bad linkedin, location obscure, fake profile

Do Consumers Need to Know Where Our Business is Located?

Today’s always-on global world could make your business location seem to be an irrelevancy.  But the opposite is true.  Local marketing is now the fastest-growing part of online marketing specialisms.  And it matters.  Let me explain.

So here are 3 examples for you to use when considering international website domains. 

Feel local but act global

A client asked “We operate in Australia and New Zealand and not sure whether our NZ target market (women 25+) will find our Australian connection appealing or a turn off, given how very passionate and patriotic us Kiwis are! I’m getting mixed messages when I ask around.

We don’t want to hide our Australian connection, as it’s very important and where the business was born, with a fascinating story behind it, just not sure whether to include “Australia” and “New Zealand” optional buttons on the landing page to split off there, or if it should perhaps only appear as an option when you need to click on “events” or “locations” etc. that have information relevant only for each country?” 

What should she do?

My advice is to use a single web domain as the master site for both countries and then to have separate pages for the two locations. Here’s why.

Aussies versus Kiwis – Broadly they are correct, New Zealanders want to think they’re seeing local information (and importantly local currency and phone numbers) and of course small differences in language and rugby club orientation may also come through in brand communications over time.  Do Australians eat afghan biscuits?  Do Kiwis eat chiko rolls?

Your Website Strategy

Ultimately the solution you choose MUST be driven by the strategy for each country.  Is the website a place where people find out about you, get news on specials and what’s new, will they email you, will they phone you?  If yes, then the website must facilitate separate information for each site.

Set the strategy for the website first, then worry about the technical implementation.

Take a look at this case study of some work we did for a client who needed his visitors to quickly split up into pages best aligned with their needs. 

apartment specialists website redesign

Driving visitors to the right landing page focuses traffic

A strategic solution

The home page says what the business brand is all about – the owners, your values and passions.

Then you have a “What’s On NZ”  and a separate “What’s on AU” button that take visitors to what is effectively a home page for that location……

I would treat the NZ page effectively as your local domain and give it a really simple URL and so all links to the New Zealand business go there first.

An alternative to this location split is to have parallel websites which have slightly different domains e.g. nz.yourwebsite.com and au.yourwebsite.com   You often see this device used by international law firms and accountants.  This can be set up by your web hosts.

In practice this means few visitors go to the home page…. but that doesn’t really matter as long as local audiences are being served.

A poorly executed country strategyPerth-or-Thailand

By contrast, we got approached by a Perth business asking to do some content marketing with us.

They sounded like a good prospect and we fixed a phone call.  I rang, answerphone with an English man’s voice…. so I looked him up on LinkedIn and it turns out the business name is BusinessName (Thailand) Co.  Which rang a few alarm bells.

And his stated location was Manchester, UK.  Clearly a disconnect.

When we spoke he said although their phones were VOIP and used Australian numbers; he was actually based in Thailand and he couldn’t make outbound calls to international numbers like mine in New Zealand.  As any Aussie or Kiwi business will tell you, it’s extremely odd not to be able to phone the other country while doing business.

Now let’s look at a third scenario

Nimbus Portal Solutions are a client and they trade in five jurisdictions – Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, USA and South Africa plus “Global” to pick up the rest of the world.  

Their chosen solution to the website location question is to locally identify the IP address of the visitor and to quietly re-set the website version to the domain best suited.  So my default goes to NZ.  You can check this top right in their website where a country name displays. 

The main goal for Nimbus is to ensure all the currencies are local and bank account / trading entities switch to match.  Which is important for their business as jurisdiction for secure document storage matters – borders and locations of server hosting are aligned to the local country to stay within data protection laws.

In summary – set the website goal first and the supporting strategy will then drive the solution which works best for your situation.

This article first appeared in Marketing Online Magazine

SEO Case Study

SEO Case Study: From Second Page to Second Place in Two Weeks

Google now processes over 3.5 billion searches per day, every single day. No wonder 10 out of 10 businesses want only one thing: to appear on the first results page for keywords related to their industry. This kind of visibility is the promise of a tonne of organic traffic, new leads and sales.

