My Favorite Tool of 2016 Have You Tried it Yet?

My Favorite Tool of 2016 Have You Tried it Yet?

As we round the end of the year, I usually start thinking back on the great things that occurred this year in my business. Sometimes these occurrences are worthy of a post. Well it’s been a couple years since I’ve been so compelled. Compelled enough to tell others about it.

Every once in a while a new tool emerges that you decide is the best tool in its class for solving a problem, saving you time/money, and or taking something complicated and making it really simple-even fun. This is quite a feat when accomplished so it doesn’t happen that often. Sure there are lots of tools out there to satisfy a wide range of activities for someone like me in the digital marketing business but most of them are average, even those which charge a small fortune to use. Eventually they all leave me in search of something better.

I am overwhelmed with joy, that someone has accomplished the most difficult challenge by creating the most unbelievable tool – I’m not even hesitant to say, ever. As you can imagine this has compelled me to write about it and share it with the world. Someone should tell Trump that he can’t make America great again because Canva already did.

Here is my Tri-fold Brochure Created with Canva and ready for print. Totally Amazing! Be sure to see the inside page by clicking to the next page at the bottom of the brochure.

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So if you were paying attention to that last bit, you already know the name of this company/product. Write it down, memorize it, burn it into your skin, whatever you have to do because this is the product that will pull you out of a rock and a hard place- when you need to create something amazing in minutes. For those who weren’t paying attention..it’s Canva. By visiting canva.com you can create professional, incredibly eye pleasing, marketing material. Canva has a knack for turning amateur designers into professionals. I even put together a resume using Canva. I can’t tell you what a brilliant concept it is to be able to move sections around easily, play with different backgrounds and fonts – it’s simply an amazing tool for creating resumes!

But wait, that’s not the best part. Did I mention that there is zero learning curve the first time you use this software? You’re probably thinking, “yah sure” but really it’s true. The interface is so simple, even a beginner will have an easy time putting together a masterpiece. It’s so simple – everything makes sense. There are no hidden buttons to search for. Or tricky keystrokes you must learn before using it. You don’t even have to read any instructions. It’s literally out of the box and drive. Your clients will be impressed. I’ve already tried it out on a few and after presenting this tri-fold brochure to my client, she had three words…”That is Awesome!” was exactly what she said and the only thing she said in an email sent last night.

I am certain a genius put this together and they deserve an award! I created a tri-fold brochure just yesterday and although I could have whipped that piece together in a matter of minutes with Canva–no joke, there are so many cool things you can do with the graphics they  provide, some free of charge (and some for $1.00) that I played around for hours creating the most incredible and artistic marketing pieces. Did I mention that I love this tool.

Try it, I dare you. Be careful, it sucks you in. I had a blast creating this last piece and I keep going back to it and trying different things. I think I’m addicted.

Hey Canva….Pat yourself on the back! How can I ever thank you. Hopefully this post sends some traffic your way because I can’t think of another site/brand/company that deserves it more. You have single handedly taken all the pain and frustration out of creating something fairly complicated and made it so simple even FUN to make. Canva has heavy lifted more than one of my projects in 2016 and will continue to for the next year as well.

P.S. I have no affiliation whatsoever with Canva. They did not ask me to rate their software nor do they even know that I am writing this. I was not paid any money from Canva. The truth is, if anyone deserves money, it’s Canva for creating an absolute masterpiece.

