Month: December 2012

5 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Presence on LinkedIn


Most of us spend significantly more time working on our personal LinkedIn profiles than we do on our company pages—and that’s a shame. According to research by HubSpot, LinkedIn is 277% more effective for B2B lead generation than both Twitter and Facebook.

With that in mind, I outlined 5 simple things you can do to improve your Company Page and overall presence on LinkedIn.

1. Review and Update Your Company Page

Consider your LinkedIn company page your store front—the first view many prospects have into your organization. Your sales team has worked hard to develop and foster relationships with potential prospects. And at some point during the sales process, they are going to visit your website and LinkedIn Company Page to learn more about your organization. Make sure that your Company Page is the best representation of your company as possible, and that all information is accurate and up-to-date.

If you are already an administrator, navigate to the company page, and click edit. (If you aren't an admin, LinkedIn explains how to become one here.) At the least, review what’s been written, and revise accordingly. The post, 5 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Company Page, dives deeper into the new features of Company Pages, and how to take advantage of them.

2. Optimize Your Company Page for Branded and Non-Branded LinkedIn Searches

SEO is only for your website, right? Wrong.  Take the the top 5 branded and non-branded search terms you would use to search for your company on Google, and  type them into the LinkedIn search box using the Company designation. How well do your rank for your company name?  How about non-branded keywords?  Odds are you may very well show up for your brand—the more peculiar your brand name, the better off you will be.  However, if your brand is somewhat generic, and if your non-branded keywords are competitive, you may not show up at the top of the results.

To fix this, review your company page again, and ensure that most important branded and non-branded search terms are included throughout the copy of your company page.

3. Review Competitor Search Results and Their Pages

Now that you know where your Company Page stands in the LinkedIn search results, document who else shows up in your top searches as well. Review their pages, and pay specific attention to what they are listing as their specialties, and what keywords are included on their pages. Make sure to review the “People also viewed…” section of the their Company Pages.  To maximize your company's visibility on LinkedIn, make sure your company shows up here. If not, you need to discover why and get that problem solved. Is it because people can't find your company page in the search results? Or are you not including relevant keywords?

4. Review Your Employee List

If your organization is small, review your list of employees—their job titles, skills, and expertise—and make sure their profiles are professional and represent your brand well. Explain to your employees how improving their personal profiles will help both your organization and their professional career. (Check out these tips for improving personal LinkedIn profiles on the Salesforce blog.)

Also, make sure each employee is associated with the Company Page. The larger your company looks, the better. When you view their profile and click the company name, it should link to your Company Page. In the example above, the square to the right of the company name indicates that the company name links to the Company Page. This will automatically happen if the email domain associated with the Company Page matches an email address associated with their LinkedIn account. If they don't, encourage your employees to add your current email domain to their LinkedIn account.

5. Post Job Positions—it's a Signal for Growth

We know it is very important to maintain great content on your Company Page.  By keeping images fresh and continuing to post relevant content, product updates, and open open positions, signals that your company is active and growing. But this last point deserves a bit of clarification: posting open positions allows you to potentially grab an "All Star" future employee, even if you don’t have an immediate need. Second, consistently posting open positions screams “Growth” to potential clients and is a clear measure for success.

While there are certainly more ways to build out your business profile, this is a good starter list. And if you'r ready to learn more, activate a 7-day free trial to the Online Marketing Institute, and gain immediate access to our entire library of classes on B2B social media and digital marketing.

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3 Ways to Improve B2B Digital Marketing in 2013


improve resultsIt's an exciting time to be a B2B marketer.

According the Corporate Executive Board, 60% of the B2B buying process now happens before a prospect ever talks to a salesperson. As marketers, we are more valuable than ever before. We are now tasked with:

  • Attracting and engaging leads
  • Addressing pain points
  • Overcoming sales objections
  • Providing solutions

This is an exciting opportunity for marketers to impact revenue, and with the right digital tools and strategies, we can make it happen.

With that in mind, I've outlined what I think are the 3 biggest opportunities for driving revenue in B2B digital marketing, and how you can improve each initiative in 2013. 

