Category Archives: General

What Do You Do Before You Do Digital Marketing? Insights from Good to Great

In a world where Internet presence is becoming increasingly important, it can be easy to be convinced to jump into a digital marketing program.  After all, every one is doing it — and being noticed is the first step in finding new customers.

The question is “Are you really ready?”  Have you done the ground work to present well, or are you going into an uninformed process that could result in the curse of the computer age – GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT?

Technology Last  (Good to Great rules!)

In 2001, Jim Collins published his research into the factors that turned good businesses into great businesses, performing well above their industry average over long periods of time. The title of the book is “Good to Great. Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t”.

Collins described a cyclic process of 6 steps that — pursued persistently — significantly increase and sustain outstanding business performance. He called this cycle of steps “the Flywheel”. You’re probably not here for business coaching, but just so you have the picture, the 6 steps are:

  1. Smart leadership first. Businesses with leaders who are smart coaches, not charismatic heroes are the businesses that thrive.
  2. Get your team right to get your business right. The people you need probably aren’t the same as you.  Build the right team and work with them in deciding what to do.
  3. Practice brutal honesty. Acknowledge what’s going on (and have faith you can deal with it). Create permission for the truth to be heard and dealt with.
  4. Know your core value proposition. Deeply understand the heart of the business you’re in – the place your passion, excellence and customer value meet.
  5. Name the rules — explicitly.  Develop a culture of discipline where everybody understands what the rules are for “our game” and what success looks like.
  6. Use relevant technology to accelerate business performance based on sound strategy.

The Core Application to Digital Marketing?

The right technology at the end of the right strategy will pay off big time — if you’ve done your homework.  Then you know what you’re selling and you know you’ve got the right people on your team to deliver:

  • Your message; AND
  • The value you promise.

Without knowing the value that your customer is really buying and being able to deliver on your promise, you risk spending a whole lot of money on the wrong message and (much worse) damaging your reputation because you’ve missed the mark.

Don’t play READY / FIRE / AIM — it’s way too expensive!

Leigh Baker is a writer and sustainable business coach specializing in the skills business owners need to turn innovative business thinking into strategic action.

SEO: EVERYBODY Pays – But Who Gets Value?

Everybody pays for SEO and web traffic, one way or another.  It may be in time writing blog posts.  It may be in favours from family and friends with varying levels of expertise and availability.  It may be in AdWords and Facebook Ads.  It may be the hidden costs of low rankings caused by out-of-date “tricks” that used to work.

Everyone who wants to be found on the Internet pays.

Not everyone gets value

There are a lot of people out there doing SEO.  It’s a new field that’s constantly changing.  There aren’t all that many experts, however.

We find that a lot of people are paying for SEO and getting pretty poor returns.  Aside from the straight-out scam artists, there are a lot of people who THINK they know how to do SEO because they’re smart and they’ve read some articles.

They may be very good at their day job, but if they’re not doing SEO full-time, they can’t possibly be keeping up with algorithm changes, Internet content changes, changing social media platforms and audiences, or the changing demands of new and more varied access devices.

How do you evaluate SEO quality?

First, you’re looking for a SEO provider who’s going to be a long term partner.  Then ask them about:

  • The breadth of their digital marketing expertise — in social media, in design, in core SEO algorithms, in marketing, in coding. (Your developer could be a great developer – and the worst possible choice for a digital marketer.)
  • The depth of their experience:   if you can find someone who’s been around since the Internet began, that’s a good sign in itself.  If they haven’t been working in digital marketing for at least 3 years, then think carefully.
  • Whether they have a team that’s able to deliver ongoing results.  You need to be sure you’re not just dealing with a “superman” professional who’s great – and going to overload and breakdown before he or she delivers (after a series of “too busy” delays).
  • Whether they are independent: do they exercise healthy scepticism about Google’s press releases and do their own research into what works?
  • How they will provide you with evidence of their results. How will they measure the results that they get for you (and how will they explain those measurements to you so you understand).

Are you concerned about whether you’re getting value?