 

 

How to Write For a Blog

How to Write For a Blog

 

Learn What “Original” Content Really Means

Let’s face it, original content in the truest sense of the word borders on impossible when it comes to writing for your business or for the internet in general. Yes, believe it or not, 5 million or so people have already beat you to it. Unless you invent something new, are a pioneer in a research study that uncovers a phenomena, or have figured out a way to survive on Mars, then writing totally original content is not what you’re looking to do. Let go of that ideology now and settle into reality.  Your goal in creating award winning copy is about offering perspective, also known as “spin”.  You are going to take previously covered topics and put your own spin on them.  This is precisely what blogging is all about!  Whether it’s well educated, humorous, thought provoking, realistic, challenging, philosophical, or downright political, this is what makes your content unique. So when you hear, over and over again, that you need to create “original” content for your website, this is what is meant by “original.” So, cancel the nudist retreat you had planned (though a valiant effort for stirring up some exciting and fresh content), and just let your perspective flow – with your clothes on….or not!penandpapericon

Before You Begin Choose Your Audience

As previously mentioned in, How to Create Targeted Messages Part 1 and Part 2, the first step to writing a good blog post is choosing the audience. If you first choose the audience, the ideas will come much easier. Then, after you have carefully chosen the ears you want to perk with your message, ask yourself what that audience would be interested in reading. What would make them look twice at your headline and message? Please remember to break your market up into smaller groups. Don’t try to write a piece that speaks to everyone whose ever needed an oil change. That’s pretty much the entire planet. Instead, break your market up into smaller groups so that your message resonates with the group it was intended. It’s okay don’t worry, there are plenty more blog posts to write for the other half of your market, that you may have left out this time around.

How To Spin the Right Message for Your Blogspin-clipart-top-clipart-1

Say for example you sell insurance and are taxed with writing an article for the blog once per week. On week 1 you decide the audience you want to capture with your message is existing customers who although use your company for their car insurance have yet to insure their homes or rental properties with you. It’s important to remember that we aren’t necessarily trying to convert our audience with this copy.

Your job is to point out the benefits of bundling their car and homeowners insurance together as a general rule of thumb, but not why it’s better to do it with your company. This will come across too salesy and you will lose trust. Talk about the general benefits for individuals who bundle insurance services. Even if these benefits are standard with every insurance provider. That’s okay you are just teaching the public the best way to buy insurance. People respect that, but not if you make it about buying that insurance with you or your company. If perhaps your company has a benefit other insurance providers don’t, when bundling services, then it’s certainly okay to mention, just don’t make the entire article about that feature.  A mention one time in the article works and doesn’t come across as a sales pitch.

Become a Subject Matter Expert

Overall, when you write articles for a blog, your goal is to frame yourself as a subject matter expert and provide useful content to your market that you hope will not only provide brand recognition but will at some point turn them into a customer. This isn’t a direct sales piece nor should any of your articles read that way. You have to first build trust and authority in your brand and in your blog personality. You do that by writing content that displays the knowledge you have within your industry. So although you may put a persuasive spin on your article(s), overall you should be more focused on writing about the in’s and out’s of your business and displaying the many details of the insurance industry that you know.

Give Your Content Edge

Don’t forget to give away some juicy bits too. Edgy content has an incredible draw and people respect those who dare to walk that fine line. I’m not saying you should talk trash about your business but don’t be afraid to talk about blunders you’ve made early on in your career (if they are humorous) or unusual circumstances that occur within your day to day. Just be sure that you follow the mistakes up by outlining the lessons that were learned.

 

How To Drum Up Business on Twitter

How To Drum Up Business on Twitter

Selling products or services offline allows us an opportunity to get in front of our potential customers, who are in the research phase of the buying cycle. During that face to face or phone call, we have the opportunity to uncover their needs and can, in turn, sell to them based on those needs.

Online, however, you have to find a way to capture their attention without the opportunity of a phone call or face to face. In a business such as a storefront prospects come to you, but online, you must go to them. Maintaining visibility on the internet in as many places as possible is crucial today. Additionally providing these researchers with the information they need to make a buying decision on your website, is critical to your success.

More Creative Ways to Compete in the SERP’s

But how do we capture these researchers in that research phase, and then guide them safely to our camp? Well, the first and most obvious way is thru the use of keywords and ranking. However, gaining a visible spot in the SERPS, isn’t that easy.  If you’re in a competitive market try opting for less competitive keywords and instead try keywords a “researcher” might use.  Research searches are more question focused, such as “How do I..?” or “How to …”  This may provide less competitive keyword  options for you to rank for keywords related to your business.

