Reviews Are Your Best Marketing Now

Online reviews are useful for business marketing.  The picture represents a good review.Word of Mouth is so much easier since the invention of the internet. The ease comes from social platforms and business listing sites where people are able share interests, likes, and dislikes. The question is how are you making it easy for people to share information? Here some reasons to get motivated in asking for customer reviews.

1) An opinion of a stranger is more trustworthy than your professional opinion. The fact is that people just don’t trust business owners to accurately portray quality of service and products. Your potential customers are more likely to listen to someone who is unbiased and has experienced your business.

2) Search engines like reviews because it authenticates your business listing. If you ever click on a listing you will find that Google aggregates reviews from other sites like Yelp among others. This tells search engines that your listing is accurate and legitimate.

3) Reviews help move your position in local listings. The more comments you have the higher you appear in search results. A review helps Google gauge the relevance of your listing. The more the reviews the more it tells Google this is an accurate listing and pushes you up.

4) Friend reviews are even better! We like reviews from friends the because we trust our friends even more than a stranger. With sharing on the rise it is now easier for people to recommend your service on Facebook, Twitter, or business listings like Yelp.

Reviews may be your best marketing tool. It has more weight with customers than anything else. It effects your position in search rankings and can persuade potential buyers to customers. So ask for reviews and watch new customers buy in to product or services.

So what are you doing with reviews? If a review brings value and more visibility and new customers wouldn’t you want someone to write a review? Are there innovative ways you are getting your people to write a review?

Challenge: Using Facebook for Personal Branding

Facebook Logo and my challenge for personal brandingFacebook has been a huge success of late. I can’t help but notice how natural it is for people to share Facebook even on advertising. Many companies have shown success from a business point of view but I want to see if it can work for me. So here is my test. I will post for 30 days on things that interst me primarily from a marketing perspective. I have also posted a Linkedin Poll to help gauge its usefulness and adoption from a personal brand perspective among professionals. After 30 days of posting I will measure and see if it is successful. I hope to measure success these two ways.

1) At least 1 meaningful professional relationship.
2) Measure Professional Pages use.
3) Measure Website Traffic from Facebook.
4) See how Facebook Pages has effected the search results for terms Derek Hanson and Derek Live.

If you want to take the poll can visit it in the link i provided on Linkedin.

If you are using Facebook in a personal way and are having success I would love to hear from you. Send me a comment and perhaps we can draw from your expertise.

The Commonality of Blogging & Laundry

There are several things in life that I really hate. Based on the title I am sure you can guess one of them. Laundry! Yes, Laundry. No, I do not hate blogging. However, I see some connections between blogging and laundry that will help your blogging strategy.

1) Choose a Day. That’s right. Having a consistent day to blog like doing laundry will get it done. If you hate laundry then having a day to do some will make sure that you have clean clothes to wear. Having a day that you deliver content regularly will help keep your blog smelling fresh, clean, and well pressed. Making a schedule will also help you get it done in a timely manner.

2) Lists. Historically people used to have lists of close they sent out to the dry cleaners and perhaps you still do. Lists also are a good tool because people like lists. If you make a list check it twice and you might have some happy commentators to follow.

3) Wash, Rinse, & Repeat. Refreshing content that is old will help stretch the life of your blog. A simple one rinse cycle isn’t sufficient to keep clothes clean so do it again.

4) Maid service. If you are rich you might hire someone to do your clothes. Similarly, hiring someone to be dedicated to your blog will help the fresh content coming and garnishing those long and short tail words.

5) Wash with like colors. I simply like to think of this as staying on topic. You don’t red clothes in with your white clothes so don’t mix the two. If you mix your blog posts with irrelevant information you might see red as followers leaving in droves.

Using this strategy will help keep your blog up and running. Keeping it short consistent and well maintained will help you deliver results to your site. So start blogging today and you might just learn to like it.

How are you using blogging? In what ways do you keep yourself publishing fresh content?

Foursquare: Think Outside the Box

Foursquare Logo

Foursquare is probably the hottest geotargeting site out there. People check-in to locations and win badges of cities and store fronts. With people volunteering their whereabouts give marketers a picture to what customer buy and travel habits to commonly visited locations. It also allows for businesses to engage in their customers. It is mobile marketing that is free. I wanted to highlight a few uses of Foursquare that were common and some outside of the box uses.

1) The most comment use is for companies to reward their customers for checking into their business locations. The payout comes in the form of the customer winning the mayor of the shop or simply checking in receive something free or a discount. Some companies simply thank their guests for stopping by. Either way it gives a personal touch point for those customers.

2) Cities have started using Foursquare and creating badges for their historical sites or special locations throughout the city. It is like having a city guide to give you an idea of places to go and see. The city, like Chicago, gives locations to visit and as the tourist visits that city badges are awarded for completion. It also gives the city tourism some visibility and feed back about its effectiveness.

3) Companies use it at conferences to engage people. Some companies like Intel have used the medium to award special badges for people who visited different booths selected by Intel. SXSW used it as a scavenger hunt to award tickets to those who visit the most music locations.

