Customer Reviews – a reality check

The New Zealand Commerce Commission is investigating online retailers who they claim have manipulated customer reviews and testimonials in

“…conduct that was liable to mislead consumers by creating artificially positive impressions…”

NZ Commerce Commission website

What actions constitute “misleading consumers”?

Read more

Is Guest Posting Dead?

In 2014, Matt Cutts, former head of the Web Spam team at Google, wrote the following:

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”

Ever since the state of guest blogging has been debated heatedly. Indeed, guest blogs with low-quality content have truly been dead for decades.

On the other hand, high-quality blogging is an effective strategy to create backlinks, and drive traffic to your website. Even Cutts eventually published a correction, and said: “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.)”

So, the question is, how can we create quality guest blogs every time?

Here, we have outlined three easy and effective strategies to create guest posts that are sure to attract links, and bring in traffic:

The Robin Hood Technique

The Robin Hood technique, as suggested by SEO Gold Coast, is a quick and effective way to write guest posts with good quality content. This technique involves recreating great content from popular blogs and offering them to platforms with a low ranking, and less credibility and traffic.

Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean plagiarizing the content – instead, you must only take inspiration from the blog to recreate ideas for your own post.

The following steps can be undertaken for this technique:

Ahref’s Content Explorer Tool contains one billion pages and can be used to find blogs you can write a guest post for

Ahref’s Content Explorer Tool

Source: ahrefs

  1. Enter a keyword corresponding to your chosen topic to find similar articles
  2. Check the “one article per domain” box to find unique blogs related to your keyword
  3. Sort the results according to Language, Shares, Domain Rating, Organic Traffic, and Number of Words to truly find a customized blog post idea

Note the importance of Domain Rating (DR) that showcases the popularity level of a backlink, based on a scale of 1-100.

While it is tempting to only work with high DR blogs, low DR blogs are also worth investing your time and energy in, as they usually have a niche following and are bound to grow.

What’s more, low DR blogs usually receive fewer pitches and have less strict editorial standards – thereby making it easier to get featured or published.

Finally, you can move on to step 4:

4. Read the content of your chosen blog piece, and recreate it by adding a unique spin to it –  conclude by pitching it to low or high DR blogs through email outreach

Splintering Content

Another effective way of guest posting is by splintering or breaking existing blogs into shorter, but authoritative posts.

The point of splintering content is to dive deep into a topic that you have already researched before, as it is easier to recreate, revise, or rewrite.

After writing detailed individual posts, you can then pitch the pieces to online magazines and platforms that would publish it as guest posts, whilst still re-directing the reader to your original blog post – thereby creating quality backlinks.

The Perspective Technique

A small change in perspective can lead to a completely new, and unique piece of writing.

The trick here is to use a previously written blog post and turn it into multiple guest posts by simply tweaking your overall perspective.

For instance, if your previous blog post was on the “The Future of Link Building” – you can now write on a variety of topics by changing your viewpoint, such as:

  • Future of link building for small business
  • Future of link building for E-commerce
  • Future of link building for startups, and so on

Effective Guest Posting

The techniques outlined here are a good way to get you started. Keep in mind, however, that once you start pitching your guest posts, you may be faced with some problems.

For instance, editors and bloggers may routinely reject your pitch, negotiations may take months, or the link to your article may be taken down suddenly and without prior notice.

To address this concern here is what you can do:

  • Focus on creating good quality content for your blogs
  • Pitch to multiple blogs at the same time
  • Include links to your other guest posts to generate more traffic
  • Keep exploring and writing for new platforms and sites

In short, by following the techniques outlined above, you can defy Matt Cutt’s claim that guest posts are dead. Indeed, guest posts are thriving and can be used to generate traffic and brand awareness for your business in the long run.

How to Successfully Market Your Website

How to Successfully Market Your Website

Digital marketing is very finicky. You are not just contending with customers; you have impartial algorithms to contest with, the attention market, your competitors, technological glitches, and so much more. Knowing how to successfully market your website means more than simply knowing the basics. Yes, email newsletters help. Yes, social media marketing is an option. Knowing how to successfully implement these tactics is the real challenge, and to help you overcome the common hurdles of these marketing hurdles we have put together a great beginner’s list to guide you: 

Improve the Quality of Your Website 

The first step to successfully marketing your website is to improve your website. All marketing efforts will be wasted if you do not improve it. Consider this – if you have a treasure map, and went through the effort of following it, how would you feel if you turned up to an empty field or a busted down house? Your customers follow a similar path to your website. Sometimes it is direct, other times it takes several attempts to get them to your site, but if your site is not worthwhile, they will leave immediately. 

Example: A Slow Website 

If your website is slow, then all the marketing efforts in the world will be a waste of money. That is why one of the first steps you should take is to switch to Krystal, which offers 300% faster speeds than most other competitors. 

Improve Your Social Media Approach 

To improve your social media approach, you need to understand how each platform works. Optimizing a post is standard practice, but you will want to go beyond and see how your competitors have succeeded or failed. Once you have that information, work on creating an account that provides users with the experience they are looking for in a company such as yours. 

