11 devilishly good Halloween marketing tactics to BOOst your KPIs

Halloween is fast approaching. That means two things:

  • The watershed will be brimming with grisly, gory, grotesquely gruesome movies. (Not my cup of tea; I prefer ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’.)
  • Brands will pepper their stores, websites, emails, and ad campaigns with jack-o’-lanterns, cobwebs, and many other devilish delights.

Halloween is a fun time for revelers. (I for one am glad that we live in a world with Octobers.) But that’s not to say it’s an easy ride. Carving a pumpkin is the last thing you want to do after leaving the office and battling the commute. Plus, who has time to decide on a fancy-dress costume when picking out an outfit for work is a tiresome daily struggle.

In the same vein, the build-up to Halloween is often a challenge for brands. Preparing the campaigns and crafting the right message can leave marketers distracted from their critical day-to-day activities. What’s more, October 31st is slap bang in the middle of crucial holiday planning for Black Friday and Christmas. But it’s worth it: in 2018 175 million Americans celebrated Halloween and collectively spent $9 billion dollars – a record of $86.79 per person.

Success takes tactful planning and a touch of creative flair.  

Enter us. To help you get the most out of Halloween, we’ve sourced 11 frightfully good ideas that will add some dark delight to your marketing campaigns.

1. Include a trick or treat in your Halloween emails

You’d be mad not to. This is a classic quick-win that every marketer should employ. Make trick or treat a game and inspire subscribers to play to win. Hide two separate offers behind their respective calls to action: trick or treat. Apple bobbing is another great example of gamifying your message.    

2. The devil is in the design

Go kitsch. Do cheesy. It’s Fall, so be cozy too. Adding a seasonal flavor to your design is a great way to bewitch customers – it makes your page or email more visually relevant. An autumnal angle on your shopfront emits warmth and nostalgia. Be loud and clear and informative. Be creative with color – if you need inspiration, just look outside.

Halloween Fall
Halloween autumn

3. Build the suspense

The leaves are falling and maybe your prices are too. Or perhaps you’ve developed a special spooky product line for a limited time only. Make some fun, and shout about it before it’s too late. We loved the creativity and urgency in this example from Lush Cosmetics:

Lush

4. Spook-ify your subject lines

Great Halloween subject lines should be creative, urgent, and specific. Embrace the cliché, because every other marketer will be. Here are some best-practice examples:

  • 🎃 Celebrate Halloween with our
    terrifyingly good offers
  • Spooky
    Savings – Up to 50% off
  • Style
    so good, it’s spooky.
  • Did
    you hear who won the skeleton race? No BODY!
  • Witch
    better have my candy
  • Autumn
    enchantment just for you
  • Send
    your Boos some love

5. Personalize the trick (or treat)

Personalization is the key to customer engagement and should be used from January to December, not just during the holidays. And that doesn’t just mean using a first name, either. You should include numerous relevancy points such as references to location, preferences, or a loyalty scheme. We loved Starbucks’ spooky ‘Broomates’ rewards email. The Halloween spirit really comes through with the Gothic type and ghoulish treats.

Personalization

6. Halloween is great storytelling

The history of Halloween is fascinating, so talk about it. Curate a story series on the history of Halloween that complements any promotional campaigns you’re running. But don’t overdo it on the copy. Simplify your story with iconography and don’t digress from what you’re trying to say.

Halloween storytelling

7. Everyone loves a Halloween freebie

Consumers are like trick-or-treaters – they expect free stuff. It doesn’t have to be anything substantial or super-lux. You can mask an everyday promotion under the guise of a spooky special offer. Over recent years, retailer Home Depot has slashed (no pun intended) 50% off select Halloween tableware. While last year All Bar One offered 2-4-1 on their devilishly fruity ‘Bat Bite’ cocktail during Halloween week, prompting people to download their app.

Spooky drinks

8. Right message, right time. Spooky, right?

Knowing your audiences is
important all year round. But at Halloween you’ll need to work out who your
personas are and how you can target them. 

Some might:

  • throw/attend a Halloween party
  • carve a pumpkin and make pie or soup
  • buy candy for trick-or-treaters
  • take their kids trick-or-treating

Sick or treat? Don’t forget not everyone celebrates Halloween; some
despise it and avoid it like the plague. Tapping in to their Halloween hatred
is a clever way to make sales.