4) Nonprofits use it to raise money. P&G has partnered up with some charities to donate money when products are checked- in. Every time a customer checks-in a branded product money is donated to the charity. It is a mutual relationship for both the product company and the charity. The product company gets a touch point for it’s product while the nonprofit gets a donation. The end result for P&G is increased sales.

These tips should help you with creating innovative ways for using Foursquare. I suggest this tool because it offers brand awareness and advocacy. The more visibility your company has the more sales of your product or services.

Are there any ways you have seen Foursquare used not mentioned here?

Choosing a Domain Name

Choosing a good domain name is easier said than done. If you’ve spent any time finding a good name you probably have discover that it is either being used or someone is sitting on that domain (domain parking). To put it simple, domain name purchasing isn’t easy. Here are a few things to help you choose and optimize your domain name for your business and search engines results.

1) Branded names and keyword rich urls.

The natural thing to do in buying a domain name is purchasing your business name. The problem is if you’ve thought it is likely that someone else has also. So there are some things you can do to get you url while keeping your business name.
a. If your business name is short enough add a keyword in your URL. When I worked for jewelry company we included diamonds after our business name and it was helpful in keyword targeted search rankings.
b. If yourname.com is not available then try a dash in the URL like your-website.com.

2) Make use of Thesaurus

a. If you have the opportunity to start a business then sometimes you can consider a name with a thesaurus. If you are past that point then you will want to find something that matches your business name with a product or service that you offer. The thesaurus helps with words you may not have considered.

3) Top Level Domain Names

a. Buy the .com wherever possible and if you want to secure your brand name purchase all .net and .org as well. Buying these additional sites help protect your brand.
b. The reason for purchasing the .com is that it is often the most thought of suffix for website.
c. If you are out side of the U.S. then a country specific domain is the best for your country specific searches. This is good for if you are looking to branch outside of your country.

4) Domain Name Length

a. When choosing a domain remember to keep it simple. The longer it is the more difficult to remember and for potential typing errors. One business I know of has a long domain name and whenever he tells someone they balk at the length of it. If possible find something short and sweet.

5) Keywords in Sub Directories

a. As I mentioned earlier about keywords you will want to consider this in naming your sub directories. A sub directory comes after the top level domain (i.e. .com, .net, ect…). In creating folders you want to make sure that your keywords are included. If it is diamonds add it to the yourwebsite.com/princess-diamonds.html or something similar.

6) Numbers and Misspellings in Domain Names

a. Numbers and misspelling of domains are a tempting choice but often is a mistake. If you include a number it can either be spelled out or just used as a digit. For your customer they may not remember which 1 (or one) to choose from and then necessitates a search if they don’t find the result. Misspellings are also bad because most people don’t think to write it with the misspelling. There are cases where both numbers and misspellings are used but tread carefully. The consequence is lost customers.

Online in 24 Hours or Less

Online in 24 Hours Clock

The internet is an amazing resource for businesses of all sizes. It has the ability to impact ROI in a very short amount of time. Here are few ideas that can get your company visible within 24 hours or less.

1) Local search can get you listed in about 15 minutes. A local search listing that is optimized can even jump to the top of local listings within a very short amount of time. I recently worked on a small business that rose to the top of the 10 pack just after claiming their listing.

2) Social media platforms take minutes to open and optimized for your company. Search engines index social media platforms in real time and will give you results fast. I found that new twitter profiles get indexed quicker than a new domain name. When claiming your social profiles, choose vanity URLs if available and make sure you claim you add unique links to your site.

3) Paid advertising can have you up in about a couple of hours. Google, Yahoo, and Bing all allow you to pay for advertising on keywords relevant to your website. You could appear quicker but doing some keyword analysis will save you money and likely give you a better ROI on your investment.

4) Creating a blog is quick and easy. You can have a site with blog platforms like Typepad, WordPress, and Blogger and it’s free. This won’t have you visible in 24 hours or less in search engines but will help your other mediums like pay-per-click, social media, and local search. You can expect this to change though as Google moves to real time indexing.

With all the free resources getting online is quicker than ever. Tools like social media, local search, and blogs will have you online fast and visible to your key stakeholders. Are you online? Have you found that your company was visible within in 24 hours? Are there other tools that aren’t covered here? Share with us your thoughts and insights.

Decision Process and Content Creation Strategy

Decision Process in Search

If you have taken marketing or business courses then you’ve been introduced to buyer behavior and the decision process. Often times analytics gives a picture of what people are doing on your site. What is also important is getting people to your site. In search optimization it is just as important to look at what people are doing off of your site in order to get them to your site. That is where the decision process is helpful in targeting your audience and creating content based off of it.

