BRINGING SEXY BACK to B2B MARKETING

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If you can get through this next sentence without falling asleep, congratulations. B2B marketing has traditionally consisted of facts, figures, testimonials and whitepapers. Still with us? Good. As boring as that all seems, we can assure you, it doesn’t have to be this way. And if you’re a B2B business out there, we just want you to know – it’s not you, it’s us – the agencies that owe it to you to help bring your brand out of its cocoon, releasing its true colours and allowing it to soar high above the mediocrity. After all, there’s no such thing as a boring product, just boring packaging.

Hit ‘em right in the ‘feels’
With a huge amount of advertising noise coming from every direction, particularly the digital space, it’s important that B2B businesses really put themselves out there. Marketing efforts need to be tailored for the common human, not robots. Tuning in to those things called feelings will encourage people to really engage with your brand and talk about it. Remember the customer comes first so ask yourself:

– What are they interested in?
– What’s the best way to reach them and when?
– How are you going to solve their problem?
– How are you going to make them look like a god to their peers?

Try to avoid hitting them with the hard stuff too early. Yes, they may need some solid facts at some stage but first, think about how you’re going to lure (ahem) lead them in. Although B2B products may not be bought for emotional gratification, it doesn’t mean the marketing behind it can’t include plenty of warm fuzzies. Make them feel safe, show them how cost-effective it is and let them know your company cares about them as an individual.

Get your flirt on
Let’s face it, you’re trying to make an unsexy product desirable so just like a finely-tuned Tinder profile, show a shit tonne of charisma and put your best profile pic forward. Social media is the forum to do this; it gives you a chance to present a familiar, less formal side to your business through the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Instead of your customers feeling like outsiders learning about your business, here’s their chance to get in on the action by joining conversations and sharing with their friends. Showing pictures of your staff is also a great way to ‘humanise’ your brand – “oooh, they look like a warm, down-to-earth company – in fact, they’re the kind of company I can see myself starting a relationship with” (sigh).

Stick to the game plan
Right, so now you’ve got an idea on how to make your company relatable and look super snazzy (side note: don’t go too far and use words like ‘snazzy’) so what now? Avoid going in hot without a strategy. You’ve got fun stuff and you’ve got boring stuff, now how are you going to roll it all out? Do continue things that have served you well in the past (we never said get rid of those white papers all together). Do target more than just the top dogs – an idea can come from any person in the company. Do aim to reach people outside of work hours too because, well, people are addicted to their phones and tablets. Don’t lose yourself – brand identity still needs to be evident in everything you do. If all else fails? Offer free stuff! Everyone loves a little win, even if it’s as simple as a free e-book.

Last but not least, don’t forget the plug. Whenever you get the chance, talk up your company and offer the easy click. For example, BallantyneTaylor would say something along the lines of “we know you’ve enjoyed this article, so don’t play hard to get – if you want to get a little stalky and see what other great things we’ve done (and could do for you) check us out riiiiight: here.

Mixing things up – how to sprinkle a bit of B2C into the B2B marketing pool

B2B Marketing for Business

Now is as good a time as any for B2B marketers to loosen that top button and see what they could learn from their not-so-distant B2C relatives. Let’s take a look at how to spice things up in the marketing department to create a whole new breed of innovation.

B2B marketers have traditionally focused on using rational arguments to persuade customers to buy their products but with it becoming increasingly harder to grab the attention of potential buyers, marketers need to think smarter. While logic leads to conclusions and emotions lead to actions, audiences are now accustomed to being approached in a personal, emotive way meaning not taking this angle could have the potential to make your brand seem distant, disconnected or bland. So, clever marketers understand the need to tug on the heart strings/funny bone/[insert emotive body part here]. We’re not saying turn your whole marketing strategy on its head, but rather think about how to inject more personality into your messaging.  Remember, it’s not just the product or service you’re representing; it’s the personality and values of your business too. So yes, the number one goal may be to educate in a professional way but while you’re at it, think about how you could also show your audiences that you’re fun, charismatic and original too.

