Anatomy of a Cost Effective Online Launch

newsOver 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

Dear Rob,
I’m writing today to tell you about today’s launch of our new Search Marketing plug-in. I’ve been following your posts for a while and I’ve been impressed by the practical and actionable insights you offer small businesses as to how they can effectively boost their search rankings.
This launch will be of interest to your readers as it allows them to quickly gain insights to their rankings that would otherwise not be available without using a dramatically more expensive tool.

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!

SEO is Dead – Long Live SEO

Grim-ReaperIn 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.

Set Up Basic Google Authorship In 2 Steps

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: 

google authorshipAs 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

There are two simple steps for setting up your basic Google Authorship:

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:

downloadIt 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:

google authorshipFocus 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.

The Importance of Testing, Obama Style

imagesThere’s a recent article about the dramatic difference in results between the best and worst performers tested in President Obama’s fundraising emails during the presidential campaign.

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).
Ad testing (in Google Adwords)

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.

Web Marketing Success 2013 – A Seminar

2013Join us as we review the top web marketing trends from 2012 and gain insights on the top areas of online opportunity for 2013.If you want insights and motivation to succeed on the web in 2013, you don’t want to miss this one hour high-energy presentation, followed by Q&A. This seminar takes place 11:45-1:00, Tuesday January 15th, 2013 at the Viatec office: 2659 Douglas St., 2nd floor. Light snacks and beverages will be provided. Feel free to brown bag it as well! Topics will include:
  • Capitalizing on mobile. This time it’s for real!
  • The state of online advertising. The ad campaigns EVERYONE should be running.
  • SEO: a new, level playing field courtesy of Google (and how to profit from it).
  • Serving the 99%. How to engage the majority of visitors to your site who are NOT ready to buy.
Presentation will be conducted by Robert Cooper of PlusROI Online Marketing Inc.Click here to RSVP.

Why your business should care about Google Plus Communities

How to create a Google Plus Communities PageGoogle Plus has rolled out a Communities feature that may benefit businesses with the ability to connect directly with customers via social media. The 50K-foot view: Google Plus Communities allows users to join private and public groups based on specific topics and interests such as video games, football teams and local neighborhoods. Isn’t Google Plus a dead zone? For many people, Google Plus, the Facebook clone that Google rolled out a year or so ago, has been something of a failure – compared to Facebook or Twitter, it seems that few people *you* know use Google Plus. For businesses, though, Google Plus is useful: creating a Google Plus page is an easy way for businesses to manage their online presence, and Google Plus business pages also link with reviews on Google Places. Google also views links shared on Google Plus as a “social signal” – sharing a link to your website may be rewarded by Google with a higher search ranking. Get “first mover” status for your business With Google Plus Communities debuting now, there could be a “first mover” opportunity for businesses with authoritative voices on their niches to convert some of these new participants to visitors and maybe even buyers. How are G+ Communities different than existing offerings? Facebook and LinkedIn have a similar service, except neither offer a public option that can be viewable in Google search results. Plus, G+ Communities allows chat and free “video huddles” for community members. It’s a great way for businesses to connect with their customers and deliver everything from product demostrations to Q&A sessions. For free! Connect your business to 235 million active users on Google Plus And, according to Google itself, G+ is home to 235 million active users. That’s a quarter of the userbase of Facebook. That’s massive, in just about any terms. Google Plus seems to have filled a pretty nice niche, where many folks use it as a blogging and link-sharing service — like Twitter, but without the character limit (or Tumblr, but without the mask of anonymity. How to create a Google Plus Communities Page Creating a Community is a fast and easy process. Visit https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities and click the “Create a Community” button at the top right. Then follow instructions. Any member of Google Plus can create public or private groups centered around specific hobbies, interests, topics, or organizations. They can easily add discussion categories and edit the group’s information, start hangouts and plan events with other members, as well as share content from any +1 button across the web. Got more questions about Google + and how it can help your business? Contact us!

New Victoria BC healthcare directory is a one-stop resource

A new Victoria BC healthcare directory is a one-stop resource for anyone who has been in a traffic accident, is living with a chronic condition, or who wants to improve their performance. Sponsored by our friends at Victoria lawyers Dinning HunterHealthcareVictoria.com is intended to be a one-stop, comprehensive directory of “complementary care ” healthcare professionals and practitioners operating in the around Greater Victoria, British Columbia, including chiropractors, physiotherapists, massage therapists and more. The site hosts a lot valuable information regarding the many different treatments that exist in the complementary medical care industry. It will also enable you to communicate with the professionals that interest you, so that you may learn more about their unique services, and contains email links and phone numbers so you can make an appointment right from the site itself.