In this case study, you’re going to see how we used SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to push a client’s website from the second page of Google to the second position on the first page, for the desired keyword in the whole of New Zealand.

What’s the real benefit of being on the first page of a Google search?

Well, I’m glad you asked. According to data from the Moz blog, “71.33% of searches result in a page one organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks.”. That means if your website is not ranking on the first page, you lose almost 3/4 of the audience. Imagine you have the opportunity to pitch your business to 10 new clients and, as soon you enter the meeting room, 7 of them just stand up and leave, without you saying even a single word.

Very frustrating. 😞

Have a clear goal in mind

Our client, Baucher Consulting, a specialist tax advisor office in Auckland, wanted to increase the amount of relevant traffic on their website, consequently resulting in more queries for their services. We discussed this necessity and defined the solution to be, primarily, an improved effort on on-page SEO. After researching on the Google Keyword Tool for specific keywords pertinent to the client’s industry and services, we targeted the keyword “nz tax advisor”.

Google Keyword Planner

When you buy a desired product, sometimes going local is not a major concern, and ordering from overseas is commonly the case. But services, on the other hand, tend to be a lot more “geographically sensitive” for most of us. If I offered to buy you dinner tonight and asked you to choose a good restaurant, you would Google “best restaurants in [city you live in]“, right? You don’t go just “best restaurants”, because a suggestion in another country, let’s say, is not really helpful. I offered you a meal, not a plane ticket!

Mixing the prominent keyword tax advisor with some localisation as nz just covers the user’s natural behaviour when researching for professional services nearby. Besides, it also gave us a nice long tail keyword to work with.

What we did to improve the client’s website SEO, step by step

After a brief Google search, we discovered the client’s website was ranking in the 12th position for the targeted keyword. It’s not a bad position if you think about raw numbers. However, apart from all sponsored results, a standard Google search shows you only 10 organic results (unless you change this in the options panel). This result was leaving our client on the second page, the internet equivalent of a wasteland.  Luckily we’ve been working with this client for quite a while now, so just some fine tuning was needed on the website.

First, we included the long tail keyword as the “title tag” on the homepage, where we could previously see only “Baucher Consulting Limited”.

Baucher Consulting title tag on Google search

In other words, “title tag” is what shows on that big blue link beside the name of your website on  a search result. It is, in fact, blatantly obvious as a major part of the decision-making process for a person to click on your result or not. Also, we included the keywords in the meta description (the text below the website address on the image), while explaining the services more deeply.

However, working with a single keyword all over your website is not recommended as it can be interpreted as keyword stuffing. In Google’s own words, keyword stuffing can be defined as “repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural”. In the past, this practice was all the rage and several websites used this brute force technique to break through to the top positions. Google’s algorithm learned from it and is heavily penalising websites that still do that owing to the fact that it “results in a negative user experience”.

Having that in mind, we diversify the content all around the website using similar expressions to the “nz tax advisor” search query with the help of Google itself. And how do we know other keywords that are related to our search in the great oracle’s brain? Easy. Google spills the beans right in front of our eyes, just at the bottom of every search:

LSI keywords for NZ Tax Advisor

Noticed how we used the word “specialist” in that meta description I showed before? It came from these insightful suggestions. Also, “personal tax advice” is an amazing keyword to target in our current website copy.

The result of our changes

After only two weeks, we performed the same search on Google for “nz tax advisor” and got this result:

Baucher showing in 2nd position on Google search

Yeah, baby! Yeah!

 

A lot more SEO optimising to come

SEO can never be seen as an isolated project but a perpetual work in progress. The competition for the first places in search results is fierce. That’s why we still have more cards up our sleeve and a few optimisations aligned to Baucher’s website are still coming. Now that our client’s website made the jump from the 12th to the 2nd position on the Google search, there’s only one way we can go: straight to the top.

Testimonial & Case Study from Apartment Specialists realtors

We worked with Creative Agency Secrets to streamline our website and the customer experience.  We have two major client types – buyers and sellers.  The team helped us to filter website visitors so we could present different messages to each audience and drive engagement with the right team member from Apartment Specialists.

