Category

Content Marketing

Talking Fusion Marketing, with Lon Safko

By | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Google Plus | No Comments

Downloadable PDF

Martin: Hello and welcome. Today we’re going to talk about fusion marketing. I am joined by someone who was introduced to me by a chap called Jamie Turner. And Jamie’s an awesome guy. I met him in Social Media Marketing World last year.

And Lon and I are in a bit of a, kind of, what do we call that group? It’s almost – it’s a lovely group of people that have come together. But that’s where I met Lon. So we’re going to come on and explain – we’ve got some numbers for you. You’re going to be impressed with this. It’s great.

We’re going to talk fusion marketing.

But I also want you to show Lon some love, because he gets Google+, but his communities are elsewhere. And I’m saying it’s really nice here. Show him some love. Come and see him.

So we’re going to talk around what fusion marketing is, what it can do for your business, what’s different. But there’s lots of bits I want to pull together, because Lon’s got this amazing video, which was put into Plus Your Business community the other. And I know Alexander commented on it. It was very cool.

So I want to talk about how that came about, because it’s an important piece in the visual puzzle. But I also want to talk about Lon’s books and get an introduction. And then we’re going to come onto applications and for you, some takeaways around fusion marketing. So welcome Lon.

Lon: Glad to be here, coming from all the way around the other side of the world from you.

Martin: First, you’ve got some lovely things in the background. You’ve got some blocks. Did you put the names on them yourself?

Lon: I forgot they were there. It’s the three Cs of innovation. And it’s how to be more creative, how to think more creatively.

Martin: Cool.

Lon: I’m getting ready for my Asia trip.

Martin: And you are an hour outside of San Diego somewhere.

Lon: That’s correct. An hour north.

Martin: And it’s sunny there, isn’t it? Because I’ve been complaining about the weather. I always complain about the weather.

Lon: Yeah. Almost 70.

Martin: Everybody watching or listening to this on the podcast, I took Benji out this morning, took the dog out, and the ice was on the ground for the first time this year. And honestly, his little face was like, why? Why are we doing this? I don’t want to go.

Anyway, so I miss California.

Lon, who are you? What do you do? And then we’re going to talk books to start with.

Lon: Well, I’m an author among many other things. I also do professional speaking, and I do training around the globe. Got some exciting stuff coming up here in the next couple of months. I’m going to be in Kuala Lampur, Singapore, Shanghai, Dubai, and Mumbai, and Bangkok.

Martin: A lot of alliteration and rhyming then. If anybody knows any of the places that rhyme with those, then he’ll just come because it sounds of greatness. Lovely.

Great. So you’ve been traveling around doing a lot of speaking.

Lon: Yeah, I really enjoy that. And a lot of that is based on my bestselling book, The Social Media Bible, which is doing pretty good. It’s in its 3rd ed, 5 languages, and I’m excited about that.

Martin: I’m diving in, everybody. This is where we begin. I’m going to get this in early. We’re 3 minutes in.

Sometimes when you hear people say, oh my bestselling book. Bestselling where?

However listen to the revenues being generated. Almost, going how much, almost a –

Lon: $1M.

Martin: Almost $1M from this book, very successful.

Lon: On social media.

Martin: And on social media.

Lon: Social media’s going to stick with us. It’s not a fad.

Martin: There we go. That’s the first tweetable thing. Go onto Twitter with that. On Google+ you can just +1 when someone drops it in. It’s not a fad. You heard it here first.

So Lon’s got a lot of experience. He’s got a perspective on social media, which has people’s attention. It’s a lot of books you’ve got to sell for $1M.

So that’s great. What else book-wise, because I want to come onto fusion marketing in a second, but you’ve written other books as well.

Lon: I have.

Martin: After The Social Media Bible –

Lon: After The Social Media Bible, the next book that hit bestselling status hit #3 on Amazon was The Fusion Marketing Bible.

Martin: So that’s where we are. We’ve got another vista. And that’s what we really want to talk about today, the fusion marketing.

So let’s ease in. What’s fusion marketing? Why should we pay attention to it now?

Lon: Well fusion marketing is what comes next. It’s what comes after social media.

If you’re calling yourself a social media expert, what you’re really doing is admitting to the world that you only understand half of the tools necessary. And if you’re an expert in Facebook then you only know one of the dozens and dozens of tools that are necessary to market your company.

So what we saw was that so many companies moved their budgets from traditional marketing into social media and abandoned traditional. And that was foolish. And a lot of companies didn’t even participate in social media for the first 5-6-7 years. That was also foolish.

So the concept of fusion is where are we going to be 5 years from now? In 2020, what type of marketing are we going to be doing? And it’s going to be the kind of marketing where every single tool – traditional, digital, and social – are going to be brought together into one cohesive group, and every one of them are going to work together. And fusion shows you how to do that.

Lon Safko 1

Martin: Well we’re going to get into the how to then. Because I know everyone’s going to say, tell me how.

So let’s talk about 2020. So before we get into that, what trends do you see now? I’m going to talk about a friend of mine, Gideon, who put a quote up. And I love this. He didn’t mean it to be a quote, but I took it and put it on an image and shared it with the community.

We are closer now to 2030 than we are to the year 2000.

Lon: Clever.

Martin: Yeah, no. I was really impressed. So the thing is we’re all talking about 2020, that’s only 5 years away. So you can project a bit. What do you see happening over the next 5 years around this movement?

Lon: Well again, looking at the trends, around 2006 no major company was using social media. And then around 2011-2012, major corporations got involved in social media and were abandoning traditional. And now we’re trying to figure out where the ROI is in social media marketing.

So if you look at those trends, what you’ve got to realize – let me ask you a question. Have you ever seen the drama called Madmen?

Martin: I have.

Lon: I think all marketing professionals should watch that series.

Martin: I watched the first season, maybe a bit of the second season. And I enjoyed it.

Lon: Yeah, well one of the things that was interesting about that show was that there was a VP of television programming. In 1962-63 when that show was taking place, television was a brand new medium. And think about it.

Wow! You can actually show your customers a demonstration of your product rather than just talking about it, printing, or radio. So there was a VP of television marketing. If you walked into a Fortune 500 company and said, can I be introduced to your VP of television marketing, security would escort you out to the parking lot, because you’ve lost your mind.

So based on that, you’ve got to think, there’s VPs of that technology. Just like a lot of companies hired VPs of social media marketing. But that’s not a lasting trend, because you have to understand every tool in marketing.

So the same way that VPs of television marketing are gone, by 2020 we’re not going to have VPs of social media marketing. We’re going to go back to having VPs of marketing who understand all of the tools and not one area and certainly not one tool.

Lon Safko 2

Martin: That’s really interesting. So it’s like a specialty emerges. You need to come to grips with it. And then you need to broaden back out again and say, okay, how does this tool fit in with the rest of the toolkit?

Lon gave a thumbs up.

So there’s a – and this just takes me back to when I studied Developmental Psychology. What happens is you have differentiation in order for an increase of specialism, and then you have integration. And those are the phases that tend to happen.

Lon: Well put. That’s exactly right. No one’s looking that far down the road. Everyone’s still focusing on Facebook for Dummies or Twitter for Idiots. But we’ve got to really look at the big picture, because in a few years, that’s where we’re going to be.

Martin: Yeah.

Lon: That’s where you get your ROI, because our demographic is fractured.

Martin: That was Wiley on the phone saying they’ve got another book title.

