Mobile-First SEO Planning and Strategies for Startups

Woman on mobile device looking for local listings

Startups often have issues gaining traction on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in general, so trying to make sense of the differences between desktop and mobile SEO can be painful. And, gaining real traction in search engine rankings and getting organic search traffic can feel impossible. There are so many sites that have had more time to tinker with their SEO, more time to produce high-quality content, and more time to build the links that drive the results. How do you even begin to think through your company’s SEO strategy for Mobile at that point?

One Step at a Time

It’s not impossible for a startups to get momentum and increase rankings on Google. You just have to take it one step at a time. Google’s new announcement they will be splitting the Mobile and Desktop search indexes, with mobile being the primary index is a major part of this. The key takeaway is it will be a pure mobile index focusing on “pure mobile content” to differentiate them. The good news is, the best practices of title tags, url structures, etc. are all still the same.

Becoming a Mobile-Friendly Website

Mobile-optimized pages are obviously going to play a part here, and having a site that is responsive is the key to this all. Web pages on smart devices like iPhones, iPads, and on various mobile OS’ like iOS and Android should be just as attractive as your main, desktop site. All of the functionality and usability should basically be the same, obviously scaled down for these devices and mobile operating systems. Using responsive web design, you can create a site that shares the same HTML across all devices and allows CSS to decide how to render it properly. .

You Don’t Need New URLs

The days of m.website.com are over, thank god! Now that we have responsive web design to render the sites appropriately, you don’t need to create a separate URL for your Mobile Website, and your Mobile SEO won’t be affected by it. This is a big part of the new mobile algorithms and indexes, in that responsive sites will benefit more from Mobile SEO Signals. Having responsive sites will allow you to make sure all of the content is the same, on all the same URLs, and thus, not confusing users or search engines.

Mobile Pages Need To Load Faster

Page speed is even more important than it ever has been. The main thing here is understanding what is putting the most stress on the mobile internet connection of your user. Using smaller image sizes and videos will decrease the data needed and time to download a page, which is especially important for Mobile SEO. Image optimization techniques are extremely important, and things like leveraging web fonts vs. text in images and removing unnecessary resources will decrease page load times.

Bounce Rate is Even More Important Now

You have to take into account mobile visitors are likely to be limited with slower processors, battery life issues, and much slower internet speeds. When searching, all of these things will be prohibitive and the more optimized for these things, the more likely a user to purchase or stay on your site. This keeps bounce rates from mobile low. the answers to their search queries quickly, they will likely leave your site, which means your bounce rate will be lower. Bounce rates are a general SEO signal, but, the above items mentioned will impact bounce rates from search engines even more via mobile devices.

The Important of Mobile & Local Search

Most of the content people search for while on their mobile devices is going to have local content. This could because they are starving and looking for a restaurant in their area (I know I’ve done this!), because they need to find a gas station, or maybe a flower shop. Think about all the use cases where people are looking for businesses or products and it shouldn’t surprise you that the research supports this.

People are generally performing mobile searches for availability of a product, the pricing, store hours, among other things. Your website will have to take this into account to optimize your mobile SEO for local search. Understanding the intent, how they search for these local businesses or products will help you craft better titles, urls, and content.

Small businesses can be very targeted by included locations, phone numbers, zip codes, etc. For example, if we use the flower shop example above, I have done this specifically where I have done a search like “flower shop near me” and “flower shop in <city name>” when I wanted to get flowers for a special occasion.

Mobile-Friendly QA (Quality Assurance)

After keeping all of this in mind, there are tools and resources at your disposal to make sure your doing all you can. Google has a mobile SEO guide to help guide you along the way and a tool that allows you to test if your website is mobile friendly.  Also, because page speed is so important, run a Google PageSpeed test to make sure your page load times are low. These tools and resources and free and will give you feedback on how to address and fix issues you may have.

Remember, Google and Search Engines are really focused on delivering the best possible user experience. They want to make sure everyone searching is finding what they need efficiently, tehrefore, you will be rewarded if you do the same. Focusing on building a user friendly and highly usable site that is fast, responsive, and not resource intensive for mobile devices is going to win at Mobile SEO.

Have you seen a difference since Google has started to make the shift to a Mobile and Desktop search index? What Mobile SEO tactics are you implementing?