You can use all of the above to
send a tailored marketing message that leads to a monster sales boost. According to the Halloween & Costume
Association
:

  • Over
    9 in 10 celebrants purchase candies
  • 70%
    spend money on decorations
  • Nearly
    7 in 10 buy costumes 
  • ¼
    of celebrants get greeting cards

So, give your time-strapped shoppers exactly what they want this October.

Halloween party treats

9. Don’t just be scary – be enchanting

For some Halloween is a creepy affair. For others it’s a snug time of year. Think foliage, squash, and conkers. Think crisp morning frosts and spiced Pumpkin lattes. So, dilute your fangtastic emails with Fall-inspired campaigns that focus more on the historical and seasonal characteristics of Halloween. 

Halloween enchantment

10. Put a spooky spin on retargeting ads  

Halloween is your opportunity to
turn something inherently negative into something fun. Svedka Vodka’s Halloween
curse campaign certainly had the creep factor, haunting and taunting users
wherever they went.

The eerie banners made fun of the persistent retargeting ads that follow us today. This time, the onslaught of digital ads wasn’t that vacuum cleaner you viewed 29 days ago but spooky prompts and scrummy Svedka Vodka cocktails.

Creepy ads

11. Halloween-ify your products

Anything can be Halloweeny; even a motorcycle. Make sure you bring your products to the forefront. Halloween is a great opportunity to present your offering in a different and more visually creative way.

Halloween products

Witch tactic will it be?

Witchever tactic you adopt, just be fun! Halloween is the perfect opportunity to engage dormant contacts and delight regular customers. It all comes down to giving them a good spook and making them laugh. Remember that embracing the season is competitive: Whether you put a Halloween spin on your products, re-skin your emails with a ghostly template, or tell chilling stories, your brand’s authenticity is what people will remember.


Get holiday-ready with Engagement Cloud. If you’re already a customer, check out more holiday content here!

The post 11 devilishly good Halloween marketing tactics to BOOst your KPIs appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Kindness as Currency: How Good Deeds Can Benefit Your Local Business

Posted by MiriamEllis

“To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.” – Taisen Deshimaru, Buddhist philosopher


A woman stands in a busy supermarket checkout line. The shopper in front of her realizes that they don’t have enough money with them to cover their purchase, so she steps in and makes up the balance. Then, when she reaches the checkout, her own receipt totals up higher than she was expecting. She doesn’t have enough left in her purse.

“No problem,” says the young clerk and swipes his own debit card to pay for her groceries.

A bystander snaps a photo and posts the story to Facebook. The story ends up on local radio and TV news. Unstructured citations for the grocery store start crackling like popcorn. National news takes notice. A scholarship foundation presents a check to the clerk. When asked how he felt about it, the clerk said:

“Personally, I think it’s undeserved attention. Because she did something so good … I felt like it was my responsibility to return the favor.”

In the process, if only for a moment in time, an everyday supermarket is transformed into a rescue operation for hope in humanity. Through the lens of local SEO, it’s also a lesson in how good deeds can be rewarded by good mentions.

Studying business kindness can be a rewarding task for any motivated digital marketing agency or local brand owner. I hope this post will be both a pick-me-up for the day, and a rallying cry to begin having deeper conversations about the positive culture businesses can create in the communities they serve.

10+ evocative examples of business kindness

“We should love people and use things, but sadly, we love things and use people,” Roger Johnson, Artisan

As a youngster in the American workforce, I ran into some very peculiar styles of leadership.

For instance, one boss gruffly told me not to waste too much time chatting with the elderly customers who especially loved buying from me…as if customer support doesn’t make or break business reputations.

And then there was the cranky school secretary who reprimanded me for giving ice packs to children because she believed they were only “trying to get attention” … as if schools don’t exist to lavish focus on the kids in their care.

In other words, both individuals would have preferred me to be less kind, less human, than more so.

Perhaps it was these experiences of my superiors taking a miserly approach to workplace human kindness that inspired me to keep a little file of outbreaks of goodwill that earned online renown. These examples beg self-reflective questions of any local business owner:

  1. If you launched your brand in the winter, would you have opened your doors while under construction to shelter and feed housing-insecure neighbors?
  2. If a neighboring business was struggling, would you offer them floor space in your shop to help them survive?
  3. Would your brand’s culture inspire an employee to cut up an elder’s ham for him if he needed help? How awesome would it be if a staffer of yours had a day named after her for her kindness? Would your employees comp a meal for a hungry neighbor or pay a customer’s $200 tab because they saw them hold open a door for a differently-abled guest?
  4. What good things might happen in a community you serve if you started mailing out postcards promoting positivity?
  5. What if you gave flowers to strangers, including moms, on Mother’s Day?
  6. How deeply are you delving into the season of giving at the holidays? What if, like one business owner, you opened shop on Thanksgiving just to help a family find a gift for a foster child? You might wake up to international fame on Monday morning.
  7. What if visitors to your community had their bikes stolen on a road trip and your shop gifted them new bikes and ended up on the news?
  8. One business owner was so grateful for his community’s help in overcoming addiction, he’s been washing their signage for free. What has your community done for you and how have you thanked them?
  9. What if all you had to do was something really small, like replacing negative “towed at your own expense” signs by welcoming quick stop parking?
  10. What if you, just for a day, you asked customers to pay for their purchases with kind acts?

I only know about these stories because of the unstructured citations (online references to a local business) they generated. They earned online publicity, radio, and television press. The fame for some was small and local, for others, internationally viral. Some activities were planned, but many others took place on the spur of the moment. Kindness, empathy, and gratitude, flow through them all like a river of hope, inviting every business owner to catch the current in their own way. One easy way for local business owners to keep better track of any positive mentions is by managing and monitoring reviews online with the New Moz Local.

See your online presence

Can kindness be taught in the workplace?

In Demark, schoolchildren learn empathy as a class subject. The country is routinely rated as one of the happiest in the world. At Moz, we have the TAGFEE code, which includes both generosity and empathy, and our company offers internal workshops on things like “How to be TAGFEE when you disagree.” We are noted for the kindness of our customer support, as in the above review.

According to Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki, people “catch” cooperation and generosity from others. In his study, the monetary amount donors gave to charity went up or down based on whether they were told their peers gave much or little. They matched the generosity or stinginess they witnessed. In part two of the study, the groups who had seen others donating generously went on to offer greater empathy in writing letters to penpals suffering hard times. In other words, kindness isn’t just contagious — its impact can spread across multiple activities.

Mercedes-Benz CEO, Stephen Cannon, wanted employees to catch the kindness bug because of its profound impact on sales. He invited his workforce to join a “grassroots movement” that resulted in surprising shoppers with birthday cakes, staff rushing to remote locations with spare tires, and other memorable consumer experiences. Cannon noted:

“There is no scientific process, no algorithm, to inspire a salesperson or a service person to do something extraordinary. The only way you get there is to educate people, excite them, incite them. Give them permission to rise to the occasion when the occasion to do something arises. This is not about following instructions. It’s about taking a leap of faith.”

In a 2018 article, I highlighted the reviews of a pharmacy that made it apparent that staff wasn’t empowered to do the simplest self-determined acts, like providing a chair for a sick man who was about to fall down in a long prescription counter line. By contrast, an Inc. book review of Jill Lublin’s The Profits of Kindness states:

“Organizations that trade in kindness allow their employees to give that currency away. If you’re a waitress, can you give someone a free piece of pie because the kid at the next table spilled milk on their foot? If you’re a clerk in a hotel, do you have the authority to give someone a discounted rate because you can tell they’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?”

There may be no formula for teaching kindness, but if Zaki is right, then leadership can be the starting point of demonstrative empathy that can emanate through the staff and to its customers. How do you build for that?

A cared-for workforce for customer service excellence

You can find examples of individual employees behaving with radical kindness despite working for brands that routinely disregard workers’ basic needs. But, this hardly seems ideal. How much better to build a business on empathy and generosity so that cared-for staff can care for customers.

I ran a very quick Twitter poll to ask employees what their very most basic need is:

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents cited a living wage as their top requirement. Owners developing a kind workforce must ensure that staff are housing-and-food-secure, and can afford the basic dignities of life. Any brand that can’t pay its staff a living wage isn’t really operational — it’s exploitation.

Beyond the bare minimums, Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2019 Survey of 7,300 executives, HR experts, and employees highlighted trending worker emphasis on:

  • Flexibility in both hours and location to create a healthy work/life balance
  • Ethics in company technology, practices, and transparency
  • Equity in pay ratios, regardless of gender
  • Empathy in the workplace, both internally and in having a positive societal impact with customers

It’s just not very hard to connect the dots between a workforce that has its basic and aspirational needs met, and one possessing the physical, mental and emotional health to extend those values to consumers. As I found in a recent study of my own, 70 percent of negative review resolution was driven by brands having to overcome bad/rude service with subsequent caring service.

