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Archive for the ‘Best Practices and Workshops’


8 surprisingly simple steps to conduct a content audit 0

Posted on June 19, 2017 by Rob Petersen

content audit

Content audit is an analysis of the all the content your organization is responsible for. A content audit is a cornerstone for content strategy, SEO, social media marketing, corporate communications, digital advertising, brand guidelines, style guide and your voice and tone.

While the analysis involves quantitative measures, much of the process is qualitative. It involves identifying high-quality content, removing low quality content and establishing guidelines and standards. The areas that usually are most inspected are the content on your website and social media pages.

The goal of a content audit is to raise your company’s profile and build trust. A few reasons why a conduct audit makes sense are:

  • 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing in their marketing strategies
  • 73% of major organizations hire someone to manage their content marketing strategy
  • 56% of marketers believe that personalized content promotes higher engagement rates (source: Content Marketing Institute)

Here are 8 surprisingly simple steps to conduct a content audit.

  1. START WITH A SPREADSHEET OR LIST: In order to do any audit, you have to begin with an inventory. A spreadsheet or list is what you’ll need. A simple set up is create column for: 1) Webpage URL’s, 2) Page Titles, 3) Descriptions or snippet of essential text, 4) Date published or created and 5) Actions (whether, at the end of the audit, the page  stay, goes or is reworked).
  2. IDENTIFY WHAT’S UNIQUE AND DIFFERENTIATING: Look at your inventory and see what your content  says about you, your company and your products or services. What’s unique and differentiating? Why should your audience take note and care? How do you keep it fresh? Avoid being repetitive. Add news?
  3. MEASURE INTEREST AND APPEAL: Objective measurements such as Pageviews, Search Rank, Links and Shares, Comments, Likes, Views and Re-Tweets for social media pages are considerations to measuer. They can all be found in a web analytics tool like Google Analytics or through search queries and review of your social media pages.
  4. ASSESS ACCURACY, DATE AND WRITING PROFESSIONALISM: The relevance of your content is influenced by its recency, reliability and writing. Examine content by how often you write about it, what is included (e.g. images, video, charts, contact forms) and how well it’s written. Ask yourself if your believe your company is publishing quality content?
  5. EXAMINE SEO ELEMENTS: Review the Page Titles, Keywords, Meta Descriptions, Headings and Alt Image Tags. Are target keywords and phrases used on the page? Are page descriptions and metadata employed appropriately? Are headlines optimized for search? Search engine optimization (SEO) begins and ends with content. So evaluating to what extent content conforms to best practices in search is an essential part of an audit.
  6. EVALUATE WHAT NEEDS TO BE ADDED AND REMOVED: Now, you are ready to determine what stays, goes, is reworked as well as any organization or reorganization. If you are revising or refreshing a website, a content audit provides learning for site architecture, navigation tabs and drop-down menus.
  7. JUDGE FOR CONSISTENCY OF VOICE AND TONE: How do you express yourself? What is your attitude to people know something about you?. They are essential qualities that should be consistent because they create trust and help others determine if they would like to get to know you better.
  8. PLAN FOR SUCCESS: Now you’ve done the hard work. And you have a template, game plan and actionable scorecard for seeing improvement and success. Examine progress periodically. Once a quarter or even twice a year is a good schedule for reviewing your content audit.

Once it’s done, a content audit is a valuable company asset. A great piece for learning, insights and actions.

Do these steps convince you of the value of a content audit? Are they simple enough to follow? Do you need help conducting one for your company?

 

 

14 key facts on website speed. 4 top tips when it’s slow 1

Posted on October 24, 2016 by Rob Petersen

website speed

Website speed has long been recognized as a important factor that impacts search engine rankings. And a top factor in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Slow website speed creates a bad user experience, one that may result in visitors not coming back to your website or going to your competition. And that it even more important than search rank because search engines don’t buy products, people do.

Is website speed a concern for your site? If it is, what can you do about it?

Here are 14 key facts on website speed. And 4 top fixes when it’s slow.

