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Interview with Tony Uphoff: Digital Marketing for B2B Manufacturing Industry

Most of my clients are from B2B industrial manufacturing. I have many challenges with this industry because my clients’ products and services are very specific, niche websites.

I have developed new B2B SEO and PPC strategies in my everyday hands-on experience by managing multiple projects. In addition, there is another challenge that the industry is facing, the adaption to digital transformation.

I decided to talk about B2B with Tony Uphoff, the CEO of Thomas. Thomas is a leading resource for product sourcing and supplier selection. Tony is the video host of the popular, “Thomas Index Report” on industrial sourcing trends, and he is a regular Forbes.com contributor who writes about the industrial marketplace.

I was curious to know what Tony thinks about the challenges that B2B manufacturing companies are facing when adapting to digital transformation and data-driven culture. I know that my fellow B2B marketers who are dealing with the same challenges will find a lot of value for themselves as well as B2B manufacturer business owners. We also spoke about SEO, KPIs, and lead generation in B2B. Here is my interview with Tony.

Karina: How do manufacturing and B2B advertising differ from wholesale and B2C advertising?

Tony: There are some key differences, but also some similarities that many people overlook. One difference is that B2B purchasing often involves a longer sales cycle. Buying a piece of capital equipment or choosing a new supplier is not something to be taken lightly. A lot of research and vetting goes into the process as there is a material risk for the buyer, both, personally and professionally.

Another key difference is that B2B buyers aren’t typically completing a one-off purchase. They’re looking to find a supplier they can partner with for the long-term. As for the similarities, a B2B purchase is more personal for the buyer than many people understand. While B2C purchases are often very personal, consumers identify with certain brands that they want to be associated with. But with B2B, purchases are often personal similarly because the buyer that makes the decision on the purchase has a lot on the line.

Karina: Manufacturers have long relied on trade shows and other physical events for marketing and sales. Do you see this trend changing?

Tony: Yes. Many businesses understand that the digital transformation of industrial marketing and sales is here to stay, and they’re trending away from traditional methods such as trade shows and word-of-mouth exposure. There are still several well-attended mega-trade shows, as well as smaller ones, hosted every year, but we’re seeing that those types of events are typically taking up a smaller percentage of the marketing and sales budgets of the customers we work with.

Karina: Are U.S. manufacturers finding a greater need to make their marketing more data-driven?

Tony: Yes, because the buyer is in control of the sales process in today’s industrial world. Today’s buyers have unprecedented levels of information at their fingertips. Buyers are as much as 70 percent of the way through their buying process before they engage with a sales rep. This is a massive shift in the way businesses need to reach, engage and sell to industrial buyers thanks to the digital transformation of marketing and sales. Companies that still rely on old-school marketing tactics to try to drive growth and retain customers are going to find it increasingly difficult to stay relevant in today’s market.

Karina: How long do you think will it take for B2B to fully adapt to data-driven, analytics, and digital marketing?

Tony: The industry is still in the early stages of the digital transformation of marketing and sales. While we’re seeing a good number of businesses that are aggressively and enthusiastically embracing the transformation, we are also seeing a significant number of businesses that have yet to make a real commitment to a digital strategy. It may be a generational challenge as these incredibly successful industrial and manufacturing businesses were built and grown by Baby Boomers whose expertise is in engineering, product design, and manufacturing. Nearly half of the users of Thomasnet.com are millennial buyers who are helping to accelerate the digital transformation.

Karina: The industrial manufacturer’s market is very niche and faces big challenges in content marketing due to specialization and sometimes very low search volume results. How can content marketers take advantage of this?

Tony: For our customers with niche markets, the niche works to their advantage simply because it’s in the lower competition of their industry. From an SEO perspective, this makes it easier for them to stand out on result pages. There are a huge number of categories in manufacturing that are not at all niche. However, there’s massive competition in areas such as “CNC machining” and “metal stamping”. Whether in a highly competitive category or a niche category, we’ve learned from our customers that the pillar page strategy works well for overarching terms. Then we drive users to niche terms.

Karina: What is the right approach for digital marketers to run successful digital campaigns for the B2B Industrial manufacturer sector?

Tony: Getting their website in order is the foundation for everything else. Is it responsive? Is it secure? Is it easy to use, comprehensive, and informative? It’s also important to implement a program that reaches buyers at every phase of the industrial buying process. Understand that building brand awareness is often just as important as generating leads. In terms of strategy, it’s easy to get caught up in all the tactics and solutions, but while the vehicle is important, the most important thing industrial marketers need to keep in mind is that whatever they’re putting out there. It needs to resonate with a specific persona that has a specific job to do. Marketing and advertising content should be focused on helping your ideal customer(s) solve problems and accomplish important tasks, specific to where that buyer may be in their buying journey.