We offer a low cost, no obligation Digital Health Check that will give you an independent audit about what’s working and not working in your digital marketing.  Contact Us to book your Health Check.

 

 

CONTENT, COPY AND SEO – WTF? (What are The Facts?)

Content is a critical element in any digital marketing strategy — understand the role it plays and you can get more out of your marketing $$$s.  It’s the strong foundation of all your digital marketing and will reduce your overall marketing costs – so don’t underrate it.

The facts about SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is about meeting the needs of two audiences — your website visitors AND the search engines that bring them to you.  The basic facts of SEO are:

  • Search engines can’t read pictures and videos (yet).  This means SEO is primarily a game of words – but not words for the sake of words.
  • Search engines look “under the hood” — so it’s more complicated than just what’s visible in your content.
  • Search engine algorithms change constantly as they try to find the best possible information for their users — so EVERY “tricky technique” has a limited life span (and a potential future risk).
  • The Internet is growing – every day there’s more.  More web sites, more social media on more platforms, spreading more ideas.
  • Internet access technology is changing — with more and more different devices in use.
  • The Internet reflects human interests and concerns — which change constantly.

SEO is like housework — it’s never a “done thing”.  Keeping up with it on a regular basis prevents nasty surprises in your page rankings.

 

Quality content is critical

Without quality content visitors move on quickly.  Your bounce rate is high and search engines will notice – so your rankings will be poor.

Whatever gets a visitor to your site, once they’re there it’s the quality of your content that keeps them there. Even if your business is based on referrals, your website still has to sell you. Your content has to add value, it has to showcase YOUR value — and it’s got to look good.  Otherwise visitors move on — fast!

 

What is content, anyway?

There are three basic types of content:

  1. Your website’s core copy, which explains who you are and how you add value for your customers.
  2. Your value-adding ongoing content — the blog posts, whitepapers, videos, infographics, images and audio podcasts and that a) reinforce who you are and b) demonstrate how you add value.
  3. You can also use carefully  selected external content to inform your customers and demonstrate your values and your style.

With good content on your web site, you’ve got a wealth of material to drive your digital marketing strategy.

 

The name of the game is TRUST

Fundamentally, your web presence is an ongoing multi-media production that tells the story of you, your business and your customers.    Your web site is your primary web presence — and it’s there to create trust.

That trust is created in two separate audiences: you need trust from search engines AND trust from your potential customers.

  • If your coding is done well, and your content is consistent, you’ll get more trust and better rankings from the search engines.
  • If your content is clean, original, interesting and valuable, you’ll get more trust from potential customers.

 

Quality content is your best SEO insurance

If you’ve done that all-important marketing homework and have a really clear, customer focused set of value statements, you’ve built a great foundation for quality core copy.

If you’re putting genuine, valuable, original ongoing content out to your audience, your visitors will stay longer and explore further.

Good, clear, consistent core copy plus interesting, useful ongoing content is a sound SEO investment.  You’re working with the system.

If you spend time and effort on specific “tricks” it may pay off in the short term, but won’t last.  Once upon a time “the thing to do” was to have lots of backlinks — these days, junk backlinks to poor quality or unrelated sites will hurt your rankings instead of helping them.

 

What does this mean for your web site?

  1. Your web site has to look good (to your ideal customer) — if it looks like a dog’s breakfast, if it looks 5 years old, if it ‘breaks’ on smaller devices, you’ll lose traffic and you’ll lose potential business.
  2. Your content has to BE good — if it doesn’t explain your value, if it doesn’t demonstrate your value, if it doesn’t engage visitors to stop, look, listen AND take action then you’ll lose traffic and you’ll lose potential business.

Invest in your content and your message, and you’ll make the most of your SEO spend.

 

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What Is Content FOR, Anyway?

There’s a lot of buzz about content in digital marketing.  Once you understand what content IS, the next thing to understand about content is:

WHAT IT’S FOR…

The Twin Purposes of Content

Purpose of online contentTwo Purposes

1. Content is there to increase understanding of the value you deliver

The better people understand what you deliver, the better your results will be.  Good content increases understanding when it talks clearly and consistently about what your purpose is, the problems you solve and the results you deliver.

