Archive for the ‘Website Marketing’ Category

The Brent and Brandi Show

bbshowlogo1Last Friday was the official launch of “The Brent and Brandi Show” – a collaborative online talkshow/podcast I am doing with Brandi Pierce, a website and branding specialist located in Seattle, Washington.  I met Brandi online on Biznik.com, a social networking website that is gaining popularity.  Brandi came up with the idea of a co-hosted podcast and was looking for the right co-host to help out.  Somehow I stuck out to Brandi and the invatation came my way.

Brandi first floated the idea to me in December and since then we have been working on putting the show together.  To actually have our first episode up is quite a treat!  What has been particularly interesting is the fact that we are located at extreme polar opposite ends of the country, so working through a 3 hour time difference via phone and email can sometimes get confusing.  But it makes for a nice East/West or even North/South contrast that makes things more interesting than if we were in the same location.

Our first show was on blogging for business – yep, it’s a business oriented talkshow that focuses on how to improve your business results via online marketing.  We already have growing list of guests for the show and a stockpile of information to share.  I hope you will join us live or check out our recorded shows after the fact as they become available.

The show is scheduled for every other Friday at 4pm PST and 1pm EST.  It is being broadcast on Talkshoe.com.

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Using a Blog to Get More Pages Indexed in Google

So, you’re still thinking this whole blogging thing is silly? Yet you want your website to rank well and bring a lot of visitors to your website?

If these two statements apply to you, then truth be told, you’d be silly not to consider a blog.

Think of it this way – if you have an average sized website, say 10 content pages, then you have 10 pages that have a chance of being ranked in the search engines. Now, it is difficult for any page to effectively be optimized for more than a few keyword phrases – 3 is reasonable, although some would argue that even that number is high. That give us 10 pages and 30 keyword phrases. Now, add in the fact that the search engines like active websites, so if your site is static (only updated once every year or two), then your site is not keeping the search engine bots interested.

Now, let’s take those 10 static pages and 30 keyword phrases and add in a blog that you update only once a week with a new post. This adds 52 new pages over the course of a year and 156 keyword phrases that can populate the search engines. Plus, as an actively updated blog, the search engines will be eager to visit it on a regular basis and quick list any new content that you post. When you launch a new product, service, sale, coupon, marketing campaign, promotion, job listing, new office location, event or other news worthy item, your blog post about it will show up immediately in the search engines for searchers to find it. If your site has been static for a year, and you update the site to reflect a special sale coming up next week, it might not make it to the search engines in time – whereas, it may only take an hour for the blog to get listed.

Blogs are a “force multiplier”, to borrow a military term. Use all the artillery available to help you succeed with your business online.

Alert – YouTube Displays Competitors in YOUR Videos

After all my touting of how great YouTube is of promoting your company online they go and get sneaky on me when I’m looking the other way.

YouTube has been great for promoting businesses online because it doesn’t take much effort and expense to produce a decent video that showcases a customer testimonial, a new product you are working on, highlights from a tradeshow or interviews with key staff members.   When you post a video to YouTube visitors to the site can find your video when using search terms that match keyword tags that you apply to the video.  In addition, YouTube generates HTML code for the video that you can copy and paste to embed in your website, blog or various social media websites.

Now YouTube has added an extra “feature” – before, when your video was finished playing, it would display a “replay” button for the user to play it again.  Now, instead of just providing this replay button, YouTube also is displaying related videos that users can click to view.  That means if are a real estate agent and you post a video of some of your property you are selling in your area, another agent’s video from a competing agency might show up at the end of your video.  Or if you sell sporting goods out of a small mom and pop sporting goods store, a video from Target or WalMart might show up at the end of your video for their sporting goods department.  Or even worse, you use YouTube videos to promote your church and somehow, due to a strange use of tagging, a pole dancer video shows up as a related video.  Really bad idea from YouTube.  And worse yet, it is retro-active to all the vidoes you have already posted and may have embedded on your website or blog already.  And as an added bonus, I have found no way to turn this off in my own YouTube account.

