Get found – optimize your website content for search engines

A key element of improving the performance of a website is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of affecting the position of a website in a search engine’s organic (unpaid) search results. A website that is search engine optimized will appear higher in search results resulting in a greater number of customer visits to the site. A high organic rank also helps build trust in the minds of the consumers as they generally associate a higher ranked website with being a strong, more established brand with greater reliability. This perception in turn leads to greater conversions on the website and supports the fulfillment of the corporate objectives for the brand.

Search Engine Optimization is an Internet marketing tactic that takes into consideration how search engines operate and ‘rank’ websites, how people search for keywords, the keywords that are most frequently searched, and the kind of searches (text search, image search, video search) that consumers are likely to use to learn more about the products, services, and business as a whole.

Typically when a business adds a page to its site, the various search engines send a spider (or web crawler) that stores the page on the search engine’s server and then indexes the page (i.e., gathers relevant information on the contents of the web page and the links that it contains) for fast and accurate information retrieval when an online consumer registers a search query on the engine.

Optimizing a website for online searches involves editing the content of the site, tagging or coding the pages to increase the website’s relevance to specific keywords, and removing barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic.

Mobile SEO

Mobile devices and tablets are being used increasingly by consumers to access the Internet, therefore, it is important for organizations to ensure that their websites are optimized for mobile devices. Also, since many consumers use voice search features, websites and keywords must also be optimized to account for this changing trend among mobile users. When businesses optimize for mobile devices, they should ensure that the website is responsive to mobile devices and tablets; maintain a separate mobile site since mobile users prefer websites in which content can be consumed on a smaller screen and on the go, and provide only relevant content and maintain a light mobile site to ensure faster loading of the mobile site.

An Example of SEO Skills:

A website that sells kitchenware had issues with site structure and on-page targeting. Their category level pages were at subdomains (e.g. category.sitename.com) while each sub-category was back on the main subdomain (e.g. sitename.com/product2=url?xyz). Category and sub-category pages had a distinct lack of semantic HTML or term targeting. Steps such as getting H1 tags onto each page, improving title tag structure, clean & friendly URLs and adding internal links with appropriate anchor text were taken. The site saw ranking improvements across the board, which brought new traffic through head, mid and long tail terms.

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/certification/digital-marketing-associate for free Digital Marketing Associate certification and course

What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does It Work?

Companies may wish to partner with entities—such as publishers that are individuals or other companies—that can be beneficial to the brand. This can be a productive way for a company to expand its reach and marketing efforts.

There are two ways affiliate marketing is approached: companies offer affiliate programs directly to other companies/individuals, or they can sign up to be an affiliate through another organization. The company that is offering or controlling the affiliate program will pay a commission for every lead or sale the affiliate delivers to the company’s website.

Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing where customers or partners are rewarded for designated actions that help market the brand. For example, a customer might mention in a Facebook post that he or she purchased a product and gain a certain number of reward points for their post.

The affiliate marketing program may be structured so that when more than ten friends like or comment on that post, the individual earns more points. The affiliate can then redeem these points against the company’s products or some partner brands.

Affiliate marketing helps widen a company’s reach exponentially using the most credible medium—existing customers. Websites offering price comparison services, coupons, shopping directories, and virtual currency platforms are the most popular affiliate marketing websites.

To look at affiliate marketing in a simple way, it is a cycle consisting of three key entities. These entities are the “merchant,” which is the brand whose product is being marketed, the “publisher” who is the affiliate, and finally the “customer.” In simple words, the advertiser pays a certain commission to the publisher for bringing new customers to the business.

Through affiliate marketing, merchants or companies gain a wider reach to sell their products or services, which is usually a key element to any marketing strategy. This approach can also allow the company to build a strong image or brand name.

One of the main advantages of affiliate marketing is that companies can gain more customers with limited dollars, since the approach is commission based or points based. However, there is the possibility that some merchants may incur high commission, maintenance, and initial setup costs, depending on the nature of the business.

Affiliate marketing is different from referral marketing in the way that it uses online marketing platforms—social media, search engine marketing, and more—to market the product while referral marketing is primarily based on word-of-mouth and relies heavily on trust and personal relationships between existing customers and prospects.

Affiliate marketing can be a powerful tool for a product brand because, in addition to helping grow the customer base, it can also aid brand presence in the market and create a buzz around the brand and its respective brand identities.