14 KEY FACTS ON WEBSITE SPEED

  1. 80% of a Web page’s load time is spent downloading the different pieces-parts of the page: images, stylesheets, scripts, Flash, etc. (Yahoo)
  2. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site again. (KissMetrics)
  3. 73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that is too slow to load. (Fiverr)
  4. 51% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that crashed, froze, or received an error. (Raven)
  5. 47% of consumers expect a website speed page load in 2 seconds or less. (Innovation Insights)
  6. 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online. (GlobalDots)
  7. 40% abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds to load. (KissMetrics)
  8. 38% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that wasn’t available. (Shoprocket)
  9. 22% is the average increase in website load speed per year. (Radware)
  10. 18% of mobile users will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in less than five seconds. If it takes more than 10 seconds to load, 30% will abandon the site. (KissMetrics)
  11. 5 seconds is the average page load time this year (Pingdom)
  12. A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. (Econsultancy)
  13. If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year. (Amazon)
  14. Users begin to drop off a site when its response time is longer than 2.5 seconds. (Forrester)

4 TOP TIPS WHEN IT’S SLOW

  1. WEBSITE HOSTING: The website hosting provider and technology you choose can have a significant effect on your page load times. Dedicated hosting solutions are preferable over shared hosting so you do not have to worry about other websites on the same server as yours slowing your website down.
  2. ENABLE BROWSER CACHING: The first time someone comes to your website, they have to download the HTML document, stylesheets, javascript files and images before being able to use your page. That may be as many as 30 components and 2.4 seconds. Fortunately, certain website platform like WordPress offer caching plug-ins. They require set up and testing but can be a big help with your website recognizing and quickly processing the many elements it has to.
  3. OPTIMIZE IMAGES: Oversized images take longer to load, so it’s important that you keep your images as small as possible. Use image editing tools to: 1) Crop your images to the correct size. For instance, if your page is 570px wide, resize the image to that width. 2) reduce color depth to the lowest acceptable level and 3) remove image comments.
  4. OPTIMIZE CSS DELIVERY: CSS holds the style requirements for your page. Generally, your website accesses this information in one of two ways: in an external file, which loads before your page renders, and inline, which is inserted in the HTML document itself. When setting up your styles, only use one external CSS stylesheet since additional stylesheets increase HTTP requests. Two resources to help are: 1) CSS Delivery Tool. It tells you how many external stylesheets your website is using and 2) instructions for combining external CSS files.

If website speed is important for you, a good tool to examine website speed for your site is Google PageSpeed Insights. This is a good resource to get started, help understand your website speed and what top tips will be the biggest help if your website speed is slow.

Did this teach you something new about website speed? Do your need help with yours?

What I learned from (at least) 14 social media mistakes 6

Posted on July 21, 2013 by Rob Petersen

 

 

 

Social Media mistakes

  •  90% (over 9,000,000) businesses say they actively engage on social networking sites
  • 74% find it valuable
  • 42% say 25% of new customers  find out about their business from social networking sites  (Source: Mantra)

The numbers indicate businesses find value in social media.

My experiences started a few years ago when the numbers were lower. I didn’t have a guidebook. My most valuable lessons came from mistakes.

Now, I teach social media at both Rutgers CMD and the University of California. I have an ebook, 166 Case Studies Prove Social Media Marketing ROI (downloaded by 55,000+ on the sidebar of this website. it’s free). A decent portion of company revenue at BarnRaisers comes from social media related activities.

I’m still learning from mistakes.

Here’s what I learned from (at least) 14 social media mistakes I’ve made.

