Tag Archives: Research and Audits

Growing Your Business By Targeting Your Smallest Viable Audience

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Growing Your Business By Targeting Your Smallest Viable Audience

Business isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago. The internet changed the world in ways we’re still trying to fully understand. 

Companies can no longer continue on the same path as their larger rivals. In the past, old school business models provided a format for up-and-coming entrepreneurs to follow. But in today’s business world, that format doesn’t work.

For the first time in history, the five most valuable companies in the world are all tech companies:

  1. Apple
  2. Alphabet (Google)
  3. Microsoft
  4. Amazon
  5. Facebook

And, unlike their outdated counterparts, today’s tech companies are agile and fast. They work with designers and creators empowered to innovate and make better systems and solutions soon to become adopted as the new norm. The ability to test and fail means fail and fail more often. And failing more often means more chances for success as well.

The rules are different now. It seems like tactics have overtaken strategy and short-term wins have become more important than long term gains. 

With the rules of business changing, the marketing rules have changed along with it. Before the internet, marketing a new brand required creating mass appeal. Today, in the digital marketplace, targeting the masses is just not a great strategy.

You see, targeting the masses means creating a product or service with a brand and message that appeals to everyone. And online, ‘everyone’ is any number of the 7.7 billion people that exist on the Earth today. 

Check the Current World Population here

What brand has the capacity to appeal to billions of people? What start-up enterprise could even afford to market to everyone? 

Of course every entrepreneur dreams of reaching a maximum market reach. Every artist dreams of having millions of fans and followers… and every hard working business owner hopes to realize high-yielding returns on investments.

But, the problem is, the masses like AND hate everything. They love humor, though are offended by it as well. They care about art and design or function and efficiency. They are carnivores and vegetarians. They are advocates and adversaries….

The masses are everyone. You and your brand are singular, with a message and story that are meant to call your own, initially. And, if you dumb it down to please everyone, you take out the very element that makes you unique.

Seek the minimal viable audience

You’ve heard it before, today’s marketing is about storytelling. It’s about surprising and delighting the audience.

Chances are you’re not going to delight very many people if your message is watered down for the masses. Instead, determine who your minimal viable audience is, and go after them. Hard. 

Why waste your time on other people who, for the most part, don’t really care about what you’re trying to do?

When you focus on your minimal audience, or specific buyer personas, the aspects of your messaging and story will become more impactful to the individuals who matter.

From one of my favorite authors and the person who inspired this post, Seth Godin:

Seek the minimal viable audience - Seth Godin Quote

But the problem is, when you’re trying to make the best, the best is different for everyone. 

Who is your minimum viable audience? 

To understand who your minimum viable audience is, consider the smallest group of people you could target or work with that will sustain your business.

Minimum Viable Audience

When you’re just getting started, it’s hard to determine an ideal buyer. More seasoned marketers will tell you this set of information is developed from layers of data pulled from years of marketing campaigns. However, when you’re working with a new brand, a new concept, a new service or a new division, the old data won’t tell you who your new audience could be.

Instead, this is the time to dream a little. To make a wish list of who your audience would be, if you could choose. Imagine their hopes, their vision, their views on the world, what they’re passionate about, why they do what they do… it’s all up to you.

Now, what would you make to help improve their lives? What would you choose to make specifically for them because they are the only ones watching? Because, remember, in your dream vision of who your audience is, there are only people who care about you and what you’re doing.

To take the exercise a step further, pretend you’re minimal viable audience consists of only 10 people. That your entire mission is to entertain these 10 people. That everything you build, everything you say, everything you share only has one job: to delight these 10 people.

Would you still be making the content you were making now? Would you still be sharing the same messages and offering the same services you are today?

Ignore the non-believers

It’s really easy as a business owner or entrepreneur to get distracted by the haters. There will always be non-believers and people who think things should be done differently. Don’t get caught up in what they might say or how they might react to what you’re creating. Remember, you’re not creating it for them.

By concentrating on the few and ignoring the non-believers you can stay focused on the work that matters.

Then, ironically, your work will spread.

The only way to create anything with meaning is to find the right audience and make things for them. When you work for people or on projects that aren’t in line with your mission, you prevent that magic from happening.

Targeting Your Smallest Viable Audience - Marketing Quote - Jenny Strdaling

I know this because I’ve been there. I know this because I spent 10 years trying to figure out who I wanted my audience to be and, let me tell you, the struggle is real.

Redefining your target audience

If after years of doing business or working towards a project online, you have found yourself questioning your target market and strategy, you’re not alone.

Unfortunately, if you’ve been primarily working with an industry that has undergone significant changes, you can be impacted for a number of reasons. 

Industries change all of the time, especially in today’s fast-paced, digital solutions based world. 

If you’re getting ready to do a complete company rebrand or simply tweak your marketing messaging, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Look at your current customers. Are your solutions solving the problems these people handle on a day-to-day basis?
  • Have your solutions changed? Do you need to adjust to accommodate your client base or should you go after a new market completely?
  • If you’re going after a new market, does this audience typically purchase products or services that are similar to yours?
  • Why are you offering this specific product or service?
  • What are your target demographics?
  • Where do they live? Where do they work?
  • What do your buyers have in common?
  • What are their values, interests and hobbies?
  • How does your target audience engage with others online?
  • What drives this audience to make buying decisions?
  • How can you best reach your target market?
  • What are the other brands your target audience already follows and engages with?

Each of these questions should be deeply considered and researched before you decide to change your branding and messaging.

Be the best option available

In an instant gratification world where there are literally endless online results for any type of query you can think of, users demand the best.

Buyers only care about the best.

People don’t want the average T-shirts. They want THE best T-shirt online. 

But how can you be the best T-shirt for everyone?

Being the best for a select few, by offering something made for your minimum viable audience. Target the people who share your views and mission. The people who are inspired by your message and want to wear a shirt that represents and honors who they want to be in the world.

If you are a sustainable business for example, and you’d like to sell merchandise, story building around your world views and your message regarding the importance of people, and planet before profit, is key to resonating with your audience.

A person’s way of viewing the world and how they interact with brands is a big indicator of how they make decisions and the types of stories that compel them to act.

If you think about it, a worldview can be an even more effective way to identify market segments than simply utilizing customer demographics. What people believe to be true is a more accurate predictor of online behavior than age, gender, or even social or economic attributes.

Tips for using worldviews in your value proposition strategies: 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do your potential and current customers strongly believe to be true?
  • What do they value and what do they think is irrational?
  • How do people perceive the world today?
  • What benefits do I offer that contrast with the general market?
  • Have we discovered something unusual or surprising that we’d like to share?

Target audience versus value proposition

Now that you’ve defined your target audience or redefined your buyer persona types, it’s time to address your value proposition statement.

A value proposition statement indicates why a customer would choose your brand over another. It explains your angle in the marketplace and includes things like costs and benefits to show the value that your organization can deliver to its customers.

When determining your value propositions, you first must review the problem you aim to solve. Similar to developing out your target audience strategy, it’s imperative that you understand your buyers and their needs so that you can be sure your offering fits the demand.

If the demand is there, but your sales are still down, here are some other questions you should be asking:

  • Who is my competition and how am I different from them? You need to see how you stack up against others in your space. Take a look at things objectively and make decisions for your own brand that you know will help you stand out.
  • What pain points does my product or service solve? How does your business or product solve a problem for your customer? Does it save time? Money? What is it that you provide that similar companies don’t?
  • What is my mission? What is your company’s vision? What do you stand for? Developing a mission requires you to answer three additional questions:
    1. Why is it important to us?
    2. What is our ultimate goal?
    3. How will we measure our success?

