Which content works on Facebook?

This fantastic infographic from Vi Knallgrau GmbH, and agency for new media in Vienna, sheds some light on what types of content and strategies work best for brands on Facebook.  

The infographic is based on a for week study of Facebook posts from 50 Consumer Brands and 50 Retail Brands in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Due to the fact that the study is contained to a specific region, it’s unlikely that every single data point will resonate with your own brand, but we think it is pretty universal food for thought!

 

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Want a second opinion on your content marketing strategy?

Contact Managing Director, Steve Ballantyne at: steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Or check out our ebook, The Superheroes of Digital Marketing.  We’ve got an entire chapter dedicated to content marketing!

5 rookie mistakes in content marketing (and how to fix them)

Content marketing isn’t hard, but it isn’t exactly easy either.  We can’t just blindly whip together some content ideas, throw them into the Internet oven and expect it to come out as a content marketing soufflé.  Without proper considerations and strategy, all our hard work is going to collapse in on itself.

Like anything else, content marketing takes continuous trial and error, and a fair few mistakes along the way. So without further ado, here are our “Top 5 Rookie Content Marketing Mistakes” and some quick tips on how to fix them.

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1.)    Your content is too branded

Overly branded content looks like a traditional advertisement and thus, will be responded too like a traditional advertisement – like you are trying to sell rather than to engage your audience.

Fix: Form ideas around the overall values and objectives of your company, not the brand itself.  Content that is presented in a natural way is far more likely to be well received.  This doesn’t mean you must omit any essence of your brand, just be subtle.

2.)    You don’t have a strategy

We’ve all been there – devoted time and energy into creating a fantastic piece of content, only to realise…you have no idea what to do with it.  To get the most out of your content marketing programme and actually build your brand, engage your prospects and customers and drive sales, you need more than activity. You need a strategy.

Fix: Take the time to understand your audience, develop clear conversion goals and decide what types of content to create.  From here, you can develop a content map or matrix for all the possible distribution tactics you can use, and tier them based on content.

3.)    You’re not getting your audience involved

Content marketing is not a one-way stream of conversation.  Don’t talk at your audience, make it an interactive conversation.  It will open doors for new customers.

Fix: Craft content that is interactive – allow audiences to click, explore and participate.  Comments and other means of feedback can allow your potential customers to interact with your content and feel more connected to it.

4.)    You’ve got the facts, but where’s the emotion?

Content isn’t all about teaching and informing; it’s about connecting and experiencing.  Content that is both memorable and impactful taps into the thing that brings us together in real life – emotions that ignite empathy.

Fix:  Think of your content as a story.  What does the information actually mean to your audience and how can you express that?  Let your content evoke an emotional response.

5.)    Listen to the data – not your gut

Content marketers who have a comprehensive knowledge of their target audience often create content that they personally think is best without considering any outside sources.  One of the most importance sources being data.

Fix: By data, I mean your performance metrics.  The ones that tell you which pieces of content are being shared and which ones are being ignored.  Rather than to assume what your audience likes, know what they like based on the information you’ve collected.

Content Marketing is a hugely effective method of increasing ROI and overall customer engagement. If you’re making any of the mistakes above, now is the time to improve your process.

Talk to Managing Director, Steve Ballantyne for an audit on your content marketing strategy: steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Or you can check out our ebook, The Superheroes of Digital Marketing, which features an entire chapter on content.

What is liquid content and can it work for SMBs?

A few years back, Wendy Clark, head of Integrated Marketing Communications and Capabilities at Coca-Cola gave some insight into the brand’s new and, somewhat surprising, approach to cross-media marketing.

For more than 100 years, Coca-Cola has been one of the world’s leaders in what they call “one-way storytelling,” which is what you and I call an advertisement.  But brands can no longer buy their way into greatness anymore, and Coke knows that.  And while they may have one of the world’s biggest brands, with a billion dollar budget, Coca-Cola adopted a strategy that is quickly becoming the most important tool for smaller businesses – content marketing.