Andrew Murray, Apartment Specialists after a website assessment, CRM implementation and re-write of marketing communications (ebooks) to capture email addresses from website visitors and drive traffic to key landing pages.

Case study of realtor website improvements

What was neat about the solution we found for Andrew is a quick way to filter the website’s visitors using prominent buttons on the home page.  The image below shows the percentage of website traffic going to each of the three destination pages.  46% of visitors want to buy an apartment – these folks don’t need to discuss how to sell or value an apartment.

apartment specialists website redesign

Driving visitors to the right landing page focuses traffic

And now look at the previous attempt to segment the traffic – it’s still on the site but the most valuable customers (those wanting a valuation prior to selling) are not clicking on the links at all.

Ebooks drive fewer clicks for Apartment Specialists

Ebooks drive fewer clicks and nobody clicks the online valuation box.

So why is the offer of an ebook not compelling?

We analysed the website traffic and sought to understand the “buyer personas” of visitors.  When an apartment owner is thinking of selling the first thing they do is to get their property valued. Hence the need to put valuation front and centre of the offer.

But an ebook explaining the process and showcasing the skill of the team is not enough in itself to get visitors to click.  Many don’t want an ebook – but they do want other things.  There were no clicks on the left box which offered valuations.  This was a problem for the firm.

Creating a landing page with ALL the information a buyer, a seller or a seller wanting a valuation needs was the solution – the ebook is also offered there but so is a tonne of other useful data including podcast episodes, contact details and other resources appropriate for their needs.

Interestingly, the top menu includes a link to “buy” but this gets only around 3% of all clicks whereas the big button has 300% more.

Result?  More clicks, more valuation enquiries.

Marketing segmentation icons

How to use brand icons to drive sales

My philosophy of marketing is that every part of your marketing toolkit that you’ve spent money developing should be working hard to generate sales for your business.

Creating a strong visual identity is a given.  But what about extending it into other marketing areas?

We have been experimenting using content marketing to reinforce visual identity branding and the USPs (unique selling points) and key points of difference of the brand.  Here’s how.

Your business philosophy

When applying content marketing tactics we find that the effectiveness is enhanced when the content is aligned with either buyer personas, pipeline stage, business philosophy or point of difference.  These all help to bring a prospect closer to purchase.

A strategic marketer will help you define a positioning can demonstrate continual advantage and which you can defend against competitors.   

Helping your prospective clients to recognise this positioning and then to relate their experience or their expected buying experience to it is the job of the tactical marketer.

Once you’ve established the philosophy positioning, identifying each part with an unique visual identity or icon is a neat way of enabling the customer to recognise elements in your content marketing and their relation to each other.  From this, they can navigate to find other related content pieces on the same theme or topic.

Case Study – the sports coach website

This client identified five buyer personas and now has a unique landing page for each one.  Their website has over 20,000 pages because they have been blogging since 2007.  This means new visitors find navigating the site challenging.  We identified a deep resource of ‘evergreen’ content which was not getting traffic and so not getting read by visitors.  From this we evolved a segmentation strategy built around a landing page and a visual icon for each visitor type.

Rowperfect Customer segmentation as icons

Customer segmentation as icons

The landing page includes links to the most popular evergreen articles and also gives guidance for the visitor on where to look for similar content. 

Case Study – the marketing agency

At Creative Agency Secrets, we have 8 icons which are all steps in the new business development process. On the blog sidebar are our list of categories – the first eight are numbered and each relates to one step in the process. 

Working on our own blog, we needed to reduce the bounce rate and encourage deeper browsing.  And so we leveraged our 8 Step New business Development Process.  This identifies a clear set of stages for a tactical marketer and a framework for their marketing year planning.  Each stage has a small icon and links to all the blog posts written about that topic.

Marketing segmentation icons

Marketing segmentation icons

It’s easy to read, easy to cross-link articles and also to reference more than one icon in each blog post.

Case Study – the financial advisor

Selling services is often harder than products – defining a clear point of difference is even more challenging for the marketer.  Collaborative Consulting was set up in response to the same-ification of the financial advisory marketplace.  The founder, John Milner, uses his long experience to advise clients differently from others – he calls these the Six Max Factors.  And using a simple graphic, each one is named and ordered.