How to Get Business on Twitter

You may not know that Twitter, just like google, is a search engine?  Thru the use of hashtags, Twitter has created it’s own internal content organization to help researchers easily find posts related to any chosen topic. If you are an avid tweeter you should consider adding at least one hashtag to your posts to begin an organization system whereby others, like yourself, can quickly pull up content you are looking for. Did you also know that you can browse any topics in real time, meaning you can actually watch conversations happen? Have you considered watching conversations related to your brand or your products and services?

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re a mechanic in Phoenix and are trying to drum up new business. Using twitter as your prospecting tool, you type this into the search: #needmechanic. The image to the right includes the actual results from that search. Now, once you’ve garnered what appears to be an approachable list, you can choose from any number of ways to connect with them and present your offer. And by offer, I don’t mean telling them you’re a mechanic and would gladly fix their car for them. I mean slipping them a special discount offer and then of course following them, so that they can find you tomorrow when they eventually decide to take you up on your offer!

Get Amped!

Get Amped!

After developing and launching a new web architecture called AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) google, once again, gives the gift of ease for all WordPress users. To get Accelerated Mobile Pages on your site all you have to do is install the plugin. It’s really that simple. It’s much easier than implementing the structured data format or trying to make your overall site speed better by moving CSS and Javascript files between the header and footer, which can seriously jack up your site. With the strong emphasis placed on speed these days, I am sure many have attempted their own fixes and wound up with a dysfunctional website. Rest assured. This is one easy and error free update. Your mobile audience will like it most of all!

Important Changes For AdWords in Googles Search Results

Important Changes For AdWords in Googles Search Results

Click Thru Rate, a common metric associated with AdWords, calculates how many times an ad was clicked on, versus how many times the ad was shown. While click thru rate can be helpful in certain aspects of ad creation and account management, overall the metric doesn’t hold much importance.  For one,  the information it can give an advertiser is limited to ad relevancy and features of the ad itself.  I hear many advertisers ask the same question a lot about  “What is considered a good CTR”  Besides that question being an impossible one to answer, it may also indicate an advertiser isn’t collecting the right data or is preoccupied with the wrong data and will have a hard time in the long run being successful. To me a better question and one that I’ve always wondered is what is a good conversion rate within my industry or amongst my competition. I know what my conversion rate is but without something to compare it with, it too falls short of providing any useful data. However focusing on bringing that metric up to it’s highest level is where most of my effort goes in any AdWords campaign. One thing that is certain about that metric is, the higher the better. This is not true of Click Thru Rate though. I could have a higher than average click thru rate, but if none of those clicks are converting than that “high” click-thru rate is actually costing me money. To me a high performing campaign is one that maintains the highest conversion rate at the lowest possible cost.  CTR has almost nothing to do with that. Though CTR may provide me with some indications where my ad is lacking relevancy and I’m not getting the most clicks possible – I could still be maintaining a high conversion rate and low cost per conversion. I often wonder why so many people are concerned with this metric and what they are using that data for exactly.

Unreliability in the Metric

After understanding how a high CTR can actually hurt an advertiser, one should note the unreliability of this metric to provide any worthwhile data other than the quality of a keyword or ad. However even those stats are unreliable since the true value of a keyword or ad should still come from the ability to convert the clicks into sales. Again the metric falls short of providing any useful data.

