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Archive for the ‘Web-based marketing’ Category


The 4 Indispensable Pillars of Effective Digital Marketing [Free eBook Too]

Pillars of effective digital marketing

We’re going to talk about post website depression (PWD).

If you’re a sufferer, I urge you not to be embarrassed. You’re hardly alone.

Generally, PWD is preceded with wild mood swings. For months you’re knee-deep in the grind. Meetings and conference calls. Site maps and wireframes. Copy and code. Layouts and links. Flurries of emails. Portals. Staging sites. Browser testing. Blood, sweat and title tags.

Then finally…

After an exhausting Friday of tedious troubleshooting you’ve blasted past every last imperfection (you think). The flip gets switched over the weekend and you’re live. The new site looks tight. It loads in a flash. Isn’t the web wonderful?

High fives are flying all around the office Monday morning. The boss even sprung for donuts. But in the coming days, the buzz wanes. A week or two later, the source of your depression becomes clear: a million perfectly composed pixels can amount to zero effect on the business.

4 Pillars - eBook



This is a 4,000-word post. If you’d rather “Pocket” it or download it to read at another time, click here or the image on the left to get a free eBook version.


It’s time to call a content marketer

That’s me. And this is a call I’m a part of a lot.

I’m happy to have this call because I can answer most of the questions and steer the ship forward from here. But I must admit, this call tends to include two waffles I could live without.

Waffle 1: Uncertainty

I told you the impetus behind this consultation: PWD. The company’s learned a new website in and of itself is no rainmaker. Now, at least to some extent, the marketer/owner/person I’m talking to realizes her or his company needs more than a shinier home on the web; they need a more significant digital footprint.

They need to publish content—onsite and off (but first, on) so they get discovered more. Known more. Liked more. Trusted more. This is how digital marketing works.

But then, ugh, the question, the inevitable question, dare I say, the “you’ve got to be kidding me” question…

“Barry, in our business we’re not so sure potential new clients go online to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah (read, research, make decisions, buy, etc.).

Here’s what I think at that moment: Are you serious? Where do you think they go? Where do they get their books? Where do they do research for their personal needs? Where did you find me? And WHY are we talking?

Here’s what I say at that moment: Yes, they do. (And the client knows it.)

And one more thing: In digital marketing it’s dangerous to forge a strategy based on what you think or your opinion. You need to know how your prospects and customers behave.

Waffle 2: Commitment

Somehow we get past the ridiculousness. It’s understood: content must be produced. We proceed to the double-headed time and money monster. This part of the conversation could go a number of ways and at this point it’s a bit premature to do a content marketing plan, but to do my part I say what needs to be said:

Yes, it’s going to take time and money. And if you’re not committed to it long term, you’ll be wasting both.

So what’s it to take to make digital marketing work?

The most successful businesses are becoming customer-centric marketing machines. They’re able to:

  • Define marketing strategy based on customer needs
  • Understand the customers’ behaviors
  • Engage with customers based on their behaviors

Research indicates buyers are commonly two-thirds (or more) of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor. Marketing’s role has become enormously different.

  • Marketing is sales. Marketing—not sales—guides buyers through the early stages of the buying process.
  • Touch points multiply. Marketers need to engage customers across an expanding array of channels.
  • Timeliness is crucial. Relevant marketing messages and content must be delivered fast and at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Good news: your company can shift into digital gear to become more in touch with your customers’ needs, more responsive in delivering the content they seek when it matters most, and more effective and efficient.

Though there are countless strategies that may come into play there are four pillars of effective digital marketing your company needs to master:

1. Content marketing
2. Search engine optimization
3. Social media marketing
4. Marketing analytics

None of the above is optional. Think of them as four legs of a stool or table that forms the foundation of your digital marketing. Try to get by without one and your foundation falls down.

I’m now going to dive into each of the four to help you begin to get a basic understanding of the pillars of effective digital marketing. (more…)


Digital Marketing Basics: Simplified and Comprehensive

Digital marketing basics

Marketing works differently now.

Push is out. Pull is in.