When you focus on improving these key programs—content, conversion optimization, and lead nurturing—you will be better equipped to improve your search, social, mobile, and digital advertising results, as well. An integrated digital marketing strategy and plan is key.

1. Develop Content for Each Stage of the Sales Cycle

Create a framework for matching your prospects' needs with captivating content to navigate through the complexities of the marketing funnel, and drive action on the part of your target audiences. This content framework should be integrated into your entire digital strategy—content, including blogs, white papers, eBooks, and more, is the fuel for your search, social, lead nurturing, and digital marketing programs.

Your content should:

  • Provide solutions to improve your target audience’s day-to-day work environment, business results, and quality of life
  • Be helpful and of value to your target audience
  • Build trust and credibility in your brand
  • Help your target audience develop an emotional connection to your brand
  • Build the case for your solution

As part of your 2013 content strategy, focus on crafting content for your most important and profitable segment. These are the customers you know and understand well, and the ones that can have the biggest and most immediate impact on your bottom line.

Break the content you create into three phases: cold (attract), warm (nurture), and hot (convert). While the graphic below can serve as a guide in your content development, content marketing is not black and white—there is overlap. What's important is that the most relevant content is available to your audience at the right time, whether they find it themselves on your website, or receive it via your lead nurturing program.

Content Phases

Phase 1: Attract

Start by creating content that is directly related to the problem your solution solves. This content should attract and engage the type of lead that already has a need for your solution. Consider this your low hanging fruit—the potential buyers most likely to close. For example, if you offer a marketing automation solution, your phase 1 content should include best practices for lead nurturing, lead scoring, email segmentation, email frequency, reducing the sales cycle etc.

Once you have that down, cast a wider net by developing content that is valuable to your best, most profitable customers, but not necessarily directly related to your product or service. This is especially helpful if you market a disruptive product—a new innovation that your target audience doesn't have a line item for, or a clear understanding of just yet. Then, you can nurture the lead over time, and start to build the case for your solution, before the lead has even pinpointed a problem. Once the lead identifies their need and enters the consideration phase, they will already have developed trust and a connection to your brand, and your company will be top of mind, instead of your competitors.

For example, Marketo and Eloqua not only create content about lead nurturing best practices, but they also do a great job creating content about other aspects of B2B marketing and sales. They cover content marketing, B2B social media, search etc., even though their main offering is marketing automation.

TIP: For any content that isn't behind a lead capture form, such as your blog, make sure to include an easy and obvious way for visitors to opt-in to your lead nurture program. If you look at the HubSpot blog, they include various conversion points, such as banners within blog entries, and a subscribe form on the right rail.

Phase 2: Nurture

Once you’ve attracted the lead and they begin to get to know your brand, your content should help build the case for your solution. At this point, it’s likely that these prospects still haven’t spoken with a salesperson, but as part of your lead nurturing program, your content can begin to move the prospect down the funnel with more product-focused webinars, 3rd party reports, etc.

Help your prospects overcome any initial sales objections through FAQs, case studies, ROI calculators or even blog posts. For example, a common sales objection is “I have no budget.” You can explain to your prospects how to get their budget approved, or how to find budget (there usually is one!) during a webinar, in a blog post, or as part of a buyer’s guide. You can also provide a simple calculator that demonstrates how your solution will ultimately help save money and improve profitability.

Even if your prospects aren’t currently engaged in a dialogue with a member of your sales team, that doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged in the buying process. Today’s B2B buyers have changed—they are laying low and taking matters into their own hands. With the technology and digital channels available today, messages traditionally communicated by salespeople can now quickly and consistently be delivered throughout the sales process via your integrated content marketing and lead nurturing program.

Phase 3: Convert

As sales starts to take over and get involved, your content marketing efforts can still help move the sales process along. Whether delivered by a sales team member, available on your website, or promoted via a drip campaign, content such as executive briefs, ROI calculators, and case studies can help seal the deal.