Get creative with the tools you’ve got as well as one’s you haven’t used before. B2C marketers use the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to paint a picture and get conversations started. B2B marketers can consider employing social media too but it means thinking outside the square. What else could you talk about/show that is relevant and will get audiences paying attention? Don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun with your content. Whether it’s mixing things up with a new tone of voice, creating some fun  visual elements, or even making a video (which many B2B researches watch during the entire path to purchase), there’s plenty of options to consider . Everyone appreciates a good laugh so this could be your chance to jump on social media and show a less formal side to your business while aiming to make your audiences smile.

B2C knows that mobile means money which is where B2B needs to lift its game. It’s not just B2C audiences that will have their attention grabbed by a well-placed banner ad, video, or sponsored content – B2B audiences are real people too so don’t be afraid to get down and digital. Research from Panvista Mobile shows that “59% of B2B purchase decision makers and influencers use smartphones to gather information about B2B products and services, and 65% of executives are comfortable making a purchase from a mobile device.” Ensure your content is optimised for mobile so you never miss out. Google did a study in 2014 with Millward Brown Digital which discovered nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials (digital natives), and 49% of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for product research do so while at work. They’re comparing prices, reading about products, comparing feature sets, and contacting retailers.

In the end, everyone is a consumer in one way or another so keep reaching out to them.  Stick to what you know works while also aiming to surprise and connect differently with your audiences. Tap into habits and thought patterns when working out what makes your audiences tick on a personal level. Deliver something that will make them sit up and think ‘that’s different… I like it’.

5 ways to reach the right audiences with Programmatic Advertising

5 benefits of programmatic advertising-ballantynetaylor

1. Specific targeting

Want to reach 20 – 25 year-old males who live and breathe video games, tend to be on the internet between 2am – 6am, and live in Invercargill? With Programmatic Advertising you can do just this. You have the ability to target any market you choose – no matter how niche.

Instead of applying a ‘spray and pray’ approach, Programmatic Advertising allows a user to work out exactly who they want to reach, when they want to reach them and how they’re going to reach them. Instead of publishing your ad to a large, broad network where many of the people won’t see your ad as relevant or interesting, you can ensure that your ads are reaching specific audiences where your messages are more likely to resonate.

Using the marketing intelligence you already have (such as from your API or Google Analytics) is a great way to determine how you will proceed with your ad placements. This data should help identify any already occurring trends and opportunities to take advantage of.

2. Speed and time-saving

Through Programmatic Advertising, an ad can be served up in a matter of milliseconds. Once you have done all the background work in terms of placing your bidding price and setting the specifications on who you want to reach, your ad simply sits in cyberspace waiting for its first bite. When someone makes a search that links in with your ad (e.g. they have Googled prime fishing spots and you sell fishing equipment) your ad will suddenly kick into gear, competing with other ads for a spot on that person’s screen. If your bid is the highest then your ad will be served to them at lightning speed.

Programmatic Advertising proves time-efficient in terms of set-up and how fast it delivers. Instead of booking your media the traditional way (researching, finding a contact, discussing rates, negotiating, scheduling) programmatic puts you in the driver’s seat. You control the budgets and placements with real time bidding (RTB). Once the groundwork is done, the algorithms take it from there.

3. Cross-device targeting

Ever heard of a micro-moment? They are captured when a potential customer makes a decision or has their opinion swayed. Ensure your intent-fuelled, breakthrough moment is waiting around every corner for your customers – whether it’s via mobile, tablet or computer.

By deciphering your target market’s technology-user-habits, you can apply Programmatic Advertising to set your ads up like a well-prepared army – poised at all the right stations and ready to lurch. It also allows for brand/message reinforcement where your target might be exposed to your ads several times over various different devices, keeping your business top-of-mind. A good example of this would be to start promoting a weekend sale on Tuesday or Wednesday to build up interest over a few days.