I did a little poking around the and found some code that you can add to your embed code – however, it doesn’t work if you have a WordPress blog – I tried it myself to confirm.  Also, it is supposed to be easy for users to embed their YouTube videos on their websites – having to add HTML code to embed code to fix the issue is not very user-friendly.  Anyway, if you are up to it, here is the code you add at the end of your embedded code that YouTube provides:

param name="rel" value="0"

I’m going to continue following up on this topic and will report any updates as I find them.  Not having control over content that plays within your own site is just not acceptable.  You may want to look into Vimeo.com as an alternative for embedding your videos in your online marketing.

Duck – Incoming!! Inbound Marketing Puts Your Site in Customer’s Sights

Hubspot has a nifty article explaining inbound marketing that I wanted to share.  If you are not aware of inbound marketing, it is a concept you will want to know more about as it will help put the value of your website’s marketing potential in perspective.  Instead of seeking out customers with traditional methods of marketing, inbound marketing makes customers seek you out instead.

Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Article

The Best Social Media Platforms For SEO

I saw an interesting poll on SEOmoz.org where they asked what social media platforms netted the best SEO return on investment.  An informal poll, but the results are interesting none the less. Here is the results so far:seopoll

Social bookmarking websites, such as StumbleUpon, was the big winner followed by social networking websites and social news websites coming in a close third.  Social Microblogging is just squeaking in a 4th place ranking, but expect this platform to continue to increase as sites like Twitter become more mainstream.

Social Networking’s Influence on Your Site’s Traffic – Part 2

Two weeks ago I shared my website stats for all to see and demonstrated how different things I’m doing online impacted my traffic.  Here is an updated look at my blog stats:

Weekly traffic on this blog

Weekly traffic on this blog

I’ve looked at a lot of website stats over the last 10-plus years, and although this is still a new blog at the low end of the traffic spectrum, I have to say “wow” to the quick progress it is making.

If you recall my post from two weeks ago, I discussed how my traffic has been influenced by different factors.  Early gains in traffic came from committing to a regular posting schedule and syndicating the blog via feedburner.com and technorati.com.  Then I created a linkedin.com account to further promote myself and started sharing my blog URL with clients and new leads which continued the positive climb in the stats.  Then big fall-out/bail-out in the stock market dropped my traffic for a week as more attention was taken up by this, but then I increased efforts in promotion by adding regular twitter.com posts promoting my blog and joining and utilizing biznik.com, in particular getting an article posted on biznik.com that generated a lot of interest.

Finally, just this last week, I posted an interview that was well recieved and I had my blog “stumbled” on stumbledupon.com which really spiked my traffic.

I’m not sharing these stats to brag, but to show as proof that social networking and online self promotion works.  Everything I’m doing can be emulated and none of it has cost me anything, except a commitment in time.

Mild Mannered Consultant by Day – Slightly Less Mild Mannered Consultant by Night

Yesterday while attending a panel discussion on social media that our company NetSource Technologies was hosting, I had a few people who know me both in person and online tell me that online in the various social networking sites I am involved in that I am funny and outgoing.  Now if you know me in person, you may note I’m not exactly an extroverted person – or more to the point I’m not a “hi how ya’ doing” type.  Now if you get me talking on a topic I enjoy and have input on such as the work I do, I can be quite talkative, but I’m not going to walk up to a stranger in a crowded room and introduce myself.

As a result, social mixers and other in-person gatherings have never been a comfort zone for me.  This is a bit of a problem since my occupation is in sales.  I’ve always been more successful by nurturing leads that come from other sources instead of generating my own leads.  Let someone else do the “hi how ya’ doing” small talk and I can then show up with my knowledge base and get straight to consulting.

With online social networking, the funny thing is is that all the social inhibitions don’t exist.  I’m very comfortable talking to or introducing myself to most anyone on Twitter, LinkedIn, Biznik, Facebook and elsewhere.  In fact, it is easy and I’m more animated.

