The traffic, leads, and new business continues to grow from the website that I wrote about here a few weeks ago.

 

social-media-marketing-bullshit

In short, it is a website that is generating between 500 and 600 visitors per day from the search engines-not one cent spent on advertising or one minute wasted on social media sites. (Traffic continues to increase-see screenshot below from October, 2013-averaging over 600 visitors per day)

employment-rights-ireland-update-october-13

Click on image to enlarge

All the traffic is coming from searchers using the search box of whatever search engine they use. And the site is generating at least 2 enquiries/leads every day.

 

The last post made on the site was months ago, it was only started in January 2013, and it is ranking on the 1st page of Google for practically every major, valuable search phrase in its marketplace.

 

It is working away on autopilot with no input or work required now at all. Apart from dealing with questions and queries from leads with problems.

 

Nobody has contacted me to ask a question, ask for proof, ask ‘is it a fluke?’, ‘can you do that in my industry?’, ‘can you do that for my business?’

 

Building a website or blog that addresses common questions in an industry or market, that provides useful accurate information to searchers’ questions, that goes the extra mile in ferretting out facts concerning problems that people face is not sexy.

 

It is hard work.

 

But it pays off in spades.

 

On the other hand, social media is ‘sexy’. You have to be ‘doing social’…

 

It must be because now you have ‘social media managers’ offering to provide social media marketing services to small business owners, smes, start ups, sole traders, partnerships, etc.

 

The success of these ‘campaigns’ is being measured in nebulous concepts such as ‘engagement’, ‘likes’, ‘fans’, ‘followers’.

 

This, quite frankly, allows the naive business owner to be congratulated on the ‘success’ of the campaign’: “look, you have 25 ‘likes’ sinche we started the campaign”.

 

Don’t get me wrong: social media is great. It has led to governments being overthrown, freedom of thought and speech, a voice and an audience for the common man or woman.

 

The problem is social media marketing, or more specifically social media marketing for small business. It is completely ineffective.

 

There are two other problems with social media marketing:

  1. it is time consuming and
  2. it is expensive.

 

If you are a small business owner you will find more success with a small ad in your local newspaper or parish newsletter than you will with ‘social media marketing’.

 

The social media managers won’t agree.

 

And the social media zealots won’t have their mind changed. That’s fine with me.

 

But it creates a problem for small business owners who are being royally ripped off with assertions and opinion being passed off as fact.

 

So, maybe I am wasting my time even taking the time to write this.

 

But for the unconverted, the confused, the skeptical, the doubtful, the smart…this is for you.

 

Maybe it will help.

 

And the facts that small business owners haven’t been told about social media marketing?

 

This video kind of sums it up for me:

And this video I really like..

Filed under Social Media Marketing #

This video is hardly the type of thing we will see from the Law Society of  Ireland any time soon.

But we live in hope…

 

This video, from Google’s Matt Cutts, is a very useful indication of what to expect from Google in the next few months in the area of search engine optimisation.

Cutts refers to the next version of ‘Penguin’-Pengin 2.0- as being pretty significant.

One thing seems constant though from the video: quality content will be rewarded, and if your site is committed to publishing quality content you should have nothing to worry about.

If you are link spamming or buying links or involved in any other ‘black hat’ method of trying to obtain page rank and search position, it could, to quote Cutts, be an ‘eventful summer’.

4

On the 1st of April, 2013, as you will see from the screenshot below, this website focusing on a particular area of law in Ireland attracted 18 visitors.

 

By the last day of April, this figure had shot up to 324 unique visitors on the 30th April, 2013.(see video below)

 

On the 21st May, it reached over 500 visitors per day-532 in fact.

 

And by the end of October, 2013 it is attracting in excess of 800 visitors per day during the week. (Traffic always drops at the weekend)

 

All of this traffic is ‘organic’-that is, people searching for solutions to problems/information ‘on the internet’ and being sent to this website as a result of its search engine position in the Google results pages.

 

traffic-21st-May

The growth in the site traffic figures can be seen from the screenshots (click on them to enlarge).

 

traffic-proof1

Note: traffic figures almost always drop at the weekend as people have better things to do than surf the internet!

