September 27, 2014 by
This is my 239th blogpost. That may be more than some, but not as many as other bloggers I know.
Like others, this blog began as an outlet for expression. I was starting a business. Like others who have followed this path, I said if not now, when. Only the when was in the midst of the worst recession since the great depression. This blog became a way of coping and putting values and beliefs out there when not much was coming in.
Writing helped me through hard times. Circumstances improved. Today, this blog is one of our most valuable assets for a full service digital (digital, social, mobile) consultancy and agency that build brands using proven relationship principles and ROI.
Research shows I’m not alone. How? Here are 10 studies that show writing helps health and well-being.
- PUTS YOU IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF: Scientific evidence supports that journaling provides unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. – PyschCentral
- MAKES YOU MORE OPTIMISTIC: People in a study who expressed gratitude in writing once a week for two months were more optimistic about life (and, interestingly, exercised more), compared with people who didn’t. – Harvard Business Review
- REDUCES STRESS, AIDS IMMUNITY: Writing about difficult, even traumatic, experiences appears to be good for health on several levels – raising immunity and other health measures and improving life functioning. – American Psychological Association
- SPEEDS HEALING: Writing down your thoughts and feelings after a traumatic event can actually make physical wounds heal faster, according to a study from New Zealand researchers. - Scientific America
- INCREASES RESILIENCE: Studies show that writing during difficult times may help you find meaning in life’s challenges and become more resilient in the face of obstacles. - University of Minnesota
- HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER: Spending just 15 minutes a night writing down what you’re thankful for could do wonders for your sleep, according to an Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being study. Researchers found that study participants who wrote down a list of things they were grateful for before bed experienced longer, and better, sleep. – Psychology Today
- DECREASES ILLNESS: In one study, five months after writing, a significant interaction emerged such that writing about trauma, one’s best possible self, or both were associated with decreased illness compared with controls. – Southern Methodist University
- REDUCES DEPENDENCE ON DRUGS AND DOCTORS: In a study of college students, one group wrote about personally traumatic life events for 15 minutes on four consecutive days. The other group of students wrote about trivial topics. Compared to those who wrote about trivia, the students who wrote about traumatic experiences used fewer pain relievers over the next six months. They also visited the campus health center less often. – Aetna
- HELPS CANCER PATIENTS THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THEIR DISEASE: A study showed that expressive writing could help cancer patients not only think about their disease in a different way, but also improve their quality of life. – The Oncologist
- IMPROVES OVERALL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Participants who wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings reported significant benefits in both objectively assessed and self-reported physical health 4 months later, with less frequent visits to health centers and a trend towards fewer days out of role owing to illness. - Pennebaker Study
In many of these studies, participants wrote for as little as 15 minutes a day but did it regularly. Is this investment in writing worth it for your health and well being?
September 22, 2014 by
Digital marketing planning is no different than any other marketing planning. In fact, companies shouldn’t separate plans for ‘digital’ and ‘offline’ since that’s not how your customers perceive your business.
But we’re often required to have plans for “digital” based on the way teams and reporting is structured within companies. A way of aligning the two needs to happen at the start. It’s likely to facilitate buy-in for both that way.
To get you going in the right direction, here are 7 core criteria when creating a digital marketing plan.
- FOCUS THE PLAN AROUND CUSTOMERS, NOT PRODUCTS AND TACTICS: Always start with the customer, their characteristics, behaviors, needs and wants, often expressed through keywords. Create Buyer Personas to establish a segmentation of the people who buy your products. Buyer Personas are examples of real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the Status Quo. By focusing the plan around consumers, you bring out the best in your products.
- LEARN FROM COMPETITORS: Online is a prolific place to do research on competitors. For one thing, the information is at your fingertips. For another, there are so resources to help. For information on competitor’s website usage, there is Alexa and Compete. You can compare the social media presence of your brand versus competitors in terms of Likes and Followers or engagement terms like Comments and Shares. You’re likely to gain more than a few good idea for your brand in the process.
- IDENTIFY CONTENT RESOURCES: After the product or service you offer, content is a brand’s most relevant asset. In a digital marketing plan, you’re going to need a lot of content. You should not only consider the communications but the form it takes such as an email, blog, infographic, video or podcast. Know who will publish it and and how often it will go out. Make a Content Calendar a backbone of your plan.
- HAVE A CLEAR VISION FOR THE YEAR; PLAN FOR 90 DAYS: Articulate the desired results, expressed by the metric that matters most to your organization – sales, revenue, profits, leads, conversions – and the reason why it will be achieved based on what your brand can stand for to its customers. Have the plan that is going to make it happen for the first 90 days but be flexible to change. Situations and plans change, especially online, so ensure plans are usable by having a clear vision for the year and keeping real detail to a shorter term.