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“Liquid and linked” is the phrase Coke’s marketing team is using to describe its cross-media content strategy.  First, let’s talk about the “liquid” aspect.  Liquid content may be described as memorable or significant content which people are highly motivated to share via social networks.  This could be an article, image or video – anything that is contagious enough to be shared outside your own circle of influence.

One benefit of viral sharing is the fact that it will include the ‘conversations’ that surround the liquid content, which enhances customer engagement and promotes interest as a diversity of ideas emerge as participation builds.

The “linked” part of this strategy refers to the fact that no matter which media is used, it remains close to the heart of the underlying business goals of a brand.  After all, there is no point watching content go viral if it offers little or no sales increase of your product.

I think it’s safe to say that none of us have the same resources or budget as Coca-Cola, and we may not be able to produce content that consistently goes viral, but SMBs can still learn quite a bit from the “liquid and linked” strategy.

There’s not too much difference between average content and good content; there’s not even that much difference between good content and great content.  But there’s a substantial difference between remarkable content and the rest.  Remarkable content is what will go viral, and viral content will bring you amazing results and drive conversions.  No one knows for sure which bit of content will go viral, and not every piece will.

You don’t need an endless budget to create something special and works alongside your company goals.  Think outside of the box and get creative.  You will be rewarded with social shares and links, which will boost your visibility in the search engines, and potentially, sales.

 

 If you’d like to talk about how to improve your content marketing strategy, talk to Marketing Director, Steve Ballantyne today.  steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Or download our ebook, The Superheroes of Digital Marketing.

Thinking small in content marketing

This is typical:  you expend a lot of energy into a chunky piece of marketing content – then retire it, move on and start working on the next piece.  When you do that, not only are you leaving a lot of content value behind, but wasting a real opportunity to get more bang for just a little more work.

“Atomising” is a term coined by Todd Defren in 2008 to mean “sharing content in small bits.”

Breaking your content down into smaller, more consumable pieces is not only more appetising to your already-to-busy customer base, but will feed your business’ content pipeline and increase overall impact.

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We have to disavow ourselves of the natural inclination towards a “bigger is better” mentality, and here’s some excellent reasons why:

 5 reasons to atomise your big idea

       1. Atomised content is more searchable

Breaking your content up into snack-able portions puts more bait in the water to attract your most important customer – Google.  Producing disparate pieces of content gives you the opportunity to highlight a wider number of search terms, cross-link your content and increase your total number of ranked pages.

       2. Atomised content is more findable

This is especially true when you repurpose your content and atomise it.  Think about it; what will get more exposure for your company?  A blog post, or a blog post plus a Slideshare presentation?  Every presentation you make should also be able to be found as a blog post.  And every blog post you write has untapped potential to become a presentation!

       3. Atomised content gets consumed more

In a social media dominated world, where 140 characters equals a fully-formed thought, what is going to get consumed more? A 90-second video or a 25-page ebook?  Social media and content marketing trends are shifting toward brevity anda “show me, don’t tell me” mentality.

       4. Atomised content gets spread more

The potential for small content to go viral supersedes large content in almost every case.  And it’s easy to see why.  We are far more likely to recommend or share something that we have actually read.  But it’s also a case of simple maths – if you have a fantastic ebook, it’s going to get shared, but if you break that same ebook up into episodic sections, the collective shares for those components will be higher.

       5. Atomised content generates more leads

Thinking small in content marketing gives you more opportunities to include CTAs.  For instance, a 5-piece series gives you 500% more calls-to-action than one giant volume of work.  Additionally, the smaller your content, the fewer words, pictures and other content elements compete against your CTAs, which could provide additional attention and conversions.

The next time you are brainstorming a content execution for your brand, think about how you can take that idea and turn it into two, or four, and so on.  That’s thinking small.

Want to find out more about how you can optimise your content marketing strategy?  Get in touch.  Talk to Marketing Director, Steve Ballantyne:  steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz 

 

Visual content marketing: The proof is in the percentages

This year, according to research by eMarketer, it is estimated that some $134.7 billion will be spent on content marketing. 