 

traffic-21st-May

The site launched at the beginning of February, 2013.

 

So, in three months the traffic has multiplied by a factor of > 10.

traffic-proof2

And it is still rising.

 

All of this traffic is organic or ‘search’ traffic-people searching on the internet for information about problems they have in this particular area of law-employment and human resources.

 

Not one visitor has been sent by any form of advertising.

Update October, 2013

employment-rights-ireland-update-october-13

Take a look at the video..

 

 

How has this been possible?

 

The key is very simple: good, useful, informative content published regularly on the site.

 

The proof of this is another vital statistic that you should always pay most, if not all, of your attention to: the ‘search keyphrases’ figures.(See screenshots below)

 

Let me explain…

 

Most people focus on the ‘top 10’ search keyphrases that has brought visitors to their site. These are the phrases typed in by surfers when they are looking for information or to learn more about their problem.

 

The ‘Awstats’ program, which is very common and is most likely installed on your hosting account, lists the top 10 phrases used by people to find the site.

 

But in addition to this and this is critical, it shows and lists all of the different keyphrases used by visitors who landed on the site.

 

Two things can be gleaned from this:

  1. It is the wide range of keyphrases/words that accounts for the traffic and not the limited strategy of trying to rank your website for only a handful of target phrases;
  2. The regular publishing of comprehensive, authoritative, useful content will be rewarded by the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing in delivering traffic to your site.

 

The reason that this site ranks so well in the search engines and consequently is attracting growing numbers of visitors is, simply, the site’s content.

 

It is informative and authoritative, not shallow. Most or all of the blogs/posts/pages on the site are fairly comprehensive treatments of the subject matter.

 

This ensures that each piece of content is replete with synonyms, related phrases, industry jargon, bits of legislation, and so forth.

 

And Google recognises all of this stuff as a good signal that the posts/blogs are not ‘thin’ or shallow with a view to just gaming the search results.

 

Instead, they are genuine attempts to provide quality, authoritative, accurate information in this area of law which affects so many people, employers and employees alike.

 

In addition to the search engines finding this content and ranking it and delivering traffic, this type of content is shared around by people with friends, colleagues, etc.

 

And it gets linked to and referred from discussion forums where people might be discussing one of the topics covered on the site.

 

UPDATE: 16th May, 2013

As can be seen from the screenshot below, the traffic continues to grow and grow with one day exceeding 400 visitors.

 

search-traffic-may-2013

 

UPDATE: 21st May, 2013 (See update from October, 2013 above also)

 

500-day

Keyphrases Used on Search Engines by Visitors

 

The source of all of this traffic is the search engines, particularly Google.

 

The screen shots below were taken in May, 23rd, 2013 and gives you an idea of the types of phrases that people typed in to their search boxes.

 

Because of the comprehensiveness of the content on this site in this particular niche area, Google has served up this site to searchers who typed in these varied and impossible to forecast search phrases.

 

This shows the value of having a lot of information/content/blogs on your website.

keyphrases-used-on-search-engines-1

 

keyphrases-used-on-search-engines-2

 

keyphrases-used-on-search-engines-3

 

keyphrases-used-on-search-engines-5

 

keyphrases-used-on-search-engines-6

 

keyphrases-used-on-search-engines-4

 

Social Media

There is almost no element of the traffic to this site attributable to ‘social media’.

 

There is no Facebook page, no competitions, no advertising on Facebook (or anywhere else for that matter).

 

There is no time wasted on getting  Facebook fans/likes or Twitter followers.

 

What is involved here is simple:

  1. Find out what people in a particular market are looking for (Google will tell you with their free keywords tool)
  2. Give it to them (provide the information that  they are looking for and answer their queries and concerns)

 

If you are spending a lot of valuable time or money (or both) on ‘social media’ because you have been led to believe you have to, this case study site should be good news for you.

 

Many small business owners are being led to social media sites in the belief/hope that they will generate new business.

