Hilary Stephens Promoted to Online Marketing Specialist

Hilary StephensCongratulations to our very own Hilary Stephens, who was recently promoted to Online Marketing Specialist.

Hilary has proven to be a valuable asset to The Karcher Group in her time here so far, and has always accepted the challenges presented to her and we’re sure she will thrive in this new role. She started at TKG in 2012 as Administrative Assistant.

As a Specialist, Hilary will now be supporting our Online Marketing Strategists on tasks such as page optimization, link building, content marketing, research and documentation.

Join us in congratulating Hilary in the comments!

Don’t Delete Old News Articles From Your Website

SEO TipWe sometimes get questions from clients who are considering removing old news articles from their websites.

The quick answer: Don’t do it.

Why would someone want to delete an old news article? Here are some situations we’ve heard:

  • It announces an event that has already taken place
  • It mentions a person that no longer works for the company
  • It features a product or service that is no longer available or has changed
  • It features external links that contain broken links
  • It is old and therefore no one cares about it

Here’s why we do not recommend deleting older news content:

Part of the Company History

This is our response to the first three bullets. Just because the tradeshow is over doesn’t mean the article about the show needs to go away. As long as the date of the event is prominently represented in the article, there is no harm keeping the article on your website. If your news archives contain quite a few pages about tradeshows you’ve attended over the years, potential clients/customers will see you attended major industry tradeshows in the past which can help position your company as a major player in the industry.

Regarding articles featuring employees that no longer work for the company; embrace the fact that they were part of the company at the time when the article was originally written. More than likely, they helped your business and may have even interacted with your customers. If they won an award while they were working with your company, it’s okay to leave that accolade on your website. If they were part of a group of employees that volunteered in the community, the overall spirit of the article is still intact whether or not the individual is currently with the company. The exception here, of course, is if the individual left on terrible terms and could be a threat to the business. If you have legal concerns, we always recommend deferring to your legal department for guidance.

Regarding articles containing product announcements or service offerings that are no longer new or available; this is another good piece of your company’s history that should be represented online. Rather than removing the article completely, why not keep the article and add a brief note in the introduction stating that the product is no longer available and has been replaced with a new model? A link could be added to direct users to the current product which ultimately helps satisfy their need.

In research reports we have completed for clients, we’ve seen examples of users searching Google, and even a website’s own internal site search, for older product names that are no longer offered by the company. If search activity is taking place for a branded term that your company developed, your website should be the one ranking first in search engines for related searches. If it’s not your site in the search results, you’re opening the door for your competitors and others sites to occupy these valuable results.

Content Is Important for SEO

As we’ve mentioned time and time again on TKGenius, content is vital to the success of a website. Not just a few good quality landing pages, but lots of pages about a variety of topics relevant to your business. Websites with lots of valuable pages are typically viewed more favorably in search results than similar websites with fewer pages. One of the most logical locations on a website to build up content is the news section.

Let’s look at some basic numbers to further illustrate this point.

If your website contains 500 unique URLs and 200 of them are news articles, making the decision to remove the oldest 100 articles would make your website 20% smaller in terms of total pages. This would effectively reduce your website’s ability to bring organic visits by 20%. Now, we know that not all articles are going to bring in substantial traffic to a website, but a quick look at Google Analytics landing page traffic often shows a surprising number of organic visits landing on particular news articles. A really strong article written several years ago could be responsible for bringing a large amount of traffic year after year.

Content is Hard to Produce

We understand that developing a content calendar and continually writing good content is a lot of work. The best content is unique and often taking lots of planning, research, revisions and approvals to make it onto a website. Deleting an older news article cancels out all that work with the simple click of a button.

This rule expands beyond news article as well. Think long and hard about all the work you put into creating a page on your website before making the decision to delete it. Search engine algorithms are complex and if one of your news articles is relevant enough to rank on the first page of a search engine results page, it would be a shame if one day that page disappeared.

3 Reasons Pinterest is Good for Business

If you’re like me, Facebook is where you go to creep on people you went to high school with, Twitter is where you go for news and current events, Instagram is where you go for cute pictures of cats and dogs, and Pinterest is where you go to get inspired.

pinterestWhat makes Pinterest so unique is that it creates a desire to explore and engage. When users see a delicious recipe, they want to eat it. When they see a DIY project, they want to try it. When they see a nail polish color they like, they want to buy it. Pinterest is visual, product-focused and interactive, and if you use it correctly, it can be a marketer’s dream. Here’s why:

  1. Pinners have purchase intent – When pinners browse product boards, they are actually looking for things they want to buy. Pins that incorporate pictures, prices, availability and reviews typically do well because they offer all of the information pinners need to make a purchase.
  2. Pinterest helps you understand your audience – Pinterest boards tell hand-crafted stories about what pinners care about. When you know what users have pinned in the past, it’s easy to target them with similar products moving forward.
  3. Repins connect you with new audiences – Pinterest connects people through shared interests. If a user repins your product, it instantly gets visibility from an entirely new audience that might be interested. It’s like word of mouth marketing, but this word of mouth connects directly to your e-commerce site.