Don’t have a Mobile SEO Strategy for your business? Time to start thinking about this and let us build an SEO Program that will grow your organic search traffic like our past clients. Our team is focused on tactical and actionable feedback to grow your business.

Reducing Bounce (Rate) Is The Key to Conversion Optimization

bouncing on a trampoline for bounce rate

Most companies we talk to don’t have a ton of experience with conversion rate optimization and how to effect it in a positive way. Especially as a retail brand taking their products online, it can be overwhelming to understand things like traffic sources, conversion rate, exit pages, etc. And, even as we talk to startups, there are many situations where we find companies are frantically searching for a secret silver bullet to solve for increasing revenue or signups.

Once you dig down though and focus in on the most important conversion metrics, you start to focus in on the things that are most important and come to one singular goal of increasing conversions. (revenue, signups, user growth, etc.) And, as you start to dig into conversion funnels, you realize the most important thing is digging in, to reduce people bouncing from a given flow.

User acquisition is only the first step, keeping a visitor on your site, and making sure they make it through conversion funnels is quite frankly more important because for every person you bring into the top of the funnel, your metrics will look better across the board.

In order to reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates, you should here are a few things to focus in on.

Page Load Time:

You only have a few seconds to tell people what you’re selling or why the should join your community because, our attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter. No one will wait for a page to load, images to load. Generally what I find is, a page should load within a 3-5 seconds and time to interact (tti) with a page should be within a couple seconds. The TTI can make a huge difference in the conversion rates and in some cases, orders of magnitudes of difference for online retainers, especially.

Site Navigation and Experience

People want to be able to move around a site quickly, find what they want, and checkout. In order to do so, creating an easy to navigate site that leads the customer down the path of conversion is important. Creating several means of getting through to the next page, navigating them through a flow, or making sure there are multiple points to convert are a big part of this.

As an example, once someone is in the checkout flow, we really want to make sure that they stay in the flow to purchase the products they have chosen. In order to do this, we remove the standard site navigation items and footer navigation. This removes the ability for someone to start clicking around and either (a) forgetting to come back or (b) second guessing their decisions.

In Landing Pages and lead generation forms, especially when it comes longer form content, we have multiple methods to generate a conversion, whether it’s an email sign up or two calls-to-action, at the top and bottom of the page.

Simplicity (or, too many calls-to-action)

Along the same lines of navigation and experience, simplicity of experience is a big part of this. Sure, this could be tied to the last one, but, it’s just as important. Do not be afraid of whitespace, and I mean lots of it. Keeping a focus on creating a clean looking site experience that leads customers where you want them to go. The more you add to the page the more you take away from the singular focus that you have started with. when you’re trying to get someone to buy something, sign up for something, or even just read more content, when you start pushing people down multiple paths and types of calls-to-action, the more confused they will be.

Along the same lines, the color palette of your site can make a huge impact on this. Having a main, secondary, and tertiary set of colors allows you to focus your actions. Primary action colors should focus on your primary conversion elements will allow people coming to your site to look for those subconsciously. Secondary and tertiary colors for site links, other form buttons, secondary actions (e.g. primary is checkout, secondary is email sign up) should be more subtle will be apparent but not detract a customer from the main conversion action you want them to take.

Anything Broken…period.

One of the biggest sins I have seen in the last few years was an e-commerce site who had broken reviews links or links that led to specs or reviews of a different product. No matter how great we are at online advertising and seo services, we still would never be able to increase revenue, because people could not find the information they were looking for. Even worse. possible customers were led to a different product all together and links that were 404’s. Having any of these issues is going to increase your bounce rate and reduce conversion rates.

Obviously in the above case, the bounce rate from reviews pages was ultimately higher than any other page on the site. Reducing the above issues, 404s, broken images, links, or anything broken for that matter will naturally increase the conversion rates and reduce bounce rates.

 

What are your thoughts? Do you have tips around optimizing bounce rates and increase conversion rates? Let us know in the comments below or follow us on twitter, @visiblefactors.

Increasing your SEO opportunity by thinking outside the box

Many times, as companies, we get so laser locked in on “ranking #1” for our keywords that we lose focus on the real KPIs that matter: conversions, revenue, traffic.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen this in our SEO engagements where people are so focused on a ranking of a keyword or set of keywords. It takes a minute to get people to understand what is truly important. The true goal is never ranking #1 for something or even ranking top 10 for example. Usually, it’s generating revenue, leads, traffic, engagement, etc. Focusing on this is the most important thing, not where a specific keyword ranks.