2. Content is there to build trust from your visitors

The world has a trust deficit at the moment, particularly online.  Your content needs to let your visitors know they can trust you and your ability to deliver on your promises.  Good content demonstrates that you are real, and that the solutions you deliver are valuable.

 

For Two Audiences

Content serves two quite separate and distinct audiences with different needs. BOTH these audiences need to understand the value you offer AND trust you are genuine:

1. The human visitors to your site

Your content needs to meet human needs for information, value and enjoyment.  It needs to be useful, it needs to be tuned to the different ways that people process information (images, words, audio, movies).  It will be extra valuable if it’s tuned to different learning styles and different forms of trust-measuring.  It needs to engage people and encourage them to action.

2. The search engines that bring traffic to your site

Search engines are looking for engaging, good quality information from genuine providers.   They measure quality in all sorts of ways — from the quality of your code to the consistency and originality of your text content. <<Link to separate post when released>>.

Quality content is consistent, original and well-labelled.  It particularly requires effective words (search engines can’t process images and videos – yet).

 

Is Your Content Delivering?

Tools like Google Analytics can give a good indication of how well your content is delivering.   If your visitors “bounce” off as soon as they arrive, you have a problem — could be with your look and feel, your content or your keywords.  If your rankings are low and your traffic is low, you may have a trust problem with Google, or you may be out of touch with how your potential customers are searching for you.

Don’t know — and don’t know where to start?  Our Digital Health check is a low-cost way to get an independent assessment of how your website and your content are delivering for you.  Contact Us today to get started. <<Link to contacts page>>

 

Connecting The Dots To Understand Your SEO Service Provider

Connecting The Dots To Understand Your SEO Service Provider

 

As time passes and the years roll by I have come to believe that there truly are two groups of people in the world: people who connect the dots and people who do not.

You need to be in the first group — connecting the dots — when it comes to understanding your SEO service provider. Here’s why.

1.) Do your research. In this world of digital information at your fingertips it is easier than ever to “shop” for an SEO provider that will fit your needs. In addition to doing online research make sure to reach out to people you know in your business “social network”.

2.) Ask questions. There are no “bad” or “stupid” questions. Don’t be intimidated. Be thoughtful and thorough ahead of time. Here of the few questions from entrepreneur.com you should be asking.

  • May I have a list of current and past clients?
  • How will you improve my search engine rankings?
  • Do you adhere to search engines’ webmaster guidelines?
  • Can you guarantee my website will achieve a number-one ranking on Google, Bing and Yahoo?
  • Are you experienced at improving local search results?
  • Will you share with me all changes you make to my site?
  • How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns?
  • How will we communicate and how often?
  • What are your fees and payment terms?
  • What happens when we part ways?

3.) The big picture. THE most important issue with your new SEO provider is to have a complete understanding as to how what they are doing fits into the overall plan of what you and your company are doing. The SEO portion of an overall campaign is the engine that drives everything. Yes, it’s done on the backend, which in itself can intimidate many people, but it is imperative to co-ordinate efforts with your SEO provider in order to maximize your efforts on the “front end”.

4.) Have succinct business measures in place. Work with your new SEO provider to put strong, realistic measures in place to ensure the success of your efforts.  Look at the plan with a 10,000 foot view perspective. Will your efforts and the efforts of your SEO provider work get you to your goals?

5.) Monitor your work efforts on a weekly basis. Again, don’t be afraid to continuously ask questions. It’s your money and your business. Make sure you are getting what you are paying for-otherwise you’re wasting everybody’s time.

 

 

Why SEO Is Just Like Housework

Why Is SEO Like Housework?

So you might be reading the above headline and thinking…I certainly hope not. Guess what, it is. Here’s why.

1.) SEO is never “finished”.

Just as the Internet isn’t “finished” the same holds true for SEO. It can’t be finished. With more and more material arriving on the Internet by the minute as well as changing social media platforms and usage, changing market trends and topics, there is always a lot of “dust” settling. Things change at a lightening quick pace. Being aware of this is the vital first step in devising a plan to that works for you and your business needs. It will also help you to feel that you are “staying on top of things.”