Karina: What does the future of publishing look like?

Tony: While it’s obvious that much of the publishing world is moving to digital platforms — if they haven’t already — a more relevant question is “What does the future of advertising look like?”. For years advertisers have relied on display networks, buying data on users and employing programmatic advertising. Not only has this proved to be quite costly and relatively ineffective, but privacy laws such as GDPR are making this approach obsolete. The trend today has publishers moving away from those broad ad-serving networks to the “walled garden” approach. A “walled garden” approach is one in which they’re creating their own ad networks and selling advertising directly on their online assets. Interestingly, this approach mirrors the ad sales approach that publishers in the print world have used for over a century.

Karina: What KPIs should B2B businesses focus on in marketing?

Tony: Obviously, lead generation in the form of marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads are a key KPI for digital marketing. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to build brand awareness as well. The reason is simple – when your sales team calls a lead that has never heard of your company, just getting that lead to continue the conversation is a challenge. When the lead is aware of your brand before the salesperson calls, that person is more likely to be receptive to the call. Other important KPIs are the cost of acquisition and average order value – and internally, businesses should also focus on RFI/RFQ response time. We’ve surveyed tens of thousands of industrial buyers, and invariably one of their pet peeves is the lack of responsiveness from suppliers to which they’ve requested information. Today, all the great marketing in the world will have little value if you aren’t following up on incoming RFIs and RFQs within a day – and preferably the same day you receive them.

Karina: How is Thomasnet.com using data and analytics to add services that bring new elements of value to their advertisers?

Tony: The first-party data generated by users on Thomasnet.com®, as well as data that is captured by buyers interacting with customer product information generated by our Thomas Product Data Solutions and our Thomas Marketing Services, gives us incredible insights into in-market buyers of products and services. We’re approaching three petabytes of buyer behavior data that helps us understand what buyers are interested in, how their purchase process works and when, where and how they’re engaging with content as a part of their buying journey.

Using our free Thomas Webtrax™ platform, our customers (as well as other qualifying industrial companies) can see and use that data to turn anonymous web traffic into leads, and create more targeted, meaningful messaging when targeting those leads. We’re also introducing a weekly data feed that businesses can use to determine exactly which buyers are actively in-market within a certain segment or vertical of industry. Our Thomas marketing services team also leverages the buying and sourcing trends from our data to help their customers enhance their organic and paid marketing.

Key takeaways from the interview

  • Clarify the differences and similarities between B2B and B2C
  • Discuss the reasons why B2B is trending away from traditional to digital marketing
  • Understand how B2B marketing is adapting to digital transformation
  • The importance of B2B manufacturers companies to adapt to a data-driven culture
  • The challenges of content marketing in niche B2B businesses
  • The steps to run successful digital marketing campaigns for B2B businesses
  • The KPIs that B2B businesses should focus on

I had a great conversation with Tony where I understood better the transformation of the B2B manufacturer industry. The industry has evolved from hard copy directories like yellow pages to an entirely data-driven culture (happening now). This is a huge opportunity for marketers to generate leads. Then, it is key to fully understand and overcome the challenges.

Note: This interview has been condensed for publishing purposes.

Karina Tama is a contributor for Forbes, Thrive Global and the El Distrito Newspaper. She can be found on Twitter @KarinaTama2.

The post Interview with Tony Uphoff: Digital Marketing for B2B Manufacturing Industry appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How changing domains challenge SEO

An insight on the relation of Domain and SEO, and how it impacts your digital footprint altogether.

When you are running a website, the digital footprint you build plays an imperative role in how your website fares among search engines. But be it a blog, online store, or a video stream, the goals are more or less the same – get traffic, create awareness, and generate conversions. To achieve this, webmasters spend vast amounts of their time increasing their organic web traffic, improving conversion volumes, and practicing different SEO techniques to enhance the visibility of their brand.

At some point on this online journey, there may come a time when you feel your website needs to achieve certain milestones in order to grow and establish a stronger position in the market. During this phase, you may come across the decision of changing your domain name to re-brand for expansion, enter a more popular TLD, or increase your digital marketing potential.

What happens when you switch domains?

Unfortunately, moving domains can do a serious number on your search engine rankings. Not because your brand virtually disappears for a short while, but because top search engines such as Google determine rankings through metrics based on both domain level and page level. When you decide to switch to a new domain, you basically reset these domain metrics back to zero. Fortunately, there are ways where you can minimize the damage and if you are careful, you can effectively negate the effects of moving to a new domain.