Create (or Repurpose) Content for Your Different Segments

Now, once you’ve developed content for the key stages of the buying cycle for your general audience or most important segment, identify your next important segment, and get more specific. Marketo has done a great job with this by developing specific blogs for both marketers (modern B2B marketing) and salespeople (modern B2B sales).

For example, if you market to both SMBs and the Enterprise, you can create two versions of your most popular white paper—one that addresses SMB pain points and solutions, and another that focuses on the unique challenges in the Enterprise. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, either. You may very well be able to take one piece of content, update it, and repurpose it for each of your unique audiences. Assuming you have key segmentation data on your leads, you'll then be able to deliver the targeted content with your marketing automation solution.

2. Generate More Leads with High-Performance Landing Pages

You can't nurture what you don't convert.

According to a survey by BtoB Magazine, 59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue. However, more than 60% of B2B marketers report that their greatest marketing challenge for 2012 was generating more leads. To efficiently boost revenue in 2013, focus on generating more leads by improving your landing pages, and then nurturing them to sale with a targeted lead nurturing program (more on that below).

I've created and tested many B2B landing pages—and I can you the absolute #1 most important element of your landing page is the message. Your headline and body copy must be clear, not clever, and focus on benefits, not features. I know you love your product (hey, I do too!), but strip your page of copy that focuses on features or company jargon. Instead, use the jargon that your target audience uses, and speak directly to them.

In this example below from one of our own campaigns, the headline and copy focus on clear and obvious benefits, and the page converts at over 60%.

Also, ensure that the message on your landing page clearly matches the message of the ad or offer that got the visitor to click. The more tightly matched they are, the higher your conversion rate will be. If you're managing a large scale or more sophisticated digital program, this means creating tens, if not hundreds, of unique landing pages. A landing page management solution such as LiveBall by ion interactive can help you scale your program efficiently.

Now that you've got the message down, the best way to see a continuous improvement in your conversion rate and lead quantity is to A/B test your landing pages. If you're not testing your pages already, it's always best to begin by testing the element that you think will have the biggest influence on conversions.

My favorite elements to test and constantly improve are:

  • Required form fields: The less form fields you require on your landing pages, the higher your conversion rate will be. If the objective of you landing page is to generate leads for lead nurturing, I recommend only collecting first name, last name, and email address. You can gather more information on the leads over time with progressive profiling. Now, if your sales team or other members of the marketing team are hesitant to remove other fields, propose to A/B test the page. Once you can demonstrate the significant increase in lead quantity (and maybe even quality, because your best leads may be hesitant to share information), they'll agree to collecting less information initially.
  • The headline: David Ogilvy once said, “On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” In my experience, simply testing your headline can result in a conversion increase of 100%.
  • The call-to-action: Along with the overall message, your call-to-action is critical to the success of your landing page. The more specific the call-to-action, the better. Clearly state the intended goal of the page, and guide the visitor to complete the action that you want them to do.
  • Design: Your design should enhance the message and support the goal of your page, not detract from it. A pretty page with a lousy message is far less effective than a boring page with a great message. But the real gold is when you combine a great message with an effective design. And the best way to find out which design supports your goal best is through testing. Start with high-contrast A/B tests, find champions, and go from there.

If you're ready to start testing, tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer allow you to easily test elements on your website, without working with IT or development resources. If the process of creating and managing landing pages is not a pain point for you, I recommend starting there. Most of the popular marketing automation solutions also include landing page testing capabilities. I find that what they really excel at, however, is lead management, scoring, and drip marketing–not landing page optimization.

If you're creating and testing multiple pages, solutions such as Unbounce (SMB) and LiveBall (Enterprise) make the conversion optimization process much more efficient by allowing you to create, test, and measure pages within a single platform—which results in faster speed-to-market, better performing campaigns, and higher revenue.

3. Nurture Leads to Revenue with Marketing Automation

Conventional marketing wisdom says it takes at least 7 touches to move a cold lead to become a customer. Instead of sending rapid-fire emails to your entire list, get more relevant by communicating to your leads based on their segment, place in the sales cycle (lead score), and actions they take on your site. Marketing automation solutions such as Pardot, Marketo, Eloqua, Manticore etc, allow you to score leads and deploy very targeted drip and email campaigns.

