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Search Marketing: Can your marketing team identify your buyer personas?

November 15th, 2013 2 comments

Developing a strategy to identify the personas of your customers can be daunting.

How specific do you get?

More importantly, how do you make these personas real to your marketing team?

In a recent webinar, Jacob Baldwin, Search Engine Marketing Manager, and Christina Brownlee, Director of Marketing Communications, both of One Call Now, discussed the important role of customer personas in an overall conversion strategy.

They identified four different personas applicable to a wide variety of verticals within their target audience: spontaneous, competitive, humanistic and methodical.

In order to make these characteristics identifiable for the team, each trait was assigned a “Star Trek” character: Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty, aptly called the “Spock Project.” 

 

The One Call Now team used an outside consultant to brainstorm different buyer personas.

During brainstorming, the team decided to map out all of their markets using these personas, and they discovered some markets shared personas. For example, McCoy, the humanistic customer, was found in both K-12 education and sports management markets.

 

Assigning customer characteristics to familiar television characters helped the marketing team design webpages and content tailored to each persona.

For example, competitive persona customers are likely more interested in information specific to the bottom line and which product or company offers more than the others.

On the other hand, a humanistic persona is more interested in testimonials and case studies – how the product affects a person after adoption. One Call Now packed each landing page with content that appealed to each of the personas.

In order to appeal to each persona, One Call Now created various types of content and calls-to-action. Although customers all come to the site for the same reason – to purchase a messaging system – the way that various customers decide to buy differs. 

 

For a spontaneous persona, a shiny green “BUY NOW” button beckons. But, for a customer that needs to do more research, testimonials, case studies and requests for a quote are readily available.

Introducing the marketing team to familiar characters helped them think about “How would I sell to Spock, the competitive, as opposed to Kirk, the spontaneous buyer?”

Testimonials and fancy buttons wouldn’t cut it for a buyer labeled as a Scotty, the methodical buyer, as effectively as strong content, numbers and being able to compare features build a better case.

Content development rapidly took off within the organization in order to appeal to different characters.

By generalizing four basic characteristics across the sub-vertical customers, One Call Now developed a strategy to appeal to decision makers in the way that they make decisions. The team is able to expand and fine-tune the way they approach customers on the Web, in a way that speaks directly to them and addresses their concerns.

To learn more about how creating customer profiles can aid your marketing efforts, you can watch the free on-demand MarketingSherpa webinar replay of “Search Marketing: Insights on keyword research and customer personas.”

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Search Marketing: 3 common mistakes marketers make using Google AdWords

May 17th, 2013 2 comments

Through testing with our Research Partners, I’ve discovered a few common mistakes marketers make when crafting paid search campaigns using Google AdWords.

So, in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post, my goal is to provide you with a few fundamentals  to aid  paid search marketing efforts and, hopefully, help you avoid a few pitfalls along the way.

 

Mistake #1: Grouping all keywords into one ad group

Keywords are the heart of your ads and relevance is their soul.

So, if you lump all of your keywords into one ad group, the impact will be some keywords become highly relevant to the ad group while others are not.

This is a common mistake marketers make under the guise that the tactic will boost impressions. It will – but this approach is more expensive and those less relevant keywords that boost impressions are also likely to underperform.

Think of it this way … would you run an ad for plumbing fixtures in People magazine with the expectations that it will perform like an ad for the latest celebrity perfume line?

 

Mistake #2: Not testing ads

Another common mistake marketers make is not testing their ads.

Although testing is something we live and breathe every day at MECLABS, it’s important to understand in digital marketing, there are no sacred cows. Speculation on campaign performance is for the birds – unless you test, you’ll never discover what really works.

So, my suggestion is that you test. With AdWords, having two or more tests running is ideal as there is no other way to effectively benchmark an ad’s performance efficiently.

Read more…

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Search Engine Marketing: Navigating Facebook Graph Search

February 15th, 2013 3 comments

One aspect that makes digital marketing both exciting and challenging is always having something to contend with – such as new social media platforms, new technology and new ways to reach your target audience. Facebook Graph Search is one of the most recent of those digital marketing challenges.