In this article, we are taking the opportunity of explaining why website owners change their domains and the imminent and long term effects domain changing can bring on their SEO. We have also added a mini-guide that will help you get a proper walk-through on migrating your old domain to the new one.

Why do webmasters consider changing their domain?

In the vast majority of situations, website owners refrain from changing their domain name. However, some conditions may require webmasters to transition into new domain names in order to achieve certain merits that come with it. Here are some of the reasons why.

1. They don’t like the domain name

Often, website owners need a change in taste or outlook to increase relevance with their business and distinguish their position in the marketplace.

2. The domain does not perform well

Perhaps the domain name has failed to accumulate the organic traffic volume or positive feedback that was expected. This prevents webmasters from and achieving their business goals.

3. Change in business

Many online businesses experience transition in their business model, go through an acquisition, change business activity or switch industry. This makes the current domain irrelevant or inapplicable with the current incorporated status of the business.

4. You want a better top-level domain (TLD)

Webmasters also register with lesser-known domain extensions since their desired one is unavailable at that time. Once the opportunity presents itself you might want to move to a more mainstream TLD that suits your business and brand presence.

What challenges does changing domains bring on SEO?

SEO is a key determinant in this entire process and counts as one of the central pieces in the digital marketing toolbox. So, while we know that moving to a new domain directly affects your SEO efforts, the question is how far does it impact your website’s SEO performance or in what ways does it deter its progress.

For new website owners, it may take time to properly understand the implications of changing a domain name. For instance, if you are moving to a new domain name and you have sold your old one, you will lose all the link equity you had built over the life of the old domain. This means your organic traffic takes a nosedive and your domain authority begins to diminish.

Moreover, failing to implement proper redirects during the migration can result in almost immediate loss of traffic. Once you lose your live page front, the only thing greeting your visitors is the dreaded 404 page. It is also important to timely convey your website’s search engine rankings to the new domain since Google search engine metrics will consider your new domain with zero visibility. Another major challenge is content duplication since your site could already be going through canonicalization issues and may start at the domain level. This will eventually exacerbate plagiarism and you will need to implement a canonical URL extension helps you remove duplicate content issues.

Website owners who dearly care about their online presence will never risk losing their link value or quality score they have earned so tirelessly. Therefore, the best course of action during domain migration is to maintain strict adherence to Google’s migration guidelines and track every change with proper tools to remain informed about your website’s progress. Sometimes even the slightest change in direction can end up with several undesired outcomes further down the line.

SEO guide: How to properly move domains

Here your main objective is to effectively redirect all of the pages to an entirely different domain. This guide by MOZ will briefly take you on a step-by-step action plan of doing it professionally and keeping your rankings abreast. Moz also underwent a re-branding phase where it changed its domain name from SEOmoz to Moz so there is a lot here that you can learn from the SEO behemoth.

  • Your old domain will need a sitemap so your first step would be to create one
  • Develop content for the new domain, such as the description of your company, about us, contact information, mission statement and other basics that can be easily linked
  • Now once you have set up the domain, its time you make it live
  • Go to Google Webmaster Tools and get your new domain and old domain registered and verified
  • To inform your visitors about the transition, enable a 404 page with the old domain so your visitors remain aware of the process and the new domain
  • Test the redirects in the development environment from the old domain to the new one. (This should be a 1:1 redirect)
  • Now implement a 301 redirect for your old domain to the new domain
  • To allow search engines to crawl your old URLs, submit the old sitemap to search engines such as Google and Bing. (You can change their index accordingly as the submission pages are within Bing Webmaster Center and Google Webmaster Tools)
  • From Google Webmaster Tools, open and fill up the “Change Address”
  • To make sure all URLs have been verified by Google and Bing, create a new sitemap and submit it to the search engines
  • Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Center will run the diagnostics for the sitemap and fix any errors found

Now you are good to go. To make sure your new domain is stable and properly indexed you must monitor search engine results.

Don’t forget to drop a comment with your queries about changing domains.

Zeeshan Khalid is a web entrepreneur and an eCommerce specialist, and the CEO of FME extensions.

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Q&A with Microsoft’s Noël Reilly: Data, discovery, customer-first mindset

Noël Reilly, Strategic Account Director at Microsoft, discusses her upcoming session at The Transformation of Search Summit, which will take place on October 25 here in New York.

As a prelude to the event, we’re doing a series of Q&As with speakers and panelists. First up, we have Noël, who will be on the panel, “Embarking on a search transformation project.”

Tell us a bit about your role at Microsoft? 

Noël Reilly: As a Strategic Account Director for Microsoft Advertising, it’s my responsibility to partner with our top global clients and ensure they understand our Microsoft value proposition and how to best leverage Microsoft Advertising products to reach their customers.