4. Cost-efficiency

When implementing Programmatic Advertising, you can determine a budget and then decide how much you are willing to bid. Although this is similar to Google advertising, the major benefit with programmatic is that you are reaching out further than just the Google network. You will also be drawing on other ad exchanges like AppNexus, Microsoft Advertising, OpenX and rightmedia.

Ads are typically sold on a CPM basis (cost per 1,000 impressions). On average, programmatic CPMs range from $5 – $8. When compared to non-programmatic CPM which are closer to the $20 – $30 mark, it’s easy to see what option is the most cost-efficient. It is now possible to take a traditional online advertising budget and stretch it 5 times further with programmatic, which is particularly beneficial for SMEs that have a limited budget to start with.

5. Experts can do it for you

The best part of programmatic? You can get experts to do all the nitty-gritty for you!

Simply set the parameters in terms of who you want to reach and what you want to achieve. From there, experts can bring your strategic Programmatic Advertising plan to fruition. You may already have data and creative that a specialist can draw on, but if not, this is something they may also help you with.

The joy of taking this approach is that you reap the rewards but you don’t need to invest the time and energy needed to learn and implement the system. You can also receive a breakdown of how your ads are performing along with suggestions on how to further improve them.

BallantyneTaylor are experts in the field of Programmatic Advertising and can give your business a helping hand. Get in touch today and find out what you could achieve with them.

5 ways to amplify your content marketing to expand your reach

Every minute, over 211 million pieces of content are created online. 211+ million! How can our content marketing compete with those kinds of numbers?

We know that simply creating great content alone isn’t enough to get it found on the open web – we have to amplify it, increase its reach. One of the keys to success is getting your content in front of as many people in your target audience as possible.

But how do you do it? The following are 5 helpful hints to expand the reach of your content marketing efforts.

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1.) Promote, promote, promote

The truth is, your target audience is not going to find your latest blog post, whitepaper or eBook simply because you’ve created it. No matter how valuable and magnetic your content is, it still needs to be marketed and promoted.

The transient nature of online and social media means you need to find multiple ways to get the word out and keep it out. Here are a few tips to help you with your content promotion:

  • Premium content (eBooks, etc) should be promoted on your social channels regularly
  • Pull snipets/quotes from blog posts and re-use as tweets & include a link to the full post
  • Include older blog posts which are topical, relevant or evergreen in your social media publishing rotation
  • Leverage influencers, syndication and CTAs

2.) Optimise your content for search engines

While today’s search engine optimisation is much more about creating quality content over technical prowess, basic on-page SEO is essential to making sure your content ends up on the first page of the SERPs.

Here are some SEO best practices to ensure your content doesn’t fall into the search page abyss:

  • Include a descriptive URL that includes primary keyword
  • Create and accurate title tag that includes primary keyword
  • Create a unique meta description that includes primary keyword
  • Include primary keyword in headline and any secondary headline
  • Keyword optimise ALT tags and image file names

3.) Employ content marketing ambassadors (hint: they already work for you!)

Your employees represent a phenomenal opportunity to increase the reach of your content marketing, regardless of the size of your company. Each individual employee has their own social network – whether on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or all of the above.

While there may be some overlap, for the most part each employees’ network likely represents a different audience than you are able to target with your corporate social media efforts alone – take advantage of this!  Encourage employees to:

  • Share company blog posts, eBook, webinar, etc. on LinkedIn
  • Like, retweet and comment on social posts
  • Create discussions on LinkedIn groups using your content
  • Promote content during face-to-face and email interactions with prospects

4.) Leverage paid amplification

With the organic reach of many social platforms on the decline and the desire to get in front of larger more targeted audiences on the rise, paid amplification (sponsored content, social advertising) can be a valuable tool.  Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have sophisticated platforms for paid amplification and other networks like Pinterest and Instagram have introduced their own paid marketing product initiatives as well.

