Category Archives: Digital Marketing

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The changing face of SEO, influence & trust

SEO gets people to your website – trust keeps them there

A key element of trust is authority – it’s one of the 7 fundamental principles of influencing that will keep your visitors on your website. Not only will demonstrating your authority keep your initial visitors, it will BRING THEM BACK because they trust you.

We were reminded of that recently, when POD Services – one of our long-term SEO clients – told us the story of their COVID pivot and the award-winning range of “sneeze screens” they’re selling.

It’s an excellent example of how you can use what’s happening in your business to improve your “findability”.

Influencing and trust building

If you’ve been working with us for any time, you know that influencing, trust and authority can be built by supportive content.

“Trust” means different things to different people. And – like health and fitness – there’s a whole lot of “everybody knows” thinking about trust building digital marketing that “just ain’t so” anymore.

In the early days of SEO, if you used lots of your top keywords in your content that you’d get found. (But then a whole lot of people did ridiculous amounts of keyword stacking and now that can earn you a Google-slap.)

Today we need to work a whole lot smarter to build a trusted online presence. One way to do this is to apply the latest know-how on how trust and influencing REALLY work.

The psychology of influence and trust

In recent years, influencing has been broken down into its component elements and studied in detail. It has become a process that you can use to engineer user engagement – engagement that leads to sales.

Robert Cialdini is Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. He’s written two bestselling books on how influencing works (INFLUENCE and PRE-SUASION).

His 7 Principles of Influencing are a powerful toolset for smart online marketers.

The real game of online business is about connecting with an audience of your ideal prospects, and engaging them – explaining why you and your solutions are the best way to meet their needs.

These principles are a great lense to evaluate everything from your website design to your SEO investment.

A quick tour of the principles of persuasion

  1. Reciprocation
    When people are given something, they have a built in urge to give back. So helpful, supportive content is an important way to give to your prospects.
  2. Authority
    Who’s in the know has mattered ever since we worked out how to chip flint into spear heads. Demonstrate your authority and your expertise – including with content that proves you know your stuff.
  3. Consistency
    “Something’s changed” was hard-wired into anxiety way back when a rustle in the long grass might be a sabre-tooth tiger. Present yourself and your offer consistently in order to build trust. And yes – be consistent about publishing that content over time.
  4. Liking
    People do business with people they like. You can’t be liked if you can’t be seen. No business operates without humans. Showing up as real and authentic people online is SEO gold – as well as conversion gold.
  5. Scarcity / Uniqueness
    No one wants to miss out. And at the other end of the spectrum, there’s prestige in having what others don’t. Appropriate, strategic scarcity can be an advantage. You can’t sell to the whole world – so make yourself awesomely attractive to your best prospects.
  6. Social Proof
    Most of the human race, most of the time (around 85%, according to Innovation Theory) make their decisions based on the opinions of those around them – NOT logic. Social proof from people like your visitors and from people they respect will win you customers. So build social proof into your content strategy.
  7. Unity
    Belonging to a community matters – being part of a tribe kept us alive. Treat your customer base – past and present – as a tribe of like-minded collaborators.

Be in the Pre-susasion game, not the sales game

Perhaps one of Cialdini’s biggest contributions was to explain framing.

What’s most important online is what you do BEFORE you go for the sale. How you frame your business and your offer will contribute enormously to GETTING you the sale EASILY.

POD Services, authority and trust

So when fine arts services provider POD – who have been investing in SEO for over 7 years – told us of their pivot and their award-winning new product, we knew it was a prime opportunity for them to turn that story into content.

Over the years, we’ve been able to give them page 1 / number 1 results for their selection of niche, targeted keywords and phrases. This year their investment paid off for them in unexpected ways when COVID hit.

POD are designers and innovators, working in a specialist niche with museums and art galleries. They design and build products to display, store and package fine art items.

They’re seriously smart, creative and entrepreneurial. So when COVID-19 hit, they did a fast pivot. They moved into designing, producing, and installing high-quality sneeze guards and point of sale protection – a bit of a change from museum installations.

Their products look – and are – top-notch because these guys are designers who know how to make things look good without distracting from what they protect.

They decided to give their very different product range its own website – called Counteract. (Which we did a great digital strategy for.)

Building authority online

Recently, POD won an award from The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre for their high-quality CounterAct screens.

So we’re working with them on strategies to use that award to build their authority.

