Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ Category

Consumer Decision Journey – throw out the Sales Funnel model!

November 8th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

image-consumer-decision-journey
As the creator of a broadly used email and SMS marketing solution (eNudge) for the Australia marketplace, I thought that over the years I would see a general improvement in the way email marketing campaigns were constructed and delivered. I’m sad to say that on the whole, nothing much has changed. eNudge provides a myriad tools to help you segment, target, automate, measure and analyse, but it’s in the execution where many people fall down. Business owners and marketers get busy, and then just flick off a quick email to get a spike in sales. They are content with a spike and move on.

However, I know there is a better way … there always has been. Many marketers refer to it as lead nurturing, and email campaigns (including the eNudge Message Series functionality) are an excellent way to nurture your leads. For many years, marketing personnel have been working with a Sales Funnel model in mind – a linear movement of a potential buyer through awareness, interest, desire and finally action (buy). Lead nurturing refers to understanding where your lead is in the sales funnel, and give them the next piece of information that they need to take them to the next step in the journey; the next step closer towards being ready to buy.

I could be placated if I saw email marketing being used more for lead nurturing … more value and information being supplied, in a logical flow, engaging with potential buyers and taking them down a path to understanding and trusting you. However, thoughts even on lead nurturing have moved on …

The changing landscape of information availability via the internet including the impact of social media, and more recent research into buyer behaviour, suggests throwing out the sales funnel model and replacing it with what is being called by McKinsey as the “Consumer Decision Journey“. McKinsey research revealed that far from systematically narrowing their choices, today consumers take a much more iterative and less reductive journey of four stages: 1/ consider, 2/ evaluate, 3/ buy, and 4/ enjoy, advocate, bond. During stage 2 (evaluate) where the Sales Funnel approach says the the options get narrowed down, this in reality is where the brands most active online often replace the brands that were in the original consideration list (perhaps added to the list because of traditional advertising). The consumer’s options actually expand during this phase and the originals often get thrown out where there isn’t enough information online or customer reviews to support them.

Even more critical in what is being seen now in consumer behaviour, McKinsey discovered that during the 4th stage (enjoy-advocate-bond) more than 60% of consumers conduct online research about the products after purchase – a touch point entirely missing from the sales funnel approach. It is during this after purchase where your customer will advocate for your product or service by word of mouth, and produce online content to help future consumers in the consider and evaluate phases.

Other recent research by the Harvard Business Review team has shown that achieving the “full” sale to a B2B client is best achieved by providing the opportunity for that client to purchase small prototypes or incremental products along the buying journey i.e. as part of the evaluate stage. For more about this read: “To Increase Sales, Get Customers to Commit a Little at a Time“.

It was no small task, but the Harvard Business Review article describes an example implementation of changing the view of marketing to that of the ‘Consumer Decision Journey’ lead to a new TV becoming the top seller on Amazon.com and the company’s best performer in retail stores, far exceeding the marketers’ expectations.

To ensure that your product or service is not thrown out by prospects during the Evaluate phase of the consumer journey, and to help new customers to Enjoy, Advocate and Bond:

  1. Make sure your product or service is present online, not only in your own website, but also in comparison sites and marketplaces (for B2C) and online communities (for B2B)
  2. Foster online reviews of your products and services via social media and 3rd party websites
  3. Provide rich and easily accessible information online for people who have already purchased your product or service to help them get the most out of it
  4. Introduce new ways to inspire existing customers to refer their friends and colleagues to you – think DropBox who give away additional storage space for referring business

Your email marketing activities should assist you with with each of the above. Email campaigns should be created specifically for new customers and should point to additional online resources, and specifically ask for reviews or feedback. Email campaigns to your wider database should reference case studies and additional information available to help prospects in the evaluate phase.

If you need help with:

  • creating incremental or prototype products to sell to your clients as they evaluate,
  • creating additional online content,
  • making your online content more engaging,
  • ensuring you have a vibrant social media presence,
  • ensuring your product or service can be found easily online (SEO), or
  • creating email marketing campaigns that engage,

don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We are passionate about helping businesses to grow using online technologies.