The long and short is this – paid amplification is becoming more and more necessary if you want to expand your reach. Here’s a few tips to get started:

  • Set up and initial budget and experiment with different platforms and options
  • Target a very specific audience using LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content
  • Use Twitter’s Promoted Tweets or Facebook’s Boosted Posts

5.) Don’t forget old faithful – Email Marketing

When it comes to increasing the reach of your B2B content marketing, email can be a powerful driver. While email marketing has long been used as a promotional tool, it is often used to sell the company itself, not its thought leadership.

Use your email messages to share your interesting content – whether that is in the form of blog subscription emails or targeted messages promoting content relevant to a specific segment.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Set up a blog subscription and send subscribers regular blog updates
  • Shift your eNewsletter to be more content marketing oriented
  • Develop lead nurturing drip campaigns for all premium content marketing offers
  • Promote new premium content to relevant segments of your contact list

The take away message is this – Don’t leave the marketing out of content marketing! As stated before, you can’t create a great piece of work, then sit back and relax. Content creation requires content promotion in order to increase reach.

If you want to talk to us about how we can and increase your current content marketing reach, contact Managing Director Steve Ballantyne p: 09 950 2140

To survive the recent Google changes, should you build a responsive website, or a mobile one?

While Google has long favoured websites optimised for mobile, their newest, highly-publicisied change – affectionately dubbed “Mobilegeddon” – means that mobile-friendliness is officially a huge factor in search rankings.

The number of people using mobile devices to access the web is increasing rapidly, and Google’s new algorithm will reflect that growing trend, favouring sites with large text, easily clickable links and optimised sizes that fit smaller screens – sites that don’t comply will be demoted in the rankings.

So while the need to engage the mobile user is obvious, the question remains – what’s the optimal way to do it: a dedicated mobile site or responsive web design?

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Option 1: Responsive web design (RWD)

A “responsive” design is built to accommodate all aspects of a mobile visitor experience, regardless of what kind of device you are using. In theory, these sites will work just as well on an iPhone as they do on a desktop, giving users access to the full content of a site no matter how they choose to access it. Responsively designed sites are flexible and fluid, resizing and reformatting content based on the screen it is being viewed on.

The underlying assumption with a responsive site is that the user wants all of the information on the primary site available on any device.

Option 2: Dedicated mobile site

In contrast to RWD, a mobile-only site is a stripped-down version of the main site, with less content and an emphasis on contact methods rather than a complete website experience. When a user accesses your site from a mobile device, it is automatically directed to the mobile version.

Mobile-only sites are usually predicated upon the user having visited the main site first and simply wanting to check the status of an order or verify an appointment/reservation – meaning portability and efficiency trump full access.

Building a new website is costly, so naturally you want to get the greatest ROI from your site scheme; however you decide to set it up. Both options have their pros and cons, a responsive build typically costs more upfront as it has to be built to interact with different devices using different operating systems, which usually means it needs to be customised. However, RWD only requires one set of code, so after it’s built, the only real maintenance is keeping your content updated.

Building a regular website and a mobile website independent of one another creates a different hassle. Building a mobile-only site can be less costly to build but can double in cost in the long run as you will need to maintain and update multiple sets of code.

Determining which option will work best for you and your business is to ask yourself which of these assumptions your site is based on – is your audience after full access to all of your content, or quick and straightforward contact options and navigation?

A mobile website can be a good choice for a site dedicated to consumer goods, whereas responsive design would be better for a complete inventory plus thought provoking articles and insights.

 

BallantyneTaylor has experience building both fully responsive websites as well as mobile-only ones. If you’d like to know more, email Steve Ballantyne at steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

In B2B, simple content and messaging speaks volumes

In the business-to-business sector, we’ve all been guilty of using wordy, complex or overly-technical language to explain our products and services. But when you are talking about your brand, you don’t need to impress your audience – you just need to relate to them.

The following are a few points of consideration in how to make your content more appealing to your audience and improve the overall message of your brand.

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Simple content is less congested

We want our audience to know everything about our brand – from our values and mission to services and products. The more we mention, the more convinced our readers will be, right?