  • Firstly, they can display their award above-the-fold on their new website.
  • They can also write content for that website about the award, explaining the features and benefits of their protective screens.
  • They can even blog about it on their existing niche website, sharing how their design skills and materials know-how helped them deliver a superior product.

What’s been surprising for them is how many sales that their existing client base has brought them. The ultimate pivot became a helpful value add.

Is your content supporting your authority?

The right supportive content builds authority and trust.

Supportive content (and copy) is most powerful when it pre-suades your visitors about your authority and your authenticity.

So take every opportunity to demonstrate your authority and authenticity in your content.

If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and let us help you with the right supportive content strategy for your needs.

How To Get 1,700,000 Youtube Subscribers

Let me introduce you to Maangchi.

Maangchi is a little Korean woman with a warm, husky voice. She’s a YouTube star and maven of Korean cuisine. I myself fell in love with her penchant for hot pink lipstick and fascinators, her way of wielding a killer cleaver, and of course, her recipes. In fact, so enamoured of her recipes was I, that it took me a while to see what was behind them.

You see, Maangchi isn’t just a cook. She’s actually a freakin’ content genius.

Currently courting 1,700,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, countless visitors to her bulging site, and thousands of active users in her forums, Maanchi isn’t someone to take lightly (fascinators notwithstanding). That kind of pull and longevity – her channel celebrates 10 years this year – takes some serious contenting chops.

Success leaves clues, as they say, and at her most recent Google Talk, Maanchi dropped a whole mess of them. Google says this talk “provides a crash course in authentic Korean home cooking” but it’s actually a crash course in how to do content properly and be wildly successful at it.

If you want to create amazing content that has your clients or customers hungering for more, follow her recipe. She won’t let you down.


1: Do what you know (17:40)

“Write what you know” is a hairy old chestnut, but it actually comes into its own with your content. Whether you’re writing it, filming it, recording it, or otherwise manifesting the hell out it, it needs to be based on what you intimately know as an expert in your field. And it makes sense: people come to you because of what you can brilliantly do, which is a byproduct of what you intimately know, and your content is an extension of that.

When doing content, you should do what you know – and do it generously – because your clients or customers are desperate for your knowledge. In return for this act of generosity, they will reward you with more business, more loyalty, and more trust. As icing on that hunk of cake, they will also come to consider you an authority, or a thought leader. (These terms, by the way, can only be bestowed upon you. You cannot claim them for yourself without someone, somewhere, sniggering.)

Maangchi started sharing her recipes with the world because someone told her that she was great at Korean cuisine. What are you great at? How can you communicate that as part of your content?


2: Don’t run out of content (18:00)

Content works, but content is hard. This is because if it’s going to work it needs to be a) great, and b) regular and consistent. Stats from CMI tell us that it takes 15 to 18 months from the point you begin doing content, to the point where your content literally pays off in actual coin of the realm.

Do you have enough content, or ideas for content, to do you day after day, week after week, month after month, for up to 18 months? Like, really?

For most people who attempt content marketing holus-bolus, it’s only a matter of (brief) time before their content becomes spasmodic, and then sputters to a halt.

The first way to ensure you don’t run out of content is the obvious one: you need a strategy and a plan. That’s it. It’s the best way to keep up with content marketing’s hungry demands.

The second way is one that I’ve written about before, and one that every editor and publisher is familiar with: your content has to be incredibly specific. General content is fine for periodic sharing, but for the consistently-good-and-good-and-consistent content, you need to get as specific as you possibly can. If Maangchi had set out to do vids on the theme of Korean cuisine as a whole, she might have had enough for a few, albeit informative, videos. But because she’s filming recipes, which are highly specific, she will never, ever run out of content.

Make your content highly specific, and you won’t run out of content either.


3: Begin anyway (18:25)

We all want our content to be perfect. Guess what? It isn’t, and it probably never will be. You need to begin it anyway.

Style, voice, themes, and messaging can’t be prescribed and then executed perfectly. This is because the act of creation is in itself a kind of searching. The more you create, the more you discover, improve, and evolve. In other words: the only way to do content is to do content.

Or perhaps, like Maangchi, you’re willing to embrace the uncertainty of creativity but don’t have the proper gear. I get it, and I sympathise: I want you to shoot on great cameras and record on great audio equipment, too. But guess what? The gear you want will probably be obsolete tomorrow, or the week after, or the month after. So begin with what you’ve got. You can upgrade as you go (and yes – you should upgrade, but that’s a blog for another time).

Commit, and do. Perfection only comes with practice.


