure you’re not just translating your English copy word-for-word.  Ideally, work with a marketing agency that understands Hispanic marketing to create culturally-relevant messages in Spanish. However, if you don’t have the budget to hire an agency to create new content, at least simplify your copy before translation – remove idioms or turns-of-phrase and use language that leaves no room for interpretation.
  • Next, make sure your company is prepared to do business in Spanish.  Have at least one employee who can provide friendly and helpful customer service in Spanish.  Post signage in Spanish.  Record a voicemail in Spanish, or offer a separate number for Hispanic customers.  Prepare your office or store to accommodate your customers and their family – Hispanic families often make decisions together and run errands as a family – offer treats or toys for children, or even just extra seating.

In case it wasn’t plainly evident, Kelly McDonald is a wealth of information and insight when it comes to multi-cultural marketing, and her presentation at the September AZIMA social event was an eye-opener. Read her book – you’ll learn about more than just demographics and cultural differences; you’ll learn how to pay attention, listen to your consumers’ needs, and make better connections with everyone around you.

Guest Post By:

Jen Cykman is a Web Analyst at Cardinal Path, a premier Digital Intelligence and Optimization firm, with offices throughout North America. It has received two WAA Achievement nominations, and features some of the top minds in the Digital Intelligence community. Jen specializes in SEO and web analytics, with a passion for content and user experience.  Find her on LinkedIn.

A Blueprint for Search by Vanessa Fox

Vanessa Fox with Book Winners at AZIMAGuest Post Courtesy of Adrian Vender, Senior SEO & Technical Implementation Specialist for Cardinal Path. Native Arizonan with a passion for drumming and Internet marketing.

Vanessa Fox of Nine By Blue visited the monthly Arizona Interactive Marketing Association social event a few nights ago.  As a previous employee of Google she was a driving force behind the development of their Webmaster Central and she continues to spread her search marketing knowledge through many speaking engagements and her writing. Though a search marketing strategy can be daunting to some people, Vanessa offered a refreshingly simple approach in her “Blueprint for Search” presentation and gives us the following key points.

Why care about search?

Vanessa mentions that she could have shown some slides highlighting many stats about how much people are using search engines, but instead asks the audience “Who uses a search engine?” All hands in the room go up.  Generally speaking, we should care about search because virtually everybody is using it. Especially your audience.

Your audience searches

Search engine usage is becoming more a part of our day-to-day habits.  Vanessa talks about how people are drawn to use a search engine after they see something interesting on TV.  Using Google Trends she presents data during the 2011 Super Bowl that showed people searching for “Chrysler”-related terms immediately after the airing of the Chrysler Super Bowl commercial. Another interesting stat was that after the announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden earlier this week, searches related to ‘Osama’ increased 98,000{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903}!

A quote that Vanessa shows from Slate Magazine sums up this search-response mechanism very well:

“For humans, this desire to search is not just about fulfilling our physical needs. When we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about driving meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.”

In a very real psychological sense, people are eagerly using search engines to find more information about a subject that is currently interesting to them and we need to make sure that we understand how to provide them that information.

The workflow starts at the search bar

Before your audience finds your website, they will type in a search query and see a set of results. Vanessa shows a slide with Google and Bing search results overlaid by eye-tracking heat maps. We see the typical F-shaped pattern in the eye movement but Vanessa how points out how the eyes weren’t drawn to contrasting details like the local map image.

One explanation for this is that when we type in a search phrase then are minds are fixated on that phrase. That is why we easily focus on iterations of that text phrase vs. other elements on the page.  This is the reason why search engines typically boldface the search query words in the results. We should be mindful of this and make sure we include these search terms within the title tags and descriptions of our pages. (This includes you, news websites!)

Solve the searcher’s problem

Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website as example, Vanessa points out that although their site has a lot of rich content related to ‘global warming’ but the site was getting very little search traffic for that section. It turns out that very little of this content was optimized for the search phrases discovered in the Google Trends data, making it difficult for Google to determine relevance between what the audience is searching for and your content.

Other takeaways from the presentation

  • Use Google Trends data in context. If you see trends that suggest that more searchers are interested in ‘march madness’ vs. the alarming ‘government shutdown’, you should step back and realize that the intense basketball interest is primarily coming from states with college hoops teams represented in the NCAA tournament
  • Every page on your site is a landing page. With organic search, every page is a potential entry point for your customers. Make sure your pages are optimized for user experience.
  • Don’t use bad metrics. Would you be willing to take a higher bounce rate on a landing page if in actually resulted in more phone leads to your business? The answer should be ‘yes!’ Remember to focus on key performance metrics when evaluating your search traffic performance and not to get lost in the not-so-important metrics.
  • Don’t be like Richard Branson. Even multi-billionaires can get things wrong. Vanessa shows an example of one his vacation retreat websites where there is hardly any readable HTML text (not search friendly) and has a nearly impossible method of navigation (not conversion friendly). Make sure your website is easy for the search engines and your audience to understand.