Lon: Sorry about that.

Martin: So let’s talk about fractured. This is an interesting thing. So I went to your website, and I found some of the videos there. And I found the one video, which was on fusion marketing, and it’s a cartoon.

And if you haven’t seen it folks, I’ll put it in the event thread after. And if you’re on the website, I’ll put it on the Plus Your Business website. And this video is exceptional. It’s really, really good.

Now what’s interesting about this was the story that Lon told me of how it happened. And then I’ll give you my quick commentary. How did it come about?

Lon: Well fusion marketing actually started by doing a lot of radio interviews. The Social Media Bible is really popular and I was doing as many as 20 radio interviews a week. And usually by the end of the show, they go to that last commercial break. And it happened to me a couple of times.

The host would say, okay, we’re at the top of the hour. We’re going to break for some commercial messages. And when we come back, Lon is going to tell us what comes after social media. And then I’ve got like 2 minutes. I’m freaking out. What are you talking about? Social media is the biggest thing that’s ever hit the earth in our life time.

But it got me thinking, really, what does come after social media. And throughout my career I’ve been very good, some people call me a futurist, because I can see trends, 5-10, sometimes as much as 20 years into the future. So I thought, what is the trend? And that’s what we talked about earlier, about the specialization moving into more generalization. And I thought, yeah, that’s actually where we’re going to be.

But then I invented this tool that helps you go through the process of integrating every single one of the marketing tools. And then it turned out to be fun and it really worked. So McGraw Hill heard about it and wrote a very nice contract with me. And that hit #3. It’s called Fusion Marketing Bible. It’s kind of fun.

Martin: Awesome. Now I’m going to segue back into the video thing. So your next neighbor produces video.

Lon: Yeah. I was over at his house with his parents, my wife, and his parents. And I saw some animation that he was doing. And it’s absolutely – the kid was amazing. A high school kid. And I said, would you produce a video for me? I’ll do the script. You do the voices and the animation. And I’ll pay you to do it.

And he did. And I thought he did a very professional job.

Martin: Unbelievably professional. And the concept was – really I’ll put an event through. You’ll see it everybody.

Now the reason I bring that in is actually about big business, small business. Because you look through YouTube, and you look at the quality of productions. And I say this in this room without the backdrop.

But if you look at the quality of production on YouTube and you look at what people are bringing out, the world has become a lot flatter. We know the world’s become a lot flatter with this. And you can produce high quality content. And we’ve got the tools for collaboration. And we can reach out to people.

Lon’s nodding all the way. I’ll put Lon on the screen and you can see him.

Lon: Totally agree.

Martin: But this is a big trend, which is occurring as well. So let’s talk, before we get into the process side. What do you think the differences are between big business and small business when you approach marketing these days?

Lon: Well yeah, there is a significant difference. I work with Fortune 500 companies all the way down to one person entrepreneurial companies. And I kind of prefer the small business. And the reason is that the large business usually has 1-2-, sometimes as many as 3 different agencies working for them.

And of course, if they’re an agency, they know everything. Even though I am a specialist, and I do know as much about social media as anybody, and for the most part Fortune 500 company agencies just don’t, it usually is a very contentious kind of a relationship. They feel threatened when I come in.

So my relationship with my client is really difficult with bigger companies. And that’s why I prefer smaller companies. Pretty much all of the major companies got a handle on it. I mean, you’ve seen things like the Oreo you can dunk in the dark. I mean, they’re really on top of it and doing a great job.

So as far as consulting, really now it’s just implementation and new creative. But when you look at the small- to medium-sized businesses, those are the ones that need the most help. They don’t have a $5M advertising budget. They have a lot of creativity. They’ve got a great product or service. They’re working 50-60 hours a week. And what they need is help. They need some guidance. And that’s why I enjoy working with them.

And finally now they’re catching on to the value of social media. So they’re bringing up the rear, they’re moving in slowly, but they’re coming along. And that’s the exciting part.

Martin: Great. So let’s now talk about the how. Let’s take a small business. Who do they start approaching using your methods where they can see they’re going to get ahead of the game.

Lon: Well again the fusion marketing is about fusing everything. And it works for everything from a Fortune 500 down to a small company. Any company does it.

What I did is invented called the Safko Marketing Wheel. And it’s a wheel, it’s a multi-colored kind of a starburst with 20 points around it.

So the how is, let’s take a look at what you’re doing in traditional marketing. Don’t rule it out. It may still be working. For example, 53% of auto-dealer budgets are still pushed into newspaper, just newspaper.

So for you and I, we would think that’s totally ridiculous. But the Sunday auto section is still selling, and it’s still working. Don’t abandon traditional media.

So the first thing is let’s take a look. And I have these little cards. And the cards say print ads, television, radio, all the different things that we do in traditional marketing. And I say, let’s look at what you’ve done. So let’s flick away what you haven’t done this past year, and now let’s take a serious look at it.

But let’s look at the cost to customer acquisition. How much do you spend on newspaper advertising? How much did you spend on television?

Martin: And are you measuring it? That’s the biggest thing isn’t it. So often people are doing it, and they’re not actually – they’re just checking $1K here, $1K there, without looking at the cost per acquisition. And therefore you can’t really judge it.

It’s gut feel. And unfortunately sometimes we’re wrong with gut feel.

Lon: That’s exactly right. And I had an experience with direct mail with one of my companies. I own 3 companies right now. And I did a direct mail piece. It’s a small company. We spent about $15K on it.

And I finally decided to take my own medicine and measure it. And what I found was we spent $15K. It went to a very highly targeted group. The list was excellent. And we drove everybody to a unique URL. I mean, it’s really simple. Most people don’t think about it. But within 2 weeks of launching this, we found that we spent $15K over here, and we generated 4 customers at $10 apiece.

Martin: So you didn’t do that one again.

Lon: Yeah, we’re not going to do that again. But you know what? I had done it 3 years previous because I just knew that it would work, when in fact it didn’t work the 3 previous years. I would love to be able to recoup that money.

And a lot of companies, even Fortune 500 companies, don’t measure the cost of customer acquisition. And it’s really simple. How much money did your company spend last year? How many new customers did you get? And divide the two. That’s how much each new customer cost you.

So that’s a revelation for every company that I work with when we got through those numbers. So now we know what traditional marketing works for you. So we take those tools and set them aside. Now we look at digital and social. Now the difference between a digital marketing tool and a social marketing tool, digital doesn’t imply two-way communication.

Digital is things like SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing, e-commerce, all of the different kinds of tolls that really you need to be on the internet. They’re all digital. They’re all part of marketing. But it’s not really about communication.

Then you have social media, two-way communication. Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, all imply two-way. So let’s take a look at the ones that you think should be in your marketing plan. Put them around the wheel. You can’t do them all. If you took the top 20 traditional, and the top 20 digital social, and you put all those tools together, you would have 8 with 48 zeroes after it.

Lon Safko 3

That’s the number of combinations and permutations that you can do. You can’t do that. So pick the best social, digital tools. And now we’re going to mix them in with the traditional. But here’s where the fun comes in. now we have the best tools for us, we can prove that by cost to customer acquisition.

But here, on your print ads, are you driving people to sign up for your G+? On G+, are you asking people to connect with you on Twitter? Are you sending out on Tweets asking people to sign up for your email blasts? In your email blasts, do you have all the Chiclets at the bottom that drive people to Facebook.

