Over the years I’ve participated in all kinds of online launches: everything from tiny start-ups letting people know about their new services right through to software launches with six-figure launch budgets.
Focusing these days on small and medium sized companies, I thought it would be great to explain one very cost-effective strategy for an online launch of a new product or service.
Online PR: an Efficient Way to Engage with a Highly Relevant Audience
At the core of this strategy is something we refer to as Online PR. Much like traditional PR, Online PR involves building strong relationships with those writing for the market that you want to launch into.
However, unlike traditional PR where you typically focus a ton of effort on a small number of highly influential outlets, with Online PR you are able to focus a small amount of effort on a LOT of relevant properties like blogs, websites, industry publications, etc.
Smaller Companies Get Bigger PR Bang for Their Buck
While everyone wants to be featured in the huge publications (e.g. New York Times) the truth is that getting featured in these publications can involve many months and many thousands of dollars of time and resources invested without any guarantee of being published. This model simply does not work for most small businesses.
Connect More Easily With Your Target Audience
On the other hand, although individual bloggers and industry websites have dramatically less reach individually the people running these blogs and sites are dramatically more accessible than the big publications. AS well, although individual sites and blogs may not have ton of reach, when you combine multiple different properties, your aggregate reach can get quite significant.
Online PR: SEO’s Secret Weapon
As well, if you’ve studied SEO you’ll know that getting links from relevant external sites is a huge factor in how seriously you’re taken by Google. Given that traditional “linkbuilding” tricks can now get you blacklisted on Google, Online PR becomes more and more attractive and adds even more value in terms of how it can boost your SEO.
How Smaller Businesses Can Execute Effective Online PR
So, what’s involved in Online PR?
1) Develop Research and Relationships.
Take the time to scour Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc to create a list of everyone who is writing about the industry or topic that your product relates to. Once you’ve found them, start to reach out. Read and then comment, like, retweet or repost good things they’ve written and try to connect with them through social media or other means. Take the time to introduce yourself, tell them why you’re interested in them and tell them what you do. Build your “house list” of email addresses and do your best to make sure your email will be well received when you eventually send it!
2) Craft A Story
Nobody cares about your product. Sorry – it’s true. However, what they do care about is what your product or service can do for them or their readers. With this in mind, craft a Press Release around the launch of your new product and show how it will solve the problems of your audience. Of course, if you can tie it in with a current trend, technology or event all the better!
The bottom line is you need to make it clear WHY your launch is important and WHY it’s relevant to the people you are sending your Press Release to.
3) Get the Word Out
At launch time, send out a personal email to each and every contact you’ve established or identified. Make sure to include a reference to their blog, site or publication and let them know why you appreciate what they are doing. Then, tell them what you’re launching and why it might be of interest to your readers.
Your approach might look like the following fictional pitch to Yours Truly
Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback. I’ve included more information below as well as a links to our complete press release.
While this approach is time consuming, you can actually execute on it quite quickly if you do your research and preparation in advance. As well, while some launches get more traction than others, I have yet to participate in a launch project like this that has not been well worthwhile.
4) Acknowledge Those Who Help (and set the stage for next time around).
Make sure to link to those who published news about you through all your different social media outlets. Being written about by a third party boosts your credibility and is much appreciated by those who have written about you (everyone loves being linked to).
Also, be sure to keep nurturing these relationships and each successive launch will just get easier and easier in terms of generating coverage!
Got more questions about an online launch? Just contact me!
In light of Google’s recent (and not so recent) updates, there’s been a lot of talk about Search Engine Optimization being less relevant and less important. In truth, responsible SEO is more important than ever as more and more websites are competing for Google search results.
However, there is some validity to the naysayers’ arguments about SEO. What has really happened in the industry is that SEO as a standalone technical exercise has become redundant. As well, low quality (often outsourced) tactics have also met the fate of the dodo bird:
- Comment spam – RIP
- SEO mini-sites and low quality link sites- RIP
- Outsourced linkbuilding – RIP
For those of us who feel a little more strongly about it, feel free to substitute “burn in hell” for “RIP” above.
So, while standalone Search Engine Optimization may be dead, holistic SEO that puts your visitors first is more important than ever.
What does Holistic SEO look like for you? Let’s have a look at some of the many different elements:
- Make sure that you have all your technical website issues in check. There are many things to consider and Google’s PDF Starter Guide to SEO will give you a good overview.
- Do keyword research to discover what language your audience uses to search for the type of information you offer.
- Refer to this research as you write (or edit) your pages to make sure you are using the same language your audience understands.
- Itemize all your site’s pages in an Excel spreadsheet, assign relevant keywords to each page, and then write custom meta page titles and meta page descriptions for each page in this sheet. We call this document an “SEO Matrix” and it’s a great way to keep everything organized for yourself and anyone else who administers your site.
- For keywords and topics you address meaningfully on your site (and want to show up for in search), make a point of conducting competitive research to see how established your competitors are and how hard you will have to work to show up ahead of them in search.
- Become a regular content creator (i.e. get a Blog or News section on our site and get to work) and publish regular, valuable content about the topics most important to you and your visitors.
- This valuable content is then great material to share though your social media channels. It gives you meaningful material for sharing and drives traffic back to your site.