My main goal is to help build client relationships and partner with them on digital strategies which empower and grow their business.

What are your key priorities over the next twelve months?

NR: Our Microsoft Advertising offering is evolving quickly — we’ve come out with a ton of solutions, particularly in the audience, automation, and ecommerce space.

My first key priority is of course educating our clients on how best to utilize these tools to drive their goals.

We’re also looking at ways in which to bring a single voice from Microsoft to our clients — I’ve been partnering heavily with the enterprise side of our business to learn more about and deepen the relationship across top clients. 

What is your biggest challenge in achieving those? 

NR: Like all digital advertising, search in particular generates a ton of data, and we as marketers can get overwhelmed by it!

While all of this data we have access to has opened a ton of new possibilities for brands to respond, we also have to make sure we are respecting the people behind that data.

So much is changing in this space right now — with GDPR in Europe to now California following suit, there’s a lot out there to be knowledgeable of.

Add that to the way that search and discovery are changing with things like voice and image, and you’ve got yourself a really complex ecosystem.

Microsoft has taken a people-first approach to all of this. We sometimes get questions from marketers on when we’re coming out with this targeting or that data cut.

And while we are committed to client success, we have taken an industry-leading approach to brand safety and privacy standards and creating solutions that provide value while keeping customer data secure. 

What’s your advice to others who may be facing similar challenges?

NR: Ask questions! If you’re working with a partner who isn’t transparent about where their data comes from, or where your ads are showing up, you should ask why that is.

Automation is a hugely powerful tool for marketers. It can reduce a ton of bandwidth and be a key driver of your digital transformation journey.

Microsoft has tons of new products that can make personalization and automation easier, from product audiences which supercharge your ecommerce remarketing across our network, to automated bidding, to even our handy recommendations tab.

They all use the power of the Microsoft graph which can help you save time and work the way you want to work, but also offer that industry leading transparency and trust I mentioned earlier.

What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in the market right now?

NR: We have a tendency to focus on the tools: voice search, targeting, and audiences — but those things themselves are not the disruptors.

It’s things like conversational AI, and the new consumer experience, which are what’s interesting.

If you think about search and what it fundamentally has always been: it’s a place to discover and get answers.

This has not changed, but the way consumers engage with it has. And I think marketers are working to figure out the best way to tap into this new ecosystem. 

How do you expect it will change in the next 6-12 months?

NR: I think the focus on designing for every customer experience is what will start to take the spotlight in the next 12 months.

We at Microsoft give you a ton of ways to tap into your consumer. For example, if you want to understand what voice search looks like for your brand, you could run a search query report and look for indicators of voice queries in the intent.

If you want to personalize your message, you can leverage responsive search ads.

But, just using the tools does not guarantee success. The brands who know their customer journeys and are investing in unifying their data are the ones who we see improving their marketing performance.

Tell us a bit about your session at the Search Summit?

NR: My goal is of course to inspire you to not be overwhelmed by all of the changes in the world of search but inspired to put it at the forefront of your marketing strategy — there’s no better way to understand the journey of your consumer.

What are you looking forward to most at the Summit?

NR: I’m obsessed with our clients — I’m really looking forward to hearing from the folks at Walt Disney, Volvo, and Conde Nast.

As someone whose biggest responsibility above all is client satisfaction, I have to know and stay in touch with what is top of mind for clients.

What’s one of your favorite search technologies and why? 

NR: You’re talking to someone who has worked in Search for the last 12 years, so I pretty much nerd out on all of them.

If I have to pick a favorite though, it would definitely be our newly created Audience Ads on the Microsoft Audience Network.

It leverages search and web activity as well as demographic and professional targeting to really allow the advertiser a ton of cool options for targeting, and we’re seeing really great success from our clients who are investing time into this product.

What’s something you do every day that helps you be more successful or productive? 

NR: I am an avid yogi and teach fitness classes outside of work, so this has always been an important part of my life.

I recently moved about an hour and a half outside of the city, so I’ve had to do a lot of adjusting on my time table.

I make sure every morning I use the commute time to answer emails and create my working agenda for the day, so by the time I arrive at the office, I’m ready to hit the ground running.

Things always come up, but I have found that rising early and taking advantage of the quietness of the morning has given me time back to still get things done I need to do while keeping my time in the evenings personal for myself, my family, or my students. 