 

The thinking behind this unproven hypothesis is that marketing online is about

  • Having a ‘conversation’
  • Creating ‘engagement’ with ..whoever
  • ‘likes’ on Facebook
  • ‘followers’ on Twitter

 

Pepsi had 3,500,000 likes on Facebook and 60,000 followers on Twitter in 2010..and saw it drop to no. 3 most popular soft drink in the United States and experienced a 5% loss of market share. (Read about Pepsi Refresh here and the epic failure of social media marketing)

 

The video below gives a good indication of how valuable social media is for small business owners in Ireland.

 

If you want to increase traffic, leads, and sales in your business with a tested, successful online marketing strategy  I can probably help.

 

Contact Me.

Direct mail is a direct marketing format that is much underrated and overlooked by small business, especially in Ireland. Much of the hype and myth surrounding digital media marketing through blogging, social media, and email is driven by assertions and opinion masquerading as facts.

direct-mail

Direct mail, as a consequence, is overlooked. This is a big mistake for small business owners and offers huge opportunities.

As does direct marketing in local newspapers, free sheets, magazines, local radio, and national newspapers especially now that advertising rates have dropped significantly and competition for advertisers is fierce.

Direct Mail Benefits

The benefits of direct mail include

  • Targeting.

Direct mail allows your marketing message or offer to be highly targeted at the very customers who are most likely to respond to your offer, unlike mass advertising which can see your offer being wasted on prospects who have no interest in your message, for example advertising lawn mowers to apartment dwellers.

  • Tangible

Direct mail is tangible-it allows you to place your message directly in the prospects’ hands including special offer coupons, stickers, fridge magnets, calendars, and other promotional material.

  • Personal

Direct mail is personal allowing you to speak to your prospect by name and speaking to their desires and interests directly.

  • Flexible

Direct mail is flexible as it allows you to target your prospects with sales letters, post cards, flyers, samples, brochures, and so on.

  • Measurable

It is measurable in a way that internet or digital channels are not. You simply count the number of responses compared to the number of direct mail pieces sent to see how effective your campaign has been.

The ability to see the exact response you get allows you to tweak your campaigns, messages, and so forth to improve your response rate.

  • Easy to Implement

A direct mail campaign can be set up and implemented with a home computer and a printer. Desktop publishing software allows you to get more sophisticated with your mail pieces but the essential success of your campaign will depend on your offer. And a great offer delivered by a letter which you can create on your home computer is all you need.

direct-mail-letter

Types of Direct Mail

The most popular types of direct mail are

  1. A direct mail letter
  2. Leaflets/flyers
  3. Brochures/catalogues
  4. Post cards.

The success of your direct mail campaign will be largely determined by your offer. This can consist of

  • The service or product itself
  • A great price discount
  • A free sample or trial
  • A money back guarantee
  • A coupon to be redeemed in your business if acted upon within a certain period of time.

Regardless of which format you choose, the text/copy on your direct mail piece will be the biggest determining factor in how successful in getting a direct response from your target.

Good copywriters command very large fees and this is easily explained by the difference between a high response to a direct mail campaign or a low one. The difference in return between a 1% response rate and 2% can be enormous, depending on what type of product or service you are offering.

So the strong advice is not to skimp on the copy in your campaign.

Direct Mail Letters v Post Cards

When should you use a direct mail letter and when should you use a post card or flyer?

The direct mail letter is perfect when you want to tell the story of your offer and it cannot be done briefly. It is especially apposite when your product or service has a high price point or has a great lifetime value of acquiring one new customer or client.

Your letter, if written professionally, can really engage your reader and you can also include coupons, testimonials, reply cards, brochures and other relevant sales material.

Postcards on the other hand should be used to present a special offer, drive traffic to your website where you can do your selling, or even to keep in touch with customers and thank them for their business.

direct-mail-postcard

Your postcard will definitely be seen so your message needs to be concise, easily understood, and direct.

You can of course use both letters and postcards to create teaser campaign firstly with your postcard and follow up with your letter with your detailed offer.

As sure as day follows night small business owners are being duped and misled by unsubstantiated claims for the success of digital marketing, social media marketing, text messaging etc.