Meanwhile, international market research pro, Mintel, has predicted double digit growth for content marketing in the next five years.  With this ever-increasing spend, it’s vital that you are getting the most out of your budget.

You’ve got to give your users what they want.  It starts with giving them content that they will actually take the time to consume, and wall-to-wall text, is not the answer.  Messages get weighed down and hidden in excessive quantities of text, but images are understood at a glace.  So forget your whitepapers, let’s get visual.

Visual content shows your products without telling people about them.  Images break through the clutter of online content by communicating ideas quickly, like a snapshot. They also evoke emotional responses.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the stats below.  Our infographic shows how visual content marketing can be advantageous to your brand.

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Visual content marketing is set to dominate 2014.  People simply respond better to images, it all comes down to our natural learning style and how we retain information.  Have you tested visual content v. written content for your brand yet?

If you want to find out more about how content marketing will work for your business, check out our ebook: The Superheroes of Digital Marketing!

The essentials of content marketing

Engaging today’s business buyers is no easy feat.  Not only do the messages you send out need to be personalised and relevant to the challenges your audience faces, but the content you produce must be actionable – letting your buyers know what the next step in the process is and where they can go to find more information.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, you have to create content that people actually want to read.

Successful marketers produce informative content, personalise it and deliver it to specific leads throughout every phase of the buying cycle.  Content needs to not only showcase your expertise, knowledge and thought-leadership, but address the challenges and concerns of your buyers.

The best content will enlighten prospects, facilitate the buying process and lay the foundations for an ongoing conversation.

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Produce some eye-catching original content

When you are considering what to feature as your content marketing strategy, remember that your messaging is not limited to articles and whitepapers.  Think videos, webinars, microsites, infographics, ebooks and apps.  Or set your content apart with a more unique tactic – a video game, movie or cartoon.  There’s no end to the ways to interact with your brand; just be clear about who you are creating content for and what purpose it serves.

Curate content to fill the gaps

The average sales cycle for a B2B technology purchase can take up to five months and involve as many as seven people, each of which will be consuming multiple pieces of content during their journey.  You probably have a thousand ideas on how to reach each of these buyers, but is your budget going to cover them all?

Curating content isn’t stealing; in fact, it’s a respected social practice.  It will help you fill the gaps between original content ideas and will take some of the pressure off your budget.  But don’t run the risk of landing yourself in hot water, make sure you credit the source.

Promote your content

Now that you have some brilliantly worded original content and a catalogue of curated content, how do you promote it?  How will you get the word out and ensure the right people see it and share it?

There are three promotional techniques to advertise your content:  Owned, Earned and Paid.

  • Owned media is when you leverage a channel you create and control.  This could be your company blog, YouTube channel, website and Facebook page.  This is your chance to make the most of what you’ve got – but make sure your buyers stay front and center.  And think about the devices your buyers use to connect with you – desktop, mobile, tablet?  We strongly suggest responsive design to cover all your bases.
  • Earned media is when customers, press and public share your content and discuss your brand.  Every B2B marketer should be involved in the social media that matter to their customers, and the content you produce should be repurposed to suit each channel.
  • Paid media is when you pay to have third-party channel distribute your message.  This includes advertisements, paying for media coverage or distributing press releases on paid sites.  The hard part, however, is sifting through the options and keeping track of what is and isn’t working.  If you’re buying display advertising, experiment with design and calls-to-action.  If it’s pay-per-click (PPC), change up keywords and search terms.  Advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn?  Target different user interests, groups or job titles.  Find out what works for your audience, but bear in mind that people generally put more trust into non-paid channels, so set your expectations accordingly.

Last but not least, make sure your content is easy to find.  You could have the most compelling blog, the greatest website and the most informative articles, but it’s all for naught if no one can find it.  Keep a consistent look and feel across your content as well; you don’t want your webinar and looking like it came from a completely different company than the ebook!