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How to Onboard Clients with Immersion Workshops – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by HeatherPhysioc

Spending quality time getting to know your client, their goals and capabilities, and getting them familiar with their team sets you up for a better client-agency relationship. Immersion workshops are the answer. Learn more about how to build a strong foundation with your clients in this week’s Whiteboard Friday presented by Heather Physioc.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, everybody, and welcome back to Whiteboard Friday. My name is Heather Physioc, and I’m Group Director of Discoverability at VMLY&R. So I learned that when you onboard clients properly, the rest of the relationship goes a lot smoother.

Through some hard knocks and bumps along the way, we’ve come up with this immersion workshop model that I want to share with you. So I actually conducted a survey of the search industry and found that we tend to onboard clients inconsistently from one to the next if we bother to do a proper onboarding with them at all. So to combat that problem, let’s talk through the immersion workshop.

Why do an immersion workshop with a client?

So why bother taking the time to pause, slow down, and do an immersion workshop with a client? 

1. Get knowledgeable fast

Well, first, it allows you to get a lot more knowledgeable about your client and their business a lot faster than you would if you were picking it up piecemeal over the first year of your partnership. 

2. Opens dialogue

Next it opens a dialogue from day one.

It creates the expectation that you will have a conversation and that the client is expected to participate in that process with you. 

3. Build relationships

You want to build a relationship where you know that you can communicate effectively with one another. It also starts to build relationships, so not only with your immediate, day-to-day client contact, but people like their bosses and their peers inside their organization who can either be blockers or advocates for the search work that your client is going to try to implement.

4. Align on purpose, roadmap, and measuring success

Naturally the immersion workshop is also a crucial time for you to align with your client on the purpose of your search program, to define the roadmap for how you’re going to deliver on that search program and agree on how you’re going to measure success, because if they’re measuring success one way and you’re measuring success a different way, you could end up at completely different places.

5. Understand the DNA of the brand

Ultimately, the purpose of a joint immersion workshop is to truly understand the DNA of the brand, what makes them tick, who are their customers, why should they care what this brand has to offer, which helps you, as a search professional, understand how you can help them and their clients. 

Setting

Do it live! (Or use video chats)

So the setting for this immersion workshop ideally should be live, in-person, face-to-face, same room, same time, same place, same mission.

But worst case scenario, if for some reason that’s not possible, you can also pull this off with video chats, but at least you’re getting that face-to-face communication. There’s going to be a lot of back-and-forth dialogue, so that’s really, really important. It’s also important to building the empathy, communication, and trust between people. Seeing each other’s faces makes a big difference. 

Over 1–3 days

Now the ideal setting for the immersion workshop is two days, in my opinion, so you can get a lot accomplished.

It’s a rigorous two days. But if you need to streamline it for smaller brands, you can totally pull it off with one. Or if you have the luxury of stretching it out and getting more time with them to continue building that relationship and digging deeper, by all means stretch it to three days. 

Customize the agenda

Finally, you should work with the client to customize the agenda. So I like to send them a base template of an immersion workshop agenda with sessions that I know are going to be important to my search work.

But I work side-by-side with that client to customize sessions that are going to be the right fit for their business and their needs. So right away we’ve got their buy-in to the workshop, because they have skin in the game. They know which departments are going to be tricky. They know what objectives they have in their heads. So this is your first point of communication to make this successful.

Types of sessions

So what types of sessions do we want to have in our immersion workshop? 

Vision

The first one is a vision session, and this is actually one that I ask the clients to bring to us. So we slot about 90 minutes for the client to give us a presentation on their brand, their overarching strategy for the year, their marketing strategy for the year.

We want to hear about their goals, revenue targets, objectives, problems they’re trying to solve, threats they see to the business. Whatever is on their mind or keeps them up at night or whatever they’re really excited about, that’s what we want to hear. This vision workshop sets the tone for the entire rest of the workshop and the partnership. 

Stakeholder

Next we want to have stakeholder sessions.

We usually do these on day one. We’re staying pretty high level on day one. So these will be with other departments that are going to integrate with search. So that could be the head of marketing, for example, like a CMO. It could be the sales team. If they have certain sales objectives they’re trying to hit, that would be really great for a search team to know. Or it could be global regions.

Maybe Latin America and Europe have different priorities. So we may want to understand how the brand works on the global scale as opposed to just at HQ. 

Practitioner

On day two is when we start to get a little bit more in the weeds, and we call these our practitioner sessions. So we want to work with our day-to-day SEO contacts inside the organization. But we also set up sessions with people like paid search if they need to integrate their search efforts.

We might set up time with analytics. So this will be where we demo our standard SEO reporting dashboards and then we work with the client to customize it for their needs. This is a time where we find out who they’re reporting up to and what kinds of metrics they’re measured on to determine success. We talk about the goals and conversions they’re measuring, how they’re captured, why they’re tracking those goals, and their existing baseline of performance information.