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Mobile-friendly algorithm update: More Than Paws

June 29th, 2015 by Trevor Robinson

It’s been 2 months since Google rolled out its mobile-friendly algorithm which was set to enhance rankings for mobile-friendly / responsive web pages in mobile search results, so now is a good time to measure the impact of Google’s latest algorithmic update by reviewing one of our clients’ websites.

In order to obtain an accurate gauge between desktop and mobile search results, we needed to select a website without a mobile-friendly website version or responsive design.

More Than Paws is an e-commerce website specialising in clothing, accessories and costumers mainly for our canine friends, as well as other household pets. The More Than Paws team have been thinking about adopting a responsive website since there was first talk of the mobile-friendly algorithm update.

More Than PawsIn order to review the impact of the change, we selected 4 search terms that the More Than Paws website had been ranking well on in the months leading up to the Google algorithm change. The following search engine ranks are for Australian only results in Google, for both mobile and desktop devices – we performed these searches manually, without being signed into any Google Account in order to get the most accurate results.

Dog Bandanas
Desktop: #5
Mobile: #5

Dog Clothes
Desktop: #12
Mobile: #12

Dog Costumes
Desktop: #6
Mobile: #8

Dog Hoodies
Desktop: #3
Mobile: #5

The above results show a small impact on our client website’s Google ranks, with the search terms: ‘Dog Costumes’ and ‘Dog Hoodies’ both showing a 2 position rank deficit compared to the desktop.

We also reviewed the number of impressions for the More Than Paws website via desktop compared to mobile devices, pre and post the algorithm change.

Impressions from March 25 to April 21 (mobile-friendly algorithm introduction)
Impressions pre algorithm change

From the 23rd of March up until the advent of the mobile-friendly algoithm, the More Than Paws website received 5,752 impressions via desktop and 3,530 via a mobile device, which equates to a 47.87% difference.

Impressions from April 21 to June 22.
Impressions after algorithm change

Since the introduction of the update, up until the 22nd June, the More Than Paws website received 20,488 impressions via desktop and 11,931 via a mobile device, which equates to a 52.79% difference, or reduction of 4.92% of impressions between mobile and desktop devices.

It should be noted that most of the websites ranking well for similar search terms do not yet have mobile friendly / responsive websites. We expect that the difference pre and post the algorithm change would be more significant where well ranking competitors have mobile responsive websites. We also expect to see the difference between the ranks to become more significant over time, as Google adjusts the algorithm to achieve its aims in this area.

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Reach Mobile Melbournians billboard

June 27th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

After passing the billboard on the Westgate freeway several times, I just had to know what the advertising was all about. I mean … a Google search box containing the search phrase “reach mobile Melbournians” had to be somehow relevant to the endeavours of Contact Point!

So I grabbed my mobile phone (hubby was driving so that presented no problem) and typed in the search term “reach mobile melbournians” only to find a collection of random unrelated search results for page after page. Very frustrating! I am fairly of-fey with searching, having been involved in search engine optimisation since it began, so I continued on regardless to find what the billboard was all about. I refined my search to ‘reach mobile Melbournians billboard’ and was fortunate enough to get to the right place. The answer? A big new digital billboard coming into Melbourne City. So the ‘mobile’ in those search terms referred to people on their feet (rather than on a mobile device), and the Melbournians was actually people visiting the heart of the city of Melbourne.

Actually, to be completely honest, this was the second I had searched for this search term – the first time, after passing the sign at a pretty good speed, I searched for ‘reach mobile Melburnians’ because I thought that was how it was spelled.

Today I was glad to have my curiosity satisfied, however it struck me that the effort I was prepared to put in so that I could find the answer to the burning question raised by the billboard surely wouldn’t be the norm, and therefore the cost of that billboard wasn’t capitalised on with a complementary search engine marketing campaign.