Even at the smallest local business level, caring policies and initiatives that generate kindness are within reach, with Gallup reporting that SMBs have America’s happiest and most engaged workers. Check out Forbes list of the best small companies of 2019 and note the repeated emphasis on employee satisfaction.

Kindness as currency, with limitless growth potential

“I wanted a tangible item that could track acts of kindness. From that, the Butterfly Coin emerged.” Bruce Pedersen, Butterfly Coins

Maybe someday, you’ll be the lucky recipient of a Butterfly Coin, equipped with a unique tracking code, and gifted to you by someone doing a kind act. Then, you’ll do something nice for somebody and pass it on, recording your story amongst thousands of others around the world. People, it seems, are so eager for tokens of kindness that the first mint sold out almost immediately.

The butterfly effect (the inspiration for the name of these coins) in chaos theory holds that a small action can trigger multiple subsequent actions at a remove. In a local business setting, an owner could publicly reward an employee’s contributions, which could cause the employee to spread their extra happiness to twenty customers that day, which could cause those customers to be in a mood to tip waitstaff extra, which could cause the waitstaff to comp meals for hungry neighbors sitting on their doorsteps, and on and on it goes.

There’s an artisan in Gig Harbor, WA who rewards kindnesses via turtle figurines. There are local newspapers that solicit stories of kindness. There are towns that have inaugurated acts-of-kindness weeks. There is even a suburb in Phoenix, AZ that re-dubbed itself Kindness, USA. (I mentioned, I’ve been keeping a file).

The most priceless aspect of kindness is that it’s virtually limitless. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be quantified. The Butterfly Coin idea is attempting to track kindness, and as a local business owner, you have a practical means of parsing it, too. It will turn up in unstructured citations, reviews, and social media, if you originate it at the leadership level, and share it out from employee to customer with an open hand.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 3 months ago from tracking.feedpress.it

It doesn’t need to be spring to give your data a good clean

Here are some of the reasons why…

  • Sending to lapsed data is bad for your deliverability – it’s easy to damage your deliverability but hard to fix it
  • You’re more likely to see complaints, unsubscribes and spam trap hits from this type of data
  • You’re wasting your money by sending to people who no longer open
  • You are automatically, before you even hit send, degrading your engagement metrics
  • It enables you to have a conversation with the people that want to talk to you and are listening

Hopefully the above is enough to convince you that you need to take action if you haven’t already. There are now two things you need to plan for: how to clean up the data that has already lapsed and how to manage lapsing data moving forwards.

Step-by-step guide to handling those who are already playing hard to get

  • Run a segment to find those who’ve become unengaged – I suggest you look for contacts who have been sent multiple campaigns in 180 days yet haven’t opened anything they’ve received (if you are unsure how to do this, your dotmailer Account Manager can help).
  • If you have a large number of contacts who are unengaged, do not send to them all in one go; this could be disastrous! Instead, take a very small chunk of them and test what impact this has (you could use dotmailer’s random sample tool).
  • If you see a high number of unsubscribes or next to no positive action, it might be worth taking the data out and accepting the loss.
  • Next, we need to build your “Don’t leave us” or “We miss you” email.
  • The email must contain a link to be clicked to show that they wish to remain on your mailing list – DO NOT assume an open is enough; it’s not. You need explicit opt-in and the only way to do this is to have them fulfil an action, and this link needs to go to a landing page saying “Thank you for remaining subscribed”. This is now your chance to collect updated preferences and set new expectations.
  • You need to clearly state “If you do not click this link, we will no longer email you – you have 7 days till D day” (or something along those lines).
  • After the desired time period, you need to run a segment or have a decision node in your program to find those who’ve not clicked the link – then whip those clients out of your account!

What to do with those becoming lapsed

Basically, do exactly the same as the above, except ensure that your processes are built into a marketing automation program. Set up your program so it pulls in wavering contacts on the day you think they’re in danger of becoming lapsed. For instance, it could be that you want to capture all contacts who’ve not opened your last 10 email campaigns. It’s at this point that you then send them your lapsed customer campaign.

One thing you need to be conscious of is how you treat the people who are enrolled into your program. It’s worth setting expectations like “If you choose not to stay, we’ll take you out of our marketing list in 7 days”. As it’s an automation program, remember to add in a ‘delay’ node or a ‘decision’ node that holds them for X number of days (i.e. however long you want to give them to take an action). Based on the link they click, send them down a lapsed path or a re-engaged path.

