Archive for Uncategorized

Speed Up Your Website and Improve Your Rankings

get more speed

No one likes to wait for a slow web page to load. And since Google likes to focus on pleasing their customers (searchers), the speed of your website can effect your ability to rank well in search results.

Google PageSpeed Insights is a free web page analysis service that can help you identify your slow loading pages and provide you with recommendations on how to speed it up. You can access the service through the PageSpeed Insights page or you can install the Google Chrome and Firefox browser extension.

Getting started is easy – simply enter the URL of the page you wish to analyze and click “Analyze”. In this post, I’m using the popular TechCrunch home page as an example. Here is the summary page that comes up after clicking Analyze:

pagespeed-insights-summary

(click on the image for a larger version)

The first item you see is an overall score – 91 out of 100 in this case. This reflects how much faster the page “could be”, so this page is fairly well optimized.

The next section, Suggestions Summary, displays a prioritized list of, you guessed it, suggestions for improving the pages speed. Details about the suggestion can be found by clicking on a hyperlink in the summary section, or in the list that appears in the left hand column.

pagespeed-insights-priority

The default suggestions are geared for a desktop searchers experience. You can also get suggestions for mobile search by clicking on the button at the top right corner of the page:

pagespeed-insights-mobile

So what does all of this mean for the small business owner?

Keep in mind that this is a tool for developers, so don’t feel bad if the suggestions sound like Greek. Share this tool with your website developer and review the high priority suggestions first. Remember that your overall score gives you an indication of how much faster your page could be. While you would certainly want to improve on a 50 out of 100 score, it may not make sense (depending on your business) to spend a lot of money trying to improve a 93 out of 100 score.

If you don’t have a web developer to help you or if you have questions about items on your analysis page, feel free to contact me.

5 Types of Marketing Content that Educates

Content marketing is hot topic these days. Content is essential for small business marketers looking to move from the old, interruption based methods of marketing to the modern marketing methods that revolve around inbound marketing and other methods that strive to be found by potential customers when they are ready to buy.

We typically talk about two broad areas of content – content that builds trust and content that educates. Content that educates is content that helps your prospective customers learn about your unique approach to solving their problem. Your educational content is also where you can share your story and information about your organization. Here are 5 broad types of content your can use to deliver your educational marketing materials.

1. Seminars / Webinars

Presentations, webinars and seminars are a great way to provide prospects with the information they want. Recording your presentation and making it available on demand it a great way to expand your reach and help your prospective customers learn when they are ready to learn.

2. FAQs

You probably have a standard set of questions that you hear over and over again on sales calls or when beginning to work with a new customer. Writing those FAQs down and sharing them on your website or in your marketing kit not only provides valuable information, but often helps prospects achieve the level of comfort they need in order to begin having a sales conversation. FAQs also make for great training materials when it comes time to add another salesperson to your staff.

3. Success Stories / Case Studies

Prospects want to know that you have helped other people like them. Case studies and success stories are a great way to demonstrate this as well as demonstrating the many different ways you can help.

4. Point of View Whitepaper or eBook

While the eBook format is quickly replacing the whitepaper, both can be used to dive into detail about what makes your firm different, what your unique approach is, and why you do what you do.

5. Survey Data

Many businesses differentiate themselves by specializing in a particular industry and/or niche. Collecting, summarizing, and interpreting industry specific data is a great way to establish yourself as the go-to firm in your area of expertise. People want to know how their competitors and peers are handling the issues they face. Conducting these types of surveys will also give you a competitive advantage by keeping you in close touch with the needs of the marketplace.

Those are only a few ways to deliver marketing content that educates. Share your favorite vehicles and techniques in the comments below.

Creating a Total Online Presence

creating a total online presence ebookIt wasn’t that long ago that when we talked about small businesses having an online presence, we were just referring to having a website. With the explosion of social media and other internet technologies, having a website is quickly becoming the bare minimum for businesses who want to have an effective online presence.

There are many moving parts to a modern online presence and sometimes it can be a challenge to get your arms around all of them. To help, John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, has put together a helpful guide, 7 Essential Stages of a Total Online Presence.

This guide outlines what small businesses need to know, how to go about building it, and helpful tools for creating your total online presence. The 7 stages outlined in the guide are:

  1. Content Platform
  2. Organic SEO
  3. Email Marketing
  4. Social Media Marketing
  5. Online Advertising
  6. Mobile and Location
  7. Analytics and Conversion

Your online presence is your key to success no matter what your business sells, even if all of your transactions are done face-to-face.

Whether you are a “do-it-yourself-er” or just want to know enough to make good outsourcing decisions, I think you will find this to be a practical guide.

Grab your free copy of the 7 Essential Stages of a Total Online Presence here.

4 Steps to Lead Nurturing Success

Feeding a Baby RobinLead nurturing is an important component in small business marketing, particularly for B2B companies. Since most of your potential customers will not be ready to buy when you first meet them, or they first find you on the internet, it is important to achieve and maintain top of mind status so that when they are ready to buy the will remember you.