Although it may have a reputation as a crafter’s dreamland, Pinterest is a serious marketing tool that can lead to very real business results. Try it out, and see for yourself!

Advanced Google Analytics: Understanding Conversions: Multi-Channel Funnels

When looking at conversion data, it is easy to forget that many visitors may explore and research for awhile before they buy or even fill out a form. In Google Analytics it is easy to see the conversions organized by the source or medium or even campaign. But this assumes that the only visit that matters is the one where a user converts.

What about the visitor that clicked a link from Twitter and then came back later from a bookmark? Or the user that clicked a Google Ad, looked around, clicked a link to your Facebook page, and Liked it. Then 2 weeks later clicked a link on Facebook and made a purchase? This is where Multi-Channel Modeling comes in.

multi channelThe Multi-Channel Conversion Visualizer lets you see at a glance how many channels contributed to conversions by looking at previous visits from a user that eventually converts. When paired with the Top Conversion Paths report we can see what visit came first. In this case many users that eventually converted on a direct visit initially found the site via organic search.

pathsIf your eyes are starting to glaze over at the thought of attribution modeling, maybe it is time to bring in an expert. We are just a click away.

Want to learn more about Google Analytics? See my previous post on conversion funnels or join us tomorrow (September 18, 2014) for our Advanced Google Analytics Bootcamp. Click here to register for this FREE session! I look forward to meeting you!

Delivering the Right Message to the Right Person: The Importance of Data Driven Marketing

The concept of data driven marketing is simple – know your customer – and not just the basic demographics either. Knowing and understanding the types of messages that your customers want to receive will greatly enhance your customers’ experience. And research proves that customers will spend more based on a great user experience. Let’s look at two recent examples from my inbox.

Exhibit A – Don’t Advertise Dog Food in Cat Fancy

A few years ago at a carnival, my son won a fish. This was a big deal because it was the closest thing to a pet my son would ever know (as long as he was living under MY roof). So off we went to one of the larger chain pet stores in our area for fish supplies. After spending the better part of a car payment, we were all set. I even joined a rewards program to help us save on things like fish food and tank filters in the future…or so I thought. About a week later I received an email boasting huge savings on dog food. The following week it was cat food, then bird seed, then ferret foot; you get the gist. I attempted to update my email preferences but my only option was to receive weekly, bi-weekly or monthly emails. Because I didn’t want to miss out on a potential gold mine of savings on fish filters, I agreed to keep the emails coming. In the years since, the fish has died, new fish were purchased and new fish have died. Apathetically, I haven’t adjusted my email preferences, mostly because it is easier to delete the email simply based on the sender.

If I had the chance to opt-into emails about fish supplies, I’d be a happy shopper, but as it stands, I am a data marketer’s worst nightmare…or am I?

Exhibit B – Did the Foundmodclothers of ModCloth Just Send ME an Email?

I’m a BIG fan of ModCloth. I love their clothes, I love their culture, and I even love their behavioral retargeting (you know, that ad for a cute dress that follows you around to other sites you tend to visit). ModCloth does such a great job following me around that sometimes I don’t open their emails when they arrive. So when I received a message directly from the co-founders of ModCloth expressing concern for my lack of response to their emails, I was surprised (although as a marketer, I was happy). Has it really been three months since I opened an email, certainly not, but maybe? Initially I selected the “Don’t change a thing” option regarding my preferences, but the curious marketer, who recently sat in on a presentation about data driven marketing, wanted to see the options.

Fortunately for me, my preferences were set just as I wanted them. But I appreciated the options. Frankly, I appreciated the email asking me if I still wanted to receive emails.

modcloth preferences

The Importance of Data Driven Marketing

Knowing and understanding the messages your customers want to receive is paramount. Engaged customers are repeat customers.

  • Don’t trap your customers into receiving emails they don’t want.
  • Make updating preferences easy for your customers.
  • Skip the step that requires users to sign into an account with a username and password that was created three years ago.

Learn more about the five steps of data driven marketing or leave us a comment with your questions!