If you choose to exclude lapsed contacts from ‘business as usual’ emails, you should flag those contacts currently going through the lapsed journey and add them as an exclusion rule in your usual send segments. You can do this using the subscription node and enter them into a lapsed address book when they enter the program. Alternatively, you can use the ‘update contact’ node and update a data field to show they’re going through the journey, using the relevant address book or data field in the exclusion box. Please be aware that if they click the link to remain subscribed, you then also need to reverse this and update the field again, or remove them from the “going through lapsed” address book.

If you’ve managed to keep them then WOHOO! Make sure you capture their preferences and ensure you honour these options so you do not have to put them back into the program later. What you should be left with after this is a beautifully engaged pot of data, a far less risky email program, and much nicer email reporting stats!

If you’re interested in other ways to keep your reputation and deliverability in tip-top condition, get a free copy of our deliverability guide.

The post It doesn’t need to be spring to give your data a good clean appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

dotmailer joins list of good employers

As Blighty prepares to wave goodbye and good riddance to the coldest month of the year, dotmailer’s HR team are looking forward to heading down to the TMRW Hub in Croydon for the launch of the Good Employer Charter, on 31st January.

The Croydon Good Employer Charter aims to boost the area’s economy by supporting the local supply chain and pledging to create opportunities. The charter also prioritizes diversity in the workplace and champions the Living Wage. It goes without saying that dotmailer are delighted to be involved. Read more on the mission.

The launch aims to explain the benefits and commitments for companies involved in the Charter, and encourage more Croydon businesses to sign up and pledge their support. The charter has already had pledges from 20 local businesses including Ikea, dotmailer, Croydon BID, Shaking Hands, Frost Group and MyOutSpace. It’s great to be in such good company!

We’re also excited to have our Co-Founder, Simon Bird, and our Global HR Director, David Aldrich speaking at the launch. David, who sits on the charter’s Advisory Board, will be providing the keynote speech before Simon takes the audience through dotmailer’s history of success – from its inception in a Croydon pub in 1999 to a global market leader with 8 offices worldwide!

Audience members will also get to hear from Richard Paccitti, the CEO of UK mental health charity MIND and Cllr Hamida Ali, the Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety and Justice. It’s great to see politicians working in partnership with local firms towards key principles which will benefit the whole community.

If you’re a Croydon business, it’s not too late to get involved. To pledge your company’s support to the Good Employer Charter, or to find out more about the initiative, register here.

At dotmailer, we’re passionate about supporting the local economy where our roots are proudly planted. We’re also dedicated to being an inclusive, living wage employer that promotes equality and diversity in our workplace. If you’re interested in working in our team, head over to the Careers page.

 

The post dotmailer joins list of good employers appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com

How to Choose a Good SEO Company for Your Business or Website – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When it comes to choosing a reputable company to manage your SEO, there’s both a right way and a wrong way to go about the hiring process. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand identifies common pitfalls to avoid and advice to take when it comes to selecting an agency or consultant to optimize your site for search engines. SEOs, take note: there are great ideas here for how to market yourselves to clients, as well!

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about how to choose a good SEO company, a consultant or an agency. It could be an independent person. What I want to do as we get into this is help you to understand some of the mechanics behind SEO consulting work. This is a critical hire, because if SEO is important to your business, then the choice of which company or person to use is going to have a huge impact, probably one of the biggest impacts on whether you get great results. There are a bunch of mistakes that people make when they go down this selecting an SEO company path.

Don’t make these mistakes

Mistake #1: Using Google as your filter

The logic makes a lot of sense here if you think about it simplistically. Simplistic thinking is a good SEO company will do a great job ranking for SEO company or SEO consultant or SEO consultant plus my city name. So if I’m looking for the best SEO in Seattle, I have only to Google “best SEO Seattle” and surely the number-one company will show up at the top. But, unfortunately, what happens is most of the very good companies, the ones that are in high demand, the ones that do consistently great work and get great referrals, they don’t actually need to rank here. They’re overwhelmed with clients all the time because their clients refer them to people and lots of people in their network refer folks to them. They have a high retention of clients. Lots of people are very satisfied. They’re making plenty of money and they’re incredibly busy, so they don’t spend any work optimizing their own website to get new clients.