  1. TO BUILD AN AUDIENCE TAKES TIME: Social media is “earned” media (not “paid”). It takes more time to build an audience you earn. Most people, including myself, underestimate. But an “earned” audience stays with you longer than one you pay for and is worth the effort.
  2. GRATITUDE TO OTHERS WORKS MUCH FASTER THAN TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF: It was humbling at the start to look at how slow an audience builds until I stopped telling and started thanking others. Chris Brogan said to talk about others 3X as talking about yourself. It was very good advice.
  3. YOU CAN’T BE GOOD OR BAD AT SOCIAL MEDIA; YOU CAN ONLY BE YOURSELF. Initially, I wondered if my contributions were good or bad. It would have been better if I wondered if I was being myself.
  4. RELEVANT CONTENT IS A BRAND’S 2nd MOST VALUABLE ASSET: After a product of service, relevant content is a business’ most relevant asset. I found the valuable posts came from people who were able to teach someone something new.
  5. LISTEN TO THE RIGHT METRICS: There was a time when I thought a Klout or Kred score was worth pursuing. Now I know the metrics in the Google Analytics of your website that show the social networks (Traffic Sources) where your audience comes from is a much more valuable guide.
  6. TECH DOESN’T WORK AS WELL AS TOUCH: I’ve never relied on automated posts. There nothing wrong with sending the same message out on different social networks. But I was concerned that it relied too much on tech, I would miss the opportunity to touch.
  7. SHOW UP CONSISTENTLY: You don’t have to be on social networks 24/7. You do have to be there consistently and at the same time usually helps. You’ll find your audience looks forward, even relies, on seeing you and that’s a way to earn their trust.
  8. RE-PURPOSE YOUR CONTENT: You’re going to be putting in time so why not make the most of it. The time you put into your content can be re-purposed. For example, a blog can be re-purposed as an email newsletter. A series of blogs on the same topic can be made into an e-book.
  9. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT FREE: The commodity in social media is time, not money. I didn’t realized how valuable that commodity was until I had less of time because of social media. Value your time appropriately.
  10. LOOK FOR HOW YOUR AUDIENCE EVOLVES: Foiled Cupcakes owner Mari Luangrath built her cupcake business to +600% above forecast by building relationships on Facebook and Twitter. As her audience evolved to corporate accounts, her attention went more to LinkedIn.
  11. ALL COMMENTS ARE NOT EQUAL: When I initially got comments like “I’ve bookmarked your blog” I thought I was doing something right. It was actually spammer trying to get links. You have to look at the email address of someone writing a comment.
  12. DON’T BE AN OBSESSIVE EDITOR: I’ve spent, and spend, way more time editing than the attention the obsession to editing yields in visitors. I’m not discouraging people to pay attention to details. But, if you wait for everything to be perfect, you’re likely not to start.
  13. DO IT FOR THE FRIENDS: Fellow Rutgers CMD faculty and friend, Mark Schaefer, is a well known name in social media. When he started, he did it for the friends. Why wouldn’t you. Your friend can come from any social network and from all over the world.
  14. INVITE MORE OFTEN: I thought if I invited people to join my networks, it might seem as if I’m too pushy. Now, I realize that, without actively inviting others, I just have less fans and followers.

When you started in social media, did you make the same mistake I did? What have you learned? Have you learned more from your our successes? Or your mistakes?

12 tips. How to write for your audience and search engines 3

Posted on May 12, 2013 by Rob Petersen

 

 

writing for your audience

  • 80% of people find a website by typing keywords into the query box of a search engine
  • 42% click on the website in the #1 organic search position
  • 90% click on a website on the 1st page (Source: SEO Book)

These facts show, for any company doing business on the internet, search engine optimization (SEO) is a requirement.

But search engines don’t buy, don’t download and don’t fill out requests for more information. People do. That’s why, although search rank is important, a top rank is only as good as the content on the website at getting visitors to take the action you want.

How do you accomplish both? Here are 12 tips on how to write for your audience and search engines.

KEYWORDS

  • DO KEYWORD RESEARCH: Keywords are the currency of the internet. They establish relevance to both your audience and the search engines. So look for the words consumers use to express their unmet need; how many express it and how often. Two tools that are a valuable guide in this discovery are Google Trends and Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
  • CREATE SITE ARCHITECTURE: When search engines crawl your site, they are trying to give your audience the best match for the words that express their unmet need. So give both your audience and the search engines something to work with and make it easy on them. Organize your keywords and content to create a more complete picture.