Attracting the right affiliates is very important for the affiliate program to be a success and in determining the volume that can be expected from the program. Updating content regularly and staying up-to-date with recent trends is equally important to help ensure that customers respond to the company’s offers.

A product or service does not have to cater to a niche market. Common-place brands, even fast moving consumer goods brands, can benefit greatly from affiliate marketing with the help of the right offers and efficient partners.

Getting products onto as many sites as possible is not necessarily the most important goal. Marketers must also consider the relevance, value, and traffic of the sites and platforms that one is able to reach.

There are some common mistakes affiliates tend to make, and businesses need to be aware of them. The job of the affiliate is to “market” the product, not “sell” the product. Selling is the job of the advertiser itself. Trying too hard to push customers to buy the product may only push prospective customers away.

Partnering with too many affiliates can be another mistake that brands need to carefully consider. Being everywhere can serve to dilute the customer perception about the brand and undermine its credibility. A crucial component to help ensure success with affiliate programs is to have robust analytics capabilities in place and to use them regularly. This will enable the company to understand which affiliates bring in more business, the value of that business, and where they should increase or decrease their efforts and investments in affiliate marketing.

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/certification/digital-marketing-associate for free Digital Marketing Associate certification and course

Why is Formulating Social Media Strategy Important for Business?

“Social media” is an umbrella term that includes web-based software and services that bring users together online and allow them to exchange ideas, discuss issues, communicate with one another, and participate in many other forms of social interaction. With the proliferation of different forms of social media, such as blogs, forums, audio-visual sharing sites, personal networking sites, and professional networking sites, consumers are constantly bombarded with many marketing messages.

Social media refers to all channels where people and customers are able to interact with each other via digital media that are public or accessible to multiple users. There are a number of social media websites, each of which has created its own model for enabling people to communicate with each other. Social media sites use content in various forms to build digital communities in which ideas and content are shared and discussion and comments are encouraged.

It is important to keep in mind, when planning a Social Media Marketing Strategy, that consumers will not always react positively to a company’s updates and content on social platforms. Negative comments about a brand and its products are inevitable even on the company’s own social media platforms.

Some companies will choose to exert control over comments on their own platforms and delete those that they feel reflect poorly on the brand. Other companies may choose to allow the negative comments to remain and respond in an empathetic way by offering an apology and/or a solution to issues. Leaving negative comments online, along with the company’s responses shows that the company is open, honest, and transparent. This also provides an opportunity to turn disgruntled customers into a brand evangelist.

It is also important to understand the distinction between “earned” and “paid” opportunities for “sharing.” For example, building “followers” or “shares” through the development and posting of valuable content is “earned.” Alternatively, several social platforms provide “paid” opportunities for advertising and promoted posts in order to share information. Earned and paid strategies on social media are not mutually exclusive and often the most effective social media strategies employ a combination of both.

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/certification/digital-marketing-associate for free Digital Marketing Associate certification and course

Utilizing User Personas and Use Cases to Design and Develop a Mobile App

User personas depict typical customer profiles. A user persona may include age, gender, occupation, location, relationship status, type of mobile device owned, personality type, and any other features that are relevant for defining customers of mobile apps. It also helps to name user personas so that the team can think of a persona as a real person. Each persona should be based on market research that focuses on identifying specific types of customers who are most likely to use a company’s mobile app. The number of different user personas created and referenced should be manageable. For apps that appeal to a narrow segment of customers, three to five user personas are generally sufficient.

After user personas are defined, developers create user stories for each of the personas. These stories contain an indication of how the personas would use the app, what the personas might seek to do with the app, and the specific features that will enable the personas to effectively perform the tasks that they seek to perform. The objective is to eventually define user requirements by collating all of the user stories.

Mobile content developers use user stories to derive a use case, which is a list of steps that define the interactions between the user and the mobile device. After use cases for all personas are drawn, all use cases are combined in a single diagram to determine the key features that are required in the app.

This method does not determine all features that should be included in an app but only those key features that have been identified as part of the persona and use case development process. There will be a number of features that support the key features and that can be defined during a more detailed planning step undertaken later in the planning process. For example, sharing match results may need the app to be integrated with apps that enable sharing, such as e-mail apps or social media apps. This integration is a supporting feature that can be identified at a later stage.