Real Projections, Real Measurements, and Real-life Case Studies.

Over the years I’ve been attending internet marketing events and whenever the subject of ROI and Social Media came up… the answer seemed to be…” There’s no silver bullet”. Why? Because social media is so new and every company has different goals and therefore are measuring different things. Well… fast forward to 2011 and now people, well actually Scott McAndrew from Terralever, are talking “real-life” ROI.  Yes, now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty. Real projections, real measurements, and real-life case studies.

Scott McAndrew is the Vice President of Strategy at Terralever and on April 12th shared his expertise with the attendees at AZIMA. I was one of those attendees and here’s what I soaked up from Scott’s presentation.

It’s 2011 and real-life social media ROI is happening now….
Research is indicating that companies are adding social media to their line-item budgets and as that budget increases, companies want to see measurements beyond the intrinsic values. The intrinsic values, or soft measurements, such as community relationship building, direct access to customers, number of followers or likes, re-tweets and comments are still important in the mix of social media, but now CEOs  are interested in conversion, increased channel sales, and revenue.

Tracking “real-life” ROI is possible, but it’s still a big challenge in the world of social media.  Several complicating factors such as imperfect data or no pre-existing data, no direct access to stakeholders, unreliable data with channels such as Twitter and Facebook, and lack of measurement consensus make it tough to create and deliver a strategy for “real-life” ROI.  However, in the midst of all these challenges Scott and Terralever have found a way to track it and have been successful in their endeavors. Per Scott, here are some of the common social media ROI measurements… direct revenue, earned media, cost-savings or cost avoidance for customer service, research and development, and recruitment.

Real-life case study…
In the case study of eHarmony, one of the social media channels used was Facebook. Scott and Terralever were able to experiment with eHarmony’s postings on Facebook to find the right voice and questions for the brand. Once they found the right mixture they saw a growth in interactions and thus an increase in impressions, which is an increase in touch points for potential customers.  Terralever also experimented with Facebook ads; tracking conversions and cost per ‘Like’. They were able to decrease eHarmony’s cost per ‘Like’ from $10 per ‘Like’ to a couple of dollars per ‘Like’. That’s a cost-savings and tangible element of measurement. As a result of the success, eHarmony cut their TV budget to increase their social media budget. Again, another tangible item of measurement; earned media.

Tips for success…
It’s important to look at the intrinsic value and “real-life” ROI of social media. Align your strategy with goals, strategies, tactics, and measurements; then look for improvements. Put the tools in place to measure KPI’s and be open about the calculations. Check out Scott’s Presentation to learn more.

In conclusion…
Social media is fairly new and takes some experimenting, acceptance, and reliance. As you perfect these elements, you’ll reach the point of increased reliance, increased budgets, and increased accountability and, with increased accountability comes the importance of tracking real-life ROI to prove success to your clients.


Guest Post By: Lori Santa Maria
New Mom! | Internet Marketing Manager for 3TV |azfamily.com,
love coffee, love wine, love to learn, love to laugh.
Website: www.azfamily.com
Twitter: @Losama @azfamily

Is Your Baby Ugly??

Tim Ash Presenting at AZIMA Jan. 11, 2011 - Photo By Arnie Kuenn

You have spent months developing your new website having brainstorming sessions with upper management, your graphics artists, content developers and finally you’ve put this all together and right after your launch you realize no one is clicking on your special offers, your bounce rate is over 80{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} and your people are calling in complaints that they can’t figure out how to navigate your website.

Then the panic sets in, you realize that your baby is UGLY and you have created a landing page that SUCKS!

The reality in today’s interactive marketing is that we are bombarded with over 3000 marketing messages each day and unless we have taken some time to understand the psychology of our users, have an understanding of usability, how to use triggers in our copywriting and we have a firm grasp of who our perfect customer is we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Last night AZIMA (Arizona Interactive Marketing Association) featured landing page optimization expert Tim Ash who is the co founder of SiteTuners and author of “Landing Page Optimization” who gave a one hour presentation titled “Your Baby is Ugly” and discussed the “Seven Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design”

Sin #1 – Unclear Call to Action

“What am I suppose to do now?” This is the last question that you want to have a potential customer say when they arrive on your your website. From the perspective of your visitor you should have a clear and obvious path that they can follow to get them closer to their goal. If your visitors have to think and spend time of what to do next they will leave.

