22 October 2010

B2B marketing on Twitter

"For some B2B marketers, Twitter isn't intuitive," notes Ardath Albee in a recent post at the Marketing Interactions blog. "I could come up with a list of reasons why not, but you can probably do that on your own," she adds.
But here's the good news: Albee has been working with Twitter for some time—and based on her experience she has some realistic advice for her fellow marketers.
Through "some very unscientific analysis,” she says, she has discovered, among other things, that B2B tweeters should:
Use other folks' Twitter handles in your tweets. People like seeing their handle [username] in a tweet, Albee notes. "They'll include you in their thanks tweet or RT your tweet with a 'thanks'—giving your tweet more exposure."
Always attribute. It also helps to include the name of the blog, person, company or other identifying characteristic of those you tweet about, she advises.
Ask folks to re-tweet your messages. "Putting a 'Pls RT' at the end of your tweets can help encourage people to do so," Albee notes. "Asking will encourage even lurkers to take action and help you spread the word."
Use hashtags. "Many people have columns [a search-like feature of Hootsuite] set up to follow hashtags (e.g., #marketing, #B2B, etc.), so you can gain a lot of additional exposure to those who may not be followers by using them," she says.
Finally, Albee urges marketers to think before they tweet: "Instead of just grabbing things to post and moving on, take the time to put some thought into what you post—even if you post less."
The Po!nt: "B2B-social" is not an oxymoron. By using a few proven tactics when tweeting, B2B marketers can boost their engagement and productivity on Twitter.

19 October 2010

More Customers with Email Marketing !

Whether you're a seasoned graphic designer or a marketer branching out into design, there's one thing you need to know: designing effective HTML email marketing has its own unique set of challenges. Are you ready to overcome those challenges? Does your design have what it takes to compel recipients to take action? Are you sure your email design includes all of the latest best practices?

When it comes to effective email design, there are three things you always need to keep in mind, whether you're creating an e-newsletter for your entire list or a sales-focused mailing to a select group of customers and prospects: the basics, the best practices, and the pitfalls. Let's take a look at each of these three categories and explore how each one can have an impact on your overall email design. Ask yourself each of these questions to ensure that your design makes the grade.

Checklist One: The Basics 


Did You Create Two Versions?

When scheduling the design time for your email marketing campaign, always plan to create at least two separate versions of your email - one in HTML and another in plain text. Why? Because if you only provide an HTML email, any subscribers whose email clients are set up only to handle text messages will display a jumble of text, odd characters and HTML code. You may also want to consider developing a third version in Rich Text Format (RTF) to take advantage of those email clients that do not render HTML but that are capable of presenting rich text.

Did You Design for the Top 5 Email Clients?
Keep in mind that your email design doesn't just need to look good in the email client you use; it needs to render properly in the most common email programs used today. According to a MarketingSherpa 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, nearly 80% of email users use one of the following five email clients:
  • Microsoft Outlook (MarketingSherpa's Report notes that 4 out of 10 email users open email in some version of Outlook)
  • Gmail
  • AOL mail 
  • Yahoo! Email
  • Hotmail 
    If possible, test email in more than one version of an email program - see how it renders differently in Microsoft Outlook 2010 compared to Microsoft Outlook 2007 - and also see how it appears in the same email programs on different computing platforms, like Macs and Linux computers or even the iPad.
    Did You Include a Link to a Web Version? Even though you test for a number of different email clients, you probably have at least one subscriber using a non-standard program - or perhaps you have a growing number of subscribers accessing their email from smartphones or other mobile devices. That's why it's important to include a link in your email to a Web-based version of your email message. Doing this will ensure that all subscribers can access the information as you intended even if the email they received didn't render properly.

    Did You Use the Right Page Dimensions?
    When designing for the standard email client, page width should be top-of-mind; after all, forcing readers to scroll horizontally isn't exactly their favorite thing to do. To stay on the safe side, ensure that your email designs are between 500 and 650 pixels in width. And don't assume that readers will scroll down a long page of content either - make use of landing pages to explain offers and benefits in more detail.
    Did You Consider the Right File Size?
    Page pixel width isn't the only number with which you should be concerned - you also need to ensure your message is the appropriate file size. Because some recipients may have file size limits within their email client, a good rule of thumb is to keep your message sizes to between 40 - 50 KB to avoid potential issues.

