Powerful Marketing Via Mobile and Web: Use Your Target Audience's Short Attention Span to Your Advantage

Mobile and Web Marketing - Your Audience Has a Short Attention Span!

Checking Email during breakfast? Maybe. Studies show that more people are browsing the Web more often via mobile device. Knowing this, marketers can create successful online content using a rule called "The Bottom Line".

Want to do Powerful Marketing via Mobile and Web? Here’s your target audience summed up in Three Magic Words: Short Attention Span.

Most people don’t read anymore. They skim. You already knew this. But are you applying this knowledge to your marketing efforts every day? Probably not. Instead, when you or your marketing team sets out to build a page of content, you go back to tried and true methods you have been using since high school: You write your Headline or Title (h1 tag), you write your Topic Sentence (or maybe not!), First Paragraph, Second Paragraph, and so on. If you really knock yourself out, you might add an image or a subheading.

Here’s the point (right here on the page you are now reading) where most readers have already decided if they will continue reading or not. If they don’t immediately see the value in what you are saying… Continue reading

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Online Marketing Secrets: Driving Traffic to Your Website is Only the Beginning

Recently I received a question about driving traffic to a website in order to increase sales. Specifically, the question was, what do the “big boys” use to generate sales and leads on their sites? The big boys (and girls) like to use big advertising budgets of anywhere from $100,000 to $1,000,000 or more per month.

Like Online Marketing - Girl Studying Piano Learns Best with Instructor

Want to learn to play the piano? You'll be more successful with an instructor. Online marketing is the same. Hire a consultant if you want to do it right.

They spend this on traditional advertising, of course, like TV, magazines and newspaper ads. Online they spend their budgets on Google AdWords and other pay-per-click advertising, display advertising (graphical ads), search engine optimization, and professional graphic designers and “user experience” designers. They also spend good money on web analytics packages like Omniture, Webtrends, and the new Google Analytics Premium. In addition to their giant advertising budgets, they pay salaried employees and independent consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars per month to plan, implement, manage and…  Continue reading

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Five Keys to Generating New Business with Online Marketing

Internet Marketing Strategy is Essential for Your Business

Recently I gave an online seminar on Five Keys to Generating New Business with Online Marketing. Here’s an outline of what we covered. A video of the seminar will be available soon.

1. Your Value Proposition and Your Business Goals

What is Your Value Proposition?

You need to be able to say what your business does, why people need it, and how it is different from competitors. Use % and $ to make this clear. Continue reading

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Online Marketing & Gamification by Design

How Important is Marketing Gamification to a Robust Online Marketing Plan?

The following is an interview with Gabe Zichermann, author of the new book Gamification by Design. Every marketer needs to stay on top of trends. Gamification is a trend in web and mobile design that is big and getting bigger. My sincere thanks to Gabe for the opportunity to conduct this interview.

Mark McLaren: When I first read the title of your book, Gamification by Design, my reaction was, “Won’t be reading that!” I associated it with online games, “gamers”, massively multiplayer online games. I don’t know. Video games are not my thing. So I thought I wouldn’t be able to relate. But I clearly didn’t know what the word “gamification” meant! Do you have a short and sweet statement for people who think you are talking about gaming or video games or something only kids know about? The importance of gamification for marketers and business decision-makers is hard to overstate.

Gabe Zichermann: The definition I use to help folks better understand the term is this – Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems. We’re not talking about solving the next puzzle or level in a video game, but solving real world problems like how to keep employees engaged and motivated, how to keep customers coming back to your website, and more.
Continue reading

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WordPress PollDaddy Poll – How Do You Use McBuzz.com?

You can create a professional-looking online survey or poll on your WordPress blog – or any website – in about 5 minutes using PollDaddy. You can customize the look and feel of the survey or poll using CSS, or pick from a set of snappy-looking prefab themes.

Polls are great for getting quick feedback from your visitors. And they are so easy to create with PollDaddy, you can start using them immediately.

Let me know if you need help installing the WordPress plugin. On WordPress.com-hosted sites, the plugin is already installed. PollDaddy will work on almost any blog, including Blogger.com, and on any website that allows you to edit the HTML. There are many great features, including the fact that you can export the data from your survey or poll as a spreadsheet or xml file.

Here’s an example:

[polldaddy|1425871]

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AdWords & Pay-Per-Click Tip: Use a Custom Landing Page

When you pay for an AdWords ad, or an ad on the Yahoo or MSN search marketing networks, it’s a good idea to use a custom landing page. What’s the most important feature of a custom landing page? Arguably, it’s that the keyword that triggered the ad appear on the web page the ad takes you to.

This may seem obvious to some readers, but I’m always surprised to find major players in the online marketing space – real estate websites, in particular – that fail to apply basic search marketing techniques – like using custom landing pages with keywords placed in obvious locations.

Here’s an example. The following is a real AdWords ad:

Find a Loft in Seattle WA
Search for Condos & Lofts
Using Seattle’s Top Real Estate Search
www.TheMLSonline.com

This is a well-written ad: compelling, to the point. “Top Real Estate Search” sounds great. If I’m thinking of looking for a loft or condo in Seattle, this ad will catch my eye and might make me click.