The goal is to enable readers to become familiar with each icon so they quickly recognise them and can relate to the marketing content more easily.

This tactic will serve to reinforce the firm’s investment philosophy, remind readers why they chose Collaborative Consulting as their advisor and set the firm apart from competitors who are less explicit about the foundations of their advice and investing activities.

How to spot an opportunity to use icons

The key insight a marketer needs to bring to using logos as a sales device is to discover

  1. Is the company able to articulate its USP?
  2. Can you split that USP into several subsidiary elements?
  3. Does your content marketing strategy allow the use of visual and written elements?
  4. Can you measure changed customer and prospect behaviour as you make these changes?

That’s a great starting point – off you go!

Ghost Street interactive agency

Building Trust with Clients

New clients take a bit of work – you have to work hard to get to know them and they you.

Ghost Street interactive agency

Ghost Street logo

Having been part of the BizDojo community we were lucky to meet a host of great folks in the co-working space on K Road.

So it’s always a delight when we get to re-connect in the interests of client work.

Not only does it look good to be able to say “we know them already” but it builds trust with both parties and also some strong marketing too.

Nice work, Tim Dawson of Ghost Street and fun to be collaborating.

Networks of networks

Which makes me think about questions I have had this past fortnight about the networks which work for me and where and how I find them.

Challenging – because when I moved to Auckland I knew few people. So here are the ones which I find useful for meeting smart folks who think, challenge, may become clients and have good things which I’m interested in hearing others talk about….

Which are your go-to meetings, groups and influencers? Please add to the list.

 

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 4 – Profile RaisingStep 5 – Relationship Development and Step 6 – Opportunity Spotting.

Click on each icon to see more posts in that category.

Symbol for profile raising as part of new business developmentSymbol for relationship developmentSymbol for creating new business opportunities

Google Alerts

How to Use Google Alerts to Drive Business

Google alerts are an extremely useful resource for promoting your business online. First of all, if you aren’t using Google Alerts to track your business, you’re missing a seriously useful hack. They are particularly handy for staying up to date with relevant and timely information regarding your business, so you can react immediately to any publicity or news as soon as it happens.

But that’s not all Google Alerts are good for…

Google Alerts can also be used via RSS as a news aggregator on your website or blog! This is particularly useful for showing your visitors you know what is happening around you as well as demonstrating a position of authority with regards to your particular topic. Displaying the latest, relevant news results provides a great reason for your fans to continue returning to your site. Tailored, niche content is much easier to digest when it is a subject aligned with your own browsing interests. It may even help increase the likelihood of your visitors purchasing from you!

The best part about this is it can be totally automated, so you don’t have to spend time curating material. But make sure you have tested and refined your alert keywords in order to get the best results. Or, be sure to check the results from time to time in order to filter out anything that doesn’t fit with your brand.

We will be putting together a guide explaining how to get Google Alerts displaying as an RSS feed on your website shortly…

The next application for Google Alerts is a little more intricate: With a bit of research and a thorough understanding of your target market, you can even use Google Alerts to find new business!

Example: How to use Google Alerts to Generate Leads

Our client provides storage equipment solutions to the global rowing community. Although they can retro-fit single pieces of equipment inside an existing boathouse, their biggest projects come from clubs and organisations who have or are building brand new facilities. These new facilities obviously require a complete fit out of storage equipment and therefore, are our client’s ideal market. So how do you know when a new facility is built and looking for storage equipment? Timing is everything – if you find them too late, they may have already sourced a supplier and you’ll have missed the boat. Google Alerts provides the answer!

By setting up alerts with keywords such as “new rowing boathouse”, “rowing building new boathouse” and “new rowing club” for example, you get a nice summary of boathouse developments happening around the world.

Of course you have to continue your research beyond the alert itself to determine the lead’s value. Sometimes, results are completely irrelevant, and sometimes they are duplicates of material you have already covered. However, on the whole, they are incredibly useful at identifying future projects, as they are often newsworthy topics in their local area.

google alerts example creative agency secretsgoogle alerts example creative agency secrets

The next step is to track all your leads in a spreadsheet. Information such as who to contact and where they are located is particularly important. Additional research on the lead’s website often provides the necessary information to point you in the right direction.

