How technology can guide your business through a crisis

In order to thrive in the digital world, it is vital that your business is using technology to its full advantage. Otherwise, you could end up wasting your time, money, and energy. You could also face being left behind by your industry peers. Understanding the benefits of using technology in your business, will help you [more…]

from TheMarketingblog


B2B Lead Generation Strategies for 2018 Plus 5 Strategies to Kick to the Curb

With a new year fast approaching, now is the time to re-evaluate what lead gen strategies are worth keeping and which outdated habits should be kicked to the curb fast. Certain strategies, like content marketing and SEO, are enduring no-brainers that will continue to allow you to thrive in 2018. Others are pushing their way to prominence thanks largely due to shifts in how your audience desires to be engaged with on and offline.

The big secret to effective lead gen in 2018 is knowing when to adapt to newer trends that work and are increasingly relevant, and when to optimize those marketing strategies that may need a tweak or two.

In this blog, I’ll show you lead generation strategies you should adopt or hold on to for 2018 and the strategies you need to let go of to stay on top in the new year.

Do: Take a Second (and Third) Look at Mobile Marketing

As of 2015, most of Google users access the search engine via mobile phone. Therefore, it only makes sense to optimize mobile marketing efforts for lead generation purposes.

In addition to web page responsiveness, it’s very important to consider the mobile-friendliness of:

  • Content should be examined for font color and size, as well as paragraph size. Make sure it’s easy to read on a mobile phone.
  • Ads should be less intrusive and less ad-like—especially on your site.
  • Email should be mobile-friendly. At least 20% of your email list will be accessing their email on their smartphones. And don’t just create an email template that works and forget about it. Email clients are constantly updating and rendering of your email on mobile could change from time to time.

This may sound obvious, but in fact, a lot of websites, emails, and ads are not mobile friendly. And your audience is starting to notice. Content designed to generate leads is often making a first impression, so make it a good one on every device.

Do: Stick to Social Media Marketing via Business-Friendly Networks

Social media is a popular sales channel for B2C brands, but it can be just as effective for B2B lead generation. A focused strategy—especially on professional networks like LinkedIn—can target and get the attention of new leads.

  • Fill up the business page. Make sure your company profile is complete and robust, so users who are unfamiliar with the brand can quickly understand who you are and the unique value you offer.
  • Post awareness-stage content. Brands frequently post in-depth content to LinkedIn—either directly on the platform, or by linking to the company blog—but include a balance of entry-level content as well.
  • Participate in different LinkedIn Groups. Many marketers are intentionally involved in LinkedIn Groups that relate to their industries, but preaching to the choir doesn’t generate new leads. Follow your buyer personas to Groups related to their industries, and offer genuine, unbiased help.

Do: Convert to HTTPS

Effective October 2017, Google Chrome has started adding a label on forms, on HTTP sites. Users will now see a “not secure” warning if your site hasn’t been converted to HTTPS.

Which means that the amazing resources you’ve created, and the strategic landing page you’ve designed, might be showing errors to visitors. It’s too soon to tell, but the coming months may provide insights on dropping numbers of download—and conversions—because users were scared away from “not secure” forms.

Do: Up Your Content Marketing Game

The importance of quality content marketing is a well-beaten drum going into 2018, but that doesn’t mean you should walk away from it. It’s true that 89% of B2B marketers rely on content marketing as part of their marketing strategy, but that’s because more and more B2B decision makers look to content for making important buying decisions.

It’s just time to up your game. The internet is flooded with content marketing, but it’s by no means flooded with outstanding content.

Kick it up a notch to make sure you’re standing out:

  • Use video. If you haven’t started with video yet, it’s time.
  • Make it fast and mobile-friendly. Mobile is only going to continue to grow, attention spans are only going to continue to shrink.
  • Marry it to SEO. Google is the average person’s portal to the internet. If they can’t find your content, it might as well not be there.
  • A/B test everything. Don’t guess what your audience wants, test it. From subject lines to video ads to content length, to the color of a button: test and tweak.
  • Make it relevant. Don’t ruin your content strategy with irrelevant content. If your audience is looking for something, give them what they want.

Do: Embrace Automation

Users increasingly expect unified brand experiences across all their channels, personalized communications, and individual attention—even before they give you an email address. A smart engagement platform is the only way to deliver that kind of communication at scale, especially as your company continues to grow.

Recognize visitors by IP address, master the art of retargeting, deliver answers to questions when they need them, and more. One marketer can do this for a handful of potential leads, but a good system can make everyone feel like one of the favorites.