If Contact Point had been engaged to assist the promoter we would have recommended the following:

  1. Write an article or two like this, explaining the meaning of the billboard advertising, and publishing the blog a day before or on the day that the billboard ad appeared.
  2. Ensure that the blog was well optimised for the search engines.
  3. Include a custom, short URL in the billboard to help the curious find it.
  4. Use social media simultaneously on the launch day or just before, to talk about the billboard, pointing to the explanatory webpage, and using useful hash tags to help searchers find it (eg multiple spellings of words if necessary)
  5. Once the billboard was actually out in the public, take a video of it and post that on the company YouTube account, including appropriate hash tags and including a URL that points back to the landing page on the website.

There’s more you could do if you have budget, but all of the above could be done for very little cost and effort, making it much easier for me to solve my burning question. That’s my two cents worth!

We love helping businesses to grow using technology, so if you are planning to reach mobile Melbournians or Melburnians for that matter, especially through search engines or through the use of mobile apps or a mobile responsive website, feel free to get in touch.

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Mobile Responsiveness just became even more important for high ranks in Google

April 19th, 2015 by Trevor Robinson

As of the 21st April, 2015, the Google search engine, globally, is giving weight to the presence or absence of mobile responsiveness in your website for people searching in Google using a mobile device. For example, if you are searching for a local cafe while using your mobile phone, the local cafe that has a website which is optimised for viewing on a mobile phone is much more likely to appear in the top search results for your Google search.

Google have been warning about this change for some time, so if you don’t have a mobile responsive website yet and if people searching for your business are likely to do that using a mobile device (tablet, phone, mini-tablet etc), now is definitely the time to act.

In a nutshell, a mobile responsive website is one that lays out differently and potentially functions differently, depending on the size of the screen being used, and whether the device has a touch screen or not.

Below is an example of a website which has been built responsively (the Contact Point website):
responsive_contactpoint

You can read more about what it means to have a mobile responsive website here.

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SEO for Beginners: Inbound Links and Online Directories

April 29th, 2014 by Trevor Robinson

Beginner’s guide to inbound links

Not so long ago SEOs (Search Engine Optimisers) were able to exploit Google’s PageRank-based algorithm. The PageRank based algorithm would count the number and quality of backlinks to a webpage which would indicate a webpage’s authority and determine search engine rankings based on backlink anchor text.

SEOs began to manipulate Google’s algorithm by submitting a client website to as many online directories as possible and acquiring backlinks, through mass produced and largely useless or uninformative, but keyword rich, articles and press releases. In addition, website owners were being enticed into participating in Link Farms in response to guaranteed page 1 ranks. An example of a link farm is a scheme involving including code in the home page of your website which dynamically selects another website to link to from a pool of participants.

Amid growing frustration about exploitative SEO techniques, evident flaws in the algorithm and ‘spammy’ websites appearing in the search engine results pages, Google introduced updates to their ranking algorithm in a bid to stamp out black hat SEO tactics. The first update was nicknamed ‘Panda’ in 2011. Panda reportedly affected around 12% of searches and was aimed at preventing websites with poor quality content from holding high positions in the search engine results pages.

In 2012 ‘Penguin’ was introduced.  Penguin targeted websites engaging in black hat link building tactics such as paid links, link networks or ‘link farms’ and ‘spammy’ directories. As a result, a large number of black hat associated websites’ rankings plummeted in the Google SERPs.

To ensure you don’t incur Penguin related penalties from Google, stay away from paid links, dubious article directory links, low quality press releases, low quality online directories and link exchange networks.

Gaining backlinks in 2014

As it has always been, the best and safest strategy with respect to gaining backlinks to your website is to produce unique, quality content. Focus on creating valuable, captivating content that people want to link to and share through their social media channels, email marketing and website content. We find that links to your website from related, high authority sites (e.g. those with a high Google PageRank) are the most useful for your search engine ranks.

