A really interesting blog post came out today from HubSpot, an inbound marketing software and analytics provider:
The gist is that the sales funnel is an outdated model, and the purchase loop is better. Better for what? Marketing, of course. It takes into account the inherent chaos of our smart-phone-enabled, internet-savvy lives, and it plans for emotional decisions, which, to some degree, all purchases are. The loop model allows for the real-world phenomenon of jumping back and forth from level to level – our Capitalistic quantum leaps, if you will – that the linear funnel model does not.
The main point here: forget about awareness, interest, desire, action. Now it’s openness, realized want or need, learning & education, seeking ideas & inspiration, research and vetting, and post-purchase evaluation and expansion.
The entire article is worth a read for anyone in any business anywhere, but I want to make special mention for the automotive industry: this should be the model everyone uses moving forward. I’m no economist, but I have to say, this model makes much more sense to me. I believe allowing for emotional shifts will help marketers keep up with consumers.
And cars are emotion-producing products. Just look at them. Look at those wheels. Those headlights. Listen to those engines. If the cars themselves don’t inspire any feelings of excitement, fear, or general happiness, certainly their price tags raise an eyebrow. Cars are the second-most expensive thing most people will ever buy.
I have been trying all week to put into words why website architecture and online user experience matter more to automotive shoppers and enthusiasts than most internet consumers. This new model helps me out.
See, because of the ever-looping nature of a loop, a starting point is irrelevant. There’s still a linear aspect in play, but it’s not as rigid. And automotive websites – especially for dealerships and auto parts stores – need to a) be able to accomodate every level of interest and purchase intent that shows up, b) outcompete their online competition, and c) do all this without being pushy. If a consumer feels pressured online, what are the odds of them ever setting foot inside your store? Pretty low, I’d wager.
So – in a world where the tsunami of interactive online media almost completely displaces the effectiveness of TV and radio ads, consumers are accustomed to feeling in control. You may guide them, but never push them. They need to feel like they got to that gooey chocolate “purchase” center on their own.
Speed matters. Internal linking matters. If a potential car shopper finds that site through Google search results, or through an easy-to-click Facebook link, or through a manufacturer’s well-designed website, there is an expectation of speed, good looks and available information set before they get there. If it’s too slow, or if they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, or if it looks amateurish, there is a “Back” button on their browser and it’s mighty attractive. The “Back” button makes it a zillion times easier to leave you behind online than to get up and walk all the way out of a brick-and-mortar store. And more often than not, dealerships and auto part stores rely on websites to simply get people into the store, let alone in a position to make expensive purchases. So if your website doesn’t cover all the bases – openness, realized want or need, learning & education, seeking ideas & inspiration, research and vetting, and post-purchase evaluation and expansion – while at the same time stepping up to the quality of the sites that got them to your site, then potential customers are leaving you behind.
This means that your website architecture must be easy to navigate (for both the consumer and the Google bots, which will improve your SEO rankings and get you more visits to begin with), it must provide high-level service for as many customers in as many different emotional states, and it must guide customers toward purchase without pushing them there, all the while maintaining and even building upon the emotional thrill of the automotive industry.
It’s tough work. I hope by embracing this new sales model, dealers will sell more cars, parts stores will sell more parts, mechanics will get more repair and maintenance business, enthusiast sites will spur more conversation, and so on.
Read more from this series:
- Why keyword research and content strategies are different
- Why link development is different
- Google+ for auto dealers, mechanics/body shops, and auto parts stores
- Rich snippets/Schema.org coding for automotive
Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day! Being a community manager is a tough job. You are on the frontlines as an advocate for both the brand and the consumers. Dealing with issues, complaints, and positive and negative experiences can be tiresome. Having to post original, clever content on a daily basis (at least) can get difficult. In honor of Community Manager Appreciation Day, I’ve created a list of the top 5 ways to be a wonderful, fantastic Community Manager!
Looking at the community as a party, the community manager must act as the perfect host. As a host, the community manager must make sure everything is running smoothly, maintain conversations, and solve any problem that comes up. Party hosts must acknowledge all of their guests just as a community manager must acknowledge all their fans/followers/commenters. While a community manager does not need to make sure the chips and dip don’t run out, it is important to make sure there is always new information being shared with the community to encourage them to return.