As you focus on what’s working, it’s okay to let go of what is not. Here are 5 things to stop doing in 2018.

Stop: Using Social Channels That Don’t Work

Most social channels provide their own analytics, so make them part of your regular routine. Examine which of your networks are getting the best engagement and compare those with industry averages. Don’t keep a social channel that isn’t working for you simply because you feel like you “have” to be there.

The channels that are best to engage B2C consumers may not be the best channels for B2B customers. Continually test, measure, and check your engagement levels as social channels are never a set-it-and-forget-it strategy.

Stop: Gating the Wrong Content

It’s possible that website visitors will casually offer up their name and email when prompted, but highly unlikely. Further, even if some surrender their email addresses for a white paper, most expect to access lighter content, like infographics, without the form. Make sure you’re offering a real incentive in exchange for a name and email address.

And don’t hesitate to gate really good content downloads. Lighter pieces and end-of-journey content such as pricing sheets should be ungated but research and meaty content should not be free! Too many marketers are missing loads of lead gen opportunities because they’re shy about gating their best content.

Stop: Isolating Marketing Strategies That Work Well Together

It’s time to tear down the silos. Traditional marketing doesn’t have to be entirely replaced by digital marketing. Combining SEO, PPC, ABM, email, web, social and more can maximize your lead generation possibilities. When reviewing successful (or even unsuccessful) strategies, consider whether or not there might be any benefit to combining marketing strategies into a single, cohesive, integrated campaign.

Stop: Cold Calling and Email Blasting

Still cold calling in 2017? Research shows that the call back rate for prospects is below 1%! That percentage is deflating enough on its own without the revelation that it takes an average of 18 calls to get through to a potential lead in the first place. Compare that outcome to stats that show a good subject line is enough to convince 33% of recipients to open an email.

Whether it’s cold calling, buying mailing lists (say hello to the spam folder!), or keyword stuffing, certain lead generation attempts are obvious no-no’s in 2017. Can we expect them to be anything else in 2018? Probably not.

Stop: Creating Content That is Redundant and Behind the Times

When it comes to content marketing, nobody likes a parrot. It may feel convenient to merely repeat what other B2B authority brands have stated, content that only repeats but fails to offer a new perspective is ultimately useless.

Additionally, stop auto-generating content. Several platforms cropped up in recent years offering to automatically generate content based on a keyword, but these programs—by necessity—can only find and rearrange content. It can’t generate new ideas and insights, which means it will never produce outstanding content.

Research your competitors to see what they haven’t said or what trends they’ve overlooked. Leads are looking for fresh content, not info they’ve read several times elsewhere.

Start 2018 With Your Best Foot Forward

Make 2018 the year that you fill the funnel with the RIGHT leads. Every brand, industry, and audience will work differently, so keep your eyes glued to those metrics and A/B test all the things.

Start by reviewing the lead gen strategies you’ve been using this year. Determine what has worked, how well it has worked, and what hasn’t worked at all – and stay honest. This will set you up to kill the things that aren’t working, and create some benchmarks for new strategies in the coming year.

What plans do you have for 2018 when it comes to B2B lead generation? What strategies are on your list to cut? Tell me about your planning in the comments!

The post B2B Lead Generation Strategies for 2018 Plus 5 Strategies to Kick to the Curb appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog

PRs and SEOs – Break down The Walls And Start Working Together

If you’re the director of marketing or the office manager I want you to do something for me. It will take just 5 minutes of your time and it will be well worth it.  Get two post-it notes and write on each one. “Tell me what you’re working on and your top three objectives.” Hand [more…]

from TheMarketingblog

10 Game-Changing SEO Tips For Ecommerce in 2018

Traffic is among the deciding factors which determine the ultimate success of an e-commerce website. As it brings potential customers to the businesses, it also helps maintain a robust rank among competitors in Google SERPs.

Visibility is the key factor that ensures a website remains displayed on SERPs and keeps attracting users towards its products and services. By upholding SERP rankings, an e-commerce website can generate profitable returns and bring the business to an exposure point where it can progress and grow into a reliable selling machine.

But how does a business achieve this milestone and which factors stimulate this process? The answer is SEO.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) improves website visibility, engagement, retention, and rankings for enhancing search engine results and attracting relevant users towards products and services.

In this article, we will reveal the 10 game-changing practices that dominate SEO. By strategically applying these techniques, your website can gain the edge it needs to stay ahead of the competitive curve and return a healthy revenue.

