Friday, January 30, 2009

Best of 2008: Search Engine Marketing

This post has been moved to Best of 2008: Search Engine Marketing on the Webbiquity blog.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review - Website Optimization - Follow Up

As a quick follow-up to the recent review here of the excellent SEO/SEM book Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets by Andrew King: I neglected to mention that there is also a companion website to the book at http://www.websiteoptimizationsecrets.com which features sample chapters, chapter summaries, full-color figures, worksheets, videos, and a blog.

In addition, Andy and I had a little back-and-forth about the SEO value of backlinks as well as the risks and benefits of paid links on the Website Optimization blog. In the end, I think we are both right: inbound links are always important, but not always the most critical factor in search ranking, and paid links are okay if used very selectively.

Again, bottom line, I highly recommend Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets for anyone who wants to maximize the business value of a website.

*****

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's Next for B2B Social Media? FYIndOut Now

It's been obvious for some time that social media has an increasing role in b2b marketing, and that b2b companies will increasingly invest marketing dollars there as social media marketing practices become more standardized. Still, most of what's being done today, from creating a company Facebook page to using a social media email signature, is extremely tactical. How can b2b firms approach social media more strategically?

It starts by thinking about the points of alignment between the goals of b2b companies and their buyers:
  • B2b buyers have problems they need solved. Vendors have products and services designed to solve those problems. When the right solution meets the right problem, both sides benefit.

  • Both buyers and sellers want to reach each other as efficiently as possible. That is, buyers don't want to listen to 50 vendors pitch products or services they don't need or can't afford in order to find the one solution they seek, and vendors don't want to waste marketing dollars and sales time chasing prospects who don't need or can't buy their offerings.

  • Both sides understand the importance of third-party endorsements. Every vendor will rave about its own products or services, and buyers get that. So, industry publications, blogs, and analyst reports carry somewhat more weight than a company brochure. Most important, however, are the words of actual customers. Case studies are currently the most common way to deliver this information, though there is still a production cost for the vendor and prospective buyers presume that only the happiest customers will have their stories published.
A new b2b social media site called FYIndOut understands these dynamics, and is seeking to do for b2b buyers what epinions does for consumer products and Angie's List does for household services.

FYIndOut is free for b2b buyers, who can read product/service reviews posted by other users, write their own review, contact multiple vendors at once, and network with other buyers. The creators of the site believe that buyers will post reviews because 1) they increasingly use social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) as part of their professional lives, and 2) for all the reasons (and then some) that people write reviews on consumer sites: self-gratification, self-promotion, to rant about a bad experience or gush ab out a great one, to pay it forward/back, or just to help others. There are no plans for any type of direct reward for contributing currently, though presumably that could change if the need arises.

Vendors can post their company name, website link, and one product/service name with a description for free, or sign up for the "Plus" membership enabling them to do additional promotion; post assets such as white papers, videos and presentations; invite their customers to contribute reviews; interact with the community; and generate leads.

Paid membership runs $99 per month plus $100 per accepted lead. In comparison to something like Google AdWords, depending on campaign efficiency, FYIndOut's cost per lead runs 30%-100% higher, but—the leads should theoretically be more qualified, and vendors pay only for accepted leads. In addition, FYIndOut lets each vendor know who else is getting the lead (so vendors can position themselves accordingly when they contact the buyer) and provides LinkedIn information from the buying company (so the vendor can check for connections there).

On the buyer side, FYIndOut is targeted at SMBs that are generally too small to have policies against endorsing vendors (as many larger enterprises unfortunately do) or to be clients of analyst firms like Gartner or Forrester. On the vendor side, FYIndOut is open to any b2b product or service provider; unlike TechMATCH or CTS, it isn't limited to technology products (and doesn't rely on vendor RFPs for information).

In order to avoid Yelp-style lawsuits, FYIndOut will remove any review content that is factually inaccurate; enable vendors to respond publicly to negative reviews; and encourage vendors and unhappy customers to resolve issues directly.

FYIndOut is the brainchild of Scott Manley and Tony Colon. Scott was previously a senior vice president at LaSalle Bank and product manager at Motorola. Tony was a solution architect at eGain Communications, where he helped Fortune 500 companies integrate CRM systems with collaboration channels such as email, web text chat and online self service.

