Published by Bill White , August 21st, 2015
The first time I sat at the controls of a helicopter the pilot said “This is like a bumblebee; it’s not supposed to fly but it does.” The first time I sat at the controls of an airplane my pilot friend pushed the throttle forward and said “Don’t be afraid of it; it wants to fly”. And it did.
The difference, I learned, was one of inherent stability. Properly designed, the airplane wants to fly. The helicopter does not. It has no inherent stability. You have to create it by managing collective and cyclic pitch, rotor speed and rudder controls.
This obtuse comparison is a perfect metaphor for managing the new algorithmic mysteries of search engine optimization to optimize page rankings and intelligent content enriched by metadata. A few years ago, if you wrote the copy and it was well done, readable and accurate, it would be understood. Inherent stability.
This is no longer good enough. Content marketing, according to industry expert Ann Rockley, “. . . is structurally rich, semantically aware and . . . automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable and adaptable”.
As marketing people, we depend on the internet and digital marketing platforms to distribute our content as far and as high as it can go. Amid a crowded landscape, everyone has a message. The push to the top is brutal. Today, brute force and big bucks are no longer keys to success when it comes to showing up on search engines. We have to finesse our way into the equation using a combination of tools all related to content.
No matter what you call this new discipline – content optimization, intelligent content, whatever – there are good ways and useless ways to approach the balancing act. The good ways involve managing analytics, processing feedback, adjusting what we say on a website or in social media, and watching the impact of our changes as they propagate throughout cyberspace.
The days of writing good content and letting it fly are over. Good content doesn’t want to fly; it has to be flown, and the only inherent stability we can count on is the stability we create with hands-on control. Without expertise and a keen understanding of algorithms, traveling through the digital world can be a white knuckle experience.
Don’t try this at home. Find someone you can trust, work with them and enjoy the ride. Click here for more on Intelligent Content. To discuss how we can assist with the challenges you're facing with content optimization contact Jane Cirigliano or Bill White at 800-606-1610.
Published by Jane Cirigliano, February 20th, 2015
Business partnerships drive all parties involved to be better. They encourage trust and collaboration. When you partner with another company, you gain new skill sets and the opportunity to mentor others.
Two recent partnerships in the search engine world are affecting the strategies we employ in Search Engine Optimization and social media.
Yahoo and Firefox
In November 2014, Firefox announced it would be ending a 10-year partnership with Google, and Yahoo would become the browser's new default search engine in the U.S. As a result of this partnership, Yahoo has already improved its search user experience with insights from Firefox. The contract mentions "other" joint ventures over the next five years.
Over the past few months, we have watched as Yahoo's traffic on websites we manage has increased. Google traffic hasn't taken as large a hit as one might expect, but there is a noticeable difference.
This partnership has serious ramifications for anyone investing in SEO. Where once the largest focus was on Google rankings, Yahoo has honed in on a larger market share, escalating the need to appear on Yahoo search results. If your organic traffic has been down since the holidays, compare your Google and Yahoo sourced visitors to find out if this new partnership is affecting your web traffic.
Google and Twitter
Twitter announced earlier this month that the social network will partner with Google to bring tweets back into search results. Twitter will give Google access to its feed of data, and Twitter's advertisers will gain more coverage with non-Twitter users via Google. By the way, Twitter already has similar deals in place with Yahoo and Bing to display tweets on their search engines.
So what does this mean for businesses? Real-time information is going to have a more prominent place in search results. We've already seen this with Google+ results and previous social network deals (i.e. Twitter and Google from 2009-2011).
If you are not actively posting on social media, especially Twitter, you are missing an opportunity to reach more potential buyers. You must post strategically and often, choosing keywords carefully to tie into your SEO program.
Why Partnerships Matter
As seen in the two examples above, the way that we do business, market our products and services, and reach our prospects is constantly evolving. Not only do new innovations, technologies and tools change the way we communicate with our customers, but also outside forces alter the way we do business.
Do you need a partner who can help you navigate this constantly-changing environment to keep you in front of your customer base?
Published by Jane Cirigliano, January 20th, 2015
Over the past few months I have received dozens, if not hundreds, of articles touting the latest and greatest marketing and digital trends that we should employ in 2015. While it is important to be aware of new tools and technologies, we should implement them strategically, not just because everyone else is jumping on the band wagon.
Just Another Buzz Word
Our role as marketers is constantly evolving and shifting as new technology is introduced. Digital marketing has morphed from the new face of marketing to a buzz word with very little meaning. We tend to focus on the multitude of digital tools available to us (social media, email, PPC ads, analytics, etc.). If we use these tools, we consider ourselves active in the digital marketing realm.
What we are losing sight of is that we are marketing in a digital age, not to digital media. Differentiating ourselves amongst the noise is harder than ever. To truly stand out from the competition, we must use marketing channels - digital and traditional - creatively. This means coming up with unique ways of using these new tools to reach our target audiences in ways that our competition has not thought of yet.
What Is Important?
