Mobilise your marketing

Why having a mobile search strategy matters.

Search is no longer the domain of desktops.  The rise of smart phones has enabled mobilemarketing-01populations, all over the world, to use the Internet from their phones.  But we behave differently when using mobile phones, and search engines tap into this – so if you want people to find your website you need to have a mobile search strategy in place.

For many brands the majority of the traffic now comes from mobile & tablets.  There are two places that mobile gets used most often: (a) when on the move, including commuting and (b) when at home.  The home-use is often in conjunction with watching TV – known as ‘second screen‘ activity.

What’s different about mobile search is that users are in a different state of mind.  The users is looking for a more immediate or convenient solution.  Very often they’re looking for a local solution, especially if they’re travelling or ‘out and about’ at the time of the search.

As with all marketing, you need to be clear whether or not your target audience do behave in this way, but if they do, you now need to be considering whether you should have a dedicated mobile platform; and whether you should be creating localised content on your website to maximise your exposure to the smartphone searchers.

As marketers, we’re now certain that optimising for the top slots in mobile search results is vital.  New research from EventBright shows us the click curves for mobile and tablet devices – and being found at positions 1, 2 or 3 is even more important to getting clicks on mobiles than it is on desktops.

ClickCurves-1024x427

http://www.brightedge.com/blog/our-biggest-release-of-the-year-share13/clickcurves/

Even though these stats are generated in the US, the importance of mobile has hit these shores too.  Google has incorporated smartphone search volumes in their newly revamped ‘Keyword Planner’ and how Google has made mobile advertising an integral part of all Adwords campaigns.   If the ‘king of search engines’ is saying you should be thinking mobile, get on and think about it!

Google+ pages epidemic

Google+During a social media training course, a customer told me that they received a complaint via Google+. It is not unusual to receive customer service messages via social media platforms, but this customer didn’t even know they had a Google+ page!

Google+ is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. However, engagement on this platform is still limited. Christopher Ratcliffe writes on eConsultancy that “Google+ has achieved 1.15bn users, but only 35% of those use are active monthly.

Trouble is, Google+ pages get created automatically when companies list themselves on Google Local or setup a YouTube channel. This creates a risk to organisations. It exposes their brand and creates a channel of communication that they won’t be monitoring.

When I recently tried to link a social media tool to my Google+ page I was presented with this list of pages “belonging” to me.  I was shocked.  Most of these aren’t mine, but belong to customers or ex-customers for whom I’ve administered Google Analytics or Google Adwords campaigns. Other pages belong to entities that haven’t existed for over 3 years and three entries were duplicates of one another.  Most worryingly of all, this was the first I’d heard about these pages.

List of Google+ pages associated with Cat Young

After a bit of searching I was able to find out how to delete the pages belonging to the duplicates and ceased entities.  I can transfer ownership of the other pages to my customers and ex-customers, but I’m going to have to contact each one to initiate this. What a pain! I would have preferred Google not to have set these up in the first place.

I strongly recommend you check out your Google+ account to see if you have any pages you need to administer or delete. Click here for instructions on how to delete your Google+ pages.

Think local, grow global

How a Global Website strategy will help you penetrate emerging markets

Global companies wishing to penetrate emerging markets such as Russia, China and the thinklocoal-01Middle East have to change their thinking.  Until recently the prevailing web strategy has been to create a corporate website and duplicate this for each operational region.  The perception being that the company’s brand is best protected by having an HQ-centric website with centralized control over the website’s look, feel and content.  This strategy is failing.

Regional marketers are frustrated by the lack of understanding from the HQ IT teams as to how they want to put their message across.  Even where direct translations are offered the website builder fails to take into account that one country does not mean one language. Take Switzerland or Belgium for example, which one language would you choose to translate the website into?  What of the official Chinese languages would you pick to the ‘the one’?

Once you overcome the one country, one language challenge a straight translation of the site’s content will still fail you.  Cultural differences, local customs and unique ways people want to interact with sites should be taken into account in the design, layout, structure and content of the site. Failure to incorporate these differences into your site will reduce engagement leading to lost opportunities.

