Analyzing the Marketing Value of Onsite Resources

As a business, your primary marketing priority is, of course, your products. Those sales keep you afloat and fulfill key user needs. As you establish a core customer base, however, how do you keep them coming back? This is where your onsite resources come into the picture.

As a business, your primary marketing priority is, of course, your products. Those sales keep you afloat and fulfill key user needs. As you establish a core customer base, however, how do you keep them coming back? Businesses need to offer something new or supplementary to build customer loyalty, sustain site traffic and further develop your reputation as a high-value brand. And this is where your onsite resources come into the picture.

Your onsite resources are a valuable tool for keeping the line of communication open with clients and maintaining your reputation during lulls in the formal business process. If you’re going to make the most of these tools, however, you can’t just create them and hope for the best. No, you need to set goals and measure the performance of those supplementary materials if they’re going to benefit your entire operation.

These three KPIs pair with different design styles and can help you assess how well your add-ons are performing.

Time on Page

Time on page is a common KPI, described by the marketers at Vertical Measures as a key way of measuring user engagement. Historically, sites have used this measure to determine if their blog content was interesting, if people were reading sales offers, or even to measure the value of news-style content. Similar principles apply when using time on page to measure the effectiveness of supplemental resources.

At IncFile, a company whose primary business is helping small businesses incorporate, supplemental material both attracts new customers and assists current ones — and time on page is a vital measure in both cases. For example, their page on forming an LLC in Florida provides a step-by-step breakdown explaining the process, followed by an array of links to added resources. IncFile, then, has the ability to measure both time on page for the initial post and clickthrough and bounce rates for the resources that follow — and that information can be used to measure conversion rates.

Counting on Downloads

For many companies, supplementary resources are designed to go beyond the page and into the real world — users are encouraged to download them. Downloadable resources are a powerful format for customers because it’s very easy to measure how many users select the file. And unlike some measures — including time on page, which may count false-positives because a user left the page open on their computer, for example — downloads are targets of intention. In both cases, though, the user activity is a measure of overall engagement.

Scholastic, the publisher of such well-known books as “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “The Magic School Bus,” is recognized for their educational resources, but at first glance, their Teacher’s Tool Kit page appears to consist largely of blog posts.

Look further, though, and you’ll find countless downloadable lesson plans. These individual files allow Scholastic to measure the efficacy of individual lessons, teaching styles, and topics, as well as what age group’s lessons are downloaded most frequently. That’s a lot of data packed into each interaction.

Measure by Media Type

Though the majority of content marketing focuses on written materials, modern outreach demands a multimedia approach. Videos, infographics, and other visually enticing content hold user attention longer and can convey a greater amount of information with fewer words. They can be harder to measure, however.

When it comes to developing KPIs for non-standard content types, you may need to combine several different data points. For example, you might try launching video via both website and social media platforms and comparing engagement rates. Social media analytics can provide greater real-time feedback and direct user commentary than onsite variants of the same material. With video, you should also measure the length of video watched and determine when viewers tend to bounce out so that you can maximize content within the limited view time.

Don’t undercut your supplementary resources by ignoring the resultant data — you invested time and money into creating those tools for your customers. Now, take the time to apply the same key metric you would use to measure activity on the rest of your site to assess this content and then use it to enhance your monetized offerings. There’s a lot you can learn from those add-ons if you take the time to read more deeply.

6 Pro Tips to Customize Your Local SEO to Your Type of Business

Local SEO is a big deal. Whether you run a small business or a larger company with several locations, you risk being invisible to ready-and-willing customers without a viable local SEO strategy — you might as well take the signs off your building and wave as shoppers pass by. Capitalizing on this growing trend isn’t rocket science, but it does take a bit of work.

Grass Roots SEO: 5 Ways to Win Over Local ConsumersLocal SEO is a big deal. Whether you run a small business or a larger company with several locations, you risk being invisible to ready-and-willing customers without a viable local SEO strategy — you might as well take the signs off your building and just wave as shoppers pass by.

What exactly is local SEO? It’s what gets you found when people speak “chimney sweep company in southeast Portland” or “24-hour laundromats in Phoenix” into their smartphones. Search queries are becoming increasingly conversational as Web users shift from desktops to mobile.

Of course, local SEO benefits traditional desktop searches, too (i.e. “Portland chimney sweep company” or “24-hr laundromat Phoenix”). But local SEO flourishes by capturing mobile users in your neighborhood.

