Sunshine 2012 (or hashtag #Sunshine2012) was a fantastic conference that featured speakers in PR, Marketing, and Communications discussing brands from Coca-Cola to Playstation to local NHL team the Tampa Bay Lightning. And included an address by PRSA President Bill Murray (no, not that Bill Murray).
I focused on what metrics matter most when making sense of all of the data available from tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, and tips for complementing that data with offline metrics.
Major points from my presentation:
Top 5 Metrics I look at when reading Analytics reports:
Traffic Trends – should mirror offline season trends
Sources – including PR & social media linkbacks
Keywords – branded and non-branded
Content – top content & what is changing
Test, Test, Test!
As Ed often reminds me: “There is no such thing as a marketing argument, only a marketing test”
Use Google URL Builder to create Campaigns to A/B test – try to test one thing at a time, and keep iterating
My top tip for tracking offline data: Involve Sales in the process!
Educate your sales team on SEO, and ask for their feedback on trends they are seeing and ideas for new content. They have great insight from their interactions with customers!
Have your team who answers the phones ask prospects how they heard about you, including what term they searched in Google if possible
Remember that Rank isn’t everything!
Search Engine Marketing is a funnel of impressions in search, clicks through to your website, and if the content on your site is compelling enough – conversions
Interested in more Google Analytics training? Schipul is offering a free Intro to Google Analytics training webinar in July – watch the Schipul events calendar to sign up!
Insight from the Fantastic Speakers of #Sunshine2012
I got a lot of insight from the informative and actionable content from all the speakers throughout the conference. A few major trends from the conference speakers:
1. “Brand Control” is moving to the consumers
Allyson Park – Vice President of Corporate External Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company – focused much of her talk on how the brand is no longer in the hands of the company – the brand owner is now the consumer
Coke embraces this – their Facebook page is still run by the 2 fans who created it initially!
A recent Coca Cola marketing campaign showcases the real people who love the brand – “Every bottle has a story” – including this fantastic video currently shown in the India market:
2. Take advantage of technology tools, especially mobile devices
Many speakers noted new tools and technology that are becoming more and more important as part of the marketing/PR mix. This is all about using all of the tools in your toolkit. For instance: Video content is powerful and easier than ever to distribute. Social Media is a power customer service tool when used correctly.
Taking advantage of mobile devices to deliver real time relevant content through mobile sites and mobile apps is becoming not just an advantage, but more and more an expectation of brands. Here are some stats from Jody Haneke‘s presentation on the Mobile Marketing Mix:
35% of mobile workers check email before anything else – before getting dressed or eating breakfast
53% of tablet users read news on their phone every day
Smartphone and tablet users visit more pages in a given sitting than people on a desktop
SMS still the most widely used mobile data form on the planet.
3. Content Strategy
You can’t be everything to everyone, focus on what makes sense and keep it organization.
Plan “episodic” content that you can schedule in advance – i.e. “Throwback Thursday” or Employee Spotlight
Don’t host your video – post on YouTube or Vimeo and embed, you get the advantage of the second network
Focus on your content plan – what makes sense for your brand, don’t worry too much about platform changes
Help your visitors by telling them what is the most important item today or this week. Make your top post “sticky” or give it more prominence – this helps visitors navigate and helps you promote your top priority
It’s ok to share something more than once – especially on a real time platform like Twitter. Post at a different time of day with a different call to action or perspective and monitor your results!
4. The Importance of Internal Communication
“As leaders, everything that we say or do communicates something ” – Keynote David Grossman
David Grossman spoke on the concept that we can’t not communicate – everything you do from how you speak to how you spend your time to body language communicates SOMETHING to the organization. Our brains are wired to take in a scene and draw conclusions, so that’s what people do.
This is especially important as the intangible benefits matter more and more to employee satisfaction. Communication is key is leadership, including in meeting employee needs.
St. Petersburg is a beautiful place with unique restaurants and fantastic art! On my trip I got to take in the Dali Museum and enjoy happy hour at the Chihuly Exhibit at the Morean as part of the conference. It was an inspiring trip inside and out!
Spiral staircase in the Dali Museum
Chihuly blown glass exhibit at the Morean
Thank You PRSA Tampa Bay!
Big thanks to everyone on the PRSA Tampa Bay host committee who did a fantastic job!
If you’re in marketing and wondering if you should be utilizing Google+ for Business – my answer is a resounding Yes!
