Linking AdWords to Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools

Roughly 85 percent of Google queries are not new searches. The majority of searches are old favorites that are asked nearly each day.

The same is true at our Google AdWords trainings where FAQs dominate Q&A. People tend to struggle from similar obstacles year after year, whether it be match type or account settings or whatever.

Somewhere just beyond Michael’s top 5 common PPC questions is linking Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools accounts, a question that we hear at most AdWords training sessions.

“Why can’t I see my AdWords data in my Google Analytics?”

This is an update to an outdated post that offered a step-by-step troubleshooting guide, complete with how-tos and screenshots. Linking your Google products together helps to provide context to your data, allowing you to draw deeper insights and hopefully, make more accurate conclusions!

Verify Appropriate Access Levels

Before we begin, please verify email addresses and access levels. You will need administrative access at the account level in AdWords and the “Manage Users/Edit” access at the property level in Analytics. Use the following screenshots to ensure that you hold the right rank. (You can click on screenshots for full-size images!)

Verifying AdWords Access

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Verifying Analytics Access

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Show AdWords data in Google Analytics

The goal in this section is to share information between accounts so (1) AdWords data can be used in Analytics and (2) Analytics data can be used in AdWords.

Step A: Login to Google Analytics and (1) select the Admin tab at the top of the page. You will then need to pick the appropriate ACCOUNT and (2) PROPERTY.

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Step B: Under the PRODUCT LINKING header, (1) click on AdWords Linking and (2) verify the AdWords account. Note: Any trouble here might be a sign that you do not have an administrative access level.

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Step C: Once the AdWords account has been selected, you will need to (1) add a name for the account link, (2) pick the views where you would like to make AdWords data available and (3) confirm the link by clicking the blue button.

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Show Google Analytics Data in AdWords

Step D: Login to AdWords and (1) select the gear icon then (2) Account settings.

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Step E: Navigate to (1) Linked accounts then (2) Google Analytics. You can add data from Google Analytics views by (3) clicking the Add button.

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Step F: Add data from Google Analytics to AdWords by (1) selecting Customize columns under the Columns tab.

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Step G: Find the (1) Google Analytics tab and (2) Add metric columns to display that data in AdWords reports.

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If all dots were connected correctly, you should have an email in your inbox to acknowledge that your work here is done.

Linking AdWords to Google Webmaster Tools

A link between these accounts provides broader search data to AdWords, allowing marketers to compare the relationship between organic and paid search efforts. Stephen wrote a nice overview here on how to use the Paid & Organic Report.

Step H: In the Account settings section of AdWords that we discussed above, (1) select Linked accounts then (2) Webmaster Tools. That will allow you to (3) search for your domain in Google Webmaster Tools. Note: Access to the Webmaster Tools account is required.

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Step I: You should see something like this screen once the account has been linked.

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For more on the Paid & Organic Report, see Google’s guide here.

7 Key Design Tips for High-Converting Landing Pages

Landing pages are a fundamental — and undeniable — part of a sucessful inbound marketing strategy. They are the hub of your lead generation efforts, and that’s why every campaign you run and offer you create should be tied to a custom landing page — as opposed to an ambigious homepage where visitors have to guess what to do next. But while having more landing pages can have a huge impact on lead generation, the other takeaway here is that your landing pages also need to look good to perform well.

Well, we want to make that a little bit easier on you, since we know how challenging great design can be — particularly if you’re not a designer, per say. So to help you build good looking and high-converting landing pages, we wanted to share some design-related best practices.

How to Design a Landing Page That Converts

Designing_a_Landing_Page_That_Converts_-_HubSpot_Infographic

7 Design Best Practices for High-Converting Landing Pages

1) Get to the point.

We all know people have short attention spans — so why aren’t we considering that in landing page creation? Online audiences tend to avoid reading through an entire page of information. They will, however, “forage” for information by visually scanning the screen until they find what they’re looking for. So when designing your landing pages, get straight to the point. People came to the page for a reason, so make sure you address that reason clearly and succinctly by highlighting the value of what you’re offering and how it addresses their needs, interests, or problems. Use clear headers and sub-headers, use easy-to-scan bullet points to explain what they’ll get from the offer, emphasize key points using bold text or italics, and keep things as brief as possible.

2) Use contrasting colors.

Keep in mind that you always want your main call-to-action (CTA) to really POP off your landing page. So when you’re encouraging visitors to fill out a form and click on that ‘submit’ button, make sure it’s easy for visitors to see where they should complete that action. That’s why using complementary and contrasting colors is a great way to call a visitor’s attention to exactly where you want it.

For example, let’s look at one of the following landing page example. While the entire page employs blue and white hues, the form submission button itself is a bright shade of pink. This allows the button to pop off the page and easily grab the reader’s attention.

landing-page-templates-colors

3) Stamp on a logo.

Keep your brand top of mind when they’re downloading your content and offers by making sure the viewer knows exactly where they are. All your landing pages should have your logo placed strategically on the page. While you don’t need to make it the focal point of the page, it’s important that it’s apparent enough that people will recognize the landing page as being a publication of your business. This is particularly critical for visitors who come to your landing pages from external non-branded sources, like social media and search. Once you’ve decided on placement for your logo, maintain that position on all your landing pages to maintain consistency. Talk about low-hanging inbound marketing fruit!