You have to think inbound.

Traditional “outbound” marketing tactics that dominated the pre-Google world are now alarmingly ineffective. We all have the power to filter out advertising and we’re not afraid to use it.

The customer is in control. The communications process begins if and when the customer wants. Without advertising. Without phone calls. Without you.

Instead of pushing out messages via paid media, to reach this customer, you must put the power of content marketing, search, and social media to work. The relationship with your brand begins there.

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads
(such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
~ Search Engine Journal

To be an effective marketer, you have to do a complete 180. The strategy is to pull people to your website with magnetic content.

Additional resource: introduction to inbound marketing.

Define objectives by beginning with the end in mind

“Our digital marketing isn’t working.” 

The great thing about digital marketing is how easy it is to measure results. So if you say the program isn’t working, it’s only a valid assessment if you’ve defined what “working” actually means.

Your sales and marketing team must agree on the program’s objective. Objectives differ from company to company, site to site, and program to program. Generally speaking, the mission is to generate traffic, leads and sales.

Are you aiming to expand an email database? Sell off the page? Foster word of mouth?

You’re going to experience failure and success. Digital marketing is forever experimental. You know what you need to conduct a meaningful experiment, right?

You need an outcome.

Additional resource: fast-track approach to setting objectives and planning.



100 Ways Your Company Loses to Better Online Marketers

It's a jungle online

It’s a jungle out there.

Online marketing has become a wild animal. But you don’t have to be a gorilla to dominate. Nor do you have to go ape and do absolutely everything. However, you do indeed need to understand what’s working for the leaders of the pack.

I thought I’d survey the landscape and give you my take on how the most cunning companies are killing it with online marketing tactics. So here you are: 100 ways companies are thriving on the wild, wild web.



Eye-Popping, Reader-Stopping, Social Media-Rocking Visual Marketing

Eye Popping Visual Marketing

Presenting Visual Strategies for Smart Content Marketing

It’s often said, a picture is worth a thousand words.

But are they worth a thousand bucks? They can be because they start conversations. They attract attention. Pictures help you tell stories. They stop web surfers and turn them into readers, which is often a crucial first step toward winning a customer.

In this age of information overload the competition is fierce and the noise level is immeasurable. Getting you to read this article is a major feat. I’ve done something right.

We’re human. Our ability to take in information may be large, but it’s limited. Our attention spans are short and getting shorter.

As marketers, our first and most pressing goal is to get noticed. The challenge then evolves to keeping the reader’s interest for a short spell and making some sort of connection during the brief moment in time.

This decade’s seen explosive popularity of image-centric social channels like Instagram and Pinterest. Every social media network not considered to be visually magnetic is moving fast to overcome the problem.

And every marketer who hasn’t yet mastered the nuances of visual marketing needs to get on it. If you’re not acing the aesthetic parts of content marketing, you can expect to see your audience engaging with companies that are.

Your content needs to feature photos, images, and visuals that woo and wow. I’m hoping the rest of this post will help you understand how get it done effectively.



Conversion Copywriting: Strategies to Create a Customer Comfort Zone

conversion copywriting

How are you feeling?

If you’ve been here before and have come to know and trust me, you probably feel quite comfortable.

Is it your first time? Now that’s an entirely different bale of hay. It’s human nature, right? When you arrive somewhere—or interact with someone—for the first time, you may be curious, but you can’t help being anxious.

Your guard’s up. Your wallet’s tucked away. Any little bump and away you go.

As you’ve surmised, I’m talking about your experience on a web page—one that until now, you’ve never before landed on.

Discomfort’s the mother of all conversion killers

Any copywriter worth his (or her) weight (or rate) needs to understand this reality and quickly wordsmith newcomers down a path to their comfort zone.

Where a web page is the terrain, the copywriter’s the tour guide, instructor, concierge, maître d’, and of course, sales clerk. If the copy can’t seal the deal, it must offer something compelling to start some sort of relationship.