Site architecture map

  • DIFFERENTIATE BY BEING SPECIFIC: The people who are most ready to take action are most likely going to be more specifics about what they need and less willing to wade through a lot of information. So help them on their journey with content that includes “long-tail” phrases, not just “short tail” keywords. If you were in the market for a digital camera and ready to buy, wouldn’t you be looking for the brand and model, not just the category?

Short tail vs long tail keywords

LINKS

  • IDENTIFY AUTHORITIES: “It”s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This truth applies to life and doing business on the internet. That’s why hyperlinks (the blue text that goes to other websites) play a pivotal role. They connect you with authorities on your topic. If  the search engines determine, through links, you are connected to authorities, they raise your rank. There are many link tracking services. Options range from free to subscription services. A few to consider are: Alexa, ClixTrack and Linktrack and Linktrackr and options from free to subscription.
  • WRITE HYPERLINKS INTO SITE CONTENT: The search engine are cracking down on websites that load backlinks into the back end of their websites but they are rewarding websites that do it, authentically, by featuring relevant links in content like suggested above. Also, consider social network pages as links and build your “social authority.” This is increasing greatly in importance.
  • USE INTERNAL LINKS THROUGHOUT YOUR SITE:  Hyperlinks are also good for connecting pages within your site. This give both your audience and the search engine the opportunity to spend more time with your business and get to know you better. And that’s always a good thing.
  • CHECK FOR BROKEN LINKS: Make sure everything is working as it should. A website analytics tool, like Google Analytics  is your GPS system. Google offers Google Webmaster Tools for spotting any critical issues.

WRITING CONTENT

  • TITLE YOUR KEYWORDS IN THE URL, TITLES AND HEADERS: The reason for being for each page is a key consideration for you, for your audience and the search engines. Put your keywords in url’s, and titles. Here is where you need to include them.

keywords in url, titles and headlines

 

  • WRITE MORE THAN 200 WORDS ON EVERY PAGE: Your audience and the search engines want to get to know you. Although there are  a number of opinions, at least 200 words per page is a good rule of thumb.
  • WRITE FOR 3 TYPES OF VISITORS: Regardless of the website, there will always be 3 types of visitors. “Researchers,” who expect to be educated and want lots of information. Reviews and testimonials are important. “Shoppers” look for comparisons. They want to know the facts, but they want the Cliff Notes version. “Buyers” are ready to take action but they want the specifics, as clearly called out as possible. All are important. They also are not mutually exclusive either. One can move  from one stage to another.

TRACKING

  • KEYWORDS: Now that you have your plan in place, track your progress is raising your rank every month. A good tool to track your progress is SEO Book Rank Checker (Firefox Extension).  
  • INDEXING: The more search pages your are on, the better so know how many search pages you are “indexed” and work to increase the number. Marketing Grader from HubSpot lets you see how your doing.

To write for your audience is as important, if not more, as writing for the search engines. Do these 12 tips help teach you how to do it?

12 best practices of successful social media promotions 0

Posted on January 05, 2013 by Rob Petersen

 

 

 

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Social media promotions refer to brand building incentives and offers that gain attention through social media sites, website traffic, buzz and word of mouth. Here’s a case in point.

TortillaLand is a brand of fresh tortillas from Circle Foods found in the refrigerated section of stores like Costco, Walmart and major grocery chains, primarily on the West Coast. Distribution across the country is increasing and social media promotions are playing an important role.

Once people try TortillaLand, they swear by the fresh-baked taste and authentic eating experience (“like eating a fresh made tortilla at a restaurant”). But the brand’s low awareness and store placement in the refrigerated section, away from main Mexican food aisle, presents businesses challenges.

Since these are challenges where fans and advocates can help by spreading the word, TortillaLand has run 5 social media promotions on their Facebook Brand Page within the past year. They’ve helped increase sales +35% versus year ago, built a valuable database, taken Facebook “Likes” from 885 to 15,351 and proved a high return on investment (ROI).