4) Avoid visual clutter.

While displaying extravagant visuals on your landing pages may sound like a fabulous idea, A/B tests at HubSpot have repeatedly shown that including too many over-the-top images doesn’t actually help conversion. In fact, oftentimes it distracts the reader from the main point of the landing page, creation more friction on the landing page instead of supporting conversion. And while graphics are certainly attractive, they can also increase the load time of your website. In fact, according to the Aberdeen Group, a one-second delay in page-load time results in 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a 7% loss in conversions. Yikes! Keep things simple, and make sure the images you use on your landing pages support — not distract — the pathway to conversion.

5) Never underestimate formatting.

Formatting is probably the easiest design best practice to follow when crafting good-looking landing pages. It’s also one that can go a really long way with little effort. Clearly laying out your headlines, images, copy, form, etc. can help you highlight the value of your offer and tee up conversion by creating a visual-friendly user experience that guides visitors to complete the conversion.

Let’s look at another example. This template uses a clear headline, sub-header, and then a call-out box to include more detailed copy. Despite the potentially long copy (one formatting solution would be to convert that into shorter bullet points), the landing page is easily digestible due to its aesthetic formatting.

landing-page-templates-formatting

6) Add social proof.

Similar to adding case studies or recommendations, try adding some social proof to your landing pages. This adds third-party credibility to your content and offers and can help boost conversions. Do you have any case studies or testimonials you can pull quotes from? Furthermore, try searching through social networks like Twitter, Facebook — or another social platform of your choice! Consider embedding tweets from users who have downloaded your content and said nice things about it, or asking if you can quote someone who left a nice message on your Facebook page. Do you have data about how many people have already downloaded this specific offer that you can highlight on the landing page (e.g. “2K people have already downloaded this ebook!”)? That’s social proof, too!

7) Be consistent.

Here’s a bonus tip for you! Remember that MarketingSherpa study we referenced earlier? Well, when analyzing which elements of a landing page has the greatest impact on overall website performance, page layout came out on top. This is likely because page elements that alter the layout of a page can make it harder for visitors to navigate the pages on your website.

While it’s important to continuously A/B test elements of your landing page for maximum results, be sure you’re not radically altering your landing page layout every time. A sense of consistency can help the end user know how to navigate your pages over time, eliminating the friction caused by having to get the lay of the land each time, and resulting in drop-offs in conversion rates.

Top 5 Website Design Tips for Local SEO Success

New research from Google is backing up what digital marketers have been telling clients for years, local searchers convert into customers at an astonishing rate. According to Google, 34 percent of local searchers who use desktop or tablet devices made their way to a store and more than 50 percent of local searchers on smartphones did the same thing. Once they get to a store, local searchers are more likely to make a purchase. Google’s research shows that 18 percent of local searches lead to a purchase within a day, compared to just 7 percent of non-local searches.

The power of local search to drive sales is the reason why local search engine optimization (SEO) is so important. The higher businesses rank in local searches, the more likely those local searchers will not only find them, but also visit the store and make a purchase. Local SEO success is built on the foundation of having a structurally sound website that is designed to guide search engines toward relevant information, helping businesses rank higher.

1.BUILD DEDICATED LANDING PAGES

Dedicated landing pages are the bedrock of multi-location local SEO. Dedicated local landing pages allow search engines to break out each location separately, which focuses the content of each page and increases the ranking for local searches. Businesses should build a dedicated page for each location and it should include all of the pertinent information about the location including its address, hours of operation and phone number. For manufacturers that sell products through retail partners, dedicated landing pages should be built for each retail location that carries the product, allowing search engines to connect the product and the retailer while also giving consumers an easy to find where the product is being sold.

(Editor’s Note: Nordstrom, for example, takes searchers to the local landing page shown below when they query “Norstrom San Diego”.)

2.UTILIZE STRUCTURED DATA

Search engines look for HTML keys to determine the focus of a particular Web page and the content inside it. Businesses focusing on local SEO should use structured data to assist search engines in this task, helping enhance search results. Structured data is added directly to the Web page’s HTML markup and is used by search engines when generating search results. Businesses should include basic information such as name, address and phone numbers, using the recommended structured data markup by the search engines (generally schema.org). Companies that have events, multiple services at each location, or different series at different locations, should also include that information in the structured data packets as well.

3.CREATE LOCALIZED CONTENT

To maximize the effect of local SEO, businesses must remember the importance of creating content that speaks to the local consumer. This includes using linguistic analysis to generate keywords that directly tie to how consumers in specific areas search. Our internal research shows that small differences in keyword targeting, such as “restaurants in Knoxville” versus “Knoxville restaurants,” can have an impact on local rankings and Web traffic, and can lead toward more conversions from local searches. Also, businesses should conduct research to determine products, features and information that consumers in different geographic locations desire. The interests of local searchers can vary from state to state or neighborhood to neighborhood, therefore, so should the content of the dedicated local landing pages.