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be exploring the pertinence of content marketing to any company’s marketing strategy.  Check back in each week as we delve deeper into this topic and find out how you can improve your own efforts and strategies.

In the meantime, you can check out our ebook: The Superheroes of B2B Marketing!

Why marketing automation should be part of your marketing strategy

My BT office is in downtown Auckland.  I’m an avid tramper and my favourite outdoor clothing brands all have stores temptingly close to our building.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

With the warmest June on record, retailers went into panic mode and started their winter sales early.  I needed a new water-proof tramping jacket but I only had a short break before my next client meeting, so I dashed across the road to Macpac.

It was their BIG sale and the shop was full.  The sales rep recognised me and greeted me with a wave.  He watched me head straight to the Gore-tex jackets, make a selection and bring it to the counter, eyeing my watch.  Reading the signals, he politely asked the Scandinavian couple ahead of me if he could serve me first.  They turned to the flustered ‘suit guy’ and shrugged, “Sure, why not.”

The sale was made and I was back in my office in less than 15 minutes.  If it hadn’t been for the sales rep’s keen eye, I could have been left waiting, growing impatient and leaving without making a purchase.

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Marketing automation should be like an experienced, intuitive sales person on a macro level

The biggest misconception is what the term “marketing automation” actually means.  Clever marketing automation, B2B or B2C, should be like an experienced sales person on a macro level.  Don’t think of automation tools as “set-and-forget.”  Rather, think of these tools helping you get to know your target audience better.  Much better.  Use this knowledge to create more relevant campaigns that actually resonate with a buyer. The right platform, used correctly, should treat leads as individuals with unique needs, wants, and drivers.

Immediate, ‘personalised’ responses will significantly reduce the sales cycle

In B2B, where the sales cycle is typically longer, marketing automation should allow customers to feel as though they are taking control of their own journey with you.  But because an adaptive, ‘personalised’ response is triggered instantly, the sales cycle will be significantly shortened and better qualified.  Just as I could have been left standing at the counter waiting and growing more impatient – marketing automation allows you to respond to enquiries immediately.  “You are 100 times more likely to close a sale if you respond within 5 minutes as opposed to 30.”

Marketing automation tools will:

• Reduce your sales cycle to win new business faster
• Continually improve your marketing campaigns
• Deliver more leads for upselling
• Deliver more leads from referrals

In a perfect world, your prospects or existing customers should be designing their own interactions with your company.  In fact, I believe buyers should be designing your entire sales infrastructure.  Used effectively, marketing automation will send tailored, personalised messages to your customers on a regular basis.  You should be ‘crafting’ this regular activity, building your relationship with rich experiences until they are ready to buy.

Four marketing automation vendors to consider and why

This article is an opinion piece, not a review, but I’d be remiss without sharing some of my insights with you.  I’ve researched dozens of platforms and vendors and I’ve short-listed four vendors that I would urge you to put on your ‘consideration’ list.  And because pricing should always be part of your decision, follow this link for a definitive price guide.

http://blog.capterra.com/2014-marketing-automation-software-pricing-guide/

1.) Hubspot – A great place to start

If you are an SME or small marketer, Hubspot should be on your marketing automation shopping list.  In a nutshell, it’s affordable and versatile with great training resources like easy to follow webinars, workshops and one-on-one live tech support.  For me, the best feature is the dashboard that gives you a live feed.  If you have a second monitor, you’ll be tempted to leave it running.  The mobile app is just as friendly and well designed, but your family will soon grow tired of you constantly accessing it at home on your iPad.
Hubspot will force you to set more measurable, strategic goals – visits, leads and sales. Be warned, it could become addictive.

2.) Marketo – For mid-size to enterprise businesses

If you have an in-house marketing team or an agency, Marketo could be for you.  It’s pricing is more flexible and B2B companies will gain better long-term value. It’s the platform we are most familiar with, primarily because some of our B2B clients already use it and it integrates natively with Salesforce CRM.
My Digital Manager, Carla Sheen, finds the visual drag and drop interface really easy to use and the reporting very thorough.