Once you’ve determined your unique mission as a brand, this will also help you distinguish what sets you apart from your competition.

Here is an example of a great value proposition that has evolved over time: 

Company: Dollar Shave Club

Marketing to your Minimum Viable Audience

Image cred: Frugalbeautiful.com/blog

This brand has been disrupting the razor industry since they first came onto the scene with their viral video campaign in 2012. They literally built their business around the pain and  inconvenience of having to go to the store and spend a lot of money for big-name razors from “those other guys”. 

Their solution? A low-cost razor that gets delivered right to your door on a convenient, automated basis.

Over the years their messaging has evolved to better reflect their unique value proposition. 

They started with a slogan of “Our blades are f***ing great”, which is a nod to the humor you see throughout their advertising campaigns. However, in more recent years, you can see they cut back on the humor a bit and went for an even more direct approach.

Clever taglines and incorporating humor can be great tactics to help a new brand stand out. However, as a brand becomes more recognized and has a stronger following, it makes sense that their messages would evolve with them over time.

Dollar Shave Club clarified their message and, in doing so, helped take their startup and viral video campaign into a billion dollar business venture for the founder.

You see, on July 19, 2016, Dollar Shave Club was acquired by Unilever for a reported $1 billion in cash. Not too shabby. Source: WikiPedia.

What else can we learn from Dollar Shave Club?

  • What video can do

Look, I’m probably preaching to the choir here but in today’s marketplace, video is more powerful than ever. 

Video provides a brand with the opportunity to establish a direct connection with their audience. It’s a visual experience that can only be provided in this format. 

Dollar Shave Club came up with a concept that would work well in a video format. But,making a video isn’t enough. You get a sense that the promotion of this video was strategic, not just viral, as the campaign piggybacked off of a press release, that appeared to help pivot the already live video into the eyes of a wider audience.

Branded Video Content

  • How important storytelling is

Today, digital marketing can be focused on any number of platforms and mediums. But the distribution of an asset, such as a video, is only as good as the story the brand has to share. 

Dollar Shave Club didn’t just make a video to share on YouTube or social outlets, they determined who their minimum viable audience was and focused on delivering compelling stories.

Video and YouTube, in this case, were the obvious choices to distribute the content and reach the targeted audience. Dollar Shave Club took advantage of that in a smart and unique way. 

  • The value in knowing (and targeting) your audience

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Dollar Shave Club knew their target audience well. They used language and humor to reach people in a new way. Prior to their unique campaign launch, most razor brand positioning and messaging seemed to focus on the more serious side of their audience.

Knowing their audience allowed them to take bigger risks with their marketing, delighting their minimal viable audience, turning strangers into leads, customers, and loyal brand promoters. 

  • Why value propositions matter

Marketing and messaging for a brand today can span the full digital spectrum, from your website to your social and email campaigns. 

Catchy one liners and humorous videos are not enough on their own to push the buyer along the journey from awareness into consideration and, eventually, a purchase. By combining their unique messaging with powerful proposition statements throughout their digital properties, Dollar Shave Club created a campaign focused on what makes them better than the competition, at every stage of the journey. 

Steps of the buyers journey - Jenny Stradling - Eminent SEO

  • How viral marketing is about shareability

I always thought it was strange how much money was invested into large advertising campaigns that only aired on television. Digital media is shareable and therefore the type of content that can reach a much larger audience. If you’re creating messaging that can go viral, why wouldn’t you provide an easy path for your audience to share that content?

You can’t share TV ads unless they’re online. Dollar Shave Club knew this and used their traditional media in their online marketing strategies as well. 

That’s not only a great way to build trust through consistency in your messaging, but also just a smart way to repurpose “physical” assets into digital assets for the brand (aka turning a TV ad into a YouTube video).

Repurposing saves the company money by not having to make new assets for every platform.

  • How humor (being authentic) can work for any brand

Marketers will tell you they’re very specific reasons that people feel compelled to share content. Everyone has their own emotional triggers, but the average person is said to feel inclined to share a piece of content if they experience: anger, shock, awe, humor, sadness or another strong emotional connection that they believe is relatable to their peers.

The Dollar Shave Club video is clearly made to poke fun at the brand, in an amusing way. That works for them and their audience. But that doesn’t mean that every brand story needs to include self-deprecating humor.

The point is, they knew their audience and built a message that would work well for them.  

Authenticity is what really matters in brand storytelling.

What do you think?

    • How did you determine your minimum viable audience? 
    • How did you come up with your unique value proposition? 
    • How do you use it for smarter marketing? 
    • When should you redefine your value proposition?
    • What can you take away from successful brand campaigns that focus on the minimum viable audience and a defined value proposition?

     

  • brand storytellers - Eminent SEO
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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Online Reputation Management Helps All Three

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How to Deal with Bad Reviews

As a business owner in this day and age, you are likely no stranger to the concept of online reviews. The ability to view constant, updated feedback on the products or services your business offers – including the ease of access your website provides your users – is a great way to gain insight into what you’re doing best. In addition, it helps identify potential areas that need improvement. However, reading a scathing customer review – whether founded or unfounded – can leave business owners second guessing themselves and wishing there was some way to prevent customers from leaving negative reviews.

Should you respond to or remove negative reviews? How can you prevent further reputation issues? Do less-than-stellar reviews affect your business or brand?

Here’s how online reputation management can help you become well-versed in online reviews and know what to do about them to maintain a positive online reputation, for years to come.

Do Consumers Really Read Reviews?

Before we begin to discuss how reviews affect your business, it’s important to point out that the mere ability to leave a review can have a positive impact on your reputation. In fact, according to Forbes, as many as 97 percent of people who find businesses nearby do so while online, A good deal of those (75 percent) say that they wind up patronizing a business they found to be thoroughly-reviewed online.

How can the nature of the reviews your customers leave impact future consumer decisions? Whether your reviews are positive or negative, Nielsen’s most recent Global Trust in Advertising Survey found that 66 percent of people trust the opinions of others who have chosen to rate a business online.

Even more impressive, multiple studies suggest that a similar number of people trust online ratings as much as or more than an ex-significant other’s opinion. Simply put, most people are reading your business’s online reviews, and the majority of them trust the anonymous reviewers enough to base some of their decision making on what they’ve read online.

smartphone reviews

 

How Do Reviews Affect Your Brand?

How much sway do online reviews have? Enough that the majority of people – 57 percent, according to Brightlocal – will only purchase a product or use a service that has four or more stars. A majority of positive reviews, or at least a positive average of at least four stars, is important for drawing in customers looking for excellent ratings.

Similarly, negative reviews can have a lasting impact on your bottom line. The same Forbes report states that even one negative review can cost you as much as 22 percent of all business revenue. The number balloons to over 55 percent when three or more negative reviews appear on the first page of your business’s reviews.

How Can You Address Online Reviews?+

customer review ratings

While positive reviews can do your business’s reputation a great deal of good, the helpful effects can only keep rolling in once you know about your positive reviews. In the same way, you can only begin to address the circumstances that led to a negative review – and attempt to reconcile with the consumer – if you are aware of the review. It’s a classic scenario we like to call, “What you don’t know CAN hurt you.”