We also set up time with developers. Technology is essential to actually implementing our SEO recommendations. So we set up time with them to learn about their workflows and their decision-making process. I want to know if they have resource constraints or what makes a good project ticket in Jira to get our work done. Great time to start bonding with them and give them a say in how we execute search.

We also want to meet with content teams. Now content tends to be one of the trickiest areas for our clients. They don’t always have the resources, or maybe the search scope didn’t include content from day one. So we want to bring in whoever the content decision-makers or creators are. We want to understand how they think, their workflows and processes. Are they currently creating search-driven content, or is this going to be a shift in mentality?

So a lot of times we get together and talk about process, editorial calendaring, brand tone and voice, whatever it takes to get content done for search.

Summary and next steps

So after all of these, we always close with a summary and next steps discussion. So we work together to think about all the things that we’ve accomplished during this workshop and what our big takeaways and learnings are, and we take this time to align with our client on next steps.

When we leave that room, everybody should know exactly what they’re responsible for. Very powerful. You want to send a recap after the fact saying, “Here’s what we learned and here’s what we understand the next steps to be. Are we all aligned?” Heads nod. Great. 

Tools to use

So a couple of tools that we’ve created and we’ll make sure to link to these below.

Download all the tools

Onboarding checklist

We’ve created a standard onboarding checklist. The thing about search is when we’re onboarding a new client, we pretty commonly need the same things from one client to the next. We want to know things about their history with SEO. We need access and logins. Or maybe we need a list of their competitors. Whatever the case is, this is a completely repeatable process. So there’s no excuse for reinventing the wheel every single time.

So this standard onboarding checklist allows us to send this list over to the client so they can get started and get all the pieces in place that we need to be successful. It’s like mise en place when you’re cooking. 

Discussion guides

We’ve also created some really helpful session discussion guides. So we give our clients a little homework before these sessions to start thinking about their business in a different way.

We’ll ask them open-ended questions like: What kinds of problems are your business unit solving this year? Or what is one of the biggest obstacles that you’ve had to overcome? Or what’s some work that you’re really proud of? So we send that in advance of the workshop. Then in our business unit discussions, which are part of the stakeholder discussions, we’ll actually use a few of the questions from that discussion guide to start seeding the conversation.

But we don’t just go down the list of questions, checking them off one by one. We just start the conversation with a couple of them and then follow it organically wherever it takes us, open-ended, follow-up, and clarifying questions, because the conversations we are having in that room with our clients are far more powerful than any information you’re going to get from an email that you just threw over the fence.

Sticky note exercise

We also do a pretty awesome little sticky note exercise. It’s really simple. So we pass out sticky notes to all the stakeholders that have attended the sessions, and we ask two simple questions. 

  1. One, what would cause this program to succeed? What are all the factors that can make this work? 
  2. We also ask what will cause it to fail.

Before you know it, the client has revealed, in their own words, what their internal obstacles and blockers will be. What are the things that they’ve run into in the past that have made their search program struggle? By having that simple exercise, it gets everybody in the mind frame of what their role is in making this program a success. 

Search maturity assessment

The last tool, and this one is pretty awesome, is an assessment of the client’s organic search maturity.

Now this is not about how good they are at SEO. This is how well they incorporate SEO into their organization. Now we’ve actually done a separate Whiteboard Friday on the maturity assessment and how to implement that. So make sure to check that out. But a quick overview. So we have a survey that addresses five key areas of a client’s ability to integrate search with their organization.

  • It’s stuff like people. Do they have the right resources? 
  • Process. Do they have a process? Is it documented? Is it improving? 
  • Capacity. Do they have enough budget to actually make search possible? 
  • Knowledge. Are they knowledgeable about search, and are they committed to learning more? Stuff like that.

So we’ve actually created a five-part survey that has a number of different questions that the client can answer. We try to get as many people as possible on the client side to answer these questions as we can. Then we take the numerical answers and the open-ended answers and compile that into a maturity assessment for the brand after the workshop.

So we use that workshop time to actually execute the survey, and we have something that we can bring back to the client not long after to give them a picture of where they stand today and where we’re going to take them in the future and what the biggest obstacles are that we need to overcome to get them there. 

So this is my guide to creating an immersion workshop for your new clients. Be sure to check out the Whiteboard Friday on the maturity assessment as well.

We’d love to hear what you do to onboard your clients in the comments below. Thanks and we’ll see you on the next Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Six First Income Streams Recommended for Bloggers

The post Six First Income Streams Recommended for Bloggers appeared first on ProBlogger.

First income streams recommended for bloggers

This post is based on episode 198 of the ProBlogger podcast.