Not necessarily.

On average, your audience only has enough time or attention to engage with 20-28% of your content, so it’s key that you highlight the most important and compelling aspects of your brand: who you are, what you do, why you do it.

Simple content is more relatable

The true essence of your brand can get hidden underneath your unnecessarily complex content. It can also make your messaging seem like it is disingenuous or trying too hard.

Instead, speak the way your audience does. A good rule of thumb: if you content seems too complicated for everyday conversation, consider revising.  Simple, conversational messaging creates a sense of transparency, allowing your brand to show through in a way that your audience can relate to.

Simple content is more engaging

According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth, the average consumer engages with ten pieces of content before making a buying decision. But today’s consumers have neither the time, nor the attention span to decipher complex, verbose pieces of content, let alone ten.

Customers need messaging that is quick and easy to digest. This is especially relevant since today’s consumers use content more than ever to be more informed, and to share that information with their peers. The simpler your content is, the easier it is to share by word-of-mouth – without losing its essence in the process.

Creating simple content for B2B marketing isn’t easy. You’ve got to find a conversational tone that resonates with your target audience, and then you must pare down your messages without losing your brand essence. It may require a content audit or re-evaluation upfront, but your brand will benefit from it in the long run.

If you are unsure where to begin, let the content experts at BallantyneTaylor be your guide. Get in touch: erin@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

In B2B buying, emotion trumps logic

A common misconception in B2B buying is that prospects make decisions based solely on logic and reason, and are not influenced by emotion the way B2C purchases are. However, recent research has us singing a different tune.

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The Corporate Executive Board partnered with Google to learn what leading marketing teams are doing differently to connect with their customers. Their research provides thought-provoking insights as to how B2B buyers react to emotional marketing compared to a more functional approach.

1.) Emotion over function

According to the research, B2B brands who connect with buyers through an emotional approach achieve two times the impact over those who sell business or functional value. Connecting emotionally requires open-ended questioning and observation of non-verbal cues to craft messages that speak to buyer’s needs, pain points and frustrations.

2.) Brand connection drives sales

In a marketplace that is overflowing with marketing messages, customers will be more likely to consider brands that they have strong connections with. To get their attention, marketers must “speak the language” – meaning businesses should use words and phrases that are familiar to customers, evoking an emotional response.

3.) Traditional methods don’t work anymore

According to the study, “the B2B Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is dead and 86% of B2B buyers see ‘no real difference between suppliers.’” By using emotion as a tool to connect with potential and current buyers, B2B buyers can stand out from a sea of sameness.

4.) Emotional benefits drive greater results

When businesses use “features, functions and business outcomes” as a means of marketing their brand, they see a 21% increase in perceived brand benefits, but “professional, social and emotional benefit” marketing leads to a 42% boost.

Understand your prospects’ challenges and communicate how their purchase will remedy current struggles and frustrations through empathetic messaging and content.

 

Whether written or visual, digital or traditional, global or local, everything we create must stir the audience’s emotions before we can engage the rational mind.

 

Want to know more about how to create an emotional connection to your audience?

Talk to BT Managing Director, Steve Ballantyne, for a one-on-one conversation about how to take your brand to new heights.   p: 09 950 2140

10 building blocks of a B2B focused website

Whether you’re redesigning your current website, planning a rebrand or a new build, it’s of utmost importance you use the right strategy and website components, because no matter what your mother or primary school teachers told you, all websites are not created equal.

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Look at your competitors’ websites and you’ll see a disparity in everything from design, messaging, content and functionality. Developing a powerful website that functions as a platform for business development requires the right “building blocks” – and to take the stress out of it, we’ve compiled a list of the essentials for you.

1. Planning and executing your online marketing strategy

Building a dynamic B2B website requires every aspect of your website to work as a well-oiled machine. Everything must be meticulously planned and executed – your website designer must take the time to gain insight into your business, goals, sales processes and how your site ties into your online and offline marketing efforts.