3.) Eloqua – If you’re enterprise or multi-site

Marketo and Eloqua offer similar capabilities and characteristics.  Both come with a comparably hefty price tag, but used to full effect they will grow revenue.

Eloqua is owned by Oracle Corporation who shelled out $871million US for the sale – yes, the same CEO, Larry Ellison, who shattered the sailing dreams of our nation.

It’s the vision of Ellison and the resources of Oracle that makes Eloqua different.  Marketing automation is growing exponentially.  Only 3% of non-technology companies have adopted the software so far.  Larry hates being second.  I predict that Eloqua will continue to release more updates than its competitors – like the improved lead scoring engine recently released that allows you to run different lead scoring modules for multiple sites, teams or product lines.

4.) Engage – And not just because it’s Kiwi

I would have put the Engage marketing automation platform, developed by Ubiquity, on this list anyway, but I must tell you upfront, they’re a client of mine.  SME to largest enterprise, you’ll find Engage scalable, functional, measurable and highly adaptive.
If you choose your stock market shares by studying the governance of the company’s directors, then you would be very happy to choose Engage based on the way directors, CEO Nathalie Morris and CTO Guy Bibby, run Ubiquity and its dedicated team. There’s a Xero-like zeal that’s palpable.

And the huge upside is that they are local.  Cloud-hosting is here in NZ, the account service team is here in NZ, the help desk is here in NZ and the tech support is superb and in NZ.  There’s a high degree of security and a small amount of local parochialism that might sway your judgement. The other vendors are northern hemisphere-based and the tech support probably won’t be there when you really need them.

Which Software is best for you? – again – it’s personal

Here we are full circle.  Draw up your wish list of features, components, and requirements– and then choose the tool that best fits these needs. You’re much more likely to get the greatest bang for your buck.  Marketing automation software is becoming more and more mainstream by the day.  It is a learning curve and a big investment in terms of your time and money.  As any carpenter will tell you, measure twice and cut once.  Do your research.

It’s not a question of IF you choose it but WHEN.

Consider this checklist before you decide

• Analytics / ROI Tracking
• Campaign Segmentation
• Contact Management
• CRM Integration
• Direct Mail Management
• Email Marketing
• Lead Management
• Multi-Channel Management
• Search Marketing
• Social Marketing

Read my e-Book ‘The Super Heroes of B2B Digital Marketing’

Marketing automation will only become more important over time.  To fully understand its place in your digital marketing strategy, download my BT e-book, ‘The Super Heroes of B2B Digital Marketing.’  The book was fun to write and hopefully you’ll find it informative and easy to follow.  The book will take you sequentially step-by-step through the B2B sales cycle.
http://ballantynetaylor/B2Bsuperheroesebook/

5 reasons to use responsive design for your site

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Forgive me for flogging the dead horse here, but I can’t stress this point enough – the mobile future is now.

As smartphone and tablet adoption rapidly increases, so does the importance of mobile-friendly websites. Mobile web access is one of the dominating trends of the internet economy, and marketers who care about better campaign results are quickly turning to responsive design.

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Responsive design allows your webpage to open and function properly no matter what device it is viewed on – whether that is desktop, smartphone or tablet – and is essential if you want your customers to be able to do business with you on the go. If you are trying to decide whether or not to design a new website using responsive design, check out the list below for five reason why responsive design is beneficial for your business.

1. Better UX
One of the most appealing aspects of responsive design is that a responsive website can provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes. A site that works well regardless of these variables will provide a better and more consistent user-experience across the board.

2. It’s Google Recommended
With 67% search market share, when Google talks, marketers listen. And Google states that responsive design is its recommended mobile configuration, and goes so far as to refer to it as an industry best practice. Responsive designs have one URL and the same HTML, regardless of device, which makes it much easier for Google to crawl, index and organise your content. It also makes it easier for users to share, link and interact with content. For example, I share a piece of content I like from my smartphone, but the person I’ve shared it with views it on their desktop. If the site is responsive, they will have the same positive user-experience as I did, but if not, they’re going to end up looking at a stripped down mobile site on their desktop. And as Google is putting more and more emphasis on UX in their rankings, a positive viewing experience is essential for your SEO.