As a result, you are often left with some of the dregs here. Many of the companies that rank well for best SEO plus city name or best SEO plus a region or plus a particular specialty, like best ecommerce SEO, are not the best. They are, in fact, the folks who are simply without any client work and so they’re concentrating all their energy on trying to get new clients. Sometimes, maybe, you can find some good folks in there. It’s just not a great filter.

Mistake #2: Trusting “Top SEO” lists

Many people will search for “best SEOs” or “best SEO consultants” or “best SEO companies,” “best SEO companies United States.” They’ll get to a website like, I don’t know, bestSEOs.com or topSEOs.com. There are a number of these types of websites that are essentially just aggregators. Their business model is they try and rank for terms like this, and then they sell those listings, the listings on their page, to SEO firms and companies. Back when Moz was a consulting company many, many years ago, they’d call us up and they’d say, “Hey, do you want to be number 3, we can make you number 3 on the best SEO companies list for $20,000 a year. Or we can make you number 1, but you’re going to have to pay $75,000 a year.”

That is not a great… I mean it’s a great model for them. Don’t get me wrong. But that pay-to-play scheme is not trustworthy for you as a consumer of SEO companies. You would never trust someone that said, “Oh well, what’s the best restaurant in this particular region?” You’d never go to a list where the restaurants just paid. That would give you the conglomerates and the people who can afford to spend the most and the worst. Don’t trust those types of lists.

There are a few lists, there are a few websites, places like getcredo.com run by John Doherty. There’s obviously Moz’s recommended SEO list, which is just my personal recommendations and the recommendations of my network. You can’t pay to be on there. You can’t pay to be listed. Some of those are more trustworthy. We’ll try and link to a few of those good ones at the end of this whiteboard.

Mistake #3: Believing there’s a “secret sauce”

Mistake number three is believing the sales pitch that unfortunately many I’m going to say low-quality SEO consultants use, which is there’s a secret sauce. There are no secret sauces in SEO. If you hear like, “This is how Google works blah, blah, blah, and then here’s how we do our secret optimization techniques. I can’t tell you what those are. It’s a proprietary methodology, but it works really well,” that’s baloney. You should reject that. If you ask, “How do you do it,” and they say, “I’m sorry I can’t tell you, it’s a secret or it’s proprietary,” that is a very, very bad sign. No one has a secret proprietary process. SEO is a very, very open field. It’s well understood. It has origins in a lot of secrecy, but that is not the way it is today and you should never accept that as an answer. That is a red flag.

My recommended process for choosing an SEO company:

Step 1

I want you to establish, sit down with your team, with your CEO, with your executive team, your board, whoever you’ve got, and figure out the goals you’re trying to achieve with SEO. Why do you want to do SEO? Why do you want to rank organically for keywords? Then, figure out how you’re going to judge success versus failure. In this process, there are good goals and bad goals.

Good goals:

  • I want to get in front of a lot of people who are researching this, and so we need traffic from these specific groups. I know that they perform searches for this. Great.
  • We’re trying to boost revenue, and we’re trying to boost it through new sales and SEO is a sales driving channel. Fine, great.
  • We’re trying to boost downloads or free sign-ups or free trials. Also a fine goal.
  • We’re trying to boost sentiment for our brand. Maybe if you Googled some of our branded terms today, there are some poor reviews, there’s lots of good reviews that rank below them, and we want to push the good reviews up and the bad reviews down. Fine. Sentiment, that could be something you’re driving as well. You know a lot of people are researching your brand or branded terms. Those are all good goals.

Bad goals:

  • We just want traffic, more traffic. Why? Well, because we want it. Terrible, terrible goal. Traffic is not a goal in and of itself. If you say, “Well, we want more traffic because we know search traffic converts well for us and here are the statistics on it,” fine, terrific. Now it’s a revenue driving thing.
  • Rankings alone, unfortunately this is a vanity thing that many people have where they want to rank for something simply because they want to rank for it. Usually a bad sign for SEO companies considering clients. You shouldn’t have that on your goals list. That’s not a positive goal.
  • Beating a particular competitor out for specific keywords or phrases. Again, not a great goal. Doesn’t drive directly to revenue. Doesn’t drive directly to organizational goals.
  • Vanity metrics. I still see people who are saying, “Hey, does anyone know a great SEO company that can help bring our domain authority up or our Majestic trust flow up or, worst of all, our Google PageRank up?” Google dropped PageRank years ago. It’s terrible. Vanity metrics, bad ideas too.