So you see where we’re going with this. It takes the complexity out of this gigantic set of tools and actually puts it into a system where you can’t miss anything. And one tool will actually amplify the effectiveness of another tool. And that’s why the book took off, because it works and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

Martin: Great. So I’ve got a question for you. Let’s talk about a blog. Where do you think blogs are? What do you think is happening with blogs over the next 5 years?

Lon: Again, 5 years ago, I would have said, man, get out there, blog 3-4-5 times a week at least, or at least once a week, because of the SEO implications. And that was an early test, what are the SEO implications of blogging?

And all the social media experts that you asked didn’t have a clue. You could have been talking Greek. And as you know, because you are an expert not only in social media blogging, but you’re an expert in SEO –

Martin: I wouldn’t go that far. I’m alright on the social SEO. But in terms of general SEO, I’d never call myself an expert. I never call myself an expert in anything, really, Lon.

Lon: Well let’s just say that you probably know as much or more than many. And you’re being modest, and I appreciate that. But you do understand how it works. So the more content, and you know, since the three major changes that Google made – hummingbird, penguin, and panda – that we really are moving now into content. So the more content you have out there the higher your web pages and blog pages are going to get ranked on the search engines, which relates to it’s going to be easier for your prospects to find you and convert to customers.

So yeah, you’ve still got to blog. However, just like all of the other tools in social media, they’re becoming less and less and less effective. And the reason is because so many people are doing it. We’ve become democratized. Journalism is now democratized. It used to be only magazines and newspapers and reports could control that. But now anybody can write a story. And the result is everybody is writing stories.

So the amount of content is actually overwhelming. So to try to rise above that, you have to create more content, and it has to be better content, and you have to have a bigger following.

Lon Safko 4

Martin: So let’s dive into that on the following. But look at it from a perspective of community. Let’s go Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Where do you think things are going – and this is just because you like the future and I like to dive in on this. But where do you think it’s going. In terms of communities, are they becoming stronger?

Not so much about the platform and guessing what’s going to happen there. But where do you think people are at with it?

Lon: I’m seeing mixed messages. If you look at a lot of the platforms, all 3 of them. LinkedIn is a little bit different as far as daily communication, updates, statuses, stuff. But G+, Facebook, and Twitter are very similar. The first rend that I saw in all of those platforms is that the community is very strong because it wasn’t a lot of noise, not a lot of competition, not everybody was talking at the same time.So if I sent something out on Twitter, I’d get 20-30 responses in the first 60 seconds.

Then we went into this phase where if I sent something out on any of them, I wouldn’t get any responses because everybody is talking and nobody’s listening. Because the amount of people that are just blabbing, it’s really overwhelming. Now I’m seeing the trend is that the community – and I’m glad you brought up that word. That’s a really important word – it’s not just the size of your network, but it’s about the dedication that your network has.

Lon Safko 5

I mean, how many of them if you call them will help you move on Saturday? None.

So it’s about that link that you have with that community. Because we’re inundated with noise. So you have to focus your efforts to only the best blog sites, like your business site I think is amazing. I’ve been watching the updates all week. That’s good information. So I look forward to that information coming to me.

Whereas my Facebook updates, I couldn’t care less. I don’t care that you’re playing with your kitty. I don’t care that you’re having bacon with your eggs.

Martin: I don’t know where to go with that one. So let’s talk Google+. So I know everybody’s watching going, when he’s going to get on to Google+? I wanted everybody to meet you Lon, because you’ve got a good view. And when I met you, apart from you being a super nice chap, you’ve got a very good view.

Because my background, I mean I’ve got a law-business degree, so 20 years ago I graduated – almost. And I did a business joint honors, and I did a law joint honors, and I learned marketing as it were. And there’s consumer behavior. And I look back and in fact, somebody brought a business book out this week and they were talking about the 4 Ps. And I was like, there’s a lot more to it these days than the 4 Ps, which you learned about then.

Then I got into adwords, which you can measure the cost for acquisition, and it’s awesome. And I loved that. Then my big marketing push was Google+. And I see that the ability to build a community around content as one of the key reasons to be here. And the connections, the personal network, and so on.

So the question for you is businesses, though, are a little slower on the uptake. So where do you see that they’re at? Where do you think over the next 5 years with Google+, do you think people are going to get it? Or do you think they’re just going to stay on Twitter and Facebook? And I know I’m loading a gun here for you to fire. But I’m just curious. It’s a very open conversation.

We’ve got people watching that I’m sure would love to know.

Lon: Well one of the things we had talked about earlier is Google is amazing at developing technology. I thought Google Wave was a decade ahead of its time, and then it crashed and burned. Grand Central was amazing. But Google’s not very good at marketing. And thank goodness they’ve got people out there as a proponent for Google+.

Martin: You were about to say working for free, weren’t you?

Lon: Yeah, but it’s going to pay off in the end. I believe in what you’re doing.

Martin: I think that this comment has come up before around the strength is in engineering, not so much in telling the story as much as they could.

Lon: Again, well put. Very good at engineering. Not good at telling the story. And too often, really good technology is just drying up and disappearing because they’re not good at it. And that’s why I gave you that compliment because you are good at telling the story and the value.

I believe in Google+. It’s part of every presentation I do that people do need to participate. But just in that short conversation that we had this morning, I’m more enthusiastic about Google+ now than I was an hour earlier.

Lon Safko 6

And you’re absolutely right, start with adwords. Adwords, absolutely amazing. It was the most amazing marketing tool on earth. But when you have everybody using adwords, the cost of each word has become prohibitive, and the effectiveness has plummeted. And that’s what happens when you get these large amounts of people moving to a particular platform like adwords.

Facebook, when you had the ability to market for free, and you had these really strong communities, Facebook was a great place to market. But now that they have to answer to Wall Street and a board of directors and everything has to be charged for and you’ve got tons and tons of people on there, even Facebook advertising, I don’t find it nearly as effective today as it was a few years ago. So really, where is the next platform where you can build a community and not be inundated with the amount of noise and expense?

And we’re back to G+. Not only that, but if you look at all the other tools, the SEO components, and the Google docs, and everything else – my goodness. It’s the most robust, integrated system on the planet. So I think the logical thing is move over toward G+, no doubt.

Lon Safko 7

Martin: And that was an advert for Google+. We’re going to snip that. Let’s end the interview now. That was it.

Lon: Thank you Martin. It was a pleasure being here.

Martin: That’s what we see too, Lon. And this is also why, and I know people are watching, so circle Lon up. I want to get him more involved in what we’re doing, partly because Jamie’s fantastic. Jamie’s wonderful and a part of that group. And just a lovely bunch of people that he’s brought together.

But I know that so much is about feeling welcome somewhere. And people need to feel that they’re getting some traction. That maybe you’re getting some tips. And maybe you’re getting some support. And when you do that, you go, I like this place because people are saying hello. And they’re supporting me. And that’s where the business comes.

And then you can start looking at the community being built and the story being told. And saying, over on Twitter and Facebook, Lon’s got a lot of traction, Lon knows a lot of people. On Google+, you may not know him. Hopefully you do now.

Lon: Please.

Martin: Please do. Because there’s some great people who we will welcome. So that’s very cool.

Now, we’re going to come to questions in a sec. What advice, if people are out there, if there’s action steps for them to take in relation to getting organized? Buy your book, absolutely. I mean, what else can they do that’s going to help to get them focused. And I’m going to come to the event and just find the questions as we go.