- MAKE PLANS FACT-BASED SO IT’S EASIER FOR OTHERS TO BUY INTO: 90% of consumer buying decisions begin on the internet according to Forrester Research. 87% of consumers research products online, then buy offline according to Internet Retailer. 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations according to Search Engine Land. These are just a few ways to gain the attention of people in your organization to support your plan. So, consider using facts throughout your digital marketing plan to win the approval of the people who may not totally understand digital but are smart business people who sign off on it.
- KEEP IT JARGON LIGHT: Digital has a tendency to go into a whole new type of nomenclature. Don’t go there. Instead, use the same language as you would for traditional media channels but support it with the facts, resources and metrics that give digital an even greater credibility.
- CREATE AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD: End your digital marketing plan with a scorecard of the measurements that matter most, your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Show how you will source them and review them regularly to look for insights. When you review, take actions to keep your business strategy on track.
To put these guidelines into steps every company should take to achieve success in digital marketing, we follow a process of Crawl, Walk, Run and Thrive. You can learn more about it on the sidebar of this website.
Did these criteria help you in creating a digital marketing plan?
May 19, 2014 by
- 59% of marketers agree SEO has the biggest effect on lead generation
- 22% say social media
- 20% say pay per click (source: SiteProNews)
The numbers imply these channels aren’t working together. That’s a mistake.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is is the process of getting website traffic from “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines. Social Media Marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention on social media sites in the same way. They both work from traffic that comes from earned media.
If you were to hire a resource to help with SEO or social media, most people think to choose either an SEO specialist or a Social Media agency because the two are different marketing disciplines. That’s an even bigger mistake.
Recent Google algorithm changes underscore how SEO and social media are inextricably linked. Panda is a Google algorithm filter aimed at fighting low quality content; Penguin is one aimed at fighting web spam. Google has concluded the best match for a keyword is the one that is focused and other people follow.
If you don’t think SEO and social media work together, like peanut butter and jelly, here are 25 reasons they do.
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine (source: Search Engine Journal)
- 82% of internet users use search (source: Search Engine Joural)
- 81% of businesses consider their blogs to be an important asset to their businesses (source: Search Engine Journal)
- 74% of consumers use a Facebook brand page as the desired format for following a brand for future engagement (source: GroupM and comScore)
- 73% of online adults use a social networking site; 42% use multiple social networking sites (source: Pew Research)
- 70-80% of web users ignore the paid advertising and look down the page for the first organic search result (source: PPC.org)
- 64% of consumers are likely to follow a brand (source GroupM and comScore)
- 50% of consumers use a combination of search and social media to make purchase decisions (source: Inc)
- 46% of consumers who use social media in the purchase pathway are driven to use search to expand their knowledge about their likely purchase (source: GroupM and comScore)
- 41% of customers are winning customers using social media (source: Search Engine Journal)
- 41% more likely to recommend a brand to a friend if you “Like” the brand on Facebook (source: WOMMA)
- 40 percent of consumers who use search in their path to purchase are motivated to use social media to further their decision making process (source: GroupM and comScore)
- 31% use social media during the purchase process to get other people’s opinions (GroupM and comScore)
- 30% say they use social media to eliminate brands from contention (source: Octagon)
- 28% of consumers say social media plays a valuable role in helping them become aware of new brands and products; 30% say it helps them eliminate brands from consideration (source: GroupM and comScore)
- 28% say social media sites e.g. YouTube, and Facebook help them learn more about brands and product (source: Octagon)
- 28% more likely someone will continue to use a brand if they “Like” the brand on Facebook (source: WOMMA)
- 25% of Google searches come from YouTube in 2013; up from 17% in 2007 (source: comScore)
- #1, #2 and #3 largest web destinations are Google, Facebook and YouTube, respectively (source: Alexa)
- At a ratio of 2-to-1, consumers cite quality and depth of information as reason they use search and social media together (source: Octagon)
- 2nd largest search engine is YouTube (source: comScore)
- If you provide the Google+ id while guest posting on a blog, you establish author rank and Google gives you credit for writing the article
- Google+ has the highest correlated social factor for SEO ranking (source: HubSpot)
- In 2010, Google and Bing admitted to also rank website by how sociable they are (source: PPC.org)
Do these reasons convince you SEO and social media work together like peanut butter and jelly? Do you believe agencies now have to be experts in both?