1. Generate Original Content

Among the primary factors that help search engines’ algorithms grade websites is original content. Since e-commerce websites feature products and services which are also marketed by competitors, they often find themselves publishing generic content.

Rather than displaying stock descriptions and tags for products and services, generate original content which can be detected and graded positively by search engines. Write content which is helpful and distinguishes products and services from the customer’s perspective.

The same rules apply when using predefined templates and databases, which can lead to lower SERP ratings since the content is detected on competitor websites. Modify the content so it is unique, with keywords related to the topic.

2. Optimize Meta Descriptions

While meta descriptions are not the deciding factor for search engine rankings, they can be optimized efficiently to increase the Click Through Rate (CTR), subsequently growing traffic. Here are a few ways meta descriptions can be optimized for maximum effect:

• Self-Explanatory: Meta descriptions help users decide whether a website will provide the items they are searching for, and therefore should be written from a user’s point of view to boost CTR.

• Concise: Use short and meaningful descriptions to leverage the average user’s reading preference. Limit the description under the benchmark 156-character limit to bolster maximum engagement.

• Convincing in Nature: Meta descriptions should prompt an action from the customer through Call to Actions (CTR) and should persuade them towards purchasing products and services offered by your store, such as “Delivery Free for Orders over $80” or “Get Offer Now”.

3. Enable Product Reviews

One of the major reasons behind e-commerce site abandonment is mistrust. Even if a customer does end up selecting their choice, there is no reference material to validate the quality of their choice.

Adding customer reviews provides your potential leads the information they need to finalize their purchase. Reviews are regarded as reliable content by customers since they are provided by users who have previously purchased their choice of items and submitted honest responses absent of promotional intent. Customer reviews also serve as freely submitted, original content on your website which increases SERP ratings and enhances user experience.

4. Link Building (Quality Over Quantity)

A prevailing misconception about link building is that if an e-commerce marketer has a diverse network of links, it will automatically direct maximum traffic towards his or her website.

Contrary to this belief, successful influencers and veteran e-commerce professionals know that placing inbound and outbound links everywhere can reduce website credibility and traffic.

Placing links indiscriminately on low rated websites can ultimately cause lower SERP rankings since search engines also penalize websites that promote their links on sites blacklisted by them.

5. Implement 301 Redirects

Implement 301 redirects to cultivate the benefit of inbound links present in website pages which no longer exist. Providing a 301 redirect allows you to send users towards another page of the website that is relevant to their query.

6. Adding Keywords to Anchor Text

Optimize your content by integrating keywords within the anchor text of internal links to increase visibility and provide users with a descriptive, clickable link. This also enhances user experience through readability since the links provide the only information needed to help customers find pages, contributing to a much higher CTR.

7. End Reliance on Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC is essentially the fastest means available to advertise your online presence on Google and other third-party websites. It works by placing textual and visual ads on top ranks, so it gets the best attention on SERPs and web pages. The catch to it is each time a click is made the advertiser will pay for it, hence pay-per-click.

Although it is an affordable fast-track method of bringing leads to your site, PPC strategies can also backfire. Badly optimized ad copy and poorly developed landing pages can nullify the campaigns and instead damage the website’s integrity. Moreover, customers tend to place little credibility in ads hosted on other sites and are naturally reluctant to click on them.

Google statistics revealed that reliance on PPC could result in negative consequences as 89 percent of clicks were lost on average when use of AdWords was discontinued. Instead, develop strategies which incorporate organic SEO techniques for ensuring your website visibility does not decrease even with the use of PPC.

8. Utilize Product Images for SEO

Search engines’ algorithms enable image searches to allows users to find their required products and services. While many e-commerce stores tend to neglect the potential offered by optimizing images in their stores, modifying alt tags through the integration of relevant keywords is a proven strategy that can significantly enhance the crawlability your website content.

9. Specifying Priorities in SiteMap.xml

Search engines rely on sitemap.xml for crawling a website. This can be modified to prioritize certain areas of the web store and develop an order by which the pages will be identified by Google. The highly optimized pages can be assigned a higher priority through sitemap.xml to make sure they contribute to higher SERP rankings.

10. Modifying the Robots.txt file

Search engine crawlers can be directed to crawl only specific website pages by modifying the Robots.txt file. This saves website bandwidth and streamlines the operations the search engine has to perform to ascertain rankings.

You can also exclude certain areas of your website for temporary periods, allowing you to submit portions of your site to search engines while you develop the SEO strategy for other sections.