Capitalizing on this growing trend isn’t rocket science, but it does take a bit of work. Here, we’ll review six pro tips to customize your local SEO strategy according to your type of business.

Tip 1: Get Squared With Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a free listing service that can get your business seen on Google Search and Maps. In addition to being a valuable tool for consumers, you can use GMB to read and respond to customer reviews, learn how customers find your website online and more.

Just one listing is needed for businesses with single brick-and-mortar locations. If your business has multiple locations, then you’ll need more GMB listings. Or you can hide your address in GMB if you don’t want your address shown, which is useful for home-based businesses.

In a nutshell, your customers must be able to find contact information that’s local to them. You can’t cultivate a good local SEO strategy without that foundational step.

Tip 2: Localize Your Website Content

People who search for goods and services on Google aren’t interested in general, non-specific information — they want localized information that’s relevant to where they live. They want to see local contact information, familiar locator maps and endorsements from neighborhood organizations. They also want to see exactly how you serve their neck of the woods.

If your business is based from a single brick-and-mortar location with just one service area, then your website should have pages for each service, product model or category of products you provide. If based out of more than one location, then your website also needs pages for each business location with unique contact information prominently displayed. Single-location businesses with multiple service areas need separate pages for each major city or region they serve — you get the idea.

Tip 3: Don’t Thin out Your Content

Thin content is an SEO killer. Website content is regarded as thin when it’s too short, low-quality or hardly changed across several pages. The problem is that thin content creates a poor user experience. Google doesn’t want to give its users a bad experience so the ranking algorithm penalizes websites with thin content.

Why does this matter for local SEO? Some marketers attempt to cut corners by reusing content when making region-specific webpages. Don’t do this! Invest the time (or money) to get unique, high-quality content for each of your locations or service areas.

Gamification: Game Playing? Or Game Changing?

Direct marketers have known for years that involvement devices in direct mail draw the reader in and often result in higher response rates. A couple of recent articles about “gamification” and the fact that the Super Bowl game is coming in a few days, got me to thinking about how direct marketers can seize the “gamification” phenomenon. Here are five ideas about how you can use our cultural obsession to play games to

Direct marketers have known for years that involvement devices in direct mail draw the reader in and often result in higher response rates. A couple of recent articles about “gamification,” and the fact that the Super Bowl game is coming in a few days, got me to thinking about how direct marketers can seize the “gamification” phenomenon. Here are five ideas about how you can use our cultural obsession to play games to boost response.

Two recent articles are worth noting for direct marketers. One article was about playing games. The other about gamification.

On one side of the coin, games are used to reduce stress by people who play on mobile devices. In this case, an eMarketer report said that 50 percent of mobile gamers spend up to 30 minutes daily playing games to reduce stress. Others use games to pass time.

On the other side of the coin, offices are using gamification to increase productivity, which reportedly increases stress. In office settings, gaming processes—gamification—engages users to solve problems that improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness and learning. An article in the Wall Street Journal titled “The ‘Gamification’ of the Office Approaches” noted how productivity inside offices can be tracked and measured in points, fostering competitiveness and excellence.

Gaming is all around us. Millions scratch off lottery tickets or pick random numbers, and casinos are often packed.

In a few days, the biggest football game of the year—the Super Bowl—will be played with millions watching, and a lot of money wagered, as it becomes a national obsession for several days.

Let’s face it: We’re a culture who loves to play games and keep score.

For direct marketers, we can use our cultural obsession with games for a marketing advantage to increase response.

Whether you use offline direct mail with tokens or other involvement devices, or online channels, gaming techniques that are vetted as being legal, can be a good way to perk up your results.

Here are five ideas:

  1. In direct mail, if you mail your prospects or customers frequently, add a game that builds over time for purpose, more interaction and anticipation of your mailing.
  2. For any channel you’re in, use games to create customer loyalty so your buyers return again and again.
  3. In social media, check-ins and badges using mobile apps are like games, and they get your name in front of the friends of your fans.
  4. Encourage people to play a game that requires completing surveys and gives information about themselves for use in nurture marketing programs.
  5. Let your prospects and customers track their game scores, but as a direct marketer using sophisticated marketing automation software, you can turn the tables and score your customers to determine who is most likely to come back and buy again.