Advanced Google Analytics: Understanding Conversions with Funnels

Conversions are arguably the most significant aspect of Google Analytics – if you aren’t measuring conversions, why do you have a website? But that is a sermon for another day. Let’s assume that you are measuring conversions, what is the next step to understanding the flow of traffic on your site? Funnels.

goal funnelsFunnels or Goal Steps are a way to identify not just the goal or conversion, but the steps that lead to a conversion. For example: let’s say your have a 3 part form that you use to collect leads. The goal is to get people to complete the form, but equally important: why aren’t people completing the form? By adding goal steps for each section of the form it becomes easy to see how many people are lost at each step in the process. This can be very helpful in deciding which steps in your process are worth keeping and which ones should be eliminated – or at least improved.

Another use for funnels can take advantage of the “Required First Step” setting. If there are two goals that share a final step, for example you use a single form for quote requests, but it is accessed from two separate page, each targeting a different industry. By setting up separate goals, each with a required first step of an industry page, Google Analytics would divide the form completions based on which industry page they came from, helping to align your reporting with your goals.

And now for the clever combo move: in my last post I talked about virtual page views, specifically as a way to track forms that open in a lightbox. By adding the virtual page view as a funnel step, it is easy to see what percentage of visitors completed a form after opening it.

Want to learn more about Google Analytics? Join us in person at TKG’s Google Analytics Advanced Breakfast Bootcamp on September 18 . Click here to register for this FREE session!

The Five Steps of Data Driven Marketing

data driven marketingYep – I’m eeking out as much as I can about my recent visit to the Interaction Marketing Summit hosted by The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron. We heard from experts in the field of content marketing, creative design, and data. The event was kicked off by marketing super-genius Lisa Arthur, CMO at Teradata one of the largest data warehousing & marketing firms in the country. Arthur not only kicked off the event with a keynote address that inspired attendees to “…lift up marketing to new heights,” she was also the recipient of the event’s Direct Marketer of the Year award. So, long story short, she knows her stuff.

Long ago I had a boss who used to tell us, “Don’t try to sell vinyl siding to a brick house.” The optimist in me says that many brick houses have a small amount of siding, but I knew what he was getting at. His words were spoken to a team dedicated to outbound call campaigns. Fortunately, 12 years later, the message still rings true. Whether you are making phone calls or designing marketing campaigns that cross over multiple mediums, knowing your audience is the key.

During Arthur’s presentation, she provided some insight from her recent book Big Data Marketing, and shared the importance of collecting and using customer data to provide a great customer experience.

The Five Steps of Data Driven Marketing

  1. Get Smart: Get Strategic: Plan your campaigns appropriately. Know your audience and make sure you aren’t wasting your marketing dollars targeting the wrong audience.
  2. Tear Down the Silos: The relationship between Marketing and IT is crucial. Your IT department can help you track and report on important customer data. Your marketing team should have a dedicated IT liaison who can help to communicate the information that is needed to
  3. Untangle the Data Hairball: This sounds gross but it really needs to be done. Only 18% of marketers believe that they have complete and useful data. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers to update their preferences or go a step further by having them request the specific types of messages they want to receive from you. Don’t try to sell vinyl siding to a brick house.
  4. Make Metrics Your Mantra: Find a good method for collecting and categorizing your customer data. Use your CRM system to its fullest potential – use your newly-broken-down silo approach and ask your IT contacts for customizations of your CRM so you are able to report on and use your customer data. Track your open and click through rates. Take advantage of Google Analytics by adding UTM tracking codes to your campaigns.
  5. Process is the New Black: Make a list, check it twice and all that jazz. Create a process for each of your campaigns and stick to them. If you want to be able to respond to your customers in real-time, process is the way to succeed.

Do you have any other advice for data driven marketing? Share it in the comments!

Image Credit

The Agency Model is Dead (Why You Need to Know and What’s Going to Fix It) #CMWorld2014

Kirk-Cheyfitz-photo_rev-150x150TKG is, of course, known for web development and online marketing strategies. But, what about more traditional offline marketing strategies? Well, it turns out we are actually pretty good at many of those too! From branding to print advertising to… well, lots of things, we help our clients in a lot of different ways. In this session, Kirk Cheyfitz, the CEO and Chief Storyteller at Story Worldwide makes kind of a radical statement: The Agency Model is Dead! But, not to worry, Kirk promises that this session offers a blueprint and practical discussion about how to build the agency of the future (you know, one that does all kinds of things online and offline) and create unparalleled results for clients. We’re totally up for that! Let’s see what we can learn:

Kirk poses the question of what killed the agency model… and he said it’s simple: reality. The old ways of doing advertising aren’t working very well, but they persist against all odds. Budgets going primarily to tv, and the turn is coming very, very slowly.  In fact, Kirk argues that the future happened some 8 years ago when Facebook was opened up to everyone over 13, and when Twitter became a network. And we are still reacting. Slowly.