Having setup marketing automation solutions myself, I understand that it is a big task—from integration, to lead scoring, to strategy development etc. Depending on the size of your business and resources, the initial setup can take weeks, but the ROI is absolutely there. According to The Annuitas Groupbusinesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.

So once you have your marketing automation solution such in place, I recommend that you start small, and focus on your warmest leads.

Tips For Starting Your First Drip Campaign

  • Focus on your warmest leads—the leads most likely to close: If you are already sending general, best practice-focused content to your leads every week or so (many B2B marketers I talk to are), your first drip campaign can focus on nurturing warmer leads, as these leads are your priority, and most likely to have an immediate impact on revenue.
  • Determine which leads are already warm: Check your CRM, marketing automation, or email solution, and look up the names of some recent qualified prospects and customers. Take a look at how many times they visited your website and opened emails, which pages on your site they visited etc. It’s going to be different for everyone—but this is a good starting point for deciding how to score your leads, and determine which ones are into you, and which ones aren’t… just yet. It's always a good idea to work directly with sales on this, as well.
  • Flag your warm leads: Once you have a good idea of which leads are warm, you'll be able to add them to this “warm lead” nurture cycle. This is usually a pretty simple process. For example, within the marketing automation solutions I have used, you can setup a rule that says, "if lead score is above 50, add to XYZ campaign".
  • Develop your email messages: Your 5-part campaign should shift the dialogue from best practices to your solution, and how it solves a unique problem that your target audience has. Focus on benefits, and introduce prospects to your sales team by making the from name of your messages a sales team member. You can even include a headshot of a sales team member in the email signature. I've had great success with both text-based and HTML emails. Overall, simple works, and what's most important is that your message is relevant and meaningful. Your email design should support, and not detract, from that message.
  • Decide on frequency: As a general rule, I find that spacing out your emails every 7 days is a good place to start. Monitor open rates and click-thru rates to see how your leads are responding. Once your program gets more sophisticated, you can provide frequency options, and increase the frequency based on response rates or actions that your leads take. For example, if a lead visits a page on your site that explains technical requirements, but does not take any other action, you can trigger an email within 24 hours that invites them to attend a demo etc.

Overall, your goal is develop an emotional connection with your prospects, and communicate how your solution will improve their day-to-day working environment, professional aspirations, and success in business and beyond.

Lead nurturing programs can become very sophisticated, but again, if you’re just starting out, start small, and go from there. The below example is a good, general place to start—a simple program that focuses on nurturing  your warmer leads, so they can be handed off to sales for follow up.

Bonus Tip! Attract and Engage with Visual Storytelling

Once you have a defined content program in place, visual content can really help amplify your efforts. Over the past year or so, visual storytelling has become one of the hottest ways to tell your brand's story. And with good reason—it works.

Visual content, including memes, presentations, videos, infographics and photos, is easily shared through social channels. Adding visual content to your digital marketing mix allows you to deliver your message to your audience—without requiring them to invest time in reading.

According to 3M Corporation90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Publishers that use infographics grow traffic an average of 12% more than those who don't (source:  Ansonalex).

If you're not already using visual content, determine if it will help you achieve your marketing objectives. Start small by promoting an infographic on your blog, or sharing a relevant meme on your Facebook page. Review the results, and go from there.

Here's to a successful 2013!

Take the Next Step to More Leads and Higher Revenue

To dive deep into B2B digital marketing, explore the Online Marketing Institute's collection of B2B-focused online classes, including a few of my favorites:

Content Is Opportunity: Developing Content for Every Stage in the Buying Cycle with Michael Pranikoff
B2B Visual Storytelling Best Practices with Lisa Buyer
Landing Pages for Business Marketing with Scott Brinker
How to Develop a Lead Management Process and Plan with Carlos Hidalgo


4 Tips for Getting Started with Content Marketing


As more marketers are delving into social media, email marketing and lead generation in 2013, they are finding the need for quality content to support these marketing initiatives. Content creation is one of the top challenges of B2B marketers—it takes both time and planning to be successful.