If you’ve crafted a high-quality website for your business, chances are, some of your very best reviews appear right there on your homepage. However, as the internet continues to expand, so does the ever-increasing list of consumer product and service rating pages, most of which you are not able to control directly. Dependent on the nature of your business, you may garner customer reviews on many or all of these sites:

  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • Angie’s List
  • Consumer Reports
  • Trustpilot
  • Amazon
  • TripAdvisor
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Choice
  • Foursquare
  • Yahoo! Local Listings
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Glassdoor

Certainly, it is important to respond in some way to all reviews, whether that response be sharing a positive review so your potential customers can see it or reaching out to a customer who left a negative review in the hopes of retaining lost business. However, since this is not an exhaustive list, how do you begin the process of finding and reacting to the reviews your company garners?

Performing a brand reputation audit is an excellent way of rounding up your feedback so you can determine next steps.

What Is a Brand Reputation Audit, and Should Every Business Get One?

At its primary level, a brand reputation audit involves a professional, deep scan of the internet for each and every mention of your business. Once the data is in, experts analyze the reviews and each listing of your certifications and accreditations to ensure that the information reflected is up to date and accurate. This data provides an extensive overview of your business’s online reputation.

Every business should perform a brand reputation audit to build a comprehensive picture of how current and potential consumers view your business, individual products or services, and even your personnel.

Reputation Audit

Once you have a handle on your brand’s current reputation, the information enables you to develop strategies to address and promote the positive aspects found. On the flip side, it also helps you formulate a plan for dealing with any negatives or missing information. Further, a brand reputation audit is a first step toward longer-term solutions that strengthen your business’s reputation through ongoing and consistent online reputation management.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

We’ve already established the importance of customer reviews and the best way to go about locating them. Now what? It’s time to address the reviews and other mentions of your business.

By highlighting the positives and retaining potential losses by dealing with the negatives, this provides the highest chances of keeping your current customers. Keeping firm control of your business’s reputation is referred to as online reputation management.

Benefits of Maintaining Social Control

ORM is a great way to highlight the very best reactions your consumers have to your product or service. Earlier, we mentioned the extremely high numbers of potential patrons who choose to only use companies with four or more stars on a given rating platform. In addition to your overall rating, showcasing some of your most brilliant, concise, positive comments in a prominent location can go a long way towards influencing consumers still on the fence.

ORM takes this strategy a step further and helps you structure your interactions with customers in a way that encourages them to leave reviews.

What about Negative Reviews?

ratings

When a brand reputation audit reveals negative reviews lurking amongst the positive, the common, knee-jerk reaction is to remove them. However, sanitizing your brand’s reputation may do you more harm than good; there isn’t a business in existence that has a perfect, five-star, customer satisfaction rating, and consumers know it. For this reason, a professional response to helpful critical reviews can reassure your potential customers that your brand is trustworthy in a few important ways.

  • You are actively looking for feedback and receptive of both praise and criticism
  • You’re invested in how satisfied your customers are
  • You want to take action to rectify any negative experiences
  • A variety of reviews is substantial proof that your brand is real and not a scam
  • You are transparent and open to helpful criticism

In fact, a recent survey showed that 68 percent of people found online reviews more trustworthy when both positive and negative reviews were included.

Think ORM First

How should you respond to those negative reviews? First, it is important to build an overall ORM strategy that gets you thinking before every action you take online. ORM helps you remember that while every negative review is visible to the public, so is your response. Never respond without first taking a moment to cool off and review your business’s unique ORM strategy.

Then, respond to the review while remaining mindful of your ultimate goal – to resolve the issue quickly; a response lamenting the customer’s poor experience does neither you nor the customer any good.

Conversely, a response resolving the issue actually increases the chances the customer will do business with you again. Depending on your business, resolution may include:

  • Inviting the customer to your location
  • Providing an answer you or an associate may have missed
  • Locating shipment information

After you’ve crafted your response, it’s a good idea to consult with an ORM professional regarding its potential outcomes. Explore the potential positive and negative outcomes of the response, particularly regarding your long-term plans for future reputation management.

At the very least, get another person’s opinion on what you’ve composed. Finally, if the customer responds and continues to raise an issue, invite them to discuss the matter privately – a maximum of two public responses is a good rule of thumb.

review stars

How ORM Boosts Your Business’s Reputation

Managing your business’s online reputation is not a quick fix, but it is an issue you can – and should – take swift action regarding. Moving your business in the right direction by gaining an overview of your brand’s current reputation via a brand reputation audit is an important first step. It’s also the price of doing business in today’s digital age. Think of it as both reputation management and marketing.

Online reputation management strategies can address what’s already out there on multiple review platforms, while building a strategy for improvement moving forward. If you’re ready for more control over your brand’s reputation, Eminent SEO can help. Together, we can visualize your social strategies for tomorrow by reshaping what you’re doing today, by optimizing your ORM.

Talk to Eminent SEO about Your Online Reputation Management Plan

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Chris Weatherall

President and SEO Strategist Chris has over a decade and a half of website development, SEO and organic link building experience. He manages the strategy for each client and drives the search engine rankings and traffic Eminent SEO is known for. When you hire Eminent you hire Chris, which means you have a veteran organic search expert on your team. Oh, and he’s funny too!

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The Importance of a Website SEO and Brand Audit

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Website SEO And Brand Audit - Eminent SEO
Not auditing a website before determining the scope of work for a large SEO project is like going fishing with no bait. You’ll only get bites from the small fish that don’t really know SEO. An experienced SEO agency will not take on a large SEO project without auditing it first.

Oh, your website isn’t working? Can’t afford a website SEO and brand audit? There’s your problem right there. You don’t have a budget to do real marketing. Might as well not even finish reading this post then if you’re “one of those.”

What’s Does a Website SEO and Brand Audit Include?

I think it’s hilarious when business owners call and tell me their website traffic is tanking and when I offer a paid website audit, they tell me they don’t need it. Huh?!

Every website needs an audit, even if there is SEO actively being done. A full website SEO audit would include reviewing the following:

  • Your brand and how those keywords appear on Google search
  • How well search engines can access the website
  • Which keywords the website is currently ranking for
  • The design and user experience quality
  • How fast the website loads on all devices
  • How the website scales content to fit on all devices
  • The online brand reputation
  • Social media exposure and messaging
  • Website content quality
  • Quality and quantity of backlinks
  • How many internal links are broken
  • Duplicate content issues
  • Link penalty issues
  • Competition and their organic exposure

A comprehensive website SEO and brand audit should be performed by an SEO expert – someone who knows what to look for. Tools can help identify issues, but it still requires a professional to dissect the data and tell you what’s really wrong with your website. It also requires an expert to develop an effective SEO strategy that will fix all the issues found in the audit.

Seems like common sense right? That’s because IT IS.

You should perform an audit on your website on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. This doesn’t mean tracking the website in a tool and waiting for the tool to tell you what’s wrong. I mean a real website SEO audit where someone manually reviews all of the action items mentioned above.

Why You Need an Audit Right Now

Benjamin Franklin Investment In Knowledge Interest Quote - Eminent SEOBusinesses often come to us with broken websites. The business owner doesn’t really know why their website is broken because they’ve been paying for “SEO” for several years. The truth is, their business probably wasn’t really investing into a real SEO campaign. There are a lot of companies out there that do spammy SEO techniques and get away with it because business owners aren’t aware of the shadiness.

Businesses that are caught up in the old SEO techniques, or that haven’t had their website analyzed in a while, need an audit right now to get out of the slump they’re in. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we will need to do a major cleanup of the past SEO to make the site compliant with Google’s quality guidelines.