Lon: The first thing is don’t get overwhelmed. And that’s what people do. When you look at all the different tools and the amount of work and content generation, don’t get overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time. And I’m not pitching fusion, but at least use that concept.

Buy the book, don’t buy the book, use the concept of looking at everything that you’ve been doing in the past, trying to measure whether or not it’s been effective. That way you can move your financial and human resources from things that aren’t effective into things that are effective. And you can also move those into new social media tools that you haven’t tried. It’s a way of recovering some expenses.

The next thing is take a look at some of the social media tools. Take a look at G+ first. Take a look at Facebook. And then try, just try one of them. Try it for a while. But don’t expect immediate success. With all marketing, it’s going to take a little bit of time. You have to build that community and trust.

One of the things, and I know the social media experts are 50-50 on this, what I’ve found is that the people that are fanatic about Facebook, or in a twitter about Twitter, but there’s not a lot of crossover. So yeah, I do post a lot of the same content, or I mix it up just a little bit. So what I do on G+, I’ll put on Facebook.

Well the good news is that if you’re posting both content, you’re going to see where your community is. You’re going to see what’s working and what’s not working. So I recommend that. Get on all the major platforms. But start measuring what’s effective. Where is your community?

And then the most important thing is use every tool that you’re currently using to drive every other tool. So in this case, I’m a little weak on G+. I admit that. So guess what you’ve talked me into Martin? My next campaign that I’m going to do is how am I going to use my email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, everything – Pinterest, Instagram, to drive people over and connect with me on G+. Because those are marketing tools not just for my products and services. But those are marketing tools I can use to build the effectiveness of my marketing tools.

Martin: Fantastic. Now I know, and we’ve got some people watching, I’m just going to dive in and say. We’ve got a question. So I’m going to say hi to Michelle and Nazim and to Sheila and to Mary. I know Tim’s watching as well. You have a little chat.

Do you have a podcast?

Lon: I haven’t done a podcast recently. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a podcast. If you go to iTunes, and you put my name in, when I did The Social Media Bible, I interviewed the most important people in the world in social media. I interviewed Matt Mullenweg who invented WordPress. And I interviewed the executive VP of Flickr and the VP of YouTube and Keith who invented Open Social.

And there’s 50 of the top people. Even Michael Gerber, the entrepreneur guy. And my favorite one was Vince Surf. He was the guy who invented the internet. And to spend an hour with him on the phone and to hear where he thinks the internet and social media is going into the future, they’re actually going to connect the next Mars rover into social media so that we can watch what’s going on ourselves. Is that cool?

Martin: That’s cool.

Lon: So there’s podcasts of every one of those interviews. There’s 24 hours of them and they’re upon iTunes. I just put them up a couple of weeks ago.

Martin: Awesome. Okay, well let’s do another shout out, because I can see everybody’s watching. We haven’t got any questions. They say great information, people are enjoying it, understand what we do here. So I know you’re going to be welcome.

What we need from you Ron is a shout out to your website. Where can people find you?

Lon: Yeah, please, come on over. It’s http://LonSafko.com. And if you put your email in the top right, there’s a whole bunch of free information and links to that video that you had mentioned and downloads. I try to push out a lot of content.

Martin: Perfect. I think on that note I’m going to say, hope you enjoyed it folks. I really enjoyed that. Lon, thanks for the perspective. And thanks for coming on and joining us.

And you are going to join us. You’ve got a lovely bunch of people here that are going to welcome you. So thanks to Michelle, Sheila, Mary, Nazim, Roxanne, and everybody else who’s watching. And we’ll see you soon.

Lon: Thank you.

Martin: That was fusion marketing, everybody. Take care.

 [end of transcript]

Why I think everyone serious about Social SEO will start buying Twitter followers soon!

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

If you don’t already have a well established Twitter account, and even if you do, then the time has come to get busy with it.
Why?
Well, there are two levels to this:

Firstly, Twitter struck a deal with Google to re-establish their access to data via a firehose earlier this year.

Secondly, so many of the influencers you will want to connect with are much more active on Twitter than they are on Google+ right now. Putting it simply, you want to go to the room where they already are and start paying attention to them.
And they are much more likely to pay attention if you have an established network that increases the reach of their own.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 9.16.11 AM
The relationships I’ve built with some amazing allies comes as much from Twitter as it does from Google+
And before long it may well start to signal to Search that content engaged upon by this well established crew should lead to the surfacing of content to a greater audience.

As David Amerland says:

“Twitter was critical to Google’s semantic search (http://goo.gl/Lv5Lmf) long before the deal was struck. Now that Google has direct access and a partnership of sorts your Twitter activities and presence become as important a signal on the web as your G+ ones.”

Back to the ‘buying of followers’ – I do, of course mean through Twitter’s own service, not from any other source.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 9.20.50 AM

This is the only way we would ever suggest you ‘buy followers’ on any platform i.e. through the services provided by them.
And know that it is not about the numbers – none of our Twitter accounts have huge followings – but we have invested heavily in ensuring the people who matter to us the most feel the love, one tweet at a time.

And you may well be already established, or want to build it the organic way, but I listened to a Hubspot event yesterday and see the advertising approach is really going to help people get their first 1000 relevant followers, and beyond…

See you there! @PlusYourBiz and @MartinSherv

How Android TV is going to change our viewing behaviour

By | Android TV, Content Marketing | No Comments

A few weeks ago I started talking about Android TV and business. And I know some of you won’t believe this is going to change the game until it happens. But you are going to have to trust me on this. It is going to be huge.
It is going to change what we search for, what we find, and where our attention goes next.

I’ve had access to it for about 5 weeks now, and I keep pinching myself that this is what I think it is.
Google have just won the home for so many people.

And it is all about video.
Gary Veynerchuk knows the future is video. He is all over it.
I am not sure he has seen Android TV yet though, but he will and when he does he will ‘get it’ too.

This is what I’ve been learning, and how it changes everything…

1. Voice Search – you know how you ‘sometimes’ use voice search on your phone – well, on Android tv you will hardly ever not use it. Tippy tappy typing, and controller use are a pain in the ass compared.
The Search is super intelligent too. It waits to see what you say next, then adjusts the words you just said to make sure it gives you the right option.

Next…
2. There is no delete history (sorry John!) – I’ll save the hilarity of what I’ve done on my best mate’s account (remember that beach pool party I had, John?) but in essence, as you log into it from your Google One account, all the searches are very much going to influence the future content that appears.
Without a quick and easy ‘delete history’ option, your love of Taylor Swift (I mean, who doesn’t want to ‘shake it off’ and ‘bad blood’ once in a while, no? just me. ok) will stay on record, potentially influencing future suggestions.

3. Ads a highly targeted and pre-roll – I have been hit up by the HTC One phone ad with the coolest guy on the planet narrating, Robert Downey Jr, about 10 times. And then something about ‘Permission Marketing’ too. I felt the ads were for me.

4. Suggestions of what to search for – this is super interesting. If you wait before talking after you click to Search, you will get a load of suggestion like, ‘Best Sci-Fi movies’ and ‘Pictures of Jennifer Lawrence’… yes, really. And it will be video results, of course. There are no web page results. Sometimes is feels like ‘follow the white rabbit’. And Google may well start to act even more like a serendipity engine, helping you to connect the dots…

5. No annotations – yes, on the videos there are none. Zero. Zip. This means the videos that you have covered in annotation need to be rethought if that is a central part of your approach i.e. to have people click through, and take action.