Tim further explained that “visitors to your website has an attention span of a lit match” and you have less then 1/20th of a second to make a first impression. If they are not instantly impressed with what they see, they will leave your site to find one that is better.

Solution:

  • Focus on What Matters Most: Turn down the noise on your landing page by eliminating flashy visual elements that are distracting.
  • Apply the Obvious Standard: If your call to action is not obvious, you’re losing money.
  • Call to Action should be above the fold

Sin #2 – Too Many Choices

When we overwhelm a visitor with too many choices they will become confused. To have a successful landing page we need to be able to lead the visitor to their goal with a limited amount of choices.

People process images 400x faster then text so consider using imagery in a fashion to enable your visitors to process important call to actions on your site and to aid in navigation.

Your home page only has one purpose, to move your visitors off it as quickly as possible to the more important sales pages of your website. Your home page is in effect the “kitchen sink” of your website that will guide your visitors toward their goal.

Solution:

  • Use a visual grid and shortcuts to reduce the reading scan
  • Categorize choices into small groups

Sin #3 – Asking for Too Much Information

We as Internet Marketers have become greedy in that we ask for too much information.

Imagine walking into a brick and mortar store and the clerk at the door asks you if they may hold onto your credit card while you shop, what would your reaction be?

But yet many of us in Internet Marketing do this same thing today when we ask for a mailing address, telephone number, and other personal information just to be able to download a free e-book.

Consider giving away this free E-book away for really free by not asking for any information at all. If they find the information contained in your book interesting they will follow-up with you with your contact info within the book and your not burdened with an email list of worthless prospects.

Solution:

  • Only ask for information that is required to complete the transaction
  • If you can, collect the email address early to follow-up if the client abandons the process
  • Collect additional information from the client during a later stage of the process

Sin #4- Too Much Text

Remember as children when we watched the Charlie Brown cartoons and all when any of the adults spoke all we heard was “blah blabbla, blablba”?

This is the same thing our customers hear when we overload them with sales information and they will respond by hitting the back button and go someplace else.

Solution:

1.      Use headlines, headings and well positioned links

2.      Use bulleted lists to cover key areas

3.      Remove all the subjective claims that you cannot support without factual evidence

Sin #5 – Not Keeping Promises

Search for information about the “Best Digital Camera” and in the number one position of Google’s Adwords you see this ad;

You think to yourself “I know Consumer Reports, I can trust them” and you click on their ad

However when you arrive on their site you see this and find out that you see that you have to “join today” to read the results!

Do you feel that you have been lied to? Will you ever trust Consumer Reports again?

This could be called a “profit prevention system” because you have failed to deliver what you promised and your visitors will leave frustrated and angry.

Solution:

  • Be clear in your advertising and links of what you’re promising
  • Repeat the text and/or keywords on the destination page to reaffirm their decision
  • Don’t make false claims on what you will deliver

Sin #6 – Visual Distractions

Things that flash, flicker or move around is annoying and graphic designers are often frustrated artists, they often want to think outside the box and express their creativity on your website.

Also how many other websites have you seen that same girl with the headset for the customer service representative and those same group of guys in suits that are your management team?

Solution:

  • Remove the chrome, the flashy blinky things that compete with your call to action
  • Replace those generic stock images on your site with professional photography that will enhance communication and trust

Sin #7 – Lack of Creditability or Trust

Unless you work for Coke, Red Bull or some Fortune 500 company chances are no one has ever heard of you or your company but yet you’re faced with making a positive first impression in under 1/20th of a second.

Building trust can be one of the most difficult tasks in development of your landing page.

Solutions:

  • Use well known trust symbols on your website above the fold and in prominent locations
  • Create a “butterfly collection” by using logos of your clients on your website
  • Feature your relevant policies, guarantees and other “points of difference” so they can be seen and understood when the visitor first comes to your website

From Ugly Baby to Superstar Marketer

Seems all so simple right? Well it is if you take it one step at a time.

You can easily start changing your “Ugly Baby” website right now by finding just one thing on Tim’s list and start the transformation to Superstar Marketer today!

Guest Post By: Roy Reyer is the president of SEOtrainingSW.com a provider of SEO and Internet Marketing training and consulting and an associate of the Search Engine Academy offering Certification in basic and advanced SEO through partnership with the University of Mississippi. Sign up for Roy’s free weekly SEO tips on his website today.