Until recently the Internet wasn’t set up to truly support a multi-lingual or multi-cultural world.  But things are changing.  The rise of non-English speaking websites is phenomenal.  According to John Yunker, the author of The Web Globalization Report Card, “the next Internet revolution will not be in English”.  He points out that over 1 billion people they are expected to type in web addresses in a foreign language or an entirely foreign script.  It is now possible to register domain name endings in a non-latin script and if you are penetrating these markets you should consider doing so.

Google doesn’t dominate everywhere.  Be aware when developing your Global Web Strategy that you have localize your SEO activity too. The largest search engine in Russia is Yandex and in China is Baidu.  These companies have their own algorhythms and they will give more weight to websites in their local languages, hosted locally and connected with other local websites.   This may influence how you choose to deploy your regional sites – are they sub-domains of a US-hosted site or can you create and deploy sites locally.

Ignore your local marketing teams at your peril.  Talk to them and involve them in formulating your web strategy.  This way you can be sure to create a website that is flexible and effective in each and every region you operate in.  This way you will be able to penetrate the new markets and use your website to drive impressive sales growth for your organisation.  Who can say no to that?

Twitter fatigue? Cull is the cure

Today is the first day of the rest of my Twitter life.  I have just culled 500+ profiles from my ‘Following’ list. And it feels amazing!

Too many Twitter followersMy twitter account (@CatYoungLtd) has been in existence for 5 years. Over that time I’ve used it to follow industry commentators, customers, suppliers, brand names, news providers, local groups, councils, bands, comedians, friends and even a couple of ‘talking’ animals.  The usual stuff really: a bit from all areas of my life.

Trouble is, it had got a bit out of hand, and I hadn’t noticed. I’d log in to Twitter and glaze over when looking at my newsfeed.  With over 1000 people posting updates, a lot of which is inane or irrelevant to me, slowly but surely my enthusiasm for Twitter had waned.

Also, close allies reproached me for not retweeting or responding to their updates.  My stock response to which was, “Sorry, I didn’t see it. You’ve got to understand I follow a lot of people”.

I’d thought about culling before but had been worried that I might miss out on something of vital importance.  In my Twitter training I’d even say “pish” at the idea of unfollowing and advise my delegates to use lists instead.

I’ve changed my mind.  Now that I’ve done a mass unfollow I feel liberated. When I look at my newsfeed I’m interested in EVERYTHING that I see. I’m excited and engaged again. The updates from my close followers are now visible. I’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff.

Here is my amazingly simple process for you to follow:

Go to your Following list and look at each one and ask yourself these 3 simple questions:

  1. Do I know them personally?
  2. Can I remember reading (and enjoying/finding useful) a Tweet from this person?
  3. Is there REALLY benefit TO ME in following them?

If I answered No to ANY of these questions then unfollow them.
If you’re not sure, can’t remember, need to look them up, then unfollow them as they’re clearly not important in your life right now.

Remember, be ruthless!

As for the fear of missing out.  I’m sure that anyone significant to you will pop up again – through a retweet, via a DM or in person.  So, you can right any wrongs at a later date.

Have a go and see what it does to refuel your enthusiasm for Twitter!
Then let me know how you’ve got on.

Are you an innocent spammer?

Common mistakes which can get your emails marked as Spam

Spam has been a fact of internet life for a number of years now, and it’s not just the receiving Printof large amounts of spam in your inbox that’s the problem – there are some practices which, while they may be done perfectly innocently, can get your email address, domain name, or IP address on spam blacklists.

When you can’t trust an email is going to get to your intended recipient your business can be losing money, so it’s worth thinking about some of the ways you can avoid getting blacklisted!

