Internet Marketing: Conversation marketing

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Slides from my IMC Calgary session about internet marketing, and applying conversation marketing to it.

Slides from my IMC Calgary session about internet marketing, and applying conversation marketing to it.

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  • Just a caution: I'm an angry person.
  • I've spent 10-12 years having to explain why the $99 magical system won't work for your business. And having to explain why ‘professionals’ don’t have a clue about what they’re doing. I don't know about you, but I'm sick of it. So yeah, I'm angry. Because time after time, ripoff and scam artists come along, push their big idea, and folks go for it because it sounds easier...

  • ...and instead of ninjas, they end up being really depressed people in funny outfits.
  • 20-50 years ago, marketing was the realm of very rich companies, and the very rich people who created advertising for them.

    Now, just about any business owner can give it a shot. It's a lot like what happened during the Klondike gold rush. All of these people are racing for the hills, for their big shot at gold. Around them are all the people trying to 'mine the miners' by selling you the stuff you need to go get that gold. Some of those people are scum, or stupid, or both, and they'll cheerfully sell you stuff that's useless or worse. And a few - just a few - really know what they're doing, and can give you, say, a great pair of jeans, and a solid pickaxe.

    The latter won't sell you magical solutions. They tell you that this is going to be really hard work. The former will tell you that they know a place where solid gold nuggets are just sitting on the ground for the taking. They can't mine it, because their sick uncle needs them and they have to leave town. But they'll show it to you for just $500.

    See, this is the part that makes me angry. New territory has opened up. And the same people that would've taken you for all your money on the slopes of Alaska now do it online, one 'magical system' at a time.

    Now, I'm not saying this to pick on anyone. I just want you to always think this way: If something sounds to good to be true, it likely is.

    Internet marketing seems mysterious and hard because it seems like it's made of different disciplines.

    Between all of the various disciplines that go into internet marketing, and the new buzzwords people make up to try to invent their own niches and make more money, internet marketing can seem hopelessly disjointed. Sort of like the process of getting to the Alaskan gold fields, way back when.

  • ...and instead of ninjas, they end up being really depressed people in funny outfits.
  • You don't need magic. You don't need a 'system'. You need a solid strategy that'll let you filter out the hucksters and think about internet marketing in an intelligent manner.

    You need a pickaxe, and a good pair of jeans.

    Even if you're 'just' an SEO, or 'just' a designer, you still need this. Without it, you can't make your work fit in, you hurt your clients, and you end up being less valuable.

    That’s what will get you headed in the right direction.
  • And let you deal with the BS artists.
  • That structure has to make sense in the context of the first genuinely two-way mass marketing medium. Think about how marketing works online.



  • So, what works in this unique medium? You need something that’s not a ‘system’ or something that some guy created. You need something that’s been there the whole time.

    Conversation Marketing. There are seven rules in CM. I’ll go through them in this session, with examples and a few tips for each one.

  • We have a client - a coffee company in Seattle - who had a beautiful home page. Stunning photos of the places the coffee is grown, etc..
  • What it lacked was any evidence that you could buy the coffee on the site, or that they had a store anywhere.

    If their goal was to show off some photography, they had things totally in hand. But their goal is to make money by selling coffee, and to show folks why their coffee is unique.


  • They added a clear 'buy now' button as well as a few products on the home page.
  • Revenue went up 40% over the previous 30 days (which included Christmas). We didn't do anything magical. All we did was look at the web site and say "Does this home page get the client's audience to move towards our goals?" Nope.

  • Take a piece of paper, or open up your computer, and write down goals. Every time you leave your desk and return, read those goals.

    Everything you do must be focused on those goals. If it's not, throw it out.

    Goals can be lots of things, and I guarantee you have more than one:

    - Sales
    - E-mail signups
    - Registrations
    - Leads
    - Read one particular page

    Then, know the value of those goals, as much as you can. 1 e-mail address has a value. So does one lead.

  • Here's how you check to see if something you're doing will really help with your goals: Show it to someone. Show them the button, the page, the copy, whatever. Make sure it's someone not connected with the project. Then ask them: "What do I want you to do when you see this?" Right answer = you're OK.