Satisfying problem/need recognition will help create content that your audience is searching for. Why does your customer look for your product or service? If you can determine the buying behavior of your customers it will be easier to provide the information they are looking for. So take a moment and do a little research. Luggage, for example, is tied to travel. A simple real time research from Facebook and Twitter shows that people buying luggage are going to travel or have already. That’s intuitive right?
Information Gathering for Buyer Intent

Not exactly because most of these companies aren’t looking at the needs of its consumers except Eagle Creek. (Image 1, Click to view in detail)


Customer Intent Luggage Example
Customer Intent Luggage Example
Customer Intent Luggage Example Customer Intent Luggage Example

What I like about Eagle Creek:

1) They have the destination of consumer in mind. Images of unordinary places with product.
2) During travel the consumer is concerned about size and safety (at check in, on trip, etc…).
3) Consumer has a lot to think about, organize, and watch (Make the trip easier).

Just because Eagle Creek understands this doesn’t mean that they have information gather stage down. Because most people don’t click past the first page in search engines, Eagle Creek loses on the information side of the search. However, it is possible that they don’t do this because their marketing model is a push strategy.

Using keyword research will help you find the right verbiage in the information search. Google’s keyword research tool will give you both a rough idea of what keywords are performed in the information search. The term luggage has over 9 million searches per month. It might be a bit optimistic that a keyword like luggage may be unattainable at 34 million results. So focusing on long tail keywords, like garment bag luggage, with 22 thousand searches and 1.8 million results, will give a better opportunity to reach that first page than a single keyword.

Making use of the buyer intent and information gathering will help your search results. Do little research of your services/products to find out what the needs of your customers are. Then provide relevant content that answers the information gather stage. Keyword research tools give you an insight into the information gathering stage of your target audience. With these two parts in the buying process you will have both more visits and a better click through rate of your customers.

Have I gone off the deep end? Leave a note and tell me what you think. Follow me on Twitter

Content: Made Fresh Daily

Content Made Fresh Daily

You undoubtedly have seen the “Made Fresh Daily” sticker or signage at the grocery store. If you buy the product you expect it to be dated and set to expire today. This gives you a sense that the product is as fresh as possible. In many upscale restaurants, chefs will go to the docks and market to purchase fresh supplies for their kitchens. They want their customers to recognize that they offer the finest ingredients in their recipes. We can learn from this approach of fresh food in search engine ranking.

Search engines love fresh content and so do people. Like fresh food, content can be fresh and relevant and in some cases that information expires daily (i.e. news). People looking for good information related to their needs and turn to search engines. Google and other search engines try to figure out what results best match the intent of the search to return the most relevant information. Search engines then need to figure out when a website has new content. The more you update the content the more often search engines will visit and index your site. Twitter for example, content is updated by the second and as such it is indexed and listed by the second. The more content you offer the more search engines will index your site. Just make sure it is good, fresh, and relevant information.

Tweets That May Change Our Life

Twitter May Change Our Life

Twitter is an interesting tool for sharing and research. Some companies are using it to better engage key stakeholders. Great examples include Comcast and Intel who engage customers who mention them. Some hotels utilize Twitter to watch for trips to areas they are located in. I’ve also heard of an automotive repair shop tweeting to a person who mentioned on Twitter their vehicle was having problems. This then got me thinking about how Twitter could be used. Here is a short list of Twitter ideas that could change the way we do things.

1) Whistling for a Taxi. Why couldn’t we simply tweet “#taxi 5th & Main.” No need to raise your hand or whistle but simply tweet and soon you’re whisked away.

2) Auctions. What if instead of raising your hand during a bid you simply tweeted. 2k for the bidder @dereklive. Can I get 3k?

3) Deals. Flying deals online. Some models like Woot have a deal a day and Amazon has several. What about low priced deals offered only on Twitter in real time. First 100 products sold to those who tweet #awesomedeal.

4) Stock Quotes. Real time stock quotes that tell you stock prices as they happen. I know there is software for this but I could see people using this with a Twitter client.

5) Ordering. Why not order Take Out or Coffee on the go. A local coffee shop could set up a hashtag for people to order. A reply to the tweet will give the customer the idea that their beverage will be ready for them. To keep from getting unwarranted beverage orders simply have specific hours tweeted orders will be received or the customer has to announce they want the service.

6) Reservations. Dinner for two, Friday, at six. @favoriterestaurant

7) Radio. Why not have dual listening contests. The tenth caller receives cd and the 1st tweet #themusicrocks wins. Or they could take Twitter questions in place of phone questions. This gives a greater pool of questions for shows limited by time constraints.

Digital Marketing Goals 2010

My goal for 2010 is to share even more. Because of this goal I have given myself a digital resume. The reason is that within a short few years sharing has nearly become a commodity. You may not even need to create the content but merely disseminate that information. If done well, you may gain followers, friends, and maybe even fans. In fact, the old adage of “I think therefore I am” is being replaced by “I share therefore I am.” Therefore, I am sharing more. I am personally excited for this because I have just uploaded my digital resume on Slideshare.net. In 2010 I plan to continue and adding social media to my sharing venues on :

Google Profiles
Twitter
Linkedin
Flickr
YouTube
Facebook
Slideshare
& Blog

If you have a recommendation of a social platform others ought to consider or have interesting ways you use social media then send me a message.