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The internet is a noisy place. With numerous social networks, search engines, and popular websites, it can be difficult to remain visible to potential customers. While services such as Google AdWords help businesses acquire new customers via search, retargeting keeps your brand front-of-mind on the sites web users love most. In this post, we explain what retargeting is and how to use it to help your business gain new leads and customers.

What is retargeting? 

Retargeting is a type of paid online marketing that targets potential customers based on their previous web-based actions. Visitors to sites that have implemented retargeting are tagged with a cookie or pixel and are later served image ads about that company to entice them to come back and make a purchase.

Have you ever visited a hotel website or shopped for products online and later saw images advertising these businesses as you surfed the web? That’s retargeting.

retargeting example

Example of a retargeting ad.

You also may have heard the term “remarketing.” This is simply retargeting via Google and their partner sites. Google is the company serving the ads and the type of advertising is called retargeting. This can be a bit confusing but don’t fret! They are not two different types of advertising. That said, many marketers are now using these terms interchangeably.

What are the benefits of retargeting? 

The rule of thumb with eCommerce is that only 2% of users make a purchase when visiting an online retailer. Retargeting enables you to remain front-of-mind among the 98% of visitors who spent time on your site but did not convert during their first visit. Unlike traditional advertising, you can customize your ads to specific types of users via retargeting. For example, you can serve ads showing specific items from abandoned shopping carts to encourage potential customers to come back and make their purchase. You can also keep current and former customers interested in your brand by showing them ads for customer loyalty programs and other special offers.

I’m already using paid search. Isn’t that enough?

While implementing paid search on Google and other search engines is a great place to start with paid online marketing, it is important to be where your customers are as often as possible. This means having a presence on search, social, and the websites your potential customers visit.

Consider this: say a potential customer visits your site via a Google AdWords ad, looks around a bit, but does not make a purchase. This visitor later sees image ads for your business while surfing the web and/or social media and remembers that they were interested in your products. This user is significantly more likely to come back to your site and make a purchase than if they had seen your content via AdWords alone!

Do you have retargeting success stories to share? Join the conversation in the comments section below! Contact us today to kick off your retargeting campaigns. We look forward to working with you!


- By Cariwyl

“Improve 1,000 little things by 1%…”

Dollar Sign

A few months ago, I was referred to a new customer by a colleague of another customer. Since most of my new business is referral based, I spent extra time getting to know the business of the new customer and understanding how we could help. As is quite common in the Digital Marketing industry, the project as described originally by the client turned into something a lot more extensive. What started as SEO consulting for an eCommerce site, blossomed into social media marketing, being the webmaster, blogger and web marketing analyst. Needless to say it has been a blast learning a new industry, business and making a new relationship with my client. I am also grateful for the opportunity to share a small success story about it.

What’s the biggest indicator of digital marketing success?
Dollar signs of course! And we saw a significant increase in the number of sales in Q4 2013 compared with all previous sales on the website. We started optimizing the website in August and adding the other responsibilities in September. As you can see from the chart below, the numbers speak for themselves.

Chart Showing Success with large increase in sales in Q4 2013

“You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%” – Jan Carlzon Former President & CEO of the Scandinavian Airlines Group (SAS)

What are your favorite success stories from 2013? Please share in the comments below.


- By Suse Barnes

Google Search Updates, Algorithms, Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds

You may have heard of Google’s biggest most recent search engine update called Hummingbird, but do you know what it does and how it impacts your search engine results placement? In other words, how does Hummingbird affect your business?

This post covers a little history of algorithms, Hummingbird and what you need to do now to increase your search engine rankings.

Hummingbird | Google Search

First let’s understand what a search engine does. A good search engine will index all content available on the web and then serve up results based on any given search. So if you’re looking for organic blueberry chocolate (without quotes) the engine will provide you with what it considers to be the most appropriate results for your particular search. For a search on organic blueberry chocolate today, Google found about 37,900,000 results (in 0.32 seconds). That means there are 37,899,990 other web results competing for page one placement when people search for organic blueberry chocolate.