Be a Bodyguard
While working as the community manager for a brand, it is very important to protect the brand’s online reputation. It is easy for negative comments to spiral out of control if not dealt with immediately. Acting swiftly when dealing with reputation issues is always the best method. Community managers are not only charged with protecting the brand’s reputation, but also protecting the community. Community managers are wonderful advocates for the brands’ fans. Having a direct line to a company’s consumers provides a great opportunity to notice any problems that may need to be brought to the attention of the management team. When working on issues between the brand and a community, it is important for the community manager to stay unbiased and work towards a solution for both parties.
Always Stay Cheerful
When dealing with a community of outspoken individuals, it is easy to lose your positive outlook and let negative comments get you down. Don’t let it happen! Keeping a cheerful, positive attitude is a wonderful way to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Keeping yourself positive will make it easier to work out solutions and problem solve. When managing communities, it is important to not let negative comments or experiences get you down. Having a friendly, cheerful community manager is a great way for community members to feel comfortable in sharing their experiences. I’m a big fan of exclamation points!
Being creative and “thinking outside the box” is one of the most attributes of community managers. Creating and posting clever, informative content on a daily basis can get difficult. A community manager needs to get to know his/her community. By knowing what types of posts will do well and what won’t do well, you will have the ability to set up a content calendar of successful posts. Unfortunately, the only way to get to know your community and what they will respond to is through a lot of trial and error. By “thinking outside the box”, community managers are able to share information and engage with their community in new and fun ways. Who doesn’t love a good “Caption This” or “Fill in the blank” post (when used as part of a content plan)?
Being patient is without a doubt, the hardest attribute listed here. When dealing with a community, it is often easy to get overwhelmed by community members who spam the page or continuously post about the same issues over and over. The key to being a patient community manager is having the ability to stay positive with both the community members and the brand. Being a community manager means having a strengths in both listening and working towards solutions.
Being a community manager is a tough job but with a good attitude, a willingness to help, and some creativity, it is also very rewarding. Solving problems and turning negative experiences into positive experiences are the things that community managers live for.
Now that you know what it takes, go thank your Community Manager for all of their hard work!
It’s a new year and Intrapromote is looking forward to moving forward. It brings us great pride to introduce our latest product – The Website Audit! We’ve been around since the beginning and are always working hard to stay on top of all industry changes to insure our clients are getting the latest and greatest. With all of our years of experience performing comprehensive site analyses, we’ve learned a lot. From indexing and crawling to ranking and conversions, we’ve figured out every piece of the online marketing puzzle needed to bring your website to the next level. Whether you’re just starting out or your business is well established, every online business could benefit greatly from what The Website Audit has to offer. But don’t let me do all the talking, the following video will help paint a better picture.
TRANSCRIPT: Suppose you spent a lot of money on an airplane – would you take it to a mechanic who’d tell you how to fly higher and faster without even inspecting it? Suppose you invested in a thoroughbred horse – would you just download some virtual vet’s whitepaper on how to care for your thoroughbred when she gets sick? Suppose you spent significant budget and time on developing a website for your business – would you pay an SEO agency for a generic, one-size-fits-all template of best practices:
- hoping it’ll get the desired actions you want from your visitors?
- hoping it’ll prepare your site for maximum traffic?
- and, oh yeah, hoping there is someone at the agency to guide you through?
You’d want an expert mechanic to actually inspect your aircraft through and through so it takes you where you want to go. You’d want a real vet to diagnose your thoroughbred and prescribe treatments to care for her so she runs like a champion. And you’d want an SEO agency that knows your web site inside and out, understands your business goals, and will make sure your site reaches its traffic potential.
Introducing The Website Audit from Intrapromote.
Unlike other website audits, we are a team of highly skilled SEO experts dedicated to working hand in hand with your company. We’ll make sure we understand your goals, your competition, and your ideal customer visit. Then, we’ll perform a site-wide audit, analyzing your site on over 20 critical elements that directly affect the amount of traffic coming to your site. Lastly, we’ll consult with you directly on high-impact, prioritized adjustments to make sure your website is easily found by the customers you want.
Because we want your airplane to fly higher and take you to paradise. Because we want your thoroughbred to be healthy and a winner. And because we want the web site you’ve invested so much in to bring you the business you deserve.
Don’t settle for a generic audit that was created by pressing a button. Trust in a team of experts to fully understand your site and provide the guidance you need. Visit www.thewebsiteaudit.com to learn more.
We’re two weeks in to 2013 already. How are your New Year’s resolutions going? I will confess that I’ve set a couple for myself, one of which I haven’t started yet but I totally will. Next week. It seems many people have set a resolution along the lines of “be better at my job.” Well, that’s a pretty broad resolution, isn’t it? I started thinking about what basic changes someone could make to be better at his job and realized that there are a lot of simple ideas that can lead to a better workday. Please join me in reviewing 5 simple resolutions for a better workday.