Along with that, it’s important to think outside the box. Creating a content program or finding new traffic opportunities for the business can create new opportunities to connect with customers.

And, speaking of content, one of my favorite measurements of this was a company I worked with who was worried about blog traffic converting. Think about it this way, if you have a blog with 100 visits that converts 3% of the time but a site that only gets 10 visits and converts 30% of those visits, you’re net conversions is still 3 for each one. If your goal is converting users to paid customers, it’s important to understand your traffic sources.

Similar to rankings, it’s important not to think so narrow minded about the opportunity. Thinking broadly about topics and thinking outside of the box could present growth were the business previously didn’t have it.

Content is an amazing example because you can find so much new opportunity on your SEO efforts. Creating content for SEO purposes not only increases your traffic and long term conversion (albeit at a lower rate), but, if you’re running retargeting campaigns, you’re creating a broader audience by pixeling users that come to your blog for education.

You can also take a look at competitors and understand what they are doing to increase their SEO Opportunities. Are they creating a blog? are the growing their blog content constantly? Maybe another opportunity is creating a resource center for your customers to educate them on products, services, etc.

A company like OnDeck, for example, could create a “small business loan knowledge base” and create a resource center for all terms related to small business loans. At the same time, a company like Luxe Valet could create a “parking costs” or “valet costs” resource that shows parking costs, meter costs, or average valet rates across the U.S. and educate visitors while increasing brand reach, and possible conversions for search terms like “parking costs in los angeles”.

Again, the key here is understanding the opportunity, mapping it out, and finding ways to reach new visitors and hopefully convert them instantly or over time, using other methods like email marketing and retargeting.

Would love to hear more about how you look for SEO opportunities and think outside the box for content. Leave a comment below!

Our team has grown SEO for companies like Blue Bottle Coffee and Ticketmaster. Inquire more about our SEO services and we can help you grow as well!

Email Marketing: You’ve got subscribers, what’s next?

We’ve run into a couple instances where our clients are sitting on a large list of email addresses or are starting an email program and just want to blast everything out at once. Recently, a member of our team pointed this out to me and it was a really interesting conversion. Based on that, we thought it would be important to talk about how to get value instantly, without overwhelming yourself and your subscribers.

One step at a time.

There’s an old saying, “you need to learn to crawl before you walk”. It holds true here because before you start implementing a hundred different strategies, it’s important to find out what is working. What I mean is: start somewhere and start small.

Start with a test email, you can format it in a way you think might be the first of a Drip Marketing or CRM campaign, but, there’s no need to set up automation immediately. First, try to generate some feedback. You can do this by testing. The key is, start small and send a couple test emails to see what type of response you get.

Don’t send it to everyone!

So, speaking of starting small. If you have a list of 500 subscribers or 25,000, it doesn’t matter, sending the email to everyone can cannibalize your audience and limit your ability to test. Consider segmenting out the list if you can, and, if you can’t, just split the list out into chunks so you can do the above, test and iterate.

Generally, the biggest the list, the lower the percent of users I want to send an email to. For example, a list of 500 I would break into 25%-50% tests of 125-250 people, where as a list of 25,000 I might break out into 10% chunks. The more subscribers the more data you can extract.

An example of this that we have right now is around 20,000 subscribers that we’ve split into an email sent to 5% at first, then two 10% segments to be sent the following 1-2 weeks. From there, based on the data, we will be able to learn about how our customers are responding to the emails being sent and can adjust the program going forward.

In many cases, you won’t have to do more than a couple tests on larger lists to find what you want. The key is not generating a ton of unsubscribes, having a really low open rate, or worse, report to spam.

Figure out your benchmarks

Along with not breaking anything, you’ll be able to benchmark some data. As an example, with open rates, when sending out your first email, you can test a couple subject lines and iterate on that with a second email. Once you find a good industry acceptable or higher open rate, you can then put that line in the sand and use that as a subject line for future emails.

You can do the same with templates, content, and design by iterating through your emails and understanding the click through rate and engagement with them.

The key is, again, finding your benchmarks and iterating through them.