Effective content marketing techniques may include the creation of video and infographic content, regular blogging and hosting webinars and/or online events.

Implementing a social media strategy is a very important component of every content marketing strategy, especially if you are just starting out and/or don’t have a large following. Sharing your content frequently through social media can enhance the opportunity to gain inbound links, build the image and reputation of your brand and increase traffic to your website.

Should I still submit my website to online directories?

Submitting your website to reputable, authoritative online directories (Hotfrog  and True Local are two examples) is still great for search engine ranks. Overall, directories are not as important today as they once were in terms of link value, however submitting your website to a reputable online directory will still benefit your website by increasing website traffic and boosting exposure for your brand. It has also been speculated that listings in trusted directories can enhance your website’s performance in local search results.

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Google testing in US, large banner ads at the top of search results

October 26th, 2013 by Heather Maloney

Recently Google has been seen testing the display large banner ads (images) across the top of search results in the US for just particular big brands including South West Airlines.

You can read about this further, and see an example of the banner ad in this article in The Age newspaper.

It will be interesting to see if this change is made widely accessible in the near future, and of course, whether it comes to Australia – this is the usual path of tests of new Google functionality. I expect these banner ads to have strict requirements regarding their look and feel, and to be very expensive, given that Google is being accused of going back on a promise to keep the search engine free of large, flashing ads, ever.

Would you welcome banner ads like the one shown in the top of your search results?

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Using email as part of your Inbound Marketing Strategy

August 28th, 2012 by Heather Maloney

Inbound Marketing is one of the newer marketing buzz words that I¡Çm sure you have heard about from time-time. But with the marketing landscape moving at ever increasing speeds, many business owners miss the definition of these new marketing strategies for their business.

Inbound marketing isn¡Çt complicated, however, and can be easily applied to your business.

At its essence, inbound marketing is about giving your customers the opportunity to engage with you; it is bringing them to you rather than you going to them. The term has come from the premise of ¡Èpermission marketing¡É that was made famous by marketing guru Seth Godin and ties in with the move away from telling clients what to do via fliers, print advertising and TV advertising (outbound marketing) and, instead, speaking with your customers, not at them, and allowing them to grant permission for you to market to them.

A good example of inbound marketing is rather than using the traditional marketing technique of direct mail to sell your services to unknown contacts, you develop a regular Blog on your website that discuss topics within your business services, highlighting your knowledge-base as a leader in your industry. Your Blog posts will give you more qualified leads from prospects wanting to contact you due to your expertise.

Much of inbound marketing is related to the use of Social Media, which goes beyond the platforms of Facebook and Twitter and includes such things as adding your details to online directories that allow for customer feedback, and the writing of BLOGs, articles and email marketing campaigns. Also consider e-books, videos, whitepapers and podcasts.

A quick test of your inbound marketing is to Google yourself and your business name. If you are using the technique well, then a number of links from different sites will appear in the search result, all leading back to your business website and contact details. For an example, see the image below.

Example Inbound Marketing Links from web search

How does email marketing work within your inbound marketing strategy?
Email marketing is a critical component within your business¡Ç inbound marketing strategy. As your target audience (after reading your articles, blogs and other social posts) opt in to hear more, your organisation has the opportunity to take each subscriber through a series of messages to help them solve a particular problem, or understand your organisation better. Alternatively, if the subscriber signed up to receive updates / news from you, these types of messages can provide valuable and practical examples of how your products / services can benefit the subscriber. An eNudge Email marketing message also gives you and your readers the opportunity to share your message in various platforms, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, allowing for new prospects to find you and learn about your industry knowledge.

Inbound marketing allows you to start building a customer relationship before a person has had any telephone or physical contact with you.

In addition, a good inbound marketing strategy will organically work on your Search Engine Optimisation!

To discuss how eNudge and our Message Series (systemizing a series of communications) can assist with your inbound marketing strategy, contact us via 1300 137 628 or info@eNudge.com.au.