How does the engine know which sites to show the person searching (user)?
That’s where the algorithm comes in. An algorithm is a mathematical formula, which calculates the appropriateness of each search result based on each person’s search. So if someone searched for How to make organic blueberry chocolate we will see a different set of results, because Google understands that the search is different. The first search (for “Organic blueberry chocolate”) is likely being performed by someone interested in buying some chocolate and the other search is about learning how to make it. Those two things are quite different. Ponder on that for a minute.

I hope you’re starting to understand that the search engine is trying to be smart and doing it’s best to offer you as the user, the best experience by providing the most appropriate search results. So you want to know a couple of things.

1. How does the engine figure out which sites are the best ones to show?
And
2. How do you get your website or page to show on page one of Google?
Right?
Yes, well that’s where the Hummingbird comes in. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Before Hummingbird there were a few other updates that were talked about in search engine optimization and marketing circles. Most recently, these were Panda and Penguin. Both of them were Google’s way of getting rid of junk content or spammy websites that were cluttering up it’s index and muddying the search results. These were a couple of the bigger updates and gave the search engine marketing industry something to talk about, but in reality Google makes hundreds of algorithm changes per year. According to Moz, “Google makes 500 – 600 algorithm changes per year.”

What are these changes and why does Google make them you ask?
Sometimes the changes are small ones to shift the way the best quality search results are calculated and to keep search engine optimizers on their toes. Other times there are updates to penalize black hat (read unethical) SEOs for trying to game the engines. And yet other times there are major overhauls of the algorithm or engine to make it perform better in numerous ways. Hummingbird is such an update. It is like a replacement of the entire engine instead of just the replacement or repair of a part of it.

Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand.com says that one of the reasons for the name of the Hummingbird updates is because it is “precise and fast.” If you’ve ever seen a hummingbird, they are amazingly small birds with super powerful wings and thrust. They also seem to understand exactly where their food is based on color and scent and can quickly and efficiently retrieve the energy they need to sustain such an active little lifestyle.

While other updates focused on penalties to sites for keyword stuffing, bad inbound links and poor PageRank, Google’s Hummingbird’s main change is focused around understanding what the user wants. In search and web marketing this is known as user intent and a huge amount of energy has gone into being able to understand user intent in order to provide the most appropriate search results. According to Giselle Aguiar, “Hummingbird looks for natural language — well-written (no typos or grammatical errors), high-quality content on webpages.
Google’s goal in all this is to give the searcher exactly what they’re looking for. Google now wants fresh, relevant content written for the human reader.”

And in a recent case study, Giselle found a way to attract the Hummingbird to the feeder. How? She posted to a blog at least 3 times a week with one of them being a video. Because YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine after Google and YouTube is also owned by Google, “embedding video in a blog post combines the best of both worlds.” And Giselle is not a trailblazer there are many other SEOs backing her up. James Wedmore will tell you this as well. Just look at how many “How to…” articles he has posted on his homepage.

MarketingTypeGuys.com says “businesses that take the time to write content that addresses common questions from consumers, will find themselves naturally rising to the top of Google’s search results pages.”

And Salman Aslam writes: “This doesn’t change everything about the way we do SEO, but, we need to now put less focus on specific keywords and instead, think about what the user is thinking/needing/feeling when they’re searching – and then give them the most relevant content and experience possible. As a site owner, this is your responsibility too.”

Salman also brilliantly shows how there has been a significant increase in the number of “how” and “what” words in search queries over the last few years. Look at his chart here and read his thoughts on Hummingbird strategies.

Last but not least, we still have lots to learn from the pool salesman, Marcus Schneider who was able to sell tons of fiberglass pools in a dwindling economy just by understanding his audience’s needs.

So how do you get found with search?
In Summary:
1. Focus on good content that will be useful to your audience.
2. Answer questions that your customers are asking.
3. Write blog posts frequently and embed videos in them for your own Jab Jab, Right Hook combination.
4. Remember that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. Content marketing takes time. Know your audience, understand your market and always provide value.
5. Help people find what they are looking for. Answer search questions.


