Tag Archive: SEO

Getting started with a basic SEO strategy

If your startup lacks a marketing budget, an inbound marketing program can be the key to connecting with your customers. And no inbound marketing program is complete without at least a basic search engine optimization (SEO) component.

If you’re a non-technical entrepreneur, SEO can seem a little intimidating. It doesn’t have to be. You don’t have know what Penguin or Panda is to be successful with search engine optimization and inbound marketing.

While content is still king and you need to ensure your site is SEO friendly from a structure perspective, optimizing for search engines can actually be a relatively painless process. A basic SEO strategy can be executed in a little as one hour from week-to-week.

Here are the three important elements your week-to-week SEO strategy should include:

  • SEO Tools Using an SEO tool (or several) is a great first step of any SEO strategy, as they help you monitor your progress over time and drastically simplify the management process. The internet is littered with free tools (don’t miss this post on 100 free SEO tools) that can be extremely valuable for SEO, but investing in a premium tool like Moz is worth the relatively minuscule cost. On a week-to-week basis, be sure to keep your tool settings up to date to get the most value from your efforts.
  • Content & On-Page Optimization The entire purpose of search engines is to connect people with great content that meets their needs. Make a habit of skimming your content (including website copy, blog posts, white papers, ebooks, videos, etc.) each week to ensure your keywords and content is up to date. Make a habit of tweaking your content to target ‘long-tail’ keywords that add the most value. Go through old posts and update meta descriptions and keywords. But remember, while keyword optimization is important for SEO, your website is still fundamentally about building relationships with people. Don’t overstuff or sound like a robot. To get started, use tools like Google’s recently updated Keyword Planning Tool as part of your week-to-week content and on-age optimization effort.
  • Link Building As great as content and on-page optimization is for search engine optimization, links are what are truly valuable when it comes to SEO. Search engines love social proof, and in the eyes of search engines that social proof manifests itself in the form of links to your website from other websites. Here’s a great list of 32 white hat (the good kind) ways to build links to your site from HubSpot. The long and short of it? Create great content and SEO will take care of itself.

If you’d like to learn more about how a simple SEO strategy can help your startup get found more often on search engines, feel free to reach out to me.

Combining Content Marketing, SEO and Social Media to Generate More Inbound Leads

Historically, marketing has always been thought of as a cost-centre. But thanks to the phenomenal rise of inbound marketing and marketing analytics tools, marketers are now able to take credit for the lead generation they are responsible for.

As of 2013, 60% of companies have integrated some form of inbound marketing into their marketing strategy. While there are many moving parts to an inbound marketing program, here are three tactics all startups should emphasize to create an online lead generation machine.

  • Content Marketing A comprehensive content strategy should lie at the heart of your lead generation efforts. As social media examiner points out, the average marketer now uses an average of 12 content marketing tactics. Hosting a range of content on your digital properties can help convert them from static pages to conversation hubs. When considering content conversion, providing an opportunity for prospects to give you more information is important, but don’t turn your readers off by requiring them to convert for everything. Your content should lie along a ‘cost-conversion scale’, with lower effort content like blogs and infographics on the free side, and higher effort content like white papers and ebooks  requiring an act of conversion.
  • SEO The good news about a well-developed content marketing strategy is that it will help make finding your business online easier for customers and prospects.  For example, according to HubSpot, companies that blog tend to generate 97% more inbound links. And as noted by LeapLab, SEO now delivers 14% of marketers’ total leads. Here’s a great search engine optimization kit from HubSpot to “help you understand the search landscape, optimize your website, get found by qualified prospects, and convert higher percentages of them to leads and paying customers.”
  • Social Media You can create great content and optimize it for search engines, but your lead generation machine won’t be complete without social media. As HubSpot noted in their 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. And at Venture Accelerator Partners for example, Twitter and LinkedIn alone now account for well over 40% of our referral traffic.