Applying SEO Effectively

Deploying result-oriented SEO techniques remains the corner stone of any successful online business. These practices will not only ensure your portal gets the right publicity on the search engines, but also bring your website to a competitive business environment where trends can be set.

Simple steps can achieve major boosts and consistently practicing them can cultivate a much greater yield in the long run. With time, your store will convert users into happy, satisfied, and loyal customers.

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from Webdesigner Depot

bigdog launches ‘Prize Burst’ Facebook Live giveaway for Sky Bingo

Full-service, integrated advertising and marketing agency, bigdog, today announces plans for the next Sky Betting and Gaming Facebook Live prize giveaway. The activity, taking place today – Wednesday  13th December – marks the first time Sky Betting and Gaming has partnered with Amy Nickall – presenter, entertainment journalist, parenting author, children’s entertainer and interviewer. Amy [more…]

from TheMarketingblog

How to Avoid the “Not Secure” Warning with Google Chrome Browser Changes

Earlier this year we all saw the first of a series of planned changes to how Google’s Chrome browser will display HTTP web pages without TLS/SSL encryption. To move towards a safer web, Chrome began displaying a “not secure” warning in the address bar of websites that collect passwords or credit card information. Now, the second step of Chrome’s changes is upon us. And this one is expected to have a much broader effect.

In late October, Google released version 62 of Chrome browser with two significant updates. First, Chrome began labeling all non-HTTPS pages in incognito mode as “not secure;” and, most importantly, Chrome also began adding the “not secure” warning in the address bar when visitors start typing any information on HTTP pages.

Here’s what this now looks like:

HTTP Google Warning

According to Google, “Passwords and credit cards are not the only types of data that should be private. Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62 Chrome will show the “not secure” warning when users type data into HTTP sites.”  Not surprisingly, this change has been getting a lot more attention, and site owners have been rapidly adding certificates for TLS/SSL to secure their pages from HTTP to HTTPS.

In addition to this, we know that a third step is coming—we just don’t know when. At some point, Google has said that Chrome browser will add the “not secure” warning for any requests to HTTP pages. That’s huge! Google is making it clear that a safer web is one where unencrypted web connections are discouraged. That means we’re moving towards a future where HTTPS page encryption is going to be a standard requirement for web pages.

In this blog, I’ll share some web security fundamentals and give you some ideas on how you can plan to avoid the “not secure” warning coming with Chrome browser changes.

Let’s Start With the Basics

Before we dive right into what you need to do, let’s start with some basics. I’m going to keep it at a pretty high level in this post, but there’s a ton of information online—even some Web Security Fundamentals from Google.

What is TLS/SSL?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) and its predecessor Secure Socket Layer (SSL) are security protocols that encrypt the exchange of data between web servers and clients. This data encryption is vital to help prevent malicious parties from sniffing or eavesdropping into data as it traverses the web—which is especially important when it’s personal data, like passwords, credit card numbers, or other personally identifiable information that is shared. To secure those communications while in transit, companies purchase and apply TLS/SSL certificates, enforcing that requests to the site are made via HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) instead of HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol); essentially encrypting the data exchange and providing authentication to ensure that communication is happening only between the intended parties.

Why is it important?

With unsecured sites, i.e., those serving up HTTP pages, it’s possible for hackers or other parties to see the information shared between you and the site you’re visiting.  While this may seem farfetched or like the plot of an episode of Mr. Robot, it does happen! That’s why Chrome is making moves to encourage HTTPS—a move that will likely make HTTPS the new de facto web standard—for data security, increased search ranking (yes, page security is a ranking factor), and ultimately better conversion rates.

What Should I Be Doing to Secure My Pages?

If you believe as I do that HTTPS is going to be the new standard, then I bet you’re thinking about what you actually need to do to ensure your corporate web pages and your Marketo landing pages are secured. The three steps below are meant to get you started on the right path.

STEP 1: Check if your Corporate Domain is Secure

While the title of this step sounds like you need to have mad technical skills—you really don’t. All you need to do is to type your corporate website URL into any browser. For me, it’s opening up Chrome and typing, You’re looking to see if the address bar says HTTP: or HTTPS: and/or if using Chrome, you’re looking for the green lock and word “secure” when your page loads. If you see HTTPS, your corporate site is secure. It’s that easy.

If your corporate site is not secured, you may want to do a quick audit of your pages. You’ll want to note the address of any page that has a form or collects information. With the recent update to Chrome 62, it’s those HTTP pages that collect data that will display the “not secure” warning in the address bar. This list will also give you a starting point for the discussion you’ll need to have with your IT and web teams in the next step.