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Online Technologies to consider for your business

May 30th, 2012 by Heather Maloney

The following online technologies have broad application across many industries, to help you increase awareness of your brand, products and services, strengthen relationships with existing customers, build community around your brand, position you as a thought leader in your industry or area of expertise, increase sales, and generate more leads.

Do a mental stocktake on how many of these technologies you are successfully employing:

  1. website - there are some businesses that still don’t have a website, or have a site that presents their organisation in a poor light, so I can’t leave that off the list. Your website may have more than one objective – make sure that it’s achieving your goal/s, whether that’s to generate leads, automate distribution of valuable information, build your credibility, facilitate sales…
  2. email marketing – despite the scourge of spam, and how long this medium has been used, it’s still the greatest tool of many of our clients for generating sales and enquiry, increasing customer retention and providing better service. You should encourage visitors to your website to register for your regular emails, but also promote this through offline channels (think business cards, brochures, invoices…).
  3. SMS marketing – a well executed SMS campaign can generate an immediate response. Of course, as per email marketing, you’re going to be obeying the Australian Spam Act to the letter, so an SMS won’t be a surprise to your customers.
  4. blog - pointing your readers to your website’s blog will drive traffic to your site (where hopefully they will explore more than your blog, or read related posts and add their comments), and allow them to interact with you and others on your chosen topic. It has the added advantage of being great for your rank in the search engines, especially if you choose your topic heading well and utilise social media and SEO friendly URLs.
  5. social media – dubbed “the personalisation of business”, the astute use of social media can help your organisation connect on deeper levels with your customers, understand your customers better, build community around your brand, and establish you as a thought leader within your industry or area of expertise. And it doesn’t have to take up vast amounts of your precious time.
  6. pay per click online advertisements – for the right category, a well written online ad linking through to a strategically written landing page, can be very productive for generating sales and enquiries. Social media and the proliferation of rich information about the website visitor’s preferences and behaviours, now provides the opportunity for very targeted ads.
  7. video – a powerful medium for connecting with a wider audience. Video allows you to convey your message much more richly than text and imagery.
  8. mobile applications – the use of mobile devices to browse the web and carry out web based activites has increased exponentially over the past few years. Every B2C website should strongly consider having at least a mobile friendly version of their website. Apps provide a unique opportunity to deliver market leading tools, build loyalty, and increase customer retention.
  9. online surveys – don’t groan! These used a strategic points in the delivery of customer service, or customer enquiry, can allow you to deliver the right clients to your sales team, and gather rich information about your customer’s desires.
  10. QR codes – a smart phone readable bar code allowing you to quickly take a customer to your web page after they scan the code you’ve placed in your email, on your printed poster, on a billboard…

When employing these technologies, you should endeavour to link them together to gain cost effectiveness, richer engagement and provide a consistent message across all fronts. They should also reflect your offline marketing.

If you would like to discuss the appropriateness of any of the above technologies for your business, and exactly how it could be used for your benefit, feel free to get in touch.

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Google’s updated Sitelinks functionality hit Australia on Tuesday

August 19th, 2011 by Heather Maloney

Google has updated it’s Sitelinks functionality, which shows a list of links for a site that it thinks you are searching for, beneath the regular listing of the site. This functionality will help a person who is searching for that particular site to get to the place within the site that they are looking for more quickly.

This article gives more details about the change.

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Google tweaks the impact of Reviews on Google Places

December 2nd, 2010 by Heather Maloney

In the last few days the Google engine in the US has been changed in relation to the impact that Reviews have in Google Places, after one retailer was deliberately horrible to their customers in order to get more reviews logged about their business!

Read The Age article here.

We would never recommend doing anything that is attempting to deliberately trick Google, because they will always make changes to combat that, and you will ultimately suffer.

In an earlier article, Google had commented that they had made on average 2 changes per day to their search engine algorithms (formulas that work out page rank and search results etc) for the first half of 2010.

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