Step 2

Once you have a list of these good goals that you’re trying to optimize for, my suggestion is that you should assemble a list of usually three to five is I think sort of the right comfort zone. You can do more if you have the bandwidth to evaluate more, but three to five, at least, consultants or agencies. Those could be by a bunch of criteria. You might say, “Hey, look we really need someone in our region so that we can meet with them in person or at least someone who can fly to us on a regular basis.” Maybe that’s a requirement for you. Or you might say, “That’s not important. Remote is great.” Fine, wonderful. You might say something like, “Our price range or our budget is this particular thing.”

You want to find whatever those criteria are and make sure you’ve got a list of three to five folks that you can consider against one another. Have some conversations with them and dig into references.

Good sources:

  • Your friends and personal networks and professional networks as well.
  • Similar non-competitive companies. You will find that if you’re, for example, in a B2B space or in an ecommerce space and there’s a non-competitive ecommerce company whom you’re friendly with, you can build those relationships. You should certainly already have those relationships. Talking to those folks about who they use and whether they were successful, great way to find some good people.
  • Industry insiders. If you’re watching Whiteboard Friday here on Moz, chances are good that you follow some great SEO people on Twitter, which is a very popular network for SEOs, or that you read SEO blogs. You can reach out to some of those influential insiders with whom you have a relationship or whose opinion you really like and care about and ask them who they would recommend.

Good questions to ask:

  • By the way, I like asking SEO companies: What process are you going to use to accomplish our goals, and why do you use those particular processes? That’s a really smart one to start with.
  • Ask them about their communication and reporting process. How often? What’s their cadence like? What metrics do they report on? What do they need you to collect? Why do they collect those metrics? How do those match up to your goals and how do they align?
  • What work and resources will you have to commit internally? You should know that before you go into any arrangement, because it could get very complex. If your SEO company says, “Great here’s a list of recommendations,” and you say, “Fine, we don’t have the development bandwidth, or we don’t have the content creation bandwidth, or we don’t have the visual or UI or UX exchange bandwidth to make any of those. So what do we do?” Well, now you’re road blocked. You should’ve had that conversation much earlier in time. *By the way, SEO usually requires some intensive resource allotment. So you should plan for that ahead of time.
  • What do you do when things aren’t working? I love asking that question, and I like asking for specific examples of when things haven’t gone right and what they’ve done to fix that in the past and work around it.
  • I like asking broadly. Especially when you open a conversation, especially if you’re feeling like, hey I want to get to know this company’s approach to SEO and their understanding of Google, you can ask them something like, “Hey, tell me how does Google rank results, and how do you as a company influence them?” You should hear good answers about, yes, this is how Google does things, and here’s how we know that and here’s how we do our process of influencing those results. That’s great.

Step 3

I like to recommend that folks choose on these four things:

  1. The trust that you’ve established with a company. That’s through references, through the conversation, through people that you’ve talked to in your network.
  2. Through referrals. If you hear great referrals and you trust those referral sources, that’s a wonderful signal.
  3. Through communication style match. If your communication style, even if everything else is good, but when you have conversations, you walk away from them feeling a little frustrated, maybe you got the things you needed, but it didn’t flow smoothly, I would suggest that maybe that’s a cultural mismatch and you should look for another provider.
  4. Price and contract structure. Many SEO firms have a contract structure that’s month-to-month and that has a certain length of time. You should expect to pay some upfront payment and then some ongoing monthly fee. There’s usually a time at which the payment will recur and the contract will renew. It’s pretty similar to a lot of other services, consulting types of agreements, so you should expect that. If you’re seeing very non-standard stuff, that can be a bad thing sometimes, but not always. A lot of times SEOs have more creative pricing, and that’s all right.

Pro tips

Three pro tips:

  1. If SEO needs to be a core competency at your company, bring it in-house. An agency or consultant can never do as much with as much resources, with as much communication, as someone in-house can do. Starting with a consultant externally and then bringing someone in-house is a fine way to go.
  2. If the quality SEO folks that you’re considering are too pricy, my suggestion might be to say, “Okay, how about you just advise us on the work, and we’ll hire an in-house person, maybe who’s more beginner-level and you coach that person?” That can work well, again especially if you have that budget to bring that person in-house.
  3. Remember that SEO is not for everyone. SEO is extremely competitive. Page 1 gets 95% plus of the clicks. The top 3 or 4 results are getting more than 70% of those clicks, 65% or 70%. So a lot of the time, if you can’t afford yet to do SEO or to engage in it seriously, it may not be all that valuable to go from ranking on page five for a lot of your key terms to page two or the bottom of page one. Unless you have the budget and the energy to really commit yourself to SEO, it might be a channel you consider later down the road.