If you’ve been blogging for a while but haven’t started monetizing your blog, you might be wondering what income stream you should add first.

This can be a sticking point, whether you’re a new blogger or have been blogging for a while.

There’s no one “perfect” income stream to start with (though I’ll be making a recommendation at the end of this post about the one that suits most blogs).

What you pick will depend on your topic, your audience, and more.

Different Factors Affecting the Income Stream You Choose

Your Topic: Some income streams suit certain topics better than others. For instance, bloggers writing about spirituality or politics often find advertising doesn’t work so well.

What Your Readers Want: Your reader’s intent matters too. If they’re on your site because they want information, it might make sense to sell them an information product. If they’re on your site to connect with others, they might instead be willing to subscribe to a membership community.

Your Audience Size: As your blog grows, so will your income from most income streams. Some income streams won’t really work at all with a small audience, particularly Google AdSense.

Your Readers’ Location: If you have a lot of local readers, that can lead to specific opportunities such as selling advertising to local readers. If your audience is global, something like Amazon’s affiliate program might work well for you.

The Source of Your Traffic: Some types of traffic monetize differently from others. For instance, traffic from search engines can be a good fit for Google AdSense, but traffic from social media might convert well into affiliate product sales. Email works really well if you’re selling a product.

Six Different Income Streams You Could Try

#1: Amazon’s Affiliate Program

Amazon’s affiliate program is called “Amazon Associates”, and it attracts some mixed feelings from bloggers. (If you’re not sure what an affiliate program is, we’ll be coming to that in a moment.)

One issue with Amazon Associates is it’s simply not available for some people. Amazon won’t let you join if you’re in certain states due to tax laws. And Amazon isn’t available at all in some parts of the world.

But most of the complaints I hear are that Amazon’s commission isn’t very high (it’s normally 4%, though it can be higher on certain products) and that the affiliate cookie only lasts for 24 hours.

Personally, I find the Amazon Associates program works well for me, particularly on Digital Photography School.

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • We have a very US-based audience that knows, likes and trusts Amazon.
  • Some of the products we promote are high-value ones (e.g. $2,000 cameras). And even 4% commission on those quickly adds up.
  • Amazon will give you a cut of everything a person someone buys within 24 hours of following your link. I often get commissions from people buying books, cosmetics, jewellery, and even nappies (diapers).
  • Amazon’s links are easy to integrate into a blog, and they provide a number of tools and widgets you can use.
  • Amazon is really well optimised for holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so you can promote special deals at these times.

While Amazon won’t be a perfect fit for every blog, it’s a good first option as you can be up and running with Amazon affiliate links in just a few minutes.

Further Reading:

The Ultimate Guide to Making Money with the Amazon Affiliate Program

How I Made over $500,000 With the Amazon Affiliate Program (podcast episode)

#2: Other Affiliate Programs

Being an “affiliate” for a product means you recommend it to your readers and get a commission each time someone buys that product. You’ll get an “affiliate link” to the product with a special tracking code so your commission can be correctly credited to you.

There are a huge number of affiliate programs out there, and you can promote almost anything. For instance, my wife Vanessa has a style fashion blog where she promotes a number of different physical products. She also writes about books and recommends those using affiliate links to Australian stores (as most of her readers are Australian).

Some online stores have their own affiliate program, but many will use an affiliate network such as Commission Junction, Commission Factory, ShareASale or LinkShare. These work well for bloggers, as your commission from several different stores can be pooled together into one payout (so long as they’re all on the same network).

If your topic isn’t a good fit for physical products, you can promote virtual products that are often information based such as ebooks, ecourses or membership sites. Some of these will pay quite a high commission, with 50% considered normal.

You can also promote software products. On ProBlogger, for instance, we recommend hosting options, tools, landing page sites, plugins, WordPress themes, and so on.

Many of those affiliate networks will have software products, too. Other good options here are the networks Clickbank and E-junkie.

Whatever you’re promoting, make sure it’s a product that’s on topic and matches what your readers want to buy. You should also be sure it’s high-quality and something you’re happy to be associated with through your recommendation.

Further Reading:

My Tips for Making Money As a Blogger Through Affiliate Marketing (podcast episode)

How to Use Affiliate Programs to Boost Your Income Stream

#3: Join an Advertising Network

I see a lot of bloggers start out this way, particularly those who’ve already built a bit of an audience. Advertising doesn’t work well if your audience is very small, as you won’t get more than a few cents from it.

One popular option is Google’s AdSense network. Some bloggers don’t like it because they find they don’t make much money for it. My experience is that you need a lot of traffic, and it works best with US audiences.