- By Suse Barnes

Successful Pinterest Contesting Tips

Pinterest Contest Guide
One of the things I love most about working in the Internet industry is that we never stop learning. There is always something new to try and offer our clients and I personally love learning just as much as I enjoy teaching. We’ve recently been hard at working learning as much as possible from top Social Media Experts at the Social Success Marketing Summit. The following Pinterest Contest Guide was inspired by a recent webinar by Melanie Duncan.

How to Run a Successful Pinterest Contest

Running a Pinterest contest is a great way to gain new followers, increase traffic to your website, obtain new leads, and increase sales for your business. Within this guide, we will discuss useful tips and guidelines for running a successful contest on the Pinterest platform.

Pinterest Contest Do’s and Don’ts

Do:
1. Read Pinterest’s anti-spam guidelines and contest guidelines.
2. Remember that Pinterest is all about inspiration.
3. Reward inspired pinning.
4. Make it easy to participate and make your guidelines clear.
5. If you are going to reference Pinterest in your contest, review their branding guidelines.

Don’t:
1. Ask Pinterest to sponsor or promote your contest. This is greatly frowned upon!
2. Make people pin or repin your contest rules.
3. Run a sweepstakes in which each action (pin, repin, new board, follow, like) counts as an entry.
4. Require comments or any other potentially spam-related behavior.
5. Require a minimum number of pins.
6. Ask for votes with pins, repins, boards, or likes.

Strategy & How to Build a Contest

One of the most important aspects of running a Pinterest contest is having a strategy. Before starting your contest, determine your guidelines, the goal of your contest, and what you will award to winners.

1. Contest Type
The first step in building a successful Pinterest contest is determining your ultimate goal.

a. To gain more followers: Require entrants to follow you on Pinterest.
b. To gain traffic to your website: Ask entrants to create a new board with your company’s name in the title and have them pin their favorite images from your website (and other images about your company) to the new board. You can also run a campaign similar to this with the goal of increasing brand awareness.
c. To increase sales: Offer a select number of items for a possible giveaway and ask entrants to pin their favorites. Another option is to have entrants pin images of them using your product.

Once you establish your contest goal, create a clear outline of contest guidelines for participants. Keep it simple so your contest is easy to enter. You’ll receive more entries this way!

2. Contest Marketing

a. Don’t limit your contest promotion to Pinterest. Instead, utilize your other social networks, your website, and your mailing list as channels on which to promote your Pinterest contest.
b. Create an eye-catching contest page on your website and use this as “home base” for your contest. This gives participants a gateway to your website as well as a location to refer back to after the contest is over. This is also a great place to host key images you would like to see pinned as part of your contest.
c. Create an eye-catching “pinnable” image to help launch your contest and spread the word. This should be colorful, include your brand, and include a call to action such as “pin to win”. This should also include a buzzword such as “promotion” or “giveaway” and mention of what the prize will be.

3. Selecting Winners
There are three main ways to select a winner for your contest:

a. Collect votes. (For example, a “like” counts as one vote and a “repin” counts as two votes.)
b. Judge based on criteria such as the number of repins an entry received or pin creativity.
c. Run a sweepstakes and select the winner at random. (try a service like www.random.org to help you with this one)

Whichever method you choose, be sure to be up front with entrants in your contest guidelines!

4. Contest Follow-up
a. If you collected email addresses for all participants, notify them of the winner via email and offer everyone a discount or other small prize for their participation.
b. If signing up on your mailing list was not an entrance requirement for your contest, notify contest winners via pin comment and also update the contest page on your website to reflect this information.

Additional Pinterest Contest Tips

• Choose a great prize! Tangible items tend to work best.
• Whatever your method of notification, offer a small, limited-time discount to all contest participants. This will continue to drive interest and sales.
• Run your contest for approximately 10 days to prevent your promotion from being too short to be noticed or too long to keep people interested.
• After your contest ends, change the text on your website contest page to let participants know that it has ended and that you will inform them when the next contest begins. Have a form available for them to sign up on your mailing list.
• Pinterest offers “Pin It” buttons for you to use at: http://business.pinterest.com/widget-builder/#do_pin_it_button

Your Turn

Do you have any successful contest campaigns you want to share or questions about Pinterest? Please post in the comments below.