1. Start your day early.
As we’ve mentioned, a great deal of Intapromote’s workforce works virtually, and I feel this is especially important for virtual workers. It can be very tempting to roll out of bed and stroll straight over to the desk and start checking email, however, that’s not very fair to your brain. Give your brain a chance to recover from sleeping. Read the news. Do a Sudoku puzzle. Talk to your spouse/children/parents. Workout. Enjoy a cup of coffee. These are all simple ways to get your brain active before sitting down to work. Taking a shower and changing out of your pjs won’t hurt either.
2. Take breaks.
Just as your brain needs time to wake up, it also needs a break every once in a while. Forbes recently published a story about how goofing off can actually lead to a more productive workday. If you have a moment, I highly suggest you skip over there and read through their suggestions. For those of us who stare at a screen all day, these breaks are important for your eyes as well. Every few hours, I take just a couple minutes to close my eyes. If I’ve really been pushing it with the screen staring, I will not hesitate to administer a few refreshing eyedrops. It’s like a little spa for your eyes. While breaks are important, be careful that you’re not turning a quick break into a 30-minute discussion.
3. Keep your inbox tidy.
This is one of my biggest struggles. My inbox seems to have two settings: Empty or full. I am much happier when it’s empty. The idea seems simple: Get an email, read it, respond to it, file it (or delete it). And yet there are dozens of emails sitting in my inbox. My resolution with email is to avoid clicking that little arrow that takes me back to my inbox. I will respond to the email and then file it in the appropriate folder. If it requires follow up or has an action item, I will add it to my TaskForce to-do list. By utilizing TaskForce, I avoid using paper to jot down a reminder, I can set auto-reminders at various intervals so I can be sure the task is done and I can set a due date which will help me prioritize my workload. Most of all, it will help keep my inbox nice and clean.
4. Honor your to-do lists.
Speaking of TaskForce… It’s no secret that I am a lover of to-do lists and I use several different tools to create my lists. TaskForce has been my favorite of the past year by far. I’m assuming that most people are already creating to-do lists and if you’re not, well, I guess you get 6 tips rather than 5. In my role, I have a lot of ongoing projects that have no official due date and I’m sure that’s a truth for many people. With tasks like these, I find that adding it to the to-do list is very helpful. When you’ve finished the other items on your list, it becomes crystal clear that you should now work on that project that has been consistently placed on the backburner. Use your to-do list as a map to guide you through the canyons of your workweek.
5. Keep your work area clean.
I saved this one for last as I think it is easier to do if you’ve incorporated the above tips into your workday. A virtual to-do list will cut down on Post-Its and paper notes while taking a break to tidy things up will satisfy tips #2 and #5. A clean work area can help minimize distractions, makes it far easier to not lose things and leads to overall better organization. At the end of your day, take a look at your desk and see what can easily be tossed or straightened. Throw away all trash (recycling what you can!), take your coffee mugs to the kitchen, put office supplies in their proper places, shut down your computer and tuck your chair under the desk. This will also give a little routine to the end of your day, once again helping your brain transition from work mode into not-work mode.
Whatever your resolutions may be, I wish you luck with them. Have a happy, healthy, safe and productive 2013!
For most marketing directors, the ROI question as it relates to social media budgeting continues to loom as a conundrum. Here is an extremely simple way to place value on your social media users to better budget and plan.
Step One: Identify your conversion.
Are you looking for leads, sales, or walk-ins? All three are applicable when valuating your users. For leads, ensure that you can place a dollar amount on your average lead count during a month-long period. Your sales and walk-ins will already have an inherent dollar amount attached to them (hopefully).
Step Two: Create a social promotion.
The promotion should be able to capture all lines of your business. If that seems unreasonable, go ahead and plan multiple promotions. Ensure your promotion is on-par with promotions your have held in the past. You do not want to specialize this one at all.
Make sure you have tracking tools for the results. With lead generation, make sure you create a specialized landing page for click throughs from social media. Do not publicize this URL anywhere other than your social media platforms.
For sales, make sure you are utilizing a custom segment within your analytics service that will only report on traffic that comes from social media URLs. This, coupled with a discount code within your Ecommerce platform, will accurately depict direct sales from social users.
Tracking walk-ins is a bit more tricky, but leaning on the discount code in the form of a digital coupon will go far in tracking results.
Step Three: Assign the value.