4.OPTIMIZE INTERNAL LINKING

Search engines use a website’s internal links to navigate through its pages. If the search engine spiders cannot find a localized page for any reason, that page won’t show up in search results. Therefore, the internal link structure should be organized in a way to make it as easy as possible for search engines to find every local page. This can be done by developing a HTML sitemap and submitting a XML sitemap to the search engines. Because of their ability to clear up any confusion that search engines may have when indexing, sitemaps are a must for every site. Errors can also be found by using GoogleWebmaster tools and any errors that are found, especially bad links or routing, should be immediately corrected.

5.THINK MOBILE

Local and mobile searches are inherently tied together, meaning businesses that want to optimize for local should also look at creating mobile-friendly digital assets. One way to do this is to use responsive design. Responsive design is preferred by Google because of its ability to automatically adjust to any size screen, cutting down on the need for mobile redirects.

Within the dedicated landing page, businesses should also create options that are aimed at mobile users. One tool businesses can create is a click-to-call button, which can cut down on the steps needed for a searcher to get a hold of a local business. One of the most common pieces of information mobile users look for is directions, so another option is to integrate mapping software, such as Google Maps, to help direct mobile searchers toward the nearest location. When thinking mobile, businesses should focus on making it as easy as possible for potential consumers to get from the website to where a purchase can be made, be that online or at a physical location.

MASSIVE AUDIENCE, OPPORTUNITIES

Google’s research shows that today’s consumers more constantly connected and that they’re using that connection to gain access to local information. In fact, four out of five people use search engines to research businesses around them. Companies that forgo local SEO strategies are missing out on this massive audience that is actively looking to make purchases and get a leg up on the competition.

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing: Understanding the Differences

If you run a business, then you know how important marketing is in spreading the word about your company’s products and services. If you don’t market your company, then you won’t get any customers. This means that your company’s success relies heavily on your marketing campaign. While traditionally, the use of outbound marketing was the most common strategy, this has quickly changed in the last few years. These days, many companies have turned towards inbound marketing strategies for their marketing tactics. If you are unsure of what the differences are between outbound vs inbound marketing, read on. Understanding the pros and cons of both will allow you to create a better marketing strategy to fit the needs of your company.

Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is a strategy in which a business advertises its products and services by presenting information to consumers even if they are not looking for those products or services. Because of this, outbound marketing has been commonly referred to as “interruptive marketing”. Companies do this via the use of television, print ads, direct mailers, radio and more. This is how traditional advertising worked, but unfortunately, such methods are not only interruptive and poorly timed, they can be quite expensive. If you are a small business owner, then you could be paying an arm and a leg for one of these forms of advertising without any promise of success. However, larger companies that can afford such marketing will benefit, as this strategy can help to bring awareness about one’s product and services to a national audience.

Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a more affordable marketing strategy, which is a reason why so many small business owners make use of it. The idea of inbound marketing is that you target a core audience by providing useful and quality content to entice them into finding out more about your products or services. So, in essence, you give them something in order to get them to come to you.

This is an effective strategy for a number of reasons. First of all, you’ll be targeting consumers who are actually looking for products and services that you provide, instead of trying to advertise to every consumer out there, no matter what their needs are. There are several ways to conduct a successful inbound marketing strategy, all of which require an online presence.

  • Creating Content – Using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can post helpful articles and videos that are related to your products or services. This content should not be advertising your company, but instead it should be providing useful content to consumers. Create original content using SEO (search engine optimization) and post it to your social network pages. Not only are you enticing consumers to stick with you, you are giving them the chance to share your content, which will eventually lead back to your webpage.
  • Offering Incentives – Give followers incentives for following you, such as by providing free eBooks or special deals on your products or services. One strategy is to create a landing page that you link to using your social network pages. On this landing page, you can offer consumers free goods or content in exchange for signing up to your newsletter.
  • Communication – Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing allows you to have direct communication with the consumer. Using your social media presence, you can ask your followers for their input regarding your products and services. This shows them that you care for your customers, and gives you the chance to improve your business.

Deciding between outbound vs inbound marketing will depend a lot on the resources of your company. All companies, no matter how big or small, should use inbound marketing techniques. However, companies with larger resources shouldn’t ignore the benefits of reaching a wider audience using outbound marketing. If you still need some advice on what the best tactics are for your company, give us a call! We’d love to help you with your options. For further information, be sure to check out our previous post that included our inbound marketing infographic.

How to Turn Visitors into Customers

People are impatient. If they don’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave your website.

Successful businesses understand this. They respond by doing everything in their power to

  • capture people’s attention
  • lead them down the simplest path possible
  • guide them each step of the way
  • answer all their concerns and questions

And they keep doing those things until visitors become customers.

This is an art form that has been around for thousands of years, and it continues to work on ecommerce websites today. To convert website visitors into website customers, you need an action plan designed around the impatient customer.

Impatient customers appreciate two fundamental principles:

  1. A logical solution that makes sense
  2. A direction to follow

In other words, guide your website visitors to a product that enhances their life, and you will be rewarded with more customers.

Let’s see how this works in a brick-and-mortar store

bicycle shop

Let’s say you and your 6-year-old son visit a bicycle shop looking for a new bike for him.