Once you take these basic steps into account for an existing list or a new list your starting to build on your email marketing program, you can be way more effective. Also, you’ll find yourself to be way more efficient when iterating through campaigns because testing methods will be nailed down.

Top 5 Conversion Metrics: How and what to track

Obviously conversion metrics can vary from company to company, but, overall there are metrics that are always important to track. Understanding where traffic is coming from and whether it’s converting will help you make better decisions about where to invest resources and dollars. At the end of the day knowing those metrics help you build and grow your business.

Knowing this, we’ve built a list of give metrics that we are always tracking, in no particular order:

1. Conversions (including conversion/tracking pixels)

I’ve walked into many situations where conversion/tracking pixels are incorrectly installed, tracking incorrectly, and in some cases counting multiple conversions per conversion. (i.e. pixel is firing >1 time for every time someone completes a transaction). These issues can lead to a complete misunderstanding of your traffic and how it’s actually doing.

Fixing conversion pixels gives you a really solid foundation. Our team usually won’t start spending money on online advertising until this foundation is solid. This usually gets some of our client partners upset because, as startups, they want to move as fast as possible, but, we’re pretty adamant about this.

Most ad channels will have documentation on how to install pixels. For example, Google has an entire guide to setting up tracking for adwords and Facebook has document on setting up their new “Facebook pixel” for tracking and conversions. (this is different from previously used conversion pixels which will be switched out in mid 2016).

Once you have this set up correctly, you can effectively understand metrics on a per ad channel basis. Furthermore, having funnels tracked across the board will give you info on all of your traffic sources.

2. Traffic Sources

While you’re building traffic to the top of funnel, you need to understand that traffic. You’re going to want to drive traffic from a variety of sources at first to see what works and what doesn’t. I tend to mix into give major channels:

– Direct & Brand: This is a mix of direct visitors and people searching for terms around your brand. For example, if someone was searching google for “visible factors” we would bucket this into direct & brand.

– Organic Search: Organic search traffic, or SEO, can be extremely important to almost every business. Understanding people that come to your site based on content, services, or products offered will help you understand your user/customer better.

– Paid Search: I keep paid and organic search separate because of the intent. Usually people clicking on the ads having a higher intent of conversion. Also, if you get a lot of blog traffic, organic search traffic might not convert as high as paid search.

– Online Advertising: I tend to bucket social ads, retargeting and direct display advertising in a different bucket than paid search as well. Again, the intent and targeting is different. In many cases, because of the targeting, our reporting will differentiate display and social because of our goals.

An example of this could be us using Facebook ads to target individuals who are interested in fashion brands so we can get them to like or convert on a client’s brand. On the flip side, we might use display advertising to increase visibility and qualitative metrics around the brand to get people to discover them. Increasing brand metrics won’t convert as high as a paid search or even paid social visitor, but, what it will do is provide an impression or someone that will pick up a retargeting pixel and convert that way.

3. Bounce Rate (per source)

Understanding Bounce Rate by traffic source is something that can help you understand your traffic better. By understanding your traffic sources and the intent of each, it better helps you understand how to speak to them. Also, differentiating different sources like organic search and organic search from a blog will help you diagnose concerns about your traffic. Blog traffic will not convert at as high a rate as direct commerce traffic and will have a higher bounce rate. A simple example of this is something I’ve seen before, a high bounce rate on a site from a single traffic source because of a mandatory email gate. Removing the mandatory email gate reduced the bounce rate, we were still able to collect email addresses and conversion rate went up. Win, win, win.

4. Return Visitors & Retention

Retention and re-engagement are important because it can dramatically drive down your customer acquisition costs. You can track this by looking at cohorts of users over periods of time. If you have some questions about this, check out Andrew Chen’s post on Cohorts and Revisit Rates.

5. Customer Acquisition Cost

Ultimately, this is the metric that is most important because, whether your selling a product, offering a service, or a content/social product, you need to understand the cost of acquiring customers and users. I usually like to have a CPA view that looks at traffic sources separately, per ad channel, and/or a blended CPA. Once you have this type of view you can understand how effective your marketing efforts are.

This isn’t the comprehensive list, these are just 5 things I think are important to consider. For paid marketing specifically, I like looking at ROAS and ROI to understand profitability of campaigns. Ultimately, we want to turn our client ad dollars into a profit. And, for social/content channels and growth, we like to look at cohort usage deeper.