    Did You Use Color to Your Advantage?
    No one can deny the role that color can play in effective email design. Done well, color can highlight a call to action and draw the reader's eye to the email's most valuable information. Done poorly, color can confuse the reader, causing them to overlook important elements of your email - if they even read it at all.

    Make color work for you. Ensure that the background colors, font colors and the colors of any buttons or images in your email complement each other and work well together. Experiment with color combinations until you find one that effectively calls out important information while staying true to your brand. And avoid any color combinations that may negatively affect readability.

    Checklist Two: The Best Practices

    Did You Follow W3C standards for HTML coding?
    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed standards related to HTML coding. Abiding by these standards ensures that your HTML email marketing will be accessible to all recipients, including those with special needs.

    Did You Use Standard Fonts?
    No one enjoys squinting to read a tiny font, and even non-designers know how distracting it can be to try reading something printed in a font like Comic Sans or Impact. Help your readers more quickly and easily access your email's valuable information by using a standard, universally-supported font that is at least 10 pixels, 10 points, or size "2". Examples of fonts that are universally supported are Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana and Tahoma.

    Did You Employ Appropriate Graphics and Buttons?
    Images and buttons are an excellent way to add visual interest to your email, to break up or offset blocks of text, and to draw reader's attention to a specific area. Using graphics and buttons are an effective way of highlighting your email's call to action and compelling people to take action. Ensure that your graphics enhance your email rather than detract from it, and ensure that your call to action is the graphic that most gets your attention.

    Did You Use Image ALT Tags?
    Two-thirds of respondents in MarketingSherpa's 2009 report have their email images turned off by default. That means that all of the hard work you've put into the design of your HTML email may not ever be seen by email recipients. Email that arrives with blocked images oftentimes looks like a puzzle full of blank boxes with red Xs in the corners. Using ALT tags can help your email content better communicate with those whose images are blocked.

    An ALT tag is a written out "ALTernative" to what is depicted in the image. Make use of ALT tags to describe your offers, and to spell out your call to action. If your large email image shows several cozy winter sweaters on sale, ALT tag text of “Cozy winter jerseys - in wool, angora and cashmere - are available in a variety of colors from R19.99!” may just be enough to entice the recipient to turn images "on" or click through to the Web version of the email.

    Did You Include Plenty of Links? 

    Another method to increase your email open and clickthrough rates is by increasing the number of links within the email content. Why? Apparently a higher number of text, image, and navigation links appeals to the consumer because it signals to them that there are more ideas and actions available in the email.

     Need help with email marketing? Let the experts take care of your email marketing needs. Contact Scream Media today on 021 559 0800

11 October 2010

Seo Content for your Website

"You have a great website. It has beautiful images, a compelling theme and intuitive navigation, all designed to take eager visitors to complete descriptions of your proprietary products and services," "The only problem is your website shows up somewhere after page 10 on search-engine results."
To rectify the problem—and optimize your content for search engines—Wessley has advice like this:
Before making any changes, clearly establish what you want to achieve. Don't be distracted by the glittering allure of top rankings for each and every page at your site. "Rather," , "the goal should be to incorporate search-engine-friendly content that performs well on the most important 'money phrases.' These are areas that you've identified that typically lead to additional action by visitors and prospects."
Carefully select your keywords—and remember they're likely to be keyword phrases. If you sell doors, explains Wessley, you'll get nowhere with a generic term like doors. "A better keyword phrase would be aluminum exterior house doors or solid core wood doors."
Organize your chosen keywords into thematic silos. "[These] may be interior doors, exterior doors and garage doors," she says, "with the specific types of each category being grouped together."
When writing copy, err on the side of making sense to humans. Don't forget customers—not search-engine spiders—are the ones making a purchase. "Search engines may love you but if your content isn't attractive to your visitors and they choose to leave your site, all your work is for nothing."
The Po!nt: Think clearly, and state it clearly. Implementing a common-sense SEO strategy is the best route over time from page 10 to page one of search results. Let Scream Media assist you with SEO friendly content and optimisation of your website

06 October 2010

Tips to make sure you're making the most of Twitter for your brand.