4: Get a home on the Internet (22:20)

If you’ve worked with the original Mad Scientist, Ian, and I hope you have by now, you’ll have heard him say how important it is to own your digital real estate, and how absolutely vital it is to put your content on there. Maangchi would agree with him. Almost from the get-go, she knew that after they watched a video on YouTube, a good portion of the audience would want more: more direction, perhaps, or precise quantities, or the same information presented in a different way.

Your audience – your market – needs someplace to go. That means your own, registered website. On your website, you have ultimate control over how they experience your content. You can take care of these people in every possible way. And you can easily direct them where to go when they’re ready for your services. Your website is your most valuable digital asset.

Social media might be important, but it doesn’t belong to you. Social media’s main interest is itself – not you, not your business. Use it, yes, but treat it as your distributor, not your publisher. You are the publisher in the content marketing scenario.

Mad Scientist_Violeta Balhas_Content

5: Create a community (23:00)

Powerful is the business that can create and nurture a community. Businesses that are actively engaged attract more of today’s most valuable currency, trust, and are able to get up close and personal with the most important people: the clients or customers.

This is great, but communities also have huge content marketing benefits. Not only do communities make your content into a dynamic, ever-evolving construct as they discuss and share it, but when you host your community on your website, they also provide you with the easiest solution to your biggest content marketing problem.

Let’s back up a bit. The reason you need to create and publish great content consistently and regularly is because of Google’s favourite F-word: freshness. If you do as Maangchi did and say, set up a forum on your site, forum participants will constantly provide fresh content by asking and answering questions, engaging in lively discussion, sharing tips, and generally being cool to each other. A little judicious moderation aside, that’s as easy as content gets.


6: Learn from your audience (27:00)

Maangchi’s engagement with her audience means that they are giving her something else other than the adulation and income she deserves: ideas for more content! And not just any content: the content they really want.

When you create your content, who are you doing it for? Your audience and market, or yourself? Seriously. Because it’s one thing to pat yourself on the back when you have friends and cronies telling you how inspiring you are for writing about your blindfolded hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, and another thing altogether to have someone say, “I was really impressed with that piece you wrote about hiring sales staff. Can I make an appointment with you so we can talk about working together?”

Listen to what the people around you are saying. Listen to what makes them happy, but mostly, listen to their questions, whines, and whinges. You have the solutions they want. Put them into your content.


7: Don’t lead with the book (30:00)

Books – almost all of them self-published – have become the marketing tactic du jour, with a bunch of self-styled gurus selling too many people on the idea that books are necessary for establishing you as an authority. It’s not about the book sales, of which there’s bound to be almost none, but about your positioning.

At least, that’s the idea. The fact, however, is this:

The flood of crap books by a flood of people who actually know very little, unleashed upon the most sophisticated market in the history of the world, means that your book will most likely languish, along with your position as an authority, or a thought leader, or whatever you’d like to be.


Unless you first prove yourself as someone who knows a hell of a lot (through your business, and your content).

Unless you first build up a loyal market and audience over the long term (through your business, and your content).

Which is how Maangchi’s cookbook has sold a vast number of copies and cemented her position. Which is how Maangchi is now known as the “Korean Julia Child“, Which is how if you Google “Korean recipes”, her site is the second or third hit you’ll get. Which is how she got 1,700,000 YouTube subscribers.

You can, too. Get cooking.


Optimising ‘Awesome’

Your Customer is Not An Algorithm

Most of my business as the Mad Scientist comes from SEO so you’d expect me to say that SEO is the most important part of your Google presence, right? WRONG. The most important thing you can do to make Google love you is to make sure your site provides an excellent customer experience.

The way Google is ranking sites now means that if you are using best practice across brand, design, content, SEO, and social media, you’re heading in the right direction. What best practice is, well, that’s a bit up for debate depending on who you ask, but luckily all these areas of digital marketing are converging, which is as it should be.

Optimising your business for Google

With over 600 algorithm updates in the past year, Google is in full throttle, working to remove the crap from search results. I can’t believe that people are still buying shitty links from third parties and participating in link schemes. We found one a few months ago in Australia – a huge one, linking multiple accommodation sites to each other. It had been keeping them high in search engines for years and had gone undetected by Google. One of our clients had spent over 6 months trying to get ahead of some of these guys and out of frustration we went digging to find out what was really going on. Google’s algorithm hadn’t picked up on it at that stage, but it recently did and our client is finally ranking where they deserve to be.