Overall, as I mentioned initially, every company is different and it’s important to recognize what  metrics are the most important for you to track. Defining this really drives how you look at the items I mentioned and how you track them specifically.

Let us know what metrics are your top conversion metrics below in the comments. And, check out how we can help with Online Advertising Consulting.

SEO Made Simple

SEO Made Simple: 7 Tips for Small Businesses

Whether you’ve started a new website or have an existing business and are looking to get some eye balls to it, SEO can be a challenging task. And, couple that with the fact there are over a billion sites on the internet, we know it can seem overwhelming. The truth is though, optimizing your site for search engines is really simpler than it seems. We’ve put together a list of simple, helpful, and promising steps for your site to get the most traffic possible from search engines.

Target the RIGHT People

As you probably know by now, targeting the right audience (people) is a key part of this process. It may be easy to decide on a target audience, but make sure your website is tailored to target the right people too. This means including potential search keywords or phrases here and there and making it easy for people to find you. 

Take advantage of people who are actively searching for your topics. Make their job easy! If they’re searching for you, they probably won’t be using general keywords but rather they’ll be looking for you by using relatively unique keywords. For example, let’s say you’re a dentist in Scottsdale, Arizona. You may not be able to rank for “Scottsdale dentist” immediately, but you could rank for “Dr. Adam Smith, Scottsdale, AZ” or “Adam Smith Dentistry”. It’s always good to start with the basics. Just knowing people can find your business by your brand or company name is just as important. Over time, by continuing to add content to your site, and you become more of an “authority” in Google’s eyes, you’ll start to find you will be driving traffic for those keywords like “scottsdale denstist”. 

Know What Search Engines Like

Search Engines work to give users the most relevant results based on their search. So how do you make sure you’re relevant? There are some 4 factors that can influence how your site shows up in results. Content, Authority, User Experience, and Performance. Content: does the actual text, titles, and descriptions on the page match a searcher’s results? Authority: is your site good enough to be used as a reference by other sites? User Experience: Is your site easy to use and safe? Performance: Does your site have proper speed and functionality?

Make Your Site User-Friendly

Make pages designed for users, not search engines! This is called cloaking and will deceive your users. Although you want your site to appeal to search engines, users should of course be your primary concern. Don’t go making your pages so optimized that users will have a bad experience.

Do Your Keyword Research

Imagine you’re a potential consumer searching for a site like yours. What would they Google to find you? Test it out yourself! If there’s a term or phrase people may search to find you, Google it and see if your site comes up.

If you search something vague like “Scottsdale dentist” you may find sites with headlines using that specific phrase but bare in mind that it took them a while to get to that rank.

So choose a search that is easier to rank on. If you search “Adam Smith Dentistry,” chances are that there will be fewer results because no other listings use the same keywords. This means you have a great chance to rank for them by making just a couple simple changes to your website!

You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what people are searching for and use that to your advantage when you start implementing these tips. And, you can take a look at how we do seo keyword research to help you come up with more keywords to show up for.

Optimize Title Tags

In case you aren’t familiar, Title Tags are the title of a page that show up in the blue at the top of a browser. They are often overlooked, but are really a critical part to SEO. We tend to think it’s the most important part of what is on the page, from an SEO perspective.

A good rule of thumb is to include one keyword and a couple descriptive phrases that explain the page. For example, a bio page on Adam Smith Dentistry could include a title tag like “Dr. Adam Smith: treating patients in Scottsdale, AZ since 1980.”

You may not be getting a ton of traffic from these words specifically but you’ll show up for people searching those terms.

Optimize File Names

Considering there are more than just one ranking factor, search engines don’t just look at title tags and rank your site. URLs and file names are another opportunity to create relevance on your website. 

All it takes is some identification of a theme or focus of a particular page. For instance, someone may be searching “patient testimonials” on your site. Name the page “yourwebsite.com/patient-testimonials/” and use a photo named “patient-testimonials.jpg.”

Be sure to keep it short and simple so it will be easy to remember for users and relevant for search engines. For more specific and long tail content, you might have a page about teeth cleaning and whitening. In that example you could use “yourwebsite.com/teeth-cleaning-whitening/” for the URL.