Before you jump right in and start creating a lead nurturing campaign, set yourself up for success by considering these factors first.

Define Your Ideal Customer

We always begin discussions about marketing by emphasizing the importance of understanding your ideal customer. This understanding needs to go further than high level, demographic information like industry, revenue (or income), and location. You also need to understand your customers buying process – the stages they go through when making a purchasing decision along with the information they typically need to move from one stage to the next.

Understand Their Motivation

More than likely, your ideal customer didn’t wake up this morning and think “I’ve never bought an estate plan before, I think I’ll try that today.”. No one wants to buy software or insurance. People do want to move away from pain, towards pleasure, and they want to achieve their goals. Where do your products and services fit into that picture?

Map Out Your Marketing Hourglass

The marketing hourglass is a great tool to map out the process of moving your customers through the stages of know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer. Use the hourglass to identify any gaps you have in your marketing system and use it as a map for defining your lead (and customer) nurturing programs.

Automate Your Communications

I’ve always believed that technology should free us from doing the repetitive work so we can do more value added work. See if you can apply this idea to your lead nurturing program – once you have automated the “routine” communications, think about the extra things you can do that really add value.

Nurturing isn’t just for prospects, nurture your customers as well. An automated “welcome campaign” is a great place to get started. Consider sending elements from your new customer kit via an automated campaign rather than dumping everything on a new customer at once.

Keep in mind that automation may be automatically sending a message, but it may also mean automatically reminding you that it is time to get in touch (i.e. pick up the phone) as well.

Lead nurturing is essential component of a fully functioning small business marketing system. Lay the groundwork for your nurturing program using the tips above and grow your business.

Got a favorite lead nurturing tip? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear it.

Photo credit - TPapi on Flickr

Characteristics of Effective Lead Magnets

effective lead magnets for attracting prospectsCreating effective lead magnets, offers that attract leads and get them to submit their contact information, are a staple of modern marketing. Lead magnets go by many names – bait pieces, opt-ins, sign up forms, subscriptions, free trials, etc. No matter what you call them, there are certain fundamentals that will help you increase your odds of getting people to trade their contact information for your offer. Here are some of the characteristics that effective lead magnets share:

A quick note, for purposes of this post, “lead magnet” refers to the form (or page) that a visitor interacts with when they view your offer.

The Offer - this is thing of value that you are trying to convince someone to “purchase” by exchanging their contact information. Reread that last sentence – it’s not free, it’s a purchase. Your “thing” can be a special report, an eBook, access to a free trial, etc. In order to be effective, your offer must be perceived as being valuable by prospects who meet your ideal customer profile who are in the early stages of their buying process. That statement implies that you developed an ideal customer profile and have taken the time to understand the process they go through when making a purchase – both prerequisites to publishing a lead magnet.

Call to Action - your lead magnet should contain single, clear, concise, and easy to complete call to action. The call to action is usually stated in the headline and the text of the button on the web form. While “submit” is a commonly seen button label, it is not an effective call to action. Rather than asking visitors to bend to your will, try to answer the question “what do I get?”. Answers like “Get your free report”, “Get instant access”, or “Watch Your Free Video” tend to be more effective calls to action.

“Easy to complete” includes limiting the amount of information you ask for as part of the exchange. Do you really need the fax number from a first time visitor? Is your free report worth the answering the 12 questions (all required) you are requesting as your purchase price?

Sets Expectations for follow up - Letting people know up front how often you plan to contact them and what you will be contacting them about will help 1) reduce fears related what you will be doing with their contact information and 2) reduce the risk that you follow up messages will be flagged as spam by the recipient. Setting expectations about the next step(s) in your marketing and sales processes is always a good idea.

Captures both demographic and psychographic information

Most lead magnets ask for demographic information (location, industry, company size, etc.) as part of the exchange for a lead magnet. Collecting demographic information can help you determine how well visitors match your ideal customer profile and where they are in their buying process.

Lead magnets can also help you capture psychographic information – information that indicates how your visitors think, what they value, and their interests. Psychographic information can be gathered explicitly through questions on your forms. They can also be gathered by recording behaviors that a a visitor exhibits, i.e., they downloaded a certain white paper, or attended a webinar on a specific subject.

Balancing data gathering with “easy to complete”

How do we gather all of this demographic and psychographic information without creating opt-in forms that violate our principle of keeping forms short and easy to complete? By having a system for steadily observing, collecting, and recording this information over time. Marketers like to call this progressive profiling.

Using progressive profiling, you may only ask for a name and email address during the initial exchange. In subsequent offers you ask for additional information such as title, geographic location, industry, etc. Your follow up email messages can provide choices that help you determine the interests of your prospect. While progressive profiling is often associated with marketing automation software, you can apply this strategy with strong listening skills and a good customer database.

Work to build these characteristics into your lead magnets and start converting more visitors into leads.