Another good network to try is Mediavine. There are some restrictions on who can join based on your traffic and niche. But the bloggers I know who got accepted say they do a lot better from it than from AdSense.

Mediavine doesn’t represent some categories (e.g. politics and religion), and your blog should fit into one of these areas: food, parenting, DIY, health, fitness, fashion, travel, crafts, education, entertainment.

You’ll need to have 25,000 “sessions” (visits to your site) each month as measured by Google Analytics. If you have less, you might not get accepted.

Further Reading:

AdSense Turns 10 Years Old: Why I’m Grateful for it!

How I Diversified My Blogging Income Beyond Having All My Eggs in the AdSense Basket

#4: Sponsorship

This is a slightly different type of advertising where you find a brand that’s willing to work with you directly, cutting out the “middle man” of an advertising network. Again, you’ll need some traffic for this to work.

There are a variety of ways you could sell sponsorship. For instance, you might offer:

  • A banner ad on your blog
  • A sponsored post (written by you or the sponsor)
  • A sponsored giveaway or competition on your blog

With Digital Photography School, we often offer sponsors a “bundle” of different things – perhaps a banner ad on the blog and in the newsletter, some social media promotion and a competition.

Further Reading:

Partnering With Brands Theme Week: Advertising 101

One Screenshot You Must Include When Pitching a Sponsored Post

#5: Creating Products

Up to this point, the methods I’ve shared are all about promoting other people’s products – either as an affiliate or by working with them as an advertiser or sponsor. These methods all involve sending people away from your site to buy someone else’s product.

That works well, especially when you’re starting out. But another option is to create your own product that you sell through your blog.

This takes quite a lot of work, particularly if you’re going to sell a physical product that needs to be designed and manufactured. Even a virtual product such as an ebook takes time to create.

My first product was an ebook, which included some previously published posts along with some extra material. It took me three or four months to create it and get it ready to sell.

Selling your own product works best if you’ve got an engaged audience rather than a lot of fleeting traffic from search engines. Ideally, you want to get your readers onto an email list, because email is a great way to sell products.

If you’ve already built up an audience, and your readers are engaged and interested, a product could be a great first income stream. You can include your readers in the development of the product. They could even help fund it through a site such as Kickstarter.

Further Reading:

9 Key Ingredients for Creating the Perfect Sales Page

Creating a Product Library for Your Blog (podcast episode)

#6: Selling Your Services

The final income stream you might try when you first monetize is selling your services. This could be linked to an existing business (e.g. if you’re an accountant, a lawyer, or a child behaviour therapist), or you could start providing a new service that relates to your blog.

One avenue many bloggers go down is to freelance on related topics. For instance, if you’ve got a fashion blog, you could write copy for fashion site. If you’ve got a parenting blog, you might be able to land a column with a parenting magazine.

When I did a recent survey of about 100 full-time bloggers, I found more than half of them offered freelancing services such as writing, consulting, and coaching. So that’s another option to consider when you’re starting to monetize.

Further Reading:

How to Earn Extra Money Freelancing While Starting a Blog

10 Tips to Help You Land a Job as a Freelance Blogger

Which Income Stream Should You Try First?

The options we’ve been through are:

  • Amazon’s affiliate program
  • Other affiliate programs
  • Advertising networks
  • Sponsorship
  • Creating a product
  • Providing a service

Any of these could make a great first income stream for your blog. But if you’re not sure which one to choose, I suggest going for affiliate marketing (either with Amazon or with another brand).

Affiliate marketing has a very low barrier to entry. Many programs will approve you instantly. You can get links straight away to put into your blog posts.

While you might not make a lot of money from affiliate marketing in the early days, you’ll learn a lot. You’ll see which products your audience are interested in buying. You’ll discover whether they prefer physical or virtual products, or whether they’re more likely to buy high-priced or low-priced ones. This can help you work out what type of product you might want to create.

Affiliate marketing can also help you to figure out which brands might become sponsors for your blog. For instance, if you find jewellery does well on your blog, you might reach out to some jewellery stores or manufacturers.

A Couple of Important Things to Remember

Remember, making money from blogging takes time. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Most bloggers have more than one income stream, particularly if they’re blogging full-time. Many will also have tried some things that didn’t work for them.

So if the first income stream you try doesn’t work for you, hang in there and keep experimenting.

And while some bloggers talk about “passive income”, making money from your blog isn’t really passive. You’ll spend time building your audience, creating a product or building relationships, and so on.

So by all means experiment with income streams. But don’t do it at the expense of other important things, such as creating great content, engaging with your audience, and promoting your blog.

Image credit: lucas Favre

The post Six First Income Streams Recommended for Bloggers appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

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