Example: A Technical Social Media Account

Take a company that offers technical service, like computer repairs. How can you possibly market such a company on a social media site like Instagram? What if you were an accountant? 

The answer is to provide information. Create simple yet well-designed text posts. Be unique with your photography – a computer repair company has plenty of interesting textures you could photograph, for example. Try to be a source of information so that people follow you to get tips and tricks daily.  Collaboration and PR is one of the best ways to market your company, as it gets your name out there and brings in high-quality inbound links. 

Example: Collaborating With Another Business

To collaborate with another business, you will want to first see if there are any opportunities in your business model. If you sell high-quality phone cases, for example, partner with local artists that have a healthy, dedicated, and real community of their own. They create phone case designs for you, you give them a healthy chunk of the profits (after costs), and in turn, their fans know about you, buy from you, and then go on and advertise your product to their friends and family. 

There are so many ways you can improve your marketing efforts, and hopefully, with these examples, you have a more concrete idea of how you can grow your community and reach. 

seth godin, purple circle, marketing easter egg

Marketing using easter eggs

Little surprises that reward your customers are a really nice way of helping them to feel special.

Today I got a marketing easter egg from Seth Godin.

The benefits of careful reading

The message was short, barely formatted and it’s one I have waited a year to receive. Hidden in the fourth line was a surprise.

Don’t forget to look for the purple circle on the website to get the best price.

Seth Godin, The Marketing Seminar

…. and so I took a look.

It looked like a pretty piece of graphic art. But one of the circles had an embedded link. NICE….

Seth Godin, purple Circle, marketing easter egg, link hidden,
Hidden Marketing Easter Egg Link

How do you reward your loyal customers?

Sometimes I get frustrated when we make an offer and few people take it up. I think “That’s an AWESOME deal – why isn’t everyone paying attention and buying?” But I realise that I’m looking at it the wrong way around; I should be delighted that only the most savvy, the most loyal and most deserving customers are the ones who take up the offer.

I think of these as my “ultra-loyal” customers. They care enough to read. They don’t skip my messages and so I can give them a reward that others don’t take up.

Can you use an Easter Egg Marketing Strategy for your best customers?

Get insights into Seth’s thinking with his latest book This is Marketing – the course above is based on it.

Christchurch and Creative Commons

I care deeply about the Creative Commons movement – this blog has been licensed for share-alike attribution since it started in 2006.

The Christchurch massacre on Friday has highlighted one of the challenges of modern media. How to stop bad stuff being shared; and the converse, how to preserve good stuff for future use.

The New Zealand ISPs are working hard to take down far right websites and the much-shared live stream video the gunman made.

In contrast, Mike Dickison is working to preserve the positive images from the event for posterity. Read his 7 part twitter thread explaining why this matters.

Mike Dickison's work to store images in the Creative Commons
Mike Dickison’s work to store images in the Creative Commons

Can you contribute?

Images are requested.

If you’re a cartoonist or a press photographer or a media outlet or just someone who has a good eye, we need your images uploaded to @WikiCommons under an open licence, ideally CC BY SA. My goal is to create a gallery that anyone can easily draw from and reuse for free. Images are important. They’ll define these attacks to people around the world, to our descendants, to the history books. Too often the only images repeated after a tragedy are ones of anger and fear and hatred. We need to make sure all the story is told.

Mike Dickison on twitter @adzebill

Key Website Creation Tips You Can Learn From A Graphic Design Course

A website’s success is often dependent on its design flow, cohesiveness and content. This is the reason as to why a lot of User Experience experts (UX) are also adept in graphic design. One of the best ways to create a good user experience is by having a clear grasp of design principles.

Here’s some key website creation tips you can learn just by attending a graphic design course.

Value The Fundamentals

The key to developing a higher understanding of any topic is by understanding its fundamental principles. Nowadays, creating a cool looking graphic is as easy as tapping a couple of buttons on your smartphone. While that may sound simple, these design tools are only part of the process. The more significant piece is understanding what’s visually appealing and what distracts people from your message.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Here’s a list of basic design principles you should know about:

  • Color – Sticking to your favorite color may not always be the best strategy. When appropriate colors are used on a website, it can help dictate the mood of the audience. For instance, using a Green color correlates to the environment and make people think about charity, while the Red color induces a strong emotion.
  • Typography – This is an art form that arranges type to make it readable. Choosing the right font will help convey your message better, it helps show feelings even in written form. If you want to learn more about typography, this graphic design course by HubSpot does the job well.
  • Composition – More than choosing what color and font to use, you should also know how to compose a visually appealing graphic design. Design composition pertains to the alignment of each element, ensuring proper contrast levels, and grouping related elements together.

Leverage The Fold

The term “above the fold” was initially used in graphic design and later on used on web design as well. Above the fold pertains to the topmost area of your webpage that users see without scrolling. There’s still a debate whether this area is still relevant nowadays, but whatever the case is the fact remains the same — 80% of users spend their time above the fold. You need to maximize the use of this space and hook your visitors. Here are some ways on how you can do that:

Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Clear and concise headline – Once a visitor opens your website, they should be able to know what it’s all about. The proper use of typography will help communicate your message better.
  • Call to action – Make sure you design a clear and visible call to action (CTA) button. Increase your chances of conversion by placing your CTA above the fold.
  • Leverage media – Use images, video, and even audios to support your headline and improve CTA click-through rate.