2.) A little bit regularly makes a big difference.

Just like laundry and the dishes, doing a bit every day/week means the job never gets too big. For SEO, checking your keyword effectiveness, adding new content on a regular, consistent basis and sharing great ideas you find online is best done in small, regular blocks of time.

3.) Having a strategy and a system makes it quick and easy.

Author Shannon Lush uses the term “speed cleaning” and describes how to put systems in place to clean your house efficiently when you’re time poor. It works the same way for SEO. A smart system for SEO and digital marketing will make things easier. Implementing scheduling tools and idea capture techniques will maximize your efforts.

4.) Spring clean every year for best results.

As your business and the world changes, so will your SEO and digital marketing needs. An annual review of your strategic direction, content and presentation will keep you looking good and once again, that you are on top of things.

5.) You can hire the work out.

If your time is too scarce and too valuable to spend on maintenance work, get someone in to do it. You need to be careful to find a quality service provider, but once you’ve got good help, you can get on with your core business. Be smart, brave and honest enough to realize when you need help. (However, you must keep an eye on the work being done for you. Your SEO provider is great at SEO – and NOT an expert in your business.)

Leigh Baker and Ian Hopkinson talk about Balance 3

Leigh Baker is an author, blogger, business analyst and many other things. She’s really written a book – it’s not just a skill she’s thrown on her Linked-in profile! Leigh is a thought leader in regenerative thinking and sustainability and her brand Balance 3 seeks to inspire agents of change.

Transcript:

Ian: Ian Hopkinson here again with Leigh Baker once again, author, blogger, business analyst and many many other things. How are you today?

Leigh: I’m well thank you.

Ian: I suppose you’re as well as the last time I asked you which was a little while ago.

Leigh: Yes not so very long ago.

Ian: We’ve got Leigh’s book here the “Deep Green Profit” sitting up here and you may have seen it in some of the other videos. She actually really is an author she doesn’t just say that, there is actually stuff in  this book.

Leigh: There’s even cartoons.

Ian: Yes that’s right. She’s not one of those people who puts author on their LinkedIn page who doesn’t actually write. So tell us about Leigh Baker and what is Balance 3?

Leigh: Balance 3 is set up to really start to accelerate a shift that’s been happening and it’s way presumptuous for me to say accelerate in a big way because the shifts happening anyway, but I want to do that little bit that I can about it. The shift that is happening is a fundamental shift in how western industry used to think about the environment, how it’s starting to think differently and just how rapidly that is going to shift how products are made and services are delivered.

Ian: That’s really been a focus for a long hasn’t there on just churning this stuff out.

Leigh: Yeah…

Ian: …And having no thought to it.

Leigh: There’s the whole mentality that the 19th and 20th century is product based, it’s a one way system. For the 19th and the 21st century it seemed to work and towards the end of the 20th century we started to get more and more messages that maybe it’s not working, maybe we’re having unintended consequences that are dangerous and damaging.

Ian: Yeah we’re making all this stuff and when it breaks where do we put it? …Oh in the earth okay great.

Leigh: Yes we burn it or we bury it or we throw it in the river or the ocean.

Ian: That’s right.

Leigh: It might’ve worked but when… I forget the numbers exactly… but when Henry Ford bought out the next eration of the production line it was something like two billion people on the planet.

Ian: Yeah right.

Leigh: But we’re looking at a different number now and the rules have to change.

Ian: Absolutely.

Leigh: We’ve now come to terms with the fact that’s it’s probably finite. We haven’t made a lot of progress yet about finding another planet that we can use that’s easily convenient

Ian: If we could only put some of this stuff up on Mars and self combust and sort itself out.