Upon entering the store, you see many racks filled with bicycles. Your first impulse is to look for some sort of order, how the racks are organized so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.

You notice that all the adult bikes are in one section, grouped by the types of riders. There are groups for mountain bikes, racing bikes and touring bikes. You look at the children’s bikes and see girls’ bikes and boys’ bikes.

Having spotted your target area, you walk over to the boys’ bikes, but you’re not sure which bike would be the best for your son.

Suddenly, a store clerk approaches and asks if you need assistance. You ask him a number of questions, which are quickly answered. The clerk then interviews your son to determine the style of bike he prefers and recommends a bike.

After you agree to buy the bike, the clerk adjusts the seat and handlebars to fit your son’s frame, and then you’re on your way to the cash register.

Just before you reach the register, however, you stop at the bike accessories area, which is located conveniently near the register, and add a light, a horn and some additional reflectors to your shopping cart.

What just happened?

The bicycle shop knew how to arrange their products so they could be easily located, they provided assistance exactly when it was needed, and they upsold you on various accessories.

In other words, by grouping their products in a logical way and making it easy for you to navigate to the areas you needed, they converted you from visitor to customer.

Successful ecommerce websites do exactly the same thing, but in a virtual sense. The key is logic and direction. Let’s talk about how you can implement these same concepts on your website.

Logic

The impatient visitor demands simplicity.

Consider that there are countless different websites, each with its own way of doing things. Yet because each website conforms to simple rules of logic, the visitor will have no problem quickly finding her way around.

For example, an online bicycle store will look entirely different than an online skin lotion store, but if both are organized in a way that makes sense, the visitor will have no problem quickly finding products on either site.

When creating a website that makes logical sense to the impatient visitor, consider the following guidelines:

Group Your Products

Are all your products grouped in a way that makes sense? Understand how visitors form groups in their minds. For example, a candle shop may create different groups for scented candles, decorative candles and birthday cake candles, because this makes most sense to customers.

Action – Create a logical tree of all product groups. (Hang on to it. You’ll need that tree later in this article when creating your website navigation.)

Tip – Analyze your visitors’ shopping carts to gain further understanding of how they group products. Amazon does an excellent job of this with their “Frequently Bought Together” suggestions.

After a purchase, for examples, they additional suggestions based on the buyer’s purchase and browsing history.

Additional Suggestions

Upsell and Cross-Sell

Many visitors approach your site because they’re looking for a solution to a problem. It’s likely they do not know the exact solution, and they may not even know their exact budget.

This provides you a good opportunity to solve their problem in a way that not only increases their satisfaction but also optimizes your revenue.

Your goal is to make sure they get the complete solution to their problem, not just a partial solution.

Dan Kennedy does a good job of this. Once an order is complete, the confirmation page includes a second, related offer. Like this:

Upsell and Cross-Sell

Upsells are related offers that add value to the original purchase.

Here’s another example: A hungry customer goes to McDonalds because he wants a solution to hunger.

Maybe he’s thinking about a simple hamburger and a root beer. But when he gets into the restaurant, he sees a delicious picture of a Big Mac, so he gets upsold to a bigger sandwich. When he places his order, the kid behind the counter suggests purchasing an order of french fries. The customer agrees to the cross-sell, and a purchase is made.

An upsell is a selling technique that attempts to get the customer to upgrade their existing purchase.

cross-sell is a selling technique that attempts to get the customer to purchase a complimentary product in addition to the original product.

You goal is to do one or both. Think creatively about your product line. Do you have products that could be grouped together—one offered as an upsell after the other is purchased?

Action – Make a list of your major products and their potential upgrades. Also, for each product, look for opportunities to completely satisfy the customers’ problem. For example, suggest an extra rechargeable battery with digital camera purchases.

Tip – Not every product has an upgrade, but you probably have other opportunities to create quantity upgrades. A 3-for-2 pricing structure, for instance.

Analyze Items Above the Fold

Pages that feature multiple products should show at least one of the products above the fold. Impatient visitors may not know to scroll down the page and, not seeing what they need immediately, may leave.

This can happen quite easily, even with tech-savvy visitors. Though they know they can scroll, if they’re too busy, they may not make the time.

Be aware, as you design your pages, a users’ screen resolution can affect how much of the page shows above the fold.

According to W3Schools, as of January 2014, approximately 15% of desktop screens show a resolution of 1280×800 or below. This yields a maximum of 800 pixels on the vertical axis. If your product web pages take up 75% of that available vertical space, you’re looking at a page fold that’s just 600 pixels into the page.

How much space does that leave for at least one product above the fold?

A lot depends on the configuration of the browser (tool ribbons and menus) as well as the logo and header on your website. Precious little remains, so your customers could easily lose sight of items unless he knows to scroll down.

Analyze Items Above the Fold

Action – Analyze your major product pages in light of a page fold that’s just 600 pixels down from the top of the browser. Does a product picture and description appear above this line?

Tip – Reduce the size of your company logo and header on pages that list products.

Busy Busy!

Impatient visitors have impatient eyes, and impatient eyes get lost if the page is too busy.