I’ll admit that I was skeptical when Google+ first released Brand Pages and hesitated to commit to using Google+ as part of our web marketing strategy. There are so many different social media networks and so little time. I wasn’t eager to add another social network to my list. I was wrong to hesitate and thought I’d explain what I’ve learned and how Google+ helps your website convert leads into sales.
How Google Search Works (in a Nutshell)
Google is continuously improving their search engine software to provide more personalized and socially relevant search results for users. There are different opinions out there regarding just how much control we should give to Google in determining how personalized our search results should be, and I’m not going to go into that debate issue here.
Instead, I want to share Google’s brilliant business strategy that has made Data the currency of the internet.
The majority of Google’s products are 100% free and target individual consumers. We, the consumers, use these geeky web tools and instead of paying for them with money, we pay for them by giving Google certain permissions to collect and share information about us.
The majority of Google’s profit comes from ad revenues for pay-per-click, Adwords, and other online advertisements presented to consumers as we surf the web. Google is so profitable because it uses the data from consumers to personalize the ads each person views. This makes the ads more relevant and less annoying to the consumer and also makes the ad more effective and likely to result in a sale for the ad buyer’s business.
Talk about an awesome example of a win-win situation!
Google wins = they earn a profit
Consumers win = free tools they want and less boring internet ads
Businesses win = affordable online advertising with measurable results
The Proof is in the Numbers
Google works, and the proof is in the number of people who are using it. Here are some usage stats:
Google has created a service that delivers personal, individual results to each of its more than 1 billion users, profitably.
How Google+ for Business Works
Anyone who creates a free Google account also automatically gets a Google+ plus account now. As I mentioned above, there are currently over 100 million Google+ users and that number is still growing. You’ll need to have your own Google+ personal profile set-up before you can create one for your business.
Google has some really great resources and training videos to help you set-up your organization’s Google+ Brand Page on the Google Plus for Business website. Schipul is partnering with Google’s Houston team to host 2 terrific and Free events: an upcoming webinar on May 29th and a hands-on workshop June 19th for those of you interested in getting help with Google+.
Google+ Brand Pages for businesses have some restrictions and you can’t just go start following all your clients or add them to circles immediately. Since Google’s business model demands protecting the privacy of its users and making sure we all enjoy using Google’s products, businesses can only follow users who first come and add your Brand Page to one of their circles.
Why You Want A Google+ Brand Page
Google+ Brand pages have started to show up in search results in a very noticeable way. For example, if I’m following a certain Brand on Google+ and do a search in Google, their Google+ page shows up on the right hand side at the top of the search results. Some Brands are starting to show up there even if I’m not currently following them or when I search anonymously.
Google hasn’t exactly explained why some Google+ Brand pages are showing up on search results when you aren’t following them, but Mashable has a theory that it could be related to Google’s Direct Connect program. The Direct Connect Program links your Google+ Brand Page and your website. I highly recommend you get a Google+ badge for your website and register with the program.
Google+ Secret Recipe for Higher Lead Conversions
If the premium placement of your Google+ Brand page on search results isn’t motivation enough to add Google+ to your marketing strategy, combine it with the Social aspect that Google’s integrated with their search engine and I believe you’ll see why I’ve changed my tune.
As marketers, we understand the value of relationships when it comes to generating leads that convert to sales. Referrals from existing clients close more often, faster, and at a reduced cost than cold leads. People are far more likely to work with the business a friend or family member recommends than go with a company they’ve never heard of.
One recent study shared on econsultancy.com’s website showed that 88% of consumers look at reviews from other customers before making a purchase decision. 52% of those surveyed said their purchasing decisions were influenced by their friends’ recommendations. The study also showed that just by having reviews or testimonials on your website increased your lead conversion rate by over 60% in most cases.
We already know that when your prospects come to your website and read positive reviews of your work, they have a higher chance of converting to become a client. Since Google+ results now show up on Google search results, Google+ gives prospects your positive reviews and recommendations from the search results page. Prospects can compare the results with other competing sites before clicking through to a website. If the research is accurate, then that means there is a good chance that more people will visit the websites of companies with more positive reviews from Google+.
As an added bonus, the Google search results from Google+ also show the searcher who in their network has +1‘d your business, implying they recommend you.
Google+ Brand Pages are the new digital version of the “Ask for a Referral” postcard used by traditional direct marketers. Asking for referrals has always been a very effective marketing strategy, in my experience.