Regardless of all this technical wrestling, and the struggle to prioritise where you actually invest your marketing dollar, the most important factor in this whole equation is your customer. I hear a lot of rhetoric from marketing professionals about how focused they are on this critical customer person. So often though, the customer is forgotten or temporarily pushed aside because a marketer or a creative or an ambitious and sometimes arrogant entrepreneur just wants to have an awesome-looking LinkedIn profile or website and impress people at parties talking about their smoke-and-mirrors business. Don’t chase the wrong thing.

How does UX impact SEO?

UX is actually quite straightforward to conceptualise but very hard to do well. In other words, it’s simple, but not easy. My advice on how you do it? Here you go:

Be awesome.

That’s it. I’m done.

Well, not quite. The practical on-site user experience should engage your customer. First, it should fit your brand vision and values, and be easy to navigate. A great mix of visuals – video and images – should be juxtaposed with some incredibly compelling and engaging information. Lead with your story and the needs of your customer, and they’ll hang around and come back often.

What does “be awesome” mean?

It starts from ground zero.

  • Your business must have a clearly defined purpose and vision
  • You should understand your customer inside out (demographics, psychographics, online platforms and behaviours)
  • You must have a meaningful and visually appropriate and appealing brand look and feel
  • Tell your story and relate to your customers through content
  • Help your customers make good decisions in their lives and connect/engage with them
  • Be transparent about how you run your business (e.g. supply chain, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, internal culture experience)
  • You should have a complete digital marketing strategy that is updated and executed often
  • You should have an awesome website with a great user experience
    • Good mix of images, video, and text
    • Answer your customers questions quickly
    • Make it easy for customers to contact you and/or make a purchase
  • Champion thought leaders within your business to have their own voice (providing it aligns with the company, of course)
  • Engage with your audience where they live (appropriate social channels and community events and sponsorship)
  • Have a consistent bricks and mortar branding experience
  • Deliver an exemplary product or service with every detail thought of and revised often
  • Have an ongoing PR strategy and traditional marketing outreach.

Told you it was simple.

Let’s optimise ‘awesome’

SEO can plug a few holes for you to start with but if you’re are not willing to execute the “Be awesome” directive, or at least start the journey, then you’ll be pushing shit uphill. And we all knows what happens when you push shit up hill long enough and then get tired. 

An SEO strategy is much more fun for everyone if we have something to optimise.

How to Avoid Digital Marketing and SEO Rip-Offs

As a business owner, digital marketing (and SEO) is maybe something you are very confused about. However, you may have found yourself to be a victim of some fast talking sales person’s pitch or an email which promised you ‘guaranteed number 1 rankings’ on Google  in a very short period of time. Needless to say, more than likely it never happened. All that did happen was that your bank account was a little less full.

In an attempt to clean up the industry which is full of con artists and snake oil merchants, we have put together a small series of Google Hangouts with a list of what to watch out for BEFORE you sign ANY contract with an SEO company.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss how to avoid being ripped off when you engage the services of a digital marketing company.

expert seo services

The 80/20 rule: A Digital Marketers reflections on the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle has had an honored place in management theory since the 1960’s

In the early 20th Century, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noticed something peculiar about the world that he lived in . 80% of the land in his country was owned by only 20% of its inhabitants. Similarly, only 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained some 80% of the peas. In 1941, Joseph Juran read Pareto’s work and expanded on it, realizing that in many situations 80% of the output was contributed by only 20% of the input. Calling what he termed the “vital few and the trivial many” the “Pareto Principle”.

The Pareto Principle has had an honored place in management theory since the 1960’s, with many seemingly strange correlations being noted. For example, it has been observed that 80% of decisions come from only 20% of meeting time, and that 20% of a sales force will produce 80% of the sales. Similarly, when applied to other areas of life the 80/20 principle still seems to hold. For example, anyone thinking back to school may recall that about 80% of the trouble in classrooms comes from only about 20% of the students.


Pareto, Pareto Principle, Digital Marketing

The Pareto Principle can also be thought of as applying to our personal lives as well. If we think about the people we know, it is often 20% of them that are giving us 80% of the most grief, while another 20% are giving us 80% of the most joy.

This has been extrapolated into the work day, where it is often said that only 20% of what you do will produce 80% of your results, so that when faced with multiple things to do, one should focus on those tasks and people that will the greatest benefit for the least input.