It’s tempting to cram as much information into your web pages as possible, but be careful to not overwhelm your visitors with messaging. Often, they just want a simple solution to their problem.

There’s an old sales lesson that goes something like this: If someone comes to your hardware store looking for a hammer, put a hammer in his hand, take his money and send him on his way. If you try to sell him on the benefits of the hammer and what a great deal he is getting, he may change his mind.

In other words, once a visitor has expressed interest in a specific product, the deal is yours to lose.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to upsell and cross-sell your customers, because you should. Just make sure that your attempts to increase revenue don’t trip him as he tries to make his way to the cash register.

Here’s a great example of what NOT to do:

Busy Busy

An ecommerce site that is too busy for impatient eyes!

Assuming you were interested in purchasing an Exuviance product, you have to figure out that the list of products is below the fold, which isn’t immediately obvious.

In the meantime, you’re bombarded by messages, many of which practically beg you to click elsewhere, including:

  • 25% off on orders over $60 (mentioned 5 times)
  • Free shipping on orders over $49 (mentioned 2 times)
  • “Valentine’s deals” button
  • “Something new that just arrived” button
  • “Special offer while supplies last” button
  • “Top 10 Shopper’s Choice” button

Don’t distract your customer with competing messages, especially on a product page. You’re more likely to lose the sale than increase it.

Action – Use Google Analytics (or similar) to see how often visitors land on a product page but don’t actually put the product in their cart. Visitors may be getting distracted at this critical stage of conversion.

Tip – Ensure every page has a shopping cart button that allows customers to complete the sale as soon as they’re ready. Don’t get in their way!

Help

Provide help to your visitors if they appear to be stuck. Visitors who stay on the same page for a time might be searching for an answer.

Consider incorporating a live chat or similar service on your site to help visitors get un-stuck. It can be unobtrusive in the bottom corner of your Web page:

live chat

Then when clicked, it opens to provide a dialog box.

offline message

Action – Track the top exit pages using Google Analytics (or similar). Visitors that exit your site from a product page may not have found the information they were looking for.

Target these pages when incorporating a live chat service and see if some strategic intervention from a proactive chat agent helps convert these visitors into customers.

Tip – Take advantage of free trials that many live chat services provide for a limited time.

Direction

While people spend countless hours working on puzzles and playing strategy games, they have no patience with websites that demand that much effort. Visitors want to be led through an ecommerce site in much the same way that they work their way through a brick-and-mortar store.

Take a moment and think about your most recent trip to the grocery store. You arrive with a list in-hand, and you walk through the aisles picking up items on the list.

The aisles are clearly marked according to groups of items within. There’s the bakery aisle, for example, where you find bread, bagels and croissants. The pasta aisle contains spaghetti, macaroni and all other forms of Italian noodles.

You get the picture. The products are grouped in a way that allows you to quickly navigate through the store and select the items you want.

When charting a direction for your website visitors, you need to provide this same level of direction. Consider the following:

Heat Map

The upper left corner of your website is known as the “Golden Triangle.” This is where most visitors initially set their attention. Visitors expect to see the most relevant information here.

Place your website navigation in this area.

Heat Map

Typical heat map, showing the most active areas in red. Notice the triangular shape of the most active areas, creating the “Golden Triangle.”

Action – Use a service like Crazy Egg to generate a heat map based on visitor mouse movements and clicks on your site. This can give you insight into where they might be getting lost.

Tip – The location of the golden triangle will be in the upper right side of the browser window for RTL (Right-to-Left) languages.

Navigation

Visitors with a clear idea of the product they’re looking for should be able to navigate your site, clicking on a maximum of three navigational buttons before arriving at a page featuring the product they seek.

Furthermore, each page should provide some indication of the navigational structure above it.

Breadcrumbs are typically used for this purpose—they leave a backwards trail all the way back to the home page and gives a “You Are Here” sense of location, just like a directory sign in a large shopping mall.

But logically organized, intuitive navigation can also do the trick.

Navigation

Action – Earlier in this article you were asked to create a logical tree of all your product groups. Take a look at the tree and ensure that visitors can get to any page without taking more than three steps. Use the tree to create the navigation structure.

Tip – Nested dropdown menus are losing popularity, probably because it’s difficult to use them on a mobile device.

Solution Pages

Visitors may not be able to verbalize what they’re looking for. They may instead look for pages that focus on solutions rather than products.

Though this mostly applies to B2B businesses, B2C websites can make use of solution pages as well.

For example, Lowes features a section on their main menu entitled “Ideas & How-Tos” that are split into two main groups: “Home Areas” and “Activity Types.”

These are wonderful pages to read when you’re just looking for ideas. Eventually you’ll focus on a product, but you need to understand the solution first.

Solution Page

You can quickly navigate to the solution pages on the Lowes website and get great ideas, all of which use products from Lowes

Action – Do some self-analysis on your business. Why do visitors come to your site? What types of problems are they facing? Then look for solutions among all your products.

Though this may sound trite and obvious, it’s sad that many websites don’t do this. They focus instead on their products.

Of course, a lot depends on the product. If you’re selling tires, for example, visitors are already very familiar with the solution to their problem. But if you’re selling lawn-care products, you might consider the types of lawn-care problems your visitors are experiencing before leading them to your products.