6. No description – yes, this whole area does not show, even though the videos are pulled from YouTube.
So, if you are thinking ‘description’ links, then think again.

7. No thumbs up, or down is shown – again, this is a big shift. You won’t see the social indicator when on Android TV, you will just see the video suggestions.

I think this is significant as to me a ‘good result’ with a load of down thumbs would move me onwards on a desktop.

TIP: Videos will need calls to action that work in that environment – so, what you need to do it think about calling to action IN THE VIDEO itself, as you cannot rely on the old tools.
Start thinking about this NOW as you amplified content will end up surfacing when Android TV really kicks off end 2015, into 2016.

8. Apps, Apps, Apps – I talked about this before, but Apps are the new websites for Android TV. Without an app, people simply won’t be able to access your content via the device. And it is all about video, not web pages. (with the exception of e.g. wikipedia bios being pulled in).
Once you’ve downloaded and engaged in an app, even just once, your featured suggestions will be influenced.

This is an opportunity to get top of mind, again.

9. Trey Ratcliff and Roman Guy are going to become household names – oh, this is the same as a Chromecast, but know that these top dog photographers have their G+ photos appear when you are not active.
And…
10. Imagine that the algorithm starts to judge you…
I was searching for an Elton John song (again, John, apologies for the somewhat dubious searches done on your account) and I swear the Search function wouldn’t let me choose it. It was like ‘Try Searching again…’ about 5 times.
I gave up and listened to the Script instead.

p.s. before you get too excited. My buddy John has a wife and kids in the house so we have a Safe Search approach on the devices to prevent dodgy content.

11. Social gaming – this is already massive online, but with Twitch built in, it is going to take off in the Home, on the big screen, for so many more people.

12. Social watching – I am not certain where this is going yet, but ‘reviews’ on movies in the Play store are being pulled in.
They are kinda fun. And people who want to be ‘heard’ will start using this more and when when they realize eyeballs are on them, and they can influence whether people take the next step to watch/purchase…

Conclusion

Android TV is a natural extension to the Google eco-system. And businesses are going to have to start thinking:
top of mind awareness and calls to action in everything they do. The game has already changed and you may not have know it…

Update, June 2016 – Android TV add spotted in South Wales on the back of a bus.

20160610_161641

How to Create Content Suited for Google+

By | Content Marketing, Google Plus | No Comments

Some businesses and marketing teams unfairly treat Google+ like a social media content dump; nothing more than a bulletin board to publish content that was originally meant for other social networks in an attempt to increase their SEO efforts.

It’s all too common for marketers to only focus on publishing content that has been repurposed from other networks or blogs and fail to actively participate in the Google+ community. Many of these brands can miss the features that make Google+ a unique opportunity to share content and as a result, can struggle to develop any real traction with their content.

While repurposing content can yield many advantages, it shouldn’t be the sole purpose of any social network strategy since each channel requires unique content to nurture their audiences. Marketers should test a variety of content types on Google+ to incorporate a healthy mix of themes your organization regularly addresses.

Google+ benefits from a thriving and dedicated community that often consumes content varying from visually appealing posts such as videos, GIFS and infographics to in-depth discussions that we’ve grown to expect from chat rooms or fan forums. Many Google+ users interact by offering advice and openly sharing their expertise within circles to give back to their communities. The overall mindset is that Google+ users are looking to learn and communicate with their content and self promotion doesn’t tend to resonate as well.

To create content that caters to the wants and needs of your audience, you should begin by developing a healthy understanding of how your community wants to interact with your content and what your audience is looking to accomplish while using Google+.

Brian Honigman1

Understand Your Google+ Demographic by Actively Participating in Communities

The Google+ demographic largely skews towards males in their late twenties and early thirties, which equates to more than 70% of the community, and they tend to be “techies”. Active Google+ users are likely to be software engineers, designers, IT professionals, writers, marketers and photographers with an above average education. Brands should create content that appeals to the wants and needs of this audience in a genuine and non-promotional way.

Start by becoming a member of several Google+ communities with a large amount of active users that are relevant to your industry, product or service offerings. These communities can allow for your business to collaborate with your target market, share ideas and ask questions to people who have similar or shared interests.

Communities are similar to focus groups for your business and many already have thousands of members that you can begin interacting with. By engaging with these audiences, you can learn what content performs the most effectively and when it’s best appropriate to suggest a blog post, article or other content from your website.

Brian Honigman2

Participate with content and information that is shared by other members in your communities and add your own perspective or expertise. Through this discussion, you can learn hot to create content that is best suited for your audience and build content strategy to leverage your campaigns and initiatives moving forward.

For example, if a brand is marketing photography equipment and notices that YouTube video tutorials and product reviews for camera gear are published and actively shared within their community, it may be an indication that video content serves their audience best. This doesn’t mean that only video content will be effective, but it can help give you an idea on where to start.

Experiment With Google+’s Unique Feature Sets

Finding the best content types for any given network is often discovered through continuous testing and careful attention to the performance of your content. Google+ is no different from that aspect, but if you need a place to start, you should experiment with content that has worked on your other social channels and tweak it to match what you learn along the way.

Share visual content such as videos and photos as you would on other networks but also consider using features that are unique to Google+, such as posting animated GIF content. GIFs are quick and sometimes humorous clips that can be used to draw the attention of your audience and are useful when solidifying a point within your content.

When you publish visual content, include a few written paragraphs and use the Google+ formatting options to help your content stand out. Vary the text in posts by bolding headlines, adding italics and incorporating bulleted lists when applicable. These techniques can help break up text clumping from your posts and help make your content easier to ready, especially when publishing lengthy content.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, content shared on Google+ often does better with more copy included in your posts. To take advantage of this, use your Google+ stream as another avenue for distributing your long form content such as blog posts or white papers.

Write a mini blog or a summary that highlights the key purposes of your content and include a link back to your website. Yes, this is content repurposing, but the focus should be on using the unique features of Google+ to cater these posts specifically to your audience and concurrently help boost your SEO.

To further explore the capabilities of Google +, engage your audience by holding live Google Hangouts. Hangouts are limited to ten people, but you can best use this feature by inviting industry influencers to have conversations or conference about topics that interest your audiences. This open discussion content can help you better connect with your customers. Try holding Hangouts that focus around Q&A’s, product tutorials and thought leadership discussions.

By using a variety of the features that are unique to the Google+ network, your business can learn to create content that is suited for your audience and better represents your products and services.

Brian Honigman3

How to use Android TV for Business

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

How to use Android TV for Business and Marketing

Television as we know is hasn’t really changed for 50 years.

It is the centre of the home and yet technology has advanced every other device around it, leaving it largely untouched.
There is minimal interaction, it is a passive activity.

And now Android TV is turning this passivity into activity.

John Gower, CEO Dialectinc.com

These are the main considerations:

Videos

Does your business have a strategy in place for ‘Video in the Home’?
If not yet, it will.
It is videos, not web pages that win out in this part of the ecosystem.

Google is often delivering ‘the answer’ when there is certainty.

The algorithm appears to be delivering slightly different results to desktop/mobile (having run tests on my usual keywords).

Display and surfacing of results is new. They appear in a new horizontal stream of personalized suggestions for you.

Apps

We all know Apps win a lot of attention on a mobile device. And on Android TV, you will find that entering into the app will hold attention.