Victoria BC healthcare directory

The site also features a comprehensive directory of every clinic in Victoria, listing practitioners at each clinic and their specialty.

Lots of video

The site is unique, in that it provides lots of video about the different clinics and practitioners in Victoria:
Diversified Health Clinic, 1063 Fort Street, Victoria, BC, Canada
Video courtesy of HealthcareVictoria.com
The site also features all sorts of cool, interactive content – it’s more than just a static directory, and pulls in maps information and updated hours for every single practitioner: healthcare victoria directory

Lots of articles about healthcare in Victoria

A learning centre also provides articles on common conditions, and how to treat them. Articles include: While there will always be some trial and error in determining what works best for you, HealthcareVictoria.com is a great place to start to make more informed choices about who to select to help maximize your recovery in the shortest possible time.

How to Drive Sales Through Social Media + More Online Marketing Links

online marketing + salesHow to Drive Sales Through Social Media Not all social networks are created equal when it comes to driving sales. Learn some tips on where to focus to achieve maximum ROI. Read more here. 5 Social Media Strategy Tips for Novices Have you been avoiding social media because you don’t know where to start? Here are five steps for a strategy in social. Read more here. Top SEO Tips Straight From the Industry Experts [INFOGRAPHIC] Does what it says on the tin, this infographic provides a handy guide to figuring out SEO. Read more here. Case Study: Creativity vs. clarity in email subject lines A data-driven blog post about what gets the most clicks in an email campaign – creativity or clarity. Read more here. What’s the Lifespan of a Tweet? How long does a Tweet last? And when should you post to make sure the most people read it? Read more here.

8 Dangerous Misconceptions About Email Marketing

email marketing mistakes8 Dangerous (But Common) Misconceptions About Email Marketing

This blog post covers all of the common myths and misconceptions that plague the email marketing world, and debunk them once and for all. Read more here.

Just How Important Is It to Be the No 1 Search Result?

Showing up on the first page of search engine results is crucial to a website’s traffic and conversions. Showing up as the number one result on that first page is even more crucial – 53 percent more crucial, actually, according to Compete.com. Read more here.

Content Marketing Basics

Create and distribute valuable and relevant content – from blog posts to white papers to podcasts to infographics to free reports to newsletters – that may help to build credibility and drive customers to your business. Learn more here.

Is Your Business Ready for Mobile Advertising?

“An ever-growing percentage of our ad buy is mobile because that’s where the consumer is.” Read more here.

3 Basic SEO Rules

If you tackle SEO yourself or engage someone to do it for you, knowing what’s critical and what’s not will save you time, money and effort. Here a 3 basic rules… Learn more here.

10 ways to destroy an email campaign + more marketing links

email marketing blog10 Things That Can Destroy an Email Marketing Campaign

Here are 10 ways to alienate customers and destroy an email marketing campaign – read more here.

The 6 Top Mobile SEO Must-Knows

Similar to traditional desktop sites, mobile sites, too, need to be optimized properly to perform to their full potential. Here are 6 “musts” for every business. Read more here.

5 Facebook Marketing Resources You Didn’t Know About

42% of marketers say Facebook is critical or important to their business. That percentage has gone up 75% from where it was just a few years ago.  Here are five pages and resources worth exploring if you are looking to drive traffic and sales through Facebook. Bonus link: 7 Targeted Social Networks Niche Marketers Should Try

How to Convert Casual Blog Visitors Into Dedicated Subscribers

Wouldn’t it be great if you could take your blogging to the next level, scaling the impact of your blog so it makes an even bigger, better, and more powerful dent in your marketing results? Enter the concept of ‘blog marketing,’ which refers to implementing a marketing strategy to grow and scale the impact of your blog. Read more here.

Why PageRank Doesn’t Matter

The signals used by Google are numerous and fluid. With over 200 signals used to rank a website, it’s about balance. Chase one signal (like that little green bar denoting PageRank) and you’ll never have a balanced SEO strategy that will withstand the test of time. Read more here.

How To Achieve SEO Success

There are several themes that continuously pop up around SEOs who are consistently able to achieve success in natural, non-paid search. Learn more here. JumpStart Web provides ROI-driven, measured strategies (including email marketing) for Tourism, Real Estate Development and Professional Services.