This should give you a good frame of reference for your pages going forward. 

Content Optimization and Keyword Targeting

After choosing your title tags and filenames, add those same keywords throughout the content of the pages on your site. The key is, you want it to be subtle. Use natural language and avoid awkward phrases or obvious SEO and keyword stuffing. At the end of the day, we want readers to maintain their interest rather than be annoyed with unnecessary repetition.

Take advantage of the headlines and subheaders to add in important references to keywords that important to that specific page. For example, above we talked about teeth cleaning for our URL example. On that page you could have headers that contain “Teeth Cleaning” and “Teeth Whitening” to target those keyphrases on the site. 

Then, you can start inserting those types of keywords throughout the copy of the page and the website as a whole. Remember though, the key is keeping the user interest as well.

Add Meta Tags

Meta Tags like the “meta description” are important as well. Sure, they no longer carry as much weight as they did in the past, but they still have some importance. They’re good to have and just a checkbox to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help your website get found.

The Meta Description typically won’t help with rankings, but they can affect your traffic. What we mean here is that this is the first thing people see (along with the title tag) in Google when they see your brand. The key is writing it to entice people to click on your website over the 10 other blue links in Google’s search results. Be unique, intriguing, and focus on the reader. Use benefit-rich texts that will trigger someone to say “Yes I found the perfect site!”

You’ll only have about 150 characters to use but there’s still a chance to make a big impact with small and simple words.

Now you may be thinking that there is so much more to SEO. And you’re right! But this is a great way to get started optimizing your site by only spending a little bit of time overall and about ten minutes per page. These small changes can get you in the right direction and help people find you. And, who knows, you might even be able to get a customer or two in the near term!

Top Ways to Write A Successful Welcome Email

So, you’ve got a new email subscriber! Whether it’s a product, service, or blog, the one thing you need to remember is that you’re now building a relationship. Think of it like a friendship. General rules of thumb for maintaining this friendship are regular communication, showing interest in their opinion, and making them feel important. The first email they get from your site will be the make-or-break of whether they want to stay your friend. To keep them interested, you’ll need to fulfill a need of theirs from the get-go reminding them that you are worth their time and space in their inbox. So now you’re probably thinking “how do I accomplish all this?!” It’s really much simpler than it sounds.

Testing, testing, 123

Before getting into the specifics, just remember that there is no set formula for having an effective welcome e-mail. Our best advice is to test all these methods, try different combinations, and see what works for your users! As you read this list, think about what will actually get your target to click through your emails and try them out. With some combination of these methods, you’ll be on your way to subscribers who get excited to see your name in their inbox.

Make a Real Connection

Like we mentioned before, you want this subscriber to be your friend. For some companies, this can get literal. If possible, make a human connection with your new subscriber. Have a real-life employee(yes, a human!) contact them after subscribing, welcoming them to the community or even asking for feedback. The new subscriber will feel important and refreshed to see something other than an automated email. Now we know this isn’t possible for every website (too big, not enough time, etc), but it’s worth a shot for smaller companies looking to establish themselves and their relationships with subscribers. And don’t try to go fooling your user with an automated email pretending to be human! They will know and will get a bad impression right off the bat.

Tell Them What to Expect

Let the new user know how often and what kind of content you will be emailing them. This will differentiate you from other campaigns and keep you out of their spam folder .

Minimize Amount of Text

Trust us on this one: most copy in subscription emails goes unread. No one wants to spend their free time reading through long blocks of text. Even if you’re a news site, email success will come from keeping it short, simple, but effective. In the welcome email, give them a simple call to action. The most common form of this is a button. Invite them to visit your site, redeem a code, or continue shopping. If the reader sees a button, they will probably go straight to clicking it before even reading the copy, so make sure you use this method with that in mind.

Get Personal

Get personal with your new subscriber, but don’t creep them out. Use their name in the email and personalize it based on how you got their email. For example, if you got it at an event, make mention of the event and meeting them. Tell them facts about their account type or how to use your site from the platform they signed up on. But don’t show them that you know information that will sound invasive like their location. You wouldn’t tell a new friend that you’ve already fully Facebook-stalked them and know their entire life, would you? (No!)

Be Polite

Say thank you and let the subscriber know that you appreciate their engagement. They have plenty of emails in their inbox and have opted in for adding more with your emails. Show them that you appreciate them and will make it worth their while!