Another reason you need an audit right now is because your website probably sucks. I’m not saying that in a bad way; it’s just true. There aren’t a lot of website developers that understand the complexities of SEO. Therefore, they won’t have the ability to build you a fully optimized website. It will just be a skeleton.

The real website experience comes from high-quality user experience designs, silo architecture, dynamic development and great content. If you’re missing any of those, your website sucks.

A rock-solid website requires a team of professionals to develop the site, because designers, content developers, website developers and SEOs should strategically work together to develop the most KICK ASS website for its industry.

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When your website isn’t producing leads, your business is losing money and opportunities for growth.

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That should be enough reason to purchase an audit.

Keeping Your Website Healthy Means More Money for Your Business

When you maintain a healthy website, the organic rankings will climb. The rewards? More money for your business because you’re constantly attracting qualified leads.

Keeping your website optimized with fresh content and digital assets creates a real advantage for your business. Websites can see thousands of organic rankings and easily 20,000 unique visitors by just keeping it clean with fresh, high-quality, optimized content the audience wants to see. We know because we’ve done it.

Don’t Cheap Out on Your Website SEO

Looking for qualified inbound leads? You need an audit.

Looking to grow your website traffic? You need an audit.

Trying to dominate your competition online? You need an audit.

Have an outdated website? You need an audit (and a new website).

To be real, every website should have a professional website brand and SEO audit done right now. We’re on a mission to clean up all the spammy websites that provide zero value to users. More specifically, we’re looking to build businesses valuable websites that have beautiful designs, messaging and SEO.

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@eminentseo

If your website SEO isn’t bringing in qualified leads or your website isn’t converting them, an audit is considered PRICELESS.

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If you’re ready to dominate your competition and grow your brand organically online, you have to invest in SEO. Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Our Website Audits and Custom Strategies

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 79: How Well Do You Understand the Buyer’s Journey?

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Understand The Buyer's Journey Vol 79 Newsletter - Eminent SEO

Get Familiar with the Buyer’s Journey

You’ve probably noticed that consumers today are more cognizant and wary of sales pitches than in decades past. It’s becoming more and more difficult to walk up to a person and try to sell them your product. In fact, approaching them in such a direct manner may ruin any chance of selling them something they otherwise might be interested in.

“Don’t call us; we’ll call you,” might as well be today’s mantra among consumers. This is why it’s so crucial for sales and marketing teams to understand the modern Buyer’s Journey.

Companies may differ on how they interpret today’s buyer’s journey, but at Eminent SEO, we believe it progresses in five distinct steps:

Five Stages Of The Buyers Journey - Eminent SEODo you want to make that sale, after all? Then you have to be patient and feed your target customer the knowledge they need to make that purchase – likely weeks, months or possibly a couple of years down the road.

Once you get a grasp of the buyer’s journey, you will start to determine how long it usually takes to close one of your leads into a sale, and what you need to do along the way. You will also start to figure how to qualify your leads better and provide them with useful resources.

Do You Need Help Converting Leads into Sales?

Our Approach Gets Results

Buyer’s Journey Takeaway

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The buyer’s journey is a long road, and sales teams need to understand that leads don’t close overnight. They also do not want to be sold. A solid strategy requires an integrative sales and marketing nurturing approach.

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Resources to Further Understand the Buyer’s Journey

Understand The Buyer's Journey To Convert Leads Into Sales - Eminent SEO

How to Convert Leads into Sales by Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

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Sales + Marketing = SUCCESS - Eminent SEO

How to Build an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

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Business & Marketing Tips

Here are some simple steps to consider when nurturing leads or developing a lead-nurturing strategy for your sales team:

  1. Segment your leads.
  2. Build a lead-scoring strategy and score your leads.
  3. Develop canned responses for your sales team.
  4. Invest in more targeted content for various buying stages.
  5. Start the conversation.
  6. Remember that less is more (simple landing pages).
  7. Automate as much as possible.
  8. Be timely in your responses.
  9. Be personal.
  10. Align your sales and marketing strategies (see the “Related Reads” section above).

Buyer’s Journey FAQ

Q: In which stage of the buyer’s journey do most Facebook ad referrals fall?

See the Answer

Through Facebook Ads, you can now target users who will then directly message you through Facebook Messenger.

Over the last year, our team has extensively tested this process. What we have found is that most of these leads are in the Awareness or Consideration stages of the buyer’s journey.

This means most people are eager to share the problem they are running into, but they are rarely ready to purchase anything right then and there. This lends credence to the fact you have to nurture your leads and remain patient.

 

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The cannabis industry – medical and recreational – is blossoming and becoming quite competitive. So, how can new cannabis dispensaries and businesses raise awareness for their brands and get in front of potential customers?
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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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How to Convert Leads into Sales by Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

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Understanding The Buyers Journey To Convert Leads Into Sales - Eminent SEO
Sales … leads … where do I begin? So many businesses are finding it difficult to generate qualified leads. Many businesses are also generating the wrong types of leads and not converting them into sales.

As a business owner, you’re probably wondering how to:

  • Generate new leads for your business.
  • Convert existing leads into deals.

The good news is an effective digital marketing strategy will be able to produce qualified leads for your business. We’ve been successful with all of our clients and achieving their goals for lead generation. The drawback is businesses have to invest into managing the leads properly and leading them through the extensive buying process.

Getting to Know Lead Life Cycles and the Marketing/Sales Funnel

First, you must understand that there are different types of leads and respective life cycles. A lead life cycle is defined as the life of a lead or prospect.

Website Visitor/Prospect

This is not considered a lead yet. This is someone who is doing their research and came to your website through a marketing campaign.

Marketing Qualified Lead

These leads are doing their research still. They may have come from Facebook or an eBook offer download on your website. These leads aren’t ready to be sold. They are looking to be educated.

Sales Qualified Lead

These are leads that are ready to make a buying decision. They have already done their research on your product or service and are sold on it.

The New Marketing And Sales Funnel Pyramid - Eminent SEO
All they need to be sold on is the fact that you are the company that can fulfill their needs.

Opportunity

This is when a lead has transitioned into an opportunity to become a client.

Customer

When the opportunity has paid for your product or service!

Track Your Leads Down to the Source

How we determine different types of leads is:

  • Where the lead originated from
  • The content the lead engaged with

This is where lead tracking is SUPER important. If you don’t have call tracking or lead tracking of any kind, you need to get that first.

When there is proper lead tracking installed on the website, we can tell where the lead originated from down to the source of the call with dynamic call tracking. By knowing where the lead came from, our team can dissect the data to understand user intent. That’s where the sales and marketing funnel comes in.

Depending on the lead source and content they’re interested in, you can determine their stage within the buyer’s journey.

The Buyer’s Journey Breakdown

Let’s face it, the sales process is VERY long. Now that the internet exists, buyers want to see everything possible before making a decision.

By understanding the buyer’s journey, you can learn what to expect for the duration of closing a lead to a sale. You will also know how to qualify your leads better and provide them with useful resources.

Awareness Stage

This is the stage where the prospect identifies there’s an issue and that they need help. They are not yet educated on what that solution is, but they are aware that an issue exists. This is the stage where users will normally convert on offers such as eBooks, blog posts or newsletter sign-ups for more information.