But your efforts won't go to waste. Content be used in multiple marketing mediums—from email to social to lead generation efforts. It's really the cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy. Content can:

  • Increase links and improve the ability to rank for top keywords (especially when integrated with a great social strategy)
  • Keep your email list engaged with your company, and give subscribers a reason to visit your site
  • Fuel your social media strategy and give your audience a reason to engage with your company
  • Generate leads by offering up great content in exchange for emails so you can start the lead nurturing process

Here are 4 tips to get started with content marketing:

1. Talk to Customers

ID questions your customers have and answer those questions. This will help provide highly relevant content that your customers want to know and most likely are searching for in Google.

2. Review SEO Keywords

ID keywords your site doesn't currently rank well for and create content around those keywords. With Google limiting the number of keywords you can optimize a page for, many companies are using blogs to create additional content to help rank for more keywords.

3. Get Several Team Members to Contribute

Get several employees from different roles at your company involved to provide multiple view points and writing styles. Each person will have different points of view and interact with clients differently which allows for a wide breathe of content topics.

4. Invite Your Social Media Audience to Participate

Use social media to ask clients what they want to know from you and you can do research, especially on Twitter, to see what topics are trending in your industry.

If you need to sell content marketing to your management team, hTo achieve content marketing success, start with research and planning. Most importantly, don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of undertaking this; start small and grow from there. Start by writing one blog post a week for a couple months and then refine your strategy and grow to writing more frequently.

To learn more about creating a successful content marketing program, check out the new OMI class, the Business Marketer's Secret to Content Marketing Success.


How to Improve Your Social Response: 3 Lessons Learned


In a world of instant gratification-obsessed customers, Twitter is rising in popularity as a medium for seeking  service. One recent report even found consumers expect a response within two hours.

To this end, I conducted a research project recently meant to assess whether companies have started to prioritize providing customer service on Twitter. The experiment – called The Great Social Customer Service Race – tested 14 of the world's top brands including HP, Pepsi, Walmart and more. Part of the goal was to find tips others could use to improve their response times.

But first, a little bit about the race. Myself and three other Software Advice employees used our personal Twitter accounts to send customer service tweets to 14 leading consumer brands in seven industries. Each company received one tweet per weekday for four consecutive weeks. Half of the time we used the @ symbol with the company's Twitter handle, the other half we didn't.

The questions fell into one of five categories:

  • Urgent
  • Positive
  • Negative
  • FAQ
  • Technical

Here's what we learned.

1. Are You Listening @ or no @?

In a consumer support context, many social CRM systems use sophisticated algorithms to identify, route and prioritize social help requests in real time. They can be programmed to listen for @ mentions, mentions without your Twitter handle, and messages with a # and your brand name. You should listen for all three.

During the race, there was a huge difference in response rate between messages with the @ and those without. One could make the argument that responding to messages without the @ is invasive, but this is not always true.

These messages can often present an opportunity to demonstrate proactive customer service, particularly if the customer is upset. This can surprise and delight that person, effectively increasing your likelihood that they will spread word of mouth marketing.

In the opposite case where you catch a positive mention without your @ Twitter handle, marketing can retweet that message. A layperson talking positively about your brand is significant'y more impactful than anything marketing creates on their own.

2. Prioritize and Conquer

It isn't feasible for many companies to respond to everything on Twitter. For this reason, it's critical they have a system for surfacing the most important tweets – those that indicate risk of switching brands or those with high purchase intent, for example. Many participants in the social race missed messages in both of these categories.

This can be done through social CRM programming rules that consider keyword identifiers and sometimes social clout or customer purchase history.  Moving tweets with "thank you,” “help,” “mad,” “fail” to the front of the service queue is extremely important for prioritizing response. Other keywords could be more specific to your company.

3. Make Your Advocates Feel Special

In addition to these keywords, you should have a system for identifying brand advocates and social detractors. During the race, we each tweeted one brand as many as seven times – I expected to see a change in the response rate or speed of response. But there was no change.