3. Easier to Manage
Having separate desktop and mobile sites means you will have multiple versions that you, or someone else, will have to manage. That’s multiple updates for multiple versions and an SEO campaign for each one. Designing one site that is responsive means you can make edits for all versions of the website in one go.
Responsive design may be expensive initially, but once the design is created, only one update will need to be done when make changes, making it more cost-efficient in the long run.

4. Boosts SEO
Using responsive design will help boost your SEO as it ensures you don’t split clicks across multiple websites. Plus, Google doesn’t take kindly to websites that have content duplicated in multiple places, and may drop you in its SEO rankings, making it less likely to appear on the first page of search engine results.

5. Pay-per-click Benefits
Google AdWords has now converted the web to “enhance campagins.” This means that the targeting of devices is the same, no matter the device. A responsively designed website can use the same landing page for tablets as they do for non-mobile versions, which makes it far, far easier to manage your PPC.
So as customers increasingly use their mobile devices to shop, search and connect, responsive design will ensure user experience is optimised no matter what device your website is being accessed from. It is easier to manage, enhances your SEO and is recommended by the omnipotent Google. If you haven’t joined the mobile revolution, it’s time – all your customers have.

*It’s important to note, there may be situations where responsive design does not suit the particular needs of your customers. For instance, banks use mobile dedicated sites to make mobile banking simpler and more straightforward.

How local businesses can earn customer reviews — the right way

Local reviews are like an extension of word of mouth marketing. It’s a permanent, lasting record of a customer’s thoughts on your business — good or bad. Reviews are like link-building of the local world; they drive new business and are imperative to growth. However, you can’t force or incentivise your reviews, and if you do, they may not count.

“Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. Don’t offer money or products to others in exchange to write reviews for your business or write negative reviews about a competitor. We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews,” (Google+ Review Guildines).

So how, exactly, can we encourage customers to leave a review (by their own initiative)?

Don’t chase tactics

You can look for inspiration from other businesses, but modify ideas to fit your own business and be applicable to your own customers. Similar to link-building (which has been in an identical situation before), if your reviews show up in a pattern that is detectable by a computer algorithm, they will be discounted.

Anything pattern-based is detectable, including:

  • 1. IP address of the reviewer: Do not ask for reviews from your own location

 

  • 2. Timeline: If a number of reviews come in over the course of one day or one week, it looks suspicious. It’s likely that customers would have been prompted to leave their feedback.

 

  • 3. Similar phrasing: If the wording of your reviews is too similar, it will seem orchestrated and be discounted by Google+, etc

Forcing reviews will produce detectable trends. It may be a slow build, but gathering your reviews honestly is a much better way to get them approved. Which brings us to the next point: influence.

Influence and integrate

Reviews are the best when they are placed without your interactions, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore the matter completely. Businesses can influence (not entice or coerce) their customers to leave feedback.

Customer service: “ The best way to generate reviews is to give positively fantastic customer service. Keep a constant line of communication, treat your clients like kings and queens — give them no choice but to reward you with praise. While this is the best tactic for lasting results, it can be a long-term investment and businesses have immediate needs, so how can you get more reviews now?

Define your customer lifecycle

The main point of outlining the customer life-cycle is to see where you have opportunities to influence a review. For example, let’s say your business revolves around bookings or appointment setting. You cycle may look like this: Visit website –> Book appointment –> Email confirmation –> Appointment –> Thank you email/survey –> Reminder/promotion –> Visit website. From here you can determine which types of interactions are present at each stage of your business cycle and where you may be able to influence a review.

Integrate with all email marketing

1. Define email contact points

Once you have your customer life-cycle, establish where you normally contact your customers via email. Know when they are online and have you in mind; capitalise on opportunities like newsletters, offers, post-purchase confirmations, etc. It doesn’t matter whether you are pushing a good or a service, communication needs to be present at every stage of the customer life-cycle.