  • BCC via your email client. Mailing to a large list of recipients using an email client (Outlook, Mail, Thunderbird)  is usually quick and simple – you just add a load of email addresses to the BCC field and click “Send”.  Unfortunately because it’s free and simple it’s exactly what a lot of spammers do. You may find that you can send to 20 or so recipients at once but remember that some Internet Service Providers (the company who supply your broadband) will block more than a certain number of emails sent at once.
  • Multiple recipients in ‘To’ field.  It is OK to have multiple email addresses in the To or the CC field, but keep this under 20 (max) to avoid being blocked by your ISP.  Never, ever use this method to send to a group of people who do not know each other as you are allowing each person to see everyone’s email address.  You could be breaking the law by sharing this information without permission!  If the recipients do not know each other, either use the BCC field (as above) or use a 3rd party email provider.
  • Opting in. You should not add people to a mailing list who haven’t asked to receive mail.  Even if you know them well, they could easily be annoyed by your unsolicited email and if they click the “Mark as Spam” button you get a black mark against your name.  This is the same as if you had bought their email address off a bloke round the back of the pub: dodgy!  It only takes a few moment to ask people if they are happy to receive your emails.  Or better still, use a 3rd party email software provider which makes it easy for people to opt in to your mailings themselves.
  • Unknown Sender / email address. If you use an email marketing system and use “geoff.surname@aol.net” as the sender then you immediately look suspicious to the spam filters.  If you or your company has its own domain name (eg.www.stw-online.net)  you should use an email address relating to this.  It is better to use a proper mailbox as well, not just one that is set up as a forwarder.
  • Vague Subject. Avoid using vague subject lines, for example “September Newsletter”.  Your not ‘spamming’ as such but you’re not tell the reader what they will see when they click on your mail.  Also spammers use vaugeness to hide behind.  So be as descriptive as possible.  For example, if this post were going out as an email the subject line might be: “How to avoid getting your email marked as spam”.  If you mislead someone with an untruthful subject line, the  recipients can often reach for the “Mark as Spam” button…
  • Using “Test” in the subject line.  This may come as a surprise, but it’s something which can trigger a spam filter to leap into action.  Do a final proof-read (ideally get someone else to do it) to make sure you’ve removed ‘test’ from the email before sending it out to your mailing list.
  • Send too many emails to the same company.  If you have more than one contact working for the same company, and their spam filter notices that several people are regularly getting exactly the same email, this can cause you to be flagged.  Make sure you know who should be receiving the email and narrow down the recipients to just one or two per company.
  • Using “Dear” in the introduction of your email.  – another surprising one, but possibly due to the slightly more “informal” nature of emails, very few legitimate emails start with the salutation “Dear Fred” or whatever. However, most of us have received spam addressed to something like “Dear PayPal Customer” (to pick the first email in my junk folder completely at random). It’s probably easier to use “Dear” when you really don’t know someone’s name – and you’ll only usually do that when you’re spamming them. Use “Hi Chris” or even simply their first name when addressing your mailout

At the end of the day, spam filters are here to help us and they are here to stay, so we need to learn how to live with them.  The above points are by no means exhaustive, but should get you thinking in the right way.

To help keep us ‘clean’ when it comes to sending out emails we use 3rd party email software, such as Mailchimp (www.mailchimp.com).

These systems are easy to use, accessible from any computer (because they’re hosted in the cloud) and often free of charge.  You set up a template, insert content and merge it with your mailing list.  They then take care of the rest.  They have spam ratings built in so you can hone your email to be as people-friendly as possible.  And you can do A/B split testing on email subject lines to get the best open rates.  Best of all they provide statistics on who has received your emails, who has opened them and who has clicked on links from within the email.  This turns the email into a powerful sales tool.

There are hundreds of providers out there.  Here are just a few of the most popular ones:

  • Mailchimp
  • Constant Contact
  • Communigator
  • dotMailer

All of these offer free trials and some of them are free for life for smaller volume mailouts.  They are all powerful and feature-rich so choosing which one is a matter of trying them out to see whose interface you like best.

Government’s ISP Filtering will fail

Why the government’s ISP Filtering policy is flawed

In July 2013, the UK Government announced plans to enforce a ‘family-friendly’ filter across cameron2Internet Service Providers (ISPs), with the aim of presenting children from inadvertently seeing pornographic images or content.  Our trusted partners, ICUK, have written this white paper in order to outline some of the issues surrounding the Default-On filters and why they are honourable but impractical.

White Paper ISPs and Default On Filters for Home Internet Use September 2013

ICUK conclude that the government’s attempt on an ISP filtering policy is weak and ill-informed. Instead they would like to see investment directed towards encouraging people to report images when they see them, emphasize the importance of parental monitoring, introducing effective education in classrooms.

What do you feel about this matter?

Source: ICUK (www.icuk.net)