Conversion, we say. Conversion, we seek. (more…)


Digital Marketing Lead Generation Strategies [Free eBook]

Free ebook Three Deep Marketing

I wrote a 40-page eBook covering today’s most effective digital marketing lead generation strategies. It was recently published by Three Deep Marketing, a sizable agency in Minnesota that’s one of the nation’s premier practitioners of data-driven digital marketing. From content marketing to marketing automation and many other tactics, the eBook covers a lot of ground. You can scroll down to see the chapters list. Go here to download the eBook in its entirety. Or check out how the book begins here and now….

The story begins with the predictably unpredictable buyer

The customer’s buying path is forever unpredictable. The only thing that is predictable is they will do their research.

You’re doing research here and now. You might pull the trigger soon. You might not.

buyer journeyIn a way, you’re a lot like everyone else. The decision you’ll make—in this case, about your company’s marketing—will be an informed one. You’ll put in the time, do your homework and make an informed decision.

And in a way, you’re unlike anyone. You’ll bounce around from source to source however you please. No one knows the path you’ll take—including you.

Let’s lay it on the line. Buyers command the buying process now. They absorb information like sponges, but don’t stand in line to get it. They go online and get it entirely on their terms.

If you want them to consider buying from you, you have to buy into the realities of the new media landscape. You have to map your marketing to their journey. And again, the journey’s wildly unpredictable.

Go ahead and gulp. In the 2010s decade, marketing and media have matured. Keeping up with the changes is a priority, but a highly challenging ambition. Deny the dominance of digital marketing and you’ll go down in defeat. Digitally savvy companies shall inherit the earth.

This eBook is a roadmap of sorts. Our hope is it will equip you with the insights you’ll need to achieve success in the age of the carefully considered decision.



Marketing Gurus: Do They Get Wiser Through the Years?

In this and a few upcoming posts, I’m going to share some favorites from 2014. This year, I was asked to answer questions for a good number of round-up posts. They were all good fun, but I’d have to say this one from Oktopost was my favorite because of its playful angle.

Blast From The Past! 16 B2B Marketing Gurus Share Their Advice” is full of great tips and amusing photos of us marketing folks from years past.

Here’s Oktopost’s story…

We couldn’t build a time machine, so we did the next best thing! We chose 16 B2B marketing gurus we look up to, and asked them the following question:

“If you could give one piece of B2B marketing advice to your younger self, what would it be?”

The response was overwhelming, and it was incredible to travel back in time with these experts – some of whom have witnessed the B2B marketing industry evolve over the past few decades. Read their valuable insights, and think about the advice you’d give yourself if you could re-visit your earlier days.

Jason Falls, SVP Digital Strategy, Elasticity

“My advice to my younger self would be to believe wholeheartedly that the only difference between a good day and a bad day, a good client and a bad client, a good job and a bad job, is unequivocally attitude. When I look back on some of the crappier experiences in my career, I can say without a doubt that my attitude was the single-largest contributor to the crap. I’d tell me to wake up every day proud to do what you do, work with who you work with, and with the full understanding that even if there’s a pile of crap waiting for you at the office, you were put on this earth to go tackle it and kick its ass. Attitude makes everything better. Or worse.” [Jason Falls/Elasticity]



How to Write a Home Page Headline that Gets the Job Done

Home page headline

You’ve arrived, but feel lost. Or confused. You’re being bombarded with stimuli. Or too many choices. You’re unsure what to do next.

I know exactly what you’re going to do next. You’re going to leave. You’re off in search of a place where you feel comfortable, confident, more “at home.”

Now here’s the rub. You actually were at someone’s home—their home on the web—their home page, but something went terribly wrong.

The problem’s simple enough. The home page isn’t simple enough. The host made you work. As a website visitor, you don’t want that. And as a website host, your goal must be to invoke a sense of belonging.

The home page has a job to do: get clicked

Bounce rate, which is revealed in your analytics, indicates the percentage of web site visits where only a single page was viewed. Translation: zero clicks.

For a blog site, you need not get overly concerned about bounce rate. One-and-done visits are common. However, those that enter your site via its home page are likely to be first-timers. In this case, a high bounce rate is deadly.