So, what do we know now? We know you must go digital. Digital is a lot of media and collectively they are #1.

So, what can digital do for marketers? ANYTHING. Drive mass or niche awareness, consideration, validation, purchase, re-purchase. There is nothing that digital can’t do. (This is OLD NEWS.) And, it’s projected that digital spending will overtake TV spending in 2017.

One of the problems with all of this digital though is that it’s spawned an agency fragmentation, where agency’s each do a small part of something. He gives the example of one company reporting that 150 different agencies are touching their business. Wow, that’s a crazy number! Could you imagine having to manage 150 different agencies?

And they’re all disconnected, not talking to each other.

So, Kirk’s proposition is that clients need an agency that understands it all – advertising, content, branding, etc and make it all work together. And there’s no one better suited to do that than content people. (We couldn’t agree more – content and other online marketing initiatives drive so many of the strategies for our clients – and that is only going to grow as brands develop their brands online before offline!)

So, Kirk says you need an Agency of Integration, that brings it all together.

But, there’s a battle to determine who will earn that trust and drive both strategies. And it’s a serious battle because there’s a lot of money at stake (he says $600 billion)

Why choose the content people? Because a great tv idea (advertising idea) is all about a burst of disruption, whereas a great content strategy is about creating content that sustains conversations, drive engagement and keeps people talking for a long time.

Kirk says that the only way to reach audiences is to create media that is entertaining, informative and engaging.

And Kirk says that brand storytelling should win this battle because it can differentiate the story, not offer interruptions just invitations and it’s always on.

But, if we’re going to take advertising away from traditional agencies, then digital agencies have to also embrace and learn basic skills of brand management including branding, strategic planning, media planning and measurement.

First comes brand management. This is a traditional skill that most agencies haven’t touched. To take on brand management, you must be insight-driven with a strong planning and research capability. To insure audiences are assembled quickly, you must have a sophisticated media planning program. And, of course, to know what’s working, you have to measure things with advanced analytics, tied to business results. That’s the only way you’ll ever get a budget.

So what’s the takeaway on all this? To survive the future, content agencies are going to have to expand their skill base and deliver more for clients in an integrated strategy and there’s no one better to do this than content marketers. We agree, Kirk, we agree!

Checkout Content: The power of content marketing on retail sites #CMWorld2014

DonataMaggipinto_rev-150x150I must admit – getting the chance to learn the theory behind how Walmart is using content on their site is pretty cool, and since I have a few clients who are B2C, I’m definitely up for learning some tips and tricks from a company that is undeniably the largest retailer in the world. This session is lead by Donata Maggipinto, the Creative Director of Content for Walmart.com. Donata promises we’ll learn:

  • How to leverage content at retail to build customer trust and guide the customer on the path to and through purchase.

  • A mix of storytelling, inspiration and education can influence customer behavior and drive both in-store and online sales.

  • How and why content from supplier brands works on a retailer’s site.

Let’s listen in:

Our speaker today comes from a lot of niche brands and is now working for a brand that, as she says, serves women who have a grocery budget that equals the same thing as 4 glasses of wine on the west coast. So, it’s important to really serve this audience well. And, obviously, Walmart is doing that.

Walmart employs a content funnel that is designed to help guide customers down the path to and through purchase. Reaching this audience means providing content that’s the right style, length and tone for the audience.

Walmart has content centers designed around different topics (i.e tech, mom/baby), category pages and shelf pages. Category pages might be “baking” and shelf pages that are more product related with supplementary content that speaks to it (how to find the right juicer). And then of course there are the products and descriptions.

Donata says: Our goal is to attract, influence and retain customers. We do this with beautiful content that is changed regularly through a combination of evergreen content and seasonal content. For example, a corn page – how to cook it and other things related to the topic, then branded content and products that she can learn about and purchase to go along with the topic. We try to create never-ending inspiration, subtle native advertising, product recommendations and a deep relationship.

Customers love content, but it needs to be genuine, in the right voice and is recognizable. And for retailers it must be actionable, bringing the brand’s purpose to life.

Every brand has to find it’s own voice. Walmart is helpful and approachable. The goal is to help customers learn to manage their resources to save money but not sacrificing living well. We can all relate to this!

Walmart is a generalist, selling millions of products, so its solutions need to go across the aisle into real life.

i.e. She comes to the food and entertaining center, plans recipes, downloads a grocery list to her phone and in the store, she can access that list. She feels in control. And, when she’s in the store, she can adjust that list and add to it as needed (like when her kid calls in the store).

