3 Ways to Boost Your In-House Marketing in 2011: Part 2
In yesterday’s post, I focused on three things in-house marketers can do to boost online marketing efforts this year. The first was, well, really focus on Internet marketing (versus just traditional marketing). Then, I talked about diving into training and continuing education to keep up with all the changes to search engine marketing.
Once you’re committed to focusing on Internet marketing, what are some of the high-level areas that you should be paying attention to? In today’s Part 2, we’ll talk local search, social media and conversion rate optimization.
1. Focus on Local.
If you already have what you believe is a fairly successful online marketing strategy, I ask: Do you understand the impact local search will have on the success of your campaign? If your answer is, “Not really,” then go forth and start understanding this phenomenon.
In the past year, Google in particular has made mind-blowing changes to the way we approach search engine marketing. Search is changing so quickly, even the experts are scrambling to keep up.
This is not to say Internet marketers don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s a full-time job to research, test and understand the changes being made and how that affects businesses online.
Bruce Clay recently predicted (and if you haven’t met Bruce yet, you should know his predictions about the state of search are spot on for the most part), that Google will be a predominantly local search engine within two years.
So, what that means to you as an in-house Internet marketer, is brush up on the recent developments in local search, so you can begin to incorporate strategies into your SEM plan.
Many of the news sources I cited in Part 1 of this post can help you stay on top of developments.
Some things you’ll want to consider are:
- Even if you’re a national business, start thinking about geotargeted keywords, and setting up silos (themes) throughout your site to support those cities you serve.
- Claim your Google Places page. It’s free and is an important step in local ranking (even though Google says it does not result in preferential treatment).
- Take a more local approach to your PPC campaigns. Target metro areas and add your business location from the Places page into the location extension in AdWords.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep in mind, local search is changing as we speak, so again, it’s a game of staying on top of developments as they happen, and experimenting with your own strategy.
For more information on recent local search developments from a BCI perspective, you can visit any one of the following blog posts:
- Google Places Business Kits Makes Local Really Local. This post discusses the Google Hotpot service, a review community that could compete with Yelp, and how that impacts local merchants. December 14.
- Local Search Tips and Bunnies – SEM Synergy Extras. This post gives insider insight into keyword selection and PPC campaigns with a local focus. December 15.
- Google’s Local Search Algorithm and Rankings. This post discusses the Google video that came out on local ranking factors, and what that might mean to businesses. December 16.
- Local Rankings: Business Listings and Directories. This post covers how to get your business into the sites online that search engines like Google use to verify and rank your business. December 21.
- Social Goes Local: Tips for Local Ranking. This post highlights the ways that Google is bringing social aspects into local ranking and why it’s important. December 29.
Internet marketing consultants: Think about how you can start communicating more about local to the people who don’t spend their days learning about changes to search. I’ve only been in the industry less than a year, and I’ve even forgotten that many businesses don’t understand what all of it means to their online efforts mainly because I’m used to talking about it all day. Let’s be more proactive in educating them on how to handle changes to the SERP.
2. Dive into Social.
You’ve been hearing about it for a long time now, but let me confirm: social media is here to stay. In fact, social is so “here to stay” that it is affecting search.
Which brings me to the next point: Facebook. Facebook is affecting the way we experience the Internet on many, many levels.
The Facebook Connect feature that many sites have adapted takes your Facebook community with you wherever you go online.
This allows you to see who in your community “likes” a particular site, a certain Web page, a business, and the list goes on.
Why this is important is because we believe that the “authority” factor that Google had in its algorithm is transitioning to social.
It seems logical that since Google is embracing the social aspect of search, that the “trust” factor that used to be bestowed upon websites when they had links from authoritative sites will now be replaced in favor of recommendations from a user’s community. Follow?
Let me explain. Links from authoritative sites have always been a factor in ranking and PageRank. These links help tell Google that your site is a trusted source.
Think about it, what’s more trusted than a recommendation from someone in your network?
And it’s not just Facebook that’s having an impact on search. Many startups and services launched this year to help make the online experience more social, including RockMelt, Spindex and blekko, to name a few.
So, where do you begin? How do you know where the best social networks are for your business? Two of the more mainstream social communities you’ll want to consider are:
- Facebook: If you are going to master any social network, it’s safe to say this one can be extremely valuable to your online marketing efforts, no matter what business you’re in.
- LinkedIn: This business-to-business network might seem to be in the shadows of some of the sexier communities like Facebook, but it has a lot of features to market your business and network your butt off.
There are obviously a ton more out there. And even though I personally believe it can’t hurt to have a social media presence, no matter what, you do need to weigh the factors.
Try to figure out what resources are needed to make your business’ social media engagement meaningful, and go from there.
Internet marketing consultants: If you haven’t already learned how to set up and optimize profiles for various types of businesses in the top social networking communities, this is the year! Look into some training, practice and share your knowledge with others. Many, many businesses are still trying out figure out how to best use social media even at the most basic of levels.
3. Begin Conversion Rate Optimization.
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a multidisciplinary strategy that is sort-of at the tail-end of the Internet marketing cycle.
First, you have search engine optimization and paid search to drive rankings and traffic, then you want to learn how to convert the people that land on your site. This is where CRO comes in.
What is a conversion? A conversion is anything that you want a person to do when he or she comes to your site, whether it’s filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter or anything else.
CRO has many facets, from the principles to the research to the testing. Just a sampling of what goes into a CRO program can include:
- Learning about personas. Who your audience is and how to cater to it.
- Eye-tracking research. Where people look when they hit a Web page and how to layout your site to cater to it.
- Analytics. Figure out which pages you want to test based on pages that are already performing, and then use analytics to help measure success.
- Landing page optimization. How to improve landing pages within your site through A/B and multivariate testing.
I recently wrote a post talking about landing page optimization and how to start. It gives resources for learning more for people who want to get their feet wet.
Internet marketing consultants: Start testing! CRO is part of any holistic Internet marketing strategy. It’s something that must be added to your service offerings to stay competitive and to keep your clients successful. And, if you find interesting data through testing, you can submit it to WhichTestWon.com, as Anne Holland and her team are always looking to publish interesting case studies.
So, along with Part 1 of this post, this is your Internet marketing starter kit for you in-housers (and a couple of tips for Internet marketers, too) looking to make online marketing a major success in 2011.
If you feel I left anything out, feel free to comment below!