But there’s a serious problem: no custom landing page.

Instead of taking me to a page that is set up so that I can easily find a loft or condo in Seattle, I’m taken to the generic home page of The MLS Online Seattle (http://sea.themlsonline.com/home ). The words “loft” or “condo” are nowhere to be found. The word “home” is all over the place. Are “home” and “loft” or “condo” synonymous? No way. Even if they were synonymous, “loft” and “condo” are keywords in the ad, so they should be displayed prominently on the landing page.

Custom Landing Page Not Used by MLS Online
The AdWords ad above takes you to a generic MLS Online home page, not a custom landing page. The appropriate keywords do not appear, and it’s hard to find a loft or condo, which is why you clicked on the ad in the first place.

What’s even worse than the absence of the right keywords is that if I want to search for a loft or condo on this page, I have to scroll down to find and select the right menu options in order to do so. I don’t even see “loft” or “condo” in the menu options. Confusing! I don’t have time for this.

I guarantee that MLS Online is losing visitors immediately from this page because the page is not tailored to the people who are clicking on the ad.

But who has time to make custom landing pages? Well, I found a 4-bed, 5-bath, six-thousand-square-foot condo on this site that’s listed at $13,495,000.00. You would think MLS Online would be willing to spend 30-40 minutes customizing a landing page if it enabled them to sell that puppy!

Of course, one of the real strengths of pay-per-click and related forms of search marketing is that you can measure your results. Is it worth the time it takes to create a custom landing page? Go ahead and create one and send half of those who click on your ad to that page while sending the other half to the generic home page. Now you can use basic analytics software like Google Analytics to find out if people who go to the custom landing page are more likely to “convert” – fill out a contact form to request more information, download a brochure, pick up the phone and call (using a custom 800 number), etc. – or not. Simple as that.

Any good search marketing consultant will tell you that there are about five basic things you need to do to get the most out of your AdWords or Pay-Per-Click advertising dollars. Custom landing pages are near the top of the list.

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Twitter Seminar in Seattle

twitter logoI will be offering a seminar on Twitter in Seattle on September 9, 2008. The seminar is sponsored by Web 2.0 Media Group and taught in partnership with Wayne Bishop, creator of Joint Contact project managment and collaboration software.

Twitter is one of today’s hottest Web 2.0 social media technologies.

Our two-hour seminar will show you:

  • How to get started with Twitter
  • How it works, who is using it and the different ways it’s being used
  • Twitter’s advantages over other types of communication
  • Current trends and what it means for business
  • Using Twitter to make an impact

For more information, see our Introducing Twitter seminar page on Biznik.com.

As a founding member of Web 2.0 Media Group, I’m committed to spreading the word about the Web 2.0 social media / social networking movement through education and collaboration with like-minded folk in the Seattle area and around the globe. Learn more about Web 2.0 Media Group here.

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McBuzz and Mark McLaren on Twitter

twitter logoIf you haven’t done so yet, check out Twitter.

Twitter is a “micro-blogging” tool that allows users to send out short messages that can be read on the Twitter website, or on a desktop program (or “client”) like twhirl, or via text messaging. It also integrates with things like Status Updates on Facebook (in case you were wondering).

Twitter Mark McLaren McBuzzIt’s similar to instant messaging in that you can keep in touch with your friends, but it has a significant advantage over instant messaging because you can follow messages from people you don’t know or haven’t (yet) met – provided they let you do so, which most Twitterers do.

So, for instance, I can follow the “tweets” or short messages of renowned marketing authorities like Guy Kawasaki, or of entrepreneur search marketers like Andy Beal and Danny Sullivan.

Some Twitterers are better sources of useful information than others. Sometimes people just make idle chit chat. Sometimes they share a link to a blog post or story they think is important. But, in general, it’s great to get these folks’ take on what’s going on in the world.

Online marketer Jennifer Laycock calls Twitter “acceptable evesdropping”. And – let’s be honest – who doesn’t like evesdropping?

You can “follow” (connect with) Mark McLaren and McBuzz. Just create a profile on the Twitter website and login to the site, then go to the mcbuzz profile (click here), click on Follow (to connect with McBuzz), and send me a “tweet” (a message) that starts with @mcbuzz, which directs the message to me.

You’ll get the hang of it quickly.

But wait! Twitter does more: just like blogging or LinkedIn or Facebook, it establishes your brand. It can help to establish or strengthen your reputation as an authority in your field. It gives you greater visibility online. (Do a Google search for “mcbuzz” and you find the McBuzz Twitter profile on page one.) And it can create or foster connections between you and other professionals you might not have met.

In short, Twitter has got some serious mojo. It has characteristics that the early World Wide Web and blogging had way, way back… Not long ago, there was a time when it wasn’t clear that those two things had much to do with marketing and communications. And Twitter is more immediate, more concise. In a day and age when twenty-somethings use text messages and Facebook instead of email, and fewer and fewer people take time to read a newspaper, immediate and concise is where you want to be.