Tracking your Twitter interactions by customer will give you this ability. Nurturing a brand advocate increases the likelihood they will stick with your brand and share your messages. Finding detractors can improve their opinions about your brand and potentially mitigate their impact.

These are just a few of the lessons we learned during the race. Check out the infographic for more details on each brand's performance.

About the Author

Ashley Furness is a market analyst with Software Advice.


5 Tips for Effective Email Marketing


The inbox is very powerful because most are now connected to smartphones and as we all know we’re a bunch of smart phone addicts. An email notification appearing is a quick moment to grab their attention. Chirp goes the phone, unlock the screen - don’t let them down! Lack luster subject lines are like getting text messages from someone who can’t tell you’re just not that interested. Give them a spark!

1. Test Your Subject Line

One quick way is by signing up for a free account at and using their subject line reseacher service and by test we mean have two options not just assuming you know the right way. Most people know they should A/B test but when it comes to implementation they often go with what they think is best instead of letting the results speak for themselves.

It tests words against all open rates for every campaign that’s been sent using the service. Remember, a best practice is to keep the subject line 60 characters and under.

2. A/B Test Campaigns

The researcher tool above is just a starting point. To know what works the best for your lists is to test with a version A of the email content and then to also create a version B (note: that this is more successful with larger lists). Attempting different content strategies, like adding an image of a product offering versus writing out product names may do better, or worse. Don’t create an e-mail for yourself. Let the data decide. Then do it again and keep comparing the best performing to a new design to keep your emails fresh and engaging and avoid the auto delete because mentality of “I’ve seen this same email 100 times”.

3. Have A Reply To Address Connected To Your Campaign

How helpful would it be if your subscribers had an idea and could reply to a live person to receive a quick response? Having a “do not reply” email account sending your campaigns is like shouting down from castle walls, and not caring to hear what the feedback is from your email. Opening this channel of communication allows you to collect a form of market research.

4. Write Content Using the 80/20 Rule

Yes, we know you have something to sell and your boss is monitoring your performance based on transaction data, but give me a reason to care. Share content that contributing authors wrote or write about a new product relevant to your industry 80 percent of the time for e-newsletters. If your strategy is more focused on the sales cycle, you’ll want to deliver the right message at the right time, or risk a higher rate of unsubscribes. This is where having a calendar of emails comes into to play because it will help you avoid over-selling and alienating your list.

5. Segment Your Lists

There are many marketing automation services out there that will allow you to send trigger emails based on when a person completes a desired action and aid in lead nurturing, but sometimes all you need is a email provider and some smart data. Many email provides often supplies a preference center so subscribers can tell you what they care about and allow you to better target them - and all you have to do is ask. If you don’t have a preference center option create your forms to collect information about region, birthday month or industry to help you position your campaign to a more relevant audience.

And, remember to check your click through rates over time. People may store your email for weeks after your send just waiting for that idle moment where people nervously browse their inbox as to not look awkwardly around the room. They find your email and continue on to complete an online purchase or fill out a contact form for more information. Each subscriber list is unique, and it’s important to remember what works for one case study may not apply to your business.

Ready to learn more? Subscribe to OMI and get 7 days of FREE access to hundreds of online classes, including: 

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5 Ways to Use Google Analytics to Track Social Media ROI


Website AnalyticsOver and over again, I hear from potential clients that they are afraid to put the time, manpower and effort into social media because they don’t know if they can get any real, quantifiable return on investment. They don’t know how to prove that using social media has actually increased sales

One of the main tools I recommend for tracking social media ROI is Google Analytics.

Using Google Analytics to track social media:

  1. Google Analytics will track the traffic that is coming onto your website from each different social site, giving you an overview of your social media marketing campaign in one convenient place.
  2. Use the conversions report to prove ROI from social media. What is a conversions report? From Google Analytics website: “The Conversions report shows conversion rates and the monetary value of conversions that occurred due to visits from social networks.” Make sure to have conversion goals setup, whether you are tracking a lead, sale, or other microconversion, such as a click or download.
  3. Are people sharing your content? Knowing what they are sharing can give you valuable clues as to what really engages your market, and therefore what do give them more of. Configure Google Analytics for “sharing reports.”
  4. As social media sites continue to emerge, it’s important to know which ones to spend your time on. If you are sharing your content across dozens of social sites, which are the ones that are bringing you the most traffic? To find out, use what Google calls, “social sources.”
  5. Does your website need to be optimized for mobile use? Find out how much of your traffic is referring to your website from a mobile, web connected device such as a phone or a tablet.