Now is not the time to skimp on getting a professional – make sure you partner with someone whose expertise strong across both marketing and web development.

2.  Content strategy

Content is what draws visitors to your website and a good content strategy will guide your plans for the what, where, when and why of content creation. Your strategy should include: customer persona profiles, action plan, information architecture, content mapping, and content audit.

3.  Key messaging and copywriting

This fundamental of a great B2B website often gets overlooked. Many web-development shops don’t have the expertise to provide copywriting and messaging strategies in-house. But you can’t underestimate the value of having a professional help you craft powerful key messages – they’ll speak directly to your audience and bring a cohesiveness and clarity to your copy.

4.  Beautiful + functional custom design

Your website is the face of your business and represents who you are and what you offer, so investing in professional and creative design is crucial. Great web is about more than just good-looking visuals. It creates a positive user experience (UX) that will impact usability, navigation, engagement and ultimately conversions.

5.  Responsive design

It’s a multi-screen world, so build a website that works well on all devices. Responsive design provides a viable solution and has become a “must have” for new websites. Effective responsive design is a wise investment, but will require careful planning, testing and adapting throughout both design and development.

6.  Thought leadership blog

Blogging is the cornerstone of content marketing; it builds thought leadership, fuels SEO, propels social media marketing, drives traffic and helps to generate and nurture leads. Your blog should be integrated into your overall website design and navigation, as well as be cross promoted in various sections of your website.

7.  Lead generation

A lead generation strategy will help guide visitors to your website on to the next step. Start with premium content offers – whitepapers, eBooks, blog subscriptions and complimentary consultations. Premium content offers, in the context of lead gen, are a piece of content that has enough perceived value that a visitor is willing to give some personal information in exchange for it.

Promote your premium content offers throughout your website with clear CTAs leading to landing pages that are optimised to effectively convert website visitors into leads.

8.  Custom CMS development

Building your website on a content management system (CMS) is another crucial building block of a marketing-focused website. It’s important to partner with an agency that will build a fully custom website. And in addition to the custom design on the front-end, the back-end interface should also be fully customised, allowing you to be able to update and control virtually every word and image on your website – quickly and easily.

9.  SEO best practices and content optimisation

Failing to optimise your new website can have a negative effect on your existing search engine rankings and traffic. It’s essential your agency employs the latest industry best practices for SEO techniques: page load speed, on-page factors and clean code. You’ll also want to ensure that the copy, page titles and meta descriptions are optimised based on keyword research or search phrases you’ve identified.

10.  Marketing automation/CRM integration

To build a website that is focused on generating and nurturing leads, you’ll require the integration of marketing automation software and, ideally, a CRM system. Marketing automation will allow you to get the most out of your website investment as well as provide you with complimentary online marketing tools like lead capturing forms, list management and automated email campaigns. You’ll also be able to get real marketing and sales intel that will boost business development and allow your team to have a much more targeted and relevant conversation with prospects and clients.

Integrate your marketing automation with a CRM system for better web-to-lead functionality and the ability to capture lead behaviour and intelligence right inside the CRM console. The integration of these two platforms will allow you to fine-tune both the quality and quantity of leads being pushed into the CRM and over to the business development team, resulting in increased alignment with your marketing efforts.

 

Is it time to breathe some new life into your digital strategy? Whether it’s a complete website overhaul or a few tweaks in your content marketing strategy, BallantyneTaylor has got you covered.

Contact Managing Director, Steve Ballantyne for a one-on-one conversation about how we can take your brand to new heights.  e: steve@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

Steve Ballantyne, founder and Managing Director of B2B Marketing Agency BallantyneTaylor is widely recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading B2B marketing strategists. Steve’s passion for innovative branding strategy – on and offline – has culminated from 25 years spent starting and building many businesses of his own – in New Zealand and Australia. With 20 years as Managing Director of BallantyneTaylor, he’s become adept at helping others grow their businesses into strong brands too.

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.