- By Suse Barnes

Oct
22

What is DNS?

DNS = Domain Name Service

DNS compared to Postal Service

 

Have you ever experienced your website being down and your webmaster or site administrator tell you “it’s a DNS issue”? DNS stands for Domain Name Service and it is what tells all the servers on the Internet where to find your website. Imagine millions of servers all over the world having to take zillions of requests for all kinds of different websites on browsers a gajillion times a day!

Think about it like the postal service
DNS is what enables your website to be served to a visitor when they request your domain name in a browser. I like to think of it like the central post office or postal or zip code system. Your Domain Name is registered on a domain name service provider like Network Solutions, GoDaddy.com, Domain.com, TuCows.com or many other domain name registrars. These registrars tell anyone requesting a website through a browser, where to find that website, i.e. the server address which is usually in the form of an IP address. IP just means Internet Protocol. Since we’re on the Internet, the Protocol or method is just a language, or directive to tell one computer where to send the visitor to find your site.

Imagine a world where none of the postal workers understood zip codes or city names? When your DNS is down or not working for a minute that is what happens on the Internet. DNS is what point the request to the right server. The server then interprets the domain name, figures out where the site is hosted and show you the correct webpage. And this all happens within a matter of milliseconds.

The technology is quite amazing actually, kind of like electricity, where you just flip a switch and have light or energy, like mobile phone service, when we can talk over the “air.” DNS is a small piece of Internet with a lot of power. For example Network Solutions was down for about two hours this morning and many many customers were without their websites. If your website is your livelihood, this can be very damaging to your business and the only thing you can do is wait until your domain name service provider fixes the issue. It’s frustrating for everyone, but ultimately it makes us understand the value of a good domain name service provider.

DNS Issue Service Alert from Network Solutions on Twitter

 

Your DNS provider is usually the same as your domain name registrar, but in some cases it may be different. Usually your website is hosted on a different server altogether as well excerpt if your host is GoDaddy. They do both domain name registration and web hosting and their business model is to offer you cheap domain registration so that you will also buy hosting and other services from them.

Who is your DNS provider?
Would you like to find out? There’s a handy dandy site for that called “Whois.” Go to: http://whois.net/whois/ and enter your domain name and click “Go.” The whois site will return who your registrar is and where your domain name server lives. Why is this helpful? Well, you could look up the DNS provider and see if there are any service issues happening and you will feel better informed. Knowledge is power. It’s one of those things, when it’s working you never think about it, but when it’s not, it is very painful.

Do you have more questions or thoughts about DNS? Please enter them in the comment area below.


- By Suse Barnes

Add Social Icons to Your Gmail Signature in 21 Easy Steps

Since we’re all tweeting, sharing, liking, linking, connecting and blogging these days, I’ve had a few requests from people asking how to show social icons in their email signature.

It’s easy enough to do it manually every time you send an email, but if you want to automate the process and really have the icons in your signature line, the trick is in being able to host the icons on a server somewhere and not linking or inserting the icons from your local computer.

If you would like to use any of the following icons, I got them from http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/social-media/icons/ who offers them for free. The social icons you see below were downloaded from http://psd.tutsplus.com/freebies/icons/81-pixel-perfect-social-media-icons/ and then uploaded them to my server, so that we can link to them individually for use in an email signature.

Step by Step

  1. First make sure you know the URLs (web addresses) to each of your social media profiles.

    For example, mine are:
    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susby

    Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/susanbarnes

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SusbyDigital

    Google Plus: http://gplus.to/susby

    See https://www.facebook.com/username if you don’t have a Facebook Vanity URL (custom username) yet.
    See http://gplus.to to get a shortened URL for your GooglePlus page