As Scott puts in in his pitch for the site, "The idea for FYIndOut started because we both believe that the model for finding and marketing business apps and services is outdated. For years now, there’s nothing in our consumer lives where we won’t first go online to see customer reviews before we buy it. Yet, in the business world, we still go by the biggest ads in the Yellow Pages or the top results on a search engine. The other option is to pay a high end analyst firm for an expensive report of vendors in a certain area, none of which they have ever used themselves. None of these options speaks to the solution provider’s quality, just their advertising budget and SEO skills. The goal for FYIndOut is to allow professionals to find the business apps and services they’re looking for in the same manner we’re used to in our consumer lives and provide Solution Providers (big and small) a level playing field to compete based on interaction and quality, not advertising budget."

Success will depend on a number of factors, including getting buyers to post honest and useful reviews and vendors to buy into the value proposition. It will also require generating scale quickly. But given both the success of review sites in the consumer realm and the increasing use of social media in b2b marketing, FYIndOut may have the right timing and the right model to achieve success using social networking to bring b2b buyers and seller together.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Best of 2008 - SEO Tools, Part 1

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: SEO Tools on the Webbiquity blog.

*****

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Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Review: Website Optimization

This post has been moved to Book Review: Website Optimization – Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets on the Webbiquity blog.

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Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Best of 2008: Interactive PR, Part 1

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: Interactive PR on the Webbiquity blog.

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Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Five Resources for Job Hunting Online

The news about unemployment just keeps getting uglier as the jobless rate recently reached its highest level in 16 years. If you are one of the people behind these numbers, my best wishes and prayers are with you. Been there, done that, and it's not something I'd wish on anyone (well, almost anyone, but...). Seriously, it's stressful and frustrating, and for all who now find themselves involuntarily seeking new career opportunities, I hope your search is as quick and productive as possible. Here are a few resources that may help.

Social media guru Chris Brogan has written a free ebook on Using the Social Web to Find Work that, in Chris' words, "takes you from the specifics of using LinkedIn to your benefit, into some ideas on how to grow and nurture your social networks ahead of a need for them." This is a great resource to check out even if you're not out of work (yet).

The Marketing, Advertising and Sales Career Opportunities center on WebMarketCentral.com provides pre-filtered job searches from CareerBuilder, as well as career advice and a job seeker toolkit with guidance on topics such as making your resume stand out from the crowd.

MarketingSherpa provides a career classifieds section for high-profile marketing and PR positions. These postings tend to attract a lot of resumes, but if you're a marketing rock star, your next opportunity may be here.

The Ladders offers MktgLadder, a service dedicated to six-figure marketing and PR positions. It's fee-based but not terribly expensive ($15-$30 per month depending on the time frame chosen) and the positions don't draw quite as many unqualified resumes as those posted on free job boards like Monster.

Finally, a relatively new service is TopJobLeads.com. They promise to have all resumes reviewed by an experienced recruiter, who then matches skill sets with companies actively recruiting in the candidate's are and provides contact information for the actual decision makers, thereby avoiding "gatekeepers." The model has potential, though at $10 per lead the cost could quickly take a toll on an unemployed candidate's budget. I couldn't find much written about the company or CEO Rick Probstein, so if you have any experience with this company, please leave a comment below.

Good luck and God be with you.

*****


Contact Mike Bannan : mike@digitalrdm.com

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Monday, January 12, 2009

How to Avoid Bad SEO: My SEOmoz 15 Minutes of Fame

SEO-MozI had the honor of having a guest post on how to avoid bad SEO consultants published on YOUmoz last week. Based on my own experience, and citing the work of lots of smart SEO experts, the post provides advice on how to spot SEO spammers and scammers, as well as how to find an effective, reputable firm to provide SEO services.

The final post looks a bit link-heavy as it was edited down quite a bit. Still, overall, I think the edits made by the SEOmoz team improved the post (I tend to get a bit wordy sometimes).

The post didn't generate quite as much traffic to this blog as I thought it would. I'm not sure if that was because:
  • SEOmoz doesn't get as much traffic as one would expect;
  • SEOmoz readers don't often click on links within posts; or
  • my post just wasn't interesting (but I got all thumbs-up and generally positive comments, so don't think this is the case).
Regardless, it was an honor and I hope you have a chance to check out the post.

*****


Mike Bannan : mike@digitalrdm.com

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Best of 2008: SEO Guidance, Part 1

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: SEO Guidance on the Webbiquity blog.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Don't They Know Who You Are? Why Reputation Management is Critical

This content has been moved to Don’t They Know Who You Are? Why Reputation Management is Crucial on the Webbiquity blog.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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