Consideration Stage

This is the stage where the prospect has started doing their own research for the problem they need help with. They will usually engage with offers such as:

  • Case studies
  • Downloading a brochure about your service
  • Browsing your products or services
  • Learn more about your team

It’s important to educate them extensively about your specific offering during this stage.

Decision Stage

Prospects that are ready to make a decision will simply call, email or chat with you directly. They have made the decision to move forward with a certain company, and hopefully you are that company. You still might need to do some nurturing for prospects in this stage, but they are definitely sold on the idea they need your product or service. They just need to be sold on your specific offering and company.

Service Stage

When the prospect has converted into a paying client, it doesn’t mean the nurturing stops. You have a reputation to maintain and a client to keep happy now. This stage is very important to maintain a happy relationship with your client by providing a superior customer service experience.

Brand Advocate Stage

When you have a happy client, they automatically turn into a brand advocate for your business. Get them to follow your social media platforms to give you street credit about your product or service. Positive reviews from happy clients create assets that you can use for your business long term. The other benefit is, other people will read them and consider your company!

Five Stages Of The Buyers Journey - Eminent SEOLead nurturing should never stop after they decide to purchase from you. There are many ways to stay in front of your current clients and nurture them into purchasing from you again or promoting your brand to their friends and family.

Understanding Lead Sources and Buyer Intent

There are various sources that generate leads if you’re investing into multi-channel marketing for your business. Sources are where the lead actually originated from, not where they converted from.

For example, your lead came to your site originally from a Facebook ad. Then they visited your blog, your services pages and left the site. They come back in a month after they’ve done their research and Googled your brand. They initiate a chat with you on your website.

The original source of this lead is still considered the Facebook ad. They’ve just been nurtured along the buyer’s journey to get to the Decision stage where they Googled your brand directly to make that next step. The lead source is not your website chat.

Here’s a breakdown of a few digital marketing sources that generate a large volume of leads:

Google Organic Search

This one gets a little tricky because you can have users from any stage within the buyer’s journey come to your website from here. What we typically like to look at the most is what type of content the user came in to see. If it was a blog post, for example, that user would be in the Awareness stage, because our blog post strategy is typically less salesy and more focused on educating.

If the user entered via a service or product page on your website, that means they’re typically searching more Consideration-type keywords and are looking to assess your company for that product or service.

Google Paid Search

Google paid search is very similar to Google organic search. Most companies like to bid on the keywords that are going to produce conversions. If that’s the case, then the majority of these users would be in the Consideration stage. Some might even be in the Decision stage and are Googling your brand directly to make that phone call.

Read More on Modern Paid Marketing

Facebook

Facebook has spent a lot of time and money optimizing its platform so businesses can connect directly with their distinct audiences. With Facebook ads, you can actually target users to message you through Facebook messenger.

Our team has tested these campaigns substantially in the last year and learned that these leads are more in the Awareness or Consideration stages. Most people want to chat about the problem they’re running into, but they’re not necessarily ready to buy.

A snapshot on the various sources that you may consider for a marketing campaign:

Multi-Channel Marketing Venn Diagram - Eminent SEO

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96% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy yet, according to Marketo.

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How to Nurture Leads to the Next Stage

Lead nurturing can be extremely effective when done correctly. The problems we often face are:

  1. Marketers don’t understand the business well enough to do the lead nurturing for the business owners.
  2. Sales teams don’t understand how to nurture leads by utilizing digital content.
  3. Sales teams don’t have a process for closing leads into sales.
  4. All the above.
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Converting a lead to the decision stage is only the beginning of another process: the sales process.

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We have laid out some simple steps to consider when nurturing leads or coming up with a lead-nurturing strategy for your sales team:

1. Segment Your Leads

First things first is to segment your leads into the correct buckets. Remember the marketing and sales qualified life cycles? You need to segment leads into those two buckets, at minimum. You can always expand into more lead types if your business has many more.

Marketing qualified leads should be sent more informative and education-related materials. These materials may include eBooks, quizzes, videos, blog posts, infographics, etc.

Sales qualified leads should be sent more consideration related materials such as brochures, case studies, team bios, product samples, etc.

Each week, have a dedicated employee sort through the leads and determine which type of lead they are.

2. Build a Lead Scoring Strategy and Score Your Leads

Each business is unique and requires a custom strategy for this to work. Your strategy should include all of the digital assets you currently have and which assets you need to expand on to help nurture your leads along.

Digital assets can be considered:

  • Blog posts
  • Website landing pages
  • Videos
  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • And more

After you have a strategy built with the content you want to provide, you must also develop a lead scoring strategy for the various life cycles of a lead. Develop a tagging system to tag your calls and messages, so that you can easily sort these leads at a later date when it comes time to follow up.

3. Develop Canned Responses for Your Sales Team

To make their job even easier, you can help them by developing canned responses for frequently asked questions. If you’ve owned a business for a while, you probably already know the basic questions your prospects often ask. Have those answers ready with the appropriate content and call to action for those various lead types.

4. Invest into More Targeted Content for Various Buying Stages

If you find that certain digital assets are not helping your team close the deal, you have to invest into better targeted asset and content development. Digital assets will benefit your brand and website for years to come. Develop assets and content for each buying stage based on what your prospects are asking/wanting.

5. Start the Conversation

With today’s generation wanting instant gratification, your prospects do not want to be sold. Being more conversational and personal in your approach to customer service is extremely important. Instead of sharing salesy materials (unless they ask), share a quiz for them to take or a new book to read. They want to be provided with the materials to self-educate.

6. Less Is More

Since people want instant gratification and have an attention span of a 3 year old, the best way to approach any landing page is to provide fewer options for the prospect. Always have one clear call to action on the landing pages you deliver during your lead-nurturing process. That way, they aren’t distracted by everything that’s irrelevant to your conversation, and they’re more likely to convert on that CTA.

7. Automate as Much as Possible

There are many tools out there today that can help your business automate your sales- and lead-nurturing processes. These tools make it easier for your sales team to send out emails, automatically respond to website chats and messages, create proposals, automate unqualified leads through a funnel and manage the lead pipeline in one dashboard.

8. Be Timely in Your Responses

According to Hubspot, leads are 21 times more likely to enter into the sales process as a qualified lead when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after a touchpoint on your website or social platform.

9. Be Personal

The digital age is full of automation. There’s a fine line between automated and manual responses. When your team is responding to an email or a Facebook message manually, make sure to always keep the responses personalized. It’s all about personalization and providing relevant resources to what the prospect is asking.

10. Align Your Sales and Marketing Strategies

This is probably the most important part. If your sales and marketing teams are not communicating regularly, you have a problem. Marketers today have much more insight than sales teams because they are the ones reading the data every single day while your sales team is out selling.

Marketers can and should:

  • Provide the sales team with existing targeted content to share.
  • Develop more content for certain types of leads.
  • Help automate the sales process.
  • Help with canned responses.

Read More on Aligning Sales & Marketing Strategy

Your Turn to Convert Leads into Sales

This post might seem overwhelming, but the main takeaway is to know that not all your leads from digital marketing campaigns are ready to buy. In fact, the majority of them are not ready.

The buyer’s journey is a long road, and sales teams need to understand that leads don’t close overnight. They also do not want to be sold. A solid strategy requires an integrative sales and marketing nurturing approach. Good luck out there!

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 74: We Will Power Your Brand in 2018

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Eminent SEO Newsletter Power Your Brand in 2018

Time for a Brand Boost

As your business is getting its feet settled in 2018, ask yourself these two questions:

  • How do I know if my current marketing is producing quality leads?
  • What types of additional marketing might I need?