In our client’s case, we were interested in contacting the architects of the boathouse, so that we could get involved with the club and their design process, as early as possible.

We have experienced great success building up a database of quality leads for our client in recent months. It is then up to our client to continue the dialogue with the prospective club and come to an arrangement. We have had a great deal of success converting these previously unknown prospects into happy customers, and have done so without investing hugely in advertising, outbound mailing campaigns or other conventional outbound marketing activities!

We have been able to minimise the time taken to research new sources of business through alerts and have increased the prevalence of new business, while making it easy to filter out results of no value. And as it updates you each time a new boathouse is being developed, you don’t waste time searching for them manually. A weekly check of your alerts inbox provides you with enough

Regardless of your industry or business, there’s bound to be a positive application to use Google Alerts for. Whether it is direct lead generation, building a database of bloggers and journalists to share content between, or even researching a network of businesses whose interests align neatly with your own, the uses for it go on and on.

testimonials table example

Rocking Testimonials For Your Brand Profile 

Testimonials are self-evidently a great way to win new clients and grow your business profile.  If you want to consider adding them to your tactical marketing armoury, there are some prior considerations to resolve.

  1. Does your business get testimonials spontaneously?
  2. Have you got any existing testimonials?

If you aren’t a long-established business, then it will be more difficult to encourage spontaneous outpourings of delight and joy. 

Never fear, we’ve got a plan for you.

What’s already in the can?

Start with any existing documented positive feedback that you or your client can find. And plan

a page on your domain where you can drop in all the quotes from clients.

Make it easy to find e.g. www.yourdomain.co.nz/testimonials

Make the most of the page so the viewer finds it a helpful resource, not a chore.  Lay out the page so the most recent testimonial is at the top and the reader scrolls down to see others.  If there are obvious different services or products which have received reviews, clearly separate them too.  A series of embedded tabs can be a neat solution here.

testimonials table example

Tabbed testimonials example

Starting from zero

A different opportunity exists for businesses without any rave reviews.  You may feel it’s hard to ask for favours, to ask for sales or to ask for testimonials.  Let us help you make it easy.

Business “workflows” are a trendy catchphrase that is a way of describing ‘how-we-do-things-round-here’. Any marketing activity which you do more than once deserves a workflow process.  The reason is that it becomes part of normal business life and is easier to reproduce if you do it frequently.

Think about how you are going to set up the business process to get new testimonials regularly from clients and customers.

Here’s ours. 

Our marketing meeting has “Testimonials” as an agenda item.  We review a list of recent clients and pick a couple to approach.  The lead person who works on the client phones up and asks (using a pre-agreed script) if we can have a testimonial.  Further, we ask for it in three places – spoken, on LinkedIn and on Google.  The spoken one we write down as we chat and then send back to the client for approval. 

What’s so easy about this is that the client doesn’t have to actually write anything – they just talk.  Most people find that easier. 

Then we upload the testimonial or ask the client to do it on social pages.  Interestingly, almost 88% of sales are influenced by social media and 59% of consumers say Facebook is the most influential. We also link back to the client’s website (like we do on the Creative Agency Secrets Testimonials page).  It’s nice to give them back some strong SEO link juice.

Task completed! 

Testimonials add to your SEO

Ask for testimonials on your Google My Business page.  Note, you have to have a gmail address in order to create these so it can be a challenge for some clients if they have to create an account.  The great output from this is that your testimonials are visible in public search (alongside the search map) and when you have over 5 published, you get a star rating too.  That makes you stand out even more from competitors.

Get more mileage from each testimonial

Remember I suggested you get clients to ‘just talk’ and you write the testimonial?  Well that chatting will almost certainly contain a lot of information.  Take all your testimonials and copywrite a long and a short “sound bite” version of each.  Put the short version on the website testimonials page.  Copy the long version of each to a blog post – and link to it from the short version on the testimonials page.  Creating on-site links is good (reduces bounce rate) and also helps show an expanded authentic “customer voice” to each one.