Today's discussions no longer center on whether a brand should participate in social media. Companies of all sizes, across all industries, are rushing to create their Facebook page and Twitter account.
But there's more to Twitter than amassing followers and broadcasting your latest news. The real-time conversations that fill the Twitterverse offer an abundance of market insight and unprecedented visibility into consumer sentiment.
Moreover, properly engaging in the right discussions can earn customer goodwill and brand awareness.
Here are some tips to make sure you're making the most of Twitter for your brand.

1. Track conversations about your brand
People are talking about your company and products throughout the social Web—and each mention is an opportunity for you to engage those people. Track your brand names and product terms. Don't forget to include common misspellings.
And remember, the names or terms used internally at your company may not necessarily be the same lingo used by your customers. Use Google Analytics to learn commonly used names and terminology, and make sure to include those keywords and phrases in your brand tracking.
When you see an interesting mention about your brand, dive into the conversation to give instant support, advocacy, or thanks. If you come across a complaint, engage directly to remedy the issue; you just might be able to turn a vociferous critic into a key supporter.


2. Track industry keywords
Look beyond your brand and follow any general terms that are relevant to your market. Chime in on relevant discussions to share your expertise, guidance, or point of view. In such conversations, successful brands are participants, not promoters. This is the time to say "We love llamas too!"—not "Check out our products."
And whether you're monitoring words related to your industry or brand, always listen and learn. Tapping into the dialogue on Twitter gives you a real-time focus group to help drive innovation and adaptation.
Establish proper processes and channels to make sure important feedback reaches the right individuals and teams within your company.

3. Track public comments about your competition
Use Twitter to gather critical market intelligence by keeping a close eye on any mentions of your chief competitors. Of course, just remember your own tweets and mentions are in the public timeline as well—instantly available to anyone who's looking. Keep that in mind when crafting what to say and how to say it.

4. Measure success
As with any marketing campaign, metrics provide valuable insight into what's working and what should be tweaked. Analyzing campaign results not only helps justify investment into social media programs but also sheds light on priority areas to focus your attention and resources.
For Twitter campaigns, consider more than number of followers. Track the total number of clicks per day for each of your Twitter accounts. Break down that data by geographic region and time/date to see where and when you're having the most impact.
And most important, make sure this data gets to where it can have the greatest impact by sharing weekly, easy-to-digest reports with key managers.

Keep an eye out for more free Twitter advise from Scream Media

05 October 2010

How to promote new content on your website

You now have a finished piece of content on your website. How can one go about getting the most visitors to the new piece? Having faith that users will magically gravitate to your new page is extremely optimistic. The following contains 5 actionable tips for marketing your website content.
Pretend it’s for Print
It all starts with the quality of your content. Treat the piece that your writing as if it’s not easily changed after you’ve put it out there. Publishing content on the web has made us all a bit lazy with this. Knowing that we can just go back to fix or tidy up after the fact puts a little less pressure on us to produce perfect content. Remember that people are taking time out of their lives to focus their attention on you. Make it worthwhile.
A Dash of SEO with that Please
After you’re happy with the content take a once over for the search engines. Don’t bastardize it. But if you want to get the most long term exposure for your content try to align your web page’s message with your website’s search engine optimization strategy.
You could adjust:
-Your page title and meta description. Remember that these are the only two elements that search engine users see on search results pages. Try to have it read like a newspaper headline.
-The name of your post. If you can have good keywords here by all means do so.
-The permalink. Adjust your URL to be relevant to your content, keep it void of unnecessary words like “and, the, or” and include keywords.
-Your on-page headlines and actual copy. Skim through all of this for keyword opportunities that will ADD to the quality of your piece.
Just make sure that you are covering your bases seo-wise. If you set up your page properly you will give your writing every chance possible to be picked up by search engines down the road.
Remember Email Marketing?
If you’ve built an email list over the years then send out a quick campaign about the article. I wouldn’t suggest that you copy all of your post content into the email. I would use the email as a teaser. Give the email recipients reason to visit your website and read it there. My reasoning for this is that there are many more viral opportunities if the content is digested on your website vs in the email itself. Be sure to give enough useful information in the email itself though. This way if they don’t click through they wont feel their time has been wasted.
Feed the Birds
After you’ve done this go share your post on your favorite Social Media Channels like Facebook and Twitter. Be careful not to sound too sales-like here. People can get easily turned off by this. Ask for reciprocal links in a non demanding way. Saying things like “The most brilliant post on widgets EVER!” will get you no-where fast. If a comment is left make it a priority to respond.
Make it Easy to Share
Be sure that you give your readers every chance possible to share your content with their tribe. This is where the real potential of Social Media Marketing begins to shine. Someone sharing your post with all of their community has just exponentially increased your articles reach. It’s free marketing! Most content management systems have ways to add this functionality to your posts and if you aren’t using a CMS it’s not hard to hand code.