Direct mail works and is incredibly effective with a clear return on your investment which can be easily measured. It is no wonder that banks, credit card companies, and financial service providers are some of the biggest spenders on direct mail in Ireland.(Source: An Post, Amarach Research 2009-2011 & Ipsos MRBI research)

This same research found that

  • Direct mail costs are coming down quickly
  • Direct mail increases loyalty with 32% of Irish consumers saying that direct mail increased loyalty compared to 22% for email
  • 75% of Irish consumers prefer to have a physical catalogue to peruse rather than view online
  • Direct mail gets a response: 41% of Irish people surveyed will go online to find out more when they receive a direct mail piece

Direct mail spending in the US is expected to surpass $13 billion in 2013. Interestingly the spend on direct mail in the Irish market is only a fraction of the US, the UK, Australia, and other leading economies.

Facts versus Myths:

Video marketing via YouTube and smart phones has been strongly trumpeted as a marketing channel that small business owners should not miss out on.

Nielsen’s 3rd quarter “Cross Platform Report” is worth a look because it delivers something in pretty short supply when it comes to information for business owners as opposed to assertions…

It finds that

  • Video viewing on a television (live plus time-shifted) came to 97% of all video viewing
  • Video viewing online accounted for a little over 2% of video viewing
  • Mobile video viewing was about half of 1% of total viewing.

Filed under Copywriting, Direct Mail #

What is copywriting? Copywriting is simply the writing of materials designed to persuade and sell.

Good copywriting is an essential part of good advertising, online or digital marketing, web design, text in sales brochures or company catalogues, and so forth.

copywriter-ireland

One of the earliest, and most successful, proponents of the art of persuasion was the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Aristotle literally wrote the book on the art of persuasion-variously called “Rhetoric”, “the Art of Rhetoric”, or “Treatise on Rhetoric”.

Rhetoricians regard Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” as the “most important single work on persuasion ever written.”

Much of what Aristotle had to say about persuasion is still evident in good copy today-ethos (character, honesty, authority), logos (a plea or reason, logic, knowledge), and pathos (suffering, empathy, experience, an appeal to the emotions)

Great persuasive copy contains all of these elements, and more. This isn’t surprising because human motivations and dreams and desires haven’t changed all that much down through the centuries.

(See also the seven principles of persuasion)

But I digress…

We all come into contact with copywriting every single day of our lives, whether we actually notice it or not.

And the best copy is not really noticeable.

“He should have gone to Specsavers”, “Just Do It”, and “Probably the best beer in the world” are three instantly recognisable phrases that have entered into every day speech in many parts of the world.

All of these phrases were lovingly crafted by superb copywriters who may have spent days and weeks just crafting the headline or punch line for advertising/promotional campaigns which cost millions.

So at it’s essence, writing copy is the skill and art of writing words that move people to believe what it is the copywriter has to say.

And the copywriter will be seeking to persuade the reader that their life will be more complete or they will make more money or gain more prestige or cure a particular problem or avoid a particular fear or be loved or gain recognition or secure inner peace or better health or obtain more free time…or whatever.

The vast majority of purchasers make their decision based on emotion, not logic, and then rationalize or justify their decision by logic.

So the initial appeal of the copywriter will be to one or more of the reader’s basic human emotions and will seek to demonstrate in the “body copy” how his product or service will fulfil this need.

A Good Copywriter

A good copywriter will utilize all the principles of persuasion outlined by Aristotle and identified more recently by Dr. Robert Cialdini and seen in action every day of the week in Moore Street and Henry Street in Dublin by the street traders.

He will also use persuasive, attention grabbing headlines which will have you saying: “hey, he is talking to me”. He will use emotions, benefits, features, calls to action; try to generate urgency and various other tricks of the persuasive trade.

Regardless…if you are a small business owner and you are not utilizing the benefits of great copy in your marketing/advertising materials and/or on your website you are making a big mistake.

If you think that customers want to have a relationship with your brand or if you think that the best way for your business to hold onto customers is through “engagement” take a look at this Harvard Business Review. (“What consumers really want when they interact with brands online is to get discounts…” Harvard Business Review, May 2012)

What to do now for 2013: forget about social media, take a copy of “Rhetoric” (Aristotle) out of the library…or decide to focus on great copy in your online and offline marketing and advertising.

Filed under Copywriting #

Marketing professionals from the offline or non digital world can be guilty of a common mistake when they go online. The mistake arises from a fundamental misunderstanding of how search engines and the internet actually works and how best to help their clients to market their business online.