Leigh: We could get into a whole long chat about climate change, whether it’s true and whether it’s not, but to me that is actually a whole discussion that is past it’s use-by date because some really smart scientists and entrepreneurs and philosophers got worried about this stuff back in the 70’s and 80’s and they started designing solutions and did the research. They’ve done the implementation testing and there is a new wave of technology coming that means whether it’s true or not isn’t going to matter that much because the technologies that are emerging are under all sorts of names from biomimicry to dustrial ecology and more than tecnhologies, whole new ways of thinking about systems and thinking about what business is for and how to do it differently. They’re so different and so productive that as they scale up their are a whole lot of challenges that we have at the moment that are going to go the way of vinyl records or CD’s and stereos now. Once upon a time when you had the world’s best stereo the speaker cabinet was four foot tall and I’m showing my age  because i’m even speaking in feet which is not common in Australia.

Ian: That’s alright.

Leigh: Now we have iPod’s which clunk into little docking stations and we don’t have CD’s or vinyl at all.

Ian: No that’s right.

Leigh: It’s actually one of the fundamental transitions of the coming revolution is that we don’t have products. Music has stopped being a product that you buy in a little package and it’s become a service and that’s going to be fundamental.

Ian: Yeah absolutely.

Leigh: See you don’t need to worry about whether climate change is true or not.

Ian: Climate change is just a bit of a distraction really. It just seems like it’s something that people are getting hung up on and it’s bigger than that you know.

Leigh: It’s one of a dozen emerging potential disasters. I looked at people and species and their extinction…

Ian: This is it it’s one aspect of a much larger picture.

Leigh: We can get all serious or we can push the panic button and talk about how horrible it’s going to be, who’s going to suffer, or we can talk about solutions.

Ian: Correct yeah.

Leigh: We can talk about the technologies that are already in practise the innovations that are on the way and the name of localisation under the name of biomimicry, under the name of the sharing economy.

Ian: Yeah absolutely. Now I wouldn’t mind breaking down some of the terms because one of those that you’ve mentioned a couple of times is biomimicry. Just to give people an idea if they haven’t caught on, this is the study of nature’s processes or how nature works and learn from that and mimicking that is where the word biomimicry comes from. What other terms are there that we should probably explain a little bit because there is a little bit of a language barrier with people who are new to this?

Leigh: This is language that’s going to become increasingly common and it’s going to move into ordinary language over the next ten years. So biomimicry is design your products like nature, design your processes like nature, room temperature, ordinary pressure. We don’t need the heat and poison there are new ways to do it. Another term to be watching out for it cradle to cradle…

Ian: Yeah good one.

Leigh: We’re used to the old thinking of the 20th century was mine it make it use it dump it. Now it’s all about design for remanufacture. Cradle to cradle means manufacturing with no raw material. How’s that for a competitive advantage! There’s an amazing story of one of the early sustainability entrepreneurs who was in the commercial carpet business and he started from waste reduction programs but they’ve moved on so far from that and are now harvesting used fishing nets from tropical oceans to turn those nylon fishing nets into carpet. Cradle to cradle. Once we’ve dug it up lets use it and keep using it. It reduces the need to dig it up.

Ian: Exactly and like we were talking about earlier this stuff is such the essence of our future. You know where we need to go because we’ve gone to that bleeding edge where we’ve messed things up so badly that we can’t ignore it anymore.

Leigh: But we don’t need to have that argument. This is one of the conversations I have again and again. I come from outside ‘traditional sustainability’ because as a business analyst my background was in supply chain systems, so I’ve worked in factories. I’ve worked in warehouses and i’ve seen the huge potential for improvement once we get out of one way thinking. So we don’t have to have the won’t it be terrible. You know if you want to play won’t it be terrible let’s play won’t it be terrible if you miss out on the next industrial revolution. It will be terrible if you’re a vinyl record manufacturer. Yeah let’s play that won’t it be terrible.

Ian: It will be terrible if we keep just saying won’t it be terrible and not obviously focus on solutions like you said.

Leigh: That brings us to two market places that I want to combine. One is entrepreneurs who think sustainability is boring and compliance and reporting because I was to go *knock knock* dou you want another perspective? But the other market is surprisingly a lot of people who have traditional sustainability jobs and don’t know that’s how new it is. They also don’t know that there’s been yet another revolution that’s going on which is in our understanding of how human beings work, how human systems work and how human systems get changed. It comes from a variety of areas from marketing to psychology to neurobiology to philosophy but we now know a whole lot more than we knew even twenty years ago about how to engage people in the business of change.