04 October 2010

How SEO can benefit your Website.

In this article, I am going to detail some of the stories I’ve heard, which frequently tells more about some of the people in our industry, than it does about the effectiveness of search engine marketing.

PROBLEM #1 – “I rank number one in Google, and yet, I have never earned a cent from my website…”

When I first heard this story, I was very surprised… After all, if your SEO company did good keyword research, there is no reason why you should not be getting traffic and a few sales from a top ranking in Google.

I pressed for more details… I learned that the company who built the website also did the search engine optimization.

It only took a couple of minutes to learn that the website design company optimized this fellows’ website for the name of his company. There was no other optimization performed on that website.

LESSON #1 – It is rather pointless to optimize a website for the name of the company. UNLESS that name is a descriptive URL - "keyword rich url" The only consumers who will be searching for the name of your company are existing customers.

But, if your company is unknown to the general public, then the people who would like to buy your products or services will not be able to find you among your competitors.

If you sell widgets in Cape Town, your future customers will be typing “Cape Town widgets” into their favorite search engines, trying to find your business. And, if your prospective customers cannot find your business, your business does not exist in their minds.

PROBLEM #2 – “I had a company build a website for my business, but I have never received a single customer for my business, through my website…”

Are you sure?

Asking this question is not meant to offend you, but rather to get more details as to how you track incoming business.

If you are the average off-line business owner who has built a website to promote an off-line business, chances are real good that you probably have never received a single customer from your website.

However, if your website does not request for your prospective customers to let you know how they found out about your business, then chances are that people who did find you through your website would never tell you that.

If more than one person answers the phone at your business, chances are just as good that someone may have mentioned finding you on a website, but no one conveyed that information to you.

In your business, you should have systems in place to track and record where new customers have found your business. To do otherwise is like driving your car in the fast lane during rush-hour traffic with a blindfold over your eyes. At Scream Media we give all our clients a FREE Statcounter account with their own login.

LESSON #2 – If you are not asking your customers how they found your business, you will never know what kind of advertising is producing profits for your business and which advertising is sucking the wind out of your business.

PROBLEM #3 – “I spend a great deal of money on PPC listings (pay-per-click) to get my business in front of search engine users, because after spending thousands of Rands on SEO, I could not rank in the search engines at all…”

What keywords were you trying to rank for in the search engines?

Travel. I have a travel business based in Cape Town  that caters to business professionals…”

Have you ever noticed the caliber of companies who rank on page 1 in Google for the keyword: travel?

Those are companies who spend millions of dollars per year to market their businesses online and off-line. Do you have a marketing budget that will allow you to effectively compete with Travelocity, Expedia or Priceline?

Besides that, where do the majority of your customers work and reside?

“Johannesburg of course.”

If that is the case, why would you spend your limited marketing budget to target consumers who would never buy from you because they are outside your local marketing area?

“I never really thought about it in that way…”

Most of your competitors are making the same mistakes that you are. That is to your advantage because when you start to market your business in a more realistic and cost-effective manner, then you will be able to compete with your competitors, while spending far less money than your competitors are spending.

LESSON #3 – If you operate a local or regional business, do yourself a favor, and stop trying to compete in the national marketplace.

Final Thoughts…

Listed inside this article are three lessons that could potentially help your off-line business to find new customers and to generate new sales, as a result of your online advertising.

Depending on the average ticket price of purchases in your store or service business, how much could an extra 20, 50 or 100 new customers bring into your business each month? You do the math.

You could spend the next ten years learning what we have learned to maximize the effectiveness of your online advertising. Or you could employ us to work on your behalf to support your local business in your local marketplace.

More consumers are ignoring their phone books and searching for products and services online. If you don’t want to compete for those consumers, your competitors will thank you.