Now the funnier part is that I’m becoming more comfortable with in person social gatherings as what I’m doing online is spilling over into the real world.  And that brings me to the point of this blog post – what you do online can benefit you offline.  There is a genuine payoff to the efforts you put into it.  With the work I’m putting into social networking I’m generating more of my own leads, communicating better with clients and increasing my creditability with potential clients.

Hi, my name is Brent Haeseker, website consultant with NetSource Technologies and I’d like to talk to you about how I can help you grow your business online.  Call me today at 352-390-7747 or email me or stop by and say “hi” if you’re in the area.

StumbleUpon More Traffic For Your Site

After more experimentation with StumbleUpon.com I’ve come to the conclusion that it is one of the best secret weapons to help quickly boost your site traffic.  And the best part is it is really quite easy to use.

Ok, so what exactly is StumbleUpon.com?

In simplest terms, StumbleUpon delivers up random websites on related topics that you can either give a thumbs up or a thumbs down rating to.  Sites that get more thumbs up ratings are served more frequently to other users of StumbleUpon.  I call it “Pandora.com for websites”.  You can put any site in the StumbleUpon queue by first creating an account with StumbleUpon and then installing their StumbleUpon toolbar (yep, another toolbar) and finally going to the site you want to get “stumbled” and then click the thumbs up icon in your newly installed StumbleUpon toolbar.  If it is the first time StumbleUpon has seen the site, it will ask you to fill out a basic description of the site.  Then it will toss the site into the StumbleUpon waters were it will quickly get alot of visits.

Make sure to track your webstats during the process if you are “stumbling” your own website so you can find out if the results are positive.

Social Networking with Rick Itzkowich – A 3,000 Mile Interview

Rick Itzkowich

Rick Itzkowich

Today’s post is an interview with Rick Itzkowich, the co-founder of Productive Learning & Leisure LLC in La Jolla, California, author of The Xtraordinary Living Blog and creator of Quote Actions.  I first meet Rick on Biznik.com where he has a number of excellent articles posted.  After furthering our communications via Twitter and LinkedIn, I knew Rick had some useful insight on marketing that would be beneficial to my readers.

Brent: You mention on your website quoteactions.com that businesses can lose 50% of their customers in 5 years, which I thought was a pretty humbling statistic. Why does this happen and how does a business keep this from happening?

Rick: Primarily because there is a lack of attention given to the customers. Think about anybody you’ve done business with – how many people have you done business with and never heard from them again?

Brent: Lots of people.

Rick: With service providers, I can count on one hand the companies that do follow up or stays in touch with me, except every now and again when they phone to try and sell me something. For the most part, people just get ignored.

There are certain factors that are out of your control, people move, people die, people no longer have an interest in what you do, so there is going to be an attrition no matter what. But I would say, at least 30% to 40% of lost customers could be retained if more attention was paid to them. And more importantly, if there was a system for people to stay in touch and stay connected. Most small business owners do not have any kind of systematic way to stay in touch with their customers. Those that do, have a few e-zines, a few… I did a survey about 2 years ago, and almost 8 out of 10 didn’t have anything formalized. Of the 20% that did, I would say anyway from 20% to 40% of them were in touch with people once a quarter.

Brent: We try to stay in touch once every month or two, but it’s not always that easy.

Rick: You would be among the top 10% of small businesses. Do you have some type of system that you have put in place?

Brent: We do, but it is admittedly hard to keep in place without slipping.

Rick: Another thing that is good is varying the channels, like if you have…. For instances, have you ever gotten a card on your birthday from Southwest Airlines? Southwest is very good about doing that.

Brent: I haven’t personally, as I don’t have much experience with them but I know a lot of people that really love their service so I wouldn’t be surprised that that is something they do.

Rick: Yeah, it is. It is something that they do and it is part of their system. It’s noticeable – even that you know it is a computer that sent it, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, if you do things like that… for example I get an anniversary card from a company I do business with every year of the date a I first started doing business with them and every year they would send me something. You know it’s all computerized and it’s a system, but so what.

Brent: Yeah, somebody had to think it out and put the time in to do it in advance.

Rick: That’s exactly right.