While I am not encouraging you to latch onto any one marketing fad just because it is new and exciting - or the competition is doing it - there are some realities you should be aware of:
- Mobile traffic is constantly growing. Security on mobile devices is a hot topic, meaning that companies are planning for increased mobile purchasing via e-commerce and payments with apps like Apple Pay.
- Knowing your audience has always been important, but micro-targeting and automation are becoming the new standard. Customers expect your communications to be personalized and polished.
- Given customer expectations and the availability of information online, professional writing is more important than ever. Brand loyalty is built when customers have positive interactions with your company. Make a strong first impression and see it through with consistent messaging.
- Since customers look to their peers for product recommendations more and more, internal communications are a priority for many companies. Your employees can be groomed through education programs to become brand ambassadors for your organization.
- Wearable devices like the Apple Watch, Google Glass and others are becoming more widely used. If your product or service has a viable application on one of these devices, you should be planning ahead now.
Try Something New
Whether it’s coming up with a new way to convert grad students to customers through Instagram or developing a highly-targeted inbound campaign that yields great results, try something different this year. When you do, implement one new channel at a time, making sure that you can track traffic, leads and sales to determine successes and areas for improvement.
When you know which marketing channels are producing the best results for your company, you can make decisions on investments and new ideas with confidence.
At OffWhite, we are marketing technologists. We understand that developing a unique way to share your company’s brand promise across multiple channels for a unified message is more important than the tools you use to share that message.
Published by Bill White , December 30th, 2014
Here we go again. Annual reports, zeroed insurance deductibles, April 15th looming over us like the evil spirit it is. As anyone knows who has presided over a business for more than 30 years, it seems the longer we go, the faster we go.
Allow me to present White’s Law of Chronological Compression. It’s my definition of the perception that things at work are speeding up. This isn’t news. I don’t expect a physics prize in my name to be awarded anytime soon. But this immutable law does suggest that our need to plan, execute, monitor and adjust is not a future event. It’s a here and now event.
Because business and marketing programs rarely unfold when and as planned, change is always the constant. The likelihood of change doesn’t obviate the need for a business vision, an articulated outcome, a mission statement or even a Hail Mary for the next fiscal year. Nor does it sidestep the need for a plan. The trick is to weave the planning process into the fabric of business, yours and ours.
In this age of razor sharp metrics and micro analytics brought forth from digital marketing programs, our need to plan, execute, monitor and adjust is no longer an abstract idea buried in an MBA case history somewhere; it’s a way of life and a measure of performance for any business that expects to survive and make a profit.
And all of this, from the plan to the necessary series of adjustments, is taking place in a cycle so inherently compressed that results of sales and marketing programs are often delivered in hours instead of days or weeks. (Our Ed.it™2 Digital Marketing Platform is ideal for watching some of this in real time.)
In a recent issue of Fast Company, a digtal publication focusing on new media and online pathways to the market, contributing writer Laura Vanderkam splashes some cold water on how we should think about managing our time which, as we know from White’s Law, is the same for all of us – 8,760 hours per year. If we budget 2,000 of these hours for our work as marketers, Laura poses, how should we spend them?
At OffWhite, our job – for you and for ourselves – is to clarify objectives, plan, plan some more, build budgets, allocate resources and delegate what we can. If we don’t do this well and do it now, we’ll be staring at the start of 2016 wondering what happened to the year we’re taking on as we speak.
Think about what you were doing at this time last year. You’ll agree, White’s Law of Chronological Compression is a reality. With proper planning, it’s a law we can live with.
Next time, White’s Law of Floating Perspective. And coming soon, White’s Law of Fauxvibration (that’s the feeling you get when your phone is vibrating in your pocket – except the phone is on your desk).
Published by Jodie Reiter , December 4th, 2014
A company’s biggest asset is its employees. Your staff is also your most important customer as it serves as the face of your brand. You hear a lot about ROI, but another important item that factors into a company is ROEI, or return on employee investment.
The difference between a good company and a great company is what defines the company – its people. People generate ideas and make good service happen. Strategic investments in a company and its employees can make a huge contribution to the bottom line.
As a manager, you must make a choice and weigh the options when it comes to expenditures. For example, at OffWhite, we continue to invest in technology and access to the most current versions of software. It is a priority for us to keep everyone up the curve, making doing our jobs each day the best it can be.
You need to look at your employees and optimize your workforce by making investments that prevent unnecessary or costly expenses such as constant turnover and excessive sick leave. It is a much better move to make the investment which will not only eliminate some of those expenses, but will also boost employee productivity and keep your employees engaged.
Investing in resources and training for your workforce also results in more productive employees who can accomplish more in less time. With a strong employee retention plan, fewer employees are needed to complete the same tasks.
The strategic and balanced investment in your employees will go a long way towards improving the company bottom line. Making the investment in your employees will give them more of a sense of ownership in their work. It makes the employee feel more vested in what they are doing and more engaged in seeing success. And you know a happy employee - an employee who has ownership in the contribution they are making because those investments have been made - makes for a valuable, long-term employee. That is an asset you cannot do without.
As most of you are working on budgets for next year, now is a good time to add ROEI into your thinking and plan if you haven’t already done so. What kinds of investments do you currently make in your employees? Are there more investments that would be beneficial?
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