If you don’t have clear answers to these two questions, Eminent SEO can help. We’ll start with a brand audit to let you know what’s already working and where you can make improvements.

If you want to move forward from there, we’ll develop a multi-channel marketing strategy to give your brand a boost on several fronts in 2018. This will help your business in the following areas:

  • Website Traffic and Conversions
  • Organic Search Rankings
  • Paid Ad Conversions
  • Email Blast Opens and Clicks
  • Social Media Interaction
  • Backlink Quality

Explore Our Complete Marketing Services

Good to Know in SEO

There are several pertinent SEO developments that we must share. Net neutrality certainly must be addressed. Keep your SEO knowledge current by perusing these three articles:

Business & Marketing Tips

It may be one of the older digital marketing channels, but it remains one of the most fruitful for businesses. You’ve got to do it right, though. Check out this email marketing tip from our CEO, Jenny Stradling:

Jenny Stradling Email Marketing Quote - Eminent SEO

Highlights from the Eminent SEO Blog

A recent survey revealed just how many businesses are currently trying their hand at content marketing. The number is only going to grow, so here are 3 tips on fine-tuning your strategy and setting it apart from the competition in 2018.

Read more…

Keep Content Marketing Strategy Fresh For 2018 - Eminent SEO

As for one last SEO development, our very own Zach Ankeny wrote about a recent change he noticed in Google’s search engine results pages, specifically pertaining to rich snippets and knowledge graphs. Will these changes affect your website?

Read more…

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Happy new year from the Eminent team! Until next month’s newsletter, we invite you to visit our blog or stay in touch with us via social media (see the icons below) .

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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4 Ways News Websites Fail to Deliver the Optimal User Experience

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How News Websites Can Deliver Better User Experience - Eminent SEO

By design, news organizations have the resources to research, report on and publish an online story much quicker than the average B2B or B2C business is able to produce and publish a blog post. And for that, news-focused websites are generally rewarded by being featured more prominently in search engine result pages, trending social media timelines and several other areas of the internet.

Being that news outlets offer relevant, almost up-to-the-minute content, they’re often able to get away with not following the SEO best practices that the rest of us publishers strive to adhere to. Are we envious? A little.

However, all of our years of studying SEO has led to many valuable takeaways on user experience, and we now know that building a better user experience can positively affect search engine results in a number of ways.

So, my objective here is not to critique the content of what news organizations are offering these days. Instead, I want to focus on the presentation of said news. I believe that building a better website user experience (UX) will lead to improved reader loyalty and more page views, and I have a few suggestions on how news websites – whether catering to local, national, international or niche audiences – can make that happen.

Loyalty to Specific News Websites Is Declining

Raise your hand if your preferred method of consuming news is by visiting the homepage of a news website each day and then clicking on several articles of interest.

I’m guessing for everybody who read that, less than half of you actually raised your hand – or at least mentally raised your hand. If you did, there’s a good chance you’re not a big fan of social media – or at least use it sparingly. That’s because social media is altering the way we consume news, even though television is still a major source of news to many Americans.

The Game Is Changing

News Consumption Stats Websites Apps Social Media - Eminent SEOPeople are getting more and more comfortable with learning about the news through social media, and in many cases, they won’t even need to click through to a separate website to have a basic grasp of what the news of the day is. News websites are still a big part of that conversation, but no one organization has a monopoly on click-throughs and reader trust.

An early 2016 Pew Research Center study found that 62 percent of U.S. adults get news through social media, with 18 percent saying they do so “very often.” That means only 38 percent of American adults aren’t on social media or don’t come across news through this medium.

Compare this to four years earlier, when only 42 percent of adults reported using social media to consume news.

In the same Pew survey, 35 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 said social media was the “most helpful” source of information about the then-upcoming presidential campaign. Despite the rise in online and social media usage, there were still more people in the survey that said they would rather watch news (46 percent) than read it (35 percent) – although the TV news watchers trend 50 years old or older.

Also worth noting is a 2015 Pew survey in which 49 percent of people younger than 35 years old who come across news on either Twitter or Facebook reported that these platforms were either their most important source or “an important source” of news.

The news industry looks like it is becoming a cutthroat contest of which media outlet can collect the most scraps off the table in social media. Likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc. are all good and well, but the goal is to entice a social media user to click through to the full article (and then to a few other articles), especially if that person doesn’t regularly visit said website.

Where the User Experience Is Lacking

Not every website is guilty of the following user experience deficiencies, and I’m not going to call out any specific website, but I want to elaborate in general on what news sites can and should do to enhance their UX. I’ve identified four major areas that media outlets should consider regarding the online user experience they offer readers.

1. Subheaders

Subheaders aren’t just good for SEO. They help break the article down into digestible pieces for the reader.

Newspaper journalism was already big on short paragraphs. When news outlets started producing online content, they were already ahead of the game when it came to paragraphs that eschewed the traditional five-to-seven-sentence structure.

Shorter paragraphs became even more critical when users started consuming content on mobile.

So, most media outlets were positioned well in that department, but many are still following the school of thought that the article only gets the one headline, followed by paragraph after paragraph until the report concludes. That’s going to become more and more of a problem as readers’ attention spans continue to decrease.

Check out the second half of this article for example:

NPR Article Screenshot - ESEO

Although examples like this are aplenty, many news websites are starting to get the hint and have begun breaking up their longer articles with full-width images, charts, pull quotes or even (gulp) ads. But shouldn’t they time to add subheaders in addition to these images or ads?

It’s time to embrace the H2s and H3s that content management systems afford the publisher. The New York Times has done so, but others are lagging behind. News organizations’ web teams should utilize subheaders and work in keywords of notable individuals or heavily searched topics: These will give their articles a little more staying power in the search engine results, especially long after the publish date.

Highly descriptive and enticing subheaders will also help with keeping readers on the page longer and hopefully getting them to the bottom of the article, which is where the next two suggestions come into play.

2. What the Reader Should Do When Finishing the Article

As copywriters within a marketing agency, the death knell for us would be allowing the readers of our clients’ websites to reach the bottom of a page and ask, “OK, what do I do from here?”

This is why we put a lot of time into our final calls to action (CTAs), trying to leaders visitors to a strategic place after they’ve finished reading any page on the site. We don’t always direct readers to call the client. Sometimes we link to another page on the site, or we may encourage the visitor to subscribe to the blog or just leave a comment on the page at hand.

I’ve noticed many websites are lacking in this area. You get to the bottom of the article, and it either has limited or uninspiring options for where to go next. Many media websites have those spammy Outbrain articles at the end of the page. I get it: You have to pay bills. But even if that stream of advertising is something you must keep, you still need to have ways to entice the reader to visit another page or area of the site.

If all you offer are outbound articles or even unrelated articles from elsewhere on your site, it will leave many readers with a hollow feeling once they reach the end of an article. They might consider clicking on the homepage to start over, or simply flee from the website at that point.

Some news websites offer related articles once the user reaches the end of the page, and I think this is a good direction to go in. However, I think this area needs to be highly visual and carefully curated considering the article at hand. For example, a straightforward news report can lead to an opinion piece on the very same topic, or vice versa. Or if the article at hand is an update on a previous report, the earlier article could be the featured related article.