  1. Now go back go Gmail.
  2. Click Compose mail in Gmail.
  3. Make sure the rich-text editor is enabled: if you see “Rich formatting »” right above the message’s text composition area, click it. This will change from plain text to rich-text editor.
  4. Now Click Discard, because you don’t need to compose a new message yet.
  5. Click the Settings gear in your Gmail inbox’s toolbar. Look for the gear symbol in the top right area of your gmail screen.Gmail settings gear button
  6. Now select Settings from the menu that appears.
  7. Go to the General tab.
    General Settings tab in Gmail
  8. Scroll down until you see the Signature option.Gmail Signature Creation
  9. Make sure the signature entry area (or the desired account) is selected under Signature:
  10. Enter the text for your signature.
  11. Position the text cursor where you want the image to appear in your signature.
  12. Click Insert Image in the signature’s formatting toolbar.
    For image icons you may copy from the following:
    http://www.susby.com/s/twitter.png
    http://www.susby.com/s/facebook.png
    http://www.susby.com/s/linkedin.png
    http://www.susby.com/s/gplus.png
    http://www.susby.com/s/youtube.pngPlease note that you MUST use the complete URL, with http://www.susby.com/s/ plus the icon filename in the URL or the image will not show. This is just how email works. All URL must be absolute URLs, and exist somewhere out on the web, or your images will not show to other people, even if they are showing for you when you link to them from your own computer.So, copy one of the above links in full.
    Then click Insert Image in the signature’s formatting toolbar.Paste the URL(link) into the Image URL field.
    Insert your social icon image
  1. Click OK.
  2. Now highlight the icon you want to add your social network profile link to. (The Google Plus icon below is highlighted.)Highlight social icon for inserting a hyperlink
  3. Insert the text of the link for the icon you highlighted. In my case the link is to my Google Plus Vanity URL which is http://gplus.to/susbyInsert hyperlink for social icon
  4. Click OK.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button.
  6. Compose a test message to yourself or a good friend (or me) and test all the icon links to make sure they are going to the right place.
  7. Make any corrections and then you’re good to go and people may click on your social network icons to view any of your social networking profiles.
  8. Happy socializing on the social networks!

Have you noticed any increases in visibility since adding social icons to your email? Do you have any other tips for making your social accounts more visible to the people that you are communication with regularly? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


- By Suse Barnes

Twitter Statistics in 3 Ways

Knowing and understanding your Twitter Statistics is a good way to motivate yourself to continue posting quality content on the Twitter network. Posting on Twitter is as much about knowledge sharing and listening, as it is about having conversations and networking in up to 140 characters at a time.

Until a couple of weeks ago, we used to be able to track our Twitter Grade using a free tool which was offered by Hubspot called Twitter Grader. Sadly, this tool has been retired and replaced with Marketing Grader.  Marketing Grader has some benefits, but I know there will be a lot of people missing Twitter Grader. That’s the problem with free tools though, the developer may decide to discontinue offering them at any time.

So where do we go to measure the success of our Twitter presence?

1. Twitter Counter will show you how long you’ve been on Twitter and allow you to compare your twitter handle with one other handle at a time. It will also show you your worldwide reach and provide simple charts showing your growth.  If you want to track your Twitter follower growth you can do that with a free version of the account as well.  The pro version offers a lot more detail including historical data, number of mentions and retweets, and PDF reports. The pro offering looks like a great option for agencies.

2. RetweetRank will allow you to measure yourself up with a retweet rank number and percentile. If you log in with your twitter account, you’ll see how many retweets you’ve received and tweets you’ve posted over the past week. If you want to specify a date range to get more of those statistics, you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version, which starts at $5/month for a personal account. There is a 14 day free trial though, and I believe the best way to learn is to through playing, so I encourage you to try it before you buy it and get to know your Twitter retweet ranking statistics quickly.

3. Tweetstats has lots of pretty charts for you to drool over and all it requests is a donation. This one is well worth exploring, just know that it may take a bit of patience before it shows you all of your (or your competitor’s) Twitter statistics and charts.

Twitter Statistics on TweetStats.com

There is also a new analytics feature that Twitter itself has recently rolled out. See http://analytics.twitter.com It started out being only available to Twitter advertisers, i.e. people or businesses who advertise on Twitter. Stay tuned to see if Twitter rolls out analytics for individual accounts holders who are not yet advertising.

What are your favorite tools for measuring Twitter statistics? Do you miss Twitter Grader? And what do you think about Marketing Grader? Please share your thoughts in the comment area below.