David Mihm Presents Local Search

This is a guest post by Nick Roshon (@nickroshon), an SEO Strategist at iCrossing.  He also blogs at the iCrossing Great Finds BlogNickRoshon.com, and Nick’s Car Blog.

December’s AZIMA event proved to be another great one as David Mihm of GetListed.org presented a comprehensive and mind-blowing presentation on Local Search. David authored

david mihm

Photo from DavidMihm.com

an acclaimed report on Local Search Ranking Factors and his work is used and cited by SEO & Local search experts worldwide. In his presentation he didn’t hold anything back, giving out advanced tips and sharing many secrets about local search optimization – his presentation was so well received that comments such as “I’m learning 10 years of local search marketing in 1 hour. My mind is about to explode from awesomeness” were heard and echoed on Twitter.

The presentation started off with any explanation of why local search is important, and then he explained the Google Places algorithm in three parts – Relevance, Prominence, and Distance. His presentation included intermediate & advanced tactics, a discussion on analytics, and even best practices for uber-competitive markets – it was an impressive amount of ground to cover in just under an hour, but David kept a great pace and wow’d the audience for an hour straight.

Local Search – Why It’s Important

First off – why should you pay attention to local search? David explained that 20{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903} of desktop searches have a local intent – a staggering 2 BILLION queries per month. It’s more important than ever to concentrate on local search, as Google has recently revised their search results to blend organic and local listings throughout the search engine results, as opposed to separating the local results in a “7 pack” above the organic results as they used to. As Google explains in their blog, this change was made to make local results even easier to find, and it definitely gives local results (and specifically, links to Google Places) more prominence in the search results. This fundamental shift means that search marketers will need to focus on both organic and local optimization to be successful, and that local business owners should focus not only on their website, but also on their Google Places page to make it provides a useful & informative experience for users.

The Places Algorithm – How Does it work?

The Places algorithm solves a very difficult question – how do you rank a phonebook? Yet the answer is pretty simple and based off of a pretty basic framework of just three factors – Relevance, Prominence, and Distance. This is a much different algorithm than organic search due to the local intent of the user. David then broke down each element of the algorithm further.

Distance

Optimizing for distance is impossible – you are where you are. This is one factor that you cannot control. The other two – Relevance and Prominence – are where you should focus your efforts.

Relevance

There are many steps you can take to improve your relevance to local search keywords – many are straightforward like having a keyword in your business name, adding yourself to the appropriate categories, and making sure your Google Place page is claimed and filled out completely. In addition to just claiming and filling out your place page, make sure to make it compelling – the goal is to get clicks, and convert visitors – not just rank well. Otherwise, increasing your relevancy is much like organic search, pick keywords that are relevant to your business, including some longer tail keywords that will convert well, and then use those keywords throughout your copy in a natural sounding way.

Prominence

Prominence is the third and perhaps most difficult aspect of local search optimization – generally the intermediate and advanced tactics. Simply put, prominence is what others say about you. The easiest thing you can do to improve your prominence is to manually claim your Google Places listing. Be sure to claim your listing using an email address on your own domain, and not a Gmail account, as this will help Google verify you are the owner of the website and not just a random Gmail user. The other big factor in improving your prominence is to have a lot of high quality citations – a citation is considered a mention of your Name, Address, and Phone Number (or N.A.P. for short). Having high quality citations that are geo-relevant and related to your industry or vertical will help your business thrive in local search prominence. Another aspect of prominence is reviews – having lots of reviews will help your business, especially positive ones. There are many other advanced tactics to improve prominence, such as presence on Flickr, popular YouTube videos, and even geo-tagging in Wikipedia. There is a great write up on the SEO Training SW blog that shares some of these more advanced tactics if you are interested.

Organic Optimization for Local Search

A good SEO strategy is holistic of both local & organic – David shared with us some strategies to make organic search strategy work together with your local search optimization for optimal results. Tactics such as including the city & state in your title tags, and creating separate pages on your website for each of your locations are two easy steps you can take to improve your local & organic search optimization. And of course, links matter, as they do for all aspects of organic search – to help your local search the most, try to get links from geo-relevant sites, or with geo-specific anchor text, as those links will help reinforce the relevance of your business’ location and service offerings to the search engines.

Conclusion

David’s presentation was an eye-opener for many local business owners, organic SEOs, and other internet marketers as we learned just how complicated and advanced local search optimization has become. For retailers, brick and mortars, or anyone with a local presence, it is essential to start learning local search optimization and creating a holistic optimization strategy that accounts for both local and organic tactics.