 

search-engine-marketing

The mistake is to think of marketing online as pretty much like advertising in the “offline” world.

 

It isn’t.

 

It is completely different and the common mistake arises from the attempt to do what traditional advertising does, stimulate demand, to what the Yellow Pages does which is fulfill a demand that is already there and for which somebody is looking for a solution to a problem or a service provider or whatever.

 

If traditional marketing professionals looked upon the internet as one big directory like the Yellow Pages rather than like a medium such as television or newspapers or magazines in which they can generate demand they would be far better off, and serve their clients better.

 

Let me give you one simple example…

 

I recently built a site for a client which had a content rich home page replete with the types of words, phrases, synonyms, and jargon with which you would associate the business in question. Even with minimal search engine optimisation the likelihood of the search engines firstly indexing (remember the Yellow Pages directory analogy) and then ranking this page for a good number of these phrases/keywords was very high.

 

The search engine spiders/robots have become incredibly efficient at identifying what pages are about and then indexing and ranking them very, very quickly.

 

However a traditional, professional, “off line” marketer insisted that the “message” was too long and should be cut right down in size to ensure clarity when the reader lands on the page. This is the type of thinking that you need to engage in when you are buying advertising by the word, line, or square inch to reduce advertising cost.

 

This is not the mindset that you need online because there is no shortage of space…you are only using electrons after all but you must remember that the directory is controlled by Google.

 

And Google ranks pages in the search results based on relevance of the on page content, amongst other factors. But the on page factors are the predominant factor in determining whether the page ranks or is buried deep, deep down in the search results…where nobody looks.

 

However the problem is that the brief, clear, “on message” new home page without all of the relevant keywords and phrases is unlikely ever to be found because it simply won’t rank well or rank at all for the removed phrases.

 

How could it? Those phrases/words are now gone from the page.

 

How does the site owner then get traffic to his website if his site doesn’t rank in the search engines.

 

There are really only two ways to get traffic to your website worth talking about: paid traffic or organic/search traffic.

 

This site owner will then have to pay Google via it’s pay per click advertising programme, Google Adwords, to drive traffic to the site. However there is a problem here also: pay per click traffic can be very expensive and click through rates (ctr) are very, very low.

 

For example Facebook ads show 5 clicks per 10,000 impressions (the number of times your ad is shown).  Display ads generally show a click through rate of 1 click per 1,000 impressions.(See table below)

Region Overall Click-through Rate Percent (%)
North America
Canada 0.09%
United States 0.10%
EMEA
Austria 0.11%
Belgium 0.13%
Denmark 0.12%
Finland 0.05%
France 0.12%
Germany 0.11%
Greece 0.17%
Ireland 0.10%
Italy 0.10%
Luxembourg 0.09%
Netherlands 0.14%
Norway 0.11%
Spain 0.12%
Sweden 0.08%
Switzerland 0.12%
United Arab Emirates 0.18%
United Kingdom 0.07%
JAPAC
Australia 0.07%
China 0.12%
Hong Kong 0.17%
India 0.18%
Malaysia 0.30%
Singapore 0.19%

Source: DoubleClick by Google for Advertisers, a cross section of regions, published July, 2010.

 

So this website owner is going to have a hard time getting anybody to his new website, apart from family and friends.

 

The best way, by a country mile, of using your website to generate new business online is to focus on

  1. search engine marketing and
  2. email marketing.

 

These two options are closely related and at it’s simplest involves firstly getting traffic to your website through ranking well in Google search.

 

Then funneling that traffic into a list of interested subscribers.

 

However you cannot do this with web pages that are devoid of quality, unique, helpful content and which rely on a clear but regrettably invisible message or mission statement.

Filed under Search Engine Marketing #

2

Forrester, a leading US research firm, produced a report “Purchase Path of Online Buyers’ report” in 2012 showing a number of startling conclusions concerning the usefulness (or otherwise) of social media as a sales lead generator.

Forrester tracked 77,000 purchases online and the report’s author, Sucharita Mulpru, found that

 “While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in ecommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers.

“The reality is that even the most popular social image-sharing sites (like Pinterest) have failed to move the needle with respect to sales for most retail sites.”