- By Suse Barnes

 9 Tactics for Twitter:

How to Get Started and How to Get Followers on Twitter

  1. Create your Twitter profile making sure you have:
    1. A smiley profile photo of yourself (or your logo)
    2. A customized background for your Twitter page with showing all your social media links. See http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/how-to-make-a-twitter-background/
    3. Follow five other people and/companies in your industry and/or with interests similar to yours.
    4. Search on Twitter for keywords related to your industry or interests. Follow 20 of those people each day.
    5. Tweet about topics related to your business and/or interests.  A good plan for tweeting is:
      1. Action, i.e. a link to an interesting article
      2. Action, i.e. a link to something entertaining
      3. Random thought, i.e. something you are thinking or something you did
      4. Action
      5. Question
      6. Start at item a again and keep cycling through the list
      7. Tweet about other people 12 times more than you tweet about yourself.
      8. Unfollow people who are not following you back unless they are highly valuable for some reason. Use http://www.justunfollow.com or http://manageflitter.com
      9. Participate in conversations on Twitter by tweeting at people in your industry and retweeting tweets that may be interesting to your followers.
      10. It’s ok to post about yourself occasionally, but make sure it’s 20% of the time and not 80% of the time.

Don’t just take it from me, read the following great articles as well:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/katieheaney/how-to-actually-get-more-twitter-followers
http://diythemes.com/thesis/get-more-twitter-followers/
http://www.wikihow.com/Get-More-Followers-on-Twitter
http://danzarrella.com/


- By Suse Barnes

Promises, promises, promises.

Promise to keep them and you’re one step closer to making it with social media marketing. Promises is the seventh P in the new P’s in Marketing. The previous several posts on this topic are explained here.

Promises Guarantee

“Package it up to look pretty.”
“Pack in a great punch line.”
“Where’s the hook, please?”
“Position the message.”

These old marketing tactics are soon to be replaced by authentic referrals, real value, pride and passion. Brand influencers are worth more than gold and social media is relentless about brands that don’t live up to their word.

Think about all of the review sites. Yelp! Amazon.com reviews, TripAdvisor etc. People are all too willing to share their experiences of products and services for the greater good of the community.

Promises are often made too lightly causing law suits for false advertising and negative comments about your brand or offering. Afterall, happy customers might tell a few friends, but angry customers 3,000.

Since we’re in a world of word of mouth, promises made are even more important to keep, because if you don’t keep your promises, the community will out you and your shady marketing in less time than it takes to even say your company name.

So what are your thoughts? Do you have other words and/or concepts starting with P to add to the list? Do you follow the 4 P’s in Marketing? Do you think it’s time to shift to the 7 P’s instead? Please add your comments (and promises) below.


- By Suse Barnes

Partnerships are key in new media marketing.

What makes perfect partnerships in business?

To be social means to have and form partnerships of all kinds. Whether it’s a partnership in the form of becoming a fan or follower, a friendship with a high school classmate, a business partnership or simply a meetup group for learning and expanding your contacts, partnerships are prevalent in marketing today. They always have been, but if you look at the most successful businesses today, it’s those that have been most strategic and smart with their partnerships.

Google’s Larry Page and Sergei Brin were the original dream team who started Google. They then hired Eric Schmidt to create a partnership that resulted in the beginning of profits for the company. Google purchased many a young startup company including Blogger, Picasa, and YouTube and those partnerships even if they were acquisitions has served to increase profitability exponentially over time. Google also partners with its customers by helping them make money for themselves through their core product, Google AdWords. They provide many tips, tools and tutorials for advertisers and reward customers who are performing well with better pricing and higher rankings.

Facebook has partnered with several third party application developers, (such as Votigo and Involver) service providers (like Spotify and Instagram) and game developers (like Zynga) in order to keep their user base. We partner with twitter users every time we reciprocate a follow, retweet or enter into public conversations. No solitary person can exist in a vacuum and certainly no marketing can happen without anyone around. In the conversation economy, word of mouth is a world of mouth. People and partnerships are crucial for business and even more crucial in social media marketing.

What are your favorite examples of winning partnerships in business today or from the past? Please add your thoughts in the comments area below.


- By Suse Barnes