    You can also just apply this filter yourself. You're all smart people.
  • LEARN TO USE THE GOAL TRACKING tools in whatever analytics package you use.
  • Rule #1 of Conversation Marketing - Know your goals! Make sure everyone else on the team does, too. Otherwise, your campaign's going to focus on your designer's goals, your internet marketing consultant's goals, or your developer's goals: I want to win an award, I want to get rich, I want to use this cool new technology. Goals = drivers.

    Communicate your goals, clearly!

  • The next rule: Know the room (aka, your audience)
  • The next rule: Know the room. Frank's got a new, industrial-strength cleanser that's environmentally friendly. He didn't like our design.
  • We went back and forth 10-12 times.

  • Finally, he sent me an exasperated note saying "Put more babies on the home page. Women like babies."

    That’s a classic failure to know the room.
  • Finally, he sent me an exasperated note saying "Put more babies on the home page. Women like babies."

    That’s a classic failure to know the room.
  • Finally, he sent me an exasperated note saying "Put more babies on the home page. Women like babies."

    That’s a classic failure to know the room.
  • Finally, he sent me an exasperated note saying "Put more babies on the home page. Women like babies."

    That’s a classic failure to know the room.
  • Finally, he sent me an exasperated note saying "Put more babies on the home page. Women like babies."

    That’s a classic failure to know the room.
  • We had a client who designed a running shoe (product and client changed to protect the innocent). She insisted that all her copy talk about ‘athletic footwear’ to differentiate her from competitors....

  • ...so no one came to her site.

  • We persuaded her to use the keywords that her customers used, and voila, she doubled sales.


  • Knowing the room is about peeking inside your audience’s heads.

    Learn your audience (the room) through a lot of different devices: Compete.com, Quantcast.com for demographic data. Hitwise.com if you’re rich. Talk to the people who work with your customers. And talk to your customers! (gasp) The Adwords Keywords tool
  • Quantcast
  • Google insights
  • Want to check to see if you really know the room? If it's a question of keywords, look at the Google Adwords keywords tool - what are folks searching for?

    If it's a question of design, copywriting or features, go back to your goals. Write a sentence that ties your goal to your particular feature.

  • Focus Groups
  • That’s Rule #2 of CM: Know the Room. "The room" contains your audience. You need to know who's in there, and you need to speak to them. Don't let your ego or your own biases affect your marketing. You are not the person you're selling to. This can go to design, tools, search marketing, copywriting, download speed, everything.

    I'm jewish, You can still sell me bacon, trust me.

    Or, my favorite: Require your audience to register in order to buy a pillow from you.
  • Appropriately. Not cool.

  • Hank sells mufflers. He doesn't need a 60-second-long Flash introduction on his home page. He insisted on one anyway.

    Or, my personal favorite: The bicycle company that built a site letting you explore their factory and the CEO’s BMW Mini. But didn’t have any bicycles on the home page.
  • More than any other rule, Dress appropriately is about putting your ego aside. Just because your competition has a site you think is ‘cooler’, doesn’t mean that that site’s working better than yours or that it ever will.

    Use video if it makes sense. Use audio if it makes sense.
  • You know what’s really cool? A site that gets your customers buying or otherwise taking another step.
  • tools & tricks
  • attentionwizard
  • Go back to your goals. Go back to your knowledge of the room. Look at every feature - every element on the screen - and ask "Is this necessary?"

    Repeat until your designer is bleeding from her eyeballs.
  • Notice how, if you know your goals, and know the room, then you have a clear picture of how to dress appropriately?

    It’s almost like this stuff all fits together. Hmmm....
  • Sound smart - rule #4, and the hardest one to get right, AND the one where people tend to skimp the most.

    This is all about saying the right thing at the right time.

  • Sound smart - rule #4, and the hardest one to get right, AND the one where people tend to skimp the most.

    This is all about saying the right thing at the right time.

  • Read this passage. What do you think this web site is about?


  • Part 3 of sound smart: Architecture.
  • Part 4 of sounding smart: Standards.
  • And part 5: Site performance
  • You heard me. 1/3. Minimum!

    Undoubtedly, whoever you’re working with will nod vigorously when you ask them if they can handle stuff like contingency design, information architecture and copywriting.

  • Some tools, which I’ve already shown you.
  • Go and check the designer's web site. Does their 404 error page look like this?

  • Ah, much better.