3. Comment Sections

I know moderating comments is probably the bane of existence for news web teams, but it’s undeniable that these user messages spur interaction and discussion. Having comment sections is one way to solve the “what do I do from here” question that comes up when reaching the end of an article. Comment sections certainly can keep readers on the site longer, and they sometimes encourage the reader to revisit the same page several times over.

Interestingly, I saw many news websites ditch their comment sections over the last couple of years, but they’re starting to make a comeback on many sites – particularly after the last presidential election concluded.

Web teams seem to have realized that they can still offer the commenting experience without making it a fixed and indelible part of a particular article. There’s nothing worse reading an article then immediately seeing a trollish, irreverent and easily visible first comment as if it’s a permanent part of the page.

This is why most websites now keep the comment section hidden until the user manually clicks to open it up. Nothing wrong with that.

Building a Productive Commenting Experience

Yes, comment sections have the potential to devolve into a sea of hostility or fruitless conversation. This is why it’s important to employ third-party tools like Disqus that can help cut down on some of the spam and trolling. Or even better, make users sign in with their Facebook account so they have to put their name behind whatever they post.

Such commenting tools won’t be a fail-safe solution to ridding all spam, bullying, etc., but they can automate at least part of this process for web teams. That being said, it would still be worthwhile for news orgs to assign at least some level of comment-moderation duties to employees.

Even with the potential drawbacks, user comments have a chance to enrich the news-consumption experience for readers. You’ve probably seen some comments that add to the background of the article at hand. Or maybe they discuss another side of the story that the article failed to mention. Or maybe they point out a spelling or factual error that the web team can quickly correct.

Most media outlets will find that allowing users to comment on any article, even if the option is hidden at first, will enhance the user experience for their audience and far outweigh any disadvantages that comment sections harbor.

4. Too Many Gimmicks

Better User Experience Equals More Page Views - Eminent SEOThankfully, many media sites appear to be abandoning the practice of having a separate story load as soon as the reader reaches the end of a particular article. Nothing more annoying than a website assuming you’re going to want to read whatever it spoon-feeds you next.

While this practice might have helped certain websites gain artificial page views, it must not have been working well: Many organizations seem to have fallen out of love with this tactic. I would imagine that high bounce rates and negative feedback influenced the decision.

Other gimmicky practices need to be reevaluated: Pop-up ads and prompts are a good place to start. If the website lives off a paywall model, then it makes sense to deliver a pop-up to a new user to tell them to either sign up or how many free articles they have left for the month.

In almost any other case, however, pop-ups need to be evaluated to see if they’re returning any reasonable ROI. If not, it’s time to 86 them. It’s not as if they make the user experience more enjoyable anyway.

Auto-play videos are another potential annoyance to consider. If a television news station has them on its website, fine. That makes sense. But in most other cases, it’s going to aggravate much of the user base.

Who’s Your Audience

Ultimately, user experience is going to come down to identifying and understanding your audience and then delivering the content they crave. This will get the page views moving in the right direction.

Readers will likely forgive the lack of subheaders and such if their favorite news websites continue to cover the stories that they want, and if the sites provide insight, images and/or interactive multimedia that competitors can’t offer.

What do you enjoy most about your favorite site for news? How do you think it could provide an even better experience as a user? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 65: Will Organic Search Results Survive the Rise of Voice Search and Machine Learning?

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Eminent SEO News: Three New Additions to the Team!

The Eminent team is ever growing. Over the last month, we added three new members to our staff, each joining us with unique skills and specialties. Their futures are so bright, they’ve got to wear shades! Meet the three newest additions to our team here:

Jessica Feldman – Digital Marketing Strategist

Jessica comes to us with a degree in advertising and more than 10 years of marketing experience. Jessica will be using Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and several other platforms to produce viable leads for Eminent SEO and our clients.

Learn More About Jessica

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Melanie Stern – Content Strategist

Melanie is responsible for producing premium copy for content pages, blog posts, newsletters and other pieces of content for our clients. She comes to us with more than 30 years of professional experience, including several years in advertising, radio and more.

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Vrinda Mamundi – Pay Per Click Manager

Vrinda has more than 10 years of experience in the online advertising industry, running strategic campaigns for businesses large and small. She will help us expand our pay per click capabilities in new ways to generate online traffic and leads for our clients.

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SEO Focus: Organic Search Results Facing Competition from Voice Search

Several recent articles and reports have touched on how organic search no longer has the market cornered on how people find the information they’re looking for.

Does that mean users are becoming more comfortable with relying on pay-per-click ads? Not necessarily.

As mobile search volume has surpassed that of the desktop variety, voice search is also on the rise.

Baseball Siri - ESEOMeanwhile, machine learning continues to better understand and predicts users’ behavior, and that will continue to change the look of search engine results.

Here are a few takeaways when it comes to the latest developments in organic search, voice search and machine learning:

  • A Stone Temple Consulting study found 60 percent of people want more results available via mobile search in lieu of visiting a webpage. Are digital marketers adjusting their strategies accordingly?
  • There are a multitude of incentives for consumers to turn to voice search rather than typing a query into a search engine. This trend will likely accelerate, rather than fizzle out.
  • New consumer behaviors, driven by improved voice technology, must be accounted for.
  • The first shake-up being driven by voice search will be for eCommerce businesses. They will need new digital marketing strategies to keep pace.
  • Closer analysis of how voice search, along with machine learning, could substantially change how marketers view the value of organic search results.

Other SEO Industry News

1. Google is planning to livestream its updates and announcements regarding AdWords and Analytics on May 23. Read more…

2. Entrepreneur Magazine recently covered why you should invest significantly in content marketing, even with the few risks and uncertainties that accompany the practice. Read more…

3. Google is saying it hopes to launch its official mobile-first index by the end of the year. Read more…

4. Business research firm Clutch recently conducted a large survey on how small businesses plan to address and invest in SEO in 2017, concluding that many need to adjust their strategies. Read more…

March Blog Roundup

Here are the must-see posts that went live on the Eminent SEO blog in March:

Tips For Balancing Digital Marketing And Creative Writing - Eminent SEOWriter By Day, Writer By Night: 6 Tips for Balancing Digital Marketing and Creative Writing

If you have a passion for creative writing in your free time but your duties as a digital marketing professional are a little more straightforward, here are six tips on how you can balance the two pursuits.


What Is Neuromarketing - Eminent SEOWhat Is Neuromarketing and Is It Better Than Traditional Marketing?

Regardless of whether you’re familiar with the term “neuromarketing,” you’ve probably read or heard about some of the insights marketers have learned from it. But what is neuromarketing really, and how much do you need to know about it?


Featured Service: Website and Digital Asset Audit

Given what you now know about how organic SEO is facing competition from other modes of search, it’s important to not only optimize your website, but to have other marketable, lead-generating assets. When businesses first make an inquiry into Eminent SEO, we often start with an audit before we have them commit to a month-to-month contract.

Our auditing services actually go well beyond the prospect’s website(s). We also evaluate all other brand collateral – online and offline – and evaluate whether these assets are legitimately bringing attention to the brand – and if it’s the right kind of attention. From there, we will offer suggestions and submit a proposal for how we can build up the prospect’s online presence and brand, month by month.

If you’re unsure if your website and digital assets are bringing in the right kind of traffic and want to put your best foot forward, give Eminent SEO a call today at 800.871.4130.

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Why Your SEO Strategy Should be Focused on Website User Experience

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user experience

Google has significantly updated their algorithms over the years to provide a better user experience to their search engine users. This caused shifts in SEO strategies because Google made it a priority to get devalue the sites that were ranking from spammy techniques. It’s safe to say that user experience is one of the most important aspects of your SEO strategy.