If you have to report to the CEO or board members, create a custom Google Analytics dashboard with the key metrics they care about most—sales, revenue, and cost-per-acquisition. One of the coolest things about Google is they provide all kinds of tutorials to make using their products easy, along with online support forums. Check out the Google Analytics Product Tour.

Have any questions on Google Analytics? Leave a comment below.

About the Author

Heather is the acclaimed speaker, trainer, and consultant who literally wrote the book on search engine marketing. Two books, in fact—The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing and Thumbonomics: The Essential Business Roadmap for Social Media & Mobile Marketing. Her writing and in-demand keynotes are delivered with the same witty, “no-geek-speak” style that has managed to demystify internet marketing for countless business owners.


Why Brands Should Use Google+


Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Ning…so many Social Networks…so little time. Brands are bombarded with messaging about social media and its importance. The bottom line is that social media is a confusing issue for most brands, big and small. They are generally overwhelmed with the prospect of not only creating profiles but mainly with how to select and manage the ones most important to their business.

When we meet with clients and bring up the importance of Google Plus they universally give us that look like the kid who is being forced to eat their vegetables.

What is Google Plus?

Google+ is a multilingual social network that was launched in June of 2011. Google Plus is the result of a number of failed and successful Social Networks from Google. Wave, Circles and Orkut all contributed to the final G+ product. Unlike other traditional social networks which are accessed through a single website, Plus (as described by Google) is a "social layer" that links and interacts with many of its online properties. This is where the true power of Google Plus Business Page lies.


  • As of September 2012, Plus has a total of 400 million registered users of whom 100 million are active on a monthly basis.
  • 3 out of 4 brands (75%) are now on Google Plus for business
  • 6X the number of Plus pages are showing up in search results (When searching for a company using brand terms, 30% of brands with G+ pages have G+ pages show up in search results)
  • The top occupation designation was ‘student’ and the top relationship status was ‘single’

Why should I use Google Plus?

As an individual, Google+ is an easy-to-use social network that integrates with Gmail, Google Search plus Your World, YouTube and other Google products. For businesses the main benefits are:

  • Search Engine Reputation – For me, it’s hard to fathom what the other 25% of business owners are thinking. At a minimum, reserve your trademark and brand names on Google+. You can figure out your strategy later. The risk of a competitor or upset consumer grabbing your business name and using it on Plus is a PR nightmare.
  • Social engagement - Benefits of G+ include shares, plus 1’s, comments and overall interaction behaviors. This all builds social authority.
  • Local Search – Google Places was integrated with the Google+ Local page to create a more cohesive interactive experience with local business locations.
  • SEO – Google is looking at your overall presence in addition to your site. Utilizing G+ as a social, local and engagement platform is only going to increase your overall brand authority on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

I used to hate vegetables but as I get older (and smarter?) I have learned that vegetables can be delicious and nutritious (except for Brussels sprouts). As a brand, you need to adopt the strategy that people can see as the equivalent to sometimes forcing a kid to eat their vegetables.

Ready to learn more? Subscribe to OMI and get 7 days of FREE access to hundreds of online classes on social med and digital marketing, including: 

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How to Market on Facebook Using Paid Promotions


After utilizing the free internal marketing features Facebook offers to business page owners and creating content that attract fans, your business becomes more transparent. Now customers can ask their questions (or voice their complaints) on a platform where they will be noticed, and as a business owner, you can learn more about the demographics of your following and what types of things actually interest them. But what if your fans aren't as engaged as you’d like?

Facebook Photo Contests
To get people sharing about your business, try hosting a photo contest. With popularity growing, many third party app developers have stepped up to create photo contest apps that integrate with Facebook pages in an almost seamless way.