Utilizing personas and use cases ensures that no key features that are required by the target markets are missed and that such features form the core of the design.

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/certification/digital-marketing-associate for free Digital Marketing Associate certification and course

How to make your content go viral on Social Media?

Out with the old, in with the new. This motto has taken a whole new meaning with the advent of the Internet. Technology is changing at such a fast pace that people and companies need to be willing to keep up. Today, social media is redefining the way people share information. Before, if we read an interesting article you could call up a friend and share the information verbally. Now, you can literally share information and visuals almost instantly with your entire network by simply clicking a button.

It makes sense that companies would want to advertise their brands on social media to maximize their reach, but how do you utilize social media in a positive and productive manner? Because in the digital age, sharing is the key to social success.

According to Digital Marketing, book 2 in the SMstudy Guide®, “Consumers share content they like or find useful; thus, a high number of shares indicates that a large number of customers or potential customers perceive the company as helpful and knowledgeable and, by extension, may be more likely to purchase the company’s products or services.”

You can easily spread your brand successfully with the help of social media with three easy steps:

  1. Get on board– everyone and everything is on social media right now. Social media is a source for free advertising, so companies cannot afford to miss the opportunity.  If you are not advertising your brand on social media, you are making a serious mistake. 46 percent of people said that companies that are proficient at social media marketing are viewed as more credible. So, if you aren’t utilizing social media then you can potentially be viewed as untrustworthy.
  2. Create the right content– 73 percent of people process information more thoroughly when they share something. So, a company must ensure the content is engaging, easy to grasp, and attention-grabbing. You can increase engagement by following one simple rule: create content for your audience, not for your business. Identifying trending topics also makes content feel tailor-made and makes your company look up to date with the current market.
  3. Use Visuals– Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Thanks to the rise of social media, customer’s attention spans are shorter and they expect more from an advertisement. So, visuals are a great way to boost engagement. Studies prove that images and videos drive more customer engagement which means more sharing. The image must capture the essential message of the brand. If the image does not align with the product consumers will skip it rather than share it. Your image needs to be visually appealing enough to drive audiences to your website for more.

Social media marketing is like oxygen for small business and start-ups, so in order to keep on keeping on, you must simply inhale. Happy Marketing!!

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/certification/digital-marketing-associate for free Digital Marketing Associate certification and course

Important Metrics of E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketers use a number of metrics to help determine the success of campaigns and provide guidance on how to improve e-mail marketing efforts. Among the most common metrics are the following:

  • Open Rate—This metric refers to the percentage of e-mails in an e-mail campaign that is opened. A high open rate is an indication of high engagement. Oftentimes, high engagement is the result of a strong and appealing subject line.
  • Hard Bounce/Soft Bounce—A hard bounce occurs when an e-mail fails to be delivered as a result of a permanent issue, such as a non-existent address. A soft bounce occurs when an e-mail fails to be delivered as a result of a temporary issue, such as a full mailbox or an unavailable server. This metric provides an indication of list quality.
  • Click-through Rate (CTR)—This metric represents the number of unique clicks on a given URL divided by the number of times the e-mail is opened. An even better indicator of engagement than open rate, a high CTR indicates that the content was compelling to the reader.
  • Conversion Rate—This metric indicates the number or percentage of recipients who respond to the call to action in an e-mail marketing campaign or promotion. A measure of an e-mail campaign’s success, conversions can be measured in sales, phone calls, appointments, and more.
  • Cost per Thousand (CPM)—This metric refers to the cost per 1000 e-mail addresses on a purchased or rented list. A rental list priced at $100 CPM indicates that the list owner is charging $0.10 per individual e-mail address.
  • Opt-in Rate or Subscribe Rate—This metric measures the growth of the e-mail list. Opting-in or subscribing to an e-mail list requires an individual to choose to receive e-mail communications by supplying an e-mail address to a particular company, website, or individual. Customers who opt-in or subscribe accept inclusion on the list and grant permission to the company to send them e-mails. Subscribers can often indicate areas of personal interest and/or indicate which types of e-mails they wish to receive from the sender. A growing opt-in rate is an indication of expanded reach.
  • Opt-out Rate or Unsubscribe Rate—Opting-out or unsubscribing from an e-mail list is the result of someone choosing not to receive communications from the sender by requesting the removal of his or her e-mail address from the mailing list. Regulations regarding the use of e-mail lists vary from region to region. It is generally not acceptable to send list-generated e-mails to receivers without their permission. Unsubscribe options are often mandatory on subscription e-mails.