Brent: Say, if you’re staying in touch with a customer through an e-zine newsletter, do you find that an HTML formatted email or a text based email work better than the other?

Rick: It depends on what you are using it for. If you are just using it for information and it’s short and sweet people prefer plain text. But if you are using it to create an image or using it because the visuals are a big part of it to make it interesting and you want people to spend some time then HTML. The problem is that HTML is much more likely to get flagged by spam then text – so there’s that factor too.

Brent: In your case, which do you tend to use the most?

Rick: Our system can deliver both, so the ones that can only receive it in text get text and the other ones get it via HTML.

Brent: So you give the user the choice?

Rick: Yes, whenever possible.

Brent: Is there a universal marketing plan that you think businesses can adopt? If not, how much would it differ – say business-to-business marketing vs. consumer?

Rick: Well, I think custom always works better than universal, because businesses are really different. The more you can afford to direct your marketing efforts the more it’s going to pay off in the long term. There is a direct relationship between doing that. It is not always going to pay off immediately – it’s not like direct sales where you send something off and immediate know the results – it pays off over time.

I’ll give some examples, this year alone we’ve had 3 people… one of them was a client with us back in 1995 and hadn’t done anything since and 13 years later she came and signed up for a $6,000 course because we’ve stayed in touch with her through e-newsletters. And 2 people that have never done a class, and they’ve been in the database for 10 years – this year also they came and signed up for one of our learning vacations, each spending $6,000. So that’s $18,000 from 3 people because they’ve seen our messages over and over for 10 years. And if you had asked me about those people, I would have said no, they’ll never do anything. You just never know.

Brent: It’s funny, I used a quote I made up the other day on somebody – “Just because there’s silence, doesn’t mean nobody is listening”.

Rick: laughter I love that one.

Brent: laughter I think that’s the same thing in that we give up on people because we don’t hear from them but don’t realize they’re really hearing what we’re saying but we’re just not checking in with them to find out if they really are hearing.

Rick: You know one of the statistics that I also found fascinating is from Chet Holmes who writes in his book “The Ultimate Selling Machine” that according to research he conducted, only 3% of the people are in the market to buy your products or services in any given time. And there’s another 7% that is considering buying what you offer. So if you take those 2 combined that’s 10% of your market that’s ready to buy from you right now. The other 90% is either going to be divided equally into thirds: those that are not interested, those that are neutral –neither interested or disinterested- and those that think that they’re not interested. Which means if you don’t have some kind of a way for you to stay connected to them in-between the times when they’re not in the 3 to 10% ready to buy, you’re missing tremendously.

Brent: What social media platforms available do you see as offering the highest value to businesses looking to promote themselves?

Rick: You know, it depends. I can only speak from experience on that one. It all depends on the business and what they are trying to accomplish. For the solopreneur or the small business person who is doing everything himself, it doesn’t matter what they use as long as they find something that works. For example, I have gotten tremendous results out of Biznik.com. But the primary reason I have gotten tremendous results out of Biznik, I believe, is because of the approach that I take. And it wasn’t until recently that I changed my approach – and with my previous approach on one of the others sites I was using I would be bombing out at Biznik too. This is more because my approach than because of the site. The approach that people need to understand when it comes to social media and networking is that you’ve got to go in from the point of view of farming instead of hunting.

Brent: That’s an interesting way to look at it.

Rick: (Previously) I was going into hunting – I was going into sales mode. It’s all about building relationships.

Brent: Cultivating the soil.

Rick: Yep, and when you start doing that – that takes time but… For instances, look at us. We started from nothing but here we are chatting – I’m helping you out, you’re helping me out. You’re finding out a little about what I do. It’s all working but if I had tried to come right out and sell you something we would never be having this conversion because it would have been a total turnoff.

Brent: Exactly, I’d have tuned you out.

Rick: But, because I’m putting up articles, putting up useful information, I’m offering the quotes, the actions, the way for people to get to know more about me and something hopefully that they will enjoy then now we have the basis for a conversation. So, going to the social media, if you bring that approach, I think any platform that you use, whether it’s LinkedIn.com, Biznik.com or Facebook.com – you’re going to be far more successful (offering valuable information) than if what you do is go in there with a hunting mentality.