Tip – Use customer feedback forms to get insight into their problems and subsequent solutions.

Summary

If your website structure makes sense and your visitors have a clear path to the items they seek, you can experience a high conversion rate. But if it’s confusing or makes people think too hard, you’re leaving money on the table.

As you saw in this article, a logical, easy-to-navigate website is critical to conversion. In the next article in this series, we will focus on the user interface. We’ll study how color, flow and website behavior can also affect visitor behavior.

In the meantime, what solutions have you found for providing logic and direction on your website?

Why Content Marketing Is King

When it comes to marketing strategies, content marketing has just been crowned king, far surpassing search engine marketing, public relations and even print, television and radio advertising as the preferred marketing tool for today’s business-to-business entrepreneur.

Late this summer, HiveFire, a Cambridge, Mass.-based internet marketing software solutions company, surveyed nearly 400 marketing professionals about the state of the business-to-business, or B2B, market, and discovered that marketers are retreating from traditional marketing tactics such as search marketing and have made content marketing the most-used tactic in their brand-enhancing tool box. Fact is, according to HiveFire’s B2B Marketing Trends Survey Report, twice as many B2B marketers now employ content marketing as they do print, TV and radio advertising, according to the survey.

So what exactly is content marketing? It’s the creation and publication of original content — including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos and photos — for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand’s visibility, and putting the company’s subject matter expertise on display. HiveFire’s researchers found that an impressive 82 percent of B2B marketers now employ content marketing as a strategy in their marketing programs. Coming in at a distant second place is search engine marketing at 70 percent, followed by events at 68 percent, public relations at 64 percent and print/TV/radio advertising at 32 percent.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said driving sales and leads was the top marketing goal of their organization, followed by boosting brand awareness and establishing or maintaining thought leadership (both at 35 percent). Another 28 percent said their primary goal was to increase web traffic and 24 percent said it was to improve search results.

Part of the popularity of content marketing is its ability to generate qualified leads while engaging prospects in a branded environment without busting the budget. Nearly half of the content marketers interviewed said they dedicate less than a third of their budgets to such marketing expenditures. In addition to frugality, B2B marketers also believe most of their customers and prospects are online, which is why they’re focusing their marketing efforts on the Internet.

Finally, the survey shows that “content curation” — which is defined as the process of finding, organizing and sharing content — continues to gain strength as a top marketing strategy, up 17 percent from six months ago. Seen as a way for marketers to fuel their marketing programs, content curation does have its problems. Nearly 70 percent of content curators say lack of time hinders their efforts, with 66 percent saying a lack of original and quality content is a major drawback. Another 38 percent say difficulty in measuring results is the stumbling block and 37 percent say lack of staff to do the work is the hindrance.

Despite these issues, the survey makes clear that content marketing is only going to become more important going forward, whether you market to other businesses or to the public at large.

4 Changes Google Is Making And How They Affect Content Creation

SEO experts and webmasters spend a lot of time worrying about Google algorithm changes. In 2013, the search engine giant tweaked the algorithm 15 times, and in 2012, it was updated 37 times.

Worrying about algorithm updates may make sense for SEO experts and webmasters, but content creators don’t have time to keep up with that. Here are some major changes Google has made and how they apply to content:

Move to Secure Organic Searches

This means that you can no longer mine Google Analytics for keyword data, leaving website owners in the dark about what word searches were used to find or stumble upon their site. Remember when that “Not Provided” section first appeared? This percentage of search data has been growing since 2010, and on September 23, 2013, Google finally shut off all information.

This is a blow to those still focused on keyword bombing and density rates; however, those who create quality, creative, and helpful content should see this as reaffirming. Google is giving those trying to game the system less firing power. Instead of focusing on keywords, pay attention to user actions on your site.

A Nonexistent Update to PageRank

PageRank is a ranking of how many links your site has pointing back to it. Links essentially work as votes, raising your credibility and showcasing your site as high-quality. The problem? Google hasn’t updated the PageRank meter since early 2013, and there isn’t a clear idea of when — or even if — it will be fixed.

If you’re still focused on getting links from sites with a high PageRank, you can stop — immediately. While there might still be some value, the main idea is that Google doesn’t want to emphasize page ranking. Instead, you should be focused on driving traffic, converting visitors, and becoming an authority within your own niche.

The Hummingbird Conversation

One of the more recent updates to the Google algorithm is Hummingbird, which was released in September 2013.

Google wants to understand conversations, concepts, and relationships. In voice searches, for example, you can ask, “Where is Miley Cyrus from?” After the answer is delivered, you can follow up with, “How old is she?”

Hummingbird is still evolving and doesn’t always work, but Google is putting serious effort into making search more conversational and less keyword-focused.

Google Authorship for Ranking

It’s still not very apparent how Google Authorship — or the still unconfirmed Author Rank — will affect searches. Experts predict that Google will use your author profile to determine your credibility, expertise, and authority on a subject in order to determine the quality (and therefore ranking) of your content.