Use an Intriguing Subject Line

Most sites stick to a simple “Welcome to ___” and tend not to branch far off from this. But make it interesting! Be consistent with your branding and make the new subscriber excited to open the email. Compel them to find out more and continue engaging with your emails.

Be Compatible with Mobile Setting

41% of emails are opened on the mobile device now, so if your email isn’t mobile-friendly too, you could be using a large base. Make an effort for those mobile users so they don’t begin to automatically delete your emails in the future.

Promote Your Site

Because this will be the first email they receive from your site, the subscriber is more likely to actually open it. This makes it a perfect time to promote your goods or services. But make sure this isn’t done in an in-your-face way. Show them that you’re worth their time by giving a discount code or free shipping just for them. They will want to stay your friend!

Remind Them Why You’re Friends

Show the subscriber that you’re not like the rest! They subscribed to you for a reason and this needs to be maintained so that their interest is kept. Remind the user why you became friends in the first place by showing them what your site can do for them (products, posts, opportunities, etc).

And Tell Them To Whitelist Your Address

You don’t want to end up in their junk folder, so make sure you have them add your address to their contacts. Another way to avoid the junk and spam folder is by making sure your email passes fraud tests. Make it easy for the reader by telling them exactly how to whitelist you and they may actually listen!

Keep It Simple

Keep it simple! Nobody wants an overwhelming, text-heavy, extremely long welcome email. Short text, a couple pictures and promotions, and perhaps a call to action. Simplicity is key! If you do have a call to action, make sure it’s logical and parallel with other calls to action and account confirmations.

Give a Gift

Everybody loves a gift! Make an offer that will motivate them to use your service or site. 10% off, free shipping, buy one get one free, free first time, refer a friend special, anything! They will feel obligated to use it so that it’s not wasted.

 

Last, But Not Least!

Yes, we’re repeating it again now that you’ve now read through everything. Test, test, test! Combine different techniques until you find the best method for your site. Give each method  enough time to get accurate results but don’t be afraid to keep changing it until it’s right for your site. After all, everyone only receives one welcome email!

Here are some good welcome emails from other companies:images-1

Gap does a great job of offering and highlighting their 25% discount offer, thanks the customer, and doesn’t overwhelm in CTAs.

images

Evernote uses the personalization of the subscriber by addressing their name and shows them how to use their account, but still keeps things short and simple.

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Dorothy Perkins’ welcome email has two CTAs but also keeps it short and simple for the reader. This is a great example of reminding the user to add your email to their contacts and informing them what will be in their inbox from you.

Implementing SEO basics that can increase traffic dramatically

At most large organizations, doing just the basics can help you out tremendously, the value of your domain itself is huge. That said, it doesn’t mean that you can implement the basics and just walk away, SEO is still a holistic process that is important to continuously follow up on. At the same time, it still means that you need to nail the basics, and if you do, it will pay off in spades!

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Knowing and realizing your value

This week, I had the unfortunate opportunity to experience what is the 4th layoff round, but the fortunate side is, I somehow made it through without being laid off, again. It was quite a relief to know I wasn’t going to have to look for a job or find a job during a tough economic downturn. Even as hot the technology scene is in LA, and quite frankly all over, it is never fun to have to look for a job.

After the tough day that was the layoffs, I was able to sit down with someone that I care about, over dinner. I feel like it was perfect timing for me. I was going through a lot of introspection lately and trying to understand, “what is my value?” Lately, it’s been on my mind, am I valuable outside of being an SEO? Is being an SEO good enough for the long term? Is it time to continue the diversification of my skill set? The answer to this question whenever I think of it, is always an emphatic yes.

Over the last couple years I’ve spent much of my time outside of SEO learning how to get visibility with social media, learning the basics of business development while building relationships and partnerships. It has seriously been some of the best experience I have had in my career, and helped me to diversify my skill sets of being really good at product, project management, SEO and technology. Diversifying yourself as a technologist, marketer, and overall as someone that works on the web is extremely important, especially as you continue to grow and move forward in your career.