- Leverage your content and social media to network with other people as passionate about your subject matter as you are. You’ll soon find your content much more widely read and, if your content is worthy, you’ll find people linking to it. Natural, relevant links like these are the absolute most powerful kind of links to get and they show Google that you are a respected source of information for people searching on the topics/keywords you cover.
- As you build a reputation, it will also become possible to engage with larger sites and even news outlets, who may also write about you and link to you, which is hugely powerful.
- Consider other types of content your audience might like: recorded interviews, videos, podcasts, etc. Make sure to follow SEO best practices for each of these medium and make a point of sharing these pieces of content as far and wide as you responsibly can (and focus on engagement!).
- Make sure engagement is your top priority. Earning +1s (Google +), likes and shares are all great ways to build awareness and traffic.
- Understand “offsite best practices” for SEO and make sure to responsibly apply them. This includes signing up for Google Authorship so that Google can track your content and come to see you as a respected content creator.
This list is by no means complete, but the theme is to make sure you are using all your tools in an organized, authentic manner.
Quite simply, you want to leverage SEO best practices as you discover what your audience is interested in, create content around it and share that content. If you do this strategically and responsibly, you’ll find that SEO can be a huge contributor to your business.
Most businesses know that it’s important to optimize for Google Search.
With at least 70% market share for Search, Google is the first tool most people turn to when looking for a product, service, or really anything they want to know more about.
The challenge for businesses is that Search Engine Optimization is constantly changing, and it can be tough to rank at the top of Google Search results and get found by customers ahead of competitors.
Help your Search rankings by setting up Google Authorship
Luckily, Google itself has provided a powerful new tool to help you connect with customers called Google Authorship.
If you want to become known as a subject matter expert through content marketing and blogging, or even if you just write occasional blog posts, you should definitely consider setting up Google Authorship.
Google Authorship links content you create either on your own website or blog, or even on different websites you contribute to, with your Google+ profile:
As you can see, setting up Google Authorship provides benefits such as your head shot image appearing next to your content in Google’s search results.
Get found by customers
Most importantly, the more quality content you publish online, the more likely you are to be ranked high by Google and considered an authority in your subject area.
And (ideally) a higher Authorship ranking from Google will help you show up on the first page of Google Search more often where you can be found by customers more easily.
Set up basic Google Authorship in 2 steps
1) Create a Google+ Profile
You’ll need to upload a high quality “head shot” (more about this below) of yourself and fill out some profile information, such as where you live. If you’re worried about sharing personal information, Google Plus gives you the option about what and how much to share.
2) Verify your authorship
Go to plus.google.com/authorship, sign up with your email and click on the verification link Google sends send you.
The importance of a proper G+ “head shot”
It’s really important to to ensure that you have good “head shot” uploaded as your G+ profile picture. Here’s what Rob Cooper uses for his G+ profile:
It should be a “head shot” rather than, say, you posing with your kids at the park. Otherwise, Google likely will not display your profile photo next to anything you write.
Beyond the basics
We’ve outlined the basics to get you started. But there’s more:
- If you write guest blog posts and articles on other website, ask the website owner to add an “author link” in your post.
- Be sure to add all of the blogs and websites your contribute to to the “Contributor to” section of your G+ profile:
Focus on quality and relevance
The most important consideration after setting up Google Authorship is the ensuring the quality of your content.
Search Engine Optimization, especially for Google Search, has evolved to the point that quality and relevance are becoming the primary “signal” or consideration for ranking high in Google Search results.
Thanks to Google Authorship, you will be rewarded for quality with higher Search rankings.
And spammers, or people churning out duplicate content, will be penalized.
For complete info about Google Authorship visit Google’s Authorship page. Have a question about implementing Google Authorship? Contact us! We would be happy to help.
In short, there was a 600% performance difference between the best and worst subject lines used during their testing process.
While these numbers are dramatic, they are not surprising. We see test results on a daily basis and whether it’s an email subject line or an A/B test for an ad, it’s rare that we don’t see one version performing dramatically better than the version(s) being tested against.
The takeaway? If you’re not testing, you’re losing money.
What are some of the most accessible testing strategies across a variety of mediums?
Subject line testing in email (like the Obama effort)
Even if you don’t have a sophisticated email provider (to randomize and split your lists into testable segments), you can randomize your list in Excel and then break it into an appropriate number of groups to test different subject lines to. When testing subject lines, experiment with different tactics like:
- including the recipient name (if possible).
- asking a question.
- using different writing styles.
- highlighting different benefits (of what’s inside).
It’s amazing how few people test their ads. If you’re running ads based on what you “think” people will respond to, you are not getting the best performance you could. Plus, it literally takes only seconds to add additional ads to your ad groups (and Google automatically takes care of the rest). Adwords testing has other huge benefits to companies launching new products or services. If you want insights on which user benefits are the MOST important to your audience, simply run a series of different ads, each highlighting a different benefit. You’ll be able to tell pretty quickly on the basis of your clickthrough rates which of the benefits resonate most with your audience! You can then take this knowledge and apply it to your product/service pages with some confidence that you’ve identified the right benefits.
Web page testing
Ever argue with your colleagues about what should go on a new product page? Argue no more – test instead!
With Google Content Experiments (in Google Analytics) you can create multiple different versions of a page, have them randomly served to visitors, and identify the top performing version. While it’s not necessarily “easy” to set up, it’s well worth the hour it takes to learn to configure “Goals” and set up your Content Experiment. Questions about testing? Drop us a line.
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