The way you design this area will contribute to how well you communicate your value proposition to your target audience.

Create Your Own Graphics and Images

About 65% of the population are visual learners which means that a lot of people rely on visual cues to help them understand better. When you apply this kind of mindset into website creation, you can expect more people to find your website worthwhile.

Take, for example, infographics. People pay attention when you show them data and statistics backed by research. However, not everyone can digest a 20-page research paper. Through the use of infographics, complex information can be communicated easier. A graphic design course can teach you how to create your graphics, select thought-provoking images, and repurpose old content.

Put Importance On Branding

If you’re wondering why a lot of websites spend time and money on branding, it’s because a properly thought out brand shows a unified business. Graphic design courses should teach you the importance of creating a brand guideline and how to properly implement it not just on your website but in your overall business as well. Here are some of the reason why consistent branding is essential:

  • Value – When website visitors see that you have an organized and visually appealing branding they’ll have a good impression about your business. It helps build your credibility, sets you apart from the competition and establishes your brand value.
  • Recognition – When you use your branding consistently all across platforms and not just on your website, it helps with brand awareness and recognition. While establishing a recognizable brand takes time, strict adherence to branding guidelines can make the hasten the process.
  • Perception – You can control how people perceive your business through branding. Each time you communicate with your customers, business partners and even investors make sure you follow your branding guidelines.

Conclusion

Take time to increase your skills by enrolling in a graphic design course. The lessons you learn from these courses will help you create a website that’s not only user-friendly but also appealing. You don’t need a lot of money to learn how to design. You just need an infinite amount of resources and the inspiration to push you forward.

Digital Channels for Sponsorship

Getting digital marketing sponsorship right is a challenge.  Activations using digital channels depend on robust messaging strategies and careful persona creation.  In this presentation we have a case study from Air New Zealand and Akzo Nobel Volvo Ocean Race which you can adapt to your needs.

Rebecca was speaking on the topic of digital channels for sponsorship at the Conferenz Sponsorship Summit and NZ Marketing Summit joint event.  Here are the slides and a video of my keynote.

 

Thanks to Lana Mihelcic who kindly shot the video for me.  Connect with her if you want a dynamic sports event manager or have contacts in sailing and The Americas Cup.

How To Create A Seamless Facebook Profile And Cover Photo

Ford on Facebook

Ford on Facebook with matching cover photo and profile image.

A matching Facebook cover photo and profile picture looks professional and exciting.  Look at the Ford one here – see the large image becomes the background behind the smaller logo picture?  Cute!

You can do so many things with it such as making your Facebook followers laugh or just to make your profile look professional. But how do you line up the two images and make it work? Read on.

How to line up Facebook cover photo with a profile picture

1. Screenshot your Facebook profile page: The first step is to take a screenshot of your profile page for size reference. Paste this screenshot into  PowerPoint or a similar programme where you can CROP the screenshot. We’ll be using our client, Rowperfect, as an example:

Screenshot of Rowperfect Facebook page

Screenshot of the Rowperfect Facebook page

2. Crop your chosen picture into two images: now that you have your profile screenshot and have pasted it into  PowerPoint you can begin cropping your desired image. Detailed instructions follow this image…follow steps 1-4 frame by frame below.cropping

  • FRAME 1: mark your cover photo and your profile photo. The blue rectangle we’ve created represents the cover photo size area and the red square represents the profile picture. Remember to paste the screenshot exactly as it is and do not re-size it, even though it is larger than the PowerPoint work area.
  • FRAME 2: import the image you want as your combined profile picture and cover photo. Then re-size it so it is as big as the blue and red rectangle combined. Line it up as you wish.
  • FRAME 3: duplicate your now re-sized imported image, place it in the same location as its original and crop your imported image and its duplicate to be the size of the blue rectangle and red square respectively.
  • FRAME 4: now you have your two images, save the big one as COVER PHOTO and the smaller square one as PROFILE PICTURE.

3. Place them on your Facebook profile page: now you have your two images you can place the PROFILE PICTURE image on your Facebook profile picture and use the COVER PHOTO image as your Facebook profile cover. If all is done correctly your Facebook profile cover photo and profile picture will now line up together and look flash, just like the Rowperfect Facebook page!

Screenshot of Rowperfect Facebook page

Be creative: more interesting ideas

Here are a few ideas we found that might spark some inspiration for you… speech bubbles, a cartoon bird house, multiple images overlaid or a camera icon.  Be creative.

ideas

Facebook profile picture ideas and improvements

The Top 5 most popular articles of all time

How to Migrate to Digital Marketing

Migrating to digital marketing from traditional marketing is a question I get asked frequently.  Giving a talk to the Te Atatu Business Association, I was able to showcase both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) examples of ways to work out these things

  1. Where to start your digital marketing
  2. Which marketing methods will work best for your business
  3. What communications will work best for your clients and customers

The resources on the last slide are worthwhile saving / bookmarking.  They relate to directory listings and tips for local marketing.