  • Ask your copywriter to write some copy for you, right then and there. Don't make them write a lot - just a few sentences. Does it read like a thesaurus died and spilled synonyms all over the page? Does it read like a 2nd grader wrote it? Or is it clear, on-point, and easy to read?

    Also, cut-and-paste their copy into Google - make sure they’re not copying it.
  • why am I not talking about blogs separately?

    - Doug Lacombe covered them well this AM.
    - They’re actually not that different from a web site, right?
  • And for god’s sake, proofread. This may all sound stupid, but if you do these things you’ll be in the top 5% of all web sites.
  • OMG!
  • Make a connection - that’s the 5th rule. This one’s all about making sure the cycle continues, that folks find their way back, and that you’re on your best behavior.

  • Donna runs a fashion design company. She gets 30-40,000 visitors a week. Her Facebook page has no fans.
    Then she realizes she can get more e-mail subscribers, too, so she adds an option for folks to subscribe when they comment on her blog, and all over the site. Voom. She grows her opt-in e-mail list by 20,000 addresses.

  • She adds a simple 'Follow us on Facebook' button in her e-mail newsletters and on her site. She gets 3000 fans in a month.


  • Then she realizes she can get more e-mail subscribers, too, so she adds an option for folks to subscribe when they comment on her blog, and all over the site. Voom. She grows her opt-in e-mail list by 20,000 addresses.

  • Make a Connection is all about making it easy for folks to keep in touch.

  • If you're asking for an e-mail address, ask only for the e-mail. Nothing else. Every field you add will reduce the likelihood that someone will want to connect. If you're getting folks to follow you on Twitter, give them a direct connection.
  • Don’t ask. Invite. Even command.
  • Don’t hide the invite.
  • Feedburner. It actually tells you level of readership and participation. It measures the connection!
  • Link! It builds a connection to folks who’ve never even come to your site/blog.
  • Provide something of value in exchange.
  • Set a schedule: A certain amount of time per day where you maintain those connections. If you answer those e-mails, Tweets and Facebook notes you’re instantly in the top 5% of all web sites.
  • Or those connections may be brief...
  • OMG!
  • Bragging modestly means selling by getting other people/organizations to sell for you, and/or selling in a low-key way that engenders trust.
  • Doofus picked up 10,000 Twitter followers. Then, for the next month, he sent out a note saying "AMAZING results! Lose weight fast! Click here!" First time he did it, he got 1,000 clicks, 10 sales. Hm. Not bad. Second time, he got 500 clicks, 2500 unfollows, and no sales. Then he got banned by Twitter for spamming.

  • Doofus picked up 10,000 Twitter followers. Then, for the next month, he sent out a note saying "AMAZING results! Lose weight fast! Click here!" First time he did it, he got 1,000 clicks, 10 sales. Hm. Not bad. Second time, he got 500 clicks, 2500 unfollows, and no sales. Then he got banned by Twitter for spamming.

  • Jill, a realtor, writes about what’s going on in the Seattle market, how to best buy/sell a home in that market, etc..

  • She sends it out via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail to friends and colleagues. They love it. They may even pass it around (if she made it easy to Make a Connection)

  • And even Google gets into the act, because it picks up the chatter about her article, and a few other bloggers link to her.

    Bragging modestly brings social proof. It demonstrates that other people liked whatever it is you're considering. That builds trust.

  • And even Google gets into the act, because it picks up the chatter about her article, and a few other bloggers link to her.

    Bragging modestly brings social proof. It demonstrates that other people liked whatever it is you're considering. That builds trust.

    Note: You can’t do it just once. You have to KEEP DOING IT.

  • This is a lot about search engines. They drive 75% of what happens online, period.

    Social media is part of this, too.

    And hey, how about just providing really great service, or a great product, or great information?

  • What is SEO?

    A very involved discipline. It’s about moving a site up in the unpaid rankings. It divides, basically, into on- and offsite stuff: Content and onsite structure; links and chatter.

  • Onpage pieces

  • Link building

  • SEOMOZ crawl test
    The old cut-and-paste technique
    Google Webmaster Tools
    Bing Webmaster Tools
    Check 1st 3-4 words in your title tag.
    Links LINKS LINKS
  • Blended search.
  • Beware black hats. Actually, beware clueless black hats.
  • Pick on someone your own size.
  • No duplication!
  • Keep it simple. Leave cheating to the pros. Understand that cheating has no long-term prospects.
  • Ask your designer or developer if they do SEO, and they’ll nod vigorously. They’re not lying. They probably know so little that they don’t even know they’re clueless.