Here is an example of E-mail Marketing Metrics:

  • Customers who register for program loyalty cards usually have the option to join an e-mail list. They can be given further options to receive e-mail offers and information from associated companies. A customer agreeing to participate in all e-mail lists after registering for a department store loyalty card can anticipate follow-up e-mails from the department store and other consumer product distributors. The department store will want to track its opt-in rate to measure the consumer’s perceived value of receiving ongoing correspondence from the store. The opt-out rate will help to quantify the actual quality of the correspondence being sent. Regularly sent e-mails that do not provide value to the customer will have a high opt-out rate.

    The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
    SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
    Important links:
    Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
    Visit https://www.smstudy.com/certification/digital-marketing-associate for free Digital Marketing Associate certification and course

Like, Love, Heart, Share, Retweet: The Weapons of Social Media!

It’s my morning routine: I sit, smartphone in hand, twitter app open and dig into the chatter. Quickly scrolling through breaking news, taking in headlines and laughing at Michael Moore’s latest quip, I pause on a presidential candidate’s tweet; a candidate I support. As I read the tweet and agree with its message, nodding my head in a “you said it, brother!” manner, I’m also debating whether to heart or even possibly retweet. I can see that it’s been hearted and retweeted thousands of times already and a part of me truly wonders what is lost to my 45 followers (most of whom are trying to sell me something) if I don’t share?

Will they miss out on some vital information?

Will they be annoyed?

Will they disagree?

And then, I have the aha moment.

The truthiest truth is this: I should “heart,” “like,” “share” and “retweet” content I believe in. Not for my followers, since they’ll most likely receive the same information from various other sources, but because we now have the power and the platform to really say what we think, feel, believe. And that is real power. And who am I to turn away such a gift?

All this power is made even more potent because everyone is listening!

For example, marketers and companies want to test the waters with a brand or product, continually finding new ways to slice and dice the data to arrive at the best metrics for planning and executing marketing and sales adventures.

Or political parties taking the temperature of the society on the importance of an issue or testing the potential of a particular smear campaign (I’ve seen it, it’s ugly).

Or news media outlets continually gathering sentiment, feedback and sometimes actionable intel (in the case of citizen journalism) on stories, topics, issues and events.

These golden nuggets of information or social insights reveal so much about who we are and what we care about that no marketer, politician or gatekeeper can resist.

After my early morning aha moment, my eyes are opened to the dangers inherent in such a powerful tool and what could happen if the tables were turned on us lovers of online democracy. Citing various examples of self-censorship, an article on The Intercept addresses a recent study on the chilling effect created by widespread surveillance. And that, of course, includes social media channels where users know they are being read, monitored.

According to author Glenn Greenwald, “The fear that causes self-censorship is well beyond the realm of theory. Ample evidence demonstrates that it’s real— and rational. A study from PEN America writers found that 1 in 6 writers had curbed their content out of fear of surveillance and showed that writers are “not only overwhelmingly worried about government surveillance, but are engaging in self-censorship as a result.”

And this is no stand-alone, one-off study. Data abounds (and compounds) indicating that we, the watched, are watching what we say.

This makes me fret— a sweaty-palmed, hand-wringing sort of fret.

If we begin to see ourselves as oppressed by the experience of sharing on social media, we’ve collectively gone through the looking glass. We’ve embraced an alternate reality where we are not free to contribute to the construction of a society or the promotion of an idea (or even product). We’ve turned away from the greatest contribution and benefit Twitter and other social media platforms provide…the opportunity to engage in the global marketplace of ideas, to hear and be heard, to make a difference.

So, setting fear aside, I embrace the power of my opinions and retweet that tweet. To do my part, to provoke, to question, and in this instance, to add my one voice to the many.

Even if it means being the 3,478th person to retweet a tweet, it matters.

The article has originally been posted at https://www.smstudy.com/freeresources/articles
SMstudy is the global accreditation body for Sales and Marketing certifications. For more details visit https://www.smstudy.com
Important links:
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/dmbokguide/download-dmbok-guide to download the Digital Marketing Body of Knowledge for free
Visit https://www.smstudy.com/certification/digital-marketing-associate for free Digital Marketing Associate certification and course