Duct Tape Marketing Featured at the ASCLA’s President’s Program

covershott

John Jantsch, the found of Duct Tape Marketing, will be the featured speaker at the 2012 Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) President’s Program in Anaheim at ALA’s Annual Conference.

John will be sharing his thoughts on how to apply the ideas he outlined in his books  Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide and The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself to libraries.

The first 200 to attend will receive a free copy of the revised edition of Duct Tape Marketing.

More information for this event can be found on the ASCLA Blog

Google+ Redesigned Interface

Have you noticed the changes to the look and feel of your Google+ account? Last week, Google announced on the roll out a redesign which they believe will allow users to create a more customized experience on Google+.

New features include customizing apps and the navigation bar as well as adding more flexibility to profile pages and pictures. There is also a new Explore page that you can use to find out what others think is interesting and trending across the site.

I like the changes. In my opinion Google has done a lot lately to make sure that their user interfaces are clean and simple – allowing you to focus on easily accomplishing your tasks.  I think this latest update does is right in step with that design philosophy.

Personally, I didn’t see the need to change the profile page to mimic Facebook’s Timeline, but that probably not a big deal. You may want to check your profile picture. In most cases, the default is to enlarge your old profile picture so chances are is has a pixelated look.

The chat list that puts friends front and center on your page, which is nice. The static menu icons at the top have been replaced with a ribbon  on the left. The ribbon allows you to drag and drop to rearrange the order. You can also hover over icons to select from a set of quick actions.

What do you think about the new design?

Create Professional Business Plans with LivePlan

[Quick disclosure – Palo Alto Software, the makers of LivePlan, also make Marketing Plan Pro powered by Duct Tape Marketing, which I re-sell as part of my business. I don’t sell LivePlan or make any money from LivePlan – I just like the folks at Palo Alto and think they make great products]

Our friends at Palo Alto software continue to work on making it easier for business owners to create and maintain professional business plans with their latest offering, LivePlan.

Live plan is delivered as a web application, so rather than having to buy and install software on your computer, you can access your business plan from any computer with an internet connection. No more worrying about whether you have Mac or PC compatible software.

Another great benefit of being web based, one which I think is particularly important for business planning, is it makes collaboration much easier. You work with your peers, employees, and advisors all in one place. No more sending plans back and forth via email and wasting time making sure you have the latest version. LivePlan allows you to set various permission levels, so you can control who sees what.

You can also add as many guests (people who can read but not edit the plan) as you like for free. Guests do not count as a user for licensing purposes. Invitations can even be sent from your smartphone, so you can invite your advisors on the fly.

Just like Business Plan Pro, LivePlan comes with hundreds of sample plans that you can use as a starting point for creating your own plan.

The basic subscription is $19.95/mo which includes 2 users and 3 active plans. Updgrade options are available if you need additional users and/or active plans.

Here is a short video overview of LivePlan

For more information, visit the LivePlan website.

5 Questions With WildBlue LLC

wildblue

It has been a while since I’ve had a “5 Questions With” post, so today’s has 5 + 1 questions with Chris Kirk, owner of WildBlue LLC. Based in Platte City, MO, the folks at WildBlue help aircraft buyers and sellers worldwide close deals faster.

Make sure you don’t miss Chris’ answer to question #4, it’s not your typical answer but I think it’s a gem.

1. What do you (really) do for a living? – We’re a marketing company that brings together airplane buyers and sellers.

2. What makes you different from others in your industry? – Two things. First, Our focus on giving back to our industry via programs like “Flying Money”, “GAWins!”, and our WildBlue Foundation fund.

Secondly, our system is based on clear, consistent, and reliable communications. In other words, our “Blue Sky” system keeps buyers and sellers out of the dark, stops wasting their time, and helps them make more effective decisions.

3. Who is your ideal customer? – Our ideal clients are typically active or retired business owners, entrepreneurs, upper level executives or professionals. They normally use their airplanes for business and personal reasons and often fly the planes themselves. They use other professionals in their daily lives and appreciate the value that a professional aircraft salesperson brings to the table. They are able to delegate and value the input from their advisors when making decisions. They maintain their airplanes to high standards and demand high standards from others. They are decision-makers and are often active in aircraft owners associations. A WildBlue client knows precisely what his time is worth and will eagerly refer our services to others for a job well done.

4. What has been your most effective marketing strategy to date? – Calling people back and providing them with consistent and clear communications. I’m always surprised at how many people tell me we were the only ones to call them back.

5. I would be more effective at marketing my business if… – I had more time and money LOL. Realistically, I’d be more effective if I felt more comfortable and committed myself more to networking functions.

6. Tell me a little bit about the charities you support – Owner’s associations that support the individual aircraft owner, aviation safety groups, and charities that support individuals in need through the use of free air travel.

Simon Sinek on Why People Take Action

Here is the video I mentioned in my previous post about communicating your remarkable difference. (hat tip to Michelle Golden for sharing this on Facebook)