Your Organization’s Online Brand relies on providing a positive, interactive experience for your customers on your website. Your website needs to be timely, relevant, engaging and easy to find and navigate to meet the needs of your customers and members. This year, make a resolution to give your website a little more love and your website and your customers will thank you.
Here are our top New Year’s Web Resolutions for you to create a great online customer experience and grow your brand in 2012.
What this means to you is that there is a very good chance your site visitors are using a mobile device to search for and browse your website. Pull out your smartphone or iPad and go to your website. Spend some time trying to access different articles and content from your mobile and think about how this experience compares to the traditional experience from a typical desktop PC. If you are frustrated from the experience – imagine how your site visitors feel.
Now, search Google using one of your keyword phrases from a mobile device and see where you rank. Over the next few months, even high-ranking websites may see a rank decrease from mobile searches if they haven’t enabled user agent-detection for specific devices. Google just introduced Googlebot-Mobile, a new search engine crawler that specifically looks for mobile type CSS that triggers a mobile stylesheet custom for individual users’ devices. Someone browsing the web from their iPad is going to have a different experience than someone from their Android smartphone. Google ranks mobile websites based on factors such as usability, speed, features, and overall performance.
As the internet has become more widely adopted by the general public, websites have become easier to set-up and maintain with less technical know-how required. There are some technical truths that still hold true and taking the time to understand these facts of the web this year will help you improve your customers’ online experience.
There’s no such thing as an “Out-of-the-Box” website. All websites require customization like naming menu buttons, adding a logo and graphics, changing the color scheme to match your organization’s branding, and adding content that tells visitors who you are and what you do. All of this takes time and is an ongoing process even after your website is launched live. Your website will look very different day-to-day from the initial set-up to “Go-Live” day.
Where you host your website does matter. Your website requires a host that stores your content, CMS software, and other data on enterprise-level computer hardware (servers and hard disk arrays) connected to the internet with high capacity bandwidth making your website accessible online to anyone who visits your website url. Nowadays, this typically means a cloud environment like Amazon Web Services which offers security, expandable storage and bandwidth when your site experiences unexpected spikes in traffic, and a dedicated IT staff available 24/7 to maintain, update, and repair the infrastructure hosting your website.
You have a beautifully designed website that takes visitors’ breath away when they stop by – but have you focused on developing and implementing a content strategy that communicates to your visitors who you are and what you do once their breath returns?
Great content is relevant to your visitors and is also what attracts search engine crawlers to boost your website’s search rankings. Content isn’t limited to just text anymore either. Add photos from recent events, upload digital training and product videos, and integrate your social media accounts with your website to give your website visitors a full view into your organization’s online brand.
January is the perfect time to go through your website and review existing articles, news releases, and other content and make sure your latest press releases isn’t from 1996. Look at your website through the eyes of your visitors and think about what is not being communicated about your organization that should be and make a list of these items. Tip: Create a weekly schedule to write new content on these topics in 2012 and you’ll see an increase in your site traffic as well as your search engine rankings.
Learn more great ways to improve your website’s 2012 Content Strategy on the SEM blog and register and attend our Free upcoming webinar “Writing for the Web” to improve your website’s content this year.
Tools for Successfully Keeping Your Web-Resolutions
Here are a few more tools and resources we’ve put together to help you succeed:
You’ve heard it before: Location, Location, Location. Just as in the brick and mortar world, Location matters in Search Engine Optimization as well. And this trend is not one to be ignored.
Think of it this way: Google is in the business of providing the best answer for people’s questions (questions otherwise known as search queries). Your business may not be the best answer for “coffee” or even “coffee shop,” but “houston coffee shop” or “the woodlands coffee shop”? Now the field is narrowing to just your customers, and your business is rising above the pack.
Be sure your site is optimized for the geography of your customers.
Top 5 Tips: How to optimize your site for Location
1. Claim your Google Places Listing
You may have noticed that when you do a search, you often see more than just the traditional 10 organic Search Results. Sometimes you see images, sometimes video, and often Red Pins and a map with a list of businesses based on their relevance to your search and proximity to you.
These pins represent Google Places Pages. If Google is aware of your business, they have already made a Place Page for you. Now it’s your opportunity to claim the listing and add as much relevant information about your business as possible. To get started, look for the link at the top right labeled “Business Owner?” and click.