All right, everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. Would love to hear your thoughts on how you’ve picked good SEO companies in the past and the experiences you’ve had there. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Resources

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Is Australia the land of opportunity for your retail brand?

Australia has a resident population of more than 24 million and, according to eMarketer, the country’s ecommerce sales are predicted to reach A$32.56 billion by 2017. The country’s remote location in the APAC region means that unlike European countries or the USA, traditionally there have been a lack of global brands sold locally.

Of course, we also know that many expatriates, particularly from inside the Commonwealth, have made Australia their home and are keen to buy products they know and love from their country of origin.

All of these factors present a huge and potentially lucrative opportunity for non-Australian brands wanting to open up their new and innovative products to a fresh market, or compete for market share.

But it’s not just non-Australian retailers who are at an advantage here: Australia was late to the ecommerce party because native, established brands were trading well without it. Subsequently, Australian retailers’ ecommerce technology stacks are much more recent and not burdened by legacy systems. This makes it much easier to extend, or get started with, best-of-breed technologies and cash in on a market that’s booming. To put some of this into perspective, Magento’s innovative ecommerce platform currently takes 42% of Australia’s market share and the world’s first adopter of Magento 2.0 was an Australian brand.

The GST loophole

At the moment, local retailers are campaigning against a rule that exempts foreign websites from being charged a 10% general sales tax (GST) on purchases under A$1,000. And in 2013, Australian consumers made $3.11 billion worth of purchases under A$1,000.[1]

While the current GST break appears to put non-Australian retailers at an advantage, Australian-based brands such as Harvey Norman are using it to their advantage by setting up ecommerce operations in Asia to enjoy the GST benefit.

Australian consumers have also countered the argument by saying that price isn’t always the motivator when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

It’s not a place where no man has gone before

Often, concerns around meeting local compliance and lack of overseas business knowledge prevent outsiders from taking the leap into cross-border trade. However, this ecommerce passport, created by Ecommerce Worldwide and NORA, is designed to support those considering selling in Australia. The guide provides a comprehensive look into everything from the country’s economy and trade status, to logistics and dealing with international payments.

Global expansion success stories are also invaluable sources of information. For instance, it’s not just lower-end retailers that are fitting the bill, with brands like online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter naming Australia as one of its biggest markets.

How tech-savvy are the Aussies?

One of the concerns you might have as a new entrant into the market is how you’ll reach and sell to your new audience, particularly without having a physical presence. The good news is that more than 80% of the country is digitally enabled and 60% of mobile phone users own a smartphone – so online is deeply rooted into the majority of Australians’ lives. [2]

Marketing your brand

Heard the saying “Fire bullets then fire cannonballs”? In any case, you’ll want to test the waters and gauge people’s reactions to your product or service.

It all starts with the website because, without it, you’re not discoverable or searchable, and you’ve nowhere to drive people to when running campaigns. SEO and SEM should definitely be a priority, and an online store that can handle multiple regions and storefronts, like Magento, will make your life easier. A mobile-first mentality and well thought-out UX will also place you in a good position.

Once your new web store is set up, you should be making every effort to collect visitors’ email addresses, perhaps via a popover. Why? Firstly, email is one of the top three priority areas for Australian retailers, because it’s a cost-effective, scalable marketing channel that enables true personalization.

Secondly, email marketing automation empowers you to deliver the customer experience today’s consumer expects, as well as enabling you to communicate with them throughout the lifecycle. Check out our ‘Do customer experience masters really exist?’ whitepaper for some real-life success stories.

Like the Magento platform, dotmailer is set up to handle multiple languages, regions and accounts, and is designed to grow with you.

In summary, there’s great scope for ecommerce success in Australia, whether you’re a native bricks-and-mortar retailer, a start-up or a non-Australian merchant. The barriers to cross-border trade are falling and Australia is one of APAC’s most developed regions in terms of purchasing power and tech savviness.

We recently worked with ecommerce expert Chloe Thomas to produce a whitepaper on cross-border trade, which goes into much more detail on how to market and sell successfully in new territories. You can download a free copy here.

[1] Australian Passport 2015: Cross-Border Trading Report

[2] Australian Passport 2015: Cross-Border Trading Report

Reblogged 3 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com