Applying this Metric to Organic Search


The new ad format for AdWords, while losing its real estate on the right-hand side of organic searches has actually gained a great deal.  Take a look at the search I did for “buy shoes.” Note, the first result above from Zappos. That’s a lot of real estate they’ve garnered for the cost of 1 click.  Even the ad below it is more lines than your typical paid ad. Rich snippets are another feature that paid ads have gained. Note the 2nd and 3rd result have ratings. By adding rich snippets to their website code (a feature also available to the organic advertiser), these sites are able to gain the addition of their google reviews added to their ad. Notice anything else? How about how the paid ad listings are beginning to blend in more with the organic listings? Aside from the now very small square that says “Ad”, they look very similar to the other non-paid listings. It appears their new placement on the left side with the other results may be part of a strategic plan for Google. It seems they are trying to skew the typical percentages of clicks on a page in favor of the paid ads, since they currently do not get clicked on as often as the organic listings do. At least they didn’t when they were on the right hand side. I am guessing that has changed considerably with their new left-side location.

These new Paid Ads show at the top, sometimes middle and bottom of the organic results, omitting them from the right hand column altogether, is just one of the many upcoming changes to paid ads that will eventually even out the percentage of clicks each advertiser type gets. Historically, the organic results have received the largest majority of clicks, but that is likely to get closer to a 50/50 split and if placement has anything to do with that, the paid ads will be at an advantage.

For the organic advertiser, click thru rate will be an important metric to fine tune against some increasingly challenging competition. For years now we’ve seen the organic listings lose their prime page placement to increased map listings that started with a few but now sometimes have 7 listings, pushing the 1st organic result below the fold. In order to see the first result a user has to actually scroll down the page on some searches. Now we are seeing paid ads getting longer. Not just a little longer – a lot longer.

Google’s Intentions Are Geared for Paid Advertising

While the changes have been somewhat slow and spaced out over the last few years, if you add them all together they equal one glaring fact. Google is pushing for more advertisers in PPC. While this is not surprising, it could mean a few unwelcomed changes for organic and paid advertisers. Costs are likely to begin increasing as more advertisers sign on. In order to keep costs down and still capture clicks advertisers should pay special attention to ad relevancy and a well organized AdWords account structure that contains as many ad groups as there are products and possibly more depending how finite you think is necessary to get.  For the organic advertiser with less control over which listing will show for which keyword, good onsite optimization will be key to ensuring you are relevant within a given search. Less overlap of multiple keywords for product pages will be essential.

Paid Advertising is a Worthwhile Consideration

Considering at least some paid advertising may not be a bad idea to map out keywords to certain pages. Even if you don’t have a lot of dollars to put into paid advertising, the smallest amount might be helpful for providing a road map for google while increasing your revenue at the same time. This is without mentioning the invaluable data you get from running a pay per click campaign. For this reason alone, it is a worthwhile form of advertising especially if you are just getting started online. The data you gather in the process can reveal the products in which you gain the most revenue from with the least amount of effort and money, and which products will need additional promotion, or better site visibility in order to increase sales. This data could take months, even years to figure out organically and if you consider time is money – well then you get my point.

10 Important Things to Do When Building a New Website

10 Important Things to Do When Building a New Website

While some of the following tasks assume you have an existing site and are creating a new version of it, many of them will apply to cases where you are building a site for the very first time.

 

1. Be sure to either maintain the existing urls from the old site onto the new or redirect the old urls to the new ones if you are going to change them.
2. Put up an “Under Construction” page while in the development phase or build the new site on a different domain used for development
3. Be sure to make a copy of the old site and import any of the content like articles and images that will be used on the new site.

4. Don’t delete any of the existing content like an article you feel is outdated. If using wordpress, just set the article as a draft. Consider updating the article to make it more relevant.

5. If you are building the site right on the existing domain (refer to #2) Be sure to block search engines from crawling the site during its development. This can have an unrecoverable negative effect on your marketing down the road.

6. Don’t forget to unblock to allow search engines to crawl once the site is completed

7. Submit the site and/or a sitemap to Google Search Console as soon as possible after completion

8. Choose a version inside the Search Console (ex. www or non www)

9. Create a Robots.txt file and submit it within Googles Search Console to identify areas of your site you do not want crawled by search engines. Even if you can’t think of anything that you don’t want them to crawl you should still submit one.

10. Run a link checker on your site to find any broken links and repair them before they start producing 404’s to google.