So, back to the question, am I just an SEO? I have had to think long and hard about that. As I mentioned, I’ve made sure to diversify. Something that you should be asking yourself as well. You should be asking yourself, “What makes me different from the guy sitting next to me?” Being a standard anything just isn’t good enough, the web changes so fast and that knowing a skill at it’s best 2 years ago, just isn’t going to cut it now, let alone 3 years from now. Don’t get me wrong, you can make a great living and you’ll find a job…but…that isn’t what we are talking about here. What I am talking about is killing it and realizing your full potential as an individual that contributes to innovation and online technologies. What I am talking about here is making a name for yourself, becoming someone that people look to, being someone that people ask for advice. Being average is not going to

run of the and ask yourself if you are okay with that? Many careers and skills online, are important to be honed in on and learned to perfection. If you have and really enjoy what you

“What makes me any different than anyone else that does SEO?” So, while I was pondering this I realized that I am not just an SEO person, nor am I just a marketer. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with a former colleague 2+ years ago about how we both took great pride in being generalist. The reason I thought it was important that I realized this tonight is that it was like an awakening, I realized tonight while talking to earlier mentioned individual, my value is that I know more than just SEO. That I do have experience in all facets of web businesses.

I bring all of this up because it’s important to understand your skills, how you apply them, and the confidence you have in yourself. Once you realize your potential and are confident in your abilities, people feel it and embrace it. The important thing is not to let it get to your head and stay humble about your abilities.

How To: Identify The Topics Your Target Audience Actually Wants To Talk About

If a post goes up on Twitter or Facebook, and no one is around to engage with it, does it still make a sound? Not if you’re trying to build up a brand it doesn’t.

Ad.ly Analytics

Whether your social media efforts are for personal or professional gain, they still require a certain amount of — well, effort. And, unless you’ve got a lab in your basement that manufactures that elusive commodity known as free time, you probably don’t have either the appetite or the ability to expend effort without receiving some sort of return. And, the best way to guarantee that your time investment nets a nice big return is to first identify the topics that are most likely to get your target audience talking about and — more importantly — sharing what you write.

To figure out which topics your target audience likes to talk about, you first need to identify who that target audience is. Ad.ly has a great analytics platform  that breaks down the geographic and demographic makeup of your Twitter audience, but since the platform is still in Beta, you need to give them your email and cross your fingers for an invite. While you’re waiting, Klout will help you identify who your social media efforts influence the most, and tell you which topics you talk the most influentially about. You can also use Export.ly to break down data like location, time zone and bio for your Twitter followers, and activity, engagement and comments for your Facebook fans. Plus, there’s always Facebook Insights to help you get demographic data like age, gender, language and the like for folks who like your posts and pages.

Facebook Insights Dashboard

Once you’ve got a handle on who your followers are, the next piece of the puzzle is figuring out what they want to talk about. To do this, you could go the manual route — going back through some of the aforementioned tools, like Klout and Facebook Insights, to see which topics you’re considered most influential about and which posts get the most likes and shares. Similarly, you can also look at a site like Crowdbooster to see who your most influential followers are, and hone your topic choices based on their profiles. Crowdbooster also has a dashboard that shows you which of your Tweets got the most replies, which is a great indicator of which topics you should probably talk about more.

Tweetstats also has a similar feature, allowing you to hone in on your Tweet density, as well as a nifty ‘Tweet cloud’ that shows you which topics you already talk about all the time. If you’ve got a few bucks to spare, ViralHeat will makes a great companion to that sort of info, as it generates all sorts of charts illustrating what goes viral from your accounts and when. The plus side to ViralHeat is you can chart Facebook, Twitter, your blog and any other social media efforts you’re making all in one place, although it does take a monthly fee and a little bit of elbow grease to get it all set up. If you want to stick with the free tools, TweetEffect tells you which of your Tweets resulted in a gain or loss of followers, complete with a color coded timeline of your Twitter history. And, Facebook Insights will give you a similar sense of which days you generated a lot of likes and comments, and which days you didn’t, which you can then use to infer which posts got people talking and which were met with radio silence. For more guidance on that, check out this recent Mashable article detailing all the ways to make the most of the Insights platform — especially section 2, which goes into a lot of useful detail about content optimization.

 

Now that you’ve identified who your audience is, and what they like talking about, there’s only one thing left to do. Stop reading this post and get on with writing a few of your own — after you’ve shared this article with all your fans and followers first, of course.

 

 

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