April 21, 2014 by
- 78% of consumers say that companies’ social media posts impact their purchases (source: Forbes)
- 74% rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions (source: Social Sprout)
- 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals (source: HubSpot)
The numbers say loud and clear consumers make buying decisions based on what they hear from social networks. Does your business listen?
Conversations on the Internet produce massive amounts of unstructured data. To make sense of the noise, social media listening requires a process. The steps are: Define goals, use tools and resources that meet the objective and create a measurement plan to make the listening actionable. Here’s how some brands have put social media listening to use.
There are very effective social media listening and monitoring tools available so there is no reason not to start now. Here are 25 social media listening aids to increase your hearing.
- Addictomatic: Focuses on a variety of platforms such as: Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress, Bing News, Delicious, Google, Ask.com, etc. It’s really useful for keeping an eye on recent industry developments and brand reputation.
- BackTweets: Tracks how many people are talking about you, who’s talking, and what they’re saying. You can search through a tweet archive for URLs sent via Twitter, including results for full URL links, shortened URLs, and URLs without the “www” prefix.
- Bit.ly: The dominant URL shortener also has analytics and tracking to show what where traffic is coming from and how many click and save messages.
- BlitzMetrics: Helps you benchmark against your competitors, learn which demographics are the most active, and track content performance so you can improve your reach and engagement.
- Booshaka: Focuses on Top Fans and the Top 10% of participants that are contributing to a community. It is oriented to Facebook and is a great way for a company to identify people by name that are most active is commenting, liking and sharing their content and in finding others like them.
- Flowtown: Allows you to take email addresses (like the people subscribed to my newsletter) and determine in which social networks they are active. This is especially handy when you need to segment your audience.
- Google Analytics: The analytics tool for your website is, in my opinion, the #1 social media monitoring tool because it tells where visitors come from, how they behave on your site and what actions they take. Google Analytics is the most effective tool for measure if social activity translates to conversion and business success.
- Google Trends: Allows you to see how Google search volumes for a specific keyword(s) have changed over time. The data is represented as a line graph but can be broken down by region, language and closely associated terms. One of is best features is that it can compare multiple keywords.
- HootSuite: A social media management system that enables teams to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one dashboard. Includes audience identification tools, the ability to streamline workflow, and custom reports. Weekly analytics reports and the excellent team management facility (delegating tasks, sending private messages) can be very useful when there’s more than one person handling the social media accounts.
- Ice Rocket: Can be used for keeping an eye on your blogger activity, as they have around 200 million blogs in their database and they also provide the possibility of finding the latest trend terms related to your search.
- Klout: Is probably one of the most controversial social media analytics tools. There are those who hate it and claim that its scoring system is completely inaccurate. Some people find it useful, as it measures influence through engagement on Twitter and it is a good means of keeping an eye on what people think about your brand, and to see what influences them the most.
- How Sociable: Measures yours and your competitors’ social media presence. A free account allows you to track 12 social sites, including Tumblr and WordPress. However, if you’re interested in 24 more, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. a pro account is required. HowSociable breaks down scores for different social media platforms, allowing you to see which social media platforms work best for you and which ones need further development.
- Lithium: An enterprise solution with excellent workflow that enables you to identify your key influencers early on in your social media campaign, which will lead to greater social media optimization and more control over what is being said, retweeted and reposted on social media networks, thus effecting the overall sentiment surrounding your brand. Buzz Tracking is a great monitoring tool that allows you to see the buzz volume in real time.
- Radian6: One of the more widely used enterprise platform uses keyword phrases you choose, which makes it easier to pull and quantify results later. From this data set, you have several widgets that allow you to see an overview of all the information or you can drill down to the nitty-gritty. :
- Social Mention: is probably one of the best free listening tools on the market, as it analyses data in more depth and measures influence with 4 categories: Strength, Sentiment, Passion and Reach.
- Social Searcher: tracks activity with advance analytics that sentiment, users, traffic sources, keywords and most popular posts. It’s has some of the best analytics of any of the open source monitoring tools.
- Social Rest: tracks and analyses social activity and also has a return on investment (ROI) feature. If you set specific conversion goals like advertisement clicks or new sign-ups. Your business can now attribute new sign-ups or revenue to content your users shared on social media.
- Sprout Social: is a complete social platform that eases your work by a ton as it automatically creates a beautiful and colorful report with your company logo. So even if you don’t have an eye for design, you’ll still be able to generate a report with a click of a button.