Needless to say, they work. Here are the promotions:

  • Win 3 iPads; 1 for you, 2 for friends (run twice)
  • 1000 Free TortillaLand Coupons
  • 1000 Free TortillaLand Coupons for Winn Dixie
  • Cinco de Mayo Cookware Giveaway

Here are 12 best practices of successful social media promotions.

  1. DEFINE DESIRED RESULTS: Begin be being clear about what you expect. If your brand is an impulse buy or has a short buying cycle, short term sales increases are certainly possible. If it takes a number of months from first contact to conversion, consider the value a new database provides from entries and use it from re-contact and conversion.
  2. CHOOSE THE SOCIAL PROMOTION APP TO MATCH YOUR BUDGET: The software to run the promotion can cost from $200 to $5000+ so there is a budget range to meet the need of any business from a local pilate studio to a CPG company. Social promotion apps are available from companies like Wildfire,  Strutta and Votigo.
  3. CREATE A HIGH-VALUE OFFER: In promotion, the offer is king. Although high value can be a high dollar amount (like 3 iPads), you’d be surprised how high value “free” coupons are in the hands of people who love your brand.
  4. MAKE SHARING PART OF THE OFFER: If you want fans to spread the word, do something to motivate them like give a prize for them and their friends or an incentive (e.g. 10% off) is they “Like” your Facebook page.
  5. SET A RELEVANT TIME FRAME: Six to eight weeks is considered to be the right amount of time to see meaningful business results while creating urgency to act among fans
  6. SPREAD THE WORD: You have to spread the word so think of all you have available to tell fans who will tell their friends and so on – like email lists, Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers. your company blog. Social media sharing generally increases outreach by 33%+.
  7. ESTABLISH RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT: Post frequently on social networks (3+ times/week) but look closely to see when and where you are getting the most engagement (e.g. comments, “Like,” Shares, RT’s). Engage when you are getting response; Pull back and look someplace else when you’re not.
  8. INTEGRATE INTO THE MARKETING MIX AND INCLUDE MOBILE: Social media promotions should be part of brand communications and featured on your website. 43% of social media users say they access their social networks by mobile devices and 20% of visits to a website, on average, are from mobile devices. Not all promotion apps are mobile friendly but generally do offer a mobile alternative. Don’t overlook mobile and be clear with fans about mobile entries – “here’s how to enter from your mobile device…”
  9. BUILD A DATABASE: A valuable asset of any social media promotion is the database that comes from entry forms. In the case of TortillaLand, it is now a major business building tool. It has been segmented by state. It is used to reward fans, ask for their help with specific items in specific grocery chains and is used for survey research.
  10. LOOK FOR UPTAKE FROM SWEEPSTAKES AND COUPON BLOGGERS: Many people underestimate the media impressions that come from sweepstakes and coupon blogger. Coupon bloggers generate major traffic, have significant followings and are sophisticated internet marketers. This is another reason to create a high-value offer. So it has appeals to them and their audiences.
  11. SET ASIDE SOME PROMOTION FUNDS “JUST IN CASE”: Interest and entries is likely to peak at the start and near the end. If needed, save some funds, not a lot, for Facebook Ads or Facebook Promoted Posts. They can have a strong impact.
  12. DON’T FORGET THE POST-PROMOTION PERIOD: Once the promotion is over, the communication isn’t. Announce the winner quickly and don’t leave fans waiting. Consider an interview with the winner in a blog and e-mail to humanize the event. Survey your database as to what other offers, incentives or news is most relevant and motivating to learn for the next time.

Social media promotions don’t run themselves. You have to be involved but the learning, results and ROI can be very rewarding.

If you’re interested in trying TortillaLand fresh tortillas, here’s where you can find a store in your area. If you think this type of thinking can help your business, here’s where you can find out more about social promotions.

Do these best practices demonstrate the value of social media promotions for your brand?

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    BarnRaisers builds brands with proven relationship principles and ROI. We are a full service digital marketing agency. Our expertise is strategy, search and data-driven results.



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