So how do you inspire a visitor to click a page deeper into your site? You interest them. And how do you interest your visitor? You communicate an idea that is easy to understand and memorable. Marketers often describe such ideas as “sticky.”

Made to Stick, the bestselling book by Chip and Dan Heath, spells out the formula with six principles. The first, and perhaps, most vital, is simplicity.

I’ll paraphrase from the book where they ask and answer the question, “How do you find the essential core of your ideas?” They submit you must be a master of exclusion. You must relentlessly prioritize.

The book’s chapter on simplicity also offers the following:

  • It’s hard to make ideas stick in a noisy environment
  • You must weed out ideas, even if they’re important, in an effort to highlight the most important one
  • Uncertainty—caused by multiple choices—tends to paralyze readers
  • Powerful ideas are compact and meaningful

Is your homepage simple? Does it elicit the response you want from visitors? If it’s not clear and compact, it’s time to review and revise it. It’s time to simplify. It’s time to learn how to write a home page headline that inspires visitors to stick around and click around.

What’s in it for me?

If you’ve studied copywriting even a wee bit, you’re likely to have read the “WIIFM” lesson. A common derivative of it goes: readers don’t care about your company or product; they care about themselves.

I want to say you get the idea. I want to say everybody does. But they don’t. In fact, I don’t think it’d be outrageous to say a painfully large majority can’t (and maybe never will) comprehend the concept. And it’s a pity because when you shine the spotlight on yourself, you lose business.

Your headline has a job to do

While your typical web-browsing human is obviously not a goldfish, researchers like to explain his or her average attention span falls short of the little orange pucker’s.

This means your job is to create a page, which is capable of expanding the average attention span. You need to grab ‘em fast. This is the headline’s job. The headline on your home page is the first line the visitor reads and therefore the most important line on your entire website.



Online Marketing Experts Aren’t Always Right

You should do what online marketing experts say. 

Tralse? Fue? Help me. I’m looking for some middle ground.

See, online marketing is:

(A) Hard
(B) Ever-changing
(C) Continuously experimental
(D) Different for everybody
(E) All of the above

You bet your F’in’ A the answer’s (E).

Marketing changes at the speed of screen flicker

So we scour blogs and any other content we can get our retinas on, hoping to stay tuned into what’s up in digital. I trust you’re able to sniff out the obvious manure, but fear when you identify a super-duper, guru-like, thought leader, influencer, you accept everything he or she says as the gospel.


Read and gather. Try out the tips that sound the most promising. But please, don’t accept every popular maxim at face value.

Here are several I see often along with a much-needed reality check.



The Power of Social Recommendations, Word of Mouth Marketing and the Coolest Kid in Kindergarten

social recommendations word of noth

“Eat your beets.”

That’d be mom talking to her son Zack.

Zack doesn’t like what he sees. These round globs are red. Dark red. They appear to be bleeding. His mother says, “You’ll love them. Trust me.” Zack, of course, loves his mom. Trust is another story.

Mom says, “They’re really good for you.” Zack thinks, I most certainly do not care.

Mom says, “I used to love beets when I was your age.” Zack thinks, you’ve played that card one too many times mom and your credibility isn’t real high after sending me to class photos in a paisley bowtie telling me I look handsome.

Mom thinks about calling in dad, but he’s a bit of a pushover when it comes to the eat-your-vegetables exercise. His credibility’s in the tank too thanks to promising Zack all summer long the Cubs would play in the World Series.

This scene concludes with no beet eating whatsoever. Cut.

Now let’s imagine a different scenario. It’s lunchtime at school. Zack’s with his buddy. We’ll call him Jake (since most boys go by this name now).

Jake’s a trustworthy dude. Cool too. His parents let him wear a Ninja Turtles shirt for pictures. His Avengers lunchbox is off-the-charts dope and everything that springs from it has proven to be tasty. Just last week Jake gave Zack his first taste of Reese’s Pieces. Yesterday was birthday cake flavored Oreo cookies. Suffice to say, with Jake as his culinary advisor, Zack can’t go wrong.