STEP 2: Meet with your IT and Web Team

It’s now time to enlist your experts. Schedule a time to meet with whoever is responsible for your corporate website. You’ll want to be sure they know of the changes to Chrome browser, and you’ll want to know of any plans that may already be in place to secure your corporate pages. The good news is that they may already be aware of the changes to Chrome. In mid-August, Google emailed notifications via Google Search Console to site owners who have HTTP pages with data entry. This notification explained that these pages will be marked as “not secure” in Chrome 62, and it even provided a list of affected page URLs (SearchEngine Land did a nice write up on this communication if you want to learn more). If your webmaster received this message, that would likely make a much smoother conversation with them.

On the other hand, if your IT or web team is unaware of the recent Chrome browser changes and the impact on collecting data from your pages on your site, below is a list of links that should help brief them before you meet.

To have a productive meeting with your IT or web team, here are some topics we recommend that you cover:  

  • What is your company’s policy for securing web pages?
  • Who is your point of contact for web projects like creating, updating, securing pages?
  • Does your company have any projects or initiatives already in progress to secure pages?
  • Who’s responsible for purchasing TLS/SSL certificates to secure pages?
  • How are certificate renewals handled?
  • Are there any steps that marketing needs to take when creating new pages on your corporate site?
  • When adding new technologies to your technology stack, is there an audit to determine if pages/content/data needs to be hosted or served securely.
  • What other platforms might serve your forms, landing pages, images, or content?

Be sure to really dig into that last item on the list. While your corporate website serves pages from your servers that your IT/web teams can secure, many third-party platforms may also serve your pages from their servers. In fact, this is so important that it deserves to be its own step, leading us to Step 3.

STEP 3: Consider 3rd Party Platforms That Serve Your Pages

So far, you’ve checked your corporate website to see if it’s serving up secure pages, and you’ve met up with your IT/web teams to be sure they know that the recent changes to Chrome may require avoiding “not secure” warnings. Now, it’s time to consider all the 3rd party platforms you’ve got integrated with your technology stack that might host or serve pages, content, or assets. You may need to work with those vendors to secure the pages they serve. Third party vendors could include your marketing automation tool, email service provider, or content management system.

While the changes to Chrome will affect all landing pages across the web, when it comes to your Marketo landing pages, you have two options. The first is to do nothing. Your landing pages and forms will continue to be served over HTTP and will work as before. The only difference will be the “not secure” notification that Chrome will add in the browser’s address bar when a visitor enters data on your page.  The second option is to add Secured Domains for Landing Pages to your Marketo subscription. This will create a secure landing pages server on our side to serve your landing page requests via HTTPS.

Marketo Secured Domains for Landing Pages

Marketo’s Secured Domains for Landing Pages secures any and all landing page domains defined in your instance to serve via HTTPS. Here’s a brief overview of the process:

On the Marketo side, we’ll install a new server endpoint and install the necessary security certificate(s) to create a secured landing page server for your instance. This will allow us to serve page requests for all your landing page URLs over HTTPS. In the past, our secured services required you to provide a TLS/SSL certificate and private key to Marketo, but we now we manage this process for you—as well as certificate renewals—making it easier than ever to secure your pages.

On your side, you’ll need to review and update any hardcoded links on your landing pages and unapproved/reapprove your landing pages before the cutover from HTTP to HTTPS. Once you’re ready, we’ll coordinate a time for the cutover, and enable your instance for secured landing pages. From that point forward, your pages will be served via HTTPS.

Moving your pages to HTTPS—whether it’s your corporate pages, your Marketo landing pages or other pages serving your content—helps to ensure that you’re providing critical security and data integrity to help protect your visitors’ personal information.

Want to learn more about Secured Domains for Landing Pages? Please see our Marketing Nation Community post on Secured Domains for Landing Pages, or contact your Marketo customer success representative.

How are your IT or web teams addressing the Chrome browser changes? Let us know if you have tips to share for adapting to these changes!

The post How to Avoid the “Not Secure” Warning with Google Chrome Browser Changes appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog

Highly competitive but profitable niches you need to check out

We live in an era which is full of new possibilities, innovations, and awe-inspiring technological advancements. And a lot of all this has to do with the supreme power that the Internet has become today. People are using the Internet for all sorts of things, and “making money” tops them all. There are various ways [more…]

from TheMarketingblog