- Sysomos: provides social media monitoring and share for voice for company accounts. It’s also equipped to import Goggle Analytics. Data visualization and text analytics are some of the key feature to get to the root of relevant conversations or branch out from existing discussion and topics
- Technorati: is a blog search engine that tracks blogs and blog post for any query. One feature is their Authority Score which is the number of links to a blog within the last six month. Technorati is an important for any business that blogs and is looking to find and build relationships with influencers and advocates in their industry.
- Topsy: allows users to conduct interactive analysis on keywords and authors by activity, influence, exposure, sentiment, language or geography. Topsy is a certified Twitter partner.
- Tweet Deck: covers basic needs of any Twitter user, so is a good option for beginners. It’s a great tool for scheduling tweets and monitoring your interactions and messages, as well as tracking hashtags and managing multiple accounts. However, it lacks in regular updates and can be prone to bugs.
- Tweet Reach: Is the right tool for your business if you’re interested in monitoring how far your tweets travel. It is a good way of finding out who are your most influential followers guiding you towards the right people you should be targeting when aiming to share and promote online content.
- Twitter Search: Provides real time identification of keywords on twitter, twitter handles, addresses and hash tags. It is especially valuable for those looking for people at locations, and events at the moment.
- Viral Heat: monitors share of voice and allows users to compare search profiles or relevant terms across the web and social media so businesses can track individual products and compare social buzz among their own products or compare brand mention to competitors.
Some of these social media listening and monitoring tools are free and some are subscription.
Avinash Kaushik has the 10/90 Rule when it comes to budgeting for analytics. The 10/90 Rule says that your budget should be divided as 10% for the analytics tools and software, and 90% for the people doing the analyzing. The point being people and brain power trump data and software every time..
Do you think these social media listening aids can increase your hearing?
January 27, 2014 by
If your brand has a website, more people are likely to come to it from search engines than anyplace else according to Forrester.
That means Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to secure a high-ranking placement in the search results pages, is as essential means of marketing for anybody doing business on the internet.
Is SEO a science? Or an art? Science is facts or truths systematically arranged showing the operation of general laws. Art is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination.
Here are 11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art.
SEO is a science because it operates according to mathematical laws that are statistically reliable and predictive of human behavior.
- #1 reason people come to a website is: It showed up on a search engine page when they were looking for something (source: Forrester)
- 80% of people click on a website that is on the natural or organic side of the search engine page (source: Search Engine Watch)
- 35% click through to the website that is in the #1 position (source: SEO Book)
- 90% click through on a website that is on the 1st page (source: Search Engine Watch)
- Algorithms that comprise hundreds of criteria determine how websites rise or fall in rank for specific keywords
- Volume of search for any keyword and key phrase can be easily known with tools the the Google Keyword Planner and Wordtracker.
- Demand for those keywords, if is increasing or decreasing over time, is measurable through Google Trends. So, you can even predict the value both now and in the future.
- Search rank of your domain or your competitors’ can be tracked for any keyword or key phrase to help understand the rise or fall in rank by Ispionage or Rank Checker.
- Number of links that increase or decrease your authority in a particular area and also influences search rank can be found through Majestic SEO or Alexa.
- Value of the links, whether they are high or low value authority, can be determined by SEO Majestic and Marketing Grader.
- Machines, or search bots, that do the searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are programmed to even identify the underlying meanings behind by keywords to returns the most meaningful results. The is called Semantic Search; it is predicted to play a more important role with the Google “Hummingbird” algorithm.
SEO is an art because mathematical models don’t establish business goals, know why your audience buys your product or how to convince them. You do.
- Search bot don’t buy your product; people do.
- It is impossible to model an algorithm on the needs of human being.
- Machines can’t study your niche, know your audience’s Internet surfing habit or their shopping behavior.
- Keyword research takes creativity to know what is best for your audience and where there is an opportunity.
- People read good content before the read good keywords.
- A top rank doesn’t mean people take the action you want unless you’re clear with them on your website.
- Good, relevant, quality content is what readers (and algorithms) want. If you focus on this, search visibility follows.
- SEO is thinking about how marketing can encompass social, graphic design, link building, content generation, and PR to drive toward a common goal.
- SEO and marketing is creating social buzz (especially with Google+).
- High value links have to be placed where they are going to be most relevant and cause the most desirable actions
- Keywords that flow them seamlessly into your copy are more convincing.
- Machines are incapable of storytelling
- Titles that convince people have clarity, creativity and imagination. The right keywords and key phrases just happen to be in them.
- If you view SEO as a byproduct of good content, high search rank generally follows.
- SEO can’t make your business a success, only you can.
This post comes out of a dialogue from Hollis Thomases, Augustine Fou, Mike Moran and Mark Schaefer which was inspiring and worth building upon.
What do you think SEO is more of: science or art?