But there is something else we spotted.
When you enter into an app and interact with it, once you leave, there are more suggestions for you to watch based upon that interaction. i.e your app content can now be surfaced on the home page of Android TV without having to enter the app!
We looked at a TED Talk, and many more were suggested in YouTube Search.

You may be thinking we have this with ‘Suggested For You’ in YouTube, but this seemed to be driven by the App, not YouTube alone.

Thinking of building an app? Think TV. Think Video.

Voice Search

Best way to interact is through your voice via a microphone in the controller. This is super intelligent now. Applying semantic search principles with the meaning of a query changing with additional search information. It juggles on the screen before your eyes.
I searched for: ‘Foundations’ and it heard ‘Fundations’ (and displayed that word in the Search box), I then said ‘Kate Nash’ and ‘Fundations’ became ‘Foundations’ and the single certain result for ‘Foundations Kate Nash’ appeared in front of me.

Realize that the millenials use voice much more than us lot (I am 42 this year) and that the home will be driven by voice.

Ads

There are ads in between some videos – usually 15 seconds, sometimes 30 seconds.
But for some reason they are not as intrusive as the ones you get on standard TV.
Presumably these are the same video ads available for distribution through your Google Adwords account.

What does this mean? Well, if you are not getting the video results, you can still gain attention in the home through relevant, targeted Adwords Spend.

We can help with that here.

Social

Twitch.tv (a platform used largely by gamers) gives people the ability to share their game play, or screen, with social connections.

There are also other recording features available, including one that enables ‘comments’ to be turned on/off.

Movie Reviews

These are pulled in from Google Play, and appear under movies. Images are pulled in from people’s Google One account profile.

Presumably people’s opinion’s are going to become the focus of much more discussion, and businesses can put together a strategy to support the best rising to the top.

Design

Material design – clean, sharp colours, easy to navigate, big beautiful images, video playback behind search, slick animations – giving the Android redesign space to breath on a large screen.

All in all…

David Amerland, PYB Level 5 member and world authority in Semantic Search says: 

“Google TV is the point of ingress that has so far eluded Google in its drive to make Android the hub around which the Smart Home of tomorrow revolves. With this new development there is, at last, a good base for providing the practical uses which then become the “proof of concept” required for making further connectivity, search and predictive services part of the home’s digital evolution in the IoT world that’s coming.”

Conclusion

This is the very beginning of Android TV, and the start of a new wave of marketing.

And we are now at the very start of the evolution of the Internet of Things making its way home.

 

8 Basic Rules for Content Marketing

By | Content Marketing, Google Plus | No Comments

8-basic-rules-for-content-marketing

SEO seems like it’s constantly changing, and that’s because it is. However, some things have not really changed much at all. For instance, links remain a significant part of the algorithms for both Google and Bing. Most of the search terms you might want to rank for likely have thousands of, or even more, competitors, and links are a big part of helping the search engines know who to rank first.

You know that you need to get some links, but how do you get started? And how do you do the right things so Google does not penalize you?

The essential first insight is that Google wants links to be “editorially given.” What that means is that they are not compensated (i.e. paid for), and it’s not simply you going to some web site and implementing a link to yourself. Google tries hard to detect non-editorial links, and discount them. In addition, if you do too much of this, they may simply penalize you.

Google wants links to be like academic citations, similar to the ones you might find at the bottom of a professor’s research paper:

academic-citation

These types of citations are generally given to the papers by other people whom the professor leveraged in their research. Nobody paid to get these placements, and it worked on a pure merit system. You could figure out which research papers were the most important by seeing which ones got referenced the most, and also which ones were referenced in the most important papers. This is the basic concept of how the linkgraph is supposed to work.

In the early days of SEO, we focused on link building, but for too many people this led them down a path of acquiring lots of links that Google thought of as manipulative. For that reason, these days we focus more on the notion of content marketing, which is meant to suggest a more holistic approach. With this in mind, here is a set of rules that you can use to guide your initial efforts into content marketing for your site.

1. Start by Thinking in Terms of Traditional PR and Marketing: High-quality content marketing is all about being holistic (i.e. not manipulative). Traditional marketing and PR, for which link building was not a consideration, focused on building relationships with media, bloggers, and industry analysts (influencers). This initial mindset is a great place to start.

The reason is that traditional PR and marketing focus on building your reputation and visibility. The best content marketing campaigns do too, and this differentiates them from poor-quality link building campaigns.

2. Create Unique, High Quality Content to Attract Links: Nothing else you do will be enough if you don’t get this point right. Give people something worth linking to. I can’t emphasize unique enough! If you have built the 25,324th site covering a given topic, what are you going to do to make it unique?

Forget about SEO for a second and think of it this way: Let’s say you open a new pizza parlor and there are five others in your city within four blocks of you. Why is someone going to come into yours? Are you going to create new specialty pizzas? Are you going to organize a major charity event for a popular cause? Will you offer some crazy discount promotion? You know you have to do something, and not just once.

Gaining market share in that situation is going to very tough. So it is on the web as well, where your goal is to create mindshare. You need to create content that stands out to attract links. Doing that may be a tough problem, but you have to solve it, or else your SEO will fail.

3. Think Quality Over Quantity: Too many people fall into the trap of thinking that they need tons of links. It’s more about quality over quantity. Remember that PR/marketing mindset from point 1 above? Let me share a thought to frame it for you. One very high-quality link can be worth 1 million times more to your site than a poor-quality link.

That’s right — if you pursue easy-to-get, low-quality links, you might need to get 1 million of them to get the same boost you would get from one very high-quality link. Which one of those sounds easier? By the way, it’s also the process of gathering up tons of low-quality links that puts you at risk of getting a penalty.

How do we define quality? Take it all in context. If you are a local pizza parlor, a link from the local newspaper is a very high-quality link. As a general rule of thumb, think of it as links from web sites that have many of your potential customers visiting them. If you are part of a large national brand, the bar for what makes a quality link is quite a bit higher.

4. Use a Mixed Strategy of Publishing on Your Site and on Other People’s Sites: Consider offering content to third party sites as a way to build your reputation and visibility. This is powerful because it’s one way to get in front of your potential customers on other people’s sites. This is the concept of leveraging “other people’s audiences.”

guest-posts-expose-you-to-opa

This helps you with your reputation and visibility, and may even drive direct business. In addition, this type of content often results in a direct link back to your site in the process. If this is on an authoritative site, that’s a good thing!

Then, you should also make sure that you have great content on your site, as it will give them a reason to go directly to your site next time, and it will help your site attract links as well.

5. Leverage Partnerships with Established Players: Another way to get in front of other people’s audiences is to partner with other businesses or influencers to create content. Can you create a joint survey with someone? Co-host an event? Jointly author an article for a major blog or media site? Do a research study?

Partnering is a great tactic because your partner is likely to help promote the resulting content. They may link to it from their site (or you may even publish it on their site with an attribution link to your site), they may promote it on social media, and these things are good for you.

If you are just starting out, you may need to do more, or all, of the work, but if you have more to gain, that’s perfectly OK. If they are the right partner, just do it. Establishing these partnerships requires that you bring real value to the table.

6. Leverage Social Media to Increase Exposure to Your Content: Social media accounts act like a built-in PR channel. If you have established a strong social media presence, then it can be a real driver of content marketing programs that drive links to your site.

synergy-graphic-basic-blog-size new

If you don’t have a strong social media presence, then consider paid social media. This costs some money, but you can get pretty targeted with your social media advertising. The bottom line is that this is another way to get in front of new audiences and drive exposure to your content.