Brent: That is a good way of looking at it and it goes into a follow up question – say for example there’s a person who’s a locksmith, someone who’s only called upon in a time of need – there’re not really a day to day service that is provided. It seems that would be a hard business that can be marketed through social networking?

Rick: Well, not really. Here’s an example, if they were to create a blog, solving people’s problems with locks, like giving information that these locks are good for this and these locks are good for that, this is want you can do if your lock gets jammed, or whatever. What they are doing is starting to position themselves as someone who is giving good information as an expert and when the time is right… say the search engines may now be able to rank them higher. Secondly, if people subscribe to them, they already will have built a level of trust. So, they still can do (social media).

Brent: So even though they are serving a local market, it can still help because you mention the search engines can be impacted positively from social media so if somebody needs a locksmith and they happen to go on the internet – even on their mobile phone or whatever – this type of business can still have a payoff for doing social networking.

Rick: Yes, they can still have a payoff, and there may even be some people that subscribe to their blog because maybe they’re interested… the business can gain creditability.

The other thing that’s amazing is the questions that people are asking on LinkedIn and Twitter or some of these places – people are asking all kinds of questions and instead of Google’ing sometimes they’re (using social media sites) and you can actually put it so that if certain search words are typed in or put in you get notified. So somebody who’s scanning on that, say the locksmith, can identify if somebody is asking a question about that and immediately respond. So that is another avenue somebody can start using.

Brent: You’re a strong advocate for having a positive attitude in the things that you do – what I’d call a Zig Zigler attitude – but with all the hectic news that we are bombarded with everyday, what would be your advice on keeping your chin up and your focus strong?

Rick: My suggestion, first and foremost is stop listening to the media. The media will not report anything good. If you can’t quit cold turkey, then just scan the newspaper to find out what’s going on but stop paying attention to it. Other things that you can do is start doing different things than what you are doing. Right now when people become fear based, they go into what I call protection mode. When you’re in protection mode you’re not in growth mode. You need to go into growth mode – learning, changing, trying different things instead of doing the same thing you’ve always done. You’ll experience some success even if they are not monetary in some instances. Thinking of social media, someone links to you – adds you to their personal list – you’re accomplishing certain things and it will give you far more confidence as opposed to just focusing on everything that is not happening.

Brent: Sometimes the negatives can test you and make you up your game.

Rick: That’s exactly right. I’ve gotten some communications, people canceling stuff, nothing was happening and then all the sudden I got an email from somebody who had accepted one of my subscriptions and I went, that’s great and then one of my articles was published and that’s great and all of the sudden everything turned around.

Brent: I’m seeing the same thing in just what I’m doing with social networking and everything and just staying positive instead of worrying about what is going on. You know, making my future instead of waiting for someone else to make it.

Rick: That’s exactly right. And then you have, for instances, Quote Actions – those messages… they come in and if you do the action they have you focus on something positive and give you some perspective and it’s just about feeding your brain with that kind of stuff instead of some of the doom and gloom that’s out there.

Brent: Thanks Rick – I hope all my readers will join us online.

Bring a Breath Mint – You’re About to Get Up Close and Personal

I have been talking a lot about social networking sites recently, such as LinkedIn, Biznik, Facebook and Twitter.  I have also been telling you how these sites are a great way to promote your business.  I probably need to slow down and first mention that they are a great way to build relationships that in return helps to promote your business.

Make sure you are not just using these sites to bombard users with stiff, repackaged marketing messages.  Approach these sites in the same way you would meet someone at a Chamber mixer – sure there’s the official “I’m so-and-so and I work for so-and-so as a so-and-so…” but really, the best contacts you make are when you connect on a personal level and spend a generous amount of time talking about hobbies, historical events, childhood memories, sports, politics, religion, gummy bears or wherever the conversation leads.

Social networking sites are a great way to loosen up and make friends – don’t be afraid to get close to your audience and lose the formal marketing pitch.