Finally, if you’re stumped with generating ideas, get your staff together and play games to get the ideas swirling. Ideation meetings that include games often bring out unexpected creative ideas.

Bottom line, use the principles of gamification to reinvent and re-energize your direct marketing approach. By becoming familiar with gamification techniques now, you or your staff may identify the next big sales game changer.

Deciphering Big Data Is Key to Understanding Buyer’s Journey

Long before a sale is won or lost, customers and prospects embark on what can be called the “buyer’s journey.” This journey is a complex evolution spanning the entire lifecycle of the customer-vendor relationship, beginning with identification of the underlying business issue or need, and culminating in vendor selection.

Long before a sale is won or lost, customers and prospects embark on what can be called the “buyer’s journey.” This journey is a complex evolution spanning the entire lifecycle of the customer-vendor relationship, beginning with identification of the underlying business issue or need, and culminating in vendor selection.

Along the way, the prospect engages in a wide breadth of activities. Some are internal, such as winning over key stakeholders, building internal consensus and acquiring the necessary budget; while others are externally facing. For example, market research, engaging with colleagues in similar firms to share experiences, and of course contacting salespeople for product demos and pricing negotiation.

I do not claim to have coined the term ‘buyer’s journey.’ For more information on it, you can check out a great article by Christine Crandell that appeared on Forbes.com earlier this month. Among other things, Crandell does a great job explaining how social media can be leveraged to better connect with and understand the buyer’s journey, particularly during times when prospects are not engaged with your sales team. What’s especially interesting about the concept of the buyer’s journey is that prospects are actually unengaged with your firm during the vast majority of this process. Engagement only begins when prospects start their market research and contact a salesperson—usually not before.

Now how does this relate to database marketing? Well, it does in two huge ways. On a strategic basis, any marketer worth his or her own salt knows that effective marketing depends getting your message in front of qualified prospects as inexpensively as possible. In order to do this effectively, identifying how prospects are researching the marketplace is key. Why? Because this is where your prospects are spending much of their time, this is where you need to have your brand appearing front and center. So, from a marketing spend point of view, without a doubt this is where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck.

Now, of course, this is far easier said than done. It’s going to take a ton of market research, including customer interviews, focus groups, industry insight and general analysis to identify how your customers researched the marketplace prior to making a purchase. Did they attend key industry trade shows or events? Do they belong to specific peer or networking groups? What publications do they subscribe to? Whatever the answers to these questions are … well this is where you need to be.

Another key to deciphering the buyer’s journey is understanding how the prospect is engaging with your firm across all Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This understanding can only be arrived at through a deep analysis of every touchpoint between you are your customers. The best way to achieve this is to identify and extract customer and prospect data wherever it may reside. There are no shortcuts here. For large organizations, it can be located in an email broadcast tool, CRM, ERP, Marketing Automation Solution or purpose-built Master Data Management (MDM) Hub, among other places.

Now, of course, this means extracting and sifting through tons and tons of data—everything ranging from garden variety campaign analytics to purchasing history, from personal attributes to company insight, from demographic data to psychographic profile. Tracking, archiving and sorting out all this information is big business. In fact, many in the industry are now referring to this reality as ‘Big Data,’ as companies track and store vast troves of information that they need to make sense out of. In addition to the physical IT infrastructure required to capture and store the information, making sense out of it often requires technical expertise. Without wanting to veer off topic, if this sounds interesting then I suggest turning to NPR, where an interesting and in-depth story on Big Data aired on November 29, 2011.

As I was saying, once the data is extracted, you need to make sense out of it. Paramount to this task is the process of creating robust user profiles replete with detailed demographic, psychographic and, of course, (for B2B) firmographic information—in effect, multi-dimensional user profiles—and mapping it back to KPIs that help identify engagement patterns and behavior central to the buyer’s journey.

Once user profiles have been established, this is where the fun parts comes in, as marketers leverage this information to create compelling offers that speak to the various customer segments. The good news is that recent technological innovations have made this job much easier and more effective. Using marketing automation tools, it’s now possible to broadcast varying sophisticated drip marketing campaigns to various segments of your database—segments that can now easily be created using complex rules based on both list attributes and user engagement. What’s more, the marketing message itself—email creative, direct mail piece, landing page, and so on—can now be highly personalized based on profile data, resulting in higher response rates, reduced media costs and, of course, improved customer satisfaction.

I hope this all makes sense. Any comments or feedback are welcome.