Just make sure the content you are promoting this way is really solid. You don’t want to spend money on a campaign if the content you are promoting is not truly of high value. You would simply be wasting money!

7. Measure Progress: Make sure you are checking progress on a regular basis. Progress can be measured many ways, including:

  1. Growth of organic search traffic to your site
  2. Numbers and quality of links to your site
  3. Social shares received by your content
  4. Number of new relationships developed
  5. Actual new business opportunities that result

Some of these metrics may move slowly, as is likely the case with the organic search traffic, but they are all important to measure and track. This will allow you to see which content is resonating most with your audience, and which brings you the best results.

8. Be Patient, Be Persistent: Content marketing is not a short game. You need to be patient, as it will take time. Six months is a reasonable time period to expect to wait before seeing initial results, and then the real solid upside will take a year or more for most of you. It’s true that in rare cases you can get an early hit, but you should not count on that unless you are able to come up with something that is highly innovative and very popular.

This is why step 7, measurement, is so important. Learning what works, what doesn’t, tweaking the plan, and evolving on a continual basis are critical to your long-term success.

Summary

Links remain an integral part of Google and Bing’s algorithms. They help identify the most important web pages to rank for given search terms. In today’s environment, a holistic approach to obtaining those links is essential. Doing content marketing the right way is the best way to get such links. Use the above eight-step plan to get you heading down the right path.

You can read more about how to get started with content marketing here.

Beginners Guide to Using Pinterest for Business

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

Pinterest is an online visual discovery tool. It allows users to discover things that;

  • inspire them
  • they want to do
  • they want to discover
  • they want to buy
  • sometimes even things they didn’t know they were looking for

Users share and collect their favorite pictures and videos based on their interests. The sharing of these pictures with other users on Pinterest is what gives your business more exposure.

Anna Bennett1

Ok let me guess, you decided to take a stab at Pinterest this year but you feel a little unsure about whether or not you’re on the right path.  Maybe you’re not even sure you understand Pinterest. Whether you are a newbie or an advanced user it’s helpful from time to time to take a step back and formulate a cohesive plan to help organize yourself or your team to make sure your time on Pinterest yields results.

All social media platforms work differently and end users use them differently too. Posting on Facebook and tweeting on Twitter is not the same as pinning on Pinterest.

Pinterest is beneficial for all types of product & service businesses. Fortune 500 companies like GE and Home Depot to local mom and pop businesses and everything in between. If you’re just starting out on Pinterest you need to define your Pinterest marketing strategies:

1) What do you want to achieve on Pinterest? Is it to:

  • Get more traffic
  • Make more sales
  • Collect market intelligence which helps with future content & product development
  • Raise their brand profile
  • Develop loyal fans and brand advocates

Attach metrics to your goals so you know how to measure your ROI.

2) Do you know who you want to attract?

Purposefully plan to gain a deeper understanding of their needs, problems, interests, etc. The purpose of identifying your target market is so that you can succeed in helping and educating them. The clearer you are about what you’re target audience is looking for the more effective you will be in creating your content.

Anna Bennett2

3) Image inventory assessment

Do you have any marketing materials that you can leverage into Pinterest? You will need pictures for Pinterest and loads of them! Are they the right size for Pinterest? If you don’t have enough original images one of my jobs as a Pinterest consultant is to help you figure out your options for creating more graphics.

Here are three costly mistakes you need to avoid:

1. Being clueless about your keywords

You have to figure out from the very beginning what keywords you want to rank high on in Pinterest’s search engine. Don’t even think about pinning if you’re if you haven’t figured this out yet.

Anna Bennett3

What keywords do people use in a Google search to find your type of products?

Think how search engines think.

If you know this ahead of time you can garnish these keywords in specific areas of your Pinterest account so you get found on the top of Pinterest’s search engine.

Use keywords that pertain to your business when you write descriptions for your pinned images.

2. Your website is not Pinterest friendly

When people land on your website and/or blog do you make it easy for them to share your products and services? Make sure you add the following free tools that Pinterest offers for your website and/or blog:

  1. Follow me button
  2. Pin it buttons
  3. Board widgets
  4. Rich Pin integration

3. You don’t know who to follow on Pinterest

One of your goals on Pinterest is to build your followers on Pinterest. One of the strategies to employ that is to follow specific boards and Pinners so you raise your business profile.

Anna Bennett4

Two keys to keep in mind if you want to have success on Pinterest:

1. A return on your investment.

Regardless of whether you manage your Pinterest account in-house or outsource the management to an agency or expert time is money and you have to decide ahead of time what you’re willing to invest and what you expect in return.

Anna Bennett5

  1. Do you have someone on your team who is qualified to create content and pin on a consistent basis? In what way have they become qualified?
  1. If you decide to outsource are you looking to hire the cheapest person you can hire or someone who is an actual Pinterest expert?

Type the words Pinterest expert or Pinterest consultant into a Google search box.

Notice the results.

If the people you want to hire cannot get themselves onto the first page of Google’s organic search using Pinterest what makes you think they can help you rank any better?

People who rank highly know what they are doing, people who don’t, don’t.  Or they’d be there right?

Has the expert you are considering proven that they know how to use Pinterest to rank high on Google or not?

Do you really what to work with someone who claims to be an expert yet can’t demonstrate that they can use Pinterest to get themselves on the first page of Google?

2. Do you really know how to use Pinterest?

Why reinvent the wheel when someone has already created a proven step-by-step, blueprint on how to have success on Pinterest? Why follow every blog out there and think you can master Pinterest? I’ve spent over 4,000 hours creating Pinterest Marketing for Business course and I’m constantly updating it because Pinterest is always making changes in their policies, tools and features.

Bottom line, from what I have seen and experienced Pinterest can help any business increase traffic and sales. If you don’t know where to start or want to learn how to set-up and operate your Pinterest account correctly for maximum success you can grab Chapter 1 of my

Pinterest Marketing for Business course for FREE to help you get started.

25 Questions To Help You Choose The Right Digital Marketing Agency

By | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing | No Comments

Hiring a digital marketing agency is a big decision you should carefully research and study out. While choosing the right digital marketing agency can help you tap into the vast potential of online marketing, the wrong digital marketing agency can drain your funds and resources as they lead you down a path to nowhere.

In my last post, I covered questions to ask yourself before reaching out for quotes and proposals from potential digital marketing agencies. In this post, we cover the next step in the process which is the questions you should ask a digital marketing agency to determine if they are the right fit for your business.

What is the strategy?

While many businesses know what specific channels they need help with, chances are they’re hiring an agency or consultant not only for the additional help, but for their expertise and guidance in the rapidly evolving world on digital marketing.

Depending on the type of services you are looking for, many agencies and consultants will provide you with a research based proposal that outlines a high-level strategy they believe will help meet your online marketing goals.  This presents a great opportunity to dig into why they feel their approach will yield positive results by asking the following questions.