He also found:

“The reality is that even the most popular social image-sharing sites (like Pinterest) have failed to move the needle with respect to sales for most retail sites.”

The best sources of sales, according to the report, are “search” and “email”.

Here is how new customers came by their purchase:

Direct visits to the website: 20%

Organic search: 16%

Paid search: 11%

Social media: <1%

Here is how repeat purchasers bought:

Direct visits to the website: 20%

Email: 13%

Organic search: 6%

Social media: <1%

Social Media Strategy for 2013?

If you are a small business owner and are considering an aggressive social media strategy in 2013 you would be well advised to ask yourself and your marketing advisor some questions.

Some inconvenient, awkward questions.

Questions about evidence of success of social media marketing for small businesses, questions about a direct correlation between your Twitter or Facebook account and sales, questions about proof of previous campaigns for businesses like yours.

You will be surprised at the answers you receive.

You will be even more surprised when you refuse to accept assertions as facts.

In the meantime take a look at this useful video when deciding on a social media strategy for 2013; if it doesn’t educate it will certainly entertain :-)

Filed under Social Media Marketing #

2

Facebook advertising is appallingly ineffective.

And unlike many other sweeping assertions you will have come across trumpeting Facebook advertising, “engagement”, brand building, and other buzzwords which have nothing to do with selling your stuff, I will show you compelling evidence of it’s veracity.

1. for every 10,000 ads that Facebook delivers, they deliver 5 (yes, five) clicks to you, the advertiser.

Take a look at the graph below (and it is actually to scale).

facebook-advertising-ctr

 

©The Ad Contrarian 2012

2.  a recent experiment reported by AdAge magazine in a piece entitledHow Blank Display Ads Managed to Tot Up Some Impressive Numbersfound that blank display ads showed a better ctr (click through rate) than the average Facebook display ad.

In fact the click through rate on the blank display ads containing nothing but..white space..showed a ctr of .08%.

The ctr on Facebook ads has been estimated by industry experts at .05%. It is instructive that Facebook does not publish data about it’s ctr…

The average ctr of all display ads on the internet is actually .09% which means that the blank ad attracted only one click less per ten thousand impressions than the average banner ad.

3. “It’s not about selling, it’s about building your company’s brand and getting likes”

There are two big problems with this assertion:

a)  38% of “likes” come from the 18-24 age group and 29% come from 13-17 year olds meaning 67% of likes come from people with very little money (CBS Moneywatch)

b)  You can buy Facebook fans for 10 US cents (250 fans for $30).

Dippin’ Dots, a US based ice cream, is one of the top 50 brands on Facebook with 4.5 million Facebook fans.

Dippin’ Dots filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Two things that should be remembered if you are a small business owner in Ireland:

  1. People use Facebook to engage with other people, not advertising or marketing or companies promoting their products and
  2. No “digital marketing guru” is likely to go bust by advising their clients to advertise on Facebook.

facebook-advertising

A better way to sell your wares on the internet is to rank well in “search” (be it Google or Bing) and be there in the search engine results page when interested searchers are actually searching for solutions to their problems.

Shameless promotion: How to Effectively Market Your Business Online and Avoid Wasting Your Valuable Time and Money on the Social Media Circus

Bullying on social media sites is all too common nowadays. The most recent tragic case in Donegal at the weekend leading to the tragic suicide of a 13 year old girl shows the insidious and harmful nature of such bullying.

social-media-bullying

Listening to Morning Ireland this morning on RTE Radio 1 I heard the advice being given that “doing a screen grab” was necessary to gather the evidence necessary to confront the bullies.  And it struck me that many parents and children may not actually know how to do this.

It is very simple. The video below shows you how to gather the necessary evidence by capturing screenshots of your computer screen so that you can give them to parents, teachers or Gardai.

You need 2 things only (and they are both free)

1. This button on your keyboard-the Print Screen button. It will look something like this..

PrtScn

SysRq

It is normally beside the f12 button.

2. Paint programme (preinstalled on the vast majority of computers)

Simply follow the instructions in the video and give me a shout if you have any difficulty.

Filed under Social Media Marketing #