How does Walmart measure success? There isn’t just one way. Donata says, We regularly look at our metrics and adjust. Our overall goal is customer lifetime engagement. It’s not just about conversion, it’s about building this over time. Finding the site, engaging, going deeper with it, sharing it and then have everyone come back again and again. (It’s a lot of pressure!)

To do this we must create content that is appealing, distinctive and distinguishes us from our competitor. (Kinda what we all need to do – whether we are B2B or B2C!)

It’s how we position it to distinguish ourselves, knowing what keywords the customer is searching, optimizing that content and then creating it. And then doing it over and over and over.

Walmart’s flagship content center is food and entertaining, and drives purchase primarily in stores. It’s the hub for an ecosystem that encompasses every other platform they are in. It includes deep, rich content, recipes, blogger contributions, Walmart Mom contributions and a tool that is a dynamic grocery list that they can use to view recipes and then add to the grocery list. It also offers coupons and the ability to print, email it, etc. And, this is where they have other companies sponsoring content with an already engaged audience.

Walmart also does emotional storytelling to create a connection with real people. They do stories around Walmart produce, that it’s fresh and local. This is huge for customers who want to shop local, but need to shop in big box stores like Walmart.

A lot of Walmart’s advertising focuses around inspiring a visitor to want to do something that they might need to buy more things (i.e. I want to tailgate, now I need this, and this and this… and guess what, Walmart has all of that)

Another thing Walmart does is develop content that can work across multiple channels all at once. i.e a video shoot and then do photography for other properties etc.

We’re talking about the Meat Campaign – that was wildly successful, tho Donata can’t give us details or she will go to “Walmart jail” :)

Walmart’s newest content is the dynamic weekly ad. Customers come online to see the weekly ad, to plan their grocery lists, etc. So, they thought, why not enrich it with content that enriches the shopping experience… and upsell. For example, a jam recipe in the ad that leads to additional purchases (i.e. the ingredients, the canning supplies) And, this can become a part of storytelling. She will make the jam, she will share the recipe, new people will come to the site and hopefully also make purchases and engage with our content and also come back.

Takeaways? Create ongoing conversation, offer solutions and make your content liquid – so that it goes beyond your site, to people accessing content wherever they are.

And that’s it! Thanks for sharing with us today!

 

Content Marketing World: How to Market Your Content “Off-Site” and Why it’s Critical to Get it Right

Darla and I are super excited to be up in Cleveland today and tomorrow for Content Marketing World! Make sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with everything happening! We’re hoping to bring you some “live”ish blog posts so that even if you can’t make it, you can still taste a bit of the action! Without further adieu… Here’s my first session!

How to Market Your Content “Off-Site” and Why it’s Critical to Get it Right

Chad-Zimmerman-photo_rev-150x150We’re here today with Chad Zimmerman, the co-founder and President of STACK Media Inc. According to the description of this session, great content is only half the battle. Off-site marketing and on-site funneling are the next critical steps that turn great content into new customers and greater revenue. Let’s see what he has to say…

Chad likes flow charts and he’s an honest guy. Just what we like. So here’s how it works. You publish content on your site, people visit and don’t do what you want them to do – they go surf the web somewhere else.

So, how do we capture that traffic? Several ways. One of the ways is to use services that create content ads that share your content on other sites and drive people back to your site. Even if they don’t know who you are already (which most people don’t), this is a way to get your content in front of people who are interested in the kinds of content you are producing.

Some providers that can help you do this are:

Taboola
Nrelate
Outbrain
Disqus
Gravity
AdBlade

The real key is to find the service that gets you access to the kind of audience that you’re trying to reach. Most are based on CPC so you only have to pay for what you actually get.

How does this help? Well, it drives traffic to very specific pieces of content on your site, where you have the opportunity to have this content shared with others and the opportunity to sell to this person or promote additional content/services you offer.

They key to doing this successfully is to know your goals, know your kpis, decide how you will measure performance and how you will define success. And start with test.

In your test, remember that headlines matter (you can use lots of different ones and see which one works best), thumbnails matter (try different ones) and pay attention to CPC, CTR and timing.

Also: Make sure to do online funneling so that you get more out of users than just their time. Get them to do something else. Promote email signups or downloads. Promote special tools and sections. Gather more information with forms and link to other relevant content.

One thing that has been really successful for them is footer flyins – so when a user scrolls down 1/2 way through an article, ask them to sign up for a newsletter.

Finally, follow this all up with retargeting, so that when a visitor leaves your site, you follow them around (kinda creepy, we know, but effective!) and get them back so that they can get another chance to convert.

That’s all for this session… Thanks for all the ideas!