WooBox’s photo contest app is intuitive and includes reporting data. I've noticed other apps have awesome tutorials on how to setup a custom Facebook app, but once it’s time to measure your return from the photo contest (or sweepstakes) you find out the app never collected any data about social shares, number of new likes entering through the application or how active Facebook users were with voting. WooBox includes all of this reporting in the monthly subscription so that you’re able to report on things like what days your fans were most active, and whether people were engaged in sharing and voting.

Hosting a photo contest may bring in new fans, and create affinity among your current following, but remember, it's always more successful if the grand prize is viewed as high value.

Facebook Offers
Running an offer on Facebook used to be free to business page owners, but in September (2012) Facebook announced to business owners that in order to run an offer one would have to couple them with a paid campaign. But this is not necessarily a bad thing because now business page owners are targeting the reach of their offers better. For example, you most likely won’t see offers in your newsfeed anymore for “local” business that are actually in another state.

View the post below. A friend likes a page. That friend’s “like” displays in my newsfeed. But instead of the like going relatively unnoticed, when a page is also running a “sponsored” campaign that brand becomes front and center (along with a list of all of my other friend who also like that same page).

This could help your business gain new Facebook likes and shares, but it may create a negative impression if the “friends of fans” don’t understand why they’re seeing somewhat obnoxious content appear in their newsfeed.

Facebook Promoted Stories
To avoid this negative impression, you may be more successful at marketing your business on Facebook by participating in a promoted story.

Just write a compelling update and then click on the “promote” hyperlink that appears on the post.

Once you click on “promote” another window appears where you can set your budget and determine audience or payment method. This makes it very easy to promote your content to the friends of people who like your page already. But make sure to keep the content you’re promoting general and appealing to people who may have no idea what your business is about.

Facebook Ads
If you have the budget to launch a broad Facebook Ads paid advertising campaign you can research what content attracts people to your page because you’re not limited to only “friends of current fans”. You can bid on any targeted audience.

Facebook makes it very easy to get started by placing a “create an ad” link in the main navigation menu of your business page. Test out many difference audience types and ad copy. Remember an eye-catching ad graphic is key, but its dimensions can only be 100px by 72px.


Ready to continue learning about how to market your business on Facebook using promotions? Watch OMI's class,  A Social Promotions Primer. You will discover:

  • The different promotion types
  • Key legal considerations when planning a promotion
  • Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook Promotional Guidelines
  • Contest marketing best practices


Is Pinterest Good for Hosting Contests?


Facebook sweepstakes and contests have taken off over the last couple of years and there have been a few forward thinking companies making the leap from Facebook to Pinterest. Unlike Facebook, where there are tons of companies offering to help you run a contest and track ROI and metrics, Pinterest is still a little off the grid. By being a little less understood, it allows creative companies the opportunity to lead the way in the possibilities of contests on Pinterest.

Here are some top ideas on how to run a contest on Pinterest:

The one type of contest that has really caught on is the “Pin it to Win It”. This type of contest allows people to create a board on their personal profile, usually including the business’s products, and then submits it for review. Doing this creates several great KPIs for businesses including:

  1. Gain followers on Pinterest – Uncommon Goods ran a contest and increased followers to their Pinterest boards by 200%
  2. Increase re-pins of your board pins
  3. Increase links to your site
  4. Brand awareness

Should your company run a contest? As with all contests the biggest challenge is to determine what your success metrics is and how you’re going to measure it. Once you determine those key ingredients you can find the right contest format to meet your needs.

One of the greatest things about Pinterest contests is that the sky is the limit. As long as you can think of how to track it, you can do it. The biggest challenge is to think of something creative to make you stand apart from the crowd.

Learn how to use Pinterest to drive referral traffic and boost brand awareness.

Watch How Pinterest Can Help Your Brand, and walk through the necessary steps for getting up and running on Pinterest. You'll discover how to leverage the network to drive significant referral traffic, and learn exactly how to create pins that people will love, share, and visit. Get instant access to now.