Jonathan Greene, Social Media/Business Intelligence Analyst, MECLABS, said, “Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has defined ‘graph’ as the network of one’s friends, relatives, favorite brands and products.  A ‘graph search’ therefore is a search that leverages one’s ‘graph’ or ‘network’ to provide more interesting, relevant results.”

He added, “The biggest implication for marketers is that Graph Search, if successful in stealing significant market share from Google, will flip SEO on its head. Links will be replaced by ‘likes’ in the SEO hierarchy, and building social capital will be the new optimization strategy for organic search improvement.”

Currently, Facebook Graph Search is only available in limited beta with a significant waiting list for platform-wide adoption.

Although Facebook Graph Search has not rolled out across the entire Facebook ecosystem, it’s certainly worth thinking about for a head start in creating a strategy to meet this new search engine marketing avenue.

To learn more on how marketers should approach Facebook Graph Search, and learn some tips and tactics to share with MarketingSherpa Blog readers, I had the chance to interview two SEM experts: Dan Sturdivant, Account Manager, Speakeasy, and Chairman, DFW Search Engine Marketing Association; and Rob Garner, Principal, Rob Garner Consulting, and author of Search and Social: The Definitive Guide to Real-Time Content Marketing.

 

MarketingSherpa: Marketers have been told Facebook “likes” are much less important than Facebook clicks – to a landing page for example – or converting those “likes” to a database entry for the email list and other purposes. Does Facebook Graph Search change that equation a bit and make “likes” in and of themselves more valuable?

Dan Sturdivant: Yes, the equation changes with Graph Search; the importance of “likes” will be greatly increased. [For] some businesses, local retail in particular and restaurants especially, this is critical. Consumers will use Graph Search to research companies and services.  Businesses “liked” by their friends will reinforce an immediate connection with that business.

Taking that further, engaging consumers, asking them to “like” the page is important and then engaging them through a newsletter or other marketing tactic and pushing them back to the Facebook page is critical.

That last part is a big change, as well. It used to be you would want to drive folks back to your website, and while it goes against the “digital sharecropper” concept, driving people back to the company’s Facebook page is a good idea.

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PPC Advertising: How to track AdWords and Facebook ads in 5 steps

If you struggle with tracking and measuring the performance of your AdWords or Facebook pay-per-click ads, this blog post is for you.

It’s clear that each product, service or campaign — whether on your site’s landing page or Facebook page — should have multiple ads created to test what appeals to your audience (what they click on). Even better, you should be eliminating the underperforming ad versions and spending the budget on the winners.

It’s easy to create an ad that triggers curiosity and gets the viewer to click, but that is something you can practice when paying for impressions, not clicks. While creating your ads, think why somebody who sees it would click and find your offer/service attractive.

You can play with variations of the subject line, copy and images (for Facebook ads) to test the different combinations; however, the success metric should not be clickthrough but rather conversions on your landing page.

After all, you’re paying Google and Facebook for clicks, but customers only pay you when you earn a conversion.

So, whether the goal action of your customer is a lead or purchase, follow these five easy steps to start measuring your ads’ performance today:

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7 Signs That You’re Overvaluing Search Engine Optimization

April 3rd, 2012 8 comments

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become such a giant buzzword, that even my non-marketing friends and family members discuss it. It seems that every person I interview for one of our job openings is an “SEO expert.” And I now see Danny Seo all over TV.

Jokes aside, let’s take a look at some research …

 

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According to Jen Doyle’s research for the MarketingSherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, 29% of B2B marketers consider search engine optimization to be very effective — more than email marketing, content marketing, and most noticeably, paid search.

But could that be a problem? It is human nature to overemphasize something that we think works well. (The minute someone tells me I’m funny – watch out! I’ll come up with every joke I can think of, and they’ll just keep getting worse.) And also, if we overvalue our investment in any one tactic, of course it will be more effective than the ones we’ve shunned.

With so much focus on SEO from every marketing blog on the Google-powered Web, I thought it might be worth your while to question if you’re overvaluing SEO.