    Here’s the test: Ask them the 3 most important factors in SEO. If they don’t say “Title tags” as one, they don’t have a clue. If they say “the keywords meta tag”, slap them and say it’s from Ian.

    By the way, I am not suggesting the old “Write good content and rankings will follow” routine. I don’t believe in unicorns, either. But, unless you’re a pro, you should limit your SEO activities, because there’s a chance of hurting your site in the rankings, or at least making your site less productive for the visitors you do get.

  • See 'make a connection', above. Any internet marketing campaign must - must - include at least a basic strategy around social media. Social media is the ultimate amplifier of opinions. If someone loves your product/service/organization, and they mention it on a social networking service, chances are it'll be picked up and rebroadcast all over the web. Also, social media is a great way to boost SEO. It all overlaps, remember?


  • Trust. Is. Currency.
  • If they say "We pay people to vote for you on Digg", don't hire them. If they say something like "We'll coach you, help you write good stuff, and we can manage your accounts for you, too, if you like," they're golden.

    Or, just look at their social media profiles. If they're on Twitter, are they following 10,000 people but have only 1000 followers? They're spammers. If they're on Facebook, when's the last time they updated their own profile? If they mention sites like subvertandprofit.com, do they know what they’re doing?
  • Most important: Just don’t start down the path of buy buy buy.

  • Some basic commands
  • Carter Cole’s SEO Site Tools: Get Google Chrome and install this.

    There are LOTS of other great tools. Start with this. Move on after. I can’t say enough about Majestic SEO, RavenTools and SEOMOZ, though. And Anduro’s Site X-ray tool, of course.
  • Integrity or Xenu link sleuth

  • One link building trick. Content syndication.

    But remember - balance is everything.

  • OMG!

    BTW there are other ways to brag modestly - paid search (PPC), even e-mail marketing done right is a modest brag. It doesn’t always have to be by someone else. It just has to carry trust.

    If you feel like you’re wearing a plaid jacket hawking Dodge Darts off a car lot somewhere, you’re doing it wrong.

    Don’t ever overdue one thing.
  • One of the really great things about the internet is that you can measure what’s happening (sometimes). That’s the old Observe and Adjust.
  • Wow. This is a big topic.
  • PCF and their checkout funnel.


  • How we tested the coffee company.


  • How we tested the coffee company.


  • An even BETTER way to do it would’ve been through a split or multivariate test.




  • Hint: Look at the keywords report in analytics. Look at what’s driving traffic.

  • GWO
  • the cheat sheet
  • Whups. The formula breaks down.
  • Actually, it doesn’t. Observe & Adjust is what lets you iterate, constantly, through all of these. It’s big. No analytics? Don’t even bother.
  • Bringing it all together:
    - It all happens at once. You don’t do design/dev/seo/marketing. That’s one of the biggest mistakes I see (The phone call that starts with “We launched our site. Can you SEO it?”
    You do them all. All the time.
    - You MUST be agile. Iteration is crucial.
    - Size this all to fit your business.
  • Set priorities: First, start using analytics every day. Then, really think about your goals. Review your site from that perspective. Then look at analytics again.

  • Most important, I hope you’re going to walk out of here a little dizzy from it all, but knowing what ‘good’ internet marketing really is. And that you’re ready to demand it of yourselves and anyone who works for you.

    This stuff is not easy. It’s hard. But there is a structure to it. Learn that structure and the rest falls into place.