This means that we need to focus on what our goals are and how we can best move towards achieving those goals. Within many business settings, our goals will be fairly well defined by certain Key Performance Indicators, or by sales and production figures. Unfortunately a large number of small businesses don’t seem to have any goal beyond “stay financial” and as such, much time is wasted trying to do to much with too little. For example, in starting up a new restaurant, it is not sufficient to say that you want “everyone” to be your clients. Rather, you need to identify a niche and tailor your menu and marketing towards attracting that type of client.

Much of what passes as our work day is often taken up by fluff and things that aren’t really that important. Do your pens and paper clips really need to each have their own colour co-ordinated paper box on your desk? Or would you be better off spending the time getting on top of your accounts?

The key here is that we all need to identify those things that you can do and those things that other people can do and to focus everybody’s efforts on those tasks that value add, while putting those that don’t lower on the priority list.

We often can get caught up in trying to do everything ourselves, but need to remember we have been hired for a designated role, specifically for the unique skills that we bring to the equation. As such, we are often going to be at our most productive when we are engaged in those tasks that utilise our special skills and we would be better off delegating tasks that require lower levels of competancy. (Just don’t do what the US developer from Verizon did, I don’t recommend this approach.)

For example, the Australian Army once had all of its soldiers do work in the various messes. Given that your average tank soldier has no training in cookery, the jobs that they would do in the kitchens were unskilled and menial. This was an absolute waste of resources. Given that the Australian Army had spent tens of thousands of dollars training soldiers to crew armored vehicles, and pays them very well, it effectively had the most expensive bottle washers in the country doing work that they presented. Eventually, common sense prevailed and civilians were bought in on the award wage, thereby freeing hundreds of soldiers around the country to to what they were actually trained to do and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.

One of the best ways of implementing the 80/20 principle in the workplace Continue reading

Temperament Insights to Add a Bit of Science to Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Once upon a time marketing was an arcane talent – a mystical understanding of human behavior that enabled certain magicians to understand their customers and make sales.  These days, an increasing number of straightforward tools are available to help business people develop the craft of marketing as a skilled practice.    One of these tools is the Myers Briggs temperament model.   Continue reading

The Mobile Age of Telephone Throwing – Art or Sport?

Ian and Andrew here discuss the quirky sport of telephone throwing in Finland. Apart from throwing his own phone, Ian along with Andrew talk about the infamous incident when Russell Crowe threw a phone in the hotel suite, resulting in being arrested.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss the phenomenon of throwing mobile phones.


Aaron Sorkin wins Oscar for The Social Network

Congratulations to Aaron Sorkin for his phenomenal adapted Screen Play The Social Network. It’s this kind of genius that has deservedly won him an Oscar today. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m not sure it’s right to say you’re part of the world. Admittedly, I’m a self-proclaimed Social Media junkie but I found it to be nothing short of a masterpiece!

Read the full report in The Hollywood Reporter.

About the Author:

Ian Hopkinson is CEO of Mad Scientist Digital and a Creative Advisor to many start-up businesses across the globe.

For more information on all things digital, you know the drill

The Business of Digital with Mad Scientist Digital

The digital marketing business is often at times misunderstood.

A simple way to define digital marketing is: the promotion of brands or products using many forms of the electronic media.

What does it take for a company to do marketing in the digital arena the right way? There are three main ways you can break it down:

1. A good digital marketing company has to be able to manage the often complex customer relationship in both digital and traditional

2. A good marketing company has to be able to respond to as well as initiate dynamic customer interactions

3. To bring together big data from a variety of sources and to add value to their clients for better decision making

Out of the many thousands of digital marketing companies, most are snake oil salesman selling their ‘digital marketing’ expertise. An owner of a website should know what to look for before hiring a marketing company for their website. In this video, we endeavour to give you some helpful suggestions on what to look for before you get locked into any contacts.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson  along with  Keith Chagnon from the Los Angeles office, endeavour to give you some helpful suggestions on what to look for before you get locked into any digital marketing contracts.


Part 1-How to Avoid Digital Marketing and SEO Rip-Offs


As a business owner, digital marketing (and SEO) is maybe something you are very confused about. However, you may have found yourself to be a victim of some fast talking sales person’s pitch or an email which promised you ‘guaranteed number 1 rankings’ on Google  in a very short period of time. Needless to say, more than likely it never happened. All that did happen was that your bank account was a little less full.

In an attempt to clean up the industry which is full of con artists and snake oil merchants, we have put together a small series of Google Hangouts with a list of what to watch out for BEFORE you sign ANY contract with an SEO company.

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss how to avoid being ripped off when you engage the services of a digital marketing company.