The preferential treatment for assigning value is to base it on the engagement that occurs during the promotion online. For instance, for a Facebook-only promotion, you will want to assign a dollar value on each individual “Engaged User” (column L in Facebook Insights) during the promotion period. On Twitter, you will want to count mentions during the entire promotion period, and divide your total net sales from the promotion by that number. Example below:
- Promotion: 25% Off Entire Catalog for Facebook Fans!
- Promotion Period: 14 days
- Total Engaged Users during Promotion: 1500
- Net Sales from Promotion: $50,000
- Facebook User Valuation: $33.33 per Engaged User
Keep in mind, $33.33 per Engaged User would be absolutely incredible, so don’t be too disheartened when it turns out to be $1 or less. Remember, conversions are the last step in a well-built strategy. If you aren’t satisfied with the numbers, feel free to contact Intrapromote to build a strategy that will return some results.
Now you have a valuation for your Facebook fan base, and a good way to project future sales and determine ROI. You’re welcome.
Are you looking to hire an entry-level link builder? How do you know what to look for?
There are many traits to look for in a new hire link builder. However, if a candidate displays these five traits, then you might just have a Star Link Builder on your hands!
Working in this industry, you become exposed to a number of niche businesses. In the past year alone, I’ve become exposed to cell phone towers, microchip processors, helicopter leasing, and industrial vacuum pumps. In order to successfully build links for these types of businesses, you must understand the industry. By familiarizing yourself with the industry, you learn industry terms that’ll help you brainstorm keywords to find linking opportunities.
A good link builder must be able to possess the research skills necessary to become educated a wide variety of niche businesses.
2. Multi-Tasking & Client Hats
It is a very rare occasion that as a link builder, you’ll be focusing on a single client or business. In other words, you will be wearing a LOT of different client hats!
You will be balancing numerous tasks among several clients. You’ll have to keep track of specific keywords for particular clients. Emails will arrive in your inbox, and you’ll have to keep track of which client the email is for and quickly respond with that “niche” mindset to ensure that you don’t lose the potential linking opportunity. Sometimes these responses may come weeks to months after you’ve sent the email. It’ll be your job to figure out who, where, and why you were contacting that site. Balancing link reports and documenting your responses and outreaches can be a headache.
Multi-tasking is certainly a skill that nearly every occupation will require. Link building is no exception to such skill. A good link builder must absolutely be able to multi-task.
3. Social, Creativity and Cleverness
As a link builder, one of your primary challenges will be convincing webmasters, editors, bloggers, and site owners to give you a link. Some of the obstacles part of this persuasion process is finding contact information, crafting your initial contact, crafting your follow up request, and of course a proper response. The ability to build relationships and socialize with these people in a manner to achieve your ultimate goal in acquiring a link is an absolute required skill of a link builder.
Sometimes you come across a wonderful link opportunity, but there is no contact information listed. You’ll need to get creative and try to find other sites they own where they list contact info. A link builder must find alternate, creative means to reach the right contact for the site.
You have a blogger who loves making crafts and arts. It’s probably a better idea to talk about some of their interests before coming outright and asking for a link. Sometimes you might have a blogger who tends to get be very straightforward in his posts. Then it’s best to probably get quickly to the point with your link request.
It takes a clever and creative link builder to make such social decisions to persuade people to give you a link. You can never miss an opportunity for a link in this business.
Like a salesman, link builders get rejected repeatedly. You send out more than a few requests and sometimes only a handful even respond. Of that handful, a smaller handful may even be interested in obliging to your link request. This is a part of link building that all link builders have come to understand and accept.
You must be able to deal with rejection and continue to research for link opportunities to make requests. Eventually your requests will be answered. A link builder must have the persistence to go through droughts of no responses and continue to make link requests.
5. Trends & Adaptability to Change
The SEO industry is a constant, evolving animal. The world of link building is another evolving beast within the SEO industry. We’ve seen how quickly Panda and Penguin changed the scope of businesses, forcing SEO agencies and link builders to quickly adapt. We witnessed the quick de-value of links from article directories. These changes illustrate how quickly and drastically link building ideals can change.
A link builder must remain on top of these trends. They must continue to do their research and have an eye for changes in the industry. Link builders must be able to monitor what’s working and make strategic shifts to achieve SEO goals. A link builder must constantly remain up to date and knowledgeable of SEO trends and changes.
Are you looking for a link builder to add to your SEO team? Ensure that they have these five traits I’ve discussed, and you’ll find yourself with a star link builder on your team!