Transcript

  • 1. HiyaAAAAAA!
  • 2. @!##**!@
  • 3. Bull. *$#@.
  • 4. That's why I'm angry
  • 5. if i had legs, i'd run...
  • 6. ow... sonofa... stop! ow! censored
  • 7. Conversation marketing.
  • 8. Know your goals.
  • 9. um. can i buy some? please?
  • 10. 160 February 140 120 December 100 80 60 January November 40 20 0
  • 11. a sale an e-mail signup read 1 page a lead
  • 12. Know your goals.
  • 13. Know your goals. Know the room.
  • 14. no
  • 15. no
  • 16. no
  • 17. babies!
  • 18. babies!
  • 19. adwords Google insights quantcast.com compete.com clicktale.com
  • 20. after seeing the babies on the home page, the owner of the janitorial company ordered 10 cases.
  • 21. Know your goals. Know the room.
  • 22. Know your goals. Know the room. Dress appropriately.
  • 23. all i wanted was a muffler!
  • 24. if i am not cool, i am nothing
  • 25. !#$)(*!@$-a
  • 26. attentionwizard.com amazon mechanical turk your brain
  • 27. Know your goals + Know the room = Dress appropriately.
  • 28. Know your goals. Know the room. Dress appropriately. Sound smart.
  • 29. Know your goals. Know the room. Dress appropriately. Sound smart.
  • 30. The beautiful winged horse in Greek Mythology was created by Poseidon (God of the Sea) from the drops of blood that had fallen into the sea from Medusa's severed head. After his birth, Pegasus ew to Mt. Helicon, where the magic steed's hoof struck the ground causing a spring to ow. This spring became a sacred source of poetic inspiration to the Muses.
  • 31. you r here sign up
  • 32. i'm too cool for standards
  • 33. died... waiting... for... site to load.
  • 34. 1/3 of your budget should go towards sounding smart type stuff.
  • 35. validator.w3.org Google Sitespeed
  • 36. Our paper products will take you on an epic journey of discovery. Experience our all-natural sheets of papyrus...
  • 37. what about blogs?
  • 38. Know your goals Know the room + Dress appropriately = Sound smart.
  • 39. Know your goals. Know the room. Dress appropriately. Sound smart. Make a connection.
  • 40. hellooooooooo...
  • 41. yo.
  • 42. subscribers
  • 43. easy email signup 1-click 'follow' rss feeds 1-click linking
  • 44. buy now. buy now. buy now. buy now...
  • 45. Know your goals Know the room Dress appropriately + Sound smart = Make a connection
  • 46. Know your goals. Know the room. Dress appropriately. Sound smart. Make a connection. Brag modestly.
  • 47. @me buy now. @me buy now. @me buy now. @me buy now.
  • 48. @me buy now. @me buy now. @me buy now. @me buy now. um. go away
  • 49. here's what i see going on in the seattle market right now
  • 50. here's what i see going on in the seattle market right now hey, guys, c'mere. You need to read this. thanks!
  • 51. here's what i see going on in the seattle market right now nice! thanks!
  • 52. here's what i see going on in the seattle market right now nice! thanks!
  • 53. search engines social media good service
  • 54. What IS SEO, anyway?
  • 55. yah, i'll, like, buy you 30,000 links in india. you'll be set.
  • 56. eeep
  • 57. ????
  • 58. OK, fine. What's social media then?
  • 59. Trust is currency.
  • 60. X @me buy now. @me buy now. @me buy now. @me buy now.
  • 61. Xenu / Integrity An SEO toolset A dashboard a routine
  • 62. site:www.mysite.com link:www.mysite.com
  • 63. Know your goals Know the room Dress appropriately Sound smart + Make a connection = Brag modestly
  • 64. Know your goals. Know the room. Dress appropriately. Sound smart. Make a connection. Brag modestly. Observe and adjust.
  • 65. ...
  • 66. hmmmm. i wonder which works better.
  • 67. 160 Button added to home page. February 140 120 December 100 80 60 January November 40 20 0
  • 68. bit.ly RSS readers google analytics multivariate testing Tweetmeme.com
  • 69. http://bit.ly/gacheat
  • 70. Know your goals Know the room Dress appropriately Sound smart + Make a connection = Brag modestly
  • 71. Know your goals Know the room Dress appropriately Sound smart + Make a connection = Brag modestly Observe & Adjust
  • 72. Know your goals. Know the room. Dress appropriately. Sound smart. Make a connection. Brag modestly. Observe and adjust.
  • 73. Start using analytics. Retool around your goals. See how it works. Observe and adjust. Repeat.
  • 74. Defensive Design for the Web Trust Agents The Art of SEO Ogilvy on Advertising bit.ly/gacheat Self-defense techniques
  • 75. My footprints. ian@portent.com www.twitter.com/portentint www.conversationmarketing.com www.portent.com