As with any marketing program, your lead generation machine won’t be successful if you aren’t constantly monitoring, analyzing and adapting your efforts. The key to generating inbound leads is great content. Without it, your SEO and social media efforts won’t be as useful. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to generate inbound leads or inbound marketing, feel free to connect with me at any time.

Six STEPPS to Creating Contagious Marketing Content

What do hundred-dollar cheesesteaks, a golf ball destroying blender and a phone booth with a trick door have to do with creating great B2B marketing content?

In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger uses each of these viral marketing sensations to help explore the question of why some products, ideas and behaviours succeed while others fail (a question at the heart of all marketing). While there isn’t a formula to ensure your B2B marketing content will be widely shared, there are six key ingredients that make up a recipe for contagious content. Collectively, Berger calls these the STEPPS.

  • Social Currency According to Berger, social currency manifests when “people share things that make them look good to others.” If you’ve never heard of New York bar Please Don’t Tell, you’ll want to check this out. From a B2B perspective, you can create social currency by delivering information that will make prospects look good when they share it with others, such as members of the C-Suite, managers, or colleagues.
  • Triggers Triggers are “stimuli that prompt people to think about related things.” When thinking about triggers for B2B marketing content, carefully consider context. Successful B2B marketing content is designed for every prospect’s unique environment, situation and business problem, helping to make things personal and keep the brand top of mind.
  • Emotion B2B marketing is often thought of as less personal, but B2B marketing content can still be rooted in emotion. However, as the book notes, content that is physiologically arousing (such as anger or excitement) tends to outperform content that evokes other types of emotion. From a B2B perspective, focus on highlighting core paint points and intimating how your expertise can solve a problem like increasing revenue, decreasing costs, improving productivity or decreasing risk.
  • Public As highlighted in the book, the late great Steve Jobs understood better than most that observability matters (hence why the Apple logo faces outwards on the top of its laptops). Designing your B2B marketing content so that it’s powerful enough to stand alone and leave a lasting impression is crucial. People tend to imitate and share because the choices of others help provide information, known as “social proof”. A great way to lend social credibility to your content is to include brief case study features that highlights the successes of your customer base.
  • Practical Value The simple idea here is that people like to help others and are more than willing to spread great content of practical value. Be sure to keep your B2B marketing content concise yet detailed, and remember to “package your knowledge and expertise so that people can easily pass it on.”
  • Stories Embedding B2B marketing content into stories can help to turn virality valuable. Stories, like ancient Greek tales, help to carry information in ways that straight content can’t. Focus on building Trojan Horses by embedding your content into a greater storytelling narrative that relates to the stage of the buying process your content is targeting.

The STEPPS framework is a good tool for B2B marketers to validate and develop marketing content ideas. If you’d like to understand more about marketing strategy and tactics, or need help developing great B2B marketing content, feel free to reach out to me.

Top sources of startup marketing wisdom

As part of my job at Venture Accelerator Partners, I’m tasked with curating great sources of startup marketing content to share with our prospects and customers.

Not only does curating great 3rd party content help build the Venture Accelerator Partner brand, but getting the chance to read so much great marketing material builds my own knowledge base and is helping me become a better marketer for our clients. I highly recommend building some time into your daily schedule to learn about leading marketing tactics and strategies; it can only benefit your business or startup, even if you don’t think you’re a marketer.

Here are a few of my favourite sources of great B2B marketing and startup marketing content:

  • B2Community B2Community is perhaps my favourite spot for insightful, original marketing content. B2Community’s mission is “to create an open community where business professionals can establish their thought leadership, increase exposure for their business/organization, and network with others.” It’s a great source of straightforward yet intriguing material.
  • HubSpot HubSpot publishes so much marketing content, at this point I’m unsure whether they sell software or are a publishing house. Despite the absolutely incredible number of emails I receive from HubSpot each and every day, it truly is a fantastic source of content. Their Inbound Internet Marketing blog is an amazing source of SEO, branding, social media, lead generation, email marketing, lead nurturing & management, and analytics content, and their eBooks are great to keep on file as quick reminders.
  • KISSmetrics In the words of those who run it, the KISSmetrics blog is “a blog about analytics, marketing, and testing”, and it’s doubtful you’ll find a better spot on the web to learn about how those three subjects relate to one another. Be sure to check out their awesome library of infographics on sales, marketing, technology, and social media.
  • RocketWatcher Run by startup marketing junkie April Dunford, RocketWatcher is a go to source for startup marketing content. Full of first-hand tactical and strategic insight from April’s time working with a number of successful startups, RocketWatcher has great advice for launching and growing new products and services.

If you’re interested in learning more about Venture Accelerator Partners can help your growing business with B2B marketing or startup marketing, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Pinterest for B2B: What to know and how to start

Many small businesses ask themselves the same question when deciding whether or not they should embark in the newest social media platform: Is it worth my time? I recently read an ebook by Hubspot on Pinterest for B2B. For those who are unfamiliar with Pinterest, it is a social platform that relies on the sharing of visuals images. On the surface, it is easy to see how Pinterest benefits B2C companies, but how may it helped B2B organizations?

Below are is a list of various questions you may be asking yourself about Pinterest. I have provided a few points that may help you make a decision about fitting Pinterest into your marketing strategy:

What is Pinterest?

  • Visual social media platform where users share, like, comment and follow people and boards to pass along information in the form of images and videos.
  • How popular is it? Pinterest saw 155% growth in one month, beating out Linkedin and Google+

How does Pinterest fit into the marketing strategy of B2B organizations?

  • What kind of businesses should be considering it? Businesses that highly utilize videos and images in their core messaging. Keep in mind that you want to be where your customers are. Do some research beforehand to see if your current customers and prospects are using the platform.
  • Pinterest provides connectivity to Facebook and Twitter. Users can sign up using their Facebook or Twitter account, therefore, posting their Pinterest activity to these separate social networks as well

I set up a profile, what now?

  • Optimize your profile: Include your company name, logo, brief description, links, keep the setting ‘hide your Pinterest profile from search engines’ checked OFF
  • Want to be successful? Avoid blatant self-promotion. Even a sales person will tell you that no one likes to be ‘sold to.’ Keep your content educational and informative.
  • Start by creating pinboards in order to build a reach and network. A pinboard is like a Twitter list; it is a tool used to consolidate information pertaining to one particular topic of interest. Remember to utilize your company’s keywords in the title of pinboards for SEO purposes and to clearly communicate what your board is for.

I’ve set up a profile. Is there anything else I should know?

  • There are 2 kinds of follows:
    • 1) Follow a board: Users will receive all information posted on a particular pinboard. It’s similar to following a list on Twitter.
    • 2) Follow a user: Users will receive updates every time your company posts an update. It’s similar to following someone’s Twitter handle.
    • When developing your pinboards, remember some of these great tips:
      • Feature visual content; Pinterest is a visual social network
      • Create pinboards about your company so users can see the people behind the brand. Example: Executive Managament board with headshots of your team.
      • Utilize strong visuals from blog articles to promote your blogs
      • Create a user generated pinboard; allow other Pinterest users to add to your boards
      • Utilize hashtags; Pinterest supports the use of hashtags.
      • Measure, Measure, Measure! Remember to measure your efforts by using a tool such as Google Analytics. Identify how many users are coming to your website from Pinterest and set goals for inbound traffic. For example, increase your Pinterest inbound traffic by 20% per month. Also use analytics to understand what works and what doesn’t; are people visiting your blogs from Pinterest and not your newsletter page?

Hubspot has a lot of great resources if you’re looking to brush up on your marketing knowledge, or if you’re interested in learning something new. Give us a shout if you need assistance putting your thoughts into action and want to start executing a strong marketing strategy. To get weekly tips, sign up for our RSS feed and take a look at our blogs on sales, marketing and social media.

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