  • Why do they feel their strategy will help meet your goals and objectives?
    • This question will offer an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the research behind their recommended strategies. It will also present the digital marketing agency an opportunity to share results obtained from similar strategies implemented on other client campaigns.
  • Is it sustainable?
    • Tactics used by many digital marketing agencies, SEO vendors in particular, still focus on short term results with no long term plan in place. While some strategies can lead to improved traffic and rankings in the short term, there needs to be a long term plan in place for continued success online.
  • When can you expect to start seeing results?
    • Results don’t happen overnight. This is an important question that can help to set the right expectations
  • What resources will they need from you to carry out a successful campaign?
    • This will help you coordinate internal resources to ensure there aren’t any bottlenecks that could impede progress
  • What role and responsibilities will be expected of you?
    • Hiring a digital marketing agency or consultant is a partnership that requires consistent communication, feedback and coordination. Because a new consultant or agency will act as an extension of your marketing team, collaboration with your other internal team members, vendors or departments will be crucial.

Brian Jensen

How will success be defined and reported on?

While reports can and will vary depending on strategy, channels, goals and KPIs, it should be paramount to every agency or consultant to provide you data that shows how their strategy is impacting your bottom line.  The following questions should provide you with clarity on the reports you can expect to receive:

  • What types of reports can I expect?
    • Reports can be very detail-oriented or very high level. If you have specific needs or metrics you need included and reported on, now would be a good time to mention it
  • How often will I get reports?
  • What types of goals will be set?
    • You’ll likely already have goals and KPIs in place that you can share and incorporate into reports
  • How will performance be tracked?
    • Traffic, rankings, conversions, assisted conversions and new followers are all possible metrics. Work with your new partner to determine which metrics matter most
  • What access to internal tools and accounts will you need?
    • Most agencies/consultants will, at minimum, need access to your analytics and webmaster tools accounts.

Because a long-term relationship is based on providing positive results, great agencies and consultants will place high value on showing you how outcomes are directly and indirectly providing value.

Who will be managing my account?

25 Questions To Help You Choose The Right Digital Marketing Agency (2)

Regardless of how reputable an agency might be, the success of a campaign can very much be dependent on who manages your account. Use the following questions to help you understand who will be responsible for setting and driving strategy:

  • Who will be managing my account?
  • What are their qualifications/experience?
  • How long have they been with the company?
  • Can you send me a link to their LinkedIn profile?
  • Can you send me a link to their latest blog post?

Asking all of the above questions should help you paint a fairly accurate picture of who will ultimately be responsible for the success of your campaign. It’s okay to check LinkedIn profiles and social media accounts to help you evaluate credentials and expertise.

Can you provide me with references?

You’ll want to ask your prospective agency or consultant for references that should include both current and former clients. Use the following questions to provide insight into what you could expect from a partnership:

  • What they like and what they feel can be improved?
  • How was the responsiveness of their point of contact?
  • What types of results were delivered?
  • How long did it take to see results?

In addition to asking for references, you may also want to ask a prospective agency or consultant what the typical (average) lifespan of a client is.

1

Reviews: Do Your Homework!

While it’s great to get feedback from vendors, as well current and former clients, you’ll also want to do your own research. If the business is BBB accredited, you can view their customer reviews. Also, a search online for reviews from other sources doesn’t hurt either.

While you’re at it, checking review sites like Glassdoor can provide you with insights into how the agency operates and what both current and former employees have to say.

Bonus Questions

Ask about their company culture and any causes they support

  • This may lead to finding common ground and hiring an agency/consultant that believes in supporting similar causes

Ask them to tell you about a time that they failed

  • The reality is that not all strategies or campaigns meet the desired outcome. Asking for an example of a time a strategy failed and what they’ve learned from that experience shows that they’re willing to own up to mistakes and learn from them

What sets them apart from their competition?

  • There’s no shortage of choices when it comes to choosing a digital marketing agency or consultant. Find out what sets them apart and why they are the best fit for your business.

Being thorough and asking the right questions will help you make the most informed decision possible when hiring someone to assist your business with your digital marketing efforts.

Brian Jensen is the Owner & CEO of  Congruent Digital, a boutique online marketing agency that provides clients with a customized,  audience-first approach to digital marketing. Brian is very passionate about helping businesses increase their online presence. If you have questions about search engine optimization or any other area of digital marketing, you can reach him at [email protected] Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, and then try Congruent Digital’s Tweet Indexation Rate Tool.

Holiday Property Owners Go Social

By | Case Studies, Content Marketing | No Comments

Plus Your Business member Alan Egan is a seasoned vacation rental entrepreneur. His business  teaches holiday property owners to successfully promote their business using social media and content marketing. Alan was an early adopter of Google+ and encourages his customers to focus their activity on Google+ as their main social platform.

From his experience as a listings site owner and rental manager Alan had gained a detailed understanding of the vacation rental market.  He explained to me how changing technologies have impacted the sector.  In the early days properties were marketed through small ads in up market magazines, when the internet emerged web marketing became the norm, today video and social media have become the marketing tools of choice for savvy owners to attract a mobile generation.

But technology is just the medium, Alan’s business is also based on one very simple insight – people visit destinations not properties.  By creating content about the location of their properties not the property itself Alan’s customers are able to tell a much more attractive and compelling story than if they focused on the layout of their kitchen, the colour of the Jacuzzi or the size of the beds. An interesting by product of this approach is that many owners have rediscovered the attractions of and their enthusiasm for the location.

Alan Egan Case Study

The Social Media Marketing Journey

With his knowledge of how vacation rental marketing worked  Alan was quick to see the potential of social media marketing; he experimented with Twitter and Facebook with mixed success and also began using a content marketing approach on his website. He was an early and enthusiastic convert to Google Plus which he found was “by far the easiest platform for mini-blogging”. Another thing which really helped was discovering Martin Shervington’s Google Plus articles and videos.

“In the early days Martin’s videos were a Godsend – very clear. They are broken down into bite sized chunks. You can learn a bit at a time at your own pace. It was the main place where I learnt the ins and outs of Google Plus”.

He adds, “Plus Your Business is the only community for which I have notifications turned on”.

Teaching Property Owners to Do It Themselves

Alan realised that Google Plus with suitable guidance could transform the way property owners could market their businesses and this was something that could be taught. In February 2014 he launched a new online training package for property owners showing people the basics of Google Plus, giving access to a private community where they could ask their property marketing questions and share ideas with other owners. Customers are also shown how to create a social media schedule, where to find content, and for those who are more advanced how to syndicate content.

The results speak for themselves.

Alan produced a case study based on a cross section of 10 of his initial customers. After seven months they had 19,000+ followers and had received 2.5m+ views on their Google Pages alone but more importantly 9 out of 10 had seen big improvements in the search rankings.

After a full twelve months the 10 customers had added 10,000 more followers, averaging 2,875 followers each. In the previous 18 weeks alone the group had received 8.8 million views on Google Plus.

Now 9 out of 10 were appearing on the first page of Google, 8 of these in the top 5.

45% reported that bookings were up on last year and 27% reported bookings were up a lot.

Here is the full table of results:

Alan Egan Case Study2

Page views and search rankings after 12 months

Destination More Bookings

None of the property owners in this case study were experienced marketers which makes their results even more impressive and all continue to actively use social media and Google Plus as their main marketing activity. In addition owners are reducing their dependence on paid marketing. As they become more sophisticated about social media owners are using adding Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to complement their Google Plus activities.

Alan’s businesses have thrived by showing owners the secrets of being social and giving them the tools and framework to showcase their properties; in the process he has created a community where customers can learn and grow together.

Alan can be reached on [email protected] or via his businesses Rentmoreweeks, an online vacation rental magazine,  and  Bookingsplus4g.com  an online training solution for holiday property owners.  You can also find details of Alan’s holiday property here.