Ian: Crucial.

Leigh: So those who feel the need to act in this space may still be trapped in 20th century thinking and may still be trapped in working hard.

Ian: Yes that’s right rather than smarter.

Leigh: My greatest goal is to create sustainability entrepreneurs but not sustainability regenerative business entrepreneurs from two different sources. One was entrepreneurs who didn’t know it was an opportunity and the other was sustainability practitioners whom have been taught how to be entrepreneurs. What an entrepreneur is ultimately someone who turns an idea into an ongoing practice.

Ian: Yes that’s right.

Leigh: On a  fundamental level all humans are entrepreneurs. So that’s what Balance 3 is about getting new ideas and learning how to make them happen and learning how to do it from a point of view of thriving so we don’t do it through suffering we do it through fun.

Ian: Well said. I like this term that i’ve heard you use a few times – change agents. Essentially these agents of change are going to be these enlightened entrepreneurs and these sustainability practitioners as you mentioned who are learning to be entrepreneurs is that right?

Leigh: Yeah and I should also say that the real leading edge entrepreneurs have been doing this stuff since the middle of the 90’s. So what the change agents are truly in the business of  is taking that entrepreneurial practice and taking it out to the next level of understanding an adoption. So they don’t actually have to invent anything.

Ian: No and that’s one thing I find compelling about the Dell example that we’ve mentioned before because basically what they’re doing is delivering what they’ve always delivered in a more sustainable way. So to get cradle to cradle certification or a computer. To me is unbelievable and just makes so much sense and you think why haven’t we done this before.

Leigh: That’s one of the emerging mind shifts, that’s probably you called almost call it at the core of regenerative revolution is actually design to do good. When we thought things were infinite we could afford a little bit of poison, a little bit of waste. The new shift is exactly what the great time management thinker Steven Cutting talked about, begin with the end in mind. If we need to increase buyer diversity, if we need to build community and generate on going wealth in that community then lets use… Jim Collins i’m quoting “let’s use the magic of the and and design to do that”. So do more good and it becomes a whole different ball game.

Ian: Brilliant thanks Leigh it’s always stimulating. I want people out there to understand this stuff the way that i’m beginning to understand it because i’m pretty excited about it.

Leigh: You don’t have to be a scientist!

Ian: No no you don’t.

Leigh: You don’t have to be able to do the maths you get that shift in thinking.

Ian: Yeah that’s it it’s a shift in thinking and it’s integrating this into our daily lives that knowing that the possibility. I keep coming back to it but I think it’s amazing how Dell has done what they’ve done because I think that’s a high profile example that will cut through and it will get people’s attention and most will think well if that won’t then what will.

Leigh: The examples are everywhere. What’s been happening as we’ve had a series of conversations is that i’ve actually re-tuned your perceptual system to look for these examples and you’re going to see them everywhere.

Ian: Yeah that’s right.

Leigh: You just happen to have an IT bias which is what you’re seeing.

Ian: Yeah that’s right plus obviously in here we’re always trying to do things not necessarily the way that everyone else does them we’re trying to innovate, we’re always looking for opportunities for things to be sustainable in here so i’m obviously very open to that. Anyway we could talk all day about this clearly. Thank you once again Leigh and we’ll see you all very soon and we’ll have Leigh back on the program for sure. If you have any questions for Leigh  can they email you?

Leigh: We talked about Balance 3 and obviously i’m Australian, so it’s balance3.com.au and contact is there.

Ian: So contact is through the website. Thanks very much for listening we’ll see you all again very soon.

 

 

Cheap SEO and the bad alternatives to PPC ads

We’ve wound up about cheap SEO and their dirty tactics again. Here we highlight why all traffic is not good traffic, and how cheap SEO companies are trying to take people for a ride – again!

In this video, Andrew Radics and Ian Hopkinson discuss cheap seo guys dirty tactics.