2. If possible, include your address in the sidebar or footer on every page
This is dual purpose – for visitors and for Google. You don’t want site visitors (potential customers) to have to search all over for your phone number and address. This is also helpful for Google because it reinforces your address and city name on every page Google indexes.
In the SEO world these references are known as “Citations” – anytime your business name and phone number or address appear together on the web, even if there is no link to your site. This adds validity to the address on your Google Places listing and tell Google you are relevant (similar to link backs).
For some sites, you just can’t add every location to the footer because there are too many. Consider text like “serving XYZ geography” with a link to you locations page.
3. If you have multiple locations, create separate pages on your site for each
If you have multiple locations, consider creating separate pages for each. Each page can stand on its own for the keywords related to that city or neighborhood. Be sure that every page has unique content, or you may get dinged by Google for having duplicate content.
Ideas for content: an embedded Google map showing the locations, text directions from at least two points of interest in the city, a paragraph of text on what that location specializes in, photos of the locations, information about the Staff, etc. etc.
4. Make sure city information is in title tag, meta description on interior pages
Don’t stop at the homepage, make sure geography terms are sprinkled in throughout the entire site. Add your city or state (or neighborhood) where it makes sense in your page’s content, title tag, and meta data. Consider every page of your site, as each page will stand alone in its specific keywords.
5. Submit to applicable directories
Tackled all of the above and looking for more? Consider submitting your site to directories. To find applicable Directories, follow SEOMoz’s advice on finding linkbacks for your business advice and do a search for Cityname + Business Type + Listings/Businesses/Results. You will get a list of links to various directories that catalog your type of business.
Want More SEO Tips from the Schipul Team?
Check out blog posts from the Schipul Search Engine Marketing Team over at TheSEMBlog.com and follow us on twitter @SEMBlog.
I’ve been working here at Schipul for almost a year now. I came here after 4+ years of working for the Society for the Performing Arts in Houston, TX. During this time, my mind has not strayed far from trying to find better ways for performing arts organizations to harness the power of the Internet to enhance audience development and, more importantly, sell more tickets.
This post is a first step in helping performing arts institutions to better understand and use the Internet for their organizations and their artists. I welcome your feeback, and hope you forward this on to anyone you know that works for a performing arts organization if you find it useful.
A Reality: Performing Arts needs SEO
You probably think an organization like Lincoln Center wouldn’t need Search Engine Optimization. You’re wrong.
Despite being quite familiar with their site, I had to Google them first to find their site. Today’s web user is very reluctant to start slapping .com on anything you want on the web. For instance, try typing whitehouse.com into your browser. You will not find our President.
Need more proof? Take a look at this report from Google Insights about searches including the words lincoln and center. NOTE: These results are from New York state.
I don’t know about you, but I know Lincoln Center is in New York City. Yet above you can see that many people actually search for “lincoln center nyc” or “lincoln center ny”. Again, these are searched from the state of New York. The point here is that regardless of how strong your brand or position is in a patron’s mind, they will more likely be Googling you or the performer first.
Wait! Don’t go optimizing your performances just yet. You need to develop your strategy first. You’re probably thinking you’ll succeed if you start optimizing around the same time you start marketing the performances through your other outlets. That’s not going to work. You need at least three months of continuous optimization to start getting attention of the great and powerful Google. This means your online marketing should not, in any way, be tied to your other marketing plans. Why?
Newspapers are dying because they thought reprinting their paper on the web was all they needed to do. They were wrong. You must market to an online audience (i.e. Google) if you want people to find your web site. This means you need to start treating Google like your oldest subscriber and donor.
A Challenge: Performing Arts needs Video
Do you remember when we all thought how crazy it was to have a camera on a cell phone? Now we have phones offering HD video! But there’s a HUGE drawback as it’s not so easy to transmit video via today’s web. However, as the Internet continues to become more mobile, and the transmission lines get faster and more widespread, sharing video is going to become as ubiquitous as photo sharing is today.
Today, many performing artists rely on photos to tell their story. Take this image from Diavolo’sTrajectoire.
But doesn’t this video do a better job of telling their story?
Of course, it’s not just about presenting it, it’s HOW you share the video. Take this video I’ve embedded from Alvin Ailey Dance Company. NOTE: Alvin Ailey has restricted our ability to share their videos to this format.
Not very impressive, is it? If you do decide to click on it, you will bear witness to one of the greatest displays of American choreography the world has ever seen. But if you’re like most web users, you are more likely to trust the Diavolo video link (32K+ hits) over the link from Alvin Ailey (26K+ hits).