What Provides a Good User Experience?

There are many variables that go into what provides a positive experience for a user. Each variable needs to be considered when developing and monitoring any on-going strategy. Here are some of the primary areas to focus on:

Easy to Navigate Website

Websites that have confusing navigation for the user and search engines, won’t rank as high in the search results. The architecture of a website plays a huge role in how seamless and easy it is to navigate. The second a user or search engine bot has any confusion, they drop off. The navigation and URL structure should follow proper siloing techniques that make it easy to understand for users and search engines.

Relevancy

The most frustrating experience to a user is landing on a page that isn’t relevant to what they searched. To keep your content relevant, your pages should each be optimized with relevant keywords. When we say optimized, we mean that the content is answering a problem related to the search query. When the content is completely irrelevant to the search, users will most likely bounce off the page. Keep your keywords in the primary headings to prevent this.

Content That Delights Users

Content is another variable within the strategy that will help attract leads to your website. Types of content used to delight users may include: helpful blog posts, eBooks, social posts, case studies, newsletters, press, etc. You want to attract users with quality content, and delight them with more content that is relevant to their needs. Setting up workflows and email campaigns will help keep your content fresh and in front of your ideal audience on a regular basis. This also keeps your brand in front of your potential client without pitching them directly on a sale. When they are ready to buy, they will remember your brand because you’ve delighted them with quality content that was useful to them.

Landing Page Optimization

This directly relates to relevancy and content that delights users. When attracting leads with your content, you have a goal in mind with this content and how the user converts into a lead. This is where your landing page comes into play. Whether you’re sending a user to a landing page from your blog post or email, you want to make sure it is fully optimized with a clear call to action. Let’s say you wrote a blog post that had a call to action sending the user to a service page, you then want to make sure that service page of your website has a clear next step for the user such as the phone number. You also might want to add a contact form for them to request more information. Every page of the website needs to have a clear next step for the users, which is how you can turn them into a qualified lead.

Responsive Design

Google recently released an algorithm update known as the Google Mobile-Friendly update or Mobilegeddon (as some are calling it). This is going to devalue any websites that do not provide a positive mobile experience for users. To provide the best possible mobile experience, a response design is what is recommended. This is where the website will scale to fit all devices. If you still have to pinch and zoom to see the content and click the navigation on your mobile site, your website could suffer from this new update.

Fast Loading Time

Check the website speed test to see how your website is performing in terms of speed. When a website takes too long to load, it is losing potential leads and search engine bots depending on how long the site takes to serve up the important content. Websites should load quickly on all devices to provide a decent experience.

Google Focuses on User Experience, Not SEO

In order to achieve competitive rankings in Google, stop focusing on quantity and focus on quality. Providing a quality experience to your user should be your goal because your rankings are going to depend on it. Since Google’s primary focus is to provide its users with a good user experience, your website should mimic just that. Google controls your website rankings, why would you consider anything less than quality?

If you’re not thinking quality and still doing “old school” SEO, this might work temporarily, but ultimately will only leave your website vulnerable to a penalty in the future. The last thing you want is a Google penalty because it can take months or years for your website to gain any indexing back, which means NO keyword rankings period. Avoid these outdated techniques and focus on quality in order to prevent anything negative happening to your website rankings and traffic.

Your Website Will Become Your Top Lead Generating Source When Done Right

When your website is properly optimized for search engines and the user experience, it will produce qualified leads. Keep a close watch on the user behavior in analytics to see how users are engaging with your website. Specifically focus on bounce rates, average time on site, pages per session, and conversion rates. Constantly monitoring these metrics will help you identify which landing pages may not be providing the best experience for your user and where you may be losing leads. Also, pay attention to the landing pages that are turning your users into leads. What did you do differently with these pages? Make sure each landing page is fully optimized to reach your end goal.

Bottom Line

The most successful SEO campaigns we manage here at Eminent SEO are the ones that have high quality content to delight the users with, as well as a beautifully designed website that also provides users with a clear call to action. Today’s SEO shouldn’t be focused on the volume of traffic, but the volume of converting traffic. It is our job as organic search engine marketers to make sure each website and marketing campaign provides a positive user experience.

Need help converting your website into a lead generator? Give us a call today: 800.871.4130

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Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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How to Perform a Website SEO Audit in Ten Minutes or Less

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seo auditIf you work for a SEO company or marketing agency, you know how cumbersome it can be when clients or leads ask you questions on the fly. You have to be able to answer their questions, not only in general terms, but by quickly looking at their website.

A quick website SEO audit can also be very beneficial if you’re trying to justify the reasoning behind your SEO strategy. With the right tools, you can easily perform a quick website SEO audit in under ten minutes. It may take you longer just to write up the verbiage, but the entire analysis should only take this amount of time. If not, you’ll get faster as you do it!

Below are some things to look at when performing a quick audit for a lead or client:

Website On-page SEO

We use a tool here called SEO Doctor Stats to get a quick feel of the current SEO quality score of a page. It basis the quality score off of a percentage system by crawling the on-page SEO structure. Look for things like:

  • Is there an H1 tag on the page and does it only display one H1?
  • Are there H2 tags on the page?
  • Are the title tag and meta descriptions the correct character length?
  • Is the page indexable?
  • How many seconds did it take the page to load?
  • Are the URLs SEO friendly?

When there are errors on any of these things, it could affect the SEO quality score of the page. Point out any errors you find with screen shots and explain why each item is important for search engine indexing and crawling. To keep this time sensitive, only focus on the primary landing pages of the site for now such as: home, about, and product/service pages.

Do the “5 Second Blink Test” to See If You Understand Their Offer

Since SEO is becoming more and more about user-experience, you should fully understand their offer when you hit the site in under five seconds. When you hit the home page, does it clearly define what the user should be doing next? Does it clearly define their brand and their unique selling proposition? If these things are not clearly defined when someone hits the website, they are going to lose potential leads right away. With a higher bounce rate, Google will not rank the site as high as others because it means the user isn’t finding what they are looking for.

Organic Traffic Growth

Using SEMRush, you can capture a snapshot of the overall traffic and organic traffic growth of the site. Is there consistent growth in the campaign or is it at a standstill? You can also view the keywords the site is ranking for currently and their search volume. If there are limited keyword rankings, that may be why the site hasn’t had much organic traffic growth.

Competitor Backlink Comparison

Using the focus keyword the client or lead wants to rank for, search Google and find the sites that are ranking high for this term. To keep it quick, pick two competitors to start. Put their root domain into Moz Open Site Explorer and compare the important SEO metrics each site has.

  • How many backlinks does their site have in comparison to their competitors?
  • What is their domain authority in comparison to the competition?
  • How many referring domains does their site have?
  • How many social indicators are there?

It can be really easy to justify the needs of a custom SEO strategy by simply taking a screenshot of what the competitors are doing. If their site doesn’t even come close to the amount of backlinks and the quality of those backlinks – their site won’t rank as high as their competitors.

Closing Thoughts

By doing a quick mini-SEO audit of a website, you can easily justify why your client or lead needs a custom SEO strategy to build their organic traffic. Not only do business owners value this information and education you’re giving them, but they will have a better understanding of all of the technical variables that go into SEO. These mini-audits are definitely worth the time to do because they can help turn your lead into a sale! If you need help with a website SEO audit, don’t hesitate to call us today: 800-871-4130.

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Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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