In his recent book, “The New Digital Age,” Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt wrote, “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

Google could also use your social profile to gauge how many shares an article has, your individual following, and the authority of the site you’re publishing on. If you’re consistently publishing quality content on authority sites that relate to your niche, Google may rank your article higher than articles not associated with an author.

Google Algorithm and Content Creators

Ultimately, the key to Google’s algorithm changes lies in its guidelines for content creation:

Content is key. Good content — clear, concise, informative — is better than bad content.

Use plain English. Write for real people.

Keep links to a reasonable number. Make your content readable.

Really, it all goes back to one idea: Create quality content, and you won’t have to worry about it riding the Google update rollercoaster.

SMS Text Marketing For The Financial Services Industry

You have probably been told (and have told others) to not lend money to friends and family. Giving or lending money to someone you know can be unnerving. It is only understandable that people have unsettling feelings about leaving their hard-earned pennies in the hands of banks, accountants, lenders, stock brokers, and other financial services.

If you are those hands of financial services that people fear, SMS marketing can help put your clients at ease by creating a trustworthy, personal relationship.

A few ways you can use SMS marketing for your financial services

  • Notify clients when money has been wired to their account or when a wire has successfully gone through
  • Send stock alerts
  • Detect fraud by alerting clients if there is unusual account activity and have them verify their account
  • Notify clients when deals have been closed
  • Send requests for documents that may be missing or needed
  • Send daily, weekly, bi-weekly account balances
  • Notify prospective clients if loan has been approved or denied

While you make your clients more comfortable with customized messages, you too will reap benefits.

Perks that come with SMS marketing:

  • Lower call center costs
  • By sending loan payment alerts you will maximize bank revenue flow
  • Notifying clients about their policies expiring with a renewal discount can ensure loyalty
  • Thank you messages (even if prospect does not become a client) may lead to referrals

What is SMS Marketing Software?

What is SMS Marketing Software? We’re glad you asked, because we’re here to define it for you. Read on – and in a couple of minutes you’ll know all you need to know about SMS Marketing software. When a business decides to launch a text message marketing campaign they use an SMS Marketing platform to run that campaign? Using your own mobile phone to run a business text messaging campaign is a big no-no – as well as a time-sucking headache.

An SMS Marketing service provider offers their services through software – which is almost always web-based. So there are two types of SMS Marketing software. Desktop and web-based. A long time ago – about a decade – there were very few commercial text messaging services. At the time the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) was in the early stages. So, most text messaging software products were downloadable things that you ran from your desktop. Fast forward to a few years ago and the idea of desktop-based software for a task that requires an Internet connection has become a rare one. Instead, the application runs through the browser – and this is the way nearly all popular SMS Marketing services work.

So how does it work? To use web based text message marketing software you typically visit a service provider’s website, login to their application, and then you can send your SMS Marketing campaigns. The software runs on the service provider’s server, is accessed through your browser – and the software application connects to the wireless carriers’ mobile networks in order to deliver your messages.

How to increase web site traffic

One of the most difficult aspects of running a web site or blog is increasing your traffic. You have created a great web site, wrote your best content but when you check your analytics data you notice that you only get a few visitors per day. Why is this happening? Simply because your web site promotion methods failed. Building a web site is one thing but promoting it the right way is a totally different concept.

Web site promotion is challenging but rewarding. By utilizing the correct Internet Marketing techniques you can drive more traffic to your web site and fulfil its purpose.

Before getting into what you should do and what you shouldn’t do to increase your web site visitors, think about this: the Internet is a pool of unlimited users that is increasing day by day and you only need a very tiny portion to achieve your goals.

In 2012 alone there were over 1.4 trillion searches in Google, Facebook had more than 800 million active users, Twitter had over 500 million users and the list can go on and on.

In other words, unlike the real World (offline World), in the on-line World your potential customers, visitors, fans are endless and they are only a click away from visiting your web site.

They don’t have to walk or drive to your web site or ecommerce store, they don’t have to pay anything to visit and all you have to do is put your web site in front of their mouse arrow.

Fortunately there are many ways to do this and this is what I will discuss in this post.

How NOT to promote your web site

I believe it will be more beneficial for you to discuss first how NOT to promote your web site, especially if you have been reading any of the ‘magic’ promotion formulas circulating the Internet. In a nutshell stay away from:

It is important to realize that unless you have created a super duper web site (like Pinterest for example) success will not come overnight. It will take time and effort to build your readership or customer base and ‘quick fix’ methods do not provide any long term benefit.

What is the risk of using any of the above methods?

  • You will lose your money without having a real benefit
  • Excessive link building or guest posting my lead to penalties (by Google and lose all your search engine traffic and the potential to increase your traffic using valid means)
  • Buying Facebook likes may lead to penalties by Facebook.
  • You will not have a clear picture as to the real value of your web site and what it can naturally do in terms of traffic and visits.

So, if the above methods don’t work how can I increase the number of visitors coming to my web site? This is where the fun part begins…

The power of Internet Marketing

Most popular ways to promote your web site

There are many sources of traffic (besides search engine traffic) but many webmasters fail to utilize them correctly. Yes, search engine traffic is very important but it’s not the only way to promote your web site.

In fact if you use the other traffic sources effectively you are more likely to increase your search engine traffic as well.