Proving a picture is worth 6,000 clicks.
Artists and presenting organizations have to work together to provide better opportunities for patron video consumption. It’s not about showing entire pieces or performances, it’s about whetting the appetite of an audience that is starved for good content. And like we’ve seen above, how you allow your patrons and fans to present is important as well.
An Adventure: Check in, Experience the Performing Arts
Do you remember your reaction when you first heard someone talk about Twitter? It was probably the same reaction you have had listening to someone talk about Foursquare, Gowalla or SCVNGR. I must admit, I long fought against the location-based check in services. However, the more I learn about them, the more I begin to see the dawning of a new level of personal interaction.
The purpose behind these services isn’t to alert people of your location, it’s to tell a story about a location. Every time you walk into a special place, like a performing arts venue, a memory is made. You are not the person you were after you’ve walked into one of your special locations.
For a performing arts organization’s patrons, this is a regular experience every time they walk into your performance hall. The hall is your sandbox, and you now have some pretty amazing toys to play with in it. Whether you create photo contests with Instagram or Hipstamatic, or offer discounts to patrons who check in via Gowalla or SCVNGR, you now have the ability, generally for FREE, to create memories and expand your patrons’ experiences beyond the stage and performance.
Performing Arts Online
I want to explore these and other ways the Internet can be used to tell the story of performing arts over the course of this year. I can tell you now, the performing arts groups are not fully utilizing the power of the web to further their mission and vision. My goal, my New Year’s resolution, is to help change that.
I hope this is a first step in the right direction.
Ever clicked on the top link in Google only to find a page that takes For-ev-er to load? Well, that page may not be a top site for long. Google is changing up how they are ranking websites and one of their new pieces of criteria is speed.
Google has recently released an entire sub-site to improve on website speed. The site includes a tools page which highlights among others Page Speed which is Firefox plugin for developers. The also showcase a new report in Webmaster Tools to show how quickly your site loads. Many of these tools give you stats about your site speed as well as suggestions on how to improve it. These suggestions include:
*This website embeds our Twitter feed, which requires an extra DNS lookup and can increase the load time. You will have to decide the importance of similar widgets for your site. We like our Twitter feed and Flickr pics, so we’ll take the small performance hit to keep those. But, we don’t include other widgets from most of our other social media profiles so we can speed up our blog. Finding the right balance for your site may take some testing and tough decisions, but speed is definitely something to keep in mind.
Social Search and Authority
Speed is very important to Google themselves. As the real-time web continues to change minute by minute, Google is beginning to bring some of that data into its results. You may have noticed that Google now displays twitter results at the top of some searches.
The first part of the ranking system is the time of the tweet. Google generally displays the most recent tweets first so searchers will have up-to-the minute results to their queries. This speed combined with link authority shapes how searchers can get the latest Glee news (or other important things of course).
As you can see, this search result shows twitter responses. While the exact science behind choosing tweets is not know, we do know that Google follows a similar model to their search results. Incoming links to a website can raise its ranking, and similarly more followers and incoming links to a Twitter profile can give that Twitterer more authority. There are similar theories out there, but we know that Google is ranking authority somehow.
The Facebook Factor
Google also has agreements with Facebook to bring your status updates and Facebook info to the Search Results as well. Before you freak out, yes, you can keep these things from the search engines using the Privacy features in Facebook. They have a dedicated page for Search Privacy Settings. I have mine set to Everyone, but I understand that may not work for you. Other options include Friends and Networks, Friends of Friends, and Friends Only. From the Search Privacy Settings you can preview your public profile, which will give you an idea of what information Google will see about you (see below).
Google can also use this public Facebook profile to show authority. If you do not have your own website, doing a vanity search may show your Facebook profile as the top result for your name. I have my personal website (JMO), but my Twitter feed and Facebook profile both rank above it because of the authority those sites carry. I urge you to search for your name to see where your social profiles rank.
Tips for you
What steps can you take to insure people find you fast?
For those of us that can’t physically be in California for SMX West head on over the Schipul’s SEM Blog for up to the minute coverage from our very own Jonti Bolles. On top of being our very own nerdy cub reporter she has recently taken over the reigns of our SEM department. I hear the last guy who had that job was a real Canadian if you know what I mean. OK, it was me and yes I hail from the Great White North.