2. When will customers be in the right mind-frame to leave a review?

Consider when the customer is going to be able to write the best review. Immediately after the purchase? A week after? Whenever that time is for your customer, send a reminder/follow up email with a social media mention and prompt/encourage them into a subsequent appointment/purchase.

3. Communicate for reasons other than a review

Find reasons to communicate with your customers outside of leaving reviews. Find another reason to get in touch with them — a customer service survey or a check-in about their purchase. Don’t try to sell them anything in this communication; be genuinely interested in how they are feeling. If you do get a reply (an engaged customer), then be sure to mention (one-on-one) that you would appreciate a review.

This process will help establish which customers want to leave a review, are engaged with your brand and are conversing with you directly. It’s all about identifying people individually, and helping them help your business.

 

Mention social media in all communications

Make sure to mention your favourite social media outlets for your business to your customers, specifically, the ones that get you the best conversions. Use your social media for engagement; where there is engagement, reviews will follow. Once you know your top converting communities, mention them to your customers in all parts of the life-cycle and the reviews will roll in naturally.

Barnacle SEO: sail the high seas of the SERP by attaching yourself to the right ship

As Google continues to try to prevent sites from using manipulative methods to increase their rankings in the SERP, risk of penalisation is becoming greater and greater. Because of this growing liability, Barnacle SEO is a technique that is making a quite the resurgence. If you’ve been searching for a great way to get your business in front of customers in your area, this type of SEO practice is a wise addition to your online marketing strategies.

What is Barnacle SEO?

Barnacle SEO is a term that was first coined in 2008 by Will Scott at Search Influence; it leverages the existing authority of websites in order to expedite the process of ranking your profile or content for a keyword.

Think of it this way, you know when you type in a local search term like ‘auto repairs’ into Google and you see a business’s Facebook page or their listing in the local Yellow Pages? You can create a profile or content on those sites, or a similar authority site, in order to get listed higher in the SERPs.

Barnacle SEO is great for local business and local SEO. Since Google has made numerous efforts to quell link building and SEOs ability to influence search results, there has been a rise in the number of authoritative listing sites in the first page of results. In a way, you can sponge off of these sites’ popularity as well as their valuable SEO tactics. Like an unassuming barnacle, your job is to attach yourself to these big “ships” and let them navigate you through the SERP waters, made choppy by ever-changing Google algorithms.

Is it the right tactic for me?

To decide if your site is a good target for Barnacle SEO, type in your keywords and see if sites like Yellow Pages or Localist come up in the first page. If they do, you can leverage Barnacle SEO for your business. One opportunity is to get a given page of your business ranking well in the organic results, and a second is to rank well in an authoritative site that already has a high ranking in the SERPs — ideally you will do both.

Create profiles and content on target sites

Find all the sites on the first page that allow you to list your business. Yellow Pages, Localist and Finda are common names on the first page. And on the social media side of things, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are the usual front runners.

Once you’ve made a list of these sites, create a company profile or submit a keyword-targeted guest post — make sure your profile contains the target keyword in the description, categories and any other applicable places when creating your page. If reviews are allowed on the site, try to get as many on each one as possible. If you are submitting a guest post, articles over 1,200 words have been shown to have a greater number of shares and receive more natural links.

On the other side of things, don’t shy away from building links to your profiles. If you have an automated link-building tool, this is a great place to utilise them. If a more wholesome approach is what you feel more comfortable with, bookmarking, social sharing and linking to profiles via guest posts are all solid ways to improve your rankings.

Don’t forget your own website

While Barnacle SEO is great for driving leads to your business, you have to make sure you have a long term growth strategy for your own website. Barnacle SEO worked well in 2008 and is making a strong comeback in 2014 — it is a great way to get instant leads while growing your long-term authority with a well organised website, but don’t become complacent. Make sure your website can generate its own, without the help of different ships and other captains.