Gamification of testimonials

Inspired by Gabriel McIntyre’s “Getting Paid Faster with the Invoice Challenge”, we set about adapting it to suit our need for client testimonials.  [Seriously, watch the video – it’s genius.]

Here’s the case study of the campaign we ran to get testimonials and support a good cause.

Now, where else can you get and share testimonials? We know they’re on Linked In, Facebook, Neighbourly (NZ local media), Yelp, Finda, Localist….. There are heaps of places – but don’t try to game the system.  Just pick the site(s) you know your clients and prospects use. 

Over to you to share your favourites.

This article was first written for publication in Marketing Online Magazine 

How to get testimonials for your business

How to get testimonials for your business

 Firstly get a page set up on your domain where you can drop in all the quotes we get from clients.

Recommendations:

  1. Lay out the page so the most recent testimonial is at the top and the reader scrolls down to see others.
  2. Take all testimonials and make a long and a short “sound bite” version.  Put the short version on the Testimonials page.
  3. Copy the long version of each testimonial to a blog post – and link to it from the short version on the testimonials page.
  4. Link to the client website (like we do on the Creative Agency Secrets Testimonials page).  It’s nice to give back some strong SEO link juice.
  5. Have a plan about how you are going to set up the business process to get new testimonials regularly from clients and customers.
  6. Also ask for testimonials on your Google My Business page.  Note, you have to have a gmail address in order to upload these so it can be a big ‘ask’ for some clients for whom that’d be a challenge to set up.

Here’s a case study of a cute campaign we ran to get testimonials and support a good cause.

Now, where else can you get testimonials….. Linked In, Facebook, Neighbourly (NZ local media), Yelp, Finda….. over to you to share yours.

Joint Venture Case Study

Case Study: feel good joint venture for sporting website

Recently Creative Agency Secrets oversaw a joint venture campaign between our client, Rowperfect UK, the premier rowing education website, and manufacturer Crew Stop. The goal of the campaign was threefold:

  1. Raise awareness for National Learn To Row Day (4th June), a popular annual event in the USA but a concept that hadn’t yet carried over to other anglo-speaking countries that Rowperfect reaches;
  2. Encourage the use of rowing gloves and reduce the stigma amongst “hard” rowers of hand protection;
  3. Drive sales of the Crew Stop gloves stocked in Rowperfect’s online store.

Planning & Execution

Planning began in early May, when Rowperfect reached out to Crew Stop and proposed a partnership. As part of the joint venture, Crew Stop would provide gloves to give away to Rowperfect’s readership and art and assets to promote the awareness campaign, whilst Rowperfect staged a global social media campaign, tapping their 6,000+ twitter followers and 4,000+ Facebook fans.

The partnership between Rowperfect and Crew Stop made perfect sense. It allowed Rowperfect to continue to serve as a source of rowing advice and education whilst reaching the wide audience of watersports enthusiasts who had need for the Crew Stop gloves: Rowers, Scullers, Kayakers, Crossfitters, Dragon Boaters, and Waka Ama canoers.

As well as the competition to win gloves in the week that lead up to the weekend of the 4th of June, Rowperfect offered a discount code to new rowers and Creative Agency Secrets helped the client curate a new section on their website specifically targeted at learning to row for the first time. This new niche will be of value to Rowperfect readers into the future and allows the client to recruit new organic readers and clients. This approach aligned with ongoing project of creating new portals for the client’s key readerships: athletes, coxswains and coaches.

On the blog, Rowperfect published a series of articles about the purpose and uses of rowing gloves and advice around reducing the stigma of glove-wearing. On social media, Creative Agency Secrets coordinated the publication of posts advertising the three goals and the use of the hastag #NLTRD (national learn to row day). Rowers around the world adopted the use of the tag to share their rowing experiences.

Results

By strategically targeting followers of English-speaking rowing clubs with Facebook boosted posts, Rowperfect more than doubled their social media reach in the course of the campaign, increased awareness and engagement with their brand by adding over two hundred and fifty followers to their regular network, and hit internal sales targets.

For advice on arranging running joint ventures in your industry, or launching digital awareness campaigns, give us a call.