So put the Google Keyword Tool down for just a minute, and for a contrarian viewpoint, see if any of these seven reasons that you’re a little too obsessed with search engine optimization / SEO / organic search / natural search / search marketing resonate with you:

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Content Marketing and SEO: The world doesn’t need another blog post

February 23rd, 2012 7 comments

What is the most powerful way to improve your search engine optimization?

“Content creation works the best, but takes the most work,” Kaci Bower, Research Analyst, MECLABS, said. Take a look at the data from Kaci’s research in the MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition.

 

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“Content creation stands apart in the cluster of tactics, both for its difficulty and its effectiveness. Good content creates buzz and attracts links,” Kaci said. “For this reason, marketers who commit to the effort required in creating quality content can improve their SEO positions.”

 

So what makes good and effective content?

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked by marketers. Keep in mind, mine is a skewed sample. If I made plumbing fixtures, I would probably always get asked, “What makes good and effective plumbing fixtures?”

So I was very interested by Kaci’s data that, yes, marketers really do struggle with this. I’ve noticed that, when they become aware of this opportunity, marketers tend to fall in the same common trap — they focus on things, like blog posts or Facebook pages.

Instead, let me suggest you …

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Search Marketing: Optimize social media, images, video and everything else

November 8th, 2011 6 comments

Search engine marketers have based entire careers on improving rankings. They fight tooth and nail to reach the top of the page, win more traffic, and push all their competitors down a notch.

But what if you could get more traffic by pushing your competitors down a few more notches? Or pushing them down on more keywords? By focusing on universal search, you can do just that.

Search engines do not strictly deliver links to webpages anymore. They deliver links to images, videos, products, news and more. This is called “universal search.” Just check out the results from this recent Bing search for “storage shed.”

 

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This page links to five different types of content. If you become a master at creating and search-optimizing this content, then you can claim not just higher rankings — but more rankings.

Here are some key categories of content and tactics pulled from MarketingSherpa research: Read more…

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Search and Email Marketing: Why these channels dominate

October 4th, 2011 No comments

I always start an interview with general questions. I ask about the company, the marketer’s role, and the company’s marketing in general. It helps frame the case study or tactics we’re about to cover.

I sometimes ask, “What are your top marketing channels?” This helps me understand the team’s priorities. Some say ‘catalogs’ or ‘telesales,’ but the two channels I most often hear are email marketing and search.

Again and again, marketers say one or both of these channels are the primary drivers of their success. That got me thinking about the similarities between email and search engine optimization (SEO)/pay-per-click (PPC). I came up with three: Read more…

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Google as a Grocery Store: Use SEO and search engine marketing in tandem to boost lead generation

September 13th, 2011 No comments

The week before last, I attended Dreamforce, along with more than 45,000 marketing and sales professionals, as a guest of HubSpot. I’m still sorting through all of the notes and information I gathered that week.

One breakout session I found interesting, and thought you might too, was on using SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) tactics to improve lead volume, and featured Todd Friesen, Director of SEO, Performics, and Bill Leake, CEO, Apogee Results.

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Search Engine Marketing: Taking advantage of local search and local business listings

August 16th, 2011 6 comments

It’s a pretty safe bet that everyone understands the importance of search engine optimization for global search. But local SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) is something of a different story. Did you know Google estimates 20 percent of all searches now have a local intent? Have you taken any steps to address this shift in search behavior? If not, you are not alone.

While looking through the MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition, I found this interesting chart:

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This is from the report:

Forty-three percent of organizations consider local search a critical or important factor for achieving search marketing objectives. Individuals and businesses are increasingly looking to local listings for shopping, restaurants, services, vendors and more. For these reasons (among others), appearing in local search results, which are listed at the top of the SERPs, can help a business stand apart from its competition.

What really stands out to me is that more than one quarter of the marketers we surveyed described local search as “not important” for search marketing objectives. That’s not even asking where local search fits into overall marketing objectives, just within SEM. To my mind, that is a large percentage of marketers overlooking a potentially lucrative area of search. Read more…

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