Sources of traffic

In general the major sources of Internet traffic are:

  • Search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing)
  • Social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Stumbleupon, etc.)
  • Mobile media (smartphones, iPads, Android tablets etc., Windows 8 Tablets etc.)
  • Mobile Markets (Apple Store, Google Play, Amazon Store, Microsoft Windows Marketplace)
  • Chrome App store
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Windows 8 App Store
  • Youtube
  • Slideshare
  • Google+ Local Pages
  • Paid advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook Ads)
  • RSS feeds
  • Guest posting for traffic
  • Offline sources (Business cards)

I have personally used most of the above sources and I will explain below how these can aid your SEO efforts, increase your web site’s exposure and gain more search engine traffic.

Search engines: There are three direct ways to increase your search engine traffic.

The first and most important step is to optimise your web site for search engines and second by obtaining high quality links from other web sites (either naturally or through careful guest posting).

The third method is to provide new content on a daily basis (or multiple times per day depending on the niche) so as to create more loyal visitors and give search engine crawlers one more reason to visit your web site.

Social Media: Social media is a great tool to spread the word when you launch your web site or new content (or products). In order for your social media campaigns to be successful you need to have a large user base (fans, followers, and friends) and you also need to have good content.

I will explain later (in a new post) how to grow your fan base on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest but for now take note that social media is a great tool to promote your web site.

Mobile Media: It is estimated by Gartner that by 2015 there will be one mobile device for every person on earth. Modern mobiles (smartphones) are connected to the Internet through Wi-Fi or direct Internet connection and people actually use them to search the Internet, login to Facebook, tweet etc.

So it is important that you optimise your web site for mobile and make it easy for users to find your brand while on the go.

Mobile Markets: Besides the growing use of mobiles during the last 5 years we have witness the birth and success of mobile markets. Apple and iPhone in particular have literally changed the mobile and tablet market and brought new opportunities for game developers and marketers.

If you are wondering what is the relationship of mobile markets and Search engine traffic read my previous post: Mobile Web site VS Native app and why webmasters should care

Chrome App store: Google Chrome is the most popular browser and has millions of users searching the Internet on a daily basis. Chrome has a web store as well and as it turns out it is a great source of traffic. Read about my experience with the Chrome web store here and also what you can expect in terms of traffic gains.

Amazon Kindle: Amazon has been very successful with Kindle that took a step further and created their own operating system (based on Android) and market place (Amazon store) where you can download kindle books and apps for your Kindle device.

How can amazon help you increase your web site traffic? You can create a kindle book and publish it on Amazon (for free) or a kindle app and publish it for free on the Amazon App Store. Kindle users who want to find out more about your web site or products will visit your web version as well.

I have tested both of these methods and they are a good source of traffic but not as good as Apple Store and Google Play, nevertheless it is not something to be neglected.

Windows 8 App Store:  Microsoft with the release of Windows 8 introduced a dedicated app store for Windows 8 devices called “Store”. In the store you can find metro style apps (this is how the apps running on Windows 8 are called) which you can install on your PC, phone or tablet.

I am currently in the process of creating a metro style app and submitting to the Store so I cannot give you numbers now but will get back in a few weeks for an update.

YouTube and Slideshare: People love videos and slideshows and in most cases they will prefer those media sources over reading plain text. Depending on your topic you can create your own Youtube channel or Slideshow and gain from an additional source of traffic.

Google+ Local Pages: One of the features of Google’s social network (Google+) is business pages and in particular Google+ local pages for business. Local pages have replaced Google Places back in May 2012 and it can be another source of traffic especially if your web site is targeting local traffic.

Paid Advertising:  Advertising is a good way to put your products or brand in front of your customers. If you are running an online shop you can get new customers and if you are running a web site or blog you can get new subscribers and loyal visitors.

Google Adwords and Facebook ads are the two products I am using to either spread the word about a new web site or increase my fan page and followers (more on this in a new post).

RSS Feeds: RSS is not dead. A large number of people are still using RSS to stay informed or follow their favourite web sites.  Web sites that managed to build a large number of RSS subscribers have fewer worries about SEO and other sources of traffic.

Even if are having a facebook page, twitter or Google+ page you still need to provide your readers (or customers) with an RSS feed as well. Most blogging platforms have this embedded so your only task is to ensure that a subscribe button is visible in your web site! (Register to my Rss)

Offline Sources: Never underestimate the power of offline sources and word of mouth. Promote your web site in your business cards, flyers, ads, company car and any other medium you use for building brand awareness.

Google is not the only source of Internet traffic

I have outlined all the methods above to help you understand that Google is not the only source of traffic in the Internet. It is one of the best sources of traffic both in terms of quality and quantity but you should never put all your eggs in one basket.

Optimizing your web site for Search engines (SEO) is a great way to boost your traffic from Google, Bing and Yahoo, having an active social media profile can get you visits from facebook, twitter and google+ and following the rest of the above methods will create more direct visits.

To sum it up, in order to increase your web site’s traffic you have to be open minded and ready to test which are the best sources of traffic for your web site without increasing your risks by putting all your efforts in a single method.

 

(from reliablesoft.net)