Of course, Twitter itself may not necessarily be the tool people are using in a year or two, but the tool (or some part of the tool) we are using then will be a lot like Twitter. Better to get aquainted with the technology now than two years from now.

If you like Twitter, try the desktop client I mentioned, called twhirl. It’s got more features than the Twitter website – just like your desktop email client (Outlook, Thunderbird) has more features than web mail – and it’s easy install and use.

Here’s one success story’s take on why Twitter: Penelope Trunk on Twitter

As webpronews.com puts it, “Anyone with a desire to connect with others in a quick way, while reinforcing one’s name and personal brand, will find [Twitter] useful.”

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Most Popular Search Engine: Google's Share of Search Market Still Three Times Yahoo!'s

The most popular search engine is still Google by a large margin. The latest numbers from Nielsen Online say that Google’s share of the search market is nearly three times Yahoo! or 56.9% to Yahoo!’s 19%.

Here’s an update: According to one report, Google grabbed 69.17 percent of all U.S. searches for the four weeks ending June 28, 2008. Nielsen Online still shows Google at 59% (PDF document).

That’s why, when web marketing professionals talk about optimizing a website for search engines, they mean optimizing for Google. In general, ranking well in Google search results will bring more visitors to your website than ranking well in Yahoo! search results will. And a paid advertisement on a Google search page will typically be seen by more people than a paid advertisement on a Yahoo! search page.

However, more people clicking on your ads and more visitors to your website does not always mean better results. One way to measure results is by the number of “conversions” on your website, that is, the number of visitors doing what you want them to do, like picking up the phone and calling your business. It’s always good to remember that people searching on Yahoo! or MSN.com might be of different demographics than those searching on Google. For every 100 visitors that come to your site from a Google search, you might get one phone call. (Just a hypothetical example.) But for every 100 visitors that come from a Yahoo! search, you might get 5 phone calls. With that information, you may want to advertise more on Yahoo!

Then again, even conversions, like the number of phone calls you get for 100 visitors to your site, are not the final measure of results. What if almost every phone call you got from a Google search resulted in a sale, whereas only a small fraction of the calls you got from a Yahoo! search resulted in a sale? In that case, even though more calls are coming from ads on Yahoo!, it would still be smarter to do most or all of your advertising Google. (Again, these are just hypothetical examples.)

Ultimately, more traffic is good, but more qualified traffic is really what you want, whether it’s from Google or Yahoo! or whatever. And you need to use website traffic tracking software like Google Analytics (which is free and easy to install) to collect this information. Combined with other techniques, such as putting a special 800 number on your website so that you know which inquiries and sales are coming from your site as opposed to through other marketing channels, you can get a good idea of which online marketing channels are working well and which are not.

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Web Marketing Tip #4: Use Keywords in Web Page Titles

Page titles are a critical and often overlooked part of web marketing and search engine optimization. If you have ever tried to find a business on the Web by typing the name of the business into Google or another search engine only to be confronted by dozens of pages that refer to that business — with none of them actually providing a link to the business’s website — then you are familiar with missing or weak page titles.

Many web pages have default values like “Untitled Document” or “New Page 1” as their title. The title displays along the top of your web browser. Few people even notice it. But search engines definitely notice page titles. The title is one of the first places a search engine like Google looks to determine what a web page is about.

Web Marketing Tip - Use Keywords In Page Titles

The page title is one of the first things search engines look at to determine what a web page is about. Many web designers forget or don’t know about the importance of page titles, hence the prevelance of (totally useless) default page titles like “Untitled Document” and “New Page 1”.

If a business’s website does not show up on the first page of results when you type the business name (and the city the business is in if it’s a common name) into a search engine, the business name is probably not in the title of the website’s home page.

If you don’t know how to change your website’s page titles, see Web Marketing Tip #5 (coming soon) or comment on this post and I will get to it right away!

If you are using a website building tool on a service like Register.com or Yahoo! Geocities that makes it difficult to change page titles, then it’s time to get a new hosting setup! Your new customers will thank you.

Web Marketing Tip #4 is “Use Keywords in Web Page Titles” because the name of your business is obviously not the only thing people search for when looking for businesses like yours. If yours is a local brick and mortar business, put your address in the page title of your home page, or at least the city, state and Zip code. If you are the business owner and you want people to find your business’s website when they search for your name — put that in the title as well.

For example, note that “Mark McLaren” is in the title of my McBuzz Communications website home page and my McBuzz Communications blogspot blog. If you Google “mark mclaren”, you will find both sites on page one. (Search results vary from week to week. Right now I’m on page one.)

Don’t use the same title for every page in your site. Tailor page titles to the content of each page. One of the great features of WordPress is that it creates page titles for you automatically. Put keywords in the titles of your posts and they appear in your page titles as well.

If you have a local business in a particular neighborhood, use that neighborhood name in your page titles. In many cases, this will do wonders for your position in search results.

Of